Tuesday, November 17, 2009

No Mammography until 50?! Tell it to Her

The thing about the perfect best friend is that you want everyone you know to meet her.

Forget that she loves you even when you're a bitch. Forget that on a visit to your family's she walked your infant nephew all night long--while sick as a dog--so that you could get some sleep.

Don't even consider that she knows all the words to every 80's song and will sing them with very little prodding or alcohol when you can't remember the words. And don't even take into account her phenomenal dancing skills that would have secured her a job as the spotlight dancer on Solid Gold (that again will be performed with no prodding or alcohol).

Those aren't the reasons you wished she lived next door.

It's her heart and her smile and her laughter and her kindness that make her your number one gal.


My best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer this year at the age of the 37.

You know why?

Because she had a mammography at the urging of her new physician just to establish a baseline.

A baseline!

The growth was the size of a grain of rice. One, tiny, little growth that led to a bilateral mastectomy, drains, chemotherapy, hair loss and the inability to lift her three small children (all 5 and under) for extended periods of time this year.

That baseline mammogram at 37 is what allowed doctors to catch her aggressive form of cancer before she even felt a lump--before it spread to other places in her body.

And now the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued a statement indicating that women don't need to consider regular mammograms until age 50?!

There are no words to convey the rage I feel about this--so I direct you to my friend's feelings on the issue.

The American Cancer Society IS NOT changing their recommendation that women begin regular screening at the age of 40. (I couldn't be more proud to be part of their blogger's council.)

I am so afraid that women will believe this government entity--that insurance companies will believe them too.

The thing about my perfect best friend is that she is with me today--and will be for a long time thanks to an early mammogram.

You don't need to rely on figuring out when your mammogram is due. Check out this tool to get reminders to schedule yours.

If this makes you angry too, get involved! Check out the More Birthdays Campaign.

Books! Books! Books!

The Kirtsy book comes out today!

Why am I excited about it? Maybe because a number of lovely women have their writing, photography and general online fantasticness profiled in this anthology of women on the web.

You another reason?

I'm one of the contributors! (I know. Can you believe it?!) I'm even attending a book release party on Thursday night and will have a Sharpie (have you seen their gallery?) on hand to sign copies (and will be looking over my shoulder for Candid Camera the whole time). You're invited to the party if you're in the DC area. Seriously.

The piece included only came about because of my addiction to Twitter (who says all addictions are bad?!) and the very cool people I regularly interact with there (are we following each other? If you're human and not spamming, I follow back--social media is all about relationships, yo). Since it wouldn't have been possible without them and because you can't click on a link in a book, I'm rerunning the post here and hope you'll click away on the links below.

Oh and buy the book too (I don't make anything off of it). Mine is only one of many resources and eye candy you'll find in it.

Twitter Speaks: More Than 50 Books that Have Had an Affect on Us
(originally posted August 9, 2008)

It's summer and I'm on a reading binge again. Our annual trip to the beach followed closely by a weekend of relative solitude (*gasp* imagine?) has given me the chance to get through a few titles at a much faster pace than regular life allows.

Right now I'm finishing up Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins and there are so many great passages/great lines that have made me stop to think about which books have spoken to me the most.

I subscribe to the belief that different books can mean different things to you depending on where you are in your life. Additionally, books can have varying impact on people reading them depending on the events going on in the world or the timing of the publication. For example, while I think On The Road must have been groundbreaking when it was written, I wasn't as blown away by it having had the experience myself of traveling without a plan--which is a far more common experience today than it was in the Fifties.

This thinking about reading and "the classics" led me to wonder what books had most influenced others. (My favorite section in Newsweek is A Life In Books... the brief interview with an author and the list of the author's favorite books and the book they felt was most overrated.) With trusty Twitter at my fingertips, I asked the following question to my Tweeps.

What book have you read, other than the bible, that has had the greatest impact on you?

Folks on Twitter (if you're not on there, you should be) were tremendously forthcoming with titles--so much so that the following list will keep my reading for years. While 140 characters didn't allow for much more than title and author, I did receive a few notes about why people had selected certain titles. I'm hoping that folks who contributed to the list (or others inspired by this post) might consider writing a post explaining why the book they listed had such an impact on them. I'm fascinated by these stories and always looking for good recommendations.

Someone did come back to me wanting to know which book most influenced me and I do feel an obligation to share that information. Unfortunately, I can't point to one particular title that has had the most influence. I love books. I always have. Each on it's own has affected me in one way or another. Do I have favorites? Absolutely. But even those that were difficult to get through have increased my love for words and added to my ability to think in words.

So without further ado, I give you...

Twitter Speaks: More Than 50 Books that Have Had an Affect on Us

Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald Mama Tulip

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb Mama Tulip

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb Send Chocolate & Mama Tulip

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides MamaTulip

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Karoli SoCalMom

Happy Hooker by Xaviera Hollander SoCalMom (you wouldn't believe how it could scare a 14 y.o)

Lamb by Christopher Moore Anissa Mayhew

The Pact by Jodi Picoult Jodifur

19 Minutes Jodi Picoult Jodifur & Hip Mom

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith Jessabean

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Whit & GraceD & Dooblehvay

A Heatbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers Whit

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison Isabel Kallman

Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill Rumford

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott Flutter & Hip Mom (this had a huge impact on me too)

Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn NoirBettie

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser Neilochka

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron Lola Goetz

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger Devra

Foundation by Isaac Asimov YatPundit

Rebecca by Daphne DuMarier Casey Moosh in Indy

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby OpenBookJen

Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Redneck Mommy

Leaves of Grass* by Walt Whitman Redneck Mommy

Lucky by Alice Sebold Flutter

A Separate Peace by John Knowles Samanthia & PunditMom

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxyby Douglas Adams Crunchy Carpets

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon Kiki Laughs it Off

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens Kiki Laughs it Off

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell Kiki Laughs it Off

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice Kiki Laughs it Off

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle Kiki Laughs it Off

Mullet Madness by Alan Henderson Undomestic Diva

Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera NOLANotes

A Sense of Honor by Jim Webb Gunfighter

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood Jodifur

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman Jodifur

The Princess Bride by William Goldman SueBob

A Course in Miracles SueBob

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White Assertagirl

Intermediate Man John Locks tag

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou GraceD

Laura Ingalls Wilder books GraceD

Bias by Bernard Goldberg Kiss My Gumbo

Evidence of Harm by David Kirby To Think

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley SoCal Mom

1984 by George Orwell SoCal Mom

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut SoCal Mom

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien PaullYoung

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn khylek

Death Be Not Proud by John J. Gunther Slouchy

Atonement by Ian McEwan Slouchy

Superior Women by Alice Adams CharmingDriver

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino Linseyk

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard FairlyOddMother

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen Cindy Fey

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie Mike Driehorst

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner Pundit Mom

The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles Pundit Mom

Edited on 8/12/08 to add the following titles originally left off because, well, I'm just a dope.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell Julie Pippert

Children of God by Mary Doria Russell Julie Pippert

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett Julie Pippert

*This book of poetry was given the highest recommendation when Redneck Mommy explained that it virtually got her through the death of her son. It will be next on my list for a number of reasons and I will think of T's beloved Bug as I soak up Whitman's words. Thank you T for being willing to share him with us.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You from the Bottom of My Heart

She was due to give birth to her first baby in June.

He had been honorably discharged as an officer in the Air Force for health reasons, but he felt such a duty to his country he enlisted as a private in the Army. He was on base away from home getting ready to ship out with his company.

A wise, compassionate company commander knew that Morgan's wife was about to give birth. He also knew that once he sent Morgan over seas there was a good chance he might not come home. That gentleman risked his own military career to ensure that another man had the chance to meet his daughter--if only for one day.

My mom was born in mid June 1944. My grandfather spent exactly 24 hours with her and set sail for Europe.

The company in which my grandfather served was sent to France for the D-Day invasion. Many of his buddies did not survive.

Because of an incredible commanding officer, my grandfather missed the invasion by a few weeks and though he waited two more years to see his daughter he lived to hold her and raise her and love her, her sister and two grand-daughters to follow.

I was just four when he died, but I know he loved me like only a grandfather can--like only a man who loved his country so much he went back to serve when he didn't have to can--like only a man who loves his fellow man enough to risk his own career to allow another to see his daughter can.

For those men, for the men in my grandfather's company who didn't survive, for the men and women who serve today I am eternally grateful.

Come back tomorrow to read about a veteran of an entirely different sort.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Too Many Roads Not Taken

The new year may mean the beginning of a new business for me.

I know I can start it. Resources abound for getting it going. I'm pretty sure I can even get a client or two.

What is holding me back is fear of failure, fear of making a bad decision, fear of hitting a wall.

Intellectually, I know it takes hard work and trial and error to become a success. I already live with the regret of roads not taken for these same sorts of fears. The conflict inside is making me feel sea-sick.

I want to move forward. I think it's a path I'm supposed to explore. I know the fears that are creeping in are the usual ghosts trying to sabotage my progress. I even know how to name them this time, and yet...

When my dog tries to jump on me, I turn around. I deny her attention and she gets the message quickly. Can I turn my back on these voices--the voices telling me I'll never have the talent, the voices telling me I'll never be more than a hack?

No way to know unless I try. And THAT? That is scary.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Best Blog Post Ever

I had the best idea for a blog post as I was lying (or is it laying--I don't feel like Googling it) in bed last night. It occurred to me to get up and make a note about it, but it was such a perfect idea that I was sure I would remember it.

I didn't.

I want to say it had something to do with my mom, or motherhood, or being a queen, but I could be totally off. Maybe it had to do with the importance of reading to your children or how the Yankees threw last game so they could win the Series in their new stadium. It might have been a treatise exploring the finer points of a frozen Snicker's bar or a PSA about not drinking six Diet Cokes during the day if you plan to sleep at night.

Hell if I know.

Most of my profound thoughts really can be conveyed in less than 140 characters--not that I share all of them on Twitter, but it makes me a little hesitant to throw them out there and count them as a post.

Maybe I should start carrying around another Moleskine just for my incredible thoughts and ideas and then I can serve up a bunch at a time for your viewing pleasure. What's one more Moleskine, right? I mean there's the one I have for work, the one that has my older random notes and Christmas lists, the one I'm using for current journaling and then another small one that found it's way in my bag. Shit. I have a Moleskine problem.

I guess that's better than a mole problem--or a skin problem.

Actually I have a skin problem, but you're probably not interested in my eczema or the latex gloves I wore at work the other day so I could apply the prescription ointment I have for said eczema so I wouldn't rip all of the skin off my hands nor get the ointment on my keyboard. No one seemed to notice them until I began to use hand gestures during an emotional conversation with my boss at which point she stopped in her tracks which was actually a good thing because the conversation was getting way too heavy for the both of us and we needed that moment of comic relief--you know like when Olympia Dukakis offers up Shirley McLaine for Sally Fields to hit during the funeral scene in Steel Magnolias. I mean every damn time I watch that movie I'm a sloppy, snotty mess as Sally screams that it was supposed to be her in the casket and then here comes Olympia. Thank goodness straight guys had the innate sense never to watch that movie with me, because the boogers... Though that did seem to work for Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally--well at least until the uncomfortable silence when it was all over.

Hmph. Nope. That wasn't the idea for my post either.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Bottles on a Shelf

I've been listening to your personal jam session with Rock Band for the past hour and it makes me want to bottle you up so I can enjoy this moment over and over. Oh the shelf that bottle would sit on! It would be nestled in among thousands of other tiny glass jars--the ones holding the sounds of your baby giggles or the one that holds the image of your smile the day of your first tball game.

If only I could have a shelf like that. One that I could visit any time to relive those experiences again and again.

Tonight you're five. You haven't mastered reading yet, so you sing the words you know by heart and fudge the rest adding in woots and yeahs as you see fit.

No stage fright. No performance anxiety. You haven't discovered those yet.

There are tears in my eyes and my heart feels like it's ready to burst just listening to you sing without a care in the world. I wish I could keep the world this way for you forever--the way it is right now. But I can't keep those bottles on the shelf and I can't stop you from growing up.

My hope however is this: No matter how old you are you'll always sing with abandon and be exactly who you want to be regardless of who is watching.

Monday, November 02, 2009

I Googled Him Today

We haven't talked in such a long time. It's been even longer since I've seen him.

If you ask me, I'll tell you that I don't have any feelings about him at all.



I can summon nothing.

He is part of my past like kids from elementary school who moved away, like that shirt you had to have in 7th grade and only remember now when you leaf through the photo album at your mom's house.

He was there one day--such an integral part of my life--and the next he was gone. The pain in the beginning was fierce, but when it subsided the relief erased everything. No more drama.

So why? Why today?

Why was the last thought I had before falling asleep last night one that suggested I should google him today?

I felt dirty just typing his name. I was embarrassed. What if someone found out I had looked for him? Was I really "looking" for him, or just wanting to know if he was still out there?

My upper lip is pulled up in a scowl as I type this now. I'm disgusted that I did it. Thinking that by admitting it here I will cleanse myself of this thing--this act of typing twelve letters and pressing Enter.

You'd think by my description there was abuse. There wasn't. Well, unless you consider abandoning your 10 & 12 year old daughters with no notice abuse. Most days I don't. I've often considered it a favor.

He just walked away one day.

His name doesn't deserve to be uttered. It most certainly doesn't deserve to be written. And I think that's why I'm so repulsed by the fact that I did. I think I'm worried that just by mentioning him by name he will somehow manifest from thin air, and I REALLY don't want that to happen.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

So Many Interests, So Little Time

My desire to learn about so many things and to master (okay become proficient) a number of skills has reached epic level.

And this whole oh yeah I'm a political consultant thing can get in the way some days.

Plus? Sleeping?

How am I going to become a world famous photographer/knitter/gardener/well-read/self-actualized/uber-Mom/social media maven/baseball parent with all this work and sleep taking up my time?!

I've already given up the laundry, cooking and most of the cleaning (until my parents come in town or I'm hosting a real party), and still there is never enough time. This doesn't even take into account the roots and eyebrows that constantly require maintenance.

Oh and also I should have added "organized, beautiful home-owning and fabulously fashionable" to my list above.


Guess we're all going to have to settle for friendly chick.