my new favorite gum
Did you know that there is such a thing called ‘leading’? You should check it out.
As I was sitting on the plane Sunday morning the front-page story of the ‘local’ section was about a cult in Minnesota. In typical cult fashion, this charismatic leader gained roughly 150 followers, relocated to a large plot of land in the middle of the state and is now wanted on molestation charges.
The reporter interviewed the now leader-less cult members about the experience and their responses felt so Minnesotan to me making statements such as, “we didn’t realize we were in a cult” “one day we’re part of a regular church and without even knowing it we’re following a leader who has betrayed us by molesting our children” (these quotes are paraphrased). To get my mind off the turbulent flight I decided to make a list for all potential-cult members that may help them realize they’re in a cult before it’s too late:
1. The head of your church will change his title to ‘apostle’ ‘prophet’ ‘messiah’ or ‘vessel of g-d’. This is early in the process, but not too early to high-tail it outta there.
2. Your ‘prophet’ will then purchase a large plot of land in the middle of nowhere. I implore you, DO NOT MOVE TO THE PLOT OF LAND. You will be promised a utopian paradise, you will be promised a free ride through the pearly gates or, even better, a ticket on a spaceship to rescue you from Earth. The outcome of these places is without exception a multifaceted variety of hell.
3. Ok, you didn’t listen and you moved to the plot of land. Remember, building a utopian society isn’t free, the prophet will require your money, pretty much all of it. In return you can live on the plot of land and build him a compound while he chats with g-d and checks out the ladies. Before you hand over that check I beg you to think twice. You are paying to do construction work.
…you’re toiling away constructing the compound for your prophet… this doesn’t seem weird to you? Really? Look at what’s happening my friend. Not weird? ok
4. At this point your prophet will get a message from g-d that will go something like this , “prophet, you should have many wives, the more the better… age be damned”. When your prophet gets this message and you don’t leave and you are STILL wondering ‘am I in a cult’ I am here to tell you my friend you most certainly are. Lets put this in perspective your prophet get’s a message from above that has nothing do to with the betterment of society, helping mankind, protecting the planet… nope, the message he gets is to have multiple wives. Think about this for a minute.
5. This is when the whole experience truly enters its downward spiral… the prophet starts collecting wives, perhaps they are honored but invariably there are some cases where this is by force. There are cases where this is age inappropriate and where this breaks up families… am I in a cult?! Yeah! You’re in a cult. Another common trend is that the other men in the cult are allowed to collect wives, sometimes with the freedom of the leader and other times they earn it by being good little followers. The women in this scenario become controlled second class citizens - does this seem like a progressive society to you? This is the las sign, you need to get out because the final step… well, let’s just say your odds of survival are precarious.
I could say it another way… if you have to ask yourself the question, ‘Am I in a cult?’ lets assume you are.
Man this was one of my favorite songs when I was a little kid. This exact version of this song. Me and my best friend (also named Jenny) had a dance we did in the living room basically consisting of marching around in a circle while one person sang the lyrics and the other sang the ‘says alice’ refrain. Frankly I’m amazed we knew the lyrics because they’re kind of hard to understand but somehow we knew them. Maybe her mom taught us.
We used to beg her mom to come watch this ‘performance’ - had to be so painful for her.
They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
Alice is marrying one of the guard.
“A soldier’s life is terrible hard,”
(another Ann Stephens song we loved but now that I hear it I think it’s awful is: Teddy Bear’s Picnic)
When you visit Palm Springs, is it worth it to take the Aerial Tram from the floor of the Coachella Valley to nearly the top of San Jacinto Peak? A resounding ‘yes’ from me! Not only is that tram ride awesome but it is a really cool, crisp, beautiful place. I may have sung the Grizzly Adams theme song when I was up there… that’s between me and the mountains. But if anyone cares, I do know the lyrics.
After weeks of diligent research and music listenin’ I created my desert roadtrip playlist. We put it to the test while driving through the Mojave Desert just last week and it was perfect. There is a dearth of good suggestions for desert tunes on the internet and every single mix out there contains ‘horse with no name’ which is too obvious! I’ve always been partial to ‘sister golden hair’ myself.
- Midnight On the Interstate - Trampled By Turtles
- Sunken Waltz - Calexico
- Big Iron - Marty Robins
- Tamacun - Rodrigo y Gabriela
- Alone Again Or - Calexico
- Them Dance Hall Girls - Fraser & DeBolt
- Sister Golden Hair - America
- The Weight - The Band
- Road to Nowhere - Greensky Bluegrass
- Wait So Long - Trampled By Turtles
- Highwayman - The Highwaymen
(other songs that I was playing with were: Return of the Grievous Angel - Gram Parsons, Dust in the Wind - Kansas and Gallows Pole - Zeppelin)
If you have the chance to make the drive from Vegas to Palm Springs you should do so!
(so this happened to me a while ago)
Woke up in the morning and felt really sore on my right side. I started feeling around the right side of my body to localize the pain and it lead to my right breast and then holy christ, no it couldn’t be, there was a lump there. A large smooth lump that seemed pretty solid but moved around. It felt painful, like touching a bruise. A woman’s worst nightmare right? I kept to myself that morning not saying a word to my husband I went into work that day without saying a word to anyone. I decide I will keep this to myself until getting a medical opinion because I don’t know if I could bear the pity. I know I am being stupid. I could feel it there all day when I wasn’t even touching it, it was awful.
I google myself into a frenzy. Does this seem like cancer? Could it be something else?
It doesn’t hurt anymore and it feels slightly smaller. Call doctors office to make appointment for breast exam. I couldn’t get in with the doctor I wanted until next month so I asked if I could just wait. The receptionist said I should have come in yesterday which didn’t make me feel comforted. I said I had read on the internet that I should wait a few weeks until I’d gone through a menstrual cycle. She told me to stay off the internet.
Despite the receptionists suggestion I continue to google myself to the breaking point. Ok if this IS cancer what are my odds what are my treatments what do I have in terms of options for reconstruction after a double mastectomy and what do those look like? (seriously I’m a crazy person)
Day 9 (pre doc visit)
Well I’ve finally settled down some. I spent most of my days trying not to think about it. When I do my google searches are a lot more rational such as: What happens at a breast exam? What could this be other than cancer? I do check to make sure it’s still there every day (it is). But other than that I’m just plodding along; seeing friends, playing music, working etc. My first doctors appointment is today and I feel nervous. Not bad nervous though, more like giddy nervous. I think I’m actually excited to have somebody to talk to about this. Keeping it to myself was stupid but I did it and now I get to talk about it with someone and the prospect of that is making me feel good.
Day 9 (post doc visit)
Well, that did not go well. I arrived at 11:00 at the doctors office and sat and waited until 11:50 when the Doctor actually saw me. I’ve had to wait to see doctors before but this was horrible. When you’re visiting the doctor for a possible life changing illness an hour to sit and stew is awful. Especially in an OBGYN office filled with pregnant mothers and kids. It was actually pretty much empty but the few people waiting seemed happy and/or playful. The Doc did apologize for the wait and confirmed that the lump I felt was real AND the noticed my lymph nodes were swollen in my other breast. Goddamit really!? She made an appointment for me to go see a breast specialist on Monday morning. Another weekend of not knowing. 5 horrible days.
When I got back to work it was hard to concentrate. I try to fight the urge to google but I google anyways; ‘what’s the life expectancy of someone with breast cancer?’ ’ how to tell your parents you have cancer’ and oddly, ‘were you able to keep your job and fight breast cancer at the same time?’
Last night I toughed it through a social engagement totally distracted from my doctors visit early that morning. Part way though I text Eric that I had a bad visit to the doctor. I had had enough, I had to get it off my chest. Unfairly to him I didn’t tell him until about 45 minutes later when I picked him up to get a drink and some food. Right when he got in the car he asked what was wrong and I told him about the doctors visit and the unexpected swollen lymph nodes and about the specialist they are rushing me in to see first thing Monday morning (it’s Wednesday).
me: They seemed pretty serious no one assured me that it was ‘probably nothing’ and they’re rushing me in to see a specialist
him: … quiet… them having you wait 5 days is rushing?
He then announced he would be canceling all his plans to spend the weekend with me. I insisted he not do this. I kind of want the peace and quiet also I’ve got a lot of work to do over the weekend so we can leave for vacation on Wednesday. If we DO leave if I am not as sick as a fear I am.
I have done a good job not googling. My brain is still reeling - thinking really bad thoughts but I’ve been keeping the googling under control at least.
Day 14 (pre doc visit)
After a long weekend of trying not to think about what’s happening with varying degrees of success I am headed to the specialist this morning. What kind of specialist you ask? A cancer specialist, sigh. I woke up before my alarm pretty well terrified. My heart has been racing so fast this morning I’ve had to sit down a couple times for fear of passing out. The 5 day wait between doctor visits was hard but not as hard as these few hours the morning of the actual visit. My life could totally change today by lunchtime I will either be starting my battle with breast cancer or publishing these entries with a sigh of relief and a, ‘thank g-d it’s nothing’. That’s pretty huge. The thing that is scaring me most about the possible cancer diagnosis right now is having to tell my 70+ year old parents. That’s got to be the hardest thing to have to tell your parents ever right? The thought makes me sick especially my father, I don’t know if I can stand to see the look of sadness on his face.
Day 14 (post doc visit)
I pull up to the Piper Building (women’s health building). There is a nice convenient parking lot right there but man is parking steep. Hospitals should provide free parking! I go to the information desk and say I need to check in and she says for what procedure and I stand there confused. I’m confused because I have no idea because the Doctor I saw last week never mentioned to me what this appointment entailed… but we’ll get to that later. They eventually send me on my way and I check in for my first step which is a mammogram and who do I check in with buy my childhood neighbor, Donna. Man, she looked great. Of course the first thing that came into my mind was that if I was even considering hiding this from my mom that that would no longer be an option now. You know what though, it was great to see her. It was great to get a big hug and hear about her travels and things she’s done with my mom lately. Talk about calming.
The mammogram was more awful and painful than I’d ever imagined. It was also nothing like I’d ever imagined. After the mammogram they decided to give me an ultrasound because apparently I have dense breasts. The ultrasound/mammogram tech was nice and calm and just exuded, ‘this is no big deal’ which I needed. She talked about house-hunting and I talked about the nervous breakdown I’ve been having for the last 2 weeks and finally she turns to me and says, I just know this is a cyst. I can’t diagnose you but this is really nothing. I had been wanting to hear those words for so long and at the same time I didn’t believe her and I just sat there and waited.
Eventually the doctor came, a pretty blonde woman with a little lesbian vibe. To make me feel better about my ‘dense’ breasts she said they were ‘womanly’ and confirmed it was a cyst. I didn’t really believe her either so when she said there were two options: let it go away on it’s own or stick a needle in and remove it I opted for the latter because during my hours of internet research I read of woman that were mis-diagnosed with a cyst, or the cyst was hiding the cancer and I wanted to see that thing gone. I mean if she stuck a needle in it and it didn’t go away then she was wrong and I needed to see that play out.
Long story short (heh) not only can they get rid of the cyst in about 20 seconds but you can watch the entire thing on the ultrasound monitor. You actually see it disappear, it is AMAZING I mean how often do you go to the doctor, get a definitive diagnosis AND get the option to make it all go away. Never right? As blonde doctor finished curing what ailed me I expected her to fist pump and shout “booya!” Instead she declared, “now you can’t do THAT to cancer!” Truth is better than fiction.
This whole experience was pretty eyeopening. I’ve always known I’m terrified of major illnesses but I didn’t know that my powers of overreacting were so massive. Had today gone differently I would have gotten a biopsy. If it came back with a prognosis of cancer I would have probably had a lumpectomy or a mastectomy followed by chemo or radiation (something like this) you don’t have a lot of choices - you get diagnosed and you have to go through the process and hope for the best right? There’s not much else you can do so it seems strange to lose your mind with worry over it. Not that that will stop me.
I will never see that gynecologist again I think she was terrible. Ok fine she left me waiting for 50 minutes that would be forgivable if I didn’t feel rushed through my appointment after waiting so long. She confirmed I had a lump and said she had to send me away for further tests. She never once told me what it could be other than cancer. She never once told me how low my odds were of this being cancer. She never once told me what the follow up appointment would entail. The whole thing makes me angry but not enough to do anything about it beyond finding a new OBGYN.
Call me a drama queen I don’t care but the speech from the first episode of Friday Night Lights really touched me during this (non)ordeal. I think it’s beautiful writing and though I didn’t fall this time, it’s just a matter of time.
"Give all of us gathered here tonight the strength to remember that life is so very fragile. We are all vulnerable, and we will all, at some point in our lives… fall. We will all fall. We must carry this in our hearts… that what we have is special. That it can be taken from us, and when it is taken from us, we will be tested. We will be tested to our very souls. We will now all be tested. It is these times, it is this pain, that allows us to look inside ourselves."
They’re bringing me down man. This New Years I vowed to double my payments… now, reality sets in and I’m not sure I can swing it. So I increased my payment by 75%! Maybe I can handle the additional 25% this summer if I stop splurging on expensive meals and cancel my parking/gym membership. My estimated payoff date is now:
Though if I don’t pull this off earlier I’ll explode. Better than my old ‘Projected Debt Free Date’ of March 2021!
Was it all worth it? Considering I spent very little time working in either field you might be surprised to hear, ‘maybe’. Nothing’s black and white right? Education is never a bad investment - that’s what my mom always says. And I met my husband and one of my closest friends there so… not for the intended reasons, but I guess yeah it wasn’t a total loss.
The first quote I ever heard about this duo was, "Fraser & DeBolt were the greatest Canadian band never to have made it." Who could resist exploring a band with that accolade?