Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Clumsy Girl’s 25-Point Guide to Stress Relief

1. Show up to work stressed out and tired.
2. Find new cart for the department waiting for you; discover it came in pieces.
3. Locate mallet and screw driver.
4. Get all the pieces laid out.
5. Make cursory glance at instructions.
6. Begin hammering all of the poles and shelves together. Enjoy the light sweat you experience. When it’s all put together, applaud yourself for a job well done.
7. Pick up instruction sheet. Discover there’s a backside and that on that side it instructs you to put screws into the holes in the top shelf BEFORE you hammer it to the poles.
8. Look at cart. Go completely blank for a second. Take a deep breath.
9. Begin whacking at the top shelf with mallet. Realize you’re getting no traction.
10. Take off sweater and regret that you wore the undershirt with the armpit stains today.
11. Sit down. Stare at cart.
12. Turn cart on side and press with your feet while whacking. Make slow, tiny progress.
13. Take a break. Remove glasses.
14. Wrap hands in abandoned sweater and attempt to pull the top shelf off. Marvel at how well designed this goddammed thing is when it doesn’t budge.
15. Leave office and try to find that new guy – the big one who looks very strong. Discover he’s out today.
16. Return to office. Shut door. Sit down and stare at cart again.
17. Notice that you’re actually making progress.
18. Whack. Sweat. Push with with feet. Curse. Alternate hands when forearms get tired. Finally get the top shelf off.
19. Right at that moment, hear a knock on your office door and yell, “Come in!”
20. Discover it’s not your coworker, but the Staples delivery guy you’ve known for five years. Realize you’re in your armpit stain shirt, covered in face sweat, without your glasses, with disheveled hair and two bloody knuckles.
21. Say, “Hi!” And awkwardly over-explain what just happened, while screwing the handles onto the top shelf, now that you’ve been able to insert the screws.
22. When delivery guy sweetly offers you a high five, show him your bloody hands and decline.
23. When delivery guy offers a hug instead, take it.
24. Finish hammering cart together.
25. Do victory laps up and down the hall while pushing your new cart. Realize you’re no longer stressed out or tired.


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Filed under Memoir

Just another cancer blog

I abandoned my children tonight. I plugged them into a glowing rectangle of one form or another, told them to make good choices, and headed out to where I could sit in a dimly-lit space with alternamuzak and drink a pint or two of amber-colored calming tonic in a room with few humans, zero of whom want me to mediate an argument-turned-fist fight, explain why I get to have seconds of dessert and they don’t, or who might accidentally walk in on me while I’m trying to go to the bathroom because they forgot to knock. Again.

I found out yesterday that I will be going in for thoracic surgery on December 17th. Do I have cancer? Unknown. First the nurse practitioner, then the doctor explained to me that there is a 1.8 mm nodule at the bottom of the third lobe of the right lung. (Did you know the left lung only has two lobes? I didn’t either until yesterday.) They’re unable to biopsy it. I won’t bore you why. They explained it using charts and shit and it all made sense, even though it was kind of hard to pay attention, kind of like the way Walter White could only concentrate on the mustard stain on his doctor’s lapel when he got his diagnosis. So, no biopsy. Surgery it is. While I’m under general anesthesia, they’re going to put an incision between four ribs – two incisions total – and remove my nodule, which I’ve named Alberta, very carefully – like John Travolta in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble – so that it doesn’t shed cells on to the presumably-healthy tissue of the rest of my lung. Then my surgeon and his team are going to…eat a sandwich? Balance their checkbooks? Exchange clever banter? Something…while somebody with, at a minimum, a community college certificate does some scientific wizardry to assess whether or not Alberta is malignant or benign. If he’s benign, they’re going to stop right there – hopefully not leaving any of their ink pens or mustard packages inside me – sew me up, and send me on my way to the recovery room. If he’s malignant, they’re going to increase the size of the top incision, spread my ribs wide, and perform a lobectomy on the bottom quarter of the third lobe of my right lung. In case you’re keeping score, this accounts for approximately 20% of the breaths I take (for granted…) There’s a 1% chance of dying during surgery and a 2% chance of developing some sort of something unpleasant and dying within 30 days of the surgery. Continue reading


Filed under Memoir