Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)

30 03 2013

I was diagnosed with skin Cancer last year.

I was not surprised when my fantastic dermatologist identified the Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) by sight, before confirming his diagnosis with a biopsy.

The procedure to treat this, call Mohs surgery, was no big deal but, as with most invasive medical procedures, it’s not something one would be keen to experience on their own. You want your people around, even if you don’t need them. I went in for my appointment armed with a short list of post-op phone calls to make.

I called. I left voicemails. I received no response, save for breezy next day text messages, asking how things had gone.

It was a lightbulb moment. It was the departure of who I once had been and the end of an old life. It was the birth of who I was to become.

It was a very hard night, the first of what would become a particularly difficult year.

Several weeks ago, my doc took a look at the area he’d previously treated and the span of skin which surrounded it. He was not pleased with his findings and he prescribed a cream for me to apply on a nightly basis, a topical form of chemotherapy.

He warned me that the treatment would be unpleasant and that it would require significant downtime. We did not go into the specifics, the long list of potential side effects, but I of course scurried right home and educated myself via an extensive Google search.

Google is not your friend. It attaches itself to your paranoia and drags you to site after site of horror stories, to tummy churning images of oozing, crusty sores, the likes of which convince you that you are soon to become a monster, a being from whose path protective parents will forcefully remove their children. Google is a fear-monger of grand proportions.

Google is also pretty dead on.

I’ve been treated to several of the scarier side effects: chronic fatigue, nausea, mild fever and headache.

And then there are the superficial benefits:

20130330-153134.jpg

It’s a great big ball of fun, this chemo cream.

This time around the Cancer block, I’ve made no outgoing calls, I’ve left no voicemails, I’ve asked for no support.

I’ve not been disappointed.

I’ve learned that it is better this way. I’ve nursed my own wounds, held my own hand, eased my own moments of suffering.

I’ve gone it alone.

I’ve learned that, for me, this is the best course of action. I am my own best friend, my own strongest shoulder, my own greatest supporter.

I am my nurse, my sympathizer, my greatest love, my emergency contact. I will get through this, I will survive. I will have no one but myself to thank for it.

I’m completely good with that.





Twenty Five

3 08 2011

 

 

25 years ago today, this happened.

Twenty.  Five.  Years. 

He has been gone longer than he was here, and still the loss of him is as fresh as it was on that very first day. 

I’m still 15.  I’m still heartbroken. 

I still want my Daddy.

Fuck.





As Perfect Could Be

30 06 2011

The day after my 40th Birthday, I went over to Mr. Sunday’s for a visit.  We sat on his balcony on what was one of the most glorious nights I can recall, drinking Miller Lites, smoking cigarettes, enjoying a killer playlist of songs, and talking, talking, talking.  It was perfection.

I adore Mr. Sunday.  He’s my very most favorite. 

Which reminds me, I’d forgotten to tell you all about the time that Mr. Sunday took me to see a show at Wolftrap, an outdoor ampitheatre in Virginia. 

Upon picking him up, I was delighted to see that he’d packed us a basket of goodies, with everything from champagne and sangria to cheese, fruit and crackers. 

Did I mention that he is my very most favorite? 

Sigh.  Adore.

We’re cruising out of the city, making our way to the show, when we happen upon a tollbooth.  Feeling happy and all toasty-hearted, when we pulled up at the booth, I handed the operator double the amount, asking that she take care of the toll of the vehicle behind us.  Pay it forward, you know?

The show itself at Wolftrap was lovely, but I was far more enjoying the people watching.  And the champagne.  Always the champagne.  Oh, and the company, of course.  Everything was as perfect as perfect could be.

It was a beautiful night, and I felt oh-so lucky to have been treated to that sort of experience.  I floated back to the car in a state of mellow bliss.

Until I spotted the piece of paper, pinned beneath my windshield wiper.

“What the heck?!?  Did I get a friggin ticket?!?  How the f—-” 

No.  That can’t be right.  How does one get a ticket whilst parked in a venue parking lot? 

One doesn’t.

I removed the small piece of white paper and brought it close to my face, squinting in the dimming light as I attempted to read the tiny print.

As perfect as perfect could be.





39 and Holding

23 06 2011

 

 

Today is the last day of my 30s.  As of tomorrow, I will be 40 years old.

Running into one another in the office restroom, my mother asked, “How old will you be?”  When I told her, she responded with, “Did you ever think you’d live to be 40?”

Yes.  I always did.  But, to a younger FreckledK, 40 represented three children, a husband, an old house with a huge front porch, a golden retriever running in the big backyard.  40 meant minivans and soccer practice, evenings spent in a comfortable chair with a softly lit lamp and pages and pages of classic literature.  40 signified a firm foothold on adulthood and a cocoon of stability.

This 40?  My 40?  Quite different, indeed.

I have a convertible.  I’m the parent to two pugs.  I live on my own in a large apartment in the city.  I spend my time stoopsitting on a concrete landing, accompanied by dogs and neighbors.  My evenings out are infrequent, but always eventful.  I do most of my reading on my Kindle, while seated in the back of the Metrobus.  I’m single.  I’m childless.

I’m surprisingly okay with that.

My 40 is not at all the 40 that I had imagined when I was 10 years old, or even 20 or 30 years old but, still, it’s not an entirely bad place to be.  While I don’t feel very much like a sage old soul, I do have some experience under my belt, and the baggage I now carry with me is quite easily managed.  I’m far more comfortable in my own company, in my own skin and I have learned to embrace the person that I am, flaws and all.  I have a pretty swell little life going, actually, and I’m excited to see what the next decade brings.

So Happy Birthday to this old broad.  Here’s hoping that time will be kind and that 50 will prove to be as equally surprising.





FreckledK: Server to the Stars

8 05 2011


“I hope I photograph okay, because when I look in a mirror there’s just a white haze.”  

– Kenneth Parcell

For those of you who don’t own a television, that there is Mr. Jack McBrayer — or 30 Rock’s Kenneth the Page — he cheerfully responds to either.

Jack/Kenneth enjoys Shrimp and Grits and a Diet Coke with no ice.  He very cutely checks his teeth before posing for photographs with service staff, and was gracious enough to pre-inspect my smile as well, bless his cotton socks.  Super nice guy.  Best celeb encounter thus far.

Who said waitressing wasn’t glamorous?





Everything Is Illuminated

4 01 2011

“You will always be an important person in my life, even if we don’t speak again.  I honestly and sincerely hope that you have what you want, are living the way you wish to and are happy and content.  If you think this is weird or rude and don’t respond, I’ll understand, but I hope that you do.”

 

This is the closing paragraph of the email that was sent.

  

The paragraph above that provided updates on the friends I had lost in the split, along with news that its writer had left the city limits a year ago, for an apartment in the suburbs. 

 

The paragraph above that offered polite conversational questions for me: was I still working at the same job, were the animals happy and healthy, etc.

 

And, in the paragraph above that, was this:

 

“I’m not sure what you think of me, but I would like us to catch up if you are interested. Maybe we can grab a cup of coffee or something, completely up to you.”

 

I emailed a reply some time later, giving an update on the animals – living, deceased, adopted.  I confirmed my unchanged employment status.  I ignored the invitation for coffee altogether.

 

In the paragraph below that, the final paragraph, I commented on the news of this relocation, asking: 

 

“What prompted the move out of the city?”

 

I was met with a six paragraph reply.  Idle chatter.  Blah blah blah.  Yadda yadda yadda.  Bloop bloop bloop – liberally seasoned with emoticons and an abundance of exclamation points.

 

But one sentence, a nine word response hidden among the banal chitchat in this email of contrition, told me everything I needed to know.

 

“I moved out here for one of my exes.”

 





It Must Be Christmastime

21 12 2010

I am a bit of a nighmare around the holidays.  I lead a good life, a charmed existence, but tend to forget that fortune around the same time that my friends and neighbors begin daydreaming of fir trees and hot apple cider. 

I know I’m not alone in this, that a good portion of the population suffers from the holiday blues but, ironically, “alone” seems the perfect word to sum up how I feel.  If you don’t have a supportive, loving family with whom to spend the holidays, it doesn’t matter how many friends invite you to pop by for a cocktail, it doesn’t matter if your phone is blowing up with text message after text message wishing you a happy day.  It doesn’t matter how loved you feel for the other 364 days of the year.  On Christmas, you are either enveloped in the love of your family, or you are made more painfully aware of your disconnect.

As a familial holiday, when December 25th rolls around, you’ve really no choice but to make an appearance, to see those people who knew you when you were young and ugly, but who now have no claim to the stunning goddess that you are in the now.  Being single, childless and a forty-five minute drive away doesn’t provide you with much of an “out,” so you’ll begrudgingly make the drive out to the suburbs of Virginia, where you will pick up the check your mother scratched out as an afterthought (but she’ll hopefully spell your name correctly this time), and make lame excuses as to why you won’t be joining the rest of your blood relatives for a supper of Chinese takeout.

Last year, one of my sisters had thoughtfully converted some old Christmas videos to DVD.  When I arrived, she’d popped a disc in the player and went off in search of refreshments.

The recording was from 1985.  A fourteen-year old clad in an unfortunate ensemble of blush and bashful, sitting to the side of an ornately decorated tree, opening a brightly wrapped package and gingerly pulling the tissue paper aside to reveal its contents.  She looks up and into the camera, flashing a gap-toothed grin as a voice emerges from the television speakers, addresses her warmly and asks, “Do you like it?” 

My father’s voice.  

Moments later, I am clinging to the washroom wallpaper, hoping that my family hasn’t witnessed the shade of eggplant that my complexion has adopted.  After a thousand deep breaths and a wipe of the eyes, I slink back into the room.  Within a minute, I am back in the washroom, where I decide to feign stomach upset and wait out the 45 minute recording. 

As much of a toughie as you’ve had to become, all it takes is the sound of a voice not heard in 20+ years to transform you back into a helpless, blubbering fourteen year-old.  It’s a vulnerable thing, the realization that you didn’t quite survive it, that the heartache is just as fresh as it was before, back in the day when your freckles were the size of thumbtacks and you could fit a candy corn between your two front teeth.

It’s just one day.  One day out of the year.  A drop in the bucket.  A small blemish on an otherwise glowing expanse.

But it’s also hard.  And I don’t want to do it.

But you will.  Because you must.  Because it’s what he would want for you to do.

And, with him, I’m still that fifteen year-old.  I always will be.

And you want for him to be proud.

It’s the only gift you can give.








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