OldDogNewTits












Dear Josh Hutcherson,

Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m Vivien’s mom. That’s all that really matters as far as this letter is concerned. Vivien is my daughter. My only girl. 20140219-125210.jpg

That sweet kid is my BFF. (Tied with my own mom, of course).

Vivien is a happy, spirited 11-year old who loves to sing and dance so much that she can hardly sit still. She LOVES her friends, she LOVES her stuffed animals and she LOVES her Disney & Nickelodeon tween shows. She’s young in years and young at heart. And she’s never had a real crush on anyone.

Until now.

You know where I’m going with this … right, Peeta? We saw Catching Fire at the movie theater FIVE times. Please know that I have never before seen any movie at the theater five times. And I can’t begin to count the number of times she’s watched the first movie now that we own it on DVD. She even read the trilogy multiple times. She loves the storyline. She loves Peeta. And she loves you.

Case in point. Here’s a sampling of her bedroom walls BEFORE you came into the picture.

20140219-122307.jpg And here’s what I’m dealing with NOW. 20140219-122652.jpg

Don’t get me wrong. She loves Jennifer, too. But, clearly, YOU are winning. Over Jennifer AND kittens. (Those poor kittens never stood a chance.)

So why am I writing you? That’s a great question, Josh. I’m glad you asked. Here’s why. Because I need you to keep it together. Like totally together. You’re right in there with Justin, Miley, Demi, Lindsay and so many others who have disappointed me and several million other people by really screwing up.

Calm down. I know what you’re thinking.

“Geez. Lay off, Vivien’s mom. I’m young. Everybody makes mistakes.”

And to that I say,

“Yes, you’re right, Josh. But you’re a role model for kids, specifically MINE. And, frankly, if I hear anything about drug addiction, DUIs or public displays of ‘crazy,’ I can promise you I’m going to be madder than your own mother.

Don’t make me angry, Josh. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

There’s nothing wrong with keeping it together. Seriously, it’s not “uncool.” (And I’m condescendingly using air quotes here … which is hard because I’m also typing.) The Jonas Brothers, Dakota Fanning and even your lovely co-star Jennifer Lawrence all seem to be keeping themselves out of trouble and keeping it real (or however you guys are saying it these days).

For now, I’m fine with your face on her walls … and her books … and even her earrings. You seem like a sweet guy and I’ve been impressed with your performances in Hunger Games and Catching Fire as well as Bridge to Terabithia and both of the Journey movies. (And, seriously, we deserve points for taking in that second one. More than once.)

Just remember that, along with all of the other Hunger Games and JHutch memorabilia we now have here in the house, we also have one of these little guys.

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Pocket Josh was one of her Valentine’s presents. (Along with ham, so you were in good company.)

And I’m a native New Orleanian. Do you know about New Orleans, Josh? We’re famous for our hurricanes, our amazing food and our history with a form of black magic called Voodoo. This little action figure would make a nice Voodoo doll, don’t you think?

But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. I’m sure you know better. And I look forward to watching you grow into your adult acting career. Maybe one day Vivien and I will even get to meet you. But only if you keep your promise to me today. You DO promise to behave, right?

Do it now. Make the promise. Until then, I’ll just keep these pins and matches in the drawer next to Pocket Josh.

Sincerely, 

Vivien’s Mom

(aka Michele Robert Poche)

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Inspired by the MamaKat writing prompt: Share something that made you smile this week. How about the fact that my girl is starting to follow in my footsteps(sniff)

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Darling Dame
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I am a child of the 80s. And everything that came with it. I listened to homemade mix tapes (usually peppered with Casey Casem’s voice) on my walkman, I wore acid wash Guess jeans with zippers at the ankles and I sure as hell wanted my MTV. I also had about 57 different celebrity crushes back in the day. So when the opportunity to see a whole slew of them (what’s the plural for teen idols? a bevy? a gaggle?) all in the same film presented itself back in 1983, my friends and I stood in line at the movie theater to buy a ticket. Actually, we stood in line four times to buy a ticket.

Anyone remember this timeless classic?

I had a cat named Sodapop. I think that perfectly demonstrates the extent of my commitment to this movie.

It was a golden era. Rob didn’t have a criminal record, Tom hadn’t started worshipping aliens, Patrick was in peak health and C. Thomas hadn’t donned blackface for one of the dumbest, least-credible and most racially offensive movies of all times. Yet.

But, as the film taught us, nothing gold can stay. And time marches on. But I so loved the movie. Which is why I saw it in the theaters more times than any other film in my lifetime. Until now.

Because I now have a daughter who loves movies … and young actors … and interesting stories about troubled kids … stories that get their roots in current kid lit. Which is how I broke my record. Just last weekend actually. When … for the FIFTH time … I saw the second film in the Hunger Games series, Catching Fire.  Here’s its WAY more intriguing trailer.

Now, before anyone thinks I’m an extravagant spendthrift, please allow me to “defend” myself and tell you a little about my five moviegoing experiences.

Viewing #1 – Opening night. A local theater was offering a double feature with the first and second movies. They had giveaways, trivia contests and prizes. Viv and I went together. It was held on a school night. I won the cool mom award that evening. (Paid by me)

Viewing #2 – One month later. My son has actually read all the books, too. And, while he isn’t the super fan my daughter is, he wanted to see the movie, too. So Viv and I brought him. Two times to the same movie isn’t that weird, right? (Paid by me again)

Viewing #3 – Vivien asked my mom (Hi, Mom!) for a movie gift card for Christmas so she could see the movie again. It was one of the top items on her list. And she got it. So what was I to do? (Paid by Viv’s grandmother)

Viewing #4 – Intrigued by Vivien’s obsession with the trilogy (she’s read each book multiple times), my mom started reading the series as well. When she finished the first book, we all watched the first movie (which we, of course, own) on DVD. When she finished the second book, she offered to take Vivien and I to see the movie with her. She knew I’d seen the movie three times already, so she treated. (Paid by Viv’s grandmother again)

Viewing #5 – With the holidays behind us, school back in session and the movie only playing in two theaters in town, I thought my big screen Catching Fire days were done. Then my dear friend (Hi, Heather!) gave us our belated Christmas presents. And what do you think she gave my daughter, her Godchild? Yep. A gift card to the movies which, at Vivien’s request, we used the very night we opened it. (Paid by Viv’s Godmother)

And, with that, history was made.

I broke my own personal record in the category of Number of Times Seeing the Same Movie in the Theater. (Shut up. It is SO a thing.) Honestly, besides getting to see my daughter light up like a Christmas tree five times, I love that I did it  … because I’m pretty freakin’ sure I’ll never get to six.

But then again, the third book has yet to be made into a movie. (sigh) Okay, Vivien. Game on.

For MamaKat’s writing prompt: Write something inspired by the word gold. I went with a Robert Frost poem. Sort of.

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It’s October 25. Two Months ’til Christmas. But, more importantly, one week ’til Halloween. What better way to commemorate the occasion than to take in bone-chilling, blood-curdling, scare-your-pants-off horror flick. For those of you paying attention, I’ve already fulfilled my obligation this month with my friend, Vanessa, and House at the End of the Street.

While it did accomplish its primary goal of scaring the snot out of me, I don’t see any Oscar nods in its future. Still, it manages to attract an audience. Mostly because FilmNation Entertainment opted to cast Jennifer Lawrence (also known as Katniss Everdeen from the globally famous Hunger Games) as its female lead. And actually, I noticed that Lawrence’s two movies have a few similarities.

These details were exactly the same.

In both HG and HATEOTS …

  • Katniss (which henceforth shall be her name for both films) is a tough, jaded teenager with lots of attitude.
  • She’s got a crappy relationship with her mom.
  • She lives near the woods.
  • Children die.

And these were pretty close.

1. Katniss doesn’t have a father.

  • Because he was killed in a mine explosion. (HG)
  • Because her parents were divorced and FilmNation Entertainment didn’t want to cast an actor to play her dad. (HATEOTS)

2. Katniss is surrounded my alcohol abuse.

  • By Haymitch, the sole surviving victor from District 12 who fell to alcoholism following his fight to stay alive against twenty-three bloodthirsty opponents. (HG)
  • By spoiled, overprivileged teenagers who, if this movie was a slasher flick of the 80s, would’ve been picked off one by one during the course of the movie. (HATEOTS)

3. Katniss sings.

  • Because she wants to defy the Capitol and avenge Rue’s death. (HG)
  • Because she wants to rock out in Battle of the Bands. (HATEOTS)

4. Katniss is exposed to an aggressive sleep aid.

  • Sleep syrup – because she needs to lull Peeta into a deep sleep while she risks her life venturing out for much needed medicinal supplies to save his life. (HG)
  • Chloroform – because the killer was small in stature and thought she needed subduing. (HATEOTS)

5. Katniss is being forced to conform to something she is not.

  • A tribute or, as Peeta would call it, a pawn in the Capitol’s dystopian game. (HG)
  • A dead girl. Or undead. You don’t find out ’til the end and I’m not going to spoil it for you. (HATEOTS)

Oh, and one more thing. Remember the one about Lincoln having a secretary named Kennedy and so on? Well … the name of the Hunger Games producer is NINA Jacobsen. And there was a character in House at the End of the Street named MARY Jacobsen. Oooooooooooh.

* * * * * * * * * *

Where am I going with this?

Duh. Absolutely nowhere. I’m the girl who writes about dumbassery, remember? And today I think I’ve given you more than your daily dose. In summary, GO SEE A SCARY MOVIE! And come tell me about it when you do. Hurry! You’ve only got six days left. My friend, Vanessa, still wants to have a Paranormal Activity movie marathon. (Shudder.) I’ve never seen any of them. God help us all if she wins me over. Think manic posts. Crazy, rambling, over caffeinated posts. From a sleepless lunatic.

It could get pretty interesting.

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At exactly 2:23am this morning, the following message was sent to me:

Not everyone will survive. An ancient alien race, known only as “Reapers,” has launched an all-out invasion leaving nothing but a trail of destruction in their wake. Earth has been taken, the galaxy is on the verge of total annihilation, and you are the only one who can stop them. The price of failure is extinction. You are Commander Shepard, a character that you can forge in your own image. You determine how events will play out, which planets to explore, and whom to form alliances with as you rally a force to eliminate the Reaper threat once and for all. How you wage this war is completely up to you: go into combat with guns blazing or use cover to plan a more tactical assault. Utilize your squad to full effect or take a lone wolf approach. Rain death from a distance or go toe-to-toe with enemies using devastating melee attacks. Mass Effect 3 will react to each decision you make as you play through a truly unique experience of your own creation.

I thought about it a lot, but followed up with this firm but kind refusal:

Dear Selection Committee for this Ominous Position,

Okay, first of all … What the hell, man?

Can I just say that I feel GREAT PRESSURE to save the Earth for a Monday morning?!!?

Why am I the “only one” who can prevent this “extinction?” (Yes, you DO hear whining in my voice!) Geez, even on a fat day, I’m still only about 120 pounds. And if you ever heard me say I was 5’4,” then I was lying.  I’m 5’3.75″ at best. Plus, um, I get winded pretty easily. Ooh, and don’t even get me started on bruising. I am like a banana when I so much as brush against the footboard of my bed.

Is this appeal coming to me because of all the Hunger Games/Katniss nonsense I’ve been putting out there? Dude, there is a real difference between reading about powerful females and actually being one.

So, to whomever is in charge of tapping a ‘Commander Shepard,’ PLEASE KEEP LOOKING. I am whole heartedly disinterested. I’ve already got my hands full with two kids, a husband (a term many women would liken to a third child. Ladies, am I right?), a cat who can’t decide if he really likes me or not and, you know, lots of other stuff. I wouldn’t have the first idea who to call to form these so-called “alliances.” Neptune? Jupiter? I don’t know anybody on those planets. I’m still working off basic cable and a couple of VCRs in this house. Seriously, I really think you’ve got the wrong guy here.

It’s true. I can spin a good tale from time to time. But what good is that going to do all of us really when our bodies are somehow suspended in time while the ‘Reapers’ attempt to replicate and/or alter our DNA? (See! I know nothing about science fiction. I can’t even come up with a good illustration of what they’ll be able to do to us with me in charge.)

My point? I can’t emphasize enough how inappropriate I am for this global responsibility. Perhaps you should consider someone better qualified like, I don’t know, Barack Obama …. Leon Panetta … or, ooh, even Clint Eastwood maybe. Or … if it has to be a woman … how about Queen Elizabeth … or Ellen DeGeneres? The common denominator of all of these people is that they are well-connected.  They have resources. And people listen to them.

In summary, I’d really re-think the decision to put me in charge.  Just my two cents.  But if you need help finding someone else, this job sounds important enough that I’m happy to offer my assistance in recruiting someone. Else.

Thanks for asking though. You can’t imagine how flattered I am.

Sincerely,

Michele (ODNT)

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read to be read at yeahwrite.me




I did something I NEVER do today. I saw a movie (a BIG one, I might add) on its opening day. I’d give you three guesses as to the movie but, the way I’ve been carrying on lately, I’m sure you know it was Hunger Games. No, I did not stand in line with a bunch of teenagers at midnight. I went with a group of friends, the same ones I mentioned in my second prequel post.

We are adults. So, we did it in a very civilized way. We purchased our tickets in advance for a very upscale, modern theater in New Orleans, where you have to be 18 to enter. Their tagline is Gourmet Food. Full Bar. Luxury Seating.  I took advantage of all three.

We settled into our oversized comfy chairs (akin to the quality of first class air travel) and pressed a button for the waitress. Jen and I split the cheese plate, described as a selection of four cheeses served with breads and fig mostarda, assorted flatbread and crackers.  I also ordered the Angelo Brocato’s Italian Cookie Plate because I’m a sucker for fig cookies. And, for my beverage, I wanted The Dawn Patrol (house-made fig brandy, Patron Citronage Orange Liqueur, sour mix, splash of house-made vanilla cinnamon brown sugar simple syrup and satsuma twist) to complete my Trifecta of fig cuisine. But, alas, they were out of the necessary brandy so I opted for a Trivento Malbec and sat back to wait for the movie.

The food arrived for most of us almost immediately so we began eating (a difficult task, considering it was knife and fork fare and we were in near darkness) over the movie trailers.  I saw one for Dark Shadows, a Tim Burton movie featuring none other than Johnny Depp, that I filed away for my summer wish list. Then, I saw another, the most unusual today, for something called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Let me just say … I SO wish I had thought of this movie title. It would also be a great name for a band, wouldn’t it?

Anyway … jumping ahead majorly … I really enjoyed the movie, for which I sat on the edge of my seat the majority of the time.  Even though, unlike (almost) ever before in my lifetime, I had actually read the book first and thus knew what was going to happen. Except, of course, when the screenplay strayed from the original story.

The question … Was it as good as the book?  The answer … Is it ever?

There’s always far too much that needs to be omitted when something is culled down from the page to the screen.  Much must be sacrificed. But, then again, the movie affords you the delight of seeing some of the fictional characters come to life through real people like Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz. I so loved all of them in this movie.

Am I going to tell you anything else about the movie? 

Absolutely not. This story is one that no one wants spoiled for them.  I’ve literally shushed and been shushed by total strangers when discussing the book in public. It’s a cult. And I’m a kool-aid drinking, tambourine-beating, bald girl selling flowers at the airport.  I’m all in.

One last thing though … to the women in the ladies room after the show, the main character’s name is KATNISS EVERDEEN, not Candace Aberdeen.  If you read the book, you’d know that. (Look at me … getting all uppity about book learnin’.)

Haven’t seen it yet? Let me tempt you …

Thanks, Ashley, Vanessa, Jen, Melissa and Mignon, for bringing me today.

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About two weeks ago, I wrote a prequel for Hunger Games for a little writing contest. Like so many other tweenagers around the country, I have caught Hunger Games fever and anxiously anticipate the big movie release later this week. So, in honor of its premiere … and at the request of two of my writing pals … I have written a prequel to my prequel. I’m sure HG author Suzanne Collins will thank me for giving her a leg up on her next book. (You’re welcome, Ms. Collins. Happy to be of assistance.)

If you have read any or all of the books in the series, I’d love your opinion on both prequels. If not, what’s keeping you? I promise you that I barely pass for literate in this world … and the books have consumed me. Perhaps my sequels will help to suck you in so that you, too, will taste the rainbow! (Wait, crap. That’s the Skittles slogan. Let’s try that again.) … catch the fever!

Oh, and According to Mags and Ninja Mom, I dedicate this prequel to the prequel to you both. And I thank my local friends (Ashley, Vanessa, Melissa, Mignon & Jennifer) for getting me hooked on the series in the first place. I hope you guys all enjoy what I did here. If not, please just lie and say you did.

* * * * * * * * * *

Hunger Games – The Prequel to the Prequel

* * * * * * * * * *

I watched as my arrow sailed through the air, right past the tree intended as my target. “Don’t worry, Katniss,” said my father, patiently. “Practice makes perfect. And if we have to stay in these woods all day ’til you hit your mark, then we will.”

“But Mama will be expecting us,” I said, thinking mostly about the hunger growing in my stomach.

“Your mother will be fine. She’s got her hands full with your little sister. I’ll bet she won’t even notice if we’re late. Then, he took a quick look around, surveying the area, and turned back to me with a playful grin. I already knew what was coming. “You go get the arrows by the lake and I’ll collect the ones that ran off into the woods. Last man back has to clean ‘em.” And he took off like a shot through the trees.

I stood there watching him, watching my father scamper away happily just like one of the other kids at my school. He was never as happy as when we were in these woods together. And I felt exactly the same way about him. We both loved Mama and little Prim more than words could say but the relationship we had with each other was unlike any I had with anyone else. I always knew what he was thinking before even he did. And he always knew what I was going to say before it came out of my mouth. We were “cut from the same old, tattered cloth,” Mama always said, pretending to mind when we came home filthy from these little dates together. But we knew she was just as happy to get her alone time with little Prim, the two of them being two peas in a pod.

I cherished the private moments with my father, so much so that sometimes I think I actually aimed poorly and missed my targets on purpose, in the hopes of extending our time together. He was determined to teach me to shoot straight. He said he wanted a hunting partner. And these woods could provide food for our family and a little extra to sell in town. But we had to be careful. We weren’t even supposed to be in the woods, much less hunting and selling our kill.

As I walked along the lake’s edge, I thought about my father and worried about what would happen if the Capitol ever caught him or anyone else from District 12 out here. It seemed like more and more people from the 12 districts were getting into trouble with our leaders these days. The country of Panem was always making new laws for its people and those who didn’t follow them paid dearly, usually with their lives. At seven, I comforted myself with the fact that I was a still a half a decade away from the possibility of competing in the Hunger Games, the Capitol’s way of punishing us every year for something that happened so long ago. I shuddered at the idea of my name being among the others in that glass bowl in just five short years. And then I realized why it was so important to my father that I develop my hunting and survival skills.

He was trying to prepare me in case my name was ever selected for this savage annual event run by the Capitol.

I found myself consumed with these terrifying thoughts and gathering the last of the arrows when I saw him. My father and I weren’t the only ones in the woods today. There, only about 10 yards away from where I stood, was a boy. He couldn’t have been more than a few years older than me. He turned sharply to face me when my foot snapped a twig beneath it.

“Hello,” I said, feeling oddly at ease with this boy I had never met.

“Hi,” he answered, clearly relieved to discover the sound he heard was made by another child.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m … I’m trying to catch a rabbit,” he answered, sounding a little more nervous now.

I knew I could put him at ease again if he knew we were in the woods for the very same reason. “My father and I are here hunting rabbits. Well, he’s hunting them and I’m just learning to shoot.”

Instantly relaxed, he smiled. “I’m better at trapping them. Want to see?”

“Sure,” I said, walking over. “My name’s Katniss …”

“Catnip?” he asked.

“No, Kat-NISS,” I explained. “My father named me for the flower. He said …”

He laughed. “I was only kidding, Katniss. My name is Gale.” And he turned to set the snare. “Okay, Kat-NISS. Want to catch a rabbit?”

I realized it was starting to get dark and knew my father would be searching for me. “Thanks, Gale. I really do. But I need to find my father and get back home to my mother and my sister, Prim.” Why was I telling him so much? We’d only just met. “Can we meet back here at the same time tomorrow?”

“Sure, Catnip. See you tomorrow,” he said with a smile, as he set the trap and walked off into the woods.

I turned and ran back to find my father. I knew he’d want to get in a little more target practice before heading home. And I was ready. Somehow, I knew I’d be hitting that old tree with my very next arrow.

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The Trifecta Weekly Challenge is a lot more complicated (for ME anyway) than the abbreviated weekend version we played a few days ago.  The difference is that I have more time and more words with which to work. The rules are pretty simple: All entries must be between 33 and 333 words. In addition, they must include the following word as defined by its third definition:

vulgar (adj) \ˈvəl-gər\ 

1: generally used, applied, or accepted

2: vernacular <the vulgar name of a plant>

3 a : of or relating to the common people : plebeian
   b : generally current : public <the vulgar opinion of that time>
   c : of the usual, typical, or ordinary kind

* * * * * * * * * *

I opted to write a prequel to the book I’m reading right now. Actually, that’s a lie … because I’m not reading Hunger Games anymore.  I just finished that book and have now begun reading its sequel, the second in the trilogy, entitled Catching Fire. The following passage (which I struggled to edit to 332 words) is intended to serve as a prequel to the entire trilogy.  I tried to write it to appease both the Hunger Games expert as well as the newbie.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll even score some new readers to the series for author Suzanne Collins.  You’re welcome, Ms. Collins.  Your books have enveloped me.

Hunger Games – The Prequel

I entered the square with my mother and sister, Prim.  She was only 7 and, thanks to a mine explosion that claimed the lives of many, she would now grow up with little memory of the honorable man I knew as our father. The three of us stood there, paralyzed alongside the other families who had also lost a loved one.

I’ve never seen so many people at the Justice Building for anything other than the reaping.  Now eleven, I shuddered, realizing that next year I would be eligible for this barbaric annual ritual.  It was the Capitol’s way of keeping us, the inhabitants of Panem’s 12 districts, in our places since the bloody, failed attempt at an uprising seventy years earlier.

I swallowed hard, tasting bile in my throat.  I knew my name would be in that glass bowl, along with all other 12 to 18 year olds in District 12.  We would file in, be herded by age and wait, breathlessly, as a girl’s then a boy’s name was selected, sentencing them to an almost certain death at the hands of another child.

Effie Trinket was the Capitol’s representative for District 12.  As long as I can remember, I’ve watched her bony hand pluck name after name out of that infamous bowl.  But today she was here for a different reason.  Today, she was here, along with a paltry showing of other heartless Capitol representatives, to bid farewell to the victims.

I could feel her staring me down, searching for any sign of weakness at my father’s death.  Those from the Capitol have always been fascinated by our emotions, as they were reprogrammed years ago to have them deleted from their consciousness. As such, they perceived our displays as common, vulgar even, and found it mesmerizing whenever this imperfection was exhibited publicly.

But I wouldn’t give Effie the satisfaction today.  I stared at her with the same steely eyes that I knew she would reflect back at me if my name was ever pulled from that bowl.

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Wanna read a PREQUEL to the prequel? Click here.

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{March 5, 2012}   Keeping that tumor in my past

Today started like any other Monday during the school year. We all woke up overtired from the weekend.  Dave immediately flung himself into the shower.  I began rousing sleepy children who, unlike either of the kids of the past two mornings, would have been willing to stay in bed until noon if I had allowed it. My girl was very cranky and my boy needed to look over a little something for a test today so I raced to get him ready and to his books while trying to exhibit any patience a Monday morning would allow me with my daughter.  Suffice it to say, we got through everything and I watched as they rode away with their dad to school.

I had a few things to take care of at home before jumping into the shower for my doctor’s appointment.  Today I would be seeing the thorascopic surgeon who removed the tumor in my chest cavity last December.  I can hardly believe it’s been three months.  It sort of seems like ten years ago … and, then again, it sort of seems like ten minutes ago. Much has happened in my life since then and, while I try to remind myself every day of how lucky I am to have received such a positive outcome with everything, I will admit that I am human and have had plenty of selfish ‘woe-is-me’ moments since the surgery.

Truthfully though, I mostly don’t think about it much anymore.  Every now and then, I run into a family member or a friend who I haven’t seen in a while. Someone who keeps up with the blog but hasn’t seen me since everything happened. And they always hug me and ask “How are you feeling?” And I find myself standing there, stupefied for a few seconds, fighting the urge to say “Fine.  And you?” because I know what they mean.  I just keep forgetting that the story in the back of my mind was my own.  I forget about all of the doctors I saw, for business and for pleasure last fall … and all of the tests I took … and all of the reports I wrote.  Frankly, I don’t know how I had the energy.  It’s been a very exhausting 2012 so far.

But today I was anxious to put things behind me for a while with this appointment.  To get it over with, as they say.  Which is why I was a little frustrated when I got the call from the doctor’s office to come in two hours later.  But I know my doctor and I know how busy he is so I complied and busied myself with some of the many things I put off around the house until it was time to leave.  I literally had one foot out the door when my phone rang.  Not recognizing the number, I took the call. It was the radiology department of the hospital calling to make an appointment for a chest x-ray.  No one mentioned anything about it to me so I called my doctor from the car to confirm it and learned that I did in fact need to have the x-ray.  It would be my 6th since November. 106th if you count my CT scan, which my doctor says is equal to 100 x-rays.  (Incidentally, when I googled it, all the other websites had even higher ratios.  The record was one CT scan being equal to 1,000 chest rays.  So perhaps this would be my 1,006th x-ray since November.)

In any event, I needed to get another one. Today. This morning. Before moving on to another part of the hospital for the actual doctor’s appointment, for which I was clearly now going to be late.  I managed to find a parking spot pretty quickly and headed off through the garage to enter the hospital. I realized as I was walking toward the main building that I hadn’t been in that area since my big surgery weekend.  It was kind of odd being back there again walking into the door I walked out of after the surgery.  I remember sitting pathetically on that bench while Dave went to get the car and save me the long walk.  And making small talk with a very bothersome but very well-meaning old man who wanted nothing more than to hear all about my surgery while I was still looped on its accompanying drugs.  This time, I walked in by myself, fully coherent but increasingly anxious about the whole thing.  Something I was just now realizing about myself.

I took a few wrong turns once inside the building and was about to call the radiology department from my cell when I finally saw the signage I was seeking.  Honestly, it was such a direct path inside the building that I have no idea how I got lost in the first place.  Then again, I get disoriented traveling from my bed to the bathroom in the middle of the night so it’s really no big surprise.

I approached the desk and was just starting to get my bearings back when the receptionist began speaking to me.  It was obvious she had no idea what I was talking about when I began explaining why I was there.  So, she called over a co-worker who seemed equally confused about the strange woman who materialized requesting an unauthorized chest x-ray.

Do I have the papers? Who called me? When did they call?

Shit if I knew. I just wanted to get my damned x-ray and get out of there.

And then, thankfully, I remembered that the caller left a voice mail on my cell phone.  So, I played the message which, apparently, unlocked the mystery and revealed the desk upon which my paperwork sat uselessly. And I was granted permission to begin the process of registering for the x-ray that I didn’t even know I needed thirty minutes ago.

Finally.  Everything was rolling along.  Until I made a big mistake.  Huge.  With an x-ray, you always get asked the pregnancy question. Well, women do anyway.  Only this time, it wasn’t as black and white as I remember.  It seems like in the past they’ve merely asked ‘Are you pregnant?’ It’s a simple yes or no question, to which I would have answered ‘No!’ But today, they threw me for a loop and asked some existential version of the same question.  I think it went something like …

“Is there any chance that, in this life or past, based on the Moon being in the 7th House and Jupiter aligning with Mars, to the best of your knowledge, establishing justice and ensuring domestic tranquility, you could be pregnant … with liberty and justice for all … on a sesame seed bun?”

I was confused.  I was in the headlights.  And I was a complete and utter dumb ass. Geez, I don’t know.  Is there a chance? Between 0 and 100%?? And all the decimal points in between???

Me: “Uh, yeah, I guess there’s a chance,” I stammered … like a COMPLETE idiot.

Her: “Then you need to take a pregnancy test. And that’ll take another hour.”

Me: “What? Noooo! I mean NO, I’M NOT.  I’m definitely not pregnant.”

Her: (laughing apologetically) “Sorry, baby. It’s the rules. You said you weren’t sure so now you have to take the test.”

Me: (defeated) “Fine. I’ll take the stupid test.  What is it? Just a urinalysis?”

Her: “No, it’s a blood test.”

Me: “Of course it’s a blood test.”

So, I surrendered to the lab tech, thankful that she was at least quite handy with a needle and that my bitching completely distracted me from the one prick necessary to obtain the sample she needed. I asked permission to grab lunch during my hour wait, since I hadn’t eaten since 6pm the night before and it was now past noon.  I went downstairs in the hospital and grabbed a surprisingly good sandwich.  Rosemary bread.  Better than I expected for hospital fare. Oh, and I had a cookie. Totally cheated considering I’m trying to lay off sweets. And now I’m confessing it … to you. Please just tell me to say ten Hail Marys and let’s get on with it.  I also killed time reading my book.  Thank you, Suzanne Collins, for occupying me with the second installment of your Hunger Games series.  I think I speak for tweens everywhere and the moms (like me) pretending to read your books for the sake of our children when I say your work has definitely sucked me in.

At the end of the hour, I returned to radiology ready to learn if my family was getting any bigger or if I was getting a chest x-ray.  My money was on the latter.  And I really wish I had placed that bet because I was in a hospital gown prepping to be exposed to more radiation within minutes.  The tech took only two images, confirmed that they were satisfactory and sent me on my way (scans in hand) to see my doctor.

As I walked out, I wondered about the scans and what they revealed. I resisted the urge to look at them.  Until suddenly, I was overcome with curiosity and thought “They’re my damned scans.  I don’t need anyone’s permission to look at them.” (I am such my son’s mother.) So, I stepped to the side in the long hallway, slid one out and stared at the now eerily familiar images of my own bones.  I checked the spot where the tumor had formed previously. Nothing.  Well, at least nothing as far as I could tell.  My years of medical training total exactly zero.  Still, I thought seeing nothing on the scan was better than seeing something, right?

Now operating on autopilot, I finished my walk and found myself standing at the door of my doctor’s office.  I went in, approached the receptionist and explained, no doubt unintelligibly, why I was arriving nearly five hours later than my original appointment time and handed her the scans. I don’t know if she even said anything back to me.  God, I was more nervous than I thought.

I sat in the waiting room, taking in more of my book.  I’ll probably have to read those pages again though.  I’m not sure I actually processed any of the words.  I noticed every person sitting around me was holding the same, oversized white envelope from radiology.  And I wondered about their back stories.  Was this their first visit? Were they about to get life-altering news? Were people waiting for their calls as soon as they left the building?  Yeah, I probably need to read those pages of my book again.

Then, they called my name.  And the first thing they did was to weigh me. Really?  I’d just had a Bacchanalian feast in their coffee shop. Well, at least I won’t be surprised at the staggering numbers. Blood pressure was next.  I really would have worn a different top had I thought about all of the things that were being done to me today.  It was bad enough that I had blood drawn topless.  (How many of you can say that? Stupid fitted sleeves.) After a few attempts to get a good reading through the fabric, the nurse was finally satisfied with my pressure results.  She exited the room and I waited to see my doctor.

When he came in, he looked just how I remembered him.  Jerry Van Dyke.  My family thinks that comparison is hilarious, given the actor’s usual dimwitted, slapstick performances. But, of course, that’s not how I mean it.  The two men simply look alike physically to me.  But that’s where the similarity ends.  Fortuitously.

He took a few minutes to review my files and re-familiarize himself with who I am and why I was there. I heard him talking to himself about “tumors” and “spindle cells” and “schwannomas.” (How many of you think of that old song by The Knack every time you hear the word ‘schwannoma?’ No one else? Just me? Guess that figures.) He seemed surprised all over again that someone like me would exhibit this medical condition. I reminded him of my actual age.  He laughed and said he thought I was “much younger.” (If you thought for a moment that I wouldn’t share that little gem then you don’t know me very well.)

He tacked one of the scans up onto the light and stared at it. “Not even a trace of it,” he muttered under his breath. Then, he put the second image up. “I don’t see anything there at all.”

These are good words to be hearing from my doctor.  I exhaled.

He took a look at the actual incisions and I explained that I had my dermatologist zap the scars with a laser to help diminish them just last Friday.  I also explained that, just prior to that treatment, the largest incision (from which the tumor was removed … I know, gross. Sorry!) was starting to bother me a little again.  I talked about my recent vacation and everything else I was doing around the time the pain started and he said that it was normal for these feelings to occur.  Especially with the jerking around associated with roller coasters and rides of that nature.  Oops.

We talked a bit longer and he deliberated the need for another CT scan but then decided against it.  He went on to discuss the dangers associated with repeated and unnecessary exposure to radiation.  (“That’s alright, Doc. I’ve already been exposed a potentially deadly 1,006 times,” I thought to myself.) And, in the end, he merely recommended that I come back to visit in the next year or so.  We both laughed when he suggested making an appointment for that future visit.  There’s no way in hell I’d remember something that far away.  Of course, now it’s even worse because I have to remember to call and actually make the appointment in the first place.  Can I assign someone here the job of reminding me in a year or two? Will you all still be around?

I will.  I confirmed that today. I wasn’t aware of how nervous I was until I started encountering all the obstacles blocking me from getting through this appointment.  I walked back to my car and realized that I felt like I was about to fall asleep.  I’d used up my entire day at the hospital and it was now time to pick up my kids.  I drove through McDonald’s on the way home and bought a giant Diet Coke.  Besides the obvious caffeine, a bursting bladder always has a magical way of keeping me uncomfortably awake.

Everything looks good.  That’s the three-word version of the ridiculously verbose epistle above.  I needed to flesh it all out in writing.  If not for you, then for me.  Thanks for “listening.”

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et cetera
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