Friday, July 31, 2009

Supersized me

These are turkeys I saw on my walk this winter-not turkey vultures.

As I was driving across NY state after Oliver's birth last year, I saw a group of birds next to the Thruway that looked very much like vultures but I guessed they must be turkeys as it was cold and they were on the ground whereas vultures roost in trees. Today I saw 10 vultures on the ground giving themselves dust baths at Huron High. Josh who was with me at the time was not impressed. He sees them all the time at his house. I remember there was a time that seeing a vulture would thrill him. We saw one on our first cross state bike trip when he was ten. When he was 16, we took our last trip together (along with 3 of his friends) and that was the last time he was on his bike until today (he is 27). He is going mountain biking at Pinckney. He noted from the speedometer that the highest speed recorded still was from the steep descent on our last day in Traverse City (41.4 mph-I've gone faster on road bikes which have much less wind resistance).
He is going with his buddy from South Africa and his buddy's dad. His friend gave me the idea of blogging from his stay in South Africa (

Yesterday I decided to buy some more clothes from one of my favorite stores-Orchid Lane but alas, their largest size XL was much smaller than what XL usually means. A clerk came to the dressing room to see how I was making out. Not very good, I can't even get this over my shoulders.Well I can get you a larger size. This is the largest size!
Sigh. They must be using Italian sizes. Last summer I bought a top off the clothing truck. (Small villages lack stores so lots of items come by truck going from village to village) Tutti e quindici!! (Everything is 15!!) I selected a top that looked like it might fit and happened to look at the size. XXXL! And sadly I needed XXXXL. Back in the US, I was a mere XL.

Well despite all the abundance of XXXs, I am getting smaller and firmer. I spent some time at the Y yesterday where some of my fellow LiveStrong alums were working out. I noted more hair on one of the ladies and asked when her last treatment was. I will never be out of treatment. She has stage 4 ovarian cancer but her current chemo doesn't cause hair loss. Still she looked well and was working out. I don't know how some people find the strength.

I ran for 6 miles today out in the country. A car slowly pulled up to me in a deserted section of the woods (which always freaks me out) but it turned out it was a woman who was lost and very apologetic for stopping me. I was trying to draw a map for her with sweat dropping all over my drawing (it was sort of toasty today) and then I noticed I reversed east and west. I've been making lots of mistakes like that since cancerfest and I type the strangest things (I try to do spellcheck so not all of these things get through).

Tomorrow I see Oliver!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Our neighborhood school
Temporary house. For those who have read the book, this is Juli's house

Some of the vintage cars
Yesterday in the middle of my run (I stuck to the neighborhood because it was supposed to rain) I stopped to watch some of the filming going on. Steve said that within 15 minutes of me leaving, it rained very hard at our house. Even though I wasn't very far away, not a drop on me.
There was quite a crowd watching including one of Josh's buddies who I had a nice talk with. Josh has hung around with him since kindergarten. A very sweet man. According to one of the neighbors, the crew had approached several of the residents asking them to please mow their lawns as part of the plot of the movie was that every house was nicely kept up excepting one house. Well I know what I would have said if they asked me to mow my lawn.... The movie is supposed to take place in the late 50s (although in the book, the word 'internet' was used)so they had to find about 20 vintage cars. Their owners made up a portion of the crowd. On hand were plenty of extras-mainly kids dressed as they would have been in 1959. The star teenage boy was very nice, although he isn't what I would have pictured from the book. So we saw plenty of stars including the director, the former Meathead of the 70s. Cheap thrills for our humble neighborhood.
So almost all of my lower lashes are gone. How can this be so long after I have been poisoned? 16 weeks! But I have been warned as others have reported this-I just was hoping that it wouldn't happen to me. One lady said that her lashes fell out 3 times. The uppers still look OK and I do have some very tiny regrowth taking place in the lowers. I know, pretty petty in the over all scheme of things. I seemed to have escaped many of the nastier side effects that fellow BC buddies are experiencing. But it makes me wonder what else has been destroyed in the process. My immune system? I haven't gotten sick but I have a fairly low white blood count. Is it high enough to attack rogue cancer cells?
A silly squirrel chewing through some of my solar light wiring. (I assume unless someone sabotaged it somehow). The wires are so tiny compared to regular electrical wiring so splicing will be difficult.
Today will be a Y workout even though the weather is perfect for running. Tired legs.
There was an airline sale so after much plugging in many options, I was able to get tickets to Milan (close to the Cinque Terre region) that a college friend and I will go to this October. I can't wait.
Precious Oliver will be here in 2 days, string bean as he is. He still prefers to explore his world rather than sitting still to eat but since he is growing taller, he must be doing fine. Still isn't quite as tall as his mom at the same age but she weighed more at 9 months than what he weighs at 18 months.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Par-a noi-a will Destroy-ya

So all of a sudden I've become very popular according to Statcounter. I received numerous hits from various places in the Far East-alot from Indonesia but also Japan and Taiwan yesterday. Sometimes I can see why a person got on my blog-the people interested in triple negatives are obvious. Either they did a search or they got on from a link from others' blogs. When I had written about the earthquake, I got many hits from around the world. There must be many people interested in the movie "Flipped" also. But I could see no unifying theme to these hits yesterday so I assume it's some strange virus.

Also, targeted ads bother me. I must have been whining about my hair in an e-mail and suddenly an ad appears for some kind of hair restorer. Hmmmm. I don't like the idea of something scanning my words for something to exploit. I guess there is no free lunch. Something has to be gained by offering free blogs and e-mail.

Of course the biggest source of paranoia comes from within: my body. What does this and this mean? As I was doing my long run last week, my chest began to really hurt over my right breast area (the bad area). Otherwise I was feeling well-slow steady breathing, legs had energy, etc. Was I having a heart attack ?(that would be the left side but presumably in women, the pain could appear anywhere)I was not profusely sweating and felt good otherwise. This breast pain comes and goes. According to Susan Love, radiation causes inflammation of the pectoral muscle and as it regenerates 3 to 6 months later, pain can be felt so maybe that is it. My scar feels bumpy, stiff and somewhat painful. If something was growing right underneath it, the most likely place, how would I know? I did bring this up to the radiologist onc CNP while I was trying to have them justify in writing my treatment for the insurance company (letter allegedly in transit) and was told that all my symptoms were 'normal' especially as I had the 'hypofractionated treatment" (more rads in less time).

The site head of my former company, a man I happen to like and respect even though his out-of state bosses I could live without, is starting a 'green chemistry' initiative research institute (I assume on the company's former land)and wondered, through another former employee who has contacted me whether I would be interested in exploring this. I don't know, maybe someday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Round abouts

Until the past 3 years, roundabouts (called rotaries in some places)were fairly rare in these parts. There are many of them in Boston and Washington DC but very few in the MidWest, where the whole area is platted into one mile squares and most roads hit at 90 deg angles. But now Michigan has gone roundabout happy despite having no money (we have the highest unemployment in the country). They just built one near our house openning 2 weeks ago and still people don't know how to drive in them (I learned the hard way driving in France for a week with their cryptic signs-vous n'avez pas le priorite du droit). Another is being built two miles away. Hopefully we will learn. For now people come to a dead stop utterly confused so they don't save much time.

Our local newspaper folded last week after being in business for more than 170 years. It has been replaced by a series of online blogs. One story was that a man killed himself Friday in the neighborhood next to mine in a park by shooting himself. But there was no gun near him although maybe some kids picked it up. I think something is being left out of this story. There are updates on the story such as 'no news yet on the northeast side dead man' with some people responding 'That's not news'.

Naomi will need to be tested by the school to receive anything but basic services as I didn't have her tested in high school. She is not a happy camper about this as it cuts into her suntanning time.

Aside from my daughter and her family, my brother in law will also come later next week. He hasn't seen his grand nephew. Starting to plan our trip to Italy too. Yesterday we went crib shopping for Oliver. I am hoping it will be used by multiple babies. I wish I didn't sell the crib we originally bought for Shanna (ironically sold to us by the man in my LiveStrong class). Even after being used by 5 babies (Shanna, Josh, one of my twin nieces, my niece Thea and Naomi), it looked new and nicer than what I see on the market today. Plus I sold it for almost as much I paid for it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

All these showers bring summer flowers

Day lilies and Black-eyed Susans

Neighbor's six foot high lilies I've never seen lilies so big

My hibiscus although in real life, it is burgundy (pinot noir) not red. It is a very big blossom
What grows well really varies from year to year. Lilies, impatiens, begonias, and geraniums really are doing well. My gerber daisies and verbena, not so well.

I am currently engaged in a game of phone tag with the hospital. The radiologist is supposed to send me a letter justifying why they took more than the insurance allowed positioning x-rays and it has been 2 weeks since it has been promised. All I know is that I am not paying for them. According to Aetna, I was supposed to question every single procedure as it was performed to make sure it was covered and really necessary.
My Cuban lunch with Josh and Julia was nice. One of my side dishes was mashed tropical yams. The yellow things usually served as 'yams' aren't true yams but a variety of sweet potato. The tropical yams are huge and white. The chemist who first synthesized the hormones for birth control bills used Mexican yam extracts as his starting material. The Yoruba people of Nigeria eat these yams as a major part of their diet and have the highest rate of twinning in the world-super ovulaters. They also have a high rate of triple negative breast cancer. Could it be these yams? As I was spouting this trivia, Josh lost his appetite for my yams though I wanted Julia to eat more. Maybe she can have twins down the road.
I was too tired to run yesterday though I lifted weights at the Y, which isn't that far from the Cuban place. I didn't want to carry my shoes with me so I just wore socks. I was told that was unacceptable. All day, sudden rain showers would pop up and then disapppear after a minute or so. Got hit by several of these. I was able to have a good run this morning-6.5 miles.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


As part of my recovery plan, I have tried to increase my intake of fruit and vegetables. The other day, I bought some fruit that appeared to be apricots but the label said 'apriums' so I assume they are a apricot-plum hybrid. I've heard of plumcots before. These look like apricots but taste more like plums. I eat plenty of peaches and blueberries also. My raspberry crop is almost gone but I have my wild black raspberries and gooseberries. I really don't like gooseberries but I have a friend who eats my crop.

One of many vices is pomegranate green tea. If it had more than 5% juice in it, I suppose it would actually be good for me. I dilute it out with seltzer after a run.

So the lady who made my blue top wants to put me on her website ( website: So my short pineapple hair will be seen by more.

La Pina-my new name. I don't have the necessary accent marks to write that correctly. The hair continues to grow out only on top. They used to called that Panama dictator -the pineapple but that was due to his bad skin, not his spiky hair. My skin is fine, even has some oil glands now but the eyelashes are getting thinner and thinner.

Running was very hard for me yesterday. I waited until the rain stopped but it was very humid. I keep going for more records-28.8 miles this week but my legs are now dead. Today I will go to the Y. Right now I am waiting to go out with my son for lunch.

Last night a friend came over and we had Vietnamese-always tasty in Ypsi at Dalat. We then watched junk TV. "Hung" is pretty funny.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Deer, Hummingbirds and S'mores

I am waiting for the rain to stop so I can get a run in. Although I don't mind rain once I've started, I find it is hard to get going initially. Seems like in 2 hours it will be gone.

My friend whose house I was at last night lives in the country so she gets a lot more wildlife than I do in my suburban house. Many more hummingbirds and finches but she also has deer who eat her plants but are fun to watch. A mom and her twin fawns, still with spots, visited us while we sat on the deck drinking 'remedies'-a ginger-lemon based drink. A stag would run through too. As night fell, the wind died down and the mosquitoes came out but the firepit deterred them quite a bit. Her lone bat came out to swoop some of them up. The fire-flies were out too though not in the numbers that they have been in years past. We cooked s'mores over the fire. (Are they called that in the UK and Wales?) It was a very pleasant evening with a good friend, good conversation and good food.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Crickets and Vultures

Different years bring different life forms. This is the summer of no crickets. Has anyone else heard them this year? All I hear is the occasional locust and the mosquitoes buzzing in my ears.
But what I have been seeing are plenty of vultures. Hope this isn't some cosmic idea of foreshadowing. As Stu and I were cooling down the other day from our runs, two circled closely overhead. Today in another place while running, one came fairly close to me. Ugly things. Hopefully I don't smell like a dead animal to them (or anybody else).

Naomi went to the dermatologist today to investigate what turned out to cysts. One was in her armpit, a scary place but supposedly, no worries. Her job training was delayed yet another week.

Spending the evening with a good friend. Should be fun.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Name Game

A few weeks ago I was in the Wellness Center when a young woman who works there walked in with her 4 year old son Oliver. This Oliver had a grandma named Sue too.Oliver..a rare name in these parts but apparently growing in popularity. Shanna hated her name and vowed that she would name her child from the Top 100 names. Apparently it is in the Top 10 in the UK and Australia.

The other day at Josh and Julia's, Julia talked about her experience living in Zurich, Switzerland for 3 years starting when she was 6. She was able to speak German at that time but no longer knows it. Kids learn languages so fast, I always assumed they would remember it though I had a boss who went to school in Wales for 10 years and spoke Welsh in the schools. Now he only knows a few words. Anyway, Julia's stay in Zurich was cut short as they were getting hate mail and phone calls because her family has the same last name as a certain unpopular President and it was assumed that they must be related even though their last name is fairly common. I suppose it would have been even worse if they were there recently during the reign of this President's son. Julia was very quick to shed this name when she married Josh: she doesn't even use it as a middle name.
I ran in the pouring rain this morning. I don't mind rain except it is hard to see through my glasses but a good run nonetheless. Then it was back to WCC to meet with the learning specialists to devise a support system for Naomi. Her counsellor was very good and helpful. We also fine-tuned her schedule to make it easier for Naomi to succeed. She didn't want to get an ID yesterday as we rushed over there in a panic so she didn't look camera ready but today she got her picture.

Since the big Cancer meeting in June, there hasn't been much cancer news. There was a paper on how much more likely a local recurrence is with ER negs vs positives. (fourfold going up to 169 fold if the patient was less than 30) Argh! I really wish I knew all that I do now when I made that decision for breast conservation. There were more papers on the mechanism of how low Vit D levels can possibly cause cancer. One slight positive in a paper about risk factors for recurrence: tumors on the outer parts of the breast are not as dangerous as those more in the interior. Mine was in the outer section (though I couldn't feel the sneaky thing) so good for me.
Also there was a paper predicting heart damage due to radiation. No problems at all for us right breast cancer patients but for the left ones, the heart can be damaged. A predictive sign is tele-something or other-red spots that form over the affected skin.

My hair seems to be growing but mainly just the hair on the top of my skull. My 'mohawk' gets taller everyday. Not much action on the sides. For a list of all the side effects that persist after treatment, click on Sharon's The Cookie Jar that is on the side of this post. She covers alot of them. I am fortunate not to have as many though I notice my eyelashes are thinning out again. How can this be happening! It's not rare either. One woman lost all her eyelashes 3 times. One bizarre side effect that persists and this actually is a good one, is my apocrine glands on the right side are missing (and I never had them on the left) so I don't need deodorant. I put some on in case they decide to come back all of a sudden like my facial hair did.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Naomi was to register for classes this morning on-line. Immediately she received an error message stating that she didn't have the requisite skill level to enroll in any classes. Arghhhh! We went in person to investigate. After waiting an hour, we spoke to a counsellor that said she couldn't take any class until she took some basic skills class. Her deficiency was in writing NOT reading as she was told. No waiver would be accepted for these classes (not true, I applied for a waiver for every class and it turns out they were accepted but I didn't find that out until much later). She was told she needed to write a paper of their choosing today and have it graded. This took another hour but fortunately, she was deemed 'college material' so she was allowed to register in whatever class that had space. For a while, I was feeling sorry for both of us because it seemed that unless she passed that writing test, college was not going to be an option for her. Also she needs to be a full time student to receive health insurance. But the worst is over, just fine tuning her schedule is needed and we also have to speak to another counsellor about accommodations for her reading disability.

Our guests left this morning. It was fun having them. Shanna and her family should be here in 10 days. I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Old friends

Norm's grave
Our lunch bunch All of us are in the following 2 pictures 24 year ago

Mary took this picture 24 years ago. Josh is only 3 on Holly's (age 16)shoulders. I am in the middle

So I took this one

From left to right-Harold, Richie, Stu, Holly(with Josh), Norm, Mary, Steve and Shanna

So for the past 3 days we've been tour guides to Steve's cousin Stu and his friend Richie. We've been having a good time with lots of good conversations with maybe too much drinking. Sunday night we all went to Josh and Julia's for a BBQ. Lots of funny stories were told such as Stu's first attempt at ice skating at 15 while on a date during his no-underwear period and the first time he let go of the rail, his legs did the splits as did his pants... As for J&J, they said that anytime they lose faith in humanity, they see what a fine young couple J&J are and their faith is restored. For the past 2 mornings, we've been going down to Gallup Park to run as Stu wants a completely flat surface. They were taking too long to get ready today so I ran down there ahead of them bringing my total to 7.2 miles for the day though lots of that was downhill. They are shocked at our $1.99 martinis and photograph everything they see.

Today we went to the cemetary to see Norm's grave. Norm was their close friend who died of colon cancer 10 years ago. Directions to his gravesite were very skimpy though it turns out to be close to my grandfather's and I guess, eventually mine as I inherited several plots there. We were scouring the land for a good half hour when I found it. Very hard to read the lettering even though the stone is fairly new. Richie asked how I found it. Jewdar. I got that expression from Cancer Bitch-her method of finding fellow Jews. I am not Jewish (just married to one) but I do know they leave stones on the grave to show they visited and I saw a pile of stones in the distance (most of the dead there are not Jewish) and figured it must be his grave.

We also had lunch with Norm's old girlfriend Mary.I brought pix of all of us when rented a condo in the mountains of W. Virginia 24 years ago. Richie, Stu, Harold (Steve's brother), Holly (Stu's step-son), Mary, Norm and Steve and myself (and our 2 kids at the time). She and I used to be very close doing lots of stuff together-mainly sports. Anytime there was snow, we were out x-country skiing. During my first marathon, she ran me in from the 20 mile mark to encourage me. Somehow we drifted apart-I had my kids: she had her business. Now she is married and is a fiber artist. Ironically I had stopped in her booth the other day with Jo when we were searching for a bathroom at the art fair but she wasn't there (nor did I know her new hobby). But I always have been sad that we grew apart. Maybe we'll be good friends again-we'll see.
Right now I am concentrating on advising Naomi on what classes to register for tomorrow-an exercise in frustration. Although she scored acceptably in writing and math, her reading score is too low to qualify for the classes she needs for her major without taking a remedial class first. Also another class she needs is offered 40 hours/week in 3 week periods so she'll need to go to summer school as she can't fit it in during the regular semesters

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Waiting for guests

My bracelet
New silk top with my 1.5 inches of hair This is my first picture taken of me without my wig

Right now we are waiting for Steve's cousin Stu and his friend Ritchie to come from Brooklyn,. Stu was staying with us 30 years ago when Shanna was born. We went to his daughter's wedding this May out on Long Island. Anyway, it should be fun. I love guests.
I am taking a rest day today as I ran and walked so much last week plus 2 visits to the Y. I also figured it would motivate me to do something around the house. Slowly, slowly making progress on that front.
The big crisis over here for the past few days is that Naomi wants to move out to move into an apartment with the infamous Dontae in September. I had to convince her NOT to put her name on the lease. She just could not understand why that would matter, a good reason why she needs to spend more time here growing up. I said she would not have the car but the apartment is on a bus line just a few miles on the same road as her school and she gets a free bus pass because the school is short of parking. She of course thinks this relationship will last forever and I am giving it a week once they actually spend time together-two weeks maybe as she tries to prove me wrong. Dear Reader, she is so, so young despite her appearance and this Dontae just turned 23. On the plus side, he does not drink or smoke, keeps in good shape, is very soft spoken and polite, has a stable job with benefits (though not particularly high paying) and still will continue his schooling once he's saved up some more money. She is very excited and thinks everything for now on will be sunshine and roses. I could talk reason to her until I actually grow hair but she will need to find out some things herself. As she repeatedly points out, she now is an adult.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Art fair

Every year for 4 days, Ann Arbor is filled to the brim with visitors to its art fairs. Blocks and blocks of stalls-from cheap trinkets to high end stuff. Usually it is very hot with numerous heat exhaustion cases but this year was the coolest on record. I didn't go last year as I was in Italy. So for the past 3 days, I've been there three times over the last couple of days. Once with an old friend and another time with Ms. Naomi who was mostly interested in the sidewalk sales and funnel cakes (our one indulgence). Today I went with one of the moms. It was also the 30th anniversary of us meeting. I still was in the hospital 3 days after Shanna's birth as I had lost so much blood. I had a transfusion but still my hemocrit was 18 and I would pass out everytime I tried to get up. Her baby A was born 4 weeks early on July 18 and had breathing difficulties. We spent all night talking. At one point we had lived in the same town and had best friends who were sisters but I still don't remember her as a kid. She is 3 years younger than I (but looks 10 years ). We kept in touch after we were released and have had many adventures together. We eventually became part of a mother's group-5 babies born the summer of 1979 that still get together (at least the moms do-the babies are scattered all over the place-only Adam of the original 5 is in MI though most of the younger sibs are here). Another mom, had a son that same day so he too is 30 today. She was a neighbor so we would trade off babies so we could go out on the town. It was fun watching her son grow up.

So I have been buying things like a fiend but I hadn't bought anything except flowers since cancerfest began so I figure I am due. New running shoes, a beautiful hand-made silk top, a bracelet, an artsy top, and a sun dress. the art was interesting to look at and I kept running into people I knew so that was fun. I've walked miles and miles on top of my usual running so my legs are beat. Fortunately the cool weather has made this easier. I will post some of my purchases IF Steve can take a decent picture of me.

I like my cushy new running shoes-so much easier on my legs.

Yesterday I received a record number of hits on my stat counter (excepting the time of the Abruzzo earthquake in which search engines would put me way up as some authority about Abruzzo earthquakes-100s of hits resulted from that). It turns out that a mother of a child actor in that movie Flipped found me and commented about my running remark.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

So long ago

The view from my window in the monastery that I was staying in

A year ago I was in Italy for 5 weeks. It seems so long ago. Sigh. Little did I know what I was in store for when I returned. Aside from the discomfort from the chemo, the damage to my body, the expense of all those co-pays and the aggravation of dealing with insurance companies (Aetna still thinks my positioning x-rays were a frivolous expense on my part and thus I should pay for them), the worst thing is this black cloud hanging over my head whispering It could could back.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I might be in the pictures!

To shore up our sagging economy, the state has been giving special incentives for movies to be filmed in Michigan. Last year Youth in Revolt was filmed in Ann Arbor. This was Josh's favorite book as a teenager. Gran Torino and the HBO show Hung were filmed in Detroit. Now film making has come to our neighborhood with the filming of Flipped! directed by Rob Reiner. This is based on one of the few books Naomi has read. They constructed a house around Thurston pond for the exterior shots. Filming began this week blocking many of the streets.

This morning I tried to get my run in before a quickly approaching storm. I didn't want to go too far away from home so I ran through the neighborhood. At one point I looked up at a boom and saw that they were filming me as I ran. Ha. I was a sight with a purple top that was a different shade from my purple shorts. I tortured Naomi with the idea that I would be in the movie. She wasn't too happy.

Happy Birthday Shayna Shanna!!!

Relaxing before the wedding
Just graduated from high school

As a freshman for Coming home dance

As a 9 year old. She always hated the short hair but she was so cute

Age 3 with Dad and baby brother Josh

Age 3 months
It is so hard to believe that today Shanna turns 30! I must be old, right? I was so looking forward to having her. Her due date was July 5th and the days after that seemed really to drag. At one point, I even went in for an induction as my blood pressure was out of control but it didn't work.
She was a very easy cheerful baby who was content to just watch the world go by. I worried that she wasn't hitting all those developmental milestones but was relieved when she began to speak at an early age. She was a very clever girl loving to read voraciously at an early age. We went through some rough patches in middle school but then she decided to apply herself and did very well in high school and college. We have very similar tastes in books and movies even though our personalities are quite different. I really enjoy being with her. Now she is concentrating on being the best mom possible to her almost 18 month son Oliver and to her other son that will be born in 7 weeks. I was very proud to be with her as she was in labor with Oliver. She is a fantastic, loving mother and daughter. I am so happy that I had her. Happy Birthday, Shoshanna!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The great chemo hair lottery

Even people who have not had cancer seem to be aware that after you lose your hair to chemo, it could come back different than what you had before chemo. It could come back better, maybe less gray, they say hopefully.I liked my old hair (apparently I am alone in that) but I'll take any hair at this point. I seem to be a loser in this hair lottery. It is black and silver. The ends are starting to curl a bit. I put gel in it so every last mm could be seen-about 30 mm at its longest which would be this ridge on the top of my scalp. Think modified mohawk. Yesterday at the Y I ran into a winner in the hair lottery. Ann had gray streaks before chemo but now her hair is a uniform chocolate brown. I won't even have to dye it. Her hair was the same length as mine now on my last day of radiation. She had an appointment right before me on the same machine. That day they took an hour of positioning xrays on her while I stewed though at least I was free to move around unlike her.

I assumed she had dyed it since it is so mono chromatic. She is hoping to get better boobs too. I wish her well: she has gone through alot, much more than myself so she deserves a few breaks.
I meet women who swear up and down they had straight blonde hair but now it is black and curly.

There was an article today saying that women with migraines have 70% less breast cancer. It is surmised that hormones have something to do with it. I had migraines briefly as a teen. Every morning, I would get a stabbing pain in my right temple. It would last 15-30 minutes then go away. Life during this brief time was horrible. The migraines disappeared after I started birth control pills, which I took to mitigate very bad cramps. I had read about the birth control pills being good for cramps while I was in high school. I pointed this out to my mom but she said something inane about then I wouldn't have consequences if I had sex. Thanks, I guess I'll just writhe in agony instead. But as soon as I could, I got my meathooks on some and my life of pain was over. I am assuming these migraine sufferers just get less estrogen positive BC.

I was able to extend my run to 7 miles this morning. My cardiovascular system is improving faster than my skeletal system. I am sore but my muscle tone is much better. I've lost 14 lbs now-still alot to go but isn't so jiggily.

Monday, July 13, 2009

more flowers

Red calla lily Somehow red does not photograph well
This variety of snapdragon is called 'angel face' but the little faces look very angry

My rooster is still growing. The ugly little knobs should turn into flowers soon

Naomi showing off her skinny jeans
Last week I bought a 'hardy' hibiscus with big burgundy blossoms. Hardy to Zone 5, the tag said. What zone are we? Well, for my neck of the woods, zone 6a. The warmest part of Michigan is 6b, a small area around Lake St. Clair. Most of the county I live in is Zone 5 except where I live so my hibiscus should survive.
As much as I hate Naomi driving, the car is a great motivational tool. The other day I had some chores for her to do before she could use the car. I didn't notice until she was gone that she didn't do it so for now, she isn't among the driving. But I have plans! Well those plans will have to include either walking or the bus. But the bus is so ghetto!!!!
While running a while back, I found a bus token. I was disappointed that it wasn't a quarter. Over the years I have found close to $100 while running-a fifty dollar bill wadded aside the road accounting for most of my booty. I gave her the token and showed her how to read a bus schedule-the bus runs behind our house. But with most of the punishments I mete out, I end up suffering too. She couldn't get back so I had to pick her up. I had to drive her to the doctor's today.
Lazy days of summer. We had a nice lunch the other day with my son and his wife. The latter just got a promotion. The economy has not been kind to her. The business that she had worked for a year ago went bankrupt. She and her business partner had started a pet pawtisserie too that they had to close due to the bad conditions here.
The weather is cool and dry but my legs are sore from all the running. I haven't wore my wig in a week but my hair is still very short. My body is getting stronger; the chemo nails have almost grown out just my spirit really hasn't recovered. It doesn't take much to make me sad.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bioidentical hormones

In the beginning of the year, I watched Oprah (I rarely do) because Suzanne Sommers was on touting the benefits of bioidentical estrogens, the more the better. This is a woman who survived estrogen dependent breast cancer by sucking up miseltoe extract. Not one word was said about the dangers of them, the only concern a physician made was that these particular compounded materials are not tested for safety or purity and that there are FDA approved forms that one can obtain from a conventional pharmacy. Read Susan Love's Breast book. The number one risk factor for estrogen dependent breast cancer is ONES OWN ESTROGENS.(Of course the jury is still out on what the risk factors are for triple negative bc aside from BRAC1 gene defects). The whole show made me angry as so many people respect what Oprah has to say and she acted like Ms. Sommers was the second coming. The 'bioidentical' hormones haven't even been tested for purity much less in clinical trials to see if they increase breast cancer incidence. I do have friends on these who are deluded (sorry friends but I do care about you)into thinking that they are safe because they are 'natural' (made from plant sources not mare's urine).

In my 2 person support group yesterday, the woman there had been on them and reported to her physician (!!?)that she had a lump under her arm. Oh that's nothing, I just think you need some more progestrones.
Six months later, it had gotten bigger and she went to someone else who diagnosed it as cancer. It had spread to her nodes. She's been out of treatment for 6 months. She had the same chemo as I except for the addition of herceptin. She lost her eyelashes 3 times after chemo was finished. Hope this does not happen to me. Losing them once was traumatic enough.

Waited for a storm to past before running in the hot humid conditions this morning. 28 miles this week. Waiting to go out to lunch with Josh.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hair in public

Aunt Naomi with Oliver a month ago. He will be back in a few weeks with his parents. His mom, Shanna, just finished Week 31 of pregnancy with his little brother.
Grandpa Steve with the precious one

Oliver enjoying his corn

Oliver going for a drive

On top, my hair might be an inch and a half now. I've been putting in gel so it will appear longer. Excepting when I am out running, I've been wearing the wig as I really feel nude without much hair. I'm not a particularly modest person: I don't make great pains to hide my body when dressing in locker rooms even though my body isn't anything to be proud of in its puffy state (less puffy now) but I didn't want anyone to see my bald head. No it is not deformed as I have been asked. Early on in my baldness (Week two)at the Look Good, Feel better program, it was suggested that I remove my cap as it would make it easier to put on the make-up. No way even though I was amongst the newly bald. Actually the cold air on my scalp made it painfully cold. Seven months later, my scalp has had plenty of time to toughen up and I am not bald anymore. This week I've been going out now with my new hair. My first trip, the cancer cooking class in which the people there were very supportive and complimentary (It's about time!!!several people said). Yesterday I was among non-cancer people out and about with my petite spikes and didn't get too many stares or gasps so maybe I will retire the wig as it is uncomfortable. It does keep the mosquitoes out of my ears though. Pesky things though the no rain this week has diminished them thankfully.
I'm not running today to rest the legs though I will work out with weights later. This morning is the breast cancer support group followed by the all cancer lunch. Cancer, cancer, cancer.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cooking to prevent cancer

When one is finished with treatment, sometimes one feels helpless on what to do to prevent the beast from returning. You 're finished with the slash/poison/burn triathlon, what to do next? Well we can control what we eat and there is plenty of evidence that our diets could have contributed to our cancer, but what to eat?
Every month at the local Wellness community, they have a cooking class taught by a 2 time breast cancer survivor. Her two occurrences were completely different cancers so the 2nd was not a recurrence. She has a degree in nutrition so people had plenty of questions for her. I heard that milk contains something carcinogenic. No I heard it was all right just as long as it was skim. Spenda caused cancer, use Stevia. No that's bad too. Can't have this, what's the research on this and that? What's the deal with soy if you are estrogen positive? On and on. Finally a woman said Enough! I had grandparents who lived into their nineties eating meat, everything covered with butter, smoking pipes, and they didn't die of cancer. I ate 'good' and now I have Stage 4 breast cancer. Trust me when I say I don't care what my cholestrol numbers are.

She was the woman that visited my LiveStrong class. She had BC 10 years ago. A week before the 10th anniversary, she investigated why her leg hurt so much. Bone mets. She was treated with Zometa. Just last month, she's found that the bone mets are more extensive and now, besides numerous spots in the bones are in her lungs and liver though she still feels OK. Another woman there is on her 3rd recurrence for lung cancer but this time, the new tumor is wrapped around her heart. Then we have the ladies who had non-aggressive bc 10 and 13 years ago but are still afraid it might come back. In the middle are M and myself with our own nasty beast which for now, seems to be at bay. Another woman had almost an identical story as my friend from the other day with Stage 4 lymphoma but everything is now clear.

We try to control what we can. Who knows if it will help but at least we tried.

Today was the last semi-cool day for a while so I ran for a record amount of time (at least for the past 2 years) without stopping even though I think I am getting shin splints. One of the moms and I had a pleasant lunch outside at the Sidetrack and then went to see all the beautiful flowers at the botanical gardens.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wake up call

I had lunch yesterday with someone who is 5 years out from a diagnosis of a virulent stage 4 large cell lymphoma. She was given very little chance of survival but she is here and healthy. She said that both of us had wake-up calls (although her wake-up call was much, much louder)and she wondered what I have learned from this and how am I going to do things differently. Hmmmm..gee I don't know. I am trying to be healthy, running more, eating less junk and more good stuff, trying not to sweat the small stuff (trying..)not putting off pleasures now that I might not have in the future. I asked her how she's changed. Basically not wasting time with anything that doesn't give her pleasure. She is a very blunt person.

As for the lessons learned from cancer, I still am too much in cancerland to sort out my feelings. As many of you have recently said of your own experiences (hello Alli), I am not glad I had cancer and I am suspicious of those that say they are. Maybe they mean that they are happy that they are alive. That I can understand.. There is a book out there "How cancer made me a shallower person" that I want to read. Unfortunately the author is dead. Cancer made her a dead person. One of my favorite blogs is 'positives about negatives." She has put together alot of the research about triple negative breast cancer in one place. One person on the met boards (I feel guilty reading these as I fortunately do not belong)took issue with the name. She is dying from TNBC and obviously can find nothing positive about 'the negative'. As for the 'positives' (estrogen negative vs estrogen positive breast cancer) there are two: you don't have to take nasty anti-estrogen medication and if you survive 3 years, you're home free whereas the positives have to sweat it out longer. Of course the catch is that in the first 3 years, the chances of mets are much higher and tend to go in more dangerous places such as the brain and lungs instead of the bone. Also the average survival time of those with TNBC mets is exactly half of that of estrogen positives.

In my advanced French class, we had to read Voltaire's Candide. As it was written in 18th century French, it was not an easy read. In the story, all sorts of gruesome disasters befall Candide but he is continually reminded by his mentor Dr. Pangloss that all is for the best as they live in the best of all possible worlds. The book was banned for its anti-religious tone. Its message was that bad things do happen to good people and it is not for a good reason. If only life was fair...

Right before meeting me, a fox came up to within 20 feet of my friend while she was playing golf. Cool, I stupidly said. Not cool at all, it was probably rabid!

I had my own wildlife encounter today while running. An enormous hawk (got to check to make sure it wasn't a golden eagle)sat within 10 feet of me at eye level on a fence. I stopped my run (didn't want to scare it with all my arm flapping-a runner yesterday remarked to me as we passed each other that I was really flying-I thought she meant my speed but now maybe she was referring to my arm motion) to observe it. It didn't seem scared of me but it was being attacked by a red wing blackbird whose body was maybe one twentieth its size. I have been attacked by them too-they will defend their nest to their death. It attacks by fluffing up my hair with its claws. Now that I don't have hair (or damn little)that would even be less fun. Those blackbirds are fearless.I did have a female cardinal the other day fly at my face veering away when she was only a foot away but I don't think she did it on purpose. Her mate begins his loud cheerful song at 5 each morning.
Birdy, birdy, birdy! Birdy, birdy, birdy! That's my wake up call. As I type this, he is right outside my window with his birdy song.

I had lots of wildlife encounters running in Italy, notably the wild boars. (cinghiale) After the first time, I researched to see how much my life was in danger as I recalled the deaths of Rachel's pathetic brothers by boars in the Thornbirds. Not much though they can gore legs. I ran almost every morning on the side of a mountain, on one side the mountain and woods, on the other a steep drop-off and farmers' fields. The boars would spend the night rooting the fields returning to the woods in the morning when I encountered them. There was a short stone retaining wall lining part of the road. I was hoping that they couldn't jump that. It was a Roman road still lined with their cryptic markers-2000 years old.

I later had a pleasant Happy Hour with Brenda. Two dollar gin and tonics and we could sit outside. The wind yesterday blew the mosquitos away but now it is calm and they can be their annoying selves. She has much more flowers than me and has several pairs of hummingbirds that routinely visit her.Then Martha came over to my house with raspberries and visited for a while. She would have brought borscht but I am not a beet fan. I don't care how good they might be for me.

It was a Farmer's Market day so I bought a few very cheap perennials to increase the diversity of my rock garden which is going to sedum and sedum. Spent almost 2 hours pulling some of it out to make room for my new purchases.

I am about to go to my cancer cooking class with Marilyn. Haven't seen her for a while so it should be fun catching up. She was diagnosed the same week as me with TNBC.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Grace and glories

Morning glories
My patio won't look like this until late August

I love morning glories. My plants have finally started to grow after a slow start from being rabbit feed and are about 2 feet tall now climbing a shepherd's hook. They eventually will trail along the string of solar lights I've strung up. In the late afternoon, the sun hits the glass balls and they look like diamonds. Steve said my hummer is back feeding on the red lilies and the impatiens. Still think impatiens haven't much to offer the hummers. As if I did not have enough flowers, I bought some end of the season 'bargains'-a beautiful angel wing basket of orange begonias and a burgundy hibiscus which I planted in the ground although maybe I should put it in a pot.

Today and tomorrow will be cool, good for my long runs. I did 6.7 miles on the 'scenic beauty ' road this morning. I will eat lunch with an old friend, who is a stage 4 lymphoma survivor and later I will go out to Happy Hour with another friend. I put some gel in my hair so it sticks out. Still it is growing so painfully slowly.

Grace. Wish I had it in both the physical and non-physical senses. I have been reading some cancer patients' stories on how they handle really impossible situations with grace. Two stories that have particularly moved me:
1) The story of Sharifah, a teacher in Malaysia whose dentist one year ago noticed a lump on her tongue-oral cancer. (see She now has no tongue and can not speak or eat except with a feeding device she calls Miss Peggy. She handles this situation with aplomb grateful for everything. I started reading her story because a mom of one of Naomi's friends was just diagnosed with oral cancer and is devastated. I don't know any details beyond that. Dennis of "being Cancer" ( has cataloged all the cancer blogs he can find by type of cancer, breast cancer and lymphoma being the most numerous by far. Lung cancer is the number one cancer I think but hardly any blogs on it.
2) The story of Shin. see
She was a 36 year old Korean lady married to an American with 2 very young children. Her breast cancer came back 2 years after it was first diagnosed and spread all over the place: brain, bones, liver and lungs. The lung mets killed her this January but in her last few months, she dedicated her life in preparing birthday presents for years to come for her children. There are videos of her doing this on the right side of her blog. She had been a newscaster in Singapore at one time so she had quite a public following.

The first lady will probably survive her cancer but her life has been changed forever. In both of their blogs they address the issue of 'being brave'. Their point is that they are not really brave at all, just doing what has to be done.

If this monster comes back especially in the form of distal mets, I am sure that I won't be able to deal with it so gracefully. I am mad as hell for all I've gone through, which is nothing compared to what these ladies have faced.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Naomi and I had physicals today but with separate doctors. She has outgrown her pediatrician. Her bit of good news for me is her weight (an ever decreasing number). She said the doctor's scale is 5 lbs less than ours so maybe I don't weigh as much as I think. Of course I was weighed today also but I didn't look at the scale.

So I am in good health, except for cancer treatment side effects. He noted my chemo nails. He also said if he were me, he would have opted for the mastectomy. My dentist, who I went to last week, had broken his arm in the same place as I had. He said he couldn't operate as a one handed dentist and they pinned his bone together and he was back to work 3 days later. Why wasn't I given this option? It's not easy being a one armed chemist. It took 3 months for the bone to heal and I was left with a painful, frozen shoulder. It makes me mad that surgery would have sped things up considerably though my dentist still needs PT.

In the paper, one of my favorite restaurants had a special for non-weekend nights for July. We went there last night asking for it. Oh that starts tomorrow! The ad implied it was good for the entire month. After some whining on my part (and no I didn't invoke the cancer card) they gave us a $20 gift certificate.

I looked up Hen and Chick flowers. My hen's erection continues to grow. The wiki entry said it will grow to ten inches, sprout flowers and die. Hens don't blossom until they are 3-4 years old. I had planted it 3 years ago so that explains why I haven't seen it before. I have plenty of chicks so I won't be deprived even with the mother hen's death.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Fifth of July

Bizarre berry blossom
Well at least my 'hen and chick' or should I say rooster, is happy to see me. He grew a few more inches in the last few days

Lilies..lilies..lilies are all over the place now

More lilies

Bag O'impatiens The cool moist weather has caused my impatiens to take over my beds threatening my other flowers. I need to balance them more carefully

The Fifth of July. Thirty years ago, I waited impatiently for this day as it was the due date of my first child. Although it was not a particularly warm summer, I had trouble with the heat and we had no air conditioning then. I had preeclampsia. Every day I would gain 10 lbs of water weight, spend all night peeing and then repeated the cycle the next day. I vowed no more summer babies; spring babies or no babies. The day came and went with no baby to show for it. On the tenth, I was sent to the hospital for an induction, which did not work and my sky high blood pressure had dropped to normal so I was sent home. Shanna finally appeared on the 15th.

The Fifth of July is also a name of a boring play we saw on Broadway back when I was pregnant with Josh. We had gone to it specifically to see John-boy of the Waltons fame (a friend who was with me had a huge crush on him) but at the last minute, he was substituted because his wife had gone into labor with triplets. Stick to musicals.

These clouds of mosquitoes have not abated. We walked in the Arb last night to check on the 'bizarre berries' which we still can't identify. Big purple blossoms-almost 2 inches across versus the half inch white ones of regular raspberries. Some of the leaves are a foot wide versus 2-3 inches. The fruit are the size of regular raspberries but have a velvety texture and are made up of much smaller cells. The fruit appears in the fall. My raspberries are producing fruit now as are my wild blackberries that suddenly appeared. The blackberries are very tiny-not like the black berries found all over in Seattle's alleys.

It is becoming toasty again. I was able to get a nice run in today with no interruptions.

This week has been very difficult for me. How fragile everything is-especially relationships. Some things have been resolved but other issues just make me sad.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Travelling tour guide

I live on the edge of town. If I run north for 1.5 miles, I am out of the beltline that circles Ann Arbor and I am out where there are not many houses. Today north of the beltline, I encountered a group of about 8 Asian women slowly walking in the middle of the road-not a good idea as the road is nicely paved and cars really speed on it. They stopped me asking where some obscure street was. There are numerous private roads that go off into the woods off the roads up there. I don't keep track of the names. I pointed to the nearest one, about .2 mile ahead thinking it was what they wanted. Josh had a friend that lived on it and I remembered it started with "T". They were looking for Tamerack. I ran further, turned around and found them again. They had passed the driveway I had suggested they turn on. Their English was very poor.. I walked with them to the little driveway where I had told them to turn. Alas the road was 'Trailhead' not Tamerack-I had just seen the T on the handmade sign. I asked if any of them had a cellphone on them so I could call my husband. Surprisingly they did not or maybe they did and thought I'd run off with it. Soon a former colleague of mine pulled in the drive. He had never heard of the street they were looking for and he lived right there so they went back. The colleague was retained by my former employer as he is able to work from home. They had seen me for the first time in a year the other day and wondered what happened to me.


As I was running earlier on the bikepath that leads me out to the fringes, I passed a couple who looked vaguely familiar. The woman just said Wow.
Not sure what she meant by that. Like Wow, you certainly run funny or Wow, it is good that that you are trying to get back after going through so much.

It is a beautiful day yet it is hard to enjoy as those mosquitoes are out in full force. In the past, I only had to deal with them as the sun sat but they are out in the middle of the day.

Happy 4th everyone!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Eye Contact

Naomi also dreamed about her interview. She said that the interviewer asked her a thousand questions, none of which she could answer and in the end, they told her that they would hire her anyway because she is so pretty. I never have dreams like that. We had searched out the company ahead of time in preparation for the interview. It was started by a pair of Lebanese brothers in Dearborn. Oh great, Arabs hate redheads. She is basing this on what her sister's mother-in-law said when it was discovered that Shanna might have redhead genes. We then went over their menu so she'd be familiar with it. We reviewed what 'halal' meat was (Don't say-it's like Kosher meat, right?). My main advice was to be friendly and look the interviewer in the eye. Also no-mumbling.

They had all the people that they were going to interview there together. She recognized many of them and thought she was was more out-going and 'prettier' than they were but she has less experience. The restaurant had a 'hookah' tent. WTF, her friend whispered to her. But somehow Naomi knew all about hookahs. She thought her interview went well and they asked for her fall schedule.

Eye contact. I tried to follow my own advice when I interviewed more than 33 years ago. However I was interviewing with a man who had been promoted due to his scientific achievements, not for his social skills. If I looked at him, he'd look away uncomfortably. He did say that in his department, they had never hired a woman except as a secretary and I was too nervous to ask why. I pondered this for several weeks and finally went to him after I was hired. He then said that the job entailed some physicality but I looked stronger than most women so they figured I could handle it. All righty. This man was the inventor of PCP-a very much abused drug in the 70s. On his own time, he developed a kit that police could use to quickly identify illegal drugs.

When this man refused to look at me, I didn't assume it was because I was hideous but that he was just awkward (not a rare trait among chemists of that era I quickly discovered). Since I've had (hopefully HAD)cancer, I have sadly noticed people avoiding eye contact with me. If they have a choice between looking at me or someone else, the someone else wins out. It very much hurts my feelings. Am I so hideous? Yeah, maybe especially when I went through that no facial hair stage-no eyelashes, eyebrows.

No cancer yoga yesterday and I didn't go to the Y until late. I read the fine print that I needed to schedule an appointment first with someone before I could resume going there and it took me a while to find her.

It was a nice day to run this morning. Naomi is away dog sitting my granddog Sunny, the German Shepherd while her owners go on a wine tasting trip up north. We sometimes just let her stay here but she goes on a hunger strike.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A sea of pink

This is what Breast Cancer Barbie should like-bald and minus the evening gown. For more realism, should be pasty white with dark circles under the eyes, should be a tad plumper from steroid induced water weight.
This is "Pink Ribbon" Barbie, a bizarre attempt to increase breast cancer awareness among the pre-teen set.

It's now July(hard to believe for me as June just flew by), not October when everything turns pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness. One then could buy pink bagels shaped like ribbons then. I've seen toasters, jewelry, t-shirts, yogurt awash in pink but the strangest item would be Pink Ribbon Barbie. One woman in blogsphere pickets stores who peddle such pinkness with signs "Breast Cancer is a Disease-not a Marketing Opportunity".
I guess I should be glad that I have such a 'popular cancer' vs an unpopular one such as anal cancer. No ribbons for that. I have mixed feelings about the mass marketing aspects of breast cancer. If it puts more money into research-- fine but there is an exploitative aspect to it that just doesn't sit right.
Life goes on. Naomi has her first interview in an hour for a waitress job. She is very nervous. Her anxiety must have infiltrated my dreams. I was waiting for her to complete an interview in a lobby of a 8 story building. She was taking a long time coming out of it so I decided to climb the stairs to see what was going on (no elevator in my dreams). I kept climbing and climbing-way more than 8 flights. Finally I found her perched at the edge of a bed with a pimp like person lying in it. She was interviewing to be a prostitute!!! She said no-all she would have to do is play cards all night with this guy. That was the job-I am always exaggerating.
In response to my blog yesterday, I received an anonymous e-mail from a 'resender' address informing me what my daughter really should be called. Thanks for that...NOT.
I will try "cancer yoga" today and then visit the Y and see if my old classmates show up. It is another cool day but I am taking a break. I was able to extend my running without stopping for more than 5 miles yesterday.
I did talk to the nurse yesterday of my primary. I had received a lab requisition form from them in anticipation of my physical next week. I was puzzled as I had labs done 3 weeks ago so I gave them a call. I was admonished for not using the competing St. Joe's system in which it is easier for them to get results but my insurance won't cover that . I asked her when she finally found my results what my TSH was. She gave a very high number indicating that I was hypothyroid. I said that number seems strangely familiar-please check the date. Oh that was from last year. Now my TSH is very low indicating hyper but I also know that I had the same number, my thyroid level actually was on the low side. And my white count still hasn't come back almost 4 months out from my last poisoning!
I went to Happy Hour yesterday with some of the moms. With many conflicting schedules, it is hard for all of us to get together. I still wear my wig when I go out and am not exercising. One inch long hair just doesn't look all that good on me

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My snowball or reverse oreo

Snowballs are those Hostess treats that consist of a coconut-marshmallow shell covering a chocolate cake disk. They come in 2 colors-white and bright pink. Lately Naomi with her persistant, pathetic suntanning attempts more closely resembles the bright pink variety. An oreo is the dimissive term for a black person who acts white. I am dealing with the reverse variety.

She very strongly identifies with black culture. Most of her friends are African-American or are at least mixed. She is only attracted to African-American men. She's had friends of all races since she was little. She once went to a girl scout camp in which her unit for some reason was all African-American excepting her. One girl took one look at her and loudly remarked Oh great-a white girl. This did not slow Naomi down in the least and by the end of the week, Naomi was that girl's best friend. Naomi came home in braids-lots of them as her hair was so long and thick. Naomi claims that black girls don't have the mean girl culture that white girls do. No queen bees of seventh grade controlling their minions with snottiness and subtle sarcasm. Not that relations are always nice between the girls, they are more direct when they are angry with each other. For the most part, she seems accepted by these friends. Early on, her basbetball team travelled to a town that was known at one time as the KKK capital of MI. She said something to her teammates about how 'they' were going to hate 'them' there. One of her teammate reminded her that they weren't going to hate her white ass but theirs.

I went to the WCC parents' meeting last night. Between 'non-traditional' students meaning older students being retrained and many parents no longer being able to afford 4 year schools, the school is filled to the brim. To make matters worse, the Michigan Promise Fund is bankrupt, which was news to many in the audience who were dependent on it. This was a program that promised $4000 to Michigan students who got a certain test score who went on to higher education. Naomi scored right below the cut-off, which made me mad. Not at her, but at the premise that the state would give money only to above average students to go regardless of financial need. Why shouldn't low scorers get help too?

I was surprised to see some of the parents there. One was of a very academically successful ex-bball teammate of Naomi's who went to a private school. Turns out her twin wasn't so academically successful. As the mother told me, not all siblings are the same. Don't I know it.


Blog Archive