Hot Mix!

I spent FAR too much time over the weekend reading these hilarious recaps of the YA series of my early-adolescent-hood: Fear Street, Sweet Valley Twins and the Baby-Sitters Club. (THE CHEERLEADER EVIL SERIES SDFKJHDFJKSDFHSD. My sixth-grade self is still flailing with joy)

When I wasn’t reading recaps, I was in the kitchen (insert women-in-the-kitchen joke here). B had requested spaghetti and meatballs from scratch on Saturday, so I made Martha Stewart’s classic meatballs with Emeril Lagasse’s best basic red sauce. Emeril’s recipe says what it is and it is what it says. Because I have the brain of a 12-year-old boy, every attempt to say something positive about Martha’s recipe is overshadowed by my laughing like Beavis and Butthead, so how about this: Martha can do no wrong.


At this month’s First Friday event, downtown Las Vegas decided to do a mini-Burning Man by setting—what else?—a 20-foot-tall wooden showgirl on fire. God, I love this city.

It’s always a good idea to have some zombie-specific firearms training as part of your family’s Zombie Apocalypse Contingency Plan (ZACP).

Andi always adds value to my life. You know that light, summery blue fabric that kind of looks like denim that I always thought was denim isn’t actually denim?? It’s chambray. Thine eyes have been opened (meanwhile, my mother is sputtering to herself “But…but…I’ve been telling her that since she was five! Can’t she retain ANYTHING I try to tell her??”)

In our living room, we have this weird cubby-like…thing…that takes up an entire wall. It originally housed an even weirder fireplace-slash-TV-nook-that-was-actually-too-small-and-odd-shaped-to-hold-a-TV that B tore out because of said weirdness. This cubby is absolutely begging to be made into a fabulous built-in, but we weren’t sure how to go about it. Thankfully, the lovely Beckie at Infarrantly Creative compiled this glorious list of ways to fake your own built-in shelving.

And I’ll just leave this here:


NFCC: How NOT to Tell Your Friends That Your Mom May or May Not Have Inflammatory Breast Cancer


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Instant Sobriety: Just Add Cancer!

This post took me waaaaaay longer than I anticipated and probably seems a little disjointed because the four days between talking to my mom and getting on the plane are still difficult to discuss. Let’s just say that I took my mom’s advice and googled inflammatory breast cancer. SPOILER ALERT: it’s the only kind of breast cancer whose staging starts at stage IIIB. I did not take this news well.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tailgating 2002: None of us survived this night.

Today is Homecoming at my alma mater. B and I had both completely forgotten about it until approximately 6:30 a.m. PDT, which is when the drunken text messages started from our respective fraternity brothers/sorority sisters, who are apparently determined to teach those undergrads a thing or two about tailgating. Kids gotta respect their elders <stamps cane on ground for emphasis>. They also have to get off my lawn.

Conveniently, neither B nor I were rudely awakened by said drunken texts, as we were already en route to McCarran Airport. I was about to fly home to Michigan for an indeterminate period of time to take care of The Mother. Nooo, we were just rudely awakened by cancer, instead. <squint-smile>

At this point, I have been awake for almost 100 hours and am being kept alive by a combination of Red Bull and fear. Somehow, I manage to check my bags, go through security and make it my gate.

As the boarding process starts, my phone rings. It’s my old roommate, K, and she’s got me on speaker. She and several of my favorite people in the whole world decided that I needed a good old-fashioned drunk dial, just because. I check the clock, and it’s just past noon in Michigan. God bless ‘em.

These ladies are some of the great loves of my life. It has been more than a year since I’ve heard some of their voices and the sudden rush of emotion is overwhelming. It’s the kind of emotion that can only be described as:


But the mental effort involved in restraining myself from shrieking and clapping and hopping saps the last few Red Bull fumes and my brain is now giving me the spinning wait cursor

It’s at this point that I realize that there’s no possible way for this call to end well. The fact that I did not shriek or clap or hop cuts through my friends’ buzz and they KNOW something is up. I try desperately to cut the call short because this is NOT the time or place (for any of us) to tell them about my mom. She’s close with all of them and they love her to pieces. My brain feels heavy inside my skull, and the damn spinning wait cursor is still there.

via hyperboleandahalf



“Heeey…what was that? Wait, are you coming home?!”

Then, in what might be considered the worst act of party pooping in history, I take a page from my mom’s playbook. “uhhhhh…yeah, for a few weeks at least. My mom’s got cancer, and right now they’re running tests to see if it has spread.” I approach the lady scanning boarding passes. “Ok, gotta run! Love you guys! Byeeeeeee!”

Notes From the Companion Chair: Prologue


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How NOT to Tell Your Daughter That You May or May Not Have Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Note: Since my mom received her diagnosis in October 2011 and it’s clearly no longer October, I’m including dates to better illustrate the progression of events.

The following conversation actually took place, including the part where my mother offered to text me a picture of her cancer-riddled breast, as well as the part where I called her an attention whore. We have a special relationship.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Her: “I need you to choose a mirror.”

Me: “I’m going to need you to elaborate first.”

Her: “I’m at Home Goods and I’m trying to decide between two mirrors for over the fireplace.”

Me: “Fun! Take pictures of them and send them to me!”


Her: “Soooo…have you done laundry recently?”

Me: “What? Is that like some sort of coded phrase in case The Man is eavesdropping on our conversation? You know, we really need to go over these codes in person from time to time. Like, quarterly? Just to keep things fresh.”

Her: “Well yes, it’s been a while since we’ve reviewed. No, but seriously – hypothetically – if you had to pack a suitcase right now and get on a Detroit-bound plane, would you have jeans and sweaters and clean underwear ready to go? Or do you need to do a load or two of laundry?”

Me: “I don’t know how I feel about answering questions about whether my underwear is clean or not. I need a parent and/or guardian present. Wait…also, what?”

Her: “What?”


Her: “Actually, I should probably give you a status update of my boob.”

Me: “…I don’t know how to respond to that.”

Her: “<SIGH> I’m at the Home Goods in Ann Arbor. Ask me why I’m in Ann Arbor.”

Me: “Lady, you’re killing me. Knock it off with the attention whore routine of only giving the tiniest bits of information so people are forced to keep asking questions. I’m going to have a stroke.”

Her: “Don’t call your mother a whore.”

Me: “This is making me tired.”

Her: “I’m at the Home Goods in Ann Arbor because I have about an hour and a half to kill before my ultrasound and my fine needle aspiration. I just had a mammogram and a core needle biopsy. Remember that episode of Oprah where she joked about prepping for a mammogram by repeatedly slamming your breast in the refrigerator door? SPOT. ON. That screaming you probably heard all the way out in Vegas was from me.”

Me: “Oh, I…oh…?”

Her: “Sooo…last Tuesday, I noticed a rash on my right breast when I was getting out of the shower. Only it was more like…an area of pink and warm—kind of like hives or a big mosquito bite—“

Me: “Ugh, I HATE those things.”

Her: “Ugh, the WORST! But yeah, I kept my eye on it and by Thursday, the rash hadn’t gone away. Thursday night, I found a lump the size of a lima bean, and my breast started getting tender, like how it gets before your period except a hundred times worse. By Friday afternoon, the lump was the size of, like, those Pilsbury whack-a-biscuits? You know what I mean?”

Me: <searching for eyeballs, which had fallen out of my head>

Her: “Anyway, then ANOTHER lima bean has appeared on top of the whack-a-biscuit. Now, my breast looks kind of distorted and if I raise my arm, the skin distorts even further and looks like orange peel.”

Me: <feeling underneath refrigerator for eyeball> “So why did you wait a week to tell me this?!”

Her: “What? I was supposed to call you and be all ‘what’s new with you? Nothing much new here, just hanging out with my BOOB RASH.’”

Me: “Maybe? I don’t know? Could it be, like, a freak case of mastitis or something? Or MRSA? Was there a tag or something in your bra that scratched you funny? The Word That Shall Not Be Used just doesn’t spring up that fast, right?”

Her: “That’s what I’m thinking. But I saw a video back in, like, 2006 about this freak kind of Word That Shall Not Be Used that only presents as a rash and by the time you’re diagnosed, they basically tell you to get your affairs in order because it’s already too late.”

Me: “Jesus. Wait, so how on EARTH did you get a mammogram appointment so quickly? Aren’t those places so backed up that you always have to wait for, like, a month to get in?”

Her: “The doc told me to call the lab and say ‘I have a rash.’ Well apparently, that was the magic phrase to get me on the VIP list. An appointment just magically opened up for this morning. And here we are.”

Me: “That’s not ominous or anything.”

Her: “I feel like I should send you a picture to show you what I’m talking about. Can I send you a picture? OH MY GOD I JUST VOLUNTEERED TO SEXT MY DAUGHTER.”

Me: “The worst part of all of this? Until you realized the horror of what you were suggesting, I was thinking to myself ‘you know? That might not be a bad idea. We’re all friends here.’”

Her: “I’ll show it to you when you get home. Aaaanyway, do some laundry and book a flight.” <click click> “Oh, that’s Deb calling me back so I’m going to let you go. Google inflammatory breast cancer. Oh! And I’ll send you pictures of the two mirrors. Let me know which one you think will look good over the fireplace. Ok byeeeeeee!”

A Disclaimer

I don’t intend for this to become an all-cancer-all-the-time blog. As a result, I’ve been obsessing for FAR too long over how to balance posts about coping with my mom’s cancer diagnosis with the regularly scheduled posts. (“Hmm…should the post about when I couldn’t wake my mother after her first chemo treatment come BEFORE or AFTER the post about how to refinish a desk in Hollywood Regency style?” #privilegedgirlproblems)

But as it has a tendency to do in real life, this cancer crap will probably dominate the posts at least for the foreseeable future, ESPECIALLY since the recent Susan G. Komen Klusterfuck (For The Kure!™) presses my Magic Soapbox Button. You have all been warned.

Perhaps I’ll kill two birds with one stone and do a follow-up post on “How to Bedazzle Your Own Soapbox Using Scrap Ribbons, Vintage Lace and Miniature Buttons.”

Hmm… <strokes imaginary beard thoughtfully>


Anyway, one of the things I will repeatedly stress is the fact that you can’t let cancer take over your whole life. It is both normal and correct to live your life, albeit with some temporary modifications.

Let me repeat that once more for the cheap seats: It is both normal and correct to live your life. It’s so easy to get steamrolled by the guilt for wanting to, say, meet a friend for a quick cup of coffee when your parent is chilling at home, having cancer. It’s also really easy to inadvertently sever contact with the rest of the world because you’re afraid something bad will happen to your parent if you leave them for longer than 30 seconds. I mean, they have CANCER, dammit! CAAAAAAAANNNCERRRRRR.

But seriously, you guys, neither scenario is emotionally healthy for you or for your parent.

So things may seem a bit disjointed at first. You’ll more than likely see several cancer-y posts followed, inexplicably, by a recipe for steak au poivre or a review of a Vegas show we saw over the weekend, but let that be a reminder that it’s ok to inject some normalcy into a ridiculously abnormal situation. You’re going to be ok, and you can do this.

(am I reassuring the reader, or myself? I don’t even know anymore…)

The ghost of Geocities wants to punch me in the face.

It’s taking all of my willpower NOT to include some dippy “Excuse our dust! This site is under construction!! Hur hur!” post as I obsess to the point of madness get the blog design and whatnot in place. Things got a little fuzzy for a bit and all of a sudden I realized I was doing a google image search for an “under construction” graphic from circa 1998. Then I realized I had to kick my own ass.

Aaaanyhoo…here’s the equivalent of jingling my keys to distract everyone while I tweak out over the fonts.

Some funky fly freshness lovingly unearthed by The Hairpin:


Also: Tigers. Tonight.

I believe, I really do. It’s just…the Tigers have an uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And it makes me cry a little on the inside.

Guh. You know what else makes me cry? The sign at :27 featuring $4 parking.

Carry on my wayward son

After a fairly standard night at a Downriver drinkery somehow turned into an alcohol-fueled poetry slam, using faded Keno tickets and fossilized golf pencils as a means to record our feelings (don’t laugh, that shit was INSPIRED), I figured the only logical next step was to start my blog thusly:


Always yelling, go!

Could this be a new career?

Don’t quit your day job