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Guest Blog: Breast Cancer Awareness & “Sensitarian”

Guest Blog: Breast Cancer Awareness & “Sensitarian”

Hi friends!

Today is October 1, the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s also the day my dear friend Sharyn is relaunching her website, Sensitarian.com, which is devoted to connecting the needs between consumers with food sensitivities and restaurants, eateries and the food industry. I personally have a temperamental belly; about seven years ago I was diagnosed with food sensitivities ranging from avocado to zucchini. How can my body be sensitive to foods that are good for me?! It’s not like I’m eating cream cheese and tootsie pops all day. So I for one am excited about the relaunch.

Sharyn was all ready to go with this site a year ago until … well, I’ll let you read what she wrote last year which ended up putting the launch on hold:

I have always loved October. I’m not so much of a summer person. It’s fall that I look forward to every year, and no month more than October. October is when the flurry of back-to-school has settled into routine. The oppressive heat and humidity dissipate, and cooler air sets in. Leaves begin to change colors and flutter to the ground.

It’s also my birthday month. The time of year when I get older. But that doesn’t excite me very much anymore, partly because, well, birthdays just aren’t my thing. I enjoy the day and all — mostly because it’s the one day when I hear from my closest friends all on the same day. I’m just not big on presents or parties to celebrate the day I was born. My own birthday was never that special, but the fact that my older sister’s birthday was four days before mine, and my mother’s birthday was the day after mine — well, sharing my birthday week made October extra-special growing up. That sense of shared anticipation and celebration stayed with me into adulthood.

When my older sister died in 1996 of complications of Juvenile Diabetes, everything changed. Her birthday became a day to bring sunflowers to the cemetery. My birthday, four days later, turned into a day to feel grateful for living the life I live, for the privilege of getting older, for becoming a wife and a mother, two things my sister didn’t have the time to do before she died.

Today is October 1, and everything has changed again. It’s exactly eight weeks since I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

My oncologist tells me that I don’t actually have breast cancer anymore, since the surgeon removed it with a lumpectomy. Technically, I am in “treatment” for breast cancer. But every doctor’s visit, every chart, every insurance filing, has the diagnosis “breast cancer” attached to it. It’s like a label I can’t un-stick.

I know how lucky I am. I know that I have the “good kind” of breast cancer. But I’m still scared. Maybe I’m still in a bit of shock, even. And all I want to do is run away from October.

October. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As if I need to be more aware of breast cancer. The fact is that I can’t escape it. Was it always this way and I just didn’t tune in? The pink ribbons, the yogurt lids, the pink pony.

Last weekend was the Breast Cancer 3-Day in my area. I’ve been a supporter in the past, happy to help my sister-in-law and niece reach their fundraising goal when they walked a couple of years ago. I even took my sons out to cheer them on, as the course took them close by our neighborhood.

When I saw the walkers in their celebratory pink tutus, feather boas and fuchsia wigs, I’m ashamed to say that I wanted to turn my car around and go a different way home.

“I’m sorry,” I wanted to tell the walkers who were celebrating their survival or memorializing their mothers, friends, grandmothers and aunts who died of breast cancer.

I’m sorry, but I’m just not ready.

I’m not ready for Breast Cancer Awareness Month just yet. Can we put it on hold until I get through my treatment?

I’m so sorry that I can’t join in the crusade this October. I can’t get out there and walk. I can’t go “shop for the cure.” I can’t even listen to the new Martina McBride song on the radio without changing the station.

But there is something that I can do this October, this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I can say, “Thank you.”

Thank you to the walkers and the artists and the survivors and the donors and supporters. Thank you to the grocery stores and yogurt companies and corporations. Thank you for raising awareness of breast cancer and for all of your efforts to fund a cure.

It’s because of you that my doctor found my cancer early. It’s because of you that my treatment plan is proven. It’s because of you that I will survive.

Thank you.

Thank you, walkers.
Thank you readers, please go check out sensitarian.com and tell Sharyn she sent you! Thank you Sharyn.

I’m Back! (Did You Notice?): Recap (Lucky You!)


I haven’t posted in a few days. Nothing, not even a reblog from “the vault” of some of my (and yours, apparently) favorite posts.

Tomorrow is October 1. Traditionally, fiscal years begin on 10/1 of each year and being a Libra, I am feeling some semblance of woeful disorganization when compared to my more got-their-acts-together Virgo friends. I married a Virgo. He’s not organized. Well, not at home. “He’s a man. It’s different for the men,” said someone I used to know.

Which reminds me of that song by Goyte that I used to like.

Tomorrow I am hosting a friend as a guest blogger for the relaunch of her site. She is not only a friend, but she used to be my boss… so, you can ask her all sorts of professional stuff about me. As my boss, she was totally astounded by my insane work ethic and esprit de corps. She’s a great writer and I see this relaunch as her renaissance, so please check out what she’s offering. Super short and sweet: it’s a website devoted to the topic of food sensitivities to create restaurant and trade awareness for people whose diets have specific requirements. I won’t steal her thunder. Just please check her out tomorrow.

Later this week, probably Tuesday or Wednesday I am hosting another friend whose blog I adore. She is a wonderful photographer and I encouraged her to get out and shoot me a photo blog. I can’t wait to see what’s up her sleeve.

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I woke up this morning feeling pretty much back to normal. My birthday gave me a head cold, complete with dizziness that made me list to port (right), a fever, raspy voice and an unrelenting urge to lie down all day each day. That didn’t happen until Thursday because on Wednesday I was still busy doing family things. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say: I AM A VERY GOOD SISTER. A*hem. Ok, a little: my brother, SIL and their beautiful little family decided to visit me for bday dinner from their home which is about an hour away. When they got to my house, their car was leaking oil (ruh-roh) like … thinking of a proper analogy … like the Black Knight from Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail. Was that proper? Anyway, so we went out and checked the crank case (check me out using proper terms and whatnot) by pulling out the long shish-kebob skewer thingamajig testing it for “car blood,” as I stated it, and it was dry. “Your car has been bitten by a vampire,” I said.

Because standing over a hot engine in my driveway is exactly what I wanted to do on my 45th birthday.

Whatever… life is what happens when you’re making other plans…

So we got more car blood and put it in the hole on top of the box in the front part of the car under its hat and went back inside to eat and sing and have cake and it was a very nice time. Then it was time to go home.

When he drove away I saw a trail of car blood leading out of my street. I called them. They came back and spent the night. All’s well that ends well, but this particular visit didn’t end until I walked through the front hall doorway of my manse (it’s like a 8’x6′ area with a bench that abuts the front door and leads into the last 13′ of my house) at 1:30 the following day. The good news: the repair was minimal (a hole in the oil pan) compared to the catastrophe (engine seizure) it could have been.

Bonus of the experience: more time with the adorable niece and nephew and their parents.

What did I get for my birthday? Why I’m so glad you asked! I got a pair of lovely 8mm cultured pearl earrings. Studs. I am not a glamour girl. I like diamond studs OK but they’re really not me.  With diamonds it’s all about constant pressure over millions of years and even then you still have to beat the crap out of the world’s hardest substance for it to resemble anything remotely potentially beautiful and then it has to be cut (ouch!) by another diamond! and then buffed (ooph!). And then there’s that whole blood diamonds thing… watch none of that matter when I get a pair of 16-carat diamond studs one day…

But in all honesty, I relish in the pearl’s “story” – it’s such an amazing metaphor for how we all can find the CONSTANT and ever-present absolute beauty in life’s struggles, even as we are experiencing them, but what do we get at the end of the struggle, a pearl?! It’s a fantastic and wonderful, elegant and graceful reminder for me that through agitation, irritation, frustration and discomfort comes this terrifically precious little object. I wear my earrings all the time. They’re not fancy, they’re not overly obvious but they say to me: “It will be OK. No matter what’s going on, it will always be OK.”

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Domestic Bliss

I was wearing my pearls on Thursday when I discovered that my clothes dryer died. The wonderful dryer warranty fate gods are good: my  warranty ends 10/9, so we were covered. Because I had some super special double-plus secret probation MVP warranty, my repair was the scheduled for the next day, Friday, between 12 and 5. The fun happened when Sears decided to call me at 3:52 that next day, Friday, to tell my son (who answered the phone unbeknownst to me – parents of young children: DO NOT LET YOUR KIDS ANSWER THE CALL FROM A SERVICE VENDOR, especially during an election year…my kids love messing with the pollsters) that the repair dude wasn’t coming anymore because he had a job that took him to 3 hours past his contract time. I didn’t deal well. I was sick. I was newly 45 and my son almost let them off the hook. I roared like a bear and asked my son to give me the phone.

I was going to make someone poop out a pearl. I told them this news was unacceptable and requested an escalation to a supervisor. The caller said it was impossible to escalate the call and I said the following (this is true): “It’s not impossible. You’re in a call center with probably 30 other people just like you wearing headsets under low lighting sitting in swivel office chairs staring at computer screens. You can stand up, wave your flag, turn on your light, send up a flare, flash your bat signal or do whatever it is you’ve been trained to do to let a supervisor know that you’ve got a hot one on the line and that I’m about to blow my stack and call corporate because it’s still before 5pm here. I also won’t go into the matter of social networking and the fact that I write a blog and have three friends on Twitter, so I’m not so powerless anymore am I? Go ahead, I’ll wait on hold. I’ll put you on speaker.” About four minutes later, someone named Priscilla comes on. She informs me she’s a supervisor (miracle!). She will get on the matter right away and call me back shortly.

I thought so.

She called back in five minutes, panting actually, and said she had someone who was reaching out to their dispatcher to find a dude who could come. I said that would be great.

She called back again and told me that the original guy will come, but it will be late, around 7. I told her that was fine; that we would feed him dinner.

In less than ten minutes the repair guy himself called me to tell me he’d just finished a job and that he was on his way to my house. Less than five minutes after that, the repair dude showed up. (Was he at Wal*mart? In my driveway? Was I being punk’d?) Of course we let him in. Trumpets, doves, the whole fanfare. My oldest son showed him where the dryer is. “What’s the matter with it?” he asks my son. (Does NO ONE look at a service order or the computer screen before dealing with customers anymore? Christ, it’s like dealing with the school principal, suddenly I have to come equipped with advocates and again state the rationale for my situation, The Reason Why I’m asking for HELP.)  “The heating element is burnt out,” my son relays back to him while I’m growling at my phone as I dial back for the dispatcher.

My head is spinning. Someone’s lying. Right? I mean, that’s where all the rational people who weren’t raised by wolves go, right? I spoke with dispatcher and expressed my suspicions and she apologized for my inconvenience and then told me she understood, that it must be very frustrating for me. I said, “I’m not frustrated, I’m confused. Do you all have a sign, a script or something that suggests you empathize with me? Is ‘suspicion’ or ‘confusion’ not on your list of empathy words?” It didn’t go well, she was incapable of original thought. I hung up.

After the dryer repair Friday I went to see my friend Tracy Kiely at George Mason University’s Fall for The Book festival wherein she was on a Mystery Writers panel with other…mystery writers. It was fun to see her and listen to her and other writers talk about killing people and twists and turns. She’s published four! actual hardcover books and she’s a wonderful, witty writer. Check her out.

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Tough Scholars

My husband and I were talking this morning about some trouble one of our sons is reporting at school. Our son is suggesting that he’s being bullied by a hotshot kid and yet, he’s reporting it to us in such a way (with no small measure of pride, frankly, that this particular kid’s got it in for him) that we wonder if he’s not enjoying being the fly in the ointment for the hotshot. I take this stuff seriously and I’m on it with the school counselor and we listen earnestly to our son an’ all, so before anyone feels like reporting me to CPS for not taking it seriously, chill. The thing is, Thing 2 (our 11-y.o. son) is pretty funny and impish, so the fact that he could be considered annoying to a person who takes himself entirely too seriously is something that yours truly excelled/s at*. I’m not suggesting (maybe I am?) that T2 is the instigator… well, instigation confirmed: I just asked T2 about it, if there is a certain amount of enjoyment he gets from this hotshot getting all irritated (there’s that pearl again), and yes there is. However, he is hurt by this other kids’ obvious, public and mob-like disdain for him and the fact that some of the very children who’ve been to his birthday parties are siding with the hotshot. This whole situation reminds me of a flashback scene in the excellent Albert Brooks movie, “Broadcast News” when he’s bullied by some kids at school and he shouts to them under the hood of his winter parka fueled by the rage and frustration from his predicament, “You’re all gonna work for me one day!!”

As my discussion with my husband evolved, I talked about my the neighborhood of my youth. My family was one of zero other Irish families in an area of Buffalo, N.Y., called “the West Side” and it was cool. We could see Lake Erie from our front yards. The thing is, the other families had names like “Chevetta” and “Alessandro” and “Burruano” and “DePaolo” and “Tagliarino” and “Cashio” and “Sciolino” … and “Gotti” (just kidding about Gotti; it was “Gambino” actually) my husband laughed when I said “Turner” (which is my maiden name) at the irony of the fact that I was one of five Irish people (the other four being my family) within a ten-block radius. We all went to Holy Angels Elementary School where we couldn’t openly pick on each on campus, but saved it for the walks home. I’ve got some crazy stories from those days. The point being that I was scrappy and impish and a “Class-A Shit Disturber” as my Dad used to tell me when I’d get into trouble (and thus make trouble for him) at times. I had bullies, but I stood up to them right away, probably acting like Al Brooks.

*I was recently at a party hosted by a dear friend who’s a senior officer in the U.S. Army. One of his guests was a big-mouthed blowhard who clearly couldn’t tell enough people he was part of the “awe” in Rumsfeld’s “Shock and Awe” campaign on a warship back in the day when W. thought … well, never mind about that, I’m not gonna go political. Because I live a dozen miles from the Pentagon, I have a lot of active duty or retired  service member friends. I think these officers and their work is important and I support them entirely. My kids are friends of theirs and I love their wives like they are sisters. The point is that this guy couldn’t stop talking about himself, so I dug in and started to get all glassy-eyed and eyelash blinky on him. I moved in for better hearing and then started asking the most inane and bizarre questions about the men who loaded the shells that dropped and all that, like how big the men were and if they were fit and then I asked (and he took this so seriously) if it was hot in the plane and then if the men wore shirts while loading the shells in the whatever… and this guy’s totally in line with me. Not blinking at all at what I’m asking, but of course always reverting it back to himself. And I said, “Well, that was like a while ago… so you flew that big plane with all those men dropping all that stuff?” and he said, after a pause… “Uh, no. I uh was the navigator.” And then here’s the kiss of death from me, “Oh. So you were like ‘Goose’ from “Top Gun” and someone else was the pilot…” and my other friend, who is a West Point grad, buried his shaking head in his hands in disbelief that I went there. But he’s known me a long time, he knew the guy was being set up. Well, he set himself up. I just led him there. The moral: all members are important; every role and job is essential, just don’t be a dick about it.

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According to WordPress, I’ve got somewhere in the ‘hood of 745 followers. This is NEWS to yours truly. I only know about the email count and the WordPress followers and lemme tellya, that ain’t nowheres near adding up to 745 (it’s not even near 100). So… is this possible?  Is there anyone out there in WordPress land who can gently tell me the truth? I learned about this 745 figure on my birthday! So, now that the thrill is over, if there’s anything that I need to know to let me know that it’s not accurate, now would be the time to tell me.

Update: AHA! WordPress is deceiving. They are combining all Facebook followers, Twitter followers and email subscribers/ WordPress followers  in the total count. Back to reality. Back to not 745. 🙂

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Admin: Considering Revamping

I’m in the process of coming up with something reliable, a production schedule for both my readers but I want to know if that matters to you or if you just like the loosey-Mother Goosey way things go around here.

Also, I love comments. I love to hear from you. I don’t ask questions at the end of my posts because my self confidence forbids it; to ask questions of you implies that people read  my posts and my self esteem simply won’t allow that. If you do read my posts and you do like questions at the end of blog posts, would you tell me? I’m all about being interactive; I just suspect that people have better things to do than to y’know… engage online. I wanna let you read and then move on.

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About the Online Presence thing: Facebook & Twitter

If you’re on facebook (and c’mon, who isn’t? – apparently more and more people everyday…) you can click on the “Play with Grass Oil on Facebook” icon and follow me there or just click here. Facebook apparently hates people who don’t pay for their presence online so they’re not sharing my (and other fan page admins’) updates as often or as timely as they used to before the IPO. So if you want to follow me there and receive dated updates from my page with information that might not be of interest to you anymore, jump in!… (After that glowing recommendation I can’t wait to watch my follower count go through the roof.)

Twitter is better actually, it’s instant. I can understand it if you’re not on Twitter. James Woolcott from Vanity Fair magazine just opened a Twitter account; he stated the fact that he’s now on the social media network is the harbinger of its obsolescence, so…   I’ve got a random assortment of followers, like totally random, on Twitter. Some of them just follow me hoping that I’ll share their stuff with my bounty of 106 followers because someone they follow told them about me. I have endeavored to follow some of them back, but their posts are really annoying and one guy who fancies himself as a humor blog writer really isn’t humorous; he’s funny like Andrew Dice Clay (I know, I’m dating myself, that’s OK; want another one?: Sam Kinneson) is funny: which is not funny unless he’s making fun of someone else. So I’ve stopped following him. Then there are the weird BDSM writers who somehow found me. Super! I won’t ever be their publishing competition. If you’re on Twitter, and want to see the 140 characters or less inner workings of my mosquito brain, follow me @MollyFieldTweet or click here.

I guess that’s about it. Murphy needs a walk and I’m ready to go outside, pull up a chair and watch my husband powerwash the driveway in preparation for its reseal.

Thank you!