Side Hustle/Side Thoughts

I went to the doctor yesterday to have a colposcopy because the pap smear I received in June showed irregular cells on my cervix. I’ve had an irregular pap smear before, but this time there were two different spots that the doctor looked at (or at which the doctor looked if you’re pretentious and don’t like ending your sentences with a preposition). I seriously doubt that I have cervical cancer, but the last time that I seriously doubted I had cancer, I ended up having a walnut-sized tumor in my left breast. If I have another type of cancer, I am going to be PISSED. Not sad, not scared, but PISSED. Again, I seriously doubt that it’s cancer, but if it is, I will have to have a hysterectomy. I don’t mind the idea of removing my uterus. It’s a member of the Useless Organ Club that meets daily in my post-menopausal body (other members include my ovaries; I picture them as two grumpy, elderly spinster twin sisters who spend their days sitting on the front porch complaining about today’s youth). However, if I have to remove my uterus, then I’ll have to miss twelve weeks of work, and I can’t afford that. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: only get cancer if you can afford it. Both my mastectomy/initial reconstruction surgery as well as my implant surgery were at no cost to me. Bill Clinton passed a bill (I love that it was good ol’ Billy to pass the Boob Bill) stating that if you have breast cancer and need reconstruction, then you get new boobs for free. It’s your consolation prize for having undergone chemo/radiation. However, the cherry on top of the reconstruction process–the nipples–is not free (because the cherry is not exactly necessary when it comes to the sundae). Insurance covered most of the nipple surgery, but I am responsible for $740 of it plus $400 for the anesthesia #creditcarddebt. I wish I had the discipline to save more money so that I could pay outright for large expenses such as these, but I enjoy going out to eat and travelling and buying stuff for my house and hosting parties and getting my hair done and buying Groupons for laser hair removal. I’m saving for retirement, so that’s good, but it’s basically negated by my student loans and credit card debt and my car loan. It’s terrible to say, but my only motivation to find a life partner at this point is to have someone to split bills with (with whom to split bills). But then I think about online dating and then credit card debt doesn’t seem so bad.

Enter The Side Hustle. I’ve been doing a lot of dog-sitting this summer. There was Libby the Shiba Inu, then Ronin the Goldendoodle, and this week there’s Frank the Labradoodle. Poor Frank has had diarrhea since Sunday evening when I started watching him. Luckily he’s a sweet boy, so when his piles of stinky, soupy stool on the dining room and/or living room floor greet me every morning, I can tolerate the clean-up process. The first morning I was here, I woke up to two piles of Frank’s diarrhea. As I was cleaning up the second pile, Frank started to shit again, so I took him outside. Because there is no fence in the backyard, I have to stay outside with the pup, and when it was time to go back inside, the door was locked. I had somehow locked the handle. Fortunately (surprisingly), I wasn’t overly angry/concerned; I was miffed. So I sat on the porch steps for a moment, sweating and contemplating my next move. I then walked around the home to see if any doors/windows were unlocked (nope). I tried the side door again to see if a miracle had occurred and the door had become unlocked (nope) (I’ll admit that I tried that three times). I could hear the trash truck on the next street, and I knew it was heading my way, so my first plan was to wait for the trash dudes to get to the house and ask them to call the non-emergency number for the police, who would then call a locksmith. The idea of knocking on the neighbor’s door and inquiring about a spare key crossed my mind at first, but I just thought it was unlikely that they’d have one, so I hesitated. Finally, I knocked on the neighbor’s door. No one home. I knocked on the other neighbor’s door, and voila! They had a key (which they kept per my friend/home-owner’s request because this had happened before). I went to PetSmart today and bought some special diet food for Frank, so hopefully (mainly for his sake), his bowels begin to stabilize and his poo begins to harden.

But the side hustle I’m currently most excited about is Hammered Grammar! (My mom came up with that name; good work, Mom.) My friend Amanda started working for The Novel Neighbor (an adorable bookstore in Webster Groves), and she is in charge of booking its new event space. I had done some professional development on writing at her previous place of employment, and it went really well and I had a blast, so when it was time to start booking events at TNN, she asked me if I was interested in teaching a writing workshop for adults. I immediately said yes, and then my eyes grew wide. “Oh my gosh,” I said, “can the course include drinking?” and Amanda said, “Of course,” and I was all, “OMG this will be so fun!” So there is the backstory. And here is my vision: Hammered Grammar is a course for adults who would like to polish their grammar/writing skills for professional and/or personal gain, but it is also a joke/storytelling event that includes drinking and spontaneous dance parties. It’s everything I want in a teaching gig: I’m allowed to drink and tell occasional R-rated jokes while providing instruction to motivated and engaged students who don’t need me to grade their papers. Ya’ll should come! Get your nerd on and do some learnin’ and drinkin’. I’m pumped! And, of course, I feel like I should know every English grammar rule in existence, so I’ve already revisited Strunk and White, and I’m currently reading Mary Norris’ Between You and Me. I sent Ms. Norris a friend request on Facebook yesterday, so let’s hope she accepts it…


 

So I think today would have been my 9-year wedding anniversary. Every July 18th I think, “Did I get married on the 18th or the 19th?” I’m pretty sure it was the 19th. Let me look on Facebook to see if anyone has wished my Aunt Brenda and Uncle George a happy anniversary (since I know I was married on their anniversary). Hold on…[*checks Facebook*] Well, nobody has posted anything on Aunt Brenda’s page, but I’m pretty sure their anniversary (and what would have been mine) is the 19th. What muddles it for me is that I got married in 2008, and that crazy ‘8’ throws me off (befuddles me). On the way home from PetSmart today I was thinking about the fact that I don’t remember my ex-husband’s birthday. I have a somewhat valid excuse because he was born in rural Lebanon where the people consider the day the birth is registered in town to be more significant than the day that one actually enters the world. He entered the world in December, but his birth was registered in January. Also, I can’t remember how old he is. I believe he is seven years older than me. My favorite memory of my ex is from 2007 when the fires overtook San Diego County; the flames literally made their way to the ocean. When our neighborhood was told to evacuate, everyone else was packing up their cars with valuables, but my husband was on our roof with a garden house, wearing a large sun hat and drinking a Corona. The other strong visual I have of The Ex is him sitting at the kitchen table in his tighty-whiteys grading Calculus tests, dipping tobacco, and listening to Black Flag. My favorite thing about him was that he could take his finger to his nose, push up on each nostril as well as the bridge, one section at a time, and white sebum would pop out of the pores (better than Biore). It’s so weird that I used to be married to him but I don’t even remember his birthday.


 

I just want to throw this out there: today, when I was leaving PetSmart, I saw a woman, probably in her early 70s, walking into Trader Joe’s, and I was so taken aback by her level of not-giving-a-fuck. She was wearing white tennis shoes and knee-high black compression socks. As a result, my eyes were immediately drawn to her lower extremities, but as I continued to look at her, my head moving upwards, I noticed her t-shirt had a large cat on it (a lifelike tabby sitting on its haunches). If I had been wearing a hat, I would have tipped it in her direction.

Keep it random. Stay cool, and remember:

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Puttin’ on the Nips

My first plan for this post was to show pics of my post-surgery breasts. Then I decided not to post pics since many people are offended by breasts. Then I decided I would include pictures and preface them with something to the effect of: “If one were to get nipple reconstruction, one would look like this…” However, I am just going to show you pics of my reconstructed breasts because I am a female mammal and this is what this group of humans looks like underneath their clothes. I have legs, arms, fingers, toes, a liver, a uterus, a spleen. I have lots of parts, and here are two of those parts:

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FRANKEN-NIP!

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It looks like Playdoh, but it’s yellow gauze.

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The only bruising I had was on my sides. I assume that’s because that’s where the blood pooled during the liposuction?

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The little bandages on my belly are where the needle went in for liposuction. Dr. Maclin then took this fat and transferred it around my implants to give the breasts a natural fullness.

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pre-nip breasts (that’s my port scar at the top of my chest); notice how at the top of the breasts there is a slightly concave area. Dr. Maclin filled this in with fat from my belly.

#carrie #stephenking #dirtypillows

I went in a few days before surgery to meet with my plastic surgeon, Dr. Maclin, and using a sheet of paper, he modeled the process of constructing a nipple from skin. He said he would basically be doing origami with my flesh. Here’s Big Mac with the paper nipple:


Even though the recovery was fairly painless, this was the longest surgery I’ve had in the breast reconstruction process. It was basically a five hour-long arts and crafts session for Dr. Maclin. Who needs Hobby Lobby when you’ve got the O.R.? Instead of glitter and Mod Podge, Mac* used my zaftig, sedated body to put his artistic and medical skills to use. During the five hour surgery, Mac took fat from my belly using liposuction, then transferred it around my implants to give my breasts as natural a look as possible. Then, he removed skin from my lower abdomen and created nipples from it (much like one creates something 3D through origami). He attached the skin using a “baseball stitch” in order to simulate the natural unevenness of an areola’s border. Lastly, he injected my port scar with some steroids to smooth it out since it was hypertrophic. (*Please note that I have the utmost respect for doctors, and in person I always address my plastic surgeon as Dr. Maclin, but to my friends and family, he’s often referred to as Maclin, Mac, Big Mac, or Dr. Titties.)

Mac is always cracking me up. When I was in the pre-op room, I asked him about the possibility of having pubes sprout from my nipples since he would be taking skin from my lower abdomen, and he said if this happened, then I could just get laser hair removal. (How funny/terrible will it be if I start having pubes sprout from my nips?) He then shared a brief anecdote about how when he was a resident, he had a “Grey’s Anatomy” experience with another resident, and she had hairy nipples, and she was embarrassed by them in their heat-of-the-moment tryst, and he was all, “I don’t even care right now!” I think that Mac is good at reading people and knowing what he can and can’t say around them/what they’ll respond to, and he knew I’d appreciate that story. Luckily, it looks like the area where he removed my skin is high enough on the abdomen that I won’t have to worry about any short and curlys growing anywhere outside of the mons pubis.

Another thing I appreciate about Mac is his use of metaphors. He has a metaphor for everything. A week after surgery I asked him if I could go swimming, and he said, “Oh heck no! You’re essentially a cheap watch: water-resistant but not waterproof.” I also appreciate how he makes me feel cared for as a person and not just as a patient. He left a note on my abdomen bandage after surgery: “461 days down, 6 to go!” During my overnight stay at the hospital, none of the nurses could read the note, but when I got home, I could read it when I stood in front of the mirror.


Let me preface this by saying that I do not condone the recreational use of opiates, but I totally get why people do heroin. The first time I received anesthesia was when I had my wisdom teeth removed, and I was so worried. Would I feel myself slip into unconsciousness? What if I woke up and felt the pain but lacked the ability to open my eyes or speak? However, I’ve come to enjoy the experience of being sedated. The anesthesiologist gives you a little something to make you feel reeeeeeaaalllll chiiiiilllll and then the next thing you know it’s six hours later and you’re in a room where you can discern some voices, but that’s about it, and then eventually you’re fully conscious and in another room with balloons and family members. It’s a real trip, man.


What I most enjoy about overnight stays in the hospital is having a catheter. I’m one of those people who has to pee about 10 times a night, so a catheter is awesome.


Before my mom left my hospital room for the night, we somehow got on the subject of Dr. Pimple Popper. Have you seen her videos? Dude. I woke up in the middle of the night in the hospital room, and for about two glorious hours I watched blackhead and lipoma extractions. I don’t do drugs, but if I did, I would probably just lie around and watch Dr. Pimple Popper all day. While I was confined to my house post-surgery I started paying attention to and posting Instagram stories, and I love hate-watching Busy Phillips’ stories. Do you follow her on IG? I can’t stand her IG stories, but I can’t stop watching them.


So June gave me not only new nips, but a new whip. After 11 years with her, my 2006 Mazda 3 threw in the towel. She had a variety of issues, and it was for her own good that I put her down, but I’ll always remember her fondly. She took me to and from California as well as up and down the Golden State coast. Many times she held me in her automobosom as I laughed, cried, screamed, and fretted. She was a good car, and she gave me six years without a car payment. In the end, I got $700 for her. I was proud of myself for buying a car without being accompanied by someone with a Y chromosome. When I bought my last car 11 years ago, I brought my dad with me. I don’t think I ever contemplated going without him. However, there was no way that as a 37-year old woman I was going to feel pressured into bringing a man with me to buy something. As I drove to the dealership, I ran through potential difficult scenarios in my head, and I’d practice my lines: “Look, asshole, just because I have a vagina and a pleasant disposition doesn’t mean I don’t know when I’m being taken advantage of!” but all of that premature anger was for naught. The salesman was great, and I got a great deal, and I love having a car with Bluetooth.


I have some serious Franken-nips right now. They’re dry, so they look crusty. I need to ask Mac if I’m allowed to put lotion on them. The stitches poke through my shirt if I’m not wearing a bra. I have no sensation in my new nips (and I never will), and they’re fairly erect right now, but they will subside within the next couple of weeks. In December I will get them tattooed, and that will complete the breast reconstruction process.


I’ve had a lot of successful surgeries in the past year and a half, and I’ve taken a lot of life-saving medicines, but what I’d really like is a pill that transforms my pre-frontal cortex, giving me the power to control my eating and spending habits. With this pill, I would maintain a BMI of 20 and save 20% of my income. But for now, I’ll continue to go out for dinner and drinks on the reg.