It’s what’s inside that counts

Since March, I have now had four or five pelvic ultrasounds (yes, both the external and the internal probe Congress loves so much) and a pelvic MRI.

Here is what we know:

There are masses inside of me and they are growing, and they need to be removed.

Here is what we think we know:

One of the masses is an ovarian endometrioma the size of a tennis ball (and growing). Until late June I’d never heard of such a thing but turns out I’m intimately acquainted and just didn’t know it. Essentially, I have endometriosis that has invaded my left ovary and taken over to the point that it likely cannot be extracted and removed; the whole ovary has got to go.

I have other masses in my uterus that are fibroid tumors. At least one of them is also the size of a tennis ball. I was sent to have an MRI this past week to find out the number and size and placement of them all, since apparently, from the expression on my specialist’s face, there’s a bunch of crazy shit happening in there, all together, that has her thinking I should get a hysterectomy, STAT.

My specialist asked me, while prodding around my guts with her fingers, if I was done having children. Well, I said, I didn’t think I was. She pressed her hand down on my lower stomach from the outside and pressed her fingers inside of me upward, so her hands met around the parts inside of me that are swollen and cramped, and I felt a pain so deep it didn’t register in my body but it registered deep in my emotions and I began crying.

I am 34. I have always had regular periods that last three to five days and that come with minimal discomfort. I’ve never been on hormonal birth control and I had a quick and lovely eight-hour natural labor and delivery. I have always joked about being built for breeding, with my wide hips. I have had friends and family who’ve fought with period pain, endometriosis, cysts, fibroids and excessive bleeding and have always counted myself as being very fortunate to have a system that seemed, more or less, to do its thing and keep the peace.

I have finally met the man I want to spend the rest of my life and have a family with, and, in my more selfish moments, it’s a little like a cosmic middle finger in the face to think that that might not even be on the table for us.

My gynecologist asked me if I have a high pain tolerance. On the one hand, how great to have not suffered from the discomfort of my insides twisting and growing and crowding my organs. On the other hand, the lack of pain means I didn’t even realize what was happening for so long, and now it’s likely too late to really fix it and keep it functional.

I go back to the doctor Thursday to find out exactly what the MRI shows and what’s next. I know it will not be great news because they called and moved my follow-up appointment up a week. They told me come by whenever; they will work me in. That only happens if something is concerning enough to need action.

My family and friends are of course being supportive and wonderful in every way. My mom had a major bout of fibroids in her 40s and ended up with a hysterectomy. But she’d already had three kids and had her tubes tied; she knew she was done adding to her family. But she knows what a tough row to hoe this can be for the brain and body when it happens.

I had hoped I was finally getting to start a family in earnest, with someone who loves me and my son. It will be difficult to let that dream die before it even had a chance, if that’s what it comes to.

I know I will need surgery. I just don’t know how much and how soon and how serious.

I know I can feel a dull thud of pain on my left side where the ovary continues to grow larger each menstrual cycle. That pain wasn’t there four months ago.

I know sitting up from lying down is increasingly uncomfortable.

I know I can feel tenderness all across my belly, and sharp pain whenever a not-to-be-named 4-year-old gut-checks me while wrestling.

I know I am scared.

Status update

It is weird to be watched. To have someone waiting for you display how human you are so he can come after you and exploit your weaknesses. To be the target of an emotional sniper.

I wonder if he knows the damage he’s doing. Not to me, though. I’ve been working on being immune to that garbage for a long time and it’s finally taking hold.

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I’ve taken the week off from work. Naturally, it’s been raining the entire time. You’re welcome, farmers.

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I saw “Mad Max: Fury Road” the other day and it was intense in the best way. Just balls-to-the-wall insanity on an arc that most storytellers don’t often commit to. The rolling tribal metal concert was obviously the best part. I just kept thinking about the board meetings the Citadel council had to have where someone was like, “Gentlemen, times are lean and we need to think about reducing resources that are unnecessary to our most critical warmongering efforts” and then everyone looks over to the crazy suspended guitarist who’s just in the corner foaming at the mouth and stroking the frets and someone jumps up and says, “Now just a minute, Warrior Clank! One could argue that Coma-Doof Warrior’s contributions to the war effort are as critical as any of you silver-gummed, pockmarked shitstains!” and then the whole scene devolves into flammable chaos as Doof shreds his ax in the background.

That exact council meeting probably happened multiple times because, you know, political gridlock.

Such takeaway delight is not present in many films and for that I am grateful.

Also, holy fucking Furiosa, dudes. Don’t be surprised if I have a bad day and show up to the office some time soon with grease smeared on my forehead. On that day, either say yes ma’am to whatever I ask or run away from me.

Far away.

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“I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.” — Donna Haraway

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The new place is coming along. I’ve got furniture on the floor and things hung on the wall. I didn’t announce a move or anything because I don’t feel terribly comfortable announcing personal details here anymore. (See the beginning of this post.)

I love living in East Nashville. It reminds me of Midtown in so many ways and it’s great to be so close to friends. I want to explore more and today intended to do just that and got caught out in a serious deluge. I came in to Mad Donna’s and that is where I sit at this moment, gut full of burger and margaritas. Happy vacation to me.

Write something

Write something.

Write write write something. Anything. Use words to conjure up pictures in other people’s heads and yes maybe even your own.

Stop asking why. You know why. You have to do it. It’s as much an instinct for you as blinking and breathing are. Can you imagine how awful it would be if one day you woke up and you couldn’t muster the energy to blink or breathe anymore? Your eyeballs would shrivel up in your head and you’d die. That is going to happen to the interesting part of your soul if you don’t write something soon.

Take a sip, loosen your standards.

Write write write, what can we write about?

Last night on Radiolab they were talking about laughter and how Aristotle thought it was our ability to laugh that made us human and apart from the other beasts. But Aristotle, while boasting a badass name, was wrong. Laughter is certainly a weird thing when you really think about, physiologically, what is happening during a fit of laughter. But laughter isn’t a uniquely human thing. Why would it be? Animals laugh and play and experience joy, too. I figure the only thing that makes us truly human is our capacity for self-sabotage. May science prove me wrong.

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Is there a medication that kills ennui? Or transforms it into courage?

Actually, I don’t think ennui is what I have. I have the opposite, sort of: So many huge things I want to do but seemingly no time at all in which to do them, which creates a kind of crushing suffocation and a world that both zips around you and never seems to change.

So, what, like, mushrooms?

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I’ve been thinking of all kinds of one-sentence bios for myself lately. Or are they epitaphs? Maybe that is the same thing.

• Incapable of sitting like a lady

• Liquid courage, solid shame

• Unimaginably bad at fantasy football

• Cannot pronounce “library” without total emotional and mental focus

• Hack

• Completely, breathlessly, incontrovertibly in love with adverbs

• Never even touched a banjo :(

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I saw “Boyhood” a few weeks ago. The only movie I’ve seen in a theater all year. It was lovely. I know everyone knows that already. Richard Linklater is my spirit animal. These are random thoughts. I got giddy when I saw the Lamar Sorrento painting on Ethan Hawke’s wall. That kid playing Mason could not be cuter and the adult playing Mason could not be cuter. Patricia Arquette’s boobs could not be bigger. I know that before I am able to accept it, my own boy will be bigger than I ever imagined. It’s terrifying, in the way a roller coaster is when you are at the top of that first peak. I suppose I am lucky in that I like roller coasters.

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I’m not dreaming lately. I hate hate hate that.

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I saw someone from my deep past last weekend and I went up and said hello and he wouldn’t even look at me. It was painfully awkward. I tried to talk to him and he kept looking past me, into the distance, obviously wishing I’d just go away. I left feeling like complete shit. He won.

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The older I get the more my family breaks down. Lately some things have happened that I’ve not even been able to fully process, much less address. This one thing I had in my childhood that set me apart from so many — this solid, loving, close-knit family — has dissolved. It breaks my heart. I know nothing is permanent, but damn.

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I’m tired of layoffs.

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I miss taking photos, constant photos. You see the world differently when you are behind a lens. When you get out of that habit, the world goes a little flat.

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I haven’t traveled anywhere in a good long while. I was supposed to take a road trip recently and it fell apart in spectacular fashion and didn’t actually happen. We are going to the Smokies in a couple of weeks for a little bit, but I am pining to see something new, to breathe the air of a place I’ve never been. I want to know why no one will just pay me to wander around aimlessly. I would have made an incredible trust-fund kid.

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Wrapping up a random post is difficult. It’s 1 a.m. and the boy will be up at 7:30 and I’m really doing myself no favors by staying up, considering the insane workday ahead of me.

Let’s end with a photo of this guy, whose smile could power a grid. He’s in such a big way lately. So many new words and phrases and such a sweet attitude most of the time. My heart.

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Sick-day blogging, whee

I stayed home from work today. Blame it on not getting home from work until 1 a.m. and then being up half the remaining night with an angry stomach. I have powered through days on three hours of sleep more times than I care to recount but today it was not happening. I fed my baby breakfast and kept him away from sharks and live wires until naptime, and then I went back to bed. Sadly I did not get to sneak in another nap the entire rest of the day, but sick days are not the same once you’re 31 and have a kid.

I spent the day wrangling Holden and counseling him on how much more effective words would be than the VERY LOUD whine-grunt he uses to lodge complaints. The sound seriously plucks at something deep and reptilian within me that makes me want to smash things. But in positive language developments, he now says “I love you!” fairly enthusiastically when prompted, thanks to that crazy dog I complained about. He can also locate the dog’s heart when asked. Touché, dog. You taught my kid how to love. Sorry I complained that you were too happy, yeesh.

To be honest, I am only blogging at this late hour because I’m procrastinating going downstairs and going to bed. That is how tired I am. My exhaustion and my laziness are doing battle and you, dear reader, are the real winner here.

What else can I type-blab about?

Oh, we saw a groundhog across the street the other day. Is it THE groundhog?! I don’t know. It never came close enough for me to play nature tracker* to compare and contrast its traits with the photo I have. Obviously, it’s likely that there was more than one groundhog living around here, so even if one of them was hurt or killed, there could be others. But we have decided, officially, to believe that this is the groundhog one of our neighbors tried to murder, and that he fought off death valiantly, and that he is going to eat the shit out of some garden veggies for revenge.

* kudos to you parents who got the Dinosaur Train reference. Pteam Pteranodon 4 LYFE!

Things that are annoying and should end immediately

• Ombre hair
• Mariah Carey videos where she tries to seduce the camera
• Videos on Instagram
• War and poverty, duh
• Bread with DHA in it (AKA fish bread)

I used to have this perception of adulthood…

… as being this time of settling into wisdom and really coming into myself and becoming comfortable with this crazy thing we call life and getting to carve out time to be better and feel better and do better. But adulthood has been nothing but nonstop, exhausting insanity, like some fucked-up round of Whack-a-Mole that never ends, where the little dudes are not only popping up but popping up in flames that spread and the faster I thwack them, the more they spit fire at me.

Or like opening a vein temporarily that just ends up bulging and pushing and pushing and pushing because the needle is never satisfied and, oh, what is your other arm doing, because we’re going to need to use that one too.

It sucks. God, it sucks. And I am bad at it. And I want to stop doing it. Can I opt out?

Deep thoughts while cramming taco salad into my face in the workplace lunchroom

You ever notice how Pepsi machines put the Diet Mountain Dew button above the regular Mountain Dew? Probably not because I’m sure you never patronize Pepsi machines. But if you ever stroll past one on your way to a Coke machine, take a look. I have a theory that it’s because that is the only fucking way they can sell Diet Mountain Dew — to trick people into thinking they are buying a regular Mountain Dew.

This is crazy this is crazy this is crazy

That’s what keeps running through my head as I’m going through the business of making this move. I just keep picturing Clark Griswold clapping his hands together and saying it over and over.

So here is where we are and where we have been.

We found a house! After three weekends of searching plus ALL THE INTERNET RESEARCHING, we ended up deciding to go with a house on a tip supplied by Sarcastro. (Apropos of nothing, I miss Sarcastro’s blog.) It’s cozy with a sweet little porch, a bay window, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a deck out back, and a bonus room/den/office area, complete with a perfect little spot for the cats to shit. You would not believe how difficult it is to find a house with a good spot for cats to shit. And there is a little laundry room with tall shelves for me to store all the crap I will inevitably drag along with me since I won’t have enough time to sift through everything and chunk much of it.

We had this other house we really loved but it wasn’t a 100 percent deal and we decided we needed to go ahead and push the button on something definite before we left town. I was getting pretty discouraged with the house hunt* and just needed to feel like we had something we could rely on so I could go ahead and start making moving plans. I start my job Wednesday, after all, and much of the packing and moving is going to have to happen while I am 200 miles away. This makes the control freak in me want to barf.

So I am going to Nashville tomorrow night to stay with Matt and Amanda. And then I report at 9 a.m. to the new job. I’ll come back to Memphis Friday night to continue packing and then back to Nashville Sunday night. We won’t actually move into the house until around the 11th so that it going to be pretty rough. I cannot imagine being away from my baby for a week but that is the reality of the situation so we are going to just do it, I guess. We will figure out the details as we stumble toward them.

It’s exciting and scary.

Here goes.

* We had an appointment to view a house at 10 a.m. Sunday. The landlord told me over the phone that 10 a.m. would be good because the family would be at church and we could poke around the house. I assumed he would clear all of this with the family. We showed up at the scheduled time and knocked on the door. A lady answered and was flabbergasted at our presence. I told her why we were there and she said no one had communicated anything with her. “We still live here!” she said with complete exasperation. She was in a nightgown and I heard kids in the background. We got back into the car and suddenly my phone started blowing up — it was the number of the landlord. I finally thought maybe I had gone to the wrong house when he texted, “R U gettn close I am here waitin.” I called back. Turns out he had just gotten there after us, I guess. I told him the tenant had no idea we were coming. “Who answered the door?” he asked. “That big fat lady?” Aaaand scene.

I am no Ernest Hemingway

… but if there is one thing I have learned about photography (or at least how I like to do it) that is different from writing, it’s shoot sober, edit drunk.