Monday, March 25, 2013

Why I let strangers grope my gobstoppers

Several weeks ago, a woman with cold hands squeezed my naked sweater potatoes with a look of intense concentration.

I paid her for it.

At least, my insurance company did.

“I know you’re only 38,” my doctor said as she palpated my fun bags, “but since you have some family history of breast cancer, now would be a good time for you to schedule a baseline mammogram.”

Not eager to argue with someone gripping one of my meatloaves, I left my annual exam and phoned the radiology clinic. The scheduler asked so many questions about my dairy pillows, she knew them better than I did by the time she booked my appointment.

The night before my mammogram, I considered treating my lady balls to a special dinner or buying them some expensive lotion. Everything I’d heard about mammograms indicated my chesticles were in for an unpleasant experience, and I felt I owed them something nice.

My gentleman friend gamely offered to assist, adding that he'd also be happy to conduct the entire mammogram himself.

"You're such a helpful, selfless individual," I said.

"I do my part," he agreed.

The next morning, I walked into the clinic and spotted this sign over the front desk:

“I’m supposed to be here for a mammogram,” I told the receptionist. “But that PET thing sounds like more fun. Do I get to pick who pets me?”

She gave me a nervous smile and a bunch of paperwork to fill out. I sat there in the waiting room giving my pointer sisters a pep talk until a cute guy came out in blue scrubs and called my name. I followed him down the hall where he pointed me to a small dressing room.

“If you’re wearing any lotion or deodorant, you’ll want to clean it off,” he said.

“You’re not offering sponge baths?” I asked as he handed me a weird pink wraparound top.

He shook his head and pointed at a bowl of wet-wipes.

I sponged off my own  rib balloons and wriggled into the pink top, unclear why I couldn’t just walk to the mammogram room shirtless and save everyone the hassle. I had my answer seconds later when I found myself in a second waiting area accompanied by half-a-dozen other women wearing the same top and matching uneasy expressions.

“It’s like some kind of weird prison garb,” I said to one woman who looked up from her magazine as I entered. “Think we get to keep these shirts?”

“At least they warmed them up,” she said, and I agreed that was a nice touch.

Seconds later, a technician called my name and led me down the hall to where this contraption awaited my hush puppies:

“This is your first time?” the technician asked.

“Yes. Does that mean I get extra foreplay?”

She laughed and began a brief lecture on pressure and pain thresholds. I’m sure her precise wording was much more clinical than this, but what I heard was, “some women are delicate and sensitive, and some hussies like things rough, and if you’re one of the latter, you’ll do just fine.”

I’m sure those weren’t her exact words, but I relaxed anyway.

I relaxed further when I remembered the words of a friend who used to work in a mammography clinic. “Women with big boobs are usually easy, so you’ll do great.”

I appreciated the backhanded compliment, and reminded myself to look at all women with oversized love muffins and think easy from now on.

For the next five minutes, I engaged in a sort of bizarre dance with the technician calling out the moves. “Take two steps this way. Lift your arm. Turn to the right. I’m going to move your breast now.”

She maneuvered my beanbags into position, stepping away every now and then to tighten the vice grip before stepping back to rearrange my t-shirt meat on the metal plate.

“You’re done,” she announced abruptly.

“Really?” I asked. “That’s it?”

“For some people, mammograms are very painful. For other people—” she shrugged, leaving me to fill in the blank as, insensitive bitches like you don’t feel a thing.

Which was true, and a great relief, but still.

“Do I at least get a lollypop?” I asked.

“You got squeezed. Isn’t that better?”

“Very true,” I agreed. “It’s an awesome day anytime someone cops a feel before 9 a.m.”

Three days later—lightning fast, in my opinion—I got a letter in the mail:

While the first line was a relief, it was the second that caught my eye. I handed the letter to my gentleman friend. “Apparently, my flesh bulbs aren’t very smart,” I said.


“My hood ornaments,” I informed him. “They’re dense.”

“Do they need some special ed?”

All jokes aside, I googled “dense breasts” and was taken aback by what I read. According to (I couldn’t make that up if I wanted to) some women’s flapjacks are made up mostly of fat, while others are comprised of more connective tissue. It’s impossible to tell by feel (though you’re welcome to give it a shot) and it’s not until you stick your paw patties in a mammogram machine that you have any idea what they’re made of.

The problem is that dense mushmelon tissue is white on a mammogram, which is the same color cancer appears. In other words, if your bikini biscuits are dense, you won't always spot cancer on a mammogram. Not only that, but cancer turns up five times more often in women with dense jahoobies than those with fattier milk fountains. Those of us with dense skin snacks are encouraged to get regular ultrasounds in addition to mammograms to avoid missing anything important.

Consider that your public service announcement for the week. Now go out there and grope your sweet rolls. Or someone else’s. It’s the right thing to do.

Monday, March 18, 2013

There's nothing buzzing in my pants

There are many good reasons I shouldn't be trusted with an iPhone, and not all of them center around my fondness for sending cleavage shots before double-checking the address of the intended recipient.

Here's one of the reasons:

It's the second time I've broken an iPhone screen (the first time, you may recall, I handed the phone to my gentleman friend's ex-wife to show her the broken glass at the precise moment he texted me something filthy to lighten the awkward mood).

So yeah. I broke another iPhone screen. It's no surprise, considering how frequently I drop the damn thing on concrete, but still. I'm two months shy of the renewal date when I'm eligible for a new phone, so I checked into how much it might cost to have a professional replace the glass. I paid $99 for the phone in the first place, and that's what I intend to pay for a new one in a couple months, so I couldn't justify paying the same just to fix the screen.

A pal told me how cheap it is to find replacement kits on eBay and instructional videos on YouTube, and my gentleman friend generously volunteered to tackle the task. I ordered the kit online and presented it to him on Saturday.

He hoped it might be a 20-minute project he could finish quickly before a scheduled outing with a pal. An hour later, he was scowling at the disassembled phone.

"You have to take the entire thing apart before you even get to the screen," he said. "All these screws are tiny and they're in there so tight, I end up stripping them."

I nodded. "The only words I just heard were screws, tight, and stripping."

"You should have been here five minutes ago when the video instructed me to remove the vibrator."

The phone was still in pieces when we had to meet our friend, so I left the house without it. I wasn't expecting any urgent calls from my agent or editor, so I figured it was no big deal.

I figured wrong.

Not that anyone needed to reach me in an emergency, but I hadn't counted on how dependent I've become on my phone. I kept reaching into my bag to snap a photo or update my Facebook status or check email, and I'd have a moment of panic when I came up emtpy-handed.

After awhile, I got used to it. Within a few hours, I began to enjoy it. There's something liberating about being free from the urgent need to chronicle every brew pub I visit or every dirty thought flitting through my mind. There's a sort of relief in taking a break – even a forced one – from the technology that's taken over my life.

Which is not to say I'll intentionally smash my new iPhone screen just to earn myself a day off. But if it happens again (who am I kidding? When it happens again) at least I know I can survive quite nicely without the vibrating gadget constantly in my hand.

Well, one of them.

Have you ever taken a technology break? What are the pros and cons of taking time off from buzzy little gadgets? Please share!

And please give a round of applause to my gentleman friend for all his hard work. I should probably think of a generous way to reward him. Any ideas?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Open wide and take it one bite at a time

I skipped blogging the last couple weeks while I endured exhaustive literary exploration and journeyed to the far corners of the globe conducting tireless research for my next two novels.

In other words, I was in Kauai visiting my parents, hanging with my brother & his fiancée, and celebrating my gentleman friend's 40th birthday.

For the record, I am working on two books set on the lovely garden isle, and I did spend vacation time exchanging phone calls, emails, and text messages with my agent. Though I can't yet share the reasons for all the urgent correspondence, suffice it to say my plate is quite full at the moment. Not a bad problem for an author to have.

But of course, I'm not just an author. As we made the 3.5 hour drive home from the airport, traveling through a mountain blizzard following an all-night flight from Hawaii, I realized with dread that I had to report to the day job the following morning.

I adore being the Communications and Public Relations Manager for my city's tourism bureau, which frequently involves sipping beer with journalists on the Bend Ale Trail and spending afternoons snowshoeing or kayaking so I can blog about my adventures. I love what I do, both as an author and a part-time day jobber.

But as I sat there the next morning in my office, jet-lagged and exhausted with a sunburn that caused me to scratch myself inappropriately more often than normal, I stared at my overflowing email inbox and tried not to cry. Hundreds of unread messages glowed on the screen, their bold, black font like an evil email sneer. I scrolled down the page, hoping most of them were messages I could ignore about donuts in the break room week-old snow reports.

There were no donuts, stale or otherwise. And I was faced with the daunting task of tackling that overflowing inbox, along with the blinking light on my voicemail and the pile of mail lurking on a corner of my desk and a plethora of meetings on my calendar and my boss hovering in the doorway saying, "When you have a minute...."

The buzzing sensation in my brain was not unlike the one I've experienced as an author faced with an impossible deadline or a daunting set of revisions (though it's a different kind of buzzing than what's generated by the device beside my bed, which is where I seriously wished to be as I stared down my task list and wondered where the hell to start).

One of many lessons I'm forced to learn over and over as an author, a day jobber, and as someone hoping to maintain a home that doesn't appear as though a small nuclear weapon was detonated in my living room is the importance of tackling daunting tasks in small, manageable chunks. It's like that age-old question, "How do you eat an elepahant?"

One bite at a time.

And so, I dug in. Which is the way every success story starts, whether you're writing a book or shoveling dog doo in the backyard. I've learned the hard way that if I allow myself to dwell on the big picture – ohmygod, a WHOLE BOOK?! A task list longer than Ron Jeremy's beef bayonet? – I will expend more energy fretting than I would actually getting shit done.

In the case of the day job, that meant prioritizing the email inbox and tackling the time-sensitive tasks first, tending to media requests for photos and making sure all our social media channels were updated with engaging content. Fortified by that small sense of accomplishment (not to mention three cups of strong black tea) I moved on to the voicemail, then the less urgent email, pausing every now and then to pee and respond to requests from colleagues (occasionally at the same time).

Am I all caught up? I wish I could say yes, just like I wish I could say I spent last night writing the synopsis I promised my agent instead of rolling around naked. OK, that's a lie. I totally don't wish that last one.

Still, I've learned to be patient with myself, and to accept the fact that no sane person (or insane person, for that matter) can accomplish everything at once, regardless of the task. If you know someone who can, send him or her my way and I'll supply all necessary tea and AA batteries.

How do you approach daunting tasks and overflowing inboxes? Please share!

I'll be busy shaking Kauai sand out of my undies.