Last week was a week and next week is going to be a  week as well.  I will be delighted to have this boot off of my foot.  Just delighted.  A month of no real exercise and I’m a bit stir crazy.  I know that some people just go forever without exercise and they’re all good with it.  I so don’t get that.  I just don’t get it.  And the spoiler alert is that everything did turn out fine.  

On Tuesday, I had a mammogram.  And it was the same gal I’ve gotten a mammogram from for the the last three years.  I’m sure she doesn’t recognize me from year to year, I’m just another set of breasts coming through, but she’s always delightful and chatty and she’s the only one doing my breasts, so of course, I remember her.  Perhaps I was imagining her being quiet, I don’t know, but that night I got a call and an email to make a second appointment with the Martinez clinic.  I was told that I had to go to the Martinez campus because they could give me the results of the mammograms while I was there.

Off I went on Thursday, to Martinez, to the Hacienda building.  The appointment was for 11:40.  They had me change into a hospital gown and wait in a room that had a fountain, snacks and a Keurig machine.  I think that they were going for a spa feel: trying to ease the tension for these women who were being tested for cancer.  There were three other women in the, like a spa but not, “Women’s Restorative” room, and they were looking kindof glum.  One of them was an old woman who was very scared.  All that I could get from her mutterings was that a family member had died of cancer and she just didn’t know, just didn’t know what she was going to do if she had cancer.  Fair enough, it’s not the best way to spend time.  

I was called in by a radiologist tech who was lovely.  She had a turban/scarf type of thing with a knot in the front and some lovely tattoos, she was charming.  A bunch of pictures were taken and then back to the “Women’s Restorative” room I went.

It’s 12:30 now.  

I waited and had a snack, lowfat granola bars, and was called back in by another women who took more pictures.  This radiologist was about my age, short red hair and the cut, the cut on that hair was PERFECT.  I haven’t worn my hair that short in a while but it takes a good cutter to get one that PERFECT.  

“Front, left side, right side, lean a bit forward, hold your breath now breathe.  “

Ok, fine and back to the, like a spa, but not, “Women’s Restorative” room I went again. 


The original appointment was for 11:40 and we’re running past 1:00 now.  I’m getting hungry.

Two radiologists have had their lunch and I’m on my third technician.  The third one speaks English as a Second language.  I can’t tell if her first language is Mexican or Tagalog.  Regardless, she too, has a lovely demeanor and I’m really hoping that this will be the last set.

Lots of pictures being taken and sent to the doctor who is viewing them in another room on a different screen.  At one point the technician, in positioning me, darn near scrapes my sternum up between “the paddles” YIKES!  That’s not part of the breast!  

Extra pictures need to be taken of my right breast and she puts a pink glittery pasty thingamajig on my right nipple and continues to squish and click away.  She’s having me pull my gown back because she thinks that it is causing distortion on the pictures.    

She tells me that something just isn’t quite right,  there’s some sort of shading on the picture, “would you like to take a look?”

“Sure, I’ll see if I can help you out.”

Well, the line, was the shadow being cast between my very squished right breast, and my right shoulder.  Also, the top of my jeans was somehow floating off of the bottom of the xray.

Oh!  and yes, we sure can see the nipple in the picture now, now that it has that pasty on it.  And… keep in mind, I still have the boot on my left foot from the hammertoe surgery from earlier this month.

I was proud of myself for not saying something about how the top of my jeans could not have been distorting the pictures because, after all, the stomach is not anywhere near the breast and has no way of photobombing these photos even if it tried.

I showed the technician how the shadow was on all of the photos (only not as pronounced, as I was not being, uhm, positioned so enthusiastically before)

And, I could only wonder how it would have looked to someone looking in on this.  The patient, pasty clad nipple pronounced, while gown is off of right shoulder, hand on hip, pointing out bits and pieces of my bits and pieces to the technician.

At some point the doctor pokes her head in and thanks me for being a “good sport”.


I’m allowed to dress and told to go into the “consult” room which is next to the like a spa, but not, “Women’s restorative” room.  The consult room has a lovely couch with throw pillows, a plastic cross section of the breast but no snacks.  I’m really hungry now.

The doctor comes in and tells me that there are calcified cells in both breasts.  One cluster is two centimeters and one is three centimeters.  Because I have fibrous breasts there is not a lot of contrast between the calcified clusters and the rest of the breasts in the photo.  If there were more of my breasts or more fat in my breasts the photos would have been easier to read.  The calcified cells have nothing to do with how much calcium I consume.  When I  tried to make a joke, “so if I had more breast to photograph, if they were bigger had a bit more fat it would have been easier to read the photos?”  The doctor’s response was “no, fat is bad”.  Ok, then.

The doctor asked if I had any experience with lanacane or topical numbing agents and I replied, “like what they use when I get botox and filler?  sure, not an issue”  again, not a smile.

The biopsy technician came in with a basket of snacks, lowfat granola, baked potato chips and bruised fruit.  Yeah!  And tried to give me an overview of what she would be doing, unfortunately all of her pamphlets were in Spanish, but, the gist is, I’ll be lying on a table with a hole in it and they reach under and take a biopsy.  I’ll have this done on both breasts.

This may already be more information than you want, but there’s a wee bit more.  Tom was working from home that day and when I came home he was concerned that it had taken soooooo long.  Fair enough, it had taken long.  His response was that of an engineer, problem solving male.  

“You know what?  that might be good for you!  the no breast thing!  and  I love you!”  he then enveloped me in a  bear hug and then went back to work.

I think I”ll be fine, no cancer in my family history, but next week the schedule goes:

Monday – botox/filler

Tuesday – pins taken out of my foot and boot comes off

Wednesday – lots of bubble baths

Thursday – biopsy (no bubble baths for 3 days)

Friday – hair cut.

I should have the results sometime the following week.

After surgery

Went to the oncologist today.  They really treat you with kid gloves in that department.  It’s as if, as if, they have to give quite a few people really bad news.  The stationary in the the cancer packet they gave me was decorated with confetti, like the invitation to a little kid’s birthday party, but it still, just didn’t get to that party feel.

The doctor came in.  I’m pretty sure she was from China.  She had on some ballet flats with no show socks that showed, alot.  She had a little kid’s barrette in her hair.  She was accompanied by a Physician’s Assistant, who was gorgeous and dressed, well, like a professional.  They both greeted me with the double hand handshake.  You know, the handshake with a comforting hand on top of it?  that one.  The doctor opens up my file on the computer and she squints at the screen and then she looks at me and back to the screen again and says “this is a horrible picture!  I wouldn’t even be able to recognize you from this.  Get another one taken.”  The PA winces and I say, “Ok”.

The doctor then goes through the different proactive medical treatments that I can avail myself of, if I wish.  The mass was benign and no cancer was found but just by virtue of having that mass puts me in a higher risk category for having cancer and there are some, steps that you can take if you want to be more proactive.   The medication she mentioned had some severe side effects and I can’t remember all of the details.  It didn’t seem to me that her heart was really in it for these treatments either but she had to make sure that I knew about them.  She then looks up from my chart and says, “you don’t take much medication.” 

I replied, “no, the bulk of what you’re seeing is wrinkle cream”

She asked “does it work?”

Not So Zen

I knew the day would come when I would not be able to run anymore.  I was a long distance runner for forty years.  It was my go to for handling stress.  Bad day at work?  I went for a run.  Argument with my boyfriend, husband, mother, shopkeeper?  Go for a run.  A new promotion and barely able to contain my excitement?  Go for a run.  Newly engaged?  run; Newly divorced? run;  A couple of years ago I had to have surgery on my left foot and I can’t run anymore.  The knees, the hips and the feet complain.  So the day has come and I’m a mature woman now.  I can deal with life’s little ups and downs without literally running around. Right?

We are coming up on a year into the pandemic and I really want to go for a long run.  The last twelve months have brought, out of control wildfires, a coup attempt and the very real risk of losing our democracy.  I retired six months ago and Tom, my husband, retired four months ago.  We like each other and somehow, our portfolio has continued to grow during this turbulent time in history.  So it doesn’t all suck, but I continue to have some anxiety which I thought would be 100% relieved once the new administration came into office.

Things I have done during the last year to keep my spirits up.  I bought eyeshadow.  I wore eyeshadow as a young woman but rarely wear it anymore as an “adult”.  I had to use  a magnifying glass in addition to my reading glasses to read the back of the color palette before I could apply it.  I bought some new perfume from Avon.  Don’t laugh, Avon has good perfumes and they’re affordable.  Tom came through the living room the other day and looked at his perfumed well made up wife reading on the couch with her dog, her dog who smells literally like a seal, and just gave me a startled look.  “What?”  I asked.  “Oh nothing, nothing,” he responded, giving me a backward glance as he passed through the living room. 

Now, I walk a lot.  Tom and I walk 8 miles three days a week and then I walk at least 4 on the other days.  Walking is a “safe” way to socialize during the pandemic.

I’m in a writing group with some very talented writers and this has been wonderful and awful at the same time.  It’s harder work than I realized and even when I’m not writing anything of substance it seems to be a slightly soul wrenching exercise.

I’d like to go see the grandkids in New Jersey.  I’d like to have coffee with Julie and P.  I’d like to josh around with Julie’s boys and go backpacking with Frances.  I’d like to take a trip to celebrate retirement with my husband.

I’ve taken up playing tennis again.  This has literally been hit or miss, no pun intended.  Fewer courts are available than I remember from when I played so many decades ago and my game is quite rusty.

I took a tennis lesson last week and it was really great.  Bam! Bam! Bam! I was hitting balls and the young instructor was responding with a guttural “Yes!” each time I hit the ball correctly.   I’m 59 years old and I really thought that I would have developed a more zen approach to anxiety than literally running around and or hitting things by now…

So it’s all good, all good really.  The coup didn’t materialize.  I have money in the bank.  A vaccine for the covid 19 has been developed, and in less than a year!  And it is being administered.  But still.  

The hammertoe on my right foot is starting to bother me.   I went to Kaiser on Monday to get my second shingles shot and have the right foot x-rayed.  As I’m leaving the building a man, about 45, white, is giving two young nurses, one Black, one Mexican,  both darling, a hard time for taking his temperature and asking him the standard questions they must ask before letting him into the building.  He’s laughing and saying, ‘fine, yes, I’m fine, how are you?” in a snarky way.  He’s bullying them.  “Oh, ok, sure” he responds as they ask him, “Sir?  could you please pull your mask up over your nose?”  I’m watching this dickhead as I leave the building and I’m thinking.  I should just stop and give him a good kick up the butt.  I’m wearing cowboy boots, I have strong legs but I can’t remember which foot is my good foot for keeping balanced.

I knew the day would come and I really thought I would be more mature by now, that I wouldn’t feel compelled to run around and hit things when I’m under stress or feeling free floating anxiety.  That’s what I thought.  But, I’m not.


I went online to Costco to see if I could pick up a pair of jeans and I could.  I went ahead and threw them in a cart with one click and then went to check out and realized that the cost of these jeans was $99.  How could that be?  Did Costco have a problem with their website?  Weren’t these the Kirkland brand jeans?  Hold on, hold on, these were “J jeans”  I had no idea if this is a real brand.  I googled it.  It is.  It is a real brand and these jeans sell for over $200.  If I was pissed at ripping a pair of $70 jeans that I had owned for five years I sure as hell wasn’t going to purchase a $200 pair of jeans even at 50% off and then venture into the vegetable garden.  Ok, I’m not even working anymore so let me see what I can find on thredUp, an online used clothing store.  Got it, a pair of straight leg jeans for $16 that will do.  The jeans arrived and fit and looked fine but the front pockets were faux pockets.  Ok, huh.

In my googling for jeans I came across an opinion article in CNN titled “FINALLY, These are the jeans women REALLY need.”  I took the bait.  I didn’t realize that this was a national crisis issue, a crisis being addressed by a professor of communications no less. Come to tell, with the pandemic and weight gain and people just running through their final reserves of fucks to give, that working women, read this to mean all women, are opting towards high waisted relaxed fit jeans.  They just can’t do it anymore, they just can’t pour themselves into skinny jeans to look good to run errands or even eat a meal in.  This is nice.  The author was encouraging women to make comfort the new norm.  Exchange the pencil skirts for flowy skirts.  I’m curious as to how this will work or if it will work.  I remember watching  an interview with Sheryl Saunders and I was distracted by her constantly tugging at her pencil skirt.  The skirt was a gorgeous royal blue with a soft wrap around blouse, she looked lovely but… 

I think that it is facile to say “just do it ladies!”  The woman who famously championed “take a seat at the table!” isn’t even dressing comfortably.  I think that we dress to impress and to compete and attract and make statements.  I think that men do it as well but they are not judged as harshly on their appearance as women are so the bulk of them don’t have to or even care to give it much thought.  

Wait, there’s more.  Slate also had an article on women’s jeans this week.  So much is going on in the world that I’m a little startled by how much print this topic is getting. 
‘ “The biggest mistake any brand or retailer can make is to assume that they know what customer product priorities will be when they come out of this period,” a VP at a trend-forecasting company told Harper’s Bazaar of the near future in fashion. 

The New York Times says we’re in an era of high-rise jeans; Vox claims low-rise jeans are cooler. ‘

Since we haven’t dressed for a year so what will we choose?  Just what will we, the consumer choose?  The high waisted boot cut jeans are getting a lot of press.  But wait, those look like flairs to me.  The article goes on to warn you not to confuse these with flairs.  Clothing producers are weary and wary of producing too much of anything but skinny jeans are out.  Everyone is in agreement on that.  How come I see skinny jeans everywhere I look?  

I’m sharing this with my mother and she says, “High waisted flares are in.  That’s the fashion forward look.  Of course traditional cut Levis will always be in.”  she’s adamant.  This from an 85 year old woman who has consistently dressed like a reformed nun, Clarks walking shoes and vests with pockets, for the past 30 years or so.  To be fair though, she does stay au courant in spite of her own sartorial choices.

In retirement I have been sewing and playing with sewing knits, tricky.  I’m enjoying the colors.  I don’t know if I‘ll ever wear black again.  As mentioned, I’m struggling with the knits and I found a website The Last Stitch and it’s hosted by a Swedish woman who swears by these two tools for working with knits, an awl, yes, you read that correctly and a rubber mallet.  She showed how some people use a special walking foot for feeding the knit fabric through the machine but “I, I prefer the awl, Look!  See! More control!”  I’ve tried it, she’s right,  and then the rubber mallet.  To make the neckline or the waistband lay flat, make sure you clip a notch right here” (she clips a notch on where the fabric is folded) and then bam! Bam! Bam!  “see?  All flat! It works!”  I haven’t tried the rubber mallet yet, but I will.  She’s written a book on how to sew jeans.  I mention this to my husband Tom.  “Wouldn’t that be a pain in the ass?  With the rivets and everything?” he asks.  Well, yeah, but I’m thinking that the fun of using a rubber mallet and making a pair of jeans just might be more than I can resist. 

Before I go any further I check in with Robin Givhan, the Pulitzer prize winning writer at the Washington Post.  Ms. Givhan does social and fashion commentary.  Since this appears to be jeans week I wonder what she has to say.  Nothing, her column is on how all lives matter and that was validated by the guilty verdict on Chauvin in the George Floyd murder.  

I’m going to buy the men’s Kirkland jeans, they only make them for men, and tailor them with my awl and rubber mallet to fit me.