Calm Down

I am extremely nice. My internal dialogue is occasionally brutal, often politically incorrect, and sometimes super judge-y. But outwardly, I am nice nice nice. I’m waving you into my lane. I don’t care if you go back for frozen waffles and then bananas and then pay with a check. I’ll hold your baby, the elevator, and even my composure if you get grabby. I spent the better part of this morning tracking down an air conditioning repair quote that is one month overdue, apologizing for calling so often with inquiries. It’s officially autumn now… so, really… take your time.

Today, with my usual “these things aren’t that important” breezy attitude I made the umpteenth call to Verizon. I ring them every few months, or years, to ask the current staff if someone could get rid of this for me.

Ain't it purdy?

This looks safe, right?

Last spring I made a huge breakthrough as Verizon admitted the pole was theirs, even confirming its exact location in my yard as it continues to wrap its (scary) wires around a rhododendron. They promised someone would come check it out very soon. I didn’t believe them. In fact, I might have even joked about not believing them… but in a nice nice nice way. So today, when I realized that “very soon” was six months ago, I made another call.

I usually dive right into my unwanted-pole-and-wires spiel peppered with factoids proving these (hopefully inert) wires are certainly theirs. Since I’ve been requesting pole removal for seven years, I know their deflecting questions and have ready answers. Occasionally, I’ll ask if they have any record of my prior requests. They never do. The whole dance is ridiculous and funny and a solid example of the complete customer service incompetence that exacerbates most of us daily; but the Verizon repair staff on the phone never, ever sees the humor in a mom trying for seven years to remove a wired pole from where the soccer ball always lands. It goes like this:

“I’m calling… again… see there’s this pole and blah blah blah and can you believe I’ve been calling for seven years? But now there’s this tree sort of leaning into it and the yard guys, understandably, won’t touch it until someone removes the pole and wires, and no one ever comes and, well… I’m just calling… again.”

Today, after my twee rant, the Verizon lady told me to “calm down.” I think tolerating a potentially electrified eyesore in the landscape for an entire dog year makes me the Zen Goddess of consumer complaint. She was probably reacting to my coffee-fueled pressured speech, but I certainly wasn’t angry or agitated… just overly effusive about my persistent pole situation. I’m calling about a POLE in the YARD, not a snake in the house, or fire in the attic, or tumor in the breast. Perspective and patience I have in spades, but nothing makes the blood boil faster than this couplet of words. But instead of indulging my inner meanie, I swallowed my spleen, apologized for interrupting her, and gave her the gift of silence… which she filled with a little harrumph that tells me this pole isn’t going anywhere fast.


(Over the years I have repeatedly offered a $100 reward to anyone who can make the men with chainsaws materialize. Apparently no one is so desperate for cash that he would willingly engage with vile Verizon staff.)

I think anyone who tells another (who isn’t aflame, or being chased by bees, or a smallish child) to “calm down” is afflicted with an incurable bad mood impervious to civility or bribery. And anyone who tells a sane person to “calm down” must know they’re inviting the opposite. But today, I resisted all desires to spew vitriol and landed myself Repair Request Order MAAT03D1Y2. Honey and flies and all of that. But if you wanted to call… like every single day… with not-calm-at-all inquiries about the status of Repair Request Order MAAT03D1Y2, I would urge you to Carry On.


Twirly Fabulous

Modern Cancer-acquiring girls have the gift of social media, and if you’re comfortable being blab blab blabby about it, you don’t have to endure the disease alone. I now have dozens of virtual friends in this Crap Sorority of the Previously Bald and Possibly Dying. I’ve met most of these gals through friends-of-friends because, for whatever reason, people who know people who have Cancer want you to know they know other people who have Cancer, too. And because all Cancer-y girls will certainly be besties, they feel adorably obligated to broker the introduction. And even though I wrote that as if it’s annoying… it’s not. At all. (Although maybe take a moment to wonder if you have ever uttered, “Sally had Cancer… you should call her!”) I have texted, phoned, emailed, written, and blog-messaged with at least 100 women who found a lump, who can’t get out of bed, who are still doing CrossFit, who can’t choose a wig, who didn’t know how to tell the kids, who like their hair and hate their hair and grew their hair or love it short, and who want a sympathetic soundboard to blame those extra ten pounds on Tamoxifen.

Tara is one such internet-derived friend-of-friend. A decade my junior, there are still many similarities to how we slog and blog through the aftermath, although she does it with teeny children underfoot while continuing to work at her smartypants job. She’s a do-gooding lawyer and wicked brave and brutally honest. To point, she recently posted her weight. Few people are this honest. I get on the scale, sway, lean, inhale pointlessly, and round down. When subjected to the Balance of Shame in the doctor’s office, I console myself with the delusion that my flippy skirts are, really, rather quite heavy. But Tara posted her weight to disarm its Debby Downer reality and embrace it as a sign of her health. Most of us enjoy a temporary svelteness when the terror of a Cancer diagnosis makes us vomit and forget to eat. Surgery and chemo serve well as a weight-maintenance plan. But just as we’re feeling all groovy with our new parts and hair, hunger and Tamoxifen bring us right back to where we were (or a little ahead of that). Tara posted her weight as an in-your-face, here-I-am, suck-it-Cancer announcement, and by doing so, robbed a silly number of its power. This makes her kind of awesome.

As someone less awesome, I’m flabbergasted as to why that damn slide weight is still being coaxed to the right after an entire summer of liquefied veggie meals. It might have something to do with Prosecco… but c’mon metabolism, give a girl a break. Normally, I don’t focus on numbers, because I always assume that I look fabulous, and a digital judgment from an appliance shouldn’t interfere with my good common sense. But a handful of recent Cancer follow up appointments had me standing on scales in my (heavy) flippy skirts, wondering why I drank all of that kale. Happily, my faithful, on line Crap Sorority friends will always chime in to commiserate, and blame it on obviously very thick clothing or chemo-edema or Tamoxifen in spite of research which suggests that cupcakes might part of the problem.

This week, I chose to combat my anti-estrogen fueled liposomes at the barre (as my favorite belly-up version isn’t helping). Because I adore sitting still or only gracefully moving my appendages slowly, I’ve been doing yoga for two years. But I’ve grown bored with the ohm-ing, so maybe I can twirl myself to skinny? Pure Barre was the intended topic of this collection of paragraphs, because I am walking so funny today. After two classes repeating exercises shamelessly designed to tame jiggly bits—a refreshing departure from thumbs-to-third-eye yoga, for sure– I realize Pure Barre is only loosely informed by ballet. I had envisioned a morning doing mini back bends in fifth position accompanied by Mozart, but instead found myself staring into full length mirrors at my jiggly bits as we plié-d and tucked and lifted at Macklemore speed until our thighs wiggled with exhaustion. And there was no twirling. Nothing about this summons the loveliness I associate with ballet… except the instructors… who are interchangeably pretty and perfect and can do all of these drills without the slack jawed, holy-fuck-torture face. I may have mentioned once or twice how much I loathe exercise, in general, so you can imagine my disappointment that a ballet class was actually cardio. Bah.

But I’m going back. First of all, I already paid for a month of classes. And also, there was a noticeable dearth of jiggly bits in that room. Maybe Pure Barre is onto something. Or not. Certainly Tara is.

If I were as brave as Tara, I’d insert my weight here, followed by a quip about how twirly fabulous I feel. And honestly, after an entire summer slurping salad through a straw, I feel pretty twirly fabulous. But it would also be nice if this skirt wasn’t so heavy.

I didn't get to do this once at Pure Barre...

I didn’t get to do this at Pure Barre…