Thursday, May 14, 2009

In the Blink of an Eye

Quick quiz: Why is it good to know Michelle Obama wears fake eyelashes?
Answer: Because she's sophisticated, super cool and a trendsetter. Oh, and because my eyelashes fell out !!! Just when I thought the side effects were ending. I guess the poor guys hung on as long as they could, but they'd had enough. When I washed my face and took off the mascara, a whole lot of eyelashes came out too.

Not all of them, just enough to make me look really strange. On the left eye, the upper lashes from about the middle to the inside corner only have about 3 lashes left. On the right eye, several upper lashes came out randomly and just about all of the lower lashes. Mascara is useless, it just gives me like two long random lashes sticking out like mini horns. Not really a good look. In my preparing for chemo I bought fake eyelashes, so I suppose now I have to find them and then I have to figure out how to apply them. This will be good. That, or I'll just use more eyeliner and fake it. (Time to wear the "Back Off People, I have Cancer!!" shirt again.) Anyone know how long it takes to grow eyelashes?

In other news of my chemo appearance, I went to a business/ charity/ awards luncheon yesterday (The Athena Luncheon) wearing my red wig but otherwise looking like me. I thought. Almost nobody recognized me! Not even people who read the blog and have seen all the photos. I'm thinking had I just shown up bald they would have recognized me. But now I have this odd feeling that way too much of my identity is "blonde." Most people didn't recognize me until I talked (for those of you who read this but don't know me personally, I have a deep voice. Fairly recognizable I'm told. No, I don't smoke. Or drink whiskey. I just sound like I do). If I waved at someone from across the room or several feet away I got those half-hearted "are you waving to me and if so who are you?" waves in return. Now I'm thinking I'm going to go to more events in different wigs and just eavesdrop on conversations. I need a co-conspirator though, someone who can start the conversations going with great openers like "Did you hear Teresa has cancer? Don't we all hope it's terminal?" and see where it goes. You know, just for fun. Because that's fun, right?

And on a final note for this evening (must get downstairs for Chris's fettuccine in a sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce with Italian sausage, and must-see TV--aka, The Office and 30 Rock!!), I had a wonderful lunch with my good friend (for 25 years now) JOHN GOODMAN on Monday. And he drove all the way down from Sebastopol. Okay, not just to see me, he had business down here. But he drove so he wouldn't be on a plane and thus wouldn't be sick when he saw me during my "danger zone" time. Sweet, huh? We got to talking about how folks handle crisis and basically how a crisis causes people to become more of what they already are (kinder, stronger, or, um, more self-absorbed, more of an emotional train wreck, etc. you get the point). And at one point, as I was going on ad nauseum (as I do) about people who had surprised me one way or another, John, who has had no shortage of life crises himself, said "Wow. I feel like you're giving your friends grades. I wonder how I did?" Which is just a really nice way of saying "Hey, Teresa, maybe be a little less judgmental of people!" For the record, if I were giving grades, John would get an A+, in part because of his tactful way of smacking me like that (and because you gotta hand it to someone who can still be straight up like that even when talking to chemo-girl, who totally deserved it). And he makes a good point. So later I got to thinking about what kind of grade my friends would give me. And I probably have a little work to do. Not quite an epiphany, but I think after going through this, I have a better idea how to respond to a friend in crisis. For what it's worth (or not), I'll share a little.

Lots of people say to me "If there is anything I can do, please call." Or some variation of that. It's hard to know how much people really mean that (because, um, I might be a little cynical). And, I find that hard to do--just pick up the phone and say "Can you X, Y or Z?" Unless I really really needed something, which didn't happen that often, I just can't do that. I think a lot of people are that way. Plus, with something like chemo, planning ahead is difficult, it really is a day to day thing. What I found really great(and I found that the authors of many of the cancer memoirs I read said the same thing) was when someone was specific and just jumped in. Like my Leadership Riverside gals who just said "We're bringing you dinner, pick a night" and then called on that night for my dinner request. Or all the many, many people who just sent a card or called or sent flowers or whatever, especially as time wore on (hey, I get it, I'm tired of this too!), just to say they were thinking of me and routing for me. I think I probably have fallen into the "if you ever need anything" group before--and I meant it. But I hope in the future I'll just figure out something nice to do and just do it. I hope I'll remember that the person in a crisis situation isn't really thinking about much more than getting through it. So, John, I'll do better in the future,I swear (although I hope you have no more life crises). Thanks for the kick in the seat! ;-) And the margarita.

Friday afternoon Chris and I are off for our long-awaited, much-anticipated long weekend in La Jolla, courtesy of SUSAN MEDEL!! Saturday we'll be having lunch with 3 of my my UCSB college roomies and their other halves. I haven't seen them in over 10 years, despite the fact that one lives in Murietta (about a 40 minute drive from me) and the other two are in San Diego (a two hour drive, but still, Chris and I are down there several times a year). Cancer does draw people together (even as it causes me to draw on eyelashes and perhaps eyebrows!). Should be a great weekend all around. And if my roommates don't recognize me, I'll be able to pretend it's because of the wig and my lack of eyelashes, and not at all because my weight is any different than it was in college, or my face is any more wrinkled. It's totally the wig.

(Oh, and yeah, that's the campus. We went to college there. And occasionally, we went to class there. The lower photo is where our apartment was--Del Playa in Isla Vista. Tough, tough times.)


  1. Ok Teresa,
    I rarely get teary BUT you did it. You are like Barbara Walters, making everyone tear up! I was doing good until I started reading about us and saw the Isla Vista picture....and I'm not my former self either :) and I can't blame it on a freakin' wig!! Unless I put one on my butt and say that's why it looks big.
    Kathy G

  2. I think the best thing people can do for you now is bring you wine. Or, more correctly, bring me wine. Because I could really use some wine. Particularly red and Burgundian. Just a suggestion...

  3. Subtle. Very subtle, Chris.

    And Kathy--what's happening to you?? Tears??!!!

  4. So, let me get this straight ... I bring you a perfect scarf from FRANCE and a bitching t-shirt from FRANCE and a great pinchy cookbook from SPAIN for Chris, all at great personal expense because I had to lug those items in my suitcase from FRANCE and SPAIN and they took up valuable space and no CAPITAL LETTERS FOR ME? Someone bitch-slaps you into reality and they get CAPITAL LETTERS? WTF? Oh, sure, Mr. Perfect BFF from NoCal. I get it. Um hmmm.

  5. Aren't you the one who claimed you didn't care about Googling yourself and getting your name in caps STACEY ALDSTADT??? I'm a few days behind in my reporting (but I did wear the gorgeous Provencal scarf last night at Bernini's Bistro!).

    Besides, he Bitch-slapped me in a really nice, subtle way.


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