Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Return to the Underwire Bra

I realize that my cancer is officially over, what with the last day of radiation and the whole (gigantic!!) Survivor party happening tomorrow, but indulge me one more time. This is perhaps slightly off-topic, but we all deserve a break from cancer, no? For those of you who are sticklers for themes, I offer you this: I can now return to wearing underwire bras (which were banned during radiation treatment). Quinn Cummings book is out and it's titled "Notes from the Underwire: Adventures from my Awkward and Lovely Life." If that's not enough for you theme-obssessed, in the book she has written about a time when she was 14 years old and her mother was undergoing chemotherapy. She goes wig shopping with her mother. There is no Wig Teen in her story, but the results were quite similar to my Hairy Scary Day.

I've just started reading the book and it's hilarious and well-written and supremely entertaining and interesting. Go, buy it. From your local independent bookstore if you are lucky enough to have one (Vroman's sells it online and they have autographed copies--which is what I got; yeah, call me a geek. Whatever). (And I got this far without saying it, but yes, that Quinn Cummings--the little girl from Goodbye Girl, all grown-up and intellectual and have I mentioned funny?). Unfortunately I missed her one public appearance and reading at Vroman's in Pasadena. Luckily for us all however, she is doing a "blog book tour" which is exactly what it sounds like and really pretty smart. Here, read for yourself (questions are mine; answers are hers....really).

1) Now that you've had a live reading book "tour" and your blog tour is well underway, which group of fans do you find to be better dressed?

Oh, the little people who live in my head. They might shout at me and disparage my grammar, but sartorially, they’re flawless.

2) In your book, you discuss dealing with your mother's cancer. Because this is a blog about dealing with breast cancer, I feel compelled to ask a cancer related question. So here goes--what advice would you give to family and friends of someone diagnosed with cancer (or any serious illness for that matter)? (I'm avoiding asking for advice to the person diagnosed--we get so much advice our heads spin and spit).

I think there’s no one answer. You offer the adult one kind of support when their partner is living with and fighting ovarian cancer. You offer the eleven year-old son of the melanoma patient another kind of support entirely. Truthfully, I’m not sure what I would have welcomed at fourteen. I was a prickly kid and I have a cellular horror of anything resembling pity. We’re going to be FINE, get off my BACK, just give me a butter knife and I’ll take the tumor out MYSELF. I can say this without feeling too pompous; you are the person giving support don’t get to decide what form that’s going to take. You might feel like having a good long cry with the family member. They might feel like talking about anything but the cancer. The family of a person fighting cancer gets one thing over which they have control and that’s how they’re going to deal or not deal with it.

3) How do you feel about questions (brilliant, ridiculous, incoherent or otherwise) with a lot of parentheticals (which may or may not be an attempt to avoid commas)?

Since a usual sentence for me would, if written, contain more subclauses than an insurance rider, I’m awed and fearful of people who don’t need my precious parentheses. I’ve actually learned to talk in parentheses.

4) Would you like to take this opportunity to clear up your prior statement that some unknown breed of dog called a Boykin something or other is your favorite breed of dog when actually you meant that "Beagle" (particularly diabolically cute beagles named Seamus that have survived cancer against all odds) is your favorite breed of dog, right after any dog that was rescued from a shelter and given a second chance?

And then there are Beagles and they are very good and brave and only bay when it’s totally necessary. To prove my love for the fair beagle, I will now offer a beagle story; the woman who runs the rescue group where I work has a beagle who comes to work. There he sits most days, overrun by cats; the elders ignore him, the teenagers try to pick fights with him and the kittens use him as a climbing toy. Throughout, his tail never stops thumping (Although it must be noted that he does enjoy sneaking a little kitty food when he can and has been known to sneak a cat-box treat if no appears to be looking). In short, he is the embodiment of the beagle’s good humor, adaptability and style.

5) What are you currently working on writing-wise (besides blog interview questions)?

This is it for right now, because it’s taking about two hours a day and it’s summer time and my daughter is very present and I really ought to parent her.

6) What book do you wish you had written and what book are you glad you didn't write?

I wish I had written “Don’t Get Too Comfortable,” by David Rackoff. I wish I had written “Play it as it Lays,” by Joan Didion. I wish I had written the “Pigs in Heaven” series by Barbara Kingsolver, because she wrote a boyfriend character for the lead I finished the book totally crushed on, and it would have been nice to keep him in my head for the years it took to write them. I won’t say which books I’m glad I didn’t write, because someone out there likes them.

7) Why was this your favorite blog tour stop to date and what could possibly top it?

Well, being able to clarify the terrible beagle misunderstanding brought a lot of peace to my soul.

See, that was worth the digression, wasn't it? Also worth your time is her blog:

(If you have a blog and would like to interview Quinn, you can also accomplish this amazing feat. You need only go to her blog to find out how. But you may not ask any dog questions that in anyway defeat the glory of the beagle.)

Seamus and I would both like to thank Quinn for stopping by the blog. And neighbors, he only bays for a reason. Got that??


  1. Those questions were so you! I just have to point out that I was humored by the fact that you asked questions about dogs and even when she threw the whole "I have a kid I should be parenting" thing out there, you just blew right by it! Kids, wha . . . huh? Oh never mind . . . so . . . what book do you think you wrote that you never wrote that you wanted to write that you wrote . . . ? Funny. :-)

  2. You rock! Great questions and great set-up.

    Hey, I actually will get to meet Quinn next week - in person instead of cyperspace! Making a quick trip to LA. I'll send you my schedule in case we could get together.

  3. FYI: The book will be on Kindle on july 27 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon right now!

  4. Your link is wonky and I apologize for that. I've been off the computer I actually like and on the BAD COMPUTER. I'm going to fix you right now.

  5. Ladies and Gentleman, behold the power of Quinn: She can fix me!!!


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