Of Cancer and Gift Baskets (Or Smiles and Tears)

Friday my monster had surgery.

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His post-op lampshade situation was short-lived, however.

He figured out how to remove it because he is a canine criminal mastermind — even when he’s high on morphine.

I am supposed to find out this week if his cancer spread and if we’re facing the beginning of a battle — or the end. I try to put it out of my head as much as I can because I don’t want to waste time worrying until I know it’s necessary, but prognosis aside, his three big incisions break my heart. I almost cried when I saw them.

Full confession: I love my dog more than I love most people, so this isn’t easy. Maybe that makes me a misanthrope, or maybe he’s just a very special beast. Either way, I have been loathe to leave my house since bringing him home from the vet. I’ve turned down dinner invitations, hiking offers, and I bailed on book club. I just want to be home so I can watch him sleep.

Here he is crushing Cee Cee the Cancer Lion during a recent nap.

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Die Cancer Lion! Die!

I bought Cee Cee for him the day his initial needle biopsies came back positive for cancer. I cried so much that night that I woke up the next morning with my right eye nearly swollen shut. I had to ice my eyelids before I went to work. (It wasn’t awesome.)

I did manage to drag myself away from my patient this weekend to make an appearance at a baby shower, albeit, a brief appearance.

I probably spent more time putting together the gift basket than I spent at the shower, but I did what I could.

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I like presents.

That’s why I get carried away making them look pretty for people.

Like this one.

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It was a pre-cancer project.

Presents help me deal — and they help me express things I sometimes fail to communicate properly.

That’s also why I cook for people. It’s my way of saying I care about them even if I’m lousy at saying it sometimes.

Now I’m off to blast some Matoma remixes and make myself a quiche because I need to show myself a little love.

 

 

Wit’s End With Carpet (Or Ripping It Up Again)

Maybe it was touring my friend’s new condo yesterday, or maybe it was my restlessness with my life, or it could have been my new mirror without a wall to call home… but today I started ripping out my bedroom carpet. (hashtag hideous)

See?

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Carpet carnage 

The carpet is gross, beige-gray, and never worked in my home — or my life… so it’s going away.

I’ll need a rug for the room, but the prospect of purchasing one excites me, so it’s not exactly a downside.

I also eagerly await the chance to update the art in the room. The overall aesthetic of the room has always bothered me, and now I’ll get to do something about it.

Oh, and the mirror that may or may not have inspired today’s demolition initiative?

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Here it is in all of its antiquey gilded glory.

I’m working on a plan for it.

#designmastermind

 

 

 

Tire Chains and Gift Wrap (Or GJelina for ME

Back in December I was supposed to attend my friend Nicole’s annual Vision Board Party.

Every year we cut pictures from magazines and create collages to inspire ourselves for the upcoming year.

See?

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I’m not saying this is mine from 2016, but… maybe I am. 

In addition to making colorful collages, we drink wine, eat snacks, and do a gift exchange. I had my gift wrapped and ready for the party, but I didn’t make it back from the slopes in time to attend the soiree.

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Some nonsense about tire chains delayed our trip up the mountain. 

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Even when you bring an engineer with you, chains slow your roll. 

So, I ended up with this smartly wrapped gift.

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And it didn’t have a home.

So I did what any sensible adult would do…

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I unwrapped it.

And I gave it to myself. I mean, I adore GJelina, so why not?

Now I’m browsing the pages for inspiration. I may make meatballs in pomodoro sauce soon.

More on that later.

My Kingdom For Fi$H (Or Postmates Sushi)

Wednesday I was craving sushi — specifically Sugarfish sushi.

I was tired after my 75 minute commute so I decided to order some. Since Sugarfish doesn’t have its own delivery service, I decided to order my fishy magic through Postmates.

(If you don’t have Postmates in your area, my condolences. They will deliver almost anything to you… for a PRICE.)

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Even fancy raw fish in pretty boxes.

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Torro rolls to the rescue.

Let’s not discuss the Postmates delivery fees and “taxes,” K?

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There’s nothing like albacore, ponzu, and torro rolls after a long day.

OK, now I have to get back to writing my pilot… and figure out what the nice Postmates man should bring me for lunch.

Katsuya? Or maybe Malo?

Hmm…

Beauty in Unity and Resistance (Or My Fight)

Yesterday I didn’t march. I regret it a little….

OK, maybe I regret it a lot.

Seeing the inspiring photos of my friends making history all across the country made me slightly ashamed I was only experiencing a powerful movement on my Facebook newsfeed.

I’m working a TON right now, and Saturday was my only chance to get groceries, make food for the week, and take down my twinkle lights… so I stayed home.

I realize how hollow those excuses sound.

That said, I did have a wonderful day embracing beauty and diversity in my community.

See, I decided to walk to Trader Joe’s to get groceries and on my way I came across an absolutely incredible acapella quartet outside of the Pantages Theater.

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Tremendous soul is a serious understatement.

They made my day.

They were like Boyz II Men x 10.

I stopped to watch them a second time on my way back because I loved them so much. (I donated twice. #duh)

I also took a video of their performance and shared it with my family. On a day when we were divided by politics, I felt blessed I could share something that unites us. Everyone loved it — Republican and Democrat alike.

You just can’t deny soul, after all.

While I’m never going to back down when it comes to my beliefs, I’m never going to turn my back on good people who disagree with me either, so I was happy to find something that could unite us. I love my family, and finding our common ground is crucial to me.

As if a surprise serenade weren’t enough, I also met a talented homeless man making art out of palm trees.

He was only asking for donations for his work.

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I totally bought the cross.

I shared the photo — and the story — with my family. While politics and faith divide us, art unites us, so I was happy I could share this as well.

After I returned home, I made tomato soup, jammed to songs of resistance, and then I went to work at the Saloon.

If you want a taste of yesterday’s playlist here are a few highlights, in no particular order:

Fred Hammond, No Weapon

Dixie Chicks, Not Ready to Make Nice

Yolanda Adams, Never Give Up

Moscow Mules and Mind Erasers (Or It’s Inauguration Day)

Today is Inauguration day. While it would be perfectly understandable for me to cry in my closet while drinking Moscow Mules, I’ve decided to do four loads of laundry instead. America may be on fire, but I WILL have clean sheets and undies, dammit.

I briefly contemplated taking down my Christmas twinkle lights, and fully wallowing in misery today, but I decided it was better to keep a little happiness in my home, all things considered.

Speaking of happiness, it was my friend Tim’s birthday on Wednesday.

This is Tim:

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He hates Christmas carols and steals my hats.

But I love him anyway.

Since it was his birthday I decided to make him a present.

Wanna see?

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OK, maybe “made” is a strong word.

All I did was bash some Heath bars with a rolling pin and mix them into a carton of coffee ice cream, but you would have thought I had handed over the keys to a Maybach by his reaction.

See, Haagen Daas discontinued his favorite ice cream flavor: Coffee with Heath Bar, so I made him his own batch. (I did work at Dairy Queen in high school, after all.)

He kept hugging me. A lot.

He also liked his card.

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He likes Sierra Nevada and verbal abuse.

So I customized his card, accordingly.

He also likes Zippies.

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He’s not the only one.

Some wonderful soul at the Saloon invented them. Or something.

They’re basically mind erasers with Chambord instead of Kahlua.

If you need a few to forget what just happened in Washington, the recipe is below.

Zippie

1 oz of Chambord
3 oz Vodka
Splash of soda

Pour Chambord in the bottom of a tumbler. Add vodka. Top off with a splash of soda water. Insert two short straws and suck down the sweetness.

You won’t be sorry.

Or maybe you will, but at least you won’t really remember… and for the next four years that won’t be such a bad thing.

Gift Basket Situation (Or Unexpected Gifts)

A friend of mine is going through a tough time. I’ll spare you the details — mostly because his story is not my story to tell — and partly because the point of this story is the Get Better Gift Basket I made him today.

We’ve had countless conversations about soup since we met, so I wanted to start there. (We’re weird. Don’t ask.)

Because this was kind of a last-minute emergency gift basket situation, I couldn’t make a soup that needed a long time to simmer. I decided to make clam chowder because: a) it doesn’t require a complicated broth, b) it’s awesome, and c) because we agree that our favorite bar needs it on the menu. (I used this recipe for New England Clam Chowder.)

And because no mood-lifting gift basket is complete without homemade cookies, I baked some of those too. We both love oatmeal cookies, but we disagree on the nuts and raisins of it all. (I’m pro. He’s anti.) I found a recipe on Epicurious that fit the anti bill. You can find it here.

We also have an ongoing debate about the superiority of peanut versus peanut butter M&M’s, so I threw in a bag of his favorite. (I’m team peanut butter. He’s team peanut. In case you were dying to know or whatever.)

We do agree on Modelo, however, and luckily I had a few bottles in the house, so I added a few of those as well.

He’s a contractor, so I arranged everything in an aluminum bucket I picked up at Home Depot, and I added a funny card because he has one of the best laughs I’ve ever heard.

It’s infectious.

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I have a messed up sense of humor. Don’t hold it against me.

I set out to cheer him up today, and in the process a curious thing happened.

As I was putting the oatmeal cookie dough balls onto the baking sheet, a wave of emotion hit me almost out of nowhere… and I realized today was January 10….

January 10, 2017.

It would have been my cousin Justin’s 30th birthday today.

Justin committed suicide when he was 25 years old.

I think somewhere in my unconscious I knew what today was before I set out on my mission to cheer up another man in a dark season. I cried while the first batch of cookies baked, and well into the second batch.

When my tears stopped flowing, I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to use the pain of my cousin’s unrealized dreams to assuage the pain of someone else’s unrealized dreams.

I called Justin’s mother while I was en route to deliver the gift, and we had a nice conversation. Her strength, grace, and faith astound me in the face of all she has endured. Superheroes should take a lesson from her.

True story.

But before I get too maudlin, I’ll just show you the pics from the Get Better Gift Basket.

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The blue ribbons don’t match.

I’m trying not to freak out about that.

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I told you it was a last-minute emergency.

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But it still came together pretty well — all things considered.

So, anyway, life is beautiful, messy, and unexpected, and sometimes when you’re trying to give someone else a gift, God gives you a gift of your own.

Today that gift was an unexpected opportunity to honor my cousin, and to show someone else that there is hope — even in the face of a hopeless situation.