We Saw Your Boobs

Some of y’all have asked what I thought of Seth Macfarlane’s song “We Saw Your Boobs” during the Oscars the other night. I didn’t watch the Oscars, so I knew nothing of Macfarlane’s little ditty until several astute readers brought it up. I checked it out on youtube and while I’m not surprised at the drivel that Macfarlane creates, I am surprised — and disappointed and angry and upset — that the powers that be behind the biggest awards show found it appropriate to include in the show. Here we go again, with women’s breasts being not just a topic of conversation but an excuse for titillation (pun intended), objectification, and reducing women — not to a sum of our parts, but to a particular body part.

My first thought was whether the predominantly white, mostly male, older guys who make up the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences would welcome a similar song about that one particular male body part. My guess is no. While there has been some full-frontal male nudity in the movies, it’s never depicted as callously nor as gratuitously as a woman baring her breasts on film. Wouldn’t you know, someone has created a parody of Macfarlane’s song, called “We Saw Your Junk.” While I am a fan of tit for tat (again, pun intended), I sure hate that this is the road we’re going down as a society. Why, why, why do we have to go there? Whether about boobs or junk, surely we have more interesting things to talk about than this. As a woman who lost her breasts to cancer, I’m especially vexed by displays of breast-related ignorance or insensitivity or ass-hattery such as that perpetrated by Macfarlane on Sunday night. As I recently vented, “We go from cherishing [breasts] as a food source for our infants to exalting them as the ultimate symbol of femininity and sexiness. We vacillate between highlighting them in all manner of ways to reassuring pink-ribbon-club members that their lack of breasts doesn’t define them.” And now some jackass awards show host is belittling women because they showed their breasts in the context of wrenching, emotionally-charged cinematic performances.

The feminist in me is delighting in the backlash aimed at Macfarlane over this. From online magazines to blogs to twitter to print sources, people are speaking out against this tasteless display. For example, from The New Yorker: “The Academy is supposedly a trade group, and yet it devoted its opening number to degrading a good part of its membership.”

From Salon.com:  “On a night meant to honor and reward the best performances of the year, MacFarlane let the female Oscar nominees in on a secret: We don’t see the work you’re doing. We’re too busy staring at your tits. Giggle, giggle. Boobies. It wouldn’t be funny if he sang, “We saw your dick” because men aren’t expected to strip down in order to sell a movie, and it would be super gay. Want to peek at Bradley Cooper’s grade A beef dart? Dream on. Long to ogle Samuel L. Jackson’s heat-seeking-moisture-missile? As if. Get a load of Hugh Jackman’s wee little Jackman? Not in this lifetime.”

From twitter: “It wasn’t even funny for juvenile humor… offensive or not. I thought it was just dumb and then tasteless/tacky and pretty creepy.” And another tweet: “So since I don’t own a television, I hadn’t actually seen ‘We Saw Your Boobs’ until now. Now I have. I’m speechless with misery and rage.” And another: “In a year where the Academy awards nothing to women unless it has to, the male host opens with song called ‘We Saw Your Boobs.'”

From The Guardian: “The opening number We Saw Your Boobs, in which MacFarlane announced: ‘Meryl Streep, we saw your boobs in Silkwood/ Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive/Angelina Jolie we saw your boobs in Gia/ They made us feel excited and alive,’ was supposed to work as a commentary on how men view women in film. ‘Look at us guys,”‘MacFarlane was saying. ‘Isn’t it funny that we only watch movies to stare at women’s breasts, nudge, nudge, snigger, snigger.'”

No, it’s definitely not funny. It’s degrading to women as a whole, and insulting to those women in the movies who work hard to portray things like strife and struggle and passion and compassion and fear and poverty and gender inequality and misogyny.

It’s also downright disgusting that four of the movies Macfarlane named depict topless women during or following a sexual assault. If that passes for comedy, we’re all in real trouble. Jodie Foster in “The Accused.” Hillary Swank in “Boys Don’t Cry.” Jessica Chastain in “Lawless.” Charlize Theron in “Monster.” All four women named by Macfarlane, and all four bared their breasts while portraying rape victims. Another article on Salon.com sums it all up: “So it came as little surprise, then, when base misogyny and racism dominated MacFarlane’s performance on Sunday. And while the musical opener “We Saw Your Boobs” has been called immature (true) and sexist (also true) — it wasn’t just a harmless roundup of spicy movie scenes. Four of the films MacFarlane crooned about featured nudity during or immediately following violent depictions of rape and sexual assault, stripped of their context and played for laughs.”

It must be noted that of the four actresses named above, three of the four — Jodie Foster, Hillary Swank, and Charlize Theron — won the Oscar for Best Actress. So even after having reached the pinnacle of success in their industry, these women are still held up for objectification and ridicule by a smarmy host. Disgusting. Seriously disgusting.

Add in Scarlett Johansson, who Macfarlane also mentioned in his song. She made the list not for portraying a woman who had been sexually assaulted, but because nude photos of her were stolen from her then husband’s phone and sold for profit. Christopher Chaney was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of identity theft and wiretapping, and Johansson was left “truly humiliated and embarrassed.

I’m not the only one disgusted by this. Two California lawmakers, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, have asked the Academy to condemn Macfarlane’s performance. In a letter to Academy president Hawk Koch, Lowenthal and Jackson wrote, “There was a disturbing theme about violence against women being acceptable and funny. From topical jabs about domestic violence to singing about ‘boobs’ during a film’s rape scene, Seth MacFarlane crossed the line from humor to misogyny.”

The duo went on to point out that “On Oscar night, when Hollywood seeks to honor its best, Seth MacFarlane’s monologue reduced our finest female actresses to caricatures and stereotypes, degrading women as a whole and the filmmaking industry itself.”

Bravo, ladies. May the Oscar for Biggest Jackass go to Macfarlane, and the award for Best Ass-Kickers go to Lowenthal and Jackson.



A tale of a mastectomy tattoo

There’s a story circulating that claims Facebook removed this image of Inga Duncan Thornell because it violated FB’s nudity policy.



The policy states that FB has zero tolerance for pornographic content and will “impose limitations” on the display of nudity. The policy goes on to claim that FB “aspires to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”

As I read the story about FB censoring this image, my blood began to boil. I read and re-read the FB nudity policy and could not for the life of me understand how the image could be considered pornographic. Or even nude, for that matter. I’ve seen much more obscene and revealing images on FB than this one. She’s not even showing any cleavage, for crying out loud. Oh wait — never mind, Inga’s not showing cleavage because she doesn’t have any to show. Cleavage is one of the many things we’re left without following a bilateral mastectomy.

Fueled by my anger, I was fixin’ to write a nasty email to the FB powers that be to tell them how utterly ridiculous this is. And discriminatory. And stupid. And short-sighted. And Puritanical. And hypocritical. And insulting. And on and on and on. Before I shot my mouth off, however, I wanted to find out a little bit about the woman pictured in the so-called offensive image. Unlike the media outlets that broke and spread this story, I did a little nosing around to see what I could see.

Inga had this tattoo done after her bilateral mastectomy. She and her tattoo artist were featured in a documentary in 2001 called MSNBC Investigates: Tattooed Women. She was very nervous about being on the show but felt it was important for other women — both those affected by breast cancer and those who have so far managed to evade diagnosis — to see this option to reconstruction. Inga was also featured in the book Bodies of Subversion: The Secret History of Women and Tattoos.

Imagine Inga’s surprise when, years after her media exposure, she found out that her tattoo photo was popping up all over Pinterest and Facebook. She was even more surprised to get a call from a local reporter asking her opinion of Facebook having censored her photo. He told her that The UPI broke the story of Facebook removing her image from the tattoo studio’s FB page, apparently without checking the facts too closely, then The Huffington Post picked up the story and published it, again without checking the facts. Inga knew nothing of the firestorm that was brewing, and luckily the local reporter called the tattoo studio to get the real story before publishing it. He discovered that the image had not been removed from the studio’s FB page, and that FB had no intention of deleting the image.

I checked Custom Tattoo Design’s Facebook page just now and the photo is there, in its glory, for all the world to see.

Well, that rather took the wind out of my sails. Guess there’s no need to craft a sharply worded rant to Facebook.

It did get me to thinking, though, about just how crazy-weird our society is about breasts. We go from cherishing them as a food source for our infants to exalting them as the ultimate symbol of femininity and sexiness. We vacillate between highlighting them in all manner of ways to reassuring pink-ribbon-club members that their lack of breasts doesn’t define them. Victoria’s Secret shows borderline pornographic scenes in its TV and print ads, and even has an entire TV “fashion” show devoted to lingerie models strutting their stuff and spilling out of the latest VS styles, including a $2.5 million “Fantasy Treasure Bra.” And there’s even a discussion on whether Inga’s tattooed image is unacceptable?

Thoughts on Robin Roberts

Let me just say first and foremost, I harbor no ill will toward Robin Roberts. None. She seems like a smart, funny, and together woman who would be a lot of fun to have a drink with. I loved how open and honest she’s been about her cancer “journey” and about how upsetting the death of her mother was for her. I agree with her completely on both of these weighty issues, and I’m grateful that she didn’t put the positive pink-ribbon spin on her cancer experience.

I’m glad she’s doing so well, and I’m glad she’s back at work. I’m not a morning TV watcher, despite several of my besties who swear by The Today Show and who look at me funny when I say I never, I mean never watch TV in the morning. Nothing against the talking heads or the people who love them, but it’s too chaotic for me. As I’m swilling coffee, appeasing a hungry little piggie, cajoling kids out of their cozy beds, making breakfast, and packing lunches, I like quiet. That’s just me.

But back to Robin Roberts. In the magazine article, she’s candid about how harrowing her cancer “journey” has been. On the cover, she’s quoted as saying she’s “lucky to be alive” and that “I truly felt I was slipping away.” In the article, she reveals that she was warned that during treatment she would feel like she was dying. “I was in a pain I had never experienced before, physically and mentally” she said. Finally! A celeb who is honest about how shitty it is rather than chirping cheerfully about how exciting it is to get new boobs (I’m thinking of you, Giuliana Rancic). Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, Roberts had a lumpectomy and chemo. Five months ago she had a bone marrow transplant after being diagnosed with a rare blood disease called myelodysplastic syndrome, which left untreated can lead to a nasty form of leukemia.

She went through hell and now is telling us about it. Good for her.

When I saw her face on the cover of People magazine this week, I felt an intrinsic happiness for her. As I peered more closely at the cover, however, unease settled in. While I applaud her pride in her bald  head and I say cheers to her for not feeling like she needs to cover up the ugly truths of cancer by wearing a wig, I’m uncomfortable with the picture of glamour she presents.


Of course I support a woman’s efforts toward looking good while beating back the beast that is cancer. More importantly, I would never stand in judgement of another person’s decisions along the cancer “journey.” Just as I learned the hard way after my mom’s death that no one has a right to tell me how to grieve, I also believe that no one has the right to judge me for how I conduct myself while I’m in the fight of my life. Let me be clear that I’m not judging Robin but rather expressing the feelings that bubbled forth as I saw her rosy glow on the cover of the magazine.

It sure would be nice if every woman recovering from the ass-kicking effects of chemo had a professional make-up artist to apply fake eyelashes and pencil in thick, shapely eyebrows. I for one would have loved to have had someone come into my beleaguered home and apply just the right amount and shade of foundation to even out my beat-up skin and cover up the dark spots that cropped up from chemically-induced menopause. How nice it would have been for someone to lightly feather my sunken cheeks with some rosy blush, especially on the days in which it was an effort to get out of bed to brush my teeth. A sheen of pink lipstick and the extra shine of lip gloss would have perhaps disguised the fact that my mouth was rarely smiling during my darkest days after sacrificing both my breasts so I might have a better chance of being alive to see my kids grow up. While the post-mastectomy infection I contracted “saved” me from chemo — can I consider that nasty bug a blessing in disguise? — and I didn’t lose my hair, I definitely lost a chunk of self-esteem. Cancer does many things to our bodies and minds, and the havoc it wreaks on our appearance and self-image is vast, far-reaching, and long-lasting. I often wonder if I’ll ever feel good about my body again. I’m glad Roberts looks so put-together and rosy on the cover of People, but I wonder how realistic that is.

Ladies, raise your hand if you felt this pretty after your cancer treatment. Guys, let me know if you felt pampered and restored after yours.

Is it not enough that we have to battle this vicious beast called cancer? Do we have to look pretty while doing so and afterward?

My blog friend Renn at The Big C and Me wrote eloquently and movingly on Roberts’s return. She astutely pointed out that Roberts’s fame enabled her to have access to the best health care (likely without concern for her portion of the treatment) and she was lucky that her sister was a perfect match as a bone marrow donor. She also had the support and well wishes of millions of people, who cheered her on and encouraged her during the darkest days. Not everyone has those luxuries, and while I’m glad Roberts does, it bears mentioning that she’s an exception, both in her privileges and in her team of beauty magicians and stylists who help her look so good after going through so much.



In addition to the perks awarded celebs battling cancer, I think it’s safe to say that much of her success in her fight comes down to her attitude and her resolve. While cancer patients take a beating from well-intended people reminding us to stay positive, Roberts seems to have done just that. She seems feisty and determined to prevail over both breast cancer and myelodysplastic syndrome. In the magazine article she says she blinged out her IV pole with a disco ball (seen above) and made the most of the awful reality of being confined to her hospital room after her transplant. She’s goes on to say that People say to me, ‘You’re so strong.’ But what was I supposed to do? I want to live.”

As we all do.





Bright Lights, Bigger City

Thank you, Cee Lo Green, for the inspiration behind this blog title. Love me some Cee Lo.

We are back from the Big Apple. I’m still smiling at all the fun we had, and my body is aching from the killer workout I endured as penance for the stellar meals and heavy pours we found along the way. Of course with my foodie friend, the Fabulous Miss Y, we placed a bit of emphasis on finding good meals, and NYC did not disappoint. The crazy cold weather hindered my sightseeing a bit. I was well prepared for battle against the elements, with sweaters, long-sleeve shirts, wool coat, scarves, and a new hat and pair of gloves from my valentine, but alas the low, low, low windchill and gusts of frigid air prevailed. I became quite adept at seeing a few sights and then racing back to the hotel to warm up before setting out again. I also took advice from BA, a beloved member of my tribe and a life-long New Englander who suggested I stop often for hot toddies. Alternating between Starbucks and restorative glasses of wine helped keep me afloat.

A brief recap: we began our culinary tour with a stop at Ca Va, one of Todd English’s fine restaurants. We nabbed a small table by the windows and near the huge roaring fire, which was perfect for people-watching while we stated toasty warm. cava-loungeWe lingered over champagne and a mezze plate before heading to see Scarlett Johansson in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Yes, fellas, she is as gorgeous in person as she is on the big screen. The Broadway play was full of dysfunction and angst, with stellar acting from every cast member.

After the show we trekked over to a fantastic wine & cheese bar called Casellula, in Hell’s Kitchen. Because it was Valentine’s Day, the place was packed — all 10 tiny tables. number-086-contextWhile this place may be itty-bitty, the wine list and the cheese pairings are unbelievable. I’m so sad I was in a cheese coma and didn’t have the faculties to remember to take a picture of our cheese flight, but it looked a bit like this one



with a trio of Italian cheeses: a soft mild beauty paired with pine-nut brittle, a soft & funky offering alongside a mango jam, and a parmesan with roasted, herbed sundried tomatoes. With a half bottle of Chateneuf du Pape, we were happy girls. Until the half bottle ran dry, that is. We lingered for three hours in this charming little place, and most of the time was spent laughing over the descriptions of the cheese characteristics on the menu. A few highlights: “Triple-creamy, fluffy & luxurious.” “Wooly & dense.” “Bright, citrusy & pudgy.” “Earthy, chalky & a little musty.” Now there’s some truth in advertising. We reluctantly closed down Casellula and walked back to our hotel, full of yummy things and still laughing about the menu descriptions.

Next day we were up and out the door to get started on our next meal: breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien, a charming eatery between our hotel and Central Park that seemed lifted straight out of France. From the individual ceramic pots of coffee served in handle-less mugs to the mixed green salad alongside our goat-cheese frittata to the scratch-made breads and chunky mixed-fruit jams, this place was flat-out amazing. Full and happy, we hit the streets and wandered around the city. My traveling companion left me to go to work (boo!) and I soldiered on alone in the shops in the Time Warner building and meandered through Central Park. The snow from superstorm Nemo remained, which was fun for this Texas girl to see, from a distance, of course. IMG_0862

We had time for a bit more shopping once Y finished up her work, and we hit UniQlo first. This Japanese-based company entered the U.S .in a big way, with a 90,000-square-foot store on Fifth Avenue that costs a reported $20 million a year in rent. Fun and vibrant, the store was worth a stop during our too-short stay. The colorful and super-cheap clothes were great, and we saw some beautiful people shopping right alongside us.

Finally, it was time for perhaps the most-anticipated part of our trip: dinner at Balthazar. I’ve heard Y speak reverently of this fabulous restaurant, and I’ve eaten a bowl of the bouillabaisse prepared from the Balthazar cookbook. It. Was. Incredible. Delicious wine, superb service, and out-of-this world bouillabaisse chock-full of cod, mussels, clams, potatoes, and a lobster tail. The photo just doesn’t do this dish justice. IMG_0921We savored every last drop of it, but still managed to save room for an incredible dessert: the banana tarte Tatin. The New York Times raved about this yummy creation: “In SoHo, Andy Gomez, the pastry chef at Balthazar, creates individual banana tarte Tatins by lining Teflon molds with burnt sugar, shingling medium-ripe banana slices across the bottom, and tucking a round of puff pastry on top. The oven heat intensifies the sweetness of the fruit in the dessert, which he serves with a cool banana sabayon.” Just when we thought our dining experience couldn’t get any better, we were treated to a short tour of the kitchen. As Y is known to say, “You never know what you might get if you just ask.” Well, we just asked our server how big the pot is that they use to cook the bouillabaisse, and she offered to show us. So cool.

Saturday started bright and early for Y, with more work, while I psyched myself up for braving the cold — and I do mean cold — to visit the 9/11 Memorial. I walked most of the way from our Times Square hotel to the Financial District, and even at a brisk pace, it was freezing cold. There were lots of fun things to see along the way, including this, my favorite of all the window displays I saw. This one beats even the fancy-pants ones along Fifth Avenue. IMG_0873

I passed the iconoclastic Macy’s and had to snap a picture for my favorite girl. IMG_0871

IMG_0870Just across the street was a billboard of sorts that caught my eye:IMG_0872

David Beckham in his underwear was just the ticket on a cold New York day. The warm-up was brief, however, and I pried my eyes away from Beck to keep moving. The temperature hovered in the mid-20s but the 30-mph winds made it feel a lot colder. Once I got down among the tall buildings, that wind ripped through even more ruthlessly. As I’d mentioned, this Texas girl was freaked out about those low temps, and with good reason. Even with a wool coat atop 3 layers and a hat and scarf and gloves, it was miserably cold. I only hope I was as fashionable as this woman sporting a chicken hat. IMG_0891I’m still digesting the gravitas of the memorial itself, and will save the images for a later post in hopes that the words to describe the somber scene will come. For now, you must be content with the lady in the chicken hat.

I would have liked to have stayed at the memorial site a bit longer, but without the warmth of a chicken hat, I grabbed a cab and headed back uptown. I’d just about thawed out when we hit Times Square, so I hopped out and popped into a little grocer for a snack and a beverage, which I took back to my hotel and devoured from under the down comforter in the hotel.

Dinner that night was at Eataly, the super fun Italian marketplace/restaurant. Part gourmet market, part wine bar, part bakery, part restaurant, Eataly adds up to a lot of fun. We shared a stand-up table with two young Indian couples on a double-date and enjoyed a bottle of wine and house-made mozzarella. (Don’t ask me about the prosciutto; that was Y’s department.)IMG_0894

Our view from the stand-up table was nice, very nice:IMG_0895

That’s my kind of table.

Equally delicious-looking was the fresh pasta on displayIMG_0893

and the selection of fresh greens. Our little piggie would be in hog heaven, literally, with the latter.IMG_0896

After exploring the market and checking out the nightly specials in the various sections of the restaurant, we settled on two items from the vegetarian section: a polenta topped with chick peas and sautéed swiss chard, and a spinach & ricotta canneloni. News flash: yum. IMG_0898



And because we were feeling decadent after that meal, we indulged in a little gelato. Coconut for me, mint-chocolate chip for Y. Emphasis on the yum.

More work for Y on Sunday, while I braved the wind and cold to stand in line for tickets to a show. My first choice, Nice Work if You Can Get It, was sold out, so I settled on Chicago. While I wasn’t familiar with any names on the cast list, the production did not disappoint. The singing was great, and the dancing was even better. And I was happy to be in a warm theater away from the winter weather.

We had time for one last outstanding dinner, this time at Ma Peche. The last stop on our culinary tour of NYC was a lot of fun. IMG_0903I wasn’t sure what to expect from the menu, which is rather sparse on the descriptions, but we dove right in and were blown away by the flavor combinations. While we’d heard much about the famous Momofuku restaurants created by chef David Chang, we weren’t sure what to make of the Ma Peche menu. IMG_0902

I really like that Ma Peche’s menu lists the sources for its meat and fish. While I’d rather claw my eyes out than eat a pork chop, I like that the restaurant cares enough to mention its sources and it leads me to believe that the people at Ma Pesche respect the animals they serve. If you’re going to eat them, I’d hope it’s with an attitude of respect. They did give their lives for your meal, after all.

Exiting soapbox now.

We started with the squash, which consisted of thick julienned slices of squash cooked tender-crisp with an interesting sauce that tasted neither limey nor of bitters, but rather a delicious amalgam of those two ingredients. The pepitas were toasted and pulverized to create a bread-crumb-like topping. Very interesting and very yummy.

Not sure where to go from there, we eyeballed a dish on the table next to us. IMG_0900From the distance across our tables, it looked a lot like fried mozzarella sticks, but we knew those didn’t exactly fit into the Ma Peche concept.  The guys eating that dish were kind enough to introduce themselves–Rugby players from Newcastle visiting the States for a rugby tour–and tell us what it was.


Lo and behold, it was the carrots, which had caught my eye upon my first pass through the menu. Who knew that small, whole carrots spiced with curry and chiles then topped with fresh coconut and cilantro could be so delicious? We decided the masterminds behind the flavor combinations at Ma Peche must drink heavily, although our server claims that much research and testing goes into each dish. I like our theory best.

We capped this meal off with a piece of Crack Pie. I’d had this delicacy before, when friends and fellow foodies Jill & Keith either brought a piece back from the Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar or made one themselves. I can’t remember because I was on crack after one bite. Seriously. Supposedly there’s no actual crack in the pie, but it tastes so damn good it’s as addictive as the hard stuff. IMG_0904

Rumor has it that some guy visiting NYC bought a Crack Pie to take home to his family to try after he became addicted from one slice consumed in the city. He accidentally dropped his pie as he was checking out of his hotel, and proceeded to eat the splatted pie off the hotel lobby floor. Whether that story is true is irrelevant because the pie is that good. It’s that good. Although the idea of eating anything off any floor — much less the floor of a busy NYC hotel — gives this little germophobe the vapors, big time.

Upon first glance, Crack Pie doesn’t look like all that, but there’s a reason the Milk Bar sells this baby for $44 per pie. It’s sorta like a pecan pie without the pecans, but the filling is more dense than gooey, and instead of a regular pie crust it has an oatmeal cookie crust. Purists insist on serving the pie cold and sprinkled with powdered sugar. I’m not one to mess with tradition.

The trusty folks at WebMD provide an exhaustive list of effects from crack, including:

  • an increasing sense of energy and alertness
  • an extremely elevated mood
  • a feeling of supremacy

Now I’m starting to see the similarities. As soon as the Crack Pie was placed on our table by our server, both Y and I experienced increased energy and alertness. I’m almost certain our heart rates increased noticeably. After one bite, we felt the extremely elevated mood, as well as the feeling of supremacy over anyone at Ma Peche who was foolish enough not to order this little slice of wonder. I pity the fool who skips dessert at Ma Peche.

According to WebMD, some people also experience these feelings while on crack:

  • irritability
  • paranoia
  • restlessness
  • anxiety

Ahhhh, yes. Now I really see the similarities. With each bite taken, we became irritable that the goodness was disappearing. We became paranoid, restless, and anxious about it disappearing, and before the euphoria even wore off, we wondered when we might score another piece of pie.

I think we’re going to need to plan another trip to NYC soon. Very soon.

Out of my element

The Belly is going on location. I’m heading to NYC tomorrow with my bestie, the Fabulous Miss Y. She invited me to be her Valentine in the Big City, and we’ll try to refrain from meeting on top of the Empire State Building like they do in those cheesy rom-coms. We’ll see a show, eat some great food, shop, and peep into the store windows. I’ve reserved a spot to tour the 9/11 Memorial, which seems like a great idea and came highly recommended by my sherpa Amy, but as it becomes more of a reality, I’m anxious. While it’s important to never forget and to honor the innocent victims, I’m nervous about confronting the emotions contained within that event. I envision myself gritting my teeth and looking with one eye squeezed shut, then rushing out of there while thinking happy thoughts.

I’m also anxious about the weather. I am not a cold-weather girl. My blood is thinned from living in South Texas, and temps below 50 make me nervous. The weather forecast for NYC this weekend? Cold. Really, really cold. Maybe even some snow. Luckily we dodged the wrath of Nemo. The idea of that much snow gives me the vapors. I’ve got a wool coat, purchased in North Carolina and used maybe once since returning to the great state of Texas. I have a hat that’s cute more than warm: kinda crocheted-looking with decorative gaps in between stitches. I have a pair of hot pink gloves, which I will be shocked if I manage to keep together in a pair all weekend long. I have several scarves, again more decorative than useful. I’ve never fancied spending money on cold-weather gear; there literally are some “winters” in which we need nothing more than a windbreaker. But now I’m being called up to the big leagues, where real weather exists.



I’m nervous.

I’m also rather uneducated about this. I get the concept of layers. But what I’m not sure of is the logistics. I’ll get all bundled up in layers, maybe even a sweater under my coat, and cover any remaining exposed skin with my flimsy, holey hat, gloves, and scarf, and hit the streets. But what do I do with all that clobber once I arrive at my destination? I don’t envision myself strolling the MOMA all bundled up, but what becomes of the cold-weather gear once I’m toasty warm and out of the elements? Do y’all walk around holding big heaps of protective clothing? Do you carry a small bag in which to stuff your coat? I know the trick of stashing hat & gloves in the coat pockets and shoving the scarf into a coat sleeve, but then what? Shopping while holding a heaping coat stuffed with accessories seems like a drag. And when I sit down in a restaurant, do I fold my coat up and put it on an empty chair? Hanging it on the back of my chair seems gauche and rife with opportunity for a passing waiter to spill something. Keeping up with all that winter gear seems complicated enough; wearing a coat that smells of spilled soup is too much.


I’m a little out of my element here.



Doggone it

One of my blog friends shattered my heart last night. She didn’t mean to, I’m sure. I read her post about her sweet dog Jazzy and crumbled. I went to bed thinking about Jazzy and woke up thinking about her. I’ve never met Jazzy or her owner, but  my heart hurts for them.

Reading her post took me back to Maddy, aka The Best Dog Ever in the History of the World. I have never blogged about Maddy. I’ve blogged about Harry and about Pedey, but not Maddy. It’s not because I don’t love her as much as I love Harry and Pedey; in fact it’s just the opposite.

Maddy was my first dog as an adult, and I saw her being born. She was the pick of the litter, and she lived up to that honor every day of her life.

One day I will write about her and share all of the unique Maddy-ness that made her The Best Dog Ever in the History of the World. But not today.

Today belongs to Jazzy.

Rest in peace, sweet girl.



Some fruity advice

Breaking news: a woman at my gym just told me about a CURE for CANCER.


It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for! The War on Cancer, launched by President Richard Nixon in 1971, is over!

I can’t believe this earth-shattering news hasn’t hit the airwaves yet. None of the major news organizations have broken the story yet.

Hmmm. That’s weird.

Well, I suppose she’s just ahead of the curve. She must be a genius to know of this CURE for CANCER well before anyone else.

Here’s how it went down: This woman, whom I’ve never laid eyes on before, was chatting with an acquaintance of mine. We’re “gym friends” — we see each other at the gym and exchange pleasantries. She may know my name, but only because she hears the trainer yelling it when he wants me to quit chatting and get to work. I don’t know her name, nor do I know the name of the woman who knows the CURE for CANCER.

For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to call my acquaintance Francesca (because I’ve always liked that name), and I”ll call the woman who knows about the CURE for CANCER Koo-Koo Bird.

Francesca and Koo-Koo Bird were talking while on the AMT, my favorite cardio machine, when I climbed on next to Francesca; Koo-Koo Bird was on the machine against the wall. Francesca asked me how my newly repaired knee is healing (badly and slowly and painfully) and how my rehab is going (much the same). In the course of our chitty-chat she asked how long ago it was that I was diagnosed with cancer. Koo-Koo Bird’s ears perked up at the mention of cancer–likely because she was eager to tell me that she knows of the CURE for CANCER.

Koo-Koo Bird, who has a very thick Indian accent and a very soft voice, didn’t even bother asking my name before asking me pertinent details about my cancer diagnosis. I’ve never been one to shy away from answering direct questions, so I gave her the deets. She nearly fell off the AMT in her haste to tell me, in her heavily accented and soft voice, about the CURE for CANCER.

I still had a mile and a half to go on the AMT, so I was rather a captive audience and I listened to Koo-Koo Bird describe the magical powers of soursoap.

“Excuse me?” I said. “Soursoap?” Never heard of it.

Francesca was all ears and asked Koo-Koo Bird to spell it. Koo-Koo BIrd wasn’t sure how to spell it, but said that her sister-in-law, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, chose to use it instead of chemo after her bilateral mastectomy two years ago and bam! her cancer is gone!

Well. That is interesting. Could it be, I asked Koo-Koo Bird, that the mastectomy rid her sister-in-law of the cancer, rather than the soursoap?

No, no, no, Koo-Koo Bird assured me. It was the soursoap that CURED her sister-in-law’s CANCER. It works, she said, very softly. It really works.

Francesca asked Koo-Koo Bird again how to spell it, for she must have missed the press releases and news stories about this miracle drug. Koo-Koo Bird said oh, it’s not a drug…it’s a fruit.



Well, why didn’t you say so, Koo-Koo? A fruit that can CURE CANCER. That makes perfect sense.

Francesca whipped out her iPhone right then and there, mid-stride on the AMT, to google the wonder fruit. She couldn’t find a darn thing about the magical powers of a fruit to CURE CANCER; probably because Koo-Koo Bird didn’t know how to spell it.

No matter, because Koo-Koo Bird told us everything we need to know about it. Except how to spell it. It’s grown in Central and South America as well as some Asian countries. It’s related to the paw paw and the cherimoya, the latter of which I know about because I’ve seen it on “Chopped.” When cherimoya is one of the mystery-basket ingredients, the contestants either start sweating because they know that the seeds are poisonous, or they risk being chopped because they don’t know that the seeds are poisonous. Not wanting to interrupt, I did not share that little tidbit with Koo-Koo Bird.

Koo-Koo Bird spent a lot of time telling me how soursoap is better than chemo and how it changed her sister-in-law’s life. Her sister-in-law apparently was at death’s door with breast cancer, until she started eating and juicing the soursoap that was delivered to her via FedEx fresh off a tree in some unknown tropical locale. Francesca asked if the wonder fruit is available in a can, and Koo-Koo Bird said she doesn’t know, but even if it does, you shouldn’t eat or drink anything that comes from a can because canned goods can CAUSE CANCER. Koo-Koo Bird then asked me if I ate a lot of canned foods before I was diagnosed. Before I could answer, she quickly and softly listed all the other CAUSES of CANCER: red meat, bottled water, and Tupperware among them.

Oh boy.

How is it that with all the research I personally have done–which is a pittance compared to the amount the Hubs has done–I missed the data on soursoap? Koo-Koo Bird says it’s thousands times more powerful than chemo, and that it does not kill the non-cancerous cells, like chemo does. How did I not know that a high-alkaline diet is more effective than pharmaceuticals in fighting cancer? Koo-Koo Bird said that the role of alkalinity in diet was proven to be a CURE for CANCER before World War II and that the man who realized this was in the running for the Nobel Prize, but because he was a Jew he missed out on the prize and the credit for CURING CANCER.

Wait a minute, I said. Are you telling me that there’s been a CURE for CANCER all these years, but the world at large doesn’t know about it because of anti-Semitism?? Koo-Koo Bird turned quite serious and said yes.

Then she went on to tell me that soursoap could also cure anything from diarrhea to migraines to bed-wetting.

Koo-Koo Bird was quite adamant that I look into this wonder fruit that can CURE CANCER. I finished my sprint on the AMT and patted myself on the back for not telling Koo-Koo Bird exactly what I think of people who feel compelled to tout a CURE for CANCER. I smiled politely, told her it was nice to meet her, and ran like hell. Well, actually I hobbled like hell because my newly repaired knee does not and likely will not ever endorse running.

I did not tell Koo-Koo Bird that until she herself had cancer, she could never know how insulting and annoying it is to have some random stranger quiz you on what you did wrong to CAUSE your CANCER. I did not tell her that hearing her crack-pot nonsense touted as fact made me want to punch her in the brain. I did not mention that those of us who’ve endured a cancer diagnosis neither need nor appreciate unsolicited advice. I did not tell Koo-Koo Bird to pull her head out of her arse. I did not call her a tool.  I did not suggest that if there were a CURE for CANCER, we might have heard about it on the news or seen it online or read about it in a newspaper or magazine. I did not school Koo-Koo Bird on the fact that cancer is not one single disease, but a complex and multi-layered shitbox full of different diseases, and that even within one subgroup of cancer, like breast cancer, there are a million different combinations of factors and characteristics, so the idea of a CURE for CANCER is inherently misleading.

I thought about soursoap and Koo-Koo Bird for the rest of my workout. And when I got home, after peeling off my sopping-wet clothes and queing up the ice bags for yet another freezing session for my newly repaired knee, I took a little look-see into soursoap.

First thing I discovered is that it’s spelled soursop, not soursoap. I’ll have to tell Koo-Koo Bird next time I see her.

I’ll also have to tell her that while eating a varied diet and consuming foods like soursop that are high in vitamins B and C is a good idea in general, it’s not a panacea and it will not CURE CANCER.

Turns out that while soursop may have some overall health benefits, evidence of its cancer-curing properties having been tested on any actual humans is hard to find. In what may be a huge disappointment to Koo-Koo Bird, I didn’t spend much time researching it, so perhaps I missed the links to the clinical trials of soursop. In my limited research, I did find several references, such as one from Sloan-Kettering saying “human data are lacking” on soursop. There is plenty of data, however, showing that the fruit contains a heaping helping of annonacin, which has been shown in actual studies to lead to Parkinson’s when eaten in large amounts.


Well, I guess I’ll continue swallowing a Tamoxifen tablet every day for the next 3 years (minimum) and relying on CT-scans and MRIs instead of enjoying a bowl of soursop to CURE my CANCER.


Thanks for nothing, Koo-Koo Bird.