Friday, July 30, 2010

This Tastes Terrible

I have to confess something. No, I'm not pregnant - unless it's with some sort of fruit salad, which would be just disgusting - nor am I secretly married and/or divorced, a la Emmy Rossum. Although, can you imagine having, like, a secret husband? Would you pretend not to know each other at functions? Would it be a turn on, the secret marriage, or would be it be a huge pain in the ass? What does one wear to a secret wedding? (Actually, I've been to a semi-secret wedding, and if that event was any indication on how things are done, brassieres are optional, and the hangover is pretty much guaranteed.)

I digress. No secret weddings over here. No, my confession is this: I have terrible taste. I have bad taste in music, comic books, clothes, hairstyles, dates, alcoholic beverages, movies, hobbies, and paint colours. My only saving graces is that I have excellent taste in books and friends. Everything else? I suck.

Take, for example, the song I've been listening to on repeat for most of the week: Raghav is a Indo-Canadian pop star most successful in the UK, and his latest single is a flossy piece of summer fun. This is on the heels of that ridiculous "One Life Stand" song, which is a total club anthem and therefor awful by definition. I've been listening to that a bunch lately, too, because I hate my ears and my brain equally. But the songs are so much fun! They're dancing songs! Dancing is fun!

I have a huge crush on comic books generally, but I have to admit that some of my very favourite sequential art (I hate that pretentious term, and myself for using it) is the family-friendly newspaper strip Foxtrot. Don't judge me! I bought the anthologies secondhand, although I would have gladly paid retail for them, because I love them. And I, hipster jerkbag that I am, am ashamed of that love.

We judge each other based on our likes and dislikes. When I find out someone likes the Beastie Boys, or Firefly, or The Walking Dead, my brain starts pinging and saying, "This person is cool!" because I like those things, and because they have a certain amount of cultural currency and credibility. We can talk about zombies, or License to Ill, or some other cultural touchstone that defines us as idiot hipsters. When someone pipes up with the fact that they love Celine Dion, there's an awkward pause as we try to parse it out. Like, for real love? Or ironic love? It's confusing. Is Celine Dion so uncool she'

Other things? Not so much. I find my clothes in other people's closets and on the side of the road. Normal people shop at The Gap; I scrounge for my outfits like an animal. My last haircut was a DIY affair, a product of boredom and done with my dad's mustache trimming scissors. I think I look great, but I am notorious for thinking I look great when, in reality, I look the "before" picture on a makeover show. Because I'm sartorially dyslexic, I can't really tell the difference.

One of my friends read those hideous Twilight novels because she was interested in them from an anthropological perspective: what are these books? She didn't read them because she was looking to be entertained or because she thought Stephanie Meyer was really going to rock her world or whatever. She was reading to see if the books had merit, if the current fooferaw was based on anything actually, you know, good. Her report to me is that they are total garbage, which I could have probably guessed. But I'll admit to devouring The Babysitter's Club when I was in elementary school, and reading Sweet Valley High novels well past the age when I should have (I read them into my twenties. What's up?); if I was 15% dumber, I bet I would be all over those stupid books.

I think everyone has their bad-taste moments. My dad loves terrible beer; my sister has tipped me off to a lot of crappy music. I have friends who, by their own admission, dress like "lesbian gym teachers." I feel bad for people who are always in good taste. It must be exhausting to be that with-it all the time. My forays into bad taste are like little vacations from my usually awesome state of being. Tacky little cruises into the sea of bad taste, where the souvenirs are gauche jewelry and earnest comic books. Y'all should join me sometime; the water is just fine.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Story Of My Upcoming Badass Tiny Scar

A few months ago, I went in for my good-Canadian routine physical, the kind of thing that all women are supposed to get once a year to ensure they're not growing horrible little cells or they haven't contracted an STI. I usually go to a pretty blonde doctor, one who looks very J. Crew and healthily tanned, but this year she had mysteriously vanished and was replaced by a woman who weighed about ninety pounds and had a ponytail. If not for the wrinkles, I'd have thought she was sixteen. Call me crazy, but I like my doctors to look like they might be old enough to be high school graduates, let alone done with all that pesky medical training that comes after.

Anyway, she took my blood pressure and made some brusque small talk ("You're an English major? Huh."), and then I lay down on the paper-covered table and she got down to business. For those of you not blessed with a vagina, or who are too scared to go on the regular, a physical is a minor sort of thing. The doctor spends about five minutes with a speculum, another 90 seconds using her hands, and then "you might feel a pinch," which is the swab being done. It actually feels nothing like a pinch. It's weirdly indescribable, although the closest I might come would be "stabby, but in miniature."

Usually, the whole thing is done in, like, ten minutes, and you wipe the lube off your lady bits and put your pants back on and spend the rest of the day feeling just a little bit weird. This time, though, there was a deviation from the script.

"Are you pregnant?" she asked, hand firmly ensconced in my vaginal canal. Immediately, the mental klaxons started blaring.

"Um, no?" I said. Because my brain had immediately gone into panic mode (which renders it into a totally unhelpful jell-o-like state of affairs), I wasn't immediately able to say it like I meant it. So she asked me again, and I repeated "No!" only this time I sounded panicky. I sounded like I was lying. About being pregnant. To a doctor.

"Well," she said, as she took her hand out of my body (note to the vaginaless and the afraid-of-doctors: that is exactly as weird as it sounds), "your uterus is big. I'm going to order some tests." I shrugged. I was a student. Tests don't scare me. Bring 'em on, I said. I'll get all A's. Big uterus? Pfft. Maybe it's big because it can barely contain all my awesomeness. Why do I carry my awesomeness in my uterus? Dunno, but it's awesome!

There was an ultrasound, which was basically a ultrasonic dildo pinging around in my bits, and no less than three technicians who were concerned at their inability to find my left ovary. They kept coming into my little fabric-walled cubicle, peering at the monitor, looking at me, and then leaving to get someone who hadn't left their X-Ray Specs at home. I left feeling unsettled, mostly because I didn't fit the demographic in the waiting room: youngish and pregnant, or older and cancer-bald. Me and my big uterus and my AWOL ovary slunk outside and had a little cry on the steps of the building, because apparently things were not okay in there.

When I went back to the doctor a week later, she was mystified. "This isn't really what I deal with," she told me, which is fine. It's not really what I deal with either. I asked about cancer. She sort of shrugged and was like, "Er, probably not. But I'm not promising you anything," which my jell-o brain interpreted as yet more reasons to freak out. While she was saying things about follow-up appointments, my brain was yelling "YOU HAVE CANCER, IT'S EVERYWHERE, IT'S ON YOUR HAIR, HOLY SHIT," so it was sort of hard to hear. My brain apparently reacts to the possibilty of cancer the same way it reacts to getting pooped on by a bird.

I went to the gynecologist, a person who does deal with this shit. He was like, "Well, there's something in there, but I can't tell what it is." He then threw a bunch of words with -oma and -oid on the end of them into the conversation, but I was so addled I could barely sit up. My friend Liz, who just got accepted into nursing school and who was my number one pick for dealing with this kind of medical mystery tour, was nodding and asking questions and being a grownup, while I was clawing at the neckline of my shirt and turning gray. Turns out, he doesn't know what it is either. He was like, "Surgery will tell us!" which I said yes to, and then he mentioned that it's the size of a grapefruit.

Next time you're at the grocery store, pick up a grapefruit. It doesn't have to be one of those Floridian monsters; just a regular old grapefruit will do. Now imagine this thing embedded in your abdomen, two inches to the left and one inch down from your navel. Weird, yeah? After I left that appointment and some of the blood came back into my head (and cried a bunch more), I went out and bought a grapefruit. I was going to eat it, to show my abdominal lump who was boss, but that idea grossed me right out. I eventually threw it away.

I'm having a hard time conceptualizing this mass. While it probably looks fairly gross, what I'm picturing is, like, a Diet Coke can just wedged in there. Or maybe a lost and hibernating bat. Something foreign. Something sort of repulsive and sort of cute at the same time. Conceptualizing the mass in vaguely gross and hilarious ways is distracting me from thinking about the surgery. I'm oscillating between pretending to be blase about the whole thing and feeling fucking terrified. I've never had anesthetic before. I've never had morphine before. The nurses told me I couldn't ride my bike for a month after, which, like, hello: that's what I do. The only time I've ever had stitches is when I ran my face into a wall playing tag at a friend's house. I'm not afraid of blood or pain or stitches or throwing up in the recovery room; I'm afraid of feeling crappy, forever.

My Bill Cosby pudding brain keeps shrieking about all the bad shit that could happen, and that is getting super tedious. My more rational and tender and, frankly, better brainparts all keep trying to remind me that this is getting dealt with. The lump, whatever it is (I'm rooting for bat, just because it would freak my gyno right out), was found. The surgery, whatever that's going to be like, is happening soon (August 12!). The shitty feelings of post-surgical recovery are fast approaching, but that means they'll also be going away that much sooner. And the fear of the unknown will disappear, because these worries will become known entities.

I know this is long. Thanks for reading. Sometimes it - the lump, the fear, the story - just needs to come out.