Category Archives: humor

Pyar sirf ek bar hota hai aur shaadi bhi ekhi baar hota hai

I lead you with this famous Bollywood quote, as it seems appropriate for a post about attending my first Indian wedding. It means, “Love happens only once, so does marriage.” Also, the only other dialogue I know from Indian movies is “Jai ho” and “Aja, aja”, but Amen; come on! come on! doesn’t make for very a good title. Or anything else for that matter. They are, however, still fun to say.

It all started Thursday, the day after the “sleepover” with Adam I mentioned in the above post. A mutual friend from our Belgium days, Aga, flew in from the US just in time for the bride’s Henna (Mehndi) Party. Aga and I thought this would be 20 girls sitting around on cushions while Dimple (the bride’s name) got “henna’ed”…clue #1 that we were clueless about Indian weddings!

Dimple’s family lives among two houses side by side. The combined backyard had been completely transformed by a colorful fabric tent, turning the whole thing into a cheerful oasis. Oh, and there were at least 100 people there. Aga and I were also the only people not in a sari or other Indian-wear. Correction: the only females not in Indian attire. The men were mostly dressed in Western styles, but all had matching scarves (a party treat from the bride). I snagged one for Del but he does not seem inclined to wear it.

Dimple was secluded in a room, her hands almost done. Aga and I sort of pushed our way back there, not understanding that the bride was supposed to be secluded at this point, due to the high risk of smudging her henna if distracted. And we immediately understood this; her henna job was gorgeous and delicate, ultimately taking 5 hours –  just for the hands! She said that we were, however, special guests, so we visited for 10 minutes ooh-ing and ahh-ing, also over the fact that neither of us had seen her in at least a year. She has not only lost a substantial amount of weight, but also gone from girl to woman, in a sense. Our sweet, casual friend Dimple now sat before us like genie from a bottle. With a low braid languishing over her shoulder and reaching towards her stomach, movie-star make-up, a mega-watt smile and a joyfully embroidered, almost neon-orange dress, she was absolutely jaw-to-the-floor stunning. I’m sure the beaming happiness helped.

After causing her to giggle (and thus, smudge), Aga and I excused ourselves and joined the rest of the guests in the tent, where several women were offering henna. We’d been advised there would be “an Indian queue”, which meant we had to throw some elbows to get in line. But we managed. It was such a new world for us, being the minority for a change. We got many stares but all was cheerful and friendly and welcoming. We’re not very good at henna though, as ideally one sits still for 2 hours afterwards as not to ruin it. We did not have the luxury of being secluded, however, and crowds do not make for good mehndi.

Meanwhile, dinner was served. Surprise – it was spicy! (Over the course of this wedding we were fed 4 times. I’ve never been so generously fed and so starving in all my life…) Dimple made her entrance, led to a stage/lounging-throne at the front of the room, where she could be more social while her feet mehndi got done. During the henna process her relatives and friends serve her, feed her, everything-her as not to ruin the drying art. Given the effort required to preserve the design, it was not hard for me to imagine the ancient beginnings of this ritual – what a statement of rank and wealth an elaborate henna job was. (There goes Anthropology-me again…)

As for Aga and I, we both got fairly smudged; plus, it is body heat which determines the final color. This means that we both have beautiful light brown lacy designs on our arms, followed by smudgy dirty-orange hands. Any illusion of cool reserve is shattered for amateures like us, who don’t know well enough to ask for it on the (less heat-prone) back of the hand instead.

Four days later it has faded some, but still looks like this:

Oh dear. Work is not going to be happy…

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Filed under humor, life, London, wedding stuff

“Arabs Don’t Brush Their Teeth”

That’s what she said, this fellow F/A of mine. I’m serious.

I’m going to call this lady Helen. She is well into her 60’s I’d guess. German. She’s the kind of colleague whose name I remember because she’s terribly nice as a person, but terribly annoying as a workmate. She is simply so….(cliché) “German”. Everything must be done her way, which is “according to policy”, even if it is trivial and nonsensical for the situation. (And as any F/A can tell you, what is by-the-book is not always what works or makes sense when it comes to service.) She’s also sometimes rather, um, dense. (In case the policy obsession didn’t tell you.)

We were on our homebound flight from Europe last week. She was standing at the boarding door, directing pax to their cabin. She motioned me over emphatically. “Sarah, I need to speak to you privately.” Ok, that’s dramatic, but sure. (She was neither quiet nor subtle.) “An Arab man just went into the bathroom…,” she looks around cautiously, “and then peeked his head out, asking me for…a toothbrush.”

She nodded with wide, serious eyes as if this were some red-hand evidence. I said, “I don’t understand.”

“Sarah…Arabs don’t brush their teeth! This is wrong. Oh…this is all wrong. I have a pit in my stomach. It’s very suspicious.”

I am certainly all for being vigilant. But seriously? I scanned her face to see if she was joking, but Helen doesn’t joke. And she was seriously disconcerted. But there were so many things wrong with what she’d just said that I didn’t even know where to begin! I couldn’t make up something so ludicrous! So offensive! So dumb!

“Well, I’m not really concerned. I mean, if he asked you for a toothbrush, that means he was hoping for one from you. Which means it would be a perfectly normal toothbrush. No missiles inside, no ninja stars.” She didn’t smile.

“But Arabs do not brush their teeth. It’s not right. Somethings fishy. This man is completely suspicious. Now he’s staring at me. I told you!”

“Helen, you do realize that you just claimed that people with a certain color of skin around the world do not brush their teeth? I mean…maybe he’s Hispanic. Maybe he’s American of Arab descent. Maybe he is from an Arab country but is a foreign diplomat. Even if what you say were true – which it’s not – there are still so many reasons why it might not apply to him.”

Helen left me there while she went into the airport to double check his name. Ok fine. I will admit that while she was gone, the dude looked at me hard, like he were a dog and I was dangling a treat in front of him. It was uncomfortable, but I watched him only peripherally, suspecting it was because Helen was so obvious. Sure enough, after about 3 minutes of not looking at him, he completely relaxed. (And he turned out to be a noticeably nice guy on top of it. I wished I could apologize for what he obviously knew was going on.)

Helen came back, said he checked out to her satisfaction and I posited that it was her suspicion that caused the staring. And – sweet Helen – she was all, “Oh my goodness. I bet you’re right. Such a thing never occurred to me. Sarah, I’m so glad I talked to you.”

See? She’s really a sincere person. She’s just a little…howdoyousayit? I’m glad she’s being vigilant, but I’m also glad that I’m not depending on her judgement to keep us safe! Or whomever taught her that about Arabs. We’d all be doomed.

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Filed under humor, work

Playing Tag

So it appears I’ve been tagged, by my friend Stella. I’ll cut and paste the rules from her page, cause I’m too lazy to rewrite them myself:

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people (if possible) at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

So here goes nothing:

1) I’m too lazy to rewrite 4 rules myself (see above).

2) When I was a child I noticed that my dad often said things with others that I didn’t understand. When this happened, they told me he was speaking French. So I concluded that everything that came out of one’s mouth was either English or French. I wanted to be in on this group very badly, so I’d approach my parents and spout gibberish, then ask them, “What’d I just say?” (Because I didn’t understand what I’d said, I naturally concluded that by default I must have spoken French!) I got very frustrated when they’d look at me with bewilderment and tell me I’d said “nothing”.

3) One day when I was quite young, my mother tried to help me with my homework, and instead of listening to her tell me how to turn an “o” into an “a” (so I didn’t have to erase it make a mess of my neat homework), I was impatient and just erased it. She sighed. I still feel guilty about not listening and letting her help me, because she really wanted to.

4) Sometimes it seems I only feel guilty about the most inconsequential things (see #3 and my last post).

5) I’d love to make a living off my writing, but I’m bored by the business end of it.

6) My friends and I once tried to dig a hole to China, in the Davis’ back yard. We only got far enough to annoy them, then erect a top cover and use it as a fort instead.

7) When I hear about people having cancer I think, “Oh my God, that must be terrifying,” and I cannot fathom that I’ve been through that very thing. And not so long ago.

Who will I tag? Just five people. (I don’t have so many blogging friends! Many of my friends think I’m some sort of computer geek/expert – which just goes to show how “analogue” they are. You see what I did there? I sound computer geeky by using “analogue”. But that’s just some techno-slang a made up because I’m a decent poser. Does that count as fact #8? :-))

Amy in Brussels

Lisa – childhood friend and photographer extraordinaire

Joel at Manners Thoughts

Sarah Street Sprucehill

Law Mom

Have fun, y’all!

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Filed under breast cancer, humor

Finishing Touches

I’ve been moving nonstop for weeks it seems. Del and I were in England for a week or so doing wedding stuff, then I had to go to Belgium to get some finishing touches done with my plastic surgeon. I’m not going to go into great detail as, at this point, my natural instinct is to treat my revamped body parts with the same modesty as I did my old ones. If you know me well, you might be laughing now. But, yes, I do have some modesty. But yes, the thresh hold always was pretty low.

But this got me thinking…A close friend once asked me what it felt like to be reconstructed. “Would you be embarrassed to take your shirt off in public, or no? Is that instinct different now?” It is a brave question, but one that I might have secretly wondered myself, were our positions reversed. Well, having said that I never quite understood the idea of embarrassment over ones body (OK, at least not since I was indoctrinated to the topless beach scene in Europe back in college. After that, I was never able to think anything more than, “We all have the same parts, what’s the big secret?”), it’s still an interesting question. Is it different? Well yes and no.

It is different for a couple of reasons:
1) By the time you’ve finished breast cancer treatment, you’ve undressed in front of an army of people. Simply, you get used to it. Especially in Europe where doctors don’t do the “modesty gown” thing. I’m so accustomed to just stripping down with the doctor sitting there at his/her desk that in my recent American medical visits, I find it more awkward to use the gown while they step politely out. Now I just sit there in my skivvies, the gown left sitting there folded and sterile on the bench instead of pretending like they’re not going to just come back and move it aside. I mean, what’s the point? Doctors find that pretty funny.

2) It’s true – at least initially – that I didn’t feel the reflex to “hide” my top after surgery in the same way you do your “original” parts. Like the rest of my treatment, I considered my new body from a sort of scientific perspective. It was something I observed more than felt. We are taught to cover certain parts, and then those parts are gone…and replaced. Then of course you’re so amazed at the results that you do get that urge to become one of those BC survivors who’s notorious for flashing everyone she knows. (You know her.)

However, it is the same too in that:
1) For a long time, I felt modesty with my changed body more akin to what I would assume is normal (American) modesty. You might remember that the first time I went to Turkey, I was extremely reluctant to go to the hammam because one is usually naked. I was suddenly, extremely uncomfortable with that idea, and when a friend pressed me on this I once even teared up. This modesty, however, was a about the fact that suddenly we didn’t “all have the same parts”. And that’s not embarrassing in itself, but one look at me and people – perfect strangers – would be privy to information about a huge part of my life. They would suddenly know one of the most traumatic things that ever happened to me. They could see my emotional scars. Most people at least have to buy me dinner first. But suddenly being topless meant having no control over strangers’ access to my most private struggles. That just didn’t feel right. Talk about feeling naked. (Eventually that feeling faded, however, and my 2nd time to the hammam I went au natural and it felt awesome to not give a damn.)

1) As I have sat with my body changes, they come to feel more and more natural. So whereas I might have once felt like I had new parts built to resemble natural ones, I no longer feel that way. They are mine now, they are more and more “natural” to me. And my instinct to treat them equally to my original ones has grown with time.

Actually, I have this crazy fantasy where I leave my mark on the world by producing the first BC-survivor pin-up calendar. One the one hand it perhaps sounds terribly inappropriate. But to me, the thought of introducing to the world “sexy cancer survivors” is awesome. The idea isn’t to be an exhibitionist nor promote objectification. It’s to put it out there that cancer is not the end. That your life can come full circle. To break the remaining attitudes and taboos. To show that cancer doesn’t define you forever. To show the world that breast cancer doesn’t make you any less of a woman. It sure tries. But these days? It fails with a capitol F. I’d just love to pin that on the wall in all its glory!

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Filed under breast cancer, humor, life, reconstruction ("upgrade"!), surgery, this time THIS year

And the verdict is…

So the anxiously-awaited appointment today went…not quite like I (surely, we) had hoped, but more like I had harbored suspicion it would. Which is fine too.

Dr. Fabu had told me to bring a bra and fitted T-shirt. I envisioned walking in, pulling out my favorite shirt and cutest polka-dot camisole (which I purchased optimistically). They’d say, “What size are you shopping for?” and I’d say, “The size that will make me look like this was made for me.” [*cue wolf whistle*]

What actually happened was more like this: “So, I asked you to bring…yeah. Those won’t work.” (Turns to the rep from the implant company.) “Do you have something better?” (Sales rep pulls out some orthopedic bandage-looking contraption.) “Ah, there we go.”

Clearly I had misunderstood the purpose of bringing a bra/shirt. They were tools, not choices for dress-up. I put on the one she offers and she asks the magic question, “What size are you looking to be?” But before I can open the floor to discussion, the convo began in Dutch. “We don’t have a lot of fat to work with, and she’s had radiation on the left side…”, adds Dr. F. The choice was between getting the smallest implant or…well, that was it really. In the end the bras and T-shirts were not necessary as the decision came down to technical limitations, not auditions for size. Given my history, this was no shocker.

Dr. Fabulous appeared to feel that there was one “right” answer. And there’s nothing worse than not making the “right” decision, so that makes it easy. (Know what I mean? There’s this natural tendency to feel that there is a “right” and a “wrong” decision to make, but rarely in life is that true. Or am I getting a little too philosophical?) It’s all a little less “fun” than my imagination had predicted, but I’m actually not disappointed to have the decision made for me.

While I fancy myself too smart to be fooled into thinking that being super voluptuous would suit my body (or my personality), the superficial (and curious) side of me would find it hard to pass up the chance to try something completely different than what I have been before. I might dream of looking like Stephanie Seymore, but I also fear getting what I “want” and hating it. It’s all too easy to say, “maybe just a little more” until…you wake up and say, “Holy crap, how did I end up with these?!”

So, it’s out of my hands and that’s (surprisingly) okay by me. Dr. Fabulous did say that if I had my heart set, it would be possible to “upgrade” again in a year or two. It’s great to be told that there are always options, but I’m confident this will feel just right!

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Filed under breast cancer, humor, reconstruction ("upgrade"!), this time THIS year

Busy Busy

But I have an appointment tomorrow to discuss my last surgery. Now is when all that shopping for breasts that Del and I have done for two years now will come in handy. He might be disappointed to no longer hear, “Honey, what do you think of that girl’s? Look, look! They’re nice, right?”, but perhaps I can carry on just for nostaligia’s sake.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the word from work that I can get started. Cross your fingers – it’s been a long radio silence so far.

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Filed under breast cancer, humor, reconstruction ("upgrade"!), surgery, this time THIS year, what's it like for him?

Fat Fighters

Today I post some videos in honor of my fellow BC fighters. While I am very lucky not to have had the additional insult of chemo and steroids putting weight on my frame, many do not escape those frustrating side effects and spend months after treatment fighting to get the weight off. (Among them, Imstell, working diligently on this.)

If you like British humor, I’ve got something for you. In honor of their battle to get back their pre-treatment figures, I post below a video of a popular sketch comedy show called Little Britain. This reoccurring skit pokes fun at weight loss classes with the insufferable (and very un-PC) Marjorie Dawes to lead the sessions. (It may only barely be salient, but I hope it can make you laugh!)

If you like it there are many more clips of this character – and others from the show – to be found on youtube. Search “Fat Fighters”.

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Filed under breast cancer, humor