Tag: 23669

I lied to a little girl the other day

I was haphazardly re-applying eyeliner in the ladies room at Washington Dulles when I heard a small voice beside me; “What happened to your arm?”

Usually when people ask me about the violet line extending from the middle of my hand toward my elbow, I freeze. I could lie (“It was a shark! With really even teeth!”), dismiss (“Long story, no big deal”), defend (“Do you always ask people personal questions in the bathroom?) or answer straight.

It was the worst walking in Wal-Mart in December of 2011, limping and slinged with a large cast… every two aisles some unassuming yet intrusive older man would say ‘What, did you get into a car accident?” or “I bet the other guy looks worse, hardy-har-har!” I should be accustomed to the invasion now – it’s even more awkward when people purposefully don’t mention it until it becomes A THING, that I have to EXPLAIN. Can’t win for losing, basically.

As I worked through my response in just a second, I saw the small voice’s owner out of the corner of my eye. Pivoting on my left foot and inclining my head down, I contemplated the pig-tailed blonde human in front of me. She couldn’t have been more than six, tops, (WHERE WAS HER MOTHER? The mama bear -who i keep buried under boxes of movie trivia- clamored for attention), wore glasses too big for her face and a pink Dora the Explorer top.

My pseudo-niece, Lucy, adores Dora. I didn’t understand, when I was holding her three days out of the hospital, worried I would drop her, that she’d turn into this talkative, curious little girl who pirouettes on command (finishing with a loud “Ta-Da!” and wave of her arms). Few notice, I think, that I hoot and holler way more than the average aunt. Clapping with one hand doesn’t make enough noise for me, since my clapping ran off with my left radius.

I leaned down to the little one, eyeliner in hand, and decided to be honest. “I had a bone tumor in my wrist.” She stared at me for a moment, and I could see her eyes grow larger as she decided how she would respond. In that brief moment, I decided to be dismissive and nonchalant, thinking my truth wasn’t something really appropriate for someone so small. “It’s ok now though, I’m fine. It didn’t even really hurt.” I couldn’t help but lie, looking at Dora-lite. I needed to lie just a little.

Dora-lite, whose eyes had stilled, stepped forward a tiny half step, maybe because she wanted to make sure I could hear her. (There were some loud ladies two sinks over complaining about the size of the bathroom and how most of the restaurants were closed already).

“My friend Billy has a tumor in his brain,” she whispered.

I stepped back, I couldn’t help it. As my hip brushed the front of the sink my mind started working again, harder and faster than before.

“That’s tough, kid. I’m sure he’s going to be just fine though.” I lied. Or I didn’t. And I think that, if things go badly, years from now she’ll hate me for that lie.

She nodded, turned on her heel and walked out the bathroom without casting a backward glance. I turned back to the sink and turned the water on and watched the water splash on my slightly shaking hands, just for a second.


I have been going non stop today with work, so here’s a quick glimpse into my life: I refuse to do laundry until I absolutely must. This results in me leaving the house in a long skirt, wrinkled tank top and cardigan I found in the back of my closet that I probably haven’t worn in at least a year. It’s a little tight. DON’T CARE. I WON THE LAUNDRY WAR YET AGAIN.


There is nothing I like better than going to brunch on a Sunday. In my college years, I was notorious for kidnapping people for brunch. Mallory and i did brunch during the week in summer, and we would gather large groups of people to eat at Oasis or Paul’s (both of which are closed now). These days, I am completely fine going to brunch at Taphouse or Conch and Bucket alone, since i always know either the staff or some of the other brunch regulars. I always get the same thing at Taphouse (all sides: bacon, eggs, veggies, english muffin, sausage gravy).

Meet Bob, my tumor.

Meet Bob. Bob is a giant cell tumor.

(For a week I thought Bob was going to kill me. My week sucked. Things are slightly better now)

After two weeks of physical therapy, on Wednesday, Oct. 19 I was referred to an orthopedic specialist. The orthopedic specialist said, at first (before the Xray) “This could be tendonitis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Let’s get an XRay to determine.” The doctor walked into the exam room about twenty minutes later and said “Come with me.” After showing me the XRay, he said Bob was either an infection or a tumor. Regardless, this was bad news. He said it was probably a tumor, but couldn’t tell me if it was benign or malignant or give me a prognosis.

On Friday, I had an MRI. Today I was told I have what is called a giant cell tumor. One person in one million people per year (approximately) is diagnosed with this. The tumor is aggressive and destructive, so it’s not “benign,” in terms of the regular definition, but there is good-ish news: The tumor is almost definitely primary, so It is not a metastatic event from another area of cancer, which means it’s not like I have breast cancer and it moved into my wrist to throw a party.

One in a million. For real. I have no family of history of cancer/tumors and no symptoms of cancer, besides the tumor. I have never been more thrilled to be overweight; if I had been losing weight, I’d be worried. This tumor is more than likely slow-growing, which means it’s been around for maybe a year. It has destroyed my bone. The brief patch of bone that is left is compromised as well, and is not large enough to salvage. It is unlikely that this tumor will metasticize to another part of my body. In about 5% of these cases, the tumor metasticizes to the lungs; in 75% of those cases, the lung tumors are removed and everything is fine.

There are, according to my doctor, two orthopedic oncologists in Virginia. I’m going to see one on Monday. From what we can determine, the ultimate result will be removal of the tumor and the compromised bone, and a cadaver’s bone will be installed in my arm.

**Take a moment to process the fact that I’m going to have a dead guy’s bone in my arm. ZOMBIE AMBER!!! For real though, zombies are my jam and win me Halloween costume contests.**

What’s odd is this is not an “emergency,” so to speak. Because they can’t get in there to “save” the bone (since it’s already beyond repair), there isn’t really any immediacy to the problem. It’s slow-growing and is just chomping away at the bone, the hungry bastard. My nerves are not compromised and my fingers are working. I’m in pain, but yay for Vicodin, right?

So, to answer a few questions: Yep, my wrist hurts. I’m on painkillers. A lot of them, actually. We don’t have a time frame for what’s going to happen. A lot of this will depend on finding a cadaver’s bone that is a match. I’ve not been told to do anything different. I’m obviously going to try to take better care of myself, in preparation for major surgery in the future. It’s about an 8 hour thing, and recovery (I imagine) is going to be a bitch. But I can work, travel for work, dance around like a dummy, etc. No big deal.

No one has mentioned the idea of losing my arm/hand, so I’m not going to consider that an option.

Nothing causes this. This is not associated with any cancer, trauma or lifestyle choice. This is literally me winning the worst lottery in the world. Well, maybe not the worst: I’m not going to die from this. It’s going to suck and it’s going to be painful, but I’ll get through it, and I’ll have a super-awesome zombie arm, too.

I’m mad, of course. I’m angry about little things, like I can’t dry my hair and I can’t do dishes/housework, unless it’s one-handed. I’m in constant pain; it’s kinda like I have a migraine in my wrist that never goes away. I’m mad that copays are going to drain my bank account and that I’m going to need more sweatpants and fewer zip-up hoodies. I’m especially mad that my mom has cried, that my friends are worried, that I’ve been short-tempered and distracted.

I hate that I, for the past week, have wondered how long I am going to be here.

So, silver linings: Not going to die from this.

Zombie arm, which is just plain cool.

I get to play the tumor card. Oh you had a bad day? I’ve got a tumor, bitch. Beat that.

No dish duty for a while. My right hand/arm is getting super strong and dexterous; I can shampoo and condition my hair with one hand, no problem.

I don’t have a boyfriend, husband or kids. THANK THE LORD. I can’t imagine putting a significant other through this, and I would be even more upset if I had kids to worry about. (Yes, it sucks that Mal, my BFF and roommate, has to deal with this. She’s awesome and you should buy her a drink next time you see her).

Gallows humor, ya’ll. My coworker said to me yesterday “Hey do you need a hand with that?” and I laughed so hard I almost cried. To my mom,  I say “God, my wrist is killing me” nonchalantly, and a minute later say “Whoops, that was awkward.”

I’m LITERALLY one in a million. Great pickup line, right? I’m going to get all the men.

After all this is over and i have a huge scar, I plan on getting a full sleeve tattoo. I’ve always wanted one, and it’s better than an ugly scar. That’s a lot of space, so i’ll probably include: Peacocks, penguins, typewriters, a Facebook logo, my grandparents’ initials, a newspaper, cats, an ee cummings quote, the Deathly Hallows, a stake, and some Stephen King imagery. Awesome, right? I’m taking suggestions, so drop me a line if you think I’m forgetting something important.

My friends and family are amazing. Not only do I appreciate them (you, since you’re reading this), I’ve realized how lucky I am to have people that really care about me. I’m sorry if you’re worried and I hope I don’t ruin any plans we’ve made, but I’m glad I’m going to be around, with you, for a while.

To close: Fuck Bob. Fuck Bob and fuck tumors. Fuck the odds and fuck the bad luck. I’m going to be fine and maybe something good will come of this (besides the zombie arm). If anything, this has already shown me how much I want to be here.

The past week made me consider life in general, and if I could “die happy,” for lack of a better phrase. I may not have done all I wanted, but I’m satisfied in my choices. I feel like I’ve been kind and good and smart, and now, I’ll be even better.

Thanks for all your queries, kind words and support. In a year this will be behind me, and I’ll probably be sporting an awesome tattoo and even stronger friendships than I have now. It’ll be OK, I promise.

*Update: My surgery happened sooner rather than later (Nov. 10), went well and they got the whole bastard. They also decided to take bone from my leg. Apparently you don’t need your fibula. I wrote a blog post every day in November.   I’m healing well and happy to have gotten past most of this. I’m starting physical therapy on Dec. 23. My scars aren’t as bad as I thought they’d be.

I write when I’m flying. In planes. You know what I mean.

(I went here)

 My hair was BORN for a non-humid climate. Seriously, I think if my hair could make the decision, it would be all like “Bitch, please. We’re staying here til I’m grey and falling out. For real.”

Specialist < analyst < strategist, in the grand scheme of things. Recognize.

Shanahan used to own the Broncos and now he owns the Redskins. I don’t know if I care about that, but I do know he has an awesome steak and some kick-ass truffle mac’n’cheese.

I managed to make my mom cry. I know,  I know. She was all freaking out about me traveling by myself, right? And I’m like, “Dude. I went to Seattle by myself when I was 22 and it was the first time I ever flew, and you didn’t bat an eye.” I think her husband was worried about me (bless his heart) and that made HER worried and they just worked each other up so much that it ended up escalating to the point that she burst into tears. She definitely pulled the whole “I can’t believe you’re surprised that I care. OF COURSE I care.”  This was on the phone about thirty minutes after I got to my hotel, mind you. So I had to calm her down and THAT turned into a discussion of the things that are broken in our respective homes; her sink is leaking and my fence fell down. That distracted her enough, I think.

Denver is GREEN. They just had a bunch of storms, so everything was lush and pretty. I really wanted to take of my shoes and walk barefoot in the grass, but I didn’t want anyone to think I was that crazy girl from Virginia.

As I’m writing this, I’m also listening to “Jane Eyre.” I wonder how the in-flight movies are chosen? Because seriously, I can’t imagine this is high on the list for this particular demographic. Strangely enough, I was just talking about the book yesterday, when I explained why I ended my short-lived English major and switched to Political Science; you can only deconstruct “Jane Eyre” so many times before the analysis overshadows the work itself. I believe in enjoying literature, not picking it apart until it’s meaningless and reduced to representative hyperbole.

I accidentally took someone’s seat. He’s now in 39D and I’m in 39C. I wonder if I changed some small course in the universe. We’re across the aisle from each other right now and I wonder if I’m supposed to be sitting there. Maybe the young man in 39E (who’s reading what looks like the memoir of a chef) would have been reading my computer screen at this exact moment (in this now-alternate universe) and would have asked me what I meant by “representative hyperbole,” and I would have had to tell him I wasn’t quite sure – I can’t think of the right phrase right now. It would have turned into some pseudo meet-cute, in which we develop an absolute distaste for each other after we argue the merits of analyzing literature and feminist theory. We then would have been stuck in D.C. overnight and would keep running into each other over and over until, exhausted and at our wits’ end, we finally end up at the airport bar. After drowning our sorrows, bemoaning our fates and finally admitting we find each other attractive, we end up in a hotel room together.

This is the “Jane Eyre” with Mia Wasikowski, who’s supposed to be “a revelation,” according to the reviews I read. Wow, I really forgot how awful the boarding school/orphanage/whatever is.

Oh hey, the chick that played Henry’s super-young bride in the Tudors is totally in this.

(Two hours later) HOLY DAMN I forgot how hot Rochester is. Wasikowski did a good job (I wouldn’t call her “a revelation,” but she was a’ight). But whew, Rochester is a hot chunk o’Victorian man.

*EDIT*  How did I somehow foreshadow the ridiculous delays that were about to happen? I didn’t get in to Norfolk until 2:30 a.m. Ugh.


says @malteal: we are magnets for gorgeous, unsatisfied, depressed boys. also: a likely correlation to our lack of boyfriends

FOR REAL. I have so many hot guy friends who are inexplicably single and depressed. it’s strange.

Cleaning my bedroom…

Cleaning my bedroom is very important for me. My bedroom often looks like it was hit by a tornado. I often joke that a messy bedroom is the best form of free birth control available. It’s self-defeating, definitely, but works. I’m not seeing anyone right now but for some reason have an overwhelming urge to make my bedroom presentable. Is this my subconscious telling me something?

Five attractive men, no dates

This past weekend I spent time with five of the most attractive men I know (separately. none of them know each other, which blows my mind)


  • Saw “Hanna” with The Editor (a former mentor). Not only was the movie great, but I was reminded how much I enjoy his company. It’s nice to have a friend with whom I can speak about the industry.
  • The Italian, unfortunately, did not seem to have as good a time Saturday night as I would have liked. I’ve known him since high school and every time i hug him I think of how young he still looks. He’ll always look like a high school freshman to me.
  • The RockStar (a blue-eyed musician from Chicago) asked to take my photo Friday and i told him absolutely not. I hate the way i look in photos and I didn’t want him to flip through his phone this week and see an unflattering picture of me. Especially considering how remarkably photogenic he is.
  • The Senator came to my house post-bar Saturday night. After he left at 3:30 in the morning he texted me basically asking if i’d ever want to “hook up.” I reject that notion on the grounds that I avoid romantic entanglements with my friends. The suggestion really came out of nowhere and I don’t know if he’s going to be normal next time I see him.
  • CandyCane (yep, that’s his code name) met me for the third weekend in a row for brunch. We only recently became friends and I am touched that he’s been a consistent Sunday fixture the past few weeks. When I texted him to tell him I was there, he responded that he was hungover and asleep on his beach. I assumed he would stay there; instead he said “be there in 20” and actually showed up.

All these attractive men, and i can’t seem to gather the strength to pursue any sort of relationship with anyone other than my cats, my roommate and my already established circle of friends.

Stephen King on the Creative Process, the State of Fiction, and More

Stephen King on the Creative Process, the State of Fiction, and More

tell me if you understand …

I have a ton of weddings and events to attend starting next month.

To begin preparing, i started white-stripping my teeth, redyed my hair and went on a pseudo-diet. (Salads or Smart Ones frozen meals for lunch, YerbaMate tea, yogurt and fruit for breakfast and sensible dinners, if i have dinner at all. sometimes i’m not hungry)

I am also forcing myself to wash my face before i go to bed, put overnight leave-in conditioner in my hair, apply bronzing lotion to my legs right after i get out of the shower and apply some hardcore Burt’s Bees foot balm to my feet. EVERY DAY.

I’ve already been painting my nails on the regular (i’m into nude/blush/peach colors for spring, which is great because it’s less noticeable when they chip).

I bet many of you already do all of this stuff on the regular, but for real:


The Wind Through the Keyhole


Dear Constant Readers,

At some point, while worrying over the copyedited manuscript of the next book (11/22/63, out November 8th), I started thinking—and dreaming—about Mid-World again. The major story of Roland and his ka-tet was told, but I realized there was at least one hole in the narrative progression: what happened to Roland, Jake, Eddie, Susannah, and Oy between the time they leave the Emerald City (the end of Wizard and Glass) and the time we pick them up again, on the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis (the beginning of Wolves of the Calla)?

There was a storm, I decided. One of sudden and vicious intensity. The kind to which billy-bumblers like Oy are particularly susceptible. Little by little, a story began to take shape. I saw a line of riders, one of them Roland’s old mate, Jamie DeCurry, emerging from clouds of alkali dust thrown by a high wind. I saw a severed head on a fencepost. I saw a swamp full of dangers and terrors. I saw just enough to want to see the rest. Long story short, I went back to visit an-tet with my friends for awhile. The result is a novel called The Wind Through the Keyhole. It’s finished, and I expect it will be published next year.

It won’t tell you much that’s new about Roland and his friends, but there’s a lot none of us knew about Mid-World, both past and present. The novel is shorter than DT 2-7, but quite a bit longer than the first volume—call this one DT-4.5. It’s not going to change anybody’s life, but God, I had fun.

— Steve King

The Wrecking Ball.: Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books…