Over the last six months (ok, really, over the last three-and-a-half years), Mr. Blue Eyes and I have been fighting with his ex-wife on some pretty outrageous things: Blue Eyes wants to be able to spend time with his kids on a regular basis, and talk to them on the phone on a regular basis. Crazy, right? At any rate, we are finally to what I hope is the final stage of this latest battle, and I don’t want to jinx it, but it might actually look like we are not going to have to go to court. Maybe. I mean, who knows, when you are dealing with CrAzY you can never really be sure, even after a judge stamps his approval and the thing is in effect “law.” CrAzY don’t care about “law,” she cares about what is most beneficial to HER at this particular moment in time. (Note: Not most beneficial to the kids in question, that would be reasonable and show some demonstrated good feeling and caring towards them; no, she wants what is most beneficial for herself or as a second-best option, what is the worst possible outcome for Blue Eyes. A real gem, this one.)
At any rate, I have tried a number of mostly unsuccessful ways to deal with my frustration at this whole situation, my anger, and to try and process my emotions. Honestly, most of them are generally ineffectual, though I’d like a sticker for trying. But today, after the latest bizarre demand, I found something that simultaneously validated my anger and frustrations, helped to control and minimize the over-the-top negative feelings I was having, and soothed my heart and my nerves.
I wrote everything on a post-it. Not a series of post-its, just one post-it.
I wrote over words again and again, filling every corner of this little piece of sticky paper with rants and scribbles and possibly a few swears and curses thrown in her general direction. As I both let out my anger and also saw it being compressed into a neat little square, I started to feel immeasurably better. Her behavior is absolutely not okay, and mostly illegal (don’t get me started on The System and how it was built and is perpetuated to generally fuck with fathers and overcompensate mothers who are willing to lie and cheat for personal gain), but as I saw all this swirling, heavy, dark stuff turn into abstract curls and lines of pale blue ink….it started to not seem quite so terrible. It’s terrible, don’t mistake me, but it’s only one little blue swirl of terrible that is confined to a three inch square. And that is something that I can deal with. I don’t like it, but I can deal with it.
For over a decade I have dutifully gone to the dermatologist at least once a year; I track my moles, their shape and coloring; I carefully note if any new ones show up, even the tiny ones; I wear sunscreen like it’s my damn job. My latest check-up earned me a solid A+, which I’ll admit, made me more than a little proud of myself. My doc was most impressed and legitimately surprised that the top part of my forearm and the underside are the exact same hue, which has a lot less to do with winter than it has to do with my always wearing sunscreen or long sleeves. He was shocked that there was not a single tan line on my back or shoulders, not from last summer, or the one before that, or the one before that. It’s not that my skin can’t take a tan, it’s that I go to extreme lengths to keep it from changing color in any way. In fact, in 15 years I think I’ve only had two or three sunburns, and only one of those was so intense it blistered. I just…I’m really really careful. Always.
Here’s the thing, for me, an A+ is not really an “excellent! superb! you’re a dermatological overachiever!” kind of mark; for me it is essential. Almost 30 years ago the major medical research university here did an enormous study on melanoma and whether or not there was some kind of inherited genetic propensity for the disease. The long and short of it (but really, only the short) is that yes, there is a genetic marker for melanoma and it runs in both my maternal and paternal lines and me and my four siblings all have that marker encoded into our DNA. My oldest brother had an enormous hunk of his back cut out at age 13 because it was teeming with cancerous melanoma, my other brother has had basal cell cut off his face, I’ve had bits of both melanoma and basal cell cut out from head to toe, I have lost track of how many aunts, uncles, and cousins (first cousins, not thrice removed, we’re talking close relationships here) have had the same procedures, two have died from melanoma and one is currently in treatment. So, skin cancer. It’s a big effing deal to me.
So. I have super pale skin*, which is what I naturally came with, but I make sure to keep it that way. I don’t wear shorts, I don’t wear tank tops, I rarely wear a bathing suit and I slather on sunscreen and then a few hours later I do it again. If at all possible, I will be in the shade instead of in the sun.
*Seriously, it’s hard to write about this without coming across as some kind of white supremacist; I am just trying to say that my heaven-sent stock color is 80% albino, and here I am at age 32 and that is still, more or less, the case. And for me, that beached whale-parchment-milk colored-sometimes even a little blueish-white skin is a really, really good thing. If your stock color is pinkish, or yellowish, or tan, or brownish, or blackish, or green or orange or blue orpinkortealorWHATEVERCOLORISFINE!! NO SKIN COLOR IS BETTER OR SUPERIOR THAN ANY OTHER SKIN COLOR!!!
What I was thinking would be a quick, possibly pithy commentary on how pasty and alfredo-like my arms and legs look and how for ONCE I got a gold star for it instead of mockery from the Popular Set has quickly divulged into a freaking mine field of political correctness, attempts not to offend, and generally trying to come across as a good human. My point is that overall the healthiest epidermis is the one that has the least amount of damage, and sun is the primary source of damage of skin cells, so the closer your adult skin is to the relatively less damaged skin of your childhood, the better. The fewer traces of sun discoloration, the better. So, as the summer sun warms everything up (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), remember to protect your skin cells, mmmkay? Your 50-year old future face will thank you for your efforts, I pinky swear*.
*Pinky is a digit on your hand, not some kind of color judgement. For the love, I quit.
It seems that whenever I take a little time off of writing, usually because, you know, Life, but it seems next to impossible to start back up again. I was so very glad when Nilsa posted these ten questions, I immediately copy-pasted and answered them for all of you. Aren’t you lucky? (Yes. Yes you are.)
1. Twitter or Facebook?
Facebook. I want to love Twitter, I really do, but I just…I feel like if I am not “on” all the time I am suddenly completely lost in conversations and miss all the important things and I just don’t really have time for the stream of consciousness from 100+ people…maybe I’m doing Twitter wrong? I dunno.
2. Morning person or night owl?
Absolutely a night owl. I can stay up until 2 or 3 without batting an eye, but ask me to wake up at 6:30 or 7:00 (even with a sensible 10pm bedtime) and you shall get ALL SORTS of side eye.
3. How do you drink coffee?
I don’t. My caffeinated beverage of choice is Diet Dr. Pepper with a very generous squeeze of fresh lime (like, at least half of a lime. I feel so very much like Amy March every single time I do this.).
4. It’s 9pm and you’ve got the house to yourself, what do you do?
One of two things: turn on my audio book and pull out my oil paints, or curl up in bed with whatever book I’m currently obsessed with; my go-to is almost always reading.
5. What’s on your nightstand right now?
Margaret Thatcher’s autobiography (not started yet), a lovely candle, a few hair elastics, and an original oil seascape that I look at every morning when I wake up. (There is a basket underneath my night stand with no less than 25 more books to read…always.)
6. What smell do you love?
Fresh cut grass, freshly laundered boy, clean sheets, citrus smells.
7. What smell do you hate?
Lake stink, this sulphuric cloud that sometimes comes off the large salty lake next to my home; it seriously fills the whole valley with the smell of rotten eggs and oil refinery pollution.
8. Other than your current home, where would you most like to live?
I’d love to eventually live somewhere with tall granite-topped mountains that I can view from my main living area; they really are home to me. Now, I live in that type of place now that is surrounded by such mountains, but I don’t have the view. Someday, I’ll have the view.
9. If you could eat only one nationality of food for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
Mexican food: chips and salsa and burritos and tacos and stuffed peppers and enchiladas and tres leches cake. All day. Erry day.
10. When you were six years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A circus performer, one that was part acrobat and part equestrian. This morphed into my dream of being a stunt woman in the movies, and then a fighter pilot, and then an international attorney, and now I manage a program that helps low income and under-served students figure out the steps required to prepare for and succeed in college….and not the kind of college where you study to become an acrobatic equestrian. Sigh. Dreams deferred, man.
What about you? What is on your nightstand and what were your career goals when you were in kindergarten?