ABCD…

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Last week, I went to my requested plastic surgery appointment. It was the only time, besides the blood test, when I’d see her before the surgery itself, and I didn’t want to be standing in the hospital right before my surgery asking what size she thought I’d come out as.

I was extremely nervous- I don’t really know why, since the only thing I figured we’d do was chat, no examination or anything. I think it was because I am so scared that the insurance is going to pull their coverage and I’m going to wake up on the other side of surgery with awesome but expensive boobs that I now have to pay for.

But my PS assured me that that’s not usually the case. I had a chat with the insurance company a few weeks ago, too, who also said that the only way that they definitely won’t pay for it is if I get a different procedure entirely or in addition to my reduction.

At my initial consultation with my PS, I felt like she kind of rushed me along, and that bothered me. But she really took her time with me during this last appointment, making sure I got all of my questions answered and bringing things up herself, so that settled my mind. One thing I had been feeling pretty secure about was her skill level- she has excellent patients reviews for not only her breast surgery, but her speciality, which is hand surgery. While in her waiting room, I was looking around at the other people, wondering if they were there for their pre-op visits, only to find out that they were a few months to a year post-op from hand surgery. I never would have guessed.

In the end, she told me that what a lot of doctors and websites and patients (in the world in general) say is wrong: you can’t go to a plastic surgeon and say “Make me a DD.”  Especially with reductions, and especially if you’re like me and want to go on the smaller side, issues of safety come into play. I can request to be a C or a B all I want, but it all comes down to what my PS determines is safe when the procedure is going on. And, as I said, I can’t even request to be a C or a B, because the PS doesn’t bring a bra in and hold it up to your in-progress breast to check the sizing. They’re more concerned with taking out a certain amount and making the two breasts generally the same shape and size. So my PS said I’ll probably end up a C or D when going bra shopping. I so desperately do not want to be a D. I want to get out of D territory forever. But since I’ve been squeezing myself into the wrong bra size until a few months ago, my idea of a D, and what a D actually is is skewed, and anything will be an improvement.

The prospect of the surgery is still really really scary to me, but it has never once crossed my mind as the wrong choice. Almost ever part of my life, from daily activities to passing my reflection in a window, reminds me that what I’m doing is right. People- doctors and non-doctors alike, save for my therapist, seem really concerned that I’m not concerned that I might not be able to breastfeed when/if I have kids.But to be honest, breastfeeding is never something that I’ve felt the need to do. Maybe I will regret it if/when I have kids, but it’s not like there is no other way for me to feed them.

I also know that a lot of women wait until after they’re done having kids to have the surgery, but I can’t wait. Besides the fact that I want to have it now, for all the reasons I’ve already discussed, I can’t imagine the disappointment I would feel if I ended up childless (by choice or not), knowing that I could have had this relief decades earlier. Yes, if I were at a point in my life where I thought I was ready, or almost ready, to start a family, I would probably wait, but I’m not at all. It will definitely be a frustration if I do have kids and I swell back to the size I’m at now, but I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it again.

Aside

Now I’m Nervous for My Brain…

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I’ve been getting migraines and bad headaches since I was twelve, but besides home remedies, I never did much about them. But since seeing two doctors who are invested in what happens within the grey matter inside my skull, I started thinking about going to a neurologist for my still-very present headaches.

I can’t call it luck that I have an amazing therapist and an amazing psychiatrist, because I chose them after a lengthy period of research, but not everyone is who they seem on even a professional website. My doctors are, though, and because they are two caring individuals, they insisted that when I looked for a neurologist, I find someone caring.

My therapist said the same thing when I was looking for a psychiatrist over the summer: “Look for someone who cares. They’re kind of rare, but you can find them.” For all my past experiences with less-than-awesome doctors and the stories my mom sometimes brings home from the hospital, I shouldn’t have been surprised by this comment, but I was. Like… why would you get into healthcare if you didn’t like people, or at least care about making them better (which I assume, perhaps erroneously, would make you care about the people who have the problems.) But my experience today showed me that not only was my therapist right about that, she may also be right about being able to tell the quality of the doctor by the tenor of their receptionist.

I’d read through the information packet sent to me by the neurology office when it arrived a month or two ago, but since I am now just a few weeks away from my appointment, I wanted to read it over again. When I was confused by the circumstances under which you need a referral, I called the number the packet tells you to call if you have questions like that.

ME: (rattles off preliminary speech about when my appointment is and my confusion)

RECEPTIONIST #1: Um, this is Penn Presbyterian Hospital.

ME: I know.

RECEPTIONIST #1: So… you meant to call us?

ME: Yes, I’m holding medical papers from you in my hand.

RECEPTIONIST: Well, this is the emergency room number, I don’t know how you got it.

ME: It’s in the informational packet I was sent.

RECEPTIONIST #1: Well, I can’t help you. I’ll TRY to transfer you to the neurology unit.

(Extremely loud holding music plays, so loud that I have to put the phone on speaker and put it on the other side of my bed.)

RECEPTIONIST #2: Hello? (two second pass) HELLOOOOO?!

ME: Hi. (Previous speech.)

RECEPTIONIST #2: Wait, wait, wait- this is Penn Presbyterian.

ME: I know. I have papers from you in my hand.

RECEPTIONIST #2: Okaaaaay…when were you discharged from the hospital?

ME: I haven’t been a patient yet, my appointment is on the 22nd.

RECEPTIONIST #2: Uh, well, the emergency room told me that you had been discharged from this unit. If you haven’t, I can’t really help you.

ME: Okay… I was transferred to you after calling the number in my information, so I don’t know where to go from here.

RECEPTIONIST #2: I’ll get you the number of the operator. I don’t have the neurology number, but they should.

ME: Great, thanks.

(More incredibly loud holding music. The operator picks up and I give him the rundown.)

OPERATOR: Oh. Um… uh… I really don’t have that information, so I don’t know what I can do.

ME: You’re the third person I’ve been transferred to, I really don’t have any other way of reaching the neurology office.

OPERATOR: Well, uh… I GUESS I could maybe find the number for you… hang on.

(He figures out a way to transfer me, like an operator does. I finally reach the neurology office…’s answering machine. Awesome.)

 

Now the question is, will they call me back or will I go in without a referral, only to have them tell me (as the packet warns might happen) that they can’t see me without one and reschedule me for six months from now?

If my therapist is right about the receptionist reflecting the warmth of the doctor, I’m afraid I might just have an ice pick stabbed into my brain.

My House is Broken and My Car is Gimpy

The house that I live in has both a front door and a back door, and I’m the only one in the house who uses the back door because I park my car back there. On Sunday morning, I went out back to shovel the driveway after the snowstorm, and when I went to go back inside, I noticed that the deadbolt looked a little weird.

ImageI took a picture of it and locked the door behind me because, as much as I didn’t want to think about it, it looked like a break-in attempt. The next day when my roommates came home, I showed them the picture. “I don’t want to be an alarmist,” I said. “But I think someone tried to break into the house.”

My roommates agreed and we were all pretty unnerved. I was very thankful that, due to the snow, my car was parked around the corner instead of next to the door like it usually is. While there’s nothing really worth stealing in it, I don’t know that that would have mattered. Since then, a new deadbolt had been purchased and “Beware of Dog” signs are up on both doors. Sometimes, we get a reminder that we live in a city. I’m just glad it wasn’t a more brutal reminder.

Today, as all of America is aware, was brutally cold. I think it was five degrees or something when I got in my car to pick up produce and then head to work. My car seemed to be driving kind of weird, but besides the fact that my car got inspected a week ago and passed, I also didn’t think much of it because people all over Facebook were complaining about how the extreme cold was affecting their cars. So I ran my errand and drove to WalMart. As I unloaded the groceries, I noticed the my right rear tire looked weird. I looked closer, and what I saw was this:

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Not good. After I let Jackie, with whom I was switching, know what was going on, I called AAA to come and help me change my tire. I’d never had a flat before and I had no idea what to do. They told me that they could certainly help me, but they were running behind and it would probably be about three hours. This made me grateful that I had managed to get to work before noticing the tire; at least I could work while I waited. As it happened, the guy arrived less than an hour later and made quick work of my tire. As he got back in his car, he called, “Have a better day!”

So tomorrow I get to have my tire looked at/repaired before I take my long trek to my first rehearsal for August: Osage County. I am SO excited to get started on this show!

Columbus Play Adventures Part 1

This weekend was The Weekend, when my first full-length play, my baby, was put up onstage for the first time.

I headed to my parents’ house on Tuesday and my mom and I left the next morning at nine. We stopped twice to eat/stretch and, after getting lost for awhile upon arriving in Columbus, got to our hotel around 6:30. We decided we wanted to go to Chipotle for dinner, since I love it and Mom had never been there, and Google Maps told me that it was a six minute walk up the road. Long story (and long walk) short, Google Maps lied. We stopped in an ice cream shop for directions and the employees told us that we were very far away from the restaurant. Some locals standing near us heard us talking and gave us amusedly disappointed looks. “There are so many better places to eat here than Chipotle, guys,” the woman told us. Then she and her husband led us to Betty’s, a restaurant/bar a block away. And as much as I love Chipotle, they were so right. We had some amazing hummus and I tried fish tacos (yum!)

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Signs in Betty’s

The next morning, we headed out to explore Columbus before opening night. We went to an area of the city called Short North, which had some really awesome boutiques. I bought way too many things while we were out- a nifty new hat (my ears were cold), some postcards, a notebook (I hadn’t brought mine, figuring I’d just take a pad from the hotel room, but we weren’t given any), some chili chocolate, and a Bell Jar shirt. While I did want all of these things, I also think I was trying to distract myself from my steadily building nerves.

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Legzzzzz

While my mom and I were exploring a great vintage shop (which housed many pairs of amazing shoes), I got a Facebook message on my phone. I didn’t know who it could be, considering that most of the people I talk to aren’t usually online at 12:30 on a weekday. It was the director of my show. “Hey,” she wrote. “I heard you’re in town. I just wanted to let you know that we had an emergency last night and may not be able to put the show up until tomorrow night.”

My heart dropped to my shoes. We had come all the way to Columbus to see my show and now it wasn’t even opening that night? I wasn’t at all mad at the director or cast- an emergency can’t be helped- and I wasn’t feeling badly about myself; I was just disappointed. And at first, that’s all it was, just a slight feeling of being let down. But as the day wore on, I started to get sad. Then I got sadder. I started to say how sad I was out loud to see if it would make me feel better (only a little.) Because while no one had said the run was cancelled, I was afraid that’s what was going to happen. This fear doesn’t come from nowhere; last year, a short play of mine was supposed to be produced and then got cancelled two weeks before opening. This afternoon, my mom remarked how I hadn’t put anything on Facebook about opening night being postponed and I said, “I can’t handle being the girl who cried ‘Production!’ twice. I didn’t even want to get into it.”

Even though I knew I wouldn’t be seeing the show that night, my nerves didn’t go away. I texted my friend and fellow playwright Molly. “I am freaking out,” I wrote. “Is this normal?!” She wrote back, “YES. You will likely be freaking out all night.” And even without actually seeing my play, I was. Mom and I went out for pizza and I fell off my chair at the restaurant, then, a few minutes later, spilled my soda all over the table. The waitress asked me if I was drunk. Nope… just a nervous wreck.

This morning, I woke up in a bit of a doom-and-gloom mood. I was convinced that my play was never going to premiere. When we stopped for a snack his afternoon, I said to my mom, “If it gets cancelled tonight, can we go to the matinee tomorrow? I can’t leave not having seen it. Not after we came all this way.” All day, as we toured the beautiful German Village area of the city, I was praying that my phone didn’t go off with a text or Facebook message, sure it would be from the director, and every time I received a text from anyone at all, I jumped about a foot in the air.

But finally, it was too late in the day for the show to be cancelled for tonight. Instead of going out to dinner, Mom heated up some chicken fingers she had pre-made. I could only eat one and a half, I was so nervous. We got into our theatre-wear and headed for the youth center where the show was being held. Ten minutes before the show, hardly anyone was in the audience and I was really nervous that no one else would show up, but in the end, there were probably about sixty people at the show.

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Posters by the bunch

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Performance venue!

The set was very typical of a community theatre (no frills, simple sets and costumes) and so was the acting (most performances being okay, with some excellent stands outs) but what I cared about was the script and whether it worked. The show began and the first scene- done in complete darkness except for a light in a jar- looked exactly as I had pictured. And while the times the words I wrote were dropped, either because they were too fast, too quiet, or forgotten (which sometimes happened in large chunks) made me sad, I was in general happy with the way the show went. I wasn’t there to review the show; I was there to see how my script worked for timing and story, and I was able to do that. I took a lot of notes on what worked and what didn’t, and the audience was really responsive, which helped, too. One of the best moments happened at the very end of the show during Peter’s last line. The actress fumbled the line, saying the main character Mary’s name instead of her daughter Wendy’s, but it actually made the scene even more poignant and made me catch my breath, and now I want to look at the moment and see if the change will work. I don’t know if it will fit in the long run, but that’s why I, as a playwright, love to see actors actually perform my work- often they do or say things differently than I had in my head and it turns out to be so much better than I imagined.

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Peter and Mary in one of my favorite scenes.

I’m such a control freak that I can’t believe playwriting works for me. Usually I’m the kind of person that wants everything the way I have in my head, but oddly, I completely accept that the world I’ve constructed might be totally different than I think it “should” be. I’m fine with a simplistic set, or few costume changes, or colorblind casting, or what people will think of my words. Somehow, I’m able to accept that in the hands of a few dozen people I’ve never met, my play will become what they make of it.

Interestingly, one part of any kind of backstage work rings true for me as a playwright as well: the complete panic when someone drops a line and I know what it is. I’ve experienced this as a stage manager and assistant stage manager, and now as a playwright, and it’s just the worst thing because I can’t do anything about it. At least as an actor, you can work toward or around the line the actor dropped. I was also surprised that I knew what the lines were tonight; even though I haven’t looked at the script in months, I’ve spent so much time with it over the past three and a half years that it’s imprinted on my brain.

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Peter and Mary

At the end of the show, the director told the two lead actresses that I was there and I got to say hi to them. They were great and wonderful to talk to, and it’s funny to be on the other side of the experience. I kind of wish I had been in this position before I was the actor trying to please the playwright, because then I would have known that it wasn’t really about that! For me, tonight was about the amazing fact that a bunch of people read and memorized my words and put six weeks of rehearsing, set building, composing, and general hard work into something that three and a half years ago was just a few scenes in the “PP Play” folder on my computer, with me dreaming of having it produced one day. It makes me want to cry from happiness just thinking about it. I am so glad to have had this experience, and it felt great at the end to have people who heard I was the playwright come over and tell me how much they enjoyed the play and that they could see a future for it. I am proud of myself and my work on this night.

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Ugh

My day didn’t even stand a chance.

I actually was in kind of a good mood this morning. After what felt like years of rain, I got to sleep with my windows open last night and woke up (after sleeping in) to sun. The house I live in is being sold, so after I had breakfast, I immediately stared making the final preparations for the people who were looking at it. I had worked on my room last night, so it only needed a few touch ups, but I started getting stressed out when I got downstairs. Downstairs (the living room and kitchen) has been kind of messy since I arrived in this house, but since the only thing I keep down there is food, I don’t want to “clean up” only to have my roommates unable to find their things. After all, I know how much I hate it when people touch my stuff. But I knew I needed to at least tidy up, and thankfully, my roommates were not only okay with it when they got home tonight, but thrilled.

The prospective buyers and the realtor were scheduled to come to the house at 1:30 and stay until right before I had to go to work. At 1:10, I got into my work clothes, hurriedly ate lunch, and decided to oass the five minutes before they arrived reading my book. At 2:25, I was still reading uninterrupted. This would have annoyed me in any case because I hate when people are late, but I also had to work at three. Luckily I was working at a store within walking distance of my house, because the realtor and her clients showed up at 2:40.

I was really nervous about showing the house. I’m shy around people I don’t know and terrible with small talk, and now the people I would have to talk to were also going to be looking in the closets and under the beds. Also, I am the newest resident of the house, so I know the least about it. Basically, I was the WORST POSSIBLE PERSON to show it off.

So the realtor and her peeps come in, and the realtor apologizes and explains that they were “a little” late because there was a baby included in the trio she had brought. The baby, admittedly, was adorable and smiley, but I was still annoyed. They started tromping through the house and it immediately became obvious that the buyers did not speak English, but Japanese. The realtor also did, so communication wasn’t a problem, but it was extra awkward to be following them from room to room, unable to understand all of the comments they were making. Then, after making me wait for over an hour, they only spent about seven minutes in the house. Awesome.

I made it to work on time, amazingly, where I took my roommate’s place at the booth. Since the store was right across the street from our house, he would spend part of his free days at the store watching his trainees do shows, then give us some pointers to improve our presentation. I had expected him to stay, but it still threw me that he was watching, and I did an awful show, and that put me in a funk for my entire shift.

Usually, when I get notes for my shows, I am really good at applying them and I always sell more, usually double, than I did the last show, but today was just downhill in every way. Not only was I apparently unable to improve my show, but during my fourth one, I was harassed twice. First a man started yelling about all the great things the machine could do, which would be helpful if he hadn’t been drowning me out for longer than was acceptable. He left after I refused to acknowledge him. Then an old woman who had previously been enjoying the show asked how much the machine was. If this question is ever asked before we get to the price part of the script, we just jokingly say, “A million dollars,” which usually makes the person laugh and calm down. This woman just rolled her eyes and then answered a phone call.

I’m pretty good at blocking out distractions when I’m performing, whether it’s onstage or doing these work shows. So I was ignoring this woman’s loud phone call until she made it impossible by saying even louder, “I’m trying to get a free gift, but I guess this girl is going to MAKE ME WAIT THROUGH A DEMONSTRATION.” I gave her a bit of side-eye, but kept going, and eventually she hung up. But then she just got worse. After everything I’d slice, she’d sigh dramatically, wave her hand in the air impatiently, and say, “Uh huh… Uh huh…” After doing this for two minutes straight, she finally exploded with, “Can you just give me my gift? My friend’s waiting for me outside.”

I was completely thrown by this, and furious about it. Without looking at her, I shoved a gift into her hand. I wish I could say I kept going without missing a beat, but I completely lost my train of thought. And when the show was over, I called my roommate and tried not to cry and then cried and bought some M&Ms. The show ruined my whole day, and though I didn’t do as badly, numbers-wise, as I thought, I don’t wish to ever have one like it again.

Harassment

Because I live in a city- no, scratch that: Because I’m a woman, sexual harassment is part of my everyday life. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.

The first time I was ever sexually harassed (that I can recall), it was when I was doing my summer job during my college years, working as a tour guide. A group of teenage boys, led by their rabbi, came to the tourist attraction and at the end of the tour, used the public guest book to express that their favorite part of the tour was my chest (though they used decidedly cruder words than that.) I was humiliated, tore the page out of the book, destroyed it further, and threw it away. I didn’t say a word about it until a year later, when the boys came back and I begged to be taken off their tour (I was, by my horrified manager.)

When I was hired as a server at a restaurant with a bar, I absolutely expected to be sexually harassed. To my surprise, though my personal bubble was invaded once or twice, that didn’t happen. But when I was a hostess at a different restaurant (the one that fired me), I witnessed something very disturbing. The owner of the restaurant is quite famous in Philadelphia and New York, so when his relatives came to his restaurants, they were of course given the best treatment and service. I was only working at this restaurant for a month, but the owner’s father visited at least four times while I was there. He was given his choice booth, he and his guests were given their meal for free, and they were given the best server in the place… or rather, the best server in the place that was also a pretty young woman. Maybe the second time he came to visit, one of the managers actually said to my fellow hostess and me, “[Owner]’s father will sexually harass you. Just let it happen.” And while he didn’t really bother with us, I watched from across the restaurant as he flirted with and touched his waitress however and whenever he pleased, sometimes even following her over to the computer stand and putting his hand on the small of her back as she punched in his order. I never said anything, and I often wondered whether, if I had, I would have been fired.

The reason I was spurred to write this post is because this week has been fraught with harassment. After my first psychiatry appointment, it was nice out, so I decided to walk to work instead of take the subway. Within thirty seconds of leaving my doctor’s building, I had two guys catcall me, Two days later, I led a tour as usual. My group of eight happened to be comprised of very pretty girls, probably college age. As I was leading them around the city, we were shouted at at least four times, and I can honestly say this has never happened before, because I have never led a group of all young women.  It made me extremely uncomfortable, though my group didn’t seem fazed, which is good, I guess.

I like to think of myself as a strong woman and a feminist, and when I experience stuff like the above, or read about it on sites like Everyday Sexism, or see it happen on the streets. But am I really that strong or really a feminist if I can’t speak up when it happens? I know that part of the reason people harass others is to make themselves feel powerful and to bring humiliation upon their victim, but I wish I could rise above that humiliation and speak up. I’m not at that point yet, though, as evidenced by an incident a few weeks ago. I was sitting at the ticket table outside of the cafe with my female coworker. We’d already had an incident that day of non-sexual harassment, which was bad enough that one of the cafe employees came out to make sure we were okay, so we were already on edge. Then this homeless man came up to us and asked my coworker if she had a light. She said no. He was standing behind my chair and decided to ask me if I had one… very far into my personal bubble. I shook my head and pulled my book closer to my face. “You don’t got one?” he asked, leaning in closer. His hands weren’t on me, but they might as well have been. “No,” my coworker said sharply. “She doesn’t.” He got even closer, mumbling about how he wanted “a piece of that.” “Thank you,” my coworker snapped. “Move along.” In true harasser style, the man started reaming out my coworker for being strong and standing up, and I felt terrible; she was taking the flak for me because I couldn’t do it myself. I just felt terrible about every aspect of the experience, and I hope I’ll act differently next time.

We’re Not Playing Anymore

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This past week has been a week of realizing that everyone around me is growing up. Last Sunday, I drove back to my hometown to attend my friends Lauren and Brent’s wedding. I went to high school with both of them, and on Sunday, they married each other.

This marks the third friend’s wedding I’ve attended. For my friend Kendra, who is two years older than me, it was a day where I watched my slightly older friend do something that slightly older people did. But for my other friends, who are the same age as me, it just feels like it’s a really elaborate game of dress up. Instead of being in the playroom or the backyard by ourselves and wearing old dance costumes, we’re all dressed up in big-person clothes that fit us and we’re in a public place with a lot of other people and official, legally binding words are being said. And even though I knew the wedding was coming and what was going to happen, both times I’ve been standing there going, “WHAT IS HAPPENING?” It hasn’t seemed real, though it unquestionably is. At my table, I was the only one who was not married, about to be married, or had marriage on the mind.

This feeling only increased today. My aforementioned friend Kendra had her baby shower today. Her BABY SHOWER. Very soon, a little boy with half her DNA will enter the world and she and her husband will be responsible for keeping that little boy alive. Believe me, I totally believe in their ability to do this, but it’s still a bit jarring to realize that this is the same girl with whom I shared a tiny dorm room my sophomore year where we ate food that was bad for us and kept Law and Order: SVU on all day every Tuesday.

But while I’m not taking those kind of huge, very public steps, I’m still taking some of my own. I’m looking at changing jobs for the millionth time this year, auditions for my play are happening in two weeks, and today, I took my very first antidepressant pill in attempt to get my life back. I guess I’m a real adult, too, in my own way.

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