Monthly Archives: July 2012


A dear friend of mine went with me in search of Seattle’s gothy/new wave jams (I doubt I’m allowed to call them “jams”) and we ended our night, successful, at 2 AM on Capitol Hill. While traversing the blocks to our parked car, we met a man she knew waiting at a corner. He was tall, white, head shaven, older than me, head-to-toe in what I remember as a floor length black tunic (so far, he could be my husband, similarity-wise, except), he wore an eye patch over his left eye and clutched some sort of walking cane. He was very gentlemanly and engaged in conversation with my friend.

At his waist, dancing in and out of the street, was a black girl, dressed in all black herself, in glasses and curls, bobbing left and right, and sometimes in between the two chatterers – saying only, “sushi.” I guessed her age to be about 8. The conversing pals paid her no mind, as she wandered away, wandered forward again, sometimes twirled, and uttered only, “sushi.”

“Objects in drawing are slightly more cartoonish than they appear in real life.”

She went remarkably unobserved for what felt like quite awhile. Her Rain Man repetition of the word “sushi” left me certain that she was a mentally deficient homeless child, and I seriously began to worry about her wellbeing. Bob, weave, twirl, “sushi!”

In 2006 you could still walk over the border into Mexico without a passport. I did so with my husband, from Arizona into Naco. Within the first block the kids came begging, pouring out of seemingly empty alleys – some selling, some just asking, some in Spanish, some in English. All a little heartbreaking. That’s where I learned the borders of Mexico weren’t exactly Puerto Vallarta. It’s also where my husband flashed back to 2003 in Iraq, recalling the children that would chase his Humvee in the street pleading for candy, “Mista! Mista! Choc-o-lawt?”

I’ve seen a lot of wandering, begging children in my day. Naturally, I had every reason to think this girl, this mentally handicapped, homeless, 8 year old girl was….well….. a mentally handicapped, homeless, 8 year old girl. One that was out at 2 AM in the mean streets of the city, was apparently desperate for sushi, and was being completely ignored by society.

After at least two minutes of “sushi”, wander, swivel, pace, ballet pirouette, “sushi!” (if you’re familiar with the episode of “The Big Bang Theory” where Dr. Sheldon Cooper pops in and out of the ball pit with only a hasty “Bazinga……..bazinga….”, it was like that) I felt compelled to do something. I approached this poor, retarded little girl and said, with all heartfelt sincerity, “Sweetie? Where are your parents?!”

She turned to me, looking at me for the first time, and with absolutely no malice, just a touch of shock, she replied, “I’m 26.”

And my friend laughed and said, “Yeah Nik, didn’t you see her in the club?”

And the Gothic Pirate said, “She’s just really drunk.”

Now, you know how sometimes, when you say a stupid thing, an avalanche of other stupid things come roaring out of your hapless mountain of a mouth? No? Never happens to you? Oh yeah. Well, me either. That’s why the next thing I said totally wasn’t, “Oh! I’m so sorry. It’s just that my ten year old daughter is taller than you.”


“I mean I have giant babies, is all.”


“I mean I breed with giants.”

There was laughter. In the end. And I discovered who the mentally deficient one was.
And that’s good, at least.


Not So Lovely Lady Lumps

I had a breast lump removed last month. Sounds scarier than it was.

Having a lump show up in my left breast, while I was breastfeeding, over three years ago, initially scared the shit out of me. Having it checked out and being told it was not dangerous, but would be something that grew and shrank over time, at its little cysty whim – “and call us if it’s ever so bothersome that you want us to replace it with a scar” -was annoying. But beyond that mild annoyance, I was grateful. Grateful that it wasn’t the awful thing it could have been. Grateful that I was the 30-something woman in a shower who found a lump and didn’t have to follow that finding up with chemo. Or worse.

It’s interesting how something so potentially fatal can become your little secret, so quickly. The minute you find that not-so-lovely-lady-lump … BAM, new secret! And as you live with it, but before that lump is diagnosed, you pick and choose who you can tell. And who you tell is not about who you trust most, or who deserves to know, but more so who you think can be burdened with the worry of it – and, most of all, who you think can shoulder YOUR worry of it.

This hung in my surgeon’s clinic. Artist uncredited, so I call it Doctor Boobies.

My lump was nothing. My lump was just enough to be in-and-outside the breast tissue. My stupid lump was right where your bra’s underwire likes to eventually give out and poke you in the cleavage. Right THERE. That’s where my lump was. And for a very long time it grew between pebble-size to aggressive pebble-size (so, mostly nothing)  usually with my lady cycle. Always visible above the surface of the skin, but never enough to warrant the removal. Until, that is, it blew up, three years later, hundreds of miles from home, in Dinseyland.

Suddenly, where there’d been a small, meager, unsightly pebble in my cleavage, there was now an angry, red, golf ball-sized Motherfucker!  And we were on vacation. And not a real vacation, either. I think real vacations probably don’t involve small children. Or Disneyland. We had small children. In Disneyland. I’m just saying, there were no spa days. No couples massages. Certainly no sex.  I’m not even sure what couples without children DO on vacation, besides laugh at other couples with children (while they eat grapes and get massages and have sex). But , besides the digressing, for a million reasons our particular vacation was incredibly bad timing for a Motherfucker!

Now, if you’re wondering why I didn’t rush, straight away, to a southern CA E.R., it’s because I’d lived with Motherfucker’s more mild-mannered cousin, Littlefucker, for almost four years prior. I knew M.F. wasn’t going to kill me. I knew it wasn’t cancer. And I had a strong feeling that M.F. was just being….well…true to its namesake. None the less, the moment we arrived home I made my doctor’s appointment.  And the very moment I scheduled surgery was the very same instant Motherfucker began to shrink to a state of nothingness. Went cystfully on it’s way to becoming a microscopic figment of my left boob’s imagination.

By the time surgery was scheduled the lump was nolonger visible, but it was difficult to turn back. My darling Swedish surgeon (the one that hugged me at my post-op visit, upon the news that the bipospy came back malignancy -free) agreed that good old Mofo could, and probably would, grow strong again, the minute I decided it was no longer a threat. So, I didn’t cancel surgery, and under the anesthesia/knife I went.

The Ouchie
Doc says nine months from now this will no longer look so “eek”, that it will barely even show, but currently….EEK…. and ouch.

Days of convalesce followed, much of it older lady related. Turns out my neck does not like being prone for 20 hours at a time and will protest such with 48 hours of muscle spams galore – and that’s so another blog for another time. Maybe I can start writing a “just turned 35 and these are my exciting new health problems” blog.

I foolishly thought I’d be up and running, same day. Had I known better I would’ve mentioned the surgery to friends. I didn’t even tell my mom. I wasn’t trying to be brave, or long, silent, pass-me-the-cross suffering – I just treated the whole business as seriously as I would a dental cleaning. My mistake. As it turns out, scalpels slicing into your chest cavity and tubes shoved down your unconscious throat are, no matter how you wish it, kind of a big deal. Lesson learned.

But the brightest spot is, I woke up from anesthesia and told my nurses,”I just dreamt of my children!”

In my suburban mom days, I’ve seen many a ubiquitous “LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE” sign. And that was my dream of my children! Sans acrylic painted wood planks, craft lettering and glue guns. There was just the living, the laughing and the loving stuff. It felt something like pure freaking joy. So much so that I woke from surgery and spoke of them to strangers. I just wanted to cuddle them. My children, of course, not the strangers. My children. The same children that aren’t a proper vacation. My incredible children.

And it all boils back down to the whole gratitude thing. A big theme of mine lately – being grateful. I woke from surgery grateful. For it ALL. For my health, for this crazy wonderful family I have, and for so much more. And though I know things are temporary, fleeting, never-quite-ever-forever, the right now of it is pretty damn sweet! I’m relishing it.

Lady lumps be damned!

Dear Niki

Shortly after my birthday in 2011, inspired by a Plinky prompt, I wrote a letter to my-one-year-in-the-future-self. It’s sat in the drafts section of my email box ever since. Read it this morning, and I’d like to thank 34 year old Niki for the smiles. I’d also like to assure her that the future is bright, and all poop-related catastrophes have been contained.

Dear 35 Year Old Niki,

Hey, it’s me, 34 Year Old Niki. How’s it going? Have your Master’s Degree yet? Haha. Yeah, I thought you’d laugh (and then cry) at that.

Hope things are going well for you, obviously. At the very least, I hope you’re not still changing diapers. I also hope your husband is home from South Korea, that your marriage took no significant hits from the separation, that your eldest is transitioning into preteendome as smoothly as a girl that age can, and that your toddler is moving into preschooler territory without much protest – and by “protest” you know I really mean still pooping her pants. Or pooping in the bath tub. Or pooping on a hotel carpet (REMEMBER THAT?!  Right after you’d signed that waiver saying you had no pets in the room).

I hope you found, or are in the process of finding, a job that isn’t soul-sucking, pays for more than just childcare expenses, and is even slightly interesting. Because (and this is just my year younger than you opinion here, but) I really think you need to get out of the house. However, if you’re still living in the same town (and it would be a miracle if you found a job at all in that town) I don’t fault you for staying home. I know I do.

How was turning 35, anyway?  Did you sob naked in a bathtub? After taking stock of the effects time has wrought on your matronly body, and that face you should have been slathering Ponds upon, years ago?  That would be a shame. Because, from my end of things, I’ve been doing my best to prepare you for middle age. And, yes, 35 is considered the commencement of middle age, according to the US Census. I looked that shit up. I’m busy mentally picturing the type of middle-aged woman you want to be, but I haven’t arrived at the image yet. I hope you do.

I also hope you’re still happy, because – though nothing is perfect – I am. I’m deeply grateful for the health and happiness of my children, my family, my friends, the strength of my marriage, and, however limited, the stability of our finances. And any time I want to kvetch that my boobs are less awesome or that I see the begining of jowls, I check-in with the reality of real world heartache – which can be found, en masse, around any domestic or international bend. I have a feeling, in the years to come, “healthy perspective” is going to be your very best friend.

Thus, I hope you’re graceful (in your old, tired, decrepit age). I hope this is the beginning of a new era for you. If, in letting go of youth, and those unrealized dreams, you let go of self-doubt and increase your own personal level of “what the hell”, and actually GO for things, that would be cool. Grabbing life by the ballsack has never been your thing – or even your purpose, I think. Your journey has been of a deeply personal, behind-the-scenes, under-the-hood sort. A quiet evolution of the soul. But, ball-grabbing aside, surely it’s time to give life a thuroughly serious titty twister.

Most of all, and most importantly, you’ve hibernated long enough: GET OUT OF THE FUCKING HOUSE.

Oh, and don’t start smoking again, either. Dummy.

With immensely selfish love,
34 Year Old Niki