SYTYCD—Little Dancehall on the Grand Prairie

photo credit: Kristen Shaffer

In just about 2 hours from now I will be sitting in the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie, Texas waiting for 12 of the most talented dancers I’ve seen yet cross the stage. It’s going to be an awesome experience, and this year I get to share it with two of my good friends instead of going all by my lonesome. True, I DID make some friends out of my seatmates last time, but this is going to be so much better! Now if I can just make sure I can see the dancers to at least say hi and spread a little New Orleans cheer….

Jewelry AND a car….and I’m SO not kidding….

Does THIS look like fun to you?

So I’ve told you about the finding of the lump at 13 and the first two mammograms and ultrasound. Welcome to Biopsy World.

No, the lump did not turn malignant. No, the lump did not grow any bigger or start hurting again. But apparently it so vexed my primary care physician that he ordered me a biopsy–which I fully intended to ignore, as I HAD ALREADY BEEN TOLD THE LUMP WAS BENIGN. Yeah…guess whose office assistant/secretary/nurse/whatever felt compelled to call me and ask WHY I hadn’t gone in…and further urge me to go? I’m thinking if several doctors over the 28 year lifespan of this thing have told me it’s nothing to worry about, WHY IN THE HAMFAT would I voluntarily go into to the hospital to get a big needle shoved into my breast?!?

Now don’t get me wrong–breast exams are important and should be taken very seriously, and if a malignancy is found, then swift action should definitely be taken immediately. But was it really necessary to order a procedure that at best, only reduces a single cup size and at worst, reduces the size of my bank account? Not to mention the permanent bruise that WASN’T there before, despite the booby ice pack they sent me home with.

(Please understand–I am not lax about keeping up with my health, nor am I lessening the importance of keeping up with these things and being as proactive as possible. I simply feel the need to rant because I AM on top of all of this and I AM following the advice of my OB/GYN, who has been keeping a close eye on my feminine and reproductive health for at least a decade now….and HE felt the procedure was unnecessary. Ladies, PLEASE continue to be vigilant about your health and do what it necessary to prolong and improve your quality of life.)

I was told to have someone drive me to and from the hospital (in case of residual drugs and to keep from doing any undue heavy labor or lifting), so I had my Mom pick me up. Checked in and got vitals tested and was talked through the procedure I was about to undergo. In the course of this the nurse asks if I’m wearing a bra. Uhhhh…no–was I supposed to? I figured I was going to be undressed from the waist up for most of the morning, so bring/wear as little clothing as possible. The nurse informs me that I’ll need the bra post-surgery for support of the surgical area…and, as I would later learn, the booby ice pack.

So I get wheeled down to a room where I’m told to lay face down in the now infamous flasher gown on this metal platform that looks like a topless tanning bed. And then the REAL fun begins. I get hoisted about a foot into the air and a section of the platform opens up, into which I am instructed to hang my breast down into. Did I mention that this “hole” looked like a cross between a car cup holder and a guillotine? I do as I’m told and proceed to have my breast clamped in a vise and one of the FOUR nurses (yeah, my little old Asian tormentor needed FOUR extra sets of hands to ruin my day) gets her doodle on making Sharpie marks on my boob. I’m told that this is so they can properly line up my breast and the biopsy needle so that once they press the magic button it can go in at the correct angle and start vacuuming Old Lumpy out of its comfortable home. I’m also told I have to lie completely and utterly still—as in no moving, no shifting, no turning, almost hold your breath still. I’m guessing I must have moved a few centimeters in the wrong direction because after having been prepped by the nurses and my little Asian torturer come in to start the procedure, I’m told the Sharpie marks aren’t lining up properly…so I get to be the Sistine Chapel ceiling AGAIN and get new Sharpie marks drawn on me. The biopsy needle was pretty big, about blood donating big (a size that made my senior year of high school the first and last time giving blood), but they also showed me a thinner, longer needle with the numbing agent in it. I do not like needles at all, but am masochistically calmed by being able to see it go in. However, since I was facedown hoisted in the air with my breast in a vice, I would not be able to see it coming—which freaked me out even more. Plus they felt the need to mention that “this is going to sting a little.” And did I mention they expected me to STAY STILL? I’m telling you, if I wasn’t already hoisted in the air too far to jump without injury, I’d have done my best Bugs Bunny impression through every wall in that hospital. I stressed to everyone in the room that I was going to need sufficient warning before I got stuck with that needle or else the breast was coming out of that vice and fists were going to be swinging. That still did not prepare me for the 12 second ordeal that was the numbing agent. It did not sting A LITTLE. It stung A LOT. A WHOLE LOT. It felt like flaming Everclear was being shot into my body. They give the anesthetic a few minutes to circulate and then I feel the dead weight of my breast getting jiggled to make sure everything is ready for the biopsy needle to do its turn. From what I understand the computer is programmed to insert the needle underneath the breast fold and go in and out of the lump at several angles, spinning and vacuuming until the whole thing was removed, which confused me a little because I thought a biopsy meant removing a section to test for malignancy, not removing the whole thing…which since I already knew it was benign I WAS NOT OK WITH.

At least 15 to 20 minutes of this lying flat on my stomach on a hard surface has gone by, and my troubled lower back is letting me know about it. Loudly. So I attempt to subtly shift my knees to the side a little—just enough to get the pressure off—and get fussed at again by five people to not move. I’m sorry, do YOU have to attempt to walk out of here bent over like Quasimodo because YOUR back is on fire? From a procedure you didn’t even want? No, y’all have chairs and comfortable shoes and oh yeah—GET TO MOVE. I’m not even perfectly flat—I’m in this flat-ish position with my knees digging into the metal platform and my ass tooted in the air. All I needed was my hands tied to my ankles and a ball gag; I felt like a trussed-up turkey in a fetish chamber, and my dominatrix wasn’t even cute. After a few more minutes it’s finally over and I get to move, but by now I’m already near tears because my back has locked up in protest and the simple act of moving from the platform back to my wheelchair is excruciating. But I’m shown the various pieces of what used to be my lumpy companion and brought into the next room where that accursed mammogram machine was—because I simply had not been subjected to quite enough pain and manipulation for the day. I suffer through yet another mammogram then get wheeled back upstairs to get back into my clothes, which now includes the bra my mother ran down the street to Kmart to buy for me so I could support the post-op chesticles and have someplace to stuff the ice pack. I’m instructed not to raise my arms over my head or lift anything heavy within the next 24 hours—which meant my mom took it upon herself to carry my purse for the duration and make sure I got safely up the stairs and into my apartment, sufficiently drugged up and fed and laid up somewhere until my husband got home to take care of me. For the record, my breast hurt a long time afterward, my breast size did not significantly change, the so-called “small, unnoticeable” bruise is still visible all these months later, and it forever for all of that Sharpie ink to wash off.

By the way, I DID request jewelry and a car this time. The nurses laughed at me and referred me to hospital management. (Judging from the nearly 2 grand on top of my insurance they keep asking me for, I gather THAT’S not gonna happen.)

…’cause that’s the ONLY way they’re getting me back in there…..

A Woman Among The Titles | Black and Married With – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

A Woman Among The Titles | Black and Married With – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family.

A word about “Marriage Minded Mondays”

As of this posting I am quickly approaching 8 years of marriage, and I’ve gotta tell you, this is some serious work. I had the extra pleasure of having to do the long-distance marriage thing for 2 ½ years thanks to That 2005 Weather Event That Shall Not Be Named, so building a successful and happy life together has been especially challenging. I will happily take all the help and support I can get, so I decided to regularly post various marriage and relationship-focused blog posts and articles I find on the Web. Primarily for selfish reasons—so I can read them more fully later and revisit them when necessary—but also because I know way too many of my friends and relatives struggling with marriage and way too often, throwing in the towel. I’ve come too close to that possibility myself, and it’s a scary thought. So if I can share some of the resources that give me insight with others who could use the same, I’ll keep reposting and sharing what I find. We can all use all the support we can get.

Visit the Marriage and Family page here….

Ladies, Stop Playing Games With Your Heart: Women and Heart Disease

“A healthy heart is a happy heart.”

Flipping through the channels yesterday (Thursday, 10/25), I came across The Dr. Oz Show featuring Rosie O’Donnell. I almost bypassed it until I read the TiVo description of the episode–“Exclusive: Rosie O’Donnell’s First Interview Since The Heart Attack She Never Saw Coming!” This sent a chill of terror through me for two very personal reasons: 1) my husband’s aunt died unexpectedly months before our wedding from heart failure, and 2) I personally was rushed to the emergency room. In my case, it thankfully turned out to be gas, but I will take the embarrassment of that diagnosis juxtaposed against having called an ambulance and staying in the hospital for two days if it means that I am able to type this post today. (Even as I type this I’m experiencing symptoms that I hope are just anxiety, but I am every watchful and will call the doctor if I feel my life is in danger.)

Overcoming A-stigma-tism: (An Affirmation) For Blackgirls Who Have Considered Suicide When Closed Eyes Are Enuf

Somebody besides me needed to hear this today…Thank you for reminding me that I AM “enuf.”

The Crunk Feminist Collective

astigmatism: the inability to see clearly

stigma: a mark of disgrace or infamy

-ism: a suffix added to terms to reflect a symptom or ideology

“Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.”

I see you.

You are beautiful and you don’t even know it.

I mean it.

You are!

If no one has told you yet today, consider me the first.

Sometimes just hearing the words can make all the difference in the world.  I know what it feels like when no one tells you that you are beautiful.  I know how powerful those words can become when someone uses them against you… wielding them like a weapon used to keep you in line, threatening to destroy you with the silence that you feel so deep when the words stop being spoken.  “…with your fine self,” …”with your pretty self,” “with your…

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SYTYCD—Handicapping the Live Tour

Last night the 2012 So You Think You Can Dance Live Tour opened in San Diego to a lucky and certainly ecstatic crowd. I’ll be in that number in Grand Prairie in 8 more days, so before all the clandestine YouTube videos start popping up I’m going to give my predictions on what’s happening. (And I won’t be cheating to find out if I’m correct–I’ll wait anxiously until I see the show for myself.)

As I have determined from past experiences and George’s online interview, there will indeed be 12 dancers on the tour–the Top 10 and 2 alternate/swing dancers. Though the producers can and have choose from any of the Top 20 (as evidenced last year with Missy and Nick), the norm has tended to lean toward the official Top 12. Since this year’s eliminations went from the Top 14 to the Top 10, our choices based on that theory would be Janelle Issis, Amelia Lowe, Dareian Ajawa and Matthew Kazmierczak. Out of those four and based on what dances I think will be performed, the most versatile of those to me would be Amelia and Matthew. Matthew’s height and technique and Amelia’s quirk are strong influences, plus their partnerships with confirmed Top 10 dancers give them a great edge.

After scouring the season for the dances I like, the dances the judges loved and the ones the audiences reacted most actively to, I have come up with a list of possibilities. I’m going to start with my wish list, highlighting the numbers I expect to see on the tour in bold (finale numbers usually being givens, they’ll also be in italics):

“Turning Page” — Sleeping At Last: Tiffany and George – Sonya Tayeh Contemporary
“Run and Tell That” — Hairspray (Original Broadway Cast): Eliana/Cyrus – Broadway (Tyce Diorio)
“Unstoppable” — E.S. Posthumus: Lindsay/Cole – Paso Doble (Jason Gilkison)
“I Want to Be Loved by You”—Sinéad O’Connor: Tiffany/George – Foxtrot (Melanie LaPatin and Tony Meredith)
“Tandav Music”—Aatish Kapadia: Witney/Chehon – Bollywood (Nakul Dev Mahajan)
“Wild Horses”—Charlotte Martin: Lindsay/Cole – Contemporary (Mandy Moore)
“I Will Always Love You”—Whitney Houston: Witney/Chehon – Contemporary (Stacy Tookie)
“Toxic”—District 78 feat. Cheesa: Eliana/Cyrus – Hip-Hop (Nappytabs)
“Gravity”—Sara Bareilles: Cole and Lindsay Mia contemporary redux
“The Cool World Stomp”—Mark Isham: Top 11 group (Gene Kelly tribute)
“Sing It Back”—Moloko: Witney (Travis Wall jazz)
“Dancin’ Dan” (Me and My Shadow) from Fosse: Lindsay (Spencer Liff Broadway)
“Sincerely, Jane”—Janelle Monáe: Audrey (Dave Scott lyrical hip-hop)
“Run Boy Run”—Woodkid: Top 8 contemporary (Peter Chu contemporary [Eastern/Asian])
“Breathing Below Surface”—Jesse Cook: Chehon (Miriam and Leonardo tango)
“Scream”—Kelis: Top 6 Sonya Tayeh Jazz
“Eli, Eli” (A Walk to Caseara)—Sophie Milman: Tyce Contemporary (Chehon and the suitcase)
“No Nothing”—Curtis & Reinhard feat. Blaire: Ray Leeper lyrical jazz (Witney’s wedding)
“When You’re Good to Mama” from Chicago: Eliana/Tiffany (Ray Leeper Burlesque/Broadway pole dance)
“Leave” from Once: Chehon (Stacey Tookie contemporary)

I’ve also determined a few possibilities based on the swing choices:

“That Man”—Caro Emerald
Jonathan Roberts foxtrot (Eliana as bored housewife)

This was a really cute number, and Matthew’s height and posture would be perfect for this.

“Badder Badder Schwing”—Freddy Fresh feat. Fatboy Slim
Mandy Moore jazz (Cyrus Fossesque piece)

Totally cute, and I could so see Amelia in this.

“The Lovecats”—The Cure
Amelia/Will – Hip-Hop “Character Pop”

All bashing regarding the Dumpster aside (come on, people! I’m sure they didn’t just dump the trash and pull it onstage….), this was the most fun number of the season. And since there’s not too many numbers Will was in that got spotlighted, AND this was a finale judges’ pick, this makes a bigger case for Amelia being a swing dancer.

“Romantic Inclinations/Like A Shot/Fury”—P. Mottram, S. Everitt, G. Shadid, T. – Meet The Top 20 Ballet
The number was straight up badass, and since they did the long shot thing with alternates last season, my fervent wish of seeing Daniel get a tour berth would come true.

“Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”—Nancy Sinatra or “Without You”—Harry Nilsson
Either of the Eliana contemporaries with Alex Wong

Bang Bang was selected for the finale, so I’m figuring either Chehon or Cole might have gotten tagged to do this one. Although George is a pretty awesome contemporary genius….

“Dance My Pain Away” (District 78 remix)—Wye Oak
Will (Dave Scott hip-hop)

If on the off-chance Amelia doesn’t show up on this tour (which is highly unlikely, IMO), each top 10 dancer has to get one of their duets to the stage, and this is the only other number that got a judges’ rave.

These are finale judges’ picks that I didn’t expect:

“My Homies Still”—Lil Wayne feat. Big Sean
Witney hip-hop w/ Twitch

This had the nerve to be catchy. Can’t figure out who would do it with her, ’cause Twitch is on a workshop tour right now.

“You Make Me Feel…” (Disco Fries remix)—Cobra Starship feat. Sabi
Tiffany disco (Brandon)

The only bit of disco this season, I could see them giving this to George.

“Unchained Melody”—The Righteous Brothers
Audrey/Matthew contemporary (Travis Wall “Titanic” piece)

A pick that would justify Matthew being on the tour.

“The Power of Love”—Celine Dion
Tiffany contemporary (Ade)

Epic overdramatic and contemporary. Usually a tour shoo-in. But with no Ade, it would probably go to Chehon for the strength factor involved in all those lifts.

“Like a Criminal”—District 78
Cyrus Animation (Twitch)

Totally awesome. But it’d have to be a solo–I can’t see ANYBODY out of the Top 20 doing this one, and unless Joshua or Russell are free, it ain’t happening.

I’ll have all my answers in 8 more days–if you’re nice to me, I’ll share them as soon as I get back. 😉

You Won’t Be Married Long If You… | Black and Married With – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

You Won't Be Married Long If You… | Black and Married With – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family.

And the beating, sadly, goes on…..

Today is GLAAD’s Spirit Day, to raise support for and awareness about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people–and specifically the bullying they endure. Since the 4 part bullying series I wrote revolving around the now defunct daytime drama One Life To Life, I have been collecting articles to write on–the sheer number of links and cases of escalating bullying activity and suicides has been overwhelming. I do plan to start posting on the subject again, because it’s THAT important. I have been reading this week about the entire sad saga of young Amanda Todd, and my heart continues to break for her and anyone suffering such severe mistreatment. Any traumatic experiences I had as a semi-ostracized teen pale so far in comparison that I wonder if I could survive being a teen in THIS age.

Something MUST be done. And I MUST do something. Let my voice be a start.

Let A Smile Be Your Umbrella–Just Don’t Poke Yourself In The Eye With It

So I went reading my blogfriends’ posts and came across this post from my Contrary sister from another mister about yet another interesting day in the life. Bemused, I felt compelled to comfort my sister princess in her hour of dismay:

Perhaps your smile brightened his day….unless he was implying that your teeth were yellow.

Hmmm….the genteel Southern lady in me will not allow for no greeting, and a smile qualifies as such. I shall have to come up with a chart for the proper smile wattage and correspondence panic reaction to given responses. You have given me a good idea there, Girl…..

Now pass those cookies…..

After imparting that royal bit of smartassery, I come across this bit of wisdom from a friend’s FB devotional:

Micah 6:8

New International Version (NIV)

8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

Great. Thanks, universe, for making me take this seriously.

I’m generally polite to people and employ either the smile or the head nod, because as I said–my Southern breeding won’t allow for anything less. And yet this current climate of being trusting and friendly could get you conned and/or ripped off….which leaves one being torn between being warm and cordial and being cautiously guarded against any and everyone. I mean, I’m an equal opportunity profiler–when it comes to my purse or my person, you could be an 82-year old blue-haired granny with a walker and one leg…I’m grabbing my purse tighter and giving you the side eye until I get safely to where I’m going. But couldn’t everyone use a little bright spot in their lives as well? Sometimes a gesture, a kind word, even a smile can go a long way to brightening a dark day.

*sigh* I guess I’ll continue to lean on my Southern Belle Home Training Kit. I just hope there’s no Thin Mint crumbs in my teeth.

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