It’s spring in the Midwestern United States – which means “Severe Weather” season.  Which also means “Local Television Stations Jack-up Ratings Through Alarmist Fear Mongering” season.  A storm ten counties away is “Breaking News”.  Annual segments on “Tornado Preparedness” are broadcast.  Recommended “Tornado Safety Kit” items posted online at television station websites.
If the local news channels devote this much bandwidth to an issue, then by the Glory of Idiocracy, this must be serious fucking ju-ju!
Coincidently, it’s also “daisyfae Gets Cranky With Storm Pussies” season. 
Mom was a Level Five* Storm Pussy.  With the threat of thunderstorms, we were forced to stay indoors.  She held watch at the windows, television blaring, clinging to the latest updates.  With the advent of weather radio, she monitored the static-encrusted drone of the invisible weatherman as he described ‘a line of severe thunderstorms’ a hundred miles away.
She would bemoan the fact that we didn’t have a basement for safe shelter.  Pace and wring her hands, jumping with each flash of lightning, clap of thunder or ping of a hail stone.  Massive amounts of energy spent on the endeavor of ‘worry’.  Zero energy spent doing anything useful – such as locating flashlights in case of power failure or filling a jugs with water. Since our water was supplied via electric well pump, we couldn’t even flush the toilet without electricity.   That might have been helpful.
She had no plan to respond to an actual, honest-to-fucking-god tornado**.  Listen, watch, pace, wring, bemoan.  Repeat as necessary.
Growing up with this, i acquired storm anxiety.  It stayed with me until i took my first Probability and Statistics course.  Maybe it was an example tossed out by an instructor, or just conversations with my very rational husband, but i realized it was extremely unlikely that i’d ever suffer ill effects due to weather.
In “Freakonomics”, the authors take a run at this phenomena.  Even though we are FAR more likely to die of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and auto accidents, humans are irrationally worried about “death by windstorm”.  The authors discuss our natural propensity to be less afraid of things we control.  You are more likely to die in a car than an airplane***, but we fear flying because we’re not in control. 
Fast forward a few decades.  Mom still has storm anxiety – as do all of my siblings****.  i have learned to place myself into a “mental bunker” and not respond when they start yammering about scary weather, and death from the skies. 

Unfortunately, i still haven’t learned to do this on facebook.
With the first storm of the season upon us, i saw a dozen postings regarding weather.  Not limited to just theater people, or high school friends who grew up with me, there was no single representative demographic.  Unable to restrain myself, i went to several of these threads and posted the following:

over your lifetime, the odds of dying of heart disease are 1:5, cancer 1:7, stroke 1:23, auto accident 1:100… tornado? 1:60,000

math. trust it. oh, and we probably need to rethink the bacon… damn it.

(reference here)

Not surprisingly, this was completely ignored.  What?  Facts and figures?  It seemed to be a buzzkill, as several active commentary threads shut down after i hoarked up data.
It finally occurred to me that there’s more to this baseless fear.  Being scared is fun – that’s what gets our asses on roller coasters, our butts in theaters for zombie flicks and why humans jump out of perfectly good airplanes for sport.  When you’re afraid?  You KNOW you’re alive…
Who am i to deny people the chance to feel a rush of blood coursing through their veins?  The thrill of staring down death – and surviving to fear another day?
i give up.  Back to trying to teach my fucking dog to sing…


* That is an SP-5 on the “Sucks at Math” scale.

** It was her youngest child who eventually came up with a “tornado safety plan”.  Based on the annual “Spring Tornado Preparedness” drills at my elementary school, i wrote it all down – when I was about 10 years old.  “Open windows.  Grab blankets from bedrooms.  Close doors to bedrooms and bathroom.  Shelter in hallway.”  She didn’t seem that interested in the plan – told me that what we really needed was a basement.
***  They do their math by “deaths per mile traveled over a lifetime”.  The risks are fairly even…  Smarter statistics.  That’s why they are two very rich men (i hope).
**** Florida sister has weathered several hurricanes.   Her ‘disaster preparedness’ methods are pretty solid by now.  “Go to liquor store.  Put up storm shutters.  Drink.  Repeat as necessary.”


One of the nice things about having breast cancer is that for the rest of your life you visit your oncologist every year. Sort of like having a “cancer-stalking ninja” sitting on your shoulder. During my annual mammogram two weeks ago, an ‘area of concern’ was spotted in my right tit*. Biopsy was recommended.

It wasn’t a tumor, just a cluster of microcalcifications.  These are normally scattered throughout the breast and are of no concern unless they cluster.  Even if clustered, they are usually just indicative of pre-cancerous cellular abnormalities, and generally don’t evolve into invasive cancer.

Bottom line?  It was no big deal.  Even if it was bad, it wasn’t bad. 

So the biopsy was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.  Both of my children, and the two friends i told about it, offered to drive me to the appointment, but i declined.  Hopped in the jeep after lunch and drove myself to the hospital.  No big deal.  Local anesthetic is used for a stereotactic biopsy, and there is no concern about driving post-procedure. 

The stereotactic biopsy is the first approach attempted in such a case.  When the little nuggets are that small, sometimes a wire-localization surgical biopsy is required.  More extensive, still local anaesthetic, and good to avoid if possible.

Joking with the medical staff, i reminded them that these are the Model Year 2007 Bionic Twins we’re dealing with… The objective was to get something for pathology without mashing it into a thumbless mitten…  Given the size and location of the clump, the doc wasn’t sure he’d be able to get it.  The staff prepared me for several attempts, and said it might take an hour to just find it.  It took a full 90 minutes of x-ray imaging before the doc could do the core biopsy. 

That’d be 90 minutes with me lying face down on a hard table, tit through a hole, and strategically crushed between two plates.  While not painful, it wasn’t particularly comfortable.  “Don’t move!”  Right.  i stayed as still as i could.  The doctor, knowing that i was getting stiff, reached up to reassure me, placing his hand squarely on my left ass cheek.  Not sure he realized it… but i still didn’t move**.  Given that the doc was pretty sure we’d have to go back for a wire-localization, i was relieved that he was able to get a sample for pathology.

The doctor and staff said that i had been an ideal patient.  Relaxed, flexible and tolerant – with a fairly high threshold for discomfort.  Otherwise, they said, they’d have referred me for the wire-localized surgical biopsy.

When it was over, i wandered back out the the parking lot*** on a gorgeous autumn day, sucking in the fresh humidity-free air and drinking in the high-pressure blue sky.  Hopped back in my jeep. 

“i am one badass motherfucker” was the random thought that popped into my head…

When i went through the process almost three years ago, i went to all of my appointments and procedures alone.  With the random thought that flashed in my head, i finally realized why i do it this way.  It provides the illusion of power and control.  It makes me feel strong. 

The reality?  i was just as scared on that table as any other human being.  Even though my rational mind knew it wouldn’t be bad, it’s fucking scary.  So i rationalize it into a nice corner, tell myself i’m strong and in control of things and that i’m a badass motherfucker.

Always comes back to that amazing quote, uttered by Jeff Goldblum in “The Big Chill”:

Sam Weber: Nothing’s more important than sex!
Michael: Oh yeah, have you ever gone a week without a rationalization?

Got the call from my oncologist last night with good news:  negative.  So no further need for cutting or cooking my perky and healthy right tit.

Once again, i want to remind all of you ladies to get your mammograms.  The microcalcifications are the size of a grain of salt, and they are distinctly visible on a digital mammogram.  Isn’t that amazing?  Sometimes they can see the fucking cancer BEFORE it’s cancer.  Yeah, it hurts to put your tit in a vise once a year.  So what? 

Excuses are like assholes – everyone’s got one.  Just go do it.


* Pardon the medical jargon…  i’m a self-taught professional.

** Had he been anywhere near as hot as the orthopaedic surgeon who did my knee surgery, i might have jumped him…

*** i got dressed first…

Fear and loathing

Conversation with Mom this week, while taking her to the cardiologist.

Mom:  You’re looking thinner.  Are you eating?

daisyfae:  Yep.  Good stuff.  i’ve just been hitting the workouts harder.  Took the bike out for an hour last night after work and pounded it pretty hard…

Mom:  Do you ride alone?

daisyfae [knowing where she’s going with this]:  Sometimes.  But it’s safe – tons of people out, i carry my phone, populated areas near the trail.  Besides, i ride with a .44 Magnum in my bike shorts…

Mom:  What?

daisyfae:  Just kidding.  That’s S*…

Mom:  Well, you know there was a woman attacked down here a few weeks ago.  She was out jogging, and just nodded to a man running the other way.  He turned around and followed her, hit her in the head with a stick, dragged her off in the woods and raped her…

daisyfae:  i’m careful, Mom.  i maintain good situational awareness, have common sense and besides… i ride pretty fast these days!

Mom:  Well, i just worry about you.  A woman living alone has to be careful…

daisyfae:  i’m fine!  i sleep with a baseball bat under my bed, and have a 24″ blade under my night stand.

Mom:  Is that a knife?  Wouldn’t that only be good at close range?  They say most people are afraid to use knives when attacked…

daisyfae:  If there’s someone in my bedroom that i don’t want in my bedroom, i am quite certain that i’d have no trouble making some cuts…

Mom:  I just worry about you.  All alone…

daisyfae:  i won’t spend my life locked in a bunker, vibrating with fear, waiting for a troupe of psycho-rapists to skin me and wear my junk as a ‘girl suit’!  Mom, a life lived in fear is not a life lived.  [pauses to let it theoretically sink in]  Have i mentioned that i’m going to Mexico next month to do some drift diving off the coast?

I think i left the stove on...

I think i left the stove on...

* My oldest sister, S, has a concealed carry permit.  So do many people in my state.  They may feel safer… but the knowledge that a people in my neighborhood (let alone my family) who may not be all that bright are packin’ heat makes ME afraid.

Habi-trailer park?


i’ll be in The Park for a couple days…. Mom’s scheduled for heart catheterization today.  It’s an outpatient procedure, but highly recommended that someone spend the night. 

The plan from my family members was to have DQ, Jr. stay over.  That would be the 13 year old.  On a school night.  My sister, S, was the other option, but she’s had the flu, so that was off the table.

I’ll be spending the night there, under a pile of cheap plastic crap, in a recliner in Mom’s living room, being nibbled by fleas.  And thinking about that nice, puncture wound in her femoral artery… i hate puncture wounds. 

But it will keep my mind off the spiders circling my head…

the ice storm cometh…

If you believe the news stations, you’d think a frosty Armageddon is nigh… Classic shots of brave reporters, bundled in artic gear, standing next to piles of salt in road maintenance facilities.  Interviews with rugged locals sharing survival tips, steeling themselves against ‘death from the skies’.

Fortunately, i know better. And despite the fact that i haven’t been to the grocery in over a month, and there is nothing in the house to eat except a 3 month old, half-eaten box of frosted wheat cereal, stale granola bars, and some Milk Bone shrapnel even the dog won’t eat, i’m not in a panic.

Unfortunately, the store shelves are under assault!  Not only the grocery stores, but drug stores, hardware stores and even the Quick-e-Marts are being stripped clean by blue-haired old ladies frantic to stockpile goods before the storm hits.

Fortunately, I am clever and lazy.  I called out for enough pizza delivered to my door (which i answered in my bathrobe) – that i can survive for 3-4 days if required.  Oh, and i have beer and a full bar.  Forgot to mention that part… pretty important in the decision-making process.

Unfortunately, the prediction is for 1/4″ of ice, followed by 4″ of snow.  Nothing moves on ice, even the 4WD fucktard-mobiles.  Always fun to see them skidding out of control on ice.  Arrogant, stupid bastards…

Fortunately, given that weather forecasts are ratings-motivated, computer-generated hallucinations filmed in front of a green screen, we’ll likely get about 6 hours of rain and wind… with a temperature around freezing. 

So, stay tuned!  Will daisyfae end up spending a weekend alone with the dog, drinking beer and gnawing on scraps of fossilized pizza? Will the power go out, forcing her to pull out the gas-powered generator she cleverly keeps in the garage?

Um…I just don’t have any gasoline on hand to run it.  And yes, i could theoretically siphon gas from one of the shitmobiles… if they weren’t both on “E”.

(note to self: get shit together. notify media if i do…)


Winter storm update: Breaking news — despite the best efforts of the media to make something happen, through strategic geographic placement of staff, wearing artic gear, the final result was a short period of ice (between 2am and 3am).  This was followed by about 3 hours of rain… A few accidents in the middle of the fucking night, but nothing caught on tape, suitable for replay on endless loop for the entire season. 

Bottom line – an aura of faux relief on the morning news shows, barely masking bitter disappointment… no regional emmy awards for storm coverage likely from this one.  And i will not have to eat pizza for three days.  Ha!

What bugs me…

When asked what i’m afraid of, the answer is always the same:  outliving my children.  It won’t matter if i’m 90 and they are in their 60’s, it’s simply the worst thing i can think of…

Typically, this statement is met with a “whoa… that’s heavy.” response.  It also has a serious buzzkill effect if some poor bastard happens to ask me that at a party.  But, if the questioner hasn’t run away, i always follow up with “oh, yeah.  that and spiders.”

Sometimes you have to stick around for the punchline…

A good friend shared an e-mail she got from her husband, with the subject line “must be shared…”.  His additional comment was “because no one likes to have nightmares alone.” 

I just liked that turn of a phrase… and liked this link even more!  It’s a shame that science class isn’t taught this way – we’d have fewer dropouts.  

Fortunately, it’s about insects and not spiders.  I can deal with the 6-legged types.  But add two more legs?  I’m on a chair screaming…

warning – there’s some gnarly stuff in the link, especially the videos.  not recommended for the squeamish…