Monday, February 19, 2007


Okay, yes, I’ve been in hiding lately. I’ve had good reasons and bad reasons. The first is that I couldn't figure out what I wanted to say about the ball. I know that some people would prefer that I say nothing, and some would prefer a scathing reproach for the whole social convention. I don't really feel like either is appropriate, so I'll just tell you what it was like.

Simons and I had a lovely time and danced until two something and then stayed up till three admiring me in my wedding dress (or maybe it was just me admiring me). It fit like a glove, by the way, even slightly better than at the wedding, when perhaps I had been doing too much comfort eating. (Doubtless that was the last time I shall ever wear it, and the trauma of taking it off necessitated about fourteen cell phone pictures, some of which got sent to Holly in a fit of drunk text messaging.)

The ball was preceded by a beautiful cocktail party, and it felt like walking into another time, what with Charleston’s carriage blocks out front and the chandeliers and the ball gowns in every hue and cut imaginable. I was forced to stand in a corner, since my dress is not, shall we say, maneuverable, and was stood upon numerous times, most particularly by my husband, who was extremely handsome in his tails. Extremely handsome. Did I mention that he was handsome? So, so, so handsome? He really was.

[cold shower]

Simons and his sweet father, who was positively on a TEAR with excited bossiness, fetched me water and hors d’oeuvres, so the trapped-in-the-corner thing worked out nicely. People came by and chatted and stood on my dress and brought snacks and I did not pour anything down my front, which was a miracle of genetic resistance. Several people took pictures that turned out too white, thanks to my enormous expanse of white satin -- I said to put it in "snow" mode, but would anyone listen? Finally, Simons' dad insisted on driving us the three block trip to the Hibernian. I really wanted to walk, since, although chilly, I had my black opera cloak (yessss, finally an opportunity to wear it) and being tossed into a car with your petticoats flung up around your ears is most undignified, but I was overpowered and stuffed with absolutely no ceremony into a small sedan and sat grumpily wishing I’d never agreed to any of it. That soon passed, fortunately.

The hall was resplendent with flowers, and gentlemen in tails waiting to escort the ladies to the powder room, to repair bustles and sashes, powder noses, tape bosoms and various such feminine activities. The funny part was being “corralled” afterwards while waiting for one’s escort to come fetch you, since ladies must not walk anywhere alone…I daresay we might take over the world otherwise. I did wonder, what happens if a husband and wife get in a fight on the way there? Can he just leave her in the powder room all night? Would she sit there, impotently gnashing her teeth, plotting revenge and pacing the corral like a rabid mustang? Simons and I didn't fight, so I never had to find out.

The dancing was lovely, despite all of the…ahem, dancers. They really should dispense with the foxtrotting. No one foxtrots anymore. The box step is hard enough for most men without adding a toe touch in there to muddle them even worse. The waltzing went much better. Since this was the first year they allowed divorcees to attend, it was quite a crush (don’t I sound like Danielle Steele?) and the Grand Cotillions a work of multiple logisticians, with curlicues and waves and much rustling of skirts and imperious sweeping about. One went on so long, the maestro played every single marching song he knew, from America the Beautiful to Yankee Doodle.

Mr. X and I lead the march into supper, which was superb. He and his bride had the whole table collapsing with laughter, with stories of her French pug’s day in court. I wish I had a recording. The champagne was excellent, and I trust I did not drink so much that I discredited myself. Sim and I returned to the dance floor, where I danced with the most charming young marine, who was one of those people who really listens when you speak, which means you can’t just prattle on with absurd small talk. After speaking to him, Simons looked completely embarrassed and said he realized the same thing halfway through and had to stop talking out of his ass and really say something meaningful. He thought he’d convinced the guy to become an architect, he was so genuinely interested in Simons’ conversation. We both felt a little humble that this nice, gentlemanly kid had already been to Falujah three times.

Anyway, that was the ball, and now you know as much about the whole affair as I do. Lots of people said stuff to me about my blog, none of it bad, although it made me fairly twitchy. But that’s not the reason I haven’t been blogging.

The reason I haven’t been blogging is that my doctor told me I might have cervical cancer. This sucks in more ways than I know how to count. First, the way she told me was rather unfortunate. Her nurse called at ten till seven, forgetting the time difference, and said, “Hi, it’s Ann, Dr. Baker’s nurse. Did you get her message about your precancerous test results?

And I said, “No.”

And she went on about biopsies and other scary words that equal death and pain and not being around to admire my husband’s dimples every morning, until it suddenly occurred to her that I had said No and that I meant No and that she was scaring the crap out of me. So she transferred me to the doctor who talked me off the ledge and said I was “precancerous” which is not the same thing as “cancerous” at all.

The other thing that stinks is that it is very hard to find a doctor one feels comfortable with, and now I have to find a second one out here. And this new doctor can’t even see me until March 1. I heartily disapprove of anyone who gives you shitty news and then won’t let you fix whatever is wrong for thirty days. It’s just unfair.

I’m feeling enormously defective and stupid and nervous and tense, and all of this must continue for another few weeks, which just sucks, sucks, sucks.

So it may be something bad. It may be fixable. It may be nothing at all. But I didn’t want to tell all of you people until I had told my mom. Because my mom loves nothing more than a crisis, and can become unbearably managing in the event of one. On occasion, she will invent a crisis where there is none, just so she can manage it with the utmost of efficiency. For those of us who are not nearly so efficient, but who are thirty years old and occasionally like to feel in control of our lives, her normally endearing disaster management talents can become, shall we say, eye-bleedingly annoying?

So…I had nothing to think or write about beyond this one issue, and was positively exploding with the need to talk about it, but couldn’t tell my mother, because she would read about it and then the managing would happen and then the tears and remorse and finally the multiple phone calls with “helpful” information from various doctors and researchers and strangers she had found to take care of the problem. I had just a scrap of rational brain matter to get on with work and breathing and trying not to feel defective without all that. So, I’m sorry you had to wait, but there it is. Mom knows, and Mom has gritted her teeth and pulled up her socks and is going to let me handle this, all the while being there, gently and silently panicking, which I am grateful for….the being there part, not the panicking. Because although I said she loves nothing more than a crisis, I reckon she does. She loves me more.

Anyway, I'm sorry you had to wait, but I had good reason.


Marcheline said...


Thanks for that scintillating review of the ball - I felt almost as if I was there in the crowd, watching you waltz! Very romantic, the whole thing - even the corral.

Re: "precancerous"... I got the same results from a test many years ago, and it turned out to be nothing. I think the doctors flag anything slightly abnormal so that they can keep an eye on it, in case it turns bad.... which doesn't mean it ever will. I'm sure they've told you that already, but I just wanted to let you know that there are those of us out here who have gone through the same thing. Keep your chin up, and use the experience to make you very, very good at enjoying your husband's dimples every single day.

Every day is a gift, so sometimes being reminded of the finite quality of our life here can wake us up to the smallest, most extraordinary beauties that surround us.

- M

ChrisAW said...

Delurking (sent by NBB) to say I was diagnoised with a crazy cervical caner at 29 and made it through. There is a lot of playing room with the "pre" stuff and I will keep my fingers crossed that it turns out to be not cancer. If, however, it is, there are a lot of options and resources out there and even more of us who have been there, done that. I'm happy to pass any of it along if you find you need it-

The Sorority said...

A couple of my sisters received the same info from an annual exam and we learned as Marcheline said that 'precancerous' is quite vague and marks anything that is an anomoly for further observation. Both of them received the all clear as will you - I just know it. Stay positive and remember that your dimpled husband and sweet puppy love you very much.

By the way, loved the Ball description and you both looked FAB! What a great way to get another wear out of your wedding dress.


Stepping Over the Junk said...

Yes, it is good reason. Yet, no reason to talk or write when you feel like not, no matter the reason, eh? You're a beautiful girl and am sure you have a wonderful support system in your family, husband and friends. Let people comfort you, bitch with you, help you, no matter what. And let yourself feel scared, mad, relief...whatever it is. Go through the process and steps it takes to take care of it, make sure YOU ask every question imaginable and educate yourself and talk to docs and people and that will help you too. I'm hoping for you that it is a small thing, or nothing, really, thoughts are with you...

Anonymous said...

Ok -- don't panic. I got the same news, with the same scary words -- about six or seven years ago. After a procedure to biopsy the cells, I was good to go, without any problems, just the inconvenience of being on the six-month checkup plan instead of the annual for a year or two. Feel free to e-mail me if you want gory details.

It'll be fine. It really will.

You look absolutely beautiful in your dress -- glad the ball was fun.

barbie2be said...

oh, jem! i can completely understand your not wanting to write. that is a lot to think about. the good news is that they have caught it at the "pre" cancerous stage. hang in there!

i loved your recap of the ball. it sounds like it was a blast.

a million years ago when i was a rainbw girl we used to have big parties after installation of officers and we would get to wear hoop skirts and formals. it was such fun to spend the evening dancing away on the arm of some dashing young demolay boy.

Anonymous said...

I've gotten the same diagnosis - as has my sister, my two best friends, and her two best friends. All six of us had the biopsy, some more than once (not a big deal - more emotionally scary than physically painful), and all six of use were ultimately given the all-clear (though most of us are still on the every-3 or every-6 month regimen, which really isn't that big a deal). Keeping my fingers crossed yours goes the same.


ps Your dress? Breathtaking. I think you've sold me on getting one with a sash.

Daily Tragedies said...

Yup, been there, done that, have the emotional scars to prove it. (My doctor, after repeated attempts, finally got ahold of me on December 30 and ended the phone call with "don't let this ruin your weekend." Yes, sure thing, I'm GOING TO DIE, but I won't let this news ruin my weekend.)

But! That was nearly a year ago and I got a clean bill of health on my last visit. Hang in there. I prescribe for you lots and lots of wine.

NotSoccer Mom said...

hey, here via barbie and holly.

love, love, love your dress.

oh, and you might research some herbs, etc., before submitting to a cone biopsy or anything like that. just my two cents. good luck.

Moose said...

I got that phone call. The "just because I'm calling you at work and using the word 'cancer' doesn't mean there's any reason to be alarmed" call. Cue: panic attack, deep breathing, and a near miss with yelling "I'm quitting because I have cancer and am going to die!" across the room at my boss. I got the biopsy - it was a bit unpleasant, especially with the three students peering in, but ultimately not bad at all. I have my six month check up in a couple of weeks.

Sorry, this was meant to be about you. Namely, if you want to commiserate with someone who knows what that call is like and isn't out of the woods yet (though, as woods go, I don't think either of us are in too much trouble), just say the word.

Horrible Warning said...

You looked so amazing. The dress did fit perfectly.

The waiting is the worst part. It seems like you have fifty million tests and get poked and and prodded and don't get anywhere, all while no one seems to get that you are losing your ever loving mind.

Whatever the answer is (fingers and toes crossed for cancer free, of course), you and Simons will handle it together.

Anonymous said...

I never comment; always lurk, but this ... is important. I went through the whole precancer shtick about 4 years ago and it was in all honesty one of the worst periods in my life. Had I not been so terrified and horrified, I would have spoken to my girlfriends - and found out that ALMOST EVERY SINGLE D*MN ONE had practically the same thing. Go, get your biopsy and cervix scrape -you may have to go back more than once, and it's not terribly comfortable, but you will NOT get cancer. It only turns into cancer when it goes unchecked for years. You will be fine, I promise promise promise you. Also, find a doctor who can talk to you without scaring the holy h*ll out of you - I switched midway through my treatment and it was as if someone had injected me with Xanax, I felt so much better. Just keep going until you find one you like. Seriously ... you will be fine, as awful as it is right now.

Jennifer said...

I am so glad we got to hear about the ball. I was afraid it was going to be off limits after you were outed. Ugh... people talking about your blog? I HATE that. It's so uncomfortable.

I also HATE the terrible way you had to hear the medical news, and the news itself. I am glad all these other commenters have real experience and their experience seems to indicate that this will be OK... but yikes. My stomach sank when I read it. I hope everything is OK, SOON!

Jill said...

LOVED the pic!!! So glad you posted, I've been checking for you! Sorry about all the crap. I have been there. Sending hugs.

Mrs. R. Belle said...

I was checking in to see if there was a post about the ball. I am really sorry about the test results, and am hoping that they are wrong or that it is nothing.
Divorcee's at the ball? I know nothing about this ball and yet I bet I know a divorcee that was there! Small world!