peripheral land mines

my story isn’t singular. barely unusual.  but i find myself caught with some surprise when i feel that i have worked hard to have some control over my life (yes, i know..a laughable concept) and then get a little landmine that comes out of my side vision.  in fact, i bet that my experience is the norm…that all of us duck and weave through our lives and there are more little land mines than massive ones. 

i have been putting off getting my driver’s license renewed.  it’s simply that i hate dealing with administrative issues and i have been trying to be determined to start something and finish it completely – no matter how small the task.  so i decided that i could go to the dmv before my lunch date with my dear friend in manhattan and decided that i would go to the dmv at herald square (34th Street) before zipping up to the theater district.  i dutifully looked up the address and, in an end-of-summer-triumph, i rousted myself out of bed early and poured a hot cup of coffee down and threw myself on the ever-wonderful Q train.  plunkety-plunkety-plunk…like a well-honed-new yorker, i zigged and zagged and was up at the dmv quickly and efficiently.  except the website doesn’t tell you that if you are looking for a license renewal, you’d better schlep 3 blocks west (3 big east-to-west blocks) to the ‘license express’ office.  could i make the lunch date?  what if i haul my bum over there and find another very long line in which to wait.  but no, ‘finish every task’ felt fresh and new and important so off i went…long strides.  my town. 

surprisingly, the express license renewal office was exactly that.  i hesitate to talk about a city administrative office like this but it was easy and fast!  automated in the best sections and at every desk i walked up to, a nice smiling person to talk to. 

did the eye test and then came the little landmine.  did i want a new photo on my license?  i looked down at my soon-to-expire license.  a bad photo over 10 years old.  when i looked at it, i felt like it was a lifetime ago.  i used to look really hot and this photo must have been taken on one of my really bad miasma days.  then i thought up.  in a literal sense…to the top of my head. 

wow, this is a lot of writing and it seems like i’m avoiding the point.  i am.  it’s hard.  for all my general anxiety, i have a bull-dog attitude when i come up against things – tho i usually have to be right up against them … the runway to them has major anxiety and then at the last moment i’m very ‘get out of my way’.  so i slogged through chemo.  i read the breast cancer boards.  i asked lots of questions and visualized what was ahead.  i had a friend come with me when the nice wig lady shaved my head.  no stubble for me.  take it off.  – the struggle about wig vs. no wig isn’t something i can quite discuss yet, but i can say that it was no peripheral landmine that day…it was a straight hit.  i was unprepared to be bald.  i missed my hair with everything i had. i sobbed.  and then i dried my eyes. but, worse, in between chemo-induced menopause, estrogen-depriving tamoxifen and previously fine straight hair in my past, what came back was patchy and slow to grow.   i am grateful to minoxidyl and my doctor’s agreement to letting me use it (the other stuff is out because of my estrogen-based cancer).  3 and a half years later – no, not that storybook ‘a year later with a great perky short thick style’ – i have some semblance of my hair back.  3 and a half years.  jeez.   it’s as good as it’s going to get.  it’s fine but mostly covering.  i try not to stare at the very front where i used to have great bangs but now have straggly bangs and hope that other people don’t notice either.  i get it colored – first darker, then lighter, then streaked, then not.  i use goop…one small pea size of liquid goop and my hair -with some blowdrying – is passable.  one medium pea size of liquid goop and my hair looks like i have lanky clumps. 

yesterday, thankfully, was a ‘good’ hair day.  i used a little conditioner and it was soft and had easy movement and i glanced in the mirror at the dmv and thought: ‘yes, this is what i look like now.’  anxiety on the runway; get it done when i came up against it.   i have to let the old picture, the old me, go.  i am the new me.  get out of my way.


3 Responses to peripheral land mines

  1. Kathryn J says:

    I think that you are way too hard on yourself but understand the stress about pics and bad hair days. I’m glad the experience was at least completed efficiently, if not without stress, and that you were able to make the lunch date!

  2. Gannet Girl says:

    I just colored my hair for the first time in years, and mentioned to a friend that I thought I would go darker next time, closer to my “real” hair back “then”.

    “No,” she said firmly, “That was then, and this is now.”

    You are such an amazing woman, Bean. I used to be hot, too, but now we are both


    In every sense of the word.

  3. I like what Gannet Girl said. Brilliant – and you are amazing. I need to learn to accept what I look like now too.


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