Category Archives: nude


 Navigating a cancer diagnosis that has a surgical intervention is pretty complicated. In the case of breast cancer  the mastectomy or lumpectomy scar is right there for you to look at, it is hard to hide from, even in a case where the patient has opted to get reconstruction. 
Girly bits, the lower ones, cancer is a little different. 
Both breast and cervical cancer are traditionally considered women’s cancer (though men can and do get breast cancer). Our breasts and vagina’s are the most obvious parts of what makes us women (yes, yes, yes, aside from all that inside touchy-feely kind of stuff).
I have not had breast cancer, but I used to sit on a board for an organization that served women who had breast cancer, and as such I heard a ton of stories. Women’s sexuality, for many of us, are tied up in our boobs.
Are they small. Are they big. What kind of nipples. Do they sag. Do they perk. 
People we, as women, love intimately, typically love them.
I can’t imagine the mental turmoil surrounding losing your breasts.
I know too well the psychological turmoil in losing your lower girly bits.
For starters, here is a pictorial cartoon like representation that I took from the ethers about what those girly bits look like. I would have used actual body parts, but really, it can be hard to tell from something like a medical school cadaver image. 
It should not be a surprise to anyone that I owned these parts. These parts are also part of what made me a girl. Aside from boobs and all that other stuff. Gender identity… I believe that is the new buzzword.

This is me, before the surgery.
So, below is a picture of me after the surgery. I had to use some fancy apps on my phone to remove those parts which I had removed. But this is all that is left inside me. Most of my vagina. And my ovaries. Everything else was taken out. My uterus – OUT. My cervix – OUT. My Fallopian Tubes – OUT. There were some other things that got taken out too; lymph nodes, tissue… but those aren’t girly bits.  Oh, and you may be wondering what is up with my ovaries. For now, since I plan on asking my oncologist about them at the next meeting, I just imagine that he blinged them up and hung them on my ribs  or something once he separated them from my uterus and Fallopian tubes. I imagine that they are dangling like a disco ball for my abdominal region (what seems to have gotten big enough to play host to an CRAZY internal organ dance party).
This is me after.
But this is my trying to make light of something that is far more serious. My scar from this surgery is on my abdomen. It has not really exemplified what exactly happened to me. 
I had all those parts removed. My vagina was shortened. 
For the past 5 months, I have been terrified to think about what my new body was like. I knew and celebrated it being cancer free, but it changed. it changed in ways that make it very obvious.  
But these are things I cannot see. And because I can’t see what my new vagina was like, I had created horrible images. These were courtesy of words like scar tissue and granulation that were tossed my way in my post surgical exams. 
Those are not pretty words, images of keloid and granulation in my mind as to what my new vagina looked like. I had images of puckers tough tissue reminiscent of the ears that a bullfighter cuts from a bull.  In my head, my new vagina was hideous. I was ashamed and horrified.
So, finally, after five months. I got up the courage to take a feel and see what it was like.
It wasn’t hideous to the touch, there were no areas of puckered keloid tissue with granulation that I could identify. The tissue was smooth, taut, moist. Just what it should be, though missing the nose tip of a cervix.
I cried with a sense of relief.

It was the best of thoughts, it was the worst of thoughts

“I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

Oh Kierkegaard… somehow, I have come to imagine that should you have become in this more modern current era, that  I would have considered you to be something akin to a tragic hipster with an ironic mustache in a constant state of existential angst. (wink)

I have been walking. A lot. 

Actually, it is better said if I write that; 

WE have been walking. A lot. 

For me it came about because of a new bra.  I hate shopping, and I hate buying under garments. I actually love pretty underthings, I just hate trying them on for “fit”… but brassieres, like all good things… go wrong and new ones must be purchased.

So, off I go and find myself moving in to larger and larger sizes… which is the horror of shopping to me,

FINALLY, I find three bras that fit and have some element of being pretty and sexy and are not useless pieces of lace sewn together to no viable effect but are not something that were solely designed to be “sturdy” or “durable”  which renders me positively grateful, because I still recall the days when I spent way too much money on really beautiful undergarments…  and so, I purchase them.

Then I get them home, and start the mad dash to remove tags… only to find myself actually reading the tags like I were at the breakfast table wasting away my morning by reading a cereal box.

The damn tag said  “full figured”.

I have never been full figured in my life.

I have even made jokes that the bowl part of a champagne  coupe was not designed after the beloved breasts of Marie Antoinette, but mine!  

Champagne coupe

That is not a full figured size.

This is full figured:

Full Figured Champagne Bowl (and not an accurate reflection of my current bra size)

Except, that is, when I was breast-feeding and had breasts that must have been GG’s (double G!?!?!?!), it was impressive and shocking!

So, anyway, as I am won’t to do and why I hate shopping I sank in to a funk and realized that I probably weighed way  too much and that I needed to turn my “full figure” into that figure I had some pride in. 

So, I proposed a walk to my dear husband, and he accepted. 

And so, it has been a few weeks now and we have managed to walk quite a bit. We walk about in a park near our home which offers us an clean 7 kilometer walk (4.5 miles) and 8 km if we move a bit around the neighborhood on the way home.

It has been an interesting time for us as we have gotten to know each other a bit better in the dynamic that kind of time together warrants (it can be around 90 minutes of walking).

But the other benefit is that it has given me time to mull the stories in my head for the story (book, hopefully?) that I am trying to write. It has given me clarity in how to get to the subtle nuances of the experiences I am basing some of the stories that I want to include, in to the story.

The story is in the Third person, but in writing the background pieces I find that am more often defaulting to using First person… it has been interesting to note that the shift in narrator has come about as I walk. Maybe it is because this is in an effort to own the personal experiences and so I can more cleanly reflect where the stories need to move in to the realm of magic realism.

So, these walks are helping me move away from being the full figure I so despise in myself in a physical manner, and yet are profoundly helping me make my life experiences become “full figured” in a allegorical manner for the stories I am writing.

The even better part of all this walking and writing is that I can see more clearly see who it is that I am… as a person (even if I currently have to wear full figured bras). 

For some creative twits (I think it is much funnier to call them twits, than tweets): 
Click Here

Sylvia should have taken more baths. – 39/40

Last night I found myself with a disarming amount of time left to myself. It was a heady luxury I am not often given chance to enjoy. I had dishes in the sink, and laundry to be done, work to finish, some writing to do… but I happened across a tub of olive oil hair mud and I decided ti was time to treat myself. Mainly because I had also touched the skin on my face and noticed it felt like sandpaper (ugh).

So, I pulled out the olive oil hair mud, my super expensive shampoo and conditioner samples, my facial scrubs, my facial masks and proceeded to fill up my bath with hot, hot, hot water. 

I set my iPad off to the side and pulled up the Netflix app. 

Now, normally I would get myself a glass of red wine to accompany me through the luxurious journey on which I was about to embark. But, I gave up alcohol for lent, so I prepared a nice BIG cup of hot peppermint tea with cream and honey.

I lit candles, started my show, and got in the water.

Not my actual tub, but this is how I like to do this, April gets it

That moment when I was all in, when I leaned back against the back of the tub, when I just let go… was fabulous. I looked at the way the candlelight reflected of the water, and my skin and felt beautiful. I sat in the tub for 40 minutes just listening, being quiet, occasionally glimpsing the movie playing off to my side. I was as present for that bath as one can get. I was mindful of the luxury of something like this in my over-watered desert. I considered the molecules and how the fatty acids were reacting with alkali (way too simple of an explanation, but its base is there).

I reached a point when I was content, in the way that contentment can be brief but completely satisfactory.

I reached for the hair and skin accouterments and proceeded to make my skin and hair silky smooth.

I washed and rinsed my hair and put some more hot water in the tub, and sat for another forty-five minutes. 

It was the best two hours I have spent on myself in along time.

“I am sure there are things that can’t be cured by a good bath but I can’t think of one.”
~ Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Pieces of Modesty – 32/40

In high school, one of My Boys, handed me a book and told me I would really like it. And he most certainly was not wrong. The book was The Xanadu Talisman.

If there is a book that was ever life changing for me it was this. I loved it, and I loved it intensely. Modesty Blaise was everything I felt I was not, but could be.

Here, look at some images of how she has been depicted.

She was strong, sexy, independent but not too much so… her best friend was a guy, she was bad and turned good… in short to my teen brain she was fabulous. I began reading every single book. But what had happened after the first one is that I had discovered my alter ego. And I was over the moon. 

I worked on my eccentric skill set – I began to practice all sorts of different things; lock-picking, knife throwing, and different types of sword fighting, I started dressing in black and worked to find ways to wear weapons in my hair. I would not say I was obsessed, but there is that part that when I needed courage to be more outgoing, that I would adapt my version of her personality.

I mean, look at her:

Thankfully, I did not love her enough to try to become her, just head that direction. 

As I get older, I am becoming more aware on the probabilities behind why I may have chosen her as a role model. It is rooted in wanting to have that amount of confidence. 

Maybe I should invoke her a little more often.

Public indecency at the PTO – 2/40

When one sets upon a road of public self discovery they can be forced to the point of such intense personal inquiry that the vulnerability can be painful.

Most bloggers ride lazily and slowly around the circumference of such a truthful self-examination. A few of those who do rise to the challenge face the best parts, and a smaller portion of those will lovingly wrap the worst in to gentle little packages to make dealing with them easier and bring them out slowly and carefully into our cruel world.

My life was changed because of a PTO. This same PTO changed the lives of four of my friends and my brother as well, it changed the lives of all of our parents, and so many others. It involved a well loved, by some, principal who chose what I believe to be lust over the lives of some of his students and volunteers, and has come to include a series of relationships that I can never understand… and some that I will always treasure.

Three parents joined the PTO, they were supportive of the education that their children were receiving… little did they know how much it would change their lives, and the lives of the children they were trying to support.

While I can lament how much that all changed me and my friends, I think that I need, instead, is to be grateful that I came from that experience with a level of compassion that I would love to believe is much deeper and can be tied directly from the cumulative effects  of the choices the adults made in that group.

Two women and one man, their lives and the lives of their kids, burdened and yet enriched by the painful choices of those they loved.

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of getting naked in public.” 
~ Paulo Coelho