Taking my shirt off… Of Scars


Last night was THE night for Of Scars.. It was wonderful and terrifying all at the same time.  It was energizing and exhausting at the same time.  It was happy and sad…  most of all, it was a wonderful event where I met many amazing people.

I knew the founders Kate and Elli going into the event and I thought it would be great meeting the other models, and I was right.  Their energy, drive, compassion and sense of humor made the decision to participate and the photo shoot itself easy for me.

For most women, being photographed topless for a public event is well beyond their comfort zone.  When you have only one boob, it’s beyond your comfort planet.  But, in a weird way for me, it was exactly what I needed to do.

We all know what society says about boobs… men and women talk about them on a regular basis, praising, judging, commenting, complaining about them until sometimes it seems like all you hear is talk about juggs… in fact, someone went so far as to find 262 different terms we use to describe them.  As a culture, we’re obsessed with them.

I’m a big girl with a DD cup on the right and nothing on the left.  I have two different fake boobs, one of which is smaller than it should be because my insurance company considers the product that makes one in my size a “luxury item”… yep, being symmetrical is a luxury now… thankfully, they will cover two (there’s logic there someplace)… a regular one and a swim boob and the swim boob is actually my size.

But… back to last night…

My photo shoot was in June – so I had plenty of time to wonder how the photos would turn out.  I was also pretty sure that most of the other models had been reconstructed, so I was likely to be the only one-boobed woman on the walls.  I trusted Kate and Elli to pick beautiful photos because I’d seen examples of their work — and I knew them.  I also couldn’t help but worry that the event itself would be like one of those dreams where you show up for school without your pants. It was far, far from that.

The wonderful thing about Of Scars is that they only display the photos once — when all the models can be there.  So, you look at an amazing photo of a bald woman with scared boobs and then you turn around and talk to the real person.  You meet the friends that were in the photo with her, who shaved their heads on the internet to raise money to help her pay for treatment — you laugh, you drink wine and you complain about the ubiquitous pink ribbons coming up for Breast Cancer Awareness month.  When you say something like “you can’t even fricking buy CAT FOOD that doesn’t have a pink ribbon on it” — they get you… At one point I went to the neighborhood Super America and saw pink and white TIC TACS…. (note, saw, didn’t buy) — when I came back to the event and told one of my fellow models this, she just rolled her eyes…

There was a lot that was overwhelming about last night…

  • Walking into the gallery and seeing my photo was kind of like the first time I had the courage to look at myself  in the mirror after my surgery… I looked at my photos out of the corner of my eye at first, then when I realized the world wasn’t going to stop revolving — I looked again, long and hard.  I saw a beautiful woman with courage she didn’t know she had… until cancer.
  • I found myself telling my cancer narrative in a new way.  I’m now 4 years+ post diagnosis and my life has changed in many, many ways.  What has really changed is my level of compassion for other people.  Everyone has faults, some physical, some intellectual, some personal — some we can see and others we can’t.
  • At one point in the evening the gallery was really crowded — all of those folks spent part of their Saturday night to look at a photo of me without my shirt on… many, many, many of them told me I was beautiful.  For someone who is used to being the smart one, not the pretty one, it was a lot to take in — and, they were seeing one of my big faults — and saying it anyway.
  • My photos showed peace and courage… one of each… and that’s about right.  I’m at peace with losing my breast — and I am a courageous person.  I’m doing my thing and enjoying life.  period.



Doing what you can do to help…

I’m part of the “Of Scars” project… this link is to the sneak peak with my photo, if you want to look…

As many of you know, I’m not all about the pink ribbons… cripes, it takes months for the stock of cat food, paper towels, diet coke and all the other stuff that carries pink ribbons on the packaging to go away… It’s kind of icky for me to think about.

Yes, I had (technically, have, but not active.. yadda, yadda, yadda) breast cancer.  Yes I appreciate all the folks who are supportive.  Yes, for sure, I’m glad I don’t live in a time when breast cancer was something shameful… yep, I get that.

What I also get is that I can, in my own way, do something to help other women facing breast cancer.  The “Of Scars” project is part of that.  I do it by being open about my experience.  By telling people that I only have one boob attached… by talking about chemo, the good and the bad… and by talking about how having cancer changed my outlook and life goals.

“Of Scars” is a photography project that intrigued me when I first heard about it.  This will be the third event — so, the first one was about a year after I really noticed that October was pink ribbon hell.  I was sick of the whole thing and dreading the month all together.  If I could have run away to the north woods until November 1, I would have.

Along came my first contact with “Of Scars” — a project celebrating the women who have the scars — the whole women who live, love, laugh, cry, raise kids, get married and divorced, along with the rest of us.  I was one of them at that point.  I got it — I’m more than my scar.  My scar is nothing to be ashamed of.  It’s like a tattoo to commemorate a part of my life.  I knew then that I wanted to be involved… but, for some reason I couldn’t make it to the event.

I eventually became facebook friends with Kate and Eli via the “Of Scars” facebook page — so I saw their call for models after the second event… and I was all over that.  This year, I’m part of the event..

The cool thing about the event is that the images are only displayed for one evening — and the women in the images are at the event.  So, you look at the images then you see the real, live, women laughing and enjoying life… because, that’s what we do, we enjoy life.

I can’t think of a better way to set my perspective straight about pink ribbon hell… This year I’ll try to see every gross commercialization of a scary time in my life as representing a woman or her loved ones who have joined the pink ribbon sorority…

A small business begins…


Today we’re starting a framing shop… officially.

We have a tax id number, we’ll have a business bank account and soon we’ll have a relationship with the supplier…

So, if you need stuff framed — let us know.

Academics run Amok…


Dean Dad, among others, has posted about a conflict at a community college in Queens.

The gist of it is that the CUNY system has decided to act to standardize curriculum in order for students to more easily transfer between colleges in the system.  Part of the change was to make freshman comp 3 credits.  The English department in Queens declined to make the change, their Academic Vice-President reacted by saying that those courses would no longer be offered and the consequences would be significant reductions in the number of faculty necessary to teach English.

Dean Dad’s read on it, in part, is that one small part of the system shouldn’t be permitted to nullify a system-wide change.  To do so would mean that no changes would be possible.

First, some background and then my thoughts —

I currently teach at a Community College that’s part of a version of a standardized transfer system.  We have courses that meet “goals”.  We have to include language and justification in our course documents that our course meets the goal(s) we say it does.  Students need X number of credits in each goal to complete certain kinds of transfers.  Our system doesn’t specify the number of credits each course should be worth.  That’s left to the local folks.

I know from experience, and thinking like a student, that if a course doesn’t have a transfer curriculum goal attached to it, enrollment is going to be spotty and it’s quite likely that the course will only be taught occasionally, if at all.  This is the heart of the problem when the central administration looks at a list of course names and decides that some aren’t really suitable for the general education curriculum…. a few years ago I ended up adjusting (saving) the course name and outline for what was just “Medical Ethics” and became “Biomedical Ethics”.. The gist of the threat was that our course would be removed from the transfer curriculum — since we taught about 7 sections of that every semester, someone was likely to lose a job if it didn’t change… so, it changed, at least in theory.  In practice it’s the same course with a new title– because it belonged in the transfer curriculum all along.

So — thoughts..

First, the English department in Queens seemed to have had warning of the implications of their decision to decline to change the course.  They decided 14-6 to decline.  It shouldn’t be a huge surprise to them that they got the consequences they were warned about.

Second, one of their arguments against the change was that it would result in an uncompensated increase in workload.. hummm… yep.  Welcome to my world.  I’ve taught four credit and three credit versions of exactly the same course (four credits at a private college, three credits elsewhere).  It was nearly EXACTLY the same amount of work to teach three as four.  The difference is in the number of sections you end up teaching if your contract specifies 15 credits per semester.  It probably means an extra section per semester.. 5 instead of 4… More sections means more students, more problems and more grading.  Yep, most of the rest of us CC profs already do that work. Y’all get no sympathy here, especially since each of my sections is likely to be twice the size of a standard Comp. class.

Third, the AVP over-reacted in a way and much of the screaming is about the loss of jobs.  Fewer jobs would be lost with the change from 4 to 3 credits, but jobs would be lost none-the-less.  If the full-time faculty can now teach one extra section per semester, that section can’t go to a part-time person… it’s really kind of simple.  I think the smart move on the part of the Queens CC English faculty would be to approve the 3 credit change, on the condition that their class size be reduced by 25%… thus increasing the number of sections necessary to teach the same number of students.  There may be practical reasons this didn’t happen (contract language etc..), but it seems like that would have been the way to go if their real concern is job LOSS, not uncompensated increases in workload.

Finally, what I don’t really understand is what the CUNY system is doing dictating the number of credits in the first place?   Sure, they could say that 3 credits is the minimum necessary to transfer a comp class — but, why not permit the 4 credits to satisfy the same requirement that 3 would elsewhere?  In short, I don’t see why they need to have this fight — unless they think they can use the change to then change teaching loads and get more sections out of the faculty for the same pay.  If that’s their real motive, then shame on them.

For the Debaters…


From Philosopher Shaming… priceless.. Go there, read…

Some “issues” are more obvious than others…


When Vikings punter (according to Max) Chris Kluwe wrote a raunchy, funny, perfect rant about someone who opposed same-sex marriage, it got me to thinking… if you haven’t read it, go do so… perhaps one of my favorite lines came early, “you might want to hire an intern to help you with the long words”… lol…

So, my thought is about the controversial social issues that SEEM quite obvious to me — same-sex marriage and abortion.

The revelation is what they have in common… namely, if you’re against either or both, then you shouldn’t participate.

Same-sex marriage seems to be the most obvious case.  If I want to marry someone, the only person who should need to consent is that person — which makes me kinda sad in the case of some people…


but generally, the arrangement between two people who want to form a partnership is their business.

Abortion is less clear, but still pretty clear as far as I can see.  The pregnant woman and her sexual partner should need to agree — although he won’t have to be pregnant and can physically walk away, so the tie breaker should go with her.  The “child” has no more say than they did in their initial conception… which is a point of contention, but the bottom-line is that if I had an abortion it would only impact two others —

For me, socialized medicine seems to be a no-duh issue as well… everyone should be able to afford to go to the doctor to get care they need.  It’s useful as a contrast case because nature of socialized medicine involves more people.  Even if I disagreed with the concept that the government should provide healthcare, I’d still have to pay for it.  It would also be the case that my individual medical care could be impacted — those are risks and impacts on individual freedom that I’m willing to impose on others..

All of this makes me see the wisdom in Rawls’ first principle, which essentially tells us that each person should have the maximum amount of individual freedom possible, without impacting the freedom of others.  Funny that the political party claiming to “love freedom” seems pretty obsessed with limiting it if you’re female or gay… hmmmm….

You know your mom is a nurse when…

This inspired me…


  • You can’t fake being sick.. like Ferris
  • “I’ll hold my breath until I die” gets “go ahead, you’ll pass out and start breathing again”.
  • Spaghetti for dinner always includes stores that start with, “I had my hands in this guy’s guts and then….”.
  • You puke and she doesn’t bat an eyelash.
  • She tells your doctor what to prescribe, and the doctor does it.
  • Your mom’s coat (beeper) says things like “bring me back to the hospital”.
  • You’re surprised to learn that they make many different kinds of scissors and tape.
  • You choose a hospital because your mom says the nurses there are the best.