Skin Cancer . . . Again?!

Let me start off assuring family and friends that this is nothing to worry about.  It is the relatively harmless (but still annoying) basal cell kind, not the melanoma (dangerous) kind of skin cancer.

Last week I had Mohs surgery on my lip for the second time (the first time was about a year ago).  The day of the surgery, Joe was traveling, so I had to go pick up the kids from camp with my lip still bandaged. Kids are utterly unable to *not* stare when they see something unusual, and seeing a mom with her lip bandaged up drew many wide-eyed stares as we left.  I tried to not feel self-conscious (I need to be a good example to the kids and all), but inside I was cringing.

The next day the swelling went down, and I was able to go out without any bandages.  My lip still drew weird looks, but it was about the equivalent of a bad cold sore.  With a friend, I mentioned that I had had skin cancer surgery– “No, it’s not a cold sore”– but I’m not sure which is worse.  She put a concerned look on her face and asked about it.  I ended up explaining a bit about my family history, and that this type of skin cancer is more annoying than scary, but I realized that this was more information than most people want to hear.  She was sweet to listen to me, and I felt badly that my explanation took longer than it should have.

My family heritage is Irish/English/Scottish, and I have very fair skin as a result.   Being born and raised in California with lots of sunshine, we are very susceptible to skin cancer.  The fact that my dad had a ski boat when we were growing up, and that I had terrible sunburns every summer, means that I had a lifetime’s worth of sun damage by the time I hit adulthood.  I have been great about using sunscreen for a long time, but so much damage was already done that I have known it was only a matter of time before skin cancer appeared.  My brother had it before I did (on his neck first, then his forehead).  My dad has had several growths removed.  My grandmother had many cases of it.  Thankfully, no one in our family has gotten melanoma, but we all need to be vigilant with skin check-ups twice a year.

“Cancer” is a scary word, one that no one wants to hear.  We all know people who have fought brave battles with cancer, and most of us know someone who has lost that battle.  It feels strange to use that word to describe annoying little skin growths that need to be removed.  I will probably get these skin growths throughout the rest of my life, but I try to remind myself to be thankful that while I hate having minor surgery on my face (mainly because of vanity), I am lucky that this is the worst health issue that I currently face.

Eyelash Extensions– To Touch Up or To Let Them Fall Out?

Okay– let me be very upfront about it.  This is going to be a rather frivolous post.

Until a few months ago, I didn’t know what eyelash extensions even *were*, let alone had tried them.  I suspect that many of my female friends and acquaintances had tried them or at least knew about them long before I considered this silly little beauty service.  When I heard about them, I thought “wouldn’t that be fun to have around our anniversary?”  We celebrate our anniversary (in June) with several nights out over a week or so, and this year we went to an opera, a symphony concert, and a fabulous dinner out.  Of course, having several big nights out in a short time span meant that getting eyelash extensions was easier to justify than it would be normally.

So, what are the downsides, you ask?  First of all, eyelash extensions are expensive.  The initial set and the touch-up appointments are pricy, and they need to be maintained regularly if you don’t want them to fall out.  Since the process is gluing fake eyelashes on your eyelids, there are some inherent risks (such as eye infection); the release form that I had to sign was a bit scary!  And if one’s eyes are a bit sensitive (like mine seem to be), they can be somewhat irritating to wear.  Not terribly, but in a low-grade annoying sort of way.

Then why get them?  Because they are fun and sexy.  You get to *wake up* with lovely eyelashes!  My eyelashes have always been fine, light and thin, and it hasn’t improved as I have gotten older.  It has been a nice treat to have dark, pretty, noticeable eyelashes, even when I’m not “made up”.


Unfortunately, my practical side is likely to win out.  I am scheduled for an eyelash extension touch up this week, and I’m pretty sure I’m canceling.  I’m a bit tired of not being able to rub my eyes, needing to specially clean my eyelashes every morning, and not being able to put my face toward the shower head.  Going forward I might get eyelash extensions twice a year (anniversary and Christmas), but not get any touch ups.  That way I get to have fun with big lashes, but I don’t have them for so long that they really start to bug me.

How Many Personas Do You Have?

The most interesting men and women I know have multiple personas that they draw from in their interactions with the world at large.  It’s like wearing a costume, except that these are exaggerated personality traits turned into a simplified version of the person.  I have witnessed my dear friend Victoria in a few different personas: Sweet Southern Gal, Proper English Wife, Bitch-on-Wheels American (quite handy for business meetings).  I’m sure that she has several more in her arsenal.  She has joked about which persona would be the best for a particular occasion, and I love the fact that she can put them on and take them off quite easily.

Over the years I have developed Scotch-drinking Demure Wench (from my dancing days at the Renaissance Faire, which I did for several seasons), Colonial Raver Marine (during my party and Burning Man days), Educated/Well-traveled Career Girl, Outdoorsy Adventurer (I dabbled with quite a few pursuits, including hiking, rock climbing, mountaineering, scuba diving, mountain biking, snowboarding).  Since getting married and having a family I added Domestic Goddess (culinary and craft projects), Perky Mother of Four (school stuff), and Trophy Wife (for cultural events such as symphony and opera performances).  None of these personas represent the “real” me, but all of them together make up a big part of me.  Humans are complicated creatures, and we usually interact with a wide array of other individuals.  Most people out there aren’t interested in knowing me *that* well, except for a handful of close friends and a few family members.  These personas provide a shortcut to me and my acquaintances to interact easily without a lot of fuss.

Apparently not everyone is happy that society uses archetypes.  Last week I read an article written by a twenty-something woman, bemoaning the fact that men view women in a superficial way, relying on archetypical characters as a viewing lens.  The author’s first main point was that men grow up to star in their own story, and women grow up to be a supporting role.   She used the descriptor “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” as an example of a current archetypical character in books and movies that portray women in an unrealistic way. While I can see her perspective, the article (which was a bit of a feminist diatribe) got me thinking more about how my views about interaction between men and women have changed as I have gotten older, rather than the injustice that women are subjected to by society at large.  I have a vague recollection of being annoyed in my twenties whenever people treated me impersonally, but now I appreciate that there is no way everyone that I meet can know and appreciate me as an individual.

Archetypes have existed for millennia, and for good reason.  We carry stories with us throughout our lives, and they tend to be populated with characters we learn to love or hate, but we know them well.  Since they are out there anyway, why not use them as tools?