So here I am, at 3am, like a child so excited about the first day of school I can’t sleep. Normally I’d be getting ready for work at this time but Monday is going to be a paperwork day, so I come in at 9. I’ve been gone for almost a year so I’m practically a new hire. I have to sign the usual paper work and fill out the forms that a new employee goes through. I hope – for the love of all that is holy – they spare me the sexual harassment video. I think the last time I saw it was back in 2004, when I was first hired at Local 6. Even back then it was so outdated and exaggerated it (ironically) made me uncomfortable

I’ll be starting out on a part-time basis and working behind the scenes. I definitely have to get reacquainted with the traffic system and traffic cams again. I even hear there’s training I’ll have to do with new technology. I’m also curious to see if I’m still able to work the green screen. And more than likely I’m going to start a drinking game for every time someone tells me “it’ll be just like riding a bike!” O_o

My managers have been so wonderfully supportive and understanding. It is as if work is a swimming pool and they’re letting me ease in gently on the shallow end instead of making me do a triple back-tuck off the high dive, which is good because I’m afraid of heights. I have to admit I have moments of anxiety. While I’m feeling TONS better than I did just six months ago, there are still four things that worry me:

1) Chemo brain. It’s a real thing. When you have toxic chemicals pumped into your body on a fairly regular basis it only stands to reason that it’s going to mess with your brain. During treatments my loved ones just got used to me constantly forgetting simple things, like where I put the keys, whether the dog had been fed, what day was my next appointment. And because I was sleeping so much I even started to get my dreams mixed up with reality, which was REALLY weird. I would honestly forget if I made phone calls or had certain conversations in a dream or in real life. Also, reading is one of my favorite things to do! But for the first time in my life I found myself having to go back pages to remember a character – not an easy thing to do on a Kindle, and especially when reading A Song of Ice and Fire (the Game of Thrones books). It’s gotten a LOT better, but I worry sometimes that I’ll be on air, talking my way through a litany of traffic information and just stop mid-sentence, forgetting what I was going to say and, for the life of me, unable to remember.

2) Joint pain. In the months after my last chemo treatment I was hit hard with “chemo-induced arthropathy.” Basically, arthritis. I guess it’s normal. It could even hang around for a few more years. Awesome. There were days I could barely get out of bed, I would limp to the bathroom like I was 125 years old and limp back. It’s not nearly that bad now, but I still have a difficult time bending down because the joints in my ankles and knees practically give out on me. Some days I wake up and I can’t bend my fingers or move my wrists and I think to myself, “How in the hell would I hold a clicker in my hand to change the maps and camera?” I guess we’ll see.

3) Hot flashes. I still get them. I also still get night sweats. It’s not uncommon for me to wake up on a sweat-stained pillow. And several times a day I get so hot I start profusely sweating. It doesn’t matter what the temperature is; my hands could be cold but my head will still sweat. It’s created quite the role reversal in our home because for the first time ever I’M not the one complaining it’s cold :).  I tell my boyfriend, “NOW you know how it feels!” Is this what menopause feels like? And does it mean I’m infertile? I try not to dwell on that last question. Instead I just wonder what it’ll look like on air when my face gets shiny and I start dripping.

4) Fatigue. It’s no longer a bone-weary tiredness that I cannot fight off, but I still feel very fatigued several times throughout the day. Sometimes I fight it, other times I succumb to it. Just last Wednesday I laid down to “take a nap” at 7pm and didn’t wake up until the next morning. It actually worried me that that could still happen. 7pm is my typical bedtime when I work on the morning show.

To say it’s been a while since I’ve written is a gross understatement. It’s been six months!! At the time I remember thinking I would never feel right again. I had forgotten what “normal” felt like. Energy and motivation had become as foreign to my mind as the tumor was to my body. I lost interest in pretty much everything except feeling better. And Bridezillas. That’s the only show I could watch in my emotionally fragile state. Sure, the show is sad, but in a different way. Anything else, even the news, had the potential to open a flood gate of tears that would seemingly come out of nowhere. My boyfriend finally stopped asking what’s wrong every time he saw me in tears because the answer was always the same, “I don’t know. I just started crying!” And it was true. I honestly didn’t know. He also stopped showing me Youtube videos of anything other than animals doing wildly hilarious things. Even a touching animal rescue story with a wonderfully happy ending would leave my boyfriend looking absolutely perplexed as I sobbed over why the animal needed rescuing in the first place, instead of just being happy for the animal now. I guess it’s safe to say my mind wasn’t in a strong place. I stayed away from Facebook for a while as well because well-intentioned friends would send me inspirational stories of people with cancer who did incredible things. Before they died :/. Seriously.

So I was a little off emotionally. Physically, well that just plain sucked. The pain I felt during the four months of chemotherapy was sharp and miserable. It came like clockwork the day after each chemo treatment and lasted about a week. My bones and muscles would ache to the point where even a gentle hug hurt. I cursed the brick-paved roads that rattled my body with every car ride. On two occasions the pain was so severe I had Greg rush me to the ER because I was convinced something was wrong. “Describe the pain,” doctors would say. “Well,” I’d start, “it feels like some of my ribs are shattered and the jagged edges of the bone are zigzagging back and forth through my chest, turning it into a bloody pulp of muscle and lung.” I tend to be a bit dramatic. Both times, after numerous x-rays and urine samples, I was told the pain is a normal part of the healing process as the tumor shrinks and the dead cancer cells slough off. Both times I was prescribed enough pain killers to kill a small horse. The meds never seemed to work 100%. On the pain, I mean. I never tried to kill a small horse with them. Just the thought probably would’ve sent me into another bout of uncontrollable tears.

Fatigue

It’s not obvious but in this photo I am engaged in a fierce battle against cancer cells. As always, dog and cat are there for support.

Besides the pain, fatigue hovered over me like a worried parent, always ushering me into a dream if I happened to do something crazy that day, like go to the grocery store. Everything looks like a petri dish of bacteria when your immune system is so weak, and everything becomes a colossal effort when you’re so tired all the time. I hated the fact that I left so many texts, emails, tweets and comments unreturned. If you were one of them please don’t be offended, even my medical bills slid from the To-do box and into a pile of apathy. I’m still sorting through that pile.

So you can imagine my relief when I finished chemo at the end of July. I naively thought my journey was over. Chemo is done! Let’s put it all behind us now and let bygones be bygones. You see, before I got cancer the only thing I really knew about it was whatever I had seen on Breaking Bad. Oh how pitifully innocent I was to the vile ways of cancer and its cohort, chemo. They were far from finished with me.

Love

Greg giving me a reassuring kiss on my freshly-shaved head.

So that is just a small explanation of why I’ve been MIA. I plan to go into more details about the last six months in more blogs to come. They get more and more positive, I promise :).  I actually tried to go back to work twice, but both times I wasn’t ready. I’ll write about my recovery, the good and the bad, including my struggle with a different kind of addiction (no, NOT to pain killers) (and not to Candy Crush Saga) (well… I AM addicted to Candy Crush but I’m not exactly struggling with it).

Anyway, the real reason for this newest update can be seen in this photo of me without my shirt on.

CT Scans

CT Scans

There it is. A bare bones look into the very depths of my heart if ever you question my love for you. Just kidding. The Before picture shows a 13 cm tumor awkwardly growing against my lung and heart. The After photo shows nothing!!! Just a black hole where my heart should be. No. Wait, that IS my heart. But the tumor is gone! My oncologist, Dr. Landau, says I am cancer free!!!! I made him repeat it a few times, “So you mean, like… GONE? No cancer? Not like the there-are-cancerous-cells-but-if-I-eat-right-and-exercise- they-won’t-come-back kind of gone, but GONE?” Dr. Landau says yes! But I should still eat right and exercise.

I know, I know… I’ve been remiss in my updates :(. The honest reason is that cancer fights dirty. It grabs a fistful of your hair, pulls out your earrings and takes the first cheap shot it can get. When your opponent fights like that it’s hard to brace yourself for the next hit because you just don’t know where it will be coming from!

That’s how I’ve felt throughout this cancer experience. One day I’m feeling great, the next day I’m rushing to the hospital for an emergency blood transfusion (that’s happened THREE times now!). My hemoglobin levels are constantly dropping, my immune system is weak and as a result I’ve had to contend with various complications like an intestinal virus (yuck), a lung infection (possibly pneumonia), an inflammation in my chest, etc. etc. All of that on top of the typical aches and pains. Right now I’m dealing with the worst mouth sores EVER; they’re pretty much like canker sores. They’re holding my tongue hostage and have set up little soldiers all the way down my throat and throughout my digestive track. Every time I try to talk or eat they fire off a painful reminder that they’re in charge. I hate them. I’ve been super fatigued lately as well. If there was a movie role where the character stayed inside and slept all day I’d win an Oscar.

However, ALL that being said… I have so much happy news to report! First, the lymphoma tumor is almost gone!!! It’s melting like butter! And second… I am finished with chemotherapy!! Can you believe it’s been only a little more than four months since I was diagnosed?? It’s crazy to think that time has flown by, but it has! And I’m grateful for that, among thousands of other things. My recovery is far from over. In fact, doctors have told me to brace myself for the most severe fatigue I’ve ever felt. Six rounds of chemotherapy ravages your body and now it’s time to rebuild. I’m certainly feeling it now which is why it has taken me so long to get back on here. I tend to nod off a lot. I’ve never felt fatigue like this. My friend Kevin asked me today if I’m starting to run out of dreams because I sleep so much. Haha, it’s a very “Kevin” question but no, I still have plenty of dreams ;).

So right now I’m going to work on getting my energy back. I can’t wait for my eyelashes, eyebrows and hair to grow back. Even my shadow catches me off guard sometimes :(.

Like some weird alien shadow... that certainly can't be me! But it is.

Like some weird alien shadow… that certainly can’t be me! But it is.

And I definitely can’t wait until I have the strength to get back to work! Once again, all of the well-wishes, thoughts and prayers you send me light up my heart and strengthen my soul. I’m pretty sure if anyone were to walk into my house and make a wish it would be granted because there is so much positive energy being sent my way it’s swirling around my home and it’s already granted my wish :).

There’s a simple explanation for why it has taken me so long to get back on here and jet out another update: Cancer. People can tell you cancer is a bitch but until she runs her blackened claws through your hair and you feel the bitter coldness of her tongue mark you with a capital C as you tremble with fear and uncertainty you don’t quite understand the depths of her depravity… especially when she partners up with the other big C: Chemotherapy.

Back in February I was at Centra Care getting antibiotics for what I thought was pneumonia. If you had asked me if I had any trips planned for the summer I would’ve told you about Greg’s niece’s baptism in New Jersey, or my brother and sister-in-law’s first baby due in July in Utah, or the wedding in Vegas we were planning to attend, or the Jay-Z concert in August. I never imagined the only trips I would be taking would be to the cancer center for chemotherapy. It’s amazing how much life can change in such a short amount of time.

LESS THAN THREE MONTHS AGO…

Less than three months ago… I thought waking up at 2:30 a.m. for work was painful, but that’s because I didn’t have the perspective of comparing it to the actual physical bone-searing pain I get after a round of chemo, no matter what time I wake up.

Less than three months ago… we rarely had visitors. Now our little three-bedroom home is packed on a regular basis with a cacophony of Filipino relatives. They’re all nurses with the best of intentions. My mom has moved in as well. Greg gets sleep whenever and wherever he can. The pets are loving all the attention! Speaking of pets:

Less than three months ago… my immune system was strong enough to handle the fecal duties of cleaning a litter box or picking up dog poop…

But not anymore! Animal poop is teeming with vile bacteria that could send me right back to the emergency room with a nasty infection, “You wouldn’t want that to happen to me, would you, Hun?”

(they’re getting along swimmingly, btw)

Less than three months ago… washing and styling my hair was considered quite the endeavor. Now it’s the easiest part of my morning!

I have enjoyed the wig shopping but find myself throwing on hats and beanies more often than not because it’s more comfortable.

This wig courtesy of Nicole Pesecky Luca. She always gets me.

Less than three months ago… I used razors. Now there’s nothing to shave. Anywhere. See? There’s a positive! (no, there’s not a photo)

Other changes? Some days my bones feel too brittle to open up a bottle of water. The only time we’ve gone out to eat has been at the hospital cafeteria (fortunately, my mom does to food what Mother Nature does to sunsets; makes every meal a unique explosion of awesomeness. It’s like we have our own personal Betty Crocker!).

The first two or three bites I take of any meal send these weird, painful cramps shooting through the salivary glands of my jaw. Just another odd side-effect, I’m told. If the jaw pain doesn’t discourage me from eating, the mouth sores usually do. Canker-like sores pop up on my tongue and all throughout the back of my throat. They only hang around for a week at the most but they’re proving to be a rather effective form of losing weight. If only that was my goal.

Oh, and I guess it isn’t just your hair you lose when going through chemo. My nail beds are starting to darken so I shouldn’t be too surprised if my nails start to come off.

So all of this I’ve been experiencing just in the past three months. It’s been moving so quickly! Every day the thing I pray for the most is the strength to stay positive and follow the #1 piece of advice I get from everyone: Take it one day at a time. It sounds so cliché but it’s so true! I barely recognize the life I lived less than three months ago, and it’s even harder for me to imagine what a “normal” life will be like when this is all over, so the best I can do is concentrate on today. And I’ve learned to treat every day like a learning experience instead of a hassle. It’s easier to keep your spirits up that way. You know what else keeps my spirits up? All of the comments on Facebook and Twitter, and the emails I receive every day that rally for me to stay strong, offer prayers, words of advice, or simply let me know they have been there, too. It has truly been overwhelming. Every positive word of encouragement warms my heart more than you know :).

Day 4 of chemotherapy and I have been blessed with no bad reactions to the cocktail of drugs that flow into my veins 24 hours a day. Unless you count the 18 pounds of fluid that have accumulated around my belly. 18 POUNDS!!!

That extra umbilical chord is a tube that drains other fluids from around my heart into a plastic bottle shaped like a grenade. It hangs like an annoying nut sack below my waist and the doctor won’t remove it until it only produces 30 ml of fluid in a 24-hour period. Several times now I’ve woken up and realized that what I thought was another bout of night sweats was actually that disgusting Kool-aid-like fluid sticking to my pajamas because I accidentally popped the cap off the bottle in my sleep. That’s happened more than once! I’ve started taping it shut now.

That fluid is the result of the tumor that lingers near my right lung like the weirdo at a party that wasn’t invited by anyone. My doctors say my violent coughing fits are a sign that the tumor is already shrinking because my lungs are getting more air. I’d cheers to that if I could take a breath long enough to do so.

So this is the first of six chemo treatments. Each time I’ll spend five days in the hospital hooked up to an IV. It’s rather anti-climactic. Just a lot of reading, staring at the wall, sending reassuring texts to family and friends who can’t be here and making small-talk with those who are. Then I’ll go home for 7 to 10 days of what doctors are warning could be a misery worse than any hell that even Stephen King could imagine. They don’t say it like that, but that’s how I picture it in my head. What they say instead is, “You COULD experience nausea.” Or, “You COULD get mouth sores that run down your throat and into your stomach.” Or, “You MAY not even experience any symptoms at all!!!” They claim that sometimes happens. I‘ll let you know if I‘m one of the lucky ones.

What doctors do seem certain about is that I will feel extremely fatigued. I’m already starting to feel it. It’s giving me an awesome excuse to lay around in bed and sleep all day. You’d think that would get old but, eh, hasn’t happened yet! Then after the 7 to 10 days of supposed “hell” are over I will have six or seven days where I will allegedly feel great! That’s when it’s best to have visitors. Then I come back in for another five days of chemo. There’s no telling when my hair will start to fall out. One doctor says in three weeks I’ll notice an uncomfortable feeling in my head as clumps start to come out. Another doctor says it may not happen for a few months. They all try to keep it positive by saying, “And some people don’t lose their hair at all!” Again, I’ll let you know if I’m one of the lucky ones.

Oh, and another side effect? Remember that 18 pounds of fluid I mentioned earlier? It’s starting to drain. The typical way. Through my bladder. I’ve gone to the bathroom 11 times since I sat down to write this. I’m two bathroom breaks away from buying Depends.

Hi, remember me? It’s been a while since I’ve been here but I’m hoping to be here more. Writing has always been very therapeutic for me.

So, “the best kind of cancer” has been the odd, but strangely comforting way folks are keeping me positive about my diagnosis: Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. What I thought was a bad case of pneumonia turned out to be a mass on my right lung. It was filling my lung and the area around my heart with fluid, leaving me breathless and sending me into coughing fits that caused people to turn away in disgust. I don’t blame them. Even I was grossing myself out!

I’ve spent the past week in the hospital getting that fluid drained, which requires a startling amount of needle prodding and x-raying. As you can see, those things turn me into a sniveling ninny.

(my mom loves to take pictures)

(my mom loves to take pictures)


Oh, and the extra 11 pounds that have managed to stealthily creep their way into my cheeks? Doctors have reassured me those are simply a side-effect of all the fluids they’ve pumped into me before surgery. So it IS safe to eat something. In fact, it’s encouraged. Strongly. Ms Sanchez, please eat something already!

I’ve already had my pity party. No one was invited. Now I’m turning my attention to taking it one day at a time. The nurses make it easy by writing my daily goals on the blackboard in my room.

I don’t mean to brag, but I am far surpassing these goals on a daily basis. It’s the Filipino in me.

I’m not ready for visitors just yet, and besides I’ll probably be out shortly. I’ll likely begin my first chemotherapy treatment soon. I’ll finally get to see if my man truly believes that I would be beautiful even if I was bald :).

 

I’ll be the first to admit that a blog about annoying Facebook posts should be on the list of most annoying Facebook posts because of its irritating irony. It’s like filming a movie about how stupid movies are. Or writing a song about how much you hate music. But to be fair, I’m not saying the following types of posts are more annoying than a bucket of mosquitoes on meth, I’m just saying I could live without them.

Unlike most “annoying Facebook posts” blogs, I don’t have a problem with people who aggressively update all the details of their lives (I actually enjoy the photos of your wedding, the updates on your kids, and the YouTube videos of cats or songs), it’s the friends who passive-aggressively post that sometimes irk me. Such as:

Anonymous come-backs:Some people need to remember… what goes around comes around!”
These posts are like those emails your boss sends to the entire company “reminding” everyone about the sexual harassment policy. It sends everyone into a tailspin of assumed guilt, or makes them point accusatory thoughts at others as they try to figure out who the message was really directed at. If one of your friends has wronged you in some way don’t post vague updates on Facebook and hope they get the message, be mature about it and send them a private but straightforward message by leaving the severed head of a horse in their bed or something.

Cliffhangers:OMG! I’m still in shock over what I learned today!”
Well??? What is it??? Judging by the replies of “I‘m here for you!” or “I can’t believe it either!” you obviously have two or three friends who know exactly what you’re talking about, so you could’ve just sent them a damn text. Now your other 837 Facebook friends (at least the ones who are nosy enough – myself included sometimes) must leave gently prodding comments – like they’re coaxing a kitten out from under the bed – until they get the full juicy story. It’s even more frustrating when you don’t bother replying to those comments and instead post another cliffhanger: “Anyone know of a good moving company?” I know it feels good to finally have people interested in something you posted but don’t make everyone grovel at your Facebook feet. Just tell us the story. And don’t leave out the part about what goes around comes around.

Guilt trips: “I bet you won’t re-post this…”
These posts imply that only true friends will re-post some unoriginal puke-fest of a message; those who don’t are drug-dealing atheists who secretly send money to Al-Qaeda stained with the blood of the puppies they ate right before they set fire to an orphanage. It’s kind of rude to lay that kind of guilt trip on your friends. Although if you do post these you’ll most certainly know who your true friends are because they’ll call you a sucker to your face while the rest roll their eyes behind your back.

Game request updates: “Someone just sent you an unsolicited request in Hidden Chronicles!”
Yes, I know I can hide these kind of updates from my feed. But did you know you can change your settings so that only friends who play the same games get your updates? It saves everyone time. I learned how to do it after my best friend pointed out that I’m a grown woman who just posted that I “need Rainbows and Paint Brushes to complete my pretty-in-pink dresser set in the Sims Social.” For the record, it was a REALLY nice dresser.

Empty threats:I’m going to start deleting people who are too much drama.”
Don’t say it, just do it. Start with yourself, drama queen.

Poking: I don’t know what it means, I don’t know how it works, I don’t know what the point is. I only know that it sounds phallic and dirty and if you do it to me I’ll feel violated enough to delete you. (And don’t be cute and Poke me because you read this).

Today I hit one of those turning points in pet ownership where I saw a vastly different side to my two lovable, pudgy felines. I know lots of other people – including a few of my friends – see cats as sinister spawns of Satan that are always plotting to end your life by sucking your breath while you sleep. I always rolled my eyes at what was clearly a blind prejudice based on hype and urban legend, likely started by Rush Limbaugh when he found out cats were pushing for the “Paid To Get Spayed“ bill.

This is my Buddha. I snapped this mid-yawn a while back. He's actually quite friendly. I swear.

But today I witnessed it for myself!! My adorable, furry cherubs mutated into hostile, hissing heathens. It was a performance that will surely land them a starring roll in the next Pet Sematary 3. I’m sure most men can relate it to the first time they cracked a joke to their significant other during the wrong time of the month. It was scary to be sure, but you probably thought, “Hey, it’s just once a month. I can handle this.” And I hope I’m not being just as naïve when I think along the same lines. It’s just once a year, I can handle this.

I’m talking about the yearly check-up with the vet. This was the first time my cats had gone in together. I’ve always opted to hang out in the waiting room, but this time I took the vet up on her offer to enter the examining room.

You know, whenever I‘d hear a mother exclaim, “But MY child wouldn’t act like that!” Or the owner of a mean dog (*see note at the bottom) say, “But he’s NEVER bitten anyone before!” I would always feel the slight pinpricks of irritation at how guileless they were being. But there I was in the vet office, listening to one cat groan like an angry badger in heat while trying to shake the other cat out of the carrier and saying, “They NEVER act like this, I swear!”

I know it’s actually quite cool of the pet hospital to allow me back there but I think there are some things squeamish pet owners like myself are better off not seeing. No matter how gentle the vet is it always seems too rough to you. Mugsy likes his ears gently twirled, not folded back and prodded!!! I also finally understood the true meaning behind the expression “then the claws came out” when the vet tried to take their temperature in the most unpleasant of ways. And throughout this whole growling, spitting, head-spinning-like-the-exorcist exam the vet and her assistant are smiling and making cooing comments to the cat like, “Oh, you didn’t like that, did you? But it’s allllllll over. Aren’t you a cutie!”

So if you’ve never been behind closed doors at the pet hospital, just know that when the vet comes back from the exam room with your pet and says with a smile, “She did great!” You know “great” really means, “She snarled, snapped and pulled out a knife and tried to stab everyone in the room, but my five assistants were able to hold her down long enough to give her the vaccines!”

The ride back was one of quiet reflection for my cats. The meowing ruckus they made on the way there was silenced. At home they crawled out of their cages and slinked to their usual resting spots. They were pensive and dispirited; they felt victimized. They were home but things were different. The cozy blinders of ignorance had been lifted revealing a world that was much, much bigger and scarier than the cush confines of an air-conditioned condo. They ran from my efforts to pet them and gave me a wide berth, avoiding me the way men avoid the obnoxious drunk girl at a party.

I guess if I were to look at the bright side of an expensive, yearly vet visit – in addition to the fact that the ungrateful little bastards are healthy and vaccinated – a shared traumatic experience always brings those involved closer. Slowly they made their way to each other, seeking the comfort I had clearly sought to destroy. They wanted to be held but not by me lest I swoop them back up and force them into another carrier. They finally saw each other as more than just rivals for wet food or pillow space; they were kin. And for the first time since they met… they hugged and cuddled.

They'll come back to me when they're hungry again.

* Author’s note: When I say “mean” dog I am by no means insinuating any specific breed whatsoever. I do realize that owners of some breeds are a bit sensitive about their dogs’ reputations and any hint of stereotyping, even if in jest, is quickly met with a barrage of comments and emails so angry and vicious that even their breed of dog would be proud.

** Author’s second note: I’ve never actually heard the groan of an angry badger in heat, but I imagine it sounds pretty dramatic.

There is a simple explanation for how I came to have my hands on the hairy backside of a pointy-eared stranger wearing furry pants with a tail: love. There’s no other way to explain it. When you’re in a relationship there are times when you have to make sacrifices and last weekend I made the mother of all sacrifices (in my opinion) when I begrudgingly agreed to accompany my boyfriend to MegaCon; literally translated it means, “A world outside your parents’ basement.” I had to assume that every male friend Boyfriend has ever had since first grade just happened to have something better to do that weekend, like take a sewing a class, because this was our text message exchange last Friday:

(You’ll later learn why Boyfriend came to seriously regret this invitation)

It was one of those inevitable turning points in a relationship, like the first time your significant other farts in front of you, when you realize that even though they are the glowing epitome of perfection sent down from Heaven for the purpose of becoming your soul mate, they are also human. The signs have been there all along (like all those times he started a conversation with, “I was reading an article in Galaxy Weekly and…”) but MegaCon really drove home the point that the handsome, energetic, charming and witty man I met almost two years ago is also an undercover geek. My mom points out that that’s what makes us two peas in a pod (I hide my geekiness behind contact lenses, eyelash extensions and rap music).

So Sunday afternoon found Boyfriend and I strolling into the Orange County Convention Center alongside people in various of forms of their favorite comic book, sci-fi or anime characters. These were actual adults; grown men and women who function unassumingly in the real world as regular human beings! And for a few days this weekend the line between reality and fantasy wasn’t just blurred for them it was erased all together. Before we even got inside we saw this:
Click for more photos from MegaCon

Click for more photos from MegaCon

Click for more photos from MegaCon

This was the actual conversation I had with one of them (yes, verbatim):

Me: So what’s going on here?
Boxtopian: This is Boxtopia.
Me: Uh… cool. What’s that mean?
Boxtopian: Well, they were throwing out these boxes so one person got a box and sat in it. So others got boxes, too. And now we’re all sitting in boxes.
Me: Uh… cool.

I mean, where do you go from there? I’m sure there are many complexities that go into forming a Boxtopian society but the convention was closing in a few hours and Boyfriend was eager to (long sigh) chase down one of the many life-sized remote-controlled R2D2s that roamed the floor.

Click for more photos from MegaCon

I’m guessing this would be the resulting love-child if R2D2 mated with a Wuzzle

I must say MegaCon turned out to be an entertaining and eye-opening look at the world of comics, sci-fi and such. The artistry was as impressive as the marketing (“Those are ACTION FIGURES not DOLLS!”). By the end even I was eager to buy something to commemorate the popping of my MegaCon cherry until I realized there were very few places where I could appropriately wear a furry beanie with ear flaps and wolf ears.

I learned a lot, too. Did you know that Wonder Woman’s powers include super-human strength, super speed, flight and empathy? Yes, empathy. Look it up on Wikipedia. What a sad, sad world we live in when EMPATHY is considered a super power.

I think the whole experience would’ve been a rather positive one for Boyfriend as well if it hadn’t been for a minor blunder on my part. In my excitement to find out when Tia Carrere would be making an appearance (I’ve idolized her ever since Wayne’s World!!) I asked an official-looking man in a black shirt if 1) he worked at the convention, and 2) he knew when Tia Carrere would be coming out. The man was friendly and gracious and as he walked away Boyfriend turned to me with a look of chagrin:

Boyfriend: That was Brent Spiner.
Me: Who?
Boyfriend (his disappointment growing): He played Data on Star Trek.
Me: He played who in what?
Boyfriend (his head drooping with embarrassment): Let’s go.

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Brent Spiner signing autographs

Tia Carrere, by the way, was just as hot in person.

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You could take pictures OF Tia Carrere but you couldn't take pictures WITH her :(.

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Notice the 5th one down says Womanology? Haha!

Photo courtesy of http://www.motifake.com

Depending on who you are the idea of Cupid brings to mind different images. The honeymooners imagine a cute, diaper-wearing cherubic boy that gracefully flits around aiming arrows at star-crossed lovers. The recently divorced couple may see only a bratty five-year-old boy shooting spit-wads through a straw. But for those folks who have been in a perpetual state of singledom for as long as their friends can remember (which really isn’t that long at all when you consider how much alcohol they drink), the idea of Cupid brings about the eye-rolling image of that well-intentioned friend who’s on a mission to rid the world of Singlitis one blind date at a time. It’s usually a woman who’s been married so long that she wants to re-live that first-kiss feeling by living vicariously through her single friends. So, as she always brags, she “Loves to play Cupid!”

All of her conversations begin with, “I have someone who’s perfect for you!” which is like nails on a chalkboard to a single person. It signals the beginning of a conversation that Single has had many, many times with Cupid. It starts off with a polite “No, thank you” from Single – who is hoping that one day Cupid will take up a hobby that doesn’t revolve around Single’s relationship status – and quickly leads into a sales pitch by Cupid who begins to describe Perfect-For-You the way a real estate agent would describe a home.

“He’s well-maintained, charming, somewhat upscale urban – not to mention he lives in a prestigious location – and has a great view from the rear. He’s a must see! “

More often than not the Must-See is more of a fixer-upper and the only thing Single gets out of the blind date is the realization that Cupid is a complete Jackass who doesn’t know Single at all.

Contrary to what people in relationships think, it is actually possible to be both single AND happy. I know this because long before I settled down into a happy relationship of my own I was happily single. Even on those Friday night’s when I’d stay in my studio apartment and sit on the bed that doubled as a couch while watching Dateline on a tube TV that also doubled as a full-length mirror I was happy. Blissful, in fact. But trying to explain that to my relationship-laden girlfriends was like trying to explain why one-million people watch Jersey Shore every week, “It’s pathetic! How can that even be possible???”

It can be, and it is. Which is why now that I, too, am one of those people who not only watches Jersey Shore (don’t judge me) but also can’t possibly imagine life without my better half, I have been very conscious of leaving the role of Cupid where it belongs: in Roman mythology where it is nothing more than a great bed-time story that always has a happy ending but doesn’t necessarily end well in real life. So on behalf of all my sane, single friends, I’m making a plea to everyone in a relationship to follow suit. Obviously this doesn’t apply to those masochistic daters who look forward to the painful attempts at lackluster conversation over coffee with a blind date (“So what made you decide to get into real estate at 35?”)

So this Valentine’s Day, instead of searching for the perfect mate for your single friend, just get them the perfect gift. The Hug-Me Pillow. It’s a pillow shaped like a human arm with half a torso, a little reminiscent of those old Faces Of Death films, if you ask me. It lets your single friend know you “just want to see her happy” even though you think she’s totally pathetic.

(this is my article in this month’s issue of Orlando Style Magazine)

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