More Surgery, Pisco Sours and A Really Good Movie

Just over a week until The Great Pumpkin brings me surgery number 7 for 2012. More cut and paste is the last thing I want for trick-or-treat day, but with a bit of luck it will be the last one in my BRCA surgical adventure story. That alone is worthy of celebration. On that same Halloween day my sister will have her pre-op appointment in preparation for her upcoming DIEP flap surgery. For my family, the BRCA rollercoaster continues.

Yesterday James and I spent a lovely day indulging ourselves. We had brunch at a superb restaurant in Portland’s Pearl District called Andina. It had been far too long since we enjoyed what they describe as “novoperuvian” cuisine. It’s really a marriage of the flavors and ingredients of many South American cultures with a new world vibe.

Enjoying a Pisco Sour at Andina Restaurant.

For those who may not know, Jim and I were once the owners of a Malbec vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina. From the traditional brandy (Pisco) to the quinoa studded shrimp, asparagus with chimichurri and an alfajore for dessert, dining at Andina was like an afternoon in the tranquil wine country of Mendoza. Although we got the short end of the stick on our vineyard investment, it was a memorable chapter in our lives. I wrote a brief memoir called “The Malbec Diaries,” available from Amazon in electronic format.

The Tiny Madam Vineyard in 2007, Uco Valley, Mendoza Argentina

We spent the afternoon shopping, soaked in the tub, watched football and had a 1998 Leonetti Cabernet with our dinner of grilled beef tenderloin, carmelized onions and Brussells sprouts. Not a bad send off for my last day of consuming alcohol until after I’ve recovered from surgery #7.

We capped off this delicious, lazy day with one of themost enjoyable movies I’ve seen in ages. Moonrise Kingdom. So beautifully directed by the quirky and brilliant Wes Anderson. Ah, love.

Moonrise Kingdom – a little jewel of a movie.

Eleven Since 9-11

Eleven years ago this morning I crossed the I-205 bridge in my shiny new Acura, en route to my job as Creative Services Manager at Leatherman Tool Group in Portland, Oregon. Early that day the first tower went while I chugged along on the treadmill at the gym. The second exploded in flames while I dressed. As the events of that infamous day unfolded I knew the world would forever be a different place, but there was work to do. There was that brand new employee to orient and train, a massive packaging redesign underway, a new ad agency in the thick of a major campaign and a whole host of project management nightmares. High stress, heavy workload, super-sized challenges. Situation normal for me.

Fast forward eleven years and here I sit, still in sweats, alone in my silent house. I have no deadlines other than ones of my own choosing. No boss. No behind of a boss to kiss. Co-workers have been replaced by cats. That same shiny Acura, now an old car, is still in the garage. Today I paused to take stock. So much has changed.

“Osama Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive!” That is what VP Joe Biden screeched gleefully at last week’s Democratic Convention. True, but at what price? America is broke, still fighting a lost war and mired in painful economic doldrums. However, we did manage to put a smart, eloquent black man into the highest office in the land. Someday a woman will hold that job, I feel certain. In 2001 all we had for leadership was that horrid little weasel, George W. Bush.

Since 2006 I have been either underemployed or not working at any traditional job. I freelance as a copywriter, am the author of two e-books and numerous articles published in both traditional and online media. Thank the powers that be my husband still has a real job or I’d be a bag lady living under a bridge, eating stale Cheez-Its and muttering to myself. My paycheck and the prestige of a good job are the only things I miss about the corporate world. Besides, if things had gone according to plan we’d be living in our vineyard in Argentina and traveling the globe. Yes, I dreamed big and failed and it is okay.

Gains and losses abound in my personal life. Too many to document over the past eleven years. Most of 2012 has been spent chasing a single goal – the prevention of more cancer in my genetically flawed body. Surgery and recovery on a scale far greater than I ever anticipated have taken a toll on me and all those in my world. I have said “I love you” more often this year, to more people than in any of my 51 years of life. That love balances out the painful, irrevocable losses and keeps me moving forward.

In 2008 my great-niece Bailey was born. Some day she will learn about 9-11 in school in much the same way as I learned about pivotal moments like Pearl Harbor Day. September 11th will be a question on a history test for Bailey and that is as it should be.