Mammo Whamo

Guys, you can stop reading now. Really. I mean it. Going into women’s world and will be back in a bit. Until then, find a comfy chair and read something else. Or look bored. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m probably not even supposed to write about it. I’m most likely breaking some female code. But I’m a rebel and I’m going there. Or should I say, I went? 

I experienced what hundreds of thousands of women have already experienced and it wasn’t fun (even if the nurse was nice). It didn’t sound fun. Not when I was getting advice like, “Take a Motrin before you go” and “Don’t go when you’re PMS” (too late) etc.

If I didn’t get advice, I got the look. A combo smirk riddled with pity from women with a long history of being squashed.

I went anyway. Unprepared for the tiny band aids with silver beads that made me feel slightly burlesque (was that wrong?) or the plastic shelf that was smaller than I thought it would be or the tape to make sure they didn’t move an inch or the pain (everything relative to having given birth, twice) or the fact that my ribs/costo. didn’t like the weird angle for the sideways shots or that a machine was crushing squishing my girls!

I was relieved to hear, “That’s it,” nodded my head, uttered a “thanks” (did I really say that?) and headed for the door.

I got the The Callback and returned for an ultrasound because of “an area that needs more evaluation.” Apparently, they can’t spell since the (s) was left off in areaS. Lucky me.

I returned and was whisked off to the dimly lit “Sand Dollar” room (slight spa feel minus the bulky tech equipment). A witty nurse glopped warm slime on my chest and began her quest. She made small talk to try and take my mind off the fact that she was pausing, going over the same areas, and click, click, clicking images on the screen (oh, shit).

I told her about my dad. How he was a prostate cancer survivor. How lucky I was to have him around. How his surgery had been in September.

I closed my eyes and pretended not to notice the clicking (dammit) and tried to think of the ocean, the waves, the warm sand, sand dollars. . .okay, I was still there and a nurse was finding s-t-u-f-f.

“Oh, yes, very dense.”

“What, exactly?”

“The average woman is 180 thread count. You’re 800.” Lucky me.

“The doctor may come in and check when I’m done” (warning, warning, bells).

After 45 minutes of seek and find, she left and Doctor came in. A cute, baby faced guy (I was warned, not like it mattered) with a serious look shook my hand and promptly went to work.

Nurse: “Over there, 12 o’clock.”

Doctor:  “Oh, yes, two of them close together.”

Nurse:  “See that? Could be a third. That’s it for that one.” Next.

Doctor:  “Oh, another.” I twisted to look at the decent size black hole on the screen. Baby Face stopped to look at me.

“Good thing is I don’t see any vascular activity around them but you’ll need to come back in 6 months to be rechecked.” I exhaled. Lucky me.

I don’t know what I would have done had the Doctor uttered different words. Sentences with “needle” and “biopsy” in them. I didn’t feel brave. The clicking had scared me, senseless.

Every day, women go to have their girls crushed squished and some of them get The Callback. They have ultrasounds, get biopsies, and find out they have “c.” Their lives whirl before their eyes. They hear. They feel shock. The life they had before they walked into that office is now different. They fear. They tell themselves they will survive. They live. They are B-R-A-V-E.

“They” (some insurance companies) are now recommending that women get their first mammo at 50 yrs. of age (laughable really). I should have gone a few years ago but I was told I didn’t need to until I was 40. Be proactive about your health, ladies, and follow your instincts. Don’t let monopolies and big business determine when you should or should not establish your baseline. 

If you’d like to donate to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, just click the image below:

Forget

his eyes
glass reflecting
vacant rooms once
occupied no dog barks
at passers-by from slatted
fences no hydrangeas spill over
borders onto sidewalks his stairway
doesn’t creak memories of silent visitors
treading paths long ago to and fro his attic
forgotten cluttered with shadowy recesses and
memories tucked away in ancient trunks with roses
crumbled given and received as love bloomed precious
lockets house faded photos once fingered by wrinkled hands

© Pamela Rossow

Paper Boat

“please, please,
pretty please,
just one?”

barely audible
a sigh, “just one”
fingers smoothed

© Pamela Rossow

 

Sailing

The sooner we learn to be jointly responsible, the easier the sailing will be.
~Ella Maillart

My uncle loves to sail. He is a highly intelligent man and knowledgeable in many subjects including art (he is an artist), philosophy, literature, technology, writing, and, yes, the thorn in my side, computers. Sailing appears to be one of the most freeing experiences one can encounter in life. To be out on the water sounds incredible and calming and exhilarating (especially to someone who has no sea legs and turns a ghastly shade of green).

Since most objects or experiences can be life metaphors, sailing is no different. While feelings of bliss and joy come from feeling the sea beneath us (so I’ve heard) or looking out over the vast expanse of sparkling waters on a clear day, a dark side of nature exists. Seasoned sailors are aware of this reality. They are prepared and ready to battle it, if necessary, in order to survive. This knowledge is in the forefront of their minds at all times.

How similar is life with sunny days cast suddenly into shadow or unexpected summer storms that arrive with fury. We don’t have to be sailors to respect nature and life. We can live knowing, that at any moment, we might have to fight to survive, that the feelings of bliss we are encountering, at the moment, might end, that we have to be in the now, in the present, to taste life, breathe it in, let it fill our senses, to appreciate it. We try to not let the storms take away our sunlight. We get our life legs under us and stand, sometimes, kneel, and, other times, fall.

Yet, we keep on and, in the keeping on, learn what we must, that which comes from not giving up easily, refusing not to deceive ourselves, being honest, knowing that, in some aspects of our lives, we steer our own ships, saying “I’m sorry” when we mess up, forgiving, having awareness of ourselves and others, appreciating the azure skies (however fleeting) and even the billowing thunderheads that remind us that life is change, and that we bring about positive or negative effects depending on our actions, words, and life views.

(Uncle, if you’re reading this, I hope one day to sail with you. It  doesn’t have to be a long trip. I’d be thrilled to make it a short time without feeling sick. In that moment, I hope to experience the feelings of freedom and peace and exhilaration you encounter out on the water.) 

Words

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You can say anything you want, yessir, but it’s the words that sing, they soar and descend . . . I bow to them . . . I love them, I cling to them, I run them down, I bite into them, I melt them down . . . I love words so much . . . The unexpected ones . . . The ones I wait for greedily or stalk until, suddenly, they drop . . . Vowels I love . . . They glitter like colored stones, they leap like silver fish, they are foam, thread, metal, dew . . . I run after certain words . . . They are so beautiful that I want to fit them all into my poem . . . I catch them in midflight, as they buzz past, I trap them, clean them, peel them, I set myself in front of the dish, they have a crystalline texture to me, vibrant, ivory, vegetable, oily, like fruit, like algae, like agates, like olives . . . And I stir them, I shake them, I drink them, I gulp them down, I mash them, I garnish them, I let them go . . . I leave them in my poem like stalactites, like slivers of polished wood, like coals, pickings from a shipwreck, gifts from the waves . . . Everything exists in the word . . .From Memoirs by Pablo Neruda (NY: Penguin, 1974), p. 53.

Banned Book List: Rebels, Read!

For you, book rebels, here is a list of this century’s top 100 banned books according to Radcliffe Publishing. Happy reading!


  1. The Great Gatsbyby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. The Catcher in the Ryeby J.D. Salinger
  3. The Grapes of Wrathby John Steinbeck
  4. To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee
  5. The Color Purpleby Alice Walker
  6. Ulyssesby James Joyce
  7. Belovedby Toni Morrison
  8. The Lord of the Fliesby William Golding
  9. 1984by George Orwell
  10. The Sound and the Furyby William Faulkner
  11. Lolitaby Vladmir Nabokov
  12. Of Mice and Menby John Steinbeck
  13. Charlotte’s Webby E.B. White
  14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Manby James Joyce
  15. Catch-22by Joseph Heller
  16. Brave New Worldby Aldous Huxley
  17. Animal Farmby George Orwell
  18. The Sun Also Risesby Ernest Hemingway
  19. As I Lay Dyingby William Faulkner
  20. A Farewell to Armsby Ernest Hemingway
  21. Heart of Darknessby Joseph Conrad
  22. Winnie-the-Poohby A.A. Milne
  23. Their Eyes Were Watching Godby Zora Neale Hurston
  24. Invisible Manby Ralph Ellison
  25. Song of Solomonby Toni Morrison
  26. Gone with the Windby Margaret Mitchell
  27. Native Sonby Richard Wright
  28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nestby Ken Kesey
  29. Slaughterhouse-Fiveby Kurt Vonnegut
  30. For Whom the Bell Tollsby Ernest Hemingway
  31. On the Roadby Jack Kerouac
  32. The Old Man and the Seaby Ernest Hemingway
  33. The Call of the Wildby Jack London
  34. To the Lighthouseby Virginia Woolf
  35. Portrait of a Ladyby Henry James
  36. Go Tell it on the Mountainby James Baldwin
  37. The World According to Garpby John Irving
  38. All the King’s Menby Robert Penn Warren
  39. A Room with a Viewby E.M. Forster
  40. The Lord of the Ringsby J.R.R. Tolkien
  41. Schindler’s Listby Thomas Keneally
  42. The Age of Innocenceby Edith Wharton
  43. The Fountainheadby Ayn Rand
  44. Finnegans Wakeby James Joyce
  45. The Jungleby Upton Sinclair
  46. Mrs. Dallowayby Virginia Woolf
  47. The Wonderful Wizard of Ozby L. Frank Baum
  48. Lady Chatterley’s Loverby D.H. Lawrence
  49. A Clockwork Orangeby Anthony Burgess
  50. The Awakeningby Kate Chopin
  51. My Antoniaby Willa Cather
  52. Howards Endby E.M. Forster
  53. In Cold Bloodby Truman Capote
  54. Franny and Zooeyby J.D. Salinger
  55. The Satanic Versesby Salman Rushdie
  56. Jazzby Toni Morrison
  57. Sophie’s Choiceby William Styron
  58. Absalom, Absalom!by William Faulkner
  59. A Passage to Indiaby E.M. Forster
  60. Ethan Fromeby Edith Wharton
  61. A Good Man Is Hard to Findby Flannery O’Connor
  62. Tender Is the Nightby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  63. Orlandoby Virginia Woolf
  64. Sons and Loversby D.H. Lawrence
  65. Bonfire of the Vanitiesby Tom Wolfe
  66. Cat’s Cradleby Kurt Vonnegut
  67. A Separate Peaceby John Knowles
  68. Light in Augustby William Faulkner
  69. The Wings of the Doveby Henry James
  70. Things Fall Apartby Chinua Achebe
  71. Rebeccaby Daphne du Maurier
  72. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxyby Douglas Adams
  73. Naked Lunchby William S. Burroughs
  74. Brideshead Revisitedby Evelyn Waugh
  75. Women in Loveby D.H. Lawrence
  76. Look Homeward, Angelby Thomas Wolfe
  77. In Our Timeby Ernest Hemingway
  78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokiasby Gertrude Stein
  79. The Maltese Falconby Dashiell Hammett
  80. The Naked and the Deadby Norman Mailer
  81. Wide Sargasso Seaby Jean Rhys
  82. White Noiseby Don DeLillo
  83. O Pioneers!by Willa Cather
  84. Tropic of Cancerby Henry Miller
  85. The War of the Worldsby H.G. Wells
  86. Lord Jimby Joseph Conrad
  87. The Bostoniansby Henry James
  88. An American Tragedyby Theodore Dreiser
  89. Death Comes for the Archbishopby Willa Cather
  90. The Wind in the Willowsby Kenneth Grahame
  91. This Side of Paradiseby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  92. Atlas Shruggedby Ayn Rand
  93. The French Lieutenant’s Womanby John Fowles
  94. Babbittby Sinclair Lewis
  95. Kimby Rudyard Kipling
  96. The Beautiful and the Damnedby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  97. Rabbit, Runby John Updike
  98. Where Angels Fear to Treadby E.M. Forster
  99. Main Streetby Sinclair Lewis
  100. Midnight’s Childrenby Salman Rushdie

Dreams

she dreamt in
whispers hushed
sonnets that lulled
her soul soothed
her spirit quilted
her heart

© Pamela Rossow

A Dip

she bathed in
romance dipping
her toes in serendipitous
bubbles that swelled emotions
as playful waters washing
over her swallowing
her in a soaked
embrace

© Pamela Rossow

 

 

Eclipse

It was not enough to be
drenched in your sun
showers, to have your
fingers trail moonlight
through my hair, for your
blazing lips to lock noon
heat between us.

I needed more than
galaxies between my
thighs, daybreak in
your smiles, starlight
in your eyes. I tasted
forever on your tongue,
heard always in your
heartbeat, outlined we
on your chest.

It was enough to be cast
in shadow, to have my
sundial blotted out by your
clouds, to see the negligible
pebbles in the hourglass, to
know the darkened cemetery
in your mouth was too much.

Pamela Rossow

The Swing

 

 

digging climbing her feet grazed pink cotton
candy dipped into aqua oceans she flew up
climbing high above “what’s for dinner”
and “due to insufficient funds” she
soared backward into squishy
lake bottoms netting bass
she breezed forward
past “invoices are
due”

then
she swooped
in reverse finding
herself planted firmly
in childhood green she knelt
down “ready, set, HIKE” toes
in the air again propelling towards
treetops skimming feet boisterous breath
not wanting magic memory motion to just stop

© Pamela Rossow

 

Passionate Penchants

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