Adventures of the Struggling Writer — Day Two

I am quite opinionated, although I haven’t voiced those opinions on this blog since that idiot from Alaska insulted me with her unending presence on television.  I am a struggling writer, and I derive much of my inspiration from current events.  I must weigh in on the mammogram controversy, or, as I like to call it, “How 16 ‘Experts’ Became My Insurer’s Best Friends.”

As everyone now knows, a federal advisory board has issued a new recommendation on mammograms—put bluntly, the board rescinded the prior recommendation that women in their 40s should get mammograms yearly (or every other year).  Instead, the board now recommends that women 50 and older get mammograms every two years.

Breast cancer afflicts hundreds of thousands of women every year.  Chances are, you or someone you know has suffered from the disease.  It is common knowledge that the rate of mortality for the disease significantly decreases if the disease is caught in its early stages—and one of the most effective tools to that end is the mammogram.  Indeed, as acknowledged by the board, “Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States.  Widespread use of screening, along with treatment advances in recent years, have been credited with significant reductions in breast cancer mortality.”

So why, then, is the board suddenly turning a 180 on early screening—when that very screening reduces mortality?  Well, the board apparently is primarily concerned about a woman’s psychological well-being.  From the report:

The harms resulting from screening for breast cancer include psychological harms, unnecessary imaging tests and biopsies in women without cancer, and inconvenience due to false-positive screening results. Furthermore, one must also consider the harms associated with treatment of cancer that would not become clinically apparent during a woman’s lifetime (overdiagnosis), as well as the harms of unnecessary earlier treatment of breast cancer that would have become clinically apparent but would not have shortened a woman’s life. Radiation exposure (from radiologic tests), although a minor concern, is also a consideration.

Let’s examine the secondary concerns, namely “overdiagnosis,” “earlier treatment” and “radiation exposure.”  These concerns exist independently from the efficacy of a mammogram.  In other words, the issue the board appears to have is not with the ability of the mammogram to detect cancer—rather, they fear that some health professionals may take an overly aggressive approach after seeing ambiguous signs of cancer through a mammogram.  If the issue is with the risk of an overly aggressive assault on maybe-cancer, then the board may be warranted in issuing recommendations on those procedures, not the mammogram itself.

The primary concerns, however, have to do with the board’s incredibly patronizing views regarding a woman’s psychological well-being.  Namely, the board does not want to subject women in their 40s to “unnecessary imaging tests” and “unnecessary . . . biopsies” and “inconvenience.”  The board doesn’t seem to dispute the fact that breast cancer is frequently diagnosed in women in their 40s.  Rather, the board seems to be saying that not enough women in their 40s are diagnosed to justify the necessity of mammograms, so to avoid the psychological strain of having mammograms, let’s just do away with them altogether until you’re in an even higher risk group.  Well, I think that the members of this esteemed board (none of whom, by the way, are oncologists), can suck it.  When I’m 40, if I want to endure the psychological turmoil of having my boobs pressed like a panini so I can avoid death by breast cancer, I’m going to do it.  I understand there are false positives.  My damn doctor has told me about the risk of false positives.  I can handle that.  You know what my mental health cannot handle?  Waiting until I’m 50 to get a mammogram and hoping that the cancer has not already afflicted my boobs (or lymph nodes—don’t forget those, ladies), like it has hundreds of thousands of women before me in their 40s.  Alternatively, my mental health can’t handle my insurance company quoting your recommendation and rejecting my claim because my mammogram is medically “unnecessary.”

So for the esteemed 16 members of this board, sleep easy knowing that millions of women (and their boobs) think you suck, but at least the insurers love you.


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Filed under Life, Things I Loathe

Mr. Awesome Has Awesomely Tweeted His Awesomeness!

Oh.  My.  God.  The incomparable Neil Patrick Harris (NPH, Doogie Howser, Barney Stinson, sperm donor for my future spawn) has just joined Twitter.  I am following his feed, because, in my delusional world, being an NPH follower means that he’s actually my friend.  At some point, NPH will tweet that he’s having coffee, or reading the newspaper.  When that happens, I too will enjoy a cup of coffee, or read a newspaper (or news equivalent like US Weekly), so that I can share in a daily activity with my new best friend.

I need a nickname for my new best friend.  I’m going to call him Mr. Awesome (with a wink).

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Adventures of the Struggling Writer — Day One

I’ve been woefully delinquent in my blog postings.  It’s been a busy few months—packing up belongings, moving across the country, and then embarking upon a globe-trotting tour complete with a near pick-pocketing experience in which yours truly willed herself from sticking a fist up the perpetrator’s throat and a knee into the perpetrator’s crotch—now that I’ve somewhat settled in the city by the Bay, it’s time to resume my pleas to NPH and Tina Fey.

I asked myself:  How can I place myself into a position where I can fully comprehend what it feels like to be a writer?  And then, it dawned upon me.  Actors better themselves in their craft by fully submerging themselves in a particular role.  I must better my craft by becoming what most writers are:  struggling and unemployed.

So today, my adventures took me to Chinatown, where flocks of mostly Cantonese-speaking Chinese people flood the streets in an all-out, cheap grocery shopping assault.  I navigated my way through the crowds, making sure to absorb the literary and comedic fodder around me.  Seeking respite from the human storm, I walked into a somewhat empty fish store, where soon-to-be eaten crabs and lobsters were clawing in tanks, likely unaware of their fate.  The crustaceans attempted to claw at each other, made futile by the rubber bands rendering their claws impotent.  I began to ponder various plots involving the human equivalent of such helplessness . . .

Suddenly, a giant turtle started climbing up the side of its enclosure and fell over backwards, creating a ginormous splash, leaving my exposed leg covered with not one, not two, but three nasty drops of turtle water.  I squealed in fright and jumped in shock, only to find that the once-empty store had become filled with patrons—all of whom were staring at me as if I had walked in with the plague (or SARS, I was in Chinatown).  I immediately ran out of the store, thereby ending today’s adventure.

Ahhh, the life of a struggling writer.  Tina and/or NPH—how could you not want to hire me after what I’ve just been through?

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Filed under Discover Me, Plea to NPH, Plea to Tina Fey

I’m Back!

I just spent the last couple of months on a globe-trotting tour to find Tina Fey or NPH.  Details to come!

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10 Days for Desperation — Day Two

It’s been quite a while since my last post.  I’d like to say that I spent the time sipping sweet tea vodka with my new best friend, Tina Fey NPH, but that would be an unfortunate and desperate lie.  And unfortunate, I am not.  Despite my still unrequited pleas, I must press forward in pursuing my dreams.  Because what good are dreams if they are easily obtainable?  (That is what the man in the corner liquor store said to me to convince me to exchange my $138 in Coinstar money for 138 lottery tickets.)

So, what have I been doing for the last couple weeks?  I’ve been stuffing, packing, and padding.  Although, in some circles, that sounds like something you would do in the champagne room of the neighborhood windowless bar, double-fisting vodka tonics or human melons—my task was not quite that exciting.  I have spent the last few weeks moving across the country, in an attempt to find Tina Fey NPH on the west coast.

I’ve moved quite a bit in my life (especially for someone in her mid-20s), and I pretty much always underestimate the amount of time it takes to fully pack your belongings.  After weeks of passive packing, I finally reached the “what the hell do I do with this shit” part of the move—aka, the final 10%.  This segment of any move, while relatively small in a numeric sense, takes the greatest toll on the mover in terms of sanity and time.  This is the part of the move where the mover stares at a particular “what the hell do I do with this shit item,” stare at it some more, sigh, find something else to do like play Mafia Wars on Facebook, stare at it some more, and finally decide that the best course of action is to again watch the Nappy Tabs’ choreographed performance on SYTYCD so that the mover can perfect lyrical hip hop and become a world-famous dancer by Season 8.  I digress.

Long story short, the hubby and I finally packed up all of our crap and were ready to embark on a new journey.

While at the airport, waiting for my flight to northern California, I scanned the premises for inspiration for a new spec script.  A cute family was waiting for the same flight, and they were playing with their unbelievably adorable Maltese puppy, whose name I later discovered was Snowball.  Although Snowball was only 9 months old, he was quite well-behaved and did not need a leash to understand that he needed to stay close to his family.  As I sat there, sipping my overpriced coffee, I began to wonder how the hubby would react to me bringing a puppy home—my canine stupor was interrupted when a woman walked by with her child . . . on a leash.

Before I comment on leashed children, I should first add the caveat that I am not a mom.  I have never babysat any children, so perhaps I’m not in a position to judge.  But I literally fell out of my seat into convulsions, trying to hold my laughter in, as I watched this little leashed girl petting an unleashed puppy.  The leash was about 2 feet long, and the mom held the leash as the little girl moved around the waiting area.  Apparently, the little girl had not learned the “heel” command, because she was often pulling the leash complete taut, in a fruitless attempt to investigate her surroundings.  As I was watching this scene, I began furiously texting friends.  I also tried to take a picture with my cameraphone, but I was not quick enough to get a good shot.  (Mom did, however, turn around when my cameraphone made an incredibly loud noise when I tried to get a snapshot off, after which I quickly pulled my phone in and looked around in a completely inconspicuous manner).

In any event, as I was watching the scene unfold before me—leashed girl cooing and petting unleashed puppy—I realized that I was not the only one staring.  Dozens of other individuals stole glances, and I had a Eureka moment.

I must find a leash.  If this otherwise nondescript girl could get dozens of completely bored individuals at the airport to look at her, perhaps I too could generate publicity by attaching myself to a leash and having the hubby lead me around!  Of course, I would have to avoid spiked and rhinestoned leashes, because the hubby and I would only attract swingers (and I’m not sure how fast I can run away from swingers if Iwere attached to a leash).  I will design my own leash—wide enough to contain, in hot pink, the words, “Discover me, Tina Fey NPH!”  The hubby will walk me around the streets of San Francisco, and I will pull forward, panting as the collar restricted my airways.  I am a writer.  I am a genius.  And I will be a human dog.

Discover me, Tina Fey NPH!!

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Filed under Plea to NPH, Plea to Tina Fey, Travel

10 Days for Desperation — Day One

I am at a crossroads in my pleas to Tina Fey NPH.  Weeks, in fact months, have passed—and I have yet to obtain any legitimate responses to my pleas.  I have received the occasional imposter email, like the email I received from Tima Fey, who requested that I provide her with my social security number and birthdate so she could “confirm” whether I was in fact an undiscovered talent.  Or the email I received from Neil Pat My Harris, who asked whether I liked “franks and beans.”  After brief consideration of the possibility that Tina Fey NPH was in fact responding to me, but using an alias—I resisted the urge and left their requests unrequited.  

Since my last plea to Tina Fey NPH, I have since spent my days sighing in despair.  The air has been sucked out of my sails.  The hop has been removed from my step.  The glimmer has been extinguished from my eye.  But alas, through my anguish, I saw a silver lining, and his name is Rascal.  Who is Rascal, you ask?

RascalImage Link

Rascal holds the record for titles in the World’s Ugliest Dog competition.  Desiring to view more pictures of Rascal, I ran a Google search and, lo and behold, Rascal has his own IMDB page!  And then it dawned on me.  How could I have been so blind?  I have spent months and months attempting to entice Tina Fey NPH with my writing and my literary displays of devotion.  I wholeheartedly believed that Tina Fey NPH would independently discover this blog and respond to my requests with outright offers of employment.  Alas, my naivete led me to write my WGA award acceptance speech and practice it in front of the mirror, bidding adieu to my fans as I announced my new journey toward becoming a lyrical hip hop dancer—after which Wade Robson and Nappy Tabs meet me backstage to begin my intense journey, which will be captured on a major network for prime time television so that my fans could witness my sweat and tears as I transform into one of the greatest dancers in the world before their eyes on Alexis Nectar:  Road to SYTYCD.  

I digress.  The point is—I have been approaching this the wrong way.  Talent alone can and will go unnoticed without proper publicity.  If Rascal can get an IMDB page by virtue of being the ugliest dog in the world, why can’t I approach it in a similar fashion?  Can you imagine the publicity I would receive if I, Alexis Nectar, attempted to enter the World’s Ugliest Dog competition?  I realize that my DNA doesn’t exactly allow me to necessarily qualify for entry into the competition, but perhaps the rules do not explicitly state, “A human being with an alias of Alexis Nectar may not enter this competition.”  Absent this specific rule, I can surely try.  I can crimp my hair, 80s style, perhaps tease it so it becomes a gigantic bird’s nest, smear nutella all over my teeth, and rub my eyes with cat dander to make them demon red.  And after I win the competition, I will obtain my own IMDB page, with which I will finally capture the attention of Tina Fey NPH, and begin the road to stardom that is so richly-deserved.  Hollywood star, here I come!

Discover me Tina Fey NPH!!

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Filed under Fashion, I Heart Reality TV, Plea to NPH, Plea to Tina Fey, SYTYCD

An Interruption in My Pleas: Lost Icons

Today, as I descended into the stuffy confines of the Metro, I reflected on the loss of two icons yesterday:  Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.  As I stood there, waiting for the train to arrive, I saw three women speaking with each other, and I envisioned them striking their best Charlie’s Angels pose.  I imagined myself leading a procession of people to an impromptu performance of Thriller.  And I sighed in appreciation for the contributions made by such fabulous entertainers.  Below, some of my favorite Michael Jackson videos—videos that inspired my 10-year old self to grab her crotch in front of a mother gaping in shock.  

Rest in peace, y’all.

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Filed under Musical Obsessions, Television