Sunday, March 29, 2009

I am sliding down the slippery slope of nonblogging. But I've been thinking of you, truly, I have. Feel like I'm about two days behind in everything. Palm Beach was fabulous and since getting back Thursday night, I've just finished unpacking.

Dad: "This is all yours? You've only been here two days. Jesus, Steph."

"Well, I didn't know what I would feel like wearing or what we'd be doing. And I'm leaving with more than I came."

Oh, D'oh. Never say that to dad or hubby, right? I'm sure many of you ladies can relate to the "I'm-leaving-with-more-than-I-came packing phenomenon." I'll usually make it work by throwing out stuff I don't need—half-empty shampoo or toothpaste or something—and carrying another shopping bag (or two or three). It's much easier when you're driving.

I've officially turned into an old, Jewish Yenta. The evidence is mounting and I would be found guilty in any court of law. I take Splendas from restaurants often. I can't help it. Splenda is expensive and something about the royal blue and yellow packet screams at me: Take me, take me home, Jewish lady. I need a nice home to sweeten up! I say "oy" a lot. Like, a lot. Oy. I complain about my aches and pains. And then I complain when the pills constipate me. I eat pitted prunes. Seriously, I love pitted prunes.

And then there's the fact that Wally stayed at the Ritz with us in PB. I didn't bring dog food with me; partly because I was lazy and partly because I thought they'd have a decent doggie dining menu, as many pet-friendly hotels do. When I realized we were staying on the club level, where complimentary food is set out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I knew I'd made the right decision. Wally lunched on cold cuts of turkey breast and other unidentifiable meats and dined on brisket, chicken breast and other meaty things I could not identify.

Dad: "Steph, why don't you just go to Walgreen's and buy some fucking dog food already? You're going to make him sick giving him all that meat!"

"Do you know what they put in dog food? It's like horses and body parts. Real meat is so much better for him!"

Dad: "If he shits in here you're in big trouble young lady!"

He didn't shit. He looooved the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach. And he loved meeting the other Malteses, Poodles and mutts that were residing there as well.

I was supposed to get the nipples tatted up tomorrow a.m. but I cancelled. I just don't feel like dealing of ten days of bandages during these busy weeks of season. I'm very happy with the progression of the girls though. Seeing the same people a month or two apart—Lynn, Alan, Kim and David—makes you realize how much you've changed. Your tits, I mean. Look how small they appear! I love having not-so-busty boobies.

I took some touristy shots of PB for those of you who've not been there. (See I do think of you!) After about an hour on Worth Ave—and a twenty minute convo with the diamond expert at Cartier, further evidence of the tanking economy when a Cartier salesman has nothing better to do than talk to someone like me who's clearly not buying—I got bored and walked to where it meets the ocean, which was a dazzling ombre sheet of blues this weekend.

Worth Ave. is the Rodeo Drive of PB, where all the finest retailers dock.

It intersects with Ocean Blvd., which is one of the most pristine, exclusive and expensive residential streets in the world, shown above. (This is where Donald's Mar-a-Lago, the former home of Margerie Merriwhether Post, looms. Worth Ave hits Ocean at one of the condo spots; there are some very old condo buildings on the same street as new $30,000,000 manses. Touristy me. Note the sheer awesomeness of the Ralf, even while windblown. I bow down to Ralf Mollica.

The Ritz has a brand-new Steiner Spa in-house called Eau Spa. The spa was really impressive and I was not expecting it.

The staff treated me very well, and I had an invigorating facial the day of my departure. The in-spa gift shop is also adiorable.

And in other news, in the past week or so. . .

I've gone on my first post-cancer date. It wasn't hard at all and the C word did not come up. I've joined team B&L in their sure-to-be successful upcoming Web venture. I've cut the bangs on the wig to the point where I actually really like them now. I've plucked in areas no woman should ever have to pluck. I've switched eyeshadow brands (Smashbox to Chanel). I've reluctantly had to switch lipgloss shades, as Chanel discontinued my mainstay, Force. I picked up #102, Eclipse. (FYI, the cosmetics and beauty staff at the Saks on Worth Ave. is incredibly retarded and unhelpful.) I've shrunk a little more. Made some new friends, seen some old ones. RSVPd to one million events and actually shown up to about five. And last night celebrated Laura's 26th bday with the crew.

Oh, and Dana is preggers again! Another busy year for her ahead. . .Off to the gym and a rainy night in at B&L.

Monday, March 23, 2009

You guys are probably getting sick of my anniv posts, but whatever. Can't please everyone all of the time. One year ago tomorrow was my second chemo treat. I'm in the process of uploading all of my 20+ dvr tapes from the past year+, and I'd just done this tape yesterday. I simply can't even watch these tapes without breaking down; uploading these mothers is a huge task that is time consuming and tedious. After I upload them, the transcription process will be even more time consuming and I just can't be bothered, as I need actually to write and edit. So I've posted an ad for an intern/aspiring writer to help log. Me? Have an intern? Well, despite my fiduciary shortcomings in the career department, I do have a lot I could teach an aspiring writer. Like how not to get sued or end up on Page Six. (Actually, many writers prob want to end up on Page Six.)

Anyway, these fucking tapes are taking me forever. It takes my Mac 60 mins to upload a 60 min tape into iMovie and I just can't believe in this day and age there is not a FF button on importing. Any ideas?

So one year ago tomorrow, second chemo. Dad and Stark were in tow. Dad, valiant in his efforts to remain in one room during a six-hour chemo infusion despite his rampant ADHD, made it through with only one off-campus trip—to the deli. Dana and I did count his bathroom jaunts though, which I recall creeping into the double digits. (Hey, the man did have prostate ca.)

Fitting then, given my cancerversaries, that the 'rents are in Palm Beach for the week and I'm heading up tomorrow morning to join them, with Wally in tow. A drive up to PB is much better than sitting in the Ward. April 21st—no coincidence that it's the day after 4/20—will be my last Herceptin infusion. Meaning that I can get out the port/catheter later in April. Meaning, no more chemo ward!!!!! Finally! The port removal is officially my final surgery; the nips are being tatted up March 30.

The port removal is a biggie—I still get squeamish touching that area, feeling a foreign object the size of a quarter under the skin and occasionally, when I try to 'massage' the right tata down to be as low as the left one, I feel the whole fucking thing and start to black out. The port is a thing that has a catheter going directly to my heart. So that if I feel deep enough, I can feel the alien cord, and that's what freaks my shit.

If your insides look like this, wouldn't you freak too?

Eww. Ick. Why did they give this woman love handles though? Anyway, where the fuck was I going with this? Oh, right. I called Peggy in my breast surgeon, Thomas Mesko's office, to schedule the port surg.

"What kind of surgery is it?"

"Usually, it's an in-office procedure where he just numbs you up and yanks it out. Would you be comfortable with that?"

"Ooooh! Hell no!! I need to be knocked out for that shit! It's like pulling the drainage tubes out or a catheter where it feels like an alien tube is being pulled out of you? Shit, no, knock me out! Surgery!"

Frankly, being abducted and probed by little gray beings would excite me more than feeling that otherworldly slithering of tubes in my body. And lidocaine compared to anesthesia? Sign me up for the drugs, Dr.

So that's why I've elected to go under for my last surgery. May as well have one Vercet-Valium cocktail to celebrate! Anesthesia—is niiice.

On another note, I 'straightened' my hair using Ralf's Welleda formula. Remember those old-school pre-Asian straighteners? The ones that give you horse hair? Yep. Instead of a Jewfro, I now have coarse, unruly tufts of hair that make me look like the Joker when I wake up. Sigh. Guess I have a legit excuse to wear the wig for longtime. Will try to post from PB; though we'll be at the outlets for a day I'm guessing, so we'll see . . .

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tee-hee-hee. I don't know that I'll be welcome at Sotheby's in the near future. My site meter often enables me to see the domain names of companies with employees who are reading. Today, I not only got a hit from, but several from Sotheby's. God, these people must have Google Alerts set up for any and all things company related.

As usual, I'm unrepenant. However, I think I'll change the name of the Brit who helped us. He was sweet and don't want to get him into any hot messes. Still . . . it is Sotheby's we are talking about here. They should be forthcoming in their appraisals and they should expect that sometimes they are indeed dealing with people who just may talk about what is actually going on where the sausages are made.

There is so much bullshit floating around in this world, and I call it like I see it. From mastectomies to Mikimoto. More later, I'm off to the pharmacy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Slumming at Sotheby's

I know it's been a while, but I've been busy having a life lately. About time, right? New York was a social whirlwind as my Filofax will attest. (And in Filofax news, I found the missing pages so my book is saved!)

I simply must share the hilariously educational Sotheby's story. The morning started out with a pop-in to Ralf's, where I found him with a client, so I knew he wouldn't be able to squeeze in Stephanie time before my lunch with Vicky of Chopard fame. Vicky took me to a fabulous lunch at La Goulue, a New York institution on Madison that has been around since 1972. It's closing its doors in April, another scary sign that even the top .0001 percent is hurting in this economy. I'm so glad I got to experience the resto for the first and last time with Miss Vicky.

After lunch, we headed back to Chopard and I showed Vicky and another Chopard staffer the suites I was bringing to Sotheby's for appraisal. Typically, no matter where you go, appraisers will lowball you—if you do end up selling to them, they want to get the stuff as cheap as possible. Chopard warned me that even Sotheby's does this; de-valuing things by at least 30 percent. (Good to know, right? Esp in this economy, where even PB ladies who lunch are hocking jewels left, right and center.)

Vicky and her coworker ooh and ahh-ed over the angelhair coral, the Chinese jade and an antique timepiece necklace that I threw in my bag as an afterthought. So they loved the pieces, and I worship Chopard, so I was confident that I wouldn't be laughed out of Sotheby's. Or kicked out. Meredith met me outside the building.

We meander our way into the appraisal area, which was completely empty, btw. A young, semi-dumpy-looking gal brought us in to a small room and I lay out the pieces for her. She takes the tray and brings it back to the more senior whodie-whos.

In walks a stunningly handsome and dapper young European of about 25. He starts talking whilst Meredith and I are drooling over him and fawning over the accent. Meredith was having her own delusions of grandeur about the value of these pieces while the first woman was out with the tray. She and I tend to think alike.

"So what would you sell it for?"

"I can't sell it, Roxy wrote it in her will."

"What?! What do you mean?"

"I mean, she literally wrote in the will that none of her descendents are allowed to sell any of her jewels. We are allowed to reset and rework them, but not allowed to sell. The bitch was nucking-futs; her jewelry was more important than her children."

"Yeah, but what if it's like worth a million?"

"Well, if it were worth that, of course. But it's not and I would still be afraid of a Roxy curse."

When Euro Guy said the below words, we had to clamp down on our tongues to keep from laughing. Mer and I couldn't even look at one another.

"Um, er, these pieces are quite stunning, but, er, Sotheby's has a minimum of $5,000 per piece."

I had my best poker face on since I'd been expecting something like this, would never sell and was doing this for shits and giggles—mission very accomplished. But Meredith was dying. I then told him to go ahead and go through the pieces, which he did. And let me tell you, I knew more about angelhair coral, jade and timepieces than this little hottie. Perhaps because I have three decades of innate 'training' and he has, oh probably two years.

He then moved on to the watch, which he said the watch expert placed at the turn of the century. I knew this watch was a little valuable per Landsberg's comments. So I started barraging him with questions that he clearly had no answers for. I asked him to open it, so he brought it back to the watch expert.

"Well," he said upon returning, "this is actually the most significant piece. He said it is from the estate of some prominent family who is a part of some kind of traveling theatrical endeavor."

WTF? Non-Queens English please. He took out the loop to read me the inscription:

"Well first it's made by CD Peacock in 1909. A very prominent jeweler. And the inscription reads 'Edith Dingling' I believe.

"Uh, do you mean Edith Ringling?"

"Yes! That's it." Clearly Euro Guy is new to the states.

"That would be Edith Ringling, the wife of Charles Ringling one of the brothers in Ringling Brothers' Barnum and Bailey Circus. [Hello, how could anyone not know Ringling Bros?] That makes perfect sense because my family is from Sarasota where the Ringlings lived, and Roxy bought a lot of pieces from her friend who was an estate jeweler."

"Ahhh," now he was interested, and a little embarrassed that the client knew 100-fold what he did. The only frame of reference he had for the Ringling Bros was when I told him that Great Expectations, the Ethan Hawke-Gwyneth Paltrow version was filmed at the Ringling Estate (now the Ringling museum) in Sarasota. Remember the disheveled manse that Anne Bancroft's character lived in? That's Edith and Charles' former home, Cá d'Zan.

The more I told him the more interested he became and he seemed a little reluctant to let this piece slip through his hands. As this piece clearly met their minimum. And I was eager to get it back and now even more sentimentally attached to the necklace knowing its history. I love that it was worn by such an important person whose family is such a significant part of Americana.

We left poor, handsome Euro Guy and finally released our pent-up giggles. Patsy and Edina were back, sans mid-day alcohol; a problem we solved by buying a couple bottles in the ground-floor wine store of Sotheby's. (FYI, they have all ranges of wines there, starting at about $15.)

We were still laughing, and I said, "I'll bet you anything he's an intern fresh off the boat."

I pulled out his card and gave it to her and sure enough, Euro Guy is a trainee. We were dying. And you can bet that I'm about to go to my safe to examine some other pieces for inscriptions. Roxy may have been a bitch on wheels—this was a woman who had a wake-up call service rouse my mom and aunt for school every day—but we benefited from her shopaholism.

More NY stories TK; you can see all the photos here.

[Editor's Note—I know Sotheby's is reading; don't let my words affect Euro Guy. He was perfectly lovely. However, Sotheby's, I would rethink sending in trainees to talk shop with clients. Appearances may be deceiving, and you never know when a potential client is well-educated in his or her own possessions. Just a thought. I'm here to help.]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sitting in FLL airport about to board my flight to New York, where I'll be living it up till Monday. Originally I'd hoped to do a little industry schmoozing this trip, but in the end—as my manuscript is not quite ready to share—I decided to make this a full-fledged vacay. This week last year, Ralf shaved my head, I was in the city post-chemo, uber-paranoid about germs and just not in a good state all around. This year, I'm healthy, happy, cancer-free, done with almost everything treatment-wise, and sporting a Jewfro. I see Ralf tomorrow, in the hopes of him giving me a wig adjustment so I don't have to wear a ghetto wig cap under my couture hairpiece.

Today I arrive at 2 p.m., head to the UES to drop off my bag at the apt I'm staying at, and then have an Orchid Imperiale facial at Guerlain in the Waldorf. The Guerlain in Bal Harbour is to die for, so I'm sure this one won't disappoint. Tonight is a much-needed girls' dinner downtown.

Tomorrow I have Ralf in the a.m., lunch with Vicky at Chopard. Soo excited to see Vicky and swap cancer stories and Sloan gossip.

I then am heading to Sotheby's, per Mrs. Olga Stern's suggestion, to have some very rare jewels of Roxy's appraised. Just for fun, but don't tell Sotheby's. Then it's dinner at Buddakan with Meredith and her friend who spends a lot of time in Miami. Super psyched to see that resto.

Saturday is a 5th Ave. day with Mer—lunch at BG cafe in Bergdorf's and lots of window shopping and perhaps scouting things out for mom and Lynn. Sunday night dinner with Michael, Saveira, Mer and her sis downtown. Sunday is a relaxing day, hopefully with brother and other friends I haven't seen in Months.

Monday afternoon departure and 12 a.m. arrival at FLL. Leave it to me to use points and book myself through ATL on the return flight. Oy. I must don the lymphedema garments worn above on the plane for preventative purposes.

Hems is watching my beloved Wally, so natch I left him incredibly obsessive and detailed instructions on what Wally likes and doesn't like, including how many times he should poop per day. I'm not used to leaving the little booger for so long without him being at mom and dad's house with his sissies. He's in good hands though.

Hems if you are reading this, don't fuck with him by staring him down and pulling you're "I'm going to hold him into submission!" Wally don't play like that.

And I found out this week that I only have two Herceptin infusions left, meaning April 21st marks my last trip to the chemo ward. You all know I'm going to have a party on 4/20 to celebrate! Shortly after I can have my port catheter removed! Woo-hoo the end-end is in sight. And I have the nips tattooed on March 30.

Normalcy is looming ahead, finally.
Ta until later.

Monday, March 09, 2009

So—one year ago tomorrow was my very first chemo treatment. One year and what a crazy one. Everyone—even fellow BC chicks—ask how I've been changed by this year. It's impossible to summarize; I think that those who know me best are the best ones to judge how it's changed me. For the better, for sure.

Thursday I head up to New York for another Cancerversary, the chemo one. It's the time last year when I went and had Ralf shave my head. When I got the wig and the worst side effects from that first chemo in the same few days.

God, I just looked at the above post and had a visceral, I-want-to-throw-up reaction. I never want to be the person in those photos again. Ever. I don't think I will; I really don't. I'm sure as hell doing everything preventatively that's available. But at moments like these, where I can look back over a terrible year and see that I've come out the other end healthy and happy, it pains me to think of the amazing people I've met who aren't so lucky in the Big C department. I wish I could do something for all of them, I really do.

One thing I can say about how my Cancer experience is that it made me even more grateful and awed by how truly blessed I am in the grand scheme of things—by my family, friends and even strangers.

I think I'll upload the video of Ralf shaving my head. I think I can do it now. I think it's time.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I had the quintessential Eastern experience yesterday. Beyond that even, in that it could be called a supernatural one. Or religious. Or whatever. It's been a while, I know. Meredith arrived Thursday and we spent four days like the Energizer bunny doing Bergdorf's. I drafted a nonstop itinerary for us packed from morning—yes, I was up—to night.

Friday we spent the day at the un-fucking-believable Spa at Icon Brickell. You can see all my photos on FB. We reveled in a decadent 2-hour treatment that began with reflexology and culminated with a raindrop essential oil massage.

I'll preface this by saying that my lymphdema has been in complete remission for months. I was directed by Muriel, my fabulous lymphedma therapist—hi Muriel!—to avoid that arm in massages though. Typically I have spa massages about twice a month, depending on what I'm writing about. Because of the remission, I neglected to instruct the therapist to avoid the left arm. Why? Because I thought for one time, it would be okay. That I could just be a normal patron.

Saturday night before heading to Prime Italian—to die for, but one of those places you'll wait an hour with reservations—I noticed my left arm beginning to hurt. I was aware, but chalked it up to paranoia and being insane in the membrane, if you will.

Sunday I awoke to excruciating back pain again, a la the expanders. You remember that? When every day I was faced with debilitating pain in my left scapula thanks to the 'skin stretching' brought on by the tissue expanders. You'll also perhaps recall that the back pain brought on by the horrific expansion process was one of the worst elements of my breast cancer battle.

Well, imagine being cancer-pain-free for months and then awakening to a pain associated with the worst part of the cancer ordeal. So that your mind automatically associates the pain with one of the most dire periods of your life. 'What,' my mind said, 'the hell is going on here? A flashback? A recurrence?' I thought this was over. I cringed with movement. I reached for the Tylenol, moved to the yoga mat, tried to stretch it out. All to no avail—this pain was sticking. Radiating from left boob to back. When you have breast cancer and your boob pulsates with pain, well it's not the easiest thing to deal with or downplay. I went downstairs to the gym where Meredith was and worked out through the pain. Not like I can't deal with pain, but behind the pain was the thought, 'holy shit what the fuck does this mean? Is this a sign that the cancer could be back?' We chalked it up to an awkward sleeping position and proceeded as planned, driving to the Neiman's outlet. (Big surprise.) By dinn time at Michael's Genuine, it was still hurting. I'd linked it to the massage by then, mentally punching myself for not knowing better.

(Indulge my long-windedness since this is my first post in a week+, a Dishalicious record.)

I knew Chad would be my first call in the a.m. and if he couldn't fix me up, the scary prospect of the plastic surgeon's diagnosis loomed.

Chad squeezed me in and I hobbled into the room.

"We'll do mostly energy work today. I have been trying to slowly build your body back up to being able to handle that kind of pressure, but it's not quite there yet."

He put more needles in me than usual and determined that my muscles were loose, concluding even that I'd been over-massaged this month.

At the end of the session, he instructed me to "breath in and out, expelling the bad energy out of your body as if it's water being pushed through a hose."

I began doing that whilst thinking 'ugh, I'm never good at this breathing shit; he's so going to know that my mind is racing and not able to grasp the concept of expelling bad energy from my body.'

Then the unthinkable (to me) happened. As Chad's hands were hovering about two inches above my left arm, he began brushing the air between us, from the shoulder down to the fingertips. I tried to visualize the water thing, and while I was doing that, I felt what can best be described as a magnetic type force in that empty space between us. I could feel the energy coming from his hands, sweeping my 'bad energy' out of my system. The hair on my arms stood up, I had a warm tingly feeling, the whole nine. It was my first true spiritual experience in that the energy was actually tangible. Even though this whole time I've been saying that Chad 'healed' me, I'd never quite fully grasped what being a 'healer' meant. I don't want to cheapen this experience by sounding like a New Age freak, but it is what it is. My back feels better, I'm less depressed than I was yesterday and I have tangible evidence that acupuncture is a whole hell of a lot more than needles.

Below is Chad's bio. Laura went to him once and is now hooked as well. The night she got treated for the first time, she slept like a baby—something she hadn't done in ages.

As Shin’s resident acupuncture, tai-chi and martial arts expert, Chad Bailey brings an enormous wealth of knowledge and expertise to each of his sessions. He discovered the martial arts at the tender age of 12 while growing up in rural Pennsylvania and his love for the eastern teachings quickly developed into a much deeper passion. He earned his under-graduate degree at Temple University in exercise physiology and did his graduate work in oriental medicine at The International Institute of Chinese Medicine in Santa Fe. While in Philadelphia, Chad had founded his own martial arts center and used the move to Santa Fe as an opportunity to expand his passion for teaching. It was here that he was able to experience a wide range of fighting styles and self-defense techniques. He relocated to Miami in 1995 and discovered Shin during its earliest stages. Now, as a fixed member of the Shin community, Chad offers acupuncture and needle-less acupuncture, teaches tai-chi, herbology, Chinese diet therapy as well as Qi Gong, a form of meditative breathing. - David Gonzalez