Friday, September 29, 2006

Dense boob and spotty skin

Thinking I was being proactive and wise, and finally in a financial position where I could actually afford two co-payments, I decided to schedule my doctor's appointments all in one day. You know, get it over with and pat myself on the back for having been so responsible.

So yesterday I left my apartment at 7:30am and set off for my yearly gyno checkup, coffee in hand, waiting-room book in purse. 45 minutes later I was laying on the table chatting with the doctor while she was feeling me up.

"Hmmm... have you ever noticed this dense spot right here when you do your self-exams?"

"Uh... no." What I failed to articulate was that I rarely do self-exams because I have no idea what exactly I'm looking for. Apparently, it's dense spots.

She started talking very quickly. "Well, I'm going to have my nurse call you later today to set up an appointment for an ultrasound just to make sure that this spot isn't something we should be keeping an eye on. Don't worry, I'm sure it's absolutely nothing since you have no history, you're still so young, yada yada yada. The reason we're not going to do a mamogram is because it's often hard on women in their 20's since their breasts are still so firm."

She was smart to end the speech with that. I was so happily distracted by the fact that my breasts are still firm, I honestly didn't think much about the dense spot. Ultrasound? Sure, why not?! Sign me up.

8:30am and I'm in my car off to my next appointment, the dermatologist to get a few moles checked out. After waiting for just a few minutes in the exam room, clad in a paper gown, work pants and heels, my new doctor breezes in.

"Wow! You're spotty!"

Uh-oh. At this point she'd just seen my face and neck.

"Um, yeah. Always have been."

"So which moles were bothering you?"

I showed her my upper arm and stomach.

"Oh yeah," she declared after about .2 seconds of looking at both, "Those are coming off. Today."

Now, I've already had two moles removed (hot, right?), so I know that it's no big deal. But today?


"Today. I'm pretty booked with surgeries, but I'm going to beg my nurse to squeeze in another. This one doesn't worry me so much, but this one... yada, melanoma... yada, 5mm all the way around it... yada, if it's cancerous we'll shoot ink all up your arm to make sure it hasn't spread... yada yada yada."


"Um, ok."

"Oh, and by the way, the scar on this one is going to be big and ugly. And you will be coming to me every 6 months for checkups from now on."

We ended up not doing it that day, but scheduling it for a week and a half later. So at 9:45 I was in my car, headed off for a full day of work. I'm not really worried about any of these things, I know all of this is just precautionary and all. It's just that that was a lot of information to take in before 10am. I had barely had my coffee, for Christ's sake.

Maybe next time I'll stagger my doctor's appointments a little bit.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Weekend stats

# of hours since I finally broke down and had cable installed: 56
# of episodes of 30-Minute Meals watched since then: 5
# of cheesy/great movies watched since then: 4

# of afternoon naps: 1
# of motorcycle rides: 1
# of times spotting my real-life girlcrush: 1
# of rehearsals: 1
# of free Macy's giftcards received: 1
(# of times getting yelled at in the line to receive said giftcard by people who were taking the whole thing way to seriously: 2)

# of bars: 4
# of CD's purchased on 2
# of laughs with friends: um... like 100
# of plane tickets purchased: 2
# of hours slept: 15

Amount of progress made on 2nd edition of my column that is due this week: 0


Sunday, September 03, 2006


Anyone who has known me for an extended period of time knows that I am not at all afraid of big changes.

Long hair? Chop it off!

When it's summer, I can't wait for fall. At the end of high school, I was ready for college. Senior year of college, I itched to get out into the real world.

When I'm single, I long for someone to date. When I'm dating someone, I want my freedom back.

Impromptu, unplanned weekend trip? Bring it!

I'll pick up my whole life and move so quickly that some people who know me are left in a cloud of dust scratching their heads.

And lord knows I am not afraid to change jobs. Take my last switch, for instance. Those who know me well were excited. Those who don't know me well just blinked a few times and said, "Again?" when I announced the news that I was starting something new.

But for some reason, yesterday when my friend suggested that I sell my bulky camera on e-Bay and get something more compact so that I could actually use it in most situations, I kinda balked.

"Come on," she said, "let's just put a notice up on Craigslist and we'll see how much you can get for it."

"Um, let me think about it for a few days."

Very un-Rees-like.

Or is it? I've been complaining about my cumbersome camera for months, why not just do something about it? Then I started thinking about other little things, like the old workout socks that were full of holes that I finally replaced two weeks ago - after about four years. The stupid paper yellow cat lamp that I know is silly-looking, but that I've had since college and can't bring myself to throw away, no matter how much of an eyesore it is to my living room. But why would I get rid of it? It's a perfectly good lamp.

Could it be that I'm so intrinsically cheap that it takes me four years to convince myself to spend $10 on new socks and sources of light? Or is it that these old items provide some sense of grounding and security in a life that enjoys turning on a dime? It's like they're relics of who I am now, who I was then, and that journey of becoming. Maybe my hesitancy to get rid of my camera is because it was a Christmas gift, and therefore something to treasure, no matter how inconvenient.

Or maybe I'm just too lazy to deal with selling it and buying a new one. (Did I also mention that in addition to not being afraid of change, I'm also not afraid of overanalyzation?)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

My day with Jost

Monday of this last week, I had the distinct pleasure of riding around with Jost Hopler, an Austrian winemaker whose line we carry.

Jost is a tall, somewhat reserved man in his early 60's who completely captures the old-world European charm that Americans tend to fantasize about. Dressed modestly in a neat button-down shirt and tie, he opened every door and never once let me touch the bag that we used to tote his wines. He was soft-spoken, but seemed to have plenty to say.

Jost has been in the wine business since the mid-1960's when he started out as an apprentice in Australia. He started his own winery in 1980, and not only serves as the winemaker, but also as the front-man and voice for his business, traveling to the States at least three times a year, not to mention his other markets around the world as well.

We went around all day to a diverse assortment of my clients, and Jost talked proudly to them about the methods used in crafting each of the six bottles that were with us. I watched as he slowly captivated the sometimes cynical buyers with his sincerity, and could tell that they were not only impressed with his gorgeous offerings, but that they, like me, felt a bit enamored with the man himself. When we left each destination we would chat about the person we were just with. I would give him the scoop on how they usually behaved around me, and he would give me his assessment of the situation, speaking from years of experience dealing with buyers all over the world. He was usually very polite with his observations, but every now and again he would catch me pleasantly off guard and be a bit more mischievous - like when he described one banquet manager as a "country bumpkin", which lead to a whole discussion about rednecks.

How could I not love this day? Is there any other job in the world that can land you in a half-joking, half-serious discussion about rednecks with a 60 year old Austrian man?

It was after this particular snippet that Jost invited me to join him for dinner that evening. How could I possibly refuse? After a few minutes of thought, I knew the perfect place for us to go. The French brasserie near my apartment is the perfect side of Richmond to show a visitor - the wine is good, the people are pretty, the decor is relaxing, and best of all, the wine buyer is an old friend of mine and I knew that he and Jost would hit if off perfectly.

As we sat at our table and enjoyed our monkfish entrees, I watched as the wine buyer and Jost bonded. I could have listened to them talk all night. They both share the same unique situation - they have been in the wine business for 40+ years, but neither are stuffy about it, in fact they are incredibly current with new producers and trends. I am boggled at how much I could learn from both of them.

As the evening continued, I probed Jost for more information about his home town. Oddly, Vienna sounded a lot like Richmond. Rich with tradition and good people, but currently battling a lot of crime and poverty. In fact, Jost and his wife had experienced a break-in at their home last year, right around the same time I did. I was oddly comforted by this fact - it's nice to know that you are not alone in situations like that, and we chatted about the different feelings that are evoked when that happens to you.

I asked for more details about how interesting his travels must be, and how gratifying it is to see people all over the world enjoying his products. I almost cried when he told me how the hustle-bustle of travel is exciting, but how when he goes home a long walk through his vineyards grounds him again, and he remembers what it is all for. He shared how honored and pleased he was when his daughter decided to get married in the vineyard, and when his son came to him wanting to get into the family business.

This is what it is all about, this bond between family, the work, and the land. Beautiful simplicity is hard to find in today's world, and it is what draws me to this industry. Yes, there is a lot of excitement and running around and hard work, but at the end of the day it's the beautiful simplicity of it all that keeps me coming back.

Plus, it's nice to know that I now have an open invitation to visit and stay in Vienna whenever I would like to.