Two Sundays ago, I spent a few hours standing in front of Wal-Mart with a friend collecting donations for the 3-Day. I know some people find those folks annoying, but I feel like in this economy, it's an easy way to gather several little donations that can make a big difference. (I collected a total of $350 on two different afternoons!!)

Just as I was getting ready to pack up, an older gentleman approached and said he was going to give me $1 and a piece of his mind. As foreboding as that sounds, he only somewhat grumpily complained that his 16-year-old daughter had wanted to do the 3-Day (or maybe the Avon Walk?) but couldn't because of the fundraising amount.

I spared him my rant on HOW MUCH TIME I'VE POURED INTO FUNDRAISING and how SOMETIMES I THINK IT WOULD BE EASIER TO SET MYSELF ON A MONTHLY PAYMENT PLAN AND JUST DONATE IT ALL MYSELF. Instead, I just smiled and admitted it was a large challenge. (Besides, I'm too poor to actually donate $2,300 to anything all in one year.)

But that's the point - it is a big challenge ... Huge.

Raising $2,300 is supposed to be hard. Not like "discovering you have breast-cancer and must have toxins poured in you body" hard. And not like "asking your husband to shave your head because chemo has already caused too much of your hair to fall out" hard. And certainly not like "the cancer seems to be gone for now but could return. sometime. who knows when" hard.

But it needs to be hard enough that those with intense passion feel like they are doing something BIG. Because breast cancer is big and bold and (so far, anyway) hasn't disappeared just because someone tapped it on the shoulder and told it that it wasn't playing fair.

Raising that much money and walking that far is supposed to (in my humble opinion) bring normally competent adults and VERY competent teens to the place where they think they can't go any farther. So they can do it anyway. Because at any given moment, there are hundreds of thousands of people who are experiencing that very same but much more concrete emotion through no choice of their own - maybe through illness or poverty or war or crime or any of the large number of the rest of us would prefer to know very little about.

If you think about it, you know someone in that position right now. If you don't, maybe you need to get out more.

Anyway, there are a plethora of events (Race for the Cure, local breast-cancer walks, etc.) that give people ways to contribute on a smaller scale, but much of the beauty of the 3-Day is its scale. The event Web site might say things like "Small sacrifice, big reward" and "end breast cancer," but from my perspective, walking 60 miles over 3 days and raising $2,300 requires more than passing interest.

Realistically, not everyone can do it. And I'll be the first to admit that I haven't been doing it alone.

And that's OK; it's supposed to be hard.
Labels: 15 comments | Links to this post | edit post
For weeks now, my spare set of car keys has been sitting on the floor of my back seat. Yes, INSIDE the car. I don't really remember how they got there. Or why I don't pick them up any of the five million times when I saw them and thought, "Some day, you're going to lock BOTH sets of keys in the car and have to explain to a locksmith exactly how you got in this situation. He will undoubtedly laugh..."

Anyhoo, I locked my keys - the ones I was actually using - in the trunk.

With Crystal's help.

We were loading stuff in the trunk after a Wal-Mart trip and somehow I dropped my keys in the trunk when I slid my hand through the handle of the plastic bags. Only, I didn't notice right away and Crystal closed the trunk.

And then I was like, "Where are my keys? That's funny, I just had them."

And then I KNEW.

Thankfully, I had unlocked the car doors and it only took me 5 minutes or so to locate the back-seat keys beneath all the crap (er, stuff I will need any minute now) there. Moral of this story? Sometimes being a slob pays off. :)
A while ago, Wanda e-mailed me to tell me about her teammate, and SHEro, Sue, who was keeping up with plans to walk in the Seattle 3-Day despite being diagnosed with breast cancer about two months into training.

She had originally signed up to honor her grandma and her daughter. Grandma died in December 2003 about two months after being diagnosed with Stave IV breast cancer. Her daughter, Justine, displayed a pink ribbon on her car after that and died herself (not of breast cancer) in March 2007.

I haven't heard how the Seattle walk went for Sue, but I see on her fundraising page that she raised $4,650, exceeding her goal of $4,600. (Yay!) She also offers another reason to keep up with annual mammograms:

It had been almost two years since my last mammogram so I made an appointment. Today after a followup mammogram (magnified) and a biopsy it was determined that I have Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

Ductal carcinoma in situ is a pre-cancerous condition in which abnormal cells are confined to the milk ducts in the breast. Most noninvasive breast cancers are DCIS—according to the American Cancer Society, of the in situ breast cancers diagnosed from 2000-2004, 80% were DCIS.

Many women diagnosed at this early stage of breast cancer can be cured by removing the tissue that contains the tumor. IF LEFT UNTREATED, DCIS can become invasive. Because DCIS typically has no physical signs or symptoms, it is usually detected by a screening mammogram. So...Get your annual mammogram TODAY.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure recommends annual mammograms starting at age 40 for those without any increased risk factors for breast cancer. Get more info here.

(Have a motivational or inspirational breast cancer story to share? E-mail me at jillianduch@hotmail.com)
So, once upon a time, I knew a girl who longed for a boy who would read her e.e. cummings. And, for awhile, that made ME long for a boy who would read ME e.e. cummings.

When I was older, and more practicality than romance ran through my veins, I simply TOLD a boy who was on his way to making a serious commitment that I used to love the idea of reading e.e. cummings with a boy. No need to hint, right? What's hotter than a man who declared he would capitalize and punctuate when he damn well wanted to capitalized and punctuate?

It never happened.

This boy used to sing me country songs with a romantic flare, but no e.e. cummings. But does "Hey, good lookin'? What you got cookin'?" compare with:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,
my darling)i fear no fate
(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,
my true)and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Or with:

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you
,i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh ... And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you so quite new

No, no, I think we can all see that it doesn't compare. And now, I'm afraid, the moment has almost passed...
When I am a millionaire, I will work part-time at a large bookstore chain so I can read their books and drink coffee/chai latte on breaks only to return the books I don't love to the shelf -- thereby sticking "to the man" all the money I spent on books before becoming filthy rich.

And I deeply believe there will be bookstores then, not simply a plethora of Kindles and people tapping on screens. Books smell good, people, and you can fall asleep reading them. Whoever feel asleep with a mini-computer in their hand? Unless they were drunk computer-science majors?

Anyway, partially in the spirit of keeping bookstores alive and (more honestly) because I could not help myself, I walked into a book store today to get the book for tomorrow's book club and ended up with three other books.

One, a book I read ages ago but never bought but simply had to in case I ever get a craving.

Two, Son of a Witch, by Gregory Macguire. It's the sequel to Wicked, so I kind of feel like I should re-read that since my memory of it has been tarnished by seeing the musical -- must have been two years ago. The musical was great - hilarious, good costumes - but it didn't do the book justice. But every time I think about reading it, I remember I was to re-read the Harry Potter series because I DEVOURED it in a week or so (seriously, I pulled a few all-nighters on that one) and thus missed some of the finer points. Then, I get so lost in indecision over what to read first, that I don't start either. But now that I own Son of a Witch, I'm much more likely to read either Harry Potters (at least the later books) or Wicked.

So, that was a good purchase.

And then, because I once loved Starbucks and still love memoirs, I got How Starbucks Saved My Life, by Michael Gates Gill. The author, according to the book jacket, had a long career in advertising, lost it all, and ended up working at Starbuck, which he now called the best job he ever had. It left me wondering two things: 1) has he discovered a secret to writing success I need to emulate? and 2) exactly how much did his previous jobs suck?

The book I went there to get, Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear, looks pretty good. The book club ladies generally have good picks. I'll let you know if I finish it by 7:30 tomorrow night :)
Not everyone can walk 60 miles. Simply because SOMEONE has to serve dinner, and stock the tent with the vibrating foot massagers, and put up directional signs, and shuffle the luggage around.

This week's motivation comes from a woman who decided to give of herself in a way that best matches her abilities. Stephanie Jackson will be crewing in Arizona Nov. 13-15, and although there's not fundraising requirement for crew members, she's raised a little over $900. Good job, Stephanie!

I am a crew member and this will be my first year participating. I moved here from Italy and I didn't even know about the 3-Day!!! I am crewing because I can not walk. I have a hip condition (my bones aren't shaped right) that would make walking close to impossible. I want to participate because my great grandma has breast cancer. She is such a strong and fiery lady. Seeing her lose her hair and lose the spark about her is heart breaking. I don't want anyone to go through that.

From Jill: If you're interested in sharing your own inspiration for walking/crewing in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, e-mail it to me at jillianduch@hotmail.com.

Seriously, I saw a guy holding this sign at a cheering station in the first 3-Day I walked (Chicago 2007). Back when I sported a cute pink backpack because, obv., fanny packs are dorky.

But backpacks made me unnecessarily sore. A created an uncomfortable back-sweat spot. And I think I read someplace that worn long-term, they throw off your stride because they move your center of gravity. Or some such blather.

So, I have a hydration pack. That I stuff with Aleve (I'm realistic, people), extra-large BandAids for big blisters, Clif peanut butter bars (they look weird, but taste pretty good), my ID, moleskin and BandAids made specifically for blisters on fingers and toes. These special bandages are a little pricey, but totally worth it. They are super-sticky, so they stay on no matter how much you sweat (perspire? glisten?) or shower. They also are rather cushiony, so (in my experience) they don't allow the blister to continue to rub against, say, the side of the shoe.

The hydration, er, fanny pack also is big enough for my cell phone and a poncho. The latter which I hope I never have to use.
It doesn't rain in D.C. right?

(Just three weeks until the big walk!!)
Labels: 0 comments | Links to this post | edit post
As you may (or likely have not) noticed, my very first blog post was April 22. That means Sept. 22 will be chailatteplease.blogspot.com's 6th-month anniversary. Half-birthday?

I've mostly babbled about books and walking and breast cancer, but my readership has grown from 44 absolute unique visitors in June to 627 absolute unique visitors in August. (I didn't discover Google Analytics until June 15, and I still haven't figured out what an absolute unique visitor is, but I assume that doesn't count all the times I click on my own blog to check for misspellings or new comments).

I don't really have any lofty goals of pulling in advertising revenue or launching BlackJack's television career via this blog, but I like writing outside work and knowing that SOMEONE reads it. You know, besides my grandma and my roommate.

So, in honor of chailatteplease.blogspot.com's almost-half-birthday, let me point you to a super-interesting blog that caught tons of attention last week. I read about it here, and then I finally skimmed through a few weeks worth of posts tonight. It's a healthy reminder that just because you think you know about homelessness, or people who can't make ends meet, or 20-somethings who can't seem to find a job, doesn't mean you actually know anything about anything ;)
Labels: 1 comments | Links to this post | edit post
Let's raise our shoes to a woman who fought breast cancer twice, fought to serve in the Navy after being diagnosed, and only lost one of those battles. This came from her friend, Janita, who will serve on the medical crew in San Diego this year.

April 6, 2001, I woke up early and dressed professionally and prepared for the drive for the Naval Reserve unit I had just joined. I was 36 and had been welcomed back into the military world. I was able to lift my head again. After driving 45 minutes I arrived at the unit and begin to get introduced to the many men and women who were my new shipmates.

That weekend there was another woman who had rejoined, but although her story was similar in that she had been forced to the Navy before, the reason why was not by her doing. She had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, gone through treatment and been deemed unable to continue with military service. That was 3 1/2 years earlier, and now after a legal battle had been allowed to reenlist.

Three years went by and be had become good friends. I learned that this friend had two young girls which she had been forced to raise on her own because her husband had not been able to deal with her original BC diagnosis.

The one and only training trip we were ever able to take together we to Naval Air Station, San Diego, that was a great weekend. On April 4, 2004, I lost my father to heart failure, resulting from cardiogenic shock. Eventually, I withdrew from active drilling, but my friend continued on. We remained friends, though we weren't able to visit as often. That fall my friend celebrated 5 years free from BC and decided to have reconstructive surgery done, she had been wearing prosthetics up to this point.

After surgery, she began having problems with the healing of the incision and the implant had to be removed, shortly after this tests found that she was to battle BC again, except this time is was found in her bone marrow. And battle she did, with chemo flowing within her veins and God fighting on her side.

One evening in the summer of 2007, my friend was watching television and watching bruises break out on her legs spontaneously. The next round of blood tests revealed that the chemo had caused her to develop thrombocytopenea and chemo had to stop, and there was nothing else the doctors could help her fight with. God, family and her beautiful young girls were all she had to help her fight from then on.

Her condition began to worsen, and her doctors decided that a trip to Mayo should be made. When she got there, the doctors there advised to to get her affairs in order and the prognosis was terminal. Her family had a benefit for her before this trip and much was raised in order to pay for this trip.

While at the benefit, plans were made for a "ladies night" was to be had in order to celebrate the birthday of the US Navy, and it was to be a PJ party. Several of us arrived, and a couple were missed, but there also was her two daughters dressed to be our side boys, and her brother was there to visit (he stayed with their sister that night). We honored the Navy, then honored one another, but most of all we honored our mutual friend. One of her other friends (Senior Chief), spoke of their plans to fly to Hawaii within the next few weeks. We prayed that she would be able to go.

As the next couple of weeks passed, her condition worsened and the airlines deemed her unable to fly and they would not be able to secure her well being. During this time she had to go to the hospital several to have fluid drained from her chest as it was making it difficult to breath. I find it hard to remember exactly what day it was, but the day came when I was told by Senior Chief that our friend had passed, she had gone to a hospice house and was surrounded by friends and family and her girls.

I could only go to the wake, but go I did. There she was, dressed in Blues, she was beautiful, and she was most honored that day.

I chose that fall to help her fight breast cancer in the only way I knew how, to walk in Chicago at the Breast Cancer 3-day. I walked last summer in honor of Margaret's memory, This year I will use my nursing education to honor those who are able to continue their personal fights.

God's Peace to all!

Crewzn' 60
Chicago, Walker, 2008
San Diego, Medical Crew, 2009

From Jill: If you're interested in sharing your own inspiration for walking the in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, e-mail it to me at jillianduch@hotmail.com.
So, This Cool Girl From Work and I were sitting in a booth away from the crowd at a bar, ignoring the fact that our position made us look somewhat like the chaperones at a high school dance, when this random guy appears. Random Guy announces his friends are being lame and asks if he could join us.

Hoping that by "join us" he meant "purchase you lovely ladies adult beverages," we said yes. The adult beverages were not immediately forthcoming, but we learned that he wasn't exaggerating when he said his friends were being lame -- one apparently thought sweatpants were appropriate attire for a bar, although a doormen had disagreed and refused entry. This particular bar, obviously, had been somewhat understanding.

We met Sweatpants and learned about his Other Rotund Friend, and then Random Guy shared that he was going through a divorce. But, you know, they really only got married because she was diagnosed with cancer and needed his health insurance. And now she was cancer free, so... But it still hurt.

Yes, Random Guy really said that. After That Cool Girl From Work had indicated that I, too, was divorced.

I will admit, while my divorce was pending, I subjected a few unfortunate souls to long monologues of everything that I thought might have gone wrong with my marriage, etc., but now that I'm on the other side of that molehill, I cringe just thinking about it. If you were one of those unfortunate souls, I apologize.

But, in the era of starter marriages and high divorce rates, many singletons ages 27 to 35 are divorced. And whether they ultimately think their previous marriages were loveless, fraught with cheating or just plain dumb, few likely will believe that Random Guy's marriage came down to health insurance.

Maybe he wasn't as supportive as Ex-Mrs. Random Guy would have liked throughout the cancer issues. Maybe when he got insecure about the marriage, he mention his "we only marriage for health insurance" theory and that didn't go well. Maybe his lame friends were always around. Maybe he wasn't ready to get married when they did. Maybe it was a lot of things neither of them really knew how to deal with.

But maybe it's better not to reduce months/years of your life and months/years of the life of someone you once promised to love forever into a handful of words you toss at two partially buzzed women you just approached in a bar.

It might evoke sympathy.

Or it might ring a little hollow, or leave one of them wondering what her ex-husband tells people about their marriage.
One of my favorite stories from Hoopeston is the National Sweetheart Pageant.

No, really.

All of the runners up in the state Miss America pageants are invited for a pageant in the small town during its annual sweet corn/Labor Day festival. The judges are from the Miss America circuit, so this gives the runners up another opportunity for feedback and a glimpse of the competition they could face if they make it to the national pageant the following year.

So, as long as I was in town Sunday and they were having an autograph session, I asked them to sign well-wishes in honor of my 3-Day team, Ms. America Tatas. Here are some of them:

I don't think I appreciated Hoopeston, Ill., as much as I should have when I was living there.

Don't get me wrong, Hoopeston is the first place I remember hearing the supposed adage - Small towns, small minds - and some of my experiences reinforced that when I was the editor of a small weekly paper there (circa 2003-2004).

An angry crowd gathered outside a city council meeting protesting Wiccans who wanted to open a "school" in town. A family wrote a letter to the editor complaining because their loved one didn't win a community award sponsored by the paper. One of the few African-American residents in town awoke one morning to find a burnt cross in his front yard.

It seemed like some people thought all (well, many of) my ideas were bad and would rather tell me about how things had always been than support a 22-year-old who was trying something new. I remember one woman commenting, "Gosh, you really don't know anything," (or something similar) when I asked for background on a building project. A seemingly friendly gentleman I met at the library suggested I read up on farming techniques so others didn't think I was some snotty college graduate who made a lot more money than they did.

(If you're wondering, I did pick up a few non-fiction, farming related books, but they did not influence any conversation I had with anyone the whole time I was there. Or ever, for that matter.)

In the defense of the townfolk, I did some bizarre things in the thrones of the culture shock that comes from moving from a college town to a small, relatively lower-middle-class farming community of 6,000. Like, I wore the cute, black boots I bought as souvenirs of a trip to Italy everywhere for the first two weeks until I got sick of the heels sinking into the grass. I started going to church but, when asked what I thought of the service, honestly answered that I found Christianity rather patriarchal. I also was taken aback by how many complete strangers tried to hug me at church.

But The Chronicle gave me the most freedom I've ever had on a job. For about a year, the weekly paper partially reflected my personality, from my love of using Impact font for headlines to scanning teenagers' art and publishing it in my version of a "lifestyle" section. I spent time talking with local high school journalism students and published some of the articles they wrote in class, which I believe my predecessor did as well. I helped another reporter write a two-part series on methamphetamine, which was a hot topic but a little more intense than what typically runs in a small weekly paper. I daydreamed about writing a book.

I tried to remember the "old me" as my parents and I ate corn at the Sweetcorn Festival yesterday. Within five seconds of parking, we witnessed a woman scream, perhaps on the edge of violence, at a boy who seemed about 11 or 12. But there were families fishing in the lagoon, National Sweetheart Pageant contestants signing autographs in the Civic Center, and people with aluminum pans standing in line for free corn.

When I lived in Hoopeston, I was SO clueless that I was clueless to the fact I was clueless. Er, almost.

But I also was passionate, hard-working, and rather ill-equipped to handle small-town journalism. I let typos slip into the paper, but I got to tour a factory for the first time, plant a few rows of beans while hanging out with a farmer for a morning, ride along with a police officer, and cover a fire that destroyed a whole block.

I just didn't really realize how much fun I was having while I was doing it.
For me, Perrie Adams' story illustrates the 3-Day saying: We are strong because the journey demands it. She's the winner of our Pink Lemonade necklace giveaway, and a powerful reason to hit the road and walk today. Perrie Adams, I raise my shoe to you!

On October 8, 2004, I was diagnosed with aggressive Stage 3 breast cancer. I was 34-years-old, 16 weeks pregnant with twins, and a mother to a 5 year old daughter. In one year, I received 8 chemo treatments (3 of which while pregnant!), 4 surgeries (mastectomy while pregnant,emergency c-sect, full hysterectomy, another mastectomy with a full TRAM reconstruction) , birthed premature twin boys (they arrived the day before my 35th birthday on 12/23/04) and 35 radiation session treatments. My plate was full to say the least.

It isn't really until now that I can see what a challenge that year was. It is by God's grace, a positive attitude, strong faith, many prayers, lots of love and support from family, friends, neighbors and strangers that I am cancer-free and am able to walk in this incredible journey of LIFE! My hair has returned, scars have healed--no one "sees" my story anymore. My busy 4-year-old boys are also thriving although they have a few special needs, and my beautiful daughter is now 9.

My grandmother and mother both died of breast cancer. My sister Kalie was diagnosed 3 months before me at the age of 40. She, too, is cancer free now. Unfortunately we both carry the hereditary BRAC-2 gene.

In October of 2006 I walked in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day walk for a cure. I personally raised over $10,000 that year. I walked so my three children will one day escape this disease. I walked to honor all of you who believed I could beat the odds. I walked for all those who took care of my loved ones and me. I walked for my loving and devoted husband, Patrick who is "my rock" and who told me "Everything is going to be all right." I walked so that another woman does not face this diagnosis during pregnancy. I walked for all those touched by this disease. I walked for all of my fantastic doctors who got me through the scariest time in my life. I walked for faith, hope and love--( my motto). I walked because I could. I hope to walk again this October to celebrate my 5 year survivorship.

On the flip side of this incredible experience, I have to say nothing really prepares you for this life-changing disease. I had to learn that 1) I could not manage it all by myself 2) I needed to let people (even strangers) into my life to help me... meals, prayer, support etc 3) As a mother, I had to fight with EVERYTHING I had. I learned that I am strong even on my weakest days. 4) Life continues on even while you have cancer 5) Cancer was an incredible lonely experience despite having so many people descend on your life...it's you vs. the cancer and 6) in the rush of trying to keep some level of "normalcy" and keeping up with a "busy" life (surgeries, kids, husband, doctors etc) there were a lot of things I did not have time to examine or evaluate. Now that I am almost 5 years out, this huge thunderstorm of my life has cleared but definitely has left its mark on my day-to-day life.

One thing that I don't think a lot of people talk about is the financial stress of enduring breast cancer when you have small children. The debt that we have incurred is a big one because we had to spend so much money on child care . For example, initially when my boys came home from the NICU I hired a baby RN that was experienced in preemies and in twins... at $20.00/hr! I had to have someone I could fully count on to take care of my kids when I was going through chemo, treatments, surgeries etc. After the twins were big enough, I found another nanny for $15.00/hr.

It was all worth it in order for me to heal and for my 3 kids to have something steady in their lives during a very chaotic time. But now we have to chip away at this debt that we have incurred... a constant reminder of some of the sacrifices we made. I try to keep everything in perspective and know the gift I have of life.

I will turn 40 this December... I have marked this my transformation year... I feel now that I can focus on my good health, lose this extra weight that has piled on, accept my battle scars, learn to love myself and finally figure out what "to do" with this experience so that I can help others have hope when they are going through something similar. A lot of work still ahead but it is all so exciting! I think I am in for my biggest emotional transformation yet!

Thanks for allowing me to share my story! http://www.the3day.org/goto/perrieadams

(From Jill: You can share the reasons you walk or your experiences with breast cancer by e-mailing me at jillianduch@hotmail.com)
There are plenty of diversions in the land of no cell-phone reception. My favorites are two kitties, a big doggy and tons of chickens. And tons of open space to play ball with BlackJack.

I'm spending Labor Day weekend on my parents' "farm," with a little side trip to the Hoopeston Sweetcorn Festival. I haven't been to the little town that set the scene for my first job in months (maybe years) but I kind of felt like a little drive down memory lane. And all the buttery sweet corn you can eat for $2.

As for The Curly One, he hasn't had too much luck making friends here.

Xena (or Gabby, I don't know) ran up a utility pole at the sight of him. There was some hissing and growling from both the cats.

He LOVED the chickens but the feeling SO wasn't mutual. They, too, ran.

And Peabody (strings of drool and all) waited for someone to play with him. He waited a long time.

Labels: 0 comments | Links to this post | edit post
and red just fades away.

I was going for startling red hair. Like Bree on Desperate Housewives. And then it faded to the point that the Lady At The Coffee Cart asked if I was trying out a new color as I payed $1.32 for my third cup of coffee for the day.

This was the faded version:

So, I redid it. And looked like this (for two days):

So, ladies, being a feminist, I completely believe that you shouldn't always rely on a man to do things for you around the house. That's why I tackled the no-longer-flushing-when-you-touched-the-handle toilet problem myself.

Right after I considered asking The Neighbor Man Whose Cat Only Drinks From The Toilet to help me. And after I tried to describe the problem to my mom over the phone. And after That Guy Who Really Likes to Text (or Sir TextALot, if you will) diagnosed that the cylinder thing that covers the discharge hole in the tank was sealing too tightly. Only he pointed, so I had no idea what that thing was called.

Figuring new parts were in order, I ended up at a big box store. In plumbing, I found an aisle with copper pipes and weird cinch-looking things and new toilets. And what do you know, they had entire toilet tanks you could buy for $30.

I consulted my mom via phone and she informed me that the $30 tanks likely did not have working parts inside. She told me to find the aisle with toilet parts, which is harder than it sounds. (None were actually label "toilet parts.")

So, I figured it was time to ask an employee for help. But what words to use? I consulted Sir TextALot.

Him: Not sure...if ur at a store, u could call it the seal for the hole that opens when u flush the toilet
Me: So many ways that can be misinterpreted.
Him: Indeed. Just tell him you have a tight flapper.
Me: OK. I giggle just reading that.
Him: He can tell it's your first time. He'll be gentle.
Me: So, what's the thing the flapper goes into called?
Him: The flapper doesn't go into anything. It just covers the hole until u touch the handle and make all the liquid rush out.

Hehe. I find an older male employee. Explain that I believe the thing that comes up when you push the lever is sealing too tightly. Manage not to blush.

He tells me he is sure that it is not sealing too tightly, I must be confused. Generally, they seal too loosely and run constantly. That was definitely not my problem, but I'm relieved to see in the parts section that there is something that is actually called a flapper. But it has a chain. And I remember no chain anywhere in my toilet.

Again, the friendly employee tells me I'm confused. And he's right, I am.

I just purchase a universal flapper and hope for the best. Sure enough, the thing I purchased somewhat resembles a drain stopper, and the thing in my toilet looks like a cylinder with a rubber ring at the bottom. I take my toilet apart, and discover the rubber ring, which butts up against another rubber ring, has detached from the cylinder. I caulk the rubber ring back onto the cylinder...

What? Yes, I have asked boys to caulk for me in the past 6 months because I "couldn't do it right." It's true. I can't properly caulk. I get that gooey stuff all over the place. And I had to be shown how to LOAD a caulking gun a mere few months ago. But no one sees the inside of the toilet, so although I got caulk all over the place, including underneath my fingernails, it actually worked.

I flushed my toilet for the first time in four weeks this morning.

What a wonderful sound.

And I made it happen all. by. myself.
... on the National Marrow Donor Registry DIY kit.

Remember how, believing I can save the world one disease-fighting charity at a time, I registered for the bone-marrow registry last week? Well, the at-home kit came a few days later, and as promised, it was essentially four cotton swabs.

Unlike toilet replacement parts and mouse traps (it's been a trying week of home improvement for me, but that's a whole 'nother blog post) the kit came with great, easy-to-understand instructions. Just swab the cotton on the inside of your cheek using the same amount of pressure you use brushing your teeth, label it with one of the bar codes in the kit and repeat three times. Then pop it in the envelope and you're done.

Took less than five minutes. And it could be the first step to saving a life.

I would ask why YOU haven't registered yet. But it's something you should take seriously, because you should be willing to actually go through with the donation process, which could take you out of commission for a few days.

But at least read more about it here and here. And think about it.