Juniper Disco || no. 7

Bangs, my mastectiversary, washashores, and a new purple section

I picked a hell of a month to give up alcohol.

Out of a sense of solidarity, I’ve chosen to bear witness to the impeachment trial. During the Dems arguments — and especially when Schiff spoke so eloquently and so freaking patriotically about all that is at stake — I could slowly feel the grip of cynicism around my soul loosen. And all those high-school shenanigans — the fidget spinners, the passing of notes, the speaking out of turn, the unsanctioned absences out in the hallways, the complaints that “it’s boring!” — made me narrow my eyes and steel my resolve.

So with this issue, I’m adding a new PURPLE section entitled, “Anakin, my allegiance is to the Republic, to democracy!”. I even created a special syllabus for all of you. Check it out below.

I have a plant that has taken two years to rebloom it’s delicate yellow flowers. I received it just after I got out of the hospital for my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, which took three surgeons and almost seven hours to complete. This week — on January 30 — I’ll celebrate my two year “mastectiversary.”

Most of the time I completely forget it ever happened. My doctor said that means I’ve processed it well and have assimilated to my new normal. Sometimes I wonder if that forgetting is more of a coping mechanism than an indication that I’ve fully healed.

Physically, I have only a few lingering effects. I need a small pillow tucked under my upper torso when I sleep on my left side, otherwise it hurts. I can’t stretch my arms out completely. I have occasional pain, which I just learned is common at the two-year post-op mark for whatever fucking reason. There are massive scars. And my foobs (fake boobs, as the previvor community calls them) are always, always cold. They also now glow in the dark (previvor trick: put a flashlight under them and turn off the lights.)

The psychological after-effects are a little more insidious. While I haven’t been diagnosed with anything terrible, I definitely have situational anxiety attacks. If anything of any weight is on me from my chin to my foobs, my flight instinct gets triggered and I freak out.

It happened on a hike I took this summer when I decided to bring my cross-body bag, which is designed to cantilever off your body and reduce stress on your back. It also puts all the weight on your chest. Ten tiny steps into the hike my heart was racing, my face was flushed, and my flight instinct almost had me running back to the car.

Worst of all, most nights I wake up with a sensation I can only describe as “screaming foob.” I am asleep one minute and the next second wide awake with every cell in my chest — and just my chest — at high alert. It lasts a few to ten long seconds and then is gone.

Medical trauma is rather common. And surgery’s potential for trauma — as I discovered during my research — is on the level of that of assault, accidents, and combat. Even though the drugs they give you disconnect your conscious processing of what is happening during surgery, your ears are still hearing everything, your body is still responding to the surgical cuts as if it is being attacked.

My body remembers all of it, I am certain. My conscious mind and my body are out of sync right now— sometimes hyper-aware, sometimes forgetting. But every time I look at those tiny yellow flowers I am reminded that it may take some time, but I will figure out a way to bring them closer together.

“Previously there were small shops because it was a small town. Now there are small shops because the tourists want to think they are still in that little town, which has vanished.”
— Mary Oliver, Winter Hours

People may be surprised that in a town where a sign literally says “All are Welcome in Provincetown” the argument of who Provincetown really belongs to sparks intense feelings and sharp words. Everyone who wasn’t born and raised here is a washashore, whether you’ve lived here five years (like us, this month!) or 50 years. If you live here 12 months of the year (or close to that), you are a year rounder. There are different opinions on status if you have a business in town, if you have a second (or fifth) home here, if you live here six months of the year (and Fort Lauderdale or Puerto Vallarta the rest), if you live here as a summer resident, if you come for the same (theme) week every year, or if you visit for the day.

I’m sad to say, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns in Provincetown, Daytrippers. I suppose people will always feel they are more entitled to this place than others. Sadly, the sea will eventually reclaim this spit of sand and will be the final, ultimate owner of our little village. Best to remember we are all guests here. Act accordingly.


  • The Better Times action figure duo of Obama and Elizabeth Warren. Soon on their way to my house where they will stand next to my Mitch McConnell voodoo doll and scorn him for all eternity.

  • Aer Lingus will help you find your Irish roots. Included in this package of touristy goodies is a private consultation with a genealogy expert who will help you do research and then send you off around the island to find your ancestors.

  • Are you watching/reading/listening to …? Giri/Haji (Netflix). The story is really beautiful in the end — despite the violence and the subtitles. // The Outsider (HBO). Stephen King and Jason Bateman and hollow eerie music that tells you that something fucked up is about to happen. // Jack Ryan (Prime). Season 2. Entertaining combination of action and world politics. // Avenue 5 (HBO). A special mixture of physical comedy (my particular jam) and smart dialogue (the Super Mr.’s favorite) in this half-hour comedy has us both howling! // Cheer (Netflix). You guys, I started this series after seeing so many comments about it on the interwebs and I DID NOT STOP until I was done, six hours later. The heart-breaking backstories of these kids, the terrifying potential for injury at every single second of them flying around in the air — why are they doing that??, and the coach who is either a genius or a tyrant, I can’t decide. By the end I felt like I was on the team! And oh, how I love JERRY!

    I Lost My Body (Netflix). A recent Oscar-nominated animated film — soldier through the first super weird part (ok, the whole thing is weird and French) and you’ll find a movingly sad story at the core. // Coco (Disney+). The Super Mr. and I finally watched this while eating a delicious bowl of posole that he had simmering all day. Beautiful and comforting!

    Birdie. A short story by Lauren Groff. I’ve resolved to read everything she writes. // The American Dirt controversy. SO MANY points of view on this one. My final take: I won’t be buying or reading the book. I’ll start with these instead:

    Voices of Birds and the Language of Belonging episode of the Emergence Magazine podcast. Warning: if your dog is triggered by bird sounds, put your earphones on to listen to this. // The Walking podcast. This is literally just the sounds of a guy walking through the woods of the Pacific Northwest.

    Above and Beyond’s cover of New Order’s “Blue Monday.” Two of my favorites collide! Also, those drops. //

    Trevor Kowalski. Trevor has joined Dorothy Ashby, Vince Guaraldi Trio, and Thievery Corporation as my daily background music. //


It’s currently trespassing season, the time when there are the most empty houses in town and you can venture down that path you always wanted to explore, walk up a step or two to look over a fence, peer cautiously in a window. Stephen is my best partner in crime for this activity. He’s part co-pilot, part alibi – ready to explore and easy to blame for why we’re standing on someone’s porch.

When we adopted Stephen, his foster mom told us he was a stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of dog. Some days I think he smells every blade of grass, every twig, and every crushed seashell between our house and the beach.

These long pauses in odd places have given me the opportunity to really look at my surroundings. I always discover something – an interesting detail on the side of a grey-shingled house, a sculptural bust wearing an astronaut hat in the window of the home across the street, forgotten beads from carnival, a pile of tumbled blue glass on a fence.

He also waits patiently for me when I stop to take photos of weird things or when I stop every three steps to pick things up off the beach. He usually sniffs the air or looks for seagulls while we are paused. Occasionally, I’ll look over to see him watching me. I’m sure he’s thinking, “Mama, you’re so cute. What did you find now?” The Super Mr. would interpret that stare as “Hurry the fuck up, Mary!”

I don’t know about you, but I am so over these people. Time for a crafty Tracy Flick-style action plan to get decency back into our lives. Here’s what I’m committing to:

  • continue to educate myself and share what I learn

  • help flip the Senate and hold the House

  • call out McConnell and Collins specifically, persistently, and relentlessly

  • help make sure Elizabeth Warren has a kickass role in the new administration (if not POTUS or VPOTUS, please put her in charge of the Trump Clean-up, Aisle ALL-of-Them Project!)

  • help build a wall of blue at the state level

  • collect and wear a curated wardrobe of resistance fashion

Want to get motivated, too? Here’s a syllabus:

  • Watch the The Edge of Democracy (Netflix). If you do nothing else, watch this recently Oscar-nominated documentary about Brazil’s political issues. Jaw-droppingly similar to our current narrative, “the stories of these two relatively young world powers align with almost monomythical certainty.”

  • Listen to season 2 of The Wilderness. “Jon Favreau (Pod Saves America) looks for the path to victory in 2020 by talking to voters, strategists, organizers, and candidates in the battleground states that will decide the election.”

  • Listen to season 4 of Scene on Radio. “We’ll tell under-told stories and explore critical questions like—How democratic was the U.S. ever meant to be, anyway? American democracy is clearly in crisis today, but . . . when was it not? Along the way, there’s a good chance that we’ll complicate, maybe upend, our listeners’ understanding of American history.”

  • Listen to the Stranglehold podcast. Ever wonder why New Hampshire is the first primary? Why do they get to make a decision that impacts all of us? Stranglehold answers those questions.

  • Listen to “The Swing Issue That Could Win a Swing State” episode of The Daily. Did you know the issue of fracking may be the difference between a flipped state and another Trump victory in my home state of Pennsylvania?

  • Subscribe to the weekly action email from Wall-of-Us. They could not make it easier for us. There are usually 2-4 actions each week, spelled out and explained.

  • Donate to or buy merch from the campaigns of important challengers: Amy McGrath (McConnell’s challenger) and Sara Gideon (Maine’s Speaker of the House and Collins’ challenger). Support the Payback Project.

  • Adopt yourself a Sister District to support at the state level. They just announced their 2020 Target States.

See you in February!