Last week I went to a Quaker event hosted by Yvonne. I was totally prepared to be awesome and give back and all that stuff. I mean, I AM THAT PERSON. The one that wants to buy local, organic food, conserve water (I turn the water off while I brush! And I only condition once, bleached, colored, damaged hair be damned!), ride a bike instead of a foul beast of a van (I don’t really do this one. I don’t own a bike but I do own Bessy, my black Astro Van that consumes more fuel than a launching rocket ship and kills us all by destroying the ozone layer. Why is it so expensive to not kill us? I want a hybrid.) and use my eco-friendly reusable cloth grocery bags when I go shopping and wants to help the baby puppies and the wild, jungle animals, and the charities that help with micro-loans and the Toys for Tots and help at the Soup Kitchen and make quilts for the homeless (I did this only one time but I’m still counting it.) So. You can see why when Yvonne wanted me to help out at the LA Food Bank, I was all over it. I like to recycle, people!

The thing I didn’t plan on happening was this stupid cyst thing that made me into a frail, whiny, limp-noodle of a person. A few days previous my left ovary said, Hey! I’m bored! I’m going to see what happens when I poke one of these cysts! And then a slow stream of cyst fluid (What is in there, anyway? Maybe I don’t want to know.) began its exit and made it’s way into every pain receptor in a 5-mile area. And sometimes it whispered ‘fuck you’ in a tiny, ghost of a voice behind my back, just loud enough that I could hear it and not get comfortable for hours and then suddenly it would be all, HEYYOUMOTHERFUCKER! I OWN YOU, BITCH! and I would drop to my knees and die.

So, back to the day of the Quaker event, my ovarian cyst was just very uncomfortable as apposed to an 11. So, I figured, dude, this is no big thang. I’ll drive there, be awesome with all my giving back and shit, and then go home. Easy-peasy.

Who’s bored? Do a little stretch at your desk, wake yourself up and come back. I’ll wait.

OK. So. Everything was fine. I found the place with no errors. There was a parking spot up front. I found Yvonne right away. Smooth Sailing, my friends. But, then I had to walk up two flights of stairs to use the bathroom and that was all it took. My ovary used a voice synthesizer to sound like Satan and laughed and laughed at me.

I went downstairs and tried to act like nothing was wrong. I looked in the direction of talking people and tried to smile and look interested. And then the tour of the facility started and we walked up those same two flights of stairs. Again. Another time. Did I mention it was one more time? But, I was already there! Why leave now? I wasn’t going to give up. I was going to be STRONG.

The nice lady walked us through different warehouses and talked about food distribution and companies who give the food and who picks it up and lots of other interesting (really) stuff and I listened enough to write this sentence. A nice guy showed us some backpacks and told us to wipe them out to clean them and then we would fill them with food for some kids. Helping kids, y’all! I started wiping. And I was in pain. And I felt like a failure. And I was in pain. And then Yvonne came to the table and started cleaning backpacks by me and I thought, ok, I’ll just tell her I MIGHT have to leave. Not that I am because maybe I won’t. But I should mention that I MIGHT have to. Yvonne told me going home was the obvious thing to do. And I realized that DUH, it was what I should do and then it happened. I started crying.

My eyes welled up. My face turned red. And Yvonne was all, Leah! Why are you crying? And I was all, Bluh Bluhbluuuuh. And she said, Seriously, you should go now. And I said BLLUUUHbluh in a loud whisper. And I looked for a way to get out of the room without it becoming a big deal and headed that direction. But I couldn’t find the door and I walked though isles and whispered bluuhbluh and then there was a guy and I gestured and pointed, trying to act out a door. He sent me the right way and I got downstairs and just about had my crying under control. Then I realized this was not the place we had come in and I had no idea where I was. There was a long hallway of doors and offices and it seriously got longer and longer while I looked at it. I started walking and randomly opening up doors trying to find an exit until a nice lady in a red suit came out. She looked at me, blinked and then turned into my Aunt Murtle. With her arm around me, she shooed me softly out the door and said (I SHIT YOU NOT) ‘We all have bad days, dear. Buy your self a fresh, new pack of Twizzlers.’ And then with her left arm, she pointed towards a building where I should go.

WELL. Anyone need more stretching time? Maybe head banging on the wall time?

I walked in that building, in burning pain, head held high, crying a little, mascara smeared on only one side, and bumped into an older gentleman wearing overalls. He started to tell me I was in the wrong place and then looked at my face. He ‘oh deared’ me and offered me a handkerchief, changed his mind, handed me a tissue. I tried to ask him where the GOOD parking lot was where my VAN was but he heard bluuhuhuBLUHHHuuh? And he asked a man who was working on a forklift doing actual WORK to stop, climb down and walk me through two more warehouses and to the parking lot. Not only was I not volunteering but I took a person who was ACTUALLY WORKING off his forklift. The kids should hate me, y’all.

He tried to make polite conversation until he realized I was mute. He started pointing out a few things as we walked through the rooms but then stopped when he realized I was too fragile of a flower to bother with all that businessy food real-life stuff. He took my arm and walked me around a pool of water and then warned me when we came to a speed bump. When we exited to the right parking lot, he asked me if I saw my vehicle in a voice that meant he wasn’t sure if I should be operating large machinery. He glanced at both my wrists and neck for some kind of medical tag and emergency number, but found none. I assured him I was fine. FINE. And he watched me climb in my van, only tripping twice, turn the ignition on a second time and make that horrible grinding, whining noise that indicates a newbie driver, fumble with my sunglasses and blow my nose. He waved to me as I pulled out into the street. I pulled over about a block up the road and really let it all out where I hoped he couldn’t see me. And then I drove home.

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  1. a couple of things i thought of.

    one, i’ve been crying girl and i hate being crying girl especially if others see me. oddly, when i cross paths with a crying girl i treat her totally different than i do myself, i’m much nicer to her.

    two, why do we ignore pain b/c we don’t want to let another person down or not fulfill a commitment?

  2. this was so funny. the part about not only not volunteering but taking people off the job, especially. now because i am sick and twisted i am going to purposely stub my toe to see if any funny writing comes out.

  3. Oh, Honey. I agree that you made me smile while reading this, I love that you wanted to help so badly that you went while in that much pain.

    You = awesome.

  4. I had a day very much like that once when I had ovarian cysts and was volunteering for Mennonites. The nice old ladies I was working with put me in a cab with some money. Maybe cysts and pacifists don’t mix.

  5. Oh Leah. I love it and I hate it, because I’ve been there and know how much it sucks, but wow you tell it so well it makes it almost sound ok.

    Hope you’re not in pain anymore.

  6. What a story! So terrible to be in so much pain…I hope you are better. I so loved it when you said “..trying to act out a door” – not to mention the hilarious Twizzler bit.

  7. dude. we were SO meant to meet.
    I recently was dx with many many motherfucking ovarian cysts and my darling adorable son (the one you met today) kicked me and one POPPED and let’s just say HE didn’t get hurt.

  8. I love all these amazing people who were there for you AND I KNOW the mortification of being this person. I have panic attacks that render me like that when it is time to go. I have BEEN this person. OMG How much do we love the Twizzler lady??? Sweetpea….it’s Ok honey, that is some gnarly pain…..intense, you are so strong.

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