Live from Meltdown City

With all the grumpiness around here, you could say things are getting back to normal. The kids each blew their tops this weekend. Brian and I started a cleanse, which is making us crazy hungry like all the time. But, hey, I dropped four pounds since Monday. Does a pizza weigh four pounds? Imagine if I starved like this all the time. Actually, you’re supposed to ply tons of fruits and vegetables in your pie hole all day, but you only stay satiated for about five minutes. Meanwhile, with work, kids’ schedules, speaking, blah blah, my multi-tasking skills are suffering. Yesterday, I caught a quesadilla on fire. It looked like a little Kilauea coming out of the oven with tiny molten flames licking at the air. I would have let it burn, too, because it looked so cool. But then I heard, “Mom!” from a hungry Steven yelling at me about his afterschool snack inferno. He ate it anyway. Low standards pay off every time. The next morning, I made a new cuisine: Blackened Waffle. No recipe required, just set the toaster to ten. Or 11, if you’re into Spinal Tap.


1-  Watching a baker slap dough into French bread at Ste. Honorare is fascinating. Oh no! Now the baker is talking to a customer about how great the food is in Portland. As in, you should move to Portland just for the food. Just the place for me right now. The bread is in the oven getting all gooey hot in the middle, golden brown and crunchy on the outside. Help me.

2-  Brian and I went for tea yesterday. Not coffee. On a cleanse, you can’t have coffee yo. Weekly meetings are a practice we decided to keep doing. We compared perceptions about stuff we’re noticing – that the kids are at cruising speed into tween territory.

3-  Livvie and I went to City Target yesterday looking for Halloween costume ideas. She’s gone from wanting to be a panda to a rainbow. Steven and I went to see Gravity in 3D IMAX. None of the actors had to barf, which I was really happy seeing. I’m tired of seeing people hurl on TV and movies. I sure as hell don’t want to see barf in three dimensions.

4-  BONUS POSITIVE! Just discovered this blog that’s tearing up the internet. I LOVE how the “Ninja” mom handled the ultimate in-store meltdown situation:

All-new levels of wiped

Every time Brian goes out of town for a length of time, I bow down to single parents everywhere. How do you do everything, be everything, all the time? It’s been that kind of week. My car won’t get out of park. Unless you’re making out, it’s not a useful situation. Somehow, we’ve all gotten out of the house…daily. Even the dog’s out of sorts. Today I caught Lazy Dog standing on a side table like a show dog. Meanwhile, her skin allergies are raging. The house is a mess. Blah blah. But still, all of this has only produced a sore neck and stress headache. I heard myself telling my acupuncturist Tracie how happy I am to have normal pain.


1- Check up with radiology/oncologist today. So far, looking good. Really loved seeing everybody at Good Sam radiology. They took such great care of me.

2- Work is still coming in. In another post, I said I got new work. That doesn’t mean full-time employment, mind you. I’m still a freelance copywriter/brand strategist. So that means I am always looking for work from clients who don’t take the word “free” literally.

3- Brian’s coming home tomorrow, yes he is!

Sirens and surprises


The other day, we talked about disaster management. Where would we meet if we had a fire, earthquake or volcanic eruption (from an actual volcano up the street, yo. Not from me!) What to do if a fire broke out in our house? Livvie said: “Stop, drop and roll.” First, we pointed out that you actually have to be on fire to make stop, drop and roll work. Then, we advised that anyone who does that in our house will get impaled on Craftsman furniture. Next up, we sounded the carbon monoxide alarm and fire alarm so the kids would know what to sleep through. Apparently, kids sleep right through alarms. Not Steven. The poor guy was up all night because he kept hearing the alarms in his head. They make an alarm you can use to record your own voice on it. Wha? My kids don’t listen to my voice on a good day. My bud Trina had the best plan ever – record messages about cake and ice cream! Mine would sound like this: “Attention, Sturkie children! An ice cream truck has overturned on Harrison Street. All children must eat the ice cream before it melts…stat!” Just see how fast they fly out of the house then.

1- Brian took me out on a date…with all my friends. He totally surprised me. So nice to have a genuine grown-up night out. I SO would have dressed nicer if I had any clue.

2- Livvie decided to stop riding horses. I got so upset about that until the real reason hit me: Riding horses is our thing. She doesn’t want to do our thing anymore. It feels like a break up. She said: “But Mom, you have to try new things.” She’s right. So I’m going to take her spot and get back on a horse.

3- The kids will get to bed soon so I can get me Breaking Bad on!

The best birthday ever

Thanks to the medical staff, modern medicine and the swell of friends who lifted us up and over cancer that lurked under the water, I got to have another bday.


1- I am seriously happy to have another birthday. Not sure why bday cards are so whiny. No one gave me one of those.

2- I get to say: Clean your room! A lot.

3- I get to keep going.





Things are moving fast


You know how you’re going along, then suddenly hit warp speed. That’s what today felt like. I think it’s because we finally got to watch Breaking Bad last night. Best ride ever. I don’t think I breathed once. Today went just as fast with appointments jumping around the week, Steven’s soccer schedule, school stuff, blah blah. Still no breathing. Meanwhile, check out Lazy Dog. Her breathing is pure snoring. Get a job, Lazy Dog!



1- There are such good people in the world. Brian’s dad’s friend Astra, who doesn’t know me, made me this beautiful angel. I’m going to keep it in the kitchen window to watch over me. Really hoping it keeps me out of M&M’s. Thank you, Astra!

2- Speaking of getting jobs, I got some new work – a rad contract job. Thank you, Mathys + Potestio! Really excited about it.

3- One cool thing about finishing treatment is you can make plans again. My plan is to honor the people who helped me get through cancer. It might take me a while, but I’m excited to write about the people who helped us.

On your mark!

Karen Lenore rocks! Look what she did – made all of these t-shirts and donated all the materials. Martha Stewart’s got NOTHIN.’


Get ready. Set. Walk! That’s right, Team AC/DT (Abernethy Cancer Dream Team) is going to tear up the asphalt! We are going to walk so fast and beat the clock during our untimed race. Pretty sure there won’t be any Olympic fist pumping action with all those people. Plus, wearing a mullet wig might cause me to walk into a pole. As for fundraising, we didn’t even remotely hit the insanely high goal I set ($10,000 – what was I thinking?!) It should have been more like $1,000 because we’ve raised $400. This is going to be a blast.



1- When we went to Livvie’s back-to-school night, this was on the wall. I stood there gulping for air like an out-of-tank goldfish while Livvie barked: “Do not cry, Mom! It’s WEIRD.” If anything can make cancer worth it, that can.

2- Got my first booking for 2014 to talk at a radiation/oncology meeting for Legacy. I am so excited about this because the people at Legacy are incredibly awesome. They made the whole cancer experience more positive than negative.

3- It’s the weekend! So go have yourself a good one!

Remember when


Glancing down at my iPhone told me what day it was. September 11 is like a bookmark that reminds you of every detail of that day with stunning clarity. Waking up to an NPR reporter yelling: “Explosions heard inside the Pentagon.” Watching footage of a plane hitting and falling backwards realizing it was a passenger plane. Waddling around work in downtown Portland the size of a football mascot pregnant and wondering what world I was bringing a baby into? Watching two fighter jets slice through an eerily quiet, empty sky. Remembering the way my prego belly pressed against the glass as we watched a man lower the flag on the building next door. Today, I’ve got the love of my life, two kids and my life back. If my life flashed in front of me, images of dishes being washed, a keyboard and a dog wearing a mullet would play. How lucky am I? Today marks straight appreciation for me – that I get to worry about things like writing assignments and dishes. And compassion for anyone who lost someone or experienced 9/11.


1- My dog is wearing a mullet. I’m going to wear it Sunday for Race for the Cure as part of our AC/DT rockin’ look.

2- Air conditioning. The house is delightful inside. It’s 93 degrees outside.

3- Met with my super-rad friend Jillian yesterday who helped me think through my next book while wearing a Wonder Woman t-shirt. It will be an unofficial “guide” to surviving cancer treatment.

Crossing the first day finish line

ImageSeptember is intense. Steven went to his first day of middle school; Liv, first day as a fourth grader. I burned through so much energy being annoyingly happy at drop off, I’m beat now. I’ll bet thousands of parents go to bed with visions of their children’s homework dancing through their heads.


1- Nothing says romance like the Prince of Puke. In honor of our 18th wedding anniversary, Brian got us tickets to see John Waters. Can’t even WAIT! The promo says he’ll discuss turning some of his films into seasonal children’s classics. Serial Mom is a no-brainer.

Image2- All through cancer, Brian and I would go get coffee and check in with each other at Grand Central on Hawthorne. So it was especially cool to walk there today and have coffee with 85% less ringing in my ears and 85% more body hair. The lady behind the counter is a cancer survivor and super nice.

3- Both kids went to school well prepared and happy. They came home excited. If only that feeling would last all year. So proud of them. May they have a year folding in and being just like the kids who don’t have parents with cancer.

Hi, Honey, I’m home!

ImageThe kids went to camp; we went on vacation. We needed a reset and hours of uninterrupted conversation. We took the dog with us. For the first two nights, it was like having a two-year-old jumped up on espresso…in a cage. She calmed down when we let her sleep with us. Very romantic. When we went to pick up the kids at camp, Livvie was all, “No you did-int.” I was all like, “Okay, Miley. Where’s Livvie?” One week and now she’s a teenager? She told me she didn’t cry at Camp Kesem, a camp for kids who have family members with cancer. The kids and counselors cried when they talked about parents with cancer and a three-year-old who had died. I wonder if the emotion of having cancer this year will hit her or me. I keep going and going, then one day something mundane happens and I lose it. One time, I lost it because I got a new haircut and looked like Toni Tennille during the “Muscrat Love” years. My dad needed bypass surgery. That’s why I was really crying. For now, I’m just happy to be a part of my family again.


1- We’re all home together, having a great time as always and getting ready for the hap- happiest time of the year: Back to School!

2- Getting ready to paint my “Cloffice.” Check it out, someone else has a Cloffice! This was in Martha Stewart Living. I’m keeping Clever for a Reason, my freelance copywriting and marketing strategy business going.Image3- I get to have another birthday soon. I’m more excited about this one than any other  and vow to never whine about another birthday again.