No way to sugarcoat this truth, for me personally, it’s been a shitty summer. Three rounds of antibiotics for various unusual infections followed by a Mohs procedure ( for skin cancer that ended up costing me most of my left nostril and resulted in complicated facial reconstruction, which is not over yet. If my last name were Scrooge, I’d scream Bah, humbug! The combination of these events entombed me in a very dark hole. I’ve been digging myself up ever since.

For a flaming romantic optimist, depression is like a gut punch, unexpected and breathtaking in a literal sense. I went into the surgery expecting a small skin graft and came out with a bandage across half my face, a pedicle formed from my cheek attached to the cavity where my nostril used to be, and multiple internal and external stitching. Ah, there it is…an assault on the face, that prominent part of us that we present to the world on a daily basis. Over the last six weeks, part of me is convinced that one of the subconscious reasons for objecting to masks during COVID was precisely related to the way we see and evaluate ourselves and others — face to face. So when the familiar becomes unrecognizable, unease roots into our psyche. We sink deeper into the hole of self-doubt. Buried beneath cloth or paper or N95, we scramble to dig up toward the surface, not an easy task.

I have never been a beauty queen. Nature didn’t see fit to grant that boon to me, but I thought I didn’t have an unpleasant mien. Now, after four, count them, four carvings on my nose, each one more extensive than the last, I struggle to accept this new me. After all, who will you see when the scars heal and the contours rearrange themselves into a new configuration? So, digging up conveys two meanings: one for the literal idea of climbing out of sadness, the second for resurrecting who I was before in the way I look today.

It is a process of recovering the confidence I once had in speaking in front of others. The challenge looms the middle of this month when I must speak to a group in person. But the only way to the surface is through experience. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty if I find myself at the end of the journey. And, as a writer, everything becomes idea and inspiration. Stay tuned! My excavation has just begun!

P.S. Please use sunscreen and a hat when you venture out!