Sunday, June 27, 2004

Fetch

For a brief shining moment I got my kitten back today. My soon-to-be 16 year old cat, Sasha, suddenly decided he wanted to play fetch with me this morning. I was stunned! He hasn't played this game since he was probably 5 years old. I used to wow my friends and family with this odd dog-like behavior back in the day. He would play fetch with any object he could easily pick up and place in his mouth. His favorite item was this blue Bic stick pen I swiped from my job. Sasha would gleefully chase down the pen, bat it around the floor a bit (the hardwood and linoleum of my old apartment made for a nice ice hockey-like surface), pick it up gently with his two front paws and place it in his mouth for the return trip to my lap or my feet. I would throw and he would fetch...over and over and over. It was no fluke!

This morning he hopped up on my desk and deposited a green curl of plastic by my hand. It's one of those pull tabs you rip off the lid of a gallon of milk or water to pop the top off. He tapped my hand with his paw and made his "play with me" sound. In a state of shock, I complied. I threw the green plastic curly out into the family room...and he brought it back. I threw it into the kitchen and was reward with a skidding romp as he slid the length of the floor and stopped with a thud against the pantry door. He again brought it back. Fantastic! We played for about 20 minutes and I managed to snap a couple photos of him returning his toy to me for more tosses. He's sitting here on my desk as I type this, purring contentedly with one paw resting on my shoulder and looking at his own image on my screen. I think he is pleased I am talking about him.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Sumo???

Thoughts for the day:

"I have flabby thighs, but fortunately my stomach covers them."

"Why does everything bad for you have to taste so damn good?"

Should I worry that my personal trainer likes to talk about her flatulence problem? Is there something about me that screams "Tell me your most embarrassing and intimate secrets!"

And finally... My son looked at the cover of the design Toscano catalog I have on my desk and squealed "That's Mommy!!" I looked at the picture appraisingly and asked, "Honey, you think that's a picture of Mommy?" He said, "Yes! Of course it is!" Here's the picture:



Hmm. Someone get me a leather diaper - I think I might have a new career in the offing. All you can eat rice and sushi? Hell yeah! Sign me up!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Thoughts...

Random Thoughts for Today:

On Toilet Paper: My husband complains that I use too much toilet paper (probably because of the frequent need for the plunger). I usually use a strip as long as my arm and I sort of half crumple and half fold it to suit me. I use as many strips as it takes to feel clean. I probably do use too much. How many squares do YOU use? Do you crumple, fold, wad or "other" with your paper? I got a free toilet training kit from Charmin that contains a handy paper measurer to show your child how much paper to take (how long). It's about 5 squares! That seems like too little to me, but then my son's butt is much smaller than mine.

On Business Trips: My husband's new company is sending him to Arizona for a week. I used to enjoy going with him on trips like this in the past, but this company is forcing him to have a room mate. Crappy corporate cost cutting! (I tend to get alliterative when I am ticked off.) I made the mistake of telling my mother about his impending trip. Now I've been railroaded into going up there for a week...in August...with the cheapest man on the planet...central A/C, but he won't turn it on. I think I will offer to pay their power bill for the month of August just so we can have some cool air.

On Beds: I think we need a new mattress. I've been sleeping poorly and John has been sleeping on the floor. I think that is a very strong hint. I've never wanted a waterbed - I fear puncture and subsequent drowning. I don't think I care for the idea of an air bed either - I fear puncture and subsequent cartoon-like ricocheting around the bedroom. The memory foam style mattresses seem promising, but I hear they lose their "memory" after a short time (kind of like me). What was I saying? Oh yeah... I want a new bed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Toxic

An online friend of mine sent me an interesting article a while back, after I had complained to her for probably the 9186th time about my friend Pam. The Seven Deadly Friends talks about seven types of "toxic" friendships. My friend Pam is numbers 1, 3, and (in our younger days) 7. The article offers suggestions on how to defuse these toxic behaviors, except for type 3. If you stop always being there for that type of friend, they no longer see you as useful and go looking for a new person to drain. I think my usefulness to Pam has come to an end. I haven't heard from her in months. Let me back up and share some points.

You may have read my post about Friends - I talk about how I met Pam there. I've known her a long, long time. Does knowing someone for 27 years automatically earn them friend status? Do the few high points make up for the overwhelming, soul-crushing low points? Let's review:

  • I sent her bail money when she was arrested for DUI.
  • I looked the other way when she would throw herself at slimy guys in bars (she seemed so desperate for men to think she was desirable).
  • I shook my head and held my tongue when she was visiting a "boyfriend" in Attica (prison)...he was serving a sentence for statutory rape.
  • I was disappointed when she elected to move with a man to WV after only knowing him a week. I had a feeling this rash decision would lead to her missing my wedding. I was right. He ended up being abusive and she needed to run for her life.
  • I sent her money so she could move out of the battered women's shelter she was living in.
  • I was worried when she called and told me she was pregnant and I didn't hear from her for months after that. Turns out she had developed a serious drug problem and the baby was born without a brain. She told me she would NEVER have more children. She would make a horrible mother. I believed her and agreed.
  • She moved to Virginia Beach. I sent her more money so she could pay her old medical bills and get creditors off her back. I feared she used the money for drugs.
  • I was disgusted when she stole a co-worker's husband and ran off with him, but I never told her that. I sent her more money when her new boyfriend was out of work and they couldn't afford to pay vet bills or buy food.
  • I was happy for her when this man asked her to marry him. Even though he was a three time loser in the marriage department, I had hope that this time she would have a lasting relationship. He was considerably older than her...a father-figure, I suspect.
  • I was supportive when she called in a panic to tell me, a week before her wedding, that she was pregnant again. Her husband-to-be had grown children and made clear he wanted NO MORE. I convinced her to tell him BEFORE the wedding. She did and he ran out on her; but only for a day or two. He came back with an ultimatum. The baby would be entirely HER responsibility. I cried when she told me she agreed to this heinous pact. I knew she should never be a mother. I also knew marrying him was a huge mistake.
  • I gave her more money to help with her wedding expenses.
  • I went down to see her shortly after her son was born. She complained nonstop about how her husband wouldn't lift a finger to help her with the baby. I refrained from reminding her about the pact.
  • I saved the baby's life one night when she passed out in the bed with him next to her, and she rolled on top of him, stopping his breathing. I never told her that.
  • I gave her more money to buy the baby a proper bed and bought him lots of clothes and things. I really wanted to take that baby home with me and never look back.
  • She called me several months later and asked if I wanted to adopt him. She couldn't take it any more. I thought about it. My fears about what he had been exposed to in the womb and the dubious gene pool he was from paralyzed me. I didn't think then that she REALLY meant it. Now I think she did.
  • I was secretly happy when her husband finally started showing signs of love for his new son.
  • I was thrilled when he moved them all back to his dirt-water home town to get Pam away from her druggy friends and easy connections. I prayed while she slowly lost her mind, got clean, and sank into the deep abyss of depression.
  • I sent more money when her husband was unable to find work and they had lost their electricity and phone.
  • I cried with joy when she graduated from college with her associates degree. I had high hopes she was turning her life around, finally.
  • I sent even more money when they had to leave their rented home and move into a dilapidated trailer.
  • I ignored her frequent offers to let me adopt her son and carefully tried to help her raise him right.
  • I cried as her marriage fell apart from the constant fighting over money, wifely duties, and the boy.
  • I panicked when she sank into manic depression and was hospitalized for an over-dose. I pleaded with her to seek professional help and get proper medication. I wept when she was diagnosed, finally, as bi-polar.
  • I wept again when her beautiful son was diagnosed with ADHD, an attachment disorder, anger issues, and began showing a completely unnatural fixation for sex and other taboo subjects. He was only 7. I was horrified to find out he had been exposed to hardcore pornography by his father and it had warped his fragile mind.
  • I secretly screamed with joy when someone called Social Services on her and filed a medical negligence and abuse complaint. I danced when a social worker was assigned to her son to monitor his medications and therapy. I leapt with joy when she was given state assistance so she could also seek ongoing medical treatment and was finally on drugs that were helping her.
  • I couldn't contain my joy when she left her husband and moved into a trailer home of her own. I sent her a new TV/VCR when she complained that her son had nothing to do.
  • I invited her to join us at our first beach house vacation. She brought her son, left him in our care, and proceeded to act like it was HER vacation away from parental responsibility (complete with smoking pot in our hot tub, drinking, and sleeping the morning away in a sleeping pill induced coma while her son ran wild and unsupervised around the house.) Her son seemed so starved for attention, discipline and love. He was much more calm and well behaved by the end of the week than he was at the beginning - which only made me wonder all the more about his home environment and influences.
  • I felt horrible when I had to say no to her further requests for money (we were out of work by then and had nothing to spare). I knew she was angry with me.
    Her phone and internet service were shut off. I worried. She had again lost her job.
    I wrote her a letter and drove down to see her, not knowing if she would be home...not knowing where her new home WAS.
  • She never called my cell phone to acknowledge the letter. I lucked out and found her when I stopped by. She acted awkward and uncomfortable.
  • I was happy she had found another job and her son was doing better. She was taking her medication and keeping up with her therapy.
  • I was NOT happy to see a spent "roach" and clip on her kitchen table. She was using again. I went home feeling very uncertain about our future as friends.

She has not called or written to me since.


Looking back over this list, I realize I was an enabler. I feel like I should have spoken up...called for help...notified her family. But I never wanted to betray her trust. Her family is more dysfunctional than mine. They don't help her when she needs it. She doesn't confide in them, she only confides in ME. They are too wrapped up in their own issues. Perhaps it's genetic. The points above are only the tip of a very bizarre iceberg. I could add so much more...but this is already too long. Toxic friend? You bet. The cycle ends here. I am not calling or writing to her. I'm not sure what I will do if she decides to finally contact me. I am open to suggestions. I also don't know what I will say if her ex-husband calls me again trying to get me to help her (he has done this quite a few times). I'm just so tired. I think I need for this life-sucking, joy-killing, guilt-fest of a friendship to end.

Any one looking for a new best friend? I am available.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Home?

I am homeless. Not in the sense that I have no roof over my head (which I do, thank heavens); but in a different way. I am sure this feeling is a side-effect of being a military brat. We never stayed anywhere long enough for me to get really comfortable and homey feeling.

When people ask "Where are you from?" or "So where is home for you?", I never know what to say. My parents' house is not my home. I barely lived there a year before I left home for good. I was born in Kansas, but we left there before I was a year old, so that isn't home. My current house doesn't really feel like "home" even though we have been here for 11 years. I feel like this house is just temporary until we can get something better. I am itching to MOVE! I am antsy in the pantsy!!

Does anyone else find themselves house shopping every few days via the internet? I do. Now that John has a new job, maybe I can talk him into finding a bigger/better place to live. Think I'll see if the Coldwell-Banker site has any nice 4 bedroom contemporary homes for sale...

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Cake

A couple of amusing things from today...

I was in a chat with some of my weight loss buddies and one mentioned she was tempted to dig in to her daughter's wedding cake top that was in the freezer. Those cake cravings can be a killer. It reminded me of another wedding cake top...mine!

I had read an article in a bridal magazine about how to properly wrap and preserve your cake top for freezing (to follow the tradition of eating it on your first anniversary). I discussed it with the lovely woman who made our cake and she reminded me that the top of our cake was going to be covered with fresh flowers (which do NOT freeze...they rot). At the end of our reception she surprised us with a specially prepared "cake top" that was an exact replica of the real cake...only the flowers were done in frosting. I was so excited! She even took the time to wrap it per the instructions in the article.

I gave the precious cargo to my Mother-In-Law with instructions to place it in her freezer when she got home (since we were leaving from the hotel the next day to go on our honeymoon).

Through a miscommunication, the kitchen staff at the hotel "saved" the real top of our cake, wrapped it up, and gave it to my Mother-In-Law for safe keeping as well. She let us know that she had THAT top as well. Great! We would have leftover cake to eat when we got home from our trip AND one to save for next year. Perfect!

When we got back, my MIL gave me the frozen "keeper" cake top and apologized for eating up the rest of the other cake top. She served it to family who stopped over to the house the day after the wedding and then polished off the rest herself as the week went by. Oh well. No more yummy cake for us until our anniversary.

Fast forward one year...

On our first anniversary, I made a romantic dinner, dressed in a sexy red silk teddy, and we ate and celebrated. Per instructions in the article, I had taken the cake top out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge for 3 days prior to our lovely dinner. I was so excited to sample that wonderful cake again. I unwrapped the foil and a foul odor smacked me in the face. There it was...a mound of rotted, stinking flowers on top of a mashed, poorly wrapped, freezer burned cake top. I cried. We called my MIL the next day and told her what had happened. She ATE THE WRONG CAKE TOP!

I couldn't resist asking...didn't she notice the lack of fresh flowers? How carefully it was preserved in multiple layers and types of wraps? She could only stammer an apology and say, "Well...it was really good cake."

We can laugh about it now. :-)

And in the "Out of the mouths of babes..." department: My son had us in stitches tonight. He was playing on the floor at our feet while we watched the intro to 48 Hours. The announcer somberly spoke about tonight's expose of "The Canal Street Brothel", a whore house run by 3 generations of the same family. Grandma worked the phones, Mom was the Madam and pretty Grand-daughter was featured on the "menu". They showed hints of scenes of sex and debauchery on canal street and finally the voice-over said "The Canal Street Brothel, tonight on 48 Hours."

Tyler suddenly looks up and says "I wanna go there! On bay-cation!" It was so out of the blue we burst out laughing! When my husband had composed himself, he asked "Where Tyler...Canal Street or the Brothel?" Tyler says, "Brofel." Oh my. He is starting WAY too young. We promptly switched to a Bob the Builder DVD.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Mementos

Did I ever mention that I ran away from home once? Well...it was more than once, actually. But this was the first time I stayed away. Although I don't know if a 20 year old could be termed a "runaway". Heh. I ran to my boyfriend's house and moved in with him. I had dropped out of college and just started working so I didn't have any money saved (so no first, last, and security for an apartment). My parents went ballistic when they found out I had dropped out of school (they blamed my boyfriend). I made things worse by leaving and moving in with him. He backed me up and we stopped answering the phone after about the 50th ranting screaming phone call from Mom, Dad or Mom/Dad. I pretty much stopped talking to them for a number of months. None of this is really the point of this post. Just some necessary background minutia so I can get to the point.

So during the months of silence (frequently punctuated with screaming insane spewing on John's answering machine), my grandmother fell ill. At no point during my parent's ranting did they feel it important to inform me that she was actually not going to recover (or even that she was ILL, for that matter). My brother actually called me on the sly when she died to let me know. Thanks, in part, to a smear campaign by my loving parents - I was persona non grata to my Dad's entire side of the family. They all hated me because I hadn't gone to see granny in the hospital at all during her illness. To this day none of them will talk to me. Ah well. I can console myself with the knowledge that granny, at least, didn't hold a grudge...HAHAHAHAHA ok, I am just amusing myself here. This is the grandmother I've mentioned before who never really liked my brother and I because we aren't "blood". Sorry, I'll be serious.

Lucky for me granny's will was poorly worded. She simply stated that all family members were to gather and decide amongst themselves how to share her large house full of stuff (grandchildren included). So all her kids (Uncle John, Aunt Dorothy and my Dad) decided on a mutually agreeable date to meet up at granny's house to divvy up the booty. Unbeknownst to us, the only one of granny's kids who still lived close by (my Uncle John and his kin), and the only ones who routinely sponged off her considerable largess, went to her house a week early and helped themselves to any/all items they could easily carry that were of any significant value. Can you feel the love, people? So it was a bit of a shock when the rest of us arrived to see a considerably emptier house to paw through. Uncle John made no apologies. He merely acted in his normal "aw shucks, we is poor" fashion and his siblings succumbed to Catholic guilt and said nothing more.

Now why, do you probably suppose, did I have any interest in taking mementos of a woman who so obviously hated me? While I really disliked granny, I really LOVED her house. It was a grand old Victorian lady built just after the turn of the century. Hammered tin ceilings, stunning, rich, dark mahogany woodwork, grand columns and archways, and a breath-taking three story spiral staircase in the mosaic tile entryway. I remember the deep green and white checkerboard floor of the kitchen with it's green painted cabinets...the heavy swinging door that led to the dinning room with the five-tiered crystal chandelier that looked like an upside-down wedding cake and window seat overlooking the wooded back yard, the front living room with the grand rose marble fireplace, built in library corner with elegant tapestry upholstered wing chair and oriental reading lamp with loads of good books on the shelves, and the parlor with it's elegant antique embroidered settee with hand made lace doilies to rest your head on. The bathrooms were a marvel of white subway tiles with huge cast-iron claw-footed bathtubs and free standing pedestal sinks. I loved to stay in my Aunt Dorothy's old bedroom which had remained untouched, just as she kept it when she was a child. There was an antique doll house with gingerbread trim (just like a tiny version of granny's house), a mural encrusted toy box full of treasures, and more shelves full of books to wile away the days during our frequent visits.

My brother and I would gleefully race up and down that grand staircase and play endless games of hide and seek. There were so many rooms, nooks and crannies in that house that each person's turn would last an eternity. At some point in their childhood, my father and his brother (craving privacy, I am sure) elected to make the bedroom in the attic their room. It was obviously a room build for a live-in maid or butler originally. There were two other large spaces in the attic, a cedar paneled room designed for short term storage of things like out of season clothing, and an unfinished portion of the attic with newspaper lined walls and rough hewn flooring that was filled with all sorts of trunks, boxes, old sewing machines and the like. We were never allowed in my grandmother's room, but I remember sneaking in to take a peek. It was a rather dark room with deep rose colored wallpaper and a rose chenille bedspread. She had beautiful rosewood furniture too, with an ornately carved headboard. *sigh* I could go on and on about that house. But back to clean-up day.

The only thing I really wanted from granny's house was the library wing chair and some books. Granny had already given me so many books over the years (I would ask if I could have and she would wave her hand at me dismissively saying "yes, yes...take what you want. No one reads them anymore anyway.") I used to spend hours in that wing chair as a child, buried in a book. It was one of the few things that held any significance to me. I sat in "my" chair and listened to the "adults" quibble over everything. My mother was livid that Uncle John and Aunt Mary had helped themselves early AND they were tagging all the best of the large items that remained (like granny's beautiful antique rosewood bedroom set that had belonged originally to HER grandmother, the parlor antiques, the marble topped breakfront from the entryway...yadda yadda). At one point my Aunt Dorothy brought me a photo album and said, "Here hun, you might want this." It was a photo album entirely dedicated to pictures of me growing up. Hmm. I began to cry. Maybe granny didn't hate me as much as she acted like she did. In the midst of my silent weeping, my Aunt Mary (John's wife) came into the room, saw me with a photo album and ripped it out of my hands. "What's THIS?! Are you trying to take this without ASKING!?" I felt a quick rush of anger and snapped, "No! Aunt Dorothy just gave it to me and said I would probably want it!" Mary narrowed her eyes at me suspiciously, flipped through the album, noticed it's contents, grunted, and threw it back in my lap without apology. She turned abruptly and just walked away. I was left quaking with suppressed rage.

The day drew to a close and no one had laid claim to the well worn wing chair I was occupying. Nor had anyone shown any interest in the books on the shelves. I finally screwed up my courage and walked into the dining room where they were all sorting through granny's china and glassware. "If no one minds, can I take the wing chair in the living room?" I asked in a timid voice. All activity stopped as all eyes turned to me with surprise. I got a chorus of "That old chair isn't worth anything." ... "We were going to give it to the Good Will." And my Dad said, "I don't think we have room in the truck for it." "OK..." I mumbled and went back to sitting in "my" chair. In the end there WAS room in the truck. So I got my wing chair AND a box of books to boot. While everyone else seemed angry and cheated, I left feeling enormously satisfied.


I've protected the chair with a slipcover (cats) and placed it in my "library" next to my nice book collection.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Breeding

I've had many people tell me how striking looking my son is. I am very biased, of course, but I agree with them. He is adorable! He is only the most recent example of a trend I have noticed for many years now. People with a mixed-race heritage (particularly with part Asian/Pacific Islander roots) are very attractive! I am baffled by people who espouse "racial purity" or segregation. They must not watch TV, Sports or Movies; or listen to Music; or follow Politics very closely. You have to be blind not to have noticed how many gorgeous folks of mixed Asian/European/American heritage there are. Perhaps they are just unaware that their favorite actor or sports hero is part Asian. Let me enlighten them! Here are a few prime examples of Asian + White = Drop Dead Gorgeous:


From left to right: Dean Cain, Jennifer Tilly, Russel Wong, "The Rock", Phoebe Cates, Keanu Reeves, Tia Carrera, Brandon Lee

There are MANY more examples: Tiger Woods, Greg Lougainis, Apolo Ohno (Olympic speed skater and yummy!), Norah Jones (singer/pianist), Rae Dawn Chong, Lou Diamond Phillips...I could go on and on.

Why is this such a hot button for me? My parents are part of it. They are very racist and had a fit when they found out the love of my life was part Asian. The most hurtful thing my mother ever said to me during an argument was "You'll have ugly children..." Like that was a valid argument against marrying my man and was going to sway me. Uh, hello?! My husband and all his half Asian, half Italian/Swiss siblings are VERY attractive. See my wedding post...I have a photo there of John, his sister, and brother. Man how I wish I was part Asian. I would give anything to dilute this hairy German blood of mine. Giggle! Anyone got a razor?

Friday, June 11, 2004

Writing

I've been a story teller as far back as I can remember. My stories started, in the verbal tradition, as the on-going adventures of Mousey Mouse. These were epics I made up to entertain my little brother on those nights when I was baby-sitting/in charge and he would ask for a bed time story. The tales were full of romance, extreme danger, comedy and plenty of potty humor (HAD to have the potty humor). Imagine my surprise when decades later I saw a program called Oobi on Noggin. Oobi IS Mousey Mouse! I did the whole hand puppet action, complete with hats, bows, rings for crowns...what ever props were needed to tell that evening's adventure. Yep, it was a combo bed time story AND puppet show. I was so versatile.

Time marched on and my almost obsessive need to read, read, read every spare moment of every day seemed to progress naturally to writing my own stories. Where did my story ideas come from? I got many of my best story ideas from my dreams. I've always had really vivid and interesting dreams. I used to be quite skilled at lucid dreaming and even had serial dreams...where the story would pick up where it left off the night before and continue. I kept abbreviated versions of my dream stories in my diary until I had a chance to develop them into full blown short stories.

I also looked forward to being given term paper, story, poetry or other creative assignments in school. I could whip a term paper out of my butt in no time and always got A's, to the eternal frustration of my friends. I'll never forget one time I got on the bus and a friend asked if I had finished my report for Civics. I was supposed to write about a service or institution in my home town that employed volunteers and some how "bettered" the community as a whole. I had completely forgotten about the assignment. So I winged out my notebook and began writing. By the time the bus arrived at school I had a completed 3 page paper all about the local Veteran's Hospital. Much of what I wrote was based on comments myFather's cousin had made over the various family holidays (he was a Vietnam Vet) and the rest was based on my own imagination. My girlfriend told me there was no WAY I would get away with it. I got an A. *snicker*

I wish I had received more encouragement in my younger years to pursue my writing. If I had only known that there actually were teens who got books published, I might have gone for it. My father was a major damper to my creative leanings, however. If he didn't see a future in it (i.e. a good paycheck) he would threaten to withdraw his half of my college tuition. I had worked non-stop from 8th grade on and most of my earnings were placed in a savings account my Mom and I opened for the purpose of paying for college. They couldn't afford to pay for it all, so I had to pull my own weight. A lot of responsibility for a teen, in my opinion. I had hoped that once I started school I would be able to convince my parents to let me change my major to Art or English (for creative writing or journalism). No go. So I majored in Bio/Chem...thinking I would go into research one day. I knew that wasn't really the right fit for me and I soon tired of college and dropped out in favor of working full time. My choices did not make my parents happy, and I was forced to strike out on my own earlier than I had anticipated.

The pressures of living on my own for the first time, paying bills, making a living...all served to suck the creative life out of me. I wrote and painted less and less. When I got married, I also got the heck out of Dodge and made a new start in a new state. I had a new job and a great new benefit -- tuition reimbursement! I went back to school, this time majoring in what *I* wanted to major in. A dual major of fine arts and English. I took writing classes of all kinds, and art classes too. My muse was BACK! My creative writing professor invited me to publish some of my stories and poetry in the school's literary magazine. I was floored and very gratified! My husband and I had also decided to stop playing it safe and to allow nature to take it's course...we were hoping to have a baby. A sudden health crisis and near death experience with a lengthy physical recovery derailed my continuing education again. My writing and art were again set aside so I could focus on getting well and also work through the devastating news that the odds of having a child were very slim. Our only option was IVF. After almost 2 years of physical recovery I finally felt up to the challenges of IVF.

Since this posting is turning into another novella, I will fast forward to today. I have a beautiful baby boy and I've sparked my creative side again through my photography, graphics work and starting this journal! Looking back over my short stories from college, I do have some possibilities of things I could flesh out into novel length. But I am also tempted to write something more deeply personal. Perhaps something about our battles with infertility...or a fictionalized account based on the birth of my son and his ties to 9/11. I'm not sure. Or perhaps I will just start small and write some articles targeted to some of my favorite parenting magazines. Published is published, right? LOL Or maybe I will revisit some of those older stories and polish them up to submit them to Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine or one of my other favorite short story publications. The options are endless and overwhelming. Maybe participation in a writing support group will help me make some critical decisions. In the mean time I will sleep, perchance to dream, and find some fodder for my scribbling.

Wait...one last thought. So why do I write? Because I can't help myself. I must.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Honeymoon!

The night of our wedding, after the reception, we stayed at The Embassy Suites. It wasn't really a very late night when the festivities ended, only about 1:00 AM, but I was really looking forward to letting John *ahem* remove my garter? We weren't back in our room for more than 2 minutes when there was a knock upon the door. My little brother and a few of our friends were in the hall with a bottle of champagne. "We can't let the party end YET!" little bro exclaimed. Uh, who said anything about ending the party? I just wanted a more intimate affair. (Heh heh heh!) We finally managed to kick out the party crashers at 3:00 AM and plopped exhausted into bed. No wedding night, um, bliss. Too tired.

We had to get up at 5:00 AM to get a ride to the airport to catch our flight. I was looking forward to the honeymoon like a woman stranded in the desert looks for water. We had been under so much stress up until wedding day. I craved peace, quiet, relaxation and alone time with my new husband. I was a tad apprehensive about the trip. We had used a local travel agent for the first time, but because we waited too long to book the trip, the only flights available were on Air Jamaica. I really wanted to fly an American carrier. Why? It all had to do with my comfort zone. I had never flown an international carrier and wasn't familiar with them. I should always trust my instincts. On top of that, the travel agent told us she was unable to get an ocean view room...we were booked into mountain view. Unacceptable! John called the resort personally and found out that we could get a deluxe ocean view SUITE for only $40 more a day. So we went for it. We probably should have called the airline too.

We were dropped off right outside the doors for Air Jamaica promptly 2 hours before flight time. I love being dropped off at the departures level (have I mentioned that I avoid exercise at all costs...even back then?) There were very few Air Jamaica check in windows open and a lengthy line waiting. I looked over the other passengers waiting to check in for our flight and had a slight sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach. There were several Rastafarian looking types with no luggage, several large women with young children and very unhappy babies, and assorted collections of other scruffy looking folks with heavy Jamaican accents. We were the only "white" people in line. I am not racist, but this was a tad intimidating. Most of the folks ahead of us in line didn't have their belongings in suitcases. They had ratty cardboard boxes, garbage bags, and items just tied up with twine. This caused a considerable delay since each one had to be told you could not check items that were not securely stowed in an airline approved container. They had some boxes at the check in but they swiftly ran out of them (and tape). A porter was dispatched to find more shipping boxes and tape while several arguments with the check-in agent ensued. "What you mean my box no good...it secure jus fine mon!" Yikes! We finally checked our bags, showed our IDs (I had suggested we get Passports, but John had read that all we needed for Jamaica was birth certificates and drivers licenses, so that is what we had), and got our boarding passes.

We wandered slowly down to the gate since we still had a some time to kill before boarding. If only we had known. We got to the gate and people were already getting on the plane. There was no boarding announcement. They just opened the doors and people started to pile on. No rhyme or reason! We both had carry-ons and scrambled to get to our seats. There was NO room left in the overhead bins and a man in our isle had filled up the area under ALL the seats in our row with his stuff. He was pretending to be asleep. After several failed attempts, I finally managed to flag down a very harried looking flight attendant. She said in a very clipped and heavily accents voice, "What you want?!" I explained our problem and she shouted at the man and just took the stuff out of the space in front of our seats and carried it away. We shrugged, stowed our bags, and sat down. We had the window and center seats (this was before I learned my lesson and began asking for isle seats) and climbed over the now glaring man on the end. I made myself as comfortable as I could as we waited for take-off.

Once in flight, I swiftly noticed another problem of flying an international air carrier. The cabin of the plane was filling with smoke! I could feel all my mucus membranes drying out, my eyes getting bloodshot and I couldn't stop coughing. I even caught a whiff of a heavier, sweeter smelling kind of smoke (reminded me of college.) As I started worrying about our pilot getting a contact high and landing the plane in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, his voice came over the loud speaker. I could just make out what he was saying over his heavy Jamaican accent..."An if you look out de right of de plane, you see Cuba. Air Jamaica is one of de few airlines permitted in Cuban airspace." Whoa. I began scanning the cabin for any passengers who had a suspicious "terrorist" look about them. As visions of hijacking danced through my head, breakfast was served. The surly flight attendant was back. She threw a small foil wrapped parcel in front of each of us, gave me a dirty look, and moved on. I removed the foil and looked at the runny yellow concoction and little bits of pimento with suspicion. "Looks like eggs," my husband blandly stated the obvious. I should have known better, but I was hungry and willing to overlook my occasional sensitivity to eggs (a mild allergy). I reasoned that it was a very small portion and the semi-raw chunks of potato would cut back the likelihood of a reaction. I topped off the meal with the small can of simulated orange juice-like beverage.

Breakfast complete, I settled back slightly queasy, to play cards with John until we landed. As the plane began to descend, I eagerly looked out the window to catch a first glimpse of the tropical paradise that awaited us. My excitement grew as we broke through the cloud cover and I spotted land. The sun was a little too bright and hot, so I sat back and waited until we were lower to look out the window again. As the plane slowed and leveled off, I looked out the window and my heart sank. The area around the runway looked like a large brown wound in the greenery. I could see rusted tin hangers and other assorted ramshackle outer structures with holes in the roofs and unidentifiable hulks of abandoned equipment strewn around. It was very bleak. I turned slowly to my husband and said, "Honey, this doesn't look like the brochure. I think we are landing in Nicaragua." His eyebrows went up and he leaned over me for a peek. He sank back into his seat and tried to reassure me. "It must get better away from the airport."

We swiftly deplaned (my first time exiting an aircraft down mobile steps right onto the tarmac). The air was so thickly humid, it was almost visible. I instantly broke out into a heavy sweat. I have never been very heat tolerant. It wasn't long before my hair was soaked and plastered to my head. We retrieved our bags and headed through customs. The customs agent gave us some flack for not having passports but eventually let us through. I shot my new husband a dirty look and he shrugged apologetically. The SECOND we were through customs we were assaulted by men trying to rip our bags out of our hands and carry them for us. Other men tried to sell us "Red Stripe" beer in open bottles hidden in plain brown paper bags. I was feeling very overwhelmed! We managed to find the green and white buses described in our itinerary that would bring us to our resort. The driver grabbed our bags and put them in the bin under the bus and we boarded with relief. It took a few moments to locate a seat with a functioning window. The bus was already filled with smoke from the other passengers and we just knew the air conditioning would not be working. We were right. As we waited for our driver to get underway, I glanced out the window and noticed all the bags from our bus were being quickly removed and loaded onto another green and white bus. I grabbed John's arm and pointed just as the other driver closed the luggage compartment, climbed aboard, and left. I was certain that was the last we would ever see of our baggage.

Our bus finally got underway and as we left the airport I noticed two things. The driver was on the wrong side of the rode and the speed limit signs said 25 kilometers per hour. John told me that was like 20 mph. Our bus was probably doing 60. We began to climb in altitude as our bus went up a road that looked as if it were carved into the side of a cliff. I saw no guardrails, but the bus didn't slow down. The road was so narrow I couldn't see pavement out our side of the bus. It was just the dizzying drop and then the water below. Suddenly the curves arrived. Again our bus didn't slow down. The road didn't look wide enough to accommodate two vehicles in each direction and we tested that fact many times. The honking of oncoming cars and taxis as they swerved around our bus made me jump in terror every time. The constant sway as the bus teetered on the brink around curves so tight that John couldn't keep from sliding and crashing into me on the seat was beginning to make me ill. The more the bus jerked and swayed, the sicker I felt. Finally, John traded seats with me so I wouldn't look out the window and increase my motion sickness. I put my head down between my knees and took a deep breath...it took 15 minutes before I could stop coughing from the big cloud of smoke I inhaled.

We traveled away from the water, through several towns. I noticed uniformed militia or police on nearly every street corner, all were toting machine guns. The heavily armed men left me feeling anxious and freaked out. Between the towns were stretches of pure jungle peppered with run down, hand cobbled shacks and huts. It suddenly hit me that Jamaica was probably a 3rd world country. My naivety and ignorance was showing. Nearly two hours into the bus ride from hell, I could feel my stomach beginning to cramp. Uh oh. The eggs were coming back to haunt me. The bus driver yelled that we would be stopping for a 15 minute rest stop. He pulled off to the side of road onto the shoulder and a wide patch of dirt. There was a woman sitting on the ground in front of a makeshift table selling fruit. There was also a low run down looking building. The driver told us it was a rest room. I screwed up my courage and left the bus. I walk about 2 steps into the "woman's" side of the structure and froze. The stench and bugs were overwhelming! There were two stalls with no doors and in them were holes in the ground. Just an opening in the creaky wood floor. I had the feeling there was simply a pit dug underneath the building and no plumbing. I debated with myself for 10 seconds and turned around and ran back to the bus. I told my husband what I had found and decided I would rather soil myself than try and "go" in there. I set my resolve to hold it until we reached the resort...still a little more than an hour away.

When we finally made it to Couples, our all-inclusive couples-only resort, I was so sick I couldn't enjoy the beautiful front gates (complete with machine gun toting guards) or the lushly landscaped grounds. I ran into the lobby, blurted out "Bathroom?!" to a bewildered looking woman sitting at a small desk to the side of the check-in area, and she pointed down a side hall. I barely had time to notice the beautiful marble tile work on the floors, walls, sinks...I flung open a stall door and collapsed onto the toilet. I thought I wouldn't finish in time before I also had to throw up. I staggered out of the stall and splashed cool water on my face at the sink then made my way back into the lobby. I saw my husband standing in line to check in, so I flopped down into one of the overstuffed chairs by the gorgeous white painted french doors overlooking an expansive terrace and...the ocean. It sparkled blue and tranquil just a short distance away. A nice man in white jacket handed me a towel and a cold bottle of Evian. I smiled wanly at him and thanked him. I poured some of the water on the towel and put it over my eyes as I tried to stop the swaying in my head.

My husband came over after a while and glumly announced that our room wasn't ready. I was too washed out to protest. We sat in the lobby for an hour until the room was ready. In the meantime I noticed a man bringing in luggage. I sighed with relief when our suitcase came through the door. How in the world did the bags arrive AFTER us when they left before...??? Ah well. At least we were on our way to our room. The bellman opened the door for us and we got our first look around. The room was beyond belief. It was SO beautiful! It had to be the nicest hotel room I had ever seen. We entered an elegant sitting room with more of those pretty french doors. A wide archway led to the bedroom with a king size bed with a romantic chiffon canopy over it. Very island fantasy! (I recently redecorated my master bedroom to look very much like our honeymoon suite.) We tipped the bellman, nodded vacantly as he told us when the cocktail reception and dinner took place, where the bars were located and took note of the fact that they served a midnight snack each evening also, in the lobby. As soon as we shut the door, we both made a beeline for the bed. Did the hot newlywed action ensue? No. We both collapsed, fully clothed, onto the bed and fell asleep. We slept right through the reception AND dinner. We woke up close to midnight, starving and groggy. We remembered "midnight snack" and John raced down to the lobby to check it out. He came back with two bowls of soup, some bread, and fresh sliced turkey. It all tasted wonderful!

The rest of our week long vacation went by in a flash. We romped and snorkeled in the surf, spent tons of time in our pretty suite, relaxed in hammocks, dared each other to take the boat ride over to the private island/nude beach, and ate only dinner and midnight snack each day (we slept the morning away). We never left the resort. I had no desire to see Dunns River Falls or go shopping at the public markets. I'd had enough of being approached by hordes of begging locals trying to sell us something. On the second to last day, both John and I were hit with some sort of intestinal ailment. We spent the rest of the trip taking turns in the bathroom. It was awful! One of us would pace while the other used the facilities, then we would trade. John screwed up his resolve and ran to the resort gift shop and bought out their supply of Imodium AD. We prayed it would start working before we got on that nightmarish bus ride back to the airport. It kicked in just in the nick of time! I got smart and dozed on John's shoulder all the way back. I didn't even move when the bus stopped at another "rest stop", but John screwed up his courage to go pee. He came rushing back onto the bus mumbling, "gross...gross...gross" under his breath. I grinned weakly and went back to sleep. We liked our resort, but as things stand, we have NO desire to return to Jamaica for another visit. Whew! Oh! And one last thing...I went with the flow and did a "10" thing with my hair. I got cornrows! Even funnier than a really white girl with cornrows? Going for my NJ drivers license name change and getting the new photo taken...in cornrows. I had that photo on there for four years. HAHAHAHAHA!

Monday, June 07, 2004

Obesity

OK - let me start out by saying, "If you don't like fat people or are uncomfortable in any way with words like Morbid Obesity, Flab, Whale, Wide-Load, Cholesterol, Fat Rolls, Jiggle, Woo Hoo Look at that Blubber Fly...then you should take your skinny butt out of my journal before I floss my teeth with ya." That being said, let's chew the fat, shall we?

I am, according to my doctor, Morbidly Obese. That is such an ugly term. I hate seeing it in my medical records. I seem to have topped out in the neighborhood of ___ lbs and holding. I'll leave that blank for now. I am trying to be brave here. I may come back and fill that in later. Let's just say I qualify for my insurance to cover Gastric Bypass surgery.

What's it like to be fat? I get winded climbing a half flight of steps, I can't go to my mailbox and back without stopping to catch my breath, my knees creak worse than an un-oiled rusty hinge, my hip joints pop in a most alarming fashion when I roll around in bed, my belly hangs so low I could go without underpants and you can't see anything that would qualify as "female parts", my son uses my red tee-shirt as his superman cape, my husband has never been able to pick me up in our entire time together (including my more skinny days early in our relationship), I can't fit in most amusement park rides anymore (even though I love them dearly), I no longer attend the movies in person because the seats in the theater are just a tad too tight, I am cautious when I eat out because I often can't fit into booth-style seats and need an armless chair instead, my feet and ankles swell up to alarming proportions due to poor circulation, my cholesterol level is so high, I don't think I actually have blood anymore...it's something closer to clotted cream or liquid lard. I think you get the picture.

So what am I going to do about this situation. I have tried many diets (grapefruit, skip-a-day, starvation, Nutra-System, dietician recommended, doctor's heart-health diet...yadda) and they have never had long term results. Why? I always fall back to my old patterns of eating...I get too hungry or bored to stay on these plans. I am a compulsive and stress over eater. I also reward myself with food, celebrate special occasions with food, drown out depression with food...food is my answer to everything/anything. I have belonged to two health clubs and had unlimited access to three others in my lifetime. I have probably gone INTO them a sum total of 10 times. Best exercise experience I ever had was on a vacation in Bermuda. I booked a session with a personal trainer in the spa at the hotel. He was incredible! He worked my ass off for an hour and it seemed like minutes. His secret? He was HOT and flirted with me the whole time. What a motivator! I asked him if he would come home with me...he would have fit perfectly into my super-sized suitcase. *sigh* If only he had taken me up on my offer. I know I would be a size 10 right now, for sure.

So on to Plan 456...I am joining Curves and starting The South Beach Diet. I look at my loving husband and adorable little boy and I really and truly want to be around as long as I possibly can for their benefit. Plus I really love living. I want to go to Six Flags soooo bad! I don't want to be asked "So when are you due?" anymore! I don't want security taking me aside at the airport and asking how far along I am anymore! I don't want to be charged for two seats on an airplane! I also don't want to be unreasonable here...I just want to be HEALTHY. I can accept being large. I just don't want to be super-sized. Can I hear an amen!? I could use some support and encouraging words here, people. Thanks. Oh, and I may try the diet I have printed below too...it sounds like it could really work!

The Toddler Miracle Diet
------------------------------

Americans are always on the lookout for a new diet. The trouble with most diets is that you don't get enough to eat (the starvation diet), or you don't get enough variation (the liquid diet) or you go broke (the all-meat diet). Consequently, people tend to cheat on their diets, or quit after 3 days, or go right back to stuffing their faces after it is all over. Is there nothing you can do but give up and tell your friends you have a gland problem?

Well, now there's the new Toddler Miracle Diet! Over the years you may have noticed, as I have, that most two-year-olds are trim. It came to me one day over a glass of water and a carrot that perhaps their diet is the reason. After consultation with pediatricians, X-ray technicians, and distraught Moms, I was able to formulate this new diet. It is inexpensive, offering great variety and sufficient quantity. Before embarking on this diet, however, be sure to check with your doctor. Otherwise, you might have to see him afterward. Good luck!

DAY ONE
Breakfast: One scrambled egg, one piece of toast with grape jelly.

Eat 2 bites of egg, using your fingers; dump the rest on the floor. Take 1 bite of toast, then smear the jelly over your face and clothes.

Lunch: Four crayons (any color), a handful of potato chips, and a glass of milk (3 sips only, then spill the rest).

Dinner: A dry stick, two pennies and a nickel, 4 sips of flat Pepsi.

Bedtime snack: Toast a piece of bread and toss it on the kitchen floor.

DAY TWO
Breakfast: Pick up stale toast from kitchen floor and eat it. Drink half bottle of vanilla extract or one vial of vegetable dye.

Lunch: Half a tube of "Pulsating Pink" lipstick and a handful of Purina Dog Chow (any flavor). One ice cube, if desired.

Afternoon Snack: Lick an all-day sucker until sticky, take outside, drop in dirt. Retrieve and continue slurping until it is clean again. Then bring inside and drop on the rug.

Dinner: A rock or an uncooked bean, which should be thrust up your left nostril.
Pour grape Kool-Aid over mashed potatoes; eat with a spoon.

DAY THREE
Breakfast: Two pancakes with plenty of syrup, eat one with fingers, rub in hair.
Glass of milk; drink half, stuff other pancake in glass. After breakfast, pick up yesterday's sucker from rug, lick off fuzz, and put it on the cushion of your best chair.

Lunch: Three matches, peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Spit several bites onto the floor. Pour glass of milk on table and slurp up.

Dinner: Dish of ice cream, handful of potato chips, some red punch.

FINAL DAY
Breakfast: A quarter-tube of toothpaste (any flavor), bit of soap, an olive.
Pour a glass of milk over bowl of Cornflakes, add a half cup of sugar. Once cereal is soggy, drink milk and feed cereal to dog.

Lunch: Eat crumbs off kitchen floor and dining room carpet. Find that sucker and finish eating it.
Dinner: A glass of spaghetti and chocolate milk. Leave meatball on plate and mash with forehead. Stick of mascara for dessert.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Names

Dharma: "So if it's a boy, we'll name him Joe, or Bill, or Dan...if it's a girl, she will be Sunshine Space-Tweezers!" Greg: "See! It's cute on a girl!"

I loved the whole conversation at the beginning of that episode of Dharma & Greg when they were discussing what to name Abby and Larry's new baby...Dogwood, Tether Ball, TAR!! That last was pounced on when Greg suggested that anything other than a normal name would get the tar kicked out of the boy on the playground at school. Bizarre names are fine...for a GIRL. But not for boys. My husband believed this to the core of his being! The boy's name should be strong, yet simple...and should not leave ANY room for ridicule from other kids. He wanted Joe, Tom, Jack (oops, his brother already used that one). I wanted something more unique and exotic for our first born.

To give you an idea...here is the original Baby Name poll we sent to all our family and friends for their feedback: Help Us Pick A Name! This was before we knew the sex of the baby. (Wow! I can't believe the links are still live after 3 years! WTG BabyCenter!)

Here is the second one we did once we knew it was a boy: Help Us Pick A Name - Part 2!

Tee Hee! OK...that second one was a gag. We had gotten SO frustrated over our inability to pick a name we could both agree on, I went a little off the deep end. Funny thing, my friends and family thought that poll was FOR REAL! What does that say about me? Hmm. I bought about a dozen baby name books and highlighted all the names that appealed to me. John read through my selections and said no to almost every one of them. We were running out of time!

Then the big surprise...our baby arrived 3 weeks early! As we scrambled to get our crud together and get to the hospital, John had the forethought to print out the top 10 baby names for the last 3 years (two copies of each year). We each went down our list copies and crossed out all the names we didn't like. It was a pretty fast elimination! The only name we had left in common between each of our list copies? Tyler! We hadn't even considered that name before. And so our little guy was proudly named...Tyler Kamehameha! [giggle] Sorry, couldn't resist. Tyler John! Our little miracle baby.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Marriage

Anyone have a worse wedding tale than mine? Let me start by saying my parents hated my then boyfriend John. One, because he is part Asian, and two, because I was breaking curfew left and right to spend more time with him. [insert evil grin] They decided to blame HIM and called him a bad influence. Add in the fact that I had gained a ton of weight in College (most before I even met him)...they decided to blame him for my weight gain too. Basically, everything in my life they found fault with was blamed on John. I am still clueless to this day why...except that my Mom is crazy. I already posted about some of her issues in an earlier entry entitled Amnesia.

Well, we got engaged December 15, 1990. We told John's parents, siblings, my friends and coworkers first. A few days later we told my parents. Can you blame me for procrastinating telling them? John and I had been together for almost 5 years at that point and my parents STILL hated him. Well, my mom was PISSED that the whole world knew before she did. I started looking at reception sites and talking to the church right away. I wasn't doing it secretly, I just didn't broadcast my plans to my Mom. I honestly didn't think she wanted to be involved because of her past attitude. When she found out I was planning to have the wedding that June (only 6 months after the engagement) she freaked. When I told her about the places I was looking at (Holiday Inn, Knights of Columbus, etc.), she double freaked. She told me they wouldn't pay a dime for my wedding unless I had it in a place she approved of. Then she announced we had to wait until the NEXT June to give them time to "save up some funds" or whatever. I thought waiting a year and a half to marry was excessive since we had dated for so long... so I went to talk to our local parish priest hoping to enlist his help. My mother had already gotten to him. First, he accused me of being pregnant; then he said we couldn't get married in the church without preparation classes, proper announcements and such. *Sigh* I gave in. I thought, "What the hell, if they are going to pay for it. I will have a much nicer wedding than we could afford on our own."

My mother had a plan, I found out later. She pushed for the MOST expensive reception location possible (we looked at places like the Stow Country Club, a very expensive hotel in Boston and this pricey snobby restaurant in Lexington). She fell in love with the restaurant. Excuse number one from my parents: they didn't have enough cash to pay the entire $5,000 down payment...would we pay half? So we did. Why were we going 5-star when it looked like they couldn't afford it? Mom insisted. Her family would NOT be attending a cheapo wedding in a low class place. It's always been about keeping up appearances to her. Then came the agreement: Would we agree to pay for SOME of the expenses? Again we agreed. The dress, the flowers and the photographer became my expense. Limos, church, music and reception would be theirs. Did I mention that my mom is very image conscious? A snob. Pretentious. Superior to the rest of the planet. You get the idea.

Let me digress here and tell you about the wedding party. My best friend all through High School, Kathleen, was to be my maid of honor. The brides maids were my childhood best friend (who had moved to upstate NY just before High School started) Pam, my College roommate Jennifer (also now a very good friend), my favorite cousin Gina (Mom's sister Beth's daughter) and my 2 soon to be sister-in-laws, Laura and Anne. 6 girls. John was a little freaked. He had his - as his best man, his buddy Patrick from college, his childhood friend Ed and my brother Mike. Only 5 guys. Horrors! The wedding party was off balance! *giggle* I didn't really care.

This is where fate decided to mess with us in a big way. First my SIL Laura was diagnosed with a brain tumor. In the beginning we were all optimistic. It was big, but they had hopes the chemo and radiation would take care of it. I figured I had lots of time for wedding planning now, thanks to mom - so we spent lots of time with Laura. I was glad to get to know her and Anne better. Since they both lived in NYC, I hadn't really gotten to know them well while we were dating. At the same time, my best pal Kathleen (who had struggled with depression for years) was having a particularly hard time. She had suffered a seizure the year before and was on special meds for that. Her shrink was a quack, in my humble opinion, because he kept changing her meds, upping the dose, changing the drug...trying to find the magiccombo to make her happy. This messing around with the chemical balances in her brain caused the seizure. Add in the fact she was known to suddenly stop her meds when she got tired of feeling different from the rest of the world...she was not supposed to drive a vehicle while taking her meds. She totaled her car. Her car was a major life line for her and the sole source of her independence. I could write a whole post about her domineering mom and lapdog dad and the complete lack of control over her own life. She couldn't even balance a check book or do her own wash. Anyway, I was also having a rough time. I wanted to be there for her, but with the problems with my parents, John's sister, plus I was also in the middle of a sexual harassment fiasco at my work...I was preoccupied, to say the least.

When the wedding planning finally got underway - my first stop, along with Kathleen (once again - best friend since freshman year of high school and maid of honor), was the Filene's Basement annual wedding dress sale. I got my dress in one day for $64. I was PSYCHED! But how to get this dress past my mom. Never mind that it was beautiful and fit me perfectly. It was CHEAP! Horrors! So I had a plan. I would go with her to all her hoity-toity dress places... probably dozens of them. After a couple days of looking, I would suddenly appear with the dress I bought. I would say "Remember that dress we saw in such and such a store? Well, I went back and bought it!" knowing she would never admit to not remembering the dress I was talking about. Brilliant, right? Kathleen was even a talented graphic artist (art major) and did a fake receipt for me pricing the dress at $1200.

Helping me with wedding stuff was hard on Kathleen, however. She saw in me everything she wanted to achieve in her own life and was even more depressed. She called me at work one day in May and wanted to meet me for lunch. You can read how that day went in my very first journal post. I never got the chance to "make it up" to her. The fact that her mom could even think straight enough to come up with the idea of getting me someplace private so when I got hysterical, it wouldn't be in front of the entire office, just goes to show you how controlled she was. The wake and funeral were 3 days later. 2 days after that I was invited to Kathleen's house by her mom for dinner, expecting the typical "She would have wanted you to have this". All photos of Kathleen had been removed from the house ... her bedroom had been repainted, new carpet laid and her brother's thingshad been moved into the room. His old room was now a nondescript guest room. All Kathleen's artwork, possessions, clothes... gone. She had a memory box that contained every card, letter, note passed in the hallway... everything I had ever given her. This was also gone. Her mom said her things had been given away. Goodwill and such. And didn't Brian's new room look great? It was cold and horrifying. She gave me a packet of black and white photos from one of her photography class projects (because I had been with her that day helping with the figure studies) - the photos of her I took had been removed. She gave me a bunch of food coupons that had been in Kathleen's new car glove box. That was it. I had given Kathleen a sapphire friendship ring years before and noticed her mom was now wearing it. I didn't mention it. I asked her mom about some clothes I had loaned Kathleen (included the pair of jeans I had worn the day I met John)... all given away. I still get angry and teary to this day thinking about how cold this woman was and how little I understand her reaction to Kathleen's death.

WELL! After several months of mourning, I moved on with planning. I asked my college roommate Jenn to be my new maid of honor (I would have asked Pam, but she lived too far away to help me - and she understood). After accepting Mom's choice of photographer (very expensive), and florist...oh wait, make that FLORAL DESIGNER (also VERY expensive, $340 JUST for my bouquet) mind you, these were all things WE were paying for... our first stop in the wedding dress shopping was Pricilla's of Boston on Newbury Street. For those of you not familiar with the store, with Massachusetts society this store is the equivalent of Vera Wang. The FIRST DRESS they showed me at $6000 something dollars, was the one she wanted me to buy. Ok, it was really beautiful and perfect for me...BUT! We couldn't even afford all the other crap we were paying for, and no way I was spending that kind of money on a dress I was wearing ONCE! And how was I going to get her OFF this dress in order to slip the dress I already had (riding in my car truck for several months now) into the works.

On the ride home in the car, I had the blow out to end all blow outs with my Mom. I accused her of deliberately trying to put us in the poor farm. In the heat of arguing over expenses, she let slip that she thought John was CHEAP and he would LEAVE ME when he heard how much all this was costing. She also told me we would have ugly children. She sure didn't know him very well, did she. She was TRYING to drive him away! Ha! That was it. I told her we were NOT having a 4 piece orchestra playing during the hors d'oeuvres and NO WAY to the live band. I wanted a DJ, darn it! I hate cheesy wedding bands. They butcher the music I love so well. I wanted a DJ. I was NOT going to spend $6000 on a dress...and I was seriously rethinking the flowers. All the fighting went on right up to Mom's front door. At the door, she said if the wedding wasn't EXACTLY how she wanted it, the wedding was OFF. Oh yeah? Try and call off MY wedding, will ya. Fine. I got some stuff together and drove the 5 hours down to NJ that night and showed up on John's doorstep in tears at 2:30am.

It was now late February and the wedding was June 21st! I called and canceled the reception site hoping to get back part of the deposit. No go. IF they rebooked the space, then maybe. The wedding was on a Sunday, however. Not as popular a day. Since everyone knew that the date was June 21st, I was determined to keep that date. John's mom worked as music director and organist at her local church. She pulled strings and got us her church on the 21st (between a spot reserved for funerals and another wedding...with the caveat that we HAD TO stick to a strict schedule so as not to interfere with the other wedding). I got a ball room at the local Embassy Suites, limo, photographer, a friend of John's sister was doing our cake, a friend of John's was doing our video, a friend of John's mom was our DJ, florist, brides maids dresses...oh no.

My friend Jenn called to tell me she was pregnant and would be TOO FAR ALONG to be comfortable in the wedding party. Ok. One more Maid of Honor gone. Desperate, I called Pam. Despite the long distance planning, she agreed to step in. I mailed her pictures of the dress I like. OK. My future MIL offered to throw the bridal shower (have I told you yet how much I ADORE my MIL). OK. Called my cousin to tell her about the location changes and who to contact with her measurements...Mom strikes again. My cousin didn't feel comfortable being in the middle of a family feud. Lord only knows what my Mother told them, but none of my mom's side of the family or dad's would be coming to my wedding either. I already knew my own parents weren't coming. Fine. John had plenty of friends and relatives. I still had 64 people to invite. That is a nice size wedding, right? I got toinvite people I probably wouldn't have if my family was coming. My boss and her boyfriend, coworkers, people like that. Oh, and by this time I had moved to NJ and was living with John, I had a great new job and all. No reason to stay in MA now that best friend was gone and the wedding was no longer going to be there.

All this time my SIL Laura had bravely been fighting her cancer. Radiation and chemo hadn't worked as well as the doctors had hoped. She couldn't be in the bridal party, but she was DETERMINED to be at the wedding. She had lost her eyesight, then her ability to walk. She had moved home with my MIL and was getting regular hospice care. She made me PROMISE I would not cancel the wedding if, heaven forbid, something should happen to her. She lost her fight in April. My MIL and FIL both insisted the wedding go on. They wanted to celebrate something happy in her memory and the memory of my best friend Kathleen. I had already decided I wasn't going to throw my bouquet. I had several mutual friends from High School coming to the wedding. Our friend Louanne agreed to bring the bouquet back to Massachusetts and place it on Kathleen's grave for me. Kath was always meant to have that bouquet. We had concocted a plan together months before on trajectory and how I would throw it to be sure she was the one to catch it. [grin] She was so great. I miss her terribly to this day.

The bridesmaids were down to my friend Pam and my soon to be SIL, Anne. A couple weeks after Laura died, I got a call from Pam. She had met a new guy and was totally in love. A week later, she was calling to tell me she was moving to West Virginia to live with him in a house his dad left to him. Oh and wasn't he nice to allow his mother to continue living there. (Excuse me? Alarm bells went off. The dad left everything to his son and not the wife?? There is something wrong with that...) I began to hear from Pam less and less after she moved. I was making all the decisions on my own. I guessed her measurements and put the down payment on her dress. Time was running out. The wedding was now a month away and she hadn't come up to visit me, as she promised, to help with the invitations, wedding favors (which I was making myself) and my veil (which I was also making myself). I called the West Virginia number she left for me over and over, leaving messages with a woman who sounded just shy ofbrain dead with a slow southern drawl that made her sound like a hillbilly with marbles in her mouth. "Pay-am? Pay-ams naught heeah riiite nay-ow." she slurred out. "Can I leave her a message?" I said in my clipped Yankee accent. "Whhhhhuuuut?" repeat. repeat. repeat. I guess I spoke too fast for her. It's kinda funny now. But NOT AT ALL at the time. I was one big ball of stress, horror and sadness.

Anne stepped in to help with invitations, favors, all the rest of the last minute stuff. Anne was my savior. Finally, one week before the wedding John answered a call (I was out). It was Pam. She was in a shelter for battered women, running for her life. The "new man" turned out to be a monster. He had been beating her and nearly killed her. All her belonging were locked in a trailer with a padlock only HE had the key to. She left with the clothes on her back and her car. That was it. And no, we did not expect her at the wedding. We understood. And yes, we would send her some money. John called his mom and gave her the heads up. He knew I would fall apart when I got home. MIL called Anne who came right over. She was armed with a pendant that had belonged to John's grandmother (my something old - given to her when John was born - a grandma's keepsake engraved with his name and birth date), a blue beaded rosary that had belonged to Laura (something borrowed and blue) and a new chain for the pendant (something new). When I arrived home, John told me about the call from Pam and Anne promptly volunteered to be maid of honor and sole bridesmaid. I was devastated, but also deeply touched. She really came thru for me in the end.

How was the wedding, you ask? [get to the punch line, Bec] The ONLY thing that went wrong was the AC was broken in my limo and it turned out to be a rather warm day. John's cousin Maria did my makeup and hair... and I was a little wilted by the time we got to the church. My parents ended up going to my wedding and bringing my aunt and uncle (mom's sister and husband) - my cousins still didn't show up, nor did Dad's side of the family. The wedding was flawless. My MIL and FIL cried at the tribute we did - a candle lighting ceremony in memory of Laura and Kathleen. The reception was beautiful. The food was incredible, the DJ was great. John and I and our new NJ friends Jeff (the guy who did our video, John's co-worker) and his wife Beth danced the night away. We were often the only ones on the dance floor. We didn't care. We were married, John's parents had a really good time, and now we could get on with our lives.

P.S. My mother ended up apologizing to John at the reception. I had told the DJ there would be NO father/daughter dance nor would my husband dance with his new MIL. They ended up requesting it on their own. It was at the end of the reception and by then I was so happy I didn't care anymore. Because I had already ordered a bridesmaid bouquet for Pam, I had an extra. My actual bouquet, of course, was on its way back to Massachusetts. So I got to throw a bouquet after all. It fell on the floor on my first toss. No one went for it, they all took a step BACK (you can see it on the video)!!! Second try, Anne got it. You can see in the video it was headed for the floor again and the look on her face was "oh what the hell". She was relieved we didn't do the garter belt thing. I guess that is what the girls were afraid of.

Whew! There you go. If you made it this far, join me in a beer and a shot (or two or three). Now...on to the honeymoon from HELL in Jamaica. Another post for another day.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Why?

"Tyler, don't color on the table...only on the paper!"

"why?"

"Because it makes a mess!"

"why?"

"Because crayons don't come off wood very easily..."

"why?"

"Honey...why don't you draw a nice picture for Mommy?"

"why?"

Aaaaaaaah! LMAO But along with the why, why, why's is also "Mommy? You're my best friend." So how can I stay frustrated with him? LOL


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Affliction

Oh man...my colon blows. I didn't have this on my list of interesting topics for future journal entries. But since I saw another journal entry on this topic, maybe I should add it. *giggle* At least I've kept my sense of humor about it!

My doc diagnosed me with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome for those lucky enough NOT to know) about 10 years ago. I never got "backed up" but I would have these attacks, for lack of a better word, and would need a bathroom IMMEDIATELY. I remember one time driving to work and having an ATTACK. Unfortunately I was in a very rural area...no gas stations, no malls, no public facilities of any kind to be had. I finally pulled over to the side of the road praying for the cramping to go away. I looked around the car hoping to find a plastic supermarket bag or SOMETHING. Nada. No trees - damn these developments built on former farm land. I had plastic floor mats in the car, so my quick and brilliant mind determined that was an easier cleanup than my leather bucket seats and linen dress. So I whipped off the undies, shimmed the dress up and slid my butt as far off the edge of my car seat as I could (I am NOT a tiny woman, mind you). I neglected to plan for the aftermath. No tissues, no napkins, no old newspapers...damn that trip to the car wash! So I used the only thing at hand...my pretty leopard undies.

I couldn't continue on to work and leave a load on my floor mats...not to mention that I now had no underwear on. So I turned around and headed for home. I called in sick from my cell phone and called my husband to meet me in the garage with a bucket of water, soap and as many baby wipes as he could muster up. I wasn't able to save my linen dress, but my car seat was ok. I just threw out the underpants. I almost threw out the floor mat too but hubby used the high-pressure hose attachment, bless his heart. Oh my, I have many many horror stories like this one. I can honestly say I know where EVERY restroom is within a 100 mile radius of home and I have probably been in every rest-stop on every major highway between here and my parents house, friends homes, anywhere I regularly traveled to.

I remember two times I desperately needed to find a restroom while in New York City. The first time I just barely made it into a stall in the public restroom in the subway station under the World Trade Center towers. I didn't look at the homeless women washing themselves and their clothing in the bathroom sinks. I guess I SHOULD have looked to see if there was any toilet paper in the stall I picked. Turns out these homeless women had taken all the paper out of every stall. Just as I was digging through my purse desperately looking for tissues or something, a snide gravelly voice drifted under the stall door. "What's the matter honey, need some paper?" Followed by evil laughter from the other women. "Give me all your spare change and I'll pass ya some under the door," she wheezed. Extortion! Highway robbery! I was being held hostage by evil homeless women! I was scared but more than a little ticked off too. I dropped what little change I had into the woman's grubby paw and she seemed less than satisfied. I finally told her I would leave her some paper money in the stall if she passed me a roll of paper IMMEDIATELY. She complied. First I gently wiped my butt with a dollar bill and stuck it, excrement side down, to the floor. Then I finished the job with the regular paper. I mentally apologized to the poor cleaning crew in charge of mopping the floors and then made a run for it. No one chased me. Whew!

The second time I ran into trouble in NYC, I was sightseeing with a good friend. I was feeling pretty pleased with my tour guiding when I began to feel that horrifyingly familiar pain in my guts. It was 2 AM. We were in the financial district...the heart of Wall Street. Any New Yorker will tell you there is very little open in that area in the middle of the night. I knew I wasn't going to make it back to the subway. I quickly ran for an alley and dropped my pants next to a dumpster. Lord knows what my friend thought at first. We had been drinking a bit. Maybe she thought I was going to throw up. When she saw me squat, she began laughing hysterically! Lucky for me I had tons of Kleenex in my purse this time. I had just finished cleaning up and had pulled my pants back on when a bright spotlight suddenly illuminated the entire alley and nearly blinded us. An amplified voice inquired "Is there a problem, Ladies?" New York's finest...the men in blue...holy crap! My friend was still giggling and snorting uncontrollably. I composed myself and nonchalantly said, "Uh, no problems officer. I thought this alley was a shortcut back to the subway. But it's a dead-end..." My voice trailed off. The spot light went out and a pleasant, un-amplified voice replied, "You two should know better than to walk down strange dark alleys in the city at night. Try to be more careful." *Whew!* That was a close one.

The good news is I was misdiagnosed with IBS. A few years after these tales of poppy woe occurred, I had emergency abdominal surgery where they found tumors, cysts and extensive adhesions and scar tissue from a disease called Endometriosis. My colon was constricted in many locations and adhered to my abdominal wall in others. After the surgical "clean up", my bowel problems went away! What a relief! Of course I had a boat load of NEW problems - mostly female type things like infertility, but I am still pretty happy my "IBS" is gone. I have tons more room in my purse without all those tissues and napkins. ;-)

Amnesia

Anyone know how to submit articles to the American Journal of Medicine or other medical publications? I swear my Mother would make an eye-opening case study. She has a disease that I have coined "Selective Amnesia". I would love to know if anyone else's parents suffer from this affliction. It drives me crazy! I have a vivid and very detailed memory. I remember the good stuff AND the bad stuff.

Since my Mom seems extremely keen on being my "best friend" now, and not just my Mother; I thought I would sit down with her and lance some old wounds. Festering boils really. I feel that if I am to be friends with someone that I have such ambivalent feelings towards, I need to clear the air and get some long overdue explanations. Over a casual lunch, I was able to insert one of my most painful questions into the general conversation. She was giving me her opinions on "parenting today" and how kids seem to be getting more disrespectful and violent. I laughingly commented, "Oh yeah, I wouldn't dare get out of line as a kid or Dad would remove his belt." *giggle snort cough* Reaction: glassy-eyed stare and slow blink of the uncomprehending. *ahem* "You remember, don't ya Mom? Dad used to hit Mike and I with his belt (and other stuff) when we got out of line? We were terrified of him..." Reaction: "What on earth are you talking about?! Your Father and I NEVER hit you kids!" *sputter CHOKE* "You're kidding me, right?"

Nope. She was serious. Selective Amnesia...no memory of abusive behavior toward my brother and I. "Remember that time you broke The Board Of Education over Mike's butt when you were spanking him?" *slight giggle inquisitive lift of eyebrow* Reaction: "I don't have any idea what you mean. I remember that paddle but I think your brother broke it. It was a decoration...we never HIT you kids with it!" OK. I am getting no where. Time to bail out on this conversation.

[heavy sigh]

There are many other examples. According to her I was never a fat preteen...I gained all my weight AFTER I started dating my now husband (translation - my weight problem is all my husband's fault). "But Mom, don't you remember finding all the candy hidden in my room and grounding me for a month? Don't you remember monitoring my eating like the gosh darn FOOD POLICE and never allowing me to eat bread or have second helpings? Don't you remember taking me to that dietician when I was a high school freshman...I had to get weighed in every Friday at the clinic? I lost so much weight you had to buy me a new school uniform half way through sophomore year because my old one was literally falling off me?"

Nope. She doesn't remember ANY of that. It never happened. According to her, I have a VIVID imagination. Uh huh. Selective Amnesia strikes again. Must be nice living on Planet Carol. Nothing bad ever happens there...it's all pleasant memories and a perfect life. On Planet Carol, I am her best friend...we have an open and loving relationship. She brags about it to all her coworkers and acquaintances. Have any of these people ever seen a photograph of me? No. Have I ever been personally introduced? No. Why? She hasn't told them I am fat. On Planet Carol, I am still a college student, thin, beautiful and she isn't in her early 60s. I guess I should be grateful that she has, at last, embraced being a Grandmother. She wanted to be called "Nanny" and not "Grandma" for the LONGEST time. At least her peeps have seen pictures of my son. He is worth bragging about, I guess. My Mother...I love her, but I don't like her very much.