The Year in Review

From Sundry:

  1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?

We traveled internationally with our little boys. It was fantastic and difficult, and worth every memory.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

No…no I did not.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


4. Did anyone close to you die?

My dog. Does that count?

5. What countries did you visit?

Portugal and the Dominican Republic

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?

Sanity. Patience. The ability to find fun in everything…to lighten up a bit.

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

June 18th, when I woke up in the hospital after being sick for most of June.

And, the day we had Shiner put to sleep.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Does surviving it count?

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not accomplishing much. I didn’t change the world, make a lasting impression, improve anyone / anything. I just scraped by. Didn't save my dog...

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Yes. I was sick starting in February, it escalated in June, I ended up in the ICU for most of the summer and was lucky to live.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Vacations, I suppose… Portugal and the Dominican were big items, as was the Tiffany’s watch I bought for my husband for our anniversary.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My husband’s. He is amazing…he is patient, and kind, and a fantastic person.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Shiner’s – my dog.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Vacations and gifts…and bills. There are always bills.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Putting together a plan to get out of debt within 2 years. Vacations.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?

Dreaming in Color

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Happier. Thinner. Same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?


19. What do you wish you’d done less of?


20. How did you spend Christmas?

At home with immediate family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2007?

I fall in love with my husband over and over all the time.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Scrubs. The Office. Can I choose two?

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

There are some doctors that should go on that list…

24. What was the best book you read?

The River’s Flow, or The Road.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Alice. Alice? Who the fuck is Alice?

26. What did you want and get?

Outdoor firepit and furniture.

27. What did you want and not get?

Nikon Camera.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?


29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 39. I don’t remember what we did, but I am fairly sure we went out to dinner. Todd gave me a new watch, which I love.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Less time in the hospital.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?

Comfy and too big.

32. What kept you sane?


33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?


34. What political issue stirred you the most?


35. Who did you miss?

Me. I missed the old me quite a bit. And my family over the summer.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

No idea…

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.

If you don’t notice things, they will pass you by.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking.

Racing around to come up behind you again.

The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older.

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

- - - Pink Floyd


How Do You Let Him Go?

Seven years ago I opened a birthday card from a friend. In it was the most wonderful gift – a promise of a dog…whenever I wanted it.

I had not been divorced for long, and was living on my own. When I left my husband, I left our dogs as well, and I had been missing them terribly.

That promise turned into Shiner, my black lab.

Everything in the house reminds me of him. There is the floor that he would try to sit on, but because it was slippery, he would slip down until he was laying down. He would sit up again and again, not quite understanding why he couldn’t hold his ground on the kitchen or bathroom tile.

At the top of the stairs is a picture of him, about 7 weeks old in the bathtub, the victim of a cruel joke titled Bath Time.

In our room at the foot of the bed lies his dog bed.

In the back of the car is his leash and collar…untouched.

On the mantel is his bone.

In the freezer is his peanut-butter filled Kong.

In the laundry room is his bowl.

In the closet his ball.

All that is missing is Shiner. And it is sad.


The Road

On my Christmas list every year are books. I love reading almost as much as I miss drinking, which is to say A LOT! This year, Santa brought me several books, one of which was Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. And good lord, that was a dark, creepy, sad, fantastic, wonderful read. It has been a long time since I have read something so…so…good.


Get it.

Read it.

Tell me what you think.


December 27th and 2008 Resolutions

This is how happy I look when I have to work over the holidays. Thrilling, no?

My resolution for 2007 was to “be in the moment”, meaning that no matter what was am doing – working, playing with the boys, spending time with the girls, talking to someone on the phone, talking with Todd – I wanted to be 100% focused on that activity.

How did I do? Oh, resolution, I laugh when I read you. Truly, I do. We will become quite familiar with each other, because you are my resolution this year also, seeing how I didn’t come CLOSE to “being in the moment” last year. I spent much of my time “being alive” and that was trying at times.

So to wrap up, I am glad I lived through 2007 – quite literally. 2008 is the year of “getting back to normal” and being healthy. I need some healthy over here.


Christmas 2007

Christmas was nice. But now it is over. And that makes me happy.


Hatin' on the Holidays

I have always had this big hole in me… somewhat of a theoretical hole as opposed to a visible “hole” – but there, still the same. I don’t remember much of my dad. He left when I was three. I didn’t see him again – ever. I do remember our last Christmas together as a family. Santa brought me oranges in my stocking. I also got a cardboard kitchen set – kid sized. It had a refrigerator, stove, and a sink. I guess it was the old time equivalent to Fisher Price toys of today. We didn’t have the bright colored plastic stuff, but there was cardboard a-plenty!

I remember coming downstairs on Christmas morning, very, very early. I looked down into the living room, and there were so many presents, that I couldn’t believe it. I remember running around all day, chasing my brother, bothering our parents, and having a pretty good day. I also remember my mom and dad arguing a lot, but it didn’t seem to matter much. I’m not sure if that was the status quo or if the toys muted the tension.

I think that perhaps this is the link to my hating the holidays so much. When we were a family, things were pretty good. The following Christmas was full of sorrow and loneliness, and no word from my dad. As was the next, and next and so on.

Sometimes I look at my boys, playing with their dad that loves them so much…and I feel actual resentment toward them or Todd, or someone. I feel left out and lonely and jealous of a relationship I will never experience or understand. I know it makes no sense, and I try not to think about it. But it is there. I don’t think it is a visible thing, and it certainly doesn’t consume me, but it lingers – stings a little. That same hole is there and it is real in some way.

I do love the relationship I have with my kids, all four of them. I love how all of us spend time together as a family. I think that my past experiences have made me more focused on family and traditions, and just being together, enjoying every moment that we have…so good has come out of it. Christmas does seem to be the exception, but I know that I can find things in this holiday that are meaningful and good. I want my kids to have good memories of the holidays – not look back and think about how mom always hated Christmas. I guess making a difference in how I view Christmas starts today – Christmas Eve. And I vow, when I get out of this freaking office, to try and enjoy the next few days.


Ho Ho Ho

“Why do you hate Christmas so much?” asked my husband as we sat wrapping presents the other night. “I know you don’t love the holiday season, but this year you seem to be more opposed to it than I have ever seen.” And it is true, yet I don’t know why. I am more bitter about Christmas…about the gift buying and wrapping, about the meal planning, about everything…everything in general. I wasn’t thrilled about putting up lights, or buying gifts. I am not looking forward to Christmas Eve (which, by the way we actually have to work on…what is that all about?) or Christmas day. I am just going through the motions to get through the holiday and on with the new year.

I think part of my angst is I really want this year to be over with already – for the love of GOD!!! It has been a hard year. I have been through more than I would have ever imagined possible. I started out in February feeling HORRIBLE due to the crazy-ass drugs my old doctor had me on. I was told I needed to have both hips replaced, and was forced to use a damned cane. I was put on more medicines than I have taken my whole life collectively. And then, I ended up in the ICU on life support which resulted in me being in the hospital pretty much the whole summer.

I gave up drinking…my beloved pass-time. I had to stop running for quite a while and am just now looking at it again thinking it may be time… I missed 4 months of work, and am still sorting through all of the changes and bullshit just trying to get caught up.

I am ready to check 2007 off as the YEAR THAT ALMOST ATE MY SOUL and move on…and the sooner the better.

But I guess that really doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas does it? So my anger toward this particular holiday, especially on this particular year, escapes me. I always hated it as a child – having very few Christmas holidays that were fun, special, or not surrounded by embarrassment or sadness. We were quite poor. We were typically recipients of the food drive boxes or gifts for the needy. And those were nice, and appreciated…but they were a constant reminder of what we didn’t have.

I was lucky to have a good family – a mother that loved me. I had a house to live in. I had food and clothes. I just had a really hard time understanding why we had so little when so many other people had so much. And I don’t think I have ever let go of those feelings…of that sadness around Christmas. I should be able to. I am a grown adult with kids, a family, and the ability to have a wonderful holiday. We are not poor. We are not needy. I should be able to enjoy these days, but for whatever reason, I am not. I am simply looking forward to January when all of this "celebrating" is over and we can get back to normal.


Kill Me. Please.

It has been one of those days. Perhaps one of those weeks. One where “On my last nerve”, “Brink of insanity”, “At my wits end”, and “Shut the hell up” may have been uttered more than once.

The boys are 2 and a half. And they are in the height of the terrible two stage. I can do NOTHING to help them. It is always “by myself” followed by screaming and full-blown melt downs. It is very often “give me that”, “I don’t want that”, “I don’t like that”, and “Go away”.

We see tantrums over not letting them open a door, asking them to open a door, making them wear a coat, asking them to take off a coat, feeding them, not feeding them, giving them milk, giving them milk in the wrong cup, giving them lemonade at the wrong time, allowing the sun to rise in the east and set in the west, letting the wind blow, letting time continue along its normal pattern, and letting other people exist – at all. It is trying, and annoying, and driving me fucking insane!

Yes, I am thrilled to have children. Yes, I love my family. Yes, this is exactly what I asked for. But for the love of GOD, why are they such terrors at the same freaking time????

Send help, since booze is no longer an option.


The Holidays

We don't have many plans for the holidays coming up. We are not taking time off of work, we are not going out of town, and we are not hosting for company. And...this makes me very happy. I am not a huge Christmas fan. In fact, it has been uttered on more than one occasion that I am the modern day Scrooge. I hate the present buying and wrapping. I hate trying to figure out what in the hell to buy for the person we never see or talk to. I hate writing Christmas cards. I hate the amount of money we spend on gifts. I hate the teenage expectations and the lack of understanding of what goes into to giving them all of the things they want. I even loath putting up the lights and decorating the tree. It is just not my holiday. I am not sure if I use up all my energy on Halloween and have nothing left for Christmas, or if there is more to it - either way, it isn't for me.

I have mellowed over the years, because this is my husband’s favorite time of year. This makes me want to squish it off the calendar just a little bit less. Why is such a well meaning holiday crammed with so much “have to” stuff? Shouldn’t this be a time of year where we don’t spend money – where we just hang out with family and bond, drink, play games, eat? Oh wait…that is mostly what WE do. Huh. Guess I just hate it anyway. Wow. I am Scrooge, or maybe the Grinch. I like him better anyway.


Alone in this World

You should read this... it is meaningful and sad, and if it doesn't stir your soul just a little bit, then you might, quite possibly, be dead inside.


To the Beat of our Noisy Hearts

The heart doctor doesn’t know if what I suffered was a mild heart attack or not. Since I refused an MRI before being released from the hospital during the summer, they have nothing to compare today’s to. Huh. Guess I should not have argued with them and refused the earlier MRI. Anyway, there is some muscle damage, but we knew that before. What we do not know is what portion is new (if any) and what was pre-existing. I cannot see how it matters really. He also said it could have been a bad episode of variant angina.

Overall he thought things looked good and didn’t seem all that concerned…which made me feel better. I was sent away with a prescription for nitroglycerine which I am to keep with me at all times. I wonder if it can double as pepper spray?


Our heater decided to stop working last night because it is an inconsiderate, selfish, all-up-in-its-own-coils, over-rated, piece of crap. I am happy to report that it is now working, however we have NO EARTHLY IDEA why it is working now, as opposed to freezing us out like last night. We have done nothing, and yet it is working. Don’t think I do not appreciate this little gift, however it would be nice to know what changed that it decided to start working. Is that really asking too much?

Don't go telling me it is God's way of ensuring we spend more quality time together, or I will begin to suspect that you are really my husband trying to score some action.


I am Vomit

I don't even know what to say about this.... it is ... well, appalling.


A deadly strain of projectile vomit

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at QuizGalaxy.com

Not Drinking

I was writing to a friend about my moratorium on drinking and how it is going, and thought I would share some of the same thoughts with you. My friend noted that alcohol was robbing him of time, and that is the one thing we cannot replace….and he is spot on. I had never thought of it that way, but I agree completely.

I loved how drinking made me feel. It opened me up, made me more social. It allowed me to be someone else, someone more outgoing than the real me. I don’t tend to share my true feelings with many people people…sure, I will tell you what I am thinking EXACTLY when I am thinking it – as long as it doesn’t reveal anything about me. I only discuss things that are not too close to the heart. There are very few people that I allow to know the real me.

Alcohol allowed me to turn off my inner filter and just flow with whatever was happening at the time. I was able to just talk and not audit every word I said or everything I did. And I really, really miss that. Something serious and burning on my mind that I wasn’t sure I should bring up? Just have a few drinks, and out it would spill. Something bothering me at home? Open a bottle of wine with Todd and talk through it. It was the cure-all when it came to opening up and dealing with issues.

I also felt like it made people like me. If I could drink I could be “one of the guys” and fit in with all of the men I worked with. People enjoyed hanging out with me, because I was fun… I miss that. I miss it a lot.

And then there are the things I don’t miss. I don’t miss looking like an idiot at business functions, flirting, telling stupid jokes, laughing too much or too loud. I don’t miss wondering the next morning exactly what I said the night before to people I was now going to have to face sober. I don’t miss regretting being too open with someone. I don’t miss the hangovers, and thus the complete lack of productivity that followed.

When I was on a recent business trip, I was witness to some of the people I work with drinking quite a bit. They were not doing anything out of the ordinary, but I wasn’t drinking with them, so it seemed different to me. We were with our customer, and therefore should have been on our best behavior, yet I was witness to an obscene amount of flirting, and drunk people trying to talk business, and it was a little disenchanting. I was also pretty surprised to think that I had been one of those people a mere 6 months ago.

I had to force myself to talk to people, to spend time with the rest of the group, when all I really wanted to do was go back to my room, get my work done, and go to bed. It was an incredible amount of work to simply engage in the social banter and pretend to be part of the gang. It was like being in high school again and knowing you don’t really fit in, and yet you keep trying. It was basically just a lot of work.

The trip was a huge milestone for me though. I don’t regret not drinking now. I don’t regret not being the drunk in the group, flirting with everyone or telling jokes that lead nowhere. I don’t regret anything from that trip, except that I had to go at all.

I am sure this not drinking thing gets easier. I would imagine that the trips won't be as difficult as time moves on... right?

The Drinking Game

I was writing to a friend about my moratorium on drinking and how it is going, and thought I would share some of the same thoughts with you. My friend noted that alcohol was robbing him of time, and that is the one thing we cannot replace….and he is spot on. I had never thought of it that way, but I agree completely.

I loved how drinking made me feel. It opened me up, made me more social. It allowed me to be someone else, someone more outgoing than the real me. I don’t tend to share my true feelings with many people people…sure, I will tell you what I am thinking EXACTLY when I am thinking it – as long as it doesn’t reveal anything about me. I only discuss things that are not too close to the heart. There are very few people that I allow to know the real me.

Alcohol allowed me to turn off my inner filter and just flow with whatever what happening at the time. I was able to just talk and not audit every word I said or everything I did. And I really, really miss that. Something serious and burning on my mind that I wasn’t sure I should bring up? Just have a few drinks, and out it would spill. Something bothering me at home? Open a bottle of wine with Todd and talk through it. It was the cure-all when it came to opening up and dealing with issues.

I also felt like it made people like me. If I could drink I could be “one of the guys” and fit in with all of the men I worked with. People enjoyed hanging out with me, because I was fun… I miss that. I miss it a lot.

And then there are the things I don’t miss. I don’t miss looking like an idiot at business functions, flirting, telling stupid jokes, laughing too much or too loud. I don’t miss wondering the next morning exactly what I said the night before to people I was now going to have to face sober. I don’t miss regretting being too open with someone. I don’t miss the hangovers, and thus the complete lack of productivity that followed.

When I was on a recent business trip, I was witness to some of the people I work with drinking quite a bit. They were not doing anything out of the ordinary, but I wasn’t drinking with them, so it seemed different to me. We were with our customer, and therefore should have been on our best behavior, yet I was witness to an obscene amount of flirting, and drunk people trying to talk business, and it was a little disenchanting. I was also pretty surprised to think that I had been one of those people a mere 6 months ago.

I had to force myself to talk to people, to spend time with the rest of the people, when all I really wanted to do was go back to my room, get my work done, and go to bed. It was a lot of work to engage in the social banter and pretend to fit in. It was like being in high school again and knowing you don’t really fit in, and yet you keep trying. It was basically a lot of work.

It was a huge milestone for me though. I don’t regret not drinking now. I don’t regret not being the drunk in the group, flirting with everyone or telling jokes that lead nowhere. I don’t regret anything from that trip, except that I had to go at all.


Big Business

We are creating a company. We even have a name! I have been doing a few random name searches and we finally have our company name chosen. Now we have to suck up the company filing fee and we are all set. I am thinking we will finalize everything in January and then are off! Off to where? To start on our business idea, which I am getting pretty excited about to tell the truth. We have played around with it a bit, and are now getting ready to solidify it. It feels good.

The Great Ketchup Debacle of 2007

Happy Birthday to Pappa!

Pictures to follow, because I forgot to bring my digital camera and had to buy one of those disposable 35mm cameras there – and who even develops film anymore?

We headed over to Todd’s parent’s house for an afternoon of Pappa birthday fun. And fun it was. The boys ran around, rough-housed to their hearts content, and I napped all afternoon. Awesome!

We then went to the Rainforest CafĂ© for dinner, where Roark managed to fill his whole entire shirt with ketchup. I stripped him from the waste up and tried to clean him up…in a dimly lit restaurant, it was difficult at best. I then purchased a new shirt for him and re-dressed him. I am sure we were getting all kinds of looks, being deemed the white-trash icon family of the evening, but really, what was I going to do? We sadly don’t have any pictures of the ketchup incident, but a few after which are still pretty funny. When we got home, there was still ketchup in his hair, behind (and in) his ears, in his belly button and somehow, down his back. I cannot even figure out how he managed that one…

Todd thinks they purposely make the condiments with extra vacuum-packing, in order to sell more shirts. I can see his point.

On a side note, I think the Nyquil is working. My 102.5 fever seems to be coming down and I don't feel like curling into a ball and whining anymore. God bless drugs.

Come for the Whining. Stay for the Germs.

Friday evening we were driving home from Starbuck’s after allowing the boys to try out their big voices in the shop, and then deciding the rest of the world wasn’t quite ready for that. I still recall sitting at a traffic light, turning to my husband, and saying how great I thought it is that I have not contracted either of the death viruses that Roark has been passing around to the rest of the family. I am an idiot.

I woke up Saturday morning with next-to-no-voice, a throat that was on fire and an awesome runny nose. I thought it was just a bad cold but am wondering today if there might be some sort of bug growing in my throat, surviving by eating the skin off. It is that pleasant.

So I have spent the weekend whining and complaining and blowing my nose. It has been a blast for everyone I am sure. Both of the boys have colds too – so we are a great bunch to be around.


Meaning in the Meaningless

We are both sitting in bed working at 10:30pm on a Friday night. I have been throwing a new movie in the DVD every so often – the choices tonight center around “slightly sad, yet meaningful” which I figured would match our moods. We have had a rough week both with me thinking I was dying, and work kicking our collective asses…and I figured maybe we could find meaning in all of it just as they do in Garden State, Life as a House and Million Dollar Baby. If we are up much later I will have to pull out For Love of the Game and Magnolia. We will find meaning in this madness by God!

Work is HARD!

I could use this heading on almost everything I write these days, no? I am trying to do two jobs and am not feeling very successful at either one. The hours are crazy, the support from many of the team members is non-existent, and it seems to matter to nobody but me. So why do I keep slogging through the crap, when all it does is make me (more) crazy? I cannot stand to be part of a failed exercise or do anything half-assed. I am insane like that. So, to quote Liar Liar, what I am going to do is piss and moan like an impotent jerk, and then bend over and take it up the tailpipe.

I also have a looming feeling that my planned vacation for the first week of January is going to never happen. I cannot see how all of the things at work will be able to just sit on a shelf for a week while I try to wind down and potty train some toddlers. I will be AMAZED if I get to take even one uninterrupted day… either way, I am not stepping foot in that damned building. If I have to work at all, it is happening from home in my pajama pants and slippers. I am hot like that.

Home-life is awesome though…so perhaps it balances out? The boys are endlessly cute and funny and mostly a joy to be around. I cannot resist Cole’s amazingly cute “Mommy, are you going to play with me?” even if I am in a hurry to get to work…so I have to play cars for just a little bit. And then there is Roark’s “I like you mommy” – which of course melts me into a giant gooey mom puddle. Neither of the dogs have attacked anyone lately, and the cats have not puked on anything important all week…so there is that.

It is the little things that keep us going here.

Face Time with Dick

I actually wrote this in an email today:

“How can I get more face time with Dick?”

Go ahead….laugh until you cry. Just like I did.


Othello Synopsis

When asked what Othello was about, my daughter responded with the following:

It’s Shakespeare.

Everyone loves the people who are not in love with them.

Everyone dies.

The end.

Feeling Better

So I am at work today and feel ok. Not much to report. I talked to my cardiologist and will see him Tuesday. If I have any issues before then, I am supposed to go back to the hospital. Ummm, yeah.

I am fresh out of ideas for writing…as my mind keeps taking me back to how freaking scared I was Tuesday afternoon. When I was in the hospital this summer, I didn’t have the opportunity to think about what was happening to me – if that makes sense. It just happened and I “rolled” with it. Tuesday I had plenty of time to sit here and wonder if I was dying…and I have to say that I didn’t like having that sort of quality time with myself.

I am left wondering if I have lived the life I wanted, have I done the things I wanted, am I happy with my job? And dude, the answer is yes…and no. I need a different job, one where I feel like I am adding exponential value on a daily basis. I want to spend more time with my kids. I want more time with my family. Now I have to figure out how to accomplish that.


Chest Pain

I spent 5 ½ hours in the emergency room last night. It was a BLAST. Really. I recommend it for parties.

I started having some chest pain around 4-something, while sitting at my desk. I tried standing up, moving around, curling into a little ball in my big comfy chair…and finally started frantically dialing phone numbers. I tried my boss – not there. Tried my admin – not there. Tried security, and got put on hold. Called my husband and asked him to come get me. Luckily he had my car, so he had the security badge to enter the campus. Otherwise I would have had to get a hold of someone to register him.

I managed to make it down to the lobby, although I was quite certain I was having a heart attack. It felt like something was squeezing my chest. I honestly have not felt anything close to that degree of pain before. It came in waves of horrendous pain, and then tolerable pain…or perhaps I was able to cope for a minute or two and then couldn’t, and on and on. I can compare it to labor pain / contractions – but in my chest.

When my husband showed up I was crumpled on the floor of the entryway at work. Odd that nobody noticed me, but it saved me trying to explain anything to anyone. We went to the closest hospital – where they did an EKG, determined I was not at the immediate time having a heart attack, and sent us to the waiting room…to wait. I don’t know how long we were there. I sat there scrunched over alternating crying and swearing, and time had no real value at that point.

They eventually took me back to a room, started and IV, and gave me morphine…which did no good. They took some x-rays, blood, and vital signs, followed by giving me more drugs. I don’t know what the second one was, but it was fantastic. It actually took the pain away.

After all of the tests came back, they determined that they had no idea what was going on. Always nice to hear that. I was sent home with a handful of drugs and instructions to immediately contact my cardiologist – whom I have called, but have not heard back from. In the interim, I am in a slight bit of pain, but NOTHING compared to yesterday.

All I can think about is how terrified I was when this all started – how I though I was having a heart attack. I don’t know if I did, or if it was something else entirely. I would suspect that it was the vaso-spasm thing that affects my heart acting up, but then I have never had pain associated with it before. I know it wasn’t heartburn, as I had not eaten anything at all yesterday. Save me the eating lecture – I am not interested in hearing it…I was too busy to eat. As for stress, it wasn’t a stressful day, just busy. So I have to think it was the heart.

Hopefully I will get to see the heart doc and find out the story. This sort of stuff creeps me out.


8 Things about Me

So I wrote the 8 things about me that I thought most people wouldn't know...and I really liked doing it. And last night, as my husband was reading number 8, and I was cringing, waiting for his reaction, he began sharing a similar experience he had in his early 20's.

It is amazing how much we all may have in common. If we just cut loose and share a few things close to the heart, it is amazing how much closer we could be to one another.


Have you ever been with a really bad kisser? How did you handle it? You go out on a date, get to the kiss, and want to slink away and die, right?

I worked at a mall in high school and for a year after, while waiting to go away to college. While working there, I met this HOT guy who worked at the tux shop and did some modeling for a few magazines. And when I say HOT, I mean Calvin Klein HOT. Dark hair, perfect eyebrows, darker skin, muscular chest, six pack stomach…he had it all as far as I could tell.

I flirted around with him for a while, and we finally went out on a date. We went to a party that a friend of his was throwing and we played “Bullshit”, drank some beer, and had a great time. And then? He kissed me. Actually a better description was that he tried to conduct a bronchoscopy with his tongue. HORRIBLE. He was slobbery and uncollected and just seemed so inexperienced. It was work to try to kiss this guy. Work I did not want to undertake.

We never went out again.


My mother was an ice cream fanatic. They had just built a Chris Ice Cream near Notre Dame, which is one of those places where they served home made ice cream mixing in all kinds of yummy goodness. I wasn’t a huge ice cream fan, but really liked the amaretto, so I went along whenever she asked if I was interested.

My first time there I noticed one of the guys working behind the counter. He was big. Football player big. And unbelievably cute. And older than me. I was in high school at the time, and I could tell he was in college. I oogled over him, but didn’t say much.

After a few trips there (quite possibly within a week…knowing me and my lust for this guy) he finally asked my name. I told him, and for some reason he just didn’t hear it, get it, or care…and he started calling me Shamu. You know, like the whale. (Did I look like a whale? Was I FAT like a whale? What was up with that?) I think I died a little inside at that point, and cut all flirting to a minimum. Yet – every time we went in there, he would remember me and call me Shamu.

Flash forward a few years to IU. I was at drop/add trying to pick up Latin, Russian, and a math class that wouldn’t kill me dead within the first few weeks. When I had originally registered I had ended up with some advanced probability and numbers theory skull-numbing class that would have obliterated me. So – there I was in a gym full of frantic people trying to obtain a schedule I could manage.

I would say there were thousands of people in there, but I imagine that there were only about 300-400…all of which were trying to change their schedules. Some of the classes would let you put your name on a list and check back later to see if there was a spot. The math department was not interested in that kind of convenience, so I had to park it in front of the table and wait for someone to drop remedial math so I could pick it up.

I stood around waiting, feeling awkward and alone… I had been at this school all of a few days to a week and really didn’t know anybody. As I was pretending to be looking at something interesting in my notebook (blank page of paper if I recall correctly), I heard, shouted at FULL VOLUME across the huge gym, “SHAMU!!!!” I looked up and saw the ice cream boy in the front of the gym jumping up and down screaming whale names at me. It is pretty easy to imagine that I wanted to die. Here I was, trying to not feel like I didn’t fit in, and now everyone was going to freaking know me as Shamu. Awesome way to meet folks, no?

I ended up talking to the guy, writing down my real name for him (swearing to kick him in the balls if he ever called me Shamu again), and finished up the horrendous drop/add task while talking to him for hours.

We went out a few times – I went to a party at his frat house, we went out to dinner, and we studied together once. And then? He asked me to go to his house at Thanksgiving. Mind you it was only still September and the guy was planning the holidays. This totally freaked me out. A lot. I promptly distanced myself from him, ignoring his calls, and faked being too busy to date at all. I could not imagine myself with anyone forever, let alone a few months later… We had not slept together. We had not really even made out, and yet he was planning our lives. I still have no idea what this was about, but am glad I escaped.



I am at my last “thing” that I am supposed to tell you, that you most likely don’t already know about me, and I am struggling… Should I tell you about the strip club / lap dance? Should I talk about how my brother used to beat the crap out of me when we were kids? Should I discuss the parties that I had when my mom worked nights and I was in high school? Do I talk about how I am adopted, but don’t think about it much? Should I tell you about some of the really bad dates I had? See – the problem is that I have touched on some or all of these things here in the past, and many people who know me have heard it all before. We all have secrets, and although revealing those may be the point of this, I don’t really want to reveal anything too close to the heart. I am funny that way. I put it all out there, and then wonder what in the hell I was thinking.

Here goes "putting it all out there":

When I was 18, I thought I was pregnant.

My first grown-up relationship was interesting. It was intense, and serious, and full of drama. It didn’t last but a summer, however I cannot now imagine how we packed so much over-reacting into that period of time.

I had not experienced much in the way of relationships prior to that one…physical or emotional. And yet? I wanted to be treated as an adult, and felt completely capable of handling a serious relationship. I admit it. I was an idiot.

We had been dating a while, and the relationship had grown quite serious from my perspective. My period was late by a few weeks and I was horrified, scared, and felt all alone. I had been raised in a VERY VERY STRICT Christian home – full of the Fire and Brimstone speeches. I went to church almost as much as I went to school, and I pretty much believed everything they told me. I was not prepared for this serious kind of situation…at all. I would, after all, go straight to hell if I were in fact pregnant. The fact that I had engaged in pre-marital sex was also an issue…but pregnant? I may NEVER BE FORGIVEN!

I decided not to tell my boyfriend until I knew for sure, because I was an idiot that loved to torture myself. I had been thinking about what I would do – would I get an abortion (not likely), give the baby up for adoption (wow, wouldn’t that be hard?), or would I keep the baby, becoming a new mother at 18 (that would suck in so many ways for me). I tried to imagine telling my mother, which led to me realizing that I would be kicked out of the house in a heartbeat. Where would I live? What would I do? Did I love my boyfriend enough to get married and raise a baby together? I was only 18. I had not gone anywhere in the world. I had not been to college. I didn’t have a real job. My church would never support me. I was in turmoil.

I remember going to Planned Parenthood with one of my girlfriends and getting a pregnancy test. And although I was enormously relieved when they told me that it was negative, part of me was sad, or disappointed, or something I am still not sure I can describe. The idea of a life growing inside of me, even though it was the wrong time, wrong situation, and posed a horrible outcome, was still a life… and it was sad to find out it didn’t exist.

I obtained birth control immediately. And, as I recall, I decided to pass the torment I had endured on to my boyfriend. I asked him what he would do if I was pregnant…and let him fret for a bit until I told him that I was not. I wanted to see how he would handle it, or back him into a corner, or something – I am not even sure what. I do know that I was less than thrilled with his initial reaction, but then what would I expect really? I had been terrified at the prospect and had ample time to mull it over. He had no warning whatsoever. I could just slap that 18 year old idiot that I was. I wish I could go back and show my teenage self how that one thing caused a wedge in our relationship. And, although there were other factors, I would say that was the beginning of the end for us.



I was supposed to travel to Chicago tonight...at 9:55pm. Flights at 9:00am are already delayed over 2 hours, and I just received an alert that they may be canceling my flight. The horrendous ice storm hitting Chicago is supposed to last through Tuesday evening - the time at which I was hoping to fly home. Needless to say, I have just canceled my trip.

And that amazingly annoying hotel is making me pay for a night anyway. I love that. Really do.



Some people call me Dusty.

A few of you that know me VERY well have heard this one, but I find comfort in documenting it anyway – after all, it is funny.

I was away on business with a group of people I often traveled with. We were a fairly close group, having traveled together a bit, meaning not very much embarrassed any of us.

I left my lotion at home, as I tend to do on practically every trip I have ever taken. That along with sweatshirts seem to be a complete mental block when packing. So, I found a bath and body works, bought some lotion, and headed back to the hotel.

I slathered on the lotion, not paying much attention to it, and headed out to meet my colleagues so that we could begin work on a cut-over that evening. About two minutes into our walk over to the office, one of them noticed that I was sparkling. A lot. A bit like, say...oh, A STRIPPER! I had apparently purchased glittery lotion and was COVERED IN IT FROM HEAD TO TOE. I didn’t really understand the whole “stripper dust” thing at this point, but was told in detail exactly what I looked like. This was right before I ended up spending the evening with executives that I am sure wondered what my moonlighting job was.

Because I didn't have time to go shower, change and come back, I had to spend the rest of the night looking like a girl “trying to work her way through law school”

To this day one of the guys still calls me dusty. It suppose is endearing in its own way…


I had a fake ID, and used it.

When I was 16 a friend of mine and I got fake IDs. I actually used her cousin’s drivers license which was still valid and looked enough like me that I never got questioned about it…not even once.

ID in hand, we took the train to Chicago. We were spending the night at a hotel on Lakeshore Blvd (she was 18 or 19) and we went down to the lounge / bar at the hotel after a day of shopping and goofing around. I didn’t drink, but we sat in there and listened to Dizzy Gillespie and his band play for hours.

After the band finished they came over to our table and sat down with us – talking, asking questions, most likely doubting we were old enough to be there. We ended up hanging out with one of the band members for quite a while just talking. At one point he played the most beautiful song for us – I wish I could remember it now. I wish I could remember his name. I do know that we heard the song released a year or so later. That made me feel great, privileged to have been one of the first to hear that song.

Chance, Tolerance and Fate

Teenage girls want to fall in love. They want to be swept off of their feet and carried away into a life of perfect, surreal happiness. They want someone to be in charge, yet not control them. They want a boy that is sensitive, yet rugged. They want the high school quarterback, but they want him to secretly write poetry professing their undying love. They want someone with high ambitions, but who will be happy hanging out doing nothing, ever.

Teenage girls have such high expectations of teenage boys, that I cannot see any way for a boy between the ages of 15 and 19 to live up to a girl’s expectations. How do any of them end up with a boyfriend…ever?

In reality, we all want to fall in love don’t we? We want to be wanted…we want to feel completely comfortable with someone. We want to share our dreams, fears, feelings with someone else out there. What changes as we grow older? Are we more in touch with reality (I hope so), or do we just decide to settle for what seems to be an ok mate (I hope not)?

I think about this sometimes. Do you think there is one person out there for everyone, or do you think relationships are about learning to be with someone else…no destiny or fate involved? Do you believe that any two people could be together if they just wanted it enough? Or do you think there are good and bad couples?

I don’t believe in destiny. Or fate. I don’t think there is only one person for each person out there. I do think that there are definitely wrong people out there for others – that some people just shouldn’t be together. I am not sure how I find that contradiction in thought valid, but it is really how I feel.

I have had the experience of being married to someone that seemed right at the time. And that marriage…deteriorated and fell apart. I grew up and I guess become tired of being told what to do. I didn’t want to be controlled and didn’t want that father-figure type of husband ruling my life. I also didn’t want to be in a situation where we were both sticking around “for the kids” or because it was easier to ignore the issues rather than deal with them.

I have also had the experience of being married to a wonderful partner…someone who enjoys being with me simply how I am. He doesn’t try to change me, and doesn’t try to mold or shape my dreams. We are both just in this for the pure love and enjoyment of it – and it feels good.

I guess all of this is just to think through how far people seem to come from dating years to finally finding a good relationship. And I wonder how much is up to chance, tolerance, or fate.


I was in a car accident the first week I had my drivers license.

I didn’t get my drivers license until I was 17, I think. Maybe even 18. My mother wouldn’t teach me to drive, and couldn’t afford drivers education, so I had to wait. I was quite possibly the LAST person in my grade to be bestowed with the ever-coveted license.

The week after passing the “big test” my mother went out of town with a friend. She left the car with me. And I wrecked it.

There were a few people in the car with me and we were following one of my other friends. The girl in the passenger seat flipped her leg up on the dash, and announced that she had sexy legs. I of course looked over, because, well… god only knows why at this point. We were all laughing and having fun, and I guess the whole paying attention while driving thing seemed too much to handle.

When the girl in front of us stopped, I was looking at Annette’s “sexy legs” and ended up ramming right into her. She didn’t have insurance, and therefore didn’t want to report the accident. I didn’t want it on my record, so I agreed. Her car was pretty much untouched. My car was a mess. I had moved the whole engine back about 6 inches into the car and had smashed up the front quite a bit.

I remember not wanting to tell my mother. I tried to find a way to borrow the money to get the car fixed and have it done before she got back from her trip…however there was no accomplishing that. Even after finding the money, there was no way they could get the parts and fix it in time…so I had to tell my mom what happened. She took it well. Better than I would have expected. But I never forgot that feeling of doom that overcame me when the whole thing happened…



I sued my dad.

My parents were divorced when I was three years old. I know only one side of the story – my mother’s side. According to my mother, my dad – after getting married and going through the arduous process of adopting two children (my brother and I) – decided he was not ready to be a husband or a father and wanted “out” of everything. My dad, an airline pilot and fairly well off, took his money and his toys and left us on our own. My mom, a nurse, struggled to provide for us.

I believe he sent some support money at first, but that soon stopped coming. I recall my mother looking for him, contacting his parents, trying to get financial assistance, but didn’t have much luck. Instead, she sold our house and we moved into subsidized housing in order to survive. I don’t recall this being very traumatic or horrible, it was actually kind of cool moving to apartments that had a park and a ton of kids. I am sure my mother felt differently.

My mother moved from nursing to real estate to nursing administration, to recruiting, to medical sales, and eventually back to nursing. She worked nights, long hours, crazy shifts – whatever it took to provide for us. I doubt she made ¼ of what I do today at her best, and she definitely worked harder than I ever have.

Immediately after my mom died (and by immediate I mean literally within weeks) my brother and I hired a lawyer and sued my dad for back child support. We won easily and he was forced to pay for all of the past back support he failed to provide when we were growing up. We ended up settling for a cash amount instead of garnishing wages and dragging it out, but as I understand it, the amount was fairly financially devastating to him.

And also, I donated most of my money to the American Cancer Society, just to stick it to him even more. I am mean like that. I cannot say that I am proud of what I did, but I think my dad needed to learn a few things, and maybe, just maybe, this opened his eyes a bit. Perhaps not though – as he really is an ass.


My Solitude

I am out of town this week in Chicago. It is snowing here, and it is cold…very reminiscent of my childhood growing up south-east of Lake Michigan. The cool crisp air feels familiar, like an old friend. And although I prefer the warmth of home, this is nice in its own way.

Walking back from dinner I was thinking about the weather, the trees, the hills, and how I never noticed any of it when I was growing up in this area. I assumed everywhere else was better than here, that there was no beauty in my hometown and surrounding areas. I am beginning to realize how wrong I was.


I do not remember one single day that my mother was married to my stepfather.

My mother had been dating Joe for quite a while. He had two kids, a girl and a boy around the same age as my brother and I. We all played together well and enjoyed hanging out together. I was in second grade, I think. Maybe third. I can’t remember to be honest. And I guess that is the whole point of this.

I remember many days before they got married. I remember carving pumpkins at Halloween. I remember having dinners and going places together. I remember several activities that we did together – but this was all BEFORE Joe and my mom married.

I don’t remember the wedding, and I was even in it. I don’t remember him and his kids moving in. I don’t remember one single moment that they were in our house, or how long they were there.

I don’t remember my mother getting divorced. I don’t remember them moving out. I simply. Don’t. Remember. My mother told me that they had a very difficult, and short marriage. She said that Joe was an alcoholic and had quite a temper. I look at the old pictures now, and he looked like such a handsome, gentle, genuine man, and yet that is not the picture my mom painted of him. I wish I could remember something about that time of my life. But I cannot. Why is that?



I was always embarrassed about the house I lived in as a child.

The house where I grew up is now gone. Thank GOD.

I hated that house. Well, not as much the house as the whole neighborhood. My mother purchased it around 1979 for a VERY SMALL amount of money. It needed an incredible amount of work, and probably an alarm system, or a squad of body guards for its inhabitants. Scott Street, the one right behind us, had regular shootings reported on the news (and heard from our home). It was a very, very unsafe neighborhood full of poverty, however it was a home, and that is what we all really wanted.

We had been living in subsidized apartments for a quite a few years, and I wanted more than anything to live in a house. Or someplace that wasn’t known as “where the poor kids lived.” We had tried living in a “household” with another family from our church, but that was a huge disaster, worthy of its own story.

I remember seeing the house for the first time. It was a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad mess. It had been a Notre Dame rental home and was in the worst shape I have yet to this day seen. We purchased the furniture along with the house, and moved right in. Everything was old, broken, and needed to either be fixed or replaced. It was steps away from unlivable.

We moved in with the very few things my mom had kept (piano, her bedroom set, a china cabinet and a dining room table), and began working on the house. Keep in mind that I was around 11 and my brother was 14. We were YOUNG, and yet we were in charge of stripping wallpaper (some rooms had up to 7 layers of this awful stuff), painting, cleaning. We gutted the kitchen and added cabinets, a sink, a refrigerator, dishwasher, stove. I personally knocked down two walls to remove a huge closet in the living room, in order to make room for… well, living I guess.

We spent a few years just getting the house livable if my memory is correct. And we lived there the whole time. My mom helped as much as she could, but was having trouble with her shoulder (which we later found out was cancer eating her body) and couldn’t do as much as she wanted. It was never NICE, but it was much better after we completed all of the improvements. We still had very very old and abused furniture, but it was in better shape after all of our hard work. This made it only slightly less of an embarrassment.

I wonder if I would have dated more, been more outgoing, been a different person if I had not been so wrapped up in what I didn’t have? I know I would have been different if I had grown up as wealthy as the other kids in my school (we were bussed to the ‘rich’ part of town). But I am not sure it would have been for the better.

All of these years later I am sure that the experience gained working on that house has served me well. I am not afraid to undertake a task that appears insurmountable. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty, to do things for myself. I enjoy working on our house when I have the time and I have my past to thank for that I guess.


Buggers, Butts, and Farts

Why is it that my husband and my boys find the most disgusting and annoying things to be the funniest?



I was tagged by OrdinaryLife to list 8 things that you probably don’t know about me. I have never been tagged in this sense of the word, so I am all excited…and stuff. I have decided to break this into 8 entries, to milk it, and also to explain the items in more mind-numbing detail.

My first marathon embarrasses the hell out of me.

I had always been a good runner. It was an easy thing to do – all I needed was a pair of shoes, socks, shorts and a shirt. It was an inexpensive way to stay in shape and a sure-fire way to ease stress or calm down when I was upset. It was also an easy thing to do sporadically. I could NOT run for weeks, months even, and then pick it up very quickly.

Now although I was a good runner, I was never a fast runner. Track in sixth grade had shown that to be true. I would do very very poorly on the short races, but would shorten the loss a bit on the longer ones. Still, I never won a race, but it didn’t matter in the least to me. I liked that there was something I could do that made me feel like I belonged to some specialized group, if that makes sense.

I ran in high school a bit, but was not serious about it. I ran in college to stay in shape, but didn’t compete and did not run regularly. And, I ran after I had kids and needed desperately to lose the post-baby weight. I think this might have been when I fell in love with running. I loved the solitude. I spent all day working and all evening with the kids. There was no alone time, no time to call my own. However when I was running? It was all about me. I could run where I wanted. I could stop when I wanted. I could stay out there for hours running and nobody would ask me to do anything – and it was glorious. I began running almost every day when the girls were around 4 and 5 years old. It was, as I said, a wonderful escape from everything else going on around me.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this running, I decided to train for a marathon. I cannot remember when, or why – but I became obsessed with the idea of running in the Chicago Marathon. And I trained my ass off. I of course did all of the wrong things: I had never bought new running shoes. I was wearing the same ones I had in high school. I ran on concrete, never mixing in trails, grass, or even blacktop. I increased mileage based on nothing scientific or logical. I ran myself ragged if you want to know the truth. I loved it, but my body had a hard time adjusting.

In the summer of 1995, 4 months before the marathon I was training for, I developed a stress fracture in my left leg. It hurt to walk. There was no way to run without causing more pain than I could endure, so I had to rest it for a few months and start all over. I remember trying to contact a doctor in South Carolina that claimed he could fix a stress fracture in a matter of weeks. I figured we would be there on vacation anyway, so he could just make everything better while I was there… but the whole process sounded a bit sketchy (oh my god, the guy was strange, strange, strange) and it didn’t seem like it was worth the risk of ending up crippled. So, I bagged the marathon that year and set my sights on 96.

I recovered from the stress fracture, bought new shoes, and learned how to train without injuring myself. I started with small distances and built up gradually, alternating running surfaces, times, days. I took days off. I was very watchful of any overuse injuries and backed off when I could feel my body being taxed.

I ran the marathon in 96. I thought I was ready. I was certain that I had trained enough, and had visions of finishing in 4 – 4:30 hours. Oh, I am a funny one. I have no idea what I was basing anything on. I had of this date not run in anything other than a few short races – all of which had put me running around 8:30 minutes per mile. In short races. So – I assumed I could do that for 26.2. Let’s call this MISTAKE 1.

I did fine for about the first 12 miles. Around the half-way point, I started feeling sick. I had trained with a drink called XLR8, and yet had decided to drink Gatorade in the race. I could not imagine there was a difference…Let’s call this MISTAKE 2. I spent a lot of time feeling like I was going to throw up, and some time actually doing it. It was horrible. I considered not finishing, but couldn’t face dropping out, so I continued on, very slowly.

I finished in just over 5 hours, not last, but nowhere near where I thought I would have. It was a horrible feeling. I had anticipated doing so well. I had trained for two years (although I had not trained properly based on knowledge I have now), I had endured injuries, I had in my mind done everything I could to be prepared for the race, and had finished with a time I was embarrassed to share with anyone. I even told one person at work I had finished in a shorter time than I had (MISTAKE 3) …which was really stupid, since they PUBLISH THOSE RESULTS ON THE WEB PEOPLE! She knew what my time had really been, and I ended up looking like a punk.

My lack of preparation was very evident after the race. I was so sore that evening that I couldn’t walk down stairs without completely relying on the railing to help me (MISTAKE 4). I couldn’t get into and out of a cab without help. And I lost most of my toenails. Apparently shoes should be a little bit bigger when running to allow room for your toes in the “toebox” so that you don’t – oh, smash them continuously into the front of your shoe, causing them to bleed under the nail and then separate from your skin (MISTAKE 5)! Who knew?

I have run another marathon since - Austin - a few years ago. I finished with a much better time, although did not end up with anything stellar. I managed to avoid all of the previous 5 mistakes, and I came in around 4 ½ hours which I was quite proud of. I felt as though finishing without puking was an accomplishment, and I kept all of my toenails…so there was less that.

I am not training for a ½ marathon that takes place in February. And by training, I really mean – I am thinking about training, because…I have not run one single time since signing up for the thing. When thinking about this yesterday it occurred to me what happened the last time I was totally unprepared for a run (see above) and have decided that training starts TODAY.

Now, before I am done with all 8, I am going to pass on this lovely task to two other fellow friends. Why Me, and Cate, have at it!