Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Disney and Christmas

My kids are older (20 to 26) and unmarried right now. Since we don’t know what life will be like a year from now (Dear God, I need to be an empty nester!), we decided to have a short family vacation. Living in Florida, I can get the Disney Florida Resident Passes. My husband and I got passes for each other and each of our kids for Christmas. We will get there Thursday night by car and leave Sunday night. We are staying at a cheap moderately-priced hotel. (We get two rooms.) We will give them $100 each for clothes that they needed anyway. Since they are older, the only souvenirs we buy are a couple of Christmas ornaments. We’ve been there before, so we know the cheaper places to eat. Since we are not the earliest risers, we usually skip breakfast except for one day when we might splurge at a Golden Corral for breakfast. One restaurant meal (German pavilion all you can eat) will be where we have Christmas dinner. Other than that, we do counter service. Best of all, though, are the Christmas decorations and lights. You see, I am from Philadelphia (not the classy section), where Christmas lights are considered to be works of art. The bigger the display, the more it takes my breath away. Main Street Disneyworld actually looks romantic with the pretty wreaths and poinsettia plants. But Hollywood Studios, is an OMG display of millions of lights that go off and on in time to the music. All I need is a cup of hot chocolate (really, I’m gonna get one right now).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Another Lifetime Ago - Giving Birth

During my first pregnancy, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. A few days before my due date, I was hospitalized for observation. I was told that since I also have small hip bones (which I do), that I should have a c-section. In spite of being prepared for a natural childbirth, I had the procedure. The only problem I had was after my daughter’s birth, when I started to be able to feel my rib cage. Since the doctor was not quite finished yet, I expressed my concern. They immediately gave me morphine, which put me out and I slept the rest of the day and the night, as well. I did not hold my baby until I woke up the next day. I went home, rested for a couple of days, and then was full of energy.
When I was pregnant again, I had switched healthcare plans and was told that I had to have a vaginal birth. They handed me a form to sign in which I was warned about the increased chance of an emergency c-section. To their dismay, I refused to sign it on the grounds that I would rather have a planned surgery than an emergency one.
During my last pregnancy I had a c-section. During the procedure, I was surprised that they performed the Apgar test twice on my baby. The next day, a staff doctor said to me “Are you the one whose baby was born with the cord wrapped around his neck”. I said that no one told me that. He looked nervous and said “I must have the wrong file”. Since my baby had the Apgar test twice, I think that the staff doctor did not want to be the one to tell me what really happened. I am glad that I had a c-section because if my baby went through the birth canal with the cord wrapped around his neck, well, I don’t know if he would have made it without brain damage. Fortunately, he was fine.
I know that their is a group of people who are against c-sections. But every woman has the right to decide what is best for her and her baby. I think I made the right decisions at the time. My children were all born healthy. And that is what counts.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Glad to Be a Boomer

One of the nice things about being a boomer (I am 57) is that we grew up listening to great music: rock and roll as well as big band and classics like Sinatra (thanks to our parents). As the years passed we also enjoyed music from the 70’s, 80’s , 90’s, etc. When I’m driving, I like to turn on my satellite radio and listen to today’s music. It amazes me how much they borrow from previous generations. , I doubt that she is aware of this, but the melody actually came from the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

There's a place downtown,
Where the freaks all come around.
It's a hole in the wall.
It's a dirty free for all.

It goes to show that the average young person may diss music from previous generations , but the people who actually create the music they listen to, are inspired by it.

Anyway, my new interest is Jazz. I went to New Orleans in July and you can hear many kinds of music,: R&B, Country, Rock (60’s to today) and a lot of Jazz. Smooth, Dixieland, Fusion, etc. I think I liked the Blues and Dixieland Jazz the best. Although listening to smooth jazz at breakfast was fun, too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Why I Rarely See My Sister-in-law

My in-laws passed away fairly early in my marriage. So I had to deal with a sister-in-law. So to represent her side of the family, my husband and I would attend every freakin birthday party her kids had. Then when we started our family, they would make up excuses not to come. They preferred to spend the time schmoozing her rich aunt and uncle. Sometimes they would stop by for 15 minutes on the way home. My sister-in-law, her aunt and her aunt's daughter-in-law would go out to lunch together and even when I was unemployed would not ask me to join them.
Years later, all of us had moved to Florida and my sister-in-law divorced and re-married. She and her new husband called to say they were in the area and wanted to visit, ON ONE HOUR'S NOTICE. They arrived and stayed 15 minutes. During that time, her new husband kept talking about nicer houses that he had seen.
I used to feel bad about the fact that we were so low on their list of priorities. But as the years went by, these feelings started to fade. I don't expect anything out of them and I am never disappointed. I try to enjoy my life as much as I can. "Living well is the best revenge".

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How I Celebrated Thanksgiving

In a large glass, pour 3 oz. of red wine and fill the rest with diet lemon-lime soda. Tastes like sangria. And sip it, don't chug it down. Start AFTER the turkey is in the oven.

Put 4-5 ounces of skinless turkey on your plate, then veggies, then small amounts of your favorite foods side by side, don’t pile anything. If you run out of room on your plate, remind yourself that the other foods are not your favorites. Also, chew your food slowly and enjoy the taste. By the time you clean your plate, you will be reasonably full. Then stop eating. Tell yourself that you feel fine now and you don’t need a stomach ache later. After dinner, clean up as much as you can. If you must serve dessert, purchase one and make it the smallest one you can get, and cut very small servings. Again, eat slowly and enjoy the taste. If you find yourself going back for seconds, you will be aware that you are in the danger zone and at this point you need to put the dessert in the fridge and leave the area. If you have kids, it will be gone by morning.

Watch Kill Bill Vol. 1 with family.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Developing Self Respect: It Does Sound Pathetic

It takes very little for me to have self-respect:
If the bed is made, we all have clean clothes for the day, I have food in the fridge, the bills are paid, the dishwasher is empty or running and I have wiped my counters and sink : that is an amazing day
If I can clean a bathroom or mop a floor, I am ass-kicking awesome.
I guess I gotta start somewhere.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Damn, I'm Prolific Today: Christmas Memories

I read a blog about Christmas shopping lists today. Since I don't keep a list anymore (Get the cards done, decorate, stockings filled, find out what video games, CD's, DVD's the kids like......maybe I should keep a Christmas to-do list), I didn't have an appropriate comment to make. But that didn't stop me from taking a trip down Memory Lane.

I should've paid more attention when my 4 month old baby spent more time playing with the ribbons than her toys. Yes, I not only wrapped the presents, but trimmed then with ribbons and bows (pre-made , of course). For a 4 month old. In later years, I hid down the basement on Christmas Eve, and did the wrapping on the floor, since we had not table down there, taking breaks when my legs fell asleep. (Yeah, I'm a last minute shopper). When my kids were teen-agers, I finally got sensible and tried buying big plastic bags with Christmas designs, and just threw their presents in, unwrapped. Can you believe it, they were disappointed? The next year they got video games , CD's or movies put in their stocking. One stop shopping for all. Now that was a Merry Christmas. No sore knees.

Proud of myself in a perverse way. On the one hand, this is my second blog post in one day. On the other hand, don't I have more important things to do today?

I Live in a Glass House and I Also Throw Stones

All my adult life, I have felt to be in competition with the “Centerfold”. To me, she did not feel human. I could not imagine having men I did not know or whom I did not consider attractive or even likeable masturbating over my picture while imagining doing all kinds of things to me. Yet on the other hand, by posing in these pictures that were so easily available these women were acknowledging the humanity of their male viewers. Which is something I did not do. I was the person who did not acknowledge the unattractive men while at the same time I would be nervous around the good-looking ones. I do what I criticized men for doing: I treated people differently based on their looks. Since I always considered myself to be plain looking, even when I looked my best, I had become the female version of the type of person played by Ernest Borgnine in Marty. I also did what he did, I got to know a really sweet guy, who was passably attractive, due to a combination of physical and inner beauty. In fact, he also had to go beyond the initial appearance with me and we fell in love.

Today I am a lot older and I realize that there are two types of women: the ones who care about who sees them naked and the ones who don’t. Feeling one way or the other does not make you a better person because it doesn’t define who you are. Sure, the women who are centerfolds, etc. are airbrushed,professionally made up and physically blessed. They also have to maintain their diets, exercise and, in some cases, have difficult surgical procedures to achieve their status. Again, I often felt that I was unfairly judged because of my age and weight. Then why do I make presumptions of the Playboy women? I consider myself to be a loving wife, mother, with a slightly off-beat sense of humor, watches horror films, love music, books, travel and could not survive without my spirituality . Many of the Playboy women, strippers, etc. are no different, I’m sure. Although I wonder how many have a comparable collection of Tigger dolls.(Don't judge me.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Supporting Your Friends

I realized today that it’s just as important for me to support my friends as it is for them to support me. Sometimes I don’t feel like going out when a friend invites me to an event. I think that I’m not in the mood. I used to be very shy as a child and old habits keep trying to come back into my life. But that’s not the point: how I feel. When you are an introvert, that is what you focus on. My friend has invited me to show support for her venture. That is what keeps a friendship going, that feeling of support. And I am always glad that I did it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Warning: I'm Rambling On and On (Again)

I was thinking about religion today. Well, first I need to make this clear that I don’t try to make other people agree with me. I guess what I really want to do is to straighten out my own thinking. I mean, I believe in God. But what is God, to me? Is he the Old Testament God, the nonpersonal God of Buddhism and Hinduism? Is he a synonym for the Universe? But do I really believe? I’ve always thought that there had to be a creator. But a few weeks ago, I heard a scientist talk about the existence of multiple universes that have no beginning. He asked why people have such a hard time imagining the universe without a beginning when they can accept a Creator that always existed. The Creator, who always existed: first of all, can I accept that? Can I accept a being who always existed and put deliberate thought into creating one (or more) universes? Or I can believe that the Universe(s) always existed in one place or another. But there was a big bang, where did the original materials come from and how did it start the process? And what is the Universe, anyway? Is it the stars, planets, etc.? Or is somehow every conscious being on earth, connecting to each other. In a way, I envy people who are atheists, they are so certain. Of course, I think they are too wrapped up in their criticisms of organized religion to be able to think it through. If there were no organized religions, I wonder how would they feel, about the existence of God as well as their own spirituality.

I must believe in something that exists out there, because when I do feel the need for prayer, if I didn’t believe in a God, who am I praying to? Another part of my problem, is that although I am interested in spirituality, I have noticed that lately I am not praying as much as I used to and I am also finding excuses not to meditate. If I am really spiritual , that would not happen, now would it? Am I someone who claims to be spiritual because I like that label? Am I a hypocrite? I think I am letting my spiritual practice backslide. Maybe, that is why I am feeling so empty lately.

Sorry if this looks like I’m rambling on and on, but part of the reason I keep a blog is to help me to sort through this stuff.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bullying Gay Kids

People under the age of 21 are greatly affected by peer pressure. More so today than when I was a kid. (I was picked on, too). The ones who are gay already receive a message from society that they are not as good as everyone else. Look at DADT, adoption rights, gay marriage. Television often shows gay stereotypes, when they show gays at all, There are many people who think they don't know any gay people because so many are afraid to come out. This is the world that they are going to live in and that is scary enough without bullying them

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Minor Accomplishments

I once read a book by Harold Kushner (not the Why Bad Things book). He talked about the Bible story of Joseph, you know, the one with the colorful coat and nasty brothers. He mentioned a minor character in the story, a shepherd. Joseph asked him something like, ”Have you seen my brothers?” He responded by telling Joseph where to find them. Now, this was the interesting comment: What if the shepherd wasn’t there that day? What if, for some reason, Joseph could not find his brothers that day. How much would that have changed the Bible? The Jews would never have been in Egypt. Moses would never have led the Chosen People? What would have happened to the Ten Commandments?
We don’t know the name of the shepherd, but by doing that small thing, he was able to ensure that today, we have the Ten Commandments. No matter what faith you have, or none at all, this has had a major effect on the world.

Sometimes, I am concerned that I am not accomplishing anything that someone else would consider important. I just hope that in a small way that I will contribute to a more positive world. That is the most that the majority of people can hope for, anyway.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Best Night Ever - Unplanned

I am a person who needs to make plans for vacations. I research hotels, attractions, and restaurants. I look up the hotel on Google Maps so I can check out the neighborhood. But sometimes the best memories come about all on their own.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I spent a long week-end in New York City. One day we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and stopped by Strawberry Fields. We were lucky that a photographer was there, who decorated the memorial with roses. He didn’t mind if we took pictures and we now have a treasure that we will never forget. We got off the train at 42nd St. (my husband loves any kind of train), walked up the stairs and realized that we were hungry. Looking across the street, we saw B. B. King’s. Walking in, we saw signs that Burt Bacherach was performing. After our dinner arrived, we spoke to the server about seeing the show. Our plates were carried out to the theater. It was funny, it looked like a small parade and people were staring at us like we were important. We sat at a table, which as luck would have it, was occupied by several women in their late 20’s who were Burt Bacherach fanatics. It was like being with the cast of Sex and the City, but no conversation about sex. The show itself was amazing. He sat at his piano, backed by a small orchestra and several singers. Every song performed was a classic. Occasionally, he would take a break and talk about his childhood, his daughter,who was finally impressed with him due to his appearance in the first Austin Powers movie, and his concerns about the health of his former partner, Hal David. A special guest appeared, Rufus Wainwright, Jr., to sing his version of “Message to Michael” called “Message to Martha”. I was a little familiar with him, because he sang in the movie “Aviator”.

After the show, all the girls at our table but one went home because they had to go to work the next day. One girl went with us to have a drink at the Hard Rock. Next thing we knew, they were announcing that they were closing. I think this was the first time in a long time that I closed a place. After she went home, my husband and I took a cab back to our hotel. I remember looking out the window at the lights, just like I have seen in many movies. Thinking that this night was a one-in-a-lifetime experience.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Adventures with ADD

My daughter has ADD and OCD. We realized she had something going on when she was in Kindergarten. I didn't know anything about ADD. I wasn't sure if it was a lack of intelligence or self-esteem that caused her to rip up the homework papers where she had to circle one thing on it. When she reached third grade, we met with the teachers, counselor and the school psychologist. The teachers talked about how difficult it was to deal with Laura (she daydreamed) and that they could not do that and handle the other students. The psychologist suggested a school for children with learning disabilities. The counselor mentioned ADD. A neurologist who specialized in ADD diagnosed her and wrote a prescription. Unfortunately the counselor felt that children should not get ADD medication, which caused my daughter to refuse it. She got all the way through high school by the skin of her teeth.
She never bothered to take the SAT. I assumed ,at the time, since she was interested in changing her hairstyle frequently, that perhaps she would want to be a beautician. To my surprise, she wanted to be a CPA. She took the entrance exam for our community college and failed it by a two points. I rarely have seen Laura cry, but she was heart-broken and sobbing. She started taking the remedial courses and realized that she needed help.
I found a therapist for her who prescribed the medicine she needed. She and her doctor (we have gone through several) have had to play around with the type of medication and dosage because of the side effects. She has suffered from lack of appetite (she is a size 1), constant sleepiness, insomnia, depression and anxiety. She needs to monitor herself constantly to deal with this. Her situation changes from day to day.
But now she has her Bachelor's in Accounting and is trying to go for her Master's while working. People do this all the time, which is what I tell her when she gets discouraged. But this is harder for her than for other people and I am proud of her accomplishments. She will reach her goals because , with the OCD, she is too stubborn to fail.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Celebrities May Be Human, Too.

I watched the mis-named Dancing With the Stars last week for the first time. (These are stars?) Even though there were several that I never heard of before, it was worth watching for Margaret Cho. She ACCIDENTALLY got herself all twisted up in her gold veil and her partner had to stop their performance to get her out of it. And her very old parents were sitting in the audience. I love Margaret Cho, but this was hilarious. I know, I'm so mean. And the following night they had Carlos Santana and Chis Daughtry. That CD is now on my Amazon wish list.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Maybe I have ADD, or Maybe I'm Just Crazy

Addicted to watching the Ken Burns series: Jazz. Addiction grows by finding the songs in the series on You-Tube. Becomes insanity when I get You-Tube on my cell phone so I can play videos wherever I’m at. About to be committed when I spend spare time making lists of videos by artist, etc.

One good thing: my kids are ignoring me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why I Like Zombies

Now I'm not saying that I really want to meet one, or be one. Although I admit that I can resemble the Living Dead before I get my first cup of coffee. In fact, when I had a bright pink bathrobe, my kids would refer to me as the "Big Pink Thing", as I stumbled into the kitchen.

Now I'm trying to go from light-hearted to serious. If there is a secret that all writers know as to how to do this, I don't know it. So here goes:

We live in a world of uncertainty. We don’t know what the future holds. We want to succeed in life, but we can’t count on even getting or keeping a job. This feeling of doom has seeped into our spirits. It is part of us, even when we are not consciously thinking about it. In a fictional world where zombies exist, you are fighting to survive. You don’t know what is lurking around the corner. I think immersing yourself in that world even for a few hours generates stress, but it is so overwhelming during that time span that it takes your mind off what you are going through in reality. Then when the movie ends or you finish the book, you actually feel better about your own life, at least the world you really live in isn’t that hopeless.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blabbing Again

This is a much longer version of a comment that I made on Mommy Wants Vodka blog.

I was beginning to feel invisible. Next, the feelings of my husband and children seemed more important than mine. Finally, I felt like my opinions were worthless. Depression ensued. It may seem trivial , I know, but one day I read an on-line article that made me feel like WTF? I don’t remember what it was about, but I wrote a response. Someone responded and agreed with me. I started checking out news articles, started with Twitter, then a friend said to me, “How come you’re not on Facebook?” I started to keep a journal, and then a blog. I found the blog Mommy Wants Vodka, to be inspirational. My responses were getting so long, that I thought I should title them by Chapter. I shortened them before submitting and put them the original on my blog. (Not copying you, Dear Aunt Becky). Her blog was a great starting point for me to get to know myself again. Now I know this sounds pathetic but writing has greatly increased my self-esteem, even though no one reads it. (I might put this on my blog, getting too long again.) I think an on-line support group for women that promotes honesty, bacon, and vodka (responsibly, of course) is awesome. As well as fruit flavored vodka.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When I Had To Re-evaluate My Beliefs

My son got his first haircut at the age of 2, and honest to God, he flirted with the tall blond hairstylist. She told him how handsome he was. When he turned 12, he was into rap music, horror movies and violent video games. Girls would stop at the house for him. At 14, he tells me he could be gay. I was shocked at first. After all, he wasn't effeminate and didn't like Broadway musicals. However from the age of 2, he was very particular about how he wanted his hair cut. And he kept his room very neat decorated with a Spongebob poster and pillow.
When he came to me and said “mom, I think I might be gay”, I did not yell or criticize him. But I did say that sometimes 14 year olds can be overwhelmed with hormones and maybe in a year or so, he might change his mind. I guess I just grabbed at the word “might”. At the time, I was quite religious, I considered myself “saved” and was attending a Bible Study class. There were from time to time jokes made by someone in the class about Gay people. I told the class what happened and they said they would pray for him to change. I thought about my fears and talked to my son. I realized that he did not choose this life. Why would he? People get beat up and killed because of their orientation. I did some research on the so-called Biblical view, and found that there are other interpretations , just like we interpret other parts of the Bible that we disagree. At this point, I started to wonder about taking the Bible literally, I mean, I already rejected the creationism thing. Besides, I could not tell my son that he was committing a sin because I did not believe this was something that he chose. He did not decide one day that, although he naturally preferred girls, in order that he could offend God, he would just pursue guys. Sin is a conscious choice.
He recently turned 20 and is turning out to be a nice young man. I guess I'm lucky that he doesn't act effeminate because he is not subjected to homophobia. Unfortunately, he has to be careful about who he tells. Our relatives don't know and I don't know how they would react. They will either laugh at him, or condemn him. He will always have to pretend that he is something that he has no interest in being.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Really Do Love Animals

We got our kids a cat, thinking it would be easier to take care of, in case I got stuck with the job. His name was Sage and his nickname "Pooh Bear". The idea came to me when I was cleaning his litter box. How come TV ads never show the goddamn litter that the cat kicks off its feet and wind up all over the floor. Used kitty litter on my bare feet. Yet somehow I could not get it up with the vacuum.
He also would attack my hands. Just me, no one else.One day, I realized that the stupid cat thought that my red nails looked like blood. He was so dumb that he didn't know what to do with a mouse. He smacked it, let it run, jumped on it,and smacked it. Then the poor thing ran under my sofa, where it had a heart attack and died. Once in a while, our cat would catch a lizard and eat all of it but the head and tail. The tail would wiggle for a while. EWWW.
Unfortunately, as time went by,he developed a rare cancer in his bladder. He would pee all over the house, rarely in the litter box. The pet urine cleaners (who'd want THAT job?) told us when we called them for a second cleaning, that there was too much urine. We wound up replacing most of the carpet in our house. When the end was near, we had a talk with our kids, telling them that our pet was suffering and that we would have to put him down. They were reluctant, but after a few days of observing him, they changed their minds. They spent his last full day with him, carrying him around, petting him, trying to get him to drink. Then we took him to the vet, said good-bye, and cried.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Having Fun With My Kids

When my kids were little we had a VCR tape of the Wizard of Oz. They were totally addicted. One day on Mr. Rogers, he had the woman who played the bad witch on his show. She was a grandmother, who liked reading to the grandkids. Then he showed her a cape and witches hat. She put them on and laughed her evil cackle. My 1 ½ year old stuck her thumb in her mouth and was transfixed.
A couple of years later, we took our kids to Disney MGM (at that time). We took the Great Movie Ride and to my delight, at the Alien section, the creature stuck its head out of the ceiling and was right above my 5 year old. She screamed and I put my arm around her and laughed.
Years later when she was 17 and my youngest was 10 we watched the Stephen King movie “It”. I think I kind of ruined the movie for my older kids because I kept mentioning that I saw the actors in other TV shows. Anyway, my son never complained of nightmares.
The following year we went to a Haunted Halloween Walk. I explained to him that everyone was wearing masks. Well, one of the characters was a demented-looking clown. Well, once the guy realized that my son was scared, he followed him all the way through to the end. Luckily, he, for some reason, he grew up to be afraid of spiders. What?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Climbing back out - AGAIN

I go through periods of depression. So far I haven’t seen a therapist. My oldest daughter takes after me, and I don’t know if we can afford two therapists, so she may do it first. I not only lost myself, I’ve given myself to other people. I love my husband, but he can be very negative and I am very much affected by the atmosphere that I am in. I have talked to him about it but it doesn’t seem to sink in that we both have to change. I guess we both feel that everything would be fine if the other person changes.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Do Europeans Hate Americans or Vice Versa

I was in Rome when Barack Obama was elected. Someone told me that their President was a lot like George Bush. I don’t think he meant it as a compliment.
The year before I was in a pub in London eating dinner and after I told the waitress what I wanted, he started criticizing Bush in a very loud voice. I ignored him because, hey, he was right, and I was an Obama supporter. Besides, I did not want to stoop to the jerk’s level.
I generally have not been aware of any rudeness in any of the places I visited in Europe because I am an American. Of course, I only know a few phrases in foreign languages. I do however, have a great deal of respect for the countries that I visit.
If any Europeans want to come and visit my area in Southwest Florida, I can guarantee that Floridians would be very happy to see you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Can't Always Get What You Want

As a child, we did not take family vacations. Once I remember my Dad saying he would take us to an amusement park. On the way out there, he got mad for some reason I don’t remember , turned around and took us home. That was it. We never got to that park or any other. I remember on a few occasions we would go to a local park and have a barbecue. A few times we went to a local fast food joint for take-out burgers. We never went on a vacation or a restaurant. I think my dad took me to the movies once when I was six. We kids went to the movies on Saturday for 50 cents. The summer before I started first grade, my Dad took me to Mass. After I started school, that ended. The only place we went to on a regular basis was to visit my Aunt Marge and my four cousins. The adults would sit in the kitchen and drink beer while the kids played. I somehow got the message that the things I wanted were not considered important. When the day came that I told my Dad that I wanted to go to college, he told me that women didn’t need college. I was disappointed, because I wanted to be a teacher. But like I said the things I wanted were not important. So I did not argue the point. Years later I came to realize that some of this had to do with the fact that my Dad did not make that much money. But my Dad did not spend that much time with me and I still have that feeling that what I want is not important. So I forgot about my goals.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Toothpicks Holding Up My Eyelids

Really tired today. Rough time with kids yesterday. Without giving away FAMILY SECRETS (or I would have to kill anyone who may someday happen to read this), two of my young adult children who live at home got into a nasty argument which quickly spiraled out of control. And as usual, Spongemom (certainly not Teflon-Mom) did her best to absorb as much of the negativity as possible. Frozen pizza, chips, a few strong gin and tonics and a Netflix movie got me through the evening. Then my tummy started punishing me so I took a couple of Zantac and went to bed at 8, took a little nap and woke up with a headache around 9 PM. I found the Excedrin Migraine, took two, and realized that I am running out. My headache went away but I still did not feel like ironing Laura’s clothes for her job interview. The Big Fight was mostly her fault anyway even though Andrea overreacted (big surprise). Anyway, I got back to sleep around 2:30. Got up at 6:30 to iron her blouse and touch up the jacket. Gave her some advice for the interview and money for lunch and gas (she also has an appointment with the guidance counselor at FGCU about her Master’s).
I really thought that I would get to sleep earlier because whenever I come up with a great blog idea, it’s usually right before I fall asleep and the next day I can’t remember anything. All I can remember is thinking “Wow, that’s a great idea. So good that maybe I can try to promote my pathetic little blog.” Even though I was awake for a good hour or so after that, I still can’t remember my idea. I’m gonna have to try to remember to write it down.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's The Time of the Season

Woohoo! Hurricane Season! That gets the most publicity, probably because we get a few days warning. But we can get tornadoes, too. I only witnessed one.

We were on the road when we heard the tornado warning. We thought the most logical thing to do was to pull over at Bennigan’s. When we got closer to the entrance, we saw a bunch of people outside taking pictures of something across the street. Turned around and it was a goddamned tornado, tearing the roof off a house. Of course, I had to pull out my cell, too. Everyone then went inside. I wanted to get a look through the window in the heavy wood doors .Before I had a chance, the wind blew hard enough to blow them open. The tornado crossed the street, went around the restaurant and tore through a couple of apartment buildings. The worse thing that happened to me was that Bennigan’s lost power and I had to eat somewhere else (needed a drink but I can’t entirely blame that on the tornado. We drove home first, to check on the cat and since Bruce was driving, I tried to get in touch with my kids. No answer. It wound up that my son was sleeping (wearing ear plugs) and my daughters decided that it was a good time to go to Taco Bell. They could see the tornado traveling overhead as they drove. No wonder I needed the drink.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Response to a Roger Ebert Post: Racism

I grew up in a working class neighborhood in Philadelphia. I attended Catholic school. It was all white, no blacks or Hispanics. We were told that if we attended a Protestant Church service we would be “worshipping false gods” and committing a mortal sin. All through grade school, I believed that Protestants were pagans.

As a child, I rarely saw black people. There was an elderly couple around the corner. I never spoke to them nor they to me. They gave me the creeps. I rarely saw black people on TV (This was the late 50’s, early 60’s. The only black person I remember seeing on TV was a clip featuring Cab Calloway. He scared the daylights out of me. We rarely discussed black people at home. I remember hearing my Dad refer to someone smelling “like a nigger” because she wore too much perfume. He then explained that they smell bad. My mother, who liked rock and roll, especially the Platters and Chuck Berry, could not listen to it when my Dad was home. He called it “jungle music”. When I was 12, my best friend’s enemy had gotten a couple of her black friends to shove her. I said (the first and last time in my life) “Nigger”. To my surprise, the girl, who thought my friend said it, punched her hard in the stomach.

When I was 14, I entered a new stage in my life. Unfortunately, my parents, who never went to high school, were not able to cope well with my adolescence. I wound up living in a hospital for emotionally disturbed children. Since I had already started to question my upbringing, I was fascinated with the black children I met there. A girl named Bertha actually taught me what the word “Nigger” meant. After a few months, I was transferred to a group home run by a black woman, Mrs. Star (I think that’s how she spelled it). It was pointed out to me by my white friend, that I actually spoke with the same accent that my foster family used.

At this point, I took the entrance test and was admitted to Philadelphia High School for Girls. I did not make any friends there until my senior year. These friends were white. I did not stay in touch with them. There was a nice black girl in my English class, who at one point, became a Black Muslim. She was still very nice and signed my yearbook when I graduated. That summer, I developed a crush on a black guy, Kevin, but, since I was extremely shy, I never told him.

Years later, I was watching a TV show about Thurgood Marshall with my 6 year old daughter. In the beginning of the movie, they described the difference between the white school and the “colored” one. My little girl and I talked about it and she exclaimed, “But that’s not fair”.

In 2008, my husband and I and my three children voted for Barack Obama. Things aren’t completely fair now, but I hope the gap is narrowing.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Am I Tweeting My Brains to Mush?

This is in response to a post on his blog

“When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning.” It seems to me that the very process of writing your article as well as the posting of comments is a contradiction to this statement. Many times, I have picked up on an idea or point of view that seems to temporarily take control of my mind and the only way I can recover is by giving the material a great deal of thought. In addition, some tweets just make me laugh and there is a place for that, too.

As far as reading goes, as a child I really identified with the Burgess Meredith character in The Twilight Zone. My mother often said that if toilet paper had print, I’d read it. It was a bittersweet moment when, after she passed away that I actually found printed toilet paper. To summarize: I was addicted to reading, cereal boxes, comic books and newspapers. In the summer months, every two weeks I would borrow as many books as I could carry. Dickens, Austen, Hardy, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, etc.

My two other vices are movies and music. I will give that some thought another day.

A number of years ago, I realized that reading so much really did not make me a better conversationalist, so I started watching popular TV shows. In an attempt to get closer to my kids, I introduced them to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched 24, Lost, Smallville, Ugly Betty, 30 Rock. I rented DVDS to catch up on back episodes. I started feeling empty inside.
A few months ago, I received a Kindle. I downloaded the Blackberry app, and among other books, I have the complete works of Shakespeare (which I read as a teen) as well as the works of Victor Hugo (which I must have missed). I can carry the modern equivalent of the ancient Library of Alexandria in my purse. I have been saved by modern technology.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Appeal of SATC 2

I went to a Sex and the City event last night. They served cosmos, champagne and a variety of appetizers. Most women wore nice dresses and many their most uncomfortable yet chic shoes. At one point, the announcement was made that the movie was starting shortly. Which I ignored. I was never a big fan of SATC. I understand the appeal. But I kept asking myself, how much money do these women make? One of the few episodes that I liked showed a young mother’s shock when Carrie told her how much her shoes cost. Another thing about her shoes, the heels were like 5 inches high, how could she run in those things, let alone just wear them all day.

I think that the women who liked the show enjoyed the camaraderie of the women. That they could depend on their friends more so than their boyfriends/husbands. And there is nothing more fun than a night out with your girlfriends. Even if you purchase your shoes at Ross Dress For Less and your clothes at a consignment shop. These are the people who need to have a little more fun in their lives.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Family Fun

I went to Epcot at Disney on Saturday. So damn hot that the heat was bouncing off the concrete and hitting me in the face. Putting on make-up that morning was a complete waste of time. Anyway, managed to get away from my husband and kids and bought an over-priced frozen Strawberry Margherita (4:30 in the afternoon, I do have standards). It was awesome! Kept me cool for a half an hour and the buzz almost made me forget that I had kids wandering around the park somewhere.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

End of Ethnic Studies ?

At one time, people could learn about European, African and Indian culture through the enjoyment of reading. I always had books around the house, read to my children and they would often see me reading. I had hopes of encouraging my children to read. Their school started a program called “Accelerated Reading” or AR. They were encouraged to read by getting rewards. As a result, they started to look at reading as a task or a chore for which they got paid, not as an enjoyable hobby that has its own rewards Then we got a computer. Since then the only books they have read are the Harry Potter books. By the time I was their age I read Dickens, Austen, Hardy, Shakespeare, Flaubert, Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov, and many more that I just can’t remember right now. I thought of reading as a treat, a doorway into a world in which anything could happen and I never knew what to expect. Now my kids get that experience by playing video games.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Proofs of Love

I've been reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. I've also been watching her videos on You-Tube. The theme for February is (surprise) Love. Although February is almost over, I have some thoughts about Week Five, "Proofs of Love". In the video, she discusses her relationship with her husband.
Proofs of love are also important in other relationships besides as well. As a mother, I like to think that everything I do for my kids (One teen-ager and two young adults) shows how much I love them, but they often take that for granted. What I like to do is to try to share their interests. There may be a new movie they want to see, a music or humor video on you-tube, a new TV show. I like to take them out, individually, for lunch and just talk about pop culture, current events, and maybe something going on in their lives. I’ve been taking jewelry-making lessons from my daughter. I guess doing these things makes me happy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

IRS Terrorism

I was once the victim of the IRS. Based on false information given to the IRS, concerning someone else’s tax problems, I received two letters on the same day. They were dated the same day and mailed as certified mail on the same day. One letter telling me I had to contact them, the other telling me that since I did not respond to the first letter that they were going to assess me for $200,000 dollars. I received this the day before Thanksgiving, my first born was only 3 months old. We spent the first few days scared to death that we were going to be homeless. Fortunately, my husband had access to the tax laws that showed what they were doing was ILLEGAL. Otherwise we would have been paying for legal fees. We took this information, as well as our colicky daughter, to the IRS office, where they admitted that they were fishing for information, which I did not have. A few months later, I was subpoenaed and told the court the same thing. Left the court room and never heard anything about it again.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Valentine's Day Secret

I have never told my husband this, because it’s really a secret that we don’t want our men to know. Although none of us would turn down the special dinner or gift, we also treasure the thoughtful things. Last week , my husband had a really rough week at work, his back and arms were achy from stress. Then on Saturday, he had to change an alternator belt on one of our cars. Saturday night was the Cape’s Martini Night. Instead of saying, I’m just going to crash and watch TV tonight, he said “just let me rest for awhile, I might not stay, but you can stay as long as you want”. He went because I wanted to go. I am grateful that he works so hard and he also takes care of the car repairs and house repairs and takes the trash out to the curb every Monday morning. That last part is not a secret.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is It Ethical for the Layperson to Give Advice on Medication?

I read an article about a woman in Australia who was getting psychological advise from an intense self-help seminar called The Turning Point. The leaders had no training in mental health issues.She jumped off a skyscraper to her death. Many times people are advised to buy someone's books or attend a seminar and against taking medication.

It should be illegal to advise someone to either take or discontinue prescription medication. The only permissible advice should be “Talk to your doctor”. This reminds me of a situation when my daughter was in third grade. She daydreamed and refused to do the simplest assignments. The school district psychiatrist wanted her to transfer to a special school. The counselor asked if we ever considered ADD. I took her to a neurologist who asked a lot of questions and said that my little girl was a classic case. Unfortunately, upon the advice of her school counselor, she refused to take the medication. She received counseling from him for two years and it did nothing to help her. The last week of high school, she focused enough to complete some assignments and her teachers passed her. She took the entrance test for community college and almost passed it. It broke her heart that she would have to take remedial classes before starting the normal course work. That’s when she decided that she wanted to succeed in school. She asked me to get her an appointment with a psychiatrist, who diagnosed her with ADD and OCD. He prescribed medications which initially caused side effects, but the dosage was continually adjusted until it was something she could live with. She is a college senior, now, majoring in accounting. She has to work harder than other students but she is successful. A combination of therapy and medication is working for her.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Early Years

As much that is good with my life now, I look back fondly upon the neighborhood where I lived as a child. I grew up in the city of Philadelphia. I suppose you could call it a working class neighborhood. It was predominately Catholic, and, as was common at that time, it was all white. The homes were rowhouses with 2-3 bedrooms and a single bathroom. I lived in a 2 bedroom home with my parents and two brothers. It was a neighborhood that was a kid’s dream, you were never bored because there were so many kids to play with. Every day that we were off from school, we were outside playing all day. There were so many kids that we were always able to play tag or red-light, green-light. We could sit on our front steps and play board games or ride our bikes. We were able to form clubs and softball teams (I remember breaking a neighbor’s window on the narrow street that I lived on). Thanks to a girl who wanted to be a nun we could play school. Our local recreation center (the Rec) provided us with a playground, swimming lessons and so importantly (since I was a girl) an all girls softball team. In the winter, I would make an igloo with my friends. We went indoors just to eat lunch or supper (and I guess take a bathroom break).

We had a library that was a couple of miles away, but the distance never stopped me, even during the winter. I would borrow as many books as I could (twenty in the summer) and return them all within three weeks so I could borrow more. Many of the things we needed were around the corner or down the street, like our corner grocery store, drug store, luncheonette, shoe repair, dry cleaner and optometrist. There was a place across the street from the Rec which sold every type of comic book that was printed at that time. There was even an art gallery for awhile, but I never knew anyone who bought anything there. School was so close by that I came home for lunch every day.

It was a neighborhood where only the husbands went out to work, the women stayed home, taking care of their many kids, cleaning, cooking, and watching the afternoon soaps. In the summer, since no one had air conditioning (except for one family), the housework was generally completed as early as possible.

The big event in our neighborhood was New Year’s Eve. We would all go from one house to another, eating, drinking (beer for the adults), and listening to music. Around midnight, we would watch the ball come down, with Guy Lombardo playing Old Lang Seine on TV. Soon after, I would fall asleep at someone’s house and wake up the next day in my own bed. New Year’s Day was special, too. In Philadelphia, many neighborhoods participated in the String Band competition. Although, I didn’t know of any musicians, our local drug store was owned by Joseph Ferko, who was the founder of the Ferko String Band. The store has been closed for many years and I don’t know where the current members live, but the string band is still a major contender in the annual event. Anyway, after the parade, the band, still in their costumes, would march through the neighborhood, head for the mayor’s house (Mayor Tate went to the same church that I went to), and wind up outside the convent, and perform for the nuns who taught at my school. I remember following the band with my friends, doing the Mummers Strut in the streets. I guess it was like a miniature Mardi Gras, without the necklaces and the booze.

I live in a middle class neighborhood in Florida now. I love the weather, looking out at my pool, admiring the tropical plants and the magnificent sunsets. But it’s not a Neighborhood.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hello, World! I'm Back!

It’s been a while since I posted to my blog. I was hospitalized for a couple of days last November due to an allergic reaction to an IV medication. After I came home, I became sick again. I was diagnosed with the flu, which I caught in the hospital. I managed to pull off Thanksgiving pretty much at the last minute.

Luckily, I had recovered enough to travel to London with my husband (non-refundable tickets). After we returned, we attended an employee Christmas party held by the company my husband works for. Since this involved an overnight stay, I not only had to get ready for the party but also pack. We didn’t get home until Sunday afternoon and I had to wash the clothes that we wore to London. On the way to the party, I noticed I was coughing. Monday morning I came down with a nasty “when will it go away” cold.

I went into a lot of detail for a reason. When I was asked to fill out the menu form at the hospital, I did not think it was a good idea to tell them that I wanted 500 calories of protein, a cop of salad and a half a cup of veggies a day (which was the diet I was on).
So I went off my diet, stopped attending meditation class (due to sickness, travel, and the holidays). I had attended a Toastmaster meeting in early November, but did not pursue it. I also had received a couple of invitations from friends in Ninth Wave that I had to turn down. I stopped writing pretty much. I started feeling depressed again.

Once I realized what was happening, I got out my to-do list, containing the minimum things I need to do to feel good about myself. I also added a few things to the list that I needed to remember to do. Now I hard to start over again from scratch with my goals.

I read somewhere that I would have a better chance of success if I started out taking “baby steps”. I added a few things to my list that would improve my health. I made an appointment to get my hair down (three weeks overdue). I am seeing my friends from Ninth Wave and posting on Facebook. I’m not giving up. “Two steps forward, one step back”. Now, I’m concentrating on the forward part.