Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Bad

I've discovered an absolutely horrifying thing. Horrifying to the point of speechlessness (which is a biggie for me). If I spent as much time exercising, preparing my meals and planning my diet as I do blogging, checking emails, working on my Thursday Thirteen meme, and researching stuff for no reason on the internet, do you know I'd have NO WEIGHT ISSUES?

I realized this at 2am last night. I was working on a particularly visual TT for next week which required I do some serious internet hopping. I messed with it for like hours. Happy hours, mind you, but HOURS none-the-less.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with one of the doctors I work for. Seems he told a woman she needed a special test that insurance didn't pay for. It was $55.00. She balked. She hemmed and hawed. Said she would think about it. She wanted to discuss it with her husband and and and......

However, we decided that if he told that woman there was a special down the street -- manicure/pedicure for $55.00 -- she'd be gone so fast there would be dust in her wake.

I am currently at a deadend to explain this as I am just as guilty.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Well, actually, my birthday was earlier in the month, but that's not the point. The point is that my friend Anne gave me a book entitled, "Write Your Novel This Year".

Writing a novel has been on my brain since I was probably young enough to write. I have pages and pages and pages of PIECES of stories that go back to when Dinosaurs Ruled the World. I have read many books on writing, read many magazines, even threw my hat into the NaNoWriNo ring, but only have stacks of papers with words written on them. I really have nothing to show the world for all the work and energy I have put into it.

Now I'm not complaining. I wrote almost 10,000 words during the month of November for NaNo, and for a single working mom with precious time to spare, I was pretty pleased with myself. When I look at the parts of stories I have created over the years, I see interesting characters and nominally interesting plots. (I am, by far, a character driven story writer). I see stories that have been written mostly for my own pleasure. I have been to other countries, been a celebrity, married celebrities, saved lives and captained the Enterprise.

But now, I have this urge to throw my pen into the ring and see what happens. However, all the advise I have heard or read is spinning in my head. Here are a few:

1. Write everyday. No matter what and/or: don't force yourself to write. Write when you are inspired.
2. Write for yourself, not to make money and/or: write for your audience
3. Find a quiet place to devote to your writing and/or: you can write anywhere, anytime

Hmm. Push me, pull you.

This brings me to a Manilow-ism: "Ask any songwriter how he writes a song, and none of them will give you a logical, step by step answer. We have no idea how we do it." I paraphrase, but you get the idea.

So what do I need to do? Uh....don't know. But that's ok. I just figure it's a journey and maybe I'll get there and maybe I won't.

Be prepared. I'm dragging you along for the ride.

Happy 2008!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #19!

Because of the holidays and precious little time to devote to higher pursuits, I give you a simple, honest Thursday Thirteen. So run away if you must, but here, for the first time written down for all to view, are my favorite Barry Manilow songs, not in any particular order:

1. Mandy. He didn't write it, but he rearranged it from a rock song titled "Brandy" and sings it beautifully. Still a fave that has held up very well over the last 30+ years.

2. Could It Be Magic. Could it be that I love this song because it is based on a Chopin prelude? Or could it be because my mother discovered this song for that very reason and was one of her favorites? I don't know. I still love it though.

3. Do You Know Who's Livin' Next Door. Done about 2001, it was on "Here at the Mayflower", the first album Manilow created totally on his own. All his compositions, all his arrangements, all his production, all his voice, and he played every instrument (except for Dave Koz on sax) or created it on a computer. He had to jump ship from Arista to RCA to record it because it wasn't considered a profitable undertaking, but the whole of "Mayflower" is one of his very finest.

4. I'm Coming Back. On the Mayflower album. This song is the one I used to sing to myself during a panic attack to get my brain out of panic mode. The melody is easy, the beat consistent and the words are sweet and able to get your mind off the fact that you may have to call 911.

5. Leavin' in the Morning. Fairly autobiographical (IMO, of course) about his decision to leave his wife and start his musical career. Very sad and very telling, but once again, a strong lyric and wonderful arranging.

6. One Voice. A beautiful song, whether he sings it with musical accompaniment or a cappella -- about his belief in the power we have to join together to help one another.

7. Nice Boy Like Me. What a fave -- has been for years! About a "nice" boy like Barry cruisin' chicks in a "place that never closes" -- and "lookin' so sad" cuz he just can't get any (yes, I know -- NOT biographical...well, at least not since 1975). Funny, upbeat, with his usual self-depreciating lyrical style.

8. Sweetwater Jones. On his first album and while his voice is a bit NY twangy and unpolished, the melody is catchy and the lyrics tell a good story. I also feel that way down deep, this one is fairly autobiographical too.

9. It's a Miracle. Just a "true blue spectacle" of a song. And really, even if you don't like Manilow, I bet you know all the lyrics to this song!

10. Who's Been Sleepin' in My Bed. "Gettin' what I get, when I don't get it..." A strong song, great melody, painful lyrics, with a story behind it (reportedly about his breakup with a longtime girlfriend). And you can even dance to it.

11. Baby, It's Cold Outside. With K.T. Oslin. Barry seducing K.T. with drink and god knows what else as the snow piles up outside. She fell for it---and so would alot of women I know! Was originally a song from the 40's sung by Ricardo Montelban and Esther Williams. Really.

12. When October Goes. Johnny Mercer's widow gave Manilow these lyrics after Mercer's death and asked Barry to put it to music. The result is a powerful, yet beautiful and delicate song -- and one that Mercer would be very proud of. It literally can bring you to tears.

13. You Could Show Me. A very short, sweet, simple song on the One Voice album and a demonstration of one of the secrets to Manilow's success -- telling the story of the lost, the lonely and the hopeful...a recurring theme in Manilow-land.

And because I simply couldn't leave it out:

14. Who Needs to Dream? ... "when there is you?" Probably one of the best love songs ever written and so very underappreciated. It's such a great love song that it practically yanks the tears out of your eyes. Story is that he wrote this for the tv movie "Copacabana" and when co-star Annette O'Toole heard it for the first time, she actually did cry.

So while I encourage you to pick up those cover albums (ah hem), Manilow's earlier stuff along with "Swing Street", "2AM Paradise Cafe" and "Here at the Mayflower" make up a pretty impressive body of work. Sure, he's the butt of alot of jokes, many of his own creation, but anyone who sells over 75,000,000 albums and is still around after 30 years has to have something going for him!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Music and Passion

I'm warning you ahead of time that we are marching into Manilow country, but stick with me here for a minute. You must be fairly well aware that along with Abe Lincoln, I am a Barry Man-i-low-o-phile (trying saying that fast a couple times...spelling it is worse) but as I sit here in Sandusky, Ohio, about a 6 hour Amtrak train ride from my home in Chicago, I find I must write about the weekend I had.

My friend Colleen and I planned a trip to Cleveland Ohio to attend a Barry Manilow concert on December 14th. She has family here in Sandusky, and we ingratiated ourselves into their lives for a couple of days. As we were traveling around Colleen's old country stomping grounds, we looked up in the air to see this "thing" flying around. We looked again and again. We stared some more. We wiped our eyes, thinking we were having the same hallucination. But there he was. Beautiful. Amazing. A magnificent sight I will never forget in my entire life. Colleen threw her camera at me and I took this picture out of the car window:



I swear it was some kind of preview of the wonderful weekend I was going to have. There were laughs and Colleen's wonderfully warm family....and music and food and even a couple of happy tears. There was sleeping in and being lazy and meeting the new puppy, who dragged Colleen's socks all over the house and chewed up the little wrapper I had for the computer screen. Then of course, there was this:




Me, Colleen and 15,000 of our closest friends piled into the Quicken Arena to see Barry in concert. And we all had a blast. Even with a venue that size, Barry managed to keep it intimate and personal. I even think it was better than his Vegas show. It was simpler and toned down -- he knew he was playing for his fans and not for the Electricians Union Annual Vegas Convention. Barry does not need a multi media laser show for the majority of his long time fan base. We'd be happy with him, a piano, and a spotlight for 90 minutes.

So it was a miraculous weekend from all perspectives. The healing power of friendship, laughter and music is truly amazing. The only problem? In my excited and distracted state post concert, I left my cell phone, program, and only set of matching gloves in Colleen's car --- which is headed back to her home in Cincinnati as I head for Chicago. I only hope they have a safe trip.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #18

My girlfriend Anne and I went to Springfield Illinois to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. It was wonderful and we had a great time. Of course, both of us have always been "Abe-o-philes", but it really is a wonderful experience even if you aren't.

Anyway, I started reading this book about the women in Abe's life and the strong influence they had on him. So here, on this lovely Thursday, are 13 of "Abe's Babes" and who they were to him.

1. Mom. Nancy Hanks Lincoln. And yes, Tom Hanks IS a decendent. Died when Mr. L was a young lad. Although she was uneducated herself, she did encourage Abe in his academic (such as they were) pursuits, although there wasn't much she could do about Abe's Pa. Dad saw things differently and whipped Abe's ass for readin' when he shouldda been workin'. In dad's defense, memorizing the 23rd Psalm wasn't going to get a roof over their heads or food in their stomachs.

2. Stepmom. Sarah Johnston Lincoln. After Nancy's death, Thomas Lincoln left his 2 small kids to fend for themselves for about 6 months while he searched for a new wife. Shockingly, DCFS was not contacted, although Sarah found Abe and his sister cold, hungry and filthy when she came back with Thomas. She cleaned them up and brought books for the future President to mull over by firelight. She was notably one of the first to treat him with love and kindness.

3. Sis. Sarah. Died in childbirth at the age of 20 which sent him into a depressive tailspin. He blamed Sarah's husband for not caring for her properly when she went into labor.

4. Ann Rutledge. Do I need to explain? Is she a legend just in Illinois or does everyone know about her? You tell me. You need me to explain, I will. But get your kleenex ---- Lincoln depressive nosedive #2. Ann's grave is marked with these words: "Where Lincoln Wept". Need I say more?

5. Mary Owens. The New Salem storekeeper "proposed" to this Mary before she went away on a family trip to Kentucky. When she returned, she apparently had been eatin' pretty good and had beefed up to frightening proportions. He might have been worried that she could do some damage to his underweight frame in a moment of unbridled passion -- and ended it the way men have ended relationships for centuries. He manipulated the data so she had no other option but to end it herself.

6. Local Springfield working girl. (Oh, c'mon! -- really!) Story is he visited her after being told of her "services" by a mutual friend, Joshua Speed. The higher class "working girls" only accepted referrals from other clients, and Abe's friend gave him a note of introduction. The woman gave him the thumbs up, and she told him as he was unbuttoning his pants that the charge was $5.00 (quite a hefty sum considering the average person yanked in $2000 a year). He told her he only had $3.00. She laughed and said she knew who he was...a Springfield lawyer...and would trust him for the other 2 dollars. The story goes that Lincoln told her no, that he could not promise when he could pay her the other 2 dollars, so he buttoned up his trousers and started to leave. He tried to leave her the $3.00 for the time she spent with him, but she would not take it.

7. Mary Todd. I think she drove him crazy, but he seemed to remain crazy about her until the day he died. Anyway, they were introduced, then engaged, then sort of not engaged (depressive dive #3), then story says she used her wiles on him one dark and stormy night and they married within days. Robert Todd Lincoln was born 3 days short of their 9 month anniversary. Sure. She got pregnant on the honeymoon they didn't take. Happens ALL the time...but my guess is ol' Abe was smart enough to realize that once you "did it" before marriage with a society girl like Mary (not that I'm suggesting they DID, mind you...altho he did say Robert was "full of mischief that is the offspring of much animal spirits"), your ass better be at the justice of the peace ASAP before a piece of you was gunned down by her pa.

8. Matilda Edwards. During his "split" with Mary, he was introduced to her cousin, Matilda Edwards and fell in love with the 18 year old (as many 30 year old men do). Mary Todd's cousin was a beauty...she was young, pretty, quick witted and thin...and gave rise to his thinking that he did not really love Mary Todd. However, the future Mrs. Lincoln had other ideas...and I bet there was some tension over the family dinner table once Abe started courtin' Matilda. Mary managed to reem Abe a new one every time she saw him, knowing which buttons to push by telling him he was "honor bound" to marry her. He mulled this over for about 15 months until that one dark and stormy night.....and after Matilda turned down his marriage proposal.

9. Kate Chase. Mary hated her because she was like Matilda -- young, pretty, politically saavy and thin. Kate's dad was Salmon Chase, a presidential hopeful and part of the Lincoln administration. Abe admired her intelligence, her poise. His eyes adored her, but he never laid a hand on her. And if he had, Mary would have killed both of them.

10. Anna Ella Carroll. She wrote pamphlets that supported Lincoln's policies and singlehandedly helped to keep Maryland in the union. "I am writing to aid my country," she said. She was good at it and Lincoln knew it. While she did ask to be paid for her work and was refused, Lincoln did compliment her works to his cabinet members and acknowledged her talents to many.

11. Miss Grace Bedell, 11 years old. She wrote him a letter that changed how the world saw Mr. Abraham Lincoln, Springfield Lawyer, Presidential Elect, from that point forward. "Dear Mr. Lincoln", she wrote, "you ought to grow a beard. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you." He apparently listened.

12. Eliza Gurney. An amazing woman, they exchanged numerous letters over the course of his Presidency. She also visited him at the White house. She was the Quaker widow of a British banker who strengthened Lincoln's faith during the difficult years of war and personal loss. Some say she was one of the most important women in Lincoln's life and the topics they wrote and conversed about were imported into Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address.

13. Vinnie Ream. Mary hated her. She was young, beautiful and a talented sculptress. At 17, she eventually gained Lincoln's trust and started work on a bust of him, which continued throughout the winter of 1864-5. They became good friends and the finished bust was a hit with Lincoln, who was a noted supporter of woman suffrage. After Lincoln's assassination, Ream coveted the $10,000 commission to do a life-sized statue for the Capitol, although she met with alot of resistance, some from Mary. Vinnie eventually became the first woman, and at 19, the youngest artist, to ever get a federal commission for a work of art.

There were so many others: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, Lizzie Keckley, Dorothea Dix and finally, actress Laura Keene, who was in "Our American Cousin" at the Ford Theater and rushed to the presidential box after the shooting to cradle Lincoln's head in her lap.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

So Where Have You Been?

I don't know. Going crazy. Since Thanksgiving, I guess I've been overwhelmed. I could beat myself up good and proper now, but that would only add to my list of things to do.

My house is a wreck. I still have Halloween decorations up. I do believe Christmas is around the corner and is blipping on my radar.

Oh well. It'll get done. Somehow. Usually does.

Aren't you glad you stopped by????

Friday, November 23, 2007

Lifestyle Update

Yes. I've sort of had it....as I am disgusted with myself. I've only gained maybe 5 pounds over the last couple of months, but it has all appeared in my midsection and as spotty horrid cellulite flesh. I could start the explanation phase of my dissertation (new job, more emails from the crazy ex, lawyers, fatigue, teeth trouble, the kids, my schedule, their schedules, menopause, hormones .... ok, you get the point) but I just must get beyond that and move on. Suck it up, as they say. (I wish I could suck it out).

I've told myself I wanted to lose weight for this or that reason. Upcoming events, to feel better, to enhance my self confidence, to ... well whatever. It never works. My metabolism is so screwed up that the only way I lose weight is to literally NOT EAT. And that's not healthy either. I must truly watch my diet, but increase my exercise by astronomical amounts. Amounts that will preclude my doing anything else but work and sleep (sorry, kids). Moderation my ass. I've tried moderation. I gained weight.

So we are now into the desperation phase as we have just crossed the Thanksgiving finish line and see Christmas and January 1, 2008 looming in the distance. But desperation is not a good look for me. I also am one of those people who don't do well if we don't see progress. I'm not even talking BIG progress. I mean like a pound a week. That's all the frick I'm asking for and even with dieting closely and exercising, I still can't do it most times.

I know. I was a yo-yo dieter and now my metabolism is screwed. However, I cannot believe there isn't something I can do. And I'd like to find something that will support me and not cost an arm and a leg (altho I could lose a good 15 pounds if I lose the leg....). So I found this Everyday Health website that seems to give good advice and be...yes, free.

So I'm taking the eHealth Holiday Challenge (see the link on the side bar) as I sit here and smell the chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven.

At least it's not outwardly self flogging. Yet.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #17!


As I am in incredible pain from an abscessed tooth, anesthesia and pain relief are utmost and foremost on my mind at this moment. Here are some facts about the history of pain relief:

1. The term anesthesia was coined by Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1846 and is defined as a reversible lack of awareness either total or specific to a certain part of the body.

2. The first recorded use of anesthesia was written on a papyrus dating back to 1500 BC. Then, opium poppy capsules were collected and a preparation was made to relieve pain.

3. Classic Greek and Roman medical texts discussed the use of opium and other herbal specimens, which proved a mainstay of pain relief until the 19th century.

4. Most anesthesia preparations were either ingested or smoked, but Incan shamans chewed coca leaves and spit into the wounds they were operating on to relieve the pain.

5. The crucial drawback to old methods were that there was no standarization and opiates, herbal remedies and even alcohol were "useless when too weak and deadly when too strong."

6. Even in ancient times, as often as possible, pain relievers were administered locally to reduce the risk of overdosing the patient.

7. A medicine containing willow leaves (a salicylate, the precursor of aspirin) was often applied to wounds to decrease inflammation.

8. In the late 1700's - early 1800's, doctors began experimenting with CO2 and nitrous oxide (laughing gas). It was mainly used by dentists to ease the pain of tooth extraction.

9. In January 1842, a dentist named William E. Clark used a compound called diethyl ether (originally discovered in 1510) to perform painless tooth extraction.

10. Ether and chloroform were used, but both are unstable and ether proved highly flammable. Because of this, cocaine was suggested as an alternate method of pain relief by Sigmund Freud. He originally suggested it to Dr. Karl Koller in 1884 to use during eye surgery on a patient.

11. The first public demonstration of the use of ether as an anesthetic agent was done at Massachusetts General Hospital by the dentist Dr. William Thomas Green Morton in October 1846. In a letter to Dr. Morton, Oliver Wendell Holmes sited the term anesthesia and Morton eventually patented the ether compound. which was still in use through the 1960's.

12. Eventually, a number of cocaine derivatives and safer replacements were soon produced, including procaine in 1905 and lidocaine in 1943.

13. Opiates continue to be used for pain relief, but are usually used with other agents such as intravenous non-opiate anesthetics or inhalants to produce unconsciousness for surgical patients.

Viva anesthesia!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Failure is NOT an Option

NaNoWriMo update:

Still hovering around 3,000 words. However, and this could be a ploy to avoid the actual competition of NaNo, but I've started 2 other stories. One at a respectable 3000 words and another at a measly, but nonetheless productive, 1500.

So, in my effort to keep myself bouyant, I have added all the stories together into a genre hodgepodge and came up with a total of close to 9000 words written since the beginning of November.

Not anywhere near the 20,000 I should be at, and spaced between a romance, chicklit and a fictional short story, but still. 9,000 words.

I heard a story about a women who went to medical school at 40 years of age. She was criticized for being too old and was told she couldn't keep up physically with the challenges. It took her several years and when she was 46 and a physician with her own practice they asked her how she did it.

She said, "I just figured I'd get older either way and gave 100%."

Point well taken.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Abuse 101

For those of you wishing to learn the finer nuances of abuse, whether to hone your craft or be aware of the bag of tricks an abuser uses, allow me to introduce you to one that is a favorite of my ex. It was the tool he used many a time to inform me of the continuous error of my ways. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you: The Driveway Ambush.

Here are the steps you need to follow in order to create this work of art. You, as the justified wronged one, first must get good and angry about something. Anything. It can do with the ex or the kids or child support or your job or how your football team lost or how your girlfriend doesn't dress right or how your mother beat you as a child. Whatever. Get yourself primed and whipped up. Decide that the only relief you will get revolves around addressing the one that REALLY causes all your pain: your EX! You must, simply must, drive to the house you once shared and give that woman a piece of your obviously superior mind. Set her straight. You know it will help ease your gnawing pain....and what else is your ex good for? So jump in your car and begin your journey. Start swearing. A lot. Pound on the steering wheel until it hurts. Give other motorists as well as those damn pedestrians the finger. And really mean it. Honk and honk and honk at people in your lane or in any lane. Take Road Rage to new heights. Dare a squirrel to cross your path and survive. Continue to your old house and wait for your ex-wife to come home. Must be timed perfectly so you arrive about 10 minutes BEFORE she gets home from work. You can get even angrier that you had to wait on someone who should have KNOWN that you were gonna show up.

Car placement is very, very important in the “Driveway Ambush.” It has to be positioned just so to be effective -- about 5 feet from the front door, with the front fender just about even with the nearside door frame. Personal body location is also important here. You must be stationed between the car and the front door, so that the ex-wife would have to pole-vault over the evergreen in order to avoid you and get into the house.

Then, and here’s the pinnacle: Stand there and wait. Folding of the arms is okay, but leaning on the car or standing on one foot or the other is not allowed. Straight and tall is the order of the day. Hands on the hips is only used to punctuate, and must be accompanied by a 20-25 degree pitch forward from the waist, usually reserved for the full strike intimidation phase.

The problem is, like Pavlov’s dogs, they eventually learn. If they see your car in the driveway, the little chickens just keep on driving. And driving. And driving. So don't overuse this handy weapon in the quest for ultimate control because it can lose it's efficacy once the victim gets smart or hires a bodyguard. And for heaven's sake, you certainly don't want any violence.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #16!


13 Jobs I Have Had, Not in Any Particular Order:

**And yes, I can hear you: not my most original or witty TT, but hey, I'm trying to produce 2 billion words a day for NaNoWriMo -- what do you want from me? :-)

1. Waitress/Hostess (like almost every other woman I know)
2. Legal Secretary (sucked. Absolutely sucked)
3. Receptionist (I was 19, my first job in the city. It was fun and left me lots of time to daydream about other things...)
4. Radio Traffic Reporter (working hours were nasty: 5am-10am and then 3pm-7pm. But it was fun being on the radio and I learned to talk about 100 mph.)
5. Medical Staff Secretary (working with doctors is always fun, ain't it??)
6. Office Manager for a Chiropractor (zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz)
7. Billing Manager for Doctor's Office (it was actually fun and I learned so much about medical billing.)
8. Patient Coordinator in Pediatric Cardiology (hard. Very, very hard dealing with sick babies and little children)
9. Babysitter (my first, first job. The kids played and I watched "All My Children")
10. Practice Manager for OB/GYN group (I love to hear the sounds of the fetal monitors registering the little heartbeats!!)
11. Cashier (now this is fun -- worrying that the next person who comes in has an eye on your register and a gun in his pocket)
12. Data entry person (see number 6)
13. Cleaning lady (hard work and very little reward)

36 years of almost uninterrupted employment!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Crash and Burn

Ok. According to the www.nanowrimo.org website, as of this moment I have 24 days, 1 hour and 53 minutes to write about 47,000 more words to hit the 50,000 mark. There has been approximately 171,000,000 words written so far by the entire collective.

That is one shitload of words.

I contributed about 3000 to that pile and I figure I must write 1,958 words PER DAY to reach the 50,000 goal. Yes. I know what you are thinking. Not a chance in hell.

I seem to write way too slowly and have precious little time to devote to the pursuit. However, I am not deterred. I shall march bravely on, like a little Kamikazi novelist, knowing that at the end, I will crash and burn.

My new, more realistic goal is 25,000 words by 11/30/07. Then next year, I'll start writing in August like everyone else and hit that 10,000 word mark in 3 days like all the others!! There are all these people posting that they've hit 10,000, 20,000 words since 11/1. I can't even spit out that many words talking in that time frame. And trust me, I'm an expert talker. Something tells me they were typing and formulating and plotting way before 11/1/07. I registered 10/31 and started typing 11/2/07, not knowing what the hell I was writing about.

I'm rather proud I've gotten this far! So onward I march, even sacrificing my very nice long nails for a shorter version, quicker on the keyboard.

Wish me luck. I'll need it.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

What Have I Done -- Parts 1 and 2


Is it hormones? Is it menopause? Is it the looming specter of empty nest syndrome? Or is it a woman who, after surviving an abusive marriage with the help of dear friends and 6 years of psychotherapy, has finally starting rediscovering who she is and what she wants to do?

I don't know. The flip side shouts that perhaps the meds aren't working as they should.

But over the last week, I've done some fairly uncharacteristic things. And I have more in the works. I'm relatively free of my ex, although those emails still keep coming in, which I will share with you again soon, I have a good job that I like, I have dear, true friends, my kids are growing into healthy adults. Sure the shit hits the fan and I take a nose dive, but I'm starting to do things just for me. I do have leftover Ex baggage which manifests itself in my little voice telling me I can't, I shouldn't, I'm not smart enough, I'm not organized enough, I don't have the time, the stress will make me eat more, eating more will make me fat-ter....etc. You get the point.

But I've stopped listening -- most of the time.

I didn't listen when I signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo (www.nanowrimo.org) which is National Novel Writing Month. 50,000 words in 30 days. I've done 1324 words as of today and have no idea what else I am going to type! I'm looking forward to the challenge and just hoping I can make it to 30,000 words. I'd be happy with that! There's always next year!


Then, I signed up through the Manilow Fund for Health and Hope (www.manilowfund.org) to attend a charity event next year which includes a "how do you do" with Mr. Manilow himself. I saw the ticket on line, I waited 48 hours, a ticket was still available and I took it. I can't believe I did it. It so isn't "me".

But I've decided these things -- NaNo and Manilow -- are good things. I'm breaking free of the victim I was and seeing things through totally different eyes. Don't get me wrong -- it's taken a long time to get here. A Long Time. But it is so worth it.

For any of you healing from abusive relationships, get therapy. Talk to your friends. Don't isolate yourself. Try new things. Realize you are going to backpeddle sometimes, but that's ok. Progress will be made.

You are worth every single thing you do for yourself -- silly or not!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Questions I Have Been Asked

I got one of those "Getting to Know You" emails from a friend and one of the questions was: "What do you rely on most?"

Now I believe most people answered their "higher power", or a family member or themselves. You know what is the first thing that popped into my head?

What do I rely on most: The Kindness of Strangers.

This is not to say I don't believe in a Higher Power or have wonderful friends. I do and I do. But there are so many times in my life that some person I hardly know held my hand or gave me a word of encouragement or made me laugh.

This has firmly rooted my belief in the basic goodness of people and has led to my being taken down the "stoney road" once in a while. But lumps and bumps aside (and one crazy ex-husband) I still believe that people are basically good and kind. Most of the time.

So thank you to those either in person or in blog who practiced "Random Acts of Kindness". You have made me smile and lifted a sometimes heavy heart.

I only hope I have done the same for you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #15




13 Things about His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama

I am reading the book "How To Practice The Way to a Meaningful Life" by his holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. It's a great book, easily read and understood and prompted me to find out more about the history of the Dalai Lamas, who are the religious heads of the people of Tibet.

I remember first hearing about the Dalai Lama when the actor Richard Gere became a Buddhist and brought the occupation of Tibet by China into the forefront. It was then I heard that the Dalai Lama had to flee his country to India for safety and how the people of Tibet have suffered under Chinese rule.

So without further ado, here are 13 things about his holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama:

1. The title Dalai Lama is granted to the each of the previous leaders successive reincarnations. In other words, after the passing of the 13th Dalai Lama, his reincarnation will be titled the 14th Dalai Lama. This position is one of both head of state and spiritual leader of the people of Tibet.

2. Upon the death of a Dalai Lama, his monks begin the search for his reincarnation in the form of a small child. This search lasts usually several years and the "chosen one" generally demonstrates some familiarity with the possessions of the previous Dalai Lama.

3. Once the "golden child" is chosen, he is taken to Lhasa to be trained by the other Lamas. His curriculum consisted of 5 major and 5 minor subjects: Logic, Tibetan art and culture, Sanskrit, medicine and Buddhist philosophy; the minor subjects being: poetry, music and drama, astrology, motre and phrasing and synonyms.

4. On December 17, 1933 the 13th Dalai Lama passes away at the age of 57.

5. On July 6, 1935, Tenzin Gyatso is born in Taktser, Kumbum (Amdo).

6. At the age of 4, he travels for 3 months to Lhasa and later that year there is public declaration of the Official Recognition of the 14th Dalai Lama.

7. He begins his monastic education at the age of five in 1940 and at the age of 15 on November 17, 1950 assumes full political power after the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1949.

8. From December 16, 1950 to 1959, the Dalai Lama was constantly moved due to threats by the Chinese military leaders. He visits China for peace talks extensively from 1954 to 1955, but by 1959, he narrowly escapes his homeland after the Chinese fire artillery shells at his residence.

9. On March 30, 1959, the Dalai Lama enters India and has remained in exile since.

10. During the 1960's and 1970's, he travels extensively throughout Europe and the west, not pleading his specific cause, but for peace between all nations.

11. He addresses Congress on September 21, 1987 with the proposed peace plan: transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace; abandonment of China's population transfer policy that threatens the very existence fo the Tibetans as a people; respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms; restoration and protection of Tibet's natural environment and China's use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of of nuclear waste; and the commencement of earnest negotiations concerning the future of the relations between the Tibetan and Chinese people.

12. December 10, 1989 the Dalai Lama is awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in Oslo, Norway.

13, The Dalai Lama is the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems.


Here is his chair in Tibet, where one day the man who describes himself as a "simple Buddhist monk" hopes he will be able to rest in once again.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hospital Holiday

Sure. I miss my Thursday Thirteen and then I missed the entire next weekend because I took a Hospital Holiday on Friday and Saturday.

As a rule, Hospital Holidays are awful. Food sucks, you can't get decent cable channels, no one lets you sleep and the beds are just forensic autopsy tables with a white sheet over them. Room service is atrocious and you have to sleep with strangers with only a thin sheet hanging between you and whatever bodily functions they need to discuss or operate.

The lady next to me moaned the entire time. She kept calling the hospital operator (not the nurse's station) to ask for a bedpan for her hotel room. Everyone from the hospital operator to the nurses thought she was a prank caller and no one answered her requests until she started screaming that she had an accident in the bed.

I have already put in special requests to those closest to me that if I ever get like that, they have my permission to drive me out into the country, kick me out of the car and leave me for dead.

All I wanted to do was have my tests, rest and go home. While I felt extremely sorry for her, I wanted her to remember that midnight is NIGHT and is the typical time for a trip to REM sleep, but she didn't quite understand that. Well, not until 5 am when she shut off the light, the TV and fell into a blissfully undisturbed sleep, while I was awakened by my doctors and the need to go have tests.

I wondered though, did she plan on living in the 1940's during her dementia and waiting for Errol Flynn to pick her up for their date at the Brown Derby? You know, my friends and I have PLANS for our dementia. This frightening incident awakened me to the fact that we need to be prepared for a Dementia Plan B, in case I can't remember who George Harrison is, Anne can't remember Sir Paul and Colleen can't recall who the hell that boy from Brooklyn was whom she thought was so HOT.

This is a sad state of affairs. I had been looking forward to my old age, sitting in the rocking chair, fully mentally immersed in the 1960's London music scene, with George driving us back to our house in Esher in the new mini. Now, I face the fact that I might be screaming for a nurse to deliver a bed pan to my hotel room and then rotating only these 2 thoughts: #1 -- I WANT TO GO HOME and #2 -- I DON'T WANT TO GO HOME.

And you are completely right. My roomie did nothing to help my panic/anxiety attack, chest pain and shortness of breath (my standard hospital ER diagnosis). However, the tests show that my heart is fine. My panic isn't so fine, but I'll keep working on it.

I will also contact Anne and Colleen. We must begin preparing Dementia Plan B. Perhaps I could convince Colleen that I could take the boy from Brooklyn.....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mental Vacation

I started my new job and my brain completely forgot it was Wed, which in my world means "Thursday Thirteen". Go figure.

So TT'ers -- I'll stop by and visit you and I'll be 13-ing next week!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

To The Left Of Normal....

I am basically a sane person. I manage to get to work daily, feed my kids, get them to the dentist twice a year, make sure the cats have water and throw bleach in the toilet every week. Yes, my laundry piles up and sometimes (alot of times) there are dishes in the sink. Regardless, Sean and Erin are fairly well adjusted, can speak in full sentences and say "excuse me" if they burp. Their knuckles do not drag on the ground when they walk, nor do they drool (while awake).

However, I am a bit "touched". I've always been "touched". I've been "touched" as far back as I can remember.

I said one time to my friend Colleen in a alcohol fueled exclusive that I frequently "talk" to myself -- I also "talk" to fictional characters, I "talk" to celebritites, I wonder what conversation I would have with Abe Lincoln or Mary Lincoln, for that matter. I know at some point I will be in the nursing home psych unit, thinking I am George Harrison's wife and waiting for my man to come home from tour.

I comfort myself by saying this is the writer in me. I make up conversations with Mr. Spock and Fox Mulder and Keith Richards and John Barrymore. In my imagination, I've been to the Academy Awards, the Emmy's, the Tony's. I've been to celebrity parties, Van Cliburn's triumphant 1958 piano concert in Moscow and walked the red carpet (about 50 pounds thinner in a lovely black dress). I've solved warp drive problems with Mr. Spock and finally found Fox Mulder's long lost sister. And I don't know HOW many times John Lennon and I sat around talking about the 60's.

But low and behold, Colleen admitted during our stationary trip to Tanked-Town that she did the same thing. She also comforted herself by saying this was the creative in her and knew that one day, sitting zoned out at the Home, she mentally would be waiting for her man, Barry Manilow, to come off the stage so she could....well, never mind. I can say no more except if Manilow knew, he'd be dating her tomorrow.

This prompted me to postulate that specifically engineered insanity is a good thing. It keeps the creative juices flowing, you can visit any place in the world or talk to anyone you wish. I'm glad I'm "touched". But I'm also glad to find that I'm not alone. Even if it's just me and Colleen, (and probably Anne...hmmm? Waiting for Sir Paul??) we'll be the happiest 3 old ladies in the psych ward they've ever seen.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Reason I Am the Way I Am

I usually don't point fingers, but I'm gonna.

I find it extremely tiresome to listen to someone moan and groan and bitch and wail about their divorce in 1990. I worked with a woman who was married for a short time, divorced for ages with no kids and she STILL talks about the moron. I wanted to Cher scream, "SNAP OUT OF IT!" at her. She didn't have to deal with him at all. My ex is the bane of my existence. No matter what kind of shithead your ex is, for your children's sakes, you must hold it together.

I was divorced in 2001, which is painfully at the edge of needing to shut the hell up about it already. Except I have one excuse: my ex still can't leave me alone. He controlled and manipulated and bullied me for 15 years and he just can't stop. I am his Lay Potato Chip.

I would like share excerpts of his emails. I've heard that one could sue me for slander for posting these gems, but who in the hell in their right mind would own up to writing them?? I feel I'm safe.

"(blah, blah, blah....) I told you, told you that this is what happens when you override my authority and my right to say no. I TOLD YOU. You allow them (the kids)the anonymity of hiding behind email where they can say anything they want with no repercussions. Then you sit back in your cozy bubble and insist everything is fine. How can you be so ignorant? (blah, blah, blah) You allowed this to happen by going against me. Now you have created a Monster. (blah, blah, blah) What the Hell!"

I know you want more. It's like watching a show you wish would never end --

"blah, blah, blah...) I wonder who's best interest is really served here. I will not agree to any further meetings with your (he means the kids') doctors. As long as You are in the picture I will never get a fair shake in dealings with my Children. (blah, blah, blah...) If this is what helps you sleep at night, how sad."

In the immortal words of John Lennon: "I could listen to him for hours." So I'll give you the piece de resistence:

"You are Pitiful. (blah, blah, blah...) Why don't you focus on your own relationships? Advancing age will treat you much better if you do."

Now I know these are taken out of context -- and he has a capitalization problem, but you get the drift. My lawyer contends he's more of a nuisance than a bona fide whack job, but I'm tired of getting slagged through the mud. And so are my kids. He sends crap like this even to Erin, who is only 11.

And I know what you are thinking: if I'm such a bad mother, why hasn't he done anything about me? Why isn't he suing me for custody? Why isn't he taking the kids to counselors and social workers to help them instead of me taking them? Because he's a self-centered, egotistical bully, that's why.

But haven't we crossed the "what is acceptable and what isn't acceptable" line yet? I mean do ex-husbands have to come and physically beat you before anyone thinks a line has been crossed? I don't know. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I don't get it. Maybe I'm supposed to take it and the kids are supposed to deal with him and when they are 18 they can do what they want. Sean hit 17 and was done. My poor Erin has at least 6 more years....and that father/daughter relationship is so fraught with angst anyway.

All I have to say is -- choose wisely when you marry and have children. And if you haven't chosen wisely, get the hell out. But be prepared. Abusers have a very hard time letting go.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #14


(thank you Emily for the great graphic!)

Being a single parent, I began to think of all the shows on television that depict single moms and dads. It was tough initially coming up with 13 shows, but here's what my brain file spit out, not in any particular order:

1. "Julia" starring Diahann Carroll as a nurse with a young son to raise.

2. "The Rifleman" with Chuck Connors. Single fatherhood in the old west.

3. "Bonanza". Sure they were all grown, but Ben Cartwright was still a single dad.

4. "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" with Bill Bixby and his Japanese housekeeper.

5. "My Three Sons" with Fred MacMurray and his grumpy housekeeper (who was originally played by the actor known as Fred Mertz from "I Love Lucy").

6. "Family Affair" with Brian Keith and a stuffy housekeeper, Mr. French (Sebastian Cabot).

7. "Full House" with the Ashley twins and a house full of people just hoping for the chance to take the kids anywhere...anytime.

8. "Who's the Boss?" with 2 sets of single parents, raising each other's kids and falling in love....slowly.

9. "One Day at a Time". This, along with "Julia" are probably the two I can identify with the most. No maids, housekeepers, friends or extra family lying around just dying to babysit for free.

10. "Murphy Brown". Yes, she had a baby. It just took her awhile to name it.

11. "Kate and Allie". At least they had each other to help.

12. "The Suite Life of Zach and Cody". No foot in reality, but my daughter likes it.

13. "Hannah Montana". The Cyrus Family sans mom and apparently doing just fine, thank you.


Can you think of any others?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen -- #13!!

I stumbled across this little quiz and the results shocked me. I was sure they were going to refer me to Bellevue. Like NOW.




There's a 58% Chance That You Need Therapy



If you think you need therapy, you probably do. But there's a good chance you don't.

Like everyone else, you have your fair share of problems. And unlike most people, you're fairly good at solving them yourself.



So here are 13 Quotes that Explain Me:

1. I never learn. Never. This quote was attributed to Einstein but it was really someone else whom I've forgotten: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." That's me.

2. "I do all the wrong things well." Mary Todd Lincoln. You name it. If it's the wrong thing to do at the wrong time, I'm there.

3. "I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it." Garrison Keillor. Oh, absolutely. Fantasy is a much better option than reality!

4. "Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid." Heinrich Heine. Whew....I thought I was insane ALL the time.

5. "The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity."
Harlan Ellison. This makes me feel like I make a difference.

6. "There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line."
Oscar Levant. Oscar, Oscar....you and me both, hun....only I have no genius.

7. "A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort." Herm Albright. My daily mantra.

8. "Stupid is forever, ignorance can be fixed." Don Wood. Thank heavens something I'm good at will last forever....

9. "My whole career can be summed up with 'Ignorance is bliss.' When you do not know better, you do not really worry about failing." Jeff Foxworthy. Fantasy comes in handy here too. If you are off in La-la land you NEVER fail and you ALWAYS get the guy.

10. "You can't fix stupid." Ron White. This makes me sleep better at night.

11. "Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong." Oscar Wilde. Yes, because it means I've possibly slipped into normalcy -- and we can't have that.

12. "Estimated amount of glucose used by an adult human brain each day, expressed in M&Ms: 250." Harper's Index, October 1989. Just some info I thought you'd need in case you were having a bad day and needed the right amount of chocolate to fire up those insanity synapses.

13. "If you drink, don't drive. Don't even putt." Dean Martin. I know. What's it got to do with anything unless you golf, but a quote page without something from the Rat Pack is a page wasted.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I'm It!!

I've been tagged by No Nonsense Girl (along with Special K Toni and Nicholas) to list 5 things I haven't mentioned about myself yet.

Ok.....so here goes:

#1 -- I used to be a traffic reporter on the radio. You had literally 10 seconds to lay out the mess that is Chicago traffic and I sounded like a auctioneer at a hog selling festival. Most of the time, I just wanted to tell people it sucked and stay the hell downtown until 8pm.

#2 -- I worked in a zoo at a gift shop in the Lion House. When 2 cubs were born, they named one after me! I still have the picture when Harrison was born!

#3 -- My daughter Erin has ADHD and suffers from anxiety disorder just like me. It's really tough sometimes to be a mom and cope with the stresses of having a child with anxiety. Especially when you have your own issues to deal with!

#4 -- I almost didn't marry my wacky ex-husband. I wanted to call it off at the last minute and didn't. Let this be a lesson to all of you: listen to your little inner voice. If it tells you DANGER WILL ROBINSON -- Listen to it!!!

#5 -- I studied classical piano for years but gave it up in my early 20's because, well, there were so many other things to do. But it is one of my greatest regrets that I didn't keep studying!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

13 Places I Feel I Belong

Thursday Thirteen #12!

I’ve been thinking about “belonging” lately. As a wanna-be writer or perhaps because of some dent in my personality, I seem to be outside the “single working mother” norm. Or even the “stay at home mom” norm. Fine. I’m outside of the norm, period.

Lately, and I don’t know why this is, I feel like the vegetarian at the all-meat buffet. I look, but don’t really want to get involved.

So the other day, I started to ponder where I feel nice and comfy, relaxed and generally not worried; Panic/anxiety free, with a perky manner and happy countenance. Here they are, not in any particular order:

1. Curled up on my bed with my laptop, writing furiously, with a cup of tea and my 3 cats sleeping at my side.

2. With Sam on a lazy Saturday night, curled next to him on the couch, watching the Three Stooges and Svengoolie.

3. With Sean and Erin on the floor in the livingroom, sharing popcorn and watching an old Star Trek or X-files DVD.

4. Walking the track at the healthclub, my iPod blasting in my ears.

5. A Star Trek convention, mixing with the Classics crowd.

6. With my oldest friend just about anywhere, laughing our asses off.

7. BeatleFest (ooops, excuse me: The Fest for Beatles’ Fans)

8. At a Barry Manilow concert with my dear friend Colleen, or just talking together about how messy our houses are and what horrid mothers we’ve become

9. With my cousin at her house in California, laughing hysterically at the kitchen table

10. At the Chicago Symphony, listening to Chopin or Rachmaninoff or Grieg or Mozart…or some great jazz.

11. At the library, doing nothing but looking at tons of books

12. At my local bookstore, doing the same, with a cup of coffee (decaf please)

13. Outside almost anywhere, praying and breathing in the fresh air.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bad Mother Of The Year Award


BAD MOTHER of the year AWARD goes to:

Runners up: Britney Spears, Michael Jackson

Grand prize winner: Lara Angelina Harrison

(applause)

“Thank you all for this wonderful recognition of my talents. And to be in such company as Britney and Michael…well, I’m literally speechless.

“I’d like to say, for the record, that my ex-husband has always believed in my gift of bad mothering. For nearly 12 years, he reminded me constantly of my inability to properly parent the fruits of my womb. And here before you, I proudly acknowledge that nearly the entire planet agrees with him. Thumbs up, WAM!

“It’s taken years of fucking things up to get to this point. It’s taken years off my life, hairs off my head and added layers of rubber tire fat – the kind that gives you diabetes and makes you die. It’s also given me chronic insomnia and a fairly intimate relationship with panic disorder. Sure, it’s sacrifice. But well worth it if you wish to become as bad a mother as I am.

“Of course I’ve heard that my son is wonderful with children. He works at an afterschool day camp for grammar school kids. They call him ‘Mr. Sean’ and follow his 5’10” frame around like he’s Hans Christian Anderson. I also know that my neighbors call him to sit their kids and they love him. Fine – he trustworthy, respectful, helps around the house, is devoted to his music, helps with his sister, goes to the library to read, but for heaven’s sake woman: HE’S DROPPED OUT OF HIGHSCHOOL! I know. Thank you. I couldn’t have done it without my instinct for bad mothering.

“Let’s just, for now, get past the point that he wants to take his GED and start college earlier….let’s focus on the fact that my bad mothering has fostered his irresponsibility toward high school. Ok? After all, isn’t BAD MOTHERING what this is all about?

“I could, of course, continue to list my other accomplishments with my daughter, Erin. At 11, she is growing into a beautiful young girl, and I know will continue to make me proud of my bad mothering. I’m hoping that in the future, I will be standing before you again, accepting the BAD MOTHER AWARD in honor of the job I’ve done with Erin.

“Thank you again…..and good night.

Oh, and by the way, cast your vote tonight – I’m also up for ‘Most Wish-Washy Christian Not Yet Living In Hell’, ‘The Worst Ex-Wife On The Planet Earth’ and ‘The Most Unworthy of Anything Good That Ever Comes to Her’. Thank you again.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #11

13 Bio/Autobio Books On My Shelf

I have always been a big fan of bio/autobiographies and have quite an extensive collection. I enjoy reading about other people’s lives, because most times, if they’ve written a book about it, their lives have been or are more messed up than mine. It’s comforting to know that even people who make tons of money and either have fans fawning all over them or great power started out as a screwball from a dysfunctional family.

So taking a quick look at the shelves of books, here we go:

#1 – Every Beatle bio ever penned by anybody in any year, including Pattie Boyd’s recent addition.

#2 – Many of the Classic Star Trek folks attempts at making money after they decided there would be no more Trek movies with Kirk, Spock and McCoy. This includes: Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.

#3 – John F. Kennedy. “Reckless Youth”, “A Thousand Days” and others about Jackie and the other Kennedy women.




#4 – Frederic Chopin. His life story (as told by Franz Liszt, a one-time pupil of Chopin’s) and then one just about his years in Paris.





#5 – Jim Morrison. “No One Here Gets Out Alive” Doesn’t everyone who lived through the 60’s have this one?

#6 – Barry Manilow. “Sweet Life”. Yes, I know, but his childhood was very tough. Poor Brooklyn kid from a broken home, his mother was alcoholic, suicidal and fought with his stepfather endlessly. He was bone-ugly and as backwards as you can get – but used his talent and chutzpah to get him to where he is now.



#7 – Van Cliburn. I adore Van. I’ve adored Van since I could listen to a record. He’s a world famous concert pianist who was the first to win the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow during the height of the Cold War. The first pianist, I believe, to ever get a ticker tape parade in New York City!



#8 – Arthur Rubenstein. Another amazing concert pianist. He had terrible stage fright and went thru a period where he thought his hands were glass and would shatter if they touched the keys.





#9 – Joe Namath. “I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow Because I Get Better Looking Every Day.” A true classic from a true classic.






#10 – Keith Richards. Sure he is a drug addled rock star, but he’s also an avid book collector and reader. Really. Look it up!



#11 – Alan Alda. “Don’t Ever Have Your Dog Stuffed”. His mother suffered from mental illness, his dad was semi-famous and Alda had polio as a child. Another testimony to brains, perserverance and talent.



#12 – Vincent Van Gogh. “Lust for Life” A great read about a sad, tortured life.

#13 – Abraham Lincoln. The Sandberg “Prairie Years” along with many others – “The Wit and Wisdom of”, “Selected Speeches and Writing”, “With Malice Toward None”.

I could really go on and on – but these are the first 13 I ran across!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #10

Thursday Thirteen #10!!!

13 Top Earning Celebs** (**Who are Dead)

Now normally I try to research something with a little more meat than this, but I have been known to say “the hell with it” and go for the joke. Not that being dead is a joke, but the fact that these people (12 men and 1 woman) make more money DEAD than I do ALIVE is a bona vide knee-slapper. There’s something wrong about that, but I don’t feel like thinking about that right now.

So here’s some news right off the top. To hit this list, the dead celeb had to have earned at least $7 million in a year….and collectively, this list earned $247 million dollars in 2005/2006.

#1 – I’m shocked. That’s all I have to say. It’s Kurt Cobain. What the hell is that all about?

#2 – Who I thought would be number 1 and actually has been for a number of years: Mr. Gyration: Elvis Presley.



#3 – The creator of Snoopy and Charlie Brown and Woodstock and Lucy: Mr. Charles M. Schulz.




#4 – John Lennon.




#5 – This shocked me. Really. It’ll shock you too. He earned at least $7,000,000 dollars over the course of the year. Sure he told us that E=mc2, but he’s still drawing in the bucks: Mr. Albert Einstein. Perhaps it’s due to the sale of those pictures of him sticking his tongue out.




#6 – Another one I can’t figure out. Andy Warhol. Although maybe someone sold one of his pictures, and that earned him the 7mil.





#7 – This one made me happy. I read his stuff when I was small and apparently lots of kids are still buying “Red Fish, Blue Fish” – Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel).




#8 – Ray Charles. I heard the movie helped create a resurgence of appreciation for his music and I’m glad. He is a genius.

#9 – Forever and ever and ever. She’ll probably be on this list till the end of time: Ms. Boop-boop-be-doop, Marilyn Monroe.



#10 – Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only: Mr. Johnny Cash.




#11 -- Perhaps because of the new interest in hobbits and rings and stuff: J.R.R. Tolkien.



#12 – My own personal Beatle, whose stuff I still buy, finding it my own personal goal of supporting Olivia and Dhani: Mr. George Harrison.





#13 – And finally: Bob Marley.



So, any surprises here? Who did you think would be on the list?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #9!!

Thirteen Things about Prestidigitation


(see if you can say that fast a couple of times)

1. You receive a grandiose slap on the back of congrats if you know what that is. Sorry, no prizes. Just a big smile from yours truly.

2. Prestidigitation is a set of techniques used by a magician or card shark to manipulate objects in his hands such as coins and playing cards, pretty little silk scarves and small, wacky colored, little squishy nerf balls.

3. Prestidigitation is also known as “Sleight of hand”, mistakenly referred to as “slight of hand”. But that’s wrong. So don’t use it, especially if you are ghost writing to Houdini.

4. The word “sleight” comes from the Old Norse language and means dexterity and deceptiveness.

5. Prestidigitation is also called “l├ęger de main” which is French for “lightness of hand” and sounds really nice if you can pronounce it properly.

6. This is more complicated that you could ever imagine – and not just the act of doing the trick. There are hundreds of different sleights, but they are generally classified into groups: switches; changes; the pass; the false deal; the double lift; the false shuffle to name a few.

7. David Copperfield pulled this off, but don’t you try: When a mugger approached him for his wallet (and what the mugger presumed was a more than likely hefty bounty), ol’ Dave sleighted him by making the mugger think he had no wallet. Not quite on a scale as making an airplane disappear, but noteworthy none-the-less.

8. Not only do you need to develop nimble fingers and hands to manage prestidigitation, but one must use psychology, misdirection and an organized choregraphy of moves to produce the end result. This, my friends, takes mountains of time, effort and practice, which is probably why “sleight” of hand doesn’t functionally interest me in the least.

9. There are 2 types of misdirection: Time and Movement. By allowing time to pass during a sleight, the viewer’s perception may be altered. So while you are telling an audience about your Aunt Bessie’s golf ball sized tumor, you can move those coins/cards/scarves around most anywhere as your viewers take a long snooze or run to the restroom.

10. Movement is more complicated. Magicians use this theorem: “A larger action covers a smaller action” to misdirect the viewers attention. In other words, while you are actually putting the pretty silk scarf in your pocket with one hand, your other hand is perhaps recreating Whistler’s Mother in Paint By Number.

11. Some famous prestidigitators besides David Copperfield are: Criss Angel, David Blane, Paul Brashier, Dean Dill. Some of them have websites, but I guarantee you, they don’t give away their secrets.

12. While you may be amused at your fave magician at the local pizza place hiding quarters behind your ears, sleight of hand has, yes, been used for “dark” purposes. Con artists are frequently amazing prestidigitators – using their gift to cheat at gambling. Remember Moe Howard putting cards between his toes in that “3 Stooges” short? Huh?

13. Those who read Henry Hay’s Cyclopedia of Magic will tell you that there are vast differences between “tricks” and “magic”. Tricks (sleights) can be done by “apparatus conjurers” but magic is an art perfected and performed by “illusionists”. And please remember from me: ALL pursuits have their very sensitive, fully engaged affectionados, whose toes should never be stepped on, but gazed at with appreciation, preferably from a safe distance.


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #8


13 Things That Happened Before The Forever Stamp

I believe you can see the post cards. The first one is dated Nov 23, 1909 and being sent to Master Harold Smith in Carroll, Ohio. (I guess Carroll, Ohio only had 1 Master Harold Smith) and the second was sent to Mr. Mike Knopinski of Chicago Illinois (he needed a full address) on June 13, 1912, almost 2 full months after the Titanic sank. Funny, but there's no mention of the sinking in Miss Mary Karpensky's very truly post. We probably think about it more today than they did on June 13, 1912.

But anyway, the sinking aside, how did Miss Mary's postcard from Stevens Point, Wisconsin get to her buddy Mike (in care of Mrs. Hallis) from Chicago, Illinois, you may ask. And I'll tell you, I answer.

1. In early America, people depended on friends, merchants, and Native Americans to carry messages between the colonies. However, most letters were exchanged between the colonists and England prompting the first official notice of a postal service in 1639. Richard Fairbanks' tavern in Boston was named the repository for overseas mail.

2. After the Boston riots in September 1774, the colonies began to separate from the mother country. A Continental Congress was organized at Philadelphia in May 1775 to establish an independent government. One of the first questions before the delegates was how to convey and deliver the mail. Benjamin Franklin was appointed chairman of the committee to establish a postal system and was then appointed the first Postmaster General under the Continental Congress. In 1789 Samuel Osgood becomes the first Postmaster General under our Constitution.

3. In 1823, navigable waters were designated post roads by Congress. Several years later, railroads were labeled post routes as well.

4. The dead letter office was created in 1825 and is still going strong, immortalized in more romance movies than the femme fatale.

5. And here, the news that you've been waiting for: (ta-dah!) The postage stamp was created in 1847, but there was still free local city delivery. As for across the country, you can see on the postcards, they cost 1 cent in 1909 and 1912.

6. They take to saddle to cross the country -- the pony express started in 1860.

7. That old standby, money orders were announced in the mid-late 1860's. Domestic money orders started about 1864 and international ones in 1869.

8. Special delivery was announced in 1885, which probably meant they used a fresh horse to carry your letter across country.

9. In 1893 the first commemorative stamps were issued. Mr. Webster then had to come up with a name for people who collected stamps: "Stamp collectors" People who STUDY stamps are called "Philatelists".

10. Carriage of mail by airplane is sanctioned between Garden City and Mineola, NY in 1911; Earle H. Ovington is the first U. S. mail pilot.

11. Mail Insurance and Collect-on-delivery (COD) are used beginning in 1913.

12. In 1916 the Postal Inspectors solve last known stagecoach robbery, putting an end to the glory days of Butch and Sundance.

13. The first bag of mail traveling across the ocean happened in 1920.

And here, just because I found it fascinating, the years we were introduced to:


1955- Certified mail
1960- Facsimile mail
1963- ZIP Code
1977- Final run of railroad post office on June 30
(precursors of e-mail:) 1980- INTELPOST (high-speed international electronic message service) and 1982- E-COM (Electronic Computer-Originated Mail, electronic message service with hard copy delivery



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Thursday, August 30, 2007

You Knew I Couldn't Let It Pass...

As I am frequently my own straight man, I must expound on my previous post introducing you to "The Depression Channel", number 1313 on your 10,000 channel satelite dish.

Monday's Lineup:

"Wheel of Mis-Fortune" spin the wheel and land on a diagnosis -- then try to decipher the recommended anti-psychotic med up on the board! Wynona Rider stars in the Vanna White role!
"Late Nights with Larry King" See the step by step progression of dementia.
"Malcolm at the End of His Rope"
"Full House of People on the Edge"
"Survivor....or Maybe Not"
"Getting to Know You: The Fun Side of Charles Manson"

Tuesday's Lineup:

All shows previously run on Court TV or anything produced and narrated by Bill Kurtis. If time allows, a possible preview of a new movie for our viewers: "Eyes Wide Shut", which stars Tom Cruise, producer of a new series on our channel: "Post Partum Depression - Answers for New Moms."

Wednesday's Listings:
Literary Night:

"Alister Cook Reads" Tonight: The Bell Jar.
"William Shatner Reads" Tonight: The Biography of Vincent...Van...Gogh.

Thursday's listings:

Movie madness: "Girl, Interrupted" "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" "The Frances Farmer Story", "Full Metal Jacket", "Secret Window" and "A Clockwork Orange".

Friday's line up:
Documentary Night

"Meds and You...and You....and You" New help for schizophrenics.
The Hand Washer's Companion: which soaps don't chafe, which lotions FEEL like soap, but will make hands soft and smooth, and an interactive live discussion entitled "To Towel or Not to Towel?"
Rubber-Necker's Quarterly: Agoraphobics learn the tricks of the neighborhood spying game. Includes step by step instructions on how to listen in on neighbors conversations while never leaving the comfort of your own home.
Home Security Innovations: Checking locks over and over? Introducing a revolutionary new system that lets you lie in bed and have a robot check your front door lock -- over and over and over while you relax in secure comfort. Robot runs on 24 hour battery with a back up for compulsive emergencies.

Satuday:

Biography: "The Really Forgotten Kennedy: Rosemary" Along with the preview of the newly found letter from Rose to Sr. Joseph Kennedy: "Dearest Husband, You took Rosemary out for ice cream a couple weeks ago and her bed doesn't seem to have been slept in. Do you know where she is? Possibly with her brother Jack in the hospital? I don't know. I haven't seen either of them in ages. Love, Rose. PS -- Is Jack still in the hospital?"

Background music provided by Warren Zevon's "You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic".

Sunday:

The fun side of clinical depression with a looping of Monty Python's "Spot the Looney" sketch ALL DAY!

If nothing else, I made myself laugh.

I Wish It Was The Bahamas...

but no. Nope. Nada.

I am on hiatus for the week, dear TTer's -- because the kids have started school and my house has become "Anxiety Central". (Catch us on the new cable channel -- #1313. "The Depression Channel" -- devoted solely to pathetic reality.)

I will visit yours however. I need a distraction before my head blows up.

I know, I know. This too shall pass. Just not quick enough.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The State of Male

I have been reading that book about Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, “Team of Rivals”. Well, something struck a chord with me as I was reading.

Take this passage, written from one Senator to another: "your friendship crowds (my heart) producing a kind of girlish impatience which one can neither dispose of nor comfortably endure...every day and almost every hour since (leaving) I have suffered a womanish longing to see you. But all this is too ridiculous for the subject matter of a letter between two grave Senators and I'll leave unsaid three fourths of what I have been dreaming on since I left."

You would most likely never hear a heterosexual male speak or write to another heterosexual male in the 21st century in that fashion. Why? You tell me. Is it:

1. A newly ingrained, pervasive fear of intimacy
2. Concern for the appearance of their manhood with men and women
3. Fear of being labeled homosexual
4. Fear of their professed non-sexual love for another man being blasted on Jerry Springer by their significant other
5. A simple, natural progression of genetics
6. Fear of being the joke of the neighborhood when everyone finds out, which you know they will
7. Fear of being rejected by the other person

That letter was written only 150 years ago. Two generations. Could we have mutated that much in so little time? Maybe. Maybe not. So, it is genetics or fear or both?

Genetics gave us Gandhi and Adolf Hitler. Also allowed us to walk upright and have opposable thumbs, to be self aware and think outside our reality. It also produced cancer and AIDS. So is the "how 'bout those Bears?" males of the 21st century a good thing or a bad thing?

Is it fear? Well, fear is a universal. From animals to man. Fear is a probably the biggest motivator next to procreation. Fear has an incredible hold over people, from the sublime to the obvious. Since we now know what we can have, we also know what we can lose.

My friend Anne suggests that perhaps because these men sustained so many losses – the death of wives, children, parents -- they did not fear expressing their love for the people in their lives.

Maybe that has mutated into a 21st century fear of expressing yourself exactly for that reason. Why open your heart only to have them leave or reject you – or post your personal correspondence on the internet? Perhaps those men 150 years ago weren’t afraid of the pain of life – knew it was gonna happen one way or another – and why not just say what you want to say. You’re going to survive or not. Typhoid or tuberculosis killed at random – a simple cut could become infected and deadly. A sore throat could mean rheumatic fever and a shortened life span. I guess in the face of all that, saying “I love you” to your fellow man isn’t such a scary thing.

Of course, I could be full of shit, and men write to men like this all the time. And just like those gents 150 years ago, don't expect a Doris Kearns Goodwin to publish their intimate thoughts and letters for all to see and have some future blogger try to read more into it than is really there.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #7

13 Things about Money, Honey


It's been foremost on my mind lately as my son is one year away from college. So here is some historical information about that which is "the root of all evil":

1. Animals were the first forms of "money", then followed by the use of grain, vegetables or other plant products. About 9,000 - 6,000 BC.

2. 1,200 BC: Cowrie shells were first used as money in China. It is the most widely and longest used currency in history, still being used as recently as the middle of the 1900's in some parts of Africa.

3. The Chinese get sick and tired of fishing shells out of the shallow waters and they begin to manufacture bronze and copper cowrie imitations by the end of the Stone Age, around 1,000 BC.

4. Outside of China, the first coins were developed out of lumps of silver, eventually taking their round, flat shape. They first appeared in what is now known as Turkey, and the process was refined throughout the Greek, Persian, Macedonian and Roman empires.

5. 118 BC: Leather money was used in China. Historians consider this use of deerskin the first documented type of banknote. Deer begin to figure out how to hide their hides more efficiently.

6. The exodus of the Danish people in 800-900 AD to Ireland gave birth to the saying "to pay through the nose". Seems these Danes felt since they were living in Ireland, they didn't have to pay the Dane poll tax. However, the mucky-mucks had other ideas and chased them the hell down. Once cornered in the pub, if they refused to pay, their noses were split in two with a knife. And I doubt the Danes took time to make sure their knives were nice and sharp.

7. Progress, as it is wont to do, begins and stuff like Potlach and Wampum (which is actually a "money belt") begin to be used, along with coins, shells, paper money, etc. Columbus parks his boats on the East Coast, and the Indian people soon being to understand the phrase: Manifest Destiny. However in a stroke of luck, the Massachusetts Bay Colony declare wampum as legal tender in 1637, years after John Bridges stated in 1587: "A fool and his money are soon parted" (In Defense of Government).

8. Here in the ol' states, in order to finance that little headache called the American Revolution, Congress gives the thumbs up to the first printing of currency. However, not thinking the process through by having the financial backing of gold or silver, these "Continentals" quickly devalue and become useless.


9. There is a money free-for-all -- every state, every bank, everyone with a pot of ink and a pen start making their own money. This was called the Free Banking Era. What they didn't know then, which we all know now is that banking ain't free, so that went bust -- just as soon as we needed to fund that other headache. The Civil War.

10. It occurs to some that the financing of wars is the impetus for restructuring the monetary system. In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville stated in 1835 "I know of no country, indeed, where the love of money has taken a strong hold on the affections of men..." and women. True then and true now.

11. As are these notables: From the NY Times, May 31, 1864: "There are some things that money can't buy." From the Saturday Evening Post, June 18, 1870: "Money isn't everything." From the Washington Post, July 17, 1906: "Money doesn't grow on trees."


12. The largest bill ever circulated was the $10,000 bill, which features the face of Salmon P. Chase, Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury. Never touched it, never will. Currently, the $100 bill is the largest in circulation. Never touched it, never will.

13. And finally, those words of wisdom from the lads: "I don't care too much for money; Money can't buy me love."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why I Hate Good Books


Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. By Doris Kearns Goodwin. I hate this book. Truly. I picked it up at the library on the advice of my friend Anne and I wish I had never seen it.

It is so damn good that I stayed up 1/2 the night reading and now am totally useless at work. I just want to go home, make a cup of tea and read ALL day. THIS is why I hate good books. Like a warm comforter, I want to stay inside it all day and not move. A good book makes me forget the laundry and my job and fighting kids and a wacky ex-husband and that pesky dental bill I didn't pay. A good book sucks me right in and I find I never want to leave.

This is one of them. Love Abe or not, her writing is magnificent (perhaps this why she won the Pulitizer?) and so worth your time. The book is daunting, but you are hooked from line one.

I know once I've finished reading it, I will know Lincoln better than Abe himself did.

That's good writing.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Let's Chat About...

Writing.

I was reading someone else's blog who said that the summer had sorely compromised her goals in the weight, exercise, writing and reading departments. I have to agree with her. I haven't lost a pound or exercised since April. Part of this is because April - July is our busiest time at the office and I frequently miss lunch hours, which is when I usually exercise.

This is how it filters down.

1. Busy at the office, no lunch hour.
2. No lunch hour means no exercise.
3. No lunch hour means I sit at my desk and overeat.
4. No lunch hour and no exercise plus eating at my desk = weight gain.
5. Weight gain causes fatigue.
6. Fatigue means that I get home and eat more because I'm too tired to think about it.
7. Fatigue means that I go to bed earlier.
8. Going to bed earlier means that I don't write.
9. Not writing makes me very cranky, because I have so many ideas and am too tired to write them down.
10. Being cranky means I beat myself up even more because I'm not exercising nor eating right.
11. Not eating right or exercising or being creative causes me to get insomnia, so while I'm so tired I can't do anything physical, I can still keep myself busy by emotionally flogging myself.....all fricking night long.
12. Not sleeping gets me over anxious and panicky and I start to worry about shit I almost never worry about otherwise.
13. Then I'm a gonzo mess, near psychological breakdown.

However, my busy season is over. The kids start back to school next week. I went to the health club 3 times this week. And I've yanked out my story and have begun to work on it again.

ahhh.....I love to see September 15 days in front of me.