Monday, December 29, 2008

Psycho - The Reality Series

I have a private blog that I call "At the Trough...Notes on Relationships, Eating, Depression, and other bad things" where I run through the stuff that no one, including my mother, would think sane. I mean I'm not Norma Bates.....but my life is (quoting a friend's 4 year old nephew concerning his relationships at preschool) confusing...and very complicated.

I've written posts about my kids troubles, my troubles. I'd like to chronicle my journey to a different life in California. Yes, I'm nuts. Yes, I will have many, many hurdles to jump, but I know going there is the best thing for me. I won't survive here. Whether it's the weather or missing my family or whatever.

Part of this comes from the bottom line realization that the man I've been with for 6 years doesn't want to marry me or plan a non-married life with me. I've known that for about 2 years and I accepted and went with it. It was very painful when he told me his reasons. It was painful, but I understood. But my children are my children, good or bad, sick or well, perfect or not. He could learn about their emotional problems....or learn how to help or deal with them, but he doesn't/won't/can't. That's ok. But it's time for me to move on. Move on from here, move on from that relationship that won't go anywhere.

If I tell him why I want to leave and he does make an offer of living together, I don't think I want to do that. I don't want to marry him either. He told me how he felt about the kids and that won't ever go away. If he had said something about down the road....if he had ever mentioned our future together once everyone was grown and on their own...well, maybe it would be different. But I'm not a last choice, I'm not a forced hand. I'm worth so much more. And I forget that on a regular basis. California Dreamin' first goal is moving 7/1/2010. I've got a house to pack and sell, a life to plan, my daughter's hysterical outbursts to plan for and handle.

Perhaps this will finally get me to lift my rear end from the sofa.

California Dreamin' Part 2

And that's dreaming on several different levels.

I just applied for a job on-line at a Palm Springs Hospital. It's an interesting job and one I know I could handle. I have the skills and the experience. I, however, live in Chicago. That's approximately a 1700 mile drive. Talk about a commute.

I sincerely doubt that there is no one else in the State of California that could fill this job post. That's why I'm sure I won't get an offer....BUT.....I'm dreaming.

Dreaming of leaving Chicago (which is a beautiful city, BTW) and being near my family in southern California. Dreaming of a better/different life for me because of the support of my family, dreaming of a better/different life for my kids. I think I can be a better parent, a happier person, if I were near my family.

Sure. Be a killjoy. I know the problems I have here will follow me where ever I go (save snow shoveling and trying to open the car door after it's been frozen shut), but I think I could handle things better with my family near me. But once again, it's a Sophie's Choice. Only the choice is between what's good for me and what's probably better for my kids. Specifically my daughter. It might be hard on her to get uprooted and start a new life. And perhaps my cats whiskers might be disjointed for a day or two. But I want to go. I want to go. I want to be able to take a ride on a Saturday and see my cousin. I want to be able to call my cousin if I'm in the hospital and need someone. I have friends here....but it's just not the same. Unless you are in my shoes, it's hard to explain that need....that connection. The older I get, the stronger it is.

And I hear you. Do that Pro/Con thing. But really it comes down to worry, fear, choices. Just like everything else in life. And lately, I wouldn't trust myself to think my way out of a paper bag.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues.....

The holidays. I know. Empty for some, hectic for others. Lonely for some, too many people for others. Me? Right now, I’d be happy if I never had to see anyone until next Sunday, when Anne and I are going to the movies to see Don Draper in “The Day The Earth Stood Still”.

Depressed? I guess. Christmas blahs? Maybe. Tired of the commercialization? Not really – you either get what Christmas is about or you don’t.

Christmas’s when I was younger were smaller, quieter affairs after my grandparents, aunt and cousin moved to California in the early 60’s. It was usually me, my mom and dad and the family pets. A nice Christmas eve dinner and gifts, then usually a viewing of “The Quiet Man” on WGN.

We never went all that crazy at Christmas. My dad worked Christmas Eve until 2, then went to this higher end girls’ and women’s clothing store and bought one gift for my mom and one gift for me before they closed at 4. No cheapskate he, it was usually a cashmere sweater or a wool blazer or a silk blouse or something that set him back a pretty penny even though he was only buying two things. My dad taught me quality over quantity always.

Christmas Day we sometimes went to visit friends, sometimes we just stayed home. It didn’t matter to me. I had my stuff from Santa, my cat, a safe place to lay my head, parents who loved me. I was fine.

I was fine even after my parents died because I had small kids to plan for. I always tried to spend some time alone at Christmas in memory of my parents. I had my boo-hoo, then got right back up and made things nice for my family.

I’m not exactly sure why – maybe because the kids are older, maybe because I’m older, maybe because I’m tired of holding everything together through a bad marriage, a horrible divorce, illnesses – but I need to find a place to lay my head once again. I’m not sure what that means right now. My heart is tired, my soul is old. The body and spirit are both weak.

As I’ve believed and been told numerous times, All Things Must Pass. Nothing is permanent. It’s temporary. But is it temporary in the space of a lifetime or temporary in terms of the entire history of the universe? Since God is infinite and limitless, does He understand that temporary to ME might be a lot different than temporary to HIM?

I’ve been blessed with many, many things. Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely grateful for my friends and children; my job, my home, the pets who have warmed my lap over the years. I’ve tried to maintain a perky outlook on life because I’m basically an optimistic person and believed George Harrison. And I’ve sometimes struggled to keep my head afloat – but somehow I did.

I’m just not sure I can do it anymore. This isn’t like a suicide shout. This is like an admission that life and reality have chewed me up and spit me out. Will I ever laugh again? Yes. Will I enjoy life? Perhaps. But me and life have had a running showdown and I lost. To be completely fair, I gave it a good run for its money.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Here Comes the Son

And I say, sometimes it's all right and sometimes it's not.

Look at that picture. Young man—high school graduate, college bound. Smiling, well nourished. Bright, shining future. Well, if your Son looks nothing like him, you've come to the right place.

Now don't get me wrong. My son Sean is the apple of my eye. He always has been, and up to his junior year in high school 2 years ago, he could have been that kid in the picture. Now we are at a whole different juncture. His being 18 and of "legal age", well, your options as a parent concerned about his health are very, very limited.

To continue with the story of my kids from a previous post, Sean was diagnosed with clinical depression about a year ago. He didn't care about anything. He didn't care about school, he didn't care about graduating, he didn't care about taking care of himself, he didn't care about his sister or me, he didn't care about eating, he didn't care about working. All he basically cared about was sleeping and running around with his friends. My normally very funny, very personable son was turning into Mr. Hyde. Oh, he could turn on Dr. Jekyll for short bursts if he had to, but it was becoming harder and harder. He chain smoked, smoked pot. Came home totally wasted one night, where he had spent part of it passed out on my front lawn. A girl dumped him and everything spiraled out of control. Every thing went right downhill until my 5'11 inch beautiful son weighed 113 pounds, had a heart rate of 38 and a blood pressure of 90/60.

I had done everything I could think of up to this point to intervene. Doctors, counselors, psychologists, 2 different psychiatrists. I begged, I pleaded, I punished, I cajoled, I guilted, I bribed, I prayed. And then I begged and pleaded some more. Last July, I talked him into an assessment at a local behavioral health hospital. They put us in the ER because his heart rate was so low. When they released us from the ER, I took him back to the behavioral health hospital, where, even after acknowledging he was putting his life at risk, he walked out. I took him back after more talking. And he wouldn't get out of the car.

"He's 18," they said. "You can't force him."

That's a great thing to hear. You feel your son is dying and there's not a thing you can do until he 1. passes out; or 2. finally agrees to hospitalization.

Days came and went after that. Some up and some down. Mostly down. Then last week, after he slept through Thanksgiving and couldn't eat, I sat down again and begged and talked and pleaded and appealed to the one thing he has always held onto: his music. If it wasn't for music, I think he wouldn't be around anymore. But his love of music and the guitar and playing kept him alive. So I told him, how does he expect to go to music school next year if he's anorexic, depressed, and suffering from panic attacks? I refused to help him until he helped himself.

That sent us to the same behavioral health hospital that my daughter is at, where she is still in the Adolescent Anxiety/School Refusal program, but doing very well. He was assessed again....and with some quick moves and fast talking, they got him to sign the inpatient admission voluntarily and escorted him to the 2nd floor -- "High Functioning Adult Unit".

As a preview to come, when they started to walk us to the 2nd floor, Sean looked panic stricken.

"What's wrong?" asked the social worker.
"I'm going NOW?" asked Sean.
"Yes," he answered. "You signed the papers as inpatient didn't you?"
"Well, yes."
"Well, yes."
"Then what did you think would happen?"
"Well," Sean said. "I don't want to go up there now. I'll come back in the morning and be admitted. I didn't know I'd have to go today...right now."

And he looked at me and said he wasn't going. I told him I hadn't signed a thing. They hadn't even talked to me but for about 5 minutes and I was there when he signed the inpatient agreement. I told him I couldn't do a thing. He was an adult in the eyes of the law and the hospital.

The social worker took him in a private room while Erin and I waited outside. Eventually, they got him admitted to the second floor.

That's when the real nightmare begins.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Emotional Rescue

I will spare you the details, but let's just summarize by saying that my two children have ended up as either an inpatient or partial hospital patient at a behavioral health hospital over the last 2 weeks.

Erin was diagnosed with ADHD when she was in second grade and I was finally able to secure an IEP for her last year after much wrangling, letter writing, meetings with the school staff and emotional pleading. This year, Erin moved to the middle school for 7th and 8th grade, and the transition has been one trauma after another. After another....until she pronounced every morning with vague physical symptoms -- stomachaches, dizziness, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches, back pain, neck pain, light sensitivity -- to name a few. I continued to try to get her to school at least at SOME POINT over the course of the day. I met with social workers, teachers, principals and asst principals. Counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians. If you have an M.D. or PhD or MSW after your name and live within 25 miles of me, I SAW you.

I spun so fast I'm surprised my head is still attached.

But finally, not through professional channels however, I opened up to several women who had opened up about their struggles with their kids. I found out about a School Refusal/Adolescent Anxiety program at a hospital that is about 25 miles from my house. After Erin had a panic/anxiety attack which resulted in her taking a butcher knife to my door frames, furniture, counter top and walls, I made an appointment and took her in immediately. They placed her in the program which is a PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program). This means that she is at the hospital every day, but comes home at night. She gets individual and group therapy, medication management, behavioral and cognitive therapies, coping strategies, expressive and spiritual exercises, as well as what they call "Exposures". This places the child in an anxiety producing situation in a safe atmosphere, and allows the other program participants and therapists to help the child work through it. The more "Exposures", the better they become at handling potential anxiety producing experiences. Erin has blossomed over the last couple of weeks and was comfortable in the program from day one. It is definitely a reassuring thing to learn there are other people just like you, struggling everyday with the same things.

They also provide team meetings and support groups for parents, which I have attended faithfully and have been a tremendous help. I'm learning just as much as Erin about how to help her cope and keep myself sane.

Here are some of the program's highlights:

"Our treatment approach includes working with your child's school, the parent(s) and other outside resources to best identify and meet your child's unique needs. Our school liaison and educational staff will work with your child or adolescent on issues such as:

* Returning to school
* Problem solving
* Time management
* Study skills
* Regulating moods such as depression and irritability
* Overcoming extreme shyness
* School phobia
* Panic attacks
* Obsessive compulsive disorder
* Goal planning"

It's a 3-4 week program and the one I found has a excellent success rate. Should your child be experiencing School Refusal/Anxiety, there is help out there. It's taken me 8 years to get to a place where I feel my daughter is really getting the help she needs.

She will be transitioning back into her regular school on Monday after 3 weeks in the program. They usually begin by 1-2 days at regular school, 2-3 days back in the program and taper from there. Keep your fingers crossed.

My son is a whole other story.

California Dreamin'

on such a winter's day. Yes, it's cold here -- 11 degrees this morning and we've got about 10 inches of snow -- but it's a regular Chicago winter day. However, the older I get, the more I dream of California. Not just because of the weather, but because of family.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Abe-ster

When Anne and I went to Springfield last month (and took a picture of the Capital Building which really wasn't the Capital Building), we made our usual purchases at the Abraham Lincoln Museum Gift Shop. This usually consists of some combination of books, doo-dads, and tee-shirts. With the 200th anniversary of Abe's birth coming up in February of 2009, there was a lot merchandise because of the bi-centennial. I purchased an enormous book that was first written during Abraham's life and presidency, revised after his death and again for the bi-centennial. It is a tough read as it is strictly a period piece written in the style of the time. People in the early 1800's wrote nothing like we do today. So it the Chaucer principle. You get into the flow and just go with it.

But I did get one little book written in a form I could understand quickly (no, it wasn't "Abraham Lincoln For Dummies"), but 101 Things You Didn't Know About Abe. In reviewing the book, there were only several that neither Anne nor myself knew. But here, for your reading and historical pleasure are a couple of things you might not have known about our 16th President.

1. Abraham Lincoln was named after his paternal grandfather who was a wealthy landowner in Virginia. He eventually moved his family to Kentucky and was killed by an Indian attack. Neither our president nor his paternal grandfather had a middle name.

2. Lincoln is the only U.S. President to be awarded a patent. It was for a manner of applying adjustable bouyant air chambers to stream boats so they could easily pass over shallow water or sand bars.

3. In a strange turn of events, Robert Lincoln was standing beside a railroad track when he was shoved downward onto the rails by the push of the crowd. A man behind him yanked him up by his coat collar and saved his life. The man's name was Edwin Booth. His brother, John Wilkes Booth, would kill Robert's father 2 years later.

And of course, #4 -- was Ann Rutledge the true love of Lincoln's life?

Yes. Absolutely. I don't know what the book says about it, but Ann and Abe were star-crossed lovers whose passion never came to fruition.

Like Abe, Anne (the other one) and I love a good story.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Co-Dependent Fight Song

How Dare You, Barry Manilow!!

I just realized the song "Can't Smile Without You" which is tied to Manilow like a co-dependent to his/her enabler, is the National Anthem of the Co-Dependent/Enablers Union**, of which I am a card carrying member. Oh, you disagree? Take a gander:

"You know I can't smile without you,
Can't smile without you.
I can't laugh and I can't sing,
I'm finding it hard to do anything.

You see I feel sad when you're sad,
I feel glad when your glad,
If you only knew what I'm going through,
I just can't smile without you."

HUH? HUH? What about THOSE lyrics? Granted, Manilow didn't write the darn thing, but it's been one of his signature songs for a long time. He used to bring women up onto the stage to actually sing it with him (until one lady grabbed a hold of his ass and wouldn't let go, which he didn't think was particularly funny....). But what did he expect? She was CO-DEPENDENT for heaven's sakes. She was hearing her Fight Song! Her Anthem!! She got a hold of her Co-Dependee and wouldn't let go until security shot her up with fentenyl and versed and used the Jaws of Life to pry her clamped fingers off his rear end (just kidding--but as with all jokes, there's a grain of truth in them. It's up to you to find out what's true and what isn't. I'm just telling a story here and empowered with literary license).

Barry thinks "Can't Smile" is a chipper ol' song about undying love and pining away. Sure it is.....the enabler is just pining away to get her lover out of jail after his 6th DUI (golly, he only really drinks one or two on the weekends), or not questioning the strange massive withdrawals from your checking account after you gave your boyfriend of 2 months access to your account number. Why make him mad? He LOVES you. He'll pay you back. He's a great guy. Or calling the school over and over to say your teenager is sick while she is really just hung over after being up all night on the computer talking to Sid, whom you haven't determined is female or male or under 45.

Or how about just old fashioned anger? How about being that enabler who knows that any anger erupting within a 45 mile radius to due to something she had either DONE or FAILED to do and then must make everything better even if it means selling her own soul to the devil. An enabler would be HAPPY to sell her soul if it would assure that everyone is happy and not making her pay (cuz you know, 'someone HAS to pay') for every mistake that ever happened in the history of the planet. I know. I tried! You wouldn't believe how HARD it is to sell your soul. Really. Some souls Lucifer just ain't interested in -- imagine what THAT does to your confidence level.

Anyway, Barry, tell it like it is. "Can't Smile" is a sad, sad song about co-dependents unable to live their own life because they are too busy enabling someone else's life. They "can't smile" unless someone else is smiling. They feel sad if someone else is sad. They are "finding it hard to do anything". Barry -- that's Co-dependency, not a LOVE SONG!!

So I hope you will take this in the spirit it was written --- and for god's sake don't get angry or I'll never be happy until you're happy again.

(**for real help with co-dependency, read Melanie Beatty's "Co-dependent No More"**)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What a Special Day

November 22.

It is Anne's birthday, which is enormous in itself.

It is the day John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas.

It is the day the Beatles "White Album" appeared on the shelves.

I propose we create a national day off in honor of these events. Who's with me?


So Where Have U Been?

I wish I could say I was "Out to Lunch" or "Gone Fishing", but the truth is I've been under the weather and over-whelmed by life in general. And you moms know what THAT means....everything else falls apart at home. Everything. The kids, the housework, the laundry, the cleaning, the shopping, the cats. Then everything falls apart at work. Seems to me that one little me is holding up an awful lot.

Not that I'm complaining...exactly. I could be dead.

Of course, I threw my hat into the Nano ring and I've hit 19,000+ words, but with only a week to go, I doubt I'll hit that 50,000 goal. But that's ok. I'll probably continue to work on the story as life unfolds until the next Nano. My girlfriend Anne is doing it too and it reminded her mom of the times we wrote together as kids. I'd write one night and she'd take the story and write the next...and back and forth. I think many of our stories revolved around Bobby Sherman, Beatles and hockey players, but hey, it was all good clean fun.

We also went to visit our ol' pal Abe Lincoln in Springfield a couple weekends ago. We thought we'd take a picture of the old capital where Obama gave his speech. So in the cold and wind, we tramped down to the old Capital and took our pictures. As we headed for the train station back to Chicago, the cab driver asked us about our stay. Anne mentioned that we walked over to "that building" to take pictures where Obama made his speech.

The laugh was on us. We took pictures of an old church.

Well, the thought was there -- and now we have another reason to go back. I love it there!! Not only did we appropriately celebrate Anne's birthday, but we finally made it to the Lincoln library. It was just grand. We spent our time in the research/reference section, where there is free access to genealogy records. It was just great.

And we even took time away from our continual laughter to NaNo for an hour or so.

We are nothing if not disciplined.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congratulations to President Elect Obama

I'm not typically a very political person. I vote, I try to pay attention -- but I've always had a deep seeded mistrust of politicians. They were, to me, just highly educated used car salesmen. It was just my prejudice, I guess. But remember that old joke: "What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of a lake?" Response: "A good start." Well, I didn't put lawyers in that joke, but politicians.

This election was different for me. At face value, saw it as a new direction, whether we had our first black president or our first female vice president. I saw, being a complete Abe Lincoln geek, Mr. Lincoln being proud of how far we've come.

I also have a complete sense of calm which I've never had after an election. I always had the "well....let's see what happens now" attitude. But with this election, I made my first ever political contribution. It wasn't much, but I realized that I was "mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore." I wanted something different, something promising, something that would make me proud of the country that I so deeply love. While I don't think any politician is perfect, I believe we've handed over our problems to a man that will tackle them, but tackle them only with our input and help. He stressed that we are a nation of individuals, but that working together, we can make the changes. United, we are strong. Yes, we are.

And finally, my higher power has always played a big role in how I view politics. I truly believe that those who watch over us give us the leaders we need at the time we need them. We sometimes don't get what we want, but what we need. In this case, I feel we've gotten a double bonus: what we need and what we wanted.

My prayers for President Elect Obama and his family, and my never wavering support for the country I love.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Throwing in the Mother Towel

"The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love"

That's what I've heard tell about motherhood. However, it had to have been written by a man. And here's why: NO MAN WOULD WANT THE JOB.

From Morning Sickness to being Sick That They Are Not Home By Morning, motherhood is enough to make you blow your brains out on a daily basis. I ask myself: Why me? What did I do wrong? Why is this happening? Why are my kids making me crazy? Why do they not listen unless I am a screaming, frothing at the mouth lunatic?

I have tried to lead by example. I speak respectfully (90% of the time) to my kids even when angry to the point of putting my head through the wall. I knock before entering their rooms. I never open their mail. So is it kid-nature to be whining, moaning, eye-rolling disrespecting globs of human tissue? Well, is it?

I don't know. Maybe I'm just getting old. Maybe my long fuse got shortened when I received my AARP membership card. I don't know. I do know that I talked back to my parents -- I do remember that quite clearly. I also remember I knew my limits -- and if I went past them, was unceremoniously reminded with a smack on the rear end.

I smacked Erin on the rear yesterday. You'd think I'd taken her to the town square, hog tied her and provided the rotten fruit and vegetables for the townsfolk to pitch at her. HUMILIATION, I'm telling you. HUMILIATION. The pain. The torture. And then....AND THEN....I took away her cell phone. How could I? If she comes home after school today and isn't "found dead in a corner", well, it'll be my lucky day.


All I know is that I want to throw in the "mother" towel. I've done it for 19.5 years (including being pregnant). Can't I take a vacation?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Writing According to Lara

Oh, now, don't be thinkin' that you are gonna get some good advice on how to write, how to get a literary agent, or how to get published. Naw. That's on someone else's site who knows what they're doing.

I know why you've come here. You come to commiserate with the bottom of the literary heap, or get a confidence boost as to how far you've come in comparison. I know it, you know it. Let's just get past it, shall we?

No, Batman, I don't know what I'm doing. I see all these people on NaNoWriMo ( with synapses, outlines, notes, research, story boards ... and I think to myself....WHY? I mean why can't I just write and write and write for 30 days, see what I have, keep the good stuff, pitch the bad and fill in the missing pieces? But only if I wanna?

When I was a kid, I wrote and wrote and wrote everyday without NaNo! I had no idea where I was going, what I was doing. I wrote during study hall, I wrote instead of eating at lunch, I wrote when I got home. Then I got up and wrote some more. Did I write for anyone in particular? No. At the time, the only thing I wanted to write about was hockey (Anne will tell you there was a Barnabas Collins/vampire fascination, but let's not complicate my trip down memory lane, ok?) Specifically, the Chicago BlackHawks Hockey Team. ALL MEN! Phil Russell and Dale Talon and Keith Magnuson and Darcy Rota and Danny O'Shea. All I needed to do was create a couple of 20 year old women and I was off to the races. Well, a PG sort of off to the races. But it was hot to me and every 100 handwritten pages or so, I wrote something that sounded like real people having a real conversation in a real place that I created. It was heaven.

So this is how I will approach NaNo for this year. I shall not worry about tomorrow. I will just write and hope I can remember that childhood enthusiasm that sustained me day after day, week after week, month after month, now that I'm older....but perhaps not as wise.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I've gone and done it. Signed up for NaNoWriMo. 50,000 written words in one month. 1 me, 2 jobs, 2 kids, 3 cats, 1 house and 50,000 words.

Of course it IS Anne's birthday month, so time out for the celebration is necessary by taking a lovely Amtrak train to Springfield and drowning ourselves in Abe-lore. This time we are going to make it to the Lincoln Library before it closes. Two years in a row we've tried and 2 years in a row we've failed. The third is a charm.

I have also told myself that I am painfully missing participation in the Thursday Thirteen meme -- so I must add that on the list of to-do's. You know that "exercising" is on that list as well, but somehow never gets accomplished.

I'm gonna work on that.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ultimate Manilow

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to meet someone I've admired for a long time -- Barry Manilow. He was gracious, warm, genuine. Just the way I thought he would be. It was a meet and greet before his Las Vegas show and and I was really a nervous wreck. But his staff was extremely patient and kind and the second I saw him smile and extend a handshake, I knew I wouldn't at least throw up on his shoes.

Afterwards, I sat in the front row of his new show and enjoyed it completely. I know there are people who go to his concerts and can tell you what he sang, how he sang it, what he wore and how he wore it, what he said and how he said it. Frankly, I have no clue....just like I have no clue what I said when I was standing in front of him. All I know is that I sang and cheered and stood and clapped and laughed. I came away happy. I came away happy after I shook his hand and I came away happy after his show.

And really.....what more could we possibly want from anyone??

Thanks again Barry......I know you've made so many people happy. With your time and your talent. It really is magic.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mad Men Again

Don't stop 'till you get enough!

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

I really don't have anything to say or blog about. I simply needed to post a picture of Don Draper from AMC's Mad Men and to announce boldly to the world.....DAMN, he's fine looking. Jon Hamm fits into Draper like Tom Selleck fit into Magnum and William Shater fit into Capt Kirk. There are some actors who are just MADE to play the characters they play. And Hamm is one of them. I hope the show lasts forever -- it's smart, stylish and I love it. P.S. We had a very similar Chip 'n Dip set.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympics for the New Millenium

The Olympics have started and while totally amazing, I definitely feel that something is missing this time around. This kept me up thinking all last night, I think I have figured out what it is and have taken steps to correct it.

You know how there’s the Regular Olympics and the Winter Olympics and the Summer Olympics and the Special Olympics? Well, premiering this year: The Mid-Life Crisis Olympics. (Check your local listings for events and times.) You will witness some of the finest in: Hot Flashes, Acne Breakouts, Crying Jags and the final heat in the Female Non-Genetic Induced Hair Loss Race. There will also be, for the first time, co-ed events such as Buying an Expensive Convertible Sports Car With No Credit, followed by dual heat of The Rush for HRT for Women, and the Rush for Viagra for Men, culminating in the Search for Inappropriate Dating Partners While Hiding It From Your Current Partner. All of this is available for any athlete over the age of 50.

Also this year, we will introduce our new division of Plastic Surgery, which will pit man against the knife. It will take incredible strength to decide how much goes, how much stays. There's the battle with self and the battle with the plastic surgeon -- mano y mano. Surely here, we will definitely feel the agony of defeat when eyebrows are permanently fixed in the unnatural Joan Crawford style, belly buttons are lost or off center after replacement after a tummy tuck, the occasional liposuctioning of the wrong part of the body or a breast implant blowout. It surely will be an eye-opener for both the audience, the participants AND the surgeons. Medals in this event are indeed given to the winners, even though they will look great and not give a shit. Losers in this event will receive the business cards of local attorneys, who will secure nice retirement packages via malpractice litigation.

We will also feature the usual events: Self Loathing, Self Flogging, Hormone Induced Panic Attacks and new this year: The Depression Inspired Couch-Sit With Flat Affect. We have thousands who have trained YEARS just for this very event.

It should be really exciting. Please tune in for the "MidLife Crisis Olympics" brought to you buy Fleets Enema (High Colonics for the Higher Ups); Lipitor (When the Sludge Builds Up, We'll Be There), and the makers of Xanax (Get Hooked and Not Care About ANYTHING Again). Rolling out their new campaign is the Clearasil Company, ("You Thought You Were Done With Us, But You Were SO Wrong!!") featuring a mother trying to bribe her 16 year old clear-skinned daughter into buying a tube for her at the drugstore! Even Don Draper would be proud of this award winner!

So tune in -- a good time is guaranteed for all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

For Dear Neil

I got word today that Neil, an old friend of mine, had passed away. He was 56...and had been on vacation with his family.

I am extremely sad -- for me, for his friends, for his family. And his passing brings up alot of memories and questions in my life, especially in view of how my life is now. Neil was one of my major "should I have zigged when I ended up zagging?".

He was one of the funniest human beings on the face of the planet. He was also kind, generous, gentle..and did I mention funny? I never dated a human being in my life that made me laugh more than he did. And I'm not waxing poetic because he's not here anymore. Ask anyone who knew him and they would tell you. There was no one funnier who did not get paid for their talent.

One time, for Lent, he sent me an envelope with a piece of dryer fuzz. The note said, "So what are you doing for Lint?" That was it. That was Neil.

We met when he was a writer at the Trib and I was a college age assistant in the sports department. Because many of the high school and college finals come in late on Friday and Saturday, he was in charge, many times, of "babysiting" the people like me who took results over the phone and turned them into basic stats for the paper. We ended up being good friends and then began dating.

He ended up getting an offer from another paper in another state and it made it hard for both of us. He wanted me to marry him and go with him. I was in college, unsure of what I wanted, and felt our relationship wasn't at the stage we should be talking marriage. And I was too frightened to move 1000 miles away and end up in a broken relationship. I was just afraid. Afraid. So he ended up moving and we wrote and talked continually. But as things happen, long distance romances just don't work. When he'd come to visit, it was hard because I was unsure of myself, scared of my feelings, scared of his. I knew he loved me and loved me completely. Many times I think I should have taken a chance and gone with him. Many times, I think I was right to stay here to nurse my parents until their deaths, have the children that I do. Even go through the pain of divorce from WAM.

Neil did several amazing things for me some of which I had forgotten. I forgot to remember how special he told me I was, how beautiful, how funny, how loving. And in typical Neil style, he had a friend named Bill, who had moved to Chicago with his wife who was from Delaware. Well, Bill's wife didn't know a soul. Was miserable and wanted to go back to what she knew. When Neil called her one time to see how she was, she told him she was miserable. He told her he could fix that.

He called me and asked me to call her. I did. We talked for 3 hours and went to see "Ordinary People" and have a couple beers. That was longer ago than I want to admit to. And she and I lost contact a bit with our lives going in crazy directions, but she emailed me to tell me about Neil. And we talked a long time and realized how much we missed each other and all the incredible laughs we had.

My dear Neil....I miss you. I'll remember the things you told me. I thank you for bringing Bill and his family into my life....and I thank you again for helping me renew the friendship I have with Dona.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Seven Words...

I grew up on George Carlin and I always admired his wit, his quick humor...the way he looked at things. He was probably one of the first smart-asses I ever saw. Smart asses who made you think. As such, he is of course, my hero.

I had to take time to remember him in my own way. So here, for the first time, Lara Lampoon's George Carlin's "The Seven Words You Can Not Say on Television".

Now there are alot of words you can not say on television. I remember the aghast gasps in the 1970's when "All in the Family" introduced us to the sound of a toilet flushing in the background and the word "pregnant". Before that, it simply wasn't done. Times have changed, but as Carlin's 7 words have remained a staple of the "you STILL can't say these words on television", the words I will submit to you have consistently been Kingpins of the Female No-Fly Buzzword Zone since the beginnings of organized speech.

I present to you: the Seven Words You Can Not Say to a Woman...and Survive.

1. Weight
2. Teenagers
3. Libido
4. Sleep
5. Money
6. Menopause
7. Housework

Even READING these words raised the hairs on your necks, didn't it??

I don't believe I need to explain the meaning of any of these words to a fellow female over a certain age. They are already trying to shake off seeing the list in print and may even be washing their eyes out.

For those of you who don't quite "get" the list, well, if you're a woman, I can tell you that eventually, you will. If you are a man, I am gifting you some practical advice that will more than likely save you over and over.

Don't ever say anything even remotely associated with these words to ANY woman, even if you suspect she wouldn't understand. I guarantee you, if you don't practice not saying them now, they could potentially spill out at the most unopportune moment and put your life at risk. Trust me. I work for doctors.

So go forth, ye fellow humans, armed with this knowledge...for knowledge is power. George would be proud.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Welcome Home

Is there anything nicer than coming home to a clean, organized, lovely kitchen? Doesn't it just beg for you to sit down with a nice cup of tea, maybe browse the mail, perhaps start a light supper of pasta with fresh basil and mozzarella? Perhaps with a glass of a delightful pinot noir? Hmmmm. Welcome home, honey.

My point? I have no idea what that would feel like. I just happened to take a look at my kitchen cabinets and noticed peanut butter (Sean), blue food coloring (Erin), and dribbles of chocolate syrup (either one) on the doors. Don't ask me why. And for some reason, an ant colony has taken over my kitchen counter plant. I CAN NOT kill the plant. CAN NOT. It's been in my family for like 25 years and refuses to die no matter how not-green my family thumbs are. The cats have knocked over their food dishes and Mena has started this "thing" of dipping over the water bowl. I don't know. It's hot...maybe she's trying to bathe. I just don't know. I simply don't know how this shit happens.

I clean. I dust and wax and polish and shine and vacuum and organize and swish and swirl and throw crap out (usually when the moon is full, Pluto is in the House of Saturn and Jupiter's spot is a lovely shade of burgundy). BUT, even when NO ONE IS HOME, it gets totally wrecked. Yes, Mena digs dirty socks out of the laundry basket and carries them all over the house like they are her kittens. Sure, Hurricane Erin strikes. Sure, sometimes the laundry piles up, the recycling poureth over, I have ring around the tub and sage brush rolling down the hallway. AND no, I don't always get to the dinner dishes, but for heaven's sake...peanut butter, blue food coloring and chocolate syrup?

How long has it been there? What if it's been there for like YEARS and I never noticed it? OMG -- I'm NOT June Cleaver!

It's been a terrible truth I've struggled not to face. But there it is. Out in the open. I believe I'm a disorganized clutterbug who does not pay attention to anything related to housework. I had company over the weekend, and Erin and I cleaned up (sorta) after they left. When Sam came over, I was fairly proud that there was even a path thru the livingroom. I told him that we had cleaned up after the company left....that the livingroom had been the housing unit for the visiting kids. He said, and I quote, "This is clean??"

He should have seen it BEFORE I spent 2 hours digging out.

With this recent realization of my affliction and my poor attempts at problem solving, I have now spent just as much money on books about home organization as I have on books about dieting.

But I'm trying to kick the habit. (It has been noted that if I spent my time organizing and cleaning as opposed to reading books about organizing and cleaning, that I'd not be in the mess I'm currently in....). I'm going to LOVE my mess. I'm going to embrace the Slob Factor that has been passed down from me to my children.

And I'm gonna start making those cats earn their keep by doing at least a couple loads of laundry a week.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chez Harrison

A dear friend is coming to visit who has never been in my neck of the midwest. She offered to stay in a know, the Ritz Carlton, the Hilton, the Hyatt....but, ala William Shatner, I said, "You could......BUT WHY?" The Chez Harrison can offer you accomodations and amenities that you CLEARLY can not get anywhere else, even at a 5-Star hotel. I told her this....and emphatically stated she absolutely cannot enjoy the sheer class of Chicago unless she stays at my bed-and-sometimes-breakfast.

For starters...see the above picture? The serene colors, comforting furniture, the neat, open and airy rooms? Well, my place doesn't look anything like that at all.

However, here at the Chez Harrison, we offer so much more! For instance -- luxurious surroundings: a double wide driveway, shared with the cranky 90 year old neighbor and his 40-something "housemate" who gets arrested every month or so for treating him like an old shoe. Also, on the other side, separated, unfortunately by a big brown fence, is the neighborhood junk collector, who at last count, has about 75 old, unused lawn mowers in his back yard. Lucky for us, he and my 90 year old neighbor are brothers who hate each other. Excitement abounds in this fast-paced geriatric triad.

What else at Chez Harrison? Exquisite cuisine. Unsurpassed in fast food heaven. We have: Subway, McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, 35 pizza places within walking distance, about 7 Starbucks and 5 bagel joints. Delivery is always an option at our establishment, as I am registered with each and every one of them and taste-tested all the options for my guests' comfort. And please, it goes without saying, an abundance of liquor stores that can satisfy your every alcohol fueled whim.

Still having trouble deciding? Well, how about THIS for the clincher? An all exclusive, magnificent collection of stray cats, coming from as far as the inner city, Wisconsin and County Animal Control (when I couldn't control myself) to cover you and your possessions with an array of cat hair from gold to white to black. Depending on the length of your stay, you may have enough for a fur-friendly winter coat.

I cannot see WHY Chez Harrison wouldn't be your choice to pull up some lumber, throw your luggage down and take a load off.

However, a disclaimer if you will....Chez Harrison is also permanent residence of Hurricane Erin, who no matter what the season, is always active. You never know when she will strike, leaving the living room in a state of emergency. Forewarned is fair play. Should Hurricane Erin strike, it is the option of the owner to stay with you in whatever hotel you escape to.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Love and Fur

I have literally NO time on my hands, between the merger my office is going through, school ending and accompanying my son to traffic court, but tonight is unusual in that the only living beings in the house are me and the cats, Mouse, Kalli and Mena. Daughter is staying overnight at her dad's (which happens about 4 times a year) and Son is at an all night bon-fire with several school mates (fortunately, it's close to home and I'm a light sleeper -- when I hear the fire engines roaring by, I'll know exactly where they are going). However, I thought I'd take a moment to salute my silent partners, those whose company I have come to need almost as much as air.

I've always had cats, mostly because I grew up in an apartment. Where I am now is the only HOUSE I've ever lived in that I remember. But growing up, being an only child living in an apartment, it was a cat or nothing. So I became a cat person.

I've heard that cats are independent and stand-offish and only come around when they are hungry or want affection. In other words, they make the rules. However, I don't find that necessarily true (except for Mena, who can be a 25 pound force all her own). Mouse and Kalli can have full tummies and still manage to crowd me whether I'm on the couch or sitting at the table or reading in bed. They are very offended and put off if I have to get up to do something. They follow me to see what is so important that I needed to disturb them -- going so far as to accompany me into the bathroom. They will sometimes sit outside the door and wait, but that is a rare occurance. They must think I am going to do something absolutely riveting in that room....which they must not miss for all the catnip in China.

But as my house is uncommonly quiet right now, I find the Triad of Furballs quite comforting. Kalli remains on my left, Mena at my right, and Mouse at my feet, although Mena and Mouse change spots frequently. Kalli, however, is my citadel. Always stationed at my left, either paws in or paws out.

I've said before that I carry the devotion of all my pets with me, and I do. For all the hairballs I've cleaned up, for all the vet visits, for all the expensive food I've needed to buy, for all the litter pans I've scooped, for all the times I've cried when I've had to watch one get old and die, I wouldn't give it up for anything. The love of a pet cannot be explained, either from the furry view or the human view. All I know is....I'm a better person for the animals I've cared for and they have taught me amazing lessons on unconditional love and unwavering devotion.

Here's to all the furry, feathered, scaled friends that make our lives richer.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gimme Shelter

"If I don't get some shelter, I'm gonna fade away."

Thank you Rolling Stones.

I know I haven't posted in awhile. It seems that life totally got away from me over the last few months. We've all suffered from the flu and colds, I got a promotion at work -- our small OB/GYN practice is joining a very large ultra-mega-medical conglomerate. It's been interesting to say the least.

I feel overwhelmed and defeated by housework. Seems I just can't concentrate on work and the kids and keep the house clean and lawn mowed. Plus, the ex, WAM, has decided to take me to court in a week to adjust child support. Which is fine. Sean is going to be 18, so that's understandable. But I still insist on WAM splitting medical bills, which can be considerable because Sean has asthma and is on medication for generalized anxiety disorder. As long as Sean as in school, I think WAM should help pay, but who knows. Maybe the judge will think I take that money and buy Anne Klein clothes. I guess I'll just have to let him have a look in my closet!!

Court and I don't get along. I was only in court get divorced....and all I remember is shaking and crying. I'm much stronger now (thank you Anne, for reminding me) but court is still intimidating. Oh well, just another speed bump in my life.

Hope you are all doing well....hopefully will be back on more consistently again this summer. I miss reading all your great blogs!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #31

Who I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up

We all dreamed about what we wanted to do and who we wanted to be when we grew up. Here's 13 people I wanted to be that I remember -- I'm sure there's many, many more that I forgot!

1. A writer (was always #1!)

2. A doctor

3. A vet

4. A professional singer

5. A television/movie star

6. Mrs. George Harrison

7. Manager of a band

8. A fashion designer

9. Editor of a teen magazine (so I could meet David/Shaun Cassidy, Bobby Sherman, Michael Cole and just for Anne: Sajid Khan)

10. Professional photographer like Scavullo or Annie Liebovitz

11. A trailblazer like Gloria Steinem

12. A total genius like Stephen Hawking

13. A scientist like Marie Curie

Who did you want to be??

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #30 A Hard Day's Night!

13 Great Lines from A Hard Day's Night!

Unless you are a die-hard Beatle-maniac, some of these might not seem familiar. But any Beatle fan will absolutely smile with recognition if you dish out any of these delicious one liners or luscious dialogues!

1. Paul, describing his grandfather: "He's very.......clean."

2. John, after listening to the stuffy show director who's going on and on: "I could listen to him for hours."

3. John to his manager, Norm: "You couldn't get a pen in your foot, you swine."

4. Ringo: "Any of you put a man in the cupboard?"
John: "Don't be soft"
George (checking closet): "He's right you know."
John: "Well, there you go."

5. Paul's grandfather to a buxom blonde: "I bet you're a great swimmer."

6. George showing Shake how to use a razor and shaving cream: "Put your tongue away. It looks disgustin' hangin' there all pink and naked. One slip of the razor and ....."

7. Interviewer: "And how did you find America?"
John: "Turn left at Greenland."

8. Paul, to every interviewer who asks him anything: "No actually, we're just good friends."

9. George, to a production assistant who was rebuffed after tapping on Ringo's drums: "He's very fussy about his drums you know. They loom large in his legend."

10. Woman, claiming John looks like "The Famous John Lennon", and John denying it: "You don't look like him at all......"
John, hurt, to himself: "She looks more like him than I do."

11. John (to a tailor holding up a measuring tape as John cuts it in half): "I now declare this bridge open."

12. Ringo to Paul's Grandfather: "I never really thought about it before....but being middle-aged takes up all your time, doesn't it?"

13. George: "Oh, that posh girl who gets everything wrong? We frequently sit 'round the television and watch her for a giggle. Once we wrote these letters saying how giddy she was and all that rubbish."
Promoter: "She's a trend-setter."
George: "She's a drag. A well-known drag. We turn the sound down on her and say rude things."

Many thanks to Alun Owen for a great screenplay which has held up really well over all these years. It was very hard just to pick out just 13 -- afterall, A Hard Day's Night is when we first heard the word "grotty" (for grotesque), which George had an incredibly hard time saying without laughing. Also, trivia buffs, in the concert footage filmed at the end, a very young future famous musician is seating near the back. His name is Phil Collins.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #29 1956

(Thank you Chaotic Home for the great graphic!)

The Year 1956...It Was A Very Good Year

For my parents anyway -- they look happy (they have NO CLUE as to the headache I will be in about 13 years....) Anyway, I'm not too sure what I was thinking. Maybe I was worried my head would never pop out of that cone shape. But it did -- less than a year later! See?

The baby daughter of Frank and Rose appeared a month early in December of 1956. So without further baby pictures, here's 13 things about 1956!

#1. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon are President and Vice President.

#2. The minimum wage is $0.75/hour. Most Americans make about $1.00 per hour and the average yearly income hovers at $4,454.00.

#3. A new car will set you back about $2,100; a new home about $22,000.

#4. A gallon of milk is $0.97; a loaf of bread $0.18; a dozen eggs $.80.

#5. A first class postage stamp is $0.03 and a gallon of gas is (hold your breath here) $0.25.

#6. Zenith introduces the first wireless remote control for televisions and the first videotape recorder is demonstrated.

#7. Richard Doll, MD, 37, an Oxford physician presents research linking cigarette smoking with lung cancer. The London Times did not publish his research.

#8. The Andrea Doria, a luxurious Italian oceanliner, sinks off Nantucket Island, Massachusetts after colliding with the SS Stockholm. 52 lives are lost.

#9. Japan becomes a member of the United Nations.

#10. President Eisenhower signs the Joint Resolutions of the US Congress making "In God We Trust" the US National Motto. He also authorizes the phrase "One Nation Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

#11. Elvis Presley appears on Ed Sullivan on September 9, 1956 for the first time. His second album "Elvis Presley" goes gold.

#12 "The Wizard of Oz" is shown on TV for the first time. TV shows debuting in 1956 include: As the World Turns, Edge of Night, NFL on CBS, the Dinah Shore Show and the Steve Allen Show.

#13. John F. Kennedy publishes his Pulitizer Prize winning book, "Profiles in Courage", written the year before while he recuperates from an operation to repair a spinal problem. The book in part, is reportedly dictated to his wife, Jackie, who remained at his side.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #28

My 13 Favorite Classic Star Trek Episodes
(thank you to Goofy Girl for the great appropriate graphic!)

Oh sure, we could persue the usual loftier higher educational TT's....but why? I declare we need a mindless rundown of my favorite Classic Star Trek episodes.

As a preface, I was always a Kirk kind of gal. Spock was alien and distant, and Chekov was foreign with a bad wig, Sulu was just off in another universe, Scotty was always in the bowels of the ship and McCoy....well, he had his problems. But Kirk? Please. Overacted to perfection by hammy, campy, love him to death, Mr. William Shatner. (Shat to his friends). And you know, try as I might, I never got into the other Star Trek series. I saw a few of the Next Generation episodes and the characters were excellent, but I missed the campiness of 1960's experimental television! So without further ado, my fave 13 classics, not in any order.

#1 -- The Enemy Within. Oh, who could ask for more? Double the Shat as his personality is split into a "negative" dark, brutal, sexual side and a "positive" kind, reasonable, gentle side. The result? He couldn't be the great captain he is without his "negative" side, controlled by his "positive" side. Notable that Leonard Nimoy came up with the Vulcan Nerve Pinch to incapacitate his Captain, believing that the peace loving Vulvan would NEVER club his bud over the head.

#2 -- This Side of Paradise. The spotlight is on Spock in this episode. On a planet where the inhabitants are supposed to be dead from being bombarded by "Bertold Rays", they find a thriving community of LIVE people. The Secret? A plant that shoots spores over everyone, making everyone happy, happy, happy. Spock gets to kiss the girl this time after being spored upon....but everyone is brought down eventually to the baneness of reality by Kirk, who figures out how to "knock those spores right out of his hair".

#3 -- Turnabout Intruder. Notable as the last episode filmed in the series, #79, it is a real hoot! What a better way to end a show that would live in the hearts of millions for decades than by having Shat play Kirk whose body has been inhabited by a vengeful, spiteful ex-lover? Oh, a tour de force for Mr. Shatner!

#4 -- Amok Time. Spock hears the Vulcan mating call and Kirk breaks all kinds of rules from here to Sunday to get his First Officer back home and laid. Something he understands completely and deeply. In the ensuing drama, Kirk appears "killed" by Spock and when Spock realizes his beloved Captain is indeed still alive, we see a burst of grins from the somber Vulcan. Maybe he was just happy he didn't have to go to military prison.

#5 -- Elaan from Troyius. One of the all time best implied "they just had sex" scenes in 1960's television I didn't understand until I was older. But Kirk has been sort of drugged by this female Ruler Elaan whom he is supposed to be taking to another planet for her wedding to an enemy of her people. In effect, she is a live sacrificial olive branch. Anyway, as she as put a "spell" on him of sorts, there's a lot of hot passion. In one great scene, Uhura is trying to page Kirk. Over and over with no answer. Finally he gets on the speaker. He is sitting on the edge of Elaan's bed, putting his boots back on. Priceless.

#6 -- A Rose by Any Other Name. Kirk (and Shat) at their best. He's got to seduce this alien woman in order to distract her by messing with her unrealized emotions. The main crew must do this to all the aliens on board in order to get control back of the ship. However, Scotty has the primo line. He is trying to get one of the aliens drunk. He's tried Sorian Brandy and a bottle of his prized aged Scottish Whiskey and has kept up, drink for drink with the alien. The alien asks for more booze. Scotty pulls something out of a cabinet. The alien askes him what it is. Scotty looks at it and shrugs as he starts pouring. "It's green," he answers him.

#7 -- City on the Edge of Forever. Shat and Joan Collins fall in love when Kirk, Spock and McCoy are sent back in time to the 1920 - 1930's. Of course she dies. Any woman who falls in love with him either dies or is left in the lurch somehow. However, this episode has always been a major fave of most trekkers. It was written by sci-fi great Harlan Ellison, who won the Hugo Award for best writing for it.

#8 -- Paradise Syndrome. Kirk gets separated from his crew and that always spells trouble. He gets amnesia this time after being squirted by some rays and wakes up in the midst of a tribe of American Indians -- planted on another planet -- on another universe -- by somebody. He becomes their "god" of course, marries and his wife becomes pregnant with his child -- which has TV death written all over it. Yeah, his crew finds him, he snaps to after a Vulcan mind meld, the wife dies and he maintains his title of "god" as he returns to his ship. He looked good in the Indian head dress tho.

#9 -- The Man Trap. It's a good story, of course....but the crowning glory of this episode is the introduction of the Salt Vampire. It can take any form, man, woman, whomever you want it to be....and it kills you by sucking out all the salt in your body. McCoy imagines he sees his long lost love and falls in love with it -- which leads to my earlier notation that McCoy had "problems". Anyway, the Salt Vampire, "the last of it's kind", is killed on board. Just like all things that are not approved by Star Fleet's Human Board of Directors.

#10 -- Miri. Probably one of my very favorites about the main crew exploring a planet populated only by kids after a bad virus created by the adults killed them all off. They had been looking for anti-aging pills. The adults died quickly, but the kids remained and aged only a month for every 100 years of living. Eventually, Kirk and crew start getting the virus that killed the adults so it's race against time to save themselves and the kids. Great Shat line: He's trying to round up the kids, who have become like wild little animals. They are shouting nah-nah-nah-nah-nah and when he talks they all say blah, blah, blah. However, ever the Alpha Male, Kirk screams back at them: "NO BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!!!" A perfect moment in cimematic history.

#11 -- The Mark of Gideon. A planet has cured all disease but is overpopulated to the nth degree. They kidnap Kirk to steal his blood, which has a rare virus that they wish to introduce into their society to naturally select some people to die off. Anyway, the Main Cheese's daughter sacrifices herself and wants to die to give people hope that they too, can take a trip to the afterlife. But Kirk and she have fallen in love and he wants to save her by having McCoy inject her with the cure. Yes, she lives. Yes, they break up. It's Star Trek for heaven's sake, but not before The Main Cheese calls up Kirk to tell him to stop trying to save his daughter. That he KNOWS they had "fallen in love" (60's euphanism for 'had sex') to which Kirk replies that what had happened between the two of them was PRIVATE (even tho there is a possibility that due to overcrowding it was witnessed by a crowd of about 25,000). Notable that the daughter's costume (and some of those costumes were pretty flimsy), was part of the Star Trek exhibit at the Smithsonian.

#12 -- Mirror, Mirror. Oh, I love these. Twice the Shat as he and the other main crew members cross over into some parallel universe, where Bad Kirk, Bad McCoy and Bad other crew members were going about their lives until they got transported onto the Good Ship Enterprise at the same time. Oh, it all gets sorted out, but Good Kirk on the Bad ship meets one hot woman, who, of course has to stay behind. These are the STAR TREK RULES: #1 -- characters in red shirts die; and #2 -- no love interest of Kirk's lasts longer than 53 minutes.

#13 -- The Trouble with Tribbles. Little furry hairballs take over the Enterprise. They like humans and Vulcans, but NOT Klingons. One of the funniest episodes and a great Kirk quote (as he watches the Tribbles multiplying quicker than plankton and are laying about everywhere). Uhura tells Kirk that the tribbles only give us love (as he asks her to "get those things off the bridge"), "Yes, Lt., but too much of anything...even not necessarily a good thing."

There you have it. There are more great episodes and great lines of course, but I pulled these off the top of my head.

Now there's a scary thought.....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #27

13 Things About Belva Ann Lockwood

Who? You ask? Belva was a wonder. She ran for President twice when women weren't even allowed to vote; she fought to receive a degree in law when she was denied that right, she lobbied to argue in front of the Supreme Court. I just had to find out more about her. So here you go!

1. She was born Belva Ann Bennett on October 24, 1830 in Royalton, New York.

2. She was educated in the public school system and in 1844 she began teaching school for $5.00 a month plus board. This is half of what male teachers made.

3. She married at the age of 18 and had one daughter. Her husband died in 1854 and she left her daughter Lura with her parents and enrolled in Genesee College.

4. Belva graduated in 1857 from Genesee College and began teaching in Lockport, New York for the sum of $400 a year, while male teachers earned $600 per year.

5. In 1863, she operated the McNall Seminary in Oswego, NY, but after the Civil War sold the school and moved to Washington DC. There she opened the city's first co-educational school.

6. In 1868, she married a dentist and baptist minister, Dr. Ezekiel Lockwood, and they had one daugher. The daughter died at 20 months of age and Dr. Lockwood died in 1877.

7. At the age of 40, in 1870, Belva entered the National University of Law School and finished her courses 3 years later. She was refused her diploma because she was a woman. She petitioned President Grant for the right to practice and then was admitted to the Washington bar where she specialized in cases against the government.

8. In 1874, she was denied permission to practice before the U.S. Court of Claims because she was a woman. Belva said, "For the first time in my life I began to realize it's a crime to be a woman, but it was too late to put in a denial, so I pled guilty."

9. Due to her tireless campaigning, in 1879 a bill was passed through both houses of Congress and signed by President Rutherford B. Hayes, which allowed Belva to become the first woman to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States.

10. One of Belva's first actions was to nominate a black Southern colleague for admission to the court. She also won a $5,000,000 settlement for the Cherokee Indians, which was an astronomical amount of money...both then and now!

11. In 1884, Belva was nominated for president of the United States by the National Equal Rights Party. She received 4,194 votes at a time when women were not even allowed to vote! She ran again in 1888.

12. Belva's professional life focused on women's rights. She promoted temperance, peace and arbitration. She was also on the nominating committee for the Nobel Peace Prize and any of her papers on peace were published.

13. Mrs. Lockwood served as president of the Women's National Press Association, and served on other committees such as: the International Peace Bureau, the American Women's League, the National Council for Women, and the National Arbitration Society of the District of Columbia. Belva died on May 19, 1917, and was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1986.

Letting It All Hang Out... they used to say when an emotional airing was necessary. I know I haven't posted much lately. Life seems to have seriously gotten in the way. My hands are full with just getting through every hour at a time.

Previously, I sort of touched on the "darker" side of my life. Depression, anxiety, WAM...that stuff. I never really went into my relationships...or the things that I struggle with everyday. The stuff that makes me sit on a PhD's couch every Tuesday at 12:15pm.

First, my darling daughter Erin has ADHD. Now I believe she does have it, but I think the fires are fanned by the repression of the expression of anger. I'll explain in a minute.

Second, my wonderful son Sean is clinically depressed at 17. He's made some bad choices and is making more bad ones, and I think my terrific son is struggling partially because of the repression of the expression of anger. And the fact I leaned on him way, way too much post divorce. More than I ever realized until this came up.

Ok. The anger issue. My kids don't express anger well. Sean punches walls and has torn up his bedroom door. He doesn't like to be home and is like a caged animal when he is...just looking for a way out. The farther he pushes himself away from home, the worse choices he makes. In Erin's case, her ADHD kicks in. She bounces off the walls, pulls things out from everywhere without replacing them, makes a mess everywhere and just keeps on moving.

Why the anger issue? They have been exposed to extremes. With WAM (their dad), anger was an explosive outburst that no person I know of has ever been able to handle. You get mad at Dad? Oh, boy.....he can get lots louder and lots he's older and stronger and supposed to be a role model. Also, there was never a time when you felt you were going to make any headway. He just got angrier than you...and made sure that he would win under any and all circumstances.

With trying to keep a very low profile, calm house after WAM was out, I perpetuated that anger wasn't allowed. I thought I was doing what was best for the kids, but it backfired. And compounded with the fact that both kids are protective of me anyway because of my heart attack, well, no one can get anger out. comes out in other ways. Erin's ADHD, Sean's caged animal depression.

We are all in counseling now. And I realize I have alot of work to do if I'm going to be able to send my kids out into the world as whole human beings. I hope I'm not too late.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #26 The Saga of Frederick and Georg

When we last left our couple, they had just met and while it seems that Georg was "warm for Chopin's form", he did not initially return the feeling. However, I need to back up the track a bit, to explain that when Chopin met Sand, he was already engaged to another woman.

13 More Things on the Life of Frederick Chopin (pictured here in 1833)

#1 -- In 1835, while in Dresden trying to find a cure or some relief for his "consumption", Chopin renews his acquaintence with the Wodzinski family, who had lived in his father's boarding house back in Poland years before. Their young daughter Maria is an accomplished pianist in her own right and Chopin falls in love with her. She is 17, he is 25.

#2 -- They maintain a strong relationship by letter and see each other periodically as Chopin criss-crosses Europe giving concerts and teaching the aristocracy. Not long after on September 9, 1936, Chopin proposes marriage during a holiday together, chaparoned by Marie's mother. Marie accepts.

#3 -- Marie's family tells the couple that the engagement will not be "official" until Chopin proves that he is gonna live long enough to take care of their daughter! He gets a one year trial period to improve his failing health or all bets are off. He also needs to prove that he can provide a stable home environment. Due to continual travelling and performing, he has not yet set up a permanent home.

#4 -- So into this milieu marches Georg Sand. They meet approximately October 24, 1836, a month or so after Chopin proposes to Marie. Chopin is ill and realizes he just may be rejected by Marie's family as decent husband material. Sand is separated and soon divorced from her Baron husband and has 2 children, a boy, Maurice and a girl, Solange.

#5 -- As luck would have it, Chopin cannot do what the Wodzinski family requires of him. He becomes very ill over the winter months and eventually meets Marie in Germany the early part of July, 1837 after a series of concerts in England and the Netherlands. Marie's family sees the state of his frail health and instructs her to reject his letter....later. By the time he returns to Paris toward the end of July, he receives word of the broken "unofficial" engagement. He wraps Marie's correspondence and the rejection letter in a bundle and labels it "My Sorrow".

#6 -- From all accounts, Sand is a bold feminist, takes lovers of both sexes, and asserts herself as strongly as possible during the era she lived. She works around the prejudices against women by taking a man's name to publish her novels and write her plays. She divorces and is a directed, strong, single working mother. But she also has a very warm, maternal, loving side. And it is this side she presents to Chopin, who is physically and emotionally at one of the lowest points of his life.

#7 -- By the early part of 1838, Sand and Chopin begin attending parties together and their love affair blooms. By August of 1838, Sand wrote this of Chopin to friend and painter Eugene Delacroix: "If God were to ordain my death in an hour, I would not complain, because three months of undisturbed enchantment have passed." She also wrote to a friend: "He no longer expectorates blood, sleeps well, coughs little...He can sleep in a bed which shall not be burnt just because he used it."

#8 -- Even through illness, a broken love affair, traveling, teaching, performing and a terrible longing for his family and native Poland, Chopin manages to compose consistently. Mazurkas, Etudes, Polonaises, Sonatas, Ballades, Preludes, Nocturnes...often dedicated to those he loved -- Marie, various friends and teachers. These bars of music from his Nocturne in E flat Major were written down in an album of Marie's.

#9 -- From 1838 until approximately 1847, Sand and Chopin are together. By all accounts, they have a warm and loving relationship. Although they never marry, they are treated as a married couple. He gets along fairly well with Sand's son and very well with her daughter, Solange, whom he gives piano lessons to. They spend most of their time at Sand's home in Nohant (pictured here), in central France, returning to Paris only during the winter months. It is stated that Chopin is the happiest in Nohant he's ever been since leaving his family home in Poland. He is very busy composing, and while he has several near-death health scares, he is able to recover under Sand's watchful eye.

#10 -- During one of Chopin's seriously ill periods, Sand writes to a friend: "I know that many people accuse me; some say that I harmed him with my violent sensuality, others that I harmed him with my excesses."

#11 -- By 1845, Chopin's health is beginning to permanently deteriorate. His relationship with Sand is showing signs of strain, partially due to 2 other influences besides his health -- the fact that Chopin had sided with Sand's daughter Solange concerning a romantic involvement and the fact that Sand's son Maurice had begun taking a increasing hostile attitude toward Chopin and the time that Sand spent with him. The final break occurs in July 1847.

#12 -- The devasting blow compromises Chopin both physically and emotionally although he does maintain a close relationship with Sand's daughter Solange. He composes very little music after the break up and becomes increasingly ill. He gives his last public performance in London on November 16, 1848 and returns to Paris several days later. His pronounced tuberculosis makes tutoring impossible. Eventually, his sister comes from Poland to help nurse him as he is no longer able to care for or even support himself. Pictured is the last piano he used.

Frederick Chopin dies in Paris on October 17, 1849 at approximately 2am. It is rumored that Sand's daughter Solange is with him at the time of his death.

#13 -- Chopin's will is followed to the letter. He requested that after death, his heart be removed from his body and returned to Poland. His sister brings Frederick's heart back in an urn, where it is interred in a pillar of the Holy Cross Church in Krakowskie Przedmiescie. His body is buried in the Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Chopin's hand notation of the Sonata in G minor, Op 65:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #25

We were big faves of Frederick Chopin as I was growing up and I've carried that love into my adult life. My mother and I would watch "A Song To Remember" (Cornel Wilde played a robust Frederick and Merle Oberon played a beautiful Georg Sand, which right there tells you it's a movie...because he wasn't robust and she wasn't THAT beautiful) but we'd get all weepy about his love for his native Poland, the gal he left behind (maybe fact, maybe fiction) and his slow, horrid death from tuberculosis at 39. The relationship between and Chopin and Georg Sand really is the stuff of romance novels...the tortured pianist and the feminist writer...and his short life was certainly filled with love and music, pain and loss.

So here are 13 Things About Frederick Chopin

#1 -- He was born here as Fryderyk [Franciszek] Chopin on March 1, 1810 in the village of Żelazowa Wola, near Warsaw Poland. There is some confusion over when he was actually born. There is no known birth certificate, and his mother filled out the birth date on his baptismal certificate as February 22, 1810. So in other words, he was born March 1, give or take.

#2 -- His father Nicolas (translated into Polish as Mikołaj) was a French expatriot originally from Lorraine. He emigrated to Poland in 1787 at the age of 16 and served in the Polish National Guard. He eventually went to Żelazowa Wola and secured a post as a tutor to some aristocratic families. He met and fell in love with Tekla Justyna Krzyżanowska, whom he married.

#3 Fryderyk (Frederick) Chopin was the couple's third child, the first boy. He inherited his mother's blue eyes and fair hair and skin, but his small frame and frail health from his father.

#4 -- The Chopins were by no means destitute. In 1817 Mikołaj Chopin became a teacher of French at the Warsaw Lyceum, housed in Warsaw University. The family lived in a spacious second-floor apartment in an adjacent building. Even though Chopin's father was French and taught the language, Polish was spoken exclusively in the family home and Chopin never did master the French language, even after living in Paris for many years.

#5 -- Chopin's parents were both musical (his father played the flute and his mother taught piano) but Frederick showed remarkable ability and was known as a child prodigy. He did have formal piano training, but quickly outgrew his teachers. He composed his first works, 2 polonaises (which are basically Polish dances) at the age of 7 and began giving recitals in public. He remained fiercely loyal to his Polish heritage through music his entire life.

#6 -- Chopin had an incredibly stable home life and was reported to be extremely bright and funny. He studied piano with various teachers, most notably Jozef Elsner at the Warsaw Conservatory from the ages of 16-20 (and possibly even when Frederick was younger). From the age of 7 months until he left Warsaw at the age of 20 in 1830, Chopin always lived with his family in very comfortable surroundings.

#7 -- Notable before his leaving Warsaw was that his sister Emilia died from "consumption" or tuberculosis in 1827. Comments about Frederick's physical appearance before he left Poland suggest that he too had contracted the disease. His father died in 1844 from TB also.

#8 -- Chopin, now a seasoned pianist and composer, traveled to Paris by way of Vienna, arriving in 1831. He became an accomplished teacher and composed etudes for his students, which were melodies that taught specific fingering and positioning on the piano. It is rumored that Chopin's hand span on the piano was 2 octaves, or a full 16 keys.

#9 -- The cast of his left hand.

#10 -- While Chopin enjoyed teaching (performing was becoming increasingly difficult for him because of his health. He needed to play small venues or salons because he frequently did not have the strength to play the piano forcefully enough to full a huge room with sound) he was also exceptionally proud. During a lesson, Chopin would reportedly stand after a time and walk to look out his window. That was the cue that the lesson was over and a "donation" was to be placed on the mantel. He maintained he never asked for money to teach his students.

#11 -- In Paris, Chopin met many other artists -- composers, painters, writers. He was extremely popular and was sought out as a teacher, composer, and salon pianist. It was there in 1836, at a party hosted by the mistress of fellow-composer and friend Franz Liszt, that Chopin met Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, Baroness Dudevant, better known by her pseudonym, Georg(e) Sand. He was 26, she 32.

#12 -- Georg Sand was a French Romantic writer noted for her numerous love affairs, and the fact she dressed in men's clothing, which she found more comfortable than women's garb. She also chain smoked a pipe. As women were not allowed to be published, she took a man's name in order to do so. Her first published novel, Rose et Blanche (1831) was written in collaboration with one of her lovers, Jules Sandeau, from whom she allegedly took her pen name, Sand.

#13 -- It was not "love at first sight" for Frederick and Georg. "Something about her repels me," he wrote his family. Sand, however, in a letter to a friend in June, 1837, debated whether she should end a current affair to begin one with Chopin -- repelled be damned! -- even though she knew he was reportedly engaged to a woman named Maria Wodzińska.

#14 -- Portait of Chopin by Georg Sand.

Now you say....what happened to Frederick and Georg? Did they have an affair or just stay mildly interested in each other's lives? And how did Sand's husband (the Baron) feel about all this? Or Sand's 2 children? What's the scoop on Georg and her affairs and her writing career? What happened to the woman Chopin was "engaged" to? Did he ever get back to Poland? How did he die? Is it true that Sand actually hastened his death? And what eventually happened to Georg Sand?

Well, 13 facts (plus Sand's portrait of Frederick) just weren't enough to tell the whole exciting, sad, painful, story of their love affair and his death. I guess I'll just have to finish next Thursday!