Dec 28, 2006

Saddam Hussein & Peas

Yes, there is a connection between these two. Let me start by saying that I am a very empathetic person - an overly empathetic person. I know that if more people read this blog, I might have to face a bunch of criticism. I know that what I am about to say will probably sound crazy. This story upsets me. I know that what he did was awful - beyond anything I could imagine, but he is still a human being. My husband and I talked about this at dinner tonight. I asked him if I was wrong for feeling bad for Hussein - he said "yes."

My husband does not understand why I am so sympathetic/empathetic. Neither do I. It's just the way I am. I was embarassed to admit this, but I told him that when I was a little girl, 5 or 6 perhaps, I used to get very upset when I scraped my dinner plate into the garbage. Usually, I didn't eat all of my peas, and I thought that they had feelings. I thought they would feel unwanted/unloved if I threw them away. I used to tell them that I was sorry - I was only throwing them away because I was full and NOT because I didn't like them.

Sounds crazy, but I was very young. It's not like I do that now.

So I had sympathy for my peas, and I have sympathy for Saddam Hussein. Maybe this does make me sound crazy, but I can't apologize for who I am.

Dec 27, 2006

I Know X-Mas Isn't About "Things"...

...but look at what I FINALLY got:

It has been on my wish list since 2004 - can't wait to start watching it.

Dec 23, 2006

The Not So Great American Novel

Very few people in my life know that my ultimate dream (aside from running away with "Greg Sanders" from CSI and living a nerdy life in Las Vegas) is to write/publish a novel. I have been reading books since the age of four and have been writing stories, poems, etc. since I was in 3rd grade. I am the ultimate Grammar Geek and love, love, love "Eats Shoots & Leaves." If you have not read this book, please do.

Anyway, I have been "writing" novels in my head for years - while taking a shower, driving to and from work, eating breakfast by myself. I have started a book - there's my big secret. Well, my husband knows, and only one person reads this, so it isn't much of a secret.

My problem is that I have the whole story in my head. I have characters. I compose dialogue while I brush my teeth and fold laundry. I have a tentative title (which I will not reveal at this point). I have even gone as far as writing notes, but I have yet to sit down and write. I find all kinds of excuses - too tired, too much laundry/cleaning, working on other projects, etc. Knowing and understanding my passion for writing, my father gave me a book about the actual act of writing and how we can overcome our mental obstacles. I have learned that I have a fear of rejection. I have a horrible case of perfectionism. The thought that runs through my head regularly is, "Who the hell am I to write a novel?" The best thing I have learned from this book is this:

I have the right to write!
So I will...

Dec 22, 2006

How Foggy Was It?

It was so foggy last night that the enormous eyesore that Walmart is was not even visible - and it's a "Super" Walmart, so you can imagine the amount of light this thing gives off.

The fog reminded me of the night back in 1995 when I drove 27 miles on country roads through really awful fog. Visibility was only 1/16 of a mile and no one wanted to pass me, so I had to be the lead car. By the time I got home, my arms were totally sore from tensing up while I drove.

Dec 21, 2006

How Quickly Time Passes...

Today marks the 6-month anniversary of my aunt's death. It still does not seem like she died. I still see her picture and shake my head in disbelief - like somehow, I imagined the whole thing. But I didn't. And she is gone.

One of these days I will sit down and write more about her, and all of the amazing things she did for me over the years - the impact that she has had on my life. But for now, here is a picture:

Dec 20, 2006


I changed the look of my blog. I gave in to peer, make that pressure. Everytime I went to post something new, blogger would ask me if I wanted to "make the change."

Anyway, I did, and so far I'm happy.

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation...

I am on vacation from work this week (well, since Tuesday). Yay for me!!! So far, I've done the following:
  1. Finished my holiday/birthday shopping
  2. Purchased everything I need for X-Mas Eve dinner
  3. Made 4 pounds of sugared pecans
  4. Ate a few handfuls of those pecans
  5. Wrapped most of the presents
  6. Called animal control on my neighbors (they have left their dog out in rainy, 38 degree weather ALL DAY)
  7. Paid some bills
  8. Got my new driver's license (where I officially signed the paperwork to change my last name). I will write more on this later, as it deserves its own post.

So, it might not sound like a lot, but it feels like a lot.

Dec 18, 2006


This is what happens when you work all day, go straight to a holiday party, and lack some serious sleep...

Dec 12, 2006

And Then There Were None...

On Saturday, my husband and I went to Chicago for the One of A Kind Show and Sale at the Merchandise Mart. My sister was involved in the show and we went for support and to see if there were any cool gifts we could buy for the holidays (and all of the December b-days in my family).

To make a long story short, the show was great, my sister was successful, and we had a good time walking up and down Michigan Avenue.

Something interesting/funny happened while we stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel - aside from the couple in their mid-forties who attended a holiday party at the hotel and passed out in front of their room covered in vomit. No, it was funnier than that. On Sunday morning, we had breakfast, checked out of the hotel, and asked for the valet to get our car. As we pull away from the hotel, my husband asked, "What happened to your pretzels?" Let me backtrack for a minute - about half way through our 3 hour drive, we stopped to get some snacks. I got a $1 bag of pretzels. They were quite good, but I only had a few and I think my husband had a couple. Anyway, back to those damn valets - they ate my freakin' pretzels!!!

Not only did they eat them, but they actually left the evidence in my car. The least they could have done was throw the bag away. I'm not really mad about it. I don't care about the $1 I spent on the stupid things, but come on guys. Buy your own freakin' pretzels!!!

Dec 2, 2006

Random Thoughts On a Blah Day...

I think I've lost faith. I believe in God (or some supreme power), but I don't think that prayer can heal or cure. I don't think miracles exist. I think that whatever God has planned is final. When my aunt was first diagnosed, we all prayed for her quick recovery. She responded to her treatment, and we all were thrilled and relieved, but things got bad again. Then they got worse, and we soon realized that we couldn't pray away her cancer. My grandma would say prayer after prayer after prayer, and mark them down on a sheet of paper - keeping track of how many she said each day, each hour. I couldn't look in her in the eyes - I felt like I knew a secret that she didn't. My aunt was not going to make it through this. She was not going to get better.

Maybe this is all a reaction to losing someone I loved very much to a disgusting, nasty disease. Maybe after some more time passes I won't feel this way.

What was the point of her getting cancer, fighting it so hard, and then dying? Was she supposed to learn something profound in those 8 short months? Were we? All I learned was to be incredibly fearful of cancer. I learned that having faith doesn't make a difference. I learned that the only people who believe in miracles are those whose stories have a happy ending. The rest of us just stop believing. Or at least I have stopped believing.

What I Should Be Doing

I should be cleaning out the dishwasher
I should be putting away the fall decorations and replacing them with Christmas ones
I should be folding laundry
I should be organizing the MESS in the spare bedroom
I should be doing something constructive

Instead, I'm sitting at the computer, typing away, listening to music, and wishing that I didn't have to do any of the above activities. I'm home alone, which is nice, but there's no one to talk to.
I enjoy the holidays, but am not really looking forward to them this year. My family is dealing with a lot right now and it doesn't seem like anyone's heart is into this season. I think we're all looking forward to January - a new year, a fresh start.

I'm dreading going to church on Christmas Eve. Being the only Catholic in my new family, it looks like I will be going by myself. I know I'm going to cry and I would really like someone to go with me. It might help me tone down the tears.

Tonight we're decorating the Christmas tree and making a gingerbread house. At least that's something to look forward to...

Nov 30, 2006

My Sister...

My sister rocks. She has been invited to participate in the One of a Kind Show and Sale located at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. She is being listed as an "Emerging Artist." I told you she rocks. To check out some of the cool stuff she does, go to her web site: Bliss

She got her artistic abilities from my mom. I, on the other hand, got mine from my dad. I don't think his feelings would be hurt if I mentioned ever so delicately that we both suck. My artistic skills peaked in the 6th grade when I did an awesome drawing (in some kind of heavy-duty foil product). My picture was of the ultra-hip band The Power Station. Anyone remember them? I saw them in concert with my sister and my mom, but I digress.

Anyway, looking forward to the show next weekend - will be driving back home to Chicago with my husband and staying overnight on Michigan Avenue (Hard Rock Hotel). It'll be strange to go "home" and stay in a hotel.

Sometimes it feels weird to be living in Iowa.

Nov 29, 2006

The Laugh

I dusted off the video camera last weekend when we went to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. Haven't used it in a while and thought I might get a chance over the holiday, especially with my niece and nephew joining us. It didn't take long for them to start playing and even singing me a very funny version of "Old McDonald."

Last night I sat down alone and decided to watch it - lots of laughs. As I was putting the camera back in its bag I noticed another tape sitting at the bottom. I popped it in and watched some movies I recorded in the summer of 2005 - my niece's dance recital, my stepson's baseball team winning the championship, and my niece and nephew's birthday party. As I watched the events of the party, I heard something that sent chills throughout my body. It was her voice. She wasn't on camera, but I could hear her talking. Then all of a sudden, there it was - the laugh. Her laugh. A laugh like no other. I listened to it over and over, only stopping for fear that I would wear out the tape and never be able to hear it again. Tears came to my eyes, but at the same time I couldn't stop laughing. I was laughing at her laugh.

I miss her a lot - especially now with the holidays upon us. We had our first Thanksgiving without her and soon it will be the first Christmas - a holiday that I so associate with her. For as long as I can remember we spent Christmas Eve at her house. Even as a little girl I would sit with her in her kitchen as she got dinner ready. As I got older, she let me help her put the food in the dishes and bring them to the table. Even after the fire in 1999, she insisted that she host Christmas Eve dinner in her tiny apartment she shared with Grandma while they waited for the home to be rebuilt. Last year we celebrated at her house again, all secretly hoping that the chemo that she endured would put an end to her cancer. This year we will celebrate at my sister's house - no one can bear the thought of spending the holiday at her house without her there. Without her laugh.

Nov 13, 2006

Not That This is About Competition...

The results are in and our Light The Night Team - Mary Lou's Cardinal Crew - came in 2nd Place in raising money for the Quad Cities Walk! Just a side note, but the "winning" team had about 20 walkers participating, while our team only had 4. By my calculations, they only averaged $240 per walker, whereas we averaged $378. So, even though this is NOT about competition, we won. We rock.

Just wait until next year...

Oct 17, 2006

Life As I Know It

My life changed 20 years ago today. Sometimes I think it was for the worse, but then again, I probably wouldn't be who I am today - writing this post. Years ago, I thought that this date would eventually mean nothing to me. It would hold no significance. Eventually, the memories would have to fade. It didn't work like that. Each and every October I look at the calendar and see that date. The 17th. There it is, looming larger than life - staring back at me. Now I don't think that I will ever not think about things on that day.

It's OK, though. I have made it twenty years. I have finished college and graduate school. I've had some wonderful and important jobs. I got married. I own a home. I have a family.

I am OK.

Oct 12, 2006

Hi Jason!

This post is dedicated to my friend, Jason. He is the only reader of my blog (even my dad stopped reading it). He also is a good person and a good friend - even though we live many miles apart.

We started work on the very same day back in September 2000 - and endured many hours in orientation. We had lunch together the day of my first date with my now husband (and he listened to me go on and on about how nervous I was). Together we watched the events of 9/11 unfold. I attended the baby shower for his first child. He and his wife attended my wedding.

That's a lot of big events in only 6 years!

So, for that (and all of the other unmentioned events, lunches, conversations, etc), I just wanted to say THANK YOU for being my friend. I wish I could see you and Angela more often.

Oct 9, 2006

I Cried Last Night

Saturday evening was the Light The Night Walk which supported the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I walked with my team - my mom, dad, and sister. It was a beautiful evening with the most perfect weather. It was a wonderful night because our team was able to raise over $1500, but it also was an emotional night - not even four months since she passed away. We were surrounded by all things cancer, so it was hard.

I got into bed last night and cried. I sobbed. I haven't done that since the day she died. I attended my stepson's baseball game - mostly to get my mind on something better than death. I only stayed for 30 minutes. I drove the short distance back home and as I pulled in the driveway I realized that I could no longer hold back the tears. I sobbed as I sat in the garage - fearful that the neighbor boy from across the street would stop by to say hi.

Last night was different. I wasn't sobbing because I had just lost someone I loved so much. I cried because all of the Light The Night prep work was over. I signed up for the walk just 5 days before she died. Ever since then my focus has been on organizing my team and raising money. Last night came the realization that it was over. The realization that now I needed to face the loss. Face the grief that I stuffed down inside me.

I am afraid to grieve - afraid that if I start crying I won't be able to stop. All I can think about was what my mom said to me the day before my aunt died, when we knew the end was near: "It's so sad. I'm just so sad."

Sep 21, 2006


When I was a little girl, I was fortunate to live very close to my grandma, and therefore, got to spend a lot of time with her. Each summer, my sister and I would take turns spending the night at her "house" - my aunt and uncle renovated their garage into her own little apartment. It was tiny, but so was she. She had her own bathroom and kitchen. She had a separate entrance into her place - it even had a working doorbell. It reminded me of a dollhouse. I loved it there.

The first time she invited me to spend the night, I was a little apprehensive. I was too young to attend sleepovers at my friends' houses, so I had never been away from my mom and dad. But she convinced me. She talked about this "magic bed" that I would get to sleep in and watch tv. A magic bed? What did it do? For the next two days I conjured up all kinds of images in my head. I finally settled on the idea that this bed would be able to lift me off the ground so I could see the tv better. That's it...I was sold! I couldn't wait to spend the night.

Turns out that the magic bed was actually just a cot. The magic part was that it could fold in half and be rolled into another room for easy storage. However, my cousin and I made it more magical by folding each other up in it and pushing it through the house. Ahh, the good old days...

I've been thinking about my grandma lately. She will turn 89 in December. She's had a difficult time lately - dealing with the loss of her daughter and now having to deal with the daughter she has left. The daughter she was never very close to. The daughter that she said cruel and demeaning things to over the past 60 years.

I was putting some makeup on earlier today and had a strange memory of my grandma. Whenever we would run errands with her (she never learned to drive), I would sit with her in the back seat of the car and she would reach in her purse. Over the years I learned that she was searching for one of three things: 1) a tissue, 2) hard candy, or 3) her compact. Whenever she pulled out her compact, she would rub some powder over her face. I would watch her intently as she did this. Every time, like clock work, she would look over at me and put some powder on my nose. It smelled funny - almost medicinal - but I loved it. I loved to listen to the "click" the compact made when she shut it closed.

When I was old enough to wear makeup (and buy my own), I bought the same compact my grandma used. I've never used anything else. It reminds me of her. I think it always will.

Sep 20, 2006

The Heat Is On...

...literally. The heat came on the other day for the first time since early spring. Actually, I was forced to turn it on when the temp inside the house reached 63 degrees. So for the past two days it has gone on and off throughout the day - mostly just in the evening and early morning.

This serves as a reminder that fall and winter are bearing down on us. I walked outside yesterday to get the mail and I was slapped in the face with the smell of either burning leaves or someone running their fireplace. I'm leaning toward the fireplace since there really aren't many leaves that have fallen - at least not in my neighborhood.

I love fall. OK, I love the concept of fall - leaves changing colors, Halloween, football games, jeans and sweaters, food that is not cooked on a grill, etc. However, with it fall brings many other things I could do without. The number one thing is the shorter days. How I hate that.

The shortened days and darkness coming at such an early hour can sometimes set me into a "mini-depression." Having been diagnosed as clinically depressed at the age of 14, I know what the serious stuff is all about. This isn't quite like that - similar feelings on a much smaller scale. Maybe I only feel that way for a couple of days, a week at most. I seem to be able to pull myself out of it rather well these days. Having family around me is always good and I am able to busy myself with activities and hobbies that I enjoy. At 14, the depression and anxiety paralyzed me. I could not see beyond it - no family, no friends, no hobbies could have pulled me away from it. I was consumed by my emotions. I was consumed by my thoughts.

This went on for quite a few months. My parents (thank God for them) were on top of things and a combination of therapy and medication helped me. Things seemed to be OK again. Life returned to "normal," and I laughed and enjoyed my family and friends once again. I did slip a few times over the next few years, but never once returned to that dark pit I couldn't see my way out of years before.

On a brighter note, I absolutely LOVE Halloween. I love dressing up, but as an adult I don't have much of a chance to do it. However, I married someone who also loves it, and my stepson is at the age where he still loves it. In fact, the three of us dress up together. In 2003, we went as Batman, Robin, and Catwoman. In 2004, we went as characters from "Gilligan's Island." Last year, we dressed up as two T-Birds and one Pink Lady a la "Grease." We rotate turns and each get to pick the costumes. This year is my stepson's turn to choose. We are all dressing up as Elvis - he is "Jailhouse Rock" Elvis, my husband is the brooding, 1950's Elvis, and I got stuck with white jumpsuit Elvis. Hmm...this will be interesting to say the least.

Sep 7, 2006

Good Day

Today was one of those days when I really loved my job. Maybe love is too strong of a word, but I felt very energized and excited about the work I do. This comes on the heels of a very crappy day. Let me just say it started with waking up at 7 AM with a migraine so painful that I would have preferred to have my dentist bore a hole in my head with her drill. Sometimes, when I have horrible migraines, I think about all of the painful things that would feel better than the actual migraine I was experiencing - this is how I came up with the dentist bit. My other favorites include:
  1. A jackhammer to the head/face
  2. A sledgehammer to the head to be swung by any of my favorite MLB players
  3. Banging my head against the wall...any wall
  4. Being stabbed in the eye (whichever eye is experiencing the pain)

OK, so this is morbid and kind of spooky, but what else can I do with my time when I'm dealing with a 17-hour migraine that, at times, I think just might kill me?

Back to my crappy day. It was not a 17-hour migraine - more like an 8-hour migraine. I was able to work once the meds kicked in, although I was higher than a kite for the first few hours. I refuse to get in to what exactly made the work day so crappy. I will not think about it any more than I already have because it is not healthy for me to stew about this. It is not healthy for me to go back to what I was feeling yesterday. All I will say is "Circus Tickets." I know what this means and 20 years from now, I can look back on this and recall the situation. That's all that matters.

So, it's no wonder today was better.

On a completely different note, I found this picture at my parents' house a couple of weeks ago. It's a picture of my sister, me, and my mom.

(Apparently, I can't get this picture to appear - I'll try again later)...

From the looks of things, we were at the "nature center," as we liked to call it. We did that a lot when I was young. I can so clearly remember running down the hill by the apple orchard, holding on to my big sister's hand and squealing with excitement as I got that funny feeling in my stomach as we descended. What happened to those times? How did I get to be 33 years old? How did I get to be so critical and negative? I remember being 4 or 5 years old and only caring about playing outside and going to the zoo or the "nature center" with my family. Now I worry about, well, everything. I care what people think of me - people that really shouldn't make a difference to me. I worry about having enough money to pay bills. I worry about getting a terminal illness. I worry about someone I love getting a terminal illness. I worry about getting old. I worry about failing - in work, in marriage, in life in general.

I don't really want to be that young again, mainly because I really don't feel like reliving all the bad times - broken hearts, high school, deaths, etc. But just for a few minutes, I'd like to have that feeling back. The feeling of no worries. The feeling of being excited about running through the sprinkler, waiting for my dad to come home from work, helping my mom fold towels, and eating a pb&j sandwich.

Aug 31, 2006


I've been missing in action for a while. Absolutely swamped with a huge grant. Government grants are just awful - 59 pages of instructions, yet so completely vague about certain things. The grammar geek that I am actually found errors in their RFP. They also made mistakes when referencing their own instructions. Such dorks. That is unless they actually give us the $86,000 to fund a new program. Then they'll be my new best friends...and I'll be the hero at the office.

After working 11 hours on Tuesday, 8 hours on Wednesday, then attending a 2 hour staff training Wednesday night, I came home and worked until 11 PM. I woke up extra early to get a head start this morning. I was still swamped...

Anyway, the due date was today at 4 PM and I got it in 20 minutes under the wire (cue the ESPN theme music).

I officially rock.

Aug 12, 2006


...would have been her 65th birthday. I cannot believe she has been gone for 6 weeks. It seems like just yesterday that we were hopeful for her recovery. Sometimes life just doesn't make any sense.

Happy Birthday, Auntie!

I hope that wherever you are, you are free from pain and celebrating this day with gusto :-)

Aug 4, 2006

How's The Fricassee?

This is one of my favorite lines from one of my all-time favorite movies - Fargo. I could watch it over and over. I'm not sure why I love it so much. Maybe because it takes place in the Midwest. Maybe because I love Frances McDormand and William H. Macy. Maybe because my ex-boyfriend thought the relationship that Frances McDormand had with her husband in the film was "boring." I always thought their relationship was sweet and reflective of what marriage can really be like in real life. What's so horrible about safety and stability?

But I digress.

There's just something about that scene at the buffet that gets me. The loading up of artery-clogging food, the way they carry their trays to the table, the eating in silence. And then there's the line:

"Hi Margie. How's the fricassee?"

"Pretty darn good. You want some?"

I just love that movie...

Jul 25, 2006

Words I'll Never Forget

At my aunt's wake last month, one of her friends (who I happen to know very well myself), came up to me and hugged me. While we hugged, she said something to me that made me cry. It wasn't just a cry, but one of those sobs that comes from deep within - the kind where you can feel your chest vibrate as you inhale. She said:

"She loved you so much. You were her Tracy."

Words I will never forget...

Jul 23, 2006

Stupid Spam!

I complain all of the time that no one reads this blog - it would be nice to have someone (aside from my wonderful father and loving husband) comment on something I've said. Maybe something that made them think, laugh, or even get angry (although I am just not a controversial person - at least not on this blog). Well, I got my wish. Unfortunately, my new "fan" is merely some stupid spam that leaves me bullsh** comments like, "Interesting information. Keep up your site." Of course you want me to keep up my site - just so you can send me more freakin' spam!!

Well, too bad. I had to change my blog so I can moderate comments. So, dad and hubby, if you do leave me any more comments, just know that I have the right to censor you :-)

Jul 18, 2006

How Weird Is This?

I was driving to a meeting in downtown Davenport this afternoon and was shocked (freaked out?) when I saw an elderly man wearing what I first thought were pajama pants walking down Locust Street. As I got closer, I realized they were not pajama pants, but were a sort of patchwork-style pair of pants. Not that this was so weird - hey, I have no problem with an unusual sense of style - but he also was wearing a t-shirt, colorful suspenders, some sort of a hat, and a giant red clown nose.

To make this story evening more peculiar was the fact that about 25 feet behind him was another elderly man dressed in a very similar outfit.

My husband thinks I was hallucinating, but I know what I saw...

Jul 12, 2006

Light The Night

I'm hosting a bake sale at work on Friday. Actually, I'm going to host one bake sale per week for the next three weeks. This week it's all about cookies - chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal raisin. I'm selling them for $.50 a cookie.

All of the proceeds will go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and to Team Mary Lou (in memory of my aunt who passed away on June 21, 2006 from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) - my family has organized a team to participate in the Light The Night Walk.

I know that absolutely no one reads this blog, but if for some reason someone is out there lurking, please check out this link:

Jul 8, 2006

A Good Memory

It's funny how a discussion on how bad the Cubs are this season sparked a memory I have from six years ago - a memory that has nothing to do with the Cubs:

It was August 2000 and I spent the day with my mom, dad, sister, and 6-week old niece. We traveled to Sawyer, Michigan to go blueberry picking. It was an annual trip - one of my father's co-workers had a summer home up there and invited the whole department (as well as family and friends) to pick blueberries once a year. After a long day of picking blueberries and having lunch in the hot summer sun, we headed home. Not a long drive, but long enough to make everyone sleepy. My brother-in-law was out of town (overnight), and my sister (a first-time mom) was a bit nervous about spending the night alone with her baby, so my mom offered to spend the night at her house. That left my dad and me to fend for ourselves...

After the long day, neither of us was interested in making dinner, so we decided to try a new Italian take-out restaurant - La Rosa's (unfortunately, it went out of business a couple of years ago). I think we just got a pizza, but perhaps there was some pasta involved. We drove together to pick up our order and talked about our trip to Michigan - trying to decide how to use the blueberries. When we got home, we ate the pizza at the kitchen table and both mentioned how much we liked it. After that, we sat in the nice, cool family room and watched the first televised preseason Chicago Bears game.

I'm not sure why this is such a good memory for me - honestly, it was one of my most favorite days. Maybe it was because it was just my dad and me. Maybe it was the good pizza. Maybe it was the Bears game (after a summer of baseball). Maybe it was the happy realization that fall was just around the corner. I think it was a combination of all of these.

I told this story to my husband this evening. I knew that I should write this down before I forgot it (the memory). I have a headache today and am feeling tired - I told myself I would write about it tomorrow. I decided that life gets too crazy sometimes and I would regret it if I ever forgot this memory, so I'm writing it now.

Jul 3, 2006

Very Belated Pictures

Here are some pictures from Las Vegas that I am just getting around to posting. I could take the time to explain what took so long, but a) I don't feel like typing out the whole stupid story and b) who really cares? No one reads this anyway. So, here they are...

Jun 28, 2006

Happy Birthday...

Reese! I can't believe you're 6 years old! I can't believe what an odd little girl you are - obsessed with science, King Tut, globes, and gold sparkly flip-flops.

You make me laugh...

Jun 25, 2006

In a Funk

I am having a hard time reading through my last few posts. Everything has happened so fast - the phone call on Tuesday afternoon from my mom, waiting for more information and feeling sick, getting in to bed on Tuesday night and being afraid to go to sleep and being awoken by the phone, the phone call that came at 5:57 AM with the bad news. Since then, we've all talked and cried and tried to make sense out of a situation that just doesn't make sense. A situation that will never make sense. Since that morning, I've driven home to see my family and hugged my parents tighter than ever. Since that morning, we've had the wake and the funeral - we've said our goodbyes. We've had the "funeral lunch" and sat and laughed. As we did that, I looked around the room. It felt like we were all there for a baby shower or a baptism. The only thing that was wrong was that one of us was missing. It's hard to believe that she will always be missing from these events - at least on a physical level.

I'm in a funk today. The funeral and "official" mourning is over. Now it's supposed to be back to our regular lives. But that doesn't happen. It's quiet in my house and I can't stop thinking about her. I can't stop thinking about how sad I feel. It's a deep sense of sadness - one that extends beyond my own sense of loss. I feel sad for my grandma who lost her daughter. I feel sad for my cousins who lost their mother, and now who have no parents. I feel sad for my mom who lost her sister (and her only sibling).

I hate this part of death - the after period when everyone who isn't directly involved goes back to their lives. The phone calls stop. The cards and letters stop. We're all left with this empty pit in our stomachs, wondering how (if?) we get back to a normal life/routine.

Right now I feel so far away from my family, even though I can get to them in about two and a half hours by car. I'm supposed to go to the movies with my husband in a few minutes. I know it's a good idea. I know that it will probably make me feel better even for a couple of hours, but I feel bad - guilty, almost.

I remember the day that she was diagnosed with cancer - October 14, 2005. I was shocked and upset and scared. He took me to a movie that night, too. It's kind of eerie now that I think about it.

I miss her so much already.

Jun 21, 2006


Mom just called. I knew the second the phone rang that it was bad news. She passed away about 15 minutes ago. I can't believe she's gone.

She fought so hard for 8 months. We are so proud of her.

I will miss her dearly.

Jun 20, 2006


Every time the phone rings, I jump. I jump. My heart jumps. My mind starts reeling - Oh, God. Please no. Let her hang on - just a little longer. Just until he gets home.

A Waiting Game...

Waiting for someone you love to die is the weirdest sensation. Those words don't even begin to encompass what it truly fees like. I had an odd feeling this morning when I tried to call Mom, but she didn't answer. Dad told me she was giving her some medication - morphine drops (never knew those existed). I felt like something was very, very wrong. You know that feeling? Mom calls a couple of hours later and I can hear her voice cracking and hear her trying to hold back the flood of tears that want to just rush forward - all those months of tears. She could be gone within a few hours. Hours? Are you serious? The other day they said maybe a month. How do you go from having one month to live, to only a few hours? I can't process the finality of this information. I can't process that she will no longer (physically) exist in our lives. She is too young. Too vibrant. Too funny.

My hands are shaking. My legs are shaking. I drove to the Catholic church across the street from our house. I went to the chapel to say one last prayer. I'm kicking myself because last night I fell asleep without saying the prayer I have been for the past few days. Did I really think this prayer would keep her alive and cure her? No, but that Catholic guilt really kicks in...

So, now we wait.

Jun 12, 2006

Random Things About Me...

1. I have another cold - this is the third in as many months.

2. I am addicted to CSI.

3. I didn't wash my hair today, but I still had a good hair day :-)

4. I haven't had chocolate in almost 5 months...

5. I really don't miss chocolate.

6. OK, I really do miss brownies :-)

7. I love the Cubs!

8. Husband and I froze our butts off at a May 12th Cubs game (42 degrees and raining!).

9. I just did some dishes and now my hands feel dry and cracked.

10. We have a nice dishwasher, but I always wash the big pots & pans by hand.

11. I'm tired of only being able to breathe out of one nostril.

12. I am half finished with crocheting a shawl - it has been too warm lately to work on it.

13. My sister sent me an awesome care package in the mail the other day - including pics of my niece and nephew.

14. This is going to be a stressful week at work :-(

15. I'm really thirsty - for a Coke.

16. I need to stop drinking so much Coke.

17. I need to clean the house, but I don't feel like it.

18. I need to get dinner started, but I don't feel like it.

19. I could use a new pair of black sandals I can wear to work, but I shouldn't spend the money.

20. I pray every day that someone will buy our house...

Things I am Grateful For...

1. My general good health (stuffy nose and all - I'm relatively healthy).

2. My family...both near and far.

3. My job - I might not always be happy to go to work, but I am employed and do something that I enjoy.

4. The fact that I can walk, talk, and think clearly (most of the time) - I tend to take these simple things for granted.

5. My home - a place to go to when I'm sick, tired, sad, and scared. It's a place where I feel safe even when I feel like things are out of control.

Jun 7, 2006

Something To Think About

I found this quote the other day - can't remember where. It seems fitting for the family situation we're dealing with:

"God never promised life would be fair. The promise was that when you inevitably have to confront the unfairness of life, He will be with you."

That's all I can pray for...

Jun 1, 2006

Not Happy...

I have a bad migraine. It started this morning, but wasn't too bad. Took something for the pain and thought it was getting better. Took more meds a couple of hours later. I forced myself to eat lunch and then that's when it really hit. I took more meds and asked my husband to pick up my prescription at Walgreens. Took two different prescriptions about 2 hours ago. Thought it was getting better, so I came downstairs to get online. Not a good idea. Pain. Lots of pain. Going back to bed...

May 26, 2006

Two Posts In One Day

We just got back from dinner. I normally cook dinner 6 of the 7 days in the week. I was tired tonight and knew that there was no way I was going to cook dinner and then have to clean up the dishes. We tried a new Chinese restaurant. It was so good - the best I've had in a long time. We ate too much, though. Way too much. Right now I'm chewing on some gum, hoping it will make me digest faster. Someone told me that once - don't remember who...

May 25, 2006

Let's Try Something New

I could have written about all the changes going on recently - most of them not very good. In fact, on Tuesday night I started to write about everything, but grew tired and empty. I still want to write about all that "stuff," and most likely will very soon, but thought that I should try something new. Something fun.

I have been trying my hand at scrapbooking. I read the magazines and am in awe of the creativity that exists out there. I don't consider myself to be very creative, but I do love taking pictures and writing, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Basically, I kind of stink at it, but I chalk it up to my beginner status and the fact that I am a perfectionist, which means that nothing will ever live up to my own standards (horrible curse!).

I took my first stab at digital scrapbooking. It has taken me a while to even figure out what I'm doing, but I finally came up with a layout. Kind of basic. Maybe a tad boring. However, I did it. I'm going to try to post it here. It's a picture I took off our balcony when we were in Cancun for our honeymoon.

May 10, 2006

Not Much Time... blog. Had a really bad case of bronchitis two weeks ago. Held our major special event at work on Monday (worked all day and night on Monday through Friday, about 8 hours over the weekend, and 12 straight hours on Monday). Had a MAJOR migraine yesterday and into the night - lots of meds and one very long and painful visit to Walgreens pharmacy.

Hopefully, life will return to "normal" very soon.

Apr 24, 2006

It's a Record!

The last day that I had any form of chocolate was on January 21, 2006. It was two days after my birthday and Husband and I went out to eat. Knowing that this was my last taste of chocolate, we went all out and ordered for dessert a warm fudge brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, covered in hot fudge sauce and Cool Whip. Yum!

It's now three months later and I still haven't had any chocolate. I don't count the brownie that I licked because I didn't actually ingest any of it...

Apr 17, 2006


I just realized how long it has been since I last posted anything. Life seems to have taken us all on a rollercoaster during the past few weeks. Good news, bad news, even worse news, the worst news imaginable, a "glimmer-of-hope" news, better news, and on and on and on...

Up and down, up and down. It's enough to make me sick.

This whole cancer situation has had me thinking about how much I hate it when people say, "Life isn't fair." Yeah, I know that, but why is it so completely unfair to certain people? Why do some people get handed such crap to deal with and obstacle after obstacle to face, when others seem to just skate by in life?

I've got some theories, but none that are well-thought out enough to put into writing.

Apr 3, 2006

No Hope

The doctors say there is no hope. The only other option is a stem cell transplant. So doesn't that mean that there still is some hope?

Apr 1, 2006

It's Back

The cancer is back. I don't understand how this could be happening. Didn't we just get the good news only a few short weeks ago that there were no signs of cancer? Didn't the doctor just tell her that she would never get cancer again in her lifetime? How could it have returned so fast?

I don't understand.

Mar 31, 2006

Carb Lover's Recipe

I was raised in a family that ate a lot of carbs - pasta, bread, potatoes (any and all kinds), etc. Personally, I don't see that as being a problem. However, there has been, and continues to be a trend where people actually cut carbs from their diets. Weird, right? Well, I'm not one of those people. I cannot and will not give them up. Having said that, here is one of my favorite recipes:

You Won't Be Single for Long Vodka Cream Pasta
Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
Coarse salt and pepper
16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
Crusty bread, for passing

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.

Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Pass pasta with crusty bread.

Mar 30, 2006

What's Happening?

In the past 5 months, my family has had to deal with the following issues:
  • Stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Advanced prostate cancer
  • Alzheimer's

What's happening to my family?

We are in dire need of some good news...

Mar 26, 2006

What Did I just Eat???

I'm not on a diet. I don't need to lose weight, but I do need to change my eating habits - specifically, I need to be more consistent. I am a sporadic healthy eater. Fortunately, I love almost all vegetables (no asparagus, please). So, after a hectic week at work and 5 straight days with migraines, here is what I ate on Friday:

peanut butter (lots and lots of peanut butter) on wheat toast and a glass of OJ

Cheese pizza and water

Cheese pizza and a Diet Coke

Two peanut butter cookies (Girl Scout!) and water

While eating dinner, I commented to Husband, "I didn't eat a single vegetable today."

Husband: "So what?"

OK, in my defense: 1) I had my performance review at work, so I wasn't really hungry for lunch, 2) With it being Lent, I felt like my choices were limited, and 3) Stepson had a sleepover, and as we all know, kids love pizza.

Lame excuses, I know, but what can I say. OK, so Saturday wasn't much better...

Mar 23, 2006

Spring Has Sprung

I was ironing my shirt this morning and, like I usually do, looked outside to see what was going on in our neighborhood - not much at 7 AM. That's when I noticed the tree right outside the window in our spare bedroom (yes, that is where the ironing board is setup). There were buds, actual buds on the trees! I couldn't have been happier. Despite the snow we had on Monday, spring is actually here.

Now if only the baseball season would officially start...

Mar 21, 2006

Headache At Work

It has been a while since my last post. Things have been hectic at work ever since returning from Las Vegas, which reminds me that I need to post some pictures from our trip.

I'm at work right now...with a migraine. Actually, the migraine is gone thanks to a nice, strong dose of narcotic painkillers. I don't know why I feel the need to distinguish between "pain relievers" and my painkillers. It must be because I've had lots of people ask me if a migraine is "just a really bad headache." I usually just laugh and explain that it's not even the same kind of pain as a regular headache.

So, right now I am working on our big special event our agency has once a year - a golf event. I know nothing about golf, but I do know how to run a huge fundraiser. I'm trying to focus on my work, but it's difficult now that the meds have kicked in.

Mar 11, 2006

It's a Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood

It has been a gorgeous day today. I believe it actually hit 73 degrees the last time I checked. We had the windows open all day - it smells and sounds like summer. There's just something in the air that smells sweet. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but I love it. There seems to be a lot more traffic, but maybe that's just because I have the window open. The birds are out in full force. I'm sure they'll be in for a big surprise when it drops back down into the 30's at the beginning of the week. I guess this is to be expected in mid-March in the Midwest. I remember one Sunday during my freshman year in college. It was February 28th and the temperature reached 78 degrees! I had an English paper that was due the next day and it was so difficult to stay in my room and finish it while I heard everyone outside laughing and playing Frisbee (why was that so popular in college?). As soon as I was done, I headed outside with the rest of my friends. I remember thinking that I had better soak it all in because I just knew we'd be getting more snow soon.

I'm waiting for baseball to start. Believe me, I love football, and I love my Bears, but I just HATE the time between the Super Bowl and the baseball season. Boring. I was able to catch one pre-season Cubs games on TV the other day. God, I can't wait...

Mar 8, 2006

I Made it Back Alive (and other thoughts)

Well, I made it back from Las Vegas alive and well - aside from the raging migraine I developed while waiting outside of In & Out Burger. Actually, it started while we walked through a mall near Treasure Island. I like malls. I like shopping (even if it is just the window type). I think it was a stress-related migraine. The problem was that I took a painkiller in the morning before checking out of the hotel. I couldn't take another one because soon we would be at the airport, and I would be downing a Valium to get through the flight. Valium and Barbituates - it could have landed me on E's True Hollywood Story (or non-Hollywood story).

But I digress...

We made it back, and I loved Las Vegas. I'm picking up my pictures tomorrow afternoon and I can't wait to see them. I'm a bit worried some of them didn't turn out - especially the ones I took at night. I'm also totally paranoid that the scanners at the airport destroyed my film even though the sign said that all film under 800 would not be harmed. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

On to a different topic-

I've decided that sugar isn't what is triggering my migraines, but that the culprit is chocolate. Not a huge deal to me as I've never been much of a sweets eater or a chocoholic, but I do love my brownies. I haven't had chocolate in almost 7 weeks and I really think I'm OK about it (aside from that desperate moment a few weeks ago when I licked a brownie and then promptly threw it away). However, today I went to Walgreens to drop off my film. I picked up a b-day card for my grandpa (who will celebrate his 90th birthday on March 15th!). I strolled down the candy aisle to see what was there. I think there is only one candybar in the entire world that contains no chocolate - Payday. I bought it and ate half of it. It's actually really good. Of course, it's no fudgy brownie.

Feb 26, 2006

In 48 Hours...

...I will be on an airplane to Las Vegas. Hopefully, we will safely be up in the air on a smooth and easy flight. I pray that my Valium will be working and that I will be oblivious to the fact that I am on a plane, 30,000 feet in the air (or however high those darn things fly). I have my list of "airplane accessories" to help me through the flight:

- A good book, Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella (a funny, light read)
- Crossword puzzles - not too hard, not too easy
- A good, trashy magazine like US Weekly
- A copy of Simple Scrapbooks
- A blank notebook in which I can write my ideas and thoughts (if I'm feeling anxious, things I want to see in LV, pictures I want to take, etc.)

I'll probably write one more time before we leave. I'm really trying to control my anxiety. It's hard, but I've done it before...and I was successful.

Feb 22, 2006

What's Up With My Throat?

I woke up this morning with my throat feeling kind of "funny." Not necessarily sore, but it also didn't feel normal. Most people would think only a hypochondriac would grab a flashlight and check out his or her throat. I'm not a hypochondriac, but I did have a horrific case of tonsillitis in January 2005 (and February 2005) that not only felt like swallowing razor blades, but also:

- kept me from sleeping
- made me cry
- made me refuse to swallow my own saliva
- made me actually eat ice cream at 5 AM (and I don't like ice cream!).

So, at 6 AM, I pulled out my flashlight and took a look. Yep, I saw more disgusting white patches/blisters on my left tonsil - I do need to admit that I'm not even sure what a tonsil looks like. Anyway, it was there. This would be the fourth time in one year that this has happened.

To make a long story short, I just got back from the doctor, after enduring another throat culture, just to find out that it is probably just a viral infection. I'm not saying that I wanted it to be strep or tonsillitis, but at least that diagnosis makes sense to me. Should I expect to see these foreign objects in my throat every time I get a virus?

I was told, however, that I can eat "frozen desserts" if that would help. Now only if I was able to eat sugar...

Feb 20, 2006

It's a Go...I Guess

I got a call from my doctor this morning. She called in my prescription for Valium, which means that I will be getting on a plane in one week. I'm very apprehensive about this. Everyone around me thinks I'm so lucky to be going to Las Vegas for almost 5 days. Why can't I think I'm lucky?

Feb 17, 2006

Memory Is a Funny Thing

My father tells me I have a memory like a steel trap. This used to make me laugh, but now I actually think it might be true. I can remember just about everything - mostly odd things like the names of obscure songs, television shows, actors, etc.

I once read (or was told by someone) that the sense of smell is the most closely related to memory. I find this to be so true:

- The smell of Salon Selectives hairspray immediately transports me back to my junior year of high school.

- The smell of vanilla reminds me of when I was little and my mom would spend one entire day baking Christmas cookies.

- The smell of lilies takes me back to my grandma's funeral - the sickeningly sweet smell turns my stomach to this day.

- The smell of fresh orange juice makes me think of the warm mornings Patrick and I sat eating breakfast overlooking the Caribbean in Mexico.

Feb 13, 2006

The Countdown Begins

So, two weeks from right now, Patrick and I will be on our way to my parents' house. We're spending the night, getting up early, and flying out of O'Hare and in to Las Vegas. How I want to shout "Vegas, Baby!!!," but don't out of fear any bit of excitement will only jinx our flight. Maybe I will say it once we land safely.

This reminds me that I need to call my doctor to get a prescription for Valium. Valium helped me get to Cancun for our honeymoon. Valium is my friend.

Feb 7, 2006

Another migraine...

I've got a migraine today. I'm not sure if it's a new one, or the same one from yesterday that started at 11 AM. I just took more painkillers - can't believe I'm not addicted to them yet. I did a little migraine math last week - I figured that I get about 10 migraines per month, which means that I get approximately 120 in a year. With 365 days in a year, I'm miserable about 33% of the year. That's insane...

I also found some cool "migraine art" that depict how a migraine feels. It's impossible to actually describe the pain, but I think these pictures do a great job. Here are my favorites:

The pain in and around the eye is unbearable...

Even the smallest bit of light can hurt...

This is how I feel after 17 hours of a migraine with no relief from any medication (including narcotic painkillers).

Looking at these pictures makes me sad.

Feb 2, 2006

I Blog, Therefore I Am???

If I blog, but no one reads it, does it exist? Some would argue no. I say yes. Maybe these are just words floating out there in the massive abyss of other blogs, but they are my words. My thoughts. So far, only one person has read my blog and made comments - my dad. Does it get any better than that?

Feb 1, 2006

Digital vs. Film

I just purchased a "slightly used" zoom lens for my camera - a fantastic camera my parents got me for my birthday 6 years ago. To get specific, it's a Canon 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 EF III Lens, and I'm so excited to start using it (yes, it's another bit of incentive to get on that plane - just think of all those pictures I can take!).

My purchase got me thinking about the whole digital camera vs film camera debate that goes on. Let's face it, there are people who love one or the other. I will admit that the digital camera (which I only use at work) does have it's benefits, but I am still a film camera girl at heart. I grew up with an amateur photographer as a father, which means that I was photographed regularly as a child (and teenager). If I'm not mistaken, he purchased his camera within the first couple of years of my birth. Hmm...maybe even before that. He was always experimenting with the aperture settings, the focus (which was NOT automatic!), and even black & white film - way before we were able to scan pictures into the computer and with the click of a mouse, change our once colorful pictures into b & w.

So, I am a staunch supporter of film cameras, and here are a few reasons why:

  1. Digital cameras offer our already too fast-paced society even more instant gratification. Yes, we still have 1-hour photo shops (in which I do not partake), but we still have to WAIT to see the pictures.
  2. I love the way that camera film smells. Weird? Yes. But who cares?
  3. Let's not forget about the sound a real camera makes when it takes a picture. It's not a beep, but a nice, solid click.
  4. I don't care what anybody says, digital pictures just do not look as good as developed film.
  5. And finally, I saved my biggest reason for last. Digital cameras let you delete your mistakes. I love my "mistake pictures" - blurry pics, closed eyes, uncentered focal points, etc. Even if the picture doesn't look good, it's still a picture I took at a certain (probably important) time in my life. I don't want to erase my mistakes. Mistakes are what makes us who we are. Life would be pretty boring if we could always just delete what we didn't like, what didn't look good, what didn't turn out the way we thought. Where would I be if I didn't make those mistakes? What kind of person would I be if I never learned from those mistakes?

Jan 26, 2006

I Finally Learned How to Hem My Own Pants

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been able to sew. She could hem, fix a hole in a pair of pants, and even make clothes for my sister and me - yes, I have pics to prove it. When I think about her when I was a little girl, she always had a needle and thread with her. She was just amazing. So, you think coming from this gene pool, I too would be skilled at sewing. Think again. Hundreds of times I would bring home a too long pair of pants and ask my mom to teach me how to hem them. Deep down inside, though, I prayed she would not want to bother teaching me (have I mentioned I'm stubborn and hard-headed?), and just go ahead and do it herself. I'm not quite sure if she didn't have the patience to teach me, but she always ended up hemming them herself.

Last weekend was a breakthrough! I visited for my birthday, and brought home a great pair of Kenneth Cole pants that I have had for over a year, but have never hemmed. Right before I left to come back home, she gave me a quick lesson, and might I add a very good one. Last night, I sat down, turned on the Australian Open, and hemmed my pants all by myself. I've yet to talk to my mom this morning, but I'm sure going to tell her the good news.

It's funny how such a small accomplishment can make me feel so proud of myself.

Jan 23, 2006

Airplane to Vegas = Panic Attack

Patrick and I are leaving for Las Vegas on February 28th. This means that I have over one month to completely panic over the fact that I have to get on an airplane. I'm trying to deal with my fear by thinking about all the fun we will have (if the plane doesn't rip in half while in mid-air). I've been looking up some info on where we're going to be staying - Paris Las Vegas. Here are some pictures.

Our hotel:

The view from our hotel:

Another view of our hotel at night:

Choose Your Attitude

Ugh...I'm dreading work this week. I have a meeting on Wednesday that doesn't even start until 4:30 PM. My usual hours are from 8 AM to 4 PM, which means that my brain starts shutting down around 3 PM. I'm definitely a morning person in the sense that I do my best thinking and writing anywhere from 8 AM - 12 PM.

I took a vacation day on Friday and today, so I think I'm dreading things more than usual. I keep telling myself that it won't be that bad - my attitude is only making it worse. Ironically, we had a management meeting at work and talked about how our attitudes can affect our work, etc. Anyway, I heard the phrase "choose your attitude," and I've been trying to use that when I get into a funk (like right now). I'm not normally one of those perky, cheery, ain't life grand people. I mean, I like to try to think positively and see the silver lining, but I completely understand when other people get in pissy moods and just want to vent or complain. I would never tell anyone else to choose their attitude - mostly because if someone said that to me...

I'm OK thinking it to myself. So, I'm going to do my best to choose my attitude for tomorrow and especially for Wednesday.

Jan 21, 2006

That Fateful Day...

I just got back home from visiting mom and dad for the weekend - well, part of the weekend. I cannot believe that it has been almost 3 years since I moved out here. I can so clearly remember when we packed up my car for the big move. It's not even that far from them (a rather quick 3-hour drive), but at times - like right now - I feel like I'm living on the other side of the country. It was a cold and cloudy afternoon in February. I think it was a Sunday. My little car was packed and I was ready to leave. I was so scared and so sad, because unlike all the other weekends I pulled out of that driveway, I was not coming back two days later. This was for good.

Patrick and I ate dinner that night with his parents. Not only was I nervous about starting my first day at my new job, but I was experiencing the most bizarre lightheaded, out-of-body sensation. What am I doing here? When can I go home? Who are these people sitting at the table with me? Where's my family? I want my family. We got back to Patrick's house, where I would be staying until my apartment was ready. I was freaking out and ended up doing things on autopilot - picked out my clothes for the next day, made my lunch (unable to locate the jelly for my pb & j sandwich; who has the pb in their house without the j?), made sure I had all of my legal/financial documents needed for that first day of a new job. I went to sleep. At least I think I did.

Next morning, I went to work. It was a blur, but I do recall that Patrick dropped off a brand new jar of grape jelly for me. This made me smile - the only bright spot in that entire day. The people were weird and I wasn't sure I would ever be able to handle the projects I would be in charge of. Why did I ever up and quit one of the best jobs I'd ever had? By the end of the day, I was exhausted, frightened, hungry, and lonely. Walking out of the building toward my car, I relished in the cold, bitter air that hit my face. I pulled out my cell phone and called my dad. "I don't think I like this. I think this was a huge mistake," was what I desperately wanted to share with him. But I couldn't. I faked like it was an OK day. I told him about my new co-workers and that the work seemed interesting, but would be an adjustment. He told me, like a good father should, to hang in there and to call them tomorrow - maybe things would be better (I knew he could sense the apprehension in my voice). As soon as I hung up, hot tears filled my eyes. I sat in the parking lot of my new job and sobbed - alone. Had I just made the biggest mistake of my life? I have no family, no friends, no connection to the past 30 years. The crying didn't stop there. I cried all the way home (a home that wasn't really mine), while I sat in the car and waited for Patrick to pick up the pizza, while I ate the pizza, and while I got ready for bed. I cried until my head ached and my eyes swelled shut. It was a bad day - a day I don't like to think about. A day that no one close to me even knows happened.

Visits to see my family are a blast - we laugh, go out to eat, and always hit the bookstore. The down side is that once I leave, I feel an emptiness. It's usually not so bad when I leave with Patrick. Today's trip was by myself. I had 175 miles to think about how much I miss them (I'm crying right now and think I should stop writing).

I've wanted to write about this day that occurred almost 3 years ago, but never had the courage. So now I did. It's out of my system. I really don't want to think about it any more - it's just too difficult. So now I will turn my attention to something a bit less emotional - the dirty dishes in the sink and what Patrick and I will be having for dinner tonight.

Jan 19, 2006

Birthday Thoughts...

Well, I'm officially 33 today. My birthday started off with an entirely too long meeting at work - isn't 3 hours a bit too long to spend in a warm, cramped room with your coworkers? Although, I did get my yearly birthday phone call from my mom and dad, including a duet of "Happy Birthday." That always makes me smile. It makes me appreciate not only having parents who still sing Happy Birthday to me even though I'm well into my 30's, but the fact that my parents are really good, funny, and interesting people. I miss them a lot...

Birthdays seem like the perfect time to sit back and reflect on your life - at least for me. I've been thinking a lot about the title of this blog - An Unencumbered Life. It came to me very easily. I guess I always thought it would make a great title to something - a book, a song, a movie. Anything, really. Does anyone live an unencumbered life? No fear. No anxiety. No self-doubt. No sadness. No regret. Is that even possible? Maybe that is why I chose this title.

Yes, this is a little morose for a birthday entry, but I can't help the fact that I get reflective on and around my birthday.

On brighter note, Patrick took me to dinner tonight to one of our favorite restaurants - one that we used to go to when we first started dating oh so many years ago (OK, it was only 5 years ago). We had a nice time and even got a free piece of cheesecake!

I guess turning 33 isn't so bad...

Jan 18, 2006

Day One

I'm a blogger virgin. I've never done this before, although I've kept handwritten journals since the age of 14. Considering that my 33rd birthday is tomorrow, I'd say that's quite a long time - and quite a stack of journals. I started writing in a spiral-bound notebook - the kind you get for school. The kind that teachers hate because when you tear out the page, you leave that annoying jagged edge. Nothing fancy. I used it religiously, and if I'm not mistaken, I finished the notebook before the school year was even over. Notebooks satisfied me for a while - they were easy to find and they were inexpensive. Two things that were important to me in my early teens (and even my college years).

Soon, however, I discovered these fancy, beautiful hardbound journals. I imagined writing all about my exciting life - romances, travels around the world, and my meetings with fascinating strangers. Not quite. They're actually filled with painful stories of unrequited love, bad first dates, difficult break-ups, struggles to finish graduate school, anxiety over finding a "real" job, etc. Quite a number of years ago - almost 20 to be exact - my father gave me a book as a gift. It's by Hugh Prather, and it's called Notes to Myself: My struggle to become a person. If I could steal that title without getting in trouble, I would. That seems to be the theme of my journals.

Despite being 24-hours shy of turning 33, and having finished graduate school and found a "real" job, I still feel like I struggle to become a person. I don't think that's a bad thing.

So, why the blog? In the past couple of years, my journal writing has slowed down. I don't seem to have the time or the energy to sit down with my notebook or journal. Honestly, it makes me kind of sad. I feel like if I ever decide to read through my life, a few years will be missing. And they were good years, too. Somehow, I always find the time to sit at my computer, so I decided that the blog is the way to go. Who knew that I would ever make the "journaling" switch? Not me, that's for sure.