Feb 28, 2007


Today is the day we are supposed to find out the results of my father's biopsy. I'm working from home today, and it is so quiet in the house. I know I won't hear anything for a while because my dad actually isn't even home. He decided to go the Museum of Science and Industry today with my mom, my sister, and my niece and nephew. He decided that he could not sit at home and just wait for the doctor to call. I think this was a good decision.

A few years ago my father had another cancer scare. He was once again waiting for biopsy results for prostate cancer. The day before he was to get the results, we were sitting and talking about everything else but cancer. All of a sudden, my dad got very quiet and said, "What if everything isn't OK? What will I do?" I'm sure I wasn't any help, but I told him that we didn't even need to think about that until we got the results. Easier said than done, but I didn't know what else to say.

So once again we find ourselves waiting. I am trying to take my own advice and not worry about it until I hear the news. I realized this morning that I haven't even said a prayer. I don't believe that it would help. Whatever is going to happen will happen whether or not I pray for a good outcome. That might sound pessimistic, but it's true. When my aunt was dying, my father confided in me that he would pray while he waited for his biopsy results - pray that he wouldn't have cancer. He told me something that I thought was quite profound. He said, "Who the hell am I not to get cancer? What makes me so special that I should be spared from this disease?"

Ugh. I hate this not in control feeling...

Feb 27, 2007


  • I've been plagued by serious migraines this past week (especially on Thursday and Sunday). Not sure what's going on.
  • I'm incredibly anxious as we wait to get my father's biopsy results.
  • This is a very hectic week at work for me. Grants, meetings, special events, etc.
  • I'm not feeling well in a general sort of way. I don't know what it is, I just feel yucky. Headaches, fatigue, achy, nauseated, etc. And if one more person asks me if I'm pregnant, I just might scream.

Feb 24, 2007

Bad Weather Can Be A Good Thing

We are in the midst of a blizzard. Well, I'm not 100% sure what constitutes a true blizzard, but within the past few hours we've had rain, sleet, hail, snow, and winds gusting over 40 mph. The forecast for the rest of the weekend is only going to get worse - approximately a 1/2 inch of ice which then will be covered by about 7 inches of snow.

There are two ways to look at this: 1) "Oh shit" and 2) "This is fantastic, we don't need to leave the house today, tonight, or the rest of the weekend." I am choosing #2. My stepson's basketball game was cancelled, which in all honesty, made my day. That sounds awful, but a 7 PM game during a "blizzard" just didn't sound appealing to me. I really wanted to tackle the laundry that is piling up, organize some crap in the spare bedroom, and find a place for all of my cookbooks and cooking magazines. I know that my husband was upset when the game was cancelled, but I told him that we could spend the evening having dinner, watching a movie, playing board games/video games, etc. We have my stepson this week, and I know he would just love this kind of night. Besides, I just baked some homemade "Toffee Blond Brownies" from Cooking Light. Yum yum.

I definitely am one of those people who loves a day like this - the weather is bad and I'm forced to stay inside. For some reason I'm so much more productive on days like this.

Feb 23, 2007

It's Official...

Well, the potential buyer of our house counter-offered once again and my husband flat out rejected it. We were bending over backwards for this man because we so desperately needed to sell the house. However, we were not going to just give the darn thing away. So, we really are back at square one.

This is our house:

I'm not showing it so that someone out there who might run across this blog will buy it, but I feel like I want people to see it. To give it some respect. It has been a good house for us. Lots of good times here. Someone somewhere is searching for their first home - the perfect home. Eventually we'll sell it, and those people will be as happy as we were.

The Big "C"

Apparently this is my 100th post. Not really that exciting, but something worth noting.

I spoke with my mom yesterday afternoon and she told me that during a visit to the dermatologist, my father had a biopsy done. He was having some marks on his arm checked out. Those looked fine, but the doctor noticed something on his ear. He was suspicious of skin cancer and conducted a biopsy.

I know that in the "big picture," skin cancer can be one of the most curable forms of cancer (aside from melanoma), so there probably is no reason to worry. However, I know that I, along with the rest of my family, is still scarred from my aunt's battle with cancer. Yes, it was advanced. Yes, it was incredibly aggressive. But (and this is a big but), at one point that asshole oncologist looked her in the eyes and told her she was cured - she would never again get cancer in her life. Just one month later, he would look her in the eyes again and tell her there was no hope. With my family's urging, he agreed to send her to the University of Chicago for what he stated would be "the most aggressive treatment possible." Four weeks later the cancer spread to her brain. Three weeks after that, she died.

So, I don't care what anyone tells me about curable and incurable cancers. It's still the big "C," and the big "C" really sucks.

Feb 21, 2007

So Long Old Friend

Today marks my first day without a Coke or Diet Coke. Or Pepsi or Diet Pepsi or Sprite or any carbonated beverage for that matter. I'm giving this up for Lent. So for the next 6 weeks I expect to be crabby. The thing is that I don't even drink that much - maybe the equivalent of one can per day. In fact, I've gone a couple of days without any. So, it's not that I'm giving it up because of how much I drink. I'm giving it up because I know it will be hard to give up.

I also feel the need to launch into a discussion of how even though I abide by the "rules" of Lent, I have many deeply rooted issues with the Catholic church. Unfortunately, I'm dealing with a bad cold - my nose is stuffed up and my head is throbbing. So, that part of the post is going to have to wait.

On a side note, my doorbell just rang. I thought it was the "super cool" pair of boots I just purchased from Zappos. However, it was two nice women who were handing out some reading materials - The Watchtower: Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom. I have no specific comments about the brochures, but find it kind of creepy that I was just talking about my issues with my religion when these women showed up.

Feb 20, 2007

In Just Spring...

I had to run an errand for work this afternoon. When I walked outside, I could not believe how warm it felt. The sun was shining and I later learned it was in the mid- to upper-40's. The snow was melting and the air smelled clean. It smelled fresh. It smelled of hope. All I could think about was my favorite poem in the world. It was written by my favorite poet, e. e. cummings:

In just-
spring when the world is mud-luscious
the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddie and bill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and betty and isbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

the goat-footed

balloonman whistles

I just love the words "mud-luscious" and "puddle-wonderful." So descriptive. They take me back to being a little kid and enjoying the first hints of spring - the puddles of melting snow and the smell of spring in the air. My mom would put us in our pastel-colored windbreakers, pulling the hoods over our heads and tying the strings into knots under our chins. I felt like I could play for hours outside, but pretty soon the early spring air would get to me and I'd run inside with my cheeks pink and my nose running.

Those days seem so far away. Sometimes I just long to have one of those days back.

Feb 19, 2007


My niece drew this picture for me - it's called "Family Vacation," - drawings of me, my husband, my stepson, and our two cats.

I love the fact that I'm almost as tall as my husband. I love his high-waisted pants. I also love that our cat, Jordan, has thumbs in the picture (which he also has in real life).


I am in the funk of all funks:
  1. I'm sick again. It's nothing more than a sore throat, a cough, and a bit of a stuffy nose, but I was just sick a few weeks ago with bronchitis.
  2. I had plans for this past weekend to do some major organizing at home. Since I wasn't feeling well, I didn't get much done.
  3. We're still dealing with the guy that wants to buy our house, but has issues with the plumbing in the bathroom. My husband wants to tell him to go screw himself. I want to at least exhaust all of our resources before we tell him to go screw himself. So, our realtor is getting a plumber to give us an estimate and blah, blah, blah.
  4. My husband and I got into an argument over a chicken caesar salad. Yes, a stupid salad. We both were crabby for various reasons and this is how it manifested itself.
  5. I only slept for 4 hours last night. I couldn't fall asleep and then I woke up and thought I heard someone in the house. My husband offered to check things out, but I wasn't sure how I felt about that. He ended up going and did a very thorough check. He came back to bed and said, "It's all clear. Everything is fine." It was a very CSI moment.
  6. Then I got a call at 7 AM from someone at work asking me to pick up the Mardi Gras cake for our party. However, the cake was not going to be ready until 8:30 AM (I start work at 8 AM), so I didn't end up getting to work until after 9 AM (the cake was NOT ready when I got there). It did smell really good, though.

I hate being in a funk.

Feb 15, 2007


I'm still in a funk over the house, but had to post something a bit more positive. I made these cakes for my husband last night for Valentine's Day. We still have two more, so I think I'll bake them tonight. That should take care of the funk.

You Know It's Not A Good Day When You Have to Carry Around Antacids

I'll get right to the point with this one. My husband and I received an offer on our house last week. We counter-offered and it was accepted. We felt as though we gave in too much, but after 2+ years of paying two mortgages (plus taxes, insurance, etc.), we desperately need to get rid of this house.

Last night, the deal fell through. This is the second time this has happened. The first time, a young woman got cold feet at the last second and backed out. This time, a young man was concerned about the age of the plumbing in the bathroom and feels like he might have to remodel it if something goes wrong. The problem is that we already agreed to purchase a 1-year warranty on the house. This protects the buyer and the seller, so we're not sure what this guy's problem is.

So, we're back at square one. I am sick over this. Literally sick. I feel like someone lit a match inside me and my stomach is slowly burning away. I have been living on antacids since last night. I am staring at the bottle right now, wondering if it's too soon to take some more.

I don't know what else to do. I don't know if we can handle this any longer.

All I know is that I don't have a choice. I can't run away from this no matter how much I want to. Every morning that I wake up I must strap onto my shoulders this financial, emotional, and physical burden. I must carry it with me every moment of every day like I have for the past 2 years.

Sometimes it's just too much.

Feb 13, 2007


One night last week, my husband, stepson, and I all sat down to dinner. Even though we always have something to talk about while we eat, I pulled from our bookshelves a book that I received for my birthday way back in 1996. It was from my friend Ceci, and it's called If. Basically, it's a book of questions that really make you think. I skimmed through it and asked the appropriate ones at dinner.

My personal favorites are:

* If you had to drown in one liquid other than water, what would it be? - While my husband couldn't think of anything (even though I know his answer is coffee), my stepson answered "Cream Soda." Yuck.

* If you had to sell your soul for one thing, what would it be? - My answer: A Cubs World Series Championship!!! No one else had an answer after I shouted mine at the top of my lungs.

* If you could go back in time, as yourself, to observe any single event from history, what would you want to witness? - Stepson: Watching Elvis when he first performed (don't ask about the Elvis obsession); Husband: The Kennedy assassination (creepy!); Me: MLK Jr's I Have a Dream speech.

* If you could be any sports figure now alive, who would you want to be? - Stepson: Michael Jordan; Husband: Roger Federer

This book is so much fun - even when you weed out the inappropriate questions...

Just for fun, though, I did ask my husband the following question after my stepson left the room: If you had to sleep with someone you despise in exchange for one thing, what is it that you would demand? - His answer had to do with lots and lots of money. My answer: A Cubs World Series Championship. What can I say? I like to dream big.

Feb 9, 2007

Giving Up Road Rage Isn't So Easy

With Ash Wednesday right around the corner, I've already decided what I will give up during Lent:

1) Any form of pop (or soda if that's what you like to call it)

2) Road rage

Both will be difficult, but based on what I said this afternoon, I think #2 will be harder for me:

"Jesus Christ!! Move your ass you fucking idiot!!!"

Yep, this will be difficult...

My Favorite Books When I Was Young(er)

As kids, my sister and I lived a pretty good life with my parents. While we never got every toy we wanted, and in fact were taught that we would have to take money out of our savings accounts if we wanted something special, we were pretty lucky. The one thing we were never denied was books. Now, they weren't always brand new books - lots and lots from garage sales, and we took weekly trips to our local library - but we loved reading. I can remember going to the library with my parents and my sister and sitting for what felt like hours in those bean bag chairs trying to decide which ones I wanted to check out. We'd fill bags and bags with books and I'd walk out of the library just filled with anticipation - which one should I read first???

I can still remember my favorites:

1) The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord

2) The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

3) Who's Got the Apple? by Jan Loof

I have book #1 in my possession, but have lost #2 and #3 along the way. They bring back such good memories of my childhood...

Feb 7, 2007

My Dad

For as long as I can remember, I have called my dad by the nickname of "Paw." I don't quite know how it got started, but it's a variation of "Pa" and we just exaggerated it when we said it, and just ended up spelling it the way it sounds. Strange? Yes, but it's funny. My dad also has a nickname for me - "Rocky." This is because in junior high, I would come downstairs from my shower wearing a long terrycloth robe and for some reason my dad thought I looked like a boxer. The funny thing about these nicknames is that we use them in e-mails and in birthday cards. When my parents send me a b-day card, it always starts off "Dear Tracy/Rocky" and it's always signed, "Love Mom and Paw." It makes me smile.

So, I've once again been tackling the boxes that still live in our basement, and I came across this short letter from my dad (dated 8/17/03):


I figured you could use a little help with the Kinko's expenses for the thesis. Good luck with concluding that "chapter" of your life's battles, and good luck if/when you decide to seek the next degree!

Love and support,

P.S. You're a fine person and daughter and I'm proud of you.

I had been finishing my master's thesis and he sent me some cash to make all of the copies to send to my committee. I could have done without the money, but I'm so glad he wrote me this note.

Feb 5, 2007


This is a long story, but I need to purge...

When we were little kids, my grandma would tell me, my sister, and my two cousins that my grandfather (who passed away right before my first birthday) loved cardinals - they were his favorite bird. So, whenever we would see one, she told us that it was him coming to check on us - to let us know that he was still with us. When my aunt passed away in June 2006, we all started to see more and more cardinals wherever we went, but especially outside our homes. Naturally, we made the connection that it was my aunt who had come for a visit. Maybe this makes us a bit crazy, but it actually made me feel better. She suffered so incredibly much throughout her short (in my mind) battle with cancer, that it was nice to think that she was free from pain and that perhaps she had been reunited somewhere with her father and her husband.

I spoke with my mom this evening when I got home from work. After many months of sadness and frustration, my mom finally took the big plunge and went to see a psychologist. I was (and am) quite proud of her. There is a family history with the doctor she chose. In 2001, I went to see him for some anxiety I was experiencing at the time. I went once a month for about a year until I moved out of state. He was a wonderful man and I eventually referred my sister to him in 2004 when she experienced severe post-partum depression. Fast forward to 2006 and quite coincidentally (or was it fate?), this same doctor was seeing patients with terminal cancer in the same hospital where my aunt was being treated. He ended up as her doctor - talking with her about her illness. One afternoon, my aunt experienced some confusion related to her cancer (we had yet to find out that the cancer had spread to her brain) and from the enormous amounts of pain meds that she was on. She grew panicked and this doctor came to help her settle down. He called my mother, not knowing we were all related, and requested she come to the hospital. I tagged along with my dad and he and I waited in the "family area" while my mom went in to see my aunt. Somehow, the doctor figures out who my mom is and he comes into the waiting room to see me. We talk for a bit about what was happening and neither of us could get over the fact that our lives crossed paths 5 years later. So, this is the doctor my mom chose to see, and so far she is very happy with this decision.

Now back to the cardinal. As my mom and I spoke about her session, she began to cry as she relayed her conversation with the doctor. He told her that he visited with my aunt often, and she told him how much she loved my mom; how much she appreciated how my mom took care of her throughout her illness; and that she was very well aware that she was dying. At this point, I look out the window and see the most gorgeous cardinal sitting on a tree branch outside my kitchen window - just staring at me. He stayed throughout the entire conversation and as soon as my mom and I hung up, he flew away.

I have to stop now - the tears are starting to cloud my vision as I type this. I miss her so much. I wish that she never had to endure what she did. Maybe I am crazy for thinking that this cardinal meant anything, but it makes me feel just a little better thinking that it did.

Feb 2, 2007


I've been MIA lately. This has been a strange week. I'm finally feeling better, and have been catching up on all of the sleep I missed when I couldn't breath out of my nose and from my coughing fits I would have throughout the night.

I also suffered from what I initially thought was a self-inflicted migraine. After one year and one week, I decided to have some chocolate - in the form of a nice, warm chocolate chip cookie. It was so good. I was in heaven. However, the next day, I woke up in hell. Horrible stabbing pain in/around my right eye. Thankfully, the medication was in the bathroom, so I was able to take that right away. I also needed some painkillers, which made me quite loopy at work. Since then, I've been having headaches on and off all week - right now, I'm fighting another one. It's not nearly as bad as the last one, but still annoying and still painful.

On the work front, there was a possibility that I would be writing a huge grant for the Illinois State Board of Education. I like writing grants, and this sounded like a nice challenge for me. However, I have a grant due next Friday, as well as on February 28th. This grant, which is due on March 15th, also coincides with all of the coordinating I need to do for our agency's annual golf event. The whole idea of juggling all of these things, as well as my other duties at work, was really bothering me. I was in a bad funk, and I really hate being in a funk.

The good news is that we decided not to go for this grant. It really does feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Now I just have to deal with this migraine...