Mar 28, 2007

Cleaning Out the Closet

I mean this literally and figuratively.

Yesterday my mom went to my aunt's house to clean out her closet. It has almost been one year since she passed away and it is something that needed to be done. My 89 year old grandmother probably was not the best candidate to take on this tedious and emotional task. One cousin lives in Florida and the other admitted to my mom that there was no way he could face this alone. So my mom and my sister faced it together.

I wasn't sure how my mom was going to react to going through her sister's closet - bagging up her clothes to donate. There were things in there that my mom bought for my aunt when she was too tired to shop for herself, but needed new clothes to fit her new and much smaller frame. Clothes that still had tags on them because the time between the good news ("Hey, you're cured!") and the bad news ("There's nothing more we can do for you") was so short. With my sister helping, my mom seemed to do OK, although I know it was not easy.

All of this got me thinking about how after a loved one dies, there is this strange ritual of giving away that person's belongings. My grandmother was insistent about giving me and my sister some of my aunt's things - almost as soon as she had been buried. I know that some of this stems from not wanting those things in the house as reminders and some of it is because my grandmother cannot stand to see anything go to waste, but this was bordering on the obsessive. So, in the 9 months since my aunt died, I have amassed the following items:

1) My aunt's Cuisinart food processor. Both of her children are boys (sorry, make that men). Neither are married and neither of them cooks. Both my mom and sister have food processors, so my grandma insisted I take this. I admit that this is a wonderful "gift" as I do not own a food processor, nor can I afford one. I have yet to use it - it remains in its Macy's bag on my kitchen floor. We have moved it from room to room, hoping to find a good place for it.

2) A pair of pants that my aunt never wore. These pants fall into that category of purchased by my mom and never returned to the store as things went downhill so quickly. I haven't seen them, but I know that I will keep them.

3) A blue scarf that I crocheted for my aunt when she returned home after her initial hospital stay and stint at physical rehab. I didn't know what else to do for her, so I made her this scarf. She had been in the hospital for almost 8 weeks recovering from two major back surgeries, chemo, and a bout of pneumonia. The weather was getting colder and I thought this would be a nice gift. This was the only thing I asked my mom to take with her. It wasn't because I didn't want it to sit in her closet since she was no longer around to wear it, but because I so distinctly remember giving it to her that day after Thanksgiving. I was so scared to see her. So scared that I wouldn't know what to say. So scared that I would cry. She made me feel OK and we laughed and she wrapped the scarf around her neck and thanked me and called me "Babe" - how I loved when she did that.

4) My aunt's white winter coat she purchased at The Gap. When she first got the "all clear" from the doctors, she and my mom went out shopping. She got this coat at the end of the season sale, and as it was the middle of March, she only wore it a few times. My grandmother specifically wanted me to have this coat. It is a beautiful and warm coat, but I have not worn it. Even on those below zero days and nights, I refused to wear it. I tried to wear it once, but as I put it on I realized that it smelled like my aunt. I started to cry and I buried it in the back of our coat closet. Sometimes, when I am home alone, I will pull out the coat and check to see if it still smells like her. I'm afraid to wear it - afraid that it will lose its smell.

April 1st marks the 1-year anniversary of when we got the news that her cancer returned. I was laying in bed when my mom called me - I was shocked. I kept repeating "What?" over and over. It was the only thing I could think to say. I got up and ran on the treadmill because I needed to get some of that energy and anxiety out of my system. I ran until my lungs burned and I could no longer stand the thump-thump-thump sound my feet made as they hit the surface of the treadmill. My husband came downstairs and told me to stop running. As I got off the treadmill he tried to hug me, but I told him that if I stopped moving, if I stopped thinking for one second, I would go crazy.

I kept thinking of all the horrible things that might happen now that the cancer was back. At one point I stopped myself. I told myself that there was no way that this "thing" was going to get her. Cancer was not going to take her down.

But it did. In the end, that's exactly what happened.

Although I go on with my daily life - work, family, grocery shopping, paying bills - deep down I don't think I have really dealt with this loss. I know I haven't dealt with it. I don't know how, don't know where to start.

When things like this get to me, I write. I always have. Maybe as the anniversary approaches, I will have to write more. Maybe I finally will be able to "clean out my closet".

Mar 27, 2007

Making Progress

This story makes me very happy for a number of reasons:

1) Women are making progress in the world of professional male sports. It boggles my mind why this has to be such a big story - when will it be the norm to see women working as umpires/referees in sports? I'm talking professional sports - MLB, NBA, NFL, etc. Even though she will be working an exhibition game, I'm still damn proud to be a woman.

2) I'm impressed with the comments made by both Derrek Lee (one of my favorites) and Scott Eyre. I know that they would have been huge jerks had they made any disparaging remarks, but that hasn't stopped some athletes. I believed what they said about the situation and I hope the others feel the same.

3) Finally, I'm so excited that she will be working the Cubs/Diamondbacks game! Go Cubbies...

Mar 26, 2007

I've Got a Secret...

We all have them, right? Things we have harbored inside us for weeks, months, and even years. Things we've thought about telling someone, but stop ourselves at the last second out of fear - fear of embarrassment, fear of rejection, fear of making it true once we actually verbalize it.

I have secrets that I know I will never share with another soul.

I found this web site a few days ago (I'm sure many others have already seen it) - it's called PostSecret, and ever since seeing it, I've become obsessed. According to the web site, it's "an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard". How great is that? How absolutely liberating to anonymously tell the world your deepest, darkest secrets?

I can recall times in my life when I've shared secrets with people only to have them shared with a bunch of other people. The first time comes to mind when I was 6 years old (in fact it was at my 6th birthday party) and I told my sister my biggest secret. I was so excited to share it with someone and what did she do? As I was just about to blow out the candles on my cake, someone told me to make a good wish. That's when my sister decided to share my secret with my whole family. She blurted out, "I know what she's wishing for! She wishes that she could marry Donny Osmond!" Aaaargh!!! I'd been outed by my own sister! Ironically, someone snapped a picture of me right after she said this - I was sitting in front of my cake absolutely pouting. I know I have that picture around here somewhere...

My point in telling that story is that this project gives us an opportunity to release from our souls those secrets we know we can never share with another person. We can get rid of that burden on our own terms and never have to worry that someone will think differently of us, or reject us, or think we're weird.

I've already started my secrets list - some kind of humorous, some quite shameful.

Mar 24, 2007


Last week, a good friend and I got into an e-mail discussion about celebrities that we find attractive - about how some people are good-looking while others are what he called "drool-worthy." He further broke this down into two categories: 1) People we're attracted to purely for his/her looks and 2) People who are attractive, but their personality elevates their looks.

I love these kinds of discussions! I love hearing who other people find attractive and I love critiquing their choices. I know that I can have a quirky definition of "attractive" (as a teenager, I had a major crush on John Malkovich after seeing him in Dangerous Liaisons), so I was very open to receiving critiques from my friend. Of course, there were a few people on my "just looks" list that I was a bit embarrassed to admit. So, here it goes:

Just Looks
- Ryan Phillppe (he kind of seems like a jerk)

- Kyle Farnsworth (used to be a Chicago Cub and was well known for his drinking and fighting)

- Justin Timberlake (I guess he could fit into the other category because he's quite funny)
- Matthew Fox (Lost)

- Wentworth Miller (Prison Break)

- This is horribly embarrassing, but I find Johnny Knoxville (of Jackass fame) to be really hot! But seriously, how do you not drool over this face?

Looks and Personality

- Eric Szmanda ("Greg" from CSI - my #1 celebrity crush!):

- James Blake (great tennis player and went to Harvard)

- Dr. Sanjay Gupta (love him on CNN!)

- Terrance Howard (Hustle & Flow)

- Vincent D'Onofrio (Law & Order)
Feel free to share your drool-worthy celebrity crushes - no matter how embarrassing...

Mar 22, 2007

Another Day, Another Migraine

I woke up with a mother of a migraine at 4:30 AM. You think I'd learn my lesson and just get my ass out of bed and take my medication. But it was dark and the bed was warm and I just wanted to pretend it wasn't happening. So I stayed in bed - eyes wide open, pressure building in my head and around my eyes, hoping that maybe it was just a bad dream. I finally fell asleep and awoke to my alarm at 6 AM. It wasn't a bad dream.

I took some painkillers and went to work. It only got worse. The pain wasn't increasing that much, but the constant pain was nauseating. I never used to get that nauseated when I first got migraines years ago. Back then my doctor even prescribed me Compazine, but I never really needed it. How I could have used that today.

I thought I'd come home around noon and finish my work, but I suddenly remembered that I had a project to finish before tomorrow's 8 AM Board Meeting. I thought it would be quick, but I ended up working on it for over 2 hours. Now that it is almost 5 PM, I don't think I should try to take a nap. The pain is a bit better (after a couple of more pills), but I'm at that point that if I put my head down on a pillow, I will not wake up until midnight. Then I'll be disoriented and hungry and really, really cranky (just ask Patrick). So, I should probably just try to stay awake until 9 PM or so and then just go to bed.

Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't complain about my migraines because there are so many worse problems and illnesses out there. But I've had them for 9 years. I used to just get 2-3 migraines a month, but over the years they increased to 10-12 per month. Hundreds and hundreds of debilitating migraines for 9 years. The problem with these headaches versus "regular" tension headaches is that they hurt a hell of a lot more, there are other symptoms (nausea, sensitivity to light, sound, smell), they can last from 4-72 hours, and they suck the life right out of you. That's just the day(s) you have the headaches - there's also what I like to refer to as the "migraine hangover." I liken this to what it must feel like to have been dragged behind a semi for a few hundred miles. Sore and tired muscles, a strange tingling almost pain-like sensation in your head (which of course makes me paranoid that it's the start of another migraine), extreme fatigue, and gloomy, almost depressed emotions. This is what I have to look forward to tomorrow.

The other depressing thing is that my neurologist told me that menopause should make my headaches disappear - great, I'm only 34. A couple of years ago I asked him what would happen to me if I ever got pregnant (as I have "menstrual migraines" that occur due to the drop of estrogen - yes, I brought them on myself as a result of starting bc pills 9 years ago). There is no guarantee - they could improve, stay the same, or get worse. I told him that if the only medication I could take for a migraine while pregnant was Tylenol, than I would never have children. I couldn't do it. I've been in the situation before where no medication was helping - not 6 narcotic painkillers, plus Excedrin, plus prescription migraines meds, plus IV painkillers. There have been times I've wanted to bash my head against the wall, times when I would have gladly paid someone to take a swing at my head with a baseball bat. I've shoved the corner of the remote control into the inside corner along my brow bone so hard and for so long that I've bruised myself. I've cried out of frustration, exhaustion, and depression knowing that this wouldn't be my last migraine. I've cried alone. I've cried, curled in a ball, in the emergency room while I waited for the doctor to see me and while I waited for the medicine to kick in. I've lost days to these headaches. I've lost moments in my life that I will never get back.

I have another pill with my name on it and I've got more work to finish. I pray that I don't get another migraine tomorrow. I just can't do this again.

11 More Days

Opening day for the Cubbies is on April 2nd and I can't wait!! Here's a picture from the last game I went to - May 12th 2006. I was so incredibly sick that day (my second bout of bronchitis in 3 weeks - hence the red nose and dazed look on my face). Also, it was about 42 degrees and raining. This year, we have tickets for June 15th - Father's Day weekend - and my dad will be joining us!

Go Cubs!

Mar 21, 2007

Have You Ever...

...injured yourself so badly that you cannot even react to the pain? No noise comes out of your mouth? No scream? No swearing?

I thought I broke my finger last night. I was putting away some sheets in the linen closet and decided to refold some that were haphazardly shoved onto the top shelf. As I pulled them down, they all start falling onto my head. In an effort to try to stop the avalanche of sheets, I must have jerked my hand around, hitting it against the frame of the closet door. So hard, in fact, that no sound came out of my mouth for about one minute. I just stood there in shock.

Having never broken a bone in my body before (aside from fracturing my nose in a freak accident), I had no idea what to look for regarding symptoms. Pain? Check. Swelling? Check. I ran downstairs and into the kitchen to grab make an icepack, but soon realized that it would take too much time - and I needed some immediate relief. So, I ran the cold water in the sink and stuck my hand under it. It was hurting more and more, but I thought that was from the cold water. I removed my hand and realized that it wasn't the water, but that my finger was just throbbing. I put it back under the water and left it there for a while.

It was bothering me a lot yesterday, but it didn't appear to be broken. The swelling went down and my finger looks normal once again.

The best part was that my husband put the rest of the sheets away...

Mar 20, 2007

It's Baaack...

Last year our team walked in memory of my aunt - we came in second place for the most money raised in the Quad Cities Walk. This year, we're shooting for first place!

More information to come...

Mar 19, 2007

My Celebrity Look-alikes

My cool celebrity look-alike collage from

This site is hilarious!!! Do I actually look like Whitney Houston? The only person I think my picture resembles is Priscilla Presley. I'm going to try this with a different picture and see what happens...

Dream A Little Dream...

I had the most bizarre dream last night. I don't know how else to say it, but my husband tried to kill poisoning me! He also poisoned the cats. Somehow I was made aware of what he had been doing - I remember my sister and father talking to me about it. What was so strange was that I was still planning on staying married to him. After I told him that I knew he had been poisoning me, he swallowed the poison. He was not going to make it, and I remember that as I looked at him, he started to fade away ever so slowly. It was strange and awful.

I woke up at 2:30 AM and was freaked out - we were in the middle of a thunderstorm and I was disoriented. I put the TV on and ended up finding the Cubs game, so that took my mind off of my dream for a while. Then the Cubs started losing and I turned the TV off and went back to sleep...

Mar 16, 2007


I made myself a promise tonight that I would spend some time writing. I've had a bad couple of days regarding the house, and I felt like now that I've calmed down a bit, I could channel my anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, helplessness, etc into something positive. My book has not really gotten much farther than just some main ideas, some basic character sketches, and finally figuring out the reason behind the tense relationship between my two main characters. That's it. Aside from some notes, I haven't written anything. It upsets me because as each day passes, I haven't made progress. It's just one more step closer to never finishing. One day closer to never realizing my dream.

So I sit here and blog, but I don't write. I broke a promise to myself.

I just don't know how to get over my fears. My fear of committing to this book. My fear of failure. My fear of success. It's all so overwhelming - the process of writing, not knowing how and where to start, putting myself in the face of criticism. Usually, I'm my own worst critic, but what if someone else is worse than me? What if after all those years of my teachers and professors telling me that I am a good writer, they were all wrong? What if (God forbid), I'm just "average"?

I'm So Mad At Myself

I just finished reading the letter from the guy who "demands" his earnest money or else he'll be "forced to take legal action." I'm so mad that I read it while I was alone, because now I'm just wandering through the house saying random curse words. I also just left my husband a 5-minute long voicemail message in which I said some form of the word "fuck" approximately 60 times. I'm sure he'll be so thrilled to listen to it.

I need to channel my anger. I need to sit down and brainstorm what we should say in response - apparently, we need to write a letter in response to his bullshit letter. And do you know what else pisses me off? His letter is full of grammatical errors and fucking run-on sentences!!! Fucking idiot! I know that shouldn't matter, but don't try to write your letter like you've got some kind of Ivy League education, but in reality you end every fucking sentence in a fucking preposition.

Whew, that felt good.

I think I should rant some more and then jot down all the points we need to make in our letter while everything is fresh in my mind. I also need to call our realtor and make sure we have copies of all the reports and estimates.

Why did I read that letter?

Mar 15, 2007

A Completely Shitty Day

My day started out with a 3-hour management meeting at work. I work with some great people, but with all of my deadlines hanging over my head, it was so hard to sit there for so long. It ended at noon, and I came home to focus on my grants. That's when I received a call from my husband informing me that the guy who bought our house and then backed out of the deal, is threatening to sue us to get back his earnest money.

What an asshole.

Before I go any further, I need to warn you that this post will be peppered with colorful language.

So back to this asshole. What the fuck is he thinking? He made an offer on our house, we counter-offered, he made one small counter-offer and we all agreed. Paperwork was signed and an inspection took place. Just as we expected, no structural issues with the house (mind you the house was built in 1926). A few days later, this guy starts to think about how he really wants to remodel the bathroom. Had my husband and I decided to live there, we would have taken on this project, but since we bought a new house and were living in this new house, we didn't think it was a huge deal. The bathroom is a nice size and all the plumbing works. Yes, it could use some new paint and a new sink, but it's still a nice bathroom (and fully functional). So this guy decides that he wants to change his offer. Hello? We already signed the paperwork. Besides, I don't give a shit if you want to turn that bathroom into a fucking museum, that's your problem. My husband owned and lived in that house for 8 years before we put it on the market - nothing was wrong with that bathroom.

To make a long (and painful) story short, based on a remark the home inspector made, he decides to back out of the deal. Now, you need to know that in the home inspection report, the bathroom was described as fully functional. We get a plumber to come in and inspect the situation and write an estimate of what it would cost to convert the plumbing and do all of the remodeling this guy wants done. The total? $950. The nice people we are (and quite desperate to sell the house), we offer to give him $500 toward the estimate. His response? He lowers his offer by $7,000!! My husband's response? Go fuck yourself. OK, he didn't say that to him (as we're going through an agent), but that was sort of our mantra for the next few days.

So now the asshole wants his measly earnest money and I refuse to just give in. The Italian in me is coming out and sometimes that's not a good thing.

Now we have a fight on our hands, but I'm scrappy and I'm up for the challenge.

So bring it on, motherfucker.

Mar 12, 2007

Fairy Tales

My niece entered a play-writing competition a couple of weeks ago. She had to take two completely different fairy tale characters and combine them into one new, silly fairy tale. The winner of the competition would have their play performed on stage at the Emerald City Theatre in Chicago. She didn't win, but her play will be included in a big book of fairy tales kept in the lobby of the theatre.

I know I'm biased, but I think she wrote a great play - especially since she is only 6 years old:

King Midas and the Magic Underwear
By: Reese Vargo

King Midas had a serious, serious problem. Everything he touched turned to underwear. He touched his fork at breakfast and it turned to polka dotted underwear. He touched his crown and it turned into pink boxers. And once he touched his pet parrot and she turned into blue long underwear. Kind Midas felt very embarrassed when he turned things into underwear. He had to get out of the castle and decided to go to the market to buy some pears for his parrot.

Once upon a time there was a boy named Jack. He had a serious, serious, SERIOUS problem. He really wanted to eat potato chips, a summer squash and a pumpkin pie! Jack just spent his last dollar on the new Space Man action figure so he decided to trade his cow, Jellybean for some cash. Jack went to town and to make a deal with a store owner. Jack asked, “Got anything to trade for my magic cow, Jellybean?” The store owner replied, “Well, we have fried beans, roasted beans, peanut beans, jelly beans, belly beans, bacon beans, pink polka dot beans, tutu beans and magic beans. Take your pick.” Jack said, “Magic beans!” He got the beans started walking home.

While King Midas was walking to the market, he saw Jack and said, “Wow! What are those beans made of?” Jack said, “These beans are magic and grow a magic beanstalk.” King Midas asked to have a bean and when he touched it, the bean turned into paper underwear! Jack said, “What did you do to my magic bean??!!” King Midas told him to calm down and go home and plant the underwear.

The next morning when Jack woke up, a huge underwear tree grew next to his window. It was covered with underwear and Jack screamed, “Underwear!!!!” His mom called to Jack, “Have you seen the cow? I was going out to milk it but she’s not there.” Jack said, “Um…um, the cow…um… ran…ran…ran away.” Jack tells his mother that there is a huge underwear tree right next to his window to get her mind off the cow. When Jack’s mother hears this, she screams, “Underwear! Underwear! Underwear! Underwear!” Then
She calls King Midas. “What are we supposed to do with all this underwear?” The King replies, “You could sell the underwear. You could wear the underwear. Why don’t you make underwear stew for dinner?” And Jack says, “Yuck!” His mother says interested, “Hmm, I don’t know about that.” They finally agree to make underwear stew. Jack’s mom adds carrots, peanut butter, jelly beans and some squash. Jack and his mother cook and eat the stew. Jack’s mother finally says, “This is soooo good!” The next day they invite King Midas over to touch the rest of the beans so they can make more underwear stew.

The town radio DJ hears about the underwear stew. He starts talking about it all over the town. Soon, Jack and his mom get a call from the National News to be on TV. Then it’s onto Rachael Ray’s show they go with their underwear stew recipe!
You just have to love the imagination and creativity of 6-year olds...

Mar 11, 2007

Just A Thought

I've had the same ritual for I don't know how many years for when I eat a fortune cookie: Open the cookie, break off and eat a piece, THEN read the fortune.

My fortune was misspelled. Does that mean I shouldn't count on that one coming true?

Mar 10, 2007

Morning Thoughts

I can feel myself slowing coming out from the funk I've been in - I'm not completely out of it, but it's definitely getting better. I woke up very early this morning. It wasn't by choice, but I was really warm in bed and I could feel the start of another migraine. I had to take some medicine right away - had I stayed in bed, the headache only would have gotten worse. I can't lose another day of my life to these migraines. Once I got out of bed, that was it. I was wide awake. But it wasn't a bad thing - I felt like I had the whole house to myself. I went for a walk at 7 AM, but didn't get much exercise from it. The sidewalks are still covered in ice and I found myself more focused on trying not to fall on my ass than on exercise. I think I'll try again later - the weather is supposed to be gorgeous today.

With my migraine under control, I decided to come home and clean. I admit it, I'm a cleaner - a purger (is that even a word?), an organizer, a believer in "everything has it's place." Some supreme power out there thought it would be funny for me to meet and marry someone who is the opposite. My husband does clean (he's strangely obsessed with vacuuming and laundry), but he is a saver and a hoarder of useless crap. I believe in saving things for sentimental reasons - I'm not made of stone - but there comes a time when you have to purge.

I think I was trying to make a point here somewhere. I guess it was that sometimes there is no better feeling than getting rid of the junk in your life - material things, emotions, etc.

Mar 9, 2007

What's Your Theme Song?

I found this quiz and thought it was pretty funny. The only problem is that I hate AC/DC!!!

Your Theme Song is Back in Black by AC/DC

"Back in black, I hit the sack,
I've been too long, I'm glad to be back"

Things sometimes get really crazy for you, and sometimes you have to get away from all the chaos.
But each time you stage your comeback, it's even better than the last!

Another Funk

I'm sitting at home right now - alone. Usually I love these times. I love the silence and I love how there's no television blaring in the background. I sit and read. I dig through my old CDs and listen to whatever I want. It's different right now. It's too quiet. I'm restless - I don't want to read or to listen to music. It has been raining all day and I'm tired. My head hurt today, but I don't know why.

It's 7 PM and I've been home from work for a couple of hours. I figured my husband would be home by now, but he's not.

This post is just a bunch of random thoughts - a staccato mess that is driving me crazy.

I need to get out of my funk...


Someone said this to me this morning: "You think just like a fat person."

What does that mean? That doesn't even make sense. Besides, it's completely rude.

Mar 8, 2007

Tracy Did A Bad, Bad Thing...

I did a very bad thing - In my recent state of nostalgia, I decided to pull out all of my journals that span approximately 20 years of my life. What started out as something fun quickly turned into a horrific mistake. Yes, what I wrote when I was 15 and 16 years old was quite funny. My writing was peppered with lots of direct quotes, including the use of the word "goes", as in "So then he goes,'Hi Tracy' and I go, 'Hi Ben'." God, that was embarrassing.

My college years were filled with the names of a bunch of boys I liked, couldn't get the nerve to talk to, was asked out by but didn't want to date, etc. I seriously think I liked someone new each month. What is so funny is that I can remember each of them.

What really got to me were the journals from my "adult years." I had no idea where I was going in life. I thought I knew what I wanted, but in reality, I was just trying to find a comfortable place to fit. Then there were the relationships. I had one entire journal about a boyfriend named Eric. An ENTIRE journal. I didn't even like him that much, so I have no idea why I had so much to say about him. By the end of the journal we had broken up and I had met the man that I thought was "it." David was 10 years older than me. He was (and still is) a high school English teacher. He was funny and smart and I completely fell for him.

I was reading some stuff I wrote about him and I couldn't help but cringe. I think this is a normal reaction when we think about these things. I mean, most of what I wrote was actually quite sweet, but I couldn't stop thinking that I already knew how this story was going to end. I have no idea why I continued reading it. I read through that journal and the next one where I was in a dating "dry spell." I didn't want to date anyone, but when I finally was ready, I didn't have any luck. One guy apparently liked to date, have sex with, and promptly dump all the new girls at work - which I didn't find out until later. We had one date (did NOT have sex), and that was it. He gave me the creeps. I also dated a nice guy who was friends with my brother-in-law. He was a Cubs fan and had a career in Illinois politics (no names to protect the innocent - and I would be that innocent one). About a month into him dating he proceeds to tell me that he was dating someone else and they decided to be "exclusive." I believe he said to me over the phone, "I'm really sorry, but I didn't think I'd end up liking you so much." Now that I'm writing this, I'm finding it quite humorous...

I guess after reading all of these things I experienced some up-and-down emotions. It is very surreal to have a stack of notebooks sitting in front of you that contain all the drama that is your life. Certain moments I read about and laughed. Some I wished I could forget. Some I longed to go back and relive.

Visual DNA

I found this great web site from Ally's blog. Give it a try - it's pretty on target...

Mar 6, 2007

A long, long post...

A few days ago I was checking my personal e-mail account and saw a message from an old friend. We had been in contact a year earlier, but the e-mails soon stopped - most likely due to the stress of everyday life.

I sat and thought about this person for a while - about him and about our friendship. I realized that we met approximately 15 years ago, which just boggles my mind. My god, we were still teenagers back then! We were freshmen in college and I recall that we met under strange circumstances. I think he e-mailed me, but being the person that I was (still am?), I thought it was some colossal joke and just ignored it. It turned out that it wasn't a joke and when I finally saw him I was taken by surprise. For my entire life I've been very studious and painfully shy - so much so that most guys avoided me. The only ones who showed interest were these strange, somewhat geeky guys that had no more self-confidence that I had. So here I was faced with this guy who was the complete opposite - tall, attractive, athletic, and "popular" (not sure why I put that word in quotes - probably because I haven't used it since I was a teenager). I had a boyfriend at the time, who happened to fall into the first category, so this person and I developed a friendship.

Over the years, he and I have laughed about what we were like back then. Me - shy, insecure, unsure of what I wanted in life. Him - sarcastic (which actually never changed), aggressive, unsure of what he wanted in life. We spent some time together, learned a bit about each other, but then the end of the school year came and we lost touch even though we both lived in the suburban Chicago area.

I'm not sure why I feel the need to post about this person - maybe because his e-mail set this strange surge of nostalgia my way. I ended up reading through old letters and e-mails and found myself thinking about the up-and-down nature of our friendship. I guess I feel the need to purge about things that I never shared with anyone.

I recall that we rekindled our friendship the following year, although by that time I had transferred to another college - in a different state. We wrote cards and letters and spoke occasionally, but it wasn't easy to stay friends as we both were busy with school and other friends/activities. This part of my memory is foggy. I know that we would get together during the winter break and maybe even during spring break, but things always were left on an odd note. Lots of misunderstandings.

There was a long gap between our next contact. I remember one summer evening returning home after being out with friends to find that he had called. For the life of me I couldn't think why he was calling me as it had been so long. Turns out he had accepted a job out of state and wanted to catch up. For me, that was a pivotal phone call. We ended up spending a lot of time together that summer - sometimes going out to eat, sometimes just talking for hours. One night he invited me to the Monet exhibit at the Art Institute. I assumed it was a friendly gesture, but at that point in my life, it was the most romantic thing a guy had done for me. I didn't care about roses on Valentine's Day, but the Monet exhibit? That was perfect. I never told him this, but wish I had.

The time had come for him to leave for his new job, and I suddenly became aware that I really hated to see him leave. We were becoming so close and while I knew we'd stay in touch, it just wouldn't be the same. I think we both grew up a lot in the past 3 years and we had finally seen the positives in each other. Before he left, he gave me a card and in it mentioned something about me looking for jobs outside of Illinois. The funny thing is we never spoke about that - we just kind of left it hanging in the air around us. It was out there, but neither of us mentioned it again.

So off he went and I was happy that we did stay in touch - tons of letters. Then there was "that letter." The letter that I never got to read. If my memory is correct, I believe he wrote it not long after he moved. I also think he mentioned that he had a couple of glasses of wine - defenses were down. He told me that he sat down and wrote a letter to me, but did not send it after he read it the following morning. Even after days of begging, he refused to send it or tell me what was in it. My head was spinning and I determined that it included one of the following things: A) He said mean things about me or B) He said flattering things about me. Either way it was too hard for him to tell me. I'm not sure whatever happened to that letter - probably thrown out or set on fire. It frustrated me - a lot. I couldn't understand what was so horrible he couldn't tell me. We were close and shared a lot of personal stuff with each other. Sometimes I still wonder what was in that letter and if it would have changed the course of my life.

Fast forward a couple of years - he had moved a few times throughout the country and I was in grad school. Our contact was mostly by e-mail - lots and lots of e-mail. I was in a serious relationship with someone. It was my first adult relationship (the kind where you actually consider marriage). As things started to change in our relationship, I found myself turning to my friend for advice. Then I found myself turning to him for support and for laughs. I found myself turning to him for the things I should have been seeking from my boyfriend. I was always amazed that somehow, without any effort, he was able to understand me on a level that no one else had ever done. I began looking forward to his e-mails more and more. They were these deep, philosophical conversations we would have by e-mail. We just had an amazing connection with each other, and I cherished that.

My boyfriend and I eventually broke up. I was devastated and turned to my friend for support. We talked about it and he made sure I knew that my ex was the one who lost out. It was exactly what I needed to hear. Not long after that, my friend called to tell me that his grandfather passed away. I told him I would come to the visitation after finishing one of my final exams. I did and something very strange happened. I felt a jolt and couldn't shake it. I thought about him for the entire drive home. He called me late that night and we talked. I wanted to tell him, but I stopped myself. We danced around the subject, but neither of us ever said anything. I sent him an e-mail and I told him of the jolt, and then worried that I had made a mistake in telling him. I remember the feeling I had when I read his response - at the bottom of the e-mail he wrote, " I felt the same jolt."

A couple of months, and many e-mails, later, he called to tell me that he was transferred once again. This time he would be coming back to Chicago. A few years before he wrote in an e-mail, "Geography is not our friend." I was very hesitant, but couldn't help but feel excited. For the first time in many years, we would actually be living within a few miles of each other. Maybe geography would finally be our friend.

Things were weird once he moved back. I don't really know what happened. I remember going out with him and his friends to a concert. It was so nice to see him again. It was so nice to be near him again - something I had thought about for a long time. After we got back to his house, we sat up and talked for a long time. I remember that there was music playing - was it jazz? We were having some random conversation about books, but in the back of my mind the whole thing seemed strange. I think it was the first time we ever felt awkward around each other. I didn't know if he wanted to kiss me, or if he wanted me to leave but didn't know how to tell me. I remember feeling confused and disappointed on my drive home.

We talked a few times, and I even got the courage to ask him to see Life Is Beautiful with me - an afternoon show so it wouldn't be threatening. It never materialized and we got into some weird argument. We never spoke after that.

The End.

OK, it wasn't exactly the end. We did e-mail once or twice a couple of years later, but that was it.

A couple of years ago, he e-mailed me and told me he was getting married. Ironically, I was going to be married exactly one week after him. It's funny how things turn out.

I don't want anyone to read this and think that I have any regrets about getting married. I love my husband - he knows me better than anyone else. I trust him with my life.

The whole point of this post is to write about a person with whom I have a long history - a person who had an impact on my life. There were things I probably should have said to him, that I wish I had said to him. I believe that my life took me in the right direction and to the right people. But sometimes, every once in a while, I still wonder what would have happened...

Mar 5, 2007

The Aging Process

There is no way around it - this process of aging we all must face at some point. I guess there is plastic surgery, but even then we are faced with physical (and sometimes mental) changes. Even at 34 I can see some of these - the tiny lines near my eyes that were nonexistent a few years ago, the pain in my lower back, the constant state of fatigue I feel.

I've noticed these changes in my family as well. My mother and father are 62 and 63 years old, respectively, and they've both experienced some physical issues. Nothing more than small things that happen as we get older, but they are things that make me realize that they are no longer in their 40's.

The reason I bring all of this up is that my grandfather will celebrate his 91st birthday on March 15th. In the past few years I have noticed significant changes in him - his mobility as well as his attitude/emotional state. My grandfather is the most amazing person I've met - yes, I'm biased, but believe me it's true. He is the son of immigrant parents who fled Europe for the hope of a better life in Chicago. He was an excellent student who dreamed of studying engineering in college, but gave that up to help his father run his store. He is a veteran of WW II. He is a two-time cancer survivor. He is a very spiritual man. He is the most kind and generous person I know.

My grandmother passed away in 1995, and since then, my grandfather has lived alone in his house on the outskirts of Chicago. My grandparents bought this house, their first and only house, in 1962. This was a proud moment for two people who grew up during The Depression and learned English as their second language. However, over the last few years, my family has been encouraging my grandfather to think about the prospect of an assisted-living center. His mobility has been severely compromised and he continues to attempt to get to his laundry room located in the basement. He has to go down the stairs the way a toddler learns to do it - backwards and on his hands and knees. My father has suggested a laundry service that can pickup and drop off his clothing. He will not do it.

A few years ago, this was sort of funny. We joked about it and I was even proud that he was so independent. But it's not like that any longer. For the first time in his life, he failed his driver's test to renew his license. Last week, he failed it for the third time. Two years ago, he side-swiped a car on his way from from my parents' house. The police showed up at his door at midnight, but did not give him a ticket. A few months ago, he thought someone was going to swerve into his lane, so he overcompensated and ended up on the sidewalk. Fortunately, he did not hit anyone.

These incidents, coupled with other behaviors and issues, are obviously alarming to my family. He can no longer clean his house, take out the garbage, shovel his driveway, or take himself to doctor's appointments. He admitted to my father the other day that he believes he is in a depression.

It just breaks my heart to hear this. I know that one of these days - very soon - we will be helping him move out of his house. The very house that signifies his independence. His license will be gone. His home will be gone. And I fear what will happen to him. He thrives from his independence, and I know that the loss of it will do significant damage to him - to his soul.

Mar 3, 2007

The News and Other Bizarre Things

My father's biopsy came back negative for cancer. Obviously, I was thrilled when I heard from my mom yesterday. I had a weird and somewhat unexpected reaction when I called my husband to tell him the good news - I started to cry just a bit when I left him the message. Of course, I need to think about all those people who also were waiting for results, but did not get the same good news.

Maybe it was the stress of this past week (news about my dad, lots of migraines, preparing for work this weekend), but I had the most bizarre dream ever. I gave birth to a baby girl. Apparently, things happened quickly and we were not able to get to a hospital because I gave birth at home. It was over pretty quickly and it didn't hurt (this is why it was just a dream!). It really isn't weird until you get to the part when we're suddenly at my parents' house and I realize that I slept through the night without ever waking up to check on the baby. My mom tells me that she took care of everything. She turns to hand me the baby and I realize (without being the slightest bit shocked) that my beautiful baby girl has turned into a Chocolate Lab!!

So, do I want a baby or a dog???

Mar 1, 2007


My stepson has an obsession with Elvis. I honestly have no idea how it started - possibly because my husband can do a pretty great impersonation of him. For the past 4 years, we have had the tradition of dressing up together for Halloween. We always dress up as a group, and we rotate turns for who gets to choose the theme. In 2003, my stepson chose Batman. My husband was Batman, my stepson was Robin, and you guessed it, I ended up with Catwoman. I have a picture hanging up in our house, but I need to get it scanned and on this blog. In 2004, my husband chose Gilligan's Island. He was the Skipper, my stepson was Gilligan (and he made the BEST Gilligan!), and I once again got stuck with Ginger (only because it was too cold to wear Mary Ann's little outfit). In 2005, it was finally my turn to choose - I picked Grease. The two guys were "T-Birds" and I got to be a Pink Lady. Ironically, I wore the same red wig I wore when I was Ginger in 2004.

Well, last year was my stepson's turn to choose. He thought about it and thought about it before finally announcing his choice - Elvis! We would be three different Elvises (Elvi???) from three different times in his life. My husband was kind of the brooding 1950's Elvis, my stepson was Jailhouse Rock Elvis, and yours truly got stuck with "Jumpsuit Elvis." When I came down the stairs, I had my husband laughing so hard that he couldn't even look at me. Here are some pictures of us posing that night.

FYI - my costume was very uncomfortable (tight pants, bad mask, etc.). By the way, I took an old pair of pants and Bedazzled them myself (I was completely embarrassed that I bought a Bedazzler, but just look at how cool my pants and shirt turned out!). If you're wondering why I'm kicking in one of the pictures, it's because my husband said that's what Elvis used to do in his jumpsuits - karate-like kicks. I think he was just trying to fool me:

Warning: Drug-Induced Post

I am recovering from one of the worst migraines I've had in a very long time. It's the kind of migraine where you actually think you might die. I uttered those words to myself today while I was leaving my meeting this afternoon - "I think I'm dying." Believe me, if you've ever had a migraine you know that this is not just a case of me being dramatic. I felt like an ice pick was being driven into the right side of my head and eye over and over and over again - rhythmically. It lasted for 16 hours. Not bad, but my record is 18 hours. That episode required a visit to the ER and an IV in my arm. After that, I also slept for a record of 14 hours straight.

I entertained the idea of going to the ER, but with no one to drive me home, I opted for my own prescriptions, as well as the over-the-counter remedies. Here's a tally of what I ingested:
  • 3 Butalbital (a nice little cocktail of Barbituates, caffeine, and acetaminophen)
  • 1 Relpax (prescription migraine med)
  • 2 Tylenol
  • 1 Excedrin

My neurologist used to let me take as many as 8 Butalbital in one day. According to a friend of mine who is a nurse, these are stronger than Vicodin. The most I've ever had in a 24-hour period is 6. At that point, I am no longer making much sense, but usually still feel the pain. Right now I still feel some pain, but cannot take any more meds. The thought of it makes me feel sick.

My other update is that my father will not get his results until next week. I'm so confused! They told him it would take 7 days, but when he called today they told him it would be 10 days. Of course, I am now thinking the worst. Ironically, I got this pessimistic attitude from my dad.