Saturday, December 31, 2005
Friday, December 30, 2005
I was fourteen years old on New Year's Eve, 1969. Trudging through 2 feet of snow, I went off to a party several blocks away in our little Brooklyn neighborhood. When I arrived, someone handed me a glass... a big glass ... of Southern Comfort. You know, the 100 proof stuff that doubles as paint remover? When something tastes that bad the only thing to do is chug it and wait for the party to begin.
The party, as I recall, involved a lot of vomiting in the snow. By 10:30 someone hauled me back home, deposited me on the doorstep, rang the doorbell and took off. (My father's reputation was the stuff of legend.) However, in what was just one of several scratch-your-head inconsistencies in the parenting style of Marge and Sal, I was not beaten within an inch of my life. Instead, my mother flopped me onto my bed and attempted to remove my knee-high boots. She yanked them off and then discovered that in order to keep my pants inside the boots I had wrapped about a million rubber bands around each leg. I don't remember much from that night, but I do remember her saying "Oh you dirty dog!" and running for a pair of scissors to clip the rubber bands.
She dragged me into the bathroom, propped my head on the toilet, and then.... they got dressed and went to a party themselves!! Can you imagine? "Ok dear, hope you don't choke on your own vomit! Happy New Year!"
How many people can say they QUIT drinking at 14?
Thursday, December 29, 2005
I must apologize for the dearth of postings this week. I've been sick. Still not all better, but getting there...
In the meantime, I'll just tell you that I've been keeping amused thanks to a couple of gifts courtesy of my daughter Emma. She gave me Seasons One and Two of Moonlighting, and Volumes One and Two of The Little Rascals.
The bonus material on the Moonlighting DVDs is great. I loved that show, and loved Bruce Willis even more. Some people think the show jumped the shark when they finally got together, but I disagree. The episode, "Maddy, Sam and Dave" is one of my all time favorites.
And the Little Rascals? When I was growing up in Brooklyn we thought we WERE The Little Rascals. We built cars out of plywood, tied a chair to the back of a tricycle and charged kids to ride in it. We turned my garage into a Spook House and staged "Pay As You Exit" musical revues before lip synching was even called lip synching.
(While watching It's a Wonderful Life with Lucas, I pointed out that it was Alfalfa who caused the dance floor to open up, sending George and Mary into the pool below!)
So, I hope you all are having a great holiday week and I will try and catch up with everyone as soon as I can!
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Lucas and I saw Peter Jackson's "King Kong" today and although it starts out a bit slow, it was amazingly riveting, moving and believable. That's saying a lot for a film that includes a sunset love scene between a woman and a giant ape, the scariest island natives you've ever seen, and tumbling dinosaurs. Seriously, we were both weeping by the end of the film. (Lucas went so far as to say he hated the movie because it was just too sad.) Jackson did a great job, although some of the casting is questionable (Adrien Brody is NOT an action hero and Jack Black overdoes the 'oh my god I can't believe my eyes' look). But Naomi Watts is absoutely luminous and perfect as Ann Darrow. I loved it, Lucas has come around to saying he loved it too (although I would caution parents that some of the scenes are much scarier than I had anticipated), and it really didn't feel like 3-plus hours in the theater.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Christmas was a not a real "family affair" when I was growing up. Oh, it was in the sense that my father liked buying us lots of fun stuff (and because I was the third girl, I got all the cool boy toys. Er, toys for boys like racetracks and army sets and trucks.), and we'd usually have to go to my grandmother's house later in the day for the billion-course gastronomic extravaganza.
But Christmas morning was a different story. We'd get up and rip into our presents while our parents slept. When my sisters got older, I'd shuffle out to the tree by myself and check out the loot while watching "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol". Eventually my mother would get up and clang pots around the kitchen, then she and my father would exchange gifts (which usually meant she'd complain about whatever it was that he bought her: "A watch? I can't even read the numbers!" "A book? I could go to the library.") I felt bad for my dad, but I didn't realize how sad it was that my parents seemed to take no joy in watching us open our gifts, even when we were very small.
When my oldest sister had children my parents would spend Christmas with them. My mother tried to make my sister feel guilty for "forcing" the kids to wait until she and her husband were up (and poised with their cameras) before going downstairs to open their presents.
I, too, have been a "mean mom"... not allowing my kids to go out to the tree until I'm up. When Lucas was almost 3, my work as a childbirth labor assistant took me away on Christmas Eve to help a woman give birth. When her labor went from 3PM through the night and into Christmas morning, Tony managed to keep Lucas occupied upstairs in our bedroom until 3PM Christmas Day, so I wouldn't miss that wonderful moment we experience each year: seeing our children's eyes widen as they gaze at the tree with mounds of good stuff under it.
The classic family moment involving my mom came one Christmas when my sister's kids were older. My niece opened a present from my mother and got up to give her a kiss on the cheek. My mother held up her hand and said, "We'll all kiss at the end." (This is now an all-purpose line. At my father's funeral, I turned to Loretta and said, "We'll all cry at the end.")
No "inside info" spoilers, please!! Just good ol' fashioned guessing.
First of all, this is the scariest fucking villain on TV, bar none. I get so creeped out every time I see that mask! Apparently he/she even has it's own "my space", but I'm too afraid to go look at it. I'm so queer.
Anyway... my money is on Ava, Matt's tranny girlfriend from last season. You heard it here first, folks. Who do you think it is?
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
She describes her blog as "recommended daily allowance of sarcasm, a pinch of irony, thoughts, complaints, overshares, self-deprecation, useless pop culture knowledge, rants and raves with a 20% chance of bad poetry."
If you like it here, I think you'll like it there.
Monday, December 12, 2005
This week's Photo Friday theme is "weight". Ok, so it's a stretch... but Shamu does weigh quite a bit more than Lucas in this picture. (btw, Shamu was quickly whisked away after pulling this stunt. Whales aren't supposed to pick kids up at SeaWorld.)
Sunday, December 11, 2005
On the up side, it was a good trip with great company. On Wednesday night we ate at Mon Ami Gabit in Lincoln Park which was wonderful! On Thursday came the blizzard and Friday through Saturday were spent mostly at O'Hare.
Hey... anyone else out there have experience with Invisalign? I've had mine for a week now and am still getting used to them. The good news is that you can't eat with them in, so I'm counting on a good 10-15 pound weight loss over the next year. I would love to hear how anyone else has done with them.
Well, I've got a lot of catching up to do... with my kids, blog-reading and my almost-full TiVO! It's freezing here, so it's a good day to stay indoors and do all of that.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
We need male volunteers to become Sims in our Adventures in Cyberia blog. If you haven't visited AIC before, it's a blog I created where bloggers are turned into Sims and we create soap-opera style storylines for them.
The other "goddesses" (women with The Sims2 who do the creating) are Jane of Coffe and Varnish, Xtessa of A Dose of Xtessa (who also designed our blog), Redelicious Heidi of Skiing the K-12, and our most active goddess, Robin of The Wisdom of Funky Bugs.
Two of Robin's blogger Sims have just had twin boys, so we need two male bloggers to be babies. C'mon guys...it's easy for you!! ;)
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
...circa 1966. Traded the communion dress for this fetching pantsuit, socks and Keds (or were they PF Flyers?).
I was only eleven in this picture, and sometimes put crumpled up balls of looseleaf under my shirt to create the illusion of breasts. (not here, though) In those days, bras were so lumpy that the looseleaf looked pretty "real". Needless to say, I was in a big hurry to grow up.
That summer my mother signed me up for CYO Day Camp (Catholic Youth Organization). Based on my date of birth, I was put into the 10/11 age group. However, I had other ideas.
The very first day, I spotted a boy in the back of the bus who was singing "Satisfaction" at the top of his lungs. He was clearly NOT in the 10/11 group, but he was edgy and dangerous and I immediately ditched my funny glasses and made my way back to sit near him.
We arrived at camp and were greeted by the director: a big, nasty-ass woman that I knew only as the gym teacher at my sister's high school. A normal kid would have been terrified. Instead, I decided to doctor the birth date on my bus pass and get myself into the 13/14 group...and closer to the junior Jagger who quickly became my boyfriend.
I spent the rest of that summer wearing my bathing suit top under my clothes in the event that he tried to snap my "bra". I said "shit" a lot. The other kids in my group answered every possible question I had about sex. Although blind as a bat, I refused to wear my dorky glasses. Priorities, man.
(I'm pretty sure that if I had worn my glasses, I would have dumped singer-boy. He really wasn't that hot.)
Some people think that these orbs are ghosts showing up in photographs. Other people think they are dust on the lens or something. However, there were several of these photos taken in a row, and the orb only shows up in this one.
I think it's my father, whispering to my evil sister, "You're still my favorite..."
(Just to give you a sense of the no-age gene in my family, we are... in order... 50, 83, 54 and 59. I think my sister Loretta, 59, is the MOST amazing of the bunch!)
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Those of you who are regulars here know a lot about my son Lucas. He's 10 (turning 11 in January) and a pretty special kid. (If you don't know about Lucas, check out the link in my sidebar about his fundraiser).
Until recently, Lucas oftened talked about all the bad things that had happened in his short life...his dad and me divorcing, the premature deaths of his paternal grandparents, and of course losing his dad to lung cancer in '03. Also, because of his struggle with severe ADHD, it's been very hard for him to make friends at school. That's why, when I found this Thanksgiving statement in his backpack yesterday, I breathed a sigh of relief and knew that he had turned a corner:
"This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for many different things. First, I am thankful for my wondrous family. Next, I'm on cloud nine because I have such terrific and nice friends. Last, but certainly not least, I am extraordinarily thankful for my healthy food, my uncontaminated water, and my very stable dwelling. These are just a small number of the countless things I am thankful for."
(The photo is of Lucas and his bearded dragon, Dylan. I'm thankful that Dylan isn't going to get any bigger than that!)
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Just when I thought that "Butterfly Kisses" was the worst song ever written, leave it to Bob Carlisle (the wordsmith of that cloying tune), to come up with something even worse: "Christmas Shoes".
I heard it today in the dentist's waiting room. I'm convinced the dentist plays it so that anything he can do to you after that won't seem half bad. I won't torture you with ALL the words, but here's the refrain that had me alternately shaking my head and laughing my ass off:
" Sir I wanna buy these shoes for my Momma please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry Sir?
Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes will make her smile
And I want it to look beautiful
If Momma meets Jesus tonight"
WHAT??? I felt like Lucy from Peanuts, begging Schroeder to play "Jingle Bells". "You know, Santa Claus, and ho-ho-ho, and mistletoe... and presents for pretty girls... "
Merry, er I mean MOROSE Christmas to you, too, Bob.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Thursday, December 01, 2005
I am the youngest of three girls, each 4 1/2 years apart.
Growing up, I was closest to my middle sister because my oldest sister Loretta was a "goody two shoes". (Now she and I are very close)
When my middle sister ("C") was 18, she became involved with her much older boss who was not just married with five kids, but a kinky alcoholic chain-smoking abusive asshole.
For the first few years, she told me all the details of their bizarro relationship.
Once he figured out that I was telling her to get the hell out, he would find ways to alienate me.
Now don't get me wrong...she's a bitch in her own right. When Emma was 3 and I was out of work, I asked to borrow some money (a bridge loan until my condo was sold) and she told me to go on welfare or get food stamps. She's a high powered real estate broker, he was a partner in a huge accounting firm. They are not hurting for cash.
Anyway...after an eight year affair he married her. And, in the classic abuser style, he managed to isolate her from friends and family.
Now she's 54, he's 72...and I giggle to myself every time I remember how she used to lovingly call him "The Silver Fox", as he was prematurely grey. Now he just looks like a less-healthy Ted Kennedy. It's kind of amazing that he's still alive. We saw them this past weekend at my aunt's 80th birthday party and exchanged a few brief civil words before they bolted.
While showering the other day, I composed a little ditty in their honor ... to the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies theme:
(L-B refers to Long Beach Island, where they own a house)
"Come and listen to my story 'bout a girl named C
A poor skinny thing not much taller than my knee...
And then one day she went searching for a dude
When up from the ground came a'one that was crude...
Jack, that is... kinda old, drunk by three
Well the first thing you know ol' Jack's pulling C's hair
The kinfolk said, "C, get away from there"
They said "Cheezy porn mags ain't the place you wanna be!"
But they loaded up their booze and they moved to L-B...
Island that is... jellyfish....tittie bars...
Well now its time to say goodbye to ol' C and all Jack's kin
For they will never thank you folks for ever droppin' in
You'll never be invited back to this locality
And don't expect a helpin' of no hospitality...
[Last names here] that is... Go to hell... Drop the booze off...
Y'all get lost now, y'hear? "
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Putting up a rerun just to keep things moving along until I'm able to post again on Thursday...Original Post Date 2/7/05
Imagine the timing. Since introducing you to my mother, I was contemplating a blog entry about the various items that she'd use to torture us. Let's call them "WMDs -- Weapons of Margie's Discipline".
I immediately began to search for a picture of the paddle and ball that you see here. She'd buy us this toy, and in her best Elvira Gulch tone she'd warn, "Now don't let it break!" We knew that meant once the elastic had broken she'd take the paddle and store it for a future whacking session. We hated that fucking toy.
I had just finished my image search when Lucas ran inside from getting the mail, breathless with excitement. "Look at what Grandma sent me for VALENTINE'S DAY!!" Yep, you guessed it. A special Valentine's edition of the dreaded paddle toy. Every single solitary hair stood up on the back of my neck.
The hard part is that I can't say "UGH Lucas...I used to get hit with that thing..." because I really don't want him to hate my mother. I've told my kids vague things from time to time, like when Emma called me a bitch (she was 10) I said, "If I had ever said that to my mother I would have been knocked from here to New Jersey. And because of that, I have to leave the room now." I tried not to get into specific details with them, though. I just don't think it's the right thing to do.
The second picture I searched for was a pincushion, but couldn't find a good one. See, my mother sewed a lot, so pins were also WMDs. There was one incident where she held me down and stuck a pin in my tongue for not saying "Yes Mommy" ten times like I had been ordered to. If a sewing kit shows up as my Valentine's present I think I'll croak.
Monday, November 28, 2005
1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.
How ironic! The sentance is this:
" I have two sisters. I only speak to one of them."
I saw the other one this weekend, and that's what I'll post about on Thursday. In the meantime, I ain't tagging anyone...memes come here to die. ;)
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Three years ago, I decided to go to tennis camp for a weekend, alone. When I got there, I was grouped with three women who had made the trip together. I was living in Greenwich, CT and they lived in Westchester Cty., NY., about 25 miles from each other. Joy was one of those women, and she and I hit it off immediately. We were both art directors, we were both from Brooklyn, we both had a boy and a girl. At one point, I said "I know you're from Brooklyn, but no one is from my old neighborhood..." and she said, "No, no one is from MY old neighborhood." It turns out we grew up just a few blocks from each other.
We remained close friends, meeting mid-way for indoor tennis that winter. Eventually I decided to move closer to Joy and it was the best decision I could have made. We've continued to play tennis when we can. She and her wonderful family have helped me when I need to travel for business, taking Lucas into their home, leaving me totally relaxed to do what I need to do. And of course, in an emergency like I had on Sunday, I knew that it would be Joy to the rescue. I only hope I can always be there for her the way she has been for me.
In addition to her talents as a designer, Joy is a gifted (and published) writer. She has welcomed me into her monthly writing group, where we often read entries from this blog and I get a lot of encouragement to write my vignetted memoirs.
This holiday season, if you want to get a terrific book for a kid in your life, consider this one...written by my dear friend Joy:
It is totally gross and kids LOVE it. (boys AND girls... and it's actually very educational!)
Use the link here to buy it through Amazon, so I can tell Joy how many bloggers love her. ;)
Monday, November 21, 2005
Remember, this translates into $6000 for the Red Cross for Katrina victims after matching donations from my company. Not exactly pocket change for ONE kid to raise... Thanks to all who have already donated!
**Edited to say that Alan W. stepped up right away to help! Of course, if anyone wants to put him OVER $2000... ;)
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Anyway...things got progressively worse so I had to be ambulanced to the hospital for a bunch of treatments and tests. I'm ok now... chest x-rays clear, given prednisone to take for a few days and have to see my doctor tomorrow AND make an appointment with a pulmonologist. Should have done that months ago, but life gets in the way.
The worst part was before we left home, when I thought I was actually a bit better and didn't need the ambulance, I started having real spasms in my chest and couldn't breathe at all. I was "whooping" (kind of like sobbing is how I would describe it) uncontrollably. This was very scary for Lucas, of course.
Once I was stablilized and on the way to the hospital, I said to the medic "I'm worried about my son. He's so scared because his father died of lung cancer two years ago." She looked at me and said (I kid you not): "So? What does that have to do with anything?" I sucked down some more oxygen, but she was for real. "Doesn't the kid know the difference between asthma and cancer?" I said of course he does, but frankly he's afraid of ME DYING... get it?? (Well, I didn't have the energy to say quite that, but I thought it)
What an asshole!!
Anyway, on the positive side my friend Joy was, as always, a life saver. I don't have any family nearby and although my neighbors have left notes saying they'd be happy to help out next time, it's so much better to have good friends that know Lucas. I guess I should get out more.
(Oh, and did I mention that my MINI Cooper died on the highway on my way to work on Thursday? Electrical system failure. Two months ago the power steering pump 'went' (their word). So...it's been a bang-up couple of days. Hope you guys are faring better.)
I'm better now though... just rested while Lucas cleaned and vacuumed the whole house. Looking forward to "Rome" tonight!!
Friday, November 18, 2005
The imperfection may not be obvious to you, as it was not to me, but when my daughter was little she HATED the beauty mark on her upper lip. She said it made her look "too Italian, like Madonna".
I loved it, and got a particular kick out of Lucas' take when he was 2 (and an avid Wallace and Gromit fan): "Um, Emma? You have a little porridge on your lip!"
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Last night was Parent/Teacher Conference time at my son's school. During the course of our conversation, the teacher said that a few things had happened recently to make her realize how fresh the pain of his dad's death is for Lucas. One thing involved a health case discussion about smoking, and the other happened in music class. The teacher had them sing a song that was fairly melancholy (I haven't yet found out what song) and Lucas began to cry and had to leave the room.
He has always been very sensitive to music that way, and particularly to lyrics no matter how deep or sophisticated. His dad was a huge Tom Waits fan, and we'd marvel at the fact that a 4-year-old Lucas would begin to weep when TW sang about a lost love. Let's face it: Waits ain't The Wiggles.
Maybe he comes by it naturally. When I was a kid, the song "Tammy" from the movie "Tammy and the Bachelor" would leave me in a puddle of tears no matter how many times I heard it. And I heard it a LOT, because my parents were so amused by this reaction that they'd play it for guests, purposely, so everyone could watch me dissolve on cue.
Aside from not treating my children like circus animals, I cannot imagine ever taking pleasure or amusement in their "pain", even if that pain involved Debbie Reynolds.
What song makes you cry? (If it's "Butterfly Kisses", be warned. I might laugh.)
**Edited to add that I found out what song made him cry: "Seasons Change". It was this chorus that did him in:
"Happy turns to sad
Sometimes life gets bad
Things get rearranged
Nothing stays the same
It just never ends
here we go again
Still remains, uh
Seasons seasons change "
Monday, November 14, 2005
Friday, November 11, 2005
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Sorry for the rerun. I'm extremely busy at work this week AND feeling kinda crappy. However, one bit of exciting news: The Dog's Breakfast has passed 50,000 visitors! Woo hoo!
Original posting date 2/9/05. Updated and expanded today.
All of the recent Pope news has made me nostalgic for my all-girl Catholic High School days. Boy, was I an exemplary student. I was in trouble a good part of the time, never for anything hostile or hurtful but more for antics like collecting the dissected worms from Biology class and putting them in various appetizing places around the lunchroom. (including the Coke machine and in an unsuspecting girl's sandwich). I was sent to the principal's office for organizing poker games that sometimes ended in fistfights (hey, not me...other chicks!). I'd bring a giant Scotch bottle filled with pennies to school, tie ribbons around my sleeves and wear a visor for the poker events (staged on the filthy floor of the cafeteria). Remember, this was the early '70s...pre-poker craze.
When called out in Science class for who-know-what, I enlisted two of my friends to join me in serenading our teacher, Mr. Arena (while sitting on his desk of course), in a plea to the tune of "Big Spender": "The minute you walked in the lab (boom boom)...I could see you were a man of demerits...a real five pointer..Hey, Mr. Arena! Take ....... this little demerit from me..."
For the outcome, read my 100 Things. ;)
I devised a way for us to go braless (under our white cotton uniform blouses) to drive the male teachers nuts. The nuns would actually approach us and say "Are you wearing a bra??" We'd glue little piece of bra-strap inside the shoulder area of our blouse and pull it out through the neckline and say, "Yes! Of course!"
Influenced by my still-in-the-closet best friend Andrew, I would also make decidedly inappropriate selections for book reports, like the one I did on a little missive called "Mother Camp" about transvestites and transsexuals. I still have the report, replete with all the frenetic red markings scolding me for not getting the book pre-approved. Hey, I thought it was really fascinating! A particularly juicy paragraph helped the reader (in this case, the prune-faced Sister Ruth Miriam) distinguish between the various types of "queens", including the "dinge queen, noted for having anal sex in public restrooms." That nun is probably STILL in an oxygen tent.
Anyway, I digress. What the recent Vatican events really reminded me of was an article I wrote for the school newspaper entitled, "The Pope: Who Died and Left HIM Boss?"
Although I probably spent twenty-six thousand hours in detention, I think they secretly really got a kick out of me.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
One thing I really miss about living in NYC is Marathon Day. When Emma was a baby and we lived in Brooklyn, we could walk one block to 4th Avenue and see the runners stream by. We'd read their t-shirts and yell and scream in support for every runner we could. It was so much fun, and the runners were so appreciative and still smiling at that point (about 5 miles into the race, I think).
A few years ago, I decided to train to WALK the marathon. I would walk 12 miles every Sunday and 3 or 4 miles a few times during the week. I applied for a number but I was not picked in the lottery. Maybe one of these years I'll try again. It will seriously cut into my blogging time, though. ;)
Saturday, November 05, 2005
In part one of "The Orifice", I regaled you with horror stories about men I've worked for in years past, and in one case was smart enough NOT to work for. Today's post is a bit different. It's about men, and it's thankfully about the past, but it involves doctors. Gynecologists. Men who should have been nowhere near women, let alone in a professional and highly personal setting.
Actually my very first experience with an ob/gyn was a very good one. I was about fifteen and had developed a horrible urinary tract infection. Since there was no way I could go to my parents with this (I knew it was probably related to sexual activity), I let it go until I was doubled over in pain and literally peeing blood. (Interesting that my parents didn't even NOTICE that I was sick.) A friend of mine told me she had a wonderful doctor who would see me without my parents' knowledge. I will never forget him. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and let my friend stay in the room while he examined me. He gave me a prescription for a sulphur drug and told me that I had to go to Planned Parenthood, and that he would not treat me again. I did go, and they were great. (Talk to me about "parental consent" laws. I can tell you right now what would have happened to me if I needed my parents' permission to get birth control.)
A few years later, when I was nineteen and living on my own (sort of), I needed to find a new gynecologist. A woman at work recommended her doctor, and during the course of the conversation told me that she was scheduled to get mammogram. This was 1974...mammograms were not routine, and certainly not for very young women. She was 20. I didn't think too much of it until after I saw the doctor.
I arrived at his office and was pretty shocked at the number of women who were sitting in the waiting room. I thought for sure I'd be there for hours. Instead, woman after woman went in and out of the office in about ten minute intervals. The receptionist called my name and I went into the examining room and put on the standard-issue paper gown. The doctor came in, examined my breasts, put on a pair of rubber gloves and did a 2-second "digital" exam. He told me to get dressed and meet him in his office. When I got there, he solemnly told me that I had "cystic" breasts and needed to go for a mammogram. He gave me the name of the place to go, and that was the end of it. As I walked out of the office, I flashed back to my 20 year old friend who was going to the same radiology center for her mammogram and knew the whole thing was a scam.
The following year, I consulted another friend for a recommendation. She sent me to a 60-something year old doctor in Manhattan who she described as "so sweet and funny". Well, she was right about "funny", but it was funny-strange, not funny ha-ha. He directed me to undress in a cramped corner of the examination room. There was no screen, and no nurse present. I thought this was a little weird but was reluctant to question it. He did what seemed like an appropriate exam, even using instruments instead of a rubber-gloved finger. That is, until he was finished and kissed my inner thigh. I guess that was the "so sweet" part.
Fed up, I skipped the annual gyno appointment for awhile until my sister gave me the name of her doctor whom she thought very highly of. (This is the sister who is married to a cross-dressing maniac, but I didn't think about that at the time.) I liked this guy immediately. He was a man I would describe as genteel, with a slow Southern drawl. We'd sit in his office before the exam, just to talk about my concerns. That was the first time. I saw him a few months later for an in-office procedure, and when I went for the follow-up I saw him in his office as I had before. This time, in addition to talking about my concerns, he asked me several questions about my sex life...how many partners did I have, did I have orgasms, were any sexual positions painful for me, stuff like that. Then he said, "I saw you on the street last week." When he said where, I thought for a moment and said, "No, I don't think that was me." He looked me in the eye and said, "I would know you anywhere."
I said I wasn't feeling too good and left. When I called my sister, I told her that he made me really uncomfortable with the comment about seeing me on the street. She blew it off, saying that I was being paranoid. So I said, "Well, I don't know why he needs to know about my orgasms." She screamed "WHAT???" into the phone so loud that I knew he had never asked her those questions. That was 1979.
When I became pregnant with my daughter in 1984, I found a wonderful group of nurse-midwives who saw me throughout my pregnancy and for years afterwards. I went to them for my annual well-woman exam and back to them for the birth of my son ten years later (even though I lived 35 miles away at that point). I realize that bad doctors come in all shapes, sizes and genders, but I don't think I'll ever go back to a male doctor for my woman-stuff.
Friday, November 04, 2005
For this week's theme, I've chosen a photo that I think captures the warmth between dog and human beautifully. The woman is CJ, the President of Greyhound Rescue and Rehab. She nursed Boss back to health after a serious injury forced his "retirement" from the racetrack. After rehabilitating him for several months in her home with three other rescued greyhounds, she found a forever home for him and had to let him go.
This photo was taken at our annual greyhound picnic last year. CJ and Boss had not seen each other for over a year. Now named Mingus, it was clear that he knew exactly who she was...and still loved her.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Monday, October 31, 2005
OK, this "Good Ol' Days" thing has been making the email rounds several times in the last 2 years or so. It pisses me off every time I see it, so it's about time I just put the fucking thing to bed by pointing out that the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s might have been the "good ol' days" for straight white adult men, but that's about it.
“We were born in the 40's,50's,60's,70's.
We survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us."
We survived? How many people born in those decades were born prematurely, and/or at a ridiculously low birth weight? How many now have cancer, asthma, diabetes, eating disorders, alcoholism and a host of other ailments? Yep...let's bring back those good ol' days of smoking and drinking while sporting a big belly full 'o baby.
"They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing and didn't get tested for diabetes."
Yeah! And don't forget the boozing and puffing!
"After that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints."
Which apparently DID cause brain damage, based on the amount of times I've seen this stupid list on the web.
"We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, butt pads etc."
You know, my life has really been destroyed by all this "safety". I mean really. Who was ever hurt by a good skull-cracking, or by downing a whole bottle of Xanax?
"As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat."
I especially liked it when we slammed into another car at about 80mph. (no speed limits either!) That feeling of sailing through the air is just something you can't describe. I guess that's because you'd be DEAD!
"We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one actually died from this."
And there was something kind of COOL about having the same cold sore as all of your friends!
"We ate cupcakes, bread and butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!"
Except when we were at the dentist, or getting whacked upside the head for being “hyperactive”. And as statistics bear out, you're most likely overweight NOW.
"We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on."
In fact, we'd keep track of how many men exposed themselves to us in the course of a day, or try to take us for a ride to shop for a new puppy. Or, we'd get to spend unsupervised time with older cousins. Poor kids these days have to wait until high school to see someone else's genitals.
"No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K."
"We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem."
Actually, crashing into an oncoming garbage truck was even better. We were the original "Jackass".
"We did not have Playstations, Nintendos, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no internet or internet chat rooms..........WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!"
Until we grew up and sent this stupid list to everyone in creation on the [horrors] INTERNET!
"We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents."
Newsflash: no one is making money from accidents. It's negligence that costs you.
"We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live in us forever."
Funny thing, a kid on my block actually DID lose an eye to a stick. But hell, that's why you get two, right?
"We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!"
It was REALLY cool when we walked in and their mom and dad were doin' the wild thing!
"Cheerleaders and little league had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't, had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!"
Yeah. That came in handy when those over-sensitive girls or other undesirables wanted to be on the team. Or some ugly smart girl wanted to be a cheerleader. I mean really. Cheerleaders have an image to uphold.
"The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!"
This one brings back a particularly heart-warming moment in my own childhood when my father advised us: "Don't ever tell me the nun hit you or I'll give you twice as much." Man, I miss him.
"This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!"
Not to mention psychiatric patients, child molesters, and serial killers.
"The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas."
You mean innovations like computers, the internet, child-safety caps and seatbelts?
"We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all! If YOU are one of them! CONGRATULATIONS! You had the good luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers, and the government regulated our lives for our own good."
And if you're one of the unlucky ones who ate lead paint, overdosed on your mother's Valium, or became a paraplegic after being thrown from your father's pickup truck...OH WELL!! At least you had fun!
As some of you know, I am hoping to publish a memoir of my wacky life. What I've struggled with, to date, is the concept of writing a linear piece. A beginning, a middle and an end. I do much better with vignettes, the way I write them here.
I have two friends who are published writers. One is encouraging me to go the vignette route, and points to several other writers who have done this succesfully (Anne Lamott, David Sedaris, Melissa Bank). The other friend says absolutely not. He says that writing a book with chapters takes thinking and work, and that I should not try to avoid that. He claims that people want to read chapters...not vignettes.
So, dear readers, what do you think? Is writing a book of related but separate vignettes a cop-out?
Sunday, October 30, 2005
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, today is the anniversary of Tony's death. I'm sure, since he is survived by six brothers and sisters, that our phone will be ringing off the hook with calls of support for Lucas. You know, their 10 year old nephew?
It's not like they don't acknowledge the day...one of them will have a Mass for Tony. Such hypocrites.Three of these people live about 40 miles away from us. They have children, Lucas' cousins, that he loves. One sister has taken Lucas for a weekend (twice in two years), one took him for a few days last summer and didn't bother to give him his medication. Then she complained that he was difficult to deal with. Um, ok...
Only one sister, who lives in Texas, even acknowledged his 10th birthday last January. She sent him a lovely letter about how Tony had bought her a bike for her 10th birthday, so she was sending Lucas money to buy a bike. She came to NY to visit friends a few months later and "forgot" to call us.
Only one sister sent him a donation for his Katrina fundraiser. All of these people have money. A few are downright wealthy. (The sister who has taken him for a weekend owns a bathing suit company. She goes on QVC and sells $2MM worth of suits an hour. She's not the one who donated.)
We have heard nothing at all from his uncles, except for one email in response to the fundraiser that bragged about the guy's low golf handicap. Excuse me, but who gives a flying fuck?
Wouldn't you think they would want to reach out to their brother's son, a little boy without a dad? The brother with the low golf handicap lives in a "compound" in South Carolina... a group of homes owned by his wife's family. How about flying Lucas down there to spend a week with his four cousins during the summer?
I don't know... I guess I'm just disappointed and confused as to why they would disconnect from him this way. Tony's parents died young... his mother died shortly after we were married, of cancer, in 1993. His father died of ALS two years later. I think if they were still alive things would be different. In the meantime, I have to try and answer Lucas' questions about his dad's side of the family. Not to mention his 25 year-old half-brother Ryan, whom Lucas worships, who hasn't made any contact at all since Tony's death. Then again, he barely sees his own child.
I'm just venting, I guess. When we attended the bereavement group there were others who had similar experiences, so I guess it's not that uncommon. I don't know whether that makes me feel better or worse, because it's a sad commentary on human behavior. Thankfully, I already know that the boy I'm raising didn't inherit his compassion-bone from his dad's side of the family.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
My late husband. That's the way I would jokingly introduce him, since he never managed to arrive anywhere on time. Maybe a part of me also knew that he wouldn't outlive me...he smoked to excess and had been tormented by the demons of various other addictions for years. These demons are what ultimately destroyed our marriage. But in this picture we were happy. It was our wedding day, May 2, 1993.
Tony thought of himself as a Renaissance man. He was a painter, a writer, and a woodworker who crafted humidors with intricate inlay. He adored my 5 year old daughter Emma from the moment he met her, and the feelings were mutual. He shared my sense of humor and loved music. He was also mostly unemployed, irresponsible and accident-prone. I was terrified when I unexpectedly became pregnant with my son in 1994, but Tony assured me that he wanted this baby so badly that he would shape up. He'd do whatever was necessary to become the card-carrying adult that I so often begged him to be.
The simple truth is that it never happened. He was never able to hold a job for long and had several serious accidents (on my first day back to work, when my son was 8 weeks old, Tony used a nail gun without protective eyewear at a job site. The nail ricocheted off the molding into his left eye. A year later, he severely cut a finger while using a jigsaw. In 2001 left-handed Tony lost most of his left hand to a table saw...with a triple Dado blade.) I was always the "designated grownup" and I was exhausted.
The marriage had started deteriorating while I was pregnant and was over by 2000. He had become verbally abusive and Emma, then 14, started asking me how I could allow him to treat me that way. Four-year-old Lucas was saying things like "Just acknore him, Mommy." In his frustration over not being able to control his life or his demons, he would call me names so vile I won't write them here, in front of the children. During one fight he knocked over a tall dresser and I called the police. I knew then that I had to end it.
Tony flipped out over the divorce and never really let go emotionally. He would tell little Lucas to ask me if I still loved him. I tried to be there for him when he lost his hand, but had to keep some distance because he perceived any warmth from me as a sign that the relationship could be revived. It was very difficult.
While he was in the hospital after the accident, he shocked me with news that he had a granddaughter. The story of Tony's son, Ryan, is a long one so I'll save it for another entry, but suffice it to say that I wasn't surprised that his son had gotten someone pregnant and wasn't taking responsibility for the child. Lucas loves having a niece, I love Chloe's mom and we correspond often. We never see Ryan.
Tony and Chloe, 2002.
On Christmas Eve, 2002, he told me that a mass had been found on his lung. He had an appointment to see an oncologist the following week and was terrified. We went together and listened to the doctor say that while his tumor was malignant, "a lot of people live productive lives with one lung!". That was January. Two months and three doctors later, we were told that his tumor was inoperable and the cancer had metastasized to his bones.
The treatment offered was radiation and chemotherapy, but only to extend his life by 4-5 months. Since Tony was extremely vain about his hair, he opted out. Instead, he wanted to go to the Oasis of Hope in Tijuana for laetrille and chelation and god knows what else. I had mixed feelings about it. He couldn't afford the steep fee, so his six brothers and sisters had to scrape together $20,000. Mostly I worried that he would be spending a month away from our eight year old son, who was only beginning to understand the pain that was to come. Tony spent the month of April in Mexico. He was convinced it had cured him.
In July, his right thigh-bone began to separate from his pelvis until he could no longer walk. He was in the hospital from mid-August until October 30th when he finally passed away, at 46 years old. I have replayed the events of that final week almost every day since, as I drive to and from my office. I will never forget the look on my little boy's face as his dad held his hand and said "I tried, buddy, but I'm not going to make it." I thought Lucas had understood that his dad was dying, but his shocked expression said otherwise. On the way home that night, he cried and asked "Can't Dad get amnesia so he'd forget he was ever sick?" Ah, kids. I managed to chuckle through my tears.
The day they moved him from his semi-private room to the "corner suite", I knew. I knew this was the Dying Room. He slept most of that day, but for a few moments while he was awake I assured him that I would choose to remember all of the good things we had. I brought books of photographs of the children and turned the pages for him. He smiled.
The next morning, I walked into his room and paused, puzzled, as I looked for the aquarium. There had to be one, because I could hear the filter. There was no aquarium. It was him. A few times during the day he would sit up and flail his arms, as if to push something or someone away from him. I was glad that Lucas had been taken to his aunt's house, as this would have been very frightening for him to witness. Hell, it kinda scared the shit out of me too.
By 6 PM, his sister Patty and I were the only ones left in the room. We sat on either side of him and at one point realized that the hand I held was cold, while the one she held was warm. Moments later, we noticed a shift in his breath. We both stood up and she started saying "Peace be with you" over and over. He was gone.
Seeing my son that night was so heartbreaking. As I wiped his tears, he insisted that Tony had wanted to be buried (kids have a hard time with the concept of cremation). Then we crawled into bed together in Patty's guestroom and I held him close to me. We said nothing for awhile until he whispered, "Want to do a crossword puzzle?"
Lucas is 10 now. It's been over a year since Tony's death, but thanks to a wonderful bereavement group for children who have lost a parent (and the surviving parent), he's doing well. My daughter never really forgave Tony for his treatment of me during the marriage, and recently told someone that they were "estranged". I often wonder if it will ever hit her.
As for me, I have learned that being an "only parent" is a lot harder than being a single parent. I've made sure to mention Tony every single day to my son, to keep his memory alive. There are days when I'm beyond pissed off at him for smoking himself to death, and other days when I see something he would have loved or laughed at, and all I can do is smile.
One of these turned out to be a written account of the last week of Tony's life. I guess in trying to process everything, I wrote every single detail of that last, grueling week.
After having been sick for 8 months or so, he took a rapid slide during those seven days that surprised even his nurses. Although his life was quickly slipping away, he maintained his sense of humor almost to the very end.
Two days before he passed away, his sisters and Lucas and I were sitting with him at the hospital, having seen him get progressively weaker. At one point, the phone rang. He looked at us and said, "Unless it's the Dalai Lama, I don't want to talk to anyone."
Those were the last words he spoke. Some day, I think my son will get a chuckle out of that.
7 Things I Want To Do Before I Die
Go to Italy
Go to Paris
Go to those places with someone I love
Write at least one book
Be a decent golfer
See both of my children in happy, healthy, productive lives
Sing to my grandchildren
7 Things I Cannot Do
Swim unless my head is out of the water
Waterski (I've tried, really I have)
Dance if I have to follow a set of rules (I'm a freestyle kinda gal)
Shop at Wal-Mart (it's against my religion)
Ice skate (my ankles drag on the ice)
Read in the car
7 Things That Attract Me To The Opposite Sex
A great voice
Wit that ranges from quick and sarcastic to vulgar and juvenile
A love of music and art
A passion for learning and reading
An unending willingness to use them
7 Things That I Say Most Often
Emma! (when she's here, and sometimes even when she's not)
Get off my tail, asshole (when I'm already going 70)
Your mother's ass
It's rain, not battery acid (to my kids who complain that I don't use an umbrella)
Your face is gonna freeze that way! (No wait...that was my mother, not me)
7 Celebrity Crushes
Paul Newman (still)
James Blake (tennis player)
Father Guido Sarducci (ok, it's an inside joke. ;) )
Friday, October 28, 2005
Lucas at 3 weeks old. Delicate fingers touching his dad... and getting a delicate kiss from his big sister, Emma. I love this photo.
i'm back from my business trip...busy trying to catch up. Had a great time, didn't get blown away. I'll visit you all very soon!
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Thursday, October 20, 2005
FINALLY!! I got the clip from CBS of Lucas promoting his golf fundraiser and showing off his swing! The blog post about the fundraiser can be found here. (Or click on the link in my sidebar, where you can see how much he's raised to date! If you haven't donated to the relief effort, please consider doing it through us. Your donation will be matched TWO FOR ONE by Unilever, the company I work for.)
ANYWAY.... the video can be see by clicking here. The clip is 3 minutes long, with a great swing at the end. (He was also mentioned at the beginning of the show, and they did a 'teaser' at the first half-hour, but those were not included on the tape.) AND I mentioned the bloggers!
Monday, October 17, 2005
In 1961, my parents decided that they wanted to drive from New York to California and back. My father saved up his vacation and sick days, we packed up the '57 Dodge Coronet, our AAA books and Triptiks and took off for a six-week adventure. (That vehicle had a grapfruit-sized hole in the floor, so we fondly remember it as "The Flintstone Car"). Marge and Sal in the front, three girls in the back. In case you've wondered where the cliché comes from, we were no more than 5 blocks from home when I asked, "Are we there yet?"
I have enjoyed taking my own kids on vacations, wanting to make great memories for them. But sometimes, when I think of the things that made the BIGGEST impression on me from this trip, I wonder what they'll really remember in the long run.
Here were some of the high-points for me:
~ I was 5 and my sisters were 9 and 14. To pass the time, they would administer "lie detector tests" to me by asking "What did you learn in kindergarten?" When I'd answer, "I learned to drive a car", they'd draw a big spike on their graph and make a whooop! whooop! sound.
~ We'd have to duck down in fear every time my dad would flick a cigarette out the window, or worse...spit.
~ When it was my mother's turn to drive, Sal would go to sleep but not before telling us, "YOU watch the signs, YOU watch the road and YOU watch the speedometer." I guess he thought it took 4 women to drive a car.
~ The most important factor in picking a motel was whether or not the pool had a slide.
~ My mother had to scrape turtle crap off the bottom of my shoe at Knott's Berry Farm. My father must have thought that was memory-worthy as well, because he kept the movie camera rolling.
~ I thought we drove through "See the Rabbits", Iowa, and also couldn't figure out what was so damned funny every time I said it. (I also thought the Toronto hockey team was called "The Make-Believes".)
~ Because of the previously mentioned hole in the floor of the car, we spent much of the trip terrified that my dad would drive over roadkill.
~ My middle sister was a thief. She took "souvenirs" from the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert and picked flowers from the Los Angeles Arboretum. She made it to adulthood without going to prison, but she IS married to the biggest asshole on the planet. Justice prevails!
~ That same sister had several episodes of car sickness, and spent much of the trip wearing a "Got Puke?" moustache.
_ We were gone for six weeks. My mother never called home to check with her parents or sisters and see if everyone was ok, or to let them know that we were.
~ My parents were much nicer when we traveled. I hated coming back home.
~ Five years later, when we sold the car complete with the travel decals and bumper-stickers from this and several other trips, I cried bitterly as the new owner drove away. The imposter! Now everyone was going to think that HE went to "South of the Border"!
Friday, October 14, 2005
I am shaken, and not the least bit stirred, by the final choice for the new James Bond. What the hell were they thinking? He looks like Ilya Kuryakin soaked in pickle juice.
The perfect man, the ONLY man in my opinion, for the job would have been Julian McMahon..
Thursday, October 13, 2005
I married A. only a few months after my first divorce was final. He really loved my daughter who was 3 when we met, and I let that overshadow the fact that we had very little in common. I have nothing bad to say about him...we're still very good friends and he's incredibly wonderful to Emma to this day (she's 20 now). The marriage only lasted 18 months.
HOWEVER, all that aside, the wedding was great! A. worked in the theater and we were getting married in October, so we decided to go very theatrical and have a costume wedding. One of his cousins worked in a costume shop and she agreed to get deals for all the guests. Almost everyone in his hometown were either stagehands, cops or firemen so it was absolutely HILARIOUS to see them in Renaissance costumes with tights and plumes.
He and I were Rhett and Scarlett, the best man was the Phantom of the Opera and my maid of honor was Scarlett's cousin Melanie. Here's my Scarlett portrait (all photos are copyright Rob Fraser, 1989) Click on the photos to see them larger.
We planned to surprise our guests by arriving via speedboat to the waterside restaurant where the wedding and reception were to take place. Here I am, wearing the Phantom's hat and scarf.
In the boat.
We walked down the "aisle"... a rickety wharf that led up to a steep cliff that we climbed to reach our guests. Blaring over the loudspeakers was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's "Wedding March". Really campy and fun.
We arrive (you can see a little Emma in front of me).
Grandmother Kitty, a Nakota medicine woman, married us. A peace pipe was passed to all the guests. No, there was no wacky weed in it. I love this photo because of my dad's expression.
The photographer wasn't the only one taking pictures!
Rob Fraser, who photographed not one but TWO of my weddings, brought the photos to Bride's Magazine and they ran this little article about the event. Rob himself went on to shoot several celebrity weddings including Whitney Houston's.