Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Children Gone Wild

It's been two months since my last post and surprisingly enough, I really don't feel like writing about my mom's cancer. So I'm going to write about something else that affects me on nearly a day to day basis; spoiled children and oblivious mothers. I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but it seems a few years ago I noticed children becoming more and more bratty. Instead of seeing a temper tantrum in a grocery store once in a while, I'd start to see them closer to once a week. I'm talking professional temper tantrums; the kind where you lay on the floor flailing your arms and legs and wailing at the top of your lungs. Then, on the street! Mothers would push their double-wide strollers and more rugrats would pop up out of nowhere running around me screaming. I would grin through my teeth and politely excuse myself to get out of the vortrex of hell, but slowly felt a sense of disdain growing in these type of situations. Not only were these kids completely of out control, their mothers were turning a blind eye, yakking it up with probably another mommy friend. And then, the kicker: church. Running up and down the aisles like banshees. Eating full meals. I'm sorry, what? I'm hungry too, shit, but am I going to unwrap a turkey sandwich and crack open a can of Coke? NO. Oh, but wait, little Susie decided she wants to talk to daddy about..well, who knows what because it's baby jibberish coming out in full force while I'm trying to say the Our Father. You know, THE LORD'S PRAYER? And would you take a look at that, another one has busted loose and is playing, yes PLAYING in the holy water. Meanwhile, his mother is standing behind him with no action at all. I implore you, mothers...what happened to the days of the dirty look that indicated "if you make another sound you are going to get it?" Or better yet, let me take you OUTSIDE if you don't shut up and give you a proper disciplinary lesson? The one and only time I threw a temper tantrum was when I was six years old, at Pick 'N Save, begging for candy my dad wouldn't buy me. Do you know what he did? He drove me to the local trailer park and told me if I ever did that again he would leave me with the 'gypsies.' Was it a little extreme and terrifying? YES. Did I ever throw a temper tantrum again? Ahh, no. It seems that the majority of the mothers I come in contact with feel a sense of entitlement that I don't fully understand. If you're pregnant, of course I'm going to give up my seat for you. If you come on the train with a stroller and expect one of your 5 kids to sit down, well, why should they? I'm their elder. So you gave birth. Sounds horribly painful. You get my props. You also get props for clothing them instead of buying new shoes for yourself. Mmm, probably not drinking too. And shelling out the cash to put them through school. But nowhere on God's green earth does it say that just because you have one do you a. get to skip to the front of the line and b. allow them to get away with everything. Remember, these are the people who are going to be running our country later. Do you really want them to turn out like the pricks in Congress?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Side effects

You always hear about hard chemo and radiation can be on the body, but you can't really grasp the intensity until it becomes personal. Just like cancer, really. My mom's doctors armed her with books, binders, pamphlets and long discussions about what to expect when the time for side effects came, but I don't think any of us were ready for how bad they were going to be. Especially because it took a good three full weeks before it happened. But when it did, (and I was there), it was heartbreaking to watch. Yes, the doctors told her she would lose her hair in the back of her head where she's getting radiation. I guess you can never really prepare yourself for a jarring sight like her touching that area and holding clumps of hair in her hand. They told us she would lose her taste. What we weren't prepared for was her gagging every time she takes a bite of food, running around like crazy trying to find something, anything, so she can get nutrients in her body. That's aside from her sore throat, mouth sores, burning skin, and of course, fatigue. No matter how much she sleeps, it always stays with her. She was supposed to have her second chemo session this past Monday, but it turned out that her white blood cell count was too low and her risk for infection too great so they had to reschedule it. That postpones her third session by another week, pushing out her entire treatment and giving her even more to worry about. But we push on, knowing we've reached the halfway point and praying she gets through it. So at the very, very least, she can know what fucking fried chicken tastes like again.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

On the fence

So I'm back at my parents place again getting ready for my mom's second chemo. Not a whole lot to write about at the moment, however I did want to share a wonderful image I captured. It's my father spraying down the fence. He's obsessed with everything that has to do with the house, and this is just another example. He actually rented this machine, and to avoid getting wet 'built' himself a suit of armor. No, your eyes are not deceiving you...this suit of armor is in fact a garbage bag. What's even better? He wrapped a baseball hat with a grocery bag to 'protect' his head.
Just a day in the life of an unsung hero.

Monday, July 15, 2013

In the thick of it

I never thought I would see the day I'd be taking my own mother to the hospital for cancer treatment. Her first one was exactly a week ago, and we spent over 11 hours there. When we arrived at the radiation area, sadly, ironically, my mom ran into a woman she knew. She has brain cancer, has had surgery, and getting both chemo and radiation. She was wearing a hat and when she took it off, the top half of her hair was gone and a huge scar ran from one side of her head to the other. Just another example of how common this horrendous disease has become. My dad and I stood beside my mom as nurses fastened a mesh mask to her face and slid her into a tube where she would be getting radiation. We watched from outside the room as she lay there, still, for 9 excruciatingly long minutes as the beams bombarded her cancer. From there we went to the cafe, ate, and proceeded on to get my mom's blood drawn. As we sat in the waiting area, I took note of how busy it was. Old people, young people. Some in wheelchairs, some walking on their own. Some bald, some with full heads of hair. One gentleman's face was disfigured and he had a stoma and voice valve. Everyone was chatting and laughing. A woman in a wheelchair and wearing a wig complimented my sandals. A man joked around about needing more of the "good stuff." A mother and daughter sat next to each other reading books. A weird scene, really, but somewhat "normal." And there sat my mom, among them. After another hour or so, the nurses directed us to the 3rd floor. The floor my mom was dreading. The floor where she would be getting chemo. We sat around and her best friend who's an oncologist came to join us, bringing gossip mags and sandwiches. My mom took a break to go to the bathroom and soon after she left her name was called. When she came back, the four of us walked in. A small army. Soon after she was seated in her own room and a flurry of activity began; introductions to nurses, what would be happening, what the time-frame was. I wrapped her in a prayer shawl my friend's mom had made for her and they began flushing out her system to prepare her body for the chemo. A nutritionist came in and had my mom list off all the things she does and doesn't eat. She's a good little patient; the only thing she really doesn't like is ice cream. Then they pumped her full of anti-nausea meds and finally the nurse came in with a large bag of chemo. Seeing her face as she wept and wanted to run away was one of the hardest things I've ever had to experience, but I squeezed her hand and assured her it wasn't poison; it was the medication needed to save her life. So she sat there, for hours and hours on end, while it ran it's course. We got her to laugh through her tears, and in those moments I realized just how much I love my mother...and how brave she is.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I’ve had my blog since 2011 and while I haven’t realized the dream of publishing my writing yet, I know I’ve reached many people and at the very least, made them laugh. It’s what I pride myself on doing. There is nothing better than to see another person’s eyes crinkling, tears streaming down their cheeks or hands clutching their stomach because they’re doubled over at something you’ve said. Comedic relief has been my savior in most of life’s trying moments…and so has writing. Because I’ve made such an effort to keep the blog lighthearted, I’ve been torn about whether or not to share my feelings about the reality of what my family and I are going through. While I have a tremendous support system, there are words and thoughts inside of me that can only be best expressed this way. The truth is: life isn’t always funny. There are times when it’s fucking hell, like when your mom’s doctor’s visit turns into a biopsy that turns into a phone call at work that turns into “I have cancer.” Since the diagnosis, the emotions have run rampant. Healthy distraction here, unhealthy distraction there. Prayer, no prayer. Sleep, no sleep. Move home, stay in Chicago. Cry, don’t cry. Tread lightly, be stern. Avoid the topic, be frank about it. Date, don’t date. Worry, don’t worry. Feel guilty and regretful, feel thankful and optimistic. Write…don’t write. Turns out, the latter was never really an option. I need it to summon the strength to help my mom. With that said, I’m going to document our experience. I don’t want to create a new blog solely to write about her illness because while it is horrible and scary, there is so much more beyond that: laughter. And love. Lots and lots of love.

Friday, June 7, 2013


I have an aversion to people with bad teeth. I’m sorry, but I really do. Whether they are corn cob yellow, jacked up like a picket fence or just not taken care of, I can’t deal. I get that some people don’t have insurance or have crappy insurance, but puhlease. This is not an area that you neglect. Not only that, there are many products on the market that can help (Crest Whitestrips, what. a. lifechanger.) I've been diligent about my own health care my entire life; brushing, flossing, swishing, whitening, etc. But, gentle readers, it appears I too am not perfect when it comes to oral (heh) care. I went in for my 6 month cleaning the other day and it was quite honestly the most brutal experience I've ever had at a dentist's office. My dentist has never been one with a soft touch; she is as aggressive as you can get. I mean, she really gets in there. Up until this visit I had no problem with it, but for some reason I had major buildup on my pearly whites and the moment she started scraping, I knew I was in for it. That bitch went through 6 gauze pads full of blood and I just about lost my shit. Every time I spit there was more. Not. Cute. My hands were sweaty from clutching the armrests and as I closed my eyes I thought so this is what Fight Club must have been like. But instead of Brad Pitt, I had a crazed Greek woman who was assaulting my gums. I opened my eyes I saw her put another pad on her tray and wondered if it was ever going to end. I rinsed and spat more blood. I gargled with mouthwash. That didn't help. I slowly started to feel panic rise in my throat (or was that the taste of iron?). I needed to call someone for help. Who, I don't know. Finally, my dentist grinned and exclaimed joyously, "good as new!" I gazed up weakly at her and said with shame "this has never happened to me before." I felt as though I needed to explain myself. I DO floss. I DO brush my teeth several times a day. "Oh, this was nothing" she scoffed. "You should see some of the people we get in here." ha, ha! I hopped off the chair, removed my bloodied bib and skipped out of there...praying my knees wouldn't buckle from the horror I had just endured.

Monday, May 13, 2013

I should probably be on the no-fly list

In light of my much anticipated birthday trip to Miami coming up on Thursday, I thought I’d share a story that may or may not help encompass just how great my fear of flying is. Even as I write this I am already full of anxiety, so if I don’t finish it’s because I had to run to the bathroom and take a shit. In the meantime, flash back about, oh I don’t know, at least 10 years when I was dating some schmuck living in Baltimore. For all the stress I went through to see him we should have ended up together, but thank God we didn’t because he ended up having the personality of a rock. At any rate I had gone to see him for a weekend in December and on the way there was caught in a huge snowstorm so the flight was severely delayed. The turbulence was also extremely bad and as I was thrown around like a sack of potatoes a hand reached out from across the aisle and grabbed mine. It ended up being the manager from a group called Mannheim Steamroller, do you guys remember them? They have that awesome orchestra and they are famous for Christmas music. We ended up talking the whole way and he gave my boyfriend and I VIP tickets to a show, which was awesome. He was my saving grace, however I was not so lucky on the flight back. After an all in all mediocre weekend, I got myself to the airport with ample time to spare. Please note that this time to spare is pretty much spent either getting inebriated and/or looking for nuns/clergy in hopes of group prayer in case the plane is about to go down. The person at check-in, though, foiled my plan and instructed me to immediately get to the gate because my flight was going to take off. I told him that wasn’t possible as my flight wasn’t leaving for another 2 hours, but he barked at me to make my way to the gate because the flight had been bumped up. Imagine my anxiety level as I raced to the gate to make this flight, out of breath and sweating like a pig. Meanwhile, I’m also wondering who is going to get my shoe collection when I don’t make it out alive. I arrived at the gate, and it was nearly empty. I walked onto the plane and there were about 10 people on it. I sat down and asked a person behind me if they knew why the flight got bumped. “I think it’s cause of weather.” I turned around. By this time boarding was complete and they were locking up the plane, preparing to get in line for take-off. As I looked around the ghost flight around me, I decided that something just did not feel right. So I got up, and went to look for a stewardess. I found one, and she looked at me quizzically. “I’m going to have to get off and go back to the gate,” I said nonchalantly. She stared at me. “Excuse me?” “Yes, my flight got pushed up and I just don’t want to take this one. I’d like to be on my original flight please.” “Ma’am, we’re getting ready for take-off. You need to get in your seat.” At this point I’m seeing my life flashing before my eyes and the only appropriate thing that comes to mind is to burst into tears, which I do. Not only that, but a small group of stewardesses is now standing over me, and other passengers are starting to look worried. “Ma’am, are you on any kind of medication?” one of the attendants asks me. “No, I just don’t want to be on this plane. I need to get off.” Silence. “That’s not possible, we are next in line for take-off.” “Well I suggest you go talk to the pilot because he’s going to need to turn this plane around,” I said. More silence. One of the stewardesses walks up the aisle to the cockpit and by this time I’m rocking back and forth like a mental patient. About 20 minutes go by and I hear a voice over the loudspeaker “ladies and gentleman, due to a certain individual we will have to go back to the gate to drop her off so our flight will be delayed. We will take off immediately afterward.” And sure as sh-t, they dropped me off back at the gate where security was waiting for me. Mind you, this was before 9-11 so my answer as to why this whole scenario took place was good enough for them. “I just wanted to be on the plane I was supposed to be on.” With that said, my friend Liz Rinaldi is in for a real treat. Thankfully her gift to me has come in pill form, so hopefully that will at least keep me quiet. And if anyone asks what’s wrong with me, I already have the perfect response: I’m auditioning for a sexy remake of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Master of my own domain...but not really.

Most of you don’t know this, but along with giving up drinking for Lent, I also gave up masterbating. I wanted to test my willpower and discipline, as well as gain a sense of clarity. Miraculously I lasted the forty days, but the only thing I really experienced was frustration so when Lent was over I went back to going to town on myself. Hallelujah, my orgasms have resurrected!! Because I wasn’t doing it, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about it and how taboo the topic still really is. Well, in America anyway, because we all know every other country has no problem with sex, nudity, etc. It was only a couple of years ago I had my first frank discussion about the first time I masterbated, and it was one of the most refreshing conversations I’ve ever had. Not surprising, but my friends were all just as horny as I was when they were young. And, also like me, a few of them had their first "O" experience with a friend nearby. Ah yes, the bonds of sisterhood. I’ll never forget my introduction into the world of heavenly bliss. I’m not exactly sure how the idea even came about because I knew nothing about orgasms at the time, but somehow I found myself in the bedroom of a daughter of my parent’s friends. We sat on her bed for a while and talked, and within minutes I had a pillow in between my legs and was humping it until the cows came home. She sat there and stared at me for a while and ended up followed suit with her own pillow. A tingling feeling soon came over me and I sat up on her bed. “I’m done” I declared, but saw that she was still doing work. I decided to lay back down and try my hand at this gyrating act once again, and wouldn’t you know, the tingling sensation came over me not once, twice, but three more times. Clearly I was blessed at a very young age. We sat in silence for a while, not really looking at each other. A while later her mom called us down for dinner and we sheepishly made our way downstairs. We were beet red in the face and our hair was completely disheveled. “What were you two doing up there?” her mom asked. “Exercising” I mumbled. “Well, that must have been quite an exercise, look at how red you two are!” she exclaimed, and everyone at the table made it a point to notice. It was almost as bad as the time we got caught making our Barbies have sex. From then on, I humped my own pillow.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Last Call

I've been around alcohol my whole life. There are few memories from childhood that don't include my father holding a glass of whiskey on the rocks. I was 16 when I had my first drink. I'll never forget it; I was in Poland for the summer and hanging out with my 18 yr old cousin and his friends. They had just finished high school and were looking to celebrate. They bought a bottle of vodka, and we sat down in a park overlooking the opera. It was about 85 degrees outside. One of my cousin's friends, a super hot bassist in his band, took out a stack of four metal stacked shot glasses that were bound by a leather strap. He handed one to each of us, and under the scorching sun, I sat and drank the whole bottle with them. With no chaser. Did I mention I was the only girl? Like most of our peers, my other friends and I became quite good at deceiving our parents. A sleepover at a friend's house was typically a party at an older guy's house where we all got quite good at chugging strawberry Boone's Farm and 40's. High school dances became much more entertaining when you had limos stocked with beer. Although I lived at home during college, I spent the majority of my time visiting friends who were studying in different cities. Oh, what a life that was. Edward 40hands? Flip cup? Beer pong? Playing them (and winning) was pretty much a rite of passage. With graduation came a big change; moving out on my own for the first time and to Chicago. Although I felt like a small fish in a big sea at first, I connected instantly with my newfound freedom. I made friends and my desire to be social was quickly gratified. My tastes changed. I traded in light beer for Red Bull vodkas, Prosecco, and white wine on ice. I became a huge fan of taking shots. Bartenders lined them up, and we threw them back. In a way, alcohol has been my companion. It's been with me when I've bonded with friends, been consoled by them, or offered my consolation. It's been with me when I've been forgiven by them, or when I offered forgiveness. I'ts been with me when I've caught up with old friends who I haven't seen in years, and when I've celebrated milestones. It's been with me when I've gotten good news. It's been with me when I've wanted to relax after a long day. It's been with me when I've needed a little bit (or a lot) of courage. But in other ways, it has also been my enemy. It's been my enemy every time I got behind the wheel or walked home by myself at night. It's been my enemy when I woke up the next morning not remembering how I got home, what I said, or what I did. It's been my enemy when I've woken up naked next to complete strangers. It's been my enemy when I've wasted hours hunched over the toilet throwing up bile; head aching, chest pounding, and every fiber of my being screaming for me to stop poisoning my body. It's been my enemy when I've turned into an entirely different person and lashed out at people who care about me for no good reason. It's been my enemy when I've lied to my parents about whether or not I was drunk. It's been my enemy when I've drank to deal with my problems. It's been my enemy when days had to go by before I was finally free from the anxiety and self deprecating thoughts it left me with. As with human relationships, sometimes you need a break from people. I decided I needed a break from drinking. I had always wanted to give up drinking for Lent, but I didn't want to try because I knew how hard it would be. This year, I was determined. I forced myself into social interaction to really challenge myself. I went to a concert where I was surrounded by younger teens who were three sheets to the wind, pushing and spilling everywhere. My girlfriends had a few drinks themselves, and I drank Red Bull. Typically I've drank to enhance a musical experience, but here I was left to take it in completely sober. I will say that I have never heard music like I did that night. It was so clear. So powerful. I organized a girl's night one night and almost cancelled. I was actually quite nervous to go out to the bars, especially on a weekend. We went to one place, and they were playing some fantastic hip hop. My friends ordered a drink, and I again ordered Red Bull. We sat down at a table, and it happened. I got up and danced up a fucking storm. To be honest, this was possibly the fear all along; that I couldn't let go and truly be myself without the help of alcohol. The most recent event was Saint Patrick's Day. Technically Catholics get a reprieve on March 17th, so I could have drank at midnight on that Saturday we went out, but I decided to go all the way. Plus, I was curious to see how such a hugely alcohol driven holiday could be enjoyed without it. That night was tough. As everyone knows, people are out since early in the morning and by the time my friend and I went out people were inebriated. Thankfully we spent it in a more quiet location, but seeing people order Irish coffees (one of my favorite drinks) almost put me over the edge. It was really the first time I had craved it. We moved on to another location and I moved on to another Red Bull. They also played music at this place, and by this point I felt good enough to break into dancing almost immediately. I'm writing this on Easter Sunday, which is of course the end of Lent and I have officially made it through without a drop of alcohol. To say that it's been one of the most liberating and interesting experiences of my life is an understatement. I am astounded by my level of mental clarity it has given me. I went through some emotional turmoil during this period, and being able to deal with a problem head on without having something to help me numb or forget the pain has given me a new perspective on how I want to deal with things in the future. I have a new appreciation for spending time with people really listening to what they have to say versus pounding drinks together. Physically, I feel amazing. Waking up without a hangover is the best feeling in the world. Being able to recollect everything that happened the night before is even better. Most importantly, I have a renewed confidence in myself. If you ask me if I want to have a drink now, I say no. If you ask me if I'm going to drink in the future, I say I don't know. If you ask me if I can have fun without alcohol, I say hell yes. Cheers...to life!!!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gird Your Loins, Raise Your Standards

It's been a while since I've gotten on my soapbox so I figure now's as good a time as any. Over the past month or so, several of my girlfriends have been broken up with. It was like a domino effect, and definitely not in a good way. I made my rounds of support and began to learn the details. The more I learned, the angrier I got. One guy cheated on a friend after moving here to be with her from out of state. When she called him out on it, he said it was 'only one time.' She tried to work it out with him, and surprise, surprise...it wasn't just one time. A second friend had been dating a guy over a year and after blowing her off for about a month, he slowly decided "he had too much going on in his life" and "things weren't really working." Yet another friend was broken up over a text message. These are just some of the few in a long line of shocking, appalling, and "is this real life?" stories. And if you know me at all, you know that I have plenty of my very own. Time and time again, men behave badly for what appears to be no reason at all. There's a serious lack of respect, chivalry and common courtesy plaguing the majority of them here in America. And before you start spewing some bitter feminist bullshit at me, understand that I'm not bitter at all. I'm a firm believe in love and still a hopeful romantic. I know there are good men out there; I've met a number of them. I see many of my friends having settled down with them. The fact is, though, most of the eligible ones to choose from are Grade D IKEA horsemeat (google it). I could list the reasons why (and rip them a new one in the process)but I find that a huge waste of time because inevitably, I don't believe these men are going to change. They are single for a reason. I'm starting to realize the surest way to break the cycle is to listen to some no-nonsense advice I've been getting from my dad (THE greatest guy I know): raise your standards. With the help of Greg Bernhardt, I've elaborated on a few simple suggestions. 1. Don't go out with a man who doesn't ask you out first. This means he should call you. Fuck texting. No, not like sexting. Fuck texting. It's bullshit. He needs to pick up the phone. It takes a few minutes. It's what normal people do. 2. Don't go out with a guy who keeps you waiting by the phone. If a guy says he's going to call you and doesn't call...fuck him. He's not thinking about you enough to stay true to his word, and the last thing you want is to date a guy who can't stay true to his word. If he's going to disappoint you so quickly over something so minimal, imagine what he'll do with the more important things. 3. Don't date a guy who isn't sure if he wants to date you. He's hot, he's cold. He likes you, but how much does he like you? "I'm just not sure if I want a relationship right now." Oh, ok. But I have a feeling you're sure about me pulling my pants down, right? Not sure isn't good enough. You're amazing and there's nothing to be unsure of. 4. Don't date a guy who doesn't bring out the best in you. We've all seen her. The girl who became a shell of her former self because she molded into exactly what her boyfriend wanted her to be. It's sickening. The moment a guy makes you feel bad, ashamed, embarrassed or uncomfortable about anything pertaining to who you are as a person, you've gotta be out. You deserve someone who is going to adore you, even with your idiosyncrasies. 5. Don't date a guy who's afraid to talk about your future. If the time is right, you both have to be open enough to talk about "where things are going" without freaking the fuck out. 6. Don't date a guy who doesn't have any plans for the future. Oh hey, what's that? You're going quitting your job and going back to school but you haven't decided what you want to do yet? Next. 7. Don't date a guy who's unavailable. "I don't want a relationship" literally means "I don't want a relationship." It has often times been confused for "but I'm so great he'll change his mind for me" and the ever popular "if I sleep with him I bet he'll feel differently." False. Walk, no, run away now. 8. Don't date a guy who doesn't respect your boundaries. Girl, keep that chastity belt on as long as you can and you will see the real nature of the man you are dating. If there's any sign of impatience, discontent or sudden lack of interest in you, ding ding ding, you've got yourself a loser. 9. Don't date a guy who has already rejected you. If you don't have any dignity or self-respect, how can a guy have that for you? Also, if he didn't do the right things to keep you around the first time, why would you give someone like that a second chance? 10. Don't go out with a guy who doesn't get rave reviews from your friends right off the bat. Seriously. If you're friends are oddly quiet and don't really say much when you ask what they think about him, that's a telltale sign. They should be gushing about how great he is and how well he's treating you. They see you all the time and they know you the best, so that gives them the ability to sniff out the bad ones like rabid dogs. Fact. And now...to take my own advice.