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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: I Had It All This Year

This year, I fought the bank against foreclosure
This year, we finally, officially filed for our divorce
This year, I lost one of my two jobs
This year, I had a TV show, a big-time blogging job and a possible book deal fall through
This year, I was incredibly lonely sometimes, but still too scared to do anything about it
I've lost a lot this year
But I still had it all
Because I had them
And because they have each other
Bring on the New Year
We're all going to be okay

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Coming In 2015 - Anna And Ellie Explain It All For You

As we move closer to putting a lid on 2014, I've been brainstorming various new things I can do to "freshen up" this blog for the coming year. I'll probably be putting up a new blog design, taking a few new author pics, and various cosmetic stuff like that.

In addition to that, I'll be featuring a guest blogger, every Tuesday through this next year:

My lovely daughter, Anna!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Infertility Is A Horrible Rollercoaster Ride - And For Me, It Was Worth It

They explained it all with absolute clarity. 

People talk about how confusing the process is - all the appointments with the doctors and the surgeons and reproductive endocrinologists and the microbiologists and the 'gists you haven't even heard of before. But you learn more about your body than you ever knew before. Ever wanted to know before.

Your body becomes not your own. It has now been reduced to its most basic form. An organism. A malfunctioning organism that will now be tampered with, drugged, pushed and prodded, scheduled, dissected and all while draining your physical and emotional bank accounts dry. The cost in dollars: exhorbitant. The cost to your soul: incalculable. You'll do it anyway.

Friday, December 26, 2014

December 26, 2002

It was Christmas Day, and the man sat at her bedside, holding her hand. There was very little sound now, as her breathing was barely audible. Before, there had been a riot of noises – heart monitor beeping, ventilator going ka-thump, nurses and doctors shuffling in and out. Now the machines were all unplugged and the nurses came in quietly, respectfully, and the world – his world – had closed in to just this woman and her breathing, and on the periphery, his son, sitting vigil at his side.

What had been a quick trip to the Emergency Room for what they thought was a horrible stomach virus had turned into this. She had been admitted 3 days before, on their forty-fifth wedding anniversary, and now she wasn’t going to come home. This isn’t what she’d want. She’d never want to die at Christmas. It was her very favorite holiday. The man turned to his son and said “This is hard. This is so hard.” And so, with his son’s hand on his back, they sat through the long night and waited.

Over 2,000 miles away, I waited, too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve
And I'm sitting next to my Daddy
Who is 78 years young
We're watching Firefly
And I'm baking cookies
And the world is perfect right now
So you stop reading this
And go spend time with someone you love
I will, too.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"Remember That Time David Pulled Out Your Hair Till You Bled?"

My daughter and I got into a discussion last night about the circumstances of her birth - or more accurately, her conception.

You see, both my children were conceived via invitro fertilization. They're "test tube babies," due to a severe infertility issue that made it impossible for my ex and I to have a biological child any other way. It was a long, hard road filled with five years of invasive tests, horrific drugs, thousands of dollars and a whole lot of heartbreak before we hit the jackpot with our two little miracles.

Anna asked me if it were possible to genetically sculpt the "ideal" baby, and I explained to her that it wasn't yet, but there are tests available to screen embryos for certain birth defects, and some people opt to "sex select" their embryos, choosing only boys or girls. We did none of that, because it just plain didn't matter to us. Boy, girl, Down's syndrome or no, we knew we would love that child.

Of course, I had no idea I'd end up with a child who had autism, but then again, neither did any other autism parent. Would I have changed my mind about that pregnancy if I had known? The autism Mom I am now says absolutely not. The pre-autism woman who thought that was an incredibly frightening word might have chosen differently. My son was the first person with autism I had ever known. He was a new frontier, and we learned all about it together. We're still learning.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Growing Up In The Space Age - I Wish My Kids Could Have What I Had

In July of 1969, I was very, very young. I wish I could tell you I wasn't even yet a glimmer in my Daddy's eye so that I could claim to be as young as I feel, but I believe in truthful blogging.

It was July of 1969, and my mother's side of the family, then in Denver, all gathered in my grandmother's tiny living room, some of us on the couch, some of us on the floor, some of us sitting across the top of the couch and dangling our pre-school legs down over our parent's shoulders, and we watched.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Resting Uneasy At The Hotel Rwanda

Several years ago, while working as an executive assistant for a major pharmaceutical company, I had to plan a trip for my boss to Rwanda.

Rwanda. Holy cow! Can you even get a plane to Rwanda??

It turns out you can. More than one in fact. You can fly there direct via British Airways from Brussels, Belgium mainly because there are a lot of Europeans who visit the area for the Silverback gorilla wildlife preserve in Kigali. The movie "Gorillas in the Mist" was filmed there.

So I began the long and interesting process of setting up my boss's trip to Kigali, Rwanda. He was an executive director, and the company was making a very large charitable donation of our pneumonia vaccine to the children of Rwanda. Pneumonia kills thousands of children there every year, due to the high humidity rates in the mountainous forest region they live in, and the general lack of "first world" medical care. My boss was a pompous, high-maintenance, pointy-haired jerk of a man, and he insisted that I find him the highest level of hotel accommodation possible because "a third world four-star hotel is our single star, you know".

After a bit of investigation and some calls to the assistants of other executives making the trip, we all agreed upon one of the two four-star hotels in Kigali, the Hotel des Mille Collines - otherwise known as the "Hotel Rwanda", for those of you who saw the movie. I hadn't at the time, but I'd heard the name so I started reading up on it, out of curiosity.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mostly Wordless Wednesdays: Twenty Dollars

Mom, are you mad at me?
No, honey, I'm not mad at you. Not at you. 
Did you get bad news?
You could say that. It's a letter from the bank. 
The letter makes you mad?
Yes. It makes me mad and sad.
Because they want a lot of money. I need to give them money for the house. I'm sorry, Bubby. It just makes me in a bad mood. I love you, though.
You can have my twenty dollars, mom.
No, Bubby - your aunt and uncle gave you that for Christmas. That's your money. You keep it. 
If you change your mind, I will give it to you.
I know you would, Bubby. I know you would.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Love Music. I Just Never Listen To It, Is All...

I love music.

All kinds of music. Taylor Swift and The Violent Femmes. Streetlight Manifesto and Barenaked Ladies. Pearl Jam and The Pogues. The Grateful Dead and the Dixie Chicks. Broadway Tunes and The Ramones. Pat Metheny and Barry Manilow and Pink and Arianna Grande and Mika and Pentatonix and Taj Mahal and the entire soundtrack from Pitch Perfect. I love all sorts of stuff.

And I sing. I sing loud and with great gusto and I love, love, love to sing.

But if you looked at my iPod, or the music file on my iPhone right now, you wouldn't see much. 99% of what's there is there because my daughter and I share and iTunes account, and she's downloaded it to her phone.

You see, I don't listen to music much, when I'm by myself. If my kids are in the car, the radio or the iPod is on, and we're all singing and grooving.

But if it's just me....silence.

When I write....silence.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Once Upon A Time - Season 4, Episode 12 Recap: Belle, The Bad-Ass With All The Balls

Will Hook live through the episode? Millions of ovaries want to know!
Oh, the fearful, wary anticipation of a Once Upon A Time pre-hiatus show. I'm still reeling from the fateful goodbye scene of last year's mid-season cliffhanger, and I  knew we were going to get our guts ripped out again. 

I was right. 

Damn you, Kitsis, Horowitz, and staff. Damn you.

Friday, December 12, 2014

It's Friday! Time For Another Gallery Of Awesome Stuff!

We begin today's awesome stuff with an introduction to Wakie - a new app that lets you wake or be woken by people from all over the world.

This is simply brilliant. You choose whether to be a "Wakie" (someone who wakes people)  or a "Sleepyhead" (someone who gets woken up), register on the site and it will connect you for a one minute conversation (anonymously) with someone somewhere in the world. That's cool enough, but here's the really brilliant part: they've got a forum (similar to Craigslist "missed encounters" from what I can tell) where you can try to connect with your wakie or sleepyhead, if you'd like. They're also looking into a premium service that will let you extend your call to five minutes, and they're even looking into a celebrity angle where the celeb of your choice can pre-record messages that you can pay for as a wake up call. The celeb can then link those via social media.

Of course, with a wake-up call from Dwayne Johnson or Colin O'Donoghue I'm liable to want to stay in bed.

No, I'm not expanding on that one. Onward!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thank You, Mr. Thorp - What My High School Chorus Teacher Taught Me About Life

One of my high school chorus pictures, with Mr. Thorp proudly at the center.

In seventh grade, my first year of junior high, I was allowed to pick one "elective" course. There was no question in my mind about it, no pondering, no confusion. I was born to sing nearly as much as I was born to act and born to write. I had a passably good voice (I would never claim to be a diva, but I could hold my own) and thus began my school singing career.

My first chorus teacher was Mr. Phillips. He had bright red hair and a bright red mustache and when he got mad at us, his face went bright red, too. But he was loony and knew his stuff. He gave me my first musical role, as the Rose in Alice in Wonderland.

Next came Mrs. McAllister, who used the piano as a percussion instrument and occasionally threw chairs across the room when her temper got the better of her. She was raw and crass and demanding and brought us together to sing under the iron fist of unwavering perfection. I didn't always like her, but I loved the way she made us sound.

And then there was high school, and Mr. Thorp.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: I Just Had To Share

No poetry from me today
Because I'm spending my day with my girl
A genuine "just us" Mom and Daughter day
Freewheeling and fun and full of whatever we want to do

So you get to amuse yourself with this
And if you're the parent of a kid with autism
You'll laugh, just like I did.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Cat That Has My Back

I grew up a dog person. When I went off to college, my poor mother got her heart broken because half my calls home were taken up with me asking her to hold the phone out so the dog could hear me.

It was with great surprise that I found myself adopting a little ball of meowing fur, found shivering in the cold outside my boyfriend’s apartment my junior year of college.

Thus began the odyssey of cat ownership. Geddy the Siamese was our first (what can I say – the boyfriend was a Rush fan) and so damn smart. He also had a real thing for barbeque Lays potato chips and would swat the bag until you shared with him. Four years later, the boyfriend and I were married and added Toodie, a domestic gray. That cat was as dumb as a box of rocks and drooled in her sleep, but never ceased to make us laugh. We loved them both, and when they died within a year of each other, we realized the house just wasn’t the same without them.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Once Upon A Time - Season 4, Episode 11 Recap: Bitchy, Snarky, Well-Dressed And Wonderful - Welcome Back To Storybrooke!

I'm the one with the cleavage around here!

Welcome back to Storybrooke! 

I mean, really - welcome back. We've sort of lost our way on some of these story arcs, and while I adore Anna, find Elsa palatable and am in awe of the Snow Queen's magnificent rack, there hasn't been a lot this season that's made me feel like the old days. The days of bandit Snow and virile Charming, red-carpet dresses and viciously snarky Regina. The days of saucy Hook, deadpan Emma and oily, but irresistable Rumple.

This episode brought us back to our roots, and to one of the best parts about the Once Upon A Time universe: no villain is beyond redemption.

Friday, December 5, 2014

How To Properly Entertain This Holiday Season

First, light your house in a festive manner. Just be careful if you have palm trees:

Nope. Not saying it.

Next, be sure you have a large amount of delicious appetizers. Hillshire Farms suggests this holiday weenie tree!

You can find the "recipe" on their website. Or Pinterest.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Proof That There Is A God: High-Waisted Jeans Are Coming Back

I was born a century too soon. Not that I crave Edwardian manners (okay, maybe a little) or I'm looking for my own personal Mr. Darcy (okay, maybe a lot, but he needs to look like Matthew McFayden).

Oooooh, Mr. can forget your manners with me...
It's more that my body was really made to wear Empire waists.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"Sad Is Harder Than Mad" - A Lesson I Learned From My Autistic Son (Book Excerpt)

It was a snowy day, and we were inside, my son and I.

The wind was cold that afternoon, and he couldn’t bear the feel of it on his face, so sledding with his sister was not an option. He decided to keep me company instead. As I stood there mixing, he watched one of his favorite movies, "Despicable Me." He was silent for a while, and then he asked me a question.

“Mom? Are the girls sad? Or mad?”

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Just A $29 Dollar Tree

Just a $29 Christmas tree
Nothing much to write home about
We had a great big one when the ex was still here, pre-lit and gorgeous
But by the following Christmas, it lost half its lights
So the year after, I bought this one
All I could afford on the single-mom salary at the time
Especially if I wanted the kids to have some Christmas
So we put up our homemade and often garish ornaments
And we laughed and laughed while we did
And it felt like Christmas anyway
Maybe more so, because we laughed and loved
It's beautiful
It's all beautiful

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I'm Taking A Deep Breath And Stepping Out From Behind The Persona For This Confession

And believe me when I tell you, this is not an easy blog to write. I'm going to be talking today about something I hate about myself. I mean really, really hate. An embarrassment. A source of acute loss of self-esteem.

A lifelong curse, pretty much. Or, at least, it feels that way to me.

Here's the truth of it: I have crooked teeth.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Once Upon A Time - Season 4, Episode 10: When You Wish Upon A Plot Convenience

This week's episode begins with a glorious overhead shot of the rack that started it all:

With great cleavage comes great responsibility. 
Or in this case, a whole lot of passive-aggressive evil. I mean, seriously - doesn't Ingrid remind you of that one Aunt you see at the holidays who's always reminding your Mom (with a creepy smile) of every embarrassing incident from her childhood? The one that always has your Mom reaching for the wine bottle when she enters the room? Smug little shit.

As it turns out, our Snow Queen has good reason to be smug. She's cast the curse of Shattered Sight, and our watchful (See! They're watching! With binoculars!) group of carefully placed lead characters let us know that it'll be here by sundown. 

Rumplestiltskin slithers up to Ingrid (sorry, I'm so mad at him right now I just can't write anything nice) to make a deal: he wants to leave town with Belle and Henry (since everyone else is gonna die a horrible, PMS-related death), and in return, he won't be there still alive and all in her face. Ingrid hates him as much as I do and she says bon voyage.