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Monday, September 16, 2019

Trying A New Thing - One "Thing" At A Time

I have been really beating myself up lately over how little I've been able to accomplish.

And yes, I am still partially disabled due to my stroke eighteen months ago. And I just had surgery last Monday to correct something called Posterior Interosseous Nerve (PIN) Syndrome in my good hand that took me down to two fingers of usefulness. So it's perfectly understandable if my writing career is languishing a bit and my house is less than pristine.

There's just so much I really need to do, it's overwhelming.

Monday, August 26, 2019

People Who Talk On The Phone All The Time (Voluntarily) - Why?

I have never liked talking on the phone.

I did sometimes in high school, as this was the olden days before texting or social media and this is how we gossiped about classmates and vented about our parents and siblings. But now we live in a wonderful age of technology where people like me can go all day without having to speak to anyone.

I have coworkers who are still living in the 20th century, calling my desk or cell phone when they could have easily emailed, texted or messaged me on Skype. It's irritating. I'd much rather have a record of our conversation that I can refer back to, either to refresh my memory, establish a timeline, cover my ass, or be able to refer to in case someone else needs to be in the loop.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: She Moves In Tomorrow

It's finally here
College move-in day
The final boxes are getting sealed
Last-minute "Oh crap, we forgot about that" lists are being revised
She's nervous--but it's a good nervous
I'm not nervous
Not one bit
She's got this
And I've got her
Whenever and wherever
This she knows
This she will always know
She's moving in
And moving on
It's all good

Monday, August 19, 2019

I Have A Hard Time Watching Reality Shows

I have a hard time watching reality shows.

Not all reality shows - but a good majority of them. And I think it's because I have an overload of empathy.

My daughter loves shows about troubled human beings. Shows about hoarders, and people who eat nail polish and plastic. Prison shows about people who've had terrible lives and made terrible choices. Things like that.

I can't do it.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Check Out The Mad Skillz On This Group Of People

You all know I live on the internet and it's pretty much my only social life. If my parent's house had a basement, I'd seriously consider moving into it and maybe take up gaming. But alas, I'm stuck as a working schmuck as long as I have bills to pay.

Maybe if I had the level of talent you'll see in this bunch, my fortunes would improve (and if you're wondering about the work of the artist in the header photo, you can see him in action here).

Check out the mad, impressive skills in this collection.

This is a dragon carved out of pencil lead:

Artist : Salavat Fidai

Monday, July 1, 2019

I Bypassed My Mid-Life Crisis And Decided To Wallow In Resignation Instead

I got hit by a deer three weeks ago.

Yep, you read that right. I saw her crossing the road ahead of me, slowed to allow her to cross, then I sped up again and she did a complete about-face and ran right at me. This resulted the car being in the shop for two weeks. I have rental car coverage on my insurance, but they were out of economy cars, so they upgraded  me to a really nice SUV with all the bells and whistles. The dashboard looked like the cockpit of a spaceship. It drove like a dream. Holy cow was it beautiful.

It was torture.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Lord Save The World From Ridiculous Hoverparents

I spent last Friday with Anna at her college orientation. I was expecting a whole lot of info-dump and maybe a misty moment or two, but I surprised myself. I didn't get much more than a lump in my throat here and there and not a single tear fell.

Any misty eyes I got were in relation to her reaching this milestone in her life. Her graduation ceremony is this Saturday. From there, it's ten weeks until college move-in day. I always knew these days were coming, and they're finally here. If you've been reading my blog you already know how fiercely proud of her I am and will continue to be.

But there was another reason I didn't dissolve into a puddle of tears on Friday;  I was too busy gaping in horror at all the parents who did exactly that. I can understand some mom tears and a stoic  clearing of a dad throat over the prospect of your kid leaving home, but some of these parents were just an absolute mess throughout the entire day. I mean the entire damn day.

Monday, May 20, 2019

And So The Little Things Commence

My son had his final chorus concert of the year yesterday. He's had a wonderful time in his first year of High School chorus, and he's really bloomed as a singer. He may never be a headliner, but he's learned to listen and to blend, sing with an orchestra, and learn to sight-read. I am fiercely proud of him.

Anna couldn't come to the concert due to her company picnic at her job, which ended up being a very good thing because I walked in the doors at the high school and was immediately greeted by a foyer wall covered in senior pictures. Some featured the names of the grads, and some had their names plus the colleges and tech schools they had declared for.

I found Anna's picture, featuring her university name and her planned major of physics.  As always, she takes a beautiful picture. It all sort of slammed into me at once. How far she's come. The life she's had to slog through, and climb over to reach this point.

Yeah, I spent the first half of my son's chorus concert sobbing quietly in a row near the back so I wouldn't disturb anyone else.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Crippled In One Hand, Can't Use The Other

Sorry for all the radio silence, but I've got a perfect storm of agony going on right now. What started as a crick in my neck over a week ago is now a pinched nerve in my neck that sends blinding pain into my shoulder and down my arm. My GOOD arm. And in case that's not enough, I'm developing carpal tunnel in my good hand/wrist due to all the repetetive overuse, so the hand and wrist ache unbearably.

The icing on the crap cake? I've got a case of trigger finger on my middle finger (again, this is the good hand) and my finger is now curling up and locking in place. So I'm not living my best life right now. I'm in so much pain I can't sleep or get comfortable in any position even with a heating pad and loads of muscle relaxers. The chiropractor can't see me until tomorrow, and the hand surgeon can't even look at me until the end of the month.

I really, really need a massage therapist, but of course, insurance won't cover that and I can't afford one on my own since the car broke last week to the tune of  $675 that I really don't have.

Gotta chill until the pain cyclone blows by. Until then, I'll be sitting here gritting my teeth instead of posting for a while.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Happy Friday! Join Me For A Big Cup Of NOPE

It's Friday and I'm breathing deep the smell of weekend freedom. If only it came without laundry. Oh well. Figured you'd all like a few good sphincter clenches to carry you out of your work week.

Let's start in China:

Thursday, April 18, 2019

And We Would Have Missed It All If We Were Rich

Two years ago, I gave my daughter a memorable sixteenth birthday. The December before, I had won the biggest door prize my company Christmas party had to offer: a $1,000 gift certificate to our corporate travel agency. With that and a pretty decent tax refund, I booked a trip for the two of us to London.

Neither of us had ever been, and while I had a decent tax refund, the amount I had left over to throw at this trip as spending money was more than a little modest after I finish paying all my accumulated bills.

We weren't exactly living a life of luxury those five days. The only extravagance on the menu was a coach tour I booked for our final day there. We had both wanted to see Stonehenge, but after reading all the reviews I knew that the standard tour was likely going to disappoint us. There's a perimeter path about a hundred yards away, circling the stones. You arrive on a bus, park in the parking lot next to several dozen other buses, and all of you walk that perimeter path. That's as close as you can get to the stones.

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Paint In The Bathroom And The Me I Used To Be

It's time for me to repaint the downstairs bathroom. I know that doesn't seem like a big deal but really, it is.

Years ago, when the ex moved out, I stood there in the rubble surveying the house - or more specifically the things left in the house. There were so many things we'd accumulated during our twenty-plus years together. So many things that were selected together, compromise on, fought over, or begrudgingly given into as a concession toward something the other really wanted to buy.

The ex and I were people with very different tastes when it came to decorating. I like subtle, muted tones on my walls and bright, flamboyant, or dramatic artwork. I could comfortably live in a stonewalled cottage with a decidedly Bohemian flare.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Dear Daughter: Congratulations! You Lived To Adulthood!

Dear Daughter:

You're 18 today! You survived to adulthood! 

That's it - I'm outta here. The Mom job is done. All those months of planning before you were born, all those years of scheduling and envisioning and carefully (or ham-handedly) guiding you through the childhood I carefully cultivated and into the brightly lit future I had all graphed out for you - done. Finito.

Except kinda . . . not so much.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day - Here's What I Bet You're Not Aware Of

Tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day, and at this stage in the game, I'm going to bet you're probably aware of it by now. What I wish we'd move to is World Autism Inclusion Day, where we all make an effort to reach out, to communicate, to see things from a different perspective and to encourage compassion and kindness instead of fearmongering and irritation.

So yes, by now you've seen the multicolored puzzle ribbons and hearts, the blue tee shirts and blue light bulbs. Maybe you've even been following Humans of New York as they visited the players and coaches at the World Special Olympics these last few weeks. You undoubtedly know there are a lot of kids with autism, and hopefully you've read enough legitimate medical news to know they didn't get that way by being vaccinated.

Here's what you may not know:

Monday, March 25, 2019

Same S**t, Different Obstacle

I've been having a bit of a  rough time professionally. Yes, I've let this blog go a bit, but honestly the blog has never been a money-maker so that's not really an issue. I could have gone the route of offering coupons, doing sponsored blogs, and inviting guest content to try to monetize it a little better but that's a ton of work and it rarely pays off in anything more than pizza money - why bother?

It's not the blog that's the issue here, it's the novel writing career. I haven't shared this yet and I'm sharing it here rather than on my author blog because it's not great news.

Long story short - and please know there are other factors beyond the basics here -  my stroke cost me my next book contract.

Monday, March 18, 2019

What's Your Favorite Funky Smell?

Everybody loves the smell of baking bread, right? But I've found that when it comes to a certain type of bread - Subway Sandwich Shop bread, specifically - people are vehemently divided. Some people think the smell of Subway bread is mouthwatering, and some think it smells like moldy ass. I happen to love that smell, even though I don't think it's particularly good bread.

And that leads me to my question: What's a weird or unconventional smell that you really like? 

When I was a kid, I looooooved the smell of gasoline. I don't know why, and I guess I grew out of it because it's not a great smell for me now. I do love the smell of books, especially old ones. When I visited Dublin, I toured Malahide Castle, and they had a library room with 400 year-old wallpaper and of course, a lot of very, very old books. I will remember the  "old, dusty paper" smell of that room to my dying day. It was amazing. 

So . . . what's your smell? 

Monday, March 11, 2019

A Date (For Me) That Will Live In Infamy

On March 5th, I spent the anniversary of my stroke enjoying my damn life. I took the day off work, and my daughter and I got pedicures, ate Italian food, and saw a great movie. Then I dropped her off at work and took my son to dinner, and we walked around Target and It was a fun and wonderful day with the two people I love most in the world. I snuggled under my electric blanket and ended my day browsing through my Facebook Memories.

Facebook Memories, for those of you not sucked into the Facebook vortex (Are there any of you? Over the age of 25, I mean?) is a feature they deployed a couple of years back, and unlike most of their new features, I actually like this one. It throws up your old posts from previous years, and it can be a lovely, or cringe-worthy, or even potentially painful stroll down memory lane.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Signs Point To Friday - Check Out These Beauties!

It's almost the weekend and that means I do a Friday post to send you off laughing. This week's collection is guaranteed to do the trick!

Thanks for clarifying.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Happy "I Didn't Die" Anniversary To Me

One year ago today, I woke up. And I didn't die.

That's kind of been the drill on a daily basis (obviously), but the difference that day was that I woke up in the early stages of a hemorrhagic stroke. The next 28 days would see me learn to walk again, lose the use of my arm and hand, lose a good deal of control over my voice and then redefine physical pain on a whole new scale.

The eleven months after that would test me beyond what I honestly thought I could endure sometimes, physically and mentally. I have come light years from where I was, but I also have to say that I'm not where I hoped to be by now.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Ball In The Box Made Me Realize I'm Grieving

A friend of mine (who happens to be a widower) shared this on Facebook the other day and I think it's incredible. For a full and wonderfully in-depth explanation by the originator of the post, read this article. 

The gist of it is this. Grief is like a box with a pain-inducing "trigger button." Right after the event happens, there's a big ball in that box that smashes against the trigger, keeping the pain level high. As you begin to heal, the ball gets smaller, leaving more room and taking the pressure off the button sometimes. There will still be times when the ball bounces around and hits the button - less frequently as time goes by and the ball continues to shrink.

It's important to note that different things can bounce that ball around for different people, and not everyone has the same sized ball, even if they experienced the same grief event.


Friday, February 22, 2019

How About A Big Cup Of NOPE

That's right - it's time once again to ride the Nopercoaster! Climb aboard! All kinds of fun today - let's start with this delicious recipe from the seventies:

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

TED Talks You Need To See, Volume 2

BrenĂ© Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In this poignant and funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research - one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Those Who Do Yoga, Of Which I Am Not One

It's 5:15AM and my alarm is going off and I stare at it in disbelief until I remember why I need to be up at 5:15. I am doing yoga. Yes. Yes I am.

I drag myself (literally - the legs aren't working right at this hour) out of bed, shove on some sweatpants, and decide to leave on the ratty tee shirt I slept in. What if I sweat? Do you sweat during yoga? People always look so serene when they do it. How can you be serene if you're pouring sweat?

Friday, February 15, 2019

10 Things That Will Probably Kill Me To Try But I'll Die Good And Happy

That's right, this is a list of stuff that will most likely give me a coronary but I'd consider that a reasonable risk/reward scenario. And we're off!

1. These Bacon Onion Rings. Recipe here, if you dare. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Netflix Pick: Abducted In Plain Sight

I just finished watching "Abducted In Plain Sight" on Netflix. Its a documentary about a pedophile who befriends and then manipulates a family - particularly the parents - while he grooms their daughter to his advances. He ends up abducting the girl.

The story is told through interviews with the victim and her family members, along with input from the FBI investigator and tapes of interviews with the perpetrator. Holy God. I literally screamed "What the F---!" at the TV multiple times over these parents who enabled all this. They're clearly a very loving family and I realize they've been through a lot, but damn. Just . . . damn. 

Monday, February 4, 2019

Here It Is And Just In Time - The Unusual Valentine's Day Gifts Guide!

Know what those are? Why, they're heart-shaped pimple patches, of course. Because nothing says romance like blemish control!

Okay, so that's not a great gift idea. We're getting closer to Valentine's Day and you are desperate for a great gift that's not the usual flowers, candy, or case of craft beer. Don't worry - I've got you covered!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Once Again, It's Time For A Little Bathroom Humor

How is it I keep finding pictures for bathroom posts? The creativity and ingenuity of man is not to be underestimated, I guess. So take a seat and enjoy because I am flush with material!

Strap in, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Are you up for a challenge? 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Rockin' Recipe GIFs: 4 Ingredient Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

Today's yummy super easy recipe gif comes from Redditor u/morganeisenburg and it got a big thumbs-up from my kid and also from a group of partygoers. The only thing I did was cut the buffalo sauce back slightly, because my son and I don't like our chicken swimming in it. Your mileage may vary. We ate it without all the extra ranch at the end, too, but again, you do what you like to do.

Monday, January 28, 2019

5 TED Talks You Really Should Watch

I love TED Talks. The presentations have such a wide variety of information and from eloquent speakers with such command of their subjects. I've decided I'm picking a new one every week and I promise I'll spotlight the great ones going forward. For now, here are five of my current faves.

Monica Lewinsky: The Price of Shame

Imagine being a young woman with a great career ahead of you. Imagine making a bad choice - or a string of them - that could impact your employment. Now imagine the whole world knows every lurid detail and it's splashed all over the media and the internet, haunting you for life. Ms. Lewinsky discusses the personal and professional toll of being a victim of the media.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Men Need Compliments But Also Make It Hard For Women To Give Them

There was an interesting discussion on Reddit the other day about men and the fact that they are rarely complimented, even though they very desperately need those compliments.

Some of the comments in the thread hit you right in the feels. Several guys talked about one compliment they received that they played over and over in their mind for years, sometimes because it came from a special girl, but often because it came at a time in their life when they desperately needed it and also because they have so few instances of genuine compliments that they really stand out.

That's just plain sad. And it shouldn't be. But it's also a very real truth (and one that was repeatedly mentioned on the thread) that men sometimes read waaay more into compliments than they should, and we as women really don't want the hassle of unintentionally leading someone on.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Time For Another Edition Of "What The Hell Am I Looking At?"

It's time once again to scratch our heads in confusion or recoil in outright horror as we peruse this collection of oddities I've gathered from my travels across the internet. Enjoy!

It's chilly out! Can I pour you a warm - I mean really warm - cup of coffee?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Rockin' Recipe GIF: Slow Cooker Candied Pecans

I'm trying out a new feature this week. I am thoroughly addicted to watching recipe gifs and videos, and I've amassed quite a collection. This year I've made a vow that I'm going to stop just watching them and actually make them. Crazy talk, I know.

I tried this one (from over the weekend and here's my review:

Monday, January 14, 2019

Being Alone: Terrible Torture? Or Fun And Free?

Across the years, I've known many women (and men) who spent their adult lives hopping from ill-fated relationship to ill-fated relationship simply because they were terrified of being alone.

Maybe it's the introvert in me, or the fact that I spent so many years feeling ground down by a bad relationship, but I've never looked at being alone as a curse. It's just my current state, and if it should happen to become my permanent state, well, I'm okay with that. 

To be fair, I'm only truly alone on the weekends and vacations the kids are with their Dad, but I've seen some definite perks to those weekends and vacation periods. For instance:

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Ellie's Flick Picks: The Bell Rock Lighthouse

This one you don't need Netflix for - you can watch it right here. Enjoy!

The Seven Wonders of the Industrial World - The Bell Rock Lighthouse.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Can A Video Game Teach Empathy? Science Says Yes!

Results of a study From the University of Wisconsin reveal for the first time that in as few as two weeks, kids who played a video game designed to train empathy showed greater connectivity in brain networks related to empathy and change in perspective.

Led by Tammi Kral, a UW–Madison graduate student in psychology at the Center for Healthy Minds, developed the video game Crystals of Kador. The game featues scenarios with aliens who have detailed human-like features that express anger, fear, happiness, surprise, disgust and sadness.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Fun On A Friday - Check Out The Crazy News Stories!

It's Friday of a three day workweek for me - which I highly endorse, by the way. I've managed to archive a fat stack of news for your perusal, so let's get to it.

I want this as the headline when I die.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

I Took A Nice, Long Social Media Break And Discovered How Boring I Was

I'm back!

I know the blog has been lackluster since my brain exploded back in March, and I went completely dark on all social media back in mid-December because I've got some massive behind-the-scenes drama coming at me from three different directions that I'm not comfortable sharing. It simply had to be muddled through.

Three weeks without a post, pic or blog and guess what? Damn, am I boring. I think that's been one of my main struggles this last year, really. Other than recovering from my stroke, not much is going on with my life. And I know that's understandable, but it's also frustrating as hell, feeling like I'm constantly pushing two steps forward and getting pulled one step back. It's repetitive and depressing for me so it must be all sorts of exciting for you to read about.

Yet I'm not ready to bag the blog entirely. I still have things to talk about, oddities and interests to share. I'm just not going to kill myself trying to come up with blog fodder if it just isn't there. I think you're all probably fine with that, too.

This year is going to be a year with a large amount of change for me. Anna is heading off to college (she already landed early acceptance at her first choice school, along with a very healthy scholarship), David is navigating high school, the day job is picking up its pace dramatically, and my writing career is changing track to a new publisher. I can't make the official announcement until the details are settled, but this has been a big stressor and will hopefully be behind me soon.

New Year, not-so-new me, but I'm still in forward motion. I hope 2019 brings a whole lot of good for all of us.