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Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Yup, tomorrow is June 1st and I fail...again.

Okay, so what about my progress on the weight-loss front after a few weeks ago I totally take a humongous step on the scale and publicly divulge my actual weight?  Nada...nothing...has changed.  My attitude is the same...crappy.  Time has flown by since April and I totally failed.  It is so frustrating.

Failure number two?  My goal for May.  Writing every day for one month?  I couldn't even accomplish that one commitment.  So sad and pathetic.  It is harder than you think to write every day because you end up second-guessing yourself.  In the end what I should have done (god, I hate "should-haves") is just written whatever was on my mind.  But, I just didn't think it was worth it.  I didn't think I was worth it.  Another pity party begins and ends.  Pathetic.

So, last night I watch the first episode of "Extreme Makeover:  Weight-loss Edition".  I never even watched the regular "Extreme Makeover" but I was specifically interested in what I could learn from a show that follows the year-long transformation of one 'super-obese' person.  (A 'super-obese' person is someone who exceeds 50% body mass/fat.)  I happen to be on the threshold of that classification.  I was hoping to get inspired, helpful hints, and re-energized in my own journey (a lifetime one at this point).  But, I was disappointed.  The show didn't go deep enough into how to unwrap the psychological layers of why we eat ourselves to death.  Why a beautiful and accomplished person (in other areas of their life) just can't gain control over their physical being.  I shared the pain of Rachel as she embarks on her first work out where she's about to give up, insisting she can't push herself to go faster on the bike at her trainer's insistence.  I related to her ability to reach deep inside and decide she can overcome the obstacle and have faith that her body can reach the next level of effort.

Two weeks ago, while the "Biggest Loser" was winding down and advertising for new contestants, I took the step to get information on how to submit my information.  I realized that the application process alone takes a huge commitment from prospective applicants.  But, after seeing the finale and the progress of all of the contestants it inspired me to at least start the process.  It was pure irony, as I chose to see it, that last week one of my daily AVON representative specials was a Flip video camera.  You see, one of my obstacles in talking myself out of going for the "Biggest Loser" was the fact that I do not own a video camera.  And, now I didn't have an excuse.  I also justified the purchase by agreeing to share it with my son, Nicolas, who has expressed an interest in creating videos.  So, now I'm just waiting for the camera to arrive.  Even if I don't get my application done in time for the next season of BL I can always try out for the one after that.  And, if I don't make it at least I will have documentation of my current physical state which may just inspire me to do something on my own!

So, tomorrow is June 1st, damnit!  A new month for a new beginning.  So, maybe my goal isn't to post a blog every single day during June but maybe I should go back to blogging at least once per week.  And, maybe I can't lose 60 pounds by my birthday (June 21st).  But, maybe I can begin walking 20 minutes at least 3 times a week to start.  And then increase my time and commitment each week.  Maybe I take it one day at a time.  And, try to do better the next day if I should fail.  Maybe I should have more faith in myself.  Maybe I will realize:
It's never too late to have the best years of your life. You're writing your own story, You're in charge of the plot. Make each chapter better then the last. You're only limited by your imagination. And your will. You may not hit every target but you won't hit any if you don't shoot.

Thanks, Lisa Hanson Greifinger, for posting this quote on your Facebook status today.  It spoke to me.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Race Against Each Other

Deep down, I think I've always been competitive.

I remember in elementary school when we'd have the weekly spelling bee and my overwhelming desire to be the last girl standing.  I would harbor such disappointment in myself if I made a silly mistake and had to take a seat before the end of the tournament.

I was never really athletic and didn't play organized sports so winning trophies and ribbons was never really in the cards for me.  However, there was a time in high school, I believe in my junior year, where I had lost enough weight and got enough confidence to try out for cheerleading.  Looking back, I really don't know where I got the balls to do that seeing as I was competing with all of the good-looking, skinny girls.  But, I had always loved gymnastics and could do a cartwheel, round-off, and split at the time.  Needless to say, I didn't make the squad.  But, damn, at least I gave it a try.

So, I stuck with the academic side of life.  I had a tendency to compete with my brother as far as who could bring home the best report card.  Really, he wasn't much competition.  That's not to say he isn't a smart dude.  He just didn't like to study.  Having good grades was something I used to build my self-esteem.  I even tried to use it as a ploy to get attention and recognition from my parents.  Didn't quite work.  I was really proud when I was nominated for the National Honor Society in high school.  Sad thing is, I didn't make it.  Probably because I was too quiet and not popular enough.

These days I seem to get my competitive jollies through Facebook games like Bejeweled Blitz and Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  It seems that every week when the previous scores are refreshed innately I have to be one of the first to play and to post the highest score.  I'm just not happy if I'm not in the number one spot.  I guess it's the forum I use to show off my skills.  Even when we watch shows like Jeopardy as a family, I am always trying to be the first to answer and I keep tally of how many answers (questions) I get correct.

I've been unsuccessful in instilling this sense of competition with my boys.  Each of them individually have never really had the desire to 'be the best'.  And, let me tell you, it's been frustrating as hell.  Especially when they were young and would 'compete' during the summer on the city of Raleigh swim team.  They really didn't mind going to practice three times per week but when it came to the swim meets?  My god, at times I felt like I was the only one who cared whether or not they finished the race.  But, they did get the ribbons.  I'm just not sure if they got the same satisfaction that I did when I saw how many red, white, or blue ribbons they received at the end of the season.  In retrospect, they couldn't care less if they even got an orange ribbon which signified that they participated in the race and didn't make the top eight.

The same thing holds true for grades and report cards.  Even though I would bug them to study hard so that they could get all A's it just didn't make the top of their priority list.  They are usually too busy living and enjoying themselves.  Besides, I tell them I love them every single day.  I guess there is no pressure for them to seek my approval or affection by coming home with a 4.0.  They know I love them no matter how their report cards look.  And, may I just interject and say that for the most part their academic achievements have been wonderful.  Both of my boys take advanced and honors courses so they're not just flying by the seat of their pants.  They are smart kids.  But, damn, it does feel great when your kid makes the Honor Roll!

This most recent quarter Nicolas made straight A's for the first time in his academic career.  And it felt wonderful as his parent to admire his achievement and bask in the glory.  I am so proud of him. What do I attribute his success to?  I believe this year, with his brother away at college, he has limited distractions.  For a period of time we limited his access to video games to long weekends and vacations.  He's gained a sense of confidence within himself due to his dabbling in acting and the entertainment industry.  Deep down, I think he knows how much I value proof and documentation that he takes school seriously and is working hard on his academics. 

In preparation for high school (the serious years) I hope he realizes that in the end he's only competing with himself.  He should look at his classmates and academically gifted peers and use them as an incentive for him to be the best that HE can be.

In the end it is a race that is run within ourselves.

Slacking Off

So, you may have noticed that I'm having difficulty keeping my promise to submit one blog per day during the month of May.  Today will be the second (or third) time that I'm having to complete two blog entries in one day in order to play catch up.  I am so disappointed in myself.

About an hour ago I was laying in my bed thinking, "forget it; I just won't do yet another thing on my list".  It has been a long, long time since I created a goal and actually achieved the same goal.  It is an extra challenge to accomplish anything when you're just not feeling good about yourself.  Oh, woe is me.  Let's have another pity party for Pamela.  Boo fuckin' hoo.

Hey, but at least I got my fat ass out of bed and am sitting at the computer typing away at this very moment.  I guess I did have it in me anyway.  Wow, wonders never cease!

I have a new appreciation and respect for those bloggers who make their daily post come hell or high water.  Some times, I'll have to admit, it is a struggle to come up with something to write about.  You almost feel like you can't get away with it if you go all 'Seinfeld' in a blog.  This is my weak attempt at a reference to the premise of Seinfeld in which it is, admittedly, a show about 'nothing'.  Can a blog be about 'nothing'?

Yup, it sure can!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Storybook Wedding

This is probably a strange thing to admit but I've never had that girlhood dream of meeting prince charming, adorning a long, white wedding dress, having a huge wedding and guest-filled reception, and finally, living 'happily ever after'.

I have two theories why none of the above was ever really important to me.  One, either I watched my parents' miserable married life and had a crappy example to go by.  Or, two, I had such low self-esteem that I never felt I was worthy of such extravagance or love in my life.

When I was a little girl I was pretty much all about my hopes and dreams as an individual.  Whether it was being an artist or writer I knew I wanted to be successful and famous.  Being married and a mother never made the top five of my list of life goals.  When I was young I was about getting good grades, getting into college, and having a successful career.

Growing up I guess I could sense the tension of my parents.  As I mentioned in earlier blog posts I am a child of an alcoholic so as you can imagine there was some drama growing up.  The mental and verbal abuse inflicted by my father not only on his wife (my mother) but on me and my brother really ate away at my self-esteem.  It made me feel unworthy and unloved.

The 'dream' of 'happily ever after' and all of the stuff that goes with it was never something I aspired to.  I thought all of the wedding preparations were a waste of time and money.  Do you really need an expensive wedding dress?  And, must you wear white (which is supposed to signify virginity) even though you and I both know you and your prospective groom have been sleeping together ever since your second date?  Must you invite every one and their uncle to a four-hour party that you probably won't enjoy?  It all seems like a lie.  Not to mention a waste of money!

Wouldn't it be more practical to begin your lives together, if you must get married, just between the two of you, a witness and a justice of the peace?  It doesn't even matter where you do it or even what you wear.  The purpose it to declare your love and make it legal.  It shouldn't be about the pomp and circumstance. 

I've heard a lot of women plan out their wedding with gusto and gumption.  Some women succumb to societies' demands that they 'must' or that they 'should' have the perfect wedding.  Lord knows, the media is constantly extending its influence between shows like:  "The Bachelor", "The Bachelorette", "Shedding for the Wedding", and the recent royal wedding hype of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.  It is no surprise that women get sucked into the overblown process of marriage.

For me, I believe the most authentic demonstration of love between a man and a woman is when they declare their devotion to each other spontaneously and with little fanfare.  Sure, you can point out many a Las Vegas nuptial that didn't make it past one year.  But at least they had the common sense to put the time and expense towards every day living rather than a day of make-believe and fairy tales.

The Female Hangover

Last night my mom was lucky enough to get two free passes for a special showing of the new movie, "Bridesmaids", showing at the North Hills cinema in Raleigh, NC.

I have not laughed so much in months!

This movie was well worth the hour-long wait in line.  While the theater was packed and typically I would never attend an opening night of a movie because I just hate crowds, in the end it didn't bother me too much.  The entire crowd laughed at all the 'right' parts.  This was such a fun movie.  Dirty and disgusting in parts, sex from the opening scene.  But, all in all, good comedy.

Of course there are the Saturday Night Live alums that are the star cast members.  Kristen Wiig is hilarious and endearing.  Her chemistry with Maya Rudolph is on point.  My favorite of the night was Melissa McCarthy who was just outrageous.  This wonderful actress drew my attention during her days on "Samantha Who?" with Christina Applegate.  She is currently seen her new show called, "Mike & Molly" of which I have yet to see because I guess the constant fat jokes and blatant obesity is bothersome to me.  However, Melissa is fresh and unique and energetic and really adds to the hilarity of "Bridesmaids".

There are a couple of actors I recognized from stints  on the show, "The Office".  Ellie Kemper who plays Erin on The Office, Wendi McLendon-Covey who played concierge Marie, and Andy Buckley who played David Wallace all make an appearance in "Bridesmaids".  Wendi's character is outrageous and steals a number of the scenes in "Bridesmaids".

Jill Clayburgh is nicely matched as the mother of Kristen Wiig's character, Annie.  In her last film appearance before she passed away in 2010, Jill brings back fond memories of her extensive filmography.  Some of my favorite Jill Clayburgh films include  "An Unmarried Woman" and "Starting Over".

It would be a huge oversight not to mention the appearance of "Mad Men"'s hunky and handsome Jon Hamm.  Included in a sexy opening scene with Kristen Wiig it is hard to ignore this piece of candy.  But, his character is a bit of a cad and it makes you wonder if this wasn't much of a stretch for Jon.

Of course and as with any comedy there are some corny and predictable moments but all in all the movie, "Bridesmaids" will make you laugh a number of times and chances are you will enjoy the experience.  It is the female equivalent of "The Hangover".

Monday, May 9, 2011

Twinkle, Twinkle Big Star

Star Jones got fired last night.

It wasn't the first time and it probably won't be the last.  She put up a good fight throughout the last couple of weeks of The Celebrity Apprentice.  But I guess her time had come.  As a viewer I am neither happy nor sad about this.

I have mixed feelings about Star Jones.  Now, let me just say that I don't know her personally.  These are just my observations accumulated over the years from following her career in the media.

During the O. J. Simpson  trial, and back when I enjoyed the myriad of channels from having cable television, I recall seeing Star Jones for the first time.  She intrigued me because she appeared to break through a lot of entertainment television barriers.  She was not an attractive white male.  She was a pretty, heavy-set black female.  She had the academic background and credentials that allowed her to go toe-to-toe with any male on a panel of lawyers.  She presented herself well, spoke beautifully, and exuded confidence.  You could see a glimmer of a diva back then.

I am a devoted fan of The View.  I have been there from the beginning.  I even went to a taping back in the late 1990s.  The format and co-hosts have changed over the years but the concept is the same.  Intelligent women of different backgrounds and life experiences discussing their views on what's going on in the world.  They are like an extension of my circle of friends.  There are some that I agree with, some that are fun to party with, and some that I learn a lot from.

When Star Jones was in her early days of The View I could relate to her because she carried the additional burden of carrying additional weight.  It gave me hope that brains will trump looks when it comes down to it.  Even fat people can be taken seriously, be respected for their academic accomplishments, and persevere in the public eye.  At one time, Star was okay to show that she wasn't perfect.  That's when she was most endearing.  As Star met the 'man of her dreams' and got consumed with planning her wedding I think she lost some of her appeal.  She had the courage to show her struggles with weight and you were rooting for her.  Towards the end of her days on The View after she had gotten bariatric surgery she seemed to put on airs and was losing her relatability.  She refused to admit she'd gotten the surgery; this made her come off as a liar.  The overdone theatrics of her 'fairy tale' wedding turned some people off.  Her constant reminder of, "I am a lawyer; I was a district attorney" made her come off as arrogant and unapproachable.  So when she finally left The View it was her time.

It was good that she stayed out of the public eye for a while.  I recall seeing her do an interview with Larry King and she looked fantastic.  She talked about her abrupt leave from The View.  I probably would have done the same thing.  If someone doesn't want you any longer, why stick around?  I rooted for her when she got her own show.  Although it didn't last too long at least she had healed enough wounds to start coming back and creating a media presence.

I heard about her heart surgery and prayed for the best.  I knew she had heart problems when she was younger and donned a scar in the middle of her chest.   I always wished her the best because I have mad respect for her despite her arrogance.  I was glad to see her land a spot on The Celebrity Apprentice.  She ended up making pretty good t.v. too.  While she pissed many people off and rubbed certain people the wrong way you just can't argue her good work ethic.  Star Jones is organized, confident, and presents herself well.  She had the foresight to anticipate situations and knew how to control it to protect her continuity on the show.  But, the show is near the end and it was just her time to go.

As an aside, I caught a snippet of an interview she did with Joy Behar on Joy's show.  Star was promoting her new fiction novel, Satan's Sisters.  Joy was nice enough to have her on the show even though I always got the feeling that Star rubbed Joy the wrong way many a time on The View when they were both co-hosts.  While Star was happy for the opportunity to promote herself and her book, she still laid some digs into Joy which annoyed me.  Star should have shown a little more gratitude and respect to Joy.

If someone were to ask me do I like Star Jones I would have to say 'yes, but she's a little too arrogant and condescending'.  I appreciate her intelligence and the media barriers she broke.  I even look forward to reading her new novel this summer.  I just think Star Jones would be well-served to practice a bit of modesty and respect for others.

Going Out on a High Note

So, I hope you were treated like the queen that you are yesterday, on Mother's Day.  But, really, you should be treated as special as you are each and every day of your life!

My mother and I decided that next year we are not going to celebrate any of the 'Hallmark' holidays.  I'm not totally convinced she can handle doing this since these types of special occasions are what her generation lives for.  I explained to her that I prefer to live spontaneously, as we have been, and continue to go out for a nice dinner or shop with each other in mind throughout the year not just this one designated day.  The bottom line is we should show our mother's that they are loved each and every day.  It is more through our actions, rather than gifts, that demonstrates to the important people in our lives how much we care for them.

But, just to indulge your curiosity I'll share the events of my final, celebrated Mother's Day.  First in the morning, my husband served me breakfast in bed.  This was greatly appreciated yet not uncommon since three out of four Sunday's a month I get the same, wonderful service.  Second, there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers (multi-colored roses) placed in the middle of my dining room table thanks to my husband, David.  Third, both of my teenage boys knocked on my bedroom door and presented me with a card and the new autobiography by Rob Lowe.  Now this was the perfect gift because they actually wrote some nice words in the card.  As a bonus, I get to read the hot words of this sexy actor.  I also received a warm hug from each of the boys.

Fourth, I went shopping, by myself, to Marshalls and KMart.  I found lingerie and a colorful, long sundress for myself.  I also found a cozy pair of pink, summer pajamas for my mom.  While I already surprised her with two-dozen roses from which were delivered on Wednesday, I didn't want to go to her house empty-handed.  Besides, it felt good to surprise her.  After grabbing a card (not sure if it was Hallmark) and a gift bag from KMart I headed over to my mom's house for the afternoon.  We hung out for a couple of hours reading the Sunday paper, clipping coupons, and conversing.  I even helped her change her bed linens.  Knowing that I, in particular, hate this task I believe she appreciated the extra hand.

Okay, so I thought it was really cool that I gave her a surprise gift.  But, she had a card waiting for me.  I said, "You know, I'm not YOUR mother.  You don't have to get me anything.".  I think she just enjoys being super-generous because inside the card I found a note saying she treated me to a hair cut and hair color.  In addition, we are going to see the musical, "Hello Dolly" this coming Saturday night.  Cybil Sheppard was supposed to be starring in this production but the word is she got injured.  Nonetheless, my mother went way overboard, again!

I just can't compete with her generosity.  That is part of my  frustration with these Hallmark holidays.  They make me feel like I have to compete with everybody.  Like it's a pissing contest.  Who can spend the most money?  Who can outdo the other?  No matter what, I lose.  I just don't have the funds to go buck wild.  Sure, there are many things I would like to do and places that I'd like to go but it's just not financially possible.

Anyhow, the day was topped off back at my house.  I invited my mom for a cookout.  She made her yummy macaroni salad; it always tastes better when she makes it.  And I prepared:  potato salad, corn on the cob, bar-b-que ribs, and hamburgers.  We all sat at the dining room table and enjoyed our meal.  David cleaned up, as usual while mom and I played pinochle, as usual.  Then mom stayed to watch the President on Sixty Minutes.

All in all, it was a perfect and wonderful Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Love in a Hallmark Card?

I really do despise the "Hallmark" holidays!

Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, you name it I hate it.  It's not that I'm necessarily a curmudgeon when it comes to celebrations (well, okay, maybe I am just a little bit) but I hate the feeling of being pushed in a corner and forced to celebrate.

I'm not one for sending cards of any kind but if you do happen to receive an actual card adorned with a stamp on the envelope and delivered by the antiquated United States postal service, then you should feel 'special'.  It means I actually took the time to pick something out especially for you, pay for it, write in it with an actual pen, search my address book for your current living residence, place the stamp on the envelope, and drop it in an actual mail box.

Let's be honest, I don't 'expect' anything for Mother's Day tomorrow.  I already got my gift the other night.  I was dead tired after a day of chores.  I also cooked a pretty decent dinner.  I just had to put the dishwasher on before we could put our dinner dishes in because it was way too full.  So, I had absolutely no energy left when I remembered that all of the night's dishes and pots and pans were still in the sink.  I had yet to put the clean dishes away.  So, I did what any smart mother would do and I asked my boys to work as a team and put them away.  They agreed to do it and I put my feet up on the couch to enjoy my break.

While I was resting and watching them work together and even towel-dry the dishes that weren't completely dry I had a sense of pride.  I vocalized my gratitude more than once and explained that I really appreciated their help.  They assured me that it was no problem.  And this little contribution they made to ease my load of chores made me feel that I was loved.  That I mattered to them.

You just can't buy that feeling in a Hallmark card.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Forget Uni-Brow

I really fucked up today.  I'm still in a state of shock.  I can't laugh.  I can't cry.  All in an effort to save a couple of bucks.

So, stupid me, gets the magnifying mirror out today.  Yes, to check all of those lovely facial hairs.  And to start tweezing the really annoying ones.  The problem is I did it today.  I usually save my facial grooming to a lovely, quiet Sunday morning where I'm not really in a rush to get stuff done.  Huge mistake.

Once I took a look at my eyebrows I was done for.  Not only did I see grey hairs (to match the ones all along my crown) but I saw many a stray hair.  I thought I saw enough eyebrow hairs out of place to warrant a quick waxing.  I had done it before with pretty good results.  So, I said, 'What the heck?'.  What the hell?  Where the hell was my mind at when I placed the was strip way off center?  When I pulled my skin taught and pulled the strip then looked in the mirror I almost died.  Then I looked down at the wax strip.  There, in all it's brown (and grey) glory was what was once my eyebrow!

I yelled to my son and asked him if he noticed anything different.  He looked at me strangely.  I said, "Um, my eyebrow".  Then, I saw his expression.  I asked him what to do and he, of course, had no clue.  I immediately called my mom who was at work and left a voicemail.  Then, I called my husband.  I hate bothering him at work and hardly ever call him during the day; he's the one that calls me.  I left him a message as well.

Damn, I was faced with a I wax off the other eyebrow (for balance) or wait for the now defunct eyebrow to grow back in and just draw it in the meantime?  By the way, I don't use eyebrow pencils because (until today) I had pretty decent eyebrows.  So, what did I do?!

I waxed it off!  I am sans eyebrows now.  I haven't cried yet but once I see the reaction of the rest of my family and perhaps a stranger or two, the tears will be a flowin'.

Damn, did I fuck up or what?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Day After

Well, it's the day after my son came home from college and I realize, there's just not enough time in one day.  And, as I get older, I realize my energy only lasts for so long.

I got my butt out of bed this morning by 6:45 a.m.  I just had so much on my mind and while I tried to shut my eyes and catch a few more z's it just wasn't happening.

After sorting all of his laundry and our laundry I ended up with a pile of:  whites, blacks, blues, reds, yellows/browns, and greens/greys.  Six loads of laundry and I'm petered out.  I still have one in the dryer, one to be dried, and one in the washer.

In between getting all of these loads done I had other chores to get to.  My plan was to make eggplant parmagiana before the eggplant went bad.  So, by 8:30 and while my first and second load were in their various cycles of cleanliness, I made the eggplant.  I cut it, dredged it in egg, covered it in bread crumbs, and cooked it in olive oil.  When it was cool, I place it in my Corning baking dish and assembled it with the sauce, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese.  I'll bake it later this afternoon.

Then, while watching The Real Housewives of Orange County repeat show on the CW channel I checked my e-mails and printed out forms that I need to fill out for the oral surgeon.  You see, Justin should be getting his wisdom teeth out (or at least two of them) within the next two weeks.  So, that should be fun!

Then, I worked in a couple more loads of laundry.  Read the Sunday paper and clipped coupons while Rachael Ray was on in the background.  Finally, Justin woke up and came down for breakfast (at around noon).  Made him his bagel and had my lunch.

After we refueled our bodies we went up to his room and rearranged all of his clothes in his closet and drawers.  He selected the clothes he no longer wanted.  And, I went through these and sorted the ones to be donated to Goodwill and the ones I can pass off either to David or Nicolas.  That's the good thing about having three men in the house.  They can and eventually do wear each other's clothes.  It's like I've been running my own consignment shop for fifteen years.

Finally, I remembered that I had to complete a blog post for today.  So, I'm taking a little break before I finish the last of the laundry and get started on dinner.  Writing is very therapeutic for me, as I've mentioned before.  I'm glad I'm 'making' myself do at least one entry a day for the month of May.  Perhaps it will start a good habit.

This day has been a good exercise in time management and a challenge to get everything done in one day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

No Longer a Freshman; Time for Summer

Down to the wire...gotta get my daily post in...come hell or high water...and before my television shows start this evening!

What did I do today?  Well, I drove the three-hour round-trip to pick up my son from college.  He just finished his first year.  I am proud of him (although I have not seen his spring semester grades as of yet).

This year of having him be away from home was necessary and challenging.  Having Justin go away to college was very important for not only his growth as a young adult but my growth as a mother.  Believe me, there were many a day, especially back in the fall of 2010, when I would weep at the thought of him . I would pull out my checkbook and see his senior picture staring back at me through the wallet-sized window and think, "Oh, I've lost my baby...where has the time gone?".  

But, there were snippets of reassurance from the many texts and few telephone conversations that we had throughout the last couple of months.  Certain things Justin said and reflections he made told me that he reached a new phase of maturity.  It gave me the feeling that I did a pretty good job as mother preparing him for the 'real' world.  

I'm sure there were some (many) things that I did not prepare him for especially when it comes to living and being with people of many different cultures and backgrounds.  That kind of thing is the most valuable benefit of going away to college and being on your own.  You are forced to make decisions, sometimes moral, sometimes immoral, at the drop of a hat and based on your circumstances.  You are confronted with making friendships that may last or ones that may burn quickly.  You 're immersed in an observation tank of human behavior.  Sometimes you get sucked in.  Sometimes a true friend will lend a hand and pull you out of the murky water.

Year one is done.  Now, we face the summer of even more growth and independence.  I'll try to loosen the leash and even let him fly, perhaps as a kite, as I will hold the string and pull him in when need be.  After all, he is my son.  And, I am lucky to be his mother, forever!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Uncovering My Story

I've never been a history buff.  I can probably name a handful of important dates and their significance.  For example:
1492 - Columbus sailed the ocean blue
1588 - Spanish Armada
1776 - Signing of the Declaration of Independence
1812 - War of
1929 - Stock Market crash
Most of this knowledge was gathered and instilled through rote memorization.

It's not that I don't necessarily care for history per se.  I do enjoy documentaries. When I had cable television, I would enjoy the history channel now and again.  And, these days, PBS shows a number of programs which encapsulate a moment in history.  I think my uneasiness with all things 'history' (even when the category comes up on Jeopardy) goes back to eleventh grade when I missed straight A's by getting a B in Mr. Hoffman's history class.  This still pisses me off and makes me feel less than.

However, last year I watched a television program called, "Who Do You Think You Are?".  Each episode of this show focuses on one famous person and follows them in their journey to uncover their genealogical roots and discover the details of their family tree.  The attraction, for me, is not necessarily the stars themselves but it is more about the process and story that unfolds.

For years, in the back of my mind, I've had the desire to research my own family roots.  Inevitably, and during the course of my kids education, there is a specific year, whether it's fifth grade or ninth grade, when the kids are charged with a project on their family's genealogy.  Because of this requirement we were 'forced' to uncover some names, dates, and relationships.  We even went through old photos.  This was not a painstaking process for me.  In fact is was quite enjoyable.  There is a bit of satisfaction when doing research and uncovering pieces of a puzzle.  It is fun and challenging to assemble the parts to make a complete story.  But the story was never really complete.

So, this brings me to my recent frenzy where I am gathering all of the information I have on hand (from birth certificates, baptismal certificates, and death certificates) to start building my family tree.  I should mention that the show, "Who Do You Think You Are?", comes off as an advertisement for the website,  And, this doesn't really bother me.  However, before I sign up and get my first two weeks free and then make a time and financial commitment to be a member, I want to gather as much information from my end as possible.  Why recreate the wheel?

Just from the information I've gathered so far, with the hard-copies of documentation, I've discovered that the story I've been told from the beginning is not necessarily correct.  For instance, and this is a biggie, all of these years I thought I was 50% Czechoslovakian.  Now, come to find out, I may actually be 75% Hungarian.  You see, it goes back to the time of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in eastern Europe.  It seems that what ends up being the area of Czeckoslovakia (and now separately the Czech Republic and Slovakia) was once either Austria or Hungary.  So, this project is going to require a bit of reading, understanding, and research.  I'm going to need to find census records, ships passenger lists, and any other documentation that will tell me where and from what village my great grandparents came from. 

I anticipate that the final product will be in the form of large, leather scrapbook containing all of the documents, pictures, and tree outline that will tell the story of me.  This will be a family heirloom that I can pass down to my sons who, some day, will be able to share with their families.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Have We Changed Over Time?

Since 911 we're still livin'
And lovin' life we've been given
Ain't nothing gonna take that away from us
Were lookin' pretty and gritty 'cause in the city we trust
Dear New York I know a lot has changed
2 towers down but you're still in the game
Home to many rejecting know one
Accepting peoples of all places, wherever they're from 

From "An Open Letter To NYC" by the Beastie Boys

Yes, I stayed up last night (11:34 p.m. EST) to watch our President Barack Hussein Obama deliver the news that we've been waiting for for over ten years, Osama bin Laden is dead.  (As a side note, let me just say how ironic it was that the last ten minutes of Donald Trump's show, The Apprentice, was cut off for this important event.  In recognition of the recent media matches between the Donald and his criticism of our President I thought it was just desserts.  Now, I must point out that I enjoy watching the arrogant, son of a bitch (Trump) and have even read one of his books -not exactly an intellectual stretch - but I did enjoy the fact that our President got the last word.  But, I still don't know who got kicked off The Apprentice last night,...oh, well).

As I wrote in previous posts, I lost friends and co-workers in 9/11.  The event changed my life.  For many years, I dealt with what I would call, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).  At the time, I was working at night cleaning offices, by myself, and would envision my friend Bob looking down at me from above saying something like, "What the hell are you doing?", or "What happened to you?", or even, "How the hell did you let your life get like this?".  I even had a colorful dream in which Bob took me by the hand and led me through a place, similar to Chinatown in its colorful silks and celebratory pageantry, and assured me that everything was cool on the other side.  I always thought that of anyone, Bob, would be one of the few people I knew who would have the balls and sense of dignity to be one of the souls to have jumped to their death.  I've never had this detail confirmed but I am almost convinced of it as morbid as it sounds.  He was just a realist and knew his fate anyway.  Why burn to death when you can fly? 

I had immense feelings of guilt when I found out that a former co-worker, Laura, lost her life in 9/11.  We weren't close but we had similar backgrounds, respect from our peers, and accelerating career paths.  At one time, we were competing for the same job.  I got the job.  When I found out she was one of the victims of 9/11, I felt guilty that I somehow took that opportunity away from her.  I was equally emotionally distraught to find out that she left behind two young sons.  Ironically, I am a mother of two boys as well.  I still can't imagine how tough their lives have been without their mother.  In a way I feel a bit of survivor's remorse.  How is it that I am so blessed to have had the life of a mother and the opportunity to raise two boys while Laura, and her boys, lost out on this experience?!  It is so easy to feel guilty when there is no rhyme or reason for how life happens.

Um, I've never told anyone these things until now.

So, it took ten years to catch the bastard?  It should have been done sooner, goddamn GW and his stupid, dumb ass.  But, at least President Obama was lucky enough to be in power when this task was accomplished by his team.  And, unfortunately, there will be the right-wing Republicans belittling this accomplishment and even give credit to his predecessor.  Stupid asses.  That's the kind of shit that really burns me up, yanks my chain.

The difference between GW and President Obama, for me, is a mile wide.  It comes down to many things but, for me, I can listen to President Obama speak for hours.  He is intelligent, engaging, humorous when needed, and trustworthy.  He has repaired relationships with so many that GW alienated and pissed off.  When GW interrupted television programming I dreaded what he would say, how he would say it, and I was embarrassed by his ineptitude.

President Barack Hussein Obama has changed history, more than once.  I am proud of our President.  I am proud to be American.

My Mission For The Month Of May

So, what if I actually spent an entire month trying to do a daily blog?  Well, I already failed (I missed yesterday).  But, I'm still gonna take on this mission and see if I can actually stick with at least one commitment in my life (um, besides being faithful in my marriage).

For the month of May I pledge to complete at least one blog a day.  Today, May 2nd, I will complete two entries because I only thought of this challenge last night when I was busy trying to relax my mind and fall asleep.  Ha.

One of the obstacles writers create for themselves is editing their words even before they hit the paper (or the screen/monitor).  We try to hide under the guise of being 'perfect' in our words or expression.  We second guess ourselves when we think of something to write about and then assess whether or not it is relevant, petty, or too controversial.

Writers have to embrace their freedom of expression and go with the flow of their thoughts.  Write from the heart.  Just let the words spew out of the mind through the fingers (if you're typing).  It's like a brain dump that I find is necessary because if I go too long without writing something it just clogs up my cerebral file cabinets.  I end up having sleepless nights and days where I drag my butt from mind-exhaustion.

The other thing writers get bogged down with is the thought of "am I good enough?".  Since I've never been formally trained or don't hold a degree in English literature from a distinguished university will what I say have meaning and impact?  Will people take me seriously or even care what I have to say?

It is hard to shed the cloak we cuddle under for protection from others' criticism.  Most of us work hard to build our self-esteem and purposely putting ourselves in a position of possibly chipping away at our confidence is like playing with fire.  We are subject to scorching from other peoples observations and commentary.

But, I feel, if you are a true writer and enjoy the liberty of freedom of expression, then the potential hazards are the risks we are willing to take.  In a sense you have to embrace the notion of  something the Beastie Boys said in one of their songs, "and if you don't like (it) then hey, fuck you!".

Writers have to be selfish in their craft.  If they are feeling or thinking it they should say it.  It is the epitome of an authentic catharsis.  What gets in the way of revealing our truth is the game of political correctness when we tiptoe through the words available to us and pick and choose based on whether some person or group will be offended by our observations.  Doing this is a disservice to ourselves, never mind our audience.

So, I will now offer words of encouragement to me (because, yes, I am a selfish writer).

"Take the time to express yourself!  Time is our most valuable resource because we can never get it back.  Our words are our most unique possession because they come from the mind and flow through our heart.  Let's use our time wisely and be who we are."