Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Day at the Movies: Lessons Learned

I woke up Sunday with a choice to make: Do I wisely and dutifully trudge into the office and write about why a judge’s rash decision was, well, not really that bad, or do I blindly hold onto the weekend, shutting out the real world, and head to the cinema to escape for a few more hours?

Or perhaps eight hours.

Yes, I spent an unprecedented (for me) eight hours at Celebration North today indulging in what I coined my Triple Play Day. Three movies; one day.

One absolutely wonderful, deep, entertaining day of learning at the movies.

HEREAFTER

First up: Hereafter directed by Clint Eastwood and starring, among others, Matt Damon. Damon plays George Lonegan, a psychic who has given up “readings” for hard labor in an attempt to live a normal life. Hereafter actually centers on three different characters – George, Marie LeLay, a French journalist who survives a tsunami in a breath-taking opening sequence, and Marcus, a London school boy who loses his twin – and how their lives ultimately meet and mingle all while examining our beliefs about the afterlife. What happens when we die? Your answer to that question may largely depend upon your cultural upbringing. Is it simply lights out? Is it the streets of gold and angels on wing? Or something in between?

I noticed that the vast majority of those around me were age 60 or older. I noted coughing – the deep, disturbing, not-just-a-cold type – and found myself wondering how many of those around me were in the midst of a real-time struggle with their own mortality. I hope they left the movie a tad more uplifted than they entered it. I know I did.

My answer? I believe that when we die, we will know, truly know so much more than we are currently capable of knowing but first and foremost, we will truly know that it will all be alright. Our loved ones, our past, the world … all of it. I believe that most religions are simply different avenues that people have taken in their life-long search for God. I believe that there can be truth in many different religions and that it is when we attempt to force God into a box, book, or temple that we lose sight of truth.

I believe that it will all be alright.

IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY

Next up: It’s Kind of a Funny Story, starring Keir Gilchrist and funny man Zach Galifianakis demonstrating that he is not just the funny man. Gilchrist plays Craig, a sixteen year old stressed and depressed teen who checks himself into a psychiatric ward. Galifianakis is a resident of the ward who takes Craig under his albeit broken wing. This movie has laughs, it has romance, and it has a message of, “Yeah, so you’re a bit screwed up; who isn’t? What are you waiting for? Live!”

For me, a highlight of the movie was also an eye-blinking jolt of déjà vu. Craig is speaking with the ward doctor about how he realizes that he has positives in his life, that his family loves him, that he has so much more than many others, but that life seems just one big ball of struggle and worry. Worry about what? Worry about how one decision or missed opportunity would somehow color the rest of his life and keep him from success, happiness, sex …

The jolt? This was something very similar to what I tried to explain myself recently – that I believe that life is meant to be lived but that sometimes it becomes one big mucky ball of struggle so that “living” begins to equate to “struggling” with too few moments of joy to counteract the crap.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story left me with a renewed energy to fight the muck and “live.” Now, how many movies can say that? You know, other than Predator.

SECRETARIAT

Finally: Secretariat brought up the rear then leaped to the front much like the horse of the same name. Secretariat was the discount movie this week at Celebration Cinema. If you haven’t learned of the discount movies yet, really, where have you been? First-run movies for $3.00 every Sunday makes this one of the best movie values out there. But I digress.

Secretariat tells the true story of housewife Penny Chenery Tweedy, played by Diane Lane, who took over the management of her father’s stables following her mother’s death and father’s decline. Tweedy hired fashion-challenged trainer Lucien Laurin, played by John Malkovich (who also entertained me yesterday in Red); Laurin and Tweedy successfully raise Big Red aka Secretariat, who was the first horse in twenty-five years to win the Triple Crown. Secretariat is a story of fighting for your dreams even when the odds are against you. Perhaps the best praise I can give is that this movie had me biting my nails even knowing the outcome of each race. And it left the audience applauding at the credits … when was the last time you heard that?

Okay, The Goonies during Celebration’s recent Late Night Cult series but, hey, it’s The Goonies after all.

In the end, today included lessons of hope, life, and determination. All at the movies.

I could not have spent my time better.

Now for late night laundry and left-over pizza.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Needed Visual Smack Upside The Head

Soooo much more depressing than my June birthday, this sight greeted me in my office this morning:


All my, "No, not THAT birthday!" woes are over, dated and literally deflated.  It's time to get back on the blogging horse and leave some road apples in my wake on the way to 2011.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Flying, Fabulous, Fear-Free ..... and Other "F" Words

Earlier this year, in a fit of "O" birthday fear, I decided it was time to cross an item off my bucket list.  My life has taken many twists, turns, and unexpected detours (this last one is horribly long with mislabeled signs and long unmoving lines of irritable travelers), and so I found myself facing f....for ... forward looking at yet another birthday despite the fact that I am no where near the destination I'd envisioned for myself at this age. 

What do you do when life isn't quite how you expected, when you're staring down stress, responsibilities, debt, and dipshits on a daily basis?  I decided to chuck it all to the wind and literally leap into my next decade ... out of a perfectly functioning albeit tiny airplane.

My decision to skydive made, I then had the tedious task of choosing a reputable skydiving company.  Enter Google.  Other than a gut feeling, I immediately cut any company that did not post their prices online.  Really? Come on, guys, post the prices.  What are you hiding?  That rule cut out quite a few places. 

After that, I went with the gut feeling I got from a company's FAQ page.  For example, in response to a question about whether landings are hard, one company promised that you would land "like a fairies fluff."  Hmm ... beyond the grammatical problem with that statement and confusion over what the hell a fairy's "fluff" actually is, I just don't believe it. 


Prices? Check

FAQ page? In response to the question about whether skydiving is dangerous, Premier answered,
Of course it's dangerous. You get out of a plane two miles above the earth. And gravity does work. In fact, it rules supreme. The only thing between a skydiver and "deceleration trauma" is a chunk of nylon about the size of your living room. Which part of not being dangerous was unclear?
Ahh ... my people!   After explaining about whether skydiving is safe (the better question), and what would happen if the parachute doesn't open or if the jumper wigs out completely and doesn't pull the rip cord, Premier apparently was asked what would happened if both the main and reserve parachute fail at the same time, and wisely answered, "You're about to have a really bad day."

Thank you!  Don't tell me that I'm going to float down on a cloud of fairy dust lightly skipping as I land.  That just makes me distrust you (more so than my general ever-present distrust).  Give me the real answer in a smartass way and *BAM* I'm signing waivers (guys, guys, waivers don't hold up anymore, do they), handing you a card, and telling my family and friends my jump date. 

It was June 26, 2010.

My day began surrounded by computer, TV, and smart phone, all tuned to weather information as I tensely waited to see if the storm would come as predicted (it didn't) or if the clouds would be too low or dense (they weren't).  When I finally headed up to Fremont, Michigan, home of Premier Skydiving, I had family members already in Grand Rapids and others on the way.  Having my family drive 2, 3, and nearly 7 hours (Linda) to see me fling myself from a plane meant more to me than they probably realize.  My sisters (including an in-law sis), parents (original and step), niece and nephew were all present.  Precious time was spent teaching my soon-to-be 3 year old niece to say, "Don't jump, Kimmie!!" 

I arrived, signed my multi-paged waiver promising that my family would smile and thank Premier if something went wrong, then settled in for training.  Our instructor showed us the tandem rigs, explained the main canopy, reserve (rarely used but stringently maintained), and AAD (automatic activation device), what to expect, how to stand, and the most important thing to remember about our first jump ... ARCH!!

I wisely purchased the video package and digital stills (beautiful).  As I uploaded this - my very first video to my blog - I realized that it is in several parts so I apologize for the breaks but it also allows me to comment between the fun. 

In this first segment, we meet Scott (my instructor) and Deryl (the videographer for the jump) as Scott is securing me in my jumpsuit and gear.  We also see my insanely large head, freakishly Gollum-like eyes, and the reason I'm attempting to now break any habits of pursing my lips together or making any of the other faces that occur.  Wow.  Enjoy.


video

ARCH!! 

Next notice the tiny step outside of the tiny plane.  That's where I'll be stepping on the way out.  Only four of us and the pilot fit inside.  For some reason, I had envisioned some large plane in which all 7 jumpers and their respective instructors would be comfortably strapped into seats awaiting a leap out of a big open door (I've probably seen this on TV or in a movie).  No matter.  We head up into the air and the higher we get, the younger I get.  No, really.  You'll see me devolve into my 5-year-old inner child, squealing and clapping in delight.

video

Ooooh .... here we go!!!!  The door is open, we scoot back and over to it, left foot, right foot, cross your arms and ARCH!!!  I keep getting questions about the falling feeling.  I don't remember any kind of stomach drop, I believe because of the wind.  The wind is loud.  I knew I could breath but somehow wanted to hold my breath.  The view, the feeling, the wind, the earth rushing up ... no wonder my instructor told us not to worry if we didn't pull the rip cord when he instructed us to do so ... it's the brain lock of doing something you'd only dreamed of doing.  I remember his pointing to the rip cord and I remember looking down in a stupor of .... 'oh yeah, I'm supposed to ...'  before *BAM* he opened it for me.

video

That was Deryl landing.  I'm still up in the air with Scott, listening to him tell me that one cell of the canopy won't open for some unknown reason.

"WHHHAAAA??" 

"Oh, we're fine.  There's no need for the reserve."


video

Now, if you know my name, you probably noticed an oopsie on Deryl's part.  I was clueless. 

High from the flight.  Just happy ... and ready to go again.

I jumped out of an airplane at 10,000 feet on Saturday.  And I did it with no fear.  Only excitement.  I can't think of a better way to begin a new decade in life.  Do it with no fear, only excitement.







Just let me know when you want to go with me.  We'll set a date.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sometimes Walls Are Needed

I attended a conference last week.  A conference of appellate attorneys - some civil, some rude, I mean, criminal.  The topic of the conference was civility and congeniality amongst the bench and bar.  Some bits were enlightening, some boring (Eerie, really? REALLY?), and some entertaining, but it was the last morning's session that whacked me over the head.  Not the topic, oh no, but my reaction to a comment by one of the panelists.  It was a comment that was meant to be funny, and was, but it would not be funny - at all - to the millions of non-attorneys in the world. 

Non-attorneys would find it crass, inappropriate, and unfeeling.  I find it necessary.

As I chuckled, it hit me what someone outside of my profession would think to hear that chuckle.  I've considered this before while we swap stories in the office about one case or another - always amazed, yet not, at the depravity of other human beings who commit some of the crimes we prosecute.  Often amazed, yet not, at the stupidity of those committing these crimes.  Always disheartened. 

If you've ever been a victim, you know that an instance or an hour (or more) can stay with you ... forever.  You go on, because you must, and life really does always get better.  You live in a world very different from our own.  I don't mean to say 'better' - certainly not - I have little if any idea what you go through, have gone through.  I simply mean different. 

We deal, day in and day out, with the reality of the horrors our fellow man routinely inflicts upon others.  We see stories of assault, rape, murder, torture, repeated with a different set of individuals and modified set of facts.  Each day.  We see domestic violence victims repeatedly, frustratingly, lie to try to cover for the assholes - the cowards - who beat them.  [Again, I don't walk in those shoes and hope I never find myself near them.]  We hear the stories of children who have no real parents left because what parent they had has somehow decided that their next high or their next affair is more important than keeping their children safe.  We hear of the sick bastards out there figuring out the next way in which they can get a small child alone in order to molest them.  Each day. 

We build walls separating ourselves from these crimes.  It is easier for me, an appellate attorney, than for a trial attorney who fights in the trenches of a trial court, listening first hand to a victim's testimony, seeing a victim's family each day, as well as the defendant.  I am one step removed - usually - because I must focus on the record below and the law.  I read the stories rather than hear them; I write about the stories rather than argue them to a jury.  I generally look at my trial attorney coworkers as being made of tougher stock than me in some ways because of the thinner wall they have protecting them.  The walls we build - whatever you call them - are necessary for us to continue to face these issues every day.  If we did not develop them, if we developed emotional attachments to every case before us, we would crumble early and often.  If we did not release some of our stress through humor, some fairly crass and otherwise inappropriate, we would explode when you need us the most.  If you hear us sounding crass or laughing at something you don't think is funny, please remember that we're simply building the barriers we need to do the job you need us to do. 

Tomorrow, I'm meeting the family of a victim.  My wall is about to be battered. 

 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Drum Roll Please ....

I done did it!

Back in February, I announced my intention to crush this year (I'm so humble) and my intention to rid myself of the monstrosity that was overtaking my bedroom - the king-sized marriage bed.  I hemmed, hawed, stared, and cogitated my options to an early grave.  I might still be staring at it had my little brother not, upon hearing that I was (oh yes absolutely) getting rid of my old bed, asked me what I was doing with it (uh, hoping someone will haul it away), and whether he could have it for their new guestroom, (uh, for the price of hauling it away).  That is how I found myself, on Easter weekend, kingless and sleeping on this:

Yeeeah.  Hello, college days, I missed you - just not this part of you.

It is truly a testament to my power of procrastination that I slept on that for a month.  MONTH!!  [On a side note, who's proud of their 30-something back for withstanding the torment?]

My wish of a new bed aka mattress set was replaced during this time of upheaval with a wish of a new bedroom - a "grown-up" bedroom if you will - one without Target furniture and with an actual bed and not simply a wire frame.  [I know, who the HELL do I think I am??]  I boldly gave away my stuffed animals (uh, most of 'em) to my 2 year old niece and, finally, in mid-May, I was persuaded to part with some moolah and purchased this:



Eh? Eh? Look at that ACTUAL bed with matching night table! I also bought my first ever big ass dresser with a big ass mirror on top.  *nodding* That's right .... big ass furniture. 

It only took me, oh, about two more weeks to finally cave and purchase an actual mattress set ... and pad ... and comforter set ... pillows ... sheets.  And finally, I was left with *I'm so excitedTA DA:



I know. Damn, I'm good.

Best part? I have to climb UP into the bed.  I feel all princessy and shit.  Oh, and, of course, uber-mature. 

It only took me nearly *cough cough* years.

Monday, May 10, 2010

eHarmony, i.e., Complete Waste of Money

I just cancelled my eHarmony subscription.  Why?  Oh, let's see ...
  1. eHarmony was twice as much money as Match.com. TWICE!
  2. Many of the men on there are also on Match.com.
  3. eHarmony doesn't allow you to see any pictures of your matches until you've subscribed.
  4. I've not been matched with anyone I find remotely attractive.
  5. eHarmony doesn't allow you to browse any other men; you are stuck with those with whom it "matches" you.
  6. Half of my initial matches were out of state.
  7. Having a button to click for more matches means diddly squat if the result after waiting a minute is a freakin' computer telling me no more matches exist
  8. Did I mention .... TWICE AS MUCH AS MATCH.COM?!
In short, eHarmony can take its 29 Dimensions of Compatibility and SHOVE EACH AND EVERY ONE UP ITS A....

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Say Hello, Brillo!


Three years ago, I walked through the John Ball Zoo on a members’ night (on a date no less – I know, it actually happens from time to time) and ran into a fellow attorney standing in the Wallaby exhibit talking to guests and answering questions. It was readily apparent that she was not (simply) an eccentric zoo fan. I asked what she was doing and she explained that she volunteered at the zoo.

Huh. Volunteer at the zoo. Well that just sounds … cool!

I had been contemplating a way to volunteer in the community for a while but kept getting stuck on my firm belief that I should in no way be entrusted with a child’s self esteem given that a remodeling of my own continues (I’m working on the bedroom at the moment). I was hooked. I went through my initial training in the fall/2007 and spring/2008 and found myself smack among wallabies, sting rays, pygmy goats, and budgies during the summer of 2008. I added animal handling training in the fall of 2008.  I now handle snakes, bearded dragons, blue-tongued skinks, turtles, chinchillas, opossums, screech owls, etc. 

[I do refuse to handle the chickens/roosters, evil beings one and all.  Yes, evil.  Hey, you be constantly attacked by a rooster during your childhood and then come talk to me.]

Volunteering at the zoo now allows me to have a small impact on the kids who stare slack jawed at the ball python I’m holding or ooh and awwww over our baby pygmy goats all while satisfying (kinda) my desire for the pet who would not fit so well in a one bedroom apartment.

What does this have to do with Brillo?

Last week, I entered a new realm at the John Ball Zoo: the hospital. The zoo recently received a gift of a new hedgehog – Brillo – who, we hope, will be added to those animals taken on travel zoos and handled within the zoo itself. All new animals at the zoo must be quarantined for a certain period of time so Brillo is currently being housed in quarantine at the zoo’s hospital. In order to make sure Brillo becomes accustomed to human handlers, the zoo asked some volunteers to … come handle her.

Hedgehogs are small mammals, covered with 5,000-7,000 quills or spines that form their protection against predators. Two larges muscles on either side of a hedgehog's back allow it to raise and lower its quills and, of course, roll into a ball. A ball of sharp quills isn’t too enticing of a meal to predators – go figure.

Brillo is currently in the same part of the hospital housing the zoo’s baby pygmy goats, who are still being bottle fed each day, and five venomous rattlesnakes – including two diamondbacks. And you think your family is dysfunctional. Pfft.

The keeper handed me Brillo on a blue cloth. She was tightly in her “WHAT'S GOING ON!!” ball and quivering. Awwwwe.

With a little patience and low talking, she gradually began to unroll and check out this new human. Hedgehogs don’t have the best eyesight but her little nose was furiously sniffing.

Every now and again, a sharp noise (those rambunctious pygmies) would induce a hiss and roll but eventually she was relaxed enough to nap during our time together.

<cue sighs and awing>

When I finally left, carefully dipping my shoes in a disinfecting water mixture on my way out (quarantine, remember), Brillo was receiving a treat of crickets (hedgehogs love insects).  

Jealous yet? The zoo is always looking for more volunteers.

Meanwhile, if all goes well, look for Brillo later this summer.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Proof is in the Eggplant

I cooked tonight.  No, really.  I can prove it. 

I cooked tonight.  And not even the type of cooking that requires quotation marks around the word. 

I have several cookbooks, usually excellent dust collectors, and tonight I looked up eggplant in Healthy Cooking for Two (or Just for You) ... [I didn't say this story was without pitiful parts] ... and found Roasted Eggplant Parmesan.

Sounds complicated.

Four ingredients.  SCORE!

Eggplant, olive oil, marinara sauce, and mozzarella.

I have three of those four things! Sweet! This is destiny given my typically barren food supply.  Let's just say, I am not the domestic goddess who keeps "things" on hand in order to "whip" up anything.  I am the reason cookbooks with "four ingredients" in the title exist.  This can happen.  No, this will happen. 

So, I just need the eggplant. I can do that. I can totally do that.  Meijer must have them. Meijer has everything. 

A few minutes later, I'm standing in front of purple weeble-wobbles with wee green hats, pressing, squeezing, generally completely ignorant of how to pick one of these things out.  I guess.

I grab some Parmesan just for fun.

Back home, I cut the eggplant into eight pieces, bake 'em for 20 minutes, then layer them in a pan with the sauce and two kinds of cheese (the oil was for the pan) and pop them back in for another 20 minutes.

Bam! I'm eating something remotely healthy and purple.

That I cooked! I used a knife and the oven!!!

I know!

An Arctic breeze must have blown through Hell tonight.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

One Helluva Back-up Plan

[Spoiler Alert - you know - in case you'd be STUNNED to know it works out perfectly.]

Now, I’m used to watching romantic comedies that require the suspension of belief – our modern day fairytales. I get it. You fed us Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty when we were little and, now, as our eyes continue to narrow and the idea of Prince Charming induces an eye-roll as surely as Pavlov’s dog slobbered at the sound of a bell, you think you can simply throw yet another hottie our way and we’ll be mollified.

A hottie named Alex O’Loughlin aka Stan [aka Mick St. John – the hot vampire you tempted us with only to cancel the series Moonlight without warning.]

And representing us in this latest farce? Zoe, owner of a pet store and adorable pooch, played by the hot, happily-married, mother of twins, Jennifer Lopez donning her post-pregnancy body that rivals any 25 year old.

Really?

And, of course, Charming Stan is immediately intrigued with the princess, hunts her down after they meet, pursues her, puts up with … hell … a pregnant-by-someone-else female, who simply could not wait any longer for “the one” so she used some of the money she socked away from her time at an Internet company to buy some sperm … earlier on the day she first met Charming Stan.

Really??

And, hey, score, she gets pregnant with twins on the first try.

<narrowed eyes>

Princess Zoe continually pushes Stan away, having grown to distrust men after her father left when she was little; she’s built walls, this princess. But our Charming Alex, he doesn’t drop her for the ever-present beautiful blond ex-girlfriend who is so obviously still enamored with him. Oh no. He does everything he can think of to convince his love that he is trustworthy; he is long-haul material.

<throws up hands>

REALLY????

Sorry, Jenny. I can only suspend my belief far enough to believe in trainable dragons.

------------------------------------

Oh, BTW, hey you.  Yeah ... you ... Evanston.  I see you.  Every time you visit, every pageload, every click.  I see you and your IP address. 
Just thought you should know.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

HIVES!!!!

This week has been one of my most stressful weeks at work yet.  We're short a person, I'm drowning in appeals, and have been asked to do some new, exciting, but stressful things.  By Thursday afternoon, I was riding a nervous adrenaline wave down and should have gingerly walked ashore from freak-out mode; however, my board apparently crashed on hidden rocks.
 
Instead of an afternoon sigh, I was left with curious red spots on my stomach and redness on my arm.
Eh? And ZOMG, they itch.

I was scheduled to volunteer at a zoo program that Thursday evening so I changed into my uber-sexy tan pants and red zoo fleece before leaving work.  The redness on my arm had gathered, grown, swelled, and expanded to include most of my forearm and had weird red edges.

My thought process at this discovery:
Hives?
HIVES!
Are you freakin' kidding me???!!!!
Well, hell.
I continued on to the zoo.  As I was waiting for the zoo instructor, I noticed the hives were moving onto my other arm ... and my right knee.  After unsuccessfully trying to call for a replacement, I decided I'd be worse sitting at home with only the red evil itchiness on which to dwell so I continued on with the program.

Distraction helped. A little.

I arrived home to find my arms clear of hives *YAY!!*
Oh ... they've moved to my back.
And ass. *insert look of horror*
My ass was officially two large red-rimmed (shut-up) hives.

This was officially a new experience for me.  I've had a bad, body-covering rash before (thank you little sister for failing to completely rinse your freshly cleaned bathtub), but never one that seemed alive, moving from bit to bit like an alien just searching for the right spot. 

[Yeah, I've probably watched too many sci-fi flicks.]

Enter Google's Health site to the ... really not so much a rescue as an annoying "you'll likely never now for sure the cause" mantra so commonly heard in doctors' offices.  Hives result from your body releasing histamine into your blood stream.  I'm told this could be from an allergic reaction (hmmm, I've done nothing new, eaten nothing new, tried no new soap or detergent, etc.) or, hey, the golden rule - "Hives can also result from emotional stress."  The go-to cause for doctors when they can't find another reason. That's greeeeeat.

Well, what the heck was I supposed to do???
  • Avoid hot baths or showers. Stay smelly, check.
  • Avoid irritating the area with tight-fitting clothing. Sleep naked, check.
  • Take antihistamines. Diphenhydramine is considered the most effective. Whadahoodahuh? It's late at night, man, and I itch and my ass is deformed ... I'm not leaving now, dammit!
Thursday night was largely a sleepless night.  I seemed to drift off for a while only to come abruptly back to reality and find the need to remove my watch since the hives had traveled to my hands/wrists and feet/ankles.  Each trip to the bathroom revealed old battlefields cleared as the enemy found fresh lands to conquer.  Hives were riding my body like a well-paid wh .... well, you get the idea.
 
I woke the next morning to find most of my body clear other than my shoulder and chest ... and ... is that red on my left cheek .... FACIAL CHEEK????!!!! Don't panic, don't panic, don't panic ....
 
I called my doctor's office and spoke to a phone nurse.  Presumably a phone nurse.  I explained my symptoms and concern.  She put me on hold.  When she returned from asking the Wizard of Oz her suggestions, she told me to take Benadryl and if they continue on through 24 hours of Benadryl bombardment, then I would need to come into the office.  Again, this was Friday.
Are you guys open on the weekends?
Um .... noooo, you'd need to go into a clinic.
I'm afraid of these going onto my face ... do hives ever go into eyes or anything like that?
Um .... I don't know.
[I wanted to hurt this woman at this point.]

I got ready for work, purchased my "Wal-dryl" (seriously, when it's the same ingredients, I am not opposed to Walgreen's equivalent for $1 less), gulped the adult dose down in the car, and crossed my fingers.  By the end of the day, I cautiously proclaimed myself "hive-free" and -dryl mellow.

*WHEW!!*

I'll likely never know for sure the cause.  Yeah, yeah ... stress.  Well, then I should just keep a supply of -dryl in the home at all times.

My lingering unease --> I could swear my skin seems slightly darker now where the hives traveled.
 
Lesson learned: Histamine is one wicked bitch that you don't want to cross.  Unfortunately, she often doesn't tell you what you did that pissed her off thereby keeping you constantly wondering when and if she'll strike again. 

Ah, see ... I can kinda respect that.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I’ll Take The Night Terrors, Thank You.

I got to bed last night by 11 p.m., a virtual miracle these days. Boy, was that a mistake.

I just woke up from one of the most terrifying dreams I’ve had in years. The kind after which you stay awake realizing new and horrifying ways in which the dream was worse than you even initially thought.

-----------------------------------------------

From what I can remember, I was at a basketball game in a gym much like the one I remember from high school. There was a band playing and I laughed when I saw that it was my old high school band, complete with red and white uniforms. I was with someone. This person at one point was a guy I liked in school but at another point was someone unknown to me outside the dream. I was happy to be where I was.

When I arrived, I placed my purse on the bleachers but inevitably moved farther and farther away from it. Hey, if this were really my old school, I wasn’t worried. You could go in, place your coats or other personal items anywhere and rest fairly assured that it would be in the same place when you returned. Ah … Amish country.

The dream skipped forward, as dreams are apt to do, and it was suddenly time for me to leave with ….hmmm … now my companion had morphed into a husband … but WOW. My husband from what I can remember was somehow involved in law enforcement … or a doctor … or both. This guy was the guy bad guys feared. He was trustworthy, intelligent, a good badass if you will. He was investigating something horrible, but not tonight. He was investigating murders of some kind, but not right now.

It was time to leave. I looked around for my purse and … huh … where the hell did it go? I look up, up, up into the corner of the gym, at the top of the bleachers, and see that someone has moved it to a ledge. There was a square kind of office up in the corner, all lit up and busy with strangers doing business of some kind, and my purse (in the dream it was an old brown one I used to have – thank GOD that thing is at Goodwill now) was perched above the office somehow. I stupidly thought perhaps it was a lost and found location and trudge up, irritated that anyone had touched it.

I enter the brightly lit office – I have to go through it apparently to reach the spot where my purse is sitting – and see six people behind a glass partition, all busy talking to patrons who have come in to … what …. I have no idea. I recognize one of the workers as a high school classmate who, oh, let’s just say she does not at all care for me (oh greeeeeat) and dread having to explain why I need to go through the office. I do. I point to my purse which is now out a back door to the same office, up and around a corner (the office has no ceiling so we can see this). 

[Sorry.  Dreams have a way of morphing into big blobs of hard-to-describe, "What Dreams May Come" nonsense; bear with me.]

I hurry out the back door, turn and go up several steps to what I can only describe as a cement walkway above the basketball court but somehow outside so people can get fresh air as they peer down to watch the game. There are people milling about and I see my purse has moved again (but of course in the dream it’s as if this was the first place I saw it when I had looked up from the floor so long ago). My purse is sitting on the top of a column but over a fence placed to keep spectators safe from falling. What. The. Hell.

What jackass … ? Who would … ? I’m perplexed to say the least.

I move around two young men and their giggling female counterparts (seriously, get a life), excuse myself and explain I have to climb up to get my purse. The boys grimace at the interruption but move and I make my way up, grab my purse, set it back on solid ground … and realize that something is very very wrong.

There are thorns, branches, bits of debris sticking out from my purse’s back pocket. I start pulling these things out, cursing, “What the hell is wrong with people!” I’m semi-talking to the young group still standing there. “Someone took my purse and, look, stuck all this crap …. I hate people!” I hear what seems to be maybe a grunt of acknowledgment and continue to investigate the violation of my purse.

I open the flap on top. I can’t describe well what I see … odds and ends of mutilated things. Blood. Disturbing images. And I immediately realize that the person or people my husband is trying to capture did this. I look around frantically and he is there, my husband; I sigh in relief and explain what is happening and we decide we must go immediately. Danger Will Robinson. Evil is lurking.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have ourselves an old-fashioned nightmare.

My husband is with an older male friend, an ally of some sort, the type of old hard good guy that you think has seen many many things, lived to tell about them, but remains a strong silent type. Good man perhaps past his prime. My husband and his friend maneuver me back to the office door and the dream morphs again. Now the three of us are making our way down a dark spiral staircase that apparently started around the area of the office. My husband is in front, then there's me hurrying to keep up, and finally the strong old friend bringing up the rear. [Hey, even I know the old guy’s toast at this point.]

Down, down, down … I’m flashing back to retrieving the purse and realized with a sudden jolt that I saw them. The young men who were by my purse. The young men who grunted with approval my hatred of people. They did this.

Sudden rapid footsteps coming down the stairs from behind us. Sudden holy-crap-I’m-gonna-die-and-be-cut-up-into-bits-and-stuffed-in-someone’s-purse terror. Super Husband now grabs me and makes a beeline straight down, almost like those guys you see on a ladder who put their feet on the outside and just slide. We zip down fast.

Old guy doesn’t.

We don’t hear the rapid steps anymore. They’ve found some reason … to stop.

----------------------------------------------

And … I wake up. At 5:38 a.m.

I think of Stephen King and how screwed up that guy must be to have worse nightmares in his head all the time and put them all to paper. I wonder why on earth I went to bed so early (for me). And I realize, thinking about the dream, that those two lunatics would have my wallet, my address, my badge, my phone, know all about me.

Well, hell, I’m awake now. Happy freakin’ Tuesday.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Broken Eggshell Kind of Morning

Should I be crawling back into bed world? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?

Call it a Murphy’s Law day if you will but when a series of events begin as soon as you rouse yourself in the morning, late, with no thanks to your alarm, which failed to make a dent in your bad dream, a series of events that foretell a not-so-funny-now comedy of errors to come … you ask yourself that question. Should I be crawling back into bed?

I shake off the late start (now compounded because I feel the need to write this RIGHT NOW), and am determined to start the day off right.

I need a fried egg sandwich … or “sammich,” if you will.

Now, I make no secret of the fact – stone cold fact – that I am not a domestic goddess. I boil. I open cans. I perhaps assemble. I do not “cook.” But I can make scrambled eggs and fried eggs. Usually. I swear.

I put my wee I-must-live-alone skillet on the stove, heat until med/med-high, spray a bit o’Pam in the skillet, grab bread for the toaster, an egg, and cheese. Okay. Skillet heated, I crack the egg on the counter. Dammit. Not the greatest job but it will be fine. Right?

I’m trying to crack open this badly cracked egg to reach the innards (still hungry?) and feel a twinge of dismay as two small bits of eggshell hit the hot skillet. Well, hell. Oops, two more hit.

Well, ____!

Do I give up? Do I turn off the stove and go back to bed? My body and brain seem hopeful for second.

I have court this afternoon. *growl*

I meticulously pick out the shell bits with one hand, holding the kinda sorta broken egg in the other, glare inside the skillet for a long moment to make sure all men down have been recovered, and finally get my egg in the skillet with a sizzle. *heavy sigh*

Please tell me that this step-by-step struggle is not going to continue the rest of the day.

Anyway, if you are wandering downtown later today and see a short, suit-clad female screaming, “MULLIGAN!!!” might I suggest you find cover … fast and quietly.

And for God’s sake, do not make eye contact.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's ...

Already freaking out about her birthday this year.

I've been struggling to figure out what I want to do for my big day.  A trip? A day spa? Some sleeping pills?

I'm still undecided but I just added a new possibility today.  I can't believe I hadn't thought of this before.

I think jumping out of a perfectly good airplane might be the perfect way to celebrate.

Of course, I'm still open to suggestions.  I have a few months left before the end.

I mean ... my birthday.

Well That Was ... Anticlimactic

I did it. I plunked down the moolah for eHarmony. 

Yeeeeah.

I recognize a LOT of these guys from other dating sites. Hell, I recognize pictures from other dating sites; pictures that have to be several years old. 

The email I tried to send during the "free communication" weekend, the email that set off my "sneaky" eHarmony vibe when they wouldn't allow it to go through? I now know that it would have gone to someone I've already encountered at Match.com. Someone to whom I'm not attracted.

Does this mean I owe them thanks somehow for keeping me from opening that communication again?

Of course, if they allowed individuals to see their matches without paying, I would have recognized him in the first place.  So, no, no thanks to you, eHarmony.  You're still sneaky.

Then, I saw the "Find New Matches" button. Sweeet!  I clicked.  I watched with anticipation as the timer ticked down from 60 seconds. And then I read:
"Our matching system was not able to find any new matches for you right now."
Well, isn't that a kick in the ole' ego keister.  Now, instead of wandering Grand Rapids wondering where my guy is hiding, I paid way more than I wanted in order to be told by a blinking computer that he doesn't exist.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I realize this is not true and have been recently told that only a very small percentage of people even use these dating sites.  But, still ... 'you're unmatchable at the moment' is not a thing anyone wants or needs to hear. 

Or read.
 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ah, You're Sneaky eHarmony ... Very Sneaky.

Tonight ends the "free communication" weekend at eHarmony that enticed me to fill out their incredibly long and maddening questionnaire and, thus, throw my singledom at the mercy of 29 "dimensions of compatibility."  I have hurried through the "guided communication" with one individual but we're not yet at the email stage.

And, more maddening even, I chose to skip straight to email (supposedly an option) with another match since time is running out and any guy who claims to like Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series (I believe a rarity among men) deserves to at least have the means of finding my blog.  Of course the means of finding my blog could end in him running far far away, screaming, but ... eh ... the faint of heart need not tarry too long.  Therefore, I wrote an extremely witty (aren't I humble) email explaining a bit about myself and complimenting him on his reading choice then included information on how to find this site.  I clicked send, happy in my decision. I was promptly redirected to the subscription page and a short note informing me that "email" is for subscribers only.  

Um ... then don't include the link on my communication page and perhaps inform your newbies that "free communication" weekends mean your slower-than-papaw "guided communication" only.

<narrowed eyes

I see your game, eHarmony.  Lure me with the promise of free communication then purposefully make the process so painfully slow that, in order to actually have true communication with any of my "matches," I must become a paying subscriber.  Evil, evil temptress.

Thus, I find myself waffling at the prospect of forking over nearly $140 (yuh-huh, that's what I typed) for three months of services at eHarmony.  Match.com is less expensive.  True, Match.com has not been successful for me recently (obviously), but spending twice as much in order to even see pictures of my matches gives me pause. 

I'm even getting contrary results from the tried and (well, not so much) true methods of divination: the horoscope and uber-eery magic 8 ball.  According to today's horoscope for we cancerous crabs:
If you are buying a lot of lottery tickets or engaging in some other kind of against-the-odds ventures, you need to spend your time and your money more wisely.  Maybe you have reassured yourself by dwelling on the idea that someone has to win, but that isn't necessarily so.  Although what you're going through now might not literally involve the purchase of lottery tickets, you could be taking some kind of risky venture way too seriously.  You are a dreamer, Moonchild, but you can also be quite objective and practical.  Now's the time to let your more stable side take control. [Emphasis added.]
In contrast, I asked the Magic 8 Ball whether I would find "that special person" during the 3 months at eHarmony if I paid for the subscription.  Answer:

Yes.
Oh, the agony at times of having the ability to make my own freakin' decisions!

[Disclaimer: Yes, I realize just how asinine this dilemma is and that there are people in the world, the majority of the world's population in fact, who would relish making it rather than wondering how they will eat or where they will sleep.  I am only silly, not hard-hearted.]

So, as the minutes tick away, I sit, sipping wine, and pondering the frivolity of this expenditure.

I highly doubt any decision will be made this night.  Suggestions, wisdom, and wisecracks are welcome.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Evil Holiday 2010

It's a new decade, lady and gents; therefore, I'll be handling this annual forced recognition of my singlehood ... eh, pretty much the same way I've "handled" it in the past.  With much growling and gnashing of various inanimate objects, which are incapable of protest or screams. 

Except the shredder.  Apparently a shredder can scream.  Loudly.

So, I was sitting on my loveseat (the purchase of Evil Holiday 2009), comfy and oh-so-classy in my pajamas, red flannel robe (I do not kid, sir), and ... wait for it ... uber-sexy facial mask, and thought, "The time is now."

eHarmony. Yep. [Said while making a big popping sound at the end.]

I just spent two HOURS filling out an eHarmony questionnaire that made me think way too much.  And I'm not talking about the typical "what are you looking for" questions of other dating sites.  I'm talking questions ranging from how adventurous are you (eh, define adventurous - sue me, I'm an attorney) to how stable are you (and I loved that "somewhat" was a smack-in-the-middle choice).  I was asked in at least three different ways how important monogamy was in a serious relationship.  Really??  I'm curious to see, just see, the individuals who marked "not at all" to that question. 

What are the four attributes my friends would say best describe me?  Um ... can I have my friends answer that?  Because to say "intelligent" "funny" "loyal" and "caring" myself seems like cheating since it really doesn't cover the "funny girl but can be a pain in the ass" crowd or the "so incredibly sweet even though I've only just met her" newbie who, yeah, really must have just met me. 

And the answers to so many questions about the potential match depend on ... the potential match. 
  • How important is your match's educational level? Well, how cute are we talking here?
  • How often can your match smoke? Well, does that question encompass only cigarettes (NEVER) or does it also include a cigar a few times a year (totally fine).
  • How important is your match's religious views? Um, something the opposite of zealot but not so cynical as to make fun of others who believe differently.  Does that equate to "somewhat"? 
  • Are you open to a match who has young children living at home? Absolutely ... providing we're not talking some kid named Damien with a weird numeric birthmark.  Or some mighty brood the likes of which will induce my remaining eggs to shrivel up in some mass eggicide.
See. It depends. 

Finally, there did not appear to be any definitive questions about cooking that would allow me to proclaim my anti-Betty status before some poor shmuck comes over expecting homemade cooking made by someone other than my Papa John (he's an excellent Papa ... he'll even deliver). 

Ah well, we'll see.

Shouldn't I be more excited about this whole process? Yeah, I thought so, too.

Ah well ... we'll see!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Terror of the Night

Have you ever waked to find yourself screaming? Standing? Walking? All while absolutely positive that something or someone was in the room with you?

I have.  I have night terrors.

Night terrors are not nightmares.  You might wake from a nightmare with a start, but you typically won't wake to find yourself standing on the other side of the bed or walking in your living room, all while completely freaked out and possibly screaming.  I thankfully do not have these often but they are memorable.  I typically only remember a face, or a shape standing over me, or possible a snake in my bed ... and I am positive at the moment of waking that whatever the terror is at that time, it is real and nearby.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (and, no, I don't take any), about 6.5% of all children may have been affected by night terrors; however, children generally grow out of it.  The number drops to 2.2% of adults.  Somehow, that doesn't make me feel special in a good way.  I look at the list of potential causes and continually shake my head: no substance abuse issues, no post-traumatic stress disorder (unless dating counts), none of the possible medication complications, etc.  I don't know what causes my occasional terror; I only know they occur approximately 4-6 times a year.

Most often, if I have a night terror, I'll wake screaming.  [I'd feel a bit sorrier for my neighbors if any of them had EVER come to check on me ... or called the police.]  I remember waking during a Disney family vacation and finding myself on my knees in bed, screaming, with my then husband trying to calm me.  On rarer occasions, I've found myself standing on the opposite side of the bed in a frantic state.  One time, I was circling a chair in my living room as I calmed down and reminded myself that no one was really there.

Why am I even thinking of this quirk of mine right now?

Because my night terror reached a new level last night that will likely cause me to add this to the "Hi, Doc" discussion at my annual physical this year.  As is often the case, I have no memory of a dream last night other than KNOWING someone was in my room.  I was sleeping on my side and had a pillow between my knees.  The difference this time is that my scream wasn't stopped by me waking up and coming to my senses, my scream stopped abruptly when my head hit the dresser ... three feet away from my bed. 

My pillow was still between my knees. 

Honestly, it was as if I was sucked from the bed Exorcist style, hitting the floor first with my soon-to-be purple booty then the dresser with my head.  I have no idea how I did this booty bed jump.

I only know that I have a sore bottom and knocked noggin.  And a new topic of discussion for my doctor.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Late Hello to 2010. I Will Crush You.

Yes, it's February. January was around here just a second ago but disappeared when I wasn't looking. 

2010.  A big year for me.  Potentially.  Hopefully.  A purging year, and not in an eating disorder way.  [Binging I could probably master given the right kind (any) of ice cream; the purging just wouldn't occur.]

2010.  A year I'll rid myself of yet another reminder of old failures: I'm getting a new bed. 

*cue chorus of angels*

A small thing to some; a large purchase for me. I've had the same king-sized bed for at least 12 years.  YEARS.  My relationship with this piece of furniture has now lasted longer than my failed marriage.  It has survived a husband, three boyfriends, one particularly unreligious Easter, and, generally, a slew of bad decisions.  It has lived in ... wait ... eight (?), yes, EIGHT homes.  I, and countless others, have hauled that monstrosity seven times.  I, alone, have flipped it through potentially back spasming yet comical maneuvers that always left me feeling oddly powerful.

It's time.

The top contenders at present are a euro-top or a spine align plus queen (made locally in West Michigan).  Yes, a queen.  A full seems a bit sad; a twin is horribly sad.  A queen is big enough for me to sprawl when I feel like sprawling yet also proclaims, "I expect I'll need a two-person bed at some point in the future."  Yes, a queen will do quite nicely.  And, let's face it:  A king is nice, especially when you really don't care to touch the other person, ever, but it tends to take up all the space and is more of a nuisance than a blessing.  Huh.  Takes up space; more of a nuisance than a blessing.  Wow.  No wonder they call it a king; it really is a male.

And I wonder why I'm single.  Ah well, the ultra-plush, two-person bed will be there if/when I need it. 

See *taptaptap* I'm always thinking ahead ...

.....

More 2010 changes to come ...