Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye to the "zeros"!

Tomorrow begins a new decade. To ring it in, I would like to review why in my opinion 2000-2009 sucked:

An American Idiot president was elected (twice). My mind is still boggling about that one. Okay so maybe George W. Bush seemed like an Everyman, someone you would want to have a beer with, but it turns out, more qualifications are needed to be president. He answered an awful attack on our country by arguably being the World's Bully, while seeming to ignore a natural disaster at home.

That tactic didn't work in my opinion..

I must add, however, that those progressives who elected our current president, thinking there would be change, have a long wait ahead.

The zeros marked the evolution of seizure girl to tumor girl. After carrying a lump in my head since at least 1999, I found out in 2006 that the lump is a special, malignant one, forcing a risky brain surgery that changed me forever. That same year my father-in-law, and my parents' best friends died. Stress! You betcha!

The gift that keeps on giving from the zeros has to be the Great Recession. My husband was laid off from his job along with other remote employees. Yes, hiring remote employees apparently is no longer a cost-cutting measure. Having one person do the work of three, IS.

On the positive side, the decade ended with me reconnecting with my estranged grandmother on my father's side. She passed away this year, but it was great to get to know her.

So I'm excited for 2010 to get here. I'm hopeful my husband will get a job, that I will continue to live with what's left of my brain, and go to my 25th high school reunion and marvel at how old I am.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I had another post ready to publish, but today we got some potentially discouraging news on the job front. Let me bring you up to date: I have a brain tumor, for which I had surgery that by a doctor's definition, left me temporarily physically disabled, and permanently cognitively disabled. Meanwhile my husband lost his job and his benefits in July. He's had leads, but no offers for new work. When he was first laid off, I thought about getting a "real" job, but was advised not to, due to my condition.

I would be okay with this, if there were light on the horizon, but it's near year end, and there is none--yet. So what exactly should I do? Nothing is not an option. I'm on the government waiting list for jobs for people who are disabled, but government moves slow.

Bottom line--I can't wait and do nothing.

Christmas memories.

There are so many. When I was younger my cousins would come over to my house on Christmas Eve, for a present exchange. I would have a chance to play with my "twin" cousin Jennifer. I call her my twin cousin, because for awhile, we looked alike.
One Christmas, my mother handcrafted toy kitchen cabinets for my sister and me. Another year, she handcrafted jigsaw puzzles based on Peanuts comics.
I was annoying and greedy about Christmas, telling my mom (and dad) what I wanted six months in advance. Because of this, one year mom gave me the silent treatment until I understood the error of my ways, in time for Christmas.
Another Christmas I remember well was one where times were tight in our house. I can't remember the reason, but instead of buying wrapping paper, we blanketed gifts in butcher paper, and made festive designs on them.
My dad's estranged father contacted us out of the blue one year, and visited with us. As it
happened, he ended up helping to pay for my trip to Germany, but sadly, died shortly after re-
connecting with my dad.
My folks used to get together with family friends, the Helzers and the Nehrings for a
Christmas party. Later, when my sister and I got older, we were allowed to come too.
The Helzers hosted the party and it was always a blast. Sharon Helzer, my mom's best friend
would have the best spread of food and decorations. Her husband, Richard was in charge of
the tree and music. Richard was legendary for his brawn, and was able to wrestle the biggest,
and most beautiful tree into the Helzer home. The Helzer house WAS Christmas. While the
"grown-ups" visited, my sister and I enjoyed the company of the Helzer and Nehring kids I
miss that for a variety of reasons, the party is no longer part of our Christmas tradition, but it
remains a very treasured memory.
Now I have new traditions and a child of my own. My in-laws usually come from Chicago,
and I host a potluck dinner, after which presents are opened. My body is usually ready to get
back to normal after over-indulging the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.
But it's not New Year's Day yet.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dear Former Co-workers.

Hello former co-workers. I want you to know that I enjoyed you're camaraderie when we were together. I hope now that you know that I have brain cancer, and probably had the beginnings of it when we worked together, that you will excuse, or at least understand, what you may have perceived as a lack of competence. You and I both gave our blood sweat and tears, and you'll probably never know how hard it was for me to come to work, day after day, and leave an empty shell of myself.

I was brought up by my dad to not be dependent on anyone else for my sustenance, so it pains me to be "too stupid to work." If you think I'm being hard on myself, ask yourself if YOU'D hire me. I think you wouldn't.

So I have one favor to ask. Assuming you read this blog, please tell me (but don't lie) if you think my contributions were valuable to the places we worked together. Doing so will help me to be at peace with the idea that I'm too stupid to work.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Austin on "dress-up" day.

Today, my son informs me it's dress-up day at school, then shows me this ensamble:

I think the science goggles make the outfit. Oh yeah, and the crocks. I told him, he might attract unwanted attention. He just said, "That's the point" and added the goggles would keep the rain out of his eyes. As of this writing, I have not heard how his day went.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Don Pardo? Tell her what she's won for Christmas...a new toilet!

A plumber came with a new toilet for downstairs...Nothing says Merry Christmas like that. My husband says it's "craptastic". Reason for the toilet? The old one couldn't handle poop. Why? Not sure. It seems like we were bleeding money on the plumber last year at this time. Is it the house, or us?

Mostly us. Somehow, getting a working toilet for downstairs turned into getting other projects done, such as replacing a faucet and water heater. Big bucks!

Makes me wonder what we'll need the plumber for next Christmas. Stay tuned.

Meantime I'll be armed with a plunger and a snake, afraid to use them, for fear of gagging.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I have been feeling good lately, but today I turned into a wind-up toy.

The day got started with poop, which spelled backwards, is still poop. I'll spare the details, but it took five shots with a plunger and a snake to return my son's bathroom to working condition. Poop is the gift that keeps on giving.

This got me thinking about Christmas. Why? Because the toilet downstairs doesn't work either. It hasn't since the Sewage Spill of 2009. And my mother in law will be staying in our basement when she comes, so we need a working toilet.

Then I got to thinking about the Christmas dinner menu, and shopping for it. My mother and sister are bringing main dishes, which will be great. Bruce the decider is a good cook, but hasn't in awhile, so I usually do it, and he cleans up afterward.

I asked him, since he has veto power in our house, what he had in mind for our contribution to the holiday meal. He said side dishes and dessert. For some reason, I chose today to nail down some particulars. I'm already making a salad. He says he wants a "starch", sweet potatoes, a veggie dish and three pies.

Starch is covered. Rice. Sweet potatoes? Pulled a recipe from the net. Veggie dish? It's ten days until the Big Day, but I start flying through the cookbooks, and finally land on a recipe for Ratatouille, a vegetable casserole. Three pies?! Do we really need that many? Yes, he says, we do, as there will be eleven people, so again, I go surfing the net and flying through cookbooks, and decide on pumpkin, lemon, and we'll buy and apple.

Maybe I'm just using my bad brain as a crutch, but I became overwhelmed by thinking of the ingredients I need to buy, trying to avoid other shoppers, since I have a new aversion to big crowds. As this happens, I work up to a five-star fuss, about an event I'm co-producing 10 days from now! So typical of me.

I finally calmed down, but it took some doing. This is a wonderful, but crazy time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


another piece from the writing group.

Everyone asked if I would keep my hair.
I wondered if they would have to shave my head to open it.
What happened surprised us all. They(doctors) did not have to shave my head, and I did not lose my hair to chemotherapy.

I had always been a hairy girl. My mother called me "Cousin It". If you don't know what cousin it is, watch old episodes of the Adams Family. He's the 3-foot monster that's nothing but hair.

Anyway, as a kid I had thick blond hair. Mom used to spend hours brushing it after my bath, and I would yell at her for pulling too hard to get out the never-ending tangles. Finally she got tired of this, and demanded I get my hair cut.

"But mom, " I cried. "It will make me look like a boy!"

"My hair is short. Does that make me a boy?" mom asked.

Good question. I caved and agreed to getting a "Dutch Boy" haircut, which today would be called a "bob".

I eventually grew my hair out again, and got a perm. My sister said I looked like a Chia Pet, and I did.

When it was time to look for my first job, my team of advisers suggested I get a "pixie" or some other short and professional haircut. I got the job, but I didn't want to discuss a serious topic with my hairdresser, or she'd just keep cutting.

I like to get my hair highlighted because is gives shine and color to it. But after brain surgery, I had to wait, I think six weeks, before getting it cut, let alone highlighted. And there is some debate about whether coloring hair contributes to brain tumors. When my doctor said it was okay to do anything I wanted to my hair, I did.

Now hair isn't about cancer. It's about money. Times are tight, so I can't justify spending $62 for a haircut. I recently to a place where I got a $30 cut. I think I'll grow it out for as long as I can stand it. I don't like my hair in my face, and I don't want to look like Cousin It.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

In the Christmas spirit

Come the first of the year, the Jones family begins its journey to the poor house, but I feel more in the Christmas spirit then ever. The husband, not so much, because he gets a high from material things.

We were having a conversation about what to get our son. Bruce suggests getting him a Play Station. I say no to this for a variety of reasons: He has a Wii, and a bunch of games to go with it, including Rock Band, plus has the best computer in the house that he is on way too much. In short, the boy has enough electronics. Austin himself has said he wants nerf toys, but my husband insists on getting one, and sometimes two, big ticket items. And if he can't than Christmas isn't fun for him.

Well the husband is still without work, and I am disabled, so this year we are going to have to get by with enjoying food, family and friends.

I, for one, am fine with that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Media Vultures

Media Vultures. That's what comedian Bill Maher called media outlets in reference to coverage of a recent scandal involving a sports star. The sports star collided his car with a hydrant and telephone pole, and somehow it's linked to his cheating on his wife. The sports star hasn't helped matters by not talking to police and releasing statements that only add to the mystery surrounding this accident. For its part, the police have ended their investigation and charged the sports star with reckless driving. But the media have continued to run photos of Sport Star's alleged mistresses, transcripts of racy text messages, emails and the like.

As a former media vulture, this story has caught my attention, because it has made me think back to what I was taught about newsworthiness. This story fits one of the criteria in that involves a famous person. In all others it fails. In the end, all the media scrutiny may force Sports Start go public with his affairs, with his wife at his side, and possibly lose his star power, not because of his age, not because of his performance, but because he's imperfect. It's not news, it's gossip.

Meanwhile, another recent story for which the media were criticized involved a search and rescue that ended up being a hoax. The story goes like this: A Colorado family caused a media frenzy and search and rescue operation, when it was reported that their young son had been carried away in a makeshift balloon. I would argue the news outlets had reason to cover the story in its beginning stages, because airing the story could possibly aid in finding the missing boy. Problem was, the boy never left home. Once that was learned, the media still covered the story heavily, and given the circumstances I feel in this case it was justified. As the story unfolded it became evident that "Balloon Boy's" parents were reality show wanna-bes, and they were exposed as arguably unfit parents, and criminally fraudulent, by causing multiple agencies to activate for no reason. The story opened up a societal debate on our culture's thirst for fame, and what creepy lengths some will go to get it.

So it is a fine line between what IS news, and what is just gossip. In the new world of Internet and 24-hour news, there is more pressure than ever to get the story first, if not right. And the more sensational the better. The sports star's story is about bringing down a man who until now has had a stellar reputation. But as one blogger noted, if the public wants to put him under the microscope, instead of stirring the turds of his private life, they should perhaps look at his business interests instead.

The Balloon Boy story, on the other hand, started as a legitimate news story, that ended up getting bigger.

Neither of these stories was worthy of the resources devoted to them. There are many stories more important, but I think the sports story should be left alone, and that we should continue to learn from the Balloon Boy story.