On looking back on the past

A few days ago an old friend posted a picture of some young band geeks. It was me and my high school friends. It was an amazing time to take a trip down memory lane. We laughed over hairstyles. Mocked the notes on the chalkboard. Checked in on where everyone was these days. Teased about how we’ve aged but not really but totally. It was exactly what I needed. It was from my favorite year in high school. Oh, the laughs we had that year. My “soul mate” friend, Harvey (*he knows who he is) was as always by my side. We were all so young, so happy, so innocent as to what life would bring our way.

I’ve always said I’d never, ever go back to high school again. But after seeing that picture and looking at each and every face, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would go back… for a while. I could share a story with you about every person in that picture. Some would be bittersweet. Some would have you rolling in laughter. And, yes, some would have you rolling your eyes calling us geeks. And I’d love each and every story.

Sometimes you don’t realize the best stories of your life are happening while they’re happening. It’s only after they are long gone and  you look back and smile that you realize, “Wow, we sure did have one hell of a good time, didn’t we?”

Band Geeks 87

Band Geeks 87

On going to bed and other misunderstandings

After being married to the same person for almost 25 years, you learn where your strengths and weaknesses lie.  Areas where you are strong and also where you are incompatible.  I have to confess something to you.  There is an area of incompatibility that Clint and I have suffered through for years.  Come here so I can whisper it to you.  Shhhh…it’s in the bedroom.  Oh, whatever!  Had you going there, didn’t I you gutter-minded people!  Not like “in the bedroom”, but in the room in which the bed happens to be.

You see, it all begins with 4 little words:  “I’m going to bed.” Oh, sure, on the surface they seem innocent enough, but in truth, they are words that can strain even the best of marriages.  You see, to him “I’m going to bed” means, I am going to go get in bed, turn out the light and go to sleep.  I KNOW.  Totally weird!  I don’t get it either.

For me “I’m going to bed” means:  I am going to:  go check email one last time; check on the kids; get a drink; make sure everything is turned off, locked or put away; grab a book–maybe a DVD depending on how tired I am; grab my notebook; brush my teeth etc; make sure I set my alarm; crawl in bed and then…well, I read, watch a DVD, type on the laptop or want to talk.  Honest it is most often the talking.  Love the talking.  Such a weakness, I get that.

Can you see the incompatibility here?  (Yes, I know.  HE does make things difficult!)

Here are just a few things that I have found that my beloved does NOT find amusing when we accidentally hit the bedroom at the same time.

1) Poking him after he has turned off his light because I am cracking up and then insisting he read the warning label on the bottle of sleeping pills that says May Cause Drowsiness because that is just too funny.  He really doesn’t want to read it and probably doesn’t think it is funny.  Also, the giggling about it for a minute or so will not change his mind on this.

2) Watching anything on my tablet that will make me laugh is forbidden because–if you know me, you know this– I do not have the little demure “how cute” laugh.  If something is funny, I laugh all out, balls to the wall and have even been known to snort a time or two.  Even if I retell the scene that I am laughing about, he still does not find it funny.  (Oh, and shoving the tablet into his face does not help the situation.  In fact, it usually gets the tablet taken away.  I’m just sayin’.)

3) Just because he is quiet, that certainly does not mean he is opening the door for me to explain my ENTIRE day in excruciating detail right up to the moment he joined me in the bedroom.  To him, quiet means going to sleep. Like I knew that?!  Quiet means:  “Okay, now YOU talk.” Duh!

4) Nights when I am in a silly, babble-assing mood, I really, really, reeeeaaally need to learn to dial down the crazy.  He is not impressed by  “Omigod! You are totally not going to believe this, but…” followed closely by “Today, in People magazine I read…” That will get me the glare of death or the “punch the pillow in exasperation” thing.  Both…not so good.

5) I really should only listen to calm, soothing music on my playlist when I am trying to fall asleep because he REALLY does not not not like to be awakened to the screeches of me singing KISS’s Rock and Roll All Nite.  I mean, he REALLY does not like that.  At all.  Not one bit.  I’m just sayin’.  Oh, and even if there is no singing involved, head banging, hip tapping, and bed dancing are also unacceptable.  And singing Cheap Trick’s I Want You To Want Me is NOT foreplay.  Who knew?

6) Finally, when he suggests that perhaps I go to bed a good hour earlier than he does, that does not necessarily mean that he is worried that I am not getting a good night’s sleep.  Oh, no sir, it does not.  It actually means that he is hoping against all odds that all of the insanity that occurs after I utter the words “I’m going to bed” will have died down and I just might actually be asleep or nearly there by the time he gets into bed.  Silly, silly man.  Does he not know that as soon as I hear him come in, I am more than ready to talk or sing or poke at him.

I mean, that is what marriage is all about, right?

Oh this is just perfect….he just now this very second gave me:

7) I really should NOT read my blog entry to him when he comes in, gets into bed and turns out his light.  He won’t think it is funny.  Won’t laugh.  And REALLY will not appreciate the genius that is late night writing.  In fact, as I type I am getting the glare AND the pillow hit.  Awwww, I just love this man.  But really, I am totally about to lose my laptop if I don’t go.  Now.

Besides, I have all the seasons of Gillmore Girls to rewatch on Netflix.  Which will violate #2, but I like to live on the edge.  Might even fire up the old Spotify just for fun!  (Yes, it actually IS okay to feel sorry for him.  Just don’t tell me about it.)

Living la vida lupus

I don’t know how to say this so I am going to say this as if I am just talking to a group of my friends. Okay?

So many of you have followed me through this journey of trying to discover why I have been suffering for years with chronic daily (as in every single damn day of my life) headaches and migraines. Back in April  of 2014, I was hospitalized for 9 days while they ran tests and tried to get the pain under control. I started to find relief around day six. (Wouldn’t you know it?)

While I was in the hospital they ran many, many tests. Some of those test results came back not so very encouraging.  My focus was on finding relief from my headache pain and that was basically all I cared about. I finally found an amazing new neurologist with a new game plan to kick these headaches back to hell where they came from. Long story short, my new neuro was going over my test results and called me to go over other, non-headache realated symptoms. She then sent me straight to my former rheumatologist who them put 2 +2+ 6 +7  together and came up with Lupus.

A couple of weeks ago I was diagnosed with Lupus.

I hate that sentence. I really, really hate that sentence.

A couple of weeks ago I was diagnosed with Lupus.

I can’t even cry about it. I want to. I want to rage. I want to break things and scream. And cry. But the urge is stronger to just lie on the floor and just be. Just lie there until the whole damn world makes sense again. Or I can make sense of it. I don’t do any of that. What does that even mean? I’m pretty sure it means I’m in massive denial. Or I’ve finally snapped.

Right now we don’t know what the connection is between the daily headaches/migraines and the lupus. I’m sure we’ll be digging that up and trying to connect the dots now. All I really know is that I am in pain. I hurt. I mean, I really hurt. Every day. And, yeah, I’ll say it: This sucks. I’ve also heard that lupus doesn’t travel alone but likes to bring along other autoimmune friends. I know they see inflamation in my thyroid, so let’s hope that is the only friend invited to this party.

I don’t know what else to say.

Apparently (according to the doctor and even if I am in denial) I have Lupus.

I am scared.

I am mad.

I am still so very, very much in denial.

I am in pain.

I am lonely.

I am alone.

I am angry.

I am tired.

Did I mention…. I am so scared.

And we’re back to me not knowing what to say.

Oh, I have one more:

#suckitlupus

jls-sle

Singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” was forbiddden and the rebel who broke the rule. But don’t tell.

Growing up the youngest of three kids, I had my fair share of being picked on but I gave my share of bratty back so it evened out. My sister is almost four years older than I am and though it appears that I could take her down in hand to hand combat, you would be so very wrong to think that. She may be tiny but she is scrappy and tough as hell. So, between looking up to her as an older sister and being afraid knowing she could take me down if she wanted to, I pretty much did whatever she told me to do. Except when I didn’t.

There were several “rules” she made that I had to obey whether she was around to enforce them or not. And believe you me, I followed those rules no matter what because, honey, that girl could be pretty freaking scary when she wanted to be. I knew better than to mess with her. (I still do.) Respect, yo. But…(you knew that was coming, right?) there was one rule I just couldn’t obey. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t do it. I suppose you (or Gloria Estefan) could say “the rhythm was going to get me” eventually.

One of our all time favorite songs was “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” so of course we (and by we I mean she) got it on a 45 to play on our (and by our I mean her) awesomely cool blue record player. There was one rule. I was never ever ever ever never ever EVER never even if there is a fire and you have to call our for help with the song never ever sing ANY part of the song EVER except the background (Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh,Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh,etc). She was not kidding. That rule was law. In fact, it was the biggest rule of my childhood as laid down by my older sister.

2014-03-25 00.00.14But sometimes my sister would leave the house for sleepovers. Oh, those glorious sleepovers! I would sneak into her room, get out her radically cool record player, and her hip blue 45 record case. (Did you have one of those? We still have it.) I would carefully count each record until I came to The Lion Sleeps Tonight to ensure I could return it to the exact same spot. I was careful not to be caught. I’d close her door and play that record over and over and over and over. And you can darn well believe I sang every single lyric of that song. I sang on the top of my lungs. I sang as if the room was sound proof. (As a parent I can only imagine my own parents giggling at my act of rebellion that brought me such joy.) I sang until my voice was cracking and my throat was dry. (Or my brother came in and threatened me.)

I carefully replaced everything exactly as I found it, left the room with the biggest smile on my face and felt as if I had gotten away with something HUGE. To this day, I still hesitate to sing the lyrics. It’s not as if she is going to pop out from the back of my van and attack me. But still. It is THE rule I cannot ever ever break!

I was brought back to this when my former boss for years and good friend Elisa posted this awesome video on Facebook. And guess what? I sang the entire song. Shhhhh….don’t tell my sister. Seriously. She can still kick my hiney if she wanted to.

…And it all started with headaches

“Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows.”

So many of  you have been so wonderfully kind with your emails, texts, calls, etc checking up on me and my headaches. I haven’t really known how to write about it. I mean, I have friends who are dealing with things that are so much worse than what I am dealing with  and they are my heroes. They are fighting for their lives. I’m just fighting for normalcy and answers. Ironically, every answer I get sends me to a new “ologist” with new questions. And it all started with headaches.

It actually took me nearly two years to get an official diagnosis of “chronic daily headaches” and “chronic migraines” on my medical records. (Why, yes, I am a little bitter towards the careless asshat GP doctor who shall not be named who  I was going to for nearly 20  years who couldn’t take the time, effort, or have the ability to figure this out. But then again, he probably doesn’t know his ass from his elbow so that might have held up the diagnosis.)

I’ll keep it brief because let’s face it, no one wants to read the medical woes of someone else unless it’s gory (it’s not) or scandalous (it’s not) or it is worthy of good gossip (it’s not-though some have asked in hopes it is).

So here’s the confusing low-down. My internist ran a lot of tests on me. Some of the blood work came back indicating a need for me to go see a rheumatologist. (Still no headache answers but attempting new meds to help.) Now armed with new meds and the rheumatologist, we did many, many blood tests. I asked if she was checking to see if I had an autoimmune disease. She said with my history and previous blood work, it wasn’t an “if” it was more like a “which one” situation.  From those we discover autoimmune issues with my blood and my thyroid. (The thyroid has me heading off to an endocrinologist.) Because that is so normal and boring, the complete Lupus panel came back with super high inflammation numbers that would indicate Lupus but without the inflammation and results you’d see in other organs that are present in someone with Lupus. (Not normal.) So we are just in wait and watch. (It is sort of like receiving a box in the mail stamped all over with “Fragile: Broken Glass Inside” and you open it and it is full of unbroken coffee cups. It makes no sense. But, you are careful with those cups and check them often for cracks and chips.) Was the mistake in the results? A freaky blood thing? No idea. One possibility that is being tossed around with all of this crap is that Fibromyalgia is at work and messing everything up. A lot of those benchmarks are showing up. (How rude!)

And still? No headache answers.

However, I have FINALLY found an amazing neurologist. In fact, she is one of the top neurologists in the state at one of the top neuro clinics in the country. I hit the motherlode with this one. Now, instead of another doctor throwing another medication at me, I have  a doctor who listens to  me and seems to connect the dots. In fact, I now have a team of specialists working with  me. It feels amazing to be working with traditional medicine, biofeedback, physical therapy and accupuncture all together with one person leading them. I knew from the reputation that I was going to one of the top places in the country but to experience the level of care has been a huge relief.

My first appointment was nearly 3 hours long. A lot of talking and background information. I also received some injections. Eighteen to be exact. Yep, I had the big fun of 18 lidocaine injections in my neck, temple area, and forehead. And, yes, it hurt like you’d think it would. But it did give me relief. Next up we’ll probably start botox. It just depends on the frequency and severity of my headaches and migraines as to what path we take next.

We still don’t have answers. I still am in a lot of pain but we are all working together to figure it out. I will admit it gets frustrating trying to juggle all of the specialists dealing with all of the crap but my neurologist has been amazing in taking charge of all of them. Even the ones that usually take point, are listening to her.

I’ll be honest. It gets frustrating. I’ve had some recent changes that have thrown us a curve ball so we are staying on top of it.

It sounds like a crazy cruise through WebMD. I wish. But? This is what I am dealing with right now. That is one of the reasons I have kind of shied away from the blog. I shared this with someone  (though I should’ve known better) and already received a snarky remark about it. This is not what I want. This is not where I want to be. I don’t like sharing my health issues. I have lost some online opportunities because someone in charge thought I couldn’t handle it. (I know what I can and cannot do and I *will* tell you. Trust me. I know the price I will pay if I don’t and I do not want that.) I’ve had snarky comments. I’ve had people tell  me that if any one person had that much going on they would be nothing more than a curled up, weeping, ball of crazy– that it was impossible. (Hello! Have you met me?) I keep to myself for the most part. In fact, I have even pulled away from those who love me because it’s too hard to be “that person” who has issues. So, it is so much easier to bury the pain and issues. Well, not as much easier as I feel like less of a burden. And at this point, that’s the best I can to for those around me until I can get all of this insanity under control.

PS- Sorry I didn’t keep it brief. If you made it this far, thanks for hanging in there with me.

PPS- No this will not become a blog about health.

PPPS- Do you have any chocolate? I could really use some chocolate. Thanks!

todo

 

I’m totally into Yoga now. The Lenovo Yoga 11s that is!

As a writer and blogger, one of my biggest challenges when traveling is which electronic devices to bring. I do all of my blogging and writing on a laptop. I read on a tablet which of course can get very heavy on my arms. I even like to watch movies to pass the time when insomnia kicks in and that can lead to over heating my laptop if I’m not careful about how I set it on my lap or the bed. This usually leads to a VERY heavy laptop tote and the joy of unloading all of it when I hit airport security. Or at least it did.

A few months ago I was sent a Lenovo Yoga 11s to try out. It was love at first pose. Check out what this amazing machine can do. (Warning! You  may geek out like I did.)

Just a glimpse of its 360 degree movements.

Just a glimpse of its 360 degree movements.

There are 4 modes (or poses) the Yoga 11S works in that make this machine truly a 4 in 1 machine that I can’t believe I ever did without.

There is the laptop, tablet, tent and stand.

Now it is obvious what the laptop mode does. It is a laptop for those of you who haven’t had enough coffee yet to have figured that out.

The tablet is just what you think it is. The machine completely folds over 360 degrees to a tablet mode. My first worry was what about the keyboard while in tablet mode? Well, the Yoga actually disables the keyboard when it goes into tablet mode and gives you an on screen touch keyboard.

These two features alone would make it a must have for me but after working with the machine, I realized how much I like the tent and stand modes, too.

The tent mode stands up so that you can use the touch screen to scroll through information (such as instructions or recipes) while you multi-task. (And if you know me, you know I need ALL the help I can get in the kitchen.) It can also  be one of the modes you use to watch videos. YouTube is great in this mode.

And finally, you have the stand mode. This is my favorite for watching movies. Put simply, you fold the keyboard under so it is lying on a surface and you have unrestricted access to the screen. I, personally, do not like trying to watch a movie or tv show on my laptop and dealing with the keyboard getting in the way. This solves that problem. (And helped me watch every season of Breaking Bad without getting mad.)

Lenovo 11s 4 modes

A brief look at the modes the Lenovo Yoga 11s has to offer you

Geek speak:

The first thing I should tell you was this was my first experience with Windows 8 on one of my computers. I just jumped right into the fire with this. However, with the touch screen and ease of use in all modes, I am getting used to it and really enjoy it for this machine. So just to recap, let me share the highlights.

  • A unique dual-hinge design allows for 360 degree rotation allowing you  four different “modes” or Yoga poses. (If you do that to your laptop, you’ll probably void your warranty so I recommend only doing it with the Lenovo Yoga.)
  • It comes with 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3339Y Processor (Meaning, you’ve got some powerful performance here.)
  • Lenovo® Motion Control lets you flip through photos and pages or rewind/fast forward music and videos with simple gestures. (I know! I totally geeked out at that, too!)
  • Integrated stereo speakers supporting Dolby  with 11.6″ multimode high-definition (1366 x 768) display, 16:9 widescreen with IPS technology (In non-geek speak that means it can ROCK a movie or music!)

And the more details tech specs  can be found at Lenovo online.

——–

Disclosure:  Now, y’all know I don’t do many reviews. In fact, I hardly ever do them anymore. It isn’t some big stand I’m making. I just choose to use this space to only review things I personally love and have either bought myself or would buy for myself because it is something I believe in.  I received the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11s in exchange for participating in this campaign. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own. I am also part of the Lenovo INfluencer Network and have worked with Lenovo as a brand ambassador since 2009. 

Lenovo-IN logo

 

9/11 broke my heart. My trip to New York City stole my heart.

This is a post I shared last year but after I re-read it, I realized it still says and shares my heart’s thoughts.

——

When I knew that I was going to be in New York City for a conference in August, the first thing on my mind was to go to the 9/11 memorial. One of my dear friends invited me because she was planning to go with a group the first day there. It was the perfect plan. Except that it wasn’t. First, the group was filled and didn’t have enough room for one more. (I was heartbroken but realized it was what it was and there is nothing I could do about it.) Second, you know what they say about the best laid plans. First, I missed my flight so that delayed me. When I finally reached the city it took me nearly 3 hours to reach the hotel from the airport. So, even if I had been included in the group, I’d have missed it traveling anyway. Things happen for a reason. I knew it would weigh heavy on my heart to be there but I thought I it was exactly what I wanted to do.

Now, if you were with me during most of my trip to NYC, you know it was super emotional. You see, I’ve had a mini-crush on the city from afar. I have never been there but my heart was all “NYC ERMAHGERD!” But when I was actually there? It took mere seconds for me to fall in love with the city. Things that people who live there probably don’t even give a second thought had me so smitten and emotional. It became so commonplace, my friends didn’t even give it a second thought to look over and see tears in my eyes or rolling down my cheek over something that moved me about the city. Something I dreamed of seeing or doing and was actually seeing and doing!

All of that to say, with my emotions so up front and center, maybe the 9/11 Memorial wasn’t the place for me. This year. But there was something that I was supposed to see and experience in relation.

I went to an event with one of my dearest friends, Liz, one evening in the South Village. And of course, I was enamored with just about everything in the area. (Shout out, City Winery!)  As she and I were walking around the area, I noticed a firefighter standing outside a firehouse. I peeked in and noticed a memorial wall. (cue tears) I asked if I could take a picture if it wouldn’t be too disrespectful. He smiled and told me it would be fine and not at all disrespectful. As soon as I set up the shot I started to cry. No, cry doesn’t really cover it. I began to sob. I took in every face. I looked at every name. It was a “small scale” vision of such a massively huge tragedy. And maybe that was what I needed to see more than the huge memorial. I needed to see one company. To see the impact that day had on them. To see their friends and brothers they lost.  Their names. Their faces. Eleven men. My heart broke. I did my best to capture the shot, but my hands were shaking. As we were leaving I tried to thank the firefighter but I could barely whisper “Thank you” through my sobs. With a teary look at me, he just nodded.

I have always felt the weight of 9/11 each year in my own way. I couldn’t truly imagine it. I still can’t. Unless you were there and felt it, heard it, smelled it, survived it or lost someone that day, I don’t think you can really grasp the enormity of the day. But walking the streets and falling in love with NYC and the people there, brought it a little bit closer to my heart. Standing in a firehouse that lost 11 of their finest brought it closer to my heart.

Though I truly thought I wanted and needed to see the 9/11 memorial, I realized my heart–my very soul– needed to see what that day meant in a more intimate way. One day I hope to go see the site where the twin towers stood and hope I can do it with someone who will understand my flow of tears. But this year, I am so very thankful I was with Liz who held my hand and never once questioned my emotional reaction or tried to stop it.

I’ll never forget the day that beautiful and completely amazing city came under attack. And now I will never forget that one time I stopped by a firehouse with someone I love to take a picture, thank a fireman, and sob over the loss of lives that horrible day brought.

Never.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

These are the heroes pictured who were lost on that horrific day.

LADDER 5

Lt. Mike Warchola
Lt. Vincent Giamonna
Lou Arena
Andy Brunn
Greg Saucedo
Paul Keating
Tommy Hannafin
John Santore

BATTALION 2

BC. William McGovern 
BC. Richard Prunty 
FF. Fautino Apostol, JR 

Engine 24/ Ladder 5/ Battalion 2
227 Ave of Americas (6th Ave)
Manhattan