"A word in earnest is as good as a speech"
~Charles Dickens: Bleak House

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weird Things I Do When I Am Alone ........

So, I thought it would be easy to answer these questions, but I was mistaken. So for this one the difficulty comes from this secondary question.... when am I alone.

I am alone when I get to work early in the morning ... but I don't really do anything weird there, I check my e-mail and work.

I am alone usually when I go to bed (I go to bed really early) .... but I don't do anything weird there either, I am sleeping. I do usually fall asleep with my glasses on, but I don't know if you would call that weird.

I am alone in the shower .... the weirdest thing I do there is try and balance while I shave .... again, not really weird.

I am alone in my car .... and this could be where weirdness begins! I live in my car!!!! It is an amazing phenomonon, when I close the window and roll up the window I sing just like Lea Michelle, or Whitney Houston, or Maria Carey. Sometimes when I am sitting in the endless traffic on my way home I can actually see myself on stage wowing the crowd (refer to my last post and the goal of winning an Academy Award). It always surprises me that when I get out of the car I am pretty tone deaf.

The only other weird thing I can think of off the top of my head is that I collect recipes ... I have thousands - more than I could ever cook in a lifetime even if I cooked one recipe everyday for the rest of my life. I don't know if this counts because the kids are usually around somewhere when I am sorting through recipes. 

Wow - I am kinda boring!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Where I'd like to be in 10 years .....hmmmmmm

The next question in my 30-day blog is to explain where I would like to be in 10 years .....

In a perfect world I would like to be a billionaire with with several homes: one in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, one on an island in Greece, and one on the Massachusetts coast. I would like to own a Lamborghini and a restored Volkswagen Bus. And I would like to be living in a world where we have found cures for Lupus, AIDS, Cancer and any other awful disease that makes people suffer. A world where racism has been eradicated, where every human has access to enough food, water and medical attention to live a good life. Where terror in the name of religion ceases to exist. Realistically I know that just isn't going to happen .... to begin with, my Yia-Yia told me at an early age that our family just wasn't meant to be wealthy and the sooner I realized that, the happier I would be.

So with the reality that I will probably never be a billionaire and will not live to see world peace I really need to think about this. I had always said I wanted my life to be settled by the time I was forty. I have accomplished that. I have a family, a house, a career. I want for nothing. I would like a little more expendable income, but it is not a necessity.

So, where would I like to be in 10-years ..... right here. I think there are very few people who can say they are content. I am. My years of big crazy dreams are over (I have accepted the fact that I will not dance for the Boston Ballet, and I will not win an academy award). I no longer have to daydream about what my wedding will be like (it was really awesome). I would like my house to be finished, or at least one color (it is about 128 years old and still needs a lot of work .... its a process). I would like my oldest to be on his way to be settled (maybe married with a child), and my youngest doing well on his way to high school. I see myself sitting in the backyard with my husband on a cool evening with a fire going in the pit.

But most of all, in 10-years I would like to still be alive and as healthy as I am today. I think about it sometimes. It is why I try to fit so much into one day and why I tend to overdo it. There is a chance that I may not be here in ten years. And if that is the case I would like people to think of me and smile. Or, as my Yia-Yia would also say, I would like people to think well of me when I am gone.

I hate to end on a down note, but that is reality and if I am nothing else, I am real.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Three things that irritate me about people ......

I was going to wait until tomorrow to start my 30 day blog, but I have been reading comments on many news blogs today so this question seems really appropriate!

  1. I hate stupid people. I am not talking about people with learning disabilities, or people who didn't go to college (some of the smartest people I know didn't go to college). I mean people that are just stupid! People who spout opinions based on the headlines of articles they never read. People who, when they realize they are losing an argument, resort to name calling (instead of saying "wow, maybe you have a point"). People who think that the world revolves around them. People who text & drive. I think you get the point.
  2. People who think their way of life is the only way to live. This includes people who think it is okay to dictate my morality based on their beliefs. Or people who try and tell me how to parent (while I have very strong beliefs on parenting, how you raise your children is your business). People who try and tell other people who they should marry. People who tell me how I should practice my faith. Again, I think I have made my point.
  3. People who have not respect for others, or for themselves. This can be a pretty big category .... racism, classism, homophobia. But it also includes corporations that pollute the earth and don't think twice about it, or fire people because the billion dollar profit they made wasn't enough. Or politicians who think that getting reelected is a good enough reason to allow the few to rule the many (just the thing the Constitution was written to avoid). People who don't say thank you when you purchase something in their store. And young girls that think so little of themselves that they think they need to dress like a porn star at the age of 15 (while this is society's fault as a whole, and parents' fault for allowing it, these young girls turn into the young women I teach who come to class with their butt cheeks hanging out, or the young women strutting their breasts all over the Internet thinking that this really validates their worth .... while it irritates me, this one really makes me sad). People who cut you off in traffic and then flip you the bird, or block the intersection so when your light turns green you can't go.

Wow - you would think I would be irritated all the time. But I'm not. Most of the time I just shake my head and move on. Or voice my opinion to the situation and walk away. Maybe that is why I started this blog - to voice my frustration over how self-centered, greedy and disrespectful our society has become.

The good news is that with all the negativity in society - those of us who do not subscribe to it stand out! It makes us easier to find each other and creates a ray of sunlight to brighten people's day. And maybe, just maybe, like that Liberty Mutual Insurance Commercial we will rub off on people and the world will be less irritating!

30 day blog!

I have found myself surfing through blogs to find things that are interesting and go beyond "I tried a new flavor of coffee today and it was good." or a to do list of family stuff (I have enought of that in my own world). And I came across this one: Honest to blog! I recommend it , quirky and fun.

She had this idea that she got from another blog (it is like those old Faberge shampoo commercials ... "and she told two friends, and she told two friends and so on and so on). Anyway, I digress!

So I will attempt to find interesting cool things to talk about for the next 30 days and I will start each blog answering these questions. Let the games begin!

  1. Three things that irritate you about people.
  2. Where you’d like to be in 10 years.
  3. Weird things you do when you’re alone.
  4. Your views on religion.
  5. Your three favorite books and why.
  6. Write 30 interesting facts about yourself.
  7. What you wear to bed.
  8. A show you thought you wouldn’t like, but you did.
  9. Tattoos. If you have one, post it and it’s story. If not, what do you want?
  10. Write 5 messages to 5 different people without using names.
  11. Put your iPod on shuffle and write 10 songs that pop up.
  12. Bullet your whole day.
  13. Somewhere you’d like to move or visit.
  14. Your earliest memory.
  15. Your favorite blogs.
  16. Talk about your family.
  17. Things that make you instantly happy.
  18. Name the thing you are scared of most.
  19. You favorite music.
  20. How important you think education is.
  21. One of your favorite shows.
  22. The last movie you saw in theatres.
  23. Give pictures of five guys who are famous who you find attractive.
  24. Your favorite movie and what it’s about.
  25. Talk about your siblings.
  26. Your first celebrity crush.
  27. The last person who texted you.
  28. Five things within touching distance of you right now.
  29. Someone's Facebook status you can always count on to annoy you.
  30. List everything in your purse right now.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I don't think I will fly for awhile ......

What Americans are talking about .... debt, debt ceilings, budget cuts, social security, tax increases, ineffective government, Republicans, Democrats, John Boehner, Harry Reid.

What Americans are not talking about ..... Congress did not extend the Federal Aviation Administration's authority to operate. Am I the only one to see this as a problem equal in scope to the debt ceiling?

And it gets worse .....

On each airline ticket you purchase, there are federal taxes added onto the base ticket price. We all understand that .... we may not be thrilled with it, but we understand it. In theory these taxes should ensure that air traffic controllers, airport security, infrastructure and the like get paid for.

However, since the FAA has no authority, they also can't collect taxes on the airline tickets. You may think GREAT! I am going to purchase my tickets for my trip in December now! Not so fast .... airlines have not removed the tax amount from their ticket prices, but instead of giving the money to the FAA, they are putting it in their pockets. And apparently, this is not illegal. It does however put into question the ethics of corporate America and the culture of greed that we live in. When did it become acceptable to make a profit at any cost? When did it become acceptable to cheat the people who provide your livelihood? When did it become acceptable that millions in profits is not enough? And when did we as consumers stop holding businesses accountable for unfair business practices? I am not talking about becoming more litigation happy than we already are (that actually contributes to the culture of greed in my opinion); I mean going elsewhere to do our business, that is the only way that capitalism works and we have not been doing our job.

The FAA states that is has enough money to operate and keep planes safely in the air, but they canceled all construction and long term projects; laid off 4,000 workers and is losing $60 - 200 million dollars a day in tax revenue (depending on which Congress member you are listening to). The FAA has not had a long term authorization or budget since 2007! After 9/11 wouldn't you think that it is as important to fund the agency that protects the skies as it is to continue passing (and funding) the Patriot Act (which is a conversation to have another time)?

So, today as I drive home near Logan Airport, or watch the planes fly over my house as they plan to land at said airport, I will be a little more anxious .... the FAA shut down only happened 5 days ago, much like the rest of the country the concern is, what is going to happen when the money runs out!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Puppies, toddlers, and teenagers ..... OH MY!

Story #1
About 3 months ago we adopted a beagle "mix" from the local animal shelter! She is the cutest thing, and very smart! She graduated from puppy school with honors, doesn't have accidents in the house, and is really good with children, people and other animals. I don't actually remember what the house was like without her!

She does, however, have this really disgusting habit that we can't seem to break her of. She loves to go into the cat box and eat kitty poop as a snack! Yes, you heard me correctly! It is really gross! We try to keep the bathroom door closed when the cat is outside, but every once and awhile we forget and she rushes in and ..... well you really don't need the details.

Bumblebee spent a great deal of time today in puppy time-out after she had a snack this morning and then licked my husband's face (needless to say he was not amused with the puppy love).

Story #2
My 5 year-old is always a curious creature, and a little impatient, which is not always a great combination. He wanted to play a video game and asked to have it set up. I was in the middle of something so I told him to give me a few minutes and he would have my undivided attention. So he was sitting in his chair being bored for about 2 minutes when I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he was taking the top off a bottle of sun block, looking inside, and then putting the cover back on.

I asked him nicely to put the cover back on and not play with the sunblock .... and he did. I continued what I was doing and not 2 minutes later there was sunblock flying across my living room ... on his chair, on him, and making lovely designs on my hardwood floor. He of course was upset because he had sunblock on his legs and arms. I told him that since it was his own fault for not listening to me in the first place he could stand there until I finished what I was doing. I made him wait about 5 minutes (which to a 5-year-old is a lifetime) and then I plunked him in the tub and washed him up.

Story #3
The teenager had soccer practice this evening. We live close enough to the field that he usually walks to practice and walks home. As I was cleaning up the toddler, the phone rings! It is the teenager, he had managed to kick one of his fellow players instead of the ball and hurt his foot .... could I pick him up. Not a problem I say and told him I would be right there as soon as I got his brother out of the tub.

So at this point you may be asking yourself .... what is the point of these three stories? Well, let me tell you!

I get to the soccer field, the teenager gets into the car, wasn't paying attention and closed the door on his foot. I mean really closed the door, not just hit his foot with the door, closed it until it clicked and had to open it to get his foot out. After I made sure he was alright I could not help but giggle.

Then we get home and I notice that sure enough, the puppy time-outs had not worked and she was sitting in the foyer having a snack.

Not 20 minutes later we were sitting down watching Shrek and sure enough .... the toddler had gotten his sunblock and was opening  and closing the bottle!

Despite the age difference, despite the species difference I have to wonder ..... when will they learn! :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer and Lupus ..... how to find a balance!

Today I blog with a sore throat & a bout of sneezes! Summer colds stink! But it is working its way through my house & so I guess it is my turn. I blame it on air conditioning!

Lupus makes any cold worse. I am tired most of the time anyway, and the fibromyalgia makes me achy and sore. Getting out of bed on most days is a process of talking to myself and willing myself to move. But I do it, because really what are my choices?

The day I was diagnosed I made a choice that Lupus would not control me, I would control my Lupus. I was naive. One of the important lessons I learned early on was what little control I actually had over my disease. But what I could control was my reaction to it. I had a choice: was I going to lay down and say poor me, or was I going to be strong and positive? Most days I am positive, my rheumatologist and nephrologist think that is why I have done so well, why my kidney disease is in remission and why I am on so little medication five years in. I don't know if that is true, but I go with it. I would argue that today is not my most positive day .... I am having a fit of the "poor me" syndrome (although not well researched I am sure it is a symptom of Lupus).

I used to follow a lot of Lupus discussion groups, but I stopped. I found that many of the people were suffering from the "poor me" syndrome and it was contagious. My life if full of enough negative, I did not need to seek more negative from others. I have recently found some really good blogs written by people with Lupus - very positive women who deal with the disease with humor and positive energy .... I have found that this too is contagious and I am good with that!

I have learned to listen to my body. If I don't feel right I call the doctor or try and relax. I even attempt to go to the gym occasionally, but life has a way of getting in the way of that. I don't take as good care of myself as I should. I work too hard, push myself too much & don't eat as well as I should. But I listen and my body tells me when I have crossed the line and need to step back and reevaluate, and I do.

But I digress .... this post is about summer and lupus.

This is the time of year that I am really reminded that I am sick. Extreme temperatures wreak havoc on my body: instead of being tired I am exhausted, instead of being achy I am in pain. And I get frustrated! I want to be at the beach with my kids. I want to be at cookouts and parties with my friends; and there are so many days I just can't. There are more days than I care to admit that I just come home from work, turn on the AC and head to bed. I am not supposed to be in the sun at all, this is not an option for me .... there are soccer games to go to, there are zoos to visit, but there is a price to pay for these excursions and I have to make choices. I understand that if I go to the zoo on a Friday I may not be able to get out of bed again until Sunday. Often times I use what energy I have to go to work and spend time with the kids (I don't think either of my children understand what mom being sick means - and I am ok with that).

Life with Lupus is a series of choices & cost/benefit analysis. It is about balance and taking a long look at what is really important to you. For me the most important thing I can do is create happy memories for my kids of time they spent with their mom. I am fortunate to have a great family behind me. When I over exert myself and have to take it easy, my husband picks up the slack. When I am stressed and can't deal with the kids, they have a day at Yia-Yia's house. Life is good. I am fortunate and that is really what keeps me going.

So today stinks! The expected temperatures of 95 degrees on Thursday and Friday are not something I am looking forward to. But the two mottoes of my life "It is what it is" and "it could be worse" will get me through as they always do. So, bring it on summer! I am ready!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Disappointment with Harry Potter!!!

I have been a Harry Potter fan since the beginning!

I started reading the series to my son when I first heard they were making the movies. I wanted him to learn the lesson that the book is always better! I would read him a chapter before he went to bed .... and then I would stay up reading because I loved the stories. We would go to the midnight book parties, my son dressed in his Harry best with an eyeliner lightning bolt on his forehead. I ordered toys online from England because they were not released in America. We talked about the books and waited patiently for the movies.

I let him skip school the day the first movie came out. We sat down in the darkened theatre waiting! And he was all excited when he realised I had been pronouncing Hermoine incorrectly the entire time I had been reading. But by the end of the movie I realised my lesson had paid off .... the movie was no where near as good as the books! The whole ride home I had to explain to a very disappointed Harry Potter fan that we should just watch the movies as movies and not compare it to the book ... because it was a good movie.

So we continued our Harry Potter adventure. We went to another couple midnight book sales (we never stayed up that late to see a movie, but always went the day it opened). But then he did not want to see the last two movies. He did not want to ruin the books that had become an important part of his life!

I on the other hand have watched every movie as if it was its own story, forgetting about the details they left out and the things I would have done differently. Until The Deathly Hallows Part I. It was the closest to the book that any Harry Potter movie had been. I was disillusioned to think that since they were cutting it into 2 movies, they could continue with that. And then I read that this was the shortest Harry Potter movie and I was confused .... didn't they split it into two movies so that they could cover the entire story. Oh wait I forgot ... they split it into two movies so they could continue the franchise and make more money. Silly me!

I was not impressed with the last Harry Potter movie. It is my own fault for expecting too much, for expecting that the pictures on the big screen could in any way compete with the pictures of epic battle I had in my own head. I like my imagination better than those is Hollywood! When it comes out on DVD I will have a Harry Potter weekend and watch them all just as movies without thinking about the books, because they are good movies.... and then I will go back and read all the books, because that is the way it will end for me,as it began, with the books and my own world of Harry Potter!

On the upside, something that really made me giggle. My husband is a fan of True Blood and as I am sitting here watching it with him I notice that Fiona Shaw (AKA Petunia Dursley) is playing a witch! How ironic is that!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Are we creating a generation of emotionally fragile “tea cups?” ~ NPR "Here & Now"

So, today I shall rant about parents! I was actually looking for an article I had read about raising your children to be nerds and not sports stars to follow up on an earlier blog - and I then remembered the emotionally fragile tea cup report I heard on NPR. And while searching for that I found some other helicopter parent type articles.

To all of this I say Amen!!!

I am still in the early stages of raising my second child (he will be 5 soon, my oldest is 17). When my oldest was little I was a single parent, and I just didn't have the time or energy to argue or coddle. The most commonly asked question in my small apartment was "how many times should I have to ask you to do something?" the answer, "once."

I would use children at the mall as examples of bad behavior: "what would happen in our house if you acted that way?" answer: "I would be a very unhappy child."

I had him trained. He understood that he did not live in a democracy, he lived in Mommy Land where I was queen ruler! Having said all that I was by no means the perfect parent, I worked too much because I had to, housework was not my area of expertise and I admit that more often than not we ate dinner out of a cardboard box heated in the microwave. At the same time, I managed to make it to almost every soccer game, baseball game, basketball game, concert or field day. I volunteered at every book fair, was a PTA mom, and helped to raise money and build a playground at his school. I coached soccer, went on field trips and created the 5th grade yearbook. I am not actually sure I slept for 5 or so years.

I let him experience failure and disappointment .... like when he tried out for travel soccer for the 1st time and did not make the team. He went home and threw out his friendship tournament trophy declaring he would never play soccer again. I was honest with him and said I wouldn't have picked him for the team either since he spent most of the tryout picking flowers and giggling with his friends. I made him take the trophy our of the trash and explained to him that this was a learning experience. He now knew what was expected of him at a soccer tryout and we would try again next year. He didn't make the team that year either .... but he did make it the next.

He is now a fabulous teenager .... and while there are days I wonder how he remembers how to get home from school .... I am very proud of him! He is a good kid, and that is hard to come by these days.

I have found myself slacking with child number 2 ... I am just too tired to be as strict as I was with the first one. Being a consistent parent takes a lot of energy and the fact that I am 17 years older and now have Lupus changes my perspective a bit. My mother's favorite words when I was raising my oldest were "you are really too hard on him." I don't hear that these days! But I still expect a couple of things ... respect and good listening ears. And I did just sign up to be the PTO Kindergarten Coordinator when he starts school in the fall. He is a happy kids with TONS of energy. According to his preschool teachers he is a born leader, who needs to learn to use his powers for good and not evil. And even he understands disappointment.

We went to a Fourth of July neighborhood party and there was a race around the park for 4-5 year olds. He started off strong, 2nd or 3rd of about 15. Then they went around a corner and we lost sight of them for a minute, when they came around the next corner my son was no where to be found. I waited a few minutes and was just about to see if he was ok when he rounded the corner in last place. I waited and watched. He ran his heart out, passing a couple of kids and coming in almost last with a tear streaked face! His shoe had fallen off while he was running and he was so disappointed! He cried for 10 minutes. My response was OK, then we can go home. Life happens, pick yourself up and move on! He said he didn't want to go home. He ran in two other races that day and was super happy that he came in 2nd place in all of them. He was proud that he got a special ribbon, and not just a green ribbon like everyone else. I was proud.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that you can have well adjusted children without spending your life making sure they do not experience pain. And you don't have to tell your young child that the card she made you is not "good enough" to instill a work ethic. There is a happy medium where you can raise respectful children who will become hard working assets to society. Find your parenting balance and go with it.

And remember, it is ok to take your screaming child out of a restaurant if they are having a tantrum, or leave a birthday party early because they are not listening. It is your JOB to teach them how to act in society. If you don't do it, who will!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Privacy .... does it still exist?

As human beings we want to put ourselves out there, social media, blogs, e-mail, texting ..... it is a way to connect to other human beings, a way to feel we belong, a way to express ourselves and feel important. But is anything private anymore?

I began pondering this because I have to admit it, I am a Zynga junkie ... Farmville, Frontierville, Cafe World, etc. I know that there are people who spend lots of money on these game, I am not one of them, but I like to play and I play often. It bothered me at first that they wanted access to my basic information, but I understood that it was a marketing thing, and my profiles are really not that detailed. Then they wanted access to my friends list, and I said ok to that, I figured my friends could easily block the application if they wanted to. Then some games wanted access to my photos, and then my friend's profile information, and the latest request (not a request really because you can't play the game unless you grant the permission) is that they have access to your newsfeed and access to post on your wall whenever they want.

So, I will be deleting Zynga from my facebook world and I will be joining a Zynga support group (if you know of a good one please let me know). I also have been posting my anger and frustration all over the Zynga application pages and in my newsfeed and now in my blog.

Facebook has created an atmosphere where people say and do things they would never have say if it had to be done face to face or even over the phone. I will never understand people who air their dirty laundry and family problems in their newsfeeds. I saw a woman the other day tell everyone about her daughter's bad choices and her anger about those choices. Does everyone really need to know that this girl cheated on her finance with a married man she is now living with. And how do I now look either this woman or her daughter in the eye, now that I am in on what would have been called a "family secret" not to many years ago? Do I become involved by commenting and tell this woman how awkward she has made me feel .... or is that sharing too much? The faceless world of the internet has indeed created a place where people can say anything they want to whomever they want .... without regard to privacy or hurt feelings. I wonder if that was what Mark Zuckerberg had in mind when he envisioned The Facebook.

I am not naive enough to think that my world is that nice private one that I grew up in. Where neighborhood news was only spoken about over fences and it took days for gossip to travel. Where my secrets were kept in a locked journal. I understand that people can find out almost anything they want about me. There is a webpage spokeo.com, they collect public data and post it as a profile. I have removed my profile twice already. I am in the process of trying to help my parents remove their profile (you need e-mail confirmation and my dad doesn't even have e-mail). While I understand all of this is public data, I want people to have to work to get my information (the cost of my house, my religion, how much I make a year, etc). I don't want them to be able to just do one simple search - this is how identity theft has become so easy. It isn't even work anymore.

I also understand that if the US Government wanted to, they could know absolutely everything about me, down to how much I spend in groceries and where I shop. But I am not a conspiracy theorist and I really don't think that they are they are that interested in my life. Now, if I were to expand my garden and I suddenly purchased a large amount of fertilizer, I would expect my name to show up on a list. And while I understand the fear, I always have the words of Benjamin Franklin in the back of my mind "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Where do we draw the line? When do we say enough is enough? When do the lists the US Government has become the lists Hitler had? Who defines a person as a terrorist? And who decides what is done with the list once it is compiled?

I have been watching my favorite all time show on Netflix, MI5 (Spooks if you are in the UK), and it amazes me the number of cameras they have pointed at their citizens. If you sneeze, someone, somewhere knows about it. As I see more and more cameras at intersections I wonder how long it will be before the US government can follow me from my home, while I go to work, while I do my errands. How far off was George Orwell really?

So, we as humans put ourselves out there .... in the abyss of the Internet. We have no idea who is looking for us, or at us. In the end I think deleting the Zynga games will be a good thing. I can start that novel, download the photo software I got for Christmas and start editing my nature photos, start crafting again. Do the things that used to give me joy before the desire to update my every move and spend my time staring into a screen. ....... but I will still find time for the blog, at least I get to control what information I share here.

And perhaps maybe I will post it on Zynga's page ..... not that they would care.