Tuesday, May 31, 2011

3D Movie Frenzy

My girl stayed home from school today as she woke with a 102ยบ temperature....but when she woke up around 1, she felt a lot better.  Since school was mostly over and it made no sense to send her for two hours, we decided to go see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  I like the Pirates series, and we had hoped to see it over the weekend but most of the good showings were sold out (the woes of a small town with one theater!).  So, we saw the 2:30 3D showing today.

First - a small review of the movie.  Why do they all have to be so LONG?  136 minutes = 2 hours 16 minutes!  The beginning was actually boring, and throughout the movie you get the feeling you've seen everything before - the fight scenes, the plot (learn of treasure, find map to treasure, find treasure, fight over treasure), the hokey love scenes, even the destinations all look the same!  As Faith said, it's hard to say if you liked the movie or not because it was so LONG.  I really liked the mermaid storyline, but the producers left it incomplete.  I need a happy ending there!

{just an aside here - when will I EVER learn that I can't eat popcorn?  I only get a small, but of course I get butter because that fake yellow stuff is delicious!  I gobble it up, then endure stomach cramps throughout the movie.  Damn popcorn for being so tasty!}

My biggest beef is the 3D - it was awful.  Most of the 3D scenes were fuzzy and looked like they were "fake."  As I waited for Faith outside the restroom afterward, I overheard a couple complaining about it to the theater manager.  It turns out On Stranger Tides was never intended to be released in 3D, and was not filmed to produce the major 3D effects.  In fact, nearly all of the 3D scenes are post-production!  The manager's opinion is that the studio pushed the film into 3D to gain more profit....most theater-goers are eschewing 2D films since ticket prices and concessions are so expensive (not to mention most films are available in DVD/Blu-Ray within 6 months of being in the theater), that they are only going to films they can't replicate the experience of at home.  

It's really disheartening to hear that.  I hate 3D films - the effect gives me a headache every time and the flimsy glasses are forever falling off.  It seems EVERY hit film is being released in 3D these days, most likely for the reason listed above.  Movies like Alice In Wonderland make sense, but Pirates was a flop in 3D.  For those of us in small towns, we don't have a lot of choice...if the movie is being offered in 3D, sometimes that's the only option - and the matinee price for 3D movies is $9.50.  So, you could drive to Medford for the 2D option (30 miles both ways, at $4 a gallon for gas right now), or fork over the 3D price here.  

It really would be nice for these movies to stick to 2D and wow the audience with the story.  It seems to me, the public will start getting wise and will avoid these movies until they've seen that the 3D effects are worth it.  Hope you're reading, major film studios!

(not likely, but hey - it feels good to think they might!)

Monday, May 30, 2011

CheapER Beauty Regimen

Two posts in one day?  Crazy!

I recently switched from Olay Pro-X to Olay Regenerist for my daily skincare regimen.  I had been using Lancome Genefique, but it caused parts of my face to feel raw, peel, and turn dark red, so I stopped using it.  I used Pro-X for a year or so, and noticed it wasn't working anymore and I was getting more and more adult acne breakouts.  So, when it was time to buy new products I switched to Regenerist.  I have slightly aging skin (37) which is sensitive and prone to breakouts.  I have very few wrinkles, but creasing around the eyes and smile lines.

At first, I was only using the daily face wash, and the Micro-Sculpting cream.  I had minimal changes, but I was getting frustrated that I wasn't seeing a good change.  I was considering changing to L'Oreal's Youth Code line, when I came across the Pro-X Facial Brush.  Essentially, it's a knock-off of the Clarisonic facial brush, but for $35 at Walgreens.  I've always wanted a Clarisonic, but OUCH....they're $150!  Battery-operated (not rechargable), and waterproof, it has two speeds and a soft-bristled brush.  Combined with the Regenerist daily face wash, I'm seeing marked improvement in my skin's texture and far less breakouts.  Plus, it exfoliates better than any scrub, and the flakiness I always go through during the spring is gone.

Another saver-of-the-day is the new Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir.  What a jewel this is!  It replaces other nighttime lotions, and smooths while you sleep.  It has done wonders for my crows feet, and it even seems to have reduced the ruddiness in my cheeks.  In fact, if it keeps working this well, I can actually stop wearing foundation.  I haven't been able to do that for a LONG time!

None of these products are truly "cheap," but they are far cheaper than systems like Dr. Brandt, Creme de la Mer, Lancome, Clinique, and Dr. Perricone.  The face wash is the cheapest, about $13.  The Micro-sculpting cream $20, nighttime elixir $25, and the face brush $35.  The serum will last a long time since you just need a pump or two per use, and the replacement heads for the brush are $10.  So, it's a bit of an investment, but your skin is worth it!  Especially if aging is a concern.  I have to say I recommend Regenerist, for sure!

Memorial Day - Remember Our Fallen, Honor Our Protectors

In the past, Memorial Day was just a day off for me.  No work, no school; just BBQ and usually water of some kind (when I lived on the coast, there was always a big sandfest for those with wheelers).  It's only the stories of my grandma's that have finally made me realize that perhaps we should stop a second and say "thanks."

My grandfather (step-grandfather, grandma's husband #4) was a prisoner of war (POW) during WWII.  Originally, grandma had told me he had been captured by the Japanese off the coast of Corregidor, but recently she realized he was actually captured at Cabanatuan.  His entire unit was captured and taken aboard a hellship to an unknown camp, where he was tortured and starved for an amazing 42 months.  Only his psychiatrists know the worst of the torture he endured, but some of the things he told grandma were water torture, skin cutting, bamboo slivering, whipping, beating, and humiliation.  The Japanese worked the prisoners in their coal mines until many of them just dropped and died from exhaustion and starvation.  At one point, he saved the life of one of his friends by defying one of their captors, which the rewarded him by beating him nearly to death.  He received a Bronze Star for that incident.  He also received a Purple Heart for his capture and imprisonment.

When he was rescued, he weighed under 100 pounds and stood 6 feet tall.  Like other POWs during WWII, he was nothing more than a walking skeleton with haunted eyes.  He received medical care to fix the still-open wounds from his brutal torture, and intense psychological therapy for the emotional wounds.  Unfortunately, the emotional damage was too deep....he never completely got over his time in the camp.  He had many permanent physical scars, and also a crude, ugly tattoo that his captors gave him to mark his status as a prisoner.  I can't remember exactly what it was or where, I just remember that he had it.

He had never been a very stable person before the war....his family told my grandma that many times, they took him away from his mother for fear she would kill him.  The emotional damage from his imprisonment compounded the existing instability and he basically lost it.  He would get drunk and threaten to kill my grandma, sometimes on a daily basis.  He wrecked several cars while drunk, and incurred thousands of dollars in gambling debts.

When he died in 1990, he was cremated and interred at Willamette National Cemetery (a veteran cemetery) with full military honors.  The salute by gunfire was both horrifying and emotional for me.  I was struggling with my emotions and trying to deal with my own abuse at his hands, and the guns kind of unglued me.  I was only 16 at the time, and I had to be taken away during the salute.  His daughter gave me a strong Valium from her giant pill collection, and I slept the rest of the funeral and dinner away.  To this day, I am still struggling with these issues, but knowing a bit more about him and the horrors he endured have allowed me to forgive him.

This is my grandfather, Carol Chad Moore, only a few short weeks after he returned home from the war.  He's still terribly thin, and his eyes look so haunted.  You can see the bronze star and purple heart, but I'm not sure what the round medal to the left is.  Those medals, while prized and recognized by the entire nation, are little reward for the sacrifice these men make for our lives.

I hope that Chad's story will serve as a reminder that our veterans need to be honored every day, and not just on a special day set aside for them.  I certainly thank them, every one, for keeping our nation safe.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Grandma - Why I Can't Do This Anymore

I posted on Facebook last night about my grandma, but I want to give a more detailed description of what is going on.

As you know, grandma was in the ER for the umpteenth million time for a bladder infection turned mental issue.  She was ordered by the doctor to come home with me, and he advised me to contact the hospital's patient advisor to arrange for home care for her (nothing new, we did it after her hospitalization for pneumonia).  She stayed one night, and insisted on going home the next morning.  Since then, she's refused to allow us to bring in home care for her, and we've brought in her mail and everything she needs - resulting in daily trips to the store, pharmacy, and various other locations.  I spend at least an hour every day on the phone with her, but since being in the ER that time has doubled.  She's decided that her illness was caused by the anniversary of her daughter's (my aunt) death - 6 years ago May 21.  This has opened a floodgate of grieving for her, and she's revealed a lot of horrible things that happened in the past.  My aunt's father (grandma's first husband) raped her when she was 7.  I'm still dealing with my own abuse at the hands of her 4th husband (step-grandpa, but the only grandfather I knew on that side of the family), and honestly hearing about my aunt's abuse has re-opened old wounds.

In the last few years, it seems I've turned into some sort of therapist for grandma.  Our daily phone calls are constant sessions of her digging up old traumas and rehashing them over and over.  She's 88 and has never gotten over her mother's neglect.  She bemoans the loss of my father, who walked out of my life when I was a year old and completely cut her out of his life when I was 18.  She constantly grieves for my aunt, and hates her daughters.  As much as she hates them, she brings them up EVERY SINGLE DAY.  She can hardly remember her name most days, but she remembers her father telling her to sit in some pedophile's lap for $5 when she was a little girl (she didn't, but apparently it left an impression).  Her first husband beat her and tried to kill her (and, as stated above, raped my aunt).  Her second husband was worthless as well.  Her third (my real grandfather) was a nice man, but an alcoholic with end-stage liver disease that he kept secret from grandma.  He died when my father was 2.  Her fourth husband (step-grandpa) was an ex-POW in WWII (his story comes tomorrow) and came home from 42 months of imprisonment a madman.  She ended up married to him for 25 years, and says he threatened to kill her every single day.  I've heard stories about him holding guns to her head, threatening to kill family, etc.  He was a horribly evil man.  That's all I have to say about that.

While she's bringing all this up, I'm struggling to deal with it.  I've told her numerous times that she needs to be back in therapy, but she says it doesn't help her.  She takes a mild tranquilizer and a daily anti-depressant, but those obviously aren't doing their job for her.

When she falls deeply into this grieving/depressant state, she lashes out.  Suddenly she needs to talk to me 4, 5, 6 times a day (our record is 9); I can't do anything right, and if I don't do things her way, she blows up and hurts my feelings.  Last night, I had already talked to her 4 times that day.  She was going through pictures, and grieving again for my aunt.  She normally goes to bed around 7, but sometimes doesn't go to sleep until 11-ish....but my thought is, when you're in bed, the phone shouldn't ring.  So, Faith wasn't due back from Boatnik until 7, and I knew she would be in bed, if not sleeping.  Around 8, she called (it was apparent from her voice that she had more than her normal 3 cocktails that evening) and asked if Faith was home.  Since she wasn't (she ended up meeting up with one of her teachers, so I felt comfortable letting her stay), grandma started calling my parenting into question.  She railed at me for not "keeping her updated" with what is going on, brought up the fact that I had forgotten to buy her cottage cheese (it wasn't on the list and we had just bought two huge containers a week before), and ended up hanging up on me.  It's after 1pm now, and I still haven't heard from her since then.

This is what she does - she gets pissed off, lashes out at me, and makes me wait for an apology - knowing it drives me nuts to have unsettled business that lasts any length of time.  Usually, she calls me within a few hours, but I guess she wants me to suffer.  I haven't done anything wrong - I'm 37, my daughter is 14 and very trustworthy, and she was well-chaperoned.  I refuse to call her and ask what is going on, because this is the game she plays.  I absolutely HATE games, to the depths of my being.  So, when she calls and pretends like last night didn't happen, I have to play along or she'll go right back into her snit and hurt me again.  It will continue until I concede.  I've obviously been down this road before.

A while back, one of the people I really looked up to turned her back on me because I was venting on my Facebook page about the daily dealings with grandma.  She called me a drama queen and admonished me for complaining when I should just love my grandma.  Sure, she just saw the venting....but it was crushing to know what she "really" thought of me.  If I don't vent, I can't handle her calmly and lovingly.  Honestly, it's so hard to love her tolerate her (as a good friend just told me) when she's trying her damnedest to hurt me.  I will always love her, she's been a strong influence in my life.  It's my turn to be strong for her, but I'm not made of the right stuff to withstand what she doles out.  I hate that she can't just go peacefully in her sleep some night and avoid all this horribleness.  I can't imagine how awful it must be to be trapped in her mind and body like this - she's always been so independent, so chic, so beautiful that it's heartbreaking to see her decline.

I'll leave you with a pic of how beautiful she is.  This was taken on her honeymoon with husband #4 (before he revealed his psychosis).  This is how I will forever remember her and I'll do my best to push out these bad years.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Drink More Water!

That's exactly what my doctor says every time I see him.  I'll admit, I'm terrible at drinking water.  Mostly because the city water in this town tastes AWFUL.  I used to drink coffee in the mornings, and diet coke in the afternoon/evening, but coffee turns to acid in my stomach anymore so I drink a cup of tea in the morning and 2-3 diet cokes a day.

My goal is to eliminate the soda entirely.  I know, crazy talk!  I've started to dislike it, as much as I enjoy the taste and kick of caffeine.  It's kind of like my acrylic nails....I wore them for 15 years, and steadily grew to loathe them - they were expensive, had to be maintained, and looked down upon by quite a few people.  Soda is the same concept - it's expensive, has to be maintained (to avoid caffeine withdrawals), and looked down upon by quite a few people.  Most importantly, looked down upon by my doctor.

I've tried four different filter pitchers (PUR, Brita, Zerowater and Mavea), and two on-faucet filters.  The pitchers are a pain to keep up (the filtering action takes forever to trickle through), and the on-faucet filters are clunky.  I hate buying single-serve bottles because they take up so much space, and the plastic waste is ridiculous.  So, after some research, I decided to set up an account with Sierra Springs.  For an initial $50 fee, I received a dispenser/stand that has a 160-190 degree hot water tap, a below 50 degree cold water tap, 4 5-gallon bottles of purified water, and a 24-pack of bottled water.  My monthly fee will be $23.99, which includes rental of the dispenser and 4 5-gallon bottles of water per month.

I was so excited to receive the setup that I agreed to an 8:30 am delivery time!  I stumbled out of bed at about 8:15 and dazedly wandered around the kitchen, rearranging things so we had a space for the water dispenser. He was right on time, and had everything set up in about 10 minutes.  Here's how it looks:

You can see two of the reserve bottles with their Susan G. Koman pink caps.  The dispenser takes up hardly any room, and the cold side gets cold super-fast - within 20 minutes I had a refreshingly cold glass of water!  I burned my finger testing the hot side - they are not kidding about 160-190 degrees.

My mindset is this - I have to drink more water.  A LOT more water.  Having it readily available and ice-cold makes it convenient to pick up a glass here and there.  I was spending a good deal of money on single-serve bottled water before, so I feel the price is justified - and I feel less guilty about the environmental waste.

If you're considering bottled water home delivery, I highly suggest it!  I wish I had signed up for it years ago.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Door Has Closed

Before grandma's episode Saturday, I had spent all day Friday packing Laura's left-behind things.  If you don't know Laura's story, this post will clue you in.

Earlier in the week, Laura had texted me and asked me to get everything together so I could ship it.  When I asked if she had the money, she said her mom would be sending it to me.

It's an understatement to say I'm pissed.  I had refused to send her things until SHE paid for them in order to teach her a lesson.  A lot of her issues can be pegged down to her reliance on others to bail her out of situations, so earning the money herself to get her things back would have been a great lesson.

I also heard through the grapevine that she possibly lost her job and has moved back home with her mother.  So at 19 (her birthday was May 2), she can't hold down a job, maintain a relationship, or fend for herself.  I'll admit to being a typical teenager at 19, but I had my own car, went to school full-time, and took care of myself.  With financial aid being so easy to qualify for, there's no excuse for her not to at least be in school.  Her excuse is that she just doesn't WANT to.  Her idea of "making it" in life is doing as little as possible.  It's really sad, because she does have potential.

For me, seeing the packages ship out today through the tracking numbers means the door is officially shut.  My home is no longer open to her, unless she pulls herself together and goes to school or gets a REAL job (10 hours a week cleaning tanning beds is not a job, it's barely a step above an allowance).  I will never allow her to live with me again, she may only visit.  I also refuse to allow her contact with Faith unless she (a) cleans up her life as above and (b) keeps any and all drug use to herself.  I most certainly will not be loaning/giving her money for any reason, either.

When she came here in September, I was willing to offer her a free place to live, transportation to any job she found, and the love of a family who really cared about her.  I don't know about you, but I would have worked my ASS off for a sweet arrangement like that at 18!  It's really a shame that she apparently didn't want a relationship with us.  Deep down, I'm grieving for the loss of that sweet little girl I loved so much way back when.  I know many bad things have happened to her to change that, but we all have bad things happen to us in life.  It's how we accept them, heal from them, and move on with our lives that determine our strength.  I pray she learns that soon enough to be able to still make something of herself.

More Grandma Drama

Sorry it's been a while since I posted.  Friday afternoon, grandma had me pick up some cranberry juice for her, saying she had a bladder infection.  She gets them frequently, and has a standing prescription for Macrobid from her doc (which she had filled and kept on hand after the last infection), so I didn't think much of it.

Saturday morning at 6:30 am she calls me extremely disoriented.  She thinks it's daytime, that we've gone somewhere recently (we haven't) and describes our imaginary trip in detail.  I ask her to go to bed after taking her temp (99.6) and taking a Macrobid.  Two hours later, she calls again and has now completely lost all her marbles.  She tells me she's been throwing up, and can't get up off the floor.  So, I called 911, dressed in about 11.6 seconds, and raced to her house.  When I got there, she seemed fairly lucid, except she thought it was 1940 something and I was some neighbor she used to have.  She doesn't remember either phone call with me, being on the floor, how her lip is now swollen and bruised, or having a bladder infection.

*Just a side note here - why the hell do the cute EMT guys come when I look like I just rolled out of bed?  One of her EMTs was adorable!  I still had sleep in my eyes, hair thrown up in a haphazard bun, wrinkled hoodie and yoga pants, and not a stitch of makeup.  I was mortified!*

The EMTs, bless them, packed her up and had her out in just a few minutes - even though she was resistant and insisting on driving herself (yeah.....I don't think so).  As I was waiting for the ambulance to pull out, I laid my head on the steering wheel of my car and had a good cry.  The female EMT must have seen me, she came over and had a quick chat with me, trying to make me feel better.  I explained to her that I wasn't scared or overly upset, just frustrated with the changes grandma is going through.  She was wonderful, and I really appreciate that she took the time to pat me on the back and give me some reassuring words.

When we got to the hospital, it was fairly quiet, so grandma got a bed right away and IVs started.  She received 2 bags of fluid right away (extremely dehydrated), and they ran all sorts of tests - blood, urine, head scan (due to the potential fall and disorientation), scan of her lungs (to rule out pneumonia) and a few others that I can't remember.  Honestly, they didn't find anything but the remnants of her bladder infection.  She's pretty darn healthy for almost 89.

She did NOT want to be released because she was still confused, but without anything really wrong with her, they sent her home.  I wouldn't allow her to be on her own, so she came to my house and stayed with me.  From the moment she got home (around 4-5 pm), she slept.  When she woke Sunday at 11-ish, she started insisting on going home.  So, once we fed her breakfast and I oversaw her medications, we took her home.  We talked this morning, and she seems to be her old self again, thankfully.

It is astonishing to me how something as simple as a bladder infection can cause terrible disorientation in seniors.  This article describes how easy it is for a senior to go from completely normal to confused and disorientated in a snap when it comes to infections.

I'm so angry with my family for putting her care on my shoulders.  Don't get me wrong, I will always be here for her and would do anything to keep her on this earth, but I'm 37.  I have my own health problems and a child to raise.  They will call after she's been sick or in the hospital and then get mad at me for not caring for her properly.  Not a single one of them has offered to help me.  As far as I am concerned, every single one of them can go to hell if they don't like how I care for her - I'm doing the best I can with what I have to work with.  I love her so much - all they care about is her estate.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Need a Backeotomy....

So, today I had a corticosteroid injection in my back.  I am running out of options for treatments that don't lead to surgery, so I decided to give my doc the go-ahead to do it.  It's a simple procedure, only takes a few minutes and there's only a little pain (not from the needle, from the meds going in).  I was numb from waist to toes for about 3 hours, so I took it easy until it wore off.  I'm in a considerable amount of pain now, but I'm hopeful I'll find some relief in a couple of days.

My history of back issues started when I was a kid.  My grandma (yes, THE grandma) had to retire at 53 due to severe back problems, and our family has a history of scoliosis.  When I was 8, I fell of the jungle gym on the playground and landed flat on my back - on concrete.  That earned me a trip to the ER and my first round of x-rays, but they didn't find anything alarming.  I went through two car accidents before I was 11, both times sustaining serious injury to my back.  I was hit by a car while riding my bike at 14, earning yet another trip to the ER and discovery of more damage to my back.  Most recently, I was in a car accident in 2008, where the damage to my car was fairly minor but the seat broke loose from the floor.  I fractured the vertebrae at L4 and L5, and that damage has never really healed.  I went through extensive physical therapy, and dealt with the pain on my own until I just couldn't handle it anymore.

I'm only 37, so I'm not ready to give up and just accept the pain.  With mild narcotics (Norco), I can function well enough to go about day-to-day life.  I don't take muscle relaxers well (except Skelaxin, which is horribly expensive so I can't afford it), and can't take Meloxicam or high doses of Naproxen as it kills my stomach. I have taken Gabapentin in the past, but it has too many side effects.  For now, the shots + Norco are what I'm relying on to put off surgery as long as possible.

I greatly wish for a morning where I can wake up and not be in pain.  I honestly can't remember the last time that happened.  I would love to be able to sit longer than 30 minutes without burning, throbbing nerve pain shooting down the backs of my legs.  I want to be able to have fun.  I really miss it!

Monday, May 16, 2011

What's With the Weather Watching?

I know a lot of you on Facebook probably get sick of my constant weather-watching.  Have you ever wondered why I'm so terrified of thunderstorms?

When I was little, my mom worked as a cocktail waitress, and I saw my share of sitters.  Some were great, like the sweet high school girl that used to walk me to the pool every day the summer I was 5 so I could swim.  Others were awful, like the girls who threw a party when I was really small (can't remember how old I was), and their friends were mean to me.  It seems I went to a different sitter every few weeks, mostly because of her weird schedule.

So, after the nice sitter when I was 5, I ended up at the home of a family with several kids.  I'm not sure if all of them were theirs, or if there were others there for pay.  In any case, a lot of the family kids were boys.  They lived on a little hill, and had a giant picture window in their living room.  During one particularly bad storm, the boys found out I was scared, and began taking turns shoving me up against the window and telling me the storm was going to kill me.  Then, when the thunder boomed, they would fall over like they died.  Funny-ish now, terrifying at 5.

Fast forward to my late teens.  I stayed for a summer at my uncles' (yes, plural) ranches outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  I mostly stayed at one uncle's home, because he was gone a lot (truck driver), and he was the only one that didn't grow stuff (so I didn't have to help with planting/hoeing/harvesting/working).  In exchange for cleaning his large, incredibly out-of-place-on-the-prairie log mansion, I was able to stay there mostly alone with his billion-channel satellite and full pantry.

Pretty much every day on the prairie, a storm blows through and produces either rain, wind, lightning, thunder, or hail.  At least, it did when I was there.  The storms weren't so bad, so as long as I remembered to get the laundry off the line and keep the windows closed, I wasn't too bothered by them.

I was taught by the uncles that life on the prairie means keeping a radio on at all times.....so one day when the usual dark clouds were piling in, the weather alert tones cut into the day's stock reports.  Only seconds later, the phone rang....one of the other uncles told me the weather service had issued a tornado warning for our area, and I was to take the radio, cordless phone (this is pre-cell phones), and a lantern into the root cellar and wait for the all clear.  And. he. hung. up.

I instantly panicked, crying and rushing around the house.  I located the tiny wild kitten I had coaxed into the house to keep me company, rounded up the radio, phone, lantern, and some food and water (hey, never hurts to be prepared) and we climbed down to the creepy root cellar together.  There were no lights of any kind down there aside from the lantern, which is probably a good thing because I was envisioning all kinds of creepy-crawlies coming out of the earth walls.  Above, the wind roared, and thunder boomed so loud I thought the house would collapse atop us.  I had never lived anywhere where there was a threat of tornadoes, so I had NO clue what they were like or what to expect.  I huddled on the dirt floor clutching the kitty and begging the higher power to let the storm pass over me.

About 45 minutes after it started, the wind and thunder just stopped.  Not gradually slowed, not tapered off - just STOPPED.  It wasn't long after that the radio said the threat had passed, and my uncle called back to tell me I could get out of the cellar.

We hadn't been visited by the tornado, although it had come close enough that the nearest town (about 8 miles away) had sustained minor damage.  It had been the worst thunderstorm the locals had seen in quite a few years, and the wind had taken some of the shingles off the roof.  It ended up being my sign that I didn't belong on the prairie, and shortly thereafter I returned to the Pacific Northwest.

So you see - storms are a source of major anxiety for me.  Oddly enough, it isn't lightning that scares me - it's the thunder.  I KNOW it can't hurt me, but that rationale flies out the window when I hear it boom.

Now you know.....you all thought I was a bit eccentric - here's proof!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I know, I know.....

I'm sorry, I'm running short of time to blog.  I promise a good one about my mom and her love of Friday the 13th, hopefully tomorrow.  Tonight, I'm hoping for a good night's sleep!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Nail "Trends"

Those of you who've known me a while know that I used to wear acrylic nails....I had worn them for 15 years when I decided I was tired of the expense and time they took.  I also feel they just look too fake for my taste.  I now wear french wraps that give my natural nail a little stability (they are still paper-thin from years of abuse by acrylics) and to look clean and pretty.

Yesterday, I happened to catch a small portion of a Jerseylicious reunion show (don't get me started on how fake and loathsome these girls are), and saw one of the girls sporting the "duck feet" or "coke shovel" (as I call them) nails.  Duck feet are just what they sound like - nails that flare at the tip, like duck's feet.  Here's an example:

(image found on bing)

Yuck!  Who wants their nails to look wide and thick at the end?  I don't even see how this can be a trend at all, when it makes your nails look bulky.  I can't imagine a good, self-respecting nail tech offering this service.  It also seems to go hand-in-hand with off-the-wall art:

(image from bing)

Really?  Truckin?  They're so absurd that I think I would dissolve in hysteria if I saw them.

(image from bing)

Okay, seriously?  I just threw up a little.  I've worn acrylic toenails (aka boogie toes), but as an overlay, NOT an extension....and certainly not these flared, nasty things!  Imagine what gets caught under all that acrylic?  I hope none of you are eating while reading this....

The farthest I went with "trends" when I wore acrylics was colored french, fades, and a few art designs.  There are some interesting trends beyond the shovel nail thing....such as the stiletto nail:

(image from bing)

I actually kind of like this, since it slims the hand....but dollars to doughnuts I would stab myself in the eye within a few hours of having them done.  It would be fun for Halloween maybe?

Then we have the bubble nail:

(image from bing)

Ew, another unattractive look - makes you look like you have fat nails.  Imagine how thick the acrylic is at the top of the bubble!

Next up, the spiral nail.  This is formed around a soda straw, which sounds fun when you think about it but imagine how hard it would be to function with a thick spiral hanging off your hand:

(image from bing)

Also featured in the above nail is the "aquarium nail" - which is more art than style.  It's just a clear acrylic nail with art sandwiched inside - thus looking like it's floating in water.

Our final style is 3-d nail art - not a new concept, but seeing more popularity as of late:

(image from bing)

Again, bulky, bulky, bulky!  I would end up knocking the art off (or the nail) in no time.  I can't even fathom the time it takes for this kind of work.

I appreciate that people like to be different, but I can't get past the fact that they look SOOOOO tacky.  Knowing how dirty my acrylics could get underneath, I shudder to think what some of these styles can accumulate.  I just can't wrap my head around doing something (like the shovels) that makes your hands look bizarre.  What do you think?

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Novel!

I have a new novel in the works.  I've written well over 6,000 words today!

I know a lot of writers use jazzed-up versions of Word to write, but I prefer a program called MyNovel*.  I did a ton of research, downloaded and rejected dozens of applications, and this was the best I could find for Windows-based software.  A lot of writing software out there is structured for play writers, so you get this indexing and dialogging format crap that doesn't translate at all to novel writing.  MyNovel is specifically for novel writing, with built in character-creating tools, printing formats for submitting manuscripts, and more.  I like that it is customizable, since you all know I like to make things look pretty :).  It allows you to click a button to look at how many words you've written, how close you are to your daily goals, and how readable your novel is. If any potential or current writers are reading my blog, consider checking MyNovel out!

*NOTE:  I am not being paid to advertise this software - I just like it, okay!?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Grandma Diaries

I know a lot of you have heard me complain about my grandma.  Please don't get me wrong....I love her dearly. Besides Faith, she is literally my ONLY close relative.  She's been a special person in my life since I was an infant, and we've always shared a very close relationship.

Her aging has destroyed her.  She has been in some form of dementia for the last couple of years, which causes her to be forgetful, given to bouts of anger and frustration, and has dropped her into a major depression.  She went from independent to the extreme to being nearly unable to do anything for herself.  Lately, she's gotten to where she can't even leave the house to get her mail, so we go over every day and get it for her.  Today, we took her recycling in and bought groceries for her.  On a daily basis, I shop, clean, pay bills, and do errands for her.  If I'm lucky, I get one day a week away from it.  And the phone calls.....according to our phone bill, we AVERAGED 2 1/2 hours EVERY SINGLE DAY on the phone.  Her life has been full of rich and amazing adventures, but I have heard each adventure at least 10 times.  Lately, she has totally turned into a crabby complainer....nobody can do anything right and nothing makes her happy.  And, since I'm in her line of fire, I get the bullets.  I've left her house in tears more times than I can count.

I look back 5, 10, 15 years and yearn for the relationship we used to have.  It was a balanced mix of her criticism and her love.  My father (who was never in my life) abandoned her and disappeared from her life, likely because of the way she treated him.  Even in the best of times, she's incredibly judgmental and manipulative.  She actually enjoys reminding me of the mistakes I've made (if I'm reminded again how I ruined everyone's lives by marrying my ex-husband, I may scream) and seems to purposely hurt my and Faith's feelings by making horrible comments about our appearance.  I knew what she was like when I was younger and I accepted it.  Now, with the helplessness thrown in, she's become RUTHLESS.

I view Facebook as something of a journal where I can express myself freely.....unfortunately, a few "friends" didn't feel that way.  When I vented about my frustration with grandma, I lost several of these "friends."  Before their departure, I was admonished for complaining.  I'm still a little pissed about that....you don't live my life, you have no idea how hard this is.  I am trying to raise a teenager, deal with my own health issues, and take on the care of my beloved grandma who seems to have disappeared behind this frail, angry person.  I vent here so I can keep myself from exploding at her.

If you come away with anything from this entry, please let it be this - I love my grandma.  What I don't like is the disease that has robbed her of herself.  I would never abandon her or give up trying to be strong for her.  The only way I can do it is to let off steam now and then.

Thanks for reading.

Or Not Moving

Well, it looks like I'm staying with Blogger for the time being.  I've finished editing the look as much as Blogger allows, and it looks okay.  I had designed a nice theme, but the elements didn't transfer to Blogger, and I found WordPress to also be too limiting.  Here's what it looked like:

What I have now is close enough, and it's still free.  So, I'll be back later today with another "real" blog entry :).

Friday, May 6, 2011


Blogger is just too limiting as far as design....so it looks as though I may be moving to WordPress.  I'll announce the changed URL when everything is set up.  Sorry to switch things up on you all, but I want it to look just so.  I spent all day designing a template, only to have Blogger reject the majority of it.  Ugh!  So, hang in there - all this dust will settle soon and we can get down to real blogging :)

Blog Decorating

I'll be working on a more "me" design for the blog....this is just a pre-made Blogger template until I can snazz-ify it up :).  You all know how I am!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


So I found out the other day that the stepdaughter deleted me on Facebook.  I know I've been cryptic about her departure from my home on Facebook, but my ex-husband reads my posts and I wasn't willing to be the one who clued him in on her behavior.

When we reconnected with her this last summer, I was overjoyed.  I had developed a close relationship with her when she was a toddler, and after I divorced her father, her mother wouldn't allow us to have any contact with her.  When she turned 18, her mother told her to go to school, get a job, or move out.  So, she asked if she could come stay with us.  I wanted Faith to have a chance to develop a real relationship with her (they are half sisters, after all), and I wanted to be able to help her.

I could tell from the beginning that something was not right.  Before she even moved here, I started discovering things.....the worst being that she had briefly worked for an escort service.  Other troubling issues including being arrested for shoplifting, and signs of drug use in her Facebook posts/pictures.  Knowing that those things would be hard to attain under my watchful eye, I decided to overlook her past and focus on making a better future for her.

The girl I picked up from the bus station at the end of September was a total stranger.  She was nothing like the little girl I used to love so much.  Her first visit with my grandma, she dressed in 5-inch studded gladiator sandals, daisy duke shorts, and a trashy lace top and vest combo.  Grandma was so shocked, she could hardly contain herself.  She later told me (and continued to tell me) she looked like a hooker.  She had a major chip on her shoulder and enjoyed dressing slutty to gain attention.  I tried giving her clothing that was provocative without being trashy, but it didn't work.

The first few weeks she was here, she did try to fit in.  She and I would watch True Blood together and spend hours talking, and she would try to spend time with her sister.  As time went on, she began withdrawing and sleeping all the time.  She started developing "health problems," including a rush to the ER for pelvic pain that was clearly a farce to get narcotics (even I could figure that one out).  Her new doctor diagnosed her with PTSD (something she legitimately struggles with) and put her on Ativan and Seroquel.  Both drugs were super-expensive, even with health insurance....I was paying $70 a month just for her medications.  If she had taken them as directed, I would have found a way to make it work....but she abused the Ativan and took the Seroquel at 5 or 6 in the morning so she could sleep all day.  I also discovered several of my Vicodin missing - I can't prove that she stole them, but Faith would never do that to me knowing the pain I'm in on a daily basis.  After that, I had to carry them with me constantly.

The final straw came when a friend came to take her back to Portland for a visit.  She was clearly using this girl for the ride up and a place to stay....she proclaimed they were in a relationship and posted inappropriate pictures of them kissing on her Facebook (which Faith had access to).  This came on the tail of sleeping with a friend of mine, and having a guy she hardly knew come to visit her and having sex with him in my house.  She ended up never coming back.  Her room is still full of her crap, and she says she's too busy at work (she works 10 hours a week at a tanning salon) to come back for it.  I told her I would ship it to her, but she had to send me the money first.

I let her live here rent-free and paid for minutes, data, and texting on a phone for her.  I guided her towards jobs that would put her in an appropriate environment and would give her a good start on her resume, but didn't pressure her to get a job or pay rent.  My only requirements were very light chores (helping Faith with the dishes, helping her keep the bathroom clean, and keeping her room clean) and being a good role model for her sister.  She clearly failed to do any of them - I had to ask her to do the chores, and she half-assed them.

Not long after she made it clear that she wasn't coming back, she started posting pictures of herself smoking pot.  Now, I have NO problem with people doing it for their own use, whether medical or pleasure.  What I do have a problem with is posting images of it for my very impressionable teenager to see and glorifying it.  What I also have a problem with is hiding behind having a "medical card" and telling people that if they don't want to see it, they don't have to look.  When I confronted her about it, she was a little bitch to me, so I immediately disconnected her cell phone and told her I would no longer pay for her to post inappropriate pictures.  She posted a "poor me, my cell phone was turned off.....goodbye" post on Facebook, and I called her out on it.  The sad thing is, her friends all sided with me.

That catches us up on the stepdaughter issue.  Her crap continues to be strewn all over my spare room, until I decide to go pack it up and she saves enough money to send so I can ship it up.  I am so disappointed and honestly want nothing to do with her from this point - she made a huge mess out of things here for me, for my friends, and for her sister.  She claims no ownership to her actions, acts like a victim and continues to abuse drugs.

For her sake, I hope she cleans up her life and starts building a future for herself.  She seems to be hellbent on destroying herself, and I'm afraid she'll succeed if she keeps going down the path she's on.  It's a shame, she was such a sweet little girl.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Here We Go Again....

So, it's time to start blogging again after a few years off.  I started blogging in 2000, when xanga was still a baby and Bianca Broussard recruited me personally.  Too bad she was eventually revealed as a marketing scheme rather than an actual person.  In any case, I was hooked.  I blogged pretty much daily from 2000-2009, when I just became too weary of my life's issues at the time and too wary of prying eyes.  Since then, I've been blurbing on Facebook.  Lately I've felt too restricted by Facebook's word count limits and holding back some posts for fear of stepping on anyone's toes.

I want this new blog to become a place where I can say what I want, how I want, and when I want.  Will I complain a lot?  Hello.....do you not know me?  Of course I will.  I hope I'll also write insightful, cheerful posts about the things that matter to me.

Thanks for joining me!