Wednesday

Nothing Displays My Poor Math Skills Quite Like Leap Year.


Happy Birthday, Nicole!  Only YOU would be born on Leap Year! Love you!
When my best friend Nicole and I were little, we would imagine what lives would be like when we grew up.  We would pretend we married brothers and lived next door to each other.  Didn't we all do that with our best friends?  As we got older and I moved away, our lives went on roller coasters, with one steady constant being our friendship.  When my sister-in-law died at 36 after a ten year battle with  Cancer, my brother-n-law was distraught as any man could be.  Nicole was still single and living in Ohio, where I had moved away from years before.  Nearly a year later after her devastating death, Hubs and I were receiving 10pm calls from each of them, separately, lamenting about the dating world and the lack of quality in their potential suitors.  Hubs said to me, "why don't those two call each other and stop calling us at 10:00 at night!"  I laughed at the thought of matching them up because I would never dare to dream that big...Hubs, on the other hand, always dreams in Technicolor.  We flew to Ohio with my brother-n-law and played matchmaker.  A year after their first date, my best friend married my brother-n-law and moved to New Hampshire.  Who knew so many years ago that we would be the sisters we always thought we were - only this time, it was by law. It's Nicole's birthday today.  As if birthdays aren't hard enough to remember with my mommy brain, her birthday in particular has me questioning what year it is, how often Leap Year is, why Leap Year exists, etc.  I can't help but wonder if this was the rare kind of blessing that gave her the chance to be my sister-n-law.  So many superstitions surround this day and  I have been dealing with the confusing details of this since we were kids.  I thought I might take a minute to explain the ins and outs of this odd occurrence.  Won't you be smart when you can add to the Leap Year banter at the water cooler this morning? 

First - the facts.

Why do we need Leap Years?  Leap Years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the sun. It takes the Earth approximately 365.242199 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds (a tropical year)– to circle once around the Sun. However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year, so if we didn't add a day on February 29 nearly every 4 years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by approximately 24 days!  3 criteria must be met to be a leap year: The year is evenly divisible by 4, if the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless, the year is also evenly divisible by 400, then it is a leap year.

 Leap Year Wives Tales:

The Irish:  Women propose to their men.  According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Bridget struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every 4 years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how Leap Day balances the calendar. Rumor has it  if a man refuses your marriage proposal on a leap year when you ask him on February 29th, he will suffer a terrible fate or have bad luck for the remainder of the leap year!

Marry me, or be doomed.  Brilliant tactic!
The Greeks:  In Greece it’s said to be unlucky for couples to marry during a Leap Year, and especially on Leap Day. To this day, many Greek couples will not plan a wedding during a leap year, for fear of jinxing the marriage.

Leave it to little old Greek Ladies to find bad luck in Leap Years.  (This is my Thea (Aunt) Sophia in Cyprus, RIP)
The US: People born on February 29 are all invited to join The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies - other organizations are The Society for the Preservation of Youth, and The mysterious Headlight-Sun Order of 29'ers.


I'll end this  with why it is called leap year when we are adding an extra day. Hundreds of years ago in England, the British government didn't recognize February 29ths as having any 'legal' status,so any court events, contracts written, etc were not legally recognized on that day, and therefore were 'leapt over' as though it didn't officially exist, adopting the name Leap Year.  Stupid.  Yes.  But that's how it came to be.

In the end, I say to Nicole - you have never done anything according to the norm, why should your birthday be any different?  Happy 10th Birthday my Dearest (and Youngest), Old Friend!  You don't look a day over 40! Love you!

True enough.  I find myself counting on my fingers until I finally figure out how old she is.

Happy Leap Year and Other Silly Wishes,
~DG

Thursday

What to Expect When You're Not Expecting...



Disclaimer:  I have toiled for months over blogging about Infertility and I finally decided to do it.  I am only too aware that not every story has a happy ending.  Please read this knowing that although this is my version with funny and sarcastic descriptions of my battle, there are many versions out there that are not funny and do not end well.  I hate  having to put a dislaimer for every possibly controversial topic that I write about, but I do not want anyone to think I am being insensitive to their battles.  If anything, my purpose here is to let other people know, there is support, there are friends waiting in the wings, there are many struggling with you.  I know that infertility is no laughing matter, but this is my story, and with every story that I write, I use humor to deflect from the pain of the circumstances. Read on if you agree to these terms.  Otherwise, skip this particular blog if you need to.  xo ~DG

When you're single, your friends and family ask you the same thing at every family gathering. "When are you going to settle down?"  "Why haven't you found a husband (wife) yet?"  When you finally leave spinsterhood by some miracle according to these same people, they start asking when the wedding is.  At the wedding, before you can eat your first piece of cake or enjoy your first dance as a married couple, the comments start....

*"Don't wait too long to start having kids!" (Why, so I can never leave the house again in peace, like you & yours? And stop asking me questions and go get your child who just stuck his finger in my cake!)

*"When are you going to start adding to the family?" (This is inappropriate and annoying!  Do you really want or need an exact answer to this question, nosypants?)

*"Can't wait to hear the good news!" (What? I just spent all this money on a wedding, isn't that enough for you people???)

The simple truth of the matter is, many of us were fooled into thinking that all of this was truly up to us to decide.  For me, anyways, infertility was never a word in my vocabulary.  I never thought it could happen to me.  I never even thought it would happen to any of my friends either.  I had no idea how wrong I was.

I had Eldest with my first husband.  It was an immediate pregnancy and I clearly nodded my head at myself like I was a brilliant baby making machine.  If I could've high fived myself for being a fertility overachiever, I would've.  I was 26.  (Too young if you ask me now...but probably just the right age for all obstetrical stars to be aligned). I like to think of 26 as a fearless age.  Maybe even for me, an age of ignorance and stupidity.  I don't know that I actually appreciated the fact that I got pregnant immediately or not.  I'm thinking I just assumed this is how it would go.

Years later, (I divorced when Eldest was 9 months old, and got remarried to my Prince Charming when he was 4) it was time to start our family together.  My arrogance was so off the charts about getting pregnant immediately that I even tried to plan it around the perfect month to give birth.  We started trying.  The first month, I got a negative on the pg test. (Yes, I was one of those who took it before my period started, the minute I thought I could possibly have the hormone detected by an $18 test).  Imagine my utter shock when it was negative.  I thought, well that's funny, I wasn't expecting that!  12 more negatives later, I was devastated and ready to admit we had a serious problem.


During those 13 months, I started becoming very aware of friends having the same problems.  It was apparent that this problem was everywhere.  Was it our age, early thirties, that was to blame? Was it our environment? Our foods?  What the hell is going on?  Since I am an open book, I would just come out and tell friends that we were unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant and you wouldn't believe how many people opened right back up with a story of their own.  Well, we never told anyone what we were going through but here's what happened, (or is happening) to us.  Suddenly, not only was I not alone, I was surrounded by people who were going through the same thing to a lesser or more degree as we were.

After negative test number 13 we were ready to admit we needed help.  We had the standard run of humiliating tests done to our private parts, and then the letter came one sunny May afternoon:

From:Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital
Urology Department

Dear Responsible Parents who would bring a respectable member of society into this world,

Unfortunately, there are two types of swimmers.  There's the Michael Phelps of the world, and there's the Swimming for Dummies type.  Let's just say yours did not qualify for the Olympic Trials and call it a day.  Your swimmers will need picked up at the starting gate and shuttled to the finish line. 

Please contact our Infertility Clinic to set up a consultation to sign up for the Shuttle Bus.  (Actually the exact words they wrote were...Your chances of getting pregnant naturally are less than 2%, our recommendation is that you proceed with Invitro Fertilization).

Sincerely and Apologetically,
The Coach of the US Swim Team

I remember feeling completely and totally devastated.  And Hubs?  Forget it.  Here's a beautiful 6'2" perfectly put together male in his prime reading that he didn't qualify for the beginners dog paddle swim class.  How do you digest news like that?



We were stunned.  We sat and we talked and we scratched our heads.  We did what most would do after receiving news like that.  We made nachos and drank beer.  Then we did the worst second step.  We googled infertility.  We googled IVF.  We googled everything relating to it.  Soon we were reading on the Dartmouth packet of information that I had to sign a waiver saying I understood that my ovary could possibly explode and other crazy disclaimers.

The best thing to do, we decided,  was to do nothing but cool off for a bit.  He was able to.  I was not.  I did the next best thing.  I power dialed.  I called every friend of mine that had been through it.  Every person I knew I could talk to about it.  And I did.  I talked about infertility to everyone who had been through it, and I'm so glad I did.

Talking it over with friends led to the answer I was looking for!
Before I finish my story, I do want to say some of the things that I really hated that people who hadn't been through it said to me.  I wanted to stab each and everyone of them in the eyeballs with my urine soaked negative pregnancy stick.  I am going to list these things and beg all of my readers to STOP doing this if you know someone going through this.

*Stop trying so hard.  The second you stop worrying about it, the sooner you'll get pregnant.  Trust me.  (How about you fuck off, mmmkay!?)

*My sister's best friend's roommate from college couldn't get pregnant either, so she started the paperwork to adopt from China and then the day she got called to go get the baby, she took a pregnancy test and found out she was pregnant!  So the best thing to do, is to just start the application for adoption process, and watch how fast you get pregnant.  (Look, this is a great story, it is.  And I've heard this story in different variations and I do love this story, but this is not advice that infertile women want to hear.)

*Everyone ovulates differently!  Just wait until your discharge gets really thick and mucousy then jump your husband's bones and don't forget to stand on your head for at least 10 minutes afterwards!  (Did you just talk to me about my discharge here at the grocery store? And please, get out of my bedroom and STAY OUT!)

*But you already have ONE so be happy.  (Thank you for pointing that out..now I am going to throttle you across the room).

*Maybe it's Mother Nature's way of protecting you from having a baby that's not compatible for you and Hubs' chemical makeup.  (I really did get this suggestion.  Who says this to someone?)  My answer was simply, "that's probably the worst thing anyone has said to me during this whole journey."

*Wow, that's a crazy problem to have - my husband just looks at me and BOOM! I'm pregnant again! (How does this help me?)

I did receive one very very solid and helpful piece of advice from one of my very best friends who had been through something eerily similar.  She told me to go to the Natural Food store, get a list of supplements for Hubs, and a few for me, and encourage an environment that is reproductively friendly.  There are certain herbs that help swimmers swim faster.  We will call them steroids and performance enhancers for Olympic style swimming.  Also, remembering to ease up on the chlorine in the pool helps too. (By changing the mucous thickness/thinness I can't remember which now because I have pregnancy amnesia, it helps get to the egg easier). 

Nothing wrong with having less than ideal swimming skills.

One trip to the Natural food store and $75 later, Hubs and I were ready to swallow the fertile cocktail and get back to business. I am hesitant to post it here, because I am not an Herbalist, Doctor, nothing - I am just someone who did it, and friends with several others who did it too.  Here it is, with the disclaimer that you should do your research too, and make sure this is right for you.

I took:  800 mg Red Raspberry Leaf/day (you can drink tea too).
1 Baby Aspirin a day (I only did this for 6 weeks, so I have no idea how long you can do that)
1 Women's Multi Vitamin a day

Hubs took:  2 Macca 1000mg/day
2 L-arginine 1000 mg/day
2 Ginseng (1000mg/day)
1 Saw Palmetto (580/mg day)

We did this religiously for 8 weeks and boom, there it was.  A bright pink positive on the old stick.  Modern day miracle? Perhaps.  Did Hubby's swimmers test positive for performance enhancers at the Olympics? Abso-fucking-lutely.

I had Middler in April of 2007.  What a joy.  We were just happy to have had that miracle.  I had been  breastfeeding for 3 months, and then, I started to wean him off quite a bit, at this point still not having my post pregnancy period.  A month later when I was completely dried up, Hubs and I decided to have a much deserved beer and pizza celebration for not only surviving the first four months of our beautiful sleepless lifestyle with two children, but also for not having a drop of alcohol in what seemed like years since we had been leading a clean lifestyle to help with fertility.  He said he would stay home with the kids, while I got the beer, pizza, and a movie.   I went to the strip mall where I could do all 3.  I ordered the pizza, stopped at Blockbuster to get a movie and was going to swing back around to the store for beer.  As I looked around, I decided on the movie Knocked Up.  I waited in line to check out and my head just about exploded from the lightbulb that went off.  Knocked up...hahah that's funny! How crazy would it be if, on the day I was going to drink my first beer, I was knocked up...that would be ironic! But no...I'm infertile remember? I can't get pregnant without herbs, remember?  I have a Doctor's note, remember!  I chuckled and reassured myself that I had been breastfeeding right? I talked myself into buying a pregnancy test at the store when I stopped for beer.  The checkout lady judged me full on like I was the worst person in the world, and I laughed in her face at the giddy thought of me being pregnant again.

When I got home, Hubs saw the pizza, the movie, the beer and wait, what? A pregnancy test.  He was like what the HELL is that???   I ran to the bathroom before he had a chance to crack open my long awaited cold beer. And just as fast as the urine hit that stick, that's how furiously bright pink the positive showed up.  WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  Unexpected baby number three was on its way.  Miracles do happen if you just believe.

My hope for you, if you are going through this now, is that your miracle comes too.  Remember, miracles come in all different ways, just keep believing.  You are NOT crazy, you are NOT alone, you are NOT the first or the last.  I hope you know, there are thousands of people here to help you, just ask.

Thank you for letting me share my story.  Feel free to share yours, whatever your story is, you will not be judged, you will be loved.

As always, I am humbly yours,
~DG

Wednesday

And a High Tech Hello to YOU!



Growing up in the 80's, I was a letter writer.  I had Pen Pals from school projects that I kept for years, I wrote to my friends that I met at camp, I even wrote letters to friends of mine that lived in the same city.  I loved writing letters with fun markers, pens, stickers, stationary, you name it.  My parents would buy an entire circle roll of stamps and I would burn through them like no one's business. Waiting for a response was exhilarating.  Depending on where that letter was coming from, those replies could take anywhere from two days to six weeks if they were from an overseas cousin.  The wait was excruciating and exciting at the same time.  How would they respond? Would they answer all of my questions and comment on all of my stories that I wrote them? I couldn't wait to find out!  When I heard the diesel roar of the mailman's car, my heart would jump from excitement and I would run down the driveway to see if there was anything for me.  Nothing made me happier than finding a colored envelope from another city, state, or even country, with a stamp run through the meter, slight wear and tear on the envelope from its journey through who knows how many hands to find me, and finally, the writing of my name in one of my friends' distinctive handwriting.  Some of these letters were pages and pages long, carefully numbered at the bottom of each perfume sprayed page.  What a thrill of my childhood.  I had boxes of letters saved for years, filed away under my bed.


When  I got to college, the letters continued.  I'd get letters from friends and family and wrote them back faithfully with new stories and adventures in every envelope.  Then, a few years post college, I got the desktop computer with the cd included called America Online.  Email that had just been introduced to me at my post-college office job was now available in my own home.  Imagine the money I will save on my long distance! Imagine the time I will save waiting for a response!  Instant gratification at its finest!  My first week on AOL was beyond amazing.  I wrote to anyone and everyone that I knew had email.  The responses took a half of an hour to a half of a day, but I got the adrenaline rush every time I heard the infamous, "you've got mail!"  The ten minutes it took to 'dial up' and connect was nothing compared to the days I would wait for the mailman!  What a thrill to have a letter at my fingertips.  My beautiful desk full of stationary quickly began to collect dust.


Months and years passed and ecards from Blue Mountain Cards became all the rage.  I stopped sending greeting cards and started sending little animated sillies to people for every occasion including birthdays and anniversaries.  This was fun! I no longer had to panic that I wasn't going to get a card in the mail on time - I could just press send on the keyboard and my job and social obligation was done!  Instantly, I fired off my greetings and salutations easily and effectively, never once thinking hmmm, this is kind of getting impersonal. 


Soon, Instant Messaging came.  Wow, I thought, now I don't even have to wait for an email response! If the chat box says they are online, then they can immediately respond so my message!  And that's when emailing became second fiddle.  Messaging was fun, instantaneous and the new thing to do.  Soon I was never left to wonder for more than minutes or even seconds, what someone was up to or what they were doing that night, or anything.  If I needed to know anything at all, it was within seconds of finding with a few taps on the keyboard.  The ten minute wait to dial up slowly became unacceptable, leading to the internet hookup of the highspeed kind! What's $40 more a month when I could save 10 minutes every time I logged on?

Because ten minutes is just too long to wait for dial-up.
Time flew by without a card or letter in the mail.  I began watching the mailman come and go through season after season, with a box full of bills and marketing mailers, but not a smelly, colored card in sight.  I scratched my head and thought, is this what I've become?  Have I become so lazy and so in need of instantaneous responses that I have forgotten the simplest of joys?  As I pondered this, my cell phone dinged with it's silly little chime with a text message from a friend.  "Happy Mother's Day, hope its a great one."  I looked at the message and saw 'to undisclosed recipients' and rolled my eyes.  Great, now I am grouped in to a mass mailing for a Mother's Day wish. 

Nothing says I care like a mass-message to all of your phone book.
Things are so high tech now.  We have personalized  caller id ring tones for certain people (what is that for, to warn you they are calling when the phone isn't right there for you to look at the number?), we have audio caller id on our home phones so we can hear a woman butcher our friends' names when they call, we have Facebook chat and messages so we no longer use our email accounts and are annoyed when people do send email because no one uses it anymore?  What's becoming of us?  We've got to get back to the simple basics of human interaction.  Maybe it's too late.  I don't know.


I went to TJ Maxx and bought the most beautiful stationary I could.  I went to Michael's and bought a huge box of homemade cards for every occasion, and I even hit the Post Office for a good old-fashioned roll of stamps enough to last me a half of a year.  I dusted off my desk, and unclogged my favorite pen and began to write.  I wrote out  a few Thinking of You  cards, a few Just to Say Hello cards, and even sent a few Birthday cards as well.  My penmanship had suffered and my writing felt awkward and stiff, but after a while, my hand remembered what was once a natural and effortless job.  My heart felt light as I put the red flag on my mailbox up and later, as I peered out the window at the Postman, I couldn't help but giggle as he did a double-take at the rainbow outgoing mail he picked up with a smile.


I don't care who you are, what era you grew up in, how old you are, or where you live.  There is nothing like getting a personalized card from someone in the mail.  Maybe it's just a few minutes more of effort, maybe it's not as quick and easy as an email, or instant message, or text message, but it's special.  And in these days where there is literally no traffic on the extra mile, a little pinch of effort is worth millions.


So my challenge to you is to mail a card today.  Pick someone that you think deserves a little pick-me-up.  It'll make their day, and yours.

Signing off on my instantly published blog,
~DG

Friday

Worthy. (On a serious note...I can't be funny allll the time!)



As I carefully looked over my thousands of followers on Facebook and thousands of hits on my blog,  the  little voice in me told me I wasn't worthy.  Thankfully, the big voice in me, who has finally stepped up to the plate to make herself heard more regularly told the little one to shut up and reminded her of why I most certainly am worthy of so many amazing followers.  I am not going to float my boat, I am not going to brag, but what I am going to do is list a few of my life credentials to help you understand why you can trust me to be your go-to girl when you're having a tough day, or a rough mom-moment, an ugly, self-loathing day, or just plain old need a safe cyber friend to lean on.  If I can find the laughter in life, so can you. Trust me.

This is true.  Lucky for me, I have several inner voices.  Some of them louder than others!

I suffered a severe, rare illness.  At 20 years old, in my second semester of my Junior year of college.  I started getting severe headaches that lasted all day, every day, for weeks.  I had my eyes checked, tried to manage my stress level, changed my diet, but nothing worked.  One day, my vision went out and I fell over while working my part-time job near my university.  A dozen tests and several spinal taps later, I was diagnosed with a very rare disease called Pseudotumor Cerebri. Though usually treatable, this is an awful illness that implies your body has a brain tumor by swelling of the optic nerve, and increased pressure in the skull.  Take the worse headache you've every had, multiply it by 10, add ringing in your ears and dizziness every day all day for 6 months and that's what I lived through.  I had a six month treatment of steroids and strong diuretics and eventually, one glorious day, I was me again.  I survived it with no vision loss by some miracle, and no other scars other than that of having to leave college in such an abrupt and painful way.



Nothing makes you appreciate life and health more than having a severe headache for 6 months straight.

I am divorced.  I married in my early twenties.  I married him because I thought I could save him. I thought I could show him what happiness really was. He was sad, and put to work in a restaurant 7 days a week, 13 hours a day since he was 13.  He never finished school because he was taught that he would make more money owning a restaurant than anything a degree could bring.  The problem was my definition of happiness (family, laughter, simplicity, friends) was very different from his definition of happiness (money, power, cars, success).  When I finally came to understand this epiphany of sorts, my son was 9 months old.  I wasn't strong enough to leave him for me, but I looked at that child in the eyes and drew the strength I needed, I knew I could leave for his sake.  The day of our divorce, we walked out into the parking lot side by side.  I looked at him and with one big breath I told him I forgave him for everything he put me through, hugged him hard and we parted ways.  Truly, it was the best gift I have ever given myself.  Forgiveness.  We have seen each other every other weekend for 10 years now.  We are kind and respectful of each other and that is a wonderful thing.  We laugh often, too. He is happy with his family and I am happy with mine.  I looked at pain and fear in the eye, and I held its glance then I held my head high and moved forward one step at a time.  To this day, it was the greatest gift of a life lesson I could've ever asked for.

It seems like an oxymoron but it's not.

I was a single mom.  I was on my own with just my son for almost two years before I met my husband.  I worked so hard to provide for us and take care of a home, and spend quality time with him.  My self-esteem was still reeling from the divorce and I had confidence issues.  One day, my company was bought out by a bigger company.  The new CEO went around and did one-on-one interviews with the employees they inherited.  He and I spoke for some time about the company, my job, and my daily grind.  He proposed a sales job to me knowing I was a single mom and would benefit from the flexibility.  I quickly said that there was no way I could sell anything.  He asked me to trust him that I would and could be very successful in sales and promised me that after two weeks, if I truly hated it, I could go back to the office job.  He, a complete stranger, believed in me when I didn't believe in myself.  I went on to be salesman of the year, making a ludicrous amount of money my first year there - and through that success, allowed my spirit to soar in ways it hadn't in years.  Through my drive and my success, I learned to love myself after so many years of finding ways to hate myself.  It was at my peak of happiness that I happened to meet Hubs.  I wasn't looking.  I was just happy in life, happy with myself - and he was just an added gift.

Sounds trite - but these are words to live by.

I watched Cancer kill my friend.  My husband's brother's wife had Cancer when I met her.  She was in remission from breast cancer and ovarian cancer when we fell in love with each other at a family get together.  Her sense of humor and mild manner instantly connected us.  When Hubs and I got engaged, I asked her to be in the wedding and we were giddy as we began to make plans.  Days later, a routine check up showed the Cancer was back in the form of a brain tumor.  She stood tall and strong while the rest of us tried not to crumble.  She chose The Capitol Grille in Boston for a huge family dinner 2 nights before her surgery and insisted we all have a ball.  We laughed in the face of fear.  We took that tumor by the balls and threatened it and yelled at it.  We followed her lead.  The morning of her surgery, when she was finally awake and alert, I went in to see her, and the first words out of her mouth were about her shaved head.  I was so relieved to know that she was still the same girl she was at the restaurant.  Months later, the tumor grew back and without hesitation she agreed to have another go at removing it.  The night before her surgery, she emailed me her Chili recipe that I raved about so often.  She wrote in the email subject line:  Chili Recipe: In case I lose my mind and can't remember where I put it.  Little did I know that would be the last joke we shared.  The next day, the doctor had reported they got most of the tumor, but that she was not showing signs of the same girl we knew.  She would talk in numbers or colors or nonsense.  We were hoping it was temporary, but it wasn't.  My dear friend was there but gone.  I was in the final stages of planning a wedding and moving up to live with Hubs so I had stopped working.  My brother -n- law- to -be was still working so I quickly offered to come a few days a week and stay with her.  She was in a rehab facility for some time, suffered infections and what not, and was finally able to go home.  She had to wear a helmet to protect her head since she had parts of her skull removed from infection.  We bedazzled that baby right up but it was still an awful reminder of what we had lost.  As I helped her bathe, I would tear up looking at her wounded body, scarred from surgeries of every kind.  She fought that bastard with everything she had. She made it to our wedding and even wore her bridesmaid dress we picked out along with a beautiful pink scarf.  She didn't really know what was going on the outside, but I think on the inside she was happy.  She died one month later at 36 years young.

This is an understatement.
I have suffered the senseless loss of a family member.  When I was in flight training school I got a call from my mom saying my grandfather misstepped going down the stairs and suffered a blow to the head on the concrete basement floor.  I didn't make it in time to say good bye to him.  He never saw me get married.  He never knew my children.  The last thing he said to me before I left for Flight School was, "I never had to worry about you.  You are always going to be ok."  That is all I have left to go on.  It made me realize we walk on the edge of disaster every single day.  One misstep or one wrong move  - who knows what fate has in store for you.

I could go on.  But I won't.  What I will say to you all if you've made it this far, is that I appreciate you.  I appreciate your struggles, your past, your future.  We all have a cross to bear at some point in our lives. Whether our wounds are self-inflicted or brought on by someone else; whether our lives are muddy or clear; whether we choose a road full of bumps and potholes or smooth sailing on calm waters, we are all human.  We are all trying to make our way.  We can all learn from each other.  I'm here for you with a soft place to land, a safe place to go, a fun little corner of a crazy world.  Let's laugh a little, let's support each other a little, let's make the world a smaller place. 

LET'S DO THIS!

Wishing you blue skies and green lights now and always..
~DG

Hold life in your hands like a precious gift...because it is just that.




Wednesday

Mom Vs. Fitted Sheet and other Household Wrestling Matches


Nothing works up a sweat quite like changing the sheets.

I feel like no matter what stage of life my kids are in, I am always struggling with making their beds. When they were just infants, I would change the tiny sheets of the bassinet next to my bed, but the microscopic fitted sheet always gathered in the wrong spots or didn't stretch properly to avoid suffocation of the baby.  Throw sleep deprivation and Post Partum depression into the mix and you can bank on a few episodes of crying over fitted bassinet sheets.


When they moved on to a crib, it became even harder.  I would literally be drenched in sweat and out of breath from wrestling with the crib mattress' fitted sheet.  They made them fit so snug that you had to be nothing less than a bodybuilder and contortionist to get it on right. Throw the annoying bumper pads into this scenario and you can guarantee you'll rip at least one of those ridiculous little ties that barely connect the bumper to the crib. I used to lay another blanket down over the sheet so I wouldn't have to change them as often.


Does this woman have a tool belt on to change the crib sheet? Why yes, yes she does.  Point illustrated.
Next we had the brilliant idea to get bunk beds.  Have you ever tried changing the sheets on a bunk bed?  It is almost impossible to do without cracking your head on the top bunk or pulling a muscle from overstretching your arms and back.  I am lucky that I never got a concussion making those damn beds.  Trying to get the fitted sheet nice and tight while being bent in half ducking under the other bed is an ab workout to say the least. In the event a miracle would take place and I'd actually get two corners of the fitted sheet on, I had to then stretch the sheet enough to fit on the other corner without overstretching it leading it to snap and fly through the air.  Often times I would end up in the Superman position on my belly trying to reach all of the corners against the wall. That always ended up with me in the fetal position and crying and/or napping from exhaustion.

Snoozing after a good sheet-changing workout is a must.
Recently, the two little ones decided they want to start sleeping together.  Hey, whatever gets them to sleep easier, faster, and with fewer "mooooom can I have a drink of water???????" interruptions.  So I had to put one of those Safety Side Rails up on their full size bed.  This seemed like an easy enough invention.  Little did I know it gets fitted underneath the entire width of the bed and is as complicated as a crib rail. Again, getting a fitted sheet on a mattress when struggling with that thing is a workout.  Who needs BodyJam when I can get a better work out jamming my body against their mattress?

Brilliant invention - total pain in the ass though.

Hubs and I have a king size bed that I swear weighs 200 pounds.  I like to dust behind the bed so he and I aren't breathing in dust all night but it's almost impossible to get behind the mattress when it weighs that much.  If you saw me using the hose extender behind the bed with one leg over the headboard and one leg stabilizing me on the bed, you'd wonder how I haven't hung myself on the vacuum hose.

Death by Vacuum Cord Strangulation

In our sunroom, we have an old couch of mine that I got one of those SureFit covers for.  I thought this was a brilliant idea to give my couch that still had plenty of good years left the facelift it needed to freshen up the room.  The website makes them look so easy and simple.  Well guess what, I get several good cardio workouts and exclamations of colorful curse words everytime I have to wash that damn thing and put it back on.  Who in the HELL thought this thing up?  A man. For sure.  It is the most ridiculous, non-user friendly pain in the ass couch cover I've ever known.  By the time I'm done, I have to resist the temptation to punch the couch pillows as hard as I can.  Forget kickboxing workouts, I'm going to work out my aggressions on the loveseat.

More tools needed? To put on a slipcover? Are you kidding me? Oh, and there's an instructional video available too.

When I eventually get back into the workforce, I'm wondering if these skills and struggles will be valuable to a prospective employer.  I highly doubt it.  Whatever battles you are currently experiencing with your mattress of choice, or furniture or other household items, know that you are not alone in your struggles.

You're welcome,
DG

Monday

Chuckles From the Cockpit & Other Inappropriate Flight Attendant Tales

As promised, more from my flight attendant days...

Glamorous? Ummm...no.

My dream of being a flight attendant came true in the early 90s.  I couldn't have been happier to have landed this job (no pun intended) right out of travel school.  This airline came to my school and recruited the best of the best (eyeroll - give me a break - getting all A's in travel school is like taking candy from a baby.  If you have half a brain you graduate Summa Chai Latte).  Anyhow - I was one of the top in my class so I scored an interview immediately - here I was, finally getting the glamor job I'd dreamed of for years.

After 6 weeks of training, I earned my wings.  I loved training.  I am a clown of course so I had to goof off most of the time but I did pay attention - I mean, I really did need to know how to activate the slide, the emergency exits, and so many other safety precautions.  But during the training, I did my best to make everyone laugh.  One day, we had to practice how to deal with sexual harassment, because on  a plane, there's no where to go when someone inappropriately makes  a pass at you (and let me tell you - it happens on EVERY flight - no joke).  So there it was, my turn to go up.  All I was supposed to do was bend down, put my hand firmly on the trainer's arm, look him in the eye and say, 'DON'T do that again.'  Instead, I took the opportunity to be a smart ass and said, "look, if you are going to harass me on the plane, at least buy me a drink and ask me to sit first."  The class laughed - the instructor did not.  He kept me after one day and asked me point blank why I thought I had to be funny all the damn time.  I didn't have an answer.  Luckily, he did say that it was a good thing I was excelling at everything during instruction or he'd have to be serious about reprimanding me.  The last straw was when I got up to do my spiel for a 'grade' and I hammed it up.  Instead of saying, "in case a loss of electrical power, the paths to the exits will be illuminated for you.."   I said, "in case of a loss of electrical power, the paths to the exits will be illuminated but this is NOT a floor show, and I am NOT a dancer..."  Again, the place erupted in laughter, and I looked at Mr. Serious and he hung his head and shook it slowly.  "You've GOT to stop this, you never know when you'll have a ghost rider from the company on board and then you'll really have problems."   I tried to heed his advice, but it was so hard to be serious.

"This is NOT a floorshow and I am NOT a dancer.."

Keep in mind, these were PRE 9/11 days.  Things were different.  Passengers had rights, they were confident and full of themselves...at that time they were still 'always right.'  We aimed to please back then.  If we were delayed because of this or that, we got to comp drinks.  Ohhh was that fun.  I loved comping drinks because one in the air is worth two on the ground.  People got drunk faster - which always led to funny stories and what not.  Keep in mind, I was on 34 seat-hoppers so I was the only one working besides the pilots.

"I'm ready to parrrrr-tay!"  Those days, drunks were fun on my airplane.

My pilots rotated in and out of my life.  Some of my faves were "M", who liked to speed up and down the tarmac to get to the gate faster - all so he could get to the hotel room and watch sci-fi like Star Trek and Battlestar Gallactica.  I used to smile and wave at passengers as they looked horrified as they stared out the window at how fast we were taxiing.  I think he later got transferred to ramp agent.  Another one of my least faves was "S"who was a narcolept.  I didn't find this out until one day when he never came back from a layover.  He had fallen asleep one too many times and the co-pilot finally ratted him out - thank God for that. 

I liked to say the wrong destination in my opening spiel just to see people freak out...but I'd use a crazy place like Transylvania instead of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania just to see if people were listening.  Most people were listening back then because no one had cell phones (or laptops for that matter)- except the very wealthy businessmen that had fatboys.  Those would be considered dangerous weapons these days.  How I hated the seat belt spiel. I mean who are these people, preschoolers? Who doesn't know how to put on a damn seatbelt?  Occasionally, I would be brave and goof that one up by saying, "to put your seat belt on, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It's really no different than any other seat belt you've ever worn in your life, and if you don't know how to buckle it, you should probably not be flying at all."  I had to be careful with the safety shit - I never knew when that ghost rider would be on board.  The one time a ghost rider WAS on board was a 5:15 flight out of Bangor in the dead of winter.  My asshole cab driver came and pounded on my apartment door at 2:00 am instead of 3:00 am - scared the hell out of me and I never fell back asleep.  I was completely exhausted and freezing cold since it was easily 15 below zero that day.  As we were headed down the runway for departure, I felt my neck flop onto my chest and I snapped awake.  Falling asleep on duty is, well, frowned upon.  He was the last one off the plane and was actually very kind about it.  He gave me a warning and was on his way.  That was the last time I ever nodded off on a flight.

I miss the days of Fatboys.
Smoking had only just been banned back then so I had to remind travelers twice throughout the trip not to smoke.  Usually I said, "Smoking in the lavatories is prohibited. If I catch anyone smoking in the lavatory you will be asked to leave the plane immediately to go to the smoking wing."   They always loved that one.

Feel free to smoke outside.

The Mile-High club was an urban legend on my flight.  You could really only fit in our planes' bathrooms if you were 5'2", 120 lbs.  Anyone bigger than that would have to be a contortionist..so two people doing anything other than standing like soldiers is impossible.  That's not to say people didn't do repulsive things on my flights.  They did.  Sometimes I would tell them to knock it off - sometimes I'd just ignore it.  Once, I was traveling through the aisle with beverage service when a guy gave me a sick back and asked me to refrigerate his sperm until he got off the plane.  I quickly filled a sick bag full of ice and dropped it into his lap - "here, this should do the trick," I said, and quickly moved on to the next person.  See the thing is, when you are flying, you have to decide how to handle your business.  These days, there's no putting up with anything - you want to tell your Captain someone's being an asshole, you better be prepared to land that plane at the next stop and have someone arrested.  Back then, you fixed the problem before it got out of hand.  That's where humor usually helped.  I have been handed everything from sperm, to poopy diapers, to vomit, to onions.  This is not a glamorous job people!


This is the only Effen served on the plane. Effen Vodka.  Brilliant.


We had a lot of power in those days.  If a pilot was a jerk, we would communicate that to the ramp guys, who swooned over the flight attendants often.  A simple nod and a point to a suitcase would indicate that particular crew bag should go to Montreal instead of Montana.  Hell hath no fury like a flight attendant scorned.

Looking back, one of the funny things, if you haven't read my previous blogs, was going to flight school with Steven Slater - you know the famous flight attendant that told the passengers where to go and then deployed the slide and headed down with a couple of beers.  God I loved that guy.  My hero for sure.  Take this job and shove it has new, personal meaning.


Things have changed, flight travel isn't fun anymore.  You just want to get from Point A to Point B safely and peacefully.  Everyone is a suspect.  Everyone is a victim.  Everyone gets felt up at security.  It's not fun.  But we can't stop traveling, we can't stop living.  Then they win...and we can't let that happen.

How things have changed.

Next time you travel, be extra kind to your flight attendant.  It's a hard job, it gets lonely, and it's thankless so much of the time.

Safe Travels,
~DG

Friday

Manscaping: One More Thing on the To-Do List



The other day I ran into an old co-worker-friend of mine.  I was genuinely happy to see him but I couldn't concentrate on anything he was saying because his eyebrows were so long and out of control.  I was trying really hard to stay focused but one of his eyebrow hairs was so long it felt like it was actually in my personal space.  What a shame.  Our reunion was tainted by poor manscaping issues; a problem that seems to be running rampant this season.

What makes a man give up on himself like that? What makes a man go from handsome groom to needing a grooming kit? When I last saw him, he was professionally dressed, well-coiffed, and neatly kept.  This time, his hair was shaggy and free of product, eyebrows wild, and he just looked disheveled.  One thing I did manage to pull from the conversation, however, was the addition of three children since I left my job 6 years ago.  Woop - there it is..the  C word - Children.  As if it's not enough to worry about grooming ourselves during our hectic days and sleepless nights, now we have to keep an eye out on our men lest they start swaying back to their caveman roots.  They do have a tendency to slip a little if we don't stay on them.

Excavating? or Ex-caveman-ating? That's the question.

Here are a few things to keep an eye out for so your man doesn't regress to his less than hygienic college days.

Showering - Showering is the basic key to keeping your man well-groomed.  Some guys feel like eh- I'll shower tomorrow and that's OK once in a while - but 2 days has to be the max.  Anything more is grounds for a strike of the intimate kind.

Eyebrows - Your man should not look like a muppet.  Get the scissors and a comb and trim those bad boys up.  I had to beg Hubs to let me do it once and he was so happy with the results, he takes care of them now.  See, sometimes you just have to show them how it's done - or that it needs done period.

Unacceptable.

Hair - there's no reason to have Lego hair - get a drop of gel, spike it, mess it up, do something.  Anything is better than nothing at all.  And bedhead is unattractive - put a lid on it if need be.

How can we trust someone enough to be President of our country when we can't trust his basic hair judgement? The Donald needs to cut that shit off, put some gel in it, and knock off the crap.

Teeth - Women may like a dirty mouth on a man - but only figuratively - not literally.  Periodontal disease is no joke - it costs an arm and a leg to un-do not to mention it's nasty.  Floss the choppers, gargle and brush.  Buy some fun toothbrushes and pastes to make it fun for your man to take care of his teeth.  I'm sure the Justin Bieber toothbrush would be a big hit.  Kidding.


Skin - Guys get dry skin, oily skin, flaky skin - get them a decent scrub for the shower and an appropriate lotion to match - tell him he needs to take care of his skin or he will look like George Burns when he's 50.  Not a good look.

Diet - Too many times, the beer sneaks up on the belly.  This is never attractive.  No woman is going to say say.."I love the way my husband's big belly that hangs over his golf pants..."  If you have to lift the gut with the left to pee with the right, you've got a problem dude.  Find time to exercise together, or help him find a hobby to get active.  Eating well 5 nights a week, and having a little indulgence on the weekends is a good effort too.


Clothes - Help him keep his wardrobe updated.  Guys tend to hold on to too many articles from their past.  This includes 80s Bill Cosby sweaters, neon colored Gold's Gym tank tops, and outdated Wranglers that go up to the belly button.  Get some comfy fitting, manly looking jeans and for everyone's sake - steer clear of mens' skinny jeans.  Those are totally ridiculous.
Both are cringe-worthy.


Feet - What is with guys' feet?  They are rough and cracked and look like a sidewalk for crying out loud.  Slather some lotion on those barking dogs and don't be afraid to get  a pedicure once in a damn while.  Cavemen had feet like that because they didn't wear shoes.  What's your excuse?

Excess Hair - There's no reason to look like you have a vest on when it's just your skin.  Waxing hurts - there's no denying it.  But being called an orangutan by children at the beach hurts just as much.  Take care of that would you?  This also goes for goatees, moustaches, beards, sideburns.  You can't just grow that shit out and let crumbs and bacteria nest in there for days.  Trim it up - keep it neat.  No one needs to know what you had that day for lunch by the crumbs you left behind.

This is no laughing matter if it's what your husband looks like in the pool.


Look, most men are comfortable in their own skin.  They don't obsess over themselves like we do.  So when the sleep deprivation and chaos of Parenthood ensues, good hygiene is the first thing to go.  It's our job to make sure that doesn't happen.  So ladies, add that to the task list and now you've gone from ten minutes of allotted time to get ready, to five.   It's not easy being Superwoman!

Add Manscaping to it and you're done..almost.
 Lovey Loves-
~DG