Monday

BlogHer 2012..I'll Be in the Bathroom If You Need Me.



BlogHer 2012. 
New York City.
Seemed like a great idea when I signed up.

Now, I'm panicking.  Why?  Why would I leave the comforting hug of my couch and my jammies for the most glamorous city in the US?  Because I want to learn something?  Partly.  Because deep down I want to be a better blogger? That too.  Because I am a mental self-flogger-blogger?  Yes. 

Remember the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when Toula (Nia Vardalos) reflects on her growing up greek in grade school.  Flash to a chubby girl with sideburns and a moustache eating "Mouskaka."  Odd girl out...awkward and alone. This is the vision I get when I think of 4500 other bloggers flocking to the conference.  I'm nervous, afraid I'll get trampled, certain I'll lose my Conference Pass, not find a seat - or worse yet, go to sit down and someone will say..."sorry, this seat is taken.."  I also think of Milton from Office Space getting passed over repeatedly for cake.  Great - my self-image is a young Toula Portocalos peppered with Milton Waddams' bad office fortune.  I have these horrific images of me trying to quietly sneak into a session while ending up tripping on several laptop cords, ripping an entire row of computers off of their tables and the whole room stopping to watch me fall into someone's lap. "I'm ok!"  I picture myself saying as I pull my skirt out of my bloomers and smooth out the wrinkles. And as I get up and start walking, I notice the speaker giving a quick nod to security while pointing to me.  Why is the 12 year old chubby me surfacing in my thoughts about this conference?  I just don't know.


Milton:  "The ration of people to cake is too big!"  I'm thinking the ratio of bloggers to seats available is too big.  Like Milton, someone will probably say to me, "Yeahhh, if you could go ahead and take a spot in the Ladies' Room , that'd be greeeaaaat.  Mmmmkayyy?"

Therefore, I shall set up a blogging station in the comfort of the Ladies' Room at the hotel.  I will hand out towels to those who are done washing hands with a smile, I will rub the backs and hold the hair of anyone feeling like they need to vomit, I will make sure the soap remains filled and the toilet seats are clean.  During down time, I'll blog from in there and report whatever bathroom banter I overhear.

I realize that by the time I get to the hall, all of the freebies will be gone and there will be nothing left to prove that I was there except a rubber grip to open pickles that says, "I went to BlogHer and all I have to show for it is this Rubbergripper..."   I will be mistaken for the hotel help and people will start handing me trash saying, "be a dear and go throw this in the trash for me, kaaaay?"  (Flashback to the last big party I went to, when two older ladies were chatting and one said to the other that she'd like a glass of wine - the other pointed to me and said, "there - have the nice Mexican girl get some wine for you..") 

I have no sponsor, unlike the vast number of other bloggers I know.  I will carry around a canvas bag on my hip that says, "Had you sponsored me, your name would be on this bag.."   I am sponsorless, penniless, clueless and scared...so I'll be in the bathroom if you need me.


How sad.  I wish I would've thought to order this bag beforehand..perhaps I would've caught the eye of a future sponsor and scored a sympathy vote?

Honestly though.  Joking aside.  No matter if you are the most successful blogger in the world or you just started writing yesterday, don't we all panic the same?  We type, type, type something that we think is brilliant or poignant or funny or touching - we re-read, edit, change, fix, and then boom - the adrenaline hits when we finish.  Then, the second we hit publish we give a slow-motion, robotic, NOOOOOOOOO as a choking feeling takes over our throat region.

Something twitchy happens when we hit the publish button ...self -doubt, fear, the realization that maybe no one really cares what we have to say - or do they?  We do this little head game of fear and self-loathing mixed with hopeful promise that if just one person can relate to what we wrote (and comment with a heartfelt touching - "oh my god thank you for this..and here I thought I was the only one...") it will all make it worth the time and emotion we put into it.

So no matter how much I joke about being a day late and a dollar short to BlogHer (I arrive Friday afternoon, long after everyone has filled their bags with swag, their pockets with business cards, and their heads with more blogging knowledge than their brain can hold), I find solace in the known fact, that we all put our jeans on the same...one leg at a time...lying down...sucking our stomach in.  We all blog the same...fiercely, with passion, hope, confidence sprinkled in hints of self-doubt, but more than anything else...the love of writing.


I kid when I say I'll be in the bathroom.  I may be nervous or weary - but I am excited beyond reason - and so anxious to be in a room with people who 'get it' and share my love of expression.  Safe travels to all who are going - and please - if you see me in the bathroom - be sure to say hello.

Cheers & Happy Blogging,
~DG

Saturday

Canadian Geese are Underachievers, too.


These underachieving water fowl barely make it over the Canadian/US border before they just give up here in New Hampshire.  And I can tell you, they aren't here for our tax- free shopping.  They are here because our motto is Live Free or Die while trying to drive all of us crazy with their stupid honking! (http://www.cartoonstock.com/)

I've had it.

No I mean I've seriously, really had it.

No more Mrs. Nice Blogger...  I'm going to use the word hate - and I'm going to mean it.

I HATE CANADIAN GEESE.  Or is it CANADA GEESE?  God forbid I call them by the wrong name!

There.  I said it - want to throw an egg at me?  Call me an animal hater?  You don't scare me.  I love animals.  I LOVE THEM.  Do you hear me?  I am an animal loverrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Canadian Geese are not animals.  They are some kind of demented, drunken prehistoric mutants that are indestructible and still lingering  loitering on this earth.  No.  I take that back - they are not lingering/loitering - they are planning to take over.


We live next to a park that is beautifully situated on the edge of a Lake that feeds into Winnipesaukee (you remember, from What About Bob?)  Anyhow.  What used to be a beautiful sandy beach that was open to the public is now overrun by these real life Angry Birds.  Why are they so pissed off all the time?  Because they fled Canada and are now here in the US where no one wants or respects them? Are they just angry being stuck here in New Hampshire when they really want to be in Florida but are too fat and lazy to get there? I don't know what they are so upset about all the time.  Actually, I have an idea - because they are absolute idiots...whether they are in a group - or is it gaggle - or flock -  of about 10 or 100, they never have a smart leader among them.  I know this.  How?  Because 5 out of 7 nights during most of the summer (spring and fall too for that matter), they fly over head at about 2 am HONKING as loud as they can, startling me out of my deep sleep and scaring the hell out of me.  THEN, about 10 minutes later, they come flying from that direction, backtracking and honking some more.  I can't help but wonder what they are honking about.


YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY YOU IDIOT!  HONK, HONK!

Lucy Goose in 3rd row back:  "GEORGE, THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT WAY..I'M TELLING YOU, WE SHOULD'VE TURNED RIGHT AT THE LAKE..."

Head Goose George:  "I HEARD THAT LUCY, AND I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE WE'RE GOING AND DON'T NEED OR APPRECIATE A BACKSEAT HONKER SO SHUT YOUR BEAKER.."

(In Unison) Geese in rows 2, 4, 6, 7 and 10:  "This is NOT the right way..we're lost.  Turn around!"

Goose in 8th row:  "Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament.."  Repeat twice. (National Lampoon's EuroVaca Reference)

Kiddie Geese (Rolling Eyes): "We know.....Big Ben..."

Lucy Goose in 3rd row back:  "GEORGE...GEORGE...DAMMIT I SAID, YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!"

10 minutes later, backtracking:
Lucy Goosey:  "YOU SHOULD'VE LISTENED TO ME, GEORGE!"
HONK &^%$ HONK%$#@ HONK&^%$ HONK HONK HONK.

So I decided to go for a walk at the track next to the park and unfortunately I have to walk through the park to get there.  Lovely.  I have to go through not only the mine field of Canadian Geese poop but also deal with their attitudes as they have an issue with me passing through their turf.  They're like a bad gang in a run down neighborhood with their head cocked to one side looking at me like I'm an intruder and they're about to do a drive by pecking on me. 


Isn't it bad enough we have to walk with purpose through a park to stay safe and  aware of our surroundings? Now we have to walk defensively to avoid an attack by these guys? (dailyhaha.com)

"HONK HONK."  screams one of them from behind the tree, scaring the crap out of me and causing me to let out a scream.  Oh that pisses them off.  They feel threatened anytime someone makes a noise or makes eye contact so they start running toward me.

"SHIT!"  I yell...and my lovely walk turns into a panic-stricken run through the park, causing me to step in numerous dark green cigar bombs.  They honk me into the parking lot and I just about run into a damn car trying to avoid them.  One of them, their fearless idiot leader, stops in his tracks just as he steps in  the parking lot and sees what I can only assume is his reflection in the shiny door of a car and starts  a fight with the it, poking the crap out of it with its beak.  I am now standing in the parking lot, in awe, of how stupid this bird is.  He keeps pecking at it over and over again so I run toward him this time, yelling at the top of my lungs.  (My neighbors must think I have lost my damn mind).  He does some crazy neck move at me like he's about to pull a Karate Kid -Sweep-the-Leg move on me and doesn't back down.  There we are in the parking lot - me and George. I'm now having a conversation with him asking him if he wants to throw down.  I am feeling bold and angry and I'm ready to take him to school for all those nights where I finally fell asleep and he and his minions disturbed my slumber.  "You wanna go?  You wanna piece of me?  Because I am bloated, PMSy and I am looking for a reason, buddy"  I say to him while pounding my chest like a cavewoman.


Oh no you didn't!  Stop getting all up in my face you stupid jerk!

 "HONK HONK."  He's taunting me.  And I think he is falsely encouraged by his backup image in the car reflection.  "That's your reflection you idiot...he's not going to help you."  I yell at him.  And then I channeled my inner Katherine Hepburn in On Golden Pond and gave him my Loon call.  He took off running and didn't look back.  I embarrassed him in front of all of his gaggly gang and they honked at him as he got back into the water with his Canadian tail between his webbed feet.

Mini Victory.  DG 1  George 0.

The truth is though, they're winning.  We had more beach closings last year because of bacteria than we actually had days open.  They have pooped so much and infiltrated the beaches so terribly that it's become a real problem.  They are vicious and defensive and they walk around like they are drunk and disorderly.  They are protected, too, so you can't do anything to them.


Ahhh...swimming in feces...lovely.

I'd like to say I've made peace with my new neighbors, but I haven't.  I've taken to studying up on how to piss them off so I thought I'd share a few tips with you if you are experiencing this problem, too.

First of all, confronting them and having a chat like I did, is not wise.  I am lucky I didn't get pecked to the point of scarring on my legs.  They are nasty little jerks.  I did, however, find humor and solace in my come -to- Jesus with George.  I showed him who's boss - but things could've gone the other way and I know that.  I could've been found pecked beyond recognition by my worried husband when I didn't come home from my walk.  I can see the whole gaggle passing me around the dinner table and having a laugh or two.  And then she said to me "you don't scare me..you stupid bird!  And that's when I poked her eye out!"


Ummm...hello? City Councilmen...GEESE CAN'T READ!!

Canadian geese do not like to congregate UNDER anything hovering over them for some reason.  It's a proven fact that they hate balloons.  (See - what kind of jerk hates balloons?)  They say to fill balloons with helium and tie them to fishing line in the area where they congregate and the balloons will keep geese from feeding and resting on lawns.

With the huge population of geese here at the park, I need UP-like quantities of balloons at the beach!

Believe it or not, several towns use Grape Kool-Aid on its lawn areas. Apparently, there is a chemical (actually I think it's grape extract of some form, but whatever..same difference...) in it that deters the geese and makes the grass less tasty. I am thinking it was that same chemical that made some of the people I went to school with that drank way too much Grape Kool-Aid act a little crazy - not sure though.  (Yay! More poison in our beverages!)  Regardless, I can't imagine making a huge pitcher of Grape Kool Aid and pouring it all over my lawn. Super - so I've gotten rid of the geese, and now I have a huge ant infestation. 

Thank goodness It is caffeine free AND infused with Vitamin C to offset the nasty chemical that geese hate to ingest.

Since owls are a predator to geese, owl decoys tend to be work well.  Also, reference sites will tell you dead geese decoys are a deterrent because the geese see the dead decoy and think, "hmm, that doesn't seem like a good sign if Bill over there is dead."  Personally, I think those reference sites give the CG's too much credit - and second of all, who is going to go out and BUY a dead goose decoy to put in their yard?  Not I said DG.  

 
 Look, I know they are creatures of this planet and that's cool and whatever, but can't they go poop somewhere else instead of our beautiful lakes and rivers?  Who wants a nasty case of duck itch from their bacteria they leave behind everywhere they go?  It's no fun to try to go for a nice walk and have to deal with their nasty attitudes and honking everytime we turn around! 

My kids are finally sleeping through the night - why can't I???  Damn you George.

Annoyed,
DG

Tuesday

Remember, Mom?



(Alzheimer's Awareness Stamp, US Postal Service)

I just got home from spending a week in Ohio with my family. I had the opportunity to watch my Yia Yia blow out the candles on her 88th birthday cake. I had the privilege of sitting down with my 91 year old Papou and listen to his wise thoughts on our crazy world. I had the special chance of squeezing my 87 year old Grandmother gently, for an extra long time. I don't know how much longer I have them and I know how precious time is. I know how fortunate I am that I have had them for this long in my life - not only healthy and happy -but with their sharp minds and memories still in tact.

The last night I was home, I went to a 40th birthday bash for some of my closest friends.  Since we are all scattered around, we decided on one date to celebrate everyone's milestone.  I had a long chat with an old friend and remembered old times like they were yesterday.  She told me all about her mother, and how she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's ten years ago in her 50s.  (My friend was only 30).  I can't imagine, watching her mother, so young, so full of life, disappear before her eyes.  She did  not understand that her daughter got married, that she had children, and made a life of her own.  She'll never scoop up her grandchildren and spoil them with kisses and hugs.  It is one of the cruelest diseases that robs people of their lives, their dignity, and so much more.  I had seen this for years during my time I worked with them in the Nursing Homes.  So many families are left to wonder if they are now strangers, or if, by some miracle, their loved ones really do know they are there.

As I spoke to my friend, I remembered all of the stories that loved ones had told me about their family members before they ended up in the Nursing Home.  The close calls, the near tragic accidents, the final straws that landed them in a locked, safe unit at a home permanently.  I recall the gradual reversal of adulthood back to just basic survival.  It is devastating.  But the one thing I always believed, was that deep down, they were there - and they knew when their family was there too. 

There are three women that I remember clear as day from my nursing home days.  One of them, a brilliant professor in her prime, had a bandage over her eye one morning when I went to visit her.  I asked her what happened to her eye.  She said, "he did it."  I panicked.  I thought oh no, not someone that works here, not a random visitor..my mind started running.  "Who did it?"  I asked her gently.   "That man.  Al.  His name is Al Heimer's...he comes into my room at night and does horrible awful things to me.  He hurts me.  He makes me fall."  I had been recording our sessions for research I was doing for a paper in college.  I must have played that back 100 times.  She had personified the illness in her mind and this is how she described it.  A monster.  And it is just that.  Another dear woman would tell me every single day that she was new to the home and that someone, she didn't know who,  took her in the middle of the night from her bed, and she ended up there.  To live that horror, every single day, over and over was heartbreaking to me.  I tried every day to sit with her, to make her smile, to ease her pain - and every day I managed to do so, only to go back at the same time every day to her furrowed brow and worried face and go through it all over again.

One of my most wonderful - and reassuring thoughts on Alzheimer's was because of a little woman in her housecoat named Ethel.  How I loved Ethel - she walked up and down the hallways daily, 'tending to her garden', gathering cucumbers for pickling, singing and smiling.  Every day she'd point out the flowers in her garden, even though all I ever saw were checkers on a table in the rec room.  For her mind to have the ability to rescue her and take her back to her favorite pastime every single day was a gift.  It made me think that our defense mechanisms were strong enough to swoop down and help us survive even the most awful affliction.



I wrote this poem for my friend's mom,  Mrs. C, and the countless others like her.  She is one of the kindest, most gentle, happy, loving mothers I know.  She was dealt a bad hand - and was taken away and all that was left was a frail, yet beautiful shell of a woman.  I hope that anyone afflicted, or who has someone who is suffering with this can find peace.  But I have even bigger hopes that we can find a cure.


Remember, Mom?
by DG

Remember, Mom..when you told me not to jump on my bed because I might fall off and get hurt?
And I did it anyways..and got hurt.
You fixed me right up, with love and patience and never said "I told you so," even though you did.

Remember, Mom..when I kept striking out in Little League?
You told me to keep practicing and trying my best.  And I did.
When I hit it out of the park, your voice was the loudest, proudest of them all
and you believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself.

Remember, Mom..when you told me not to throw the football in the house?
And I did it anyways and broke your favorite lamp.
Instead of yelling at me, you let me help you put it back together with Super Glue and a lot of love.
I thought I was in trouble, but you spoke volumes by saying nothing at all.

Remember, Mom..when you told me not to go to that party but I went anyways.
I was in over my head and I called you to come and get me.
And you did.
I thought you would ground me forever..but you only grounded me for a few days.
You were right, but you never said so.  You let me learn the hard way.
And I did.

Remember, Mom..when I said I couldn't wait to be an adult so that I could make my own decisions?
You told me not to be in such a hurry and to enjoy being young.
And I grew up.  And it was hard.
Making adult decisions wasn't always fun, or easy.

Remember, Mom...when I found you walking aimlessly in the neighborhood, lost and confused?
You thought I'd be upset.  And I was.
But not at you.  At the disease.
And I still am.

Remember, Mom..when I finally had to take you to the Nursing Home to keep you safe?
I thought you'd be mad at me.  But you weren't.
You didn't even know who I was.
But you smiled at me, and gave me a soft tap on the knee.

Remember, Mom?  All those times you were there for me?  You loved me no matter what?
I'm right here, mom.
And I love you no matter what.


Peace,
DG

Wednesday

Eat, Pay, Loathe....No More.

Eat. Pray. Love......?
For me, it's more like Eat. Pay. Loathe.   Eat the food, pay for it with regret, loathe myself for the rest of the day.

My friend over at Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva posted an Erma Bombeck quote about women who passed on dessert on the Titanic - and it struck me as just very powerful.


A quote from the movie Eat Pray Love says it brilliantly:
Liz:  I’m so tired of saying no, and waking up in the morning and recalling everything I ate the day before – counting every calorie I consumed so I know exactly how much self-loathing to take into the shower. I’m going for it. I have no interest in being obese, I’m just through with the guilt. So, here’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to finish this pizza, and tomorrow, we’re going to buy ourselves some bigger jeans.

As someone who has struggled with my weight   my mental self-image for more years than I care to remember, I can't do this anymore.  I won't do this anymore.  The above quote from the movie hit me right in the face and I thought to myself, Oh my God, I'm not the only one who does this?  It's crazy how millions of us women do this to ourselves every day, thinking we are alone in our struggle.  Society has made us crazy.  Airbrushing has made us delusional.  We look in the mirror and see flaws instead of gifts.  No more. No more. No more.

I've recently experienced a four week bout of Vertigo.  With three kids home on summer break, I had to push through this absolutely debilitating condition with a brave face and a smile.  Turns out, I had a virus that settled in my inner ear causing a buildup of fluid - bringing with it unbalance and dizziness.  The medicine I was on made me so tired and blurry, everything - and I mean everything took effort.  Finally, when I was put on the right medicine to clear my ear up, slowly but surely I started to think clearer because I wasn't constantly fighting the pain and drowsiness.  I thought a lot during those weeks. I didn't know why I had vertigo - and I searched high and low for a cure - but I searched even harder for a cause.  I knew I wasn't taking care of myself, I knew I wasn't balancing my need for rest while managing my responsibilities to this family.   I thought about my health, how I constantly took it for granted.  I thought about others.  Their pain.  People who are sick, suffering, chronically ill, struggling with daily life - I had a new sensitivity for them.  Truly, we take our health for granted.  So why, why would I keep mentally beating myself up over food, body image, the lack of perfection - when perfection is impossible to achieve - and health is such a brilliant second to that.



Now that I am better, I feel like being healthy is being beautiful.  Now that I wake up in the morning feeling amazing instead of fighting the urge to vomit from being dizzy the second I open my eyes, I no longer take inventory of the things I ate the night before while watching a little tv with Hubs.  I no longer start my day with hating myself for enjoying a bowl of ice cream after a long summer day with the boys.  Why - why did I do this for so many years?  Why was I everyone's friend, reliable, caring and kind - and to myself I was cruel, condescending and mentally abusive?  I cringe when I think about how I treated myself.  How I constantly told myself I didn't deserve a plate of fries because I didn't walk 3 miles in the morning  - or I didn't earn  the right to run to the ice cream truck while laughing alongside my kids.  I was no better than a burglar - robbing my own self of life's simple pleasures - whether it be food, or not - there was always a checks and balances tally in my head.  Should I? Shouldn't I ? Can I ? Can't I?   Exhausting.


It took me getting sick with something that scared me more than anything ( I thought I had a brain tumor or a really serious problem and started to panic about my life and my family and why hadn't I been happy with myself just being healthy) to really just stop with the negativity about not being a perfect fit in a swimming suit and not having the ideal figure for all of the cute maxi dresses in season this year.  ( I wish I was tall, I wish I was thin, I wish I was this, I wish I was that became I WISH I FELT WELL ENOUGH TO SMILE AND LAUGH AGAIN). I would look at the smiles on my kids' faces and think oh my gosh, what if I am really sick - they are going to be so scared - they are not going to laugh like that - be carefree like that - it will ruin this family.  I immediately thought of my sister n law who I helped take care of in her last weeks of life - she died at 36 years old from Cancer.  I panicked.  It was terrifying to have blurred vision, be off balance, feel sick all day.  I thought for sure I was doomed.  What a wake up call.

I am done with guilt.  I am done with self-loathing.  I am done with wishing I was something else. Please get me out of this and get me healthy and no worse for wear, and I will stop this madness. 

When I was 20 years old, I had to leave college due to an awful illness called Pseudotumor Cerebri.  A debilitating condition that causes one to have horrible headaches - all day long, every day for months until a course of medical treatment is run.  The main cause of this illness?  Obesity in young women.  Would I have considered myself at 20 years old, 20 pounds overweight obese? Probably not - I was a fluke/freak of medical nature.  My neurologist even told me he's never seen anyone 'this small' - probably meaning 'not obese' be afflicted with this illness.  I nearly lost my vision - had I not gone to the hospital when I did, I would be blind today.  How does one come out of an illness that strikes 'obese women' and not be mentally screwed up for a long time?  I am not sure.  I'd struggled for so many years by not fitting in to the Cindy Crawford- model look that I was already screwed up when I got sick.  I failed to be my own best friend.  I failed myself.  I was too busy being a friend to people, I forgot about me.  Fast forward many years, and I followed the same pattern.  I got too busy being a mother to my children, a wife to my husband, a volunteer to those in need, a friend to many during these trying times, I neglected myself.  How could I possibly be a true friend to others when I was such a shitty friend to myself?

I had a come to Jesus with me, myself and I during the past month when I was unwell.  I said - time to give yourself a break. Taking care of your own needs (and feelings) is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and those around you.  Maybe you think caring for yourself is selfish - that's bullshit - why would you think everyone else matters but you?  You  matter.  You absolutely do.  Your health, both mental and physical matters - if you don't have that, everything else will fail.  Your family needs you - but they need you to be healthy, happy, and present.  Time to live.  Enough of the self-loathing, and not enough self-promoting.  If you don't promote yourself who will???


This past week, where I have finally been back to me, back to feeling 120% healthy both physically and mentally, I have been happier than I have been in years.  I have been finding 30 minutes a day to walk - but with the idea that I am not doing it to exercise, but more as a peaceful time to think and meditate.  No music, no audiobooks, nothing  in my ears but my thoughts, the birds, and the sound of grass and gravel under my feet.  I quiet the voices in my head and I tell them, if you want to talk, keep it peaceful, positive and nurturing.   They nod in quiet understanding and I have found comfort in the silence and peace in my interior self.  The beautiful weather helps, it's hard not to find comfort in the blue sky with billowy white clouds.  Finally, I'm here in the moment, finally, I'm appreciating me and finding peace and love in myself, through my thoughts. 


Simplicity.

I leave you with one more quote from Eat Pray Love that I think is brilliant - especially being someone who took way too long to pick out her clothes every day from a closet full of, what I always called, 'nothing to wear.' 
“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control.” Liz, Eat Pray Love

 Cheers to a healthy, happy, you...and to learning to be your own best friend,
~DG