Friday, November 30, 2012

30. November Is Over.

It's over, you guys!  It's OVER!!

This is my last post in NaBloPoMo.  It was 95% fun, 5% torture.  I think hardest part about posting every single day is that I have many, many other things to do besides blogging.  I know, we all do.

This month kicked my ass in a major way.

I wasn't sure I'd be able to do this, but I did.

I woke up this morning with a head full of ideas.  More posts I want to write, some longer projects I'm thinking about starting and a strong desire to accomplish tasks.  I'm going to ride this wave of enthusiasm as long as I can.

I'll be back soon.  I don't know if I'll post tomorrow, it all depends on how all this energy plays out.  Thanks to everyone who read and commented.  I know I wasn't as good at reading and commenting on everyone else's blogs as much as I'd like to.  I have the 600+ emails to prove how behind I am there.

Tonight though, I'm going to eat Chinese food (steamed vegetable dumplings and a vegetable roll, if you're wondering) and go to sleep.

November may have kicked my ass, but December isn't going to.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

29. Spinning My Wheels.

I guess you could say I'm results-oriented.  I like to see tangible proof of my progress on a daily basis.  I  am happiest when, at the end of a work session, I can look at some sort of measurable indication that I actually got stuff done.

Right now, the things I do, they don't leave me with that feeling.

I wash many, many dishes every day.  The sink stays empty for about five minutes and then it's filled right back up.  No sooner do I finish vacuuming do I find crumbs and such on the floor.  The laundry never ends.

At work, it's no better.  This is a time of year when I spend most of my time putting out fires.  Squeaky wheels are getting oiled and I'm not getting ahead, crossing things off lists or clearing my desk.  I don't leave at the end of the day able to see what I accomplished.  My desk is a mess, my email is full and there are piles of folders stacked so high that I'm slightly concerned that they will topple onto my office mate's head.

I've been working in my home office to create a usable, inviting space there.  I've also been working on the project of bagging, boarding, boxing and cataloging our comic book collection.  Both of these tasks are so huge that often at the time I need to stop for the day I've made a bigger mess than when I started.

I know in my head that I'm getting things done.  I mostly don't stop Doing from 6 in the morning until 9 at night.  I could most certainly make a list of everything I did and you would not deny that I was busy. Most of the time it's not nonsense either, it's real work or projects.  But if you were to look around for a pile of completed things or a list you could cross tasks off of, you would probably not find it.

This is not to say I feel the need to justify my time spent.  I don't, honestly.  This is about my perception  of things.  I am my own worst enemy and this is no exception.  I can talk myself out of pride in accomplishment better than anyone else can.

It gets to me after a while.  I know I don't NEED to keep a tally.  No one is making me list my deeds for the day so I can get a gold star.

But it would do my spirit good to see things done.  To see a room clean, a list all crossed off, a pile, um, un-piled.

It would be nice to finish the day not feeling like I'm just spinning my wheels.

28.(ish) Sick.

I humbly come to you requesting that you forgive me for the lateness of this post.  Yesterday I was doing some stuff when I realized the laptop was at 10% power.  I set it to charge and started doing other things.

My health began a rapid descent into the abyss known as the head cold.  By the time I got Nathan bathed and to bed, ate dinner cleaned up, etc., I felt like I was going to pass out.  I sat down and promptly fell asleep.

I woke up on the couch at 2:45 in the morning and realized with a gasp that I didn't post last night.  I meant to.  I really did.  I was going to do it after dinner and I decided to prevent death by resting.

I'm so pissed at myself for missing it.  I managed real posts almost every day of this challenge.  I've had a hectic time at work, the holiday was in there and there have been some other non-bloggable goings ons that have been taking up time and mental space.  Through all of it, I posted daily.

And then, on the 28th day, I messed it all up.  I HATE failing, especially at something that I really don't think I should fail at.

So, if you'll indulge me and not hold it against me, can we all just pretend that I posted this last night?

I will post again later, assuming I survive another crazy day in the office with my head so heavy I can barely hold it up.

Until this evening...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

27. First Snowfall.

The title of this post almost makes you think that I like snow.  On the contrary, I loathe snow.  I abhor snow.  My hatred of snow burns so deep in my gut that sometimes I think it could kill me.

OK, that last part might be a bit much.

For someone like me who has extreme issues with control and flexibility, snow causes me great anxiety.  All weather events do really.  Think about it.  The weather is going to just do what it's going to do and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

I can plan for and around it.  I can try to adapt my schedule, shuffle my needs and adjust my expectations, but I still can't do what I want to do whenever I want to do it when weather decides to do something besides just be sunny.

Thankfully, today the snow didn't do anything to me.  My kid had school, work was open, the roads were drivable.  It did remind me though that it's only November and we have possibly 4-5 months of me worrying that it's going to snow.

Delayed openings at my son's school mess up my work schedule.  If school closes early, that's another inconvenience.  I hate being stuck home if I have errands to run or things I want to do.

I hate shoveling.  It's tiring and I'm lazy.  It's cold outside and my fingers get numb easily.  Snow boots are stupid.  Gloves practically render my hands useless but I can't go without.  I also don't have time for shoveling because I usually have a full schedule and adding something I don't even want to do to the mix makes me angry.

I can't even talk about it anymore.  I'm getting annoyed just thinking about it.

I realize that to live in New Jersey and get this angry about snow is ridiculous.  It snows ever year, even  in the mildest of winters.  I should be used to it by now since snow has been disrupting my life for many years.

Instead, I dream of the day I'll move to San Diego where it doesn't snow.

Monday, November 26, 2012

26. Insecurity, Cigarettes and Ice Cream.

When I was but a teenager, a man I knew passed down some wisdom that has often been repeated through the years by my circle of friends.

"You know what they say about the girls who smoke the Newport cigarettes?" he asked in his very thick Greek accent.  "They like to fuck."

Never a fan of menthol and not wanting to sully my reputation, I decided to stick with my Camel Lights.

A few Saturdays ago, my husband and I had the desire for some ice cream around 9:30 PM.  Because I was the one still dressed, I offered to make the run to 7-11.  As I pulled into the parking lot, two women were sauntering in towards the door, straight through the middle of the lane I was trying to drive down.

"Get outta my way, ya fuckin' whores!" I growled, windows up, confident they couldn't hear me.

You see, as much as I hate to admit it, I do sometimes talk and act like someone born and raised in New Jersey.

I am not proud of myself.  The fact of the matter is that these women were barely dressed and I judged them based on their lack of clothing.  More than that, I was jealous that they could run around like that and I, most definitely, could not.

I entered the store and made a beeline for the freezer case.  They were still paying for their Red Bulls and chatting loudly when I walked up behind them.  They appeared to be in their early 20s, heavily made up with hair just so.  Their black knee-high boots had stiletto heels at least four inches high.

I used to wear heels like that.

Black leggings, off the shoulder sweaters, tons of jewelry and one with a bare midriff, the girls giggled and laughed.  They looked like they were going to go out dancing or to a bar.  Something cool.  They were probably not going home to eat ice cream and try to finish Season 1 of Revenge on Netflix.

I though about my own outfit.  My sweater was one of those long ones, but since I'm so short it was past my knees.  I was wearing my good mom jeans with a t-shirt from JC Penney's that was just a touch too short.  I looked down and I realized I had forgotten to change my shoes before I left the house.

I was wearing my slippers.

The first woman finished paying and the second one passed her drink to the cashier who was, I am certain, the long lost son of El Debarge.  She was just about to swipe her debit card when the first woman called to her to please get cigarettes.

"Oh, and a pack of Newports, too, please?"

I could barely contain my laughter when she turned, smiled at me, then apologized for taking so long.  I smiled back, told her it was fine and hoped she didn't notice the two pints of Ben and Jerry's I was cradling.

Back in the lot, I fumbled for my keys as I headed towards my car.  I wasn't really paying attention to where I was walking and when I saw a car approaching me, I shuffled along and did the obligatory apologetic wave to signal that I recognized my blunder.

As the car passed, I realized it was the women, each of them lighting up a Newport.

When I got back home, I changed into my pajamas and put my slippers back on.  I smiled remembering old friends.  I chided myself for my bitter jealousy towards young women who still have the youth and gumption to go out on a Saturday night, dressed up and ready for fun.  I vowed to do something about my appearance and to pay more attention to my footwear.

Then I ate my ice cream, watched my program and passed out on my couch like the tired, grumpy woman I am.

I'm linking up with the way-talented group over at Yeah Write.  Hopefully I'll still be welcome after they all find out I'm kind of obnoxious and I have a potty mouth.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

25. Procrastination.

I blame Paplinko.  But it really only explains why I didn't get anything done today.  It doesn't really account for the rest of this weekend.

I brought work home on Wednesday and I promised myself I'd make time to do it on Friday.  I didn't though because I found other very important things to do.  I worked on some projects around the house and spent time with the family.  See? Important.

Then I said I'd do work on Saturday.  Nathan wasn't really interested in napping.  I mean, he's nearly six, so I don't really know what I was expecting.  And I had to make a dish to bring to Friends Thanksgiving.  I never have enough leftovers to bring to the event so I always plan to make a fresh vegetable the day of. This year it was roasted cauliflower and carrots with parmesan and breadcrumbs.  It was a very delicious, important reason to not get my work done.

And today...  I had a birthday party for a 5 year old to attend, the child of a friend/friend of my child.  I spent the better part of the afternoon driving and standing around watching my child and others jump around on giant inflatables.  They had a great time and I love watching the kids have fun.  And I enjoyed chatting with my friends, too.  Admittedly, I enjoyed all of this far more than I would have enjoyed working.

Notice I said the better part of the afternoon was spent in this celebratory endeavor.  So what about my morning?  And my evening?

I was playing Paplinko.  If you're not familiar, it's a free app that I have now downloaded to two iPhones and my Kindle.  I allegedly downloaded this game for my son, but clearly things have not gone as planned.  Certainly I saw the insanity of playing the same game on three different devices at the same time while my son was not in the room.  And even more certainly I saw the insanity of doing it again later in the day.

But you launch this ball and it bounces off pegs and you get points and coins.  When you run out of balls, if you have enough coins, you can "buy" more balls so you can keep playing.  And there are mulitpliers that make the pegs worth more and slime pits that steal your accumulated winnings.  And a treasure chest!  When you get a treasure chest, you can get all sorts of neat prizes!

I managed to get some of my work done in spite of the game.  I also managed to still get this post done. I am watching TV with my husband as I type because we have a tremendous amount of DVRed shows that really need to be viewed.

But Paplinko.  It's sitting on the arm of the couch, calling out to me, asking me to play it.

Shut up, Paplinko.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

24. Sleep Deprivation.

I consulted Google to find out how likely it is that I could die from sleep deprivation.  I found out that it's possible but that I'd have to be completely awake for nearly 2 weeks straight.

Apparently being awake for 10 hours, as I have been so far today, is not likely to kill me.

I read that a whole bunch of rats were dead after being forced to stay awake for 32 days.  But then I read another article where the rats were dead after only 2 weeks.  I'm not sure why there were scientific studies done to see how long rats could stay awake without dying.  I mean, I understand it because physiologically rats are similar to humans and yes, clearly, I'm curious about how long it's going to take for my tiredness to kill me.  What I meant is that I can't help wondering who decided they would spend their time keeping rats awake just to see when they die.

Also, how do you keep a rat awake?  Do you make it get up with its rat children when it's trying to sleep?  Do you make it go to work?  Do you make it cook and clean?  Do you make it participate in writing challenges like NaBloPoMo?  Do you give it an interest like watching TV, then give it a DVR so it can record all of its favorite shows and then have it stay awake engrossed in said shows long past the point where a sane rat would have gone to bed?  Do you take it to a cafe where it can order a coffee with a shot of espresso in it after already having 2 cups of coffee a few hours earlier?

Those are the ways I know to keep a human awake.  They work pretty well.  I've tested all of those methods and I can confirm that each one of those practices have successfully kept me awake.

If you've followed along this far, you may be wondering what my point is to all of this.  I'm sorry to say, I really don't have one.  Except that I'm tired and I think I'm starting to go just a little bit crazy.  I didn't have a blog post idea for today.  I have to leave in about 55 minutes to go to Friends Thanksgiving, which is, as you may have guessed, an alternative Thanksgiving we celebrate with our friends.  I don't have time for a nap, and even if I did, my son does not see the value in rest.  Since I won't get home until late tonight when I, no doubt, will have even less energy than I have right now, I wanted to get today's post written.

It's hard to write an end paragraph to a post that makes very little sense.  But I need to go put some make up on so that I don't look like a cast member of The Walking Dead.

Actually I don't think I own that much make up.

Friday, November 23, 2012

23. The Whole Thankful Thing.

Not too long ago I was having a playful argument with a coworker.  Without giving details, each of us argued that we had more problems than the other.

"You don't want my life, everything's a disaster!"

"You think you have problems?  Sit down, I'll tell you about mine!"

That sort of thing.

The truth is that she has her troubles, I'm sure, and I have mine.  She struggles with things that aren't issues for me and I have some difficulties that she doesn't.  We were both kidding around and we both knew it.

But some busybody other coworker had to jump in and "remind" us of the people who recently lost everything in the hurricane.  She suggested that we both needed some perspective.

Neither the first woman nor I were specific about our problems.  How could this third woman appear and berate us for not being thankful we didn't have problems as bad as people who lost their homes when she had no idea what we were even talking about?

When did we get to the point where we can't talk about anything being wrong without someone else throwing in our faces that someone else is worse off?

I know my problems are first world.  I know that plenty of people are worse off than I am.  It doesn't change the fact that there are things in my life, as there are in almost every one of your lives, dear readers, that are real and true problems.

Maybe you have this month's rent but next month will be a problem.  Maybe you have some disconcerting symptoms and you're waiting for test results to see if you're sick.  Maybe your spouse is about to lose his or her job.  Maybe your child isn't well.  Maybe your car just died and without it you can't get to work and if you can't get to work you'll lose your home.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

The bottom line is that no one knows what is brewing behind the scenes.  I can't look at any person and claim to know his or her struggles.  And even if it seems like a person has everything he or she needs, that doesn't mean that there isn't something else suffering.  The same goes for me.

This isn't some cryptic message designed to make you worry, nor do I intend to sound threatening and mean.  I'm simply saying we don't always know what's going on with someone and it's not fair to assume we do.

I am thankful for all that I have.  But I'm also allowed to worry about things, and to say that I'm having a tough time, without someone else suggesting that my problems don't meet the definition of real problems or aren't as severe as the problems of others.  I shouldn't have to justify the validity of my worries to anyone, especially when I'm not even really complaining in the first place.

I think, by and large, we aren't all so self-absorbed as to think each of us is the only one with problems. But I also know that when each of us is faced with serious issues that threaten our personal security, those are the problems that are on our minds, first and foremost.  We can't help others when we are no longer in a position to help ourselves.  There is nothing wrong with self-preservation and there's nothing wrong with expressing concern or anger over the things that directly affect us.

All I ask is that you believe that I count my blessings.  Trust that I know how lucky I am in some regards.  Even the worst of my problems aren't as bad as some of the problems other people are facing, but it doesn't make them any less real for my family.

Let's have compassion for one another and not make them prove their thankfulness or the depth of their struggles.  Let's stop accusing each other of not thinking enough about those less fortunate.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

21. 40 by 40.

I've been talking about it, and I can't seem to get it completed.  So I'm going with this as is, with a few slots open for new goal.  I have 1279 days until I turn 40 and my goal is to do 40 great things by then.

Some of these things sound like chores.  And for many people, they are just chores.  But for me, they are things that are hanging over my head as things I want to do but I can't get done.  Life gets in the way.  Things like real chores, like vacuuming and such.

I'm pressed for time and I'm rapidly losing the ability to stay awake.  There are many things I could write about these list items, but that's for another day.  Some of these things need to be fleshed out, to be made less vague and more quantifiable.  But that's for another day, too.

Without further delay, the 40 By 40 List, so far:

1.  Run a 5k.
2.  Run a 10k.
3.  Run a half marathon.
4.  Lose 40 pounds.
5.  Make significant steps toward reducing animal products in my diet.
6.  Finish my memoir.
7.  Publish my memoir.
8.  Buy Long Term Care insurance.
9.  Visit with a financial planner and map out a goal for retirement.
10.  Create and utilize a budget.
11.  Read 50 books.
12.  Redesign my blog under my own domain name.
13.  Sort and organize my mother's belongings.
14.  Live a more minimalist lifestyle.
15.  Save enough money to purchase our next vehicle in cash.
16.  Attend another blogging conference.
17.  Eliminate my dependence on caffeine.
18.  Unplug for one full week.
19.  Get a paid writing job.
20.  Create a usable space in the home office.
21.  Bag, Board and Catalog comic/magazine collection.
22.  Organize CD collection.
23.  Organize DVD collection.
24.  Create usable living space in attic.
25.  Create usable living space in basement.
26.  Organize (digitize?) all old writings.
27.  Make go-bags for all family members.
28.  Create an emergency bin with supplies.
29.  Buy a really awesome, unnecessarily expensive pair of jeans that make my ass look amazing.
30.  Buy a killer dress - cocktail? ball gown?  I don't know.
31.  Go to some event that requires me to wear the aforementioned dress.
32.  Go zip-lining.

Edited January 1, 2013.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

20. Remembering Once Again.

I wrote this post 2 years ago today, back when almost no one was reading this blog.  It's still relevant, only the year has changed.  I don't want to skip a day of NaBloPoMo, but I don't have a post in me today.  I have too much on my mind and November is just a sad month for me.  I hope you don't mind if I dig something out of the archives.  

This week is a tough one for me.

Part 1:
Wednesday was my mother's birthday, her first since she passed away. In a way I used to dread her birthday because it meant trying to go see her not on my terms. Visiting my mother wasn't easy. Nursing homes and 3 year olds are not a good mix. When Nathan was really little, it was ok because he could stay in his carrier or I'd hold him, or we could sit him on my mother's bed. But once he started moving it was much more difficult.

The drive to see her was an hour each way. If I didn't time it right, I'd sit in terrible traffic. If Nathan fell asleep, it would screw up his bed time. If he didn't, I'd endure complaining about the drive. Either way it was not the most pleasant. But I recognized how important it was to go see her, and for her to see Nathan, particularly on her birthday. But it wasn't my terms. I had to go THAT week, THAT day. And if I didn't for a good reason (one of us was sick, or she was) then I felt terrible guilt.

Talking on the phone to her was not easy either. Either she couldn't get the call because her phone wasn't working or it was on speaker and her busy-body roommate would jump in or eavesdrop (if you can call it that when a phone is on speaker). If I left a message, I never knew if she got it until the next time I talked to her, so enter the feeling of "should I be feeling guilty because she thinks I didn't call her."

But this year, I didn't have the guilt, I didn't have to plan a visit (which is good, because Nathan and I both have colds I wouldn't want her to catch and therefore I'd feel guilty). I didn't have to try to call and listen to her stupid roommate. I didn't have to try to think of something to get her and then have her tell me that it wasn't right for whatever reason. I didn't have to listen to Nathan complain because he didn't even know. I'm not sure any of this is any consolation since she's gone. And I miss her.

Part 2:
Today marks 4 years since my grandfather passed away. While he and I were talking in the months before he passed, the few years before that we were not. It's a very long story why, not worth rehashing here, but suffice to say I regret that time. I would love to say if I had it to do over I'd do it differently, but I know me and I know him and we were both too stubborn to have it any other way until I found out he had cancer. And it's not lost on me that calling him for the first time in years because I found out he was sick is really cliche and lame. But it's what happened.

I was pregnant at the time he passed, due in 8 weeks. It was evident he'd never meet his first great-grandson. This saddened me deeply and still does. I think he would love Nathan and get such a kick out of him. I also think that when Nathan was acting up, he'd tell me how fresh he is (he'd be right) and how he is just like I was. And he'd say that in a disapproving way, just like my mother did. Then I would get mad, he wouldn't know why and we'd be arguing. But I'm not sure avoiding all that is any consolation now that he's gone. And I miss him.

Monday, November 19, 2012

19. Fat Ribs.

I have been working on my 40 By 40 list for over a week now and I am hoping to publish it tomorrow. Some of the things in the list are going to seem obvious but some are going to require some explanation.

One of my list items is to get an amazing dress.  I don't know if I'm thinking cocktail dress or a ball gown or what, but it's going to be gorgeous and I'm going to wear it some place.  But, you might be saying, you got married and had a wedding.  Some of you were there for it and saw me in what most people would consider a fancy dress.  And while this is true, like anything else, there's a story behind the dress.

We were on a very tight budget for our wedding.  Our ceremony was held in the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission's garden and the reception was held in their large round meeting room that sits atop the water.  We brought in a reasonably priced caterer, DJ and photographer.

I, with the help of my bridesmaids, made all of the bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, favors and centerpieces and my veil.  I had a friend make the programs.

The dress was proving to be problematic though.  No matter where I went, what I liked was really expensive.  I didn't want to spend a ton of money on something I'd wear one night but I wanted it to be beautiful.  To say I wanted to look like a princess would sound kind of lame coming from me, but if there's a word for when really grumpy and sour people want to look like princesses while still retaining all of their cynicism, that's what I was going for.

I ended up finding one while searching for the bridesmaids dresses.  It was really, really nice and it was only $150.  It fit pretty well except for a small bulge in the gut.  I vowed to do sit ups constantly until there was no visible gut.

About six weeks before the wedding, I tried on my dress to see how my ab work was going.  I went into the room where the dress was, disrobed, and opened the dress bag.  Carefully removing it and spreading it out, I stepped inside.  I pulled the strapless bodice up to its proper location and reached behind me to zip.

I slowly slid the zipper up, sucking in as hard as I could.  I reached my mid-back and the zipper wouldn't go any higher.  I pushed every bit of breath from my body and sucked my middle in so hard I thought I was going to puncture my lung.  It was no use.

In tears, I called my matron of honor.  One of the reasons I selected her, aside of the fact that I love her to bits, is that she is brutally honest.  Sometimes too much so, but I love her anyway.  She came over and tried to zip the dress.  She could not.

"Well," she said matter of factly, "I think you're going to need a new dress."

"Can't I just..." I was hoping there was an answer she didn't think of yet.




"What if..."

"Michelle!  We need to go buy a new dress!!"

The problem was not my fat gut because that was noticeably slimmer.  The problem, you see, is that I have fat ribs.  I didn't know it when my fat gut hid them, but when I lost some weight, I found out the awful truth. My ribs are disproportionately fatter than the rest of me.  I call it Fat Rib Syndrome and it occurs in 1 person in the entire world's population.  That person is me.

We got in the car and drove to David's Bridal, known for it's low price dresses and significant stock.  I found a suitable gown that fit without alterations except for the straps and the hemline.  It would be ready for pick up 2 days before the wedding.

I barely ate until the wedding and thankfully dress number two fit, even though my ribs were still fat.  I know this was so because I tried on the first dress just in case and it still didn't fit.

The flowers strategically placed to hide the ribs.
Tania, my MOH, and I are laughing because posed wedding photos are goofy.

Before I turn 40, I'm going to buy myself a beautiful dress that fits my body, whatever it looks like at the time, and find some place fabulous to wear it.  Because I deserve a dress story that doesn't involve fat ribs.

Linking up with the Open Grid at the Yeah Write Challenge which goes live Tuesday.  Old school voting going on this week, if you're into that sort of thing.  Make sure you read the other entries before you vote though, OK?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

18. Working on a Sunday.

The great thing about working a mile from home is that I can pop into the office on a Sunday morning and catch up on things.

The bad thing about working a mile from home is that I can pop into the office on a Sunday morning and catch up on things.

It's not like anyone made me go in this morning, it was a choice.  Really it was.

I'm what you call an overachiever. You may have noticed.

The truth is I was backed up on emails and various projects and all that stuff hanging over my head was keeping me up at night.

I make a really good employee because I take things very seriously, I have a strong work ethic, I'm very organized, and I take responsibility when things fall behind.

Of course, when all of this goes into hyperdrive and things are getting out of control and I am getting stressed and everyone starts getting antsy because they want their stuff done and I can't do it because, you know, I can only do one thing at a time and I only have two hands and if everyone would just get off my back and let me actually finish something, I tend to get a little stabby.

Not literally, mind you.  That would make me a really bad employee.  I just throw some temper tantrums.  And get grumpy.  Very grumpy.

So I went into the office so that tomorrow I can try to be slightly pleasant.

I'm not making any promises though.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

17. In Dreams.

It was present day for me. But one look around my childhood living room told me it was still 1988 in there.  I was kneeling backwards on the old, 1970s style couch, looking out the window at the side yard.  We called this part of the yard The Garden.  The perimeter of the property had green chain-link, but the side yard of our corner property had a white picket fence separating my mother's flower garden from the area where the kids played.

The garden was in full bloom.  Tiger lilies, black-eyed Susans, daisies, rose bushes.  There were plenty of other things I could never commit the names of to my memory.  But they were there, as they always were.

My mother walked towards the window.  How could this be?  She's dead.  She shouldn't be here.  She looked like the house did, like it was 1988.  She was 40.


I screamed at her.  I pounded on the glass window to get her attention.  Tears pouring from my eyes, tears of joy to see her again, so young and healthy, so vibrant.  This was the only time in her life she looked this way.  This was the only time she almost seemed happy.  There was hope then.

I kept screaming, crying, pounding.  I reacted as though there was an immovable object keeping me from her.  I reacted as though her death was between us.

"Open the window, silly," she said sweetly as she smiled, crow's feet showing around her eyes.

I opened the window and it stayed up.  I didn't have to use the piece of wood to hold it like I usually did.  I opened the old, dusty metal screen.  I reached out for her, calling out through tears, "Mommy! Mommy!"

I don't ever remember calling her Mommy.  By 1988, I was 12.  I called her Ma.  Maybe Mom sometimes.  Never Mommy.

She reached out for me, too.  Our fingertips touched, then our hands.  I slid my arm up, holding her wrist.  Her gold bracelet draped over my fingers.

We stayed like that for a moment.  Our eyes met.  She looked at me with kindness and love in her eyes.  It seemed she was telling me things were OK.  Or would be OK.  It was reassuring.

Damn it, she never looked at me like that when she was alive.  Never.

She loosened her grip on me.  I tried desperately to hang on, leaning my body out of the window, reaching with my other hand.

Don't go...

It was no use.  She faded away.

I sobbed and called out for her.  She was gone.

Then I woke up, my pillow drenched.

I had this dream a few weeks ago.  I dream about my mom at that age and of being in my childhood home often.  I'm always my present age.  I usually know, even in the dream, that it isn't real and that grown-up me doesn't belong in that house.

My mom would have turned 64 today.

Friday, November 16, 2012

16. Ketchup and Mustard Sandwiches.

I try my best to get my kid to eat a good solid lunch.

On weekdays, when he's at school, he doesn't eat very well.  I send good food, but most of it comes back home.  I've tried sending less food and only the things I want him to eat and they come back home carried by a very hungry boy.  If I pack stuff he likes, even if it's not what I really want him to be eating, he eats.

On weekends, when he's home with me or my husband, he eats better.  That's usually because of threats and bribes.  Eat all of this and we can go do this fun thing.  Eat this and you get this fun treat.  If you don't eat, you can't do this or that.  I know it's not the best method, but generally it works.

And really, all I want is for him to have enough of a meal that I'm not doling out snacks all day and maybe to get some nutrients into him.  I know not every meal needs to be a powerhouse, and in this house that's definitely not an issue.  This kid is picky, so as long as he's eating enough I'm pretty happy.

I worry though that he's not getting enough of all the things he's supposed to be getting.  I try to make every meal have a grain, a dairy/protein and a fruit.  That's much harder than it sounds, but that's the goal.

This morning Nathan and I were playing a game with two throw pillows and a pile of Angry Bird stuffies.  We were pretending to make sandwiches and eat them.  One of the sandwiches he made me was ketchup and mustard.

I told Nathan that when I was a kid, that was one of my favorite lunches.  Ketchup and mustard on white bread.

And then it hit me how differently my kid is growing up than I did.  I don't know if it was because we were poor or I was picky or my mother didn't know or didn't care, but many a day I made myself a sandwich slathered with ketchup and mustard and nothing else and that was my lunch.  I paired it with a tall glass of sweetened iced tea made out of the store-brand powder drink that was loaded with caffeine and sugar.

It's true that there's so much more knowledge now.  Maybe parents back then were just glad when their kids made their own lunches and went back outside to play.

I've grown up to be a relatively healthy adult.  I'm pretty smart, responsible, hard-working.

I can't help but wonder though, could all my faults be traced back to a poor diet as a child? Could it be that ketchup and mustard sandwiches are to blame for everything that is wrong with me now?

I think I'm going to make sure Nathan has a good lunch tomorrow, just in case.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

15. A Song.

A Song For NaBloPoMo
by Michelle Longo

{The tune is irrelevant, sing this any way you like.}

We're halfway through
We're halfway through
Tra La La
We're halfway through.

We're half way through
We're half way through

I wrote that.  All by myself even.

I have to tell you, I'm a bit punchy.  I'm over-caffeinated, I'm stressed out, I'm exhausted and I'm really just becoming even more batshit crazy than I usually am.

I wrote a post this morning for Saturday that kind of wiped me out.  I can't share it today because it isn't for today.  But if you come back here Saturday, you can read it then. 

If you're doing NaBloPoMo, congratulations on making it halfway through!  I'm enjoying meeting new bloggers and having new readers.  Thanks for indulging me in a little silliness today.  It's been a hectic week that isn't over yet, so I've got to get back to non-blogging life for now.  But I'll see you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

14. Where'd I Put My Kid?

I was thinking through my day while drying my hair this morning.  It occurred to me that Nathan's new teacher hasn't met my husband yet, so it struck me that maybe I should alert her that he would be picking Nathan up from school today instead of me.

I should note before I tell you this next part that I had not had any coffee yet at this point.  I don't think I was talking out loud to myself for this little monologue, but it's entirely possible.

Why have I not seen Nathan's teacher all week?

Wait, what day is it?  Yesterday was Tuesday.  Today is Wednesday.  Wednesday, right?  {pause} Yes.  Wednesday.

OK, so where has his teacher been?  Did he go to school yesterday?  Yes.  He did.  Where was I?  I was at work.  Did I forget to pick him up?  No, I don't pick him up on Mondays and Tuesdays, his grandparents do.

It rained yesterday, I left him in the gym.  I don't see his teacher in the morning when it's raining.

Working backwards...

Monday.  I picked him up at his grandparents.  They pick him up from school.  It was nice out.  Why didn't I see his teacher Monday morning?  Was there a sub?

Oh wait.  He didn't have school on Monday.  I dropped him off at his grandparents in the morning.

{sigh of relief}

I need to remember to tell Ms. P that Kris is picking up Nathan today.

I strongly urge someone to get a video of me freaking out at 3pm today when I realize that I didn't leave work yet to pick up Nathan, only to remember a minute later that my husband is picking him up today and I'm going to work until 4pm.  I'm sure it's going to be hilarious.  And yes, I'm sure it will still happen, even with this much thinking about it now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

13. My First Time.

I had only been full-time for a few months when my boss first asked me to do a benefits presentation at a client's office.  There was no hesitation in my answer.  Sure, I was nervous, but I wanted to grow my skills and I wanted desperately to be seen as a team player.  I knew that the ability to get in front of clients would make me more valuable to the company.  This was my chance to show them how much more I was capable of.

The producer who brought in the client was one I had the utmost respect for and tremendously feared. He was no-nonsense and respected in the community.  About the same age as my parents, I sought his approval and endorsement, even more so than that of my own direct superiors.

The day of the meeting my nerves were starting to get to me.  I arrived at the client a bit too early so I was left alone in the conference room until the employees arrived.  I placed one handout at each seat around a large, heavy table.  It was the kind of table that made me wonder if they had built the glass-enclosed conference room around it since there seemed no way to get it in there.  I was expecting about 20 employees, plus the human resources manager.  I wondered how we'd all fit in this room.

One by one they filed in.  It was a 4:30pm meeting, so they'd all had their fill of the day.  Their weary expressions made clear that I needed to wrap this presentation up quickly.

After giving my name and my company, I asked the group to hold questions until the end, certain I'd cover most of their concerns.  I inhaled deeply and began.

"A Flexible Spending Account is very simply a plan that allows you to set money aside out of your paycheck on a pre-tax basis to reimburse yourself for out of pocket medical and/or dependent day care expenses."

The words rolled off my tongue, just as I'd practiced.  I began to talk about Section 125 of the IRS Code, the types of medical expenses that are tax deductible and the rules surrounding plan years, irrevocability of benefit elections and how to access their funds.  I was sure I sounded relaxed and intelligent.  I was waiting for my audience to get the glazed-over expression everyone back at the office assured me I'd receive. 

A gentleman to my right raised his hand and interrupted me before I could acknowledge him.  He asked me a question I was moments away from covering if only he had waited.  I answered him and, in doing so, opened the floodgates to more inquiries.  By the time the group settled down and I was ready to resume speaking, panic struck.

I only knew the presentation in order.  Suddenly I felt so unprepared.  I was out of sequence and I couldn't get myself back on track once derailed.

Then someone asked the one question I feared most.

"Isn't it true," he asked, "that these plans have the Use It or Lose It rule so if I don't claim MY money, YOU keep it."  He leaned back in his chair, arms folded across his chest and an arrogant look in his eye.

I explained that the rule did exist but that funds stayed within his company, not mine.  I shifted the focus, as taught, to planning wisely at open enrollment so he could avoid forfeitures.

"So, what you're saying is that you want me to sign up for this so my company can steal my paycheck."

"No, that's not what I'm saying," I replied.  Everyone was starting to mutter and shuffle papers.  I'd lost them.  The HR manager motioned to jump in.  I was relieved he was going to save me.

"Listen, these plans are a racket.  It wasn't my idea to add it.  You can join it if you want, but I'm not going to."  He turned back to me.  "Do you want to finish?"

Finish I did, holding back tears of humiliation.

As I sat at my desk the next morning, my stomach churned knowing I was going to have to face the music.  I watched the clock and grew more and more ill as it crept toward the time I knew the lead producer would arrive.

"Michelle." I knew his voice. He always said my name like a statement as he approached.  Never a question to request my attention, always a command.

I turned around to look him in the eyes.  He looked irritated. I probably looked terrified.

"So I hear it didn't go too well yesterday," he was calm.  Scary calm.

"No, it didn't. They ripped me apart.  I'm really sorry.  I hope I didn't ruin everything there for you," I was about to cry.  If there's one way to solidify your position as an inept, non-professional, it's to cry as you are reprimanded. 

The producer grinned a shit-eating grin like no other.

"Well, I'm glad it happened.  You got your first awful meeting out of the way.  They can only get better from here."

"I guess so," I said, so surprised I could not feel relief.  Was he really letting me off the hook?

"They are jerks over there.  They told me you held up pretty well under attack.  Now you'll be prepared for next time.  Good job."  Then he walked away.

I exhaled for the first time since he approached.

After that, I never let anyone take control of my meetings.  I practiced the tough questions and I came up with answers for anything they could throw at me.  I learned to say I didn't know with grace and learned to cover a blunder with humor.  I learned to hold my head up high and speak with confidence, no matter what.

Yesterday, fifteen years later, I began another presentation  Everyone looked friendly, but it didn't matter.  Things could never go as badly as they did my first time.

I'm linking up again with the good folks at Yeah Write.  Check it out!

Monday, November 12, 2012

12. Now With Less Meat!

I love researching stuff sometimes more than I like doing stuff.

So when I was thinking about moving towards a vegetarian lifestyle many years ago, I started searching for websites that would support that goal.  I happened upon one such site, Meatout Mondays.  There's plenty of good information there, but I think one thing that I liked most about it was that it wasn't geared towards dumping meat all at once, but taking a small step by giving up meat one day per week.

I was really successful at not eating meat for a while, but then I stopped trying and eating meat is really easy as long as I do one thing:  Practice denial.

In order to eat meat I have to intentionally forget everything I know about the meat industry, meat's role in my health and what it does to the environment.  Sure, I know there are some more responsible ways to get meat and that not all meat is as unhealthy as other meats, but at the end of the day, it's still unnecessarily eating another living creature.

Unnecessarily.  That's the key here.

So, I'm making a step.  I'm giving up meat on Mondays.  And today was my first intentionally meat-free Monday in years.

I'm happy with myself.  It would have been much easier to eat leftovers that were in my refrigerator that had meat in them, but I didn't.  Yes, I'm going to eat them tomorrow.  And maybe I'll eat meat every day for the rest of the week.  I don't know, I haven't planned that far.

But next Monday, it's going to be vegetarian for me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

11. Sunday Dinner and TV.

There was a time when Sunday was for watching TV and ordering take out.  Sundays differed from weekdays where we watched TV and ordered takeout because on weekdays we'd go to work, too.

But on Sundays, there was no work.  There was TV.  There was takeout.

Now we have a kid.  This means there's no watching TV during the day, unless of course we want to watch SpongeBob, which we don't.

The only saving grace is that Nathan goes to bed early on Sundays.  Tonight he was down by 6:40, thank goodness.

In spite of how tired I am today and how much I got done around the house,  I managed to get dinner cooked.  I present to you penne, broccoli rabe, and sausage in a garlic and oil sauce topped with freshly grated parmesan.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some TV to watch.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

10. Sort Of Almost 40.

I'm going to be 40 soon.  I mean, not soon-soon, like next week or anything.  But soon enough.

Specifically, I will turn 40 in
- 1291 days; or
- 3 years, 6 months, 14 days; or
- 42 months, 14 days; or
- 922 weekdays; or
- 3.54 years.

After writing a post a few days ago about setting reasonable goals, I started to wonder how I could blow that completely out of proportion and turn a simple to do list into a completely stress-inducing endeavor.

And that's how I came up with the idea of making one of those 40 By 40 lists.  You know what I'm talking about, a list of 40 things I'd like to accomplish by the time I turn 40.  As you can see, I have some time, but really not that much when I think about getting 40 things done. 

I have about a dozen or so things on it so far.  I want to make sure it's a good list, filled with things that matter to me.  I want it to help me grow as a person and feed my spirit.

I am hoping to publish the list in the next couple days and then start working towards the goals.  I will check in with you all on them so you'll know if I'm living up to the goals I set.  Some will be concrete and measurable and some that I have in mind won't be so clear cut.  Some are going to be vague for now until I figure out exactly what they mean.

I'm excited about this project because it involves two of my favorite things:  making lists and stressing out about things on my lists.  OK, I don't really enjoy stressing (though some people reading this would argue vehemently that I do!), but I do enjoy a good challenge.

I hope you'll follow along with me on this little adventure!

Friday, November 9, 2012

9. My Legacy.

My blog traffic isn't exactly what I'd like it to be.  Most of my posts get roughly the same amount of traffic depending on what kind of post it is.  My Yeah Write ones get the most views, everything else doesn't.  It's getting better, I have some regulars (who I appreciate so much I can't begin to say), but overall, my traffic isn't high.

I have a few posts that have done really well that I'm proud of.  For example, The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes, a look back on my childhood, won a jury prize one week at Yeah Write and I am really happy with the way it came out.  It is my fourth most-read post to date.  

What troubles me is that the three above it really aren't my best work.  

There was one, Get Ready For The Questions (#3), that tugged on the heart strings as I discussed the impending death of my dog and dealing with explaining it to my 5 year old son.  I don't think it's my best piece of writing, but it's better than the top two.

Number 2 of the top 4 is the post I wrote after BlogHer, Yes, There Were Vibrators.  One day I noticed my stats going up like crazy and when I checked the source, I was getting a lot of readers via The New York Times.  Thinking this must be a mistake, I read the article they were sent to me by and lo and behold, that article did actually link back to my post!  It's not a bad post.  But it is just a recap post after an exhilarating and exhausting weekend.  

A few weeks ago, I received a spam comment about salsa dancing on this post about Corn Salsa.  Haha, I get it, salsa dancing, corn salsa.  Funny.  I deleted the comment.  Not too long after, I got another comment, but this one wasn't in English.  And then another.  Each day, my stats were skyrocketing and they were all for this silly little post about how I don't like corn salsa.  This post has gotten more page views than any other by more than double.  

Far be it from me to turn my nose up at any page views, but it seems like my blog legacy is going to just be those times I wrote about corn salsa and vibrators.  I've poured my heart and soul into writing about family, my childhood, my past.  I've edited those posts, labored over the words and done all I could to get them into just the right order and in the end, the posts most people read weren't the ones I would have like them to read.

If you're new to my blog, please look around and check out some of my other posts.  Please don't let my legacy be corn salsa and vibrators.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

8. Early Resolutions.

As I was emptying the dish drain so I could do more dishes this morning, it occurred to me, yet again, how much of my life is spent doing things I don't enjoy and wishing I had time and energy to do more of the things I do enjoy.  And then, when things like the two recent storms happen, I'm scrambling to get everything done in less time and growing more and more resentful of the fact that the things I want to be doing seem less and less doable as the necessities pile up.

I had told myself that I was going to write posts in advance, to have them planned and scheduled to go so that I could keep up on them.  This isn't happening.  My memoir sits, barely written, in my home office that looks like a bomb went off in it.  We've lived in this house 2.5 years and that room is as awful as when we moved in.  The attic and basement are disasters.  I never decluttered, I never worked on various projects that need finishing.

Though I've made strides towards better health, I'm still overweight, I still don't eat as well as I should.  I don't cook whole foods from scratch like I promised I would.  I don't exercise regularly.

My son...  I don't even know where to begin there.  Perhaps it's the struggle of dealing with a growing, changing kid, but I feel like as soon as I get a plan to "fix" one thing, something else changes or goes awry.

I'm blogging more, I'm glad that's going well.  I wish I could be a better member of the online communities I enjoy, but work and home get in the way of that quite often.  I wish I could keep up with the reading I want to do, supporting the writers I enjoy reading and, again, building better community.

This needs to change.  I can't keep waking up every day saying I wish I could do this or that but having to do something else instead.

I'm not exactly sure how to achieve my goals and anyone who has hung around my blog (or me) for more than a year knows I go through this every single year.  But this year I'll try harder.  This year, after seeing progress on the writing front and on the health front, I am hopeful I can have a better plan, attainable goals and a better mental state surrounding the entire endeavor.

So for now, I resolve that by the end of this year I will have solid resolutions, backed up by a solid game plan to achieve them.  And by this time next year, for the first time in my adult life, I won't be staring down mid-November feeling like a failure.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

7. Accident Prone.

I have a tendency to get hurt a lot.  Usually it's nothing major, but it's always something annoying.  Those around me are used to it.

My latest injury started out as a hangnail on my right hand index finger.  It went crazy and I actually had to see a doctor.  After a round of antibiotics, it still wasn't better.  I returned to the doctor and she attempted to cut it open to help it heal.  Now there are more antibiotics to be on the safe side.

I was taught to type using proper form and I don't even know how to type without using all of my fingers.

Nearly ever keystroke is causing me an amazing amount of pain.  I can't hold a pen and my whole hand is starting to hurt from holding my non-usable finger in a weird way.

But I'm determined to continue with  NaBloPoMo, even if it makes me want to chop off my own hand.

So there.  Day 7 is done.  Barely.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

6. Looking Back.

One of the advantages of having a best friend in another town when you're 14 years old is that you have access to a whole different set of boys to have crushes on.  And so it came to pass that in August, 1990, my best friend from two towns away introduced me to a 17 year old boy from 3 towns away.  We exchanged phone numbers and Tommy and I chatted until all hours of the night, every night.

We hung out a few times when he was able to get a car.  I didn't want my mother to know about him so there was no way to get a ride to his house.  Sometimes I'd go to my best friend's place and we'd all meet up, but her parents would disapprove of us hanging out with Tommy and his friends and I had to uphold my reputation of being the friend every parent wanted their kid to have.

One afternoon, Tommy called to beg me to come over.  He promised that if I walked the nearly 4 miles to his house, his uncle would drive me to cheering practice later.  Normally I'd ride my bike everywhere, but it didn't seem like a cool thing to do.  I agreed to meet him at the 2 mile mark and then go back to his house.  I recruited another friend to come along since my best friend, the one who knew Tommy, was busy.  Tommy had two of his friends coming along as well.

When we got to Tommy's house, the five of us immediately went to his room.  His friends played video games while my friend watched them.  Tommy got beers for everyone, but the girls declined.  Tommy and I settled onto his bed to start making out.  We only came up for air when he needed another sip of his drink. 

Every now and again I'd glance up at my friend to make sure she was still there.  She had a boyfriend and the other guys were gross, so she wasn't interested.  They were only interested in their game, so I could see she was getting bored.  I still had a little time until I had to head to practice and I was starting to think this wasn't the greatest idea going all the way to his house.

At some point Tommy decided we should be doing more than kissing.  He reached up into my shirt and under my barely necessary bra.  He unhooked it and my face burned hot as I realized I was going to have to rehook it in front of all these people.

I didn't want to seem like a prude, so I let him do what he wanted to do.  But it still wasn't enough for him.  He reached down toward the parts of me I wouldn't dare talk about at that age.  I pushed his hand back up towards my chest and hoped he would be happy there.  His hand slid across my stomach and he began to unbutton my jean shorts. 

"Don't," I whispered.

"Why?"  He was still kissing my neck, trying to give me a hickey.

"We aren't alone," was all I could think to say. 

"They don't care," he said casually, as if he went down girls' pants in front of his friends all the time.

I continued to kiss him and try to redirect his groping, but it was no use.  He climbed on top of my 85 pound frame.  He was persistent.

I leaned my head to the side and called out to my friend that I thought it was time to leave.

Tommy sat up and said not to go.  I told him I needed to and asked where his uncle was to drive us. 

"Oh, he's not here.  Guess you're going to have to walk."

"You said he'd drive us?  When will he be back?" I was furious at him for lying to me.

"I don't know, but if you stay we could keep going here and maybe he'll show up."

That was the last thing I needed to hear.  I cleared out of there fast and began the long walk towards home.  When I got to the half way mark, the point where I could make up a story about where I had been, I called my grandfather from a payphone.  He picked my friend and I up from a street corner and drove us to practice.  We told him someone was supposed to drive us but her car broke down.  We told him we had been at my other friend's house.  We didn't mention the boys.  I told him my face looked like it did because it was so hot out and that I definitely had not been crying.

Tommy called me that night to tell me he didn't want to have a baby or a prude for a girlfriend.  He said I shouldn't ever call him again.  I know he told everyone I was a tease, that I got on his bed with him and then didn't let him do anything. 

For a long time, I was ashamed of how immature I was that I couldn't get past his friends being there to see him try to take my pants off.  I thought the reason my friends had boyfriends was because they did sexual things with them that I was afraid to do with my boyfriends. 

Looking back, I know I was foolish to think I should go to his house without an adult knowing where I was and without a way to get home.  I should have known what he wanted to do. 

Looking back, I still blame myself and not him.

This is Post 6 in NaBloPoMo and my entry to the Yeah Write Challenge Grid.  If you head on over to Yeah Write, you'll find an array of wonderful bloggers participating in both events.  Also check out the Speakeasy, featuring fiction and poetry.  And if you've got something that fits the bill, please join us!

Monday, November 5, 2012

5. Halloween in November

I will be honest with you here, as I always am.  I hate Halloween.

It started when I was a child.  As soon as I figured out it was a lot less work to just go buy the candy I wanted rather than going door to door begging for whatever the neighbors were giving out, I was over it.  I never enjoyed getting dressed up and I'm not all that clever so my costumes were usually a flop.

Case in point:  One year I sewed various socks to a sweat suit and went as static cling.  I was the only one who found this amusing.

Case 2:  My old company used to let us wear jeans on Fridays and then stopped at some point.  So that Halloween, which happened to be a Friday, I wore jeans and declared I was myself before the dress code change.  Human Resources argued this was not, in fact, an actual costume at all.

The year I was pregnant, Halloween fell at the tail end of my 7th month.  But since I was enormous, I looked like I was carrying triplets and was due any day.  I sort of felt like it, too.  I put up a sign asking to not be disturbed since walking up and down the stairs was quite taxing.  I left a bowl of candy outside instructing kids to take one piece.  Within 30 minutes, all of the candy was gone and so was my bowl.

After my son was born, when he didn't sleep and the sound of someone sneezing 3 doors down could wake him up, the last thing I wanted was Trick or Treaters ringing my bell.  I turned off the lights to signal we weren't giving out candy.  Teenagers showed up, rang the bell more than once and yelled they could see me inside.  And then my son woke up.

I do take my son trick or treating.  He's a kid after all and I'd do anything to make him happy.  I think the last thing he needs is candy.  Really I think that's true of most kids, but I'm really only concerned with what mine eats.  But, we follow traditions and the culture and we go out, dressed up in an overpriced outfit he'll wear one day and knock on the doors of strangers' houses and make them give us candy that I'm more than capable of buying if I actually wanted my kid to have it in the first place.

Last year, there was a blizzard 2 days before Halloween.  The town next to mine postponed Halloween to the end of that week but my town went forward with it.  And so we trick or treated to a few streets and visited family as we always did.

This year, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Halloween was postponed statewide by the governor until today, November 5.  As a long time Halloween Hater, I think this is ridiculous.  If it's not safe to go out on Halloween, then there should be no Halloween.  The street below mine still has no power.  I have friends who just got power yesterday.  Do you really think they are concerned with answering their door a zillion times?

I know the children love it, but not having Halloween will be a lesson in rolling with the punches and dealing with the many disappointments in life. Sometimes things don't work out. Sometimes the weather doesn't cooperate with your outdoor activities.  If missing Halloween is the worst thing that happens to my kid, then I'd say that he had a pretty amazing childhood.

I can't stop thinking about the kids in Staten Island who drowned in a storm surge one week ago tonight.  They probably had costumes all ready to go.  Or the kids who lived (past tense) on the Jersey Shore or Moonachie or Little Ferry, New Jersey, who don't have homes anymore.

And let's forget about the storm for a minute.  What about the kids who can't go trick or treating even under the best of circumstances?  Sick kids, homeless kids, kids with addicts for parents, kids without parents.  Plenty of kids never get Halloween.

I had multiple conversations today where people told me it would just be so awful if Halloween was cancelled this year.  I disagree.  True, I don't like the day to begin with.  And yes, if my son missed out, he would be sad and I'd feel that sadness equally because when my kid hurts, I hurt.  Regardless, this is not a need, it's a want.  It's not a right, it's a privilege.  It's not a necessity.  It won't kill any of our kids to miss Halloween.

Call me a party pooper or a hater.  Tell me I'm a miserable person who doesn't like to have fun.  That's fine, I can take it.  But don't tell me that Halloween must happen or that every kid deserves this or that it's important.  It's not.  I'm sorry, it's just not.

Canceling Halloween won't undo the storm, it won't help the underprivileged kids out there and it won't stop the world from having tragedies.  I understand that.

We had 5 sets of kids ring the bell tonight.  One set was teenagers who weren't even dressed up.  When I called them on it, one girl told me she improvised because it's cold.  I said not wearing a costume isn't improvising.

The bell just rang again.  It's 8pm and my front lights are all off.  That's the universal sign that I'm done with this crap for the night.  I had such an urge to yell at these girls standing on my porch.  But instead I just dumped candy in their bags and went inside.

I hate Halloween.  Not just this year, but every year.  And every year that passes and a big deal is made about it, I think I'm going to hate it even more.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go eat some candy.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

4. Family Of 3

We are back to a family of 3.  Our friends, a family of 4 on their own, made us a household of 7 for a few days.  They left a little while ago.

It's really quiet in here now.

I love our friends.  I've known the mom of the family for 22 years and she was the matron of honor in my wedding.  I met the dad when I was a senior in high school, so that's 18 years that I've known him.  They were the first friends to hold my son, less than 24 hours after he was born.

Our kids have been friends all of their lives.  They fight like siblings.  They range from almost 6 to just turned 3.  As you can imagine, that's quite a bit of running around, yelling, laughing and bickering.

Considering they were together with no break from one another for 3 straight days, one of which was without power, they were really well behaved.  We made them walk a mile to a bowling alley in an attempt to get lunch and get warm.  They ran around the yard, camped out on air mattresses and I think ate snacks for 12 hours straight at one point.

I got my bathroom cleaned and 4 dinners made for me, one of which is in my fridge for tomorrow.  That's the kind of friends these are, the kind that make you dinner and clean your bathroom.  The kind that bring kids for your kid to play with.  These are good friends to have.

I wish our commune of sorts was formed under better circumstances.  It would be more fun to merge families when it isn't necessary, when nerves aren't frayed from worrying about how or if we'll get to work, gas lines, the status of our groceries and if the power will stay on for good.

I've always thought it would be fun to live Big Love style with this family and another family that we're quite fond of.  I think we'd all make a good team.  If we could manage in these conditions, I'm sure we could do it.

For now, our family of 3 is settled in for the night.  It's like a normal night.  Except tomorrow my son won't have school and the families on the street behind me still don't have power.

And I will go to sleep tonight, yet again more thankful for all the simple comforts that I've taken for granted for far too long.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 3.

Please allow me to only give you a very minor post today.

We had that hurricane on Monday.  Our power went out about 9:15 Monday night and didn't come up until Wednesday at about the same time.  We invited friends to stay with us because they were still without power and they got here on Thursday around 3.

Then, last night, as we were finishing dinner, the power went out again.  The water turned brown while we were washing up the children.

The power came up today at around 5pm, nearly 22 hours after it went out.  The water is clear again.

We were all packing up to go to different houses with power.  Just as the last bags were being packed it came on.

I cried.  Partially tears of joy, partially tears of frustration.

We blasted the heat, got a load of laundry done and re-inflated the air mattresses.  It's warm enough and we've all eaten so we can stay here again tonight, even if we lose power again.

I know (honestly, I do) that many still are much worse off than we are.  We are all tired and frustrated and nervous.  But we're alive and our homes are OK (well, my friends' house is still dark and cold, but it's OK).

It's not even 7pm but it feels like it's midnight.  I'm headed to bed soon, I'm sure.

I owe so many of you comments on your blogs, replies on mine and I need to read so much of what you've written.  I'm not ignoring you, just dealing with our own drama.

Thank you all for all of the kind words lately.  Truly.

Hopefully I can post again tomorrow.

Friday, November 2, 2012

8 Week Challenge Final Update

Well.  8 weeks.  That flew by.  Not really.

I set out to lose 10-15 pounds and I did lose 11.  But then I gained some of it back.  I'm inclined to say of course I did because that's exactly the sort of thing I would do, but...  I don't know.  I guess I shouldn't say it.  So I'm not going to.

I fell off my eating good wagon and now I've gained back a little of what I lost.  All in all I'm down 8 pounds.  That's good for 8 weeks.  I wish it was more, especially since I need it to be more.  I'll get there, eventually.  It's not going to be easy, but then again few things worth having are all that easy.

I set out to not drink during the week.  I actually haven't had a drink since September 4.  I've had less heartburn, less headaches and I've been less tired.  Go figure.

Of course, I still have heartburn, headaches and I'm still always tired, so it's just more proof that I have a lot of work to do to get my health on track.

I was going to exercise 20 minutes a day, 5-6 days per week.  I did that for 6 weeks.  And then I just stopped.  I don't really have a good reason.  Life got in the way.  I'll get back to it.  I say that a lot, don't I?

I was going to not eat out for breakfast or lunch during the week.  The only day I didn't stick to this was  the day Friday I spent with my husband as part of our anniversary weekend.  I feel like that's an OK reason to cheat.  If cheating is ever OK that is.

I do feel like I changed my life.  I know that sounds crazy, especially since I didn't really meet my overall goals.  But I did.  I think differently.  I don't feel like beating myself up, I feel like getting back on track.  I don't feel like getting Chipotle for lunch every single day.  OK, I kind of do, but I won't.  I felt better when I was exercising and I'm looking forward to doing better at it.

I'll be honest, it's really hard to fit in exercise.  I want to exercise, but I also want clean clothes, a clean and fed child, my paycheck, etc.  So by the time I get around to exercising, I'm too tired to do it.  It'll get easier to fit it in, to make a it a priority.  Right?  Won't it?

Oh, the vegan day.  That didn't happen.  Sorry.  The whole hurricane thing really threw me.  I'll do it though and post about it.  Promise.  I have a plan.  It's a thin one right now, but I have one.

In any event, the Challenge is over.  I have met some great bloggers that I look forward to continuing to read.  I have enjoyed this little bit of community and I'm thankful for the opportunity to participate.  Pish Posh is an awesome person and I'm so glad I've been able to connect with her.  She is such a kind, generous and caring person and she orchestrated this whole thing.  And she's funny as hell.  If you have been following along on this challenge but haven't been reading her posts, you are missing out.  It's that simple.

That's it folks.  Thanks for reading about this adventure!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mostly A Check In.

Hi all.

For November, I usually spend 30 days on my personal Facebook page stating something I'm thankful for.  This November 1, I'm using this post for that purpose (and a few other things).

1.  I am so thankful to wake up in a warm house with my family, with power and with food.  The devastation caused by Sandy to my friends and family, my neighbors and my state is just unbelievable.  48 hours was no picnic, especially with a child who doesn't understand the magnitude of what happened but understands enough to start worrying.  But thanks to family who took us in yesterday, let us do laundry and shower, fed us and let my kid relax and be a kid for the day, my sanity came back and we were set to make it through another cold, dark night.  I am so glad we didn't have to since the power came back on a little after 9pm.

2.  I am going to participate in NaBloPoMo.  That's National Blog Post Month for short.  It basically means I post daily for all of November.  There's more to it than that, but that's a whole post in and of itself.

3.  I owe a wrap up post to the Pish Posh 8 Week challenge that officially ended yesterday.  Pish Posh was gracious enough to extend things due to the storm which really just warms my heart.

I want to thank everyone who was concerned about us, offered kind words and support.  I know (seriously, I KNOW) that we were lucky.  We are so lucky.  Please, do not mistake any of my complaining for thinking that it's all about me or think that for a minute I don't know how lucky we are.  

I have my Sandy post, my post-Sandy post, my Halloween post and a bunch of other stuff in mind.  If you're interested in doing NaBloPoMo, there's still time to sign up at BlogHer and connect with us at Yeah Write.  There are details of how it works at both sites, forgive me for not giving more specific links but I'm confident you can find the info you'll need.

For today, I need to clean out my fridge and replace some food, pay my bills and get to work this afternoon.  I'm so grateful I have the ability to do those things.

See you all tomorrow.