Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Inaugural video message from your Wildhair

Oh, nice still frame! I look like I'm about to heave or I'm doing my impersonation of Jabba the Hutt.

This is an impromptu idea. I wanted to give my friends, family and readers something special for the end of the year. Let me know if this version of my randomosity is something appealing for the future. My random blathering takes on a whole new meaning when you witness it live ... or almost live.

Happy New Year!

The year in review

Last year about this time ... actually it was several hours later and the new year, 2008, was about to be rung in ... I wrote about making the new year all about me. I declared it the "year of the Riss." I vowed to love myself a little more. I promised to be kinder to the woman within the skin and bones that you all know as Marissa. Did I succeed?

2008 turned out to be a very trying year for my family and close friends. We mourned the death of my brother in law. A tragic circumstance for my nephews he left behind. Then, shortly after the burial, Maureen, their mother, discovered a carcenoid that had been assumed dormant grew substantially. Surgery wasn't successful. Chemo was the only course of action. We're blessed that it's working. The tumor is decreasing in size. My nephews have bravely faced what fate has handed them. I swell with pride as I worry daily about them.

My dearest friend Tom has had to face the mortality of his mother. It was discovered that she had lung cancer. The tumors were in a quadrant of the lung that makes removal easier. We'd hoped that all was well, but another tumor has grown. Aggressive chemotherapy is the suggested course of action. Momma Nelson was a staple in my teen years. She's a tough bird whom I admire greatly. For him, seeing his mother in pain and suffering feels like too much to bear. For me, it all seems too familiar.

In this year, my family has grown. TWO new family members were born and we gained another by marriage: Karley, her mommy Debbie and sweet Isabella (daughter to my niece Elyssa and her love Aaron.) In addition, I welcome Maureen's best friend and partner, Kris. She's proven to be a source of reliability, stability, comfort and friendship to those who know her. My sister Mary is still making music with her partner in crime, Steve. Woop-woop!

So, where in all of that did I get to have a good time? Summer was most active. I met Asshat Running Man. For a split second I had fun being in the presence of a tall version of Vin Diesel. He didn't get my pop culture references nor did he understand my need for social networking online.

My heart was broken by a man I'd never met, but had formed a friendship. We'd discussed, at length finally meeting. A blogger far more popular than I. I realize some things are just not meant to be, but it was a difficult adjustment when he told me he met someone else. Whirlwind, I think was the term used. He'd read the honeymoon phase of Asshat Running Man and didn't figure I'd be bothered. I guess I shouldn't have been upset, but I was.

NEXT! There's nothing else a girl can do than hold her head high and jut out her chest .. and wear a tight, white t-shirt when necessary.

My high school reunion happened at the end of July. I had enough fun with my former classmates to make up for a year's worth of boring and mourning. I hadn't let my hair down like that in at least 7 years. Boy, did I need that seven year itch scratched! I have to admit it took some convincing of my close friends. I nearly bailed. I had been swirling in self-pity and sadness. Tommy talked me into going. Jessica, Amanda and Ted pushed it all over the top. Thanks. I went and I even have the t-shirt to prove it! I had blisters on my feet from dancing on asphalt while intermittently diving into the tower of bubbles!

Enter Alton. A former co-worker called me out of the blue and asked me out. For a month I was starry eyed and relishing that someone could look at me as he did. He seemed to gaze upon me as if I had hung the moon. I don't know if it was an act or my years of celibacy that had me fooled. I'm not saying he didn't like me, but he didn't like me enough. I chalk it up to a momentary good fit. Then, reality sunk in and serious consideration for a viable future had to be addressed. Obviously, you all know the answer. Actually, he used the slow burn break up method. That seems to be easiest with most of the men I've dated. He asked for time to think. He'd throw me a bread crumb, I'd lap it up. Then, more time passes between email or phone call. Finally, he just stopped communicating. No definitive reply. I stopped hoping. I don't chase men. I believe in that old saying about setting something free ... yada yada. You know the rest. Plus, I don't want to be remembered as the psycho chick.

That was the end of romance for 2008.

Mancub and I performed on stage for the first time. Along with my niece Aubrey, my nephew Steve and behind the scenes, niece Amanda -- choreographer, we turned "STATE FAIR" into a family affair. I had a great time. I donned a beard, danced the waltz, kicked up my heels and made the most of every second I was on stage.

The question remains whether or not I learned to love myself more deeply than I did at the start of this year. It's surely an ongoing process. I believe I have learned to appreciate myself for the things I can and have accomplished. I worry less about what everybody else thinks or expects of me. After all, I have to face myself daily. I look to my son as a barometer of my success. As this blog proves, my pride in him is always growing and ever present.

Because of familial trauma, I have learned that I can be a source of comfort and support. Maureen and I have switched roles. She's had to depend on me. That scared me. I thought I wasn't capable, but I am. I have grown as a sister, friend, mother, woman.

I've encountered and befriended some amazing people thanks to the Internet. This silly little site called PLURK has turned out to have been a saving grace and God send. Without fail, my friends have prayed with me when I asked (or didn't ask. They just knew.) Through them, I have learned so much about myself. They are not selfish in their compassion. Through each trial I've faced, they've been with me providing me comfort, insight and humor. Advice is given when asked. A shoulder to cry on and a friendly ear were readily available to me. I can't thank you enough for being insomniacs or in another time zone so I would have someone to talk to at all hours ... or when I needed my ego stroked and got my flirt on. I know it sounds goofy to anyone who hasn't participated in a social network.

I declare 2008 a success. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I wish you a MeMe Christmas

One of the grooviest and most down to earth chicks on plurk tagged me to participate in this meme. It should not be difficult to execute. I'm known for my weirdness. Yet, I just like to think of it as my style of normal.
"I'm normal. Your expectations of me are simply off kilter."
Here are the rules:

Link to the person (Not A Mean Girl) who tagged you and post the rules in your post.
• Share seven random/weird facts about yourself.
• Tag seven random people and link to their blogs.
• Let each person know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment in their blog.

  • Random Rissness #1: I have to pluck disgusting hairs from my neck and chin daily. They seem to latch on to Miracle-Gro or Rogaine when I'm not looking! Feeling for vile buggers has become what appears to be a nervous tick. I carry a tweezers with me in case one crops up and starts waving at people at will.

  • Random Rissness #2: I've been informed that my eyes reveal a lot about what I'm thinking. Words need not be spoken. Apparently, there are times when my eyes, partnered with my brows, tell people I will kill them with the flick of my index finger if they come to close. Cool.

  • Random Rissness #3: In spite of several of my siblings referring to our step mom as just plain mom. To call her by that moniker, I feel I'm disregarding the woman who gave birth to me and lived with me on this planet for the first 16 years of my life. I don't feel I'm disrespecting Nancy by calling her by her first name. She's the matriarch of our family. She's the only grandmother Man-cub truly knows. She is a beautiful woman who has given our family her heart and soul. I love her with all my heart.

  • Random Rissness #4: I have been divorced from Man-cub's father since '99. The sight of the man makes me nearly physically ill. I am grateful for my own benefit that he's not around much. However, for Man-cub, I am saddened. What's worse (this is 4a) is that I fear that Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel is the only chance at marriage and happiness I've been given in this lifetime. That idea gives me a very sinking sense of loneliness that I can't describe. No pity required. It's just a weird, albeit passing, notion.

  • Random Rissness #5: I've never read classic novels, such as: To Kill A Mockingbird; Lord of the Flies; Catcher in the Rye or Of Mice and Men. On the other hand, I haven't read a Danielle Steel book since graduating from high school. However, I have read four Jane Austen books and Paradise Lost.

  • Random Rissness #6: I haven't taken the nail polish off my toes since my last date with some guy who shall remain nameless because it's not important. That was sometime around Sept 15, 2008. I figure it'll eventually grow out. Color me lazy-as-hell.

  • Random Rissness #7: Rough paper napkins cause chills to run up my spine. You know, the variety that were given out in the cafeteria at school. In fact, recalling the sound and feeling of them on my skin makes me almost gag. In 4th grade I accidentally dragged such a napkin across my front teeth and that sensation has haunted me ever since.
There! I'm done. It took me almost an hour to come up with those 7 items. If you're up to doing this, let me know if you follow through. I'll gladly read. Poke fun at you and feel a little more normal -- or less depending on what a freak show you turn out to be.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I am a Christian. If wishing you a Merry Christmas is somehow offensive, with all due respect, tough sugar cookies with sprinkles and icing. This holiday where we celebrate the birth of my Lord and Saviour brings me great joy and sensations of hope. I won't let political correctness stand in my way.

This morning I awoke with a memory on my brain that I hadn't thought of in decades. I think what spurned this thought was seeing the DVD of "A Miracle on 34th Street" starring Natalie Wood. It's a lovely movie that epitomizes the idea that faith in an ideal is all we need to believe. At least that's what I walk away with after watching it. It doesn't matter how many times I watch the film, I still get chills and joyfully weepy when they prove in the courtroom that Santa is real ... based on the faith and hope.

In the movie a new Santa is needed for the parade. This is where my memory fits in to this post. When I was in 8th or 9th grade, my classmates and I were informed that if we arrived early on the day of our town's Christmas parade, we could participate in the parade. We'd be randomly given character costumes and allowed to walk the parade route, throw out candy and partake in general merriment of the event.

Fortunately for me, the costume truck would be parked a few blocks up the road from my house. I could easily walk without pestering anyone to take me. I remember bundling up and hitting the trail. OK, it's not rough terrain in my old neighborhood. We had sidewalks and it was a straight jaunt up the hill.

I arrived early. I kept a watchful eye out for my friends who'd agreed to all meet. More and more hopeful participants arrived. None of which were my friends. It was drizzling and cold. I considered walking back home defeated, but then the sliding door on the back of the truck flew open with a clatter. Turning back wasn't an option as people crowded around me.

First to be given out were Santa's Elves. Six girls of similar height were needed. Being head's taller than most girls my age, I was passed over. I wanted to be something magical. The crowd dwindled as fairy tale characters were handed out around me. No Little Red Riding Hood would I be. Nor would I get to pretend for a short time that I was a fairy princess. No, I would become something far more recognizable.




...................................... one of the Three Little Pigs.

On Christmas we don't always get what we want, but in the spirit of the holiday, we forge ahead. We capture the thrills and excitement that children exude. We walk in the moment and make memories that will last a lifetime. Memories that can't ever be duplicated.

God Bless.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Shindigery

My family is so vast that it's really difficult to pull us all together at one time. So, the holidays are usually comprised of a few. In our family, few is a relative term, mind you. With 10 kids (spouses or significant others), grandchildren (I lost count) a solid 20 means a few. Typically though, it's those of us who live within reasonable driving distance to Grandma's casa. The attendees aren't a guaranteed bunch, but food a'plenty and merriment is certain.

I was terribly concerned that the ice storm that hit us on December 18 would deter travelers. Negatory! The Illinois and Indiana dwellers made it safely to Plainfield on December 20. My (step) mom is the hostess with the mostest. It's always a relaxing, easy going time when we break bread there. Something very calming exists when I walk through her front door. I guess it's home.

We all exchanged gifts -- letting the little ones have their run first. My nephew G is a toddler and he was so excited for everybody who was opening a gift. He'd exclaim "what's it!" and let out this adorable squeal of delight. He was even very helpful in assisting us in tearing open our packages. I can't tell you how much I appreciated his rip and shred technique.

The most heartwarming event of the entire day was watching my 14 year old interact with the very active trio of boy cousins. They are sons to my brother Aaron. On the average, Mancub roots himself to a video game and shuts out the world. G wouldn't hear of that. In his spriteful manner, he encouraged my teen-ager to chase him, play hide-n-seek and ... allow him to wrestle and tackle him. This all took place with hearty giggles abounding.

By the time we decided the weather was about to become a foe, G, along with his brother A, and Mancub had bonded. Neither boy wanted their big ol' cuz to leave.

I don't care about what comes in a box with a bow. Sure, I appreciate the items, but it's this very precious time spent with loved ones that resonates the spirit of the season.

May your holiday be blessed.

Friday, December 19, 2008

TGIF -- Thank God It's Freezing -- NOT!

Wisconsin is getting battered with massive snow. Here in Kankakee we were pelted with freezing rain. I offer you proof from my own front door.

When I first attempted to open my front door at 7:30 a.m., I realized the inch or so of ice had blocked me in. Thanks to Gary the Garden Gnome and his magic rock salt, I was successful in stepping out at 9:30 a.m. I'm actually a little sad because that was going to be my number one lame excuse for why I was unable to get to work.
The bottom photos were snapped from my icy prison. That explains the raindrops you see. Frozen on the glass, mind you.
When I was on the porch taking these photos in my pajamas, I heard branches falling in the distance. I nearly pooed myself when a top branch broke and fell from the willow tree that lumbers over the garage. Fortunately, it isn't a big branch and didn't hit the garage roof. My car is parked in there.
Brainstorm! My garage probably won't open due to the ice build up. I may get out of work yet!
*singing* ice, ice baby to go ... Vanilla Ice, ice baby ...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This is dedicated

... to my son. He's always surprising me with the wonder of insight and compassion. There are days when I feel like I've done nothing right. Then, I come home.

Proud - Steven Curtis Chapman

I'll take a venti-hazelnut-control-top-firm-support to go!

My morning started with quite a conundrum. In fact, it was awful. Not only did I feel that I didn't get enough sleep -- thank you Alka-Seltzer Plus -- I couldn't make coffee! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS TO A CAFFEINE ADDICT LIKE MYSELF!?
Sorry for all the caps. I'm tense. Or, at least I was ... that is, until I turned to my personal wealth of information. Plurk. Yep. Blah, blah, blah. I'm bragging up on my pleeps on Plurk.
I put the water in the coffee maker. Then, it happened. THE HORROR! I remembered I used the last coffee filter YESTERDAY. I went to the grocery store after work YESTERDAY. It was snowing. All I had on my mind was getting in and out of that place before traffic got heavier with idiots. Oh, the creamer found its place in my basket. Bagels, cream cheese, chicken, bananas, marshmallow fluff. You know. The essentials for any gourmet. Yet, never did the coffee filters plunk themselves into my cart. Damn it!
I posed this issue on Plurk. The first suggestion was to use a paper towel. Guess what? I don't have those either. I was panicking. Keep in mind that it's early in the morning and I am not going out into the cold. Not just yet. I hadn't given up.
Then, a little light went on in my Plurk box. A suggestion was made that I hadn't ever thought of, but was willing to try. My hero for the day is Bronsont. A dude, kids! A man made this kind of grody suggestion. Try panti-hose, he wrote. gasp. After I recovered from the slight nausea of running water through a stocking, I realized my desperation to be caffeinated. I went in search of unused panti-hose.
With some hesitation I ripped open the package and sought out scissors. snip-snip. Seven dollar coffee filter in hand, ladies and gents. It worked like a charm. No funky after taste. Although, I think the hazelnut creamer that I didn't fail to forget yesterday probably hides the hint of "nude."

Happy Hump (snowy) Day!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Like, wow!

I know I've said this before, and it's likely I will discuss it again; there's more to the Internet than porn and shopping. My life has been enriched thanks to this world wide web. That's not to say I haven't met my share of stinkers. After all, I don't hide the clunker dates I've had thanks to online dating sites. I haven't done that in a while. I think I'm due, but enough about that for now.
I am addicted, so to speak, to a social networking site called Plurk. I suspect it's like Twitter, but I don't use that site. I can only have one fixation at a time and Plurk is my flavor for now. I shouldn't say "for now" as if it's just a flight of fancy. I'm sticking with it as long as they'll have me.

Today is Tuesday. Tuesday is all about kindness. Many of the people I have friended on Plurk write about kindness on their blogs. Sometimes it flows easily. Other times they admit it was a struggle. We're all human. Go figure. Today is one of those mornings when I awoke feeling confined. I wasn't physically shackled. But mentally, I just couldn't see beyond my desire to be caffeinated. I couldn't remember if I'd done anything noteworthy.

I didn't keep track of anything nice I did today. Well, I practiced restraint when my instinct was to smack my co-worker upside her head. That was kind, right? I fixed my son a bagel when he returned home from school. Well, that's just part of mom territory. I realize that kindness isn't sequestered to Tuesdays only. Maybe I ought to keep a tally sheet? Had I even witnessed kindness in action? Surely I had. I really need to keep a journal. Nah. Not for myself.

Today I am going to tell you the wonderful things other people do. The thoughtful, selfless acts of compassion and joy others bestow upon others.

Man-cub and I were blessed recipients of such kindness. I picked up my mail from my local post office. To my delight, I had a couple pieces of personal mail; Netflix movies; an optical business magazine; the cable bill and a thick, square envelope with do not bend handwritten on it. That bulky card is the subject of my spotlight on kindness.

Even with our current bleak economy, there are people who find a little something to give. They give because they want to express compassion and love. I am grateful beyond words.
Gently I pulled back the flap of the envelope. Slipping the card out, I saw the representation of one of my favorite childhood memories: Linus and his blankey. It reads "May there be at least one moment this holiday season when you're reminded what it's really all about."

Upon opening the card, Linus recites a touching and familiar excerpt from the movie that is as old as I am, "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

When I opened the card, a smaller card fell to my feet. It lay there as I listened to Linus. With tears in my eyes, I picked it up and looked inside. A gift card. My welled up tears soon drenched my cheeks with joyful sobs.

I'm guessing, at this point, you might be asking yourselves what Plurk has to do with receiving a gift. How is it all linked together? My Secret Santas are part of that social network. These amazing individuals have never met me in person. We know each other and have befriended by the power of the written word. They've joined me in prayer as I have done with them. They've been bright spots on days that were simply dismal. And today, they have enabled me to give my son a little more this Christmas.

Thank you, my friends, from the bottom of my heart. You inspire me. God Bless you.

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thank you, Peter Ueberroth. I accept your nomination

While taking my lunch break at work on Thursday, I was reading TIME magazine. It was the December 8th issue, to be exact. There was a lot of chattering going on, but there was a particular item that caught my attention.
"Person of the Year. Time asked prominent individuals, including former Persons of the Year, whom they would choose for 2008."
I'm sure it comes as no surprise that President-elect Barack Obama leads the poll. Whether you agree with America's choice, his overwhelming lead in the TIME poll isn't shocking.
In this issue, the following were asked their choice:
  • Rudy Giuliani : Barack Obama
  • Queen Rania al-Abdullah: The waiting billions (Millennium Development Goals)
  • Cory Booker: Barack Obama
  • Peter Ueberroth: Single mothers and grandmothers

Did you catch that? Peter Ueberroth (recent U.S. Olympic Committee chairman of the board and former baseball commissioner) wants me to be TIME magazines Person of the Year. On behalf of all the fascinating, tenacious single moms and grandmothers in our world, I humbly accept this honorable nomination.

Mr. Ueberroth is quoted saying, "My choice is single mothers and grandmothers, who provide the economics, love, health care, discipline and confidence to so many of the next generation around the world whom they are raising. A great example of their skill is our new President-elect. I've seen this phenomenon firsthand on every continent. They are the true heroines of the new world."

I want to thank my own parents and family for making sure I can live independently. Without them, I never would manage raising a teen-age son on my own. A compassionate, insightful teen-age son, at that.

God bless.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sweet Sunday

My son is wonderful. He has compassion and understanding for the human condition well beyond his 14 years. As proof, I offer you this:

Mancub: "Mom, I know you don't have a lot of money to give me gifts on Christmas Day, but I want you to know that I get a present from you everyday. You."

Friday, December 12, 2008

I lived with Santa

Everyone has a theory or tale about Santa Claus. He is most often thought of as the Coca-Cola creation. It doesn't matter where you're from. You all have had your variation on the fat man in red. There's never been a question that the jolly old fella is generous and resourceful.

I, on the other hand, had the honour of living with Santa Claus. Oh, I had no idea at the time. I never spied the red velvet suit. Nor did I get a tickle by the mass of snowy white beard. I never had reindeer doody duty, either.

The following story was written by my father. He submitted his theory on Santa Claus to our local newspaper, The Kankakee Daily Journal. I'm unable to give you the exact date (Maureen would know.) I can recall him sitting at our family dining table lamenting over the proper way to honour his perception of Jolly Old St. Nick. His glasses perched on his nose; looking over the top of them as I tromped about disturbing his train of thought. He'd say very little, but the image of him thinking with his index finger pressed against the tip of his nose is vivid. He'd toil over the spelling and grammar. His thoughts put to paper were always given to mom to be proofed. I love having been a part of it all even if it was only as an observer.

Recently, Maureen and I were looking through boxes at her former home. She unearthed a Rubbermaid container that revealed its contents as memorabilia of our parents. I cried as I lay eyes on both mom and dad's handwritten notes, recipes and this story.

This is a dedication to all the moms and grandmas from my father. God Bless.

Will the Real Santa Claus Stand Up

By Harold L. Rapier (1926-1999)

While watching my beloved wife being transformed from a lovely bride to a loving mother to a lovable grandmother as she went about doing her thing year-after-year and Christmas-after-Christmas, I became increasingly suspicious as to the true gender of Santa Claus. Now, after extensive observation, investigation and contemplation, I believe I can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jolly Ole Saint Nick is a Grandmother in disguise.

First, who is it – as soon as Christmas is passed – begins all over again, going on countless sprees, taking in every sale and coming home with hoards of purchases only to have them mysteriously disappear and never seen again until Christmas Eve?

Second, who is it in every household heralds in the new Christmas Season by going about in a state of euphoria, tirelessly filling every room with the sights and sounds and smells that are common to this holiday season until it ignites the Christmas spirit in every member of the household?

Third, Santa is commonly described as being “small, round, warm, and jolly”. Now, tell me, how many fathers and grandfathers you know can fit that description? However, it is my contention that, if you were to dress the typical Grandmother in a Santa costume with padding, whiskers and all, you would produce a storybook facsimile of Jolly Ole Saint Nick every time!

Furthermore, even though I have no tangible proof nevertheless, I believe that the Mothers and Grandmothers purposely contrived this Christmas Myth to mask their own selfless and undying love for children, and to set a shining example for we fathers and grandfathers in hopes that we will endeavor to imitate it in the coming years.

Now, if this be so, then we all owe a deep debt of gratitude to that special woman in our lives who, every year, shares her joyful love with us manifested in the image of Santa Claus to make our homes a blessed and happy place each and every Christmas!

In conclusion, I pray that God has reserved a special place in His Kingdom for His Missionaries of peace and love: Our Brides, Our Mothers, and Grandmothers.

Merry Christmas,
Harold L. Rapier

The date on this photo is perplexing as my father passed away in 1999. I believe it may be a photo taken of the original.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

...and I love you so

My mother's laugh was infectious. She possessed poise and beauty; yet, underneath lurked the pain of a child who lost her mother at a young age. Beneath the bobbed strawberry blonde curls was the mind of thoughtfulness and intellegence; a woman who longed for motherhood. She attained motherhood eight times over. I'm the youngest of her brood. The "caboose" of the Family Rapier.

Today marks the anniversary of my mother's birth. She left this earthly place in June of 1981. For many years I struggled with anger. I now understand that it was easier for me to hate her for leaving me. It made the pain seem less excrutiating. For years I held on to the aspects that were negative. I was scarred.

Today, I remember my mother for the many loving things she did. People felt important and loved in her presence. I miss her terribly. I miss the way she gave Christmas an extra cozy touch.
Music always filled our home. Whether it be good times or bad, a song could be heard. Despite the often tumultuous relationship with my dad, they still had their song.
I hope she's proud of the woman I've become. Happy Birthday Momma.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'll Stand By You

So, in the post right down yonder I said that today was a day where I'd observe people being kind and compassionate out in the wild of day. Meh, I didn't get much observation time in beyond watching chemicals drip into my sister's body via I.V.
I arrived at Casa Maureen around 11:00 a.m. After petting the dogs and exchanging in a little chit chat with Kris, we departed in the cold, rainy muck of the day. We made a drive-thru side trip for a bite and an eggnog shake. Sis was craving one and knew after the chemo treatment she'd be too sensitive to the cold to enjoy one (a side effect of this particular treatment is hypersensitivity to cold.)
I'm unsure when we arrived at the Loyola clinic, but the ride up took about an hour --sissy chitty chat time. More sissy chatter in the waiting room. They were readying things up for the drip, drip, drip.
The same male nurse I met the last time I took her came to get us. His name is Craig or Greg. I'm bad with names, but he is so friendly. Very nice. Always has wisdom to share without being preachy. He weighed Maureen, took her temp and blood pressure. I accused him of trying to pierce her lip with the thermometer cap. The goofy thing wouldn't grip to the thermometer and it shot off at her face. We all laughed.
A little more time passed and the nurse, Cathy/Cindy/can't remember, flushed the port in Maureen's chest and voila! The chemotherapy session started. Craig/Greg brought us something to drink. From then we yapped, flapped our gums and talked about anything that sprang to mind.
Maureen told me she had a month of free Internet with her new phone. With that she opted to find ringtones. Flipping through a gamut of pop tunes and irritating Disney tween tunes, she asked about a song she loved, but the name escaped her. She said it was a Pretenders' song that Carrie Underwood covered. Now you understand the title of this post.
Unaware of the time that had passed, Mancub's ringtone from home started blaring...'I'm walking on sunshine whoa-whoa-whoa!" It was 3:30p.m.ish. I couldn't believe I'd been there with my sister for that long. I confess that my right butt cheek was growing numb, but I blame the less than comfortable chair. She was cozied into a hospital version of a recliner. I doubt it was cozy, but it had a foot rest.
The last bag of chemical goodness emptied and set off a chime that alerted the nurse to take care of business. To ward off allergic reaction, Maureen took a Benadryl. It was nearly 5:00 p.m. when we set out into the sleeting nastiness of the dark.
About 1/4 of the way into the return trip sis was drifting off. I knew after taking an antihistamine that she'd be zonked. I am a zombie when I take it.
I had the radio turned down low. On occasion I could hear the strains of a Christmas song. All the while I hummed to myself a very fitting tune ...
... and I always will, Maureen.

Kind of kind in a sorta kinda way

Today I am taking my sister to her chemotherapy treatment. That's not the act of kindness I'm going to discuss. She's my flesh and blood. It's a moot point whether or not I'll accompany her on my day off. Laundry, blogging, housework can wait. Time spent with a loved one cannot be put on the back burner. 'Nuf said.
I haven't gathered my thoughts about kindness I have witnessed or performed myself. I don't want this to be about me. Instead, I am taking a journal with me today to make notations of simple acts of kindness and thoughtfulness. Then, when I return, I will share them with you. Quite often, I find, people aren't making an overt effort to be nice or kind. It's part of their nature to do so. I hope I have a ton of things to share with you.
God Bless.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Forcast: Amphibian rain

I have learned that fraternizing with co-workers means playing with fire. I don't know how it is in other places of employment, but in my particular setting, there is pettiness and loads of tit for tat mentality. Bonding friendships can be hazardous to one's career and peace of mind.
Due to my supervisory position, I am particularly susceptible to having my words and actions contorted. I am not a manager, but associates are still considered subordinates. I have to watch my back. Admittedly, I have slipped and shared more about my personal life than I ought to. Doing so leaves me open and vulnerable. Color me human, I suppose.
I haven't gone out drinking or partying with co-workers for the very reasons mentioned above. Proof of such ignorance sits in my personnel file. Dropping the f-bomb frequently when angered and sharing details of sexual liaisons while off the clock; yet with a subordinate proved to be both foolish and detrimental to my mental well-being. For that, I am far more cautious.
This brings to question the work holiday party. To go; or not to go. That is the question. I do not consume alcohol on such occasions. Firstly, I think it's stupid to drink and drive. Secondly, I know my alcohol tolerance is low and I'm a cheap drunk. I might say something rude when I would typically hold my tongue. There is NO ONE with whom I work that I'm sexually attracted to. So, the fear of hitting on a co-worker is null.
Last year our store didn't even bother with a holiday gathering. No one could agree on a location and time. I had no interest. I was a hater.
For the previous year, I didn't give in to peer pressure to attend. After several attempts to convince me how much fun it would be, I had this to say: "I spend more time with you people than I care to. By the time the party comes around I will have worked 10 days straight. I like my sanity and my son far more than I like any of you."
Needless to say, that comment was taken as rude and spiteful and hateful. I tend to vomit things like that when I'm pressured. I want it to sting so it makes an impact. I think I over did it and it was cause for much speculation and hurt feelings. I said it to one person, but by the end of the dinner everybody knew. It was also reported that some people took liberty of adding to my original response. Those who know me fairly well understood what I meant, but it undoubtedly made me less than favorable. To add fuel to the fire, rumors were shared that I had been bedding my married lab manager. Oh what wicked webs we weave and all that jazz.
So, in my attempts to be a better human being, I have made conscious efforts to be friendlier to my co-workers and managers. Cutting myself off from the hypothetical psycho has given me freedom to be less emotionally and mentally taxed regarding work. I take people at face value and realize we're all human. Everybody is feeling the crunch of the state of our nation. Everybody has bad days ... even the girl with rose colored glasses.
On Wednesday evening last week I received a call from work. I always answer reluctantly. One of the retail associates was calling to see if I was interested in attending this year's holiday party on December 21 "It's free." I considered it momentarily, but used the excuse that my family's Christmas celebration is that weekend. To which, she replied, "all weekend? you can't come Sunday evening? Please, Marissa?" This was coming from one of the most endearing of young women in our store. I still declined without hesitation.
The following day, Thursday, I was greeted by my general manager's disappointment in my lack of attendance. She went on to explain that someone who insists on anonymity will be footing the bill for our meal. I was shocked and touched. She seemed genuinely disappointed that I wouldn't be attending. The little friendly voice in the back of my mind blurted out, "OK, go ahead and change it. I'll come. I even have a White Elephant gift to contribute."
Excitedly, she switched my name from the "not attending" side to the "attending the party" side of the list. As fellow employees read the list and noticed the change they expressed surprise. Me. Marissa. The girl who proclaimed she was an equal opportunity hater. I'm going to a holiday party with co-workers. I will break bread with those who are often the bane of my existence.
Word to the wise: You might want to watch for a downpour of frogs and swarms of locusts.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Psycho much?

Hypothetically, I am going to let off hypothetical steam about a hypothetical place of business where I hypothetically work.

In my little ranting storybook tale, it appears an associate felt she was unjustly treated, and rather than handling it like an adult, she opted to desperately try to make a mountain out of a mole hill. What I believe to be the original issue could have been nipped in the bud. Yet, this woman chose to let it go. Well, it would seem she did. That is until recently.

Now, in my little corner of the world I don't believe one bad turn deserves another. She's one who spouts off things like, "Karma will kick her ass." "That'll get you in the end." The problem in her thinking is that her vindictiveness is not going to reward you with karma down the road.

After much speculation and mild attacks of anxiety, our minds were put to rest today. No one was fired. Harsh words weren't even exchanged. In our theoretical dilemma we were merely given a run down on proper procedures and expectation going forward. Hooray! Sighs of relief could be heard 'round the world.

On with business as usual.

Last night I received four phone calls from the possessor of the big spoon. The pot-stirrer in my hypothetical story. I didn't answer. I had nothing to say; nor did I want to be subjected to her feigned sincerity. I knew, hypothetically, she would pry into a situation I was not at liberty to discuss. She's just plain nosey.

While at work, I received a call from said stirrer. She inquired about her schedule and then asked how the day went. I was pleasant and replied, "Nothing special. Just a typical visit." Her voice dropped and she seemed put off by my apparent lack of information. Clearly, she had hoped for juicier details about the theoretical situation.

I came home with pep in my step and joy that the worst case hypothetical scenario hadn't unfolded. My stomach wasn't twisted in knots from distress. All was back to normal ...

My phone rang. It was her. The girl with the spoon big enough to mix up a cauldron of witch's brew. I didn't pick up.

Minutes later the phone rang again. Ditto.

Several minutes later my cell phone rang. By this point I am angered and perplexed that she has my cell phone number.

Before the alert chime could tell me I missed a call on the cell, my home phone started ringing. Again.

Damn it!

About 280 seconds pass and I hear Lily Allen singing "oh yes, I'm fine/everything's just wonderful/having the time of my life." BULLF-NGSHIT!! My default ringtone is delightful, but what is on the other end is not. This time a message is left. I do not listen.

If this wasn't hypothetical, I could have a problem on my hands. I might ask how one would go about rectifying this situation.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Listen up, y'all!

I was driving home the other day and this song came on the radio. I immediately started wigglin' my tuchus in my heated leather seat. The mood of funkiness I had was totally exorcised from my head. I was transformed and feeling the kind of funk that's good!
When I arrived home, I had to look up this Michael Franti guy. How I hadn't heard of him before is beyond me. The band name "spearhead" was ringing a bell, but I was clueless none the less. Myspace provided me with all the tunes I needed to get hooked. Youtube provided the visual to share.
In natural form for me, I emailed my favorite music critic about the aural medicine I received -- Sean Daly. This took place over the weekend. Imagine my delight when I logged on to his blog yesterday. I read MY NAME and partial credit for alerting him to this song. Go me! Yeah, I high-fived my badself. Sean is always very generous in giving me props when it's deserved. He hadn't heard the song yet and declared that he liked it!
On a side note: Sean is the hilarious co-host of the Stuck in the 80s podcast found on iTunes -- FREE! In fact, if you back track to last year's New Year's Eve LIVE call-in episode, you get to hear me talk about concealed weapons and The (vapid) Girls Next Door. I guarantee you'll laugh, you'll cry, it's better than Cats. The creator of the 'cast, Steve Spears, has a blog, too. I encourage you to check it out, also. If you love all things 80s, that's the perfect resource and outlet for your fixation.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Doot, doot, doot lookin' out my front door

I am blessed.

For several weeks my front right tire has been slowing losing air. I'll stop by the gas station and fill'er up with air and go about my business. I know neglecting such a thing isn't wise, but single mom on a very tight budget here. Still it's not an excuse for not taking care of my vehicle.

In the past week or so I have had to fill the tire more frequently. I was certain it could wait until payday. Every dime I have is tied up with nagging utility bills, insurance, fuel, etc... My supposition about said tire was wrong. On Monday afternoon I went to my car, and as usual took a look at the tire. I hadn't driven it on Sunday. Sure enough, it required air. The filling station with the free air is only a couple of blocks away. With air gauge in hand, I removed the cap, turned on the air compressor and started filling ... and filling ... and filling. It was no use. I had overextended my luck. I don't know if the frigid temperature had anything to do with it, but I was flustered and upset.

Turning toward home I felt defeated. I know it's a small thing, but in my world of being dependent on myself, it's a hard thing to accept. I parked the car in the garage and headed inside the house. Before removing my coat, scarf, hat or shoes, I dialed work. I told my general manager of my dilemma. All the while fighting back tears. I could feel the sting in my eyes and throat. I knew it was necessary to get to work because they had called off the technician who was to work the mid-day shift.

While talking to the GM, I inquired what time my co-worker Jennifer -- who lives not too far from me -- was scheduled. She replied 2:00 p.m. "I'll give her a call. Hopefully she can drag my sorry self in."

I dialed Jen's cell phone and she answered. Well, to be honest I thought it was her 8 year old daughter. Jen is a squeaky girl with a mighty big, kind heart. She listened compassionately and consoled me when I shared with her my tire problem. She assured me she'd help me.

Jen took down the information on the side of my tire and told me we'd walk to Sears on our lunch break to price tires. She knew I didn't have the money for a new tire, but insisted she'd help if I had no other resource. I hoped the tire only needed to be repaired. Sears only replaces tires; however, calling around, I discovered a place less than a mile from work could and offered free inspection of the tires.

In the meantime, I had texted my sister Maureen for a favor. I asked if my tire needed to be replaced that she might loan me the funds to get it done. She replied quickly telling me it would be no problem. With that I informed Jen that the price portion was taken care. I made certain to thank her for her generosity. The problem at hand would be getting the flat tire off and putting the (unused) spare tire on. Although I have witnessed tires being changed and also helped change tires with my ex-husband, a mechanic, I wasn't keen on doing it myself. Not only do I fear those compact jacks, but my hands get cold quickly and turn deathly white (Raynaud's Disease.) Temps below freezing cause my hands great pain and discomfort.

Jen discussed my issue with her husband, Jason. Without batting an eye, she told me not to worry. "Jay will put the spare on tomorrow after work."
Since Jen and I were working the same shift, she also brought me home Monday evening. There was snow covering the car tracks from when she picked me up. I mention this because upon her departure last night, her vehicle left unique marks in my driveway. I noticed them before she picked me up this morning.

Jen picked me up since we worked the same shift. It was actually nice having someone chipper and positive to talk to so early in the morning. I'm not accustomed to adult conversation at 7:30 a.m. During our ride to work, Maureen called and we discussed the issues with my tires. she felt more comfortable taking it in to the automotive shop she has used for over 30 years. Since it's her dollar, I trust her judgement. She made arrangements for me to bring the car in Wednesday morning. Knowing the Saturn was due for an oil change, she offered that service as well.

I am blessed.

Today was our company's way of giving back to individual communities. We're known for worldwide charity, but it's nice to see it in play in our hometown. The recipients were children from a local elementary school. The kids were polite, appreciative and well behaved. I snapped photos of them, but those are only for the school's use. The teachers, administrators and parents should be very proud. I know our staff was impressed and they, too, should be praised for handling the kids with tenderness.
I was able to put aside my worries. Everything was falling into place and I could breathe easier. The workday went along with ease and I shared a lot of laughter with the children and my co-workers.
Jen called her husband around 4:00 to let him know we were heading toward home and asked that he meet us at my house. There was still the task of getting the spare tire on the car so I could drive it to the shop tomorrow morning.
En route to Casa Riss, her hubby called to say he was in front of my house. Mancub was home and I called him with instructions to open the garage for Jason. By the time Jen picked up her daughters and we arrived at my home, Jason was struggling to get the tire off the axle. "It's rusted on." My car is a 2004 Saturn. I acquired it a year and a half ago. In that time I had never had the wheels pulled off.
With great determination he managed to get the blasted thing loose. Upon inspection of the tire, I spied a small nail head peeking from a center tread. ARGH! I'll leave it up to the professionals to determine if the tire is salvageable and to inspect the other 3 tires.
I couldn't thank Jen and Jason enough. They have been more helpful than I could have imagined. She's not just a co-worker, but she's friend and shoulder when I've needed one. No matter what troubles or woes she might be suffering in her personal life, Jen always has the time to listen and be a pillar of strength for others. Customers are greeted with her perky demeanor even when it's been a day that would test a saint's patience.

Once again, Maureen manages to come to my rescue. Seriously, between saving money going to her home to do laundry, picking through the bounty of canned goods her husband obsessively stocked up on, and the amazing gift of "Wicked" ... well, I'm blessed!
By the way, I took a picture of that snowy tire imprint Jen's car left in my driveway.

Never doubt the existence of love and kindness. Sometimes, you don't have to look further than your own front door.