Sunday, May 31, 2009

Obligatory discussion about bras ... or something along those lines

That's me. Age 24. Olan Mills photo. Engagement picture to be specific. The dress was an open back number. If memory serves me well, the undergarment worn was a strapless, low cut-back bustier. The boning in the damned thing was killing me. So, it's hard to believe I managed a smile. The front of the contraption dropped well below my waistline making sitting on the stool provided quite tricky. I had no belly; yet, it appears my gut resided on my lap.

I remember wearing this dress to the wedding rehearsal at the church. The deacon, with wide eyes, commented that it was quite a fetching ensemble. The difference that night was that I elected to go braless. No torture device was underneath. The bodice of the dress was snug and lined. My boobalas were still perky. Those were the good old days.

We opted out of the big, Catholic, pomp and circumstance nuptials. No priest presided over our union because a Mass wasn't part of the ceremony. We were married in the church, but the deacon we had a closer relationship with did the honor of guiding us on our path to wedded bliss.

What prompted this walk down memory lane? Oddly enough, an off topic but related reference to Adrienne Barbeau. You remember her, right? She was nicknamed Adrienne Barboob in our household. She played the daughter of Maude. Anyway, on a whim I bought a t-shirt featuring the late, great Bea Arthur. It possesses a play on a phrase made popular by the Pussycat Dolls. Upon seeing the image, one of my Plurk friends (like Twitter without the celebrity BS) commented about the crush he had on Maude's daughter. From that we posted images of Ms. Barbeau. One such photo was that of Adrienne in a white muscle t-shirt. In my early 20s I could wear one of those sexy tees without making the general public vomit while prompting them to beg me to cover up. I made a cheeky comment to that effect and posted a picture from my 18th birthday:

I cut my brother and his former wife from the photo. Heh. We'd gone out for dinner and I may or may not have had wine. Bro had already changed into casual attire. That t-shirt says, "Where in Hell is Kankakee?" Uh. At that point it was hell. I was visiting them in Boulder, Co. I was thisclose to moving there, but family members who shall remain nameless talked me out of it.

I made the dress that I'm wearing. Man, I loved that tea length dress with the dropped waist. I made a lot of my clothes back then. Tall lengths were not widely popular or affordable. So, armed with the sewing skills I picked up from my mom and sisters -- and 8th grade home economics -- I had a better wardrobe.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, it doesn't matter. It is, after all, always about me in some way shape or form.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Shake, shake, shake

I confess!! I will try gimmicks to lose weight. I don't buy pills, but I do buy into those infomercials about shaking my booty 'til the weight drops off. You've seen them. Women (and some not so coordinated men) dancing, thrusting, hip thumping themselves into a sweaty frenzy while the instructor energetically leads them. The instructors are frighteningly thin. My guess is they've' not had a visit from Auntie Flow in eons due to dangerously low body fat.

No, I do not pay attention to the fine print telling me "results are not typical" when the formerly size 22 is now a svelte size 6 with no apparent flopping skin or stretch marks. I'm thinking when someone drops weight quickly they would have skin hanging on them like wax drippings on the candle you left lit too long. I like to pretend that woman could be me sans drippy skin content. Sadly, I have a fear of commitment that clearly includes committing to myself. That being said, I haven't known what it's like to be less than a size 14 for nearly 2 decades. Get over it! I'm not a small cougar.

As I age, I notice things about my body functions that I don't like. I won't discuss further, but lets just say I've grown accustomed to those individually wrapped prunes and prune juice (I haven't tried a prune martini, but I'm thisclose to going there.). Plus, I've switched from Cap'n Crunch to Fiber One ... and Jamie Lee Curtis has had an impact on my choice of yogurt.

Because it's not about how I look and more about how I feel -- function over form -- I opted to take the advice of my cutey patootey Beach Body coach to try Shakeology. I bought the chocolate flavor so Mancub would try it, too. I worry that he doesn't get enough fiber and veggies. I realize the real McCoy is the best bet. However, this gives me assurance that we're both getting what our bodies needs. He often only wants chocolate milk in the morning rather than a full meal. Shakeology fills that desire while giving him nutrients. Packed into the chocolately thickness is a day's worth of veggies and fruits. We're injesting the equivalent of a multi-vitamin without the horrible belching. Hell yeah! There are various things one can add to switch it up and make it less boring. The shakes on their own are quite tasty. But to keep from being bored, I'm going to take the suggestion of one of the Shakeology Facebook fans by freezing left over coffee in an ice cube tray and adding it to the blender for a mocha-licious morning smoothie. Eventually, I'd like to ween myself from my caffeine addiction. I'm simply not willing to deal with the headaches that accompany withdrawal.

With the improved weather I can finally step outside and walk again. YEA! Walking is really the only form of exercise I don't get pissed off doing. With the right support I could probably work up to jogging. However, like the subtitle of my blog reads, I am still in search of the perfect bra. I have a dozen work out videos, but at some point the instructors expect me to do a maneuver I am physically incapable of performing without injury. I scream at the television. I kid you not when I tell you that the phrase, "Fuck you skinny bitch!" streams from my pie hole in the course of working out to a DVD that claims it's perfect for beginners of all shapes and sizes. It's as if I have workout induced Tourette's Syndrome.

I've made proclamations to lose weight and get healthy numerous times on my blog. Roll your eyes or poke fun at me. I can take it. Chances are I've already said those things to myself. My wish is to just be a regular gal.

Friday, May 29, 2009

You be the judge

I just flicked on the radio and the song "Not Meant To Be" by Theory of a Dead Man was playing. I've heard the song before and I've also seen the tail end of the video to find American Idol useless fourth judge Kara DioGuardi is featured in the vid.



What struck me interesting is that I thought what I was hearing was that shittastic song DioGuardi co-wrote for the Idol finalists to sing and ultimately record (for the winner). She should "apologize" to Kris Allen for making that his first release.



Maybe I'm totally off base, but I did think it. Maybe it's the Adam Lambert version that sounds more like Theory of a Dead Man since his take on it was heavier on the rock. Still sucked.



So what is DioGuardi doing in that Dead Man video? Is she shtuping the lead singer? I could look it up on Google, but I have to take a shower.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

And the award goes to ....


I took today off in order to meet with Mancub's IEP (Individualized Education Program) team. This is where we discuss his accomplishments and also determine if and what services, special accommodations need to be made for the following school year. He's done exceedingly well. In fact, it's almost embarrassing to hear all the praise for my son. He has had his trials and tribulations in dealing with classmates, but for the most part he has held his own.

Mancub's social worker and the school district psychologist were present. I was asked a series of questions and invited to address any concerns I have about his transition from 8th grade to 9th. He'll be in a new school. The bonus is that his junior high school and high school are identical building design. He'll benefit greatly in not having to learn a new landscape.

There is little concern over his academics. In her quest for insight, the psychologist gave Mancub various tests for reading, math, comprehension and language arts. In this skills survey was a section about future plans. Mancub informed her that he wants to attend college and hopes to either be a comedian or a video game designer. She laughed and stated that with his personality she can completely see him on a stage entertaining the masses. His other teachers have commented that at appropriate times he will utilize accents and various other voices. He's always polite and keeps a sense of humor about himself. One outwardly notable item the psychologist brought to my attention was that upon being asked a question that he had no answer for, Mancub would look down; think about it and reply, "Nope. Sorry. I got nothin'" To which the psychologist had to fight back laughter as it would be unprofessional (in her mind) and possibly considered inappropriate. She said in all her years of dealing with students she has never had a child reply in such a manner. She found it utterly refreshing that he didn't attempt to fumble his way with an insincere retort.

I spent over 45 minutes receiving accolades about my son. He was showered with praise and support. In return, I expressed my gratitude for the school staff's exceptional abilities and desire to learn more about children with Asperger's Syndrome rather than just shuffling him through the system.

But wait! There's more.

Tonight was Mancub's 8th Grade Banquet. It was for students who maintained at least 80 of their 100 merit points. They were served dinner and dessert. Dining was immediately followed with an awards ceremony and dance. Mancub said he danced to the "Cha Cha Slide" -- I wish I had video of that!!

I sat in my car anxiously awaiting his emergence from the school. Before you ask, NO, I didn't wait outside the school for the duration of the event. I dropped him off; went home and returned at a reasonable time. When I saw him walking out with a big smile on his face, he was carrying a few items. All students were given a bag of candy and an autograph graduation dog. He got in the car and put on his seatbelt. Under the bag of candy and stuffed dog I noticed a frame and certificate.

"Hey, what's that?" I asked.

"Oh, it's an award that I was given. Pretty cool, huh? They even gave me a frame for it," he grinned.

When I read what it was for my eyes welled up with tears. I took a deep breath that was followed by a deep sigh. Attempting to hold back sobbing was nearly impossible. I swallowed hard as he noticed the first tear was rolling down my cheek.

"You're proud of me, huh?"

The certificate reads:

This certificate is awarded to:

Mancub

By your peers for being the

MOST OUTGOING


There's other information but that's the important stuff. He was voted by his classmates as MOST OUTGOING.

The little boy who lacked in social skills and had issues acclimating to new situations was voted as being the kid with oodles of personality. Proud doesn't begin to fully express how I'm feeling at this moment.

I gotta go. I need to find a fresh box of tissues.

Monday, May 25, 2009

This is probably TMI

I'm not one for keeping an immaculate home. I grew up in a house that was clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be lived in ... or something along that vein. I tend to avoid cleaning beyond the regular chores of washing dishes and laundering our clothing. I know our cats turn the countertops into their own stage. Because I have visions of the two cats doing their strippers on crack routines on the counters, I keep anti-bacterial spray on hand at all times.

What I'm confessing to is not getting into the nitty gritty of cleaning on a weekly basis. In fact, if it comes twice a year I consider it OCD. I have a distinct recollection of my mother only cleaning our kitchen floor by means of scrubbing it on hands and knees. That is drilled into my head as the only way to truly get the floor clean. I own a Swiffer Wet-Jet, but that thing doesn't really get the floor clean in my opinion. I use it between times when I break down and get on all fours to scrub the kitchen and bathroom vinyl flooring.

I used my weekend off to clean my home. Well, to clean the kitchen and bathroom. I even bought some of those Mr. Clean Magic sponge things. I love those buggers. I have no idea what kind of magic potion is contained within the pores of the product, but it works. The walls are ever thankful. My elbow grease is put on hold, too.

My house is, indeed, sponge worthy. Heh.

Scrubbing the shower almost turned into a call to 911 -- mildew remover should come with a breathing apparatus is all I'm saying. I opened the window prior to spritzing the bathtub and shower with that caustic spray. I had to bail mid-scrub in order to keep from passing out. My remaining brain cells are still stumbling around like Foster Brooks on the Love Boat.

Once my cleaning extravaganza was complete, I decided our closets and dressers could use clearing. Already set for donation to Goodwill was a huge box of shoes. Knowing the box wouldn't fit in the big red metal box located at the grocer, I transferred them to smaller manageable bags. Mancub had the majority of clothing donations. I tend to buy things that aren't suitable for my body type or age.

With the closets tackled, I turned to my dresser. I've had difficulty closing my undie drawer. Similarly, my sock drawer had become cramped. When donating clothing, is it appropriate to toss in underwear that have been barely worn?

While doing my sorting I came across items that I had no business possessing. Seriously, a sequined g-string? Go on and roll your eyes. Who the frak was I kidding? I know I used to get the Fredrick's of Hollywood catalog when I still lived in Georgia. Also in the silly mix were two thongs that had cartoonish screen prints on what little fabric existed. I know these crazy undergarments were purchased when I still had an active sex life.

Georgia on my mind.

As I put myself through a torturous personal panty raid, I found something else that I obviously had no need to purchase. Hidden beneath the pile of useless panties, thongs and g-strings was a reminder of just how solitary my life has been since coming back to my home planet of Illinois: Assorted condoms and a personal lubricant that warmed on contact. Ugh. I wasn't sure whether to laugh, cry or vomit.

I looked at the date on the assorted variety of condoms. Expired. Again, a reminder that my personal shelf life seems to have followed suit.

I sat back on my bed with the strand of condoms in one hand and a handful of ridiculous undies in the other. I laughed to myself and tried to find the humor in it. With no more than a sigh, I tried to find the positive side of being celibate. No worries of my teen son catching me in the act? No pregnancy scares? No fretting over the 'next day follow up call'? No contemplation of it being too soon? No wet spots?

The buried items had been purchased in 2005. Today is May 25, 2009. It's been a long time. This is not a mating call, by the way. I've gone this long without and now I feel I owe it to myself to never settle. There's hope that I have a greater sense of clarity regarding my self-worth. Hmmm

Four years. Two-hundred and eight weeks. One thousand-four hundred and sixty days. But who's counting?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Precious and few

Our sweet little Silver found comfort on my lap this morning. Moments like that are very rare. Mancub is still in bed; therefore, not able to provide a warm lap for her to snooze upon. Desperate times call for desperate measures. That's where I come in. Silvy will only hop on my lap when her boy isn't available. I'll take it! She was purring and needling my cellulite riddled thighs with her front claws. Gritting through the pain I gently petted her teeny little body. And who knows, maybe she'll help reduce the unsightly indentations!

Through all of this monumental snuggling I endured a cheesy movie on Lifetime. I had been watching "Will and Grace." I erred when I didn't bring the remote with me to the desktop pc. With a slight lean to the left I can still see the television. On Idol nights I shifted everything so I wouldn't miss a beat or babbling moment of the judges ... eventually Silver hopped down but not before touching her nose to mine. Awww. Fresh coffee and the remote were acquired.


Have you managed to pay a visit to my Relay for Life donation page yet? I don't mean to be a nag, but I haven't attained my goal yet. The photo above is us making our team lap. Justin and I are carrying the banner while Mancub (l) and Maureen and Michael (r) walk along. Kris and her daughter Alisa are behind the banner. The little feet you see underneath belong to them.
Donating is easy and painless. I want to extend a special thanks to Sherrie W. for donating more than once. Sadly, two friends passed away due to the evil grasp of cancer. Rather than sending flowers she opted to dedicate her donation toward our endeavor to raise funds to find the cure for cancer. I'm deeply touched that she chose HUNGER FOR A CURE as a means of memorial for her loving friends who fought a tough battle.

My goal is to never guilt anyone into making donations. I am aware that several of you already commit funds to charitable causes. God Bless you! I hope you'll take this as a gentle reminder. I was raised Catholic-ish, but I've given up the guilt part of it. Trust me when I say I fully understand how difficult it is to make ends meet right now. I struggle to stay afloat some weeks. My suggestion is this: If you're unable to donate financially, please try to join a group to walk or run in a cause. You'd be surprised what that camaraderie will do for the human spirit. Solidarity in numbers.

When I sent out the call for Mancub's fund raising efforts with Easter Seals, I was blown away by the outreach and donations. As a result, he was given special recognition at his National Junior Beta Club commencement and initiation ceremony on Tuesday, May 19. He raised the most amount of money for an individual. If you recall, he was on television with Miss Champaign-Urbana to present his Champion Check. That achievement speaks volumes on the amazing generosity of people in the blogosphere.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Snark isn't dead -- just ask a Pop Lifer

Well, America has crowned its 8th Idol. The rabidly rapid thumbs of tweens, soccer moms, good old fashioned Christian folk voted for the 23 year old married boy from ... some state that isn't California or Florida. What's his name? I already forgot it. My pick from the auditions was Adam Lambert. I hoped Danny Gokey would have brought new game, but he bored me to death only to awaken me with the guttural growl-howl.

See, Adam Lambert possesses that je ne sais quoi that theatre people dig. He proved that he could be the balladeer as well as the Steven Tyleresque rock wailer. I'm not comparing him to rock gods like Steven and surely not Freddie Mercury. Molds were broken when those men were created. However, along the same vein, I believe Glambert will etch himself in similar "rock."

Kris Allen (see, I do remember his name, but I wouldn't had he not wooed the fastest texters in the west.) Kris is mister middle of the road. He's a good kid with a good heart and, gosh darn it! people just think he's the cat's pajamas! He's safe. God forbid we let someone with a little edge to them win such an institution as American Idol. Kris has the edginess of a round rubber ball with an Elmo image printed on it.

American Idol isn't solely about talent. It's about how fast you can dial or text. The producers of the show along with the judges made it too obvious they wanted to push Adam to the finale. He would have made it that far regardless of their persistent pushing. Adam knows stage production. I keep hearing people complaining that Kris got the shopper's value of production when he performed, but Adam got flames, smoke, blue lit staircase and hellacool shiny suits. I'm curious about how much control the performer has over those nuances. Kris's experience is that of a faith leader in his church and playing for small venues (that probably don't allow smoking or booze). Kris was one mellow dude and he was comfortable in his jeans and plaid Okie shirts.

My point is that the men have entirely different styles. I can't imagine Kris strutting down a staircase back lit in bright orange while singing "Apologize."

In the finale, Kris performed with someone who had a similar acoustic guitar strumming style: Keith Urban. I thought it a fine duet that complimented Kris ... he seemed to really get a kick out of it. People are screaming FOUL!! in the face make-up of KISS. Can you imagine Kris singing with the likes of KISS, Aerosmith, Motley Crue or Katy Perry? Heck no. I can't fathom Adam singing a yee-haw good time song with Randy Travis, Rascal Flatts or Jack Johnson, either.

Adam stated in an interview with Charley Belcher of Good Day Tampa Bay (FOX) that those boots he wore on stage with KISS were his own. The guy is a stage monster.

So, I'm too lazy to do the homework. As I stated earlier I am curious about how much production control the kids have on their performances. They are allowed to change the arrangements. Therefore, it seems fitting that they have a lot of say on lighting, costuming, hair, etc...



With that all being said, I am relieved with a touch of sadness that Season 8 of American Idol is over. I had a great time blogging live with my 'net friends over on Sean Daly's Pop Life. I don't know what next season will bring, but I can guarantee that if you stop by Sean's blog on any given day of the week, you'll see my name highlighted in the comment area. It's not all about Tampa Bay. Sean isn't just about music. His blog encompasses all things pop culture. Dig it, baby!

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Pop Lifers who gave snark and laughter to my Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Much love to Sean Daly who hosted. In addition to Sean as hosts, I give a hearty hand to someone known only as "The Agent," Stephanie Hayes, and Steve Spears for lending support on the nights Sean had to woefully cover a concert or joyfully spend time with his lovely ladies at the Daly manse.

Pop Lifers who gave Pop Life its heartbeat:
Sparky
Starfish
JillyBean (my vote for most vibrant newbie)
Jeff in Cuba (he created a quiz on Facebook to find out which Pop Lifer you are most like.)
PiScene (mysterious, alluring and funny as hell ...also a newbie)

with occasional drop ins from special guests:
Bassnote
Douglas Arthur
Lee
Lauren
Idol Watcher

and I would be remiss to forget our foreign correspondent in Lisbon:
Miguel (he's all kinds of cute and sexy)

Once in awhile someone would drop in using a pseudonym and leave a riotously funny quip and never show again.

You might think we're all crazy losers with nothing better to do, but it goes deeper than that. No, it's not like we're planning vacations together and sending each other Christmas Cards with family photos. We'r'e not even planning world domination -- or are we? We are a nifty group of people that can disagree, poke fun at one another and in the end feel all warm and fuzzy for having had the experience.

There are nasty rumors that snark is dead. Heh. Silly people. Snark is just another way of saying, "I love you ... don' t quit your day job."

In a final note, if I read (or hear) the words "AMERICA GOT IT RIGHT" in regards to Kris Allen winning American Idol Season 8, I am going to punch them right in the kisser. Put that passion into your next election that matters, doucheyfaces. Hmmph.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'll tumble for ya

Mancub has a new bike. What's not known is that he never learned how to ride a bike when he was little. I can't make excuses for my poor parenting. It just never happened. We bought him a bike with training wheels when he was 4 or 5. At that point his father and I were still married. We had a home in a new neighborhood set out in the countryside. No sidewalks. We were lucky to have paved roads.

He quickly outgrew the little bike as I outgrew the marriage. The divorce occurred and I moved to a little house that sat about 20 feet off the highway. Nothing but pasture surrounded us out back. Mancub won a bicycle at the local gas station that held a contest with Slurpee Dog or some such. It sat on our porch undisturbed with little riding. Between my job and shuffling the boy to and from his dad's, which was a round trip of 1.5 hours, where was there time for bike lessons? His dad lived in an area without sidewalks, too. Let's just say Mancub learning to ride the bike was a doomed effort.

Now he's 14 and in possession of a great mountain bike. His father lives in Texas. Guess who gets to pull out the super parent skills? Me. The least patient of all moms in the world. Not to mention the boy is bigger than me. Holy shit! Yeah, I'm allowing myself to say it. This is not an easy task, but I'm determined.

I've been mentally preparing the boy so he realizes that cuts, scrapes and bruises will happen. A little road rash won't kill him. It'll build character and he can embellish on the tales of how he came to get the wounds. I figure it'll give him an edge with the girls.

Today we set out to the local school yard. With plenty of space and few bumps in the pavement, I figure it the best setting. I made certain no other kids were there shooting hoops. I do not want my child humiliated.

I tried a couple different techniques to help him gain balance. Neither worked. I've taught other kids to ride bikes back in my babysitting days. I thought I knew what I was doing, but a 6'2" 225 lbs kid is waaaaaaaaaaaaay different than a 65 lb first grader riding a banana seat bike adorned with a floral basket.

We were moving along very well. He managed to maintain balance for a few feet on his own. I was merely running along (yeah, laugh! Because seeing me running is very much like Gloria the Hippo in Madagascar I & II.). Instead of packing it in as Mancub requested, I insisted he was on the right track and that wasn't the best time to stop. He was making brilliant progress.

With the bike pointed toward home, I promised we'd just work our way back to the house but to continue trying.

With my hand firmly gripping the seat, he pushed off and we were making great strides. Then ..

BAM!

CRASH!

KABLAM!!!

He stopped dead in his tracks without forewarning me as he'd done on previous attempts and ....

I tumbled like a Mumak in Lord of the Rings: Two Towers. I probably let out a gutteral moan similar to the mammoth elephant like beast, too. I think I put my hand down which absorbed the brunt of the impact. The jarring jammed my shoulder upward and my elbow buckled and it hit the pavement as I tucked and rolled without hitting my head, but managed to bite my lip. My left knee hit pretty hard, too. With expletives spewing forth, I'm sure the people across the river are now saying a prayer asking God to have mercy on my soul. I surmise that when Mancub dropped his left foot, my right foot hooked and caused me to trip and go flying.

So, while I was concerned about Mancub suffering injury and insisting upon use of a helmet, I believe it is I who needs the helmet, knee pads and elbow guards in this endeavor to learn to ride a bike.

We walked home and I quickly bandaged my hand and currently have an ice pack on my left elbow. I'm sore as hell. A second ice pack is needed, but not on hand. My knee is throbbing and sure to have an ugly bruise by morning.

After being home a few minutes Mancub came to me with a quivering bottom lip. He feels just dreadful for causing me to fall. I tried to joke about how funny I must have looked from his perspective. With that my gentle giant began to sob ... 'I could have killed you!!!!!' he wailed.

Being a single parent has its rewards, but it's so difficult to also have to bear these moments alone.

when I was learning to ride, I remember hitting trees and crashing, but I have no recollection of my dad tucking and rolling. Ever.

I have to do this all again on Tuesday after work. I might have a slight gimp. I might move a little slower and groan a little louder. However, I'll be damned if this is going to bench me for the season. My boy will be riding solo even if it kills me in the process.

In the meantime, pass me the Advil. Better yet, hook a sister up with something stronger, will ya?


Sunday Shake Down


We're nearing the big day for RELAY FOR LIFE. Our fabulous team, which is celebrating its 2nd anniversary of existence, Hunger for a Cure, is scrambling for more donations. That's where you all come in. I know it's really hard to make ends meet. You're not alone. I am not going to make you feel guilty for blowing your hard earned cash on the "as seen on TV" products I shared in yesterday's comical post. I know the temptation is just too hard to resist. However, you must. Instead, I need you to click the photo to the right. It will take you to my champion page. Donation amounts don't have to be huge. Five. Five Dollar. Five Dollar ... skip the Subway sandwich. Make it yourself and give The American Cancer Society your money instead.

The people you see posing with our amazing banner (it was the biggest in the parade) are my sister Maureen (who is a cancer patient) and her son Justin. Justin is currently a sophomore in high school. He's all kinds of awesome. He designed our team logo. He can play the ukulele. Maureen's other son, Michael, just finished his freshman year in college where he was the starting center on the basketball team. He's all kinds of awesome, too.

"So, that's all nice and dandy, Riss, but why are you blathering on about people I don't know?"

I do so with hopes that you realize cancer is everywhere and it takes a village to support those who live with it. My village (no I am not the idiot) involves YOU. I need your support.

I promise to post tons of pictures and video. Yeah, you'll get a dose of Rissananigans during the walk day festivities. The event goes into the wee hours of the morning and I get loopy when I'm tired. It could prove to be quite hilarious or frightening. Last year I wasn't armed with a camera, which is a darn shame. A guy gave me a massive pearl necklace in front of people! Whoa daddy!! I even begged for it. That's just the kind of girl I am.

The weekend of the Relay for Life even is June 13-14. I'm looking forward to walking with so many hopeful people. It's a fantastic day I get to spend with family and friends. I hope you'll join us in spirit.

Thank you in advance for your contributions.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

As seen on TV -- Saturday sickness

I don't like being yelled at by Billy Mays. The products he's hawking are obviously so amazing that it makes it impossible to CONTROL THE VOLUME OF HIS VOICE!!! (Thanks Austin Powers movie.) Then there's that creepy squinty in just one eye dude who got arrested for something perverse -- the guy who sells SHAMWOW! I have heard that's a decent product, but make sure it has GERMANY stamped on the label of it's not the original (or something like that).

What's equally annoying are the fitness info-mercials. They show a woman twice my size who has dwindled down to a petite size 4 solely by using the fitness program being sold. I've ordered some of those fitness scams and there is NO WAY that large Marge woman got down and did the push-ups and goofy as hell body manipulations as done on the DVD. No. F-ing. Way! "I never exercised a day in my life and now I am a fit 57-young! I walk by construction sites and get the wolf-calls galore."

I scream BULL!!

I told you earlier today that I get mean when I'm sick.

My curiosity and inability to really concentrate with the feeling of an anvil sitting on my face took me to Google. Again. This time my search was for "as seen on TV products." Of course there's a website dedicated to these cheese-a-rific products. I wish I could get paid to try them out and then give my reviews. That'd be so awesome. I could do it all from the comfort of my pjs. I'd be willing to humiliate myself on video. Who'd be willing to pay a small fee to subscribe to such Rissananigans?

Before I dive into the products that have me most curious, I must applaud the folks who name these gems. Seriously, who could resist the Slap Chop, Lucidal or Fasta Pasta! Me! That's who, but all the same, I'd try them out if there was money in it.

Wizzit! -- My, oh my! Doesn't this just make the mind wander? What is it? A portable purse sized potty? "Never stop while traveling with Wizzit! No unnecessary detours for you and the family. Just pass WIZZIT and you'll never get off course."

Nope. Wizzit is a hair removal system that "attracts hair like a magnet... 50x faster than tweezers" In other words, it's going to rip the hair right out of your flesh and cause pain. Lots and lots of pain. Perhaps, if you're into bleeding, you'll bleed your own blood (Yes, White Goodman of Dodgeball said it.)

Touch n Bond: Hmmm did Dr. Phil come up with a new-fangled family therapy? It's been said that a hug can do wonders for the human spirit. Naturally, Dr. Phil could find a way to profit from it. Alas, no. This isn't about mending the broken family. It's intended use is repairing everything from your daughter's ornamental jeweling on her prom gown to the rip that old Fido left on the upholstery of the "don't sit on that" front room couch. It says it's permanent and non-toxic. I wonder if I could use it to hold up my tig ol' bitties. Nothing says, "I'm not aging" like permanent decolletage.

Monster 1200: Hell yeah! FINALLY! It's what every celibate girl (read as can't find a man to save her life) wants in her bedside table. With a name like Monster, it has to be good. And it comes with 10 accessories including the smallest of attachments to get into the nooks and crannies. Woo dawgy!
Nope. Nada. HA! It's a cleaning machine that can out clean Stanley Steamer. It claims to deodorize and sanitize any surface in seconds while it hangs from your arm ... but be careful! Steam causes 3rd degree burns. So keep it away from Bob the dog and other cherished family members.

It's clear that I have more time on my hands than I have sense today.

Time flies and feathers don't make you sexy

Hey! Wow! It's been nearly a week since I sat down to write something. Man!I suck donkey hooves.

After such an amazing Mother's Day you'd think I'd be walking on cloud 9, but alas, I slipped into a state of malaise. I couldn't put my finger on why I'd feel so sad.

The weather has been less than agreeable. Springtime in the Midwest is often a dreary state. We get so much rain. Nothing says welcome to summer like feeding the mosquito nests with lots and lots of stagnate water. Seriously, the ducks and geese are calling the fields near my house home. They are confused and will soon learn that the mass quantities of water are NOT newly formed ponds.

I had intentions of attending my niece Elyssa's college graduation ceremony today. As I said, I've been under the weather and stricken with a case of the blues. Physically I felt drained and my body ached. It felt as if I had 10 pound weights strapped to my ankles.

Last night I turned to Theraflu as I just couldn't take the sensation that I'd been run over by a Mack truck any longer. Retiring early to my bedroom with my hot cup of over the counter meds, I thought the morning would bring pep in my step upon awakening. I zoned out while watching my current TV addiction: Forensic Files. I can't get enough of that show. Ever since Grissom (William Peterson) left CSI: Vegas, well ... I'm having a hard time adapting.

Anyway, I was wrong about Theraflu's effect would have on me this morning. I feel worse. What's more devastating is that I'm missing my niece graduate from the nursing program. She's amazing. I had the honor of seeing her in action when our Uncle Chuck was hospitalized. She's a new mommy and still managed to complete her degree, fill shifts at the hospital and care of her baby Bella. She's an astounding, vivacious young woman.

Prior to giving in to the need for medicinal relief, I looked up unexplained feelings of sadness. I'm one of those people who needs answers. Without any specific cause or circumstances making me feel overwhelmed emotionally, a reason needed to be discovered. It seemed evident without needing to Google it. I was getting sick, but it didn't hit me until it literally hit me. I don't seem to have a fever, but even the tops of my feet ache. My hair follicles feel as if they are straining to support my strands of hair. The bridge of my spectacles feels more like an anvil residing on my nose. I'd go back to bed, but laying in any position makes me hurt more.

In an effort to amuse myself and try to forget how icky I feel, I turned to Google once more. This time, I went in search of glamour shots. Now, I take some pretty awful photos. I do pose and turn and if I'm lucky one out of one hundred will be to my liking. However, that knowledge about myself doesn't make me laugh any less at people trying to bring out their inner-sexy-beast. I don't blame the subjects. I point fingers at the photographers who clearly have a sadistic sense of humour. People fork over a ton of moolah for ridiculous poses adorned with furs, metallic wraps, feathers and air brushing that puts Playboy to shame.

Is that her hand or that of another in an attempt to choke the sense back into her? Is she giving the photographer the finger?And how about those earrings?


















Nothing says, "I'm spunky!!" better than grabbing on to your leather jacket collar. Her eyes seem glazed over from the Aqua Net over spray she inhaled to get her hair to shocking heights.



Another favorite patented pose of Glamour Shots is the throat grab. I don't know if it is a trick to hide a chicken neck/turkey woggle or sign language for "Aqua Net fumes are choking me!!"













I have a Bedazzler and I'm not afraid to use it. The look on her face says "I will kill you in your sleep" more than it says "come hither."






























Yes, when I'm sick I am a mean sort. I get testy and hateful. My intent is to amuse without malice toward the unsuspecting subjects in the above glamour photos. I'm certain they are all lovely creatures who needed to feel like a Hollywood Diva for a day ... but their high hopes bring me high-larity.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What a mug!

I mentioned in my "Mother's Day" post that it was certain that Mancub hadn't realized it was a special day. Granted, he makes every day special, but for Hallmarkian purposes this day would go unnoticed ... or so I thought.

Shortly after posting the aforementioned blog item, I let Mancub know we were heading out to buy plants to put in the pots on the front porch. I was still in my pajamas and taking my time. It's not often that I'll be standing at the door with purse in hand still waiting after giving him at least an hour's notice that I wanted to get out of the house (and that he'd be accompanying me).

Today made me feel like I'd been stuck in a time warp. I sat at the computer fiddling around thinking I had scads of time to waste before jumping in the shower. Boy, was I mistaken! Mancub had gone upstairs and came down fully dressed! He'd immediately made tracks to the bathroom to brush his hair and comb his hair. He emerged from his beautifying ritual and declared he was ready to go ... and there I was still sitting in my sleepy stank! I tossed my hair high on top of my head in a ponytail and hit the showers. A bandanna is a girl's bad hair day friend.

Off we went to Wal-Mart. Did I mention that in addition to my amazing mothering skills, I am also a discount shopping superhero? I put on my blinders and bowl my way through as if I'm the only one in the store. Remember: "No eye contact will save you from unnecessary conversations."

We only visited the lawn and garden section. There was a rather sickly assortment of hanging plants and a few starter plants. I found a fiery orange Gerbera Daisy. I love daisies. There was another gorgeous red flower that didn't have an identifying plant pik. So, I hope it does well. I should point out that I don't have a green thumb. This Mother's Day marks the first serious attempt to grow anything in a pot or in soil. I typically rely on silk renditions to adorn my front porch/deck. Laugh if you must, but it's just how it is, my friends. I'm fortunate that my landlady left several large pots in and around the house. It makes my endeavor to prettify my porch much simpler and cheaper! Since there isn't an overhang or awning on my deck; nor do I want to puncture the siding with a bracket, I picked up a shepherds hook for the blooming hanging baskets.

While at Wal-Mart I received a call from Maureen. She invited us over so she could give me the gift from Mancub. Naturally I knew he had no idea what she'd bought for him to give to me, but that's another tradition. I told her we'd drop my plants off at our house and then drop by her house.

I knew I wanted to get Maureen something, but until our conversation I had no idea what to buy. She'd mentioned wanting plants for the patio. Rather than give her a sickly one from Wal-Mart I decided to stop by a local produce market and greenhouse. Panozzo's has been around forever. I tend to forget about them even though I pass the store often. They were swamped, but had such an amazingly lovely assortment of lively hanging plants, flowering trees and bedding plants. I found a gorgeous Fuschia that had several healthy blooms dangling from its richly green foliage. After picking up and putting back various plants, I knew that was the one for my sister and Kris. When we arrived and presented her with the bountiful, flowering plant, she declared it was her favorite kind! Yea! Rissy done good!

For myself I unhooked (and was vastly dribbled on as it was freshly watered) a pale, yellow daisy plant in a hanger. Have I mentioned that I love daisies?

After spending some time with Maureen, the dogs and a brief emergence of my nephew JP, we departed for some much needed grocery shopping. Unlike my love for daisies, I hate grocery shopping. With the basic necessities in tow, we headed home so I could get my plants repotted and move on to a Mancub first that appropriately takes place on Mother's Day.


My baby boy shaved for the first time. Rather than expelling tears, I giggled with pride. Joy overwhelmed me. I've never shaved a face. I had read the shaving instructions on the Norelco electric shaver that I purchased for him last weekend. I asked Manny and Scott at work for advice.

His peach fuzz had grown quite thick and his cute little mug always looked dirty. With the trimmer on the back of the razor serving as a weed wacker, we cleared the brush that was his long neck fuzz. We learned that it hurt too much to tackle that massive baby chick down with the rotating heads of the razor. He wanted to keep his funny little goatee, but I convinced him to shave it all off and let it grow back in a little heavier later on.

It's times like this that I find single parenting most challenging. I know it was probably as awkward for Mancub as it was for me, but I'm thrilled to the gills that I was able to share this experience with him. It's a guarantee that I won't be present for ALL of his firsts. In fact, it's highly likely I won't want to know about many of his firsts. Oy!

OH! I can't forget to tell you what Maureen gave to Mancub to give to me. Y'all know what a coffee fiend I am. What better present to bestow upon me than the cutest mug on a mug!

Mother's Day


Obviously if you're a mom you know 'Mother's Day' comes for us every.single.day. With each battle of the wills we get to celebrate motherhood. When he practices his ninja skills in the house and nearly destroys everything breakable in his path, you declare unconditional love. Then, wander off to silently weep and cry out, "where did he come from!?"

It's no surprise that my son, who is currently camped out on the love seat playing a video game, has no idea that today is Mother's Day. I am not going to bother reminding him. He's 14 and he's sincerely a wonderful boy. I get a celebration every time he gives me an unsolicited hug or does a chore without being reminded. In addition, the kid can make me laugh when I least expect it. Formality needn't be the course of today.

One thing I absolutely wish for is more vivid memories of my own mother who passed away in 1981. I was 15, but my memories are more like snapshots. I remember incidences but many are surrounded with sadness over her illness or arguments with my dad. I wrote once that my grief process involved being angry at her for dying. In turn, my joyful memories were pushed into the recesses of my mind. My subconscious took control. What I'm saying is it wasn't intentional. I did not hate my mother, but I was so devastated and lost.

There is one thing that was distinctive about my mom: Her laughter. I focus on how funny she was when she'd start giggling. The more she tried to stop; the more she'd laugh. She'd wind down only to rev up again ... eventually tears would ensue and the entire room would be laughing with her, but at her laughter rather than whatever it was that made her giggle so uncontrollably.

I don't know if it's genetic or not, but I'm able to find the funny in the mundane. Perhaps in the 15 years I did get to spend with her she taught me to be observant. Having grown up with very little, I'm sure she learned to find joy even in the most minute circumstances.

If all she could pass down to me was her laughter and the ability to find happiness when others feel defeated, well, I'd say that's a bounty of inheritance.

Happy Mother's Day -- may you find the funny wherever you go

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Love you forever revisited

This image represents a Mother's Day gone by. Mancub bought this plant pik for me a couple of years ago at the dollar store. I don't have a green thumb, but this weathered dragonfly continues to adorn our front porch. Regardless of the season, it's there to remind me how the simplest gestures can stand the test of time.

My refrigerator and the wall my desk faces is speckled with artistic interpretations expressing Mancub's love for me. Some of them are on lined paper while others have made it on to colored construction paper. What's most touching is that most were made for out of the blue reasons.

While Mother's Day is a lovely calendar reminder to appreciate she who gives us all life, I rejoice in a mother's day every day. Mancub still lets me tuck him in at night and give him a smooch. Sometimes he turns his head so I hit his cheek. Other times he'll offer his forehead for night time kiss placement.

In the course of a day he'll walk up to me and declare, "Hug!" Who am I to refuse such an offer? In a public place he'll reach out and touch my hair (provided I have it straightened). My hair has served as a security blanket from the beginning of his life. Sometimes he'll hug me in plain sight of others.

I suspect that these are perks of being a single parent to an only child. Neither of us has to spread the love and affection to other members of the household. His friend base is limited to kids at school who don't live nearby. That is with the exception of Cody who made his presence known on the day we bought Mancub's bike.

Gone are the days where he has to hold my hand for safety sake. Farewell was bid to him relying on me to cut his meat, wash his hair or even wake him in the mornings. But open affection hasn't been pushed to the wayside. I count my blessings every single day. Whenever I discuss my good fortune with friends or colleagues, I am reminded that he's a teen-ager and his affection will cease. "Enjoy it while it lasts" is the most frequent expression I hear. I shake it off and ignore the warnings rather than heed them.

On the days that I drop him off at school he'll always turn to blow me a kiss and await my return kiss. We catch the respective smooches and put them in our pockets. It doesn't matter who is around to witness it. He's 14. When I hug him I put my head on his shoulder. He may look like a man, but he'll always be my little boy ... and no one can take that away from me.

"I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living my baby you'll be." ~ Robert Munsch

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tomorrow ! Tomorrow! I'll blog something tomorrow

Seriously, I have no idea where my head has been. I'll write something on Thursday. I'm off work. Yea!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Riding into freedom

There's so much to tell.

In a previous post I had shared with you that my ex-husband, Mancub's father, wanted to purchase a bicycle for him. Sadly, his dad lost one of his part-time jobs and his finances have suffered. Having discussed in his social studies class the financial crisis our country is experiencing, he quickly accepted the situation and offered a sympathetic word of reassurance that he understood.

That's my boy. Who's raising this amazing young man? Wow! Go on. You can say it. Wow!

With the best of intentions I told Mancub that I'd find the means to buy him a bike. Summer is quickly approaching and I want him to be able to bask in the sunshine rather than always laying on the couch making time with Cartoon Network and various video games.

A trip to the dentist killed any hopes of me buying the 2-wheeled entertainment center. A crown needed to be replaced. Even with insurance it would cost me a cool $600.00. Holy SHIT! Go on. you can say. HOLY SHIT!! I also received a new filling (cripes) and a replacement filling in the tooth that was crowned.

In spite of my constant declaration that I hate all people with a special dislike (greatly exaggerated for entertainment purposes) for my co-workers, I do share portions of my personal life. I told my lab manager about my ex-husband's plan to buy a bike and then the retraction of said offer. He's a father of 4 and fully realizes the difficulty ... but more so he empathizes with me for being the sole parent for Mancub.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks the word got around about the bicycle situation. I didn't mind as I hadn't sworn anyone to secrecy. What I thought was basic compassion and thoughtfulness over the mountain bike quandary turned out to be covert action.

Jan, a co-worker, informed me that her friend had 3 bikes and wanted to give one away. She assured me it was nothing fancy and required some work, but she'd like to donate it to Mancub. Gratefully, I accepted her offer. On Friday, May 1 she delivered it to my home. It did need work, but in the face of nothing, this was truly something.

Later that afternoon, my selfless co-worker and friend Jen called to see if I was home. It was my day off and we chit chatted for a few minutes; cursing things that irritate us at work. In that time she asked if it would be OK to drop by. She and her daughter were in the neighborhood and just wanted to visit. She promised not to stay long as I was fixing dinner. I welcomed the company.

The day was cool but beautiful so I stepped out. Jen's youngest daughter accompanied her. In Jen's hand was a yellow envelope. "Open it."

With natural suspicion I eased open the envelope ... the card read: "So Glad We're Friends" inside: "Happy things happen when you've got a friend." In her handwriting "Because we love you. This is our way of thanking you for all you do." On the opposite side of the card was a list of names. Jen, Jen's mom, Manny, Scott, Crystal, Sue and her mom, Alan, Donna, Dr. P, Dr. C, Judi, Linda, Doug and the lady at the gas station.

In these times of economic strain it's hard to pull together money for a lunch out or anything out of necessary means. Everyone at work has had their hours and or pay cut. It's stressful. No one has been unscathed in this time of recession. But ...

My co-workers who've been subjected to my often prickly persona found it in their hearts to pool together $200.00 in the form of a Wal-Mart gift card.

Tears.

More tears with an embrace.

Sobs.

Mancub stood inside the screened door shocked.

My breath was taken away. Rendered speechless, I hugged Jen again. Her daughter stood by with a big grin on her face. She enjoyed being party to this astonishing delivery.

Today is a gloriously sunny, spring day. With the windows and sunroof wide open we set off to Wal-Mart. A friend of Mancub's was riding his bike down the road. He shouted from the car window, "'sup Cody!!"

*smile*

It was strenuous loading the bike into the Saturn. It's roomie until you need it to be a truck. Ugh! Swear words were tossed out.

As we unloaded the car of our purchases that same friend who Mancub shouted to arrived at our house. I must tell you this is a first. Mancub has mentioned this boy being on his bus, but never have they interacted outside of school. As I pumped up the tires, Cody conversed comfortably. He was polite and introduced himself. He told me how he and Mancub had been friends for awhile and he was happy to see him outside. He bid his farewell and told Mancub he'd see him at school. I took the bike for a trial run (owwy).

While I was riding about, Cody returned. Mancub had slipped inside the house. I hollered out for him, but he didn't reply. He'd gone in to use the bathroom. Cody talked to me while he waited for Mancub to finish up. Immediately he asked if it'd be OK for Mancub to go to his house. He started rattling off all the neat things he had ... including an X-Box 360. He informed me his parents were home and certain they'd not mind Mancub coming over.

With a new bike came a renewed friendship. That bike has a greater value than my co-workers might realize. My heart swelled as I watched the boys make their way down the street. I felt inspired by humanity.

... when the boys returned Cody asked if he and Mancub could hang out more next weekend. With an exuberant smile on his face Mancub echoed "yeah, can we hang out this weekend?"

*quiet tears*

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sometimes I wonder ...



1980 -- FAME!

This movie basically encompassed my high school days. It managed to say everything I felt about my love of music and singing. It saddens me that it might be bastardized with a remake. Stop screwing with the originals!! Leave my fondest memories alone, would ya? News of this remake has left me on reminiscing plaza. Take a walk with me, will you?

Being a child of a musical family, I was destined to embrace the arts. Due to financial restrictions (and lack of motivation) I didn't learn to play piano. I took lessons for about nine months, but they were with a neighborhood lady. I was either a dreadful student or she was slow on the uptake. My friends who'd been in lessons for the same amount of time were excelling and I grew frustrated. With frustration comes defeat. At least to me it takes on that role. I quit.

I also quit gymnastics because I was placed in an accelerated class with girls older than me. I wanted to be with my friends. Rather than embrace my abilities, I quit. I remember running to my room and crying because in my eyes, I was cast out of the group with which I was familiar. In time my lanky legs would have pushed me from the gymnastics realm.

I loved to dance, but that took dedication and financial will that my parents didn't possess. I wanted to stand out from the rest of the Rapier brood so desperately.

Turning to what God had granted me, I focused on singing. I loved choir and managed to take criticism from my directors. I learned to sing. Yes, a lovely tune might have eeked from my body when I was young. Yes, I could remain on key and harmonize with little effort. I wanted to produce a sound that starts from my toes and works its way out ... it doesn't begin at the vocal chords.

I remember my first music teacher: Mrs. Krauss. She didn't just teach us folk songs or how to use a recorder. She taught us to sing! In third grade, she awarded me the role of The Dew Fairy in the downsized version of Hansel and Gretel operetta. It was a major undertaking for a group of 3rd graders, but my memory of it is grandiose. The gymnasium/lunch room/auditorium seemed enormous to me then. My mother had fashioned a light blue angel costume complete with silver glittering wings. With the tinkling in the highest octave on the piano, I made my way from the back of that huge gym with my arms outspread -- taking flight to awaken Hansel and Gretel from their slumber. It was my first taste of glory. Embarrassed at the attention, I still lapped it up like a kitten to a bowl of milk.

I admit that I had hoped to be Gretel. Who doesn't want to be the star? I'm sure my parents gave me a pep talk and focused on the fact that my character made the most spectacular entrance of all. My costume had sparkle! To my family I was the star of the show. My gymnasium flight was captured on local television. Clearly it had great meaning to me.

As I made my way through school I always had chorus. I wasn't the brightest student, but I was a good kid. Choir always brought us together where we might otherwise be divided.

When I entered junior high school, the opportunities were greater. Statewide contests would be entered and I did rather well. Mr. Hertz was my vocal and choir director for 6th and 7th grade. He had an enormous voice and I looked up to him. He left (the reason escapes me) and a new, young female choir director would lead us in our 8th grade year. I was hesitant because I liked Mr. Hertz. Then, I would learn this young woman also sang in a barbershop choir with my mom. To me, a capella singing is sublime. Such masterful skills. I love it.

It would be Ms. Elroy who'd convince me to tackle songs I never felt my voice could handle for competition. Eastridge High School had done "South Pacific" as their yearly musical. So, several of us had opted for tunes from that song book. Ms. Elroy insisted on "Cock-eyed Optimist" because it had a greater difficulty level with its triplets. In addition, she worked with me diligently to perfect, "Somewhere My Love" from Dr. Zhivago. I felt silly singing such a dramatic song at the age of 13. Of course when singing for solo and ensemble contest, you're not allowed to stylize. It must be sung as written. I was scared to death. What made it all worse on the day of contest is the presence of my piers. Two boys whom I'd had crushes on chose to be present when I sang. Wanting to die then and there is an understatement. What surprised me is they were there to cheer me on and encourage me. They might have had no interest in my dorky self, but as I said earlier, choir developed a kinship where friendships might otherwise not exist.

With knocking knees I sang and those two boys applauded. I scored a perfect. Another major feat in the life of Marissa.

High school would bring an entirely different level. So many kids with much better voices than mine. Our mascot for Eastridge High was a Raider. The image of a Native American atop a horse with a spear in his hand making his way for battle. Our choir was called Raider Choir. Pretty creative, huh? Anyone could be in this group. No auditions were required. All freshman enrolling in chorus were lumped together. Just your basic choir.

In my sophomore year I could audition for the show choir, Celebration Singers. Ever since I was a little girl I only wanted to be a part of that elite group. They not only sang contemporary songs, but they danced, too! Woo!! Satiny dresses and high heels! I would audition in my sophomore year but not make it. Talk about a major let down. I did get into the all girls choir, "Treble Choir." We danced a little. The most modern song we sang was "Blue Bayou." But I promise you I sang the hell out of that. It was then that I learned I could sing every range. Need a voice in second alto? I'm your girl. Oh! You need another voice who can stay in key in fist soprano? I'm your girl. I loved it.

By the end of my sophomore year, audition time for the Celebration Singers would approach. We had to prove that we could read music. I CANNOT read music. I fake my way through it fairly well, though. We'd do a little dance routine taught to us on the spot. We had to prove we could pick it up quickly. That is unless you were male. Guys were pretty much guaranteed a spot since so few auditioned and we needed an equal girl to guy ratio.

Our vocal audition took place in the evening and in front of all the other girls auditioning. Existing members had to re-audition. It was highly unlikely they'd be replaced by a newcomer. The song we had to sing was "Babe" by Styx. Ugh. Every time I hear that song now I think back to that nerve wracking moment. Again, my knees knocking as I attempted a current pop song. My voice had been trained for more heady tunes. ACK! I figured as long as I stayed on key, I was a shoe in, but having all those eyes staring at me made me a wreck.

Mr. Gross was the director then, but he'd announce his departure by the end of the school year. We'd wait in limbo over who'd be our director. I think a notice was sent out that a young woman would lead us: Miss Schroeder. I had such a fantastic time over the following 2 years of high school. This was also a time when two formerly rival schools would come together for the Arts. Westview and Eastridge were both Kankakee high schools, but on opposite sides of the tracks, so to speak. I loved the idea from the first time it was proposed. It was thrilling to have the prospect of an arts school similar to the one in FAME! At least in my pea brain that is what I'd envisioned. The bottom line was that it afforded us greater opportunities to compete and show off what we worked so hard for. In that time, we'd tackle a FAME medley. Yeah, there's a theme here, people.

Grants were given to increase the quality and money put into the fine arts program and improve our yearly musicals by infusing city wide talents. Several programs were available to students: Dance, piano, drama, concert choir, show choir, etc... Concert Choir was Eastridge and Westview's show choir students brought together.

If memory serves, we could blow the roof off that auditorium. This union of schools would also bring me back to my 8th grade mentor who challenged me to stretch my vocal abilities. Ms. Elroy. While she had her hand at the director's stand we performed "People." Ms. Elroy was a big Barbra Streisand fan. Miss Schroeder would select more standard concert choir material with Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. Holy moley! The harmonies in that bugger were killer. I loved every note of it. Naturally we sang more songs, but those two hold the strongest memory.

My senior year would come to a close with graduation and Fame would once again lend a hand in expressing how we felt about our youth, high school and music. Eric Mann, Karen Robinson, Tommy Nelson, Jessica Madsen (also on piano) and myself would serenade our classmates and families with "Starmaker." Each of us singing a line just as they do in the clip below. (Far better vocals, I can assure you.)




But not all things came to an end that day. Along with many other 'kids' who grew up with us and shared our good times and heart breaks, Tommy, Jessica and I remain friends today. We remain bonded. They might not have realized it then, but my life was internally tumultuous. Music and my friends saved me from ... me.