Monday, September 11, 2017

Never Forget

16 years ago my life and the lives of every American changed forever.

It was a Tuesday.  The weather was stellar; here in Chicago and in Manhattan as well.

I woke up with a raging sore throat; the beginnings of a late summer cold.  I drove to work hosting a pity party for 1.

I worked in a tiny office with 8 other people.  I was the first in that morning.  I was there by myself when the first plane hit the towers in NYC.  Newscasters said it was a small plane.  The Fedex delivery arrived and I asked the driver if he had heard the news as he was bringing in the packages.  He hadn't and we chatted a bit as we listened to the radio report and I signed in our deliveries.  We were standing in the center of the office when the second plane hit.

To say that the late Barry Keefe from WTMX radio was stunned as he delivered this news is an understatement.  The Fedex guy said something must be really wrong as he left to continue his route.  I sat and waited for my co workers to arrive.

One of my co workers arrived with a tiny TV that she and her husband used on their boat.  One by one the rest arrived; in time to see one, then the other tower fall.  We sat in stunned silence most of the morning watching, trying to make sense of the unimaginable.

Jets into skyscrapers?!?!?!

16 years later I still cannot get my brain around it.

I remember driving the 30 miles home that afternoon.  My work commute took me up and down a major tollway in the Chicago area and I passed less than a dozen cars on my way home that day.  Surreal.

My exit for home was also the exit for O'Hare International airport.  By the time I reached it, airports across the country had been closed and flights in the US had been suspended.  The entrance to O'Hare had been closed off with movable concrete barriers that were being guarded by Chicago police with automatic weapons.  The skies were silent.  To someone who has lived in the take off/landing paths of a crazy busy airport, the lack of jet noise was deafening.

That evening, I went to church for a vigil and I prayed.  I am not much of a church goer but it felt like the right thing to do at the time.

Every 9/11 since 2001, I have reflected, prayed, mourned,  felt pain deeply in my soul.  But I have also felt that I have no right to feel this way because I didn't know anyone personally who perished in the attacks.

As time passed, and life went on, I found myself a changed person, living among other changed people.  We said hello to each other on the street, we held doors, merged more smoothly on the highway.  We became kinder.

I think often about the families of those killed that day and how their lives changed in the blink of an eye.  I am sure I am not the only one.

I put my flag out today.   I looked up at the cerulean sky and said a prayer...

For those lost 16 years ago
For their families
For those who have passed in the last 16 years from conditions brought on by the events of 9.11.01
For our country
For you
For me

This Sarah McLachlan song came up randomly on my playlist this morning.

I will remember you, will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by,
Weep not for the memories

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

So, What is Enough??

For as long as there as been a lottery/Lotto/Powerball/Big Game/call it what you will, people, myself included have fantasized about what they would do with all the cash.

Travel everywhere
Fancy house
Slick car
Daily shopping sprees

I can remember talking with co-workers about grabbing my passport and credit cards and heading to the airport, walking up to the departures board in the International terminal, closing my eyes and pointing...that would be my destination.  Can you even get to a departure board anymore without passing through TSA security??

Anyway...after the material things...I thought about the future...setting up my family to live paid for, college money saved and invested because let's be honest, when the fantasizing started, I was barely out of college myself!

Then as a marriage failed, there were people exiled from the group I would take care of.  And then new people added as my family grew.

Keep in mind, I rarely play so the chances of me winning are even more slim than those that do. 

I have often wondered if I "needed" to win the huge jackpots $400-500 million, $1.6 billion and so on.  I am not a kid anymore, I have a home, a fairly slick car, I travel fairly often...I don't really need a daily shopping spree.  I have read enough stories about people who won a HUGE lottery jackpot and then squandered the money away and were worse off than before the jackpot win.

Money doesn't buy you happiness, or security it seems for some.

So what is "enough"?

I would like a house with a larger kitchen and a larger yard; perhaps in a better climate.
I would like to not work full time.
I would like my husband to not work full time.
I would like to travel more regularly.
I might like a sports car.
I want the kids to finish college without debt.
I'd like my family to never have to worry about bills.

I am pretty sure I don't need $1.6 billion (or half of that after taxes) to achieve those things.

Last weekend we took my stepdaughter to college for her freshman year and we had been hearing about the $600 million jackpot that had a drawing Saturday night.  We bought some tickets.  It had been so long since I had personally bought tickets that I didn't know it is now $2 per entry.

I knew we had zero chance (1 in 292 million to be accurate) of winning but I still felt nervous about the remote possibility.  My mind briefly flicked to hiding the ticket, telling no one, hiring an accountant and a financial planner; my anxiety went through the roof.

In the end,  I won $4  in the Powerball drawing last Saturday night; I didn't quite get back what I had invested.

Guess for now, that will be enough.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It was Never About Party

I don't affiliate with a particular political party; some days I have some views that lean left and other days I find myself leaning right. 

I have never, nor will I ever vote a straight party ticket; to me that's absurd.  I have thoughts and beliefs independent of a political party. 

I have some views that are different from my husband, my mother, my sister, my friends--and that's OK.  Some of their views are different from mine--that's OK too.

I have a general aversion to the 45th president.  It has nothing to do with the political party that he represents.  I have voted republican before and I may again.  Some of my values align with republican values.

It has to do with him being a piss poor human being.
It has to do with how he treats and refers to women.
It has to do with him having no leadership skills.
It has to do with him being a narcissist.
It has to do with him being a bully.
It has to do with him being a poor example for our children.
It has to do with what he does and doesn't stand for.
It has to do with the CRAP that comes out of his mouth and his smartphone daily.
It has to do with the fact that he does not respect the office he was elected to.

It doesn't matter what political party he represents.

See for me it was and continues to be very simple.

If he woke up tomorrow morning and became an example of the perfect president for the people, I am not sure he would be able to change my mind; but anyone with a functioning brain knows that's not going to happen.

I faced January 21st with an open mind because I didn't want the pilot crashing the plane we're all on.  He has fallen below even the very low bar I had set for him.

If you voted for him, it's on you. 
If you didn't vote, you're going to have to bear some responsibility as well.
To paraphrase Heather Heyer, "If you're not angry, you're not paying attention."

Or you're a fool.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Straight Talk

I think I have been clear about my thoughts on the current president.

Today will be no different.

There is a group of people who voted for him because of his "straight talk"; his ability to "tell it like it is."

The unfortunate thing is that most of those people couldn't take a dose of straight talk if it hit them in the face because straight talk hurts.

The pathetic white supremacists marching with their tiki torches this past weekend are one of the saddest form of human being that exists.  They think they have a voice in our president and due to the fact that he didn't call them out as the scum that they are SPEAKS VOLUMES. 

We the people...will not allow racism and bigotry flourish in this country.  So go ahead and assemble and hide behind your masks, you cowards.  We the people will face you head on...people of every color, creed, gender, sexual orientation.

The president had the opportunity to make a statement Saturday...and he failed, yet again.  He raged when President Obama refused to call out radical Islamic terrorism.  What happened Friday night and Saturday was domestic terrorism.  Call it what it is...are you afraid of offending a large part of your base?

A YOUNG WHITE MALE plowed his car into a crowd of people who disagreed with him.  I am sure he thought he was being a patriot.  He's a fool, a criminal, a terrorist.

The president's silence and skirting of the issue makes him complicit.  Having his staff once again attempt to explain what he meant.  Hmmm, I thought he was known for telling it like it is.


There is a group of people who voted for 45 because he wasn't a politician, because things would be "different" under him.  This "different" isn't better and it sure as hell isn't great.

There have been plenty of things posted on FB and other social media outlets regarding what happened this past weekend.  One of the posts noted, "You cannot be a nazi and a proud American."

I know what side I am on.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017


So I was looking at my Facebook feed earlier and in the "On this Day" feature there were some progress photos.

Two years and a couple of months ago, I finished chemo and almost immediately my hair started growing back.

For anyone who hasn't experienced it, it's weird.  Your head gets a tingly feeling...I got the same feeling when it was falling out as well.  Then much like when a teenage boy starts getting facial hair, the top of my head would look dirty; then it was unmistakable soft new hair.

Apparently August 9th is the day I chose to give updates.

August 9, 2015

Dark peach fuzz with a streak of gray on top that you'll need to take my word for.  No one needs to see that.  I was a bit shocked at how dark my hair came in.  And curly too---seriously out of hand curls.  Someone asked my husband something about "his Italian wife".  I am only Italian by association. LOL  Man do I have a HUGE forehead!

August 9, 2016

See, there are the curls.  I spent a week in Florida in May of 2016 and the humidity had me resembling a poodle.  I can say that I have been lucky enough to experience many different types of hair.  They say if you have straight hair you want curly and vice versa.  While my hair has never been perfectly straight, I can make it that way if I want.  I like curly better than wavy for sure.  Curly requires less maintenance.  I can literally throw in some gel and go.

August 9, 2017

Blonder, longer...still the curl but less so because it's so thick and heavy.  Trying to decide if I want to grow it another inch or so.  I'd like to put it in a pony once in a while and I cannot quite make it.  I'd also like to go back to little or no maintenance, so maybe I will cut it.  We'll see what he future holds.

I remember the devastation I felt when my hair started falling out.  Those who know me know that I like to be in control.  I had no control over it and it hurt.  Cancer had taken my health and then my hair.

Then I felt defiance.  Eff you cancer...there are wigs, scarves, hats and you know what...I looked OK bald.  And hair grows back!!!

So I guess what I am trying to say is:  Cancer can take things from you. You cannot give it the power to take what is on the inside.  XOXO

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

There...I said it Vol. 2

Clutter is one day going to cause me to have a nervous breakdown.

I like order...but not too much order; that makes me crazy too.

It doesn't matter if it is dressed in berry flavor or mochachino flavor, barium sulfate is gross and what it does to my insides is gross-er.

Anyone still posting duck face selfies...STOP it.  Take down the old ones too.

Speaking of selfies, do the people that take them realize that if you put the camera at arm's length above your head, people can see right down your shirt?  Or is that the point?

Do people still watch the Bachelor/Bachelorette?  Why?

I wish people had volume buttons.

And "OFF" buttons

At Party City (or any party store that sells helium balloons), there should be a separate line for those buying balloons and those NOT buying balloons.  Both lines should be staffed when the store is open.

Fresh cherries are the bomb!

 I will routinely eat cherries until I am sick to my stomach.

Riding  my back bumper in heavy traffic is not going to make me drive faster or move out of your way.  In fact, it might make me go slower.

Wear sunscreen.

I wish I could afford to retire...tomorrow.

I cannot stand, that's not correct.  I don't get the point of tofu.

Unless I am causing them harm, I don't OWE anyone under the age of 18 an explanation for anything.

"Because I said so." is a legitimate reason when dealing with children.

You don't deserve congratulations or a reward for doing your job.

Many millennials should be more humble and less vocal.

I love green olives.

And black olives...really all olives.

I should only have to pay for the cable that I use.  If I have to pay a flat fee, I should be eligible for a refund when I cannot find anything good on TV.

I love chocolate but do not love brownies and most chocolate cake.

Watching The Food Network does not make you a foodie.

I will put ketchup on my hot dog if I want, it doesn't make me less of a Chicagoan.  It makes me a person who likes ketchup on their hot dog.  If you DON'T want ketchup on a hot dog, don't take mine.

Not everyone should get a trophy, medal or ribbon.

I feel sorry for kids growing up today.  There are so many things we did as kids that you cannot do anymore.

I am a germaphobe and it's only gotten worse since battling cancer.

Women, unless you are a 32A, wear a bra in public.  I don't need to see what your boobs look like and really and truly neither does anyone else.

Men, shirts in public are a good idea 99.9723588755% of the time.

Everyone in public, I don't care what your underpants look like so please keep them covered and I WILL ASK YOU if I am interested in whether or not you've gone commando today.

Seriously, Steve Bartman didn't cause the Cubs to lose the 2003 World Series.  I consider it to be a karma visit to someone who truly deserved it.

Tell me the truth even if it hurts my feelings.  I cannot stand being lied to.

Lies by omission are still lies.

Use your turn signals, if you don't, I am going to use my horn.

I swear there are gremlins living in my computer; they have stolen emails, left a bunch of SPAM and have escaped the computer long enough to wrestle a couple of socks from the sock monster living in my dryer.

Only Kim K looks good with 3lbs of contouring cosmetics on her face; the rest of the world looks like they have 35lbs of cosmetics on their face.

It's never OK to clip your toenails in public; public is defined as every place other than the bathroom.

In my house, if it's on the floor it belongs to the beagle (let's be honest, the whole house belongs to the beagle).

Steel Magnolias makes me cry EVERY TIME I see it.

I have cried listening to the Hamilton soundtrack; I will need a box of tissues when I see the play this weekend.

I find the ousted White House Communications Director (the one that lasted 10 days) to be a truly disgusting individual.  It speaks volumes if 45 thought so too as I thought they were cut from the same cloth.

When is the shit show that is the White House going to end?

I own over 100 pair of shoes and boots.

Winter needs to be outlawed.

Socks and flip flops are a no-no in my world; doesn't matter what color the socks are but dark socks are worse than white.

Clean up after your dog.

People didn't know how good they had it.

Diamonds are a girl's best friend but have you ever known a girl to have only one best friend?  See also shoes, cars, purses.  LOL

I like infused vodka, but not flavored vodka; there is a difference.

I like craft beer, wish it had fewer calories and more protein.

It's time for some new political parties.

More people should be concerned with doing what is right than they are about BEING right...this is another thing the people that need to know it will miss completely.

Why is it so hard for some people to be kind?  It costs nothing.

Why is it so hard for some people to be humble?

Why can't people take responsibility for their actions? (see the shit show in the White House)

Common sense needs to be more common; not having it should bring consequences.

Monday, July 24, 2017

No Really, Chemo Brain is a Real Thing

My last chemo treatment was May 12, 2015; over 2 years ago.

I have come to the conclusion that chemo brain is not only a real thing but it's a permanent thing.  I think it's also something that can be triggered.

I relate to that photo; although, sometimes I feel like my brain is empty instead of cluttered. Either way, it sucks.

I got into a very minor traffic accident last week.  At the moment of impact (which is an exaggeration, I was slowing from 25mph and the woman who hit me had come from a dead stop) my brain started to spin.  I was acutely aware as I pulled onto the gas station driveway of 47592756291 thoughts in my head all at once fighting to get out, or stay in, or combine with other thoughts.  I cannot imagine what a hot mess I would have been if this had been a serious accident.

At the police station while completing the police report, I was asked if the air bags had deployed.  Dear lord!!  It had never occurred to me that the air bags could have deployed; again the thoughts whirled in my brain. 

I have locked myself out of the house with a set of keys that opened a different door to the house but it took me 10 minutes to realize that!! 


I have to be much more cognizant of getting enough sleep because lack of sleep makes the chemo brain flare.  Sometimes the fact that it is Tuesday makes it flare.  Don't get me wrong, I am grateful to be healthy and in remission but I would give anything to have all the thoughts I used to have in my head, up there where they belong and in order; not twirling around waiting to disappear when I need them most.

If I am not trying to remember something I have forgotten, it's the struggling  to pay attention for long periods of time.  I can empathize with people who suffer from ADD.  I will often tell myself to focus and 30 seconds later am distracted.

So, when I tell you something for the 2nd time or 8th time, don't get impatient, I don't remember everything anymore.  Somedays, I am lucky I remember anything, or I will remember the most random things.

When I don't tell you something...don't be angry.  I forgot you needed to know or I forgot what it was I was supposed to tell you or BOTH.

When I haul my black binder to the latest music recital...I know the words to the song but sometimes my brain tosses the music right before I begin singing.

When I look at you blankly and I should know you...I do know you, it's just the rolodex in my head is jammed.

 I write myself notes, and carry notes to remind myself to read the notes!

Other days, everything is crystal clear and things run smoothly; but I know it's a matter of time before everything scrambles again.

By far, the chemo brain has been the most frustrating part of my journey.