Friday, December 31, 2010

The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction

Not the law as thought of by the New Thought writers of the early 1900’s, more in the sense of magnets. Opposites attract. I one-hundred percent buy into this; not in theory, but in practice. In my life I have dated a lot of women that were just like me. We liked the same movies, loved to read and had like-minded goals for life. These relationships always start with a quickening tempest; swept off ones feet, comes to mind. Regardless of how long these liaisons last, they all end for nearly the same reason; when everything is equally liked what is left to share? Nothing! Why even bother talking, you already know what is going to be said, I guess you could say irreconcilable similarities.

As stated above I have had some relationships with women similar to myself, one or two long ones most short. It seems the longer they last the worse they end. I have only been in a relationship with my near polar opposite once and this February we will be celebrating our tenth anniversary. We are the perfect counter weight for one another, whatever either one lacks the other supplies. Do not misunderstand, things are not always perfect, every person has mood cycles, and when two bad mood cycles cross paths and the lines of communication cease the only outcome can be a good ole get in your face argument. Once the air is cleared and the moods pass things generally return to normal. We have both also mastered knowing when the other is in a bad mood and for the most part just leave them alone. Sometimes those bad cycles just hit at the same time and then watch out.

This was the hardest relationship to get going; we just did not click right away. We did click enough physically to have sex after a couple of weeks though. The second time we had sex we were pregnant. It was a shock to my system, I had only in the last eight months gotten out of a long-term relationship (five years) and I was just having fun, a lot of fun…. The last thing I was looking for was anything long term. She also had a three and half year old son (now fifteen), so BAM there you go I had an instant family and it scared the shit out of me. Throughout most of the pregnancy we were not together, but through it all we never once completely gave up. This is where the magnet analogy ends, as time passes magnets might lose some of their attraction while the attraction for my wife and I has steadily increased and I see no signs of that changing. Believe me, at its inception there is no way I could have foreseen the future happiness I currently reside in.

My advice to those looking for love would be to not look in the same aisle that they buy their books in. It is not the similarities that strengthen the bonds of love, too much of anything just pushes the scales too far to one side and there is no balance. The person does not have to be your absolute opposite, but the more differences you have the more there will be to learn from one another and things always seem to be fresh. There always have to be things in common, basically do not look for the opposite sex version of yourself, because in the end too much of a good thing is just that too much. Opposites always gain from each other, thus enabling both them and their attraction to become stronger.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Doctor Will See You Now

DISCLAIMER: This is the blog I have been hesitant to write. I try to keep the blog mostly humorous or at least forward looking and this one comes across negatively. Hopefully by the end I will be able to spin it in a positive direction. That is the disclaimer, now on with the blog.

I do not like doctors, not one bit. I am fully aware they are great people and they benefit billions of people throughout the world. In the end though, they are just human, just like me, just like you and they are not perfect, they make mistakes. Sometimes they misdiagnose a person. Until you have been incorrectly diagnosed you cannot truly imagine the effect, both short and long term that it can have on a person’s life. I have been unfortunate enough to have experienced this firsthand.

In August of 2002, shortly after my youngest child was born, my wife and I decided to move back to our hometown of Buffalo, NY. For the past two years we had been living in the Philadelphia, PA area. I had a great job at a telephone directory publishing company. I had worked at a similar company when we had still lived in Buffalo and the company in Philly, was in desperate need of people who were familiar with the computer program they used. I got my wife a job there as well, we were financially set. We needed something, we went and bought it, we wanted something we went and bought it, no problem. It seemed whatever we wanted we had it. There was one thing missing. It could not be bought or replicated in any way. We were missing our families, especially after the baby was born. It was just too much; we both needed that comfy familiar family feel.

We both wanted our children to be raised with our families in the picture, not six hundred mile away. Also, despite moving up in the company, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with all the political bullshit that goes on within the office environment. If I learned one thing about offices, it was that as you rise from the ranks you become an instant target. I had been sending out resume`s for some time and I had a couple of interviews lined up, so I called in one day and sent an email saying I had found a job in Buffalo and I was putting in my two week notice. By that point this company and I were mutually disgusted with one another, so they replied, “we will send your stuff in the mail, do not come back.” They gave me a nice severance check and I was pleased. I could focus on the move and finding a job.

We moved in with my parents, my wife and I and our three children. There was plenty of room, but it is never the same when you have to move back to your parent’s house with your own family. To make a long story short, I had several interviews, all went well, none were great and no job offers were made. I ended up going back to a job where I had once been the night/weekend manager of. It’s a store that sells only fish and other aquatic beings. I was not being paid much though, a mere seven dollar an hour, which is not enough to raise a family on. After some time, my wife ended up getting a job at the telephone book company that I had worked for a few years prior. Together we had enough to move out of my parents and we rented a small house.

The house just happened to be right across the street from my wife’s parent’s house and I mean right across the street. I kept sending out resume`s and seldom heard anything, getting the occasional interview which only lead to further disappointment. Also during this period my shoulder (which was operated on when I was a teen for repeat dislocations) started dislocating like crazy. In a three month period it probably dislocated at least ninety times. After about eight months at the store I had an interview scheduled for a job I really thought I had a chance at. The interview was set for a Saturday morning that I was supposed to be working. Feeling desperate, I called in and went to the interview. I got fired from my current job and no offer from the place I went to the interview. Dark times ensued.

I went from making almost forty thousand dollars a year to seven dollars an hour to nothing. Looking back I can now say without a doubt I was depressed. At the time though, I had no idea and my depression increased further with each dislocation of my shoulder. I expressed myself with anger, it seemed I was always mad or on the verge of a tantrum; I had no fuse and was ready to explode at all times. I never hurt anyone, other than myself; I would throw a tantrum and punch a metal door or something hard. The pain would usually snap me out of it. I looked like shit and I felt like shit. I was mean and miserable. It reached the point that my wife had had it, either I got help or she and our children were gone.

This was not something I could not live with, my family is everything to me, and so I started with my primary doctor. She gave me an antidepressant and referred me to a psychiatrist. He diagnosed me with bipolar disorder; he didn’t change the medications, only upping the dosage. Dr. A never really gave me a clue what being diagnosed as bipolar meant, after a couple visits though he did add a medication; something for ADD. Both these medications were expensive and the medical coverage where my wife worked put them as tier three prescriptions. After six months or so, feeling no improvement and now sleeping about two hours a night, I stopped taking them and did not go back to see Dr. A.

About a year later my condition was further deteriorating, so I decided to research bipolar a little more. When Dr. A first diagnosed me I did not think much about it. I guess I viewed it more as a cold or something that would just pass on its own, like a kidney stone(painful, but passable.) I learned it was a pretty serious condition and while I did not fit all the criteria, I did match up with some. I decide I am sick of feeling like shit so I make an appointment with a new psychiatrist. During the time from when I made the appointment until the date of the appointment, I spent a lot of time researching and finding online support groups. I also wrote. Looking back it was probably just dark, depressing ramblings, but I felt obligated to do it. I printed them out and brought them with me to my first appointment with Dr. B.

Dr. B was hot, that might very well be why I continued seeing her for as long as I did. She was in her late twenties, attractive face with a smoking hot body, believe me I got every minute out of my appointments with her, most times running over. If I had to guess, she was probably a first year doctor and she was in way over her head with me. After my first visit she prescribed a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant. This was the beginning of a five year medicine merry-go-round, a ride that spun me from one end of the mood spectrum to the other on a continual non-stop cycle.

Throughout those five long years, I was prescribed over thirty different pills and saw over a dozen different psychiatrists. There was a long period of time that I was taking twenty-four pills a day. Twenty-four pills a day!!! Four of these, six of these, two of these, but only one of these or you will get a facial tick and diabetes. Later on, I think I was taking more pills to counter side effects then for treating bipolar. Some of the more fun side effects I experienced were vertigo and colitis. With the vertigo, I had it for like three months before I went to the doctor (I was getting sick of seeing doctors at this time.) I would stand up and get so dizzy I would puke. I could no longer drive and I was always steadying myself, feeling like the world was rushing by at a million miles per hour. Colitis I will only say there is no easy way to determine if a person has colitis (if you don’t know look it up.)

Another side effect was weight gain. When this started I was underweight, my depressed weight was around one hundred and sixty pounds, in a brief period it ballooned to over two hundred twenty pounds. This lead to me seeing a whole multiple set of other doctors for back/hip pain, until it was finally determined that there was some disk damage and a nerve being pinched/blocked in the hip area. The likely cause of the nerve problem was from the weight that I had gained.

I could tell you some of the specific details from that time, but they would be out of context and hard to grasp. I will say I ended up in the psych ward twice during those five years. One time when the medicine threw me into an absolute manic state, that time I was there for three day stay and being around some of the other people of the ward I realized I probably was not crazy. The other time, I had become unable to feel or empathize, you could have said I had won the lottery or my mother had died, I would not have had a reaction either way. So in a desperate attempt to feel, I made myself an Irish coffee from sleeping pills and a pot of coffee, and let me tell you that is just a recipe for disaster. That time I only ended up staying overnight, after promising to take my meds. Meanwhile, at the urging of my father, as soon as I got home from the hospital I flushed all my meds. That was the hardest two months of my life, going from taking all these pills and just stopping cold turkey, suffice to say, I was completely out my mind for a good two months.

The back/hip pain started with me having a numb spot on my leg, it took at least two years, a half dozen doctors, several nerve tests, MRI’s, pain pills, patches, etc, until it was determined to be a blocked or pinched nerve. If I learned anything through this it was that Specialist (at least most) are complete arrogant assholes. It was not just me, I would listen to the way they would talk to other patients and feel embarrassed for them. They had no bedside manner whatsoever. It was one of these Specialists that lead to me saying the hell with doctors all together. He said to me, with a sneer upon his face, while talking about the nerve, “You’ll have to learn to live with it; there is nothing I can do for you.” The look on his face was like; get out of here you piece of shit. I will never forget how angry I was, but it did make me determined to deal with the problem myself. I have my weight down to one hundred eighty-five or so and the pain is mostly gone, if lost another ten pounds I believe it would go away for good.

Now I only go to the doctor when I am sick and the strongest thing I will take is an antibiotic. I credit my wife with enabling me and our marriage to survive those five years on the medicine merry-go-round, without her strength and love we would not have made it. We are now stronger and more in love than ever. When I am done writing the book that I am currently working on, this will likely be the subject of my next one. As they say, what makes a crazy man sane makes a sane man crazy and the details would make for some interesting reading?

Until then…. Stay crazy!

Just in case you were curious

While I was seeing Dr. B I had surgery on my shoulder and knock on wood it has been fine ever since.

After about a year of not being able to work and getting assistance from the state I applied for permanent disability. After three years I got approved, not for having bipolar disorder, but because of the fact that the side effects from the meds rendered me mostly useless. Since I stopped taking all my pills I have been trying to get back to work, but having been out of work for so long it is nearly impossible to find a job that pays more than I make on disability. I am going back to school and hoping that this will be the year I return to the workforce. In the mean time I have devoted myself to writing and am about half way through my first book.

Also, since I have been off the meds I have been my normal self, the person my wife fell in love with, not the empty shell of a person I had become while on meds.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I Can, I Will, I Am

I can, I will, I am.

Life does not always have to be difficult, it CAN be quite simple. Most people want to improve their lives in some form or another. Before one begins to see any improvement they must first believe, I CAN do this. This is mostly a perception thing, but in all honesty before anything becomes a reality it must first be perceived. This stage is filled with mental reps, meditation upon that which you desire to achieve. There is no room for doubt, the outcome has to be viewed already accomplished. This conviction is important for the next stage; it is what WILL carry you through to your goal. The simple truth: Perception equal reality.

A CAN do outlook, must be willed into reality. This is the stage of hard work, sweat, tears and a continuous focus on the goal. Life is full of curve balls and detours, but the object of your desire must not be forgotten. Immediately distractions will occur, this is when continued mental reps becomes vital, you must still believe that despite whatever is being thrown at you you will overcome and continue towards your goal. Turn your distractions into accomplished goals and build on these accomplishments, using them as momentum becoming an unstoppable force. When the individual has a focused mind the problems that present themselves appear almost simultaneously with a resolution. No thought is wasted on worry and the necessary action is taken without hesitation. The simple truth: nothing easy to obtain is really worth having. Hard work and perseverance is the key to willing yourself on to accomplishing your goal.

This is the stage when your focused mental outlook and hard work come together in an orgasmic, karmic explosion. At least for me that is what it is like to achieve the ultimate goal, when you know what you have had your eye on is now in your possession and power flows from within your entire being. The truly successful people in this life take this a step farther. Once they have achieved their goal they already have a new goal set for themselves and let the momentum of achieving one ultimate goal easily leads to the accomplishment of their next objective. It is not that these people do not experience down times in their lives, they just roll with them and stay focused, as they say problems are just opportunities. The simple truth: enjoy your successes, but do not become enamored with them, using your created momentum set forth on accomplishing your next goal.

If it seems too simple it is not. It requires more work than most are willing to put into it. Most CAN perceive it, but few are able to WILL it to become the desired vision of “I AM” while even less are able to sustain the momentum. If you are able to accept that you CAN become what you WILL, you WILL become what you want and proudly proclaim “I AM!”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Twelve Days Of Christmas (Our Story)

Last Christmas things were looking pretty decent for my family. My wife and I were both going to school, so we had some extra money for presents this year. Since I have been on disability, Christmas has been a struggle, but every year we have somehow (with help) managed to pull it off and give our kids a great Christmas. This year we were looking forward to being able to provide a great Christmas without the help, we even had enough to be able to buy for our parents and nieces and nephews. It was truly going to be an awesome Christmas. Sometimes though the reality exceeds the expectations and this was to be one of those times.

It was a Sunday night (the 12th of December), my wife was working until midnight and I had to pick her up. When we arrived back at the house, there was a wrapped basket with a card stuck in it, my wife and I both looked around, trying to figure out where it came from. We took the stuff inside to further inspect it. The envelope on the card read something to the effect of; Forget the partridge in the pear tree the cats chased it away. We were both looking at each other, like what the hell? Inside the card was written: Cats believe do you? A very merry Christmas. We take off the wrapping paper on the basket and see that it is filled with several cat toys and bags of kitty treats. So we are scratching our heads trying to figure out where this odd kitty gift basket came from. We end up concluding that it came from the crazy cat lady that lives around the corner from us; we have one of her cat’s kittens so it at least made sense.

The next day, it was in the evening, I happened to walk past the front door and noticed there was something on the porch. Opening the door I see another basket. I bring it in, the attached card says: On the second day of Christmas… Santa remembered… Two turtle doves. And he didn’t forget two special doggies. Merry Christmas! Opening the basket, it was filled and I mean filled with dog toys and treats. Now my wife and I and our children were really at a loss, but since it was sticking with an animal theme we still thought it was the cat lady.

Day three- sometime during the afternoon a card had been dropped off, it was in the mailbox, but had no postage so it had been hand delivered. Inside the card was written: On the third day of Christmas, Santa thought about ‘Three French Hens’! Santa decided that he prefers French Fries. Hope you do too! ~Enjoy~ Inside the card were three ten dollar Burger King cards and a fifty dollar Tim Horton’s (great coffee and doughnuts) card. Also, there was a handwritten letter, saying something along the lines of; bring this letter with you (to a local Pizza Hut) to receive two large pizzas with the toppings of your choice. We invite my parents over for dinner and go to Pizza Hut and get our pizzas.

Ok, so now what or should I say who is behind this, my wife and I have no idea. We both start posting about it on Facebook, trying to find out if anyone knew anything. None of our friends had any insight, but all pretty much came to the same conclusion we had reached; we were part of some twelve days of Christmas. We were starting to get excited as the gifts had gotten progressively better.

For me, personally, there was no day during the twelve that was better than day four. Late in the afternoon, around five, my dogs started barking, so without hesitation I ran to the front door and sure enough there were two large bags and another card. Going on to the porch I see a guy and his young daughter walking down the street, I yell thank you, he just turns and smiles and continues walking. I bring in the bags and set the card on the table. We take the bags into our room to check out what is inside. We discover it is filled with toys and we figure this is the day that the presents for the kids were being dropped off. Many of the toys seemed to be for an age group quite a bit younger then our children, but we just figured this is great, anything extra just makes for a better Christmas. After we had looked through both bags, my wife asked, “What did the card say?”

I shrugged and answered, “I don’t know, I set it on the table when I brought the bags to the room,” and we walk to the table and get the card, inside the card is written: Santa is aware of your family’s giving spirit. So in the spirit of the Christmas season, behold gifts for you to share with others in need of some Christmas cheer… Santa. At first we are both struck by the idea of trying to figure out whom to give these gifts to. Within moments we reach the conclusion that facebook would be the best way to find the person who could benefit most.

By now, several “friends” and family members had taken an interest and we both had stuff written on our walls asking what we had gotten for day four. We put up identical status’ saying what was written in the card and if anyone needed help or knew someone who did to send a message to the inbox and we could set something up. Within an hour my wife was talking on the phone to one of her friends, a single mother with shut-off notices, hours being cut at work, two weeks behind on her daycare payment and no plan for Christmas whatsoever. It was the perfect match and during the whole of the twelve days I was never more thankful then when we dropped of the presents at this girl’s apartment. It is something we would not have been able to do on our own and nothing can replace that feeling of good, knowing you had really, really helped save someone’s Christmas.

Day five- nothing came during the day and by now the whole family was anxiously waiting to see what would be next. Right about supper time there was a knock on the door. It was a delivery person with two large pizzas and chicken wings. We may not have invented pizza, but in Buffalo I think we have perfected it. He handed over the pizzas and said not to worry about it, it was taken care of, and he also gave me card. Inside the card was written: Santa knows that everyone loves a treat at Christmas. Since you’ve been extra good this year, here’s a treat for you. Santa.

Day six- from this day forward we pretty much knew who had set this up for us, but it is my belief that they wished to remain anonymous and so they shall. Anyway, on day six the Fire Department stopped at our house. They had a card that read: One the Sixth Day of Christmas… Santa’s magical geese laid a lot more than eggs. Luckily, we have friends in the Fire Department to help with the delivery. They brought about a month’s worth of meat and about two-three weeks worth of groceries. Our cupboards were stuffed. Day six also brought some ill tidings.

At a Christmas function earlier in the day, I had run into a former friend, I would say at one time a best friend. I had heard rumors, but given how my Christmas was going I tried to ignore those rumors and take him at face value. I invited him, his wife and their children over. While we sat around drinking coffee and catching up I told them all about the Twelve Days of Christmas. My wife never really seemed comfortable with them, me I just tried to ignore my most basic instinct which was screaming this person is bad. I am not going to go into great detail on this, let’s just say he duped me, I wanted to be nice and be trusting (neither of which are my strong suit.)

Day seven- nothing had come during the day and I had to pick up my wife at midnight. When we got home there was an old bowling ball bag with a bowling ball and a letter inside. The letter entitled us to a free afternoon of bowling and pizza at a local bowling alley.

Day eight- this was another one of my favorite days. We were visited by the police. A police woman dropped off one large basket and one medium sized basket and a card. The card read: You have the right to a Merry Christmas. Anything you say can and will be relayed directly to Santa Claus. You have the right to speak to an Elf. If you do not know an elf, just check out this gift… because the elves know you. Both the baskets were filled with lotions and bath stuff and things like lip gloss. Also, there were two certificates for a day at the spa for my wife and daughter. One other funny thing about this day, the police woman who had dropped off the stuff, had slightly pointy ears and my daughter was convinced she was an elf.

Day nine- this was the oddest day. Sometime after dinner there was a commotion outside and going to door there were several young ladies in dance outfits. They had a large sign that read something like, for the boys on ninth day of Christmas nine ladies dancing. They sang and brought clothes for the boys and me. I was most impressed by the fact these girls were wearing their dance outfits, it’s Buffalo in December, it was freezing out, they did a great job.

Day ten- since I turn into a cookie monster at this time of year, this was another good day for me. We got a humungous tray of cookies and other treats, along with a printed out poem that read:

On the Tenth day of Christmas,

Ten Lords were a’ leapin’ for some sweet treats

From Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen.

Here are ten kinds of cookies and candies

Made especially for you by Mrs. Claus.


Being the ultimate insider,

Mrs. Claus has this advice for you:

Be ready on Thursday,

At the hour of eight,

Have a camera ready

As you watch and you wait.

A special treat is coming

This 24th of December

Mrs. Claus knows that it will be

A night to remember.


Day eleven- Christmas Eve. By this day we were kind of freaking out. Dreaming big, but trying to remain grounded in reality. What should we expect to be arriving at eight? We invited my parents over to exchange presents and so they could also be there to see what went down. At around eight there is a knock on the door, opening it there stood before me Santa Claus. There are people who put on a Santa suit and act like Santa Claus, but this WAS Santa Claus standing at my door, he had a female elf with him. Then at the end of the driveway a guy started playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. Personally, I am not much of a fan of bagpipes (sounds like a dying animal) but this dude is standing at the end of driveway, wearing a kilt and playing bagpipes and it so damn cold out that I am surprised his pipes haven’t frozen, I was impressed.

After the bagpipe performance Santa comes in and he asks to see a special little girl. My daughters eyes light up and she goes over and sits right on Santa’s lap. He tells her how he heard that she has been an extra good girl this year and that he wanted to hand deliver a special gift to her. He gives it to her and tells her she can open it. Opening it she screams with delight, it is the one gift she wanted more than anything else. Before Santa left he gave me a large box and said it was for me to open and I could open it tonight. The box was one of those boxes inside boxes; on each box was a little note. It went through all our animals and children and my wife (sounding like it could be gift for each person) ultimately ending with me. In the final box there was a letter stating that our gas bill had been paid for the next several month and in Buffalo having your gas bill paid for during the winter months is a great gift.

About an hour after my parents left my wife gets a text (from the person we know set this up) asking if we had gotten the gifts that were on the side of the house. So we go outside. Alongside the house there are several big black garbage bags. As we bring them in we are both repeatedly saying, “Wow” “Oh my god!” and “There’s more?” All told there were twelve bags filled with gifts. As I start taking them out to place them around the tree, separating them by name, I notice that some have my wife’s name and my name and I say to my wife, “We have gifts to open,” and I do a little happy dance. Long ago we stopped buying for each other; our gift was our children’s happiness as they opened their presents.

Day twelve- Christmas morning. After adding the presents that we had bought, well let’s just say it was beyond impressive. The children wake up early and ALL of us open our presents. Every one of us feels so incredibly grateful for everything that had been done for us. It strengthened my belief in humanity. Most people have beliefs, in religions and Gods, but it comes down to people choosing to do something good and all the people involved in our twelve days of Christmas chose to do something good. We will never forget that Christmas and it will be our goal to someday help out a family in the same way.

Most memorable moments- In their own words.

My eight year old daughter- “I loved the end so, so much when I got Little Big Planet from Santa and I got to see him. Also, there were so many presents under the tree. My mom and I got a trip to the spa. It was the best Christmas of my life.”

My eleven year old son- “My favorite part of the twelve days of Christmas was the anticipation. You never knew what was next. Once it was pizza, then a bunch of presents (yaa.) As you can see I loved the twelve days of Christmas.”

My fifteen year old son- “The bagpiper was pretty cool, also Santa coming and talking to my sister was neat.”

My wife- “Day four was my favorite, being able to help my friend was the best. Also Christmas eve, finding out our gas bill was paid was awesome. Of course all the clothes I got were great as well. Staring at our Christmas tree, with all the wrapped gifts surrounding our living room, was like something I have never seen before. Just sitting there in awe, feeling extremely impatient for the kids to get up and see this for themselves!! The whole entire experience was amazing for everyone in our family!! I can’t wait until I am able to afford to do this for a family, so they may have this wonderful experience!!”

Me- it was definitely day four. The experience as a whole renewed my faith in humanity.

That is our story of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Merry Christmas and have a happy new year!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Miracle or Getting over my Granny Grudge

Last Thanksgiving I decided to take over the holiday. I came to the conclusion that it would be easier to cook the entire meal then have to run around, going from my wife’s family to my family’s gatherings. There is also the fact that there are like 30 plus people at my in-laws house and honestly I never feel comfortable over there. The main reason I opted to cook, was because last year my parents volunteered at a shelter on Thanksgiving Day. This day has always been my mother’s favorite holiday and when I asked her what she was planning for our family, she didn’t really have an answer. So I checked with wife, making sure it was alright if we had Thanksgiving at our house and she loved the idea. The meal was perfect and in many ways it was less stressful then going to my in-laws. Of course I love cooking and a challenge, so making a Thanksgiving meal was right up my alley. My wife and I decided to “do” Thanksgiving every year and had started looking forward to it this year as October turned to November.

In early November I was dropping off Girl Scout cookies at my grandmother’s. I have never really felt comfortable around her, she has always seemed distant. Don’t get me wrong, she did all the grandma things, I would spend the night, we went to her house on holidays, she always made Christmas cookies (at 91 she is still doing it.) I have never felt a closeness or connection with her; it always seemed she was just going through the motions. She treated my older sisters much the same, going through the motions, without any emotional attachment. When my aunt gave birth to my cousin, sixteen years after I was born, my grandmother showered her with love and affection. It hurt and for a long time I carried a grudge against her (yes I had a granny grudge.)

I am trying to be older and wiser, not old and bitter, so on the day I am dropping off the cookies I ask my grandmother if she has plans for Thanksgiving. Half my thinking in asking is that it is already early November so I figure she already has plans, the other half is asking just to be nice and polite. She said my aunt had mentioned having it at her house, but also added “you know your aunt though,” and said they would likely end up going to my aunt’s husband’s family for thanksgiving dinner. My uncle’s family is nice, not to mention quite the interesting cast of characters, but they are not my grandmother’s family. So I sincerely say, “Well if you want Gram you can come over to our house, I’m making it again this year.”

She says, “Oh you are?” she sounds surprised.

I answer, “Yes, I made it last year, when my parents volunteered and it came out perfect. Amy and I are going to do it every year from now on.”

She says, “That’s right, I remember your mother saying something about that.”

I tell her if she wants to come to let my mother know. Two days later my mother is asking me what dish my grandmother should bring to Thanksgiving. I am glad she is coming. She will be around family and I “do” Thanksgiving mostly in the traditional sense, so I think she will be comfortable and enjoy herself. My mother tells her to bring her special fruit salad, which my mother and sister like, but not really anyone else. Another thing I did this year, I asked my father and sister to make homemade pies, when we were younger they would make pies and just bond. I think they had fun making pies this year; in any case the pies tasted great.

The big day arrives, my wife and I are all hustling and bustling busting our asses. We are peeling potatoes, cleaning the house, getting the bird ready-everything that goes into throwing a Thanksgiving dinner. Everything is falling into place and I am not stressed, I rather enjoy the pressure of having things appear perfect. As it closes in on arrival time, I have about three different things going on and I still have to take a shower. Now I am starting to feel some stress. While my wife was in the shower I prepared some appetizers and started the potatoes. When she gets out, I tell her where everything is in terms of cooking (she doesn’t cook much), show her the appetizers and get my butt in the shower. I shower, shave and clean the bathroom in about fifteen minutes and only my sister has arrived so far. I am relieved; I can now get back on schedule. My wife has made a nice appetizer from crackers, cheese and pepperoni and put all the appetizers out just as my parents and grandmother arrives.

I check the turkey, the temperature has to come up about five degrees, but it looks really good. The turkey gets to the proper temperature, I let it sit for about twenty minutes, and then my father trims it (he loves doing it because he gets to taste the turkey first.) As he cuts, the juices flow from the breast, I try a piece and it is delicious. I mash the potatoes and we set everything out buffet style. Plates are filled, seats are taken, my wife and I are the last to sit and eat. Everyone eats to their hearts content, there are no complaints. When all are done eating, my wife and I thoroughly complimented, everyone saying how great everything was.

Later while we are cleaning up, my grandmother is in the living room, I was in the dining room and she had no idea I was within earshot, I heard her say “John can really cook.” It had a very profound effect upon me. It was less the words, than it was the conviction with which she spoke it. There was something in the tone of her voice that affected me, it was… something, is it approval? Yes, it was definitely approval; I felt for the first time in my adult life that I had my grandmother’s approval. I said nothing, I just let the words soak in, my smile widened and I experienced an odd sense of having accomplished some lifelong goal.

I still don’t completely understand why hearing my grandmother say that meant so much to me, but I know it did, because later that evening after all had gone home, I mentioned it to my wife, oh I don’t know about a dozen times. Some of it I believe was that I exceeded her expectations. She had a great time and despite that fact that she is ninety-one years old I know that she will be at our house next Thanksgiving. For me personally it closed the emotional gap, I feel closer to her than I can ever remember feeling. Maybe it was a Thanksgiving Day miracle.

UPDATE: I texted my father, the following day and told him he should ask my sister in Texas if she wanted to come up for thanksgiving next year. I really don’t like my sister, I mean she is family so it’s like some unwritten law that I have to love her, but I really don’t like her and the feeling is mutual. Again in asking, I was figuring there was no way she would come up for Thanksgiving. Christmas, maybe, Thanksgiving, probably not, right? I go over my parent’s house on Saturday and my mother starts telling me as soon as I enter that my sister does indeed want to come up next year. I ask her, “Did you tell her it was MY idea?” She says yes. If there really are Thanksgiving Day miracles, next year I will be writing about how my sister and I are like best friends and I not only love but I actually like her as well. We’ll see….

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Delicate Dance-Males Mentioning Midol

It is never an easy choice to make. Once man has committed to it, it is like making those quick life or death decisions. You don’t really think about what you are about to do, you only know you have to do something. The next few seconds of your life requires tack and a surgeon’s strategic strike. It is as much about your body language as it is about the correct wording. If you get very lucky and the timing is perfect your actions can be seen as attempting to relieve her suffering, not as any benefit to you. In the following paragraphs I will endeavor to guide you through the Delicate Dance-Males Mentioning Midol.

Having lived with my mother and two older sisters growing up, a long-term girlfriend for five years and my wife for the last twelve years I have had many encounters with PMS. There was a six month period that I lived alone, what a peaceful period (but I digress.) There are more forms of PMS then I could mention here and be assured you will come across each and every one of them from each woman you are with, the longer you are with your perfect partner the more forms you will stumble upon. Before you can even approach the idea of mentioning Midol (I say Midol because for my wife it is her magic pill, whatever works for your sweetheart use it) you must know what you are walking into. Is it the: she is yelling at you for something you said three weeks ago and then five minutes later is crying asking ”Why don’t you love me anymore?” or the “I have cramps, I am so fat and bloated” or is it the kids driving her crazy by just merely being kids? Those are just a couple of the more common forms it can take, but believe me you need to know what you are dealing with before proceeding.

Aside from living through (barely) my mother’s menopause nothing is as bad as my wife’s PMS. I have been with my wife the longest, so most of my examples will come from her (I love you honey.) Our children came up with a name; the PMS Momster, I use it as warning now, “Better be extra good today the PMS Momster is here.” Early on I was a complete dumbass, just throwing out the “Don’t you have Midol?” or just put the bottle in front of her with a glass of water (guys never, ever do this, just hand her a pill, if that gets thrown back at you it will not hurt nearly as bad as being hit in the back of the head with the whole bottle.) I have learned, it only took about a decade, but I think I finally know how to handle these situations.

For starters it is best to get in on the ground floor, for my wife cramps and bloating come before the hormonal/emotional imbalance occurs. So when she mentions feeling cramped and fat (her word) I casually bring up something along the lines of “Do you think they are premenstrual cramps?” Guys do not say “PMS” in any sentence you are not allowed, it is forbidden, trust me say the word “Premenstrual.” If you get the vaguest of affirmatives like, “I don’t know it could be,” use this as an opportunity to say “Doesn’t Midol help with your cramps?” You might add, “I’ll get it for you if like,” but being presumptive can have it own risks. If you get an aggressive negative answer to any of the above question, stop dead in your tracks; remain silent and motionless, if you are lucky something else will catch her attention before she tears you apart.

For my wife, if she takes Midol from the beginning she will generally take it as long as she needs to, because it does work and she does feel better and we have a peaceful PMS. If you are late and the hormonal/emotional imbalance has already begun, there is now little opportunity to make suggestions. There is one possible saving grace at this point, look through the television guide and find any girlie movie, preferably a love story. Never look to Lifetime movies, men are always the evil villain and she might become mad at you for no apparent reason.

Once the both of you are fully immersed in a good love story; you struggling to remain awake, her teary eyed, this is your time to ask “You seem awfully emotional, are you ok, honey?” As long as this said sincerely and maybe with a gentle squeeze of the hand, she might say, “I don’t know I think I might have PMS.” Yes it is perfectly fine for her to say “PMS” don’t question it just accept it. Asking the next question requires skill and timing, “Have you taken anything?” at this point don’t mention any product name. This question often gets me a, “No, not yet and I don’t want to get up.” Now don’t seem eager, you are almost there. Say something along the lines of, “Well, I have to go pee, would you like me to bring you your Midol?” This will usually elicit something like, “You just want me to take it for you,” to which I reply, “You know dear whatever makes you feel better makes me feel better, so I guess you’re right.” This usually defuses the situation. She takes the pills and within a couple of hours balance is restored.

I hope I have helped guide you through the Delicate Dance and that you and partner can move smoothly through this dance together. If you try anything from this blog and it totally backfires, I am truly sorry; you need to know the partner you choose to dance with before you can begin the dance. My final bit of advice, DON’T RUN OUT OF THE MIDOL!!!!

For the record, I was reading this to my wife while writing it, she was having a good laugh, but I don’t know, somehow I fear in couple of weeks writing this could come back to haunt me….

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Breaking The Electronics Addiction

“Hello, my name is John”

     “Hello, John,”

“Umm, I am addicted to electronics,”

     Honestly, I wonder is there a twelve step program for electronics addiction? I do have something of an addictive personality. I mean, in the big scheme of things, I have no real reason to be constantly checking my iPhone. Nothing requires me to do this, in terms of a job or waiting on some important message. It goes something like this: check email, check twitter, check facebook and check for new or breaking news; wait five to ten minutes and repeat. I am just compelled to do it. I need to be connected, I need to know. Much to my chagrin it has become a crutch that prevents me from being productive for long periods at a time, especially with writing, which requires devoted time and focus.

     I guess it is due to a need to be stimulated in my otherwise pedestrian life. Like being a husband and father of three isn’t enough, I need more; I need my intellectual curiosity satisfied. I should say here, I have not worked in quite some time, I am on disability and have been trying to get back to work, and I do not get the same level of human interaction as most people do. Over the years I have become accustomed to these electronic experiences, but living viscerally through others only leads to contempt (I have quit facebook at least three times because of this.) This person is on a Mexican vacation, this person is on their boat, etc…. I need to live my own damn life. I need a plan!

     A person that has not worked in quite some time is less aware of the constraints of time then those who are employed. I need a schedule. Since I have truly devoted myself to writing and have the time to do it, I will schedule writing time. Like with any other addiction one is trying to overcome, replace the addiction time with productive time. So from 9am- 12pm I will write, only using my phone if someone calls me. My wife gets home at 12; we usually spend some quality time together, not going to change that. I will leave my afternoons open, for reading and checking my electronic existence. After children get home, take care of homework, make supper, and finish evening chores, etc… write for an hour. I’m thinking I will use this time to write my blog. Then when my three little angels (haha) are in bed I will write from 9pm-11pm.

     The amount of time I give myself for electronics will be based on my production, like performance reports at a job are based upon production; both quality and quantity. I need to hold myself accountable, because I have no boss. I will beat this addiction and live the life myself. The only excuse I have for not succeeding is me, myself and I. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.