Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays!

 

                                      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

A SOLDIER'S CHRISTMAS 

Soldiers Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
in a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
 

I had come down the chimney with presents to give,
and to see just who in this little house lived.
 

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
 

No Stockings by mantle, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.
 

With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
A sobering thought came through my mind.
 

For this house was different, it was dark and dreary,
 The home of a soldier, I could now see clearly.
 

The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home.
 

The face was so gentle, the room in such disorder,
Not how I picture a United States Soldier.
 

Was this the hero of whom I'd just read?
Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?
 

I realized the families that I saw this night,
owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing to fight.
 

Soon round the world, the children would play,
and grownups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.
 

They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.
 

I couldn't help wondering how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.
 

The very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to one knee and started to cry.
 

The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,
"Santa don't cry, for this life is my choice".
 

I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more,
My life is my God, my country, my corps."
 

The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep,
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.
 

I kept watch for hours, so silent and still,
as we both shivered from the cold night's chill.
 

I didn't want to leave, on that cold, dark night,
this guardian of honor, so willing to fight.
 

Then the soldier rolled over, with a voice soft and pure,
whispered, "Carry on Santa...., It's Christmas Day...., All is secure.
       

One look at my watch, and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend.... and to all a Good Night.

                        ~ Author Unknown *~

Remember Me?

 

 

* This poem is said to have been written by a Marine stationed in Okinawa Japan. The following is his request. We think it is reasonable.....

"PLEASE. Would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our U.S. service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities.

Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us. Please, do your small part to plant this small seed."

"We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us." George Orwell

This Page is Dedicated With Thanks To All Of The Men, Women and Veterans of  Our Country's Armed Forces, as well as their Mothers, Fathers, Spouses, Children, and other family members who are all sacrificing for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Interview With Baby Joe

This past weekend I caught up with Baby Joe, the hottest young male celebrity in Jersey and here's what he had to say:

The Occupant: "Baby Joe ... thanks for stopping by!  When did you get into town?"

  Baby Joe: "The past 6 weeks have been such a whirlwind ... I think it was around July the 3rd..."

The Occupant:  "Any idea what caused the media frenzy since your arrival?"

  Baby Joe:  "I'm not sure ... but I think my parents had something to do with it!"

The Occupant:  "What's it been like for you?"

  Baby Joe:  "My life is like a circus!  As you can see by this picture ... no moment is too private for the paparazzi to photograph!"

 Baby Joe:  "Reporters seem to be lying in wait wherever I go!"

The Occupant:  "I guess like any celebrity, your schedule must be  quite hectic!"

  Baby Joe:  "Every time I turn around there's a make-up girl or hair stylist grabbing me for a touch up!"

The Occupant:  "Do you feel safe?"

  Baby Joe:  "Oh yeah!  I have a pretty intimidating body guard!"

The Occupant:  "Do you get to spend any quality time with your family?"

  Baby Joe: "My dad and I sneak away for a nap whenever we get the chance..."

  Baby Joe:  "And nobody serves up a home cooked meal like my Mom!"

The Occupant:  "People Magazine reported that you were seen at the Jersey shore last week... any truth to that?"

  Baby Joe:  "Of course!  You can't live in Jersey without taking a trip down the shore!"

The Occupant:  "Were you bothered by many fans on the beach?"

  Baby Joe:  "No, I always wore a hat and my parents kept me covered up with a blanket most of the time, so no one recognized me."

The Occupant:  "Do your parents still treat you like a baby?"

  Baby Joe:  "No matter how many movies I star in, or how many photo shoots I do, they still sniff my diaper whenever they smell something funny!"

The Occupant:  "Are there any embarrassing photos out there that you hope the media doesn't plaster all over the Internet?"

  Baby Joe: (laughs) "I think everyone has a few pictures that were only meant to be shared with family and friends ... like this one for example!  I must have had one too many bottles that night!"

The Occupant:  "So what are your plans for the future?"

  Baby Joe:  "I'll be teething soon, so I may have to take a break for a few months ... after that... there's a rumor that HBO wants to do a documentary filming my First Steps..."

The Occupant:  "Any advice for your adoring fans?"

  Baby Joe:  "Just say NO to pacifiers and always stay in your car seat!"

The Occupant:  "Well, there you have it!  Words to live by from one of Jersey's hottest stars!"

 

 

 

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cowboy & Indian Summer

The best way to enjoy a rather cool summer day ... play Cowboys with your adorable 5 year old grandson!  Isn't he just the cutest little thing?

 

Absolutely adorable!

 

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Pack a suitcase... and GO!

                          New Orleans!             
 
                  
There IS at least ONE good thing about being over age 50, gainfully employed, divorced and having grown children... you can TRAVEL!  It's even better if you or one of your friends has On-Line Travel savvy! 
Last week, five of my girlfriends and I set out for New Orleans.  Pronounced Nor-Linz, if you want to sound like a local.  We saved quite a bit of money going there in the month of August, although we did have to take 3 showers a day and stop in many, many local bars to keep cool.
We stayed right in the French Quarter, which was not flooded out by Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent breaking of the levee's.
Over 200 years old, it's filled with colorful history.  The Dauphine Orleans was originally built as a bordello, and to our delight we discovered that it was ranked as one of the top 10 most haunted hotels in the USA.  Or... so they say.  About 50% of the employees could recall "haunting experiences" and some of them actually saw at least one ghost.  Aside from a few curious incidents, like missing keys, flickering lights, TV and radios being turned on without us doing it, and my sister swearing to God that she felt someone get into bed with her one night (she thought it was ME), we didn't actually see any spirits ourselves.  It was great fun to let our imaginations run wild though.  We brought along a Ouija Board in the hopes of getting the answerers to some of our burning questions, but sadly, the oracle didn't move an inch, after we all promised not to 'cheat' and move it ourselves.  
                                                                                                          
Personally, I felt a trip to see the Bayou was a must, although 3 of the others girls opted not to come along.  It was a 45 minute bus ride away from our hotel, but I learned a lot in that short time.  I found it very hard to believe how much devastation was still left after Katrina.  Huge neighborhoods stand abandoned.  Miles of boarded up houses stand as a sad reminder.  Scores of people without insurance, and many covered by companies that still haven't paid up, have no money to repair their homes.  The Guide told me that 150,000 people left New Orleans before and after Katrina hit, but only 25,000 returned.  At least 1200 people were killed.  Some endured sitting on roof tops for 5 days, waiting to be rescued.  Most of the people we talked to had no reservations in telling us their Katrina stories.  I could still see the fear and almost hopelessness in their faces as they spoke about losing all of their possessions and having to start their lives over.   But I could also see that they were filled with determination.  Katrina may have interrupted their lives, but in no way did it destroy them.
 
I found the short walk to the swamp boat a little difficult for a city girl likemyself.  Hundreds of dragon flies hover in the air and land on anything that doesn't move.  Once we were in the boat however, they seemed to all but vanish.  Our Guide told us that the swamp gets bigger every year.  Land is eroded by flooding and certain types of vegetation grow rampant in the Louisiana climate, overtaking the waters.  We only saw a few alligators that day, but it was quite a sight watching them swim over to our boat.  Our Guide tossed marshmallows into the water to attract them.  Although they are primarily meat eaters, the alligators seemed to have an attraction to the sweets he threw them.  Clyde informed us that he would never throw meat into the water, as it would make the gators aggressive and there was a possibly that they might actually try to climb into the boat looking for more.  That was a scary thought!  Some parts of the swamp were covered by a thin coating of duck weed which gave you the impression that the surface was hard.  From a distance it appeared that you could actually walk on it.
 
 
                  
 
 
                     
 
                       
On Saturday we signed up to go on a walking Ghost Tour of the French Quarter.  Our Guide filled us in on all the details of gruesome murders that have taken place in many houses and establishments in the district.  He had quite a talent for story telling so the tour was entertaining as well as informative.  Nicolas Cage recently purchased  of the most infamous houses, where hundreds of slaves were tortured and killed by their captors.
 
                    On Sunday we all took a 2 hour Paddle Boat ride down the Mississippi River.  It was quite relaxing and definitely enjoyable. 

Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to take the Katrina Tour or visit one of the Plantations.  In retrospect I would advise anyone planning a trip to New Orleans to keep in mind:
1)  Purchase all of your Tours On-Line before you go.  It's much cheaper than buying them when you get there.  Don't plan more than one tour per day.
2)  It's HOT.  Pack enough underwear and personal items to afford three showers a day.  Wear only minimal make-up and don't bother putting on body moisturizer.  Carry a personal hand held fan.  Especially if you have frequent hot flashes.  Drink plenty of water.  A ratio of one alcoholic beverage to one glass of water seemed to work for me.
3)  See the Swamp and the Cemetery in the morning.  The heat is too much in the afternoon and the alligators are sleeping.
4)  Don't walk anywhere alone.  Especially at night.  We felt quite safe wandering around in a group but the crime rate in the French Quarter is pretty high.
5)  The French Quarter entails a large amount of walking.  Wear sneakers or walking shoes.  I saw one girl traipsing around in high heels.  I doubt that she will ever recover.
6)  I didn't feel there was a need to put on insect repellant, even on the Swamp Tour.  Our Guide told us that the dragon flies EAT the mosquitos, so we didn't have to worry about bites. 
7)  Talk to everyone.  The locals are more than happy to tell you about New Orleans and their own personal Katrina stories.
8)  Although there is plenty of competition in all of the stores for souvenirs, buy what you want when you see it, cause you probably won't get a chance to go back and get the item later.  Besides, you won't remember where you saw it, anyway.
9)  Don't waste your money going to Emeril's.   It's extremely expensive, and really just a 'chain restaurant'. 
10)  Tip well.  The locals work long, hard hours to make your trip more enjoyable.  It was somewhat difficult having FUN in the heat.  I can only imagine what it would be like having to WORK in it.
 
 
   
 
We had a great time and I would definitely go back to New Orleans again.  The streets of the French Quarter were like a huge block party every night.  Even in August.  I wouldn't want to go there during Marti Gras though, even if I were 20 years younger.
Hopefully, traveling will become my new hobby.  There's a big world out there, and damn it... I want to see it!

 

            


                         

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Life's Simple Pleasures

I think that life's simple pleasures are what really get us through the tough spots in life (although therapists and pharmaceutical companies like to take all the credit!)  Best of all ... they're free!
 
Here are a few of mine:
 
The smell of coffee brewing first thing in the morning.

Watching the sprinkler system water my lawn.

Daffodils blooming in the spring.

Infants smiling in their sleep.

The first sip of really cold iced tea on a hot summer day.

Autumn leaves.  Especially the red ones.

Snowflakes falling in the middle of the night.

Christmas lights twinkling inside the windows of my house on Christmas Eve.

The Free Massage my hospital gives out on Nurses Appreciation Day once a year.

And mostly ... Taking a walk with my 5 year old grandson and listening to him describe his observations.
 
Bliss!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

House Broken

I've been having a tumultuous affair with my house ever since I bought it two years ago.  Looking back on it now I have to admit it was love at first sight.  From the minute I stepped in the front door I dreamed of living there and could hardly wait to move in.  I fantasized about the times we would share together.  Family barbeques in the back yard.  Singing Christmas Carols around the tree.  Sitting out on the front step watching the sprinkler system water the lawn.  As my passion for the house grew stronger, I fantasized about taking a bubble bath in the soaking tub.  It seemed I was filled with wild abandon.
 
Friends and family warned me that it was too expensive.  That the lawn was too much for me to keep up.  They said it was too big for a single woman.  I closed my ears and paid no attention to their advice. They just didn't understand.  The more they tried to keep us apart, the more I rebelled.  I snuck away to see it whenever I got the chance.  I finally decided I was going to live there no matter what.
 
I got a mortgage and moved in.  The first summer was bliss.  The house more than fulfilled my expectations.  I'd come home from work and find flowers blooming.  The ice maker on the refrigerator door made more ice then I could possibly use.  And I could have it CRUSHED if I wanted!   I felt safe knowing the security system was watching over me while I slept.  Yes, I thought I'd be happy there forever.
 
Then... little by little the house started to turn on me.  Weeds grew in the flower beds.  The lush green lawn turned brown and looked lifeless.  The refrigerator broke and needed a very expensive part.  And sadly, I discovered that my family was right.  the house WAS too expensive for me.   Every dime I had went into the house.
 
No matter how much I tried... it was never good enough.  I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but one night, my house key actually broke off in the door, and I was left shivering alone in the cold.
 
I gave up hope a couple of times and even threatened to sell it.  Everything would be alright for awhile and then something else would happen.  The garage door jammed one day and when I tried to close it, the frame buckled.  I grew suspicious at every creak.
 
I lived in constant fear that something awful  was about to happen.  Money was tight and I was existing on Acme Frozen Entrees.  I couldn't afford Lean Cuisine anymore.  It got pretty bad but I was determined not to become a victim of foreclosure.  I even tried financial counseling.
 
One night I came home early from work and found the powder room toilet leaking.  I stood there frozen in shock.  The tank was completely empty and the floor around the base.... well, let's just say it was warped and ruined.   I shouted obscenities and even threatened to burn the house down.  Thank God my kids weren't there to witness the ugliness that night. 
 
I can't take it anymore.  I've decided to end it while I still have my sanity.  I've put the house up for sale.  We'll sign the papers and probably never see each other again. 
 
Like so many others, I am left heart broken.  I don't think I'll ever love another house like this one.  I've glanced at one or two when I drove by and saw a FOR SALE sign on the lawn, but then the bitter memories of owning this one came flooding back.
 
No... I'll never be the same.  I'll just live out the rest of my days in a condo.  Where I don't have to cut the grass or shovel the snow.  I'm sure it will be smaller and have much less storage space, and I may not ever have my own bathroom or walk in closet again, but I don't care.  I'm hurt and bitter.
 
Maybe someday I'll be able to forget this house.  In time I might even be able to look at photographs of it and not cry.
 
Who knows?  With therapy and medication, anything is possible.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Introducing my New Grandson!

              

Although he seemed to have taken the scenic route, my new little Grandson is finally here.  He checked in on July 3 at 10: 45 PM .  

My daughter-in-law was such a Trooper!  It took almost 24 hours of labor and finally a C-Section to bring all nine pounds, one ounce of him in!  And just for the record, he was 22 inches long!

His name is Joseph Thomas ... named after both Grandfathers. 

And now, without further ado...  here's my new Grand-baby!

  I'm proud to say that my son was extremely supportive during Bonnie's labor which lasted almost 24 hours.  And he held her hand all through the subsequent C-Section.

 Bonnie's mother and I were able to come back and visit whenever we wanted.

  We did our best to keep her spirits up.

  Mostly, we waited and waited...

 ... and waited!

  Finally at 10:45 PM he was delivered.  All 9 pounds, 1 ounce of him!

  It was hard to believe that my youngest child now had a new baby of his own.  Joe was absolutely beaming with pride!  I will always cherish that memory.  I've never seen him more happy or excited! 

  I couldn't help but wonder who this little boy was, and who he would become.  I knew that although he was new to me, soon I wouldn't remember ever being without him in my life.

  My son now has his very own family.  He'll continue many traditions he learned from me and his father, and many that Bonnie learned from her family.  And they'll no doubt start new ones of their own.

 Their lives will never be the same.  This tiny baby will change everything.  But he will bring them happiness and joy beyond their wildest expectations.  And they will never regret it.

 He'll always have his Aunt Lee Lee to watch over him and make him laugh.

 And he'll always have a Grammy that loves him with all her heart!

Welcome to the world, Joseph Thomas!

 

 

 

 

Friday, June 29, 2007

Procrastination

I took today off from work.  My son and his wife are expecting my second grandson any day now, and I had a feeling that it would be today.  Hopefully, they will cooperate.
 
While I'm waiting for the news that she's in labor, it's nice to know I have the whole day ahead of me.  There's something special about a day that was supposed to be used doing something else.  Like working.  Especially one where you have no appointments and no real reason for being home.  I could do just about anything today and Lord knows I have a pile of things that need to be done. 
 
The question is... where to start?  The possibilities are endless.  I sit here bursting with anticipation and excitement.  Home alone, there is absolutely nothing to distract me or interfere in my progress.  I feel a sense of power.  Impending accomplishment.  Since I don't get to feel this way very often, I'm savoring the moment.  I bet there are a lot of people out there envying me.  Wishing they were in my shoes.  Knowing what they would do if an opportunity like mine were to present itself.  Yes... I am one lucky girl.  I can hardly wait to get started. 
 
But, planning is everything.  I shouldn't waste a day like today on something menial or insignificant.  I'll hate myself tonight if I don't  accomplish something important.
 
But where should I start?  A List.  I should make a list of all the things I'd like to do.  Then I'll number them in the order of their importance, taking into consideration the amount of time it would take to complete each project.  Perhaps I should also include the degree of satisfaction I'll enjoy knowing that the task was accomplished.  I have plenty of time to make an exhaustive and through soul searching list.  I will put down all the things that have been eating away at me for months.  Yes, I will sleep better tonight knowing how many tasks I completed today.
 
I am not going to waste a single second.  I won't do anything that could be done on an ordinary weekend.  This is too special a day to squander  recklessly.  I could start at Ground Zero, but I feel bold today.  I can sort through the piles of bills and mail on my computer desk anytime.  Not today.
 
No sense washing the windows since it's raining.  Same theory applies to washing the car and weeding the garden.  Thank goodness.  I've been meaning to power wash the vinyl siding on my house, but I don't own a power washer.  I could always tackle the clutter in the attic, but it's way too hot for that.  Better save that job until October.  I have plenty of time to organize the basement, but the fluorescent light down there blew last week and how much can I expect to do in the dark?  Dusting and vacuuming are much too mundane to do on my Special Day.  I would end up feeling ashamed and full of regret.  I could sort though all my old photographs and put them into an album.  That's something I've been wanting to do for years, and it would certainly give me a great sense of satisfaction.  But a project of such monumental proportions would take much more time than one day would permit, so I better save it for when I have a Special Week.  Of course, I doubt that I will ever have an entire week off from work where I don't have any plans.  But you never know.  I could get hurt... and have to take a month off to recover.  I see it happen to other employees all the time.  Yes.    It's not a matter of IF... it's a matter of when.  So when I hurt myself on the job, I will definitely sort through all of my old photographs.  It's good to know that I won't be lying on the couch wondering what to do with myself if I sprain an ankle.  Ihave a PLAN.
 
But what to do today?  Surely there must be something I can put on The List.  I already cleared out my Spam Folder, and indulged in some pretty profound deep thinking this week (see previous posts).
 
I have to bear in my mind that my daughter-in-law may go into labor at any minute.  So if I start a big project, I may have to stop right in the middle of it and head over to the hospital.  The only thing worse than  an un-started project is a half completed one.  I've heard stories about people whose very lives were ruined by unfinished jobs.  No... I can't take that chance.  Hmmmmmm.... 
 
On the other hand, I can't sit around all day on the computer, wandering aimlessly from one web site to another.  Browsing through exotic vacations I can't afford to take, researching rare illnesses I'll probably never get, and entering contests I'll never win.  Then again, life is funny.  You never know when something odd might happen.  I hate being unprepared.  Somebody has to win the contest.  Odds are that sooner or later it will be me.  Should I just give up and not enter them anymore?  How pessimistic is that?  And if I did win, wouldn't it be nice to already know where I want to go on vacation?  And what if... the pain I've  always had in my right wrist really ISN'T tendonitis?  What if it's a symptom of something more... sinister?  Perhaps it could be a condition that if caught early, might be survivable?  Now THERE'S a worthwhile cause.  Saving my own life!  What's the sense in planning projects if I'm DYING? 
 
I'm glad I thought this through!  Thank God I took today off!  This  might take all afternoon!
 
I better get to it... I'm not one to procrastinate! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Today

Sitting here petting one of my cats on this hot, lazy afternoon I realize that this is anything but an ordinary day for a lot of other people in the world.  This one day will change their entire lives... forever.
 
Someone will be diagnosed with cancer.  Somebody will be killed in an automobile accident.  A young man will contract HIV.  Someone will be fired from their job.  A teenage girl will get pregnant.  Somewhere a wife will find out that her husband is cheating on her.  A teenager will run away from home.    A family will watch their house burn down.  A child's puppy will be struck by a car.  A soldier will be killed.  A boy will have his heart broken. Someone will lose their last dollar in a casino.  A man will hold his wife's hand in the Intensive Care Unit for the last time.  A grocery store clerk will be held up at gun point.  A young woman will miscarry.    A man will say goodbye to the grandfather who raised him.   A child will be abducted.  Somewhere, a heroin addict will overdose for the last time.   An angry man will murder his wife.   A woman will find a lump in her breast.  A man will be sentenced to prison for the rest of his life.   A drunk will pick up his car keys.   
 
All these things are happening to people just like me... somewhere in the world. 
 
Right now.  This very minute.  While I sit here and pet my cat. 
 
I am stunned.  Desperately searching for some glimmer of hope I realize that on this very same day...
 
A baby will be born.  A young couple will get married.  A lost kitten will be found.  Proud parents will watch their youngest child graduate from high school.  Someone will get a promotion.  Another will win the lottery.  A teenage boy will buy his first car.  A young woman will discover that after years of trying, she's finally pregnant.  A doctor will tell a worried family that the operation was a success.  A young woman will have flowers delivered to her door.  Two childhood friends will take off on a trip to Greece.  A singer will have a #1 hit.  A child will be returned to his mother.  A mortgage application will be approved.  A dentist will inform a 5 year old that he doesn't have any cavities, and a 10th grade girl will be asked to the prom. 
 
All this will happen on a most ordinary day.... today.
 
And then I realize....
 
That I must have WAY too much time on my hands.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

You've Got Mail!

I'm going to take a break from Menopausal Exploration today and get back to reality.  Catch up on the important things that I've been letting go.  Before I tackle the Kitty Litter Boxes in the basement I better check my E-mail.
 
Whoa!  I bet I must be close to my limit!  No telling who's been trying to contact me the past few weeks. 
 
"10 Tips For a Summer Body."  The only way that I could salvage something for this year would be to pay someone to impersonate me until September.  But that's an idea for another day. 
 
"Limited Quantity- Everything Under $20".  As if.
 
5 ads for computer games.  NOT interested.  I only play one.  Pirate Poppers.  I'm addicted and I'm loyal.  I'm just a one-computer-game kinda woman.  Delete. 
 
"Investment Opportunities"... I guess they're assuming that I have some extra cash lying around collecting dust.  Delete.
 
Oh goody.  Seems I won an "International Lottery."  Maybe I shouldn't have deleted that Investment Opportunity Ad after all.   Delete.
 
Okay.... Oh!  The "Ex-Vice President Of Ugwanda" wants to entrust ME with the millions of dollars he abducted with.  All I have to do is open a bank account for him.  Yeah, right.  I may have been tempted in the past, but I'm a Lottery Winner now.  Delete.
 
Here we go.  "My Latest Matches on Yahoo."  Good grief!  He should have come with a Warning Label.  Oh My God!  This one only lives 2 miles away?  Bet I could get his  exact address if I looked up Registered Sex Offenders.  Hmmm....  If "Ready N' Rarin" is only 53 years old he must have lived one HELL of a life.  Sigh!  After all these years I'm still hoping to find a man who's looking for someone to leave all his money to, with no strings attached.  I know.  I'm just a hopeless romantic.  Delete.
 
This is interesting.  Someone signed my Guest Book at Classmates.com.  But if I want to see who it was, I have to become a Member.  I wonder who it was?  A long, lost childhood friend?  Someone long forgotten who may very well change the very course of my life if I were to contact him?  Delete. 
 
"Stop Prairie Dogs From Being Poisoned!"  You gotta be kidding me.  The only thing I'm looking for is a cure for hot flashes.  Sorry, but Prairie Dogs are pretty far down on my list of things to save.
 
"Cruise Deals on Vacations To Go."  I guess they heard that I won the lottery.  Delete. 
 
"Don't Let Congress Industrialize Our Coastlines."  Oh my God.  ANYTHING but THAT.  Permenantly delete. 
 
Hmmm... about 618 "jokes."  All from my oldest daughters best friend, Deneen.  Aww!  She took the time to send them to me and about 350 other close Internet Friends.  While she was at work, no less.  Thank God she doesn't work for me.  Where does she find the time?  Maybe I should get a job where SHE works....  Delete 'em all at once... 
 
Oh!  Looks like a personal note from my slightly younger sister...  I haven't heard from her in a while.  Nope.  Just copies of the same jokes that Deneen sent to her as well.  Delete again.
 
"10 Ways To Keep Your Marriage Fresh".  Too bad I didn't get that one before my divorce.  Delete.
 
Uh-oh.  Looks like my "E-Bay Account has been suspended."  I didn't even know I HAD one. Delete.
 
Skip, skip, skip... "Erectile Dysfunction."  Now THAT's my kinda man!  Delete! 
 
%&*#@!  I swear to God, my head will spin around and I will have projectile vomiting if one more person sends me an E-mail warning that I will have bad luck for the next 5 years if I don't send it out to at least 5 friends in the next 18 minutes!  Why do people send me these things?  I don't have enough bad luck?  DELETE!  DELETE!  DELETE!
 
Well... that about does it.  I hate it when I let my unread mail pile up like that.
 
I wonder if there's anything in my "Spam Folder"?

Friday, June 22, 2007

My Menopausal Manifest

Hot flashes wouldn’t be so bad if you could conjure one up when you wanted one.  Like when you’re running outside on a cold winter morning to retrieve the newspaper off the front step. They would actually come in quite handy if you needed to de-ice your windshield.

 

If only we could funnel the heat into steam we could sterilize baby bottles, save thousands of dollars on dry cleaning, and maybe even steam clean the carpets a couple of times a year.   I wonder if the Pope would consider allowing hot flashes to burn off the sins of Catholic women?  Sort of like a pre-payment plan.

 

But alas, we must suffer with hot flashes seemingly at the whim of Mother Nature.  Never knowing when an assault will come.  I hate being helpless.

 

For any non-believers in the group, let me tell you that I recently conducted an experiment.  I took my temperature when I was NOT having a hot flash.  98.4… normal.  Then, a few minutes later, when I felt I was at the height of a hot flash, my temperature rose to 103.6!!  I had proof that hot flashes were actual physical manifestations.  It didn’t do me any good, but I felt better knowing that fact.

 

Why don’t menopausal women burn up thousands of calories a day manufacturing all of that heat?  We should be able to eat just about anything we want without gaining weight.  It would only be fair, don’t you think?  Good thing we can’t get pregnant.  We’d have that kid baked in two weeks flat.

 

At the very least I think menopause should be tax deductible.  Fans, air conditioning units and increased utility bills should be write offs.  Grandchildren should be considered dependants.  I don’t know a single grandparent who doesn’t spend more than their fair share on clothes, entertainment and schooling costs for their grandkids.

 

When I was younger I used to think that once my kids were grown, I’d spend all of my extra money on myself.  Exotic trips to Greece and Europe.  Face lifts when I needed one.  I thought I’d go to a Day Spa from time to time and pamper myself.  This year I took my 5 year old grandson to Disneyworld and paid his Catholic School tuition.  So much for my weekly massages.

 

Dare I mention how much money we end up tossing to our supposedly grown children?  And how many of us have to help out our elderly parents?

 

Is the entire world ignoring menopause?  What about Hollywood?  There are many famous Baby Boomers.  Now that Madonna is getting up there in age, why doesn’t she film a music video based on her REAL fantasies?  One where 10 Boy Toys dance around fanning her furiously with large palm branches?  I don’t think Martha Stewart has done a single show suggesting how hot flashes could be put to use around the kitchen.  “Forgot to take the meat out of the freezer before you went to work this morning?  No problem!  Simply defrost your pork chops on your lap while you drive home tonight!”  I’m surprised that AOL hasn’t advertised “10 Great Hair Styles That Won’t Flop When You’re Flashing!”  Or, “Not In The Mood?  7 Ways To Distract Your Man!”

 

Sometimes I think I’m becoming obsessed with hot flashes.  I find myself wondering if comatose women get them.  I question what would happen to a very sick woman with a fever of 104 degrees if she were to get a hot flash.  Would she spontaneously combust?  Were the survivors of the Titanic all middle aged women and those who were fortunate enough to be floating next to one? 

 

It boggles my mind when I think of the many elderly women who have decided to retire to Florida or Arizona.  Perhaps years of suffering finally leave you absolutely insane.  I can only pray that burnt brain cells eventually leave you without pain. 

 

If men had to suffer through this dismal phase of life, I guarantee there would be a cure by now.  At least they would actively be working on one.  What happens to them?  A sudden urge to drive a Harley.  An affair with a twenty something.  A new convertible.

 

Good grief.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Menopausal Manifest

Menopause Manifest Part II
 
My menopause symptoms are much more than an "inconvenience," as assumed by some people (see comments after Part I).  I consider them an AFFLICTION.  If your house burnt down to the ground would you call it "a bit of bad luck?"  Would it be "disappointing" to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease?  Would being found guilty of a crime you didn't commit, and sent to prison for 25 years, be a "temporary setback?"  I think not.

These 'hot flashes' occur 24 hours a day.  At night it's impossible to sleep through my frenzied attempts to yank the blankets off as quickly as possible and turn the ceiling fan back on high.  I'm forever seeking out new cold spots on the sheets to avoid soaking the bed with sweat, otherwise I'll have to get up and change the linen.  Five minutes later, after the hot flash is gone, I turn off the fan and hoist the blankets back on.  Pulling myself into a fetal position to avoid touching any wet or cold spots, I lay shivering, awaiting the next assault which seems to come right after I finally fall back to sleep. 
During the day, my clothes stick to me, I sweat off my make-up and my hair is always damp and limp.  I'm in a constant state of dressing, undressing and re-dressing. There's not a moment of the day when I feel anywhere NEAR 'comfortable.'  

In between the hot flashes, there are short lulls spent in absolute DREAD, waiting for the next cycle to begin. The syndrome takes over every aspect of my life.  Besides the hot flashes there's the mood swings and the altered state of consciousness to deal with as well.  Somedays I can hardly keep a thought in my head.  I have NO concentration and the attention span of a plastic plant.  Few of my tasks are ever completed.  I'm tired and frustrated.  Worst of all, I have NO patience.  I could KILL anyone under the age of 40 who rolls their eyes up at me when I can't think of the word I wanted to use.  The only thing I have firmly committed to memory is the location of every fan in the building where I work.  Worse yet, is that other women have told me that they have been suffering with these symptoms for 15 years!  I'll never make it!  I'm surprised we can't go out on disability with this. 
 
I do try to count my blessings.  I knew another woman who used to turn bright red, and her hair would flop before our eyes, and she'd be literally dripping with sweat.  I only "glow" a little when I'm flashing.  I'm thankful that I live and work in an environment that is air conditioned.  That I don't reside in Florida or Arizona.  That I don't work in a dry cleaners.  That I'm single and don't have a man wanting to have sex with me everytime I throw off the covers in the middle of the night. That my job description doesn't necessitate carrying a gun.
 
Now that the Baby Boomers have arrived at middle age, there must be millions of women all of the US having hot flashes, 24 hours a day.  Maybe the scientists should look into THAT as a cause of Global Warming.  I know I could melt a few icebergs all by myself.  Forget about a cure for the common cold.  Who cares how bad it is when you only suffer for TWO WEEKS?  Eradicate menopause and save the god damned world!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Menopause Manifest

Three months ago I decided to stop my Hormone Replacement Therapy.  I had been taking the tablets for about three years and I was getting nervous about the high risk of cancer.
 
I can honestly say that I have never felt more miserable in my entire life.  Since there are 78.2 million American Baby Boomers out there, and slightly over 50% of them are women ... lets talk menopause. 
 
Misery loves company ya' know.
 
Since I am an RN, I feel it is my duty to present the scientific facts (before we get to the reality of it all which we'll discuss in future segments). 
 
According to the Mayo Clinic menopause is a transition that can start in your 30s or 40s and last into your 50s or even 60s. You may begin to experience signs and symptoms of menopause well before your periods stop permanently. Once you haven't had a period for 12 consecutive months, you've reached menopause.  Menopause is a natural biological process, not a medical illness. Although it's associated with hormonal, physical and psychosocial changes in your life, menopause isn't the end of your youth or of your sexuality. Several generations ago, few women lived beyond menopause. Today, you may spend as much as half of your life after menopause.  Hormone therapy (HT) has been widely used in recent decades to relieve the signs and symptoms of menopause and — doctors thought — to prevent diseases associated with aging. However, new long-term evidence has demonstrated that HT may actually increase your risk of serious health conditions, such as heart disease, breast cancer and stroke.
 
Okay ... but lets get to the heart of the matter.  How much am I going to suffer?   The Mayo Clinic says: Several chronic medical conditions tend to appear after menopause. By becoming aware of the following conditions, you can take steps to help reduce your risk:
  • Cardiovascular disease. At the same time your estrogen levels decline, your risk of cardiovascular disease increases. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women as well as in men. Yet you can do a great deal to reduce your risk of heart disease. These risk-reduction steps include stopping smoking, reducing high blood pressure, getting regular aerobic exercise and eating a diet low in saturated fats and plentiful in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Osteoporosis. During the first few years after menopause, you may lose bone density at a rapid rate, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and weak, leading to an increased risk of fractures. Postmenopausal women are especially susceptible to fractures of the hip, wrist and spine. That's why it's especially important during this time to get adequate calcium — 1,500 milligrams daily — and vitamin D — 400 to 800 international units daily. It's also important to exercise regularly. Strength training and weight-bearing activities such as walking and jogging are especially beneficial in keeping your bones strong.
  • Urinary incontinence. As the tissues of your vagina and urethra lose their elasticity, you may experience a frequent, sudden, strong urge to urinate (urge incontinence) or incontinence with coughing, laughing or lifting (stress incontinence).
  • Weight gain. Many women gain weight during the menopausal transition. You may need to eat less — perhaps as many as 200 to 400 fewer calories a day — and exercise more, just to maintain your current weight.  Oh goody.
  • Emotional and cognitive changes. You may experience irritability, fatigue, decreased memory and diminished concentration as you approach menopause. These symptoms have sometimes been attributed to hormonal fluctuations. Yet other factors are more likely to contribute to these changes, including sleep deprivation and stressful life events — such as the illness or death of a parent, grown children leaving home or returning home, and retirement.  Can it get any worse? 
  • Changes in appearance. Many women gain a modest amount of weight — about 5 pounds on average — during the menopausal transition. The fat that once was concentrated in your hips and thighs may settle above your waist and in your abdomen. You may notice a loss of fullness in your breasts, thinning hair and wrinkles in your skin. If you previously experienced adult acne, it may become worse. Although your estrogen level drops, your body continues to produce small amounts of the male hormone testosterone. As a result, you may develop coarse hair on your chin, upper lip, chest and abdomen.  Sorry I asked.
According to MedicineNet  Hot flashes are common among women undergoing menopause. A hot flash is a feeling of warmth that spreads over the body and is often most pronounced in the head and chest A hot flash is sometimes associated with flushing and is sometimes followed by perspiration. Hot flashes usually last from 30 seconds to several minutes. Although the exact cause of hot flashes is not fully understood, hot flashes are likely due to a combination of hormonal and biochemical fluctuations brought on by declining estrogen levels.

In my experience, a hot flash occurs once an hour when some evil demon switches on a furnace in the pit of my belly.  He (I say "he" as I KNOW that NO "woman" would ever do this to another) turns the thermostat WAY up, and instantly the flames roar, devouring every inch of my body.  They rise hotter and higher, until I feel that I am about to explode into a ball of fire.  The monster keeps the heat going for about five minutes and then slowly turns down the thermostat.  This is followed by one to two minutes of a soft "glow" like hot coals on the bottom of your barbecue.  My body is left cold and wet like the steel frame of a building hosed down by firefighters after a blaze brought under control.  But ... that's just me.  Sorry... I digress ... where we?  Oh yeah...

There is currently no method to predict when hot flashes will begin and how long they will last. Hot flashes occur in up to 40% of regularly menstruating women in their forties, so they may begin before the menstrual irregularities characteristic of menopause even begin. About 80% of women will be finished having hot flashes after five years. Sometimes (in about 10% of women), hot flashes can last as long as 10 years. GOOD GRIEF!  There is no way to predict when hot flashes will cease, though they tend to decrease in frequency over time. On average, hot flashes last about five years.

Sometimes hot flashes are accompanied by night sweats (episodes of drenching sweats at nighttime). This may lead to awakening and difficulty falling asleep again, resulting in unrefreshing sleep and daytime tiredness. 

Research shows that cigarette smoking, caffeine (including chocolate) and alcohol increase the intensity and frequency of hot flashes.  But, in my own defense, if I didn't have a cup of coffee in the morning, smoke all day, eat hundreds of Tootsie Rolls at my desk and drink heavily on occasion, I'd be a FREAKIN' LUNATIC!  Albeit a less sweaty one.

In my quest for knowledge I also discovered that withdrawal from hormones is strikingly similar to heroin and crack cocaine withdrawal!  Heroin Addiction  says heroin addicts experience  being cold and then getting hot flushes - constant temperature changes, sweating / chills, feeling sad, crying at little things (even TV soaps, adverts), insomnia, not sleeping for days on end, irritability, feelings of weakness and tiredness, although not being able to sleep and elevations in blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate, and Crack withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to: agitation, depression, extreme fatigue, anxiety, angry outbursts, lack of motivation, irritability and disturbed sleep.

And the longest drug withdrawal is only THIRTY-TWO WEEKS!  Compare that to FIVE to TEN YEARS! 

I just wanted you to realize what we're up against!  Not to mention having a few facts to throw at anyone who thinks menopause is child's play.

Knowledge is power, so they say.


Of course "they" are probably men, or women in their thirties who would run to the nearest emergency room if they ever had a hot flash at this point in their lives.

So what does all this mean?  I'm getting to that ... stay tuned.