Monday, April 30, 2012

Walk This Way

I work in downtown Worcester on Main Street where there are streetlights at each block for a good 2 mile stretch that seems more like 10 miles when you catch all the red lights.  But when you get the green lights, you should be able to drive right?

Not so!  It is nothing unusual for pedestrians walking together deep in conversation to just step off the sidewalk and cross the street right in front of you.  They don't skip a beat in their conversation and don't even glance your way, even if your brakes screech or you beep the horn. They are oblivious.  It is also nothing unusual for them to dart out in front of you, thinking that if they run and wave their arms like it's an emergency that it will be okay.  These are all people I would like to refer to as "speed bumps"; however my legal training knows that "the pedestrian always has the right of way".

And how many more tools can we give these tools, I mean pedestrians??  They have magic buttons at each intersection that, once pushed, will give every driver a red light, making it safe for the pedestrian to cross.  Additionally, they have crosswalks, designated areas that they should be walking in, and when a driver approaches, it has the same effect as a dog approaching an electric fence as you slam on your brakes because someone is in the designated area.  And furthermore, there is a 10 or 15 second countdown that flashes for the pedestrian so they know how much time they have before someone is going to get a green light and be allowed to drive over the restricted area.  So, my dear pedestrians, if the number is already on 3, you better book it across the street, not step off the curb and take baby steps across as if the leader of Mother May I is waiting across the street instructing you to take 100 baby steps.  And if you are blind, there is some leeway (sp?), but you also get a beeping sound to let you know when it is safe to cross, and you also have a walking stick and a dog.  However, I will not ever label you as a speed bump so you are good there.

Now, when I am not in the car and am a pedestrian walking the sidewalks of Main Street, I stop at the intersections.  I may not use the magic button because I find it demeaning and more fun to play Frogger and dart across the street, but I honestly only do that when it is safe and no cars are coming toward me.  I would never dream of just stepping off a sidewalk, while looking down, and walk into oncoming traffic forcing drivers to stop because I have the right of way.  Wise up, walkers!  And P.S.  The customer isn't always right either, but that's another rant.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sing It, Sista!

Music has always been a great enjoyment of mine.  As a child, I loved learning new songs at school or at Sunday School and singing their simple, rhyming words.  As I became a teenager, music served many purposes.  I remember listening to particular songs that reminded me of certain boys and labeling them as "our song" but never telling them.  I remember driving around in the car with friends and cruising the streets, with Salt n Pepa songs or Buffalo Stance blaring from the speakers.  I remember other times driving around while blaring the latest rock songs from all my favorite bands and shaking (alright banging) my head and big hair in tune with the beat.  I remember when I felt angry and went to my room to play my Guns n Roses cassette, very loudly.  And I never thought my parents paid much attention until many years later when my parents and I were sitting together at a Worcester Ice Cats game, and "Welcome to the Jungle" was played, and my dad turned to me and said, "This song sounds familiar" with a smile.  There were other times sitting in front of my boom box with my fingers on the record and play buttons waiting to record my favorite song when it played on the radio so that I could learn all the lyrics and sing it and play it whenever I wanted.  Those were the times when I only liked one song that particular band or singer sang and didn't want to buy the whole cassette.  This became easier with the invention of cassingles, which I LOVED, because it served the purpose of just purchasing the one song and not the whole album.  Ahh, yes, music, it was my friend and my accompaniment for all my teenage moods.

Then came the joy of concerts, and I've been to many.  I still have the guitar pick thrown to me from the AC/DC concert and the controversy over Tommy Lee's choice of underwear as he descended from the ceiling at the Motley Crue concert at the Worcester Centrum. I have good and crazy memories of each and every concert and love to reminisce about them with my concert counterpart Andrea. And fortunately for us, some of our favorite bands still tour so we still get to go to concerts together.  I took my brother and my son to their first concert, and we had a good time which was no surprise since it was my favorite band, Bon Jovi.  It was a little different than going to concerts with Andrea, but fun nonetheless, from the tshirts I bought from the "tshirt bootlegger" in Burger King to the songs we were singing at the top of our lungs along with the rest of the crowd, while walking out of the Boston Garden.

But now I have children, and my love of music has been passed on to them, for better or worse remains to be seen.  My siblings laugh when I teach their children songs.  But I think songs can help you remember things and make learning more fun.  I still recall the order of the planets by using the phrase "My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas" for the first initials of the planets.  When reciting the alphabet, I still find myself singing the letters.  When my children were learning their colors, I would buy Scribbler popsicles with their multiple colors, and as I removed the paper, would sing "Colors, colors what are your colors?  Colors, colors tell me your colors."  And then they would look at their popsicle and identify the colors.  I created a bedtime lullaby song for each of my children when they were young, and if they had a bad dream or were having a rough day, I would lay with them and sing it while stroking their hair until they fell asleep. When I got married, my parents took my 7 yr old son home, and then my Mom called me at the reception, on the function hall's phone, to ask me to teach her the song because Jake was asking for it.  There are times I still sing the bedtime songs to my children, to calm them down, help them sleep or simply because they request it.  And today, as I was cleaning the bathroom and wishing everyone peed sitting down, my 11 yr old Nathan reminded me that it wasn't his fault because he remembered the song I taught him. That song was "If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie."  So I guess songs stick with everyone in some way or another :)

And then there is my new-found love for karaoke where I have gone from the girl in the car using the end of the seatbelt in the back seat as a microphone or the girl with the hairbrush microphone to the girl on the stage with the real microphone and sometimes even lights and fog...still belting out my favorite tunes, for my own enjoyment and that of my friends, and hopefully not the unenjoyment of the other patrons.  And just a sidenote, if you are afraid to do karaoke, afraid you'll be off tune, that's when you dance or have movements or sing just a little quieter until you're ready to belt out the chorus that you know oh so well and have rehearsed in your living room with youtube.  Wait, you don't do that?  Me either.

And now, as I prepare to go bond with my treadmill, I will set up the Ipod while "Headstrong" and "Eye of the Tiger" and all my other "fight songs" prompt me to keep going.  It just stinks when I get to the mile marker and can no longer sing along, ya know?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Resolution: Failed

I had such great intentions for 2012.  I was going to make it my healthiest year yet.  I was going to lose some weight, eat healthier and exercise more.  I really meant it.

I like to cook, I like to snack, and I don't like to exercise.  These aren't excuses but facts.  I'm that girl who thinks chips 'n dip is one of the best creations, and has broadened that to not only include regular-flavored potato chips and good 'ol french onion dip, but also Cool Ranch Doritos and vegetable dip.  And although I do enjoy a nice walk on a nice day, and an occasional jump on the trampoline with the kiddos, I'm not into exercise.

But I wanted to do better this year. I wanted to look better in clothes, to have more freedom when shopping because I would look good in today's styles, to look healthier, trimmer and sexier, to have a new hairdo, to wear high heels more often.  Maybe it's this new decade I find myself in, but I look in the mirror and see frumpy, and I need to step up my game.

Well, the year is 1/3 of the way done, and I have not lost any weight, have not taken more than a couple walks and am still buying the same old sizes in clothes, and yesterday I ate chips 'n dip.

I am going to try to finish the rest of the year honoring my resolution.  It will be in slow steps so that I don't get overwhelmed and quit, small goals will be set and hopefully met, but as long as I am plugging along and trying to make some changes, I think I will be happy.

So hopefully soon I can look in the mirror, and I won't see frumpy, I won't feel like telling my reflection, "Liar, liar, pants on fire".  Actually, I'm really not that harsh on myself, it's more like "Fibber, fibber, don't break your zipper", and if you say it with a Boston accent, it does rhyme and is still a reference to my pants.....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Feelings ~ we all have them. Sometimes they make us happy, sometimes they make us smile, sometimes they are full of pride, sometimes they are hurt.

I feel very deeply...about a lot of things.  I embrace my children's friends as if they were my own children. I am happy when things go well for them and sad when they don't.  I worry about them when they seem upset about something, and I am proud of them when they figure things out and do the right thing.

I worry when my children are having difficulties in their relationships with others.  I worry when they are away from me and hope they are doing okay and are safe.

I try to fix things when my children's feelings are hurt and try to make it all better, putting an emotional band-aid on their wounds.  Sometimes I can't fix it, and that is hard for me.  Sometimes all I can do is offer a hug and a listening ear.

I watch my children make mistakes, and it's hard, but I know that sometimes lessons will be learned more from them making the mistakes than from me telling them what's going to happen.  It's difficult to watch, but it's sometimes the only way they learn.

I worry when people I love are sick or hurting.  I take it all on very deeply and can withdraw into myself with concern, almost like a turtle brings its head into its shell.  Sometimes I think I'd like to be a turtle, pull my head inside my shell, and cry where no one can see me.

Then there are the days that there are proud moments, the days where a teacher has nothing but good things to say, the days my boss compliments me on a job well done, the days one of my children's friends tells me they love my pancakes, the days that someone tells me I look good. 

Those are the days I enjoy having feelings.  Sometimes I wish I didn't have feelings, wish I didn't feel things so deeply or let things bother me.  I envy those people who can "go with the flow" or "roll with the punches".  Sometimes I can do that, but not really...those are just the days that I try unsuccessfully to push the feelings to the back burner and not let them show. 

All in all, I feel glad that I have feelings, that I feel things, even that I cry at commercials, because it means I have heart.  Things matter to me whether good or bad, things make me feel alive and happy, make me feel sad and worried.  I think the problem comes when people don't feel, when they don't care about things, and when things don't cause them to think, to feel proud or even to feel sad. When you stop feeling, you stop caring and you become self-absorbed, only caring about yourself and not how your actions or words make others feel.  So feel...feel at someone, pay someone a compliment, offer a hug or a helping hand...just feel.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Holidays can be hectic times, expensive times, stressful times and enjoyable times.  Thanksgiving is my favorite because there is no shopping for gifts, no expense, little preparation and LOTS of food and time with family.  Plus, it's on a Thursday so you get the next 3 days to recover.  Christmas is great, and while I do enjoy watching my children and my nieces and nephews open their gifts with their sparkling eyes and anticipation of what the carefully wrapped presents might hold, Christmas requires much preparation.  For me, it involves shopping for a month, making lists of what I want to give for gifts and then trying to find the best deals and coupons so I don't break the bank and can get the most bang for my buck.  Only when all the gifts have been opened, all the food made and the house in seemingly good order, am I able to relax and enjoy the holiday.  Halloween is fun as long as it's not too cold and the kids are happy with their costumes, but I can take or leave that holiday.  I enjoy the summer cookouts that come with Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, but we always seem to have 2 or 3 cookouts on the same day and then try to make an appearance at each, making for a long day and a cheeseburger, potato salad, corn on the cob coma-induced evening.

I've never been big on pushing the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus with my kids.  I grew up celebrating the real meaning of Easter and Christmas, and our gifts were never tagged "From Santa" or "From the Easter Bunny". Once I became a mother, I realized how commercialized these 2 holidays can be, and during the month of December it seemed everyone asked my young son what he had asked Santa for and if he was excited for Santa, and then in April, what did he hope to get from the Easter Bunny.  I tried to do Santa when he was about 3.  I wrapped all his gifts from me and labeled the gift tags "From Santa".  He was too young to know my handwriting, so I thought I was good to go.  He ripped through his gifts with the excitement that only a 3 year old has, now that he could open them by himself and knew that all kinds of fun and exciting new toys were hiding under the Christmas paper. There were ooh's and ah's and big smiles until they were all unwrapped.  Then he started crying.  I asked if there was something wrong, something that he didn't get that he had really wanted, and my heart broke as he answered, "There is nothing from you, only Santa.  Don't you love me?"  I tried to get out of that one without giving away the secret, not that it would have disappointed me as much as it would have his paternal grandmother who loved to play Santa.  The following year, I was careful to tag the labels some from Santa and some from me.  But that year, he questioned why Santa and I had the same wrapping paper.  The following year, I took him to get his picture taken with Santa at the Greendale Mall, and the line was really long so we went to the Auburn Mall where there was a shorter line.  However, I knew I was in trouble when he was less concerned with telling Santa what he wanted and instead began interrogating Santa about how he had gotten to that mall so quickly when he was just at the other mall and he hadn't seen him pass us on the highway.  Santa said "the sleigh, of course".  Then Jake asked how his beard got so much longer on the trip because when he just saw him 15 minutes ago, it wasn't as long.  Santa was speechless, and I think at that point may have been more comfortable with a screaming 1 year old on his lap, or even a peeing child, rather than my inquisitive one.  That was it for Santa at our house.  From then on, my answer to "Is Santa real?" was always "If you believe he is, then he is for you.  But if you don't believe, keep it to yourself because some do believe."  And last year, I overheard my 8 yr old daughter telling my 10 yr old son that she didn't believe but said she did, because you got more presents if you believed.

But Easter, Easter, how I love Easter.  Most importantly, it is the best holiday for a Christian as it celebrates the whole reason we are able to be Christians and be saved.  Secondly, it is FUN!  Coloring eggs is fun with younger kids, although when you're the only one in the house who eats hard-boiled eggs, it loses its appeal about 3 days post-Easter.  Hiding eggs and watching the kids hunt for them is also a good time, and I love listening to them laugh and seeing their smiles as they dig into their baskets.  There's also a big meal shared with family, and when you have a big family as I do, and enjoy good food as I do, it's a good time!

In the past few years, as my children have aged and can all read and go up and down stairs safely, I have stepped up my game.  I no longer hide quarters, candy and gum in the plastic eggs and hide them, but I now make a treasure hunt with clues leading them to their Easter baskets at the end.  Each child has their own color eggs and starts with a clue.  Once they decipher that clue, and some are tricky based on their ages, they head to the hiding place and retrieve their next clue. There are 10 clues, and the baskets can be found in the last location.  I think I have as much fun preparing the clues with my "plays on words" and sending them up and down the stairs, watching them perplexed sometimes with clues such as "Let us find your next clue", not knowing until they say it over and over, that they need to go to the lettuce drawer, or "You're on a roll" sending them to the toilet paper holder, or "Do you want to be a boxer when you grow up?" and heading to their bureau drawer.  Today's hunt took about 20 minutes, and Allie was done first, and Jake last, but to his credit, I did send him back and forth to the car, upstairs, downstairs and up again. Good times, and you can't help but smile when your 6'2", 200 lb almost 20 year old son is running around looking for colored eggs for his Easter basket.

I am blessed, blessed to have children who will humor me, who are appreciative and thankful, and who enjoy each other's company, and blessed to have a husband who stays up with me while I wait for everyone to be home and go to bed so I can hide my clues hidden in the eggs and the baskets.  I pray for all of you reading that you too will enjoy your family today, as I most certainly will enjoy mine, not just because it's a holiday, but because you love them.  Treasure them as they are treasures and each day with them is a gift ready to be unwrapped and enjoyed.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dear Cancer: I Hate You!

Dear Cancer:

I hate you!  My father did nothing to deserve you. He didn't smoke, didn't drink, has eaten well and has exercised.  My mother had to think long and hard when asked by the doctor the last time he was sick.  He was never sick.  He never took medicine.  He was healthy.  You were like a parasite that looked for the healthiest person you could find and latched on.  You have changed his life. He now takes medicine so he doesn't throw up, and disgusting chlorophyll tablets and every 2 weeks has to have medicine pumped into his body for 2 days.  You made him sick and made him have to take medicine every day now.  You took a man who was full of energy and never napped and made him tired and need to rest.  You took a man who was enjoying his retirement and who finally had reached the time that he had worked and planned for, and erased his calendar of plans of vacations and relaxation and visiting with friends and going out to eat and replaced it with chemo appointments and doctor visits and daily medication schedules.

I want to crawl into his body and pull the cancer out, every last disgusting piece of it.  I want to throw it in a fire and burn it, watching it become ashes, disappearing in a big black cloud of smoke, never to return.  I want to flush every pill down the toilet or smash them with a hammer.  I want to take every piece of literature I have read and every sad email I have gotten with new medical updates and rip them into tiny shreds of paper and light them on fire. 

Why him?  Why can't you go somewhere else?  Not that I wish your awful self on anyone else, but I don't want you anywhere near my Dad.  And why won't you go away?  He is fighting you with everything he's been told to do. And still you don't slow down, you won't leave.  When will you get the point? You are not welcome here!  Leave my Dad alone!