Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What If I Take A Road Trip and Need A Repair Shop?

After my son and his family moved from San Diego to Virginia and got caught up in record breaking snowfall this year, I started thinking about how they're probably wishing they were back in San Diego, not far from where my granddaughter and her family live.

To help me appreciate all the snow we've had both in Virginia and in the Midwest, my lovely granddaughter, Sarah, sent me a photo of herself and Ayla (my great granddaughter) ON THE BEACH in San Diego – makes me want to take a road trip back there.

However, I'm concerned about my old 2002 Saturn with over 103,000 miles making the trip. What if my "check engine light" comes on while I'm there? How will I get back home? What if I get stuck in San Diego (oh, yeah, that would be awful)?

So, as a plan-ahead kind of girl, I decided to check for places – fair places – with great ratings just in case I needed to find an auto repair shop. And that's when I came across the San Diego Auto Repair. Their website is set up to locate the right shop for any car (all I had to do was enter Saturn in the box that said, Find the right shop for your car, and I was given a list of 14 different auto shop options in the directory).

What I really like about this web site is that it lets me know what my repair costs will be. All I had to do was enter the make and model of my car, choose a problem I wanted fixed, and they provided an estimate for what the cost would be. What could be easier than that? Why doesn't every place offer that option?

Though I've never bookmarked my own pages before, I'm bookmarking this blog on my laptop, which I will be bringing with me, so I'll have easy access to the page should I decide to take a surprise trip to visit my granddaughter in San Diego. Maybe I'll take her mother (my oldest baby) with me and we can make a vacation of it after my radiation treatments are over.

Maybe we'll take her new vehicle (she's supposed to be getting one soon). I forgot what she plans on getting, but who knows, maybe it will be another van or a Ford F-150.

WOW! I just noticed a Rate this Car section when I looked up Ford F-150. Owner reviews appear under the photo. I'll have to tell Keeley about this before she purchases her new van or truck.

California here I come...

The Curious Case of The Mysterious Pink Towel

You've heard of things disappearing from homes, right? And maybe you've even read my article about The Mysterious Case of the Missing Earring, where my earring disappeared for three weeks and showed up in a very unlikely place.

Or perhaps you read Am I a Poltergeist or a Halloween Freak Show? in which I detail the curious multiplication of a t-shirt dress that suddenly appeared years after I purchased only two of them.

Well, this story is even more mysterious than all of the others, because this time, I neither lost a pink towel, nor had I ever bought a pink towel.

However, now I own one, an old ratty and tattered pink towel. Why? Good question. Nobody admits to leaving it in my home. Not that I blame anyone. I would be ashamed to own such a towel. Admittedly I have torn and tattered towels I've owned for decades, but none of them are pink. This one must feel so lonely.

I believe it's all part of a conspiracy to force me into a state of delusion so that my family can have me admitted to a mental hospital. After all, what other type of human being would say something as ridiculous as a pink towel feeling lonely?

An old friend of mine who died a few years ago often commented to me about how every strange occurrence was supposed to be telling me something, and that I should look for the message behind everything: good, bad, or indifferent.

So I invite you to ponder with me the possibilities of a pink towel suddenly appearing in my home. What message does this mysterious pink towel bring with it? The towel is obviously old. I am on my way to old. The towel is pink. The color attributed to breast cancer is pink. Hmm, maybe there's something to this "finding the message" in everything.

However, the pink towel can't possibly be telling me I have breast cancer – I already know that. So what other message could it impart? That I need to take a shower? Already did. That I need to dry up? Hmm. Why would a towel be telling me I needed to dry up? Why would a towel be telling me anything? Does a towel SPEAK? Am I going crazy? Am I already crazy? See? The conspiracy is already working.

And why do stupid unnecessary items suddenly appear in my home? THAT is the real question. Couldn't the pink towel have been hundreds of green hundred dollar bills? Of all the things I might have hoped would suddenly appear in my life, a pink towel was not even on the list.

Then I think about how we draw things toward us by affirming and meditating about them. Does anything I've been affirming or mediating about even remotely resemble a pink towel? Come on – help me out here – what in my life could possibly be related to a pink towel?

I give up. But I'd like to leave a message to the poltergeist who frequently leaves things in my home, just in case he or she is reading this blog – think MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY...

The photo above includes the now clean pink towel folded among my other green, blue, white, and purple towels.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When Will I Be Normal?

It occurred to me while I was showering yesterday, that I hadn't had hair on my head in so long, I wondered when I would return to normal.

And then an alarm blasted me in the head – YOU WERE NEVER NORMAL!

I almost fell in the shower. The thought was so true. I have never been normal, so how could I return to a place I'd never been?

And then I asked myself, what IS normal? Should I rely on statistics to help me figure it out? OK, I'm too tall to be normal, I'm too old to be normal, and I'm too unemployed to be normal. I fall way out of the statistical range of normal in so many respects, I have to wonder who exactly IS normal.

But I think what I meant when I said the word, "normal," was – when will I return to MY VERSION of normal? I'm still stumped, though, because normal keeps changing. At one time normal meant getting up and going to work every morning. Then normal became working out of my home providing day care.

Suddenly normal became having surgery and going for chemo treatments every three weeks. And now normal is doing stupid things like the stupid thing I did last night.

My bedroom light fixture had only one working bulb, so I took out one of the three nonworking bulbs and replaced it with a new bulb.

The new bulb didn't work, so I removed another nonworking bulb and tried replacing it with the new bulb, and that one didn't work either. And when I tried the third bulb, I discovered that that one didn't work! Great! I was doomed to live in a dimmed bedroom.

So just when I thought my whole light fixture was broken, A LIGHT BULB WENT OFF IN HEAD!  I realized that my light fixture had a chain on the bottom that allowed the bulbs to light up in increments. One light, two lights…you get the picture. Duh!

But what's really nice about that light bulb experience is that those kinds of things happen to me all the time, so I really am returning to MY kind of normal – a little offbeat, a little outside the boundaries of statistical norms, but totally me.

And so while I await new hair growth (I just finished my last BAD chemo treatment Monday), and even while I resume chemo, but this time with a drug that doesn't cause nausea or hair loss or any of the other numerous side effects I've been experiencing), and even though I will have to go through radiation and several months more of chemo treatments, I am returning to normal.

One day within the next few months, I will be able to remove my hats and scarves and create a hairstyle, I will be able to apply mascara to my new eyelashes, and I will not have to deal with insomnia or loss of energy.

And when I take a shower, I'll be able to use shampoos and conditioners, something I used to take for granted when I was "normal."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Why It Helps To Clear Up Misunderstandings

People don't always understand messages other people are trying to convey. Once the words leave the lips, they get distorted in the brain, intentions get lost, and if we don't immediately clarify things we THINK we hear, we end up confused, completely bewildered, and sometimes hurt.

Just recently one of my granddaughters and I were talking on the phone and I thought I heard Sarah say, "My friend and I are gonna pee in the john." To which I respond, a little TMI, Sarah, a little TMI ("too much information" for those of you who don't have grandchildren to explain our new English shortcuts)!

Don't get me wrong – I like the fact that my children and grandchildren share intimate details of their lives with me, but sometimes I just don't need to know EVERY thing, like their bathroom schedules – especially when it involves another person.

But what I heard was not what Sarah said, which was, "My friend and I are gonna to see 'Dear John'" (the movie).

That conversation reminded me of the time her mother, my oldest daughter, Keeley, and I had a misunderstanding that, had I not tried to understand, may have resulted in life-long trauma for my oldest baby.

When Keeley was around 4 years old, I took her to visit a friend, and when we left the home, which was on a fairly busy street, I opened the door to the car to let her in. For reasons I couldn't understand at the time, she adamantly refused to get in.

We argued.

The argument escalated while she stood her ground, repeating over and over again, "But there's gas under the car!"

"It's OK. Nothing will happen," I repeated for what seemed like the thousandth time.

She still didn't believe me. I tried to push her into the car. She pushed back and ran far away from the car.

"Keeley, get in the car. Everything is going to be OK. I promise."

"NO! There's gas under the car!" Her expression was one of panic. Tears were streaming down her face.

Did she have a dream that we were going to die in an explosion? Did she think the gas would explode when I started the car? Whatever. I was getting angry. I promised once again that NOTHING would happen. Really! Now GET IN THE CAR!

Reassurance after reassurance after reassurance that nothing would happen didn't convince her to get into that car. The weather was freezing and I just wanted to get home. Instead I stood outside my car arguing with my 4-year old daughter to get in the car. She refused my demands. Again. My frustration was increasing.

Finally, in exasperation, I screamed, "NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN UNLESS I LIGHT A MATCH TO IT, OK??????????"

Her eyes widened and she looked at me as if I had somehow become evil incarnate.

"But look!" she cried, pointing under the car. So, just to appease her, I bent over to take a look.

Sometimes, in moments of utter clarity, facial expressions and moods suddenly make perfect sense. Her urgency was noted when I discovered a couple of "cats" (not gas) under my car. She thought I was going to run over them.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Virginia Snow Storm

I'm a Chicago girl. I remember walking home in three feet of snow during the great blizzard of 1967 – in the days when we had to wear skirts to school – in the days before doppler radar.

After plunging my legs over and over again through snow banks so deep I had to bring them up practically to my shoulders to move them, I came home completely exhausted. What normally took only 20 minutes to walk home at a slow leisurely pace took me more than an hour.

By the time I got home, my feet had swollen so much, I couldn't remove my boots, and I had frostbite on both my hands and my feet. I was wheezing with an asthma attack so bad I couldn't catch my breath.

Yes, Chicago girls KNOW what REAL snow storms are.

So imagine my surprise when I came out to Virginia to help my son and his wife with their kids, and on Tuesday this week, schools closed because they EXPECTED snow. The snow didn't come until nearly 8pm. The following day, Virginia schools closed again because they EXPECTED snow. Guess what. No snow at all, but Taylor got to stay home from school again anyway. All I kept thinking of Virginians was, what wimps!

Seems the entire state of Virgina and Washington, D.C. shut down when snow is expected. So when weather forecasters predicted a snow storm for tonight and tomorrow, I laughed. Apparently a sprinkling of snow is all it takes to send these people inside.

Well, that was my thinking until Southwest Airlines called to cancel my flight on Saturday. Hmm, maybe Virginia will actually be getting snow after all. According to, we're expecting a SIGNIFICANT amount of snow. That's what I get for calling Virginians wimps.