Category Archives: Friendship

Dear Katie,

For my readers who don’t know Katie’s story, please refer back here and here. Katie has been home for a few months and returns to school today. She is still working so hard and has come so far and her reward is a touch of normalcy, she gets to go to school half time for the rest of the year! Go Katie, Go Katie!!!

 

Dear Katie,

What a huge day for you after so many months of struggling and fighting! Congratulations on your return to ol’ LOHS!

I think about you and your family everyday and I am not the only one. Can you believe there are 2083 followers of your Facebook page? And I know the number of people who know and care about your story is much larger. I have friends around the country who know about you and ask me how you are doing and pray for you. There are THOUSANDS of people around the country and around the world who think about you and pray for you and are cheering for you. Isn’t that something? Why do you suppose that is?

Well, yeah there’s the whole interwebs thing, but bigger than that. Why are there literally thousands of people, many of them strangers (unless you know waaaayyy more people than anyone else I know) who know your story?

I have some ideas.

1. You’re a good kid. By all accounts, from my daughter, Annie’s, first encounter with you freshman year — to all the stories I have read in the past six months. You are regarded to be as nice, as kind, and as enthusiastic as your reputation would have us believe. The real deal! When nice people get hurt, other nice people and even not-so-nice people, wish them well and pray to whatever god they believe in for healing. You are young. People want young people to have long, happy lives. I haven’t met you but I can see there is a vibrancy to you that the world needs.

From left: Katie, sister Annie, and mom Trina (although I am just guessing that's Trina because she doesn't look much older than her girls.)

From left: Katie, sister Annie, and mom Trina (although I am just guessing that’s Trina because she doesn’t look much older than her girls.)

2. Moms. I know there are dads following your progress and praying for you but I am a mom and I will speak to the Mom part of this equation.

Katie's dad, Dave, the day in December when though in a coma, Katie signed "I love you".  Dad's rock.

Katie’s dad, Dave, the day in December when though in a coma, Katie signed “I love you”. Dad’s rock.

From the moment a mother knows her baby is on the way, she is protecting it. Taking folic acid and eating right and exercising (unless you’re me and then you eat tater tots and ice cream and grow to the size of an NFL lineman). We read to our babies inside us. We plan rooms and buy the right cribs, buy darling little outfits and blankets and little hats to keep the little baby head warm. We make sure the car seat is installed correctly and the baby faces backwards for a year. Katie, moms make sure the house is baby-proofed, that our little people wear bike helmets, and walk on the sidewalk, we practice letters and numbers with our tiny scholars, and make lunches and beds, and apply sunscreen.

Mothers do every single thing we can think of to keep our children safe from bruised knees, broken arms, broken hearts. Unfortunately we can’t control everything and we aren’t meant to. The goal of all this tending to our children is so that they will eventually grow up and take care of themselves. Slowly, children gain more and more independence, from putting their shoes on by themselves, to making their own toast, to walking to school, reading alone, the list goes on and on. We have to let you go out into the world and roll the dice.

And sometimes when you go out into the world horrible things happen.

Katie, this is why there are so many people praying for you and thinking about you daily. Because you are all of our children. There isn’t a mother worth her weight in varicose veins, who doesn’t realize it could have been our child in the accident. You have become a daughter to all of us. Especially to us moms who have teenage daughters, you are the beautiful girl that owns our hearts, who we have to set free.

And your mom is all of us.  We have all cried for your mother, not knowing anything else to do. We know the fear that goes with injury to one of our cubs. Moms can make all the casseroles in the world but that can’t fix an injured child or replace the ferocious love we have for our children. We all feel for your mother and we all thank God everyday that we don’t have to be as strong as she is. And we all know the strength it takes to keep all the balls in the air, the hospital, the house, the doctors, on and on. And there is your sister and your dad, and the mom has to take care of everyone she loves. It’s a big job and we are all so proud of Trina.

lenin mom

3. Renewal. Life is rough. There is so much bad news every damn day. Plane crashes and tornadoes, politics and business, it can all be so overwhelming.  In the midst of the 24-hour news cycle madness, life can still get through to us. At the most unexpected times, in the most unexpected ways, life brings renewal and hope and awareness of a much larger picture. The spiritual journey that we have traveled with you through a Facebook page has been uplifting and uniting. I’m Catholic and have a deep faith but as a Catholic, I’m not much of a bible reader. If I need to know it, it’s probably in the missal 🙂 I have read some beautiful passages from the Bible on your Facebook page, most I have never read before. Those passages have lifted my spirit, as I hope they have lifted yours.

Your life these past almost six months has inspired thousands to remember what is really important during our time in this world, that can all too often be much too short. You, Miss Katie, are a miracle. Not just for being on this planet today and walking (!) into school today but because you have shown thousands of people what true character and might look like. You have reminded us to love our children and our parents.

I hope to meet you and your family soon. You have all had a great impact on me, on my parenting and on my faith.

In advance, please excuse me if I completely fall apart when I finally lay eyes on you. I’m like that.

Happy Friday Miss Katie!

xoxox

Maggie

 

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2013: My Year in Blogging or Try Again Next Year

So, like all of you, I got a little 2013 synopsis from WordPress about my blog activity for the year. I want to thank some of my blogging pals for helping to make 2013 a pretty damn good year for this blog.

Firstly, I want to thank my 2500 followers. I know many of you are members of royal families in Nigeria and are busy managing massive financial and real estate holdings yet you still take the time to read my little blog and for that I am truly grateful.

This is a statistic from WordPress regarding my blog activity this past year.

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 28,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

WordPress fails to note that the University of Texas Darrell K. Royal Football stadium seats 100,119 people. So that means my blog views for 2013 only fill up 27.9 percent of that stadium. Which means absolutely nothing.

Thank you to my friends and top commenters:

Lazy Laura Maisey

Lame Adventures

DonofAllTrades

Unfettered BS

It has been my true pleasure getting to know all of you, except Don, he owes me money.

And thank you to one of my earliest blogging friends Brigitte at BrigitteBanter.com. Your wonderful blog is one of the top 5 referring sites to my blog! Happy New Year Lady!

And while many of you think my blog is just fluff and nonsense, I now have the proof that you are wrong! Look, just LOOK at the top search terms for this blog for the year:

something fat happened, raylene, naked art, sally jesse raphael glasses, and rob kardashian socks.

This blog is taking on the tough topics, the hard love (Don, seriously, get out of here), the gritty celebrity sock and glasses news and Naked Art. This blog is a cultural extravaganza with “staying power” according to WordPress. My staying power is due to one of my top posts being written in 2012, please revisit the joy and serenity, the laughter and humiliation of My Korean Bathhouse Birthday.

Happy New Year! I’ll be back in 2014! Sorry, but I have nowhere else to go.

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7 Things I Learned on My Trip to Denver

1. Southwest Airlines has a system.

These columns are part of the system. Oh, yeah there's a system.

These columns are part of the system. Oh, yeah there’s a system.

I don’t really know what it is. It involves columns. It involves the letters A, B, C and numbers 1-5, 6-10…. see the pattern? It goes up to 30 and then sometimes up to 60. And they call the A’s to stand by the columns and then they call the B’s but sometimes they don’t call the B’s so if you are a B, you don’t know to line up so you just stand up and walk on the plane. Probably to the consternation of the other B’s who were waiting at their columns. Or you hear that the C’s are being asked to line up and you know you are C6 so you go take your place even though there are other people standing there. I don’t know if they wanted me or not, I just got on the plane. Of course Southwest is really nice and they didn’t mind my system.

2. My sister’s condo has an incredible view.

My sister, Katie,  moved to Denver two years ago and I finally got my arse down there to see her. My brother and I went this past weekend because we were going to go for Thanksgiving but airfare was insane so we did Thanksgiving early. Katie has talked about her view and posted photos on Facebook but until I saw it, I didn’t fully appreciate what she’s got going on. For $1250 including utilities she can see a bunch of the Rocky Mountains, the downtown skyline, Coors Field, and the Colorado State Capitol building. Not. Too. Shabby.

View from Katie's patio during the day.

View from Katie’s patio during the day.

And at night.

And at night. I was having wine so I may have needed a tripod to keep the camera steady. You get the idea. Don’t judge me.

3. Katie has a darling house.

Katie is very handy and crafty and loves projects. Apparently when she moved in her condo had a Murphy bed and all the walls were striped blue and yellow. She got her furniture from Portland last month (it was originally a furnished rental) and now her house looks like this!!!

Walls painted. New couch from Pottery Barn. Rocker from my mom's side of the family.

Walls painted. New couch from Pottery Barn. Rocker from my mom’s side of the family.

4. Denver is really dry.

Thursday night when I got to Katie’s house, I was kind enough to point out to her “your hands are really dry.” I continued my feeling of superiority until I awoke the next morning and found that all of the moisture had been sucked out of my body. I then spent the rest of my time there putting on hand lotion, squeezing saline up my nose and then blowing my nose non-stop. Apparently you adjust to that if you live in Denver.

5. Thanksgiving dinner is good anytime

On Friday, Katie and I were a little “tired” sometimes when we haven’t seen each other for awhile, we get so excited that the next day we wind up a bit “tired”.  Despite our “exhaustion”, we made a damn fine Thanksgiving dinner served at the table we used to eat at when we were growing up. We aren’t clear on how six of us sat at this table but we did and we had food on the table and plates and stuff. No idea how we fit.

Six for dinner?

Six for dinner?

6. Red Rocks is really high.

Everyone has heard that Denver is the Mile High City. What does that really mean though? I’ve been to Denver so I will let you know what that means. It means there is not much air there and what there is, is very dry. Red Rocks amphitheater which was built during the Depression, I’m sure as a public works project and not in the 80s for a U2 concert as I had previously believed; is about 20 miles from Katie’s so we went to see it.

IMG_4920

Part of my brother in the shot showing all the GodDam stairs.

It is a most impressive spot. That's a very big rock.

It is a most impressive spot. That’s a very big rock.

There is very little air at Red Rocks. So I was puzzled to spy cigarette butts while walking up all the goddam stairs to see the venue.  Really, there’s no air here and you are going with a smoke for the walk? I’m not judging, just astounded.

Here’s the really crazy shit about Red Rocks. It’s a gym.

Oh yeah, we could do pushups where there's air but what the hell fun is that?

Oh yeah, we could do pushups where there’s air but we thought this would make you feel shittier about yourself.

We like walking and stretching and lunging in places where there is no air.

We like walking and stretching and lunging in places where there is no air.

We are paying this man to teach us how to do body breaking workouts without oxygen. Because we are going to run a marathon on the moon.

We are paying this man to teach us how to do body breaking workouts without oxygen. Because we are going to run a marathon on the moon.

Red Rocks taught me the reason why the windows on airplanes don’t open. People need air.

7. I Saw Bob Dylan in a Speedo!

Oh wait, no I didn’t. But I met Judy and she has seen Bob Dylan in a Speedo. I knew Speedo and I would hit it off and I was RIGHT and there is nothing I love more than being right. OK being right and air. I love those two things. And I love Speedo. Couple things you can tell about her from her blog….she’s cute and really funny. What you can’t tell is she is REALLY funny and REALLY pretty. Her boyfriend Jeff is also really funny and cute. They are a great pair. We could have chatted for more hours than we did and we chatted for hours and immediately upon meeting agreed that these kids play their music too damn loud and had to go outside.

Look at Speedo! I met Speedo!

Look at Speedo! I met Speedo!

One more time ladies, with teeth!

One more time ladies, with teeth!

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The Same Old Teenage Story aka Every Parent’s Nightmare

I remember my mom telling me about three kids in her senior class who were killed in a car accident right around graduation. I think they were hit by a train. When I was a freshman, a senior at my high school (Lake Oswego High School) was killed in a motorcycle accident. Last year, my friend Kitty’s daughter had a friend who died texting and driving. Too often across town, across the state, across the country; the news covers stories of teens who have died in car accidents.

On a Friday night in 1982, my BFF Trish and I dropped off my parents at a dinner less than a mile and a half away from home. We were driving back to my house for an evening of frozen pizza and movies on VHS. The streets were slick from the typical Oregon rain. I took a turn too fast and the giant O’Connor family station wagon spun around 360 degrees a couple of times. As luck would have it, there were no other cars on the road. We stopped and Trish and I looked at each other wide-eyed. Whoa! I was shaking a bit and carefully drove the rest of the way home.

Why would I do that? Why would I drive too fast around a sharp turn on wet streets in the dark? Because I was 17 and it was fun! I well remember the excitement and liberation of driving around with my friends in the car, no adults telling me to be careful, slow down, put on your signal. I am in charge of this hunk of steel and it is like driving a giant roller coaster car! Being a teenager can be a heady, exhilarating time; a time to believe you are indestructible. Time is on your side. Sadly we all have stories, we all know being young doesn’t guarantee longevity.

I was in Denver this past weekend visiting my sister. Saturday morning Katie told me, “Kathy posted on Facebook to pray for the LO girls in the car accident.” Um, what? My girls go to Lake Oswego High School. I did assume if one of them was in an accident, I would have received a call. I texted my girls and heard back from Annie. Sure enough, three of her friends were in a car, most likely driving one of them home after the football game.  Annie’s friend was driving too fast around a curve; a dangerous curve that has been a great one to take too fast since I was a teenager. The driver couldn’t control the car on the curve and went into the oncoming lane and hit another SUV head on.

In the blessings department, the people in the other car were not hurt. One of the girls was taken to the hospital and released. The driver had to be cut out of the car and remains in the hospital in fair condition.

The third girl is in the hospital in critical condition. I know this girl’s name well because she was one of the first to welcome Annie to LOHS when Annie was the new kid at school freshman year. This girl is on the dance team, she is actually as nice as she appears to be, well-loved by her family, friends and students, teachers, neighbors, etc. She is one of the good kids. The future is bright, it is blinding with possibility.

Today, she is in a medically-induced coma to help control the swelling in her brain. This is crunch time. Pray hard. If you don’t pray, just think good thoughts. She has pelvic surgery today, I’m guessing because they can’t put it off. She’s 17, she’s just a baby. I don’t know her family but I have cried or felt like crying since I heard the news. I think, “what if Annie had gotten a ride in that car Friday night?” I think of the terror of realizing the car was going to crash. I think of that phone call. Oh God, that phone call. And now her parents sit at the hospital praying the doctors can fix their girl.

And I, like millions of other parents, will continue to teach my child to drive. I will make her crazy with all my instruction and warnings. I will pray that I can convince her to be careful. Annie’s friends’ only crimes were being young and reckless because that is what the young are.

There is a Facebook page for updates which now has more than 1,000 followers. The family asks for prayers and good vibes, eat an Oreo and say nice things and mean them. I pray that a lesson can be learned here without any fatalities. I know we aren’t the only community to go through this but we need all of your prayers to who/whatever you pray to.

Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
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Wedding Album

I’m going to post 25 photos max! That’s enough to cover everything and hopefully not so much that you will gag and never read this blog again.

As I said yesterday, Jamie Bosworth is my friend and an outstanding photographer. I first met her many moons ago when I was looking for a photographer for my first wedding. I told her the name of the groom and she asked, “Is he related to Jack B?” Yes, Jack is his dad. As it turns out, Jack was a friend of Jamie’s dad and gave Jamie her first camera when she was a child. And she has been photographing my family ever since….anniversaries, weddings (two for me, one for my sister, one for my cousin), birthdays, family portraits, head shots…she’s just plain old amazing. All photo credits go to Jamie unless otherwise noted.

Here they are. 25ish shots of the Maggie and Deren wedding.

From Jamie's computer on May 18

From Jamie’s computer on May 17

Sign by my friend Danni

Sign by my friend Danni

Cute boxes of gum that I put out because they entertain me.

Cute boxes of gum that I put out because they entertain me.

Deren's sisters and parents

Deren’s sisters and parents

Brigid, Deren, Maggie, Q, Annie: The O'Behrensons

Brigid, Deren, Maggie, Q, Annie: The O’Behrensons

Beautiful wreath hanging inside tent, also by Danni, who should do flowers for a living.

Beautiful wreath hanging inside tent, also by Danni, who should do flowers for a living.

Me, Deren, Aunt Maryann (not clear on which way the shot was going to line up), cousin Jennifer and husband Russ.

Me, Deren, Aunt Maryann (not clear on which way the shot was going to line up), cousin Jennifer and husband Russ.

I'm ready for my close up

I’m ready for my close up

Gittin' hitched.

Gittin’ hitched.

Ta Dahhh!

Ta Dahhh!

Pal Lisa, who married us and her beautiful girls Claire and Kristen.

Pal Lisa, who married us and her beautiful girls Claire and Kristen.

Me and Trish the Dish

Me and Trish the Dish, photo courtesy of Trish’s phone?

Wedding cake matched the invites

Wedding cake matched the invites

The cake was really good and I have frozen a piece for our first anniversary. I don't know why but I think that's something that is done.

The cake was really good and I have frozen a piece for our first anniversary. I don’t know why but I think that’s something that is done.

Childhood pals Gretchen and Julie. Julie and I go back over 40 years.

Childhood pals Gretchen and Julie. Julie and I go back over 40 years.

Katie, John, Me, Deren, Molly: The O'Rodsons

Katie, John, Me, Deren, Molly: The O’Rodsons

Steve, James, Shelley, Charlie...Deren's oldest and dearest friends.

Steve, James, Shelley, Charlie…Deren’s oldest and dearest friends.

Kitty Marnie Lucy Maggie Laurie Judy....Colgate girls. Photo thanks to Connie Anderson.

Kitty Marnie Lucy Maggie Laurie Judy….Colgate girls. Photo thanks to Connie Anderson.

Annie is ready for prom. Don't know who took this. Maybe Trisha.

Annie is ready for prom. Don’t know who took this. Maybe Trisha.

How cute is my husband?!

How cute is my husband?! And bouquet by Danni.

My dutch door which I love almost as much as my new husband.

My dutch door which I love almost as much as my new husband.

Brigid and her bff Emma (Brigid is on the right)

Brigid and her bff Emma (Brigid is on the right)

Yep.

Yep.

And there is the wedding in 24 photos!

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Whatever “It” Is, Do It!

Last week I read an article that Valerie Harper, Rhoda from my all time favorite show The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has been diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. She could have a seizure and die tomorrow. She could live a few months or a few years, she and her doctor don’t know. They do know that right now there is no cure for this cancer of the membrane surrounding the brain.

Look how pretty Rhoda is! Big brown eyes, I loved her.

Look how pretty Rhoda is! Big brown eyes, I loved her.

Unfortunately, most people sooner associated me with Rhoda's mom.

Unfortunately, most people sooner associated me with Rhoda’s mom.

That news got me to thinking, what would I do? What do you do with a three-months-to-live diagnosis?

Then on Friday, I got this email from my Muffincake pal Kitty:

Ladies
My father was hit by a Baltimore City bus this AM on his way to a dentist appointment. He is in emergency surgery in the shock trauma unit of Univ of MD. He has a broken pelvis, ribs, leg and forehead. His left leg was deskinned. He should be out of surgery in a few hours then into ICU. He will be in the hospital for a few weeks.

Kitty’s dad was a perfectly fit 81-year-old man who played tennis a couple of times a week and was planning to spend a month in Italy with his wife this spring until he was hit by a bus Friday morning. Just walking to a dentist appointment. One step different, one more turn of the head, a different parking space…and life would be different today.

As it is, he has already gone through two surgeries and everyone is praying he is stable enough for another one this week. He has been given more than 15 units of blood. He has broken every bone in his face. There has been internal bleeding. He may lose his leg. He’s in a medically-induced coma which they bring him out of regularly to make sure he is not suffering any neurological damage which thanks be to God, he is not. His three kids are there in the hospital with him. Kitty’s mom, the love of his life and wife of 50+ years, is there with him.

Kitty's Dad and Mom

Kitty’s Dad and Mom

I haven’t seen Kitty’s dad in years but back in college, I went on vacation with her family. I had Easter and Thanksgiving with them. I have seen him at different events through the years. Kitty’s dad is a gentleman. Like the kind of gentleman they don’t make anymore. He is a self-made man. He is mellow, urbane, intelligent, athletic, well-read and well-educated. He has a sharp wit which catches you when you least expect it. He is a measured man who doesn’t, or at least rarely, gets angry…instead he solves the problem. He has always been one of my favorite friend dads. Kitty is her father’s daughter. And she is one of my best friends. This is devastating. Shocking. Traumatic. Baffling. What? How can this be?

So, no one is getting out of here alive. Here are two stories of lives well-lived and now those lives are in jeopardy. What do you think?

It makes me think that you never know when the piano is going to fall out of the sky, so whatever it is you want to do, need to do…what are you waiting for?

My mother died at 68 and I learned then, life is short — don’t delay! Stop making excuses for why you can’t do something, for why something won’t work or why it might work some day. Right now today is the day, the time to tell someone, everyone, anyone that you love them. Tell a friend that they hurt your feelings (thank you Trisha). Apologize, you don’t need to wait a day or two…if you know you’re wrong, just say you’re sorry right now.
You can’t afford to get married? Don’t have a wedding, just get married if that’s what you want. You need to get divorced but continue thinking, “things will get better”. If you know in your gut what you should do, do it.

I wish I had a dog (I have a dog but let’s say someone wishes they had a dog.) Go get a dog! There are thousands of cats and dogs waiting for someone to bring them home and give them a home where they are loved and fed and cared for. Get a dogwalker, get two cats so they will have a pal. Whatever you have to offer is better than living on death row or in a shelter.

petfinder

Lose weight (Maggie, I’m looking at me). Go for a walk. Move. Don’t eat that wheel of brie. You have control over whether you do these things or not.

Read War and Peace (I mean if that’s what you want to do, I can’t help it if you are a masochist). Go to the movies. Make a movie, you have a phone don’t you? Paint a picture, write a song or a poem or a blog, sculpt a sculpture.

Help someone, volunteer, point out the spinach in the stranger’s tooth. Be understanding when you could be angry. Laugh. Surprise yourself. Surprise someone else.

Be who you are, whoever that is. Don’t hide. Live honestly. Tell the truth, then you will never have to remember what you said (Mark Twain, I think).

Get a job. Quit a job. Find what you love to do and try to get paid for it.

Travel, even if it’s just diverting onto a road you have never been on.

Remind yourself that you are never too young (unless by law you are) and you are never too old.

And not least of all things, realize the beauty of the greater world, of the universe, of the heavens. Recognize that all of this is bigger than yourself.

Pray. Please pray for my friend’s Dad. All the skills and all the training of nurses and doctors; and all the drugs and machinery in hospitals are sometimes not enough. Please pray, to who or whatever you pray to, that Kitty’s Dad gets a miracle.

(Kitty’s dad pulled off his own miracle yesterday getting me to Mass at 7:30 in the morning…anything is possible…there is no need to wait).

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How the Game Should Be Played

Play fair. Don’t hit people. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Robert Fulghum

The game may be dodge ball. The game may be Mystery Date. The game may be life (not the game of Life but life as we know it, like living everyday). The game may be blogging; in this case, it is blogging.

When I started this blog, I didn’t get a rule sheet from WordPress on how to do it. WP offers tips and tricks and advice on blogging but I haven’t read those because I don’t like to read true things. I assume I’m doing okay until someone informs me that I’m not.

I have only had one confrontation on WordPress, one serious, nasty confrontation. And happily that blog has been removed from my and most everyone I associate with blogrolls. Sure, I have had disagreements. I have voiced an opposing viewpoint but that is public discourse and I do my best to adhere to the rules of civil public discourse. I am happy to agree to disagree.

Over the Christmas season, I made the decision to stop reading my friend Le Clown’s blog. This was difficult for me because we are so totally friends, I have like totally talked to him on the phone before. So bite that, all you wannabe amies du Clown.  Eric is a friend. We come from very different ends of the political spectrum. Agree to disagree. He’s Canadian. I’m deceased descended from a Canadian. He is a parent and I am a parent. We are both laugh out loud, wet your pants, gaggingly hilarious. But still I had to stop visiting his blog. I actually opted to not even get alerts from his blog because it bummed me out that I wasn’t going to read it.

sorry

Why did this happen?

Eric, who was raised in a Catholic household but is no longer a practicing Catholic, decided to make a bold statement on his blog about the commercialization of Christmas and the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. Le Clown is known for pushing envelopes all over the place, as a matter of fact (not really), I just found one under my desk. I typically, grin and shake my head, “ahhh Le Clown, you rascal.” But not this time. My friend’s Christmas statement included a mast head of the crucifixion but in Eric’s version, Jesus, and the two other criminals nailed to the crosses, wore photo-shopped Santa Hats.

Let’s set aside the fact that the crucifixion is for Easter not Christmas and just look at the problem I was having. I couldn’t look at those images. I felt guilty (I know, I’m Catholic) just seeing them. I felt that if I were reading that blog, that I was tacitly okaying blasphemy. I’m not the best Catholic in the world at all but I do have a strong and devout faith. This image was nauseating and so ugly to me, I couldn’t overlook it. I couldn’t give it a pass. I abhor plenty of the Catholic Church’s actions and stances but I have faith in the birth, life and death of Jesus, the Son of God. I am comforted by the ritual of the Mass…until the Church changed the words a year ago, thanks for that Benedict.

I made the decision to stop visiting my friend’s blog. He noticed I was gone and understood why. I didn’t post a comment lecturing him on his choice of mast head. I knew Eric was not trying to hurt or upset me, even though he had. The masthead made me sick so I decided not to look at it. I vehemently disagreed with Le Clown’s statement but I will always defend his right to make it.

I get so tired of people bitching about banning this or that TV show, website, video game, etc. Censorship is not the answer. Vote with your feet, your wallet, your mouse….don’t watch it. Don’t buy it. Don’t visit your friend’s blog. That’s all.

BUT here comes the good part. Here is the reason that my friend Eric is a force on WordPress and I know is going places with his career and his writing and all of his Magnificent (I don’t know how to make that TM thingy Eric so shut it) projects.

He heard and understood what many of his readers were telling him. He took down the masthead and….wait for it…. he apologized for hurting and upsetting his friends and readers. Here is his post. Read it. This lesson applies to blogs and non-blogs, to situations and relationships on and off line. “Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.” That sounds easy but we all know that apologizing is hard. Swallowing your pride and admitting you went too far whether it is on line with the blogging community or with your kids or your best friend or the check out girl at the grocery store; it’s not easy but it is the right thing to do and you will win the respect of others. More importantly, you will know that you did the right thing.

“Sorry” is a powerful word and should not be overused lest it lose its import. The Catholic Church has a rule about making a “Good” confession. Sure, you can go confess whatever the hell you want and you will get penance and, as many think, Ta DAH… you’re all done. You’re all clear. Wait a minute though, if you are just saying you’re sorry and you don’t mean it and you know you’re going to go right out and do it again, that confession means nothing. The penance means nothing. There is no reconciliation.

Any confession, any apology must be sincere or it is meaningless.

Merci, mon ami, Le Clown. You are an example of what it means to be a good human.

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Helping the Victims of Hurricane Sandy or Why Americans Rock

The devastation and tragedy in the aftermath of Sandy goes on and on. If victims are lucky, they don’t have power or are waiting in lines for hours at gas stations. If they aren’t so lucky, they have no food, no water, no shelter, no diapers or baby formula, are old and trapped, are using homes and hallways as toilets… what is going on in Queens and Staten Island and other parts of NY and NJ is heartbreaking. And now it’s getting cold and another storm is due to arrive tomorrow.

Michael Bloomberg is not proving to be the second America’s Mayor. Sadly, the worst of his dumbassery was not proclaiming the NYC marathon a go and then after being told how stupid that would be, he cancelled it after people were already arriving from around the world. While it is a bummer that people trained for the race and then got the marathon rug pulled out from under them, when I see news stories about runners “consoling” each other, I want to spit. Or some gesture that would show I am disgusted.

Which brings me to: Why Americans Rock.

My brother’s friend, Brett, lives in Brooklyn and had trained for the Marathon that didn’t happen but he decided not to take no for an answer and ran anyway. (His route is shown at the end of the post.) If I had trained to run 2.62 26.2 miles (hahahaha! I know, right?!) and was told I didn’t have to do it, I would go out to breakfast and eat extra for the calories I had planned on burning.

Brett, on the other hand, mapped out his own marathon and prior to running, he set up a PayPal account for people to use to donate funds. The original plan was that Brett’s friends on Facebook would donate some money, he and his wife and kids would go buy water and diapers, etc. and drive it out to the afflicted areas. Well, he raised more money than he expected and his updates have been inspiring. I know Brett isn’t the only one doing this, which is why he and Americans Rock!

There has been more than one news account of how friends, family, neighbors, and strangers are helping each other. The clean up isn’t being done by agencies, it is being done by people with their hands and brooms and shovels. Americans want to help and are generous with our time, energy and dollars.

I was messaging with Brett this morning and bugging him for details because he has nothing better to do than help me write a blog post.

Brett says he wasn’t really “rocking the vote” more sort of “clusterf*^&ing the vote”

He was simultaneously trying to vote and figure out why I have a made up Facebook name… so his morning was full.

Cute Johnson children with supplies from CVS. I wish we had CVS out here.

As of last night’s tally, he had raised almost $5000. Brett and his wife and children spent $530 of the funds raised at CVS and then they dropped off supplies at the Gowanus Houses housing project not far from his home. “This is a place I have walked by countless times on the way to revel at a pub or wonderful restaurant, probably with some misguided disdain. Meeting the people first hand and seeing them help one another and be so appreciative of the donations is a very grounding experience.”

Another $400 was donated to a teacher at his kids’ school (PS58)  http://www.gofundme.com/wwwgofundmecomhelpMsAl#description.

$1000 went to the Steven Siller Foundation (https://www.tunneltotowersfoundation.org/index.aspx) Steven was a 34-year-old firefighter and father of five from Park Slope, he died on September 11. His Tunnel To Towers Foundation is helping victims of the hurricane.

Brett is updating his Facebook page daily with tallies on donations and how the money is being allocated. He told me this morning that he will “plan to spend every dollar wisely and pull together a KPMG audit-able worthy summary.”

If you would like to donate to Brett’s efforts, email him at: brett.johnson3@comcast.net. Or click on any of the links above to help.

Americans Rock!

And for you runners out there, this is Brett’s route to 26.2 miles.

http://tinyurl.com/cbncqg9

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A Freshly Slapped OTB

Shown above is the badge I made months ago for today’s One Tough Broad.

This is going to be a subdued OTB post because Sincerely, Slapdash needs some peace and quiet right now. I don’t want you going over there partying it up, leaving plates and napkins all over the place, waking up Little One, and bugging the neighbors with that loud music. Just stop by and look in on her nicely.

I first knew Slapdash as Fish Out of Water and when she changed her blog to Slapdash, Sincerely, I became formally hooked on her.

Fish has been a friend to me. She has let me vent my spleen to her and has written a post for me, even though no one knew it was for me. We knew and that was more than good enough. Dear Fish has written a few posts about her Patti LaBelle or fatty lipoma, she has also used the word “fistula”, which I now realize is the worst word ever.

Fish is a mom of two kids, Little One and Teen. She’s a good and engaged stay-at-home mom, she has been Freshly Pressed for her work on spousal choice. She is funny and sincere and supportive of her fellow blogger.

There are those that mock and dismiss the power of our little blogging community. I have been told (by a WordPress blogger no less!) how trivial this community is with our silly awards and Fresh Pressing and mere 10s of followers or hundreds of hits; but I don’t believe that. I refuse to be that cynical. I refuse to believe that we can’t make a difference to each other through our words. I refuse to believe that these connections are not worthwhile.

I believe we make a difference and I’m asking you to lend your precious support to Slapdash, Fish, Christine, whatever you want to call her.

That damn Patti LaBelle isn’t a harmless 80s singer after all. The MRI showed it’s not that. Fish has to go to a surgical oncologist. The word oncologist is a red flag kind of word. I’m going with it’s a big ol’ lump that needs to be removed and then Fish and her followers will get on with the good stuff. For now, this OTB is taking care of business at home and holding on tight to herself so she can care for everyone who depends on her. But even OTBs need a shoulder now and then.

Here are some words of wisdom from Sincerely, Slapdash. Read them and then go check her out but be quiet, she’s resting.

Life sucks sometimes and sometimes it’s really amazing.  Other times it’s boring.  You are OK being who you are unless you are a completely douchey a-hole, then it’s not OK.  You should work hard and not give up when something gets a little hard, but you should also not waste your time chasing your tail.  You know how silly your dog looks like when he does it.  Do you want to look that stupid?   You should exercise because scientific data has shown that it will not only extend the years you live, but also make those years considerably less sucky.  Please note, though, that sometimes no matter what you do your crappy genes will give you a bit of gut and possibly kill you unexpectedly.  It’s OK to be sad and glad and kind of in between.  You are not a robot.  You should try to be kind to people, but sometimes you are going to have PMS and be a real witch.  Apologize if that happens.  If that one mean thing you said causes someone’s life to completely collapse then it’s not your fault.  They are most likely insanely fragile and you can’t help that.  Sometimes you are going to be mean because someone was mean to you.  Totally alright as far as I’m concerned.  And finally, only dance like no one is watching when no one is, in fact, watching.

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The Dinner Party Story

Years ago, March 2001 to be exact, Mitch (my ex-husband) and I went to a dinner party. A dinner party that I will never forget. A dinner party that could have been in a movie but  I would have seen it and thought, “no one would really behave like that.”

Back in 2001, our girls were 3 and 5. We were making new friends, getting our bearings in new school communities. Not every couple, every family was going to be our favorites but we were willing to try people on, see if anyone fit.

That spring we attended a dinner party for four couples at the home of Liz and Dan (names sort of changed). Mitch and I were there, our friends (to this very day) John and Jen, and another couple, Robin and Rob (names sort of changed).

This is taken from the email I sent March 10, 2001 to my college BFFs.

“Our hosts are Liz and Dan, they have moved here recently from Rochester NY, he is a patent attorney and she is just a patented pain in the ass.

We arrive at the house which is new and gorgeous, perfectly and expensively decorated. Liz seems a little tense but the food and company are great, very entertaining. Liz won’t allow anyone to mix red and white wine. I don’t mean to mix it in a glass to drink but at ALL, EVER. If you have a glass of white, you have committed to white for the evening. If you have red first, that’s it, you’re done. You drink that red wine all night. Don’t even ask to mess with this HOUSE rule.” Have you ever heard of restricting your guests choice of beverage. What if I like a little white with the cheese appetizer and a red with dinner? Am I not still human?! Do I not deserve a place at the table?!

“While chatting before dinner, it comes up that Liz is from Clinton, NY home of Hamilton College and about 30 miles from where I went to college. This is a convenient ice-breaker since we are new acquaintances. Liz and I have central NY in common. She tells me that she grew up on a “Gentleman’s Farm” and that her father is a retired radiologist.” OK. That’s an odd thing to say. I’ve been to Clinton and I don’t really picture it as Virginia horse country. Don’t get me wrong, I adore central NY and it is lovely countryside but that’s a weird thing to say, right? Color me not impressed but confused.

“All the guys go outside to hang out. I go chat with them and report back to the ladies in the kitchen, “Mitch is outside having a smoke.” This is back in the less-restrictive smoking times of yore. Liz flipped out. Not that he was smoking on her property but that he smoked at all. Not concern for his health but anger that he was smoking. Robin let us in on a little secret that Liz had quit smoking in the recent past so that made more sense, while continuing to be vaguely uncomfortable.

“When dinner is ready (salmon, wild rice, and a salad with cranberries, really good). Liz is clearly into her cups and while seating herself at the head of the table yells (not speaks loudly, YELLS) “No beer bottles at the table, it’s RUDE!” OK, fine. Perhaps you could offer glasses to the beer drinkers.” See? Is it me?

“Dinner commences. I compliment Liz on the salmon and ask what she used for seasoning. Liz is head-bobbing drunk at this point and screeches that NO ONE is getting any recipes. Except Jen. Jen can have recipes and she actually said this, slurred this. “No ONE is getting myyyyy rethipes! No ONE! but jenniver, jhenn caaaan have my rethipes.”

I am assuming that Jen is going to be given recipes in exchange for letting Liz crawl all over Jen’s husband, John. And the crawling has begun.

We are eating dinner at a large, rectangular antique dining table with a variety of perfectly mismatched antique chairs. About midway through the meal, Robin’s chair shatters and she abruptly drops to the ground. It was so damn funny. Robin is a big-bottomed girl and she is really funny, as well as being absolutely horrified. The rickety, now just a load of kindling, chair is removed, another is brought in and the fun continues. Robin and I cannot stop laughing about the chair explosion. Elizabeth demands that we cease all discussion of  the incident because it is NOT funny.  Well, yeah it is.

“Dinner ends. Mitch, Bob and Dan have gone off somewhere, probably outside for smokes or hits of Valium. Robin, Jenn and I are at one end of the table chatting and Liz has John trapped at the other end, I’m sure trying to seduce him when she is able to lift her head up out of her plate. It is after 10 p.m at this point. Mitch and I have a sitter and need to get up early in the morning to get Mitch to the airport. We really need to go. I mention this to Elizabeth and she has a fit. Not, “ohh so sorry, you must leave. I have so enjoyed your company.” She is ranting, which makes me laugh. She tells me how rude I am because Jen (whose husband Liz is about to start leg humping) has made a cheesecake and no one can leave without eating dessert. Dan brings dessert to the table, we dutifully take our seats to enjoy the dessert. Dan says that dessert is not mandatory (this is the US of A afterall, we hold these truths to be self-evident) but the Head Bobber says that au contraire, Dessert is Mandatory. The cheesecake was sooo good, not surprising as Jen is a fantastic cook and entertainer.

I eat the mandatory cheesecake and reiterate that Mitch and I need to leave. Liz, yanks her head up, surveys the crowd and agrees that Yes, everyone must leave, now!

Mitch and I get up, prepare to leave and notice that the two other guest couples are cleaning the kitchen but the host and hostess are no where to be found so we skip the hell out of there.

We got home and Jenn called to let me know that the reason we couldn’t find our hosts is because they had retired to the basement to get high.

Liz and Dan never invited us over again. Too bad, I would have loved to have more material.

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