Monday, November 29, 2010

I was not compensated for this post (but I wish I did!).

I am a hair product whore.  I don't think there is a hair product I haven't tried - curly hair, defrizzers, straightening balms, conditioners, shampoos.  My favorite product is Moroccan Hair Oil.  If you don't have it, you need it.  Do not be fooled by cheap imitations.  Do buy online for it is much cheaper and you can buy larger bottles than what you can get at the hair salon.  I have used a variety of hair barettes, head bands, pony tail holders, French twist contraptions and clips.  I have also tried a variety of blow dryers, straighteners and curling irons. 

Have you seen the InStyler?
I have seen the infommercial many times.  I always thought it looked like a magical product but I was not going to be fooled by their professional hairstylists working their magic on poor, frizzy headed girls.  I have fallen victim too many times.

Then I started seeing this item at my local Ulta.  I still was not going to be lured into this magic wand for hair.  Not for $99.  No sir. Not me.  No way in hell.

Then I got a coupon for 20% off one item.  And.I.caved.  When purchasing, I asked questions.  "What do you know about this?"  "Can I bring it back if I don't like it?"  I left with my purchase, cautiously optimistic that I had found my dream appliance.

I used it once.  Then I used it again.  And again.  People, I can tell you, I am in LOVE with this amazing piece of technology.  Don't get me wrong, for straightening, I don't think I will ever give up my Chi.  But for reducing frizz and adding bounce and waves and curls, this is the bomb.  It does what my hairstylist can do with just a blowout.  But I can't flip and twist and move my hairbrush and hairdryer like my hairstylist and I end up with something in between polished and unkept.  Not a good look.

So, to prove my point, I am going to show you before and after pictures.  Let me warn you ahead of time, the before pictures are.not.pretty.  And if it wasn't so important for me to share my happiness about this magic wand, I wouldn't sacrifice my dignity or your vision to show these pictures.  But it must be done.  You have been warned.
Towel dried hair.  You didn't really think I'd give you a full on view of my before picture, did you?

Hair blown dry.  No round brush used.  No make up.  Hence the "marked out" face. 
After the Instyler.

To be fair, I did roundbrush my hair some prior to using the InStyler.  But I have also used the InStyler without round brushing first.  The results are the same, it just takes a little longer because I have to go a little slower with the iron and sometimes have to go over my hair twice. 

So there you have it.  My uncompensated review of the InStyler.  Now, if you have hair issues, go out and get yourself one of these things.  You will not be disappointed.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Don't make me choose.

A little over a year ago, I found a kitten.  He was cute, cuddly and almost immediately was given a name.  It appeared Ace would be staying.  The hitch in this plan is that my husband is allergic to cats.  We tried all kinds of homeopathic remedies.  Allergy meds and inhalers pretty much took care of the issue, but my husband has been insistent he doesn't want to be on meds "for the rest of his life."  I am not sure if he means his own life or Ace's, but every time he utters these words, I panic.  I don't think I can get rid of Ace.  And before anyone thinks, "What a selfish bitch, choosing her cat over her husband," let me tell you, I came up with a decent compromise.  My husband can get his own apartment and me and the kids and the cat will stay in our home.  The kids and I can visit MG at his cat free apartment.  Ok, ok.  I would not choose the cat over MG, but it would not be easy for me to say so long to little Ace. 
Ace as a kitten. 
Ace grown up.

And as hard as it would be for me, my kids would suffer terribly.  I tried explaining this to MG.  "Can you imagine how Sous Chef would react?  There's not a day that goes by that he doesn't hug and kiss on that cat and tell him he loves him and how happy he is he lives with us."  CJ is the same.  And so is Big E.  Not to mention me.  To be honest with you, MG loves on the cat as much as the rest of us.  He just does it with a little more distance and a quick follow up to wash his hands and face.

MG recently went to the doctor to get refills on his meds, talk about allergy shots, etc.  On that very day, CJ comes home with this "Thankful" packet he worked on at school.  These are the pages that were in there.
This says, "I am most thankful for mom because she found Ace." 
This one says, "Dear Mom, thank you for finding Ace.  I love you!" 
This one says, "I am thankful for Ace because he's cute."  I corrected the spelling for cute, which CJ spelled "ceut.

Man, that kid has good timing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You know it's bad when you think the safer option is to jump on the tracks and run!

After an exhilirating day at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (to read my other entries go HERE, HERE and HERE), we made our way to Metro Station.  With 250,000 people.  We thought maybe we would wait out the crowd, but the more we were in the crowd with nowhere to go, nowhere to eat (all restaurants were booked - mental note:  next time make reservations for the post rally so we have a place to go), we decided to hit the Metro station since we were passing one that was the Red Line, which is what we needed. 

I have been in some rather uncomfortable and crowded situations.  And as you may have read in my previous post, I have been known to lose my shit.  But that's usually anger induced.  I can't remember the last time I was in a crowd where I really thought I was going to get hysterical.  You know, crying, screaming, hair pulling (my own and others' hair), scratching, biting, cussing, salivating, sweating and any other sign and symptom that goes along with utter and complete hysteria and panic.  Now that I've typed it out, I don't think I have ever been in that situation.  Until that day.

We get through all the signs and escalators and stairs in the Metro station and this is what we see when we get to our platform (that's us, in red):
This is where we had to catch the Red Line.  To get an idea of how many people were there, each black dot represents 10,000 people.  Ok, maybe not, but you get the picture.  Notice on the other side of the tracks, there is almost no one and those who are there are happy.

At this point, we just got in line at the end of the crowd.  As people come in behind us, we get pushed more and more into the crowd.  In the meantime, trains are coming in and people are trying to get off, so people are pushing from both directions.
There we are, in that crowd.  People are screaming and yelling and pushing and cussing.  One woman dropped her child and was SCREAMING "Child down!  Child down!" trying to reach him to pick him up out of the mob, which she managed successfully to do.  There was a blind man with a sighted man trying to make their way through.  The sighted man finally just got pissed and pushed everyone out of his way and he and the blind man made it onto a train.

As the crowd pushes and shoves, we end up right next to the edge of the track.  Two of us are together and I was not 100% sure where our other two friends were.  At this point, I am about to LOSE.MY.MIND.
So now C is panicking that someone is going to give a good shove and we are all going to end up on the tracks.  She's from NYC and while growing up I'm sure heard many stories of people ending up on the tracks.  We know what that means.  I am now in full blown hysteria and I am pretty sure I look something like this.
In the process of "I'm going to go into total hysteria mode," I start thinking not so clearly.  I am actually thinking jumping ONTO the tracks and crossing over to the smiling people might be the better option.  I am starting to understand how desperate people can take desperate measures.  I was actually standing there looking at the tracks trying to figure out where NOT to step in order to prevent electrocution.
C notices what looks like an exit sign at the opposite end of the platform from where we came in.  And there appear to be some stairs.  She is suggesting we try to make our way down there and just leave.  I followed up her suggestion with "I am out of here.  I'm going that way.  I can't stay here."  In my head, all I was thinking was "if I lose the gals, I can always buy a plane ticket home."  And I would have because I could not stand there another minute waiting to be shoved onto the Metro train tracks.  So C and I took off through the crowd.  And thankfully L and E saw what was going on and joined us.
So here was our question when it was all over.  See all those people huddled together?  The little black dots?  Well, why didn't the people on the end who could see all that empty space down where we moved to not go down there to start with?  Why did they stay put on the edge of a crowd when there was so much empty space at the beginning of the train track, the front of the train?  We were caught in the crowd and couldn't see that until we broke free. 

Finally, after we go to the open platform area and could breathe, a Metro employee stood on the other side of the tracks, where the happy people are, and yelled over to the crowd to "MOVE DOWN!"  We have no clue why the people on the end didn't have enough common sense to do that from the beginning.  They saw several trains come in and out of the station to see that the beginning of the train was WAY DOWN THERE.

Anyway, we got on the next train and made it safely back to our car.  My hair is no longer standing on end and my smile is back.  I don't ever want to experience that again!

Monday, November 15, 2010

You may be dressed like an ape, but you're acting like a neanderthal.

All in all, I do fairly well in crowds.  Fairly well.  But when being with that crowd goes on for hours and hours, I can feel myself getting to a breaking point.  Often, I just take a few deep breaths and regain control of myself before I snap.  Often, however, isn't 100%, and there are times when I ... snap.

At the Rally to Restore Sanity, last I heard there were about 250,000 people.  That's a lot of people.  A big crowd, if you will.  It was a pretty tame crowd, too.  There were lots of people milling about, criss-crossing through the seating areas to get to the port-o-lets (yuck) and food areas and then back to their seats.  There were lots of "excuse me, just passing through" type comments and "sorry, I'm trying not to step on your blanket" type comments.  I can handle it, as long as everyone is playing well together. 

It's when the occasional idiot comes along that I find I cannot regain control of myself and I ... snap.

We got to the rally at 7:30 in.the.morning.  I am not a morning person.  We were up at about 5:00 in.the.morning.  We had left our little neck of the woods the day before at 6:30 in.the.morning.  I was up that day, too, at 5:00 in.the.morning.  Let me reiterate, I am not a morning person.  I don't like not having enough sleep and I certainly don't like getting up before the sun has made an appearance.

So at 7:30 in.the.morning on the day of the rally, we plopped down our blanket and settled in for the day.  All was well and we chatted some with those around us.  A friendly group, I might add.

At about 1:00, several hours after we had gotten comfortable, we were watching the live show and along come two twenty somethings, cutting through the area.  We assume they are on their way to somewhere else, say, maybe THEIR SEATS.  Well, instead of moving on, they stop on the few blades of grass that were not covered with blankets and or people.  Those blades of grass were directly in front of E, who was with us.  She couldn't see a damn thing but the back of the twenty somethings - one dressed in the full head mask of an ape and his friend, who is dressed as a clown and has on a rainbow clown wig.  E is looking my way like "what do I do now?"  She finally leaned forward and said, "Excuse me, I have been here since 7:30 in.the.morning and now you have come along and stopped right in front of me and I can't see.  Do you mind moving over?"  Well, the idiots moved over, a whole 1/2 inch.  She then looked at me with the "now what?" look.  I could feel myself losing control.  I knew it was happening and there was nothing that was going to stop it.  I not so quietly said, "Tell the asshole to get out of your way."  He then looked at me with his ape face.  All I could see were his eyes and I am pretty sure he rolled them.  It was at that moment, that very moment, that I felt a little jolt throughout my body.  Neurons were firing and energy was buzzing through every cell of my being.  And then I ... snapped.

"Yes, asshole, I AM TALKING TO YOU!"  He acted all confused and innocent, he had a right to stand there, blah, blah, blah.  I explained to him, if yelling and using lots of hand gestures is considered explaining, that we had been there since 7:30 in.the.morning and who did he think he was to just creep in on our space?  He then explained to me that "we have been here since 7:30, too."  That didn't sit well with me.  My response, "Well then, wherever you were at 7:30 this morning, go back there because that is where your seats are.  You weren't HERE at 7:30 this morning, so just keep moving."  Clown face told me to chill out, which never goes over well when one is already out of control.  I really don't remember all that was said after that.  I do know my final words were, "Keep moving and go bother someone else."  They stood their long enough to give off the vibe that they would leave when they were damn good and ready.  They lasted just a couple of minutes before they moved on.

It felt good, ya know.  I can't remember the last time I had words with someone.  It didn't last long and it certainly wasn't a threatening situation, but I did call him an asshole to his face, and that my friends, I can't remember doing any time in the recent past.  I must say, I was a little embarrassed to have reacted so vehemently.  But once I recovered from the embarrassment, it did feel good.  Some days I just feel like I've lost some of my spunk, but it certainly appeared at that moment.  Once that little incident was over, I was good to go for the rest of the day and didn't lose control of myself again.  Well, until a little incident in the Metro station with those 250,000 people, but that story is for another day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Did you thank a Veteran today?

Sous Chef's school today put on an awesome Veteran's Day program.  It's done by the 5th graders (all 850 of them) and the 5th grade teachers have been doing this for four years.  Big E also was a part of this program three years ago.  It has changed some over the last three years and today's program was quite a bit different.

The kids are encouraged to invite a veteran to the program.  Sous Chef invited my dad.  The kids in his homeroom who invited a veteran also wrote a poem and got to get up in front of the class with their veteran to read their poem.  Here is his poem:

REMEMBERING OUR VETERANS

The Army
Going around the land
Protecting our cities
Ourselves
And our freedom.

Going into enemy territory
To secure us
From being hurt
And being captured.

The Navy
The ocean is their home
Submarines and boats they drive
Ready to defend
Us Americans.

Scouting the waters
Helping to keep
The ocean a
Safer place.

The Air Force
Patrolling the sky
Making it a safer place
For everyone
And everything.

My godfather's home
In the Armed Forces
May he be well
In his duties.

They all become our veterans
Rembered for protecting
Our rights and freedoms
They will be remembered
By us all.

I had not read or heard the poem ahead of time.  My dad really liked it.  And I was pleasantly surprised to see that second to last paragraph.  My BFF, Sous Chef's godmother, is married to an officer in the Air Force and a long time friend of my husband (and me).  I was proud to see that Sous Chef didn't forget the importance of GA's work and and well wishes for his safety.
From here the veterans paraded through the school for all the grades to cheer and honor them.  The program ended in the gymnasium with patriotic songs and recognition for each of the veteran guests.  Here is a quick video of the kids preparing for the Veterans who will be parading by.



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I interrupt my regularly scheduled program to tell you I was hugged...by a doctor.

No, it was not any type of sexual harassment. 

For those who know me, even a little, you know I am not a big hugger.  I don't mind hugs.  The kind where you see someone or are saying goodbye and you give a quick "great to see you" kind of hug.  Lingering hugs, though, and I start to feel my skin crawl.  I also like to know the hug is coming.

I haven't shared on my blog that a little over a month ago I found a lump in my right breast.  A big ass lump.  Big enough that I wasn't even looking when I found it.  I was sitting on our couch without a bra on, which is pretty normal for me if it's after 8:00pm.  I moved to do something and the inside of my arm rubbed the lateral (outside close to my armpit area) portion of my boob and I felt the lump rub on my arm.  It was that big.  When I looked, I could see it. 

So I went through all the medical hoops.  First my GYN, who said, "Oh.  That's big," and she sent me for a mammogram, sonogram and with the cards for a couple of breast surgeons.  So off I went for testing, where the radiologist told me I had an "unidentified mass" and some abnormally enlarged lymph nodes and she was recommending a image guided biopsy. Then to the breast surgeon.  About a week and half had gone by and it seemed the lump was getting smaller.  Or I was getting used to it, I wasn't sure.  I told the breast surgeon this and she said to trust my evaluation and she agreed, based on the measurements on the scans and feeling the lump that it seemed smaller.  She felt very comfortable that the lump was caused by secondary trauma of all that was going on in my arm.  Lots of lymph nodes in that area that were most likely doing the work of draining fluids and reducing swelling in my arm.  Sounded good to me.  She did say, if I didn't have the arm issue, I would be on the table getting a biopsy ASAP.  I was to come back in four weeks and for a follow up sonogram and if there was no change, the biopsy would be done right away.

As it turns out, the lump kept getting smaller and smaller.  I went to the doctor today and was happy to report I couldn't feel it.  She did the sonogram and didn't see anything.  No lump, no scar tissue, no nothing.  It's like it was never there.

At the end of the appointment she said she was thrilled to be sending me on my way and not seeing me again.  As she walked to the door, she opened her arms and gave me a hug.  I was caught a little off guard.  I don't think I have ever been hugged by a doctor.  The closest I have ever come to a hug was less than 24 hours after brain surgery #1 when my doctor came to see me in ICU.  He asked me how I felt and I said, "Like shit."  Once he recovered from that response, he touched my arm and said, "I promise you will feel better tomorrow."  THAT was as close as I have ever come to being hugged by a doctor. 

So I left the appointment without a lump and with a hug.  It was a good day.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear: A Pictorial Summary

If you stopped by here last week, you know I attended the Rally to Restore Sanity.  If you didn't stop by last week, but want to read my written summary, go HERE.  Read on for the pictorial summary.
This is us on Friday evening on the Metro.  We rode downtown DC to check things out around the Rally area and to see some of the sites.
Capitol Building
The Washington Monument
Washington Monument
Helicopter flying to and from the White House.  Was the Prez on it?  We aren't sure and I didn't get a picture with this helicopter and the decoy helicopter in the same frame.
C, E and Jo
Do I really need to tell you what this is?
Rally stage from our seats.
People around us.  If you are wondering what that woman's shirt says, it is "Evolve Already".
More people around us.
Jo and E
C and Jo.  We could NOT get any kind of phone/text/email/web service or connections due to the other 250,000 people trying to do the same thing!
E, L, Jo and C
Yay!  1 minute 24 seconds before Jon Stewart hits the stage.
Believe it or not, Jon Stewart is on this stage.
This sign really was not at all pertinent to the rally, but it still made me laugh, a lot!  And maybe a little too loudly.  If you can't read it, it says, "Abstinence makes the church grow fondlers."
The streets of DC post rally.

I still have two stories to tell.  One of me calling an ape faced (literally. he had a full ape face mask on.) 20 something an asshole to his face along with some other "discussion points" to go with it.  Also, the story of me totally losing my shit in the Metro station when it was crammed with me, my gal pals and these 250,000 people.  That will be my next, and probably final, post about the Rally.  Then it will be back to my regular boring material.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear - It was an (in)SANE amount of fun!

It has been two days since the rally and I am going to have a hard time writing this post.  If you are like me, then you understand how difficult it is to come away from something so large (in size and impact), so fun, so overwhelming (in a good way) and then put it into words; to organize my thoughts, to remember what all I saw, to put my feelings into a description that someone else would understand.  The reality is, the only people who really get it are the people who were there.  I don't know if I can get all my thoughts and interactions into one post.  Maybe I can.  If not, I will do a couple of posts.  Hopefully I will be able to convey to you what this experience was like for me.

I attended the rally with three girlfriends.  We drove to DC, leaving early Friday morning.  Eight hours in the car with four slap happy women can lead to a lot of interesting conversations.  On Saturday, we got up before the sun and were at the rally, along with 1,000s already, at around 7:30AM.  We were leaving DC at about 7:30PM.  We were home at 3:30AM Sunday morning.  On top of all that, I came down with strep throat on Thursday.  Thank goodness for really strong antibiotics.

The morning of the rally, we picked up a young guy, Vincent, on the Metro who ended up hanging with us throughout the day.  Once there, we scouted our spots, with only a little bickering among the four of us.  We can do that and still like each other.  Because we are sane.  We were stage left, at the front of the viewing area right behind the VIP section and we were excited!  We could see the stage plus we could see the jumbotron!

We enjoyed the morning reading signs, people watching, chatting with those around us, watching the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert shows that led up to the announcement of the rallies and Colbert asking to join Jon Stewart and make it one rally.  There was music.  And some pot smoking, not by us and not necessarily in that order.

There were families, there were young people, there were old people (I saw one elderly woman with a cane!), and every age in between.  There were couples, there were people in groups and people alone.  As I mentioned, we met Vincent.  He decided at the last minute on Friday to drive up from Knoxville and no one could go on such short notice.  So he came alone.  Once we secured our seats, we met a woman about my mom's age who was there alone, from Texas.  She had been in DC the few days before for work and decided to stay and go to the rally.  Her employer made her promise she would not wear any clothing that would identify them. 

While the rally was mostly comedy, of course the message of sanity vs. fear was all throughout.  Imagine watching a live show, not knowing what is next.  Jon Stewart wants to ride the Peace Train and cueYusef Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) coming out to sing.  At this point I was trying to call my husband because CAT STEVENS is singing Peace Train and I am there to see it!!!!  However, when Stephen Colbert insists he does not have a ticket on the peace train and he has no plans to get one, but feels much safer on the Crazy Train, cue Ozzy Osbourne's entrance, I quickly hung up the phone and starting jumping up and down and screaming my lungs out like a schoolgirl!  Oh my, I can't tell you how much we were enjoying this show.  Colbert and Stewart finally both agree, however, that while one won't ride the peace train and the other won't ride the crazy train, they can willingly ride the Love Train together, cue the O'Jays entrance, and the point of the rally is made, once again.  Work together, without yelling, screaming, hating, name calling.  Listen to others who have different viewpoints to make things happen, to get things done.  Without yelling, screaming, hating, name calling.  The entertainment of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert continued along with their guests.  Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock performed together, Tony Bennett sang, John Legend entertained us early on, Jeff Tweedy (from Wilco) and Mavis Staples performed a duet.  The Roots played for about 40 minutes or so.  Sam Waterston read a poem written by Stephen Colbert.  Father Guido Sarducci gave the "benediction".  I may be forgetting someone.

The most serious moment was Jon Stewart's closing.  If you haven't seen it, go HERE.  Really, go there.  It's good.  It's about 10 minutes.  Here are some of my favorites from the speech:
The country’s 24 hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic. If we amplify everything we hear nothing.
and:
If the picture of us were true, of course our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own? We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is—on the brink of catastrophe—torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day!

The only place we don’t is here [meaning DC] or on cable TV. But Americans don’t live here or on cable TV. Where we live our values and principles form the foundations that sustain us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done. Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do—often something that they do not want to do—but they do it--impossible things every day that are only made possible by the little reasonable compromises that we all make.
and:
Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together. And the truth is, there will always be darkness. And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together.
I will end with one more thing.  My mama (and dad) sit pretty far to the right on the political spectrum.  There are some things we agree on, but many we do not - not just politically, but socially, morally, etc.  My mama knew I was going and I told her she could watch it live.  Lo and behold, she did.  And this is what she emailed me when it was over:
We taped the show, Dad will watch it later but I watched it live. He [Jon] is great, so real! I wish we would have been there to appreciate his appreciation of our great country.
This little blog entry does not even come close to doing justice to the day.  I wish I was a much better writer to be able to give you the feel of the day, to make YOU feel like you were there.  But I'm not, so I can't.
I am sorry for that.

Come back next time for pictures, sharing of signs, the story about how I called a young man dressed as an ape an asshole, directly to his ape face and a little story about me almost going into full blown hysteria in a crowded Metro station.