"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Should Old Acquaintances Be Forgotten?

That's the traditional question posed each year at the stroke of midnight as we bid adieu to the old year and welcome the new...

It's that whole "Auld Lang Syne" thing.

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne..."

The words "Auld Lang Syne" actually translate from old Scottish dialect to mean "Old Long Ago", and the song is all about love and friendship in times past.

So, should our loves and friendships from long ago be forgotten?

No! Yes! It all depends...

I mean, where would Facebook be if we all decided to forget our old acquaintances?

Dear God, one of the few bright spots for me in this otherwise dismal and depressing year has been that, thanks to FB, I have successfully reconnected with dear friends from college and high school and ye ol' newspaper reporter days. Friends that, due to time, distance, and just life in general, I had inadvertently lost touch with.

These are the folks that "knew me when", for better and for worse...and STILL accepted my friend request, or sent me one. Amazing!

Yes, FB is AWESOME! A tad voyeuristic, perhaps...but awesome nonetheless. And it continues to grow in popularity because there is something very comforting and reassuring about chatting it up -- even if only briefly -- with old acquaintances on a fairly regular basis.

On the other hand, there are, I would think, some old acquaintances that probably should be forgotten. They should never be brought to mind, and certainly NEVER stalked, er, searched for on Facebook...

Yes, I am talking about old high school/college boyfriends or girlfriends -- former love interests that, for whatever reason, back in the day, went awry. It just stands to reason...

Exception to this rule: If you truly just happen to run into said former love interest at the grocery store during the holidays -- as in Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne"/"Met my old lover at the grocery store, the snow as falling Christmas Eve, yada, yada, yada", I suppose it's OK to chat it up in the frozen food aisle for a minute or two...no harm done. But otherwise...

True story: I was in the midst of a mani-pedi last spring in Minneapolis when this gal in her early 40s sitting in the massage chair next to started yammering into her cell phone to somebody or other about how her old high school beau found her on FB. She was absolutely GIDDY! He had broken her heart long ago...

You don't have to be Dear Abby to realize that chances are good you will find that same once-giddy gal -- now rejected and broken-hearted (again) -- and having gulped one-too-many vodka gimlets this New Year's Eve -- trying desperately to connect with her lost/found/lost again love via drunk FB'ing, or its evil twin, drunk dialing/texting...and all under the guise of "merely" wishing an "old friend" a Happy New Year.

I can hear Miss Lonely Hearts now..."I jusht wanted to shay Happy New Year... "

Ugly stuff. Ugly. Perfect fodder for that schlocky Dr. Phil...

But hey, what the heck do I know? While everyone here in Podunk is out having fun and dancing the old year away at the community building, or throwing back glasses of cheap champagne at Chuck's (I'm just assuming it's cheap, I don't know that for a fact), I am, once again, spending New Year's Eve at home, blogging philosophic about the pros and cons of forgetting old acquaintances...

I just think that if we are going to sing "Auld Lang Syne" we ought to analyze what we are singing about...

Anyway...

If I had a glass of champagne (cheap or otherwise), I would raise a toast -- a "cup o' kindness", as it were -- at midnight to not only the 192 friends I have connected/reconnected with on FB this past year, but to all acquaintances...those long forgotten and those trusty pals forever remembered...

Thanks for being a part of my life!

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne...
We'll take a cup o' kindess yet
For auld lang syne...

Love and hugs...with hopes and prayers for a kinder, gentler 2010...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

And So This Is Christmas


Such mixed emotions...

I sat staring at our beautiful, brightly-lit Christmas tree for an hour last night -- in between power outages, that is -- and contemplated the last 29 Christmases of my life.

Like many folks do, John and I have made it a point to add a special tree ornament each Christmas to symbolize the year that is about to pass.

There's our "first Christmas together 1980" ornament...the one that cost $26 and we had to quick-like-Christmas-bunnies move funds from our meager savings into our meager checking account to cover the cost of that ornament...

There's the special cross stitched "Ann and John 1982" ornament from my dear friend and former co-reporter pal, Anne Phillips...

There's our "Buttercup" angel ornament...Christmas 1987, I believe...that was the year we thought that after two years of trying I was FINALLY pregnant -- was most sure of it -- but alas...no baby. But hope sprang eternal that SOMEDAY we would have our Buttercup...

And then there's the "1990 Love, The Ludys" Santa...our first Christmas in Cincy...it was great to be back home again...

I always look forward to seeing the 1992 "Mom To Be" and "Dad To Be" hen/rooster ornaments...our very own Buttercup was on his way! At last!

1993! Baby's First Christmas!

After that, the ornaments and their respective years and favorite memories -- much like the years of our lives -- are a bit less defined, you might say...a whirling dervish of people, places and events...

There are the ornaments that I cherish most -- the ones Daniel made in church school or at the Hanging of The Greens night..

And, of course, there are the miniature Superman lunch box and the Scooby Doo ornaments that Daniel got from Santa a while back...There was a Harry Potter ornament. But as I recall, young Mr. Daniel snatched Harry off the tree one Christmas past to play with him and he never made it back into the Christmas ornament box...I am sure Harry is around here somewhere...

Yes, we've had some great years over the past three decades.

2009, however, has not been one of them. And for obvious, heartbreaking reasons for so many near and far...

And yet, we cannot pretend that 2009 never happened. Sometimes, you just have to stare terror and tragedy in the freaking face, call it out, and call it like it is. Only then can hearts begin to mend and hope for a better new year prevail.

Hence, the shiny, silver, beautifully and ornately engraved "2009 can s*** it" ornament that hangs at the top of this years beautiful, brightly-lit Christmas tree, just below the festive multi-color LED angel.

Thanks, Brianna! Irreverent? YES! But spot on!

And, yes, that is a pizza cutter you see hanging there as well. Casey gave John and I that pizza cutter last Christmas because he just thought it was so weird that we didn't have one and that we cut our pizzas with scissors instead. Not kitchen scissors, mind you. Just plain, regular scissors...

Oh, Case, we will treasure that pizza cutter -- and the story that goes with it -- forever...

That is one Christmas ornament story I promise we will never forget...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Remembering My Dad, With Love And Smiles...


Maybe THIS is why I have always loved dancing...

My dad, John Arthur Heise, was my first dance partner.

And he taught me how to bowl...he was an excellent bowler.

And without knowing it, he instilled in me that special-albeit-odd sense of Heise humor that comes in handy at the strangest times...and I thank God for that.

My dad, bless his heart, would have turned 88 this week...

Oh, we had our issues. And there was a 14-year time span -- from the day I turned 21 till sometime in my mid 30s -- that we rarely talked on the phone and never saw each other. But we were fortunate in that at the end of his journey here on earth (about a dozen years ago), we had the chance to make amends and hug and tell each other how much we loved each other...

Sadly, my dad never met Daniel or my sister's children, Aaron and Liz...blame it on time, distance, difficult family dynamics, health problems... and yet, in his own way, I know he loved them...

It's all about forgiveness...sometimes hard, but not impossible, to find...

Anyway, thinking of you, Dad. And smiling...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Survivor


Oct. 21, 1969.

It was a Tuesday. A bright, beautiful October morning. And it was three days before my 13th birthday...

I remember sitting in study hall at Sellman Junior High...the school secretary called me out to come to the office.

I had a sick feeling in my stomach...I knew. I was hoping against hope I was wrong...but I just knew.

There, in the school office, stood my very sad looking father and my even sadder looking sister...

"Mom's gone," my dad said.

They called it "a therapeutic misadventure," but the truth is, my mother died from an accidental overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills. She had been in the hospital since Monday morning after I found her passed out on the living room floor...

Mom's funeral was Oct. 24...my birthday. My first day of being a full-fledged teenager...

How to describe the past 40 years without my mom? I think author Hope Edelman, in her book, "Motherless Daughters", describes it best.

" I am fooling only myself when I say my mother exists now only in the photograph on my bulletin board or in the outline of my hand or in the armful of memories I still hold tight. She lives on in everything I do. Her presence influenced who I was, and her absence influences who I am. Our lives are shaped as much by those who leave us as they are by those who stay. Loss is our legacy. Insight is our gift. Memory is our guide."

After four decades, I can no longer recall the sound of my mother's voice. I can no longer recall the sound of her laugh.

What I do remember is that she had a great sense of humor, and her friends regularly turned to her for advice. My mother was a registered nurse. Her favorite soap opera was As The World Turns. She boycotted lettuce in support of the underpaid lettuce growers in the 60s. She loved reading and acting. My mother never learned to drive. She enjoyed playing bridge and Monopoly. She was a good cook.

I remember she let me stay home from school once when I was in the fourth grade. I wasn't sick, she just let me stay home with her. I think now that I was her safety net that day...

In my mother's absence o'er these many years, I have been blessed with the love of and nurturing by several special "other mothers", including my wonderful mother-in-law... the most wonderful friends... and of course, my guardian-angel-on earth, my ever lovin' sister. So I have much to be thankful for.

Granted, I have struggled with several emotional issues. All motherless daughters do, to one degree or another.

And then, of course, there is the issue of Mother's Day. Until I had Daniel, Mother's Day was THE worst day of the year. Every spring, surrounded by reminders of how special the mother-daughter relationship is, but unable to spend time with my own Mom or give her a gift...

According to Ms. Edelman, however, we motherless daughters have our own "gifts".

We have, she says, the courage to "journey alone." Courage born of necessity, I would add.


Actually, truth be known, I come from a long line of motherless daughters.


My mother lost her mother when she was four years old. My grandfather later married a woman who had lost her mom when she was five.


Even my stepmother (my dad remarried a year or so after my mom died) lost her mom at a young age.


Both my sister and I freaked out a little as we approached the age our mother was when she died -- 47. When we each made it to 48, we breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Psychologists say that for motherless daughters, living beyond the age our mothers died is "living dangerously," and we often feel driven to make the most of that time. Hence, many of the most celebrated and driven women of our time are motherless daughters...

Me? Suffice to say, I'm a tish neurotic, but with a creative bent...

And so tonight, in loving memory of my mother, my heart goes out to all those daughters, near and far, who have lost their mothers. Celebrated and driven, or creatively neurotic, we are all survivors!

Love you, Mom! Miss you...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

ANGEL ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD


We won!

We won!

We won!

The 2009 Crusaders play every game for Casey, and this game, especially, against the Glidden-Ralston Wildcats, was a triple sweet victory in loving memory of the Mighty Case, #85.

And Daniel got to play for a little bit -- and he caught a pass! Cast and all!

Victory has never felt so GREAT!

42-28!

Awesome, Crusaders! WooHoo!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Triumph Over Tragedy

I still get goosebumps.

9/11/2001

It was a Tuesday.

WHAT!?! A terrorist attack? No! No! This can't be happening! Our country, our world...we were all, suddenly, shocked to our very core...and we have never been the same.

I will never forget John, in Kansas City at seminary, calling home the day after to check on Daniel yet again. How was he doing? How was he handling the tragedy?

"How was your day at school today, Daniel?" John asked.
"Good, Daddy," Daniel replied, in his quiet, little third-grade voice. "No planes fell out of the sky today."

Eight years later, Sept. 11, 2009, I am pinning a red, white and blue ribbon on my CR-B Crusaders sweatshirt, the ribbon a handmade token of patriotic remembrance from one of my office co-workers. I carefully attach the ribbon just above and to the right of Daniel's junior year football pin.

I gently pat the pin. Heavy sigh...

And then I think to myself, "Has it really been only eight years?" Seems like forever that our country's heart has been laden with the painful and complicated aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy. Yet, we, as a country, and all the families of those loved ones lost, have somehow, through heartfelt memoirs, fitting tributes, and special anniversary observances, found some healing and the strength to move forward from that horrific moment in time.

My hand moves slowly from the ribbon and the football pin to touch the pair of silver metal memorial dog tags dangling from a simple necklace chain around my neck. I feel the raised lettering on the tags.

He had dreamed of one day joining the Marines...

"Casey Daniel Stork, 1993-2009"
"Forever In Our Hearts"

I still get goosebumps.

7/8/09

It was a Wednesday.

WHAT?!? A car accident? NO! NO! THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING!

We were all suddenly shocked to our collective core. Has it only been two months? Seems like forever that our hearts have been so heavy with sorrow...we are all still dazed by disbelief as we continue to grapple with the stark, heart wrenching reality of it all...

We all miss Casey so very much, and we all are so very thankful that we still have Daniel. Loss and thankfulness, loss and thankfulness...And we live day to day, hour to hour, in the balance.

"How is Daniel doing?" everyone kindly asks.

That is a tough question to answer. It is hard to know, fully, just yet. On the surface, we all seem to be doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. Who among us doesn't still cringe when we pass the accident site on our way to Carroll? Timber Avenue...it is our own private Ground Zero. It is where the proverbial planes fell out of the sky once more...and we will never be the same.

Accidents, illness, the sudden loss of a loved one...Certainly, the list of personal 9/11s that we all, as human beings, experience over the course of our lives, is varied and endless. How do we overcome these tragedies? How do we, as adults, heal? How do we, in this instance, help our heartbroken, teenage children -- Casey's friends -- heal?

"When I was your age, my best friend died, too," my 25-year-old niece, Liz, wrote to Daniel the other day. "Her name was Rachel. She died of cancer. It was different circumstances than what you've had to face, and I don't pretend to know how you feel. But one thing I do know: when you lose your best friend at age 16, it changes you. It becomes part of who you are. There's no use fighting that.

"My advice" Liz continued, "is to take all the good things about Casey, and all the lessons learned because of this tragedy, and try very hard to use them for good. Keep moving forward and take Casey with you."

Indeed, the upcoming installation of the Casey Stork Memorial football scoreboard at the high school, and the subsequent dedication being planned by his classmates, is a healthy step toward doing just that. It is a triumph, of sorts; a positive, healing event to focus on, not only for Casey's family and many friends, but also for the community at large.

Casey Daniel Stork.
Forever in our hearts.

And now, to be forever remembered at one of the places Casey was happiest...the Coon Rapids- Bayard High School football field.

We love you, #85!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Time It Was, Oh, What A Time It Was...

It was a time of innocence...a time of confidences...

Thought I'd reprint one of my earliest blog posts -- from three years ago...

The recent fall-ish weather and the constant call of the very noisy crickets always bring back memories of one very special cricket -- Flower -- a forever symbol of the long-ago summers of my youth.

Kim, Tricia, Helen: This blog post -- as it was three years ago -- is for you...

(From The Home Stretch, Sept. 3, 2006)

Today has been one of those days...it's supposed to be a day of rest, but the lawn called to me, "Annie, rev up that lawnmower... NOW!"

So I did.

Then I noticed how the morning glories, though beautiful, have taken over my entire garden, and the creeping jenny, albeit great, green groundcover, is really a weed and it has highjacked most of the yard.

Do I really care? No. But I started yanking weeds anyway and that's when I saw the first one. The first cricket of "cricket season". All sorts of little crickets hopping to and fro...they do that this time of year; that summer's-almost-over-but-fall-ain't-quite-here time of year that brings out not only the crickets but the big, beautiful (and scary looking) garden spiders...

It's the time of year I always think about my friend Kim...if you are reading this, Kim, you know where I am headed.

It was, I think, 1968...Kim and her family had just moved back to our neighborhood, and sixth grade was just getting underway. We were playing outside in the field behind the elementary school where it was crickets galore. And so Kim and I got a box, caught some of the little buggers, and one of them we named Flower...

Ah. The innocence of life back in the sixth grade in Madeira, Ohio.

That following summer -- our sixth-grade summer, as we still to this day reminisce -- was THE best summer of our lives. Kim, Tricia, Helen and I were best buds, and we rode bikes, and slept outside in sleeping bags, and talked about how the four of us were going to get an apartment together some day...

We'd spend our days just hanging out, sometimes lying on the ground, staring up into the cloudless sky for what seemed like hours..."The sky is so blue," I remember one of us remarking once. It was, indeed, a scene right of Wonder Years.

As it turned out, the four of us never did share an apartment. We all went our separate ways after high school. But for the most part, we have always kept in touch.

We tried re-enacting that blue-sky moment years later -- around 1990 -- after I moved back to Cinci from Iowa. We were in our mid-30s, married...way past the age of catching crickets and naming them. But it felt so good to be back together again. So, putting our harried lives on hold for a moment, we all made our way down to the ground in Tricia's backyard one mid-summer afternoon and gazed up into the sky.

"The sky is so blue!" one us said, and we laughed and laughed.

For a brief moment, we were back in sixth grade again...lighthearted, carefree, awash in the sense that like the big, blue endless sky above, our lives stretched out before us, chock full of possibility and opportunity...

But then it was getting late, and there was supper to fix and diapers to change, and...

I don't think we will ever forget our sixth grade summer. Those rare and precious times we are blessed to be together -- usually class reunions (we LOVE class reunions), we almost always bring up the "blue sky" day, and Kim and I to this day fondly remember Flower, the cricket.

From the vantage point of my "omigod I'm almost 50" summer, life at 12 seemed so simple then. (Somebody stop me before I break into a teary rendition of "The Way We Were! Kleenex! I need a Kleenex!)

Funny... to this day, I cannot kill a cricket.

So Kim, Tricia, Helen...if you are reading this...Here's to crickets, blue skies, sixth-grade summers, old friends, and life's innocence lost.

And to the rest of you...what are your favorite memories? What brings back, with a rush and a sigh, a heart-enveloping memory? What are your special anniversaries of the heart?

Celebrate them whenever you can.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Breathing Lessons

I always have the best intentions at the beginning of each school year...

I'm going to be more organized, hence, Daniel will be more organized.

Or, I will keep an activity calendar in the kitchen and fill it out religiously so we are not running around at the last minute trying to make it to school events on time...

Or, I will always stay caught up with the laundry so Daniel is not madly searching for matching socks at 8:15 in the a.m.

Well, here we are...the dawn of Daniel's junior year before us, and, alas...

I can't remember my log in and password for the school's on-line campus, nor find the scrap of paper on which I jotted it, and I've misplaced the order form for Crusader hoodies and T-shirts...and the orders have to be in by Friday...which I would put on my calendar if I had remembered to buy one but, of course, I didn't. And here it is 11:30 p.m., and I still have three loads of laundry to do...

I really did have good intentions for starting out this school year on the right foot...

But grief is exhausting. And mind-boggling. Even when you think you may possibly be healing, grief is there. Just hanging over the days and nights like a heavy yet invisible cloud shrouding the mind, the soul...

Yet, somehow, we all go on. Life demands it.

And so the new school year begins...

Daniel does have his book bag packed, and I actually had the presence of mind to order his college-credit on-line psychology class book from Amazon.com in plenty of time before the first class...he's got pencils, pens, a calculator, a binder, several college-ruled one-subject notebooks in various colors...

He's got a new shirt and jeans...he's got a nice haircut...

And he's got a giant, gaping hole in his heart, as do all Casey's friends who are preparing for their first day of school.

Yes, the hallways will be brimming with students, and yet there is sure to be an emptiness, a silence that will resound for all those who knew and loved Casey. He had an indescribable presence in the hallways, one mom said the other day. A personality bigger than life itself. And that infectious smile...

The first day of school will not be easy. Nor the second. Nor the third...

One school day at a time, kids. One school day at a time...

First lesson:

Left...right...left...right...left...right...breathe...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Serenity Prayer

So my dear sis arrived on my doorstep last weekend, her trusty stepladder in one arm, a drop cloth and paint rollers in the other. And with the help of my dear friend and neighbor, Angie, they painted Daniel's room.

I bought the paint. Angie edged. My sister rolled.

Now, at first blush, in the bigger scheme of things (such as they are, tragically, following Daniel's accident and the death of his best friend, Casey) painting Daniel's bedroom might seem like a frivolous thing to do.

Certainly, a fresh coat of paint doesn't eliminate our grief, our loss, our mourning, our overall sense of sadness and despair. But for whatever reason, painting is what we Heise girls tend to do in the face of death and loss.

Or at least that is the conclusion I came to in the midst of this mini makeover...

Go back 40 years. Different time. Different bedroom. It's my bedroom. I am 13. My sis (Sissy, as I always called her) is 21. Our mother has just recently died. Our grandfather (our mom's dad) has just recently passed away as well. Our family is awash in grief.

One weekend, Sissy shows up with a paint brush, three colors of paint, and a crazy idea -- she wants to paint my room (then lavender) red, white and blue. One wall red. Two walls blue. And the fourth wall, red, white and blue stripes.

Who did she think I was, Betsy Ross? I dunno. She was just determined that that was what she was going to do. Something fun. A little crazy, even. Something positive and fresh in the face of adversity and sadness.

And so Sissy painted. And she painted. And she painted. And when she was finished, I had the coolest room on Buckeye Crescent. No, it didn't bring my mom or my grandfather back. But it made me smile, which was no small feat at the time.

Truly, it was an act of devoted sisterly love. I remember watching her painstakingly paint those stripes...

She had to be out of her mind...and she was. Out of her mind with love for me. She just wanted to do something, anything, to make me smile at at time when that is the last thing I felt like doing.

And that, I guess, is why we decided to paint Daniel's room. I am out of my mind with love and worry for my son. And he couldn't ask for a more loving and devoted aunt. Or a more selfless, caring neighbor.

No, painting his room doesn't bring Casey back. But it was something we could do to, hopefully, make him smile, even if ever so briefly, at a time when that is the last thing he feels like doing. And he did smile...partially, I would surmise, out of relief that I did not redo his room in a Hello Kitty motif, as I had threatened.

Nor is his room painted in red, white and blue stripes. It is done in a warm, soft, assuring blue/gray called, ironically, "Serenity Now."

And isn't that what we all are praying for?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thankful For Flip Flop Fridays


It is good to be back at work.

I'm making a point to participate in Flip Flop Friday today.

The distraction helps.

And it is good to be somewhere all day where there is noise.

The house seems so quiet some days. Too quiet...

Friday, July 10, 2009

If I Could Turn Back Time...

When Daniel was five years old, he once said to me, "I am never going to learn to drive."

When Daniel turned 16 three months ago, he was chomping at the bit to get his license.

Two nights ago, Daniel (right) and his best friend, Casey, were in a horrible car accident. Daniel survived. Casey did not.

Many wonderful friends have rallied around our family and Casey's family in the past 48 hours. And many have asked me, "Is there anything we can do for you guys?"

Yes. There is.

Please, if you can, turn back time. To when Daniel and Casey were five years old. Hand me some bubble wrap. Watch as I wrap them both up all safe and sound and lock them in the house where I can protect them and know they are safe at all times...And they will never learn to drive.

Friday, July 03, 2009

This IS It!


Every Fourth of July, it's the same question.

"Waddya doin' for The Fourth?"
"Got plans for The Fourth?"
"So waddya got planned for The Fourth?"

And every Fourth of July, my answer is, and always has been (in order)..."Nothing. No. Nothing."

This year, I am blessed with a three-day weekend. Not working today. Yee-hah! Cleaning. Not working tomorrow, of course, cuz it's The Fourth... but John, as it turns out, is weeding his garden.

Oh.

The Fifth? Yeah, I could use one right about now.

My friend Angie and her husband, Jeff, are taking today to drive to Minneapolis to go shopping. Just a roundtrip to Mpls (no small feat in my book, but no big deal to those crazy kids). They are seizing the day, as it were.

Carpe Diem, and all that jazz...

Vick and Big Lee and the fam are camping all weekend...

Linda and her fam will have the annual Fourth of July/Linda's Birthday (July 5th) cookout extravaganza -- and smack dab on Linda's birthday this year, no less...

Mary will most likely be picking up shells along Myrtle Beach...

Wait! I almost forgot!

We DO have plans...We will be attending the second annual Daniel and Casey Fireworks Display (with adult supervision, of course)...

Just what every mother dreams of...

Teenagers with explosives.

As I contemplate plans for the holiday weekend -- or the lack thereof -- I've decided that the Carpe Diem slogan should be replaced by three little words that truly drive home in a big way the fact that we must make the MOST of each day, that cleaning and weeding can wait...

"This Is It."

Yes, morbidly ironic, isn't it, that THAT was the title of Michael Jackson's comeback tour...I'm sure he figured he had a few more days to dance, to prepare...

Alas, it really was IT for MJ. One day he's dancing, rehearsing. Two days later he's dead.

THAT really was IT!

So it is for the rest of us. Today is IT, folks. Tomorrow is promised to no one.

Can't the cleaning and weeding wait?

Be it the Third, Fourth or Fifth of July, let's make the MOST of "it", shall we?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

As The Tan Lines Fade...

And the nail polish peels...and my face breaks out from stress...That's when it is officially official. Yup.

I've been back from my Cincy vacay for one week.

Happens every time. Like Cinderella at midnight. Poof! Turned back into a pumpkin. A pumpkin called "Reality."

That's just what happens after vacay, no matter where you go, or who you are...at some point - be it one week, two weeks, three weeks -- you have to get back to your real life, your regular routine.

The emotionally disturbed jackrat terrier...the cat that projectile erps her food everytime she eats...the 16-year-old son who somehow always forgets how to tell time while out on a date...the yard that needs mowed...the laundry that needs washed, and folded AND put away...bills to pay...blah, blah, blah...

It's not NEARLY as bad, though, as it was two years ago when I returned from Cincy, and for that I am thankful. Dear God, I re-read those blog posts and I think, "Geezle, Ann, we get it. You miss Cincy. You miss your Cincy friends. The Cincy 'life'. Get a grip, girl!"

Bottom line is, Cincy is not my life. THIS is my life. And despite my whining of late, it's a good life. I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, a good paying job with bennies, have yet to miss a meal, and most of all, I have wonderful friends and family HERE, just like in Cincy.

I am fortunate beyond belief.

My longtime friend Nancy H. once gave me a pillow she made that says, "If friends were money, you'd be the richest person in Coon Rapids."

Thanks, again, Nance, for that pillow. Sometimes, I lose sight of that message. I am very blessed with friends, indeed. Here. There. Everywhere I have lived. Friends have always been my extended-and-then-some family.

It is, as the saying goes, a wonderful life.

Truth is, everybody has to come back from vacay. You can only vacate your real life for so long...well, yes, OK...Thelma and Louise decided to NOT come back from what was supposed to be their weekend vacay at a fishing cabin. But the whole cliff thing? Ouch. Not a good idea...

Today is a family dinner out at the farm. John's brother, Tom, and his wife, Barb, and her mother will be here for a few days as they move Barb's mom from Rockford, IL to Prescott, AZ. Hence, a big Kult Family Dinner is the plan for today...

We've got fresh green beans and peas and potatoes from John's garden, homemade ice cream, ChiChi's Margaritas...pulled pork sandwiches, homemade carrot cake...the weather is GREAT!.

I think the late, great John Denver said it best:

"Hey, it's good to be back home again. Sometimes this old farm feels like a long-lost friend. And hey, it's good to be back home again..."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ed. Farrah. MJ. And Dave.

Surreal.

Was still trying to get my head around the horrible, senseless murder of Applington-Parkersburg (IA) Coach Ed thomas (gunned down by a former player in the high school weight room earlier this week) when I learned of Farrah Fawcett's passing from anal cancer. I was quietly contemplating Farrah's demise when Daniel hits me with, "Michael Jackson just died."

What? WHAT? Surely he was mistaken...

Turned to CNN, and there it was...

Only at that time, they were saying that he was hospitalized....cardiac arrest... in a coma...

Obviously, didn't look good for the King of Pop, but maybe, just maybe...

Despite my friend Ned's insistance that MJ was, indeed, dead, I refused to believe it...until CNN reported that the LA Times confirmed it.

Michael Jackson. Dead at 50.

Many an afternoon during my early adolescence I spent dancing in front of our huge living room mirror to The Jackson Five's "ABC". Michael was so cute...what a voice! What moves for a kid!
ABC, 1,2,3 baby, you and me...

Many a Saturday night during my post-college Disco Diva days I spent dancing to MJ's "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough". I never really knew the words, but man, could I dance to it...

"Billy Jean" was a fave as well. "Thriller" not so much. Yes, I am probably the only one in the world who wasn't thrilled with "Thriller".

And then poor MJ just plain went weird and I have spent the last many years just feeling sorry for the guy...

And now he's dead. The King of Pop, a music icon from my youth, gone. Just like that.

Athough, it wasn't really "just like that." MJ was not on a healthy road for a very long time. Mentally or physically. Damn those addictive prescription meds. There is some pain that pills just can't take away...

And let's not forget poor Farrah -- though once MJ's demise hit the airwaves, her death from anal cancer but hours before was truly treated like "oh, yeah...and in other news..."

Many a male college student in my co-ed dorm during my junior year at Ohio University had that famous Farrah poster slapped up on their wall...good ol' Kent Whatshisname was one of them...I can still see that poster. I had my picture taken in front of it -- my hair a mess, my face slathered in zit cream, clowning some kind of flashy "Farrah Wannabe" smile...

A few years later, after I was married, my hubby secretly dug out that picture from the Ann Heise Photo Album Collection and ran that picture in the Carroll Daily Times Herald for my 25th birthday...

What young woman back in the day didn't wish she had Farrah's face, hair and smile? Farrah was the beginning of Big Hair. And she was romantically involved for 17 years with one of my earliest Hollywood crushes...Ryan O'Neal. Love Story.

Love Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry.

OK, so THAT'S a crock of crap...but I digress...

As sad as the deaths of Farrah and MJ are, the worst news this past week was that of the senseless murder of longtime Applington-Parkersburg (IA) High School Football Coach Ed Thomas...beloved coach and family man who was gunned down by a former player in the high school weight room.

A couple thousand of Thomas' grieving family, friends and former football players gathered for a candlelight vigil the night of his murder...

This is small town Iowa, folks. This isn't supposed to happen here. Even though we all know it can and it does. And it never makes sense. Anywhere.

I am also saddened this week by the news of the death of my grocery store pal, Dave M., 50, who had a heart attack after mowing the lawn. He used to scare me, frankly. Worked construction. Kind of a gruff, tough guy. Until I started joking around with him as I checked and bagged his groceries back when I worked at The Fro (our local grocery store). He had a great sense of humor. Dave led a tough life, but was looking forward to a better, brighter future. Alas, that future was cut short.

Last time I saw Dave was before I left for Cincy...was getting a few things at The Fro...had not seen Dave for a long time...

"Well, looked who the cat dragged in," I joked. He smiled and asked how I'd been doing...

And just like that, he's gone.

Ed. Farrah, MJ. And Dave.

May each rest in peace.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

The thing is, growing up, I didn't have much of a home in the traditional sense.

I don't have a lot of warm and fuzzy memories of living at 7822 Buckeye Crescent. My fondest memories are of times spent with friends, of living vicariously through observing/participating in memory-making activities at their homes.

I have no physical house to go home to in Cincy anymore...hence, just the term "going home" takes on a whole different meaning for me.

It's all about the people. My historical friends. The folks who knew me when. The girls I grew up with. Their moms. Their dads. Their brothers and sisters.

They are my home. Their faces, their smiles, their laughs, their embraces, are the relaxing front porch and the cozy kitchen that I miss, that I long for, that I "come home" to.

As my other Cincy friends who now live elsewhere will tell you, there is also a longing for the traditional Cincy "delicacies", if you will...Skyline Chili, Graeter's Ice Cream, White Castle sliders, Frisch's tartar sauce...treats that you just can't anywhere else...foods that, like the songs of my youth, evoke profound and emotionally palatable memories...

I have no memories of my mother preparing my fave foods, or sending me college survival kits consisting of dozens of her best homemade cookies since she died when I was in junior high. So for me, that first taste of a Skyline cheese coney or of Frisch's tartar sauce on a french fry is like sitting down once more to a plate of a mother's homemade meatloaf.

There is nothing else like it in the world. Not for me, anyway. I savor every bite. I close my eyes. I moan. It's weird. But I can't help myself.

This trip home, I have had the honor of being part of a very special wedding...

I have known Michelle Ludy -- now Michelle Schneider -- since she was a baby, really...I have -- albeit via mostly long distance -- watched Michelle, her older brother Chris, and their younger sister (my nakesake) Natalie Ann, grow up seemingly overnight. Thanks to the unending generosity of Linda and her husband, Michael, I have been able to fly home to Cincy here and there over the past many years and observe/participate in some of their family's Kodak moments.

I gotta tell ya, Michelle was the most stunning, beautiful bride I have ever seen.

"You're not as talkative as usual," Linda's dad, Marvin, said to me during the post-wedding brunch this morning.

Indeed, unlike most trips to Cincy where I am akin to a non-stop Chatty Cathy on constant caffeine, I am, I admit, noticeably -- and uncharacteristically -- more quiet than usual. Contemplative, perhaps. Sedate, one might even say.

Sure, I danced like a wild woman at the reception when the DJ played Love Shack. But for the most part, I just sat and watched and breathed it all in...beautiful Michelle and the handsome love of her life, Eric, as they celebrated their perfect wedding day...

Youth. Love. Life. Death. Friendship.

I thought about how 33 years ago I sat and watched Linda and Mike celebrate their perfect wedding day, and how I kept telling Linda's mom, Ruby, what a beautiful, stunning bride Linda was...

I thought about what a bittersweet occasion Michelle's wedding day was for the family after Ruby's passing last fall, and after Linda's brother, Randy's passing several years ago.

Yes, the whole Circle of Life thing was swirling about my brain...the tears began to well for the 50th time that day...

Of course, I had to chuckle a bit as well as I remembered my antics after Linda's reception back in the day...how, after having one too many cocktails at their reception, I threw up in my friend's Cindy's mother's car on the way home, and how my friends not only took the car but ME to the local carwash...yep...they sprayed me down with the power washer, good dress, high heels and all...

I also remembered how, after my friends dropped me off after the car wash episode, I had to sheeplishly slink past my friend Holly's dad (I was living with Holly and her family that summer) trying to act nonchalant...as if walking in soaking wet after a wedding reception was the norm...

I then thought about how absolutely awesome it is that Holly and Linda and I are still friends after all these many years and across the many miles that separate us...how absolutely miraculous it is that, even after all the trials and tribulations of our individual lives, we were still laughing and singing and dancing the night away at Linda's daughter's wedding...

And now, the rest of my week at home looms ahead...

So many people I want and need to see, so little time.

So many memories. So many emotions.

It's great to be home. Again.

Dorothy was right.

There is no place like home.

And you CAN go home again.

It just gets harder and harder to leave each time...

Sunday, June 07, 2009

If You Knew Sushi...


Like I know sushi...

Edemame.

California Roll.

Caterpillar.

Vegas Roll.

Not just pretty words, my friends.

I went to a sushi bar in Uptown Minneapolis for the first time ever in my life. Tonight.

Me. Liz. Sis.

Stylin. Oh, yeah.

Sushi! Yum!

Who knew that raw fish and soy bean pods could be so freaking tasty!

Certainly not me!

My idea of heaven: The massage chair from Oceans Spa and Nail salon planted smack dab in the middle of Sushi Tango... a Li'l Flirtin Prairie martini ( Prairie Vodka, Prosecco, and Pineapple Juice) in one hand, a ticket to the Brave New Workshop's "How To Make Love To A Minnesotan" in the other.

OMG! Love those soy bean pods! Ate rolls of sushi! Hailed a cab! A glass or two of pinot grigio. Front row side seats at BNW. Coffee pots! "Doesn't amount to a hill of beans!"

(Sherri, my cheeks hurt -- where are you? You should be HERE!)

"If they can do it in Iowa, why, oh, why, can't we do it HERE?"

Punking Kulty.

From a sushi bar?

Peru A Ruby. Perfect color. No more mauve.

Caterpillar. No caterpillars were harmed in the making of this sushi roll. Promise. Yum!

Big hair is out. Who knew?

"This IS oomph, 2009, Auntie Ann."

Bangs? Me?

"At a time when the world financial markets are in turmoil, North Korea is launching missiles, and Britney Spears is once again on tour, people look for comfort in the familiar. And what is familiar to everyone? The answer" being driven completey insane by relationships."

So the 40-something gal in the massage chair next to me was giddy over her old college boyfriend "friending" her on Facebook.

"Beware old acquaintences bearing Facebook greetings," I offered, with a wink.

OMG. BNW is the BEST!

"In the midst of the chaos that has gripped the world, people have distracted themselves by laughing at the more contained, personal chaos of trying to co-exist with another human being. It seems that everyone can relate to the utter despair, frustration, rage and occasional nausea that are inflicted upon us by the people we love."

Dr. Fireman. Oh, yeah! Pots and Pans cycle.

LOL

God, I love my sis and my niece. I love Minneapolis.

Goodbye Uptown. Hello Mill District!

It's all good! It's all good!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Time Flies When You're Snarfing Cheesecake in A Jar


Has it really been just a week?

Seems like a year since I arrived in Rockford with the Boeke Bunch, even longer since Sherri arrived and I greeted her with a big hug and wearing my "surprise" garage sale outfit -- I know, I know -- the polyester salt-and-pepper shaker blouse was to die for...

Vicki and Sherri and I cruised about Rockford for a bit...saw Swedish American Hospital where I was born...Calvin Park South where we lived when I was but a toddler before we moved to Melrose Park...

Then Vicki treated us to cosmos at the nearby Fridays...and then it was off to Wisconsin to Sherri's...

Sherri's husband, Dave - I have since dubbed him The Martini Maestro -- prepared a delicious meal and accompanying martinis as we gabbed and laughed...

I am sure at some point poor Dave was wondering "What in the world was I thinking when I agreed to this?" Especially when we called Beth in Dayton, OH (at 11 p.m. OH time) and were laughing and yelling into the phone, sure that Beth would be absolutely THRILLED to find out that indeed, her two old pals were actually together in Wisconsin. I mean, WE were thrilled...wasn't everybody?

Sunday was  SO much fun -- mimosas at breakfast, drinks at Lake Geneva...and whoever created Cheesecake In A Jar!  My hat is off to you! We sample tasted our way through The Global Gourmet...which is where I discovered Margaritas in a Box...

Then another scrumptious meal prepared by Dave -- yes, Sherri set the table and made an exquisite tomato dish, to go along with the grilled salmon and asparagus...

Oh, wait!  I forgot to mention that we watched the movie Office Space -- OMG!  How hilarious! So THAT'S where "pieces of flair" came from!  I am, apparently, the last person on earth to have seen this movie...

Well, what do you expect for someone who lives in town that does not support the freaking technology that is required to operate a Trac phone with picture-taking capabilities?  I know!  Whodathunk!  But I digress...

The Rockford Reunion was everything that we could have expected and more!  

Of course, parting is always such sweet sorrow...

But the good news is, we have made a solemn vow to not allow another 34 years to pass before we see each other again! Like we have that many years at our disposal to begin with!

Facebook....it's just full of surprises!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Facebook Kismet: Christmas in May

I can't stop giggling!

In just a few days, my old/new friend Sherri Frank Zimmerman  and I will meet each other again/for the first time. We haven't seen each other for, oh, at least 34 years since I graduated from high school.

 I live in Iowa, she lives in Wisconsin, yet we have "seen" each other practically every day for the past two months.

And it's all thanks to a little thing I like to call Facebook Kismet.

What?

OK, so the term "Facebook Kismet" doesn't exactly roll off one's tongue. But what better way to describe the totally-random-yet-seemingly-predestined reunion of two old high school acquaintances on Facebook, that wacky electronic friendship generator to which so many of us aging Boomers are now addicted...

I mean, two months ago, Sherri and I were just two 50-something former Cincinnati Kids, both dying from boredom and the emotionally crippling effects of enduring one too many soul-killing winters in our respective, charming-but-out-in-the-middle-of-freaking-nowhere small towns, located in always-rousing cheese-and-corn country. 

Then, apparently, sometime in early to mid-March, both of us -- each horribly desperate for human connection and conversation --  discovered Facebook. We each decided to give it a whirl. We each stalked, er, searched for old high school friends. 

Sherri, a graduate of  Madeira High School Class of 1976, and I, a graduate of  Madeira High School Class of 1975, had socialized somewhat within the same high school circles. Both of us were members of that clique, er, clandestine high school sorority Sigma Tau Omega. But we were never what today one would call "peeps." We didn't really hang out together...

Until now.

Sherri and I, as it turned out, began with  two mutual friends on FB -- Nancy and Beth. Sherri saw my name and picture, remembered me -- vaguely -- and she decided, what the heck, to friend me.  I remembered Sherri -- vaguely -- and confirmed her as a friend.

And the rest is  Facebook Kismet history!

We started chatting daily on FB, commiserating, laughing, crying -- basically picked right up where we never left off -- as if we had been close pals back at good ol' Madeira High. Twins separated at birth. Mary and Rhoda.

I know exactly what she means by "life behind the cheese curtain." It can be equally as spirit squelching as "life in the tall corn state". And she gets that. We both know all too well why the caged tiger paces. 

Oddly enough, we can't remember clearly one social event that we attended together back in high school. We can't even say for sure that we remember ever being in the same room...

Nevertheless, talking and laughing together felt so warmly familiar. Immediately. Kindred Facebook spirits.

It is so weird...

Two totally separate lives, yet our common thread-- self-inflicted social isolation (hey, no one forced us to trade Cincinnati for Green Acres)  seems to have sewn a tight seam.

One Saturday, after chatting for an hour on FB, we dared to take it to the next level - we actually talked on the landline! I'd recognize her voice anywhere! And she, mine. Yet we don't recall any one-on-one gabfests back in high school...

And come this weekend, we will actually, finally  see each other. Again. And yet, in some ways, for the first time.

We can't wait!

I will be riding along with my friend, Jess, as she and her family haul a trailer of goods for a giant neighborhood garage sale at Jess' grandmother's in Rockford -- the town were Jess' mom, Vicki, and I were both born (and on the same day, no less -- but that is fodder for another kismet post). Sherri lives less than an hour from Rockford, and will meet me there.

It's all good!  And serendipitous! It's spontaneous! Just what the psychiatrist ordered.  

So to those who think FB is just a waste of time and energy, or who are too busy to stay connected via the electronic friendship generator, I say, Bah! Humbug!  I have found it to be quite a blessing...and I know Sherri concurs.

"A friend is a present you give yourself," the old saying goes.

And this weekend, thanks to Facebook Kismet, it's going to be Christmas in May. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pomp, Circumstance, and Sheep Lice

The very first thing writer Anne Lamott tells her new students on the first day of a workshop is this:

"Good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason they write so very little." 

I am beginning to fear I may be part sheep lice.

While I long to understand who I really am, and what THE TRUTH really is, I've been writing very little. There is no way I will ever fully understand who I am and what THE TRUTH really is unless I write more. I know that. But, like with everything else in my life right now, I feel totally overwhelmed. I don't know where to start...

I suppose I could write about high school graduation parties, and how I think they have gone beyond practicality and reason...that no one really wants to look at 18 years' worth of someone else's child's memorabilia and pictures...that less is probably more, especially when it comes to potato salad, cake and mints...

But come time for DJ's graduation two years from now, I, too, will feel compelled to adorn every available wall space with HIS stuff...from that lock of hair from his first haircut at three months to his final track meet medal his senior year...

That's what parents DO nowadays come graduation time. I surmise that come May 2011, I will get all wacked out over Daniel's graduation, not just because my one and only son -- the freaking apple of my eye -- will be graduating from high school, but because my mother died when I was in junior high and my  father, who lived in Michigan ( I lived in Ohio) barely made it to my graduation ceremony. In fact, he may not have made it at all...I truly don't remember...

Or maybe he made it to my high school graduation, albeit late, but he didn't make it to my wedding...

Whatever.

The truth is, I will, no doubt, be going beyond  practicality and reason, doing whatever it takes, to give Daniel everything I didn't have when I graduated from high school...and that most likely will include a blow-out party with too many pictures, too much potato salad, and far too many mints. And I will fret over how the table cloth is hanging on the main table, and if his track medals are  displayed properly...and if there is enough butter, or too much butter on the sandwich buns...

I am also certain I will have a Valium drip going during the graduation ceremony itself...Pomp and Circumstance...just the words bring tears to my eyes...

And therein lies THE TRUTH about high school graduation...

No matter one's circumstances, ya gotta have pomp. Ya just gotta.

Sheep lice do not understand this concept, which is one reason their graduation parties are so lame. 

Congratulations to the CR-B Class of 2009!

Friday, May 08, 2009

My Latest Brush With Fame -- Lady Antebellum at The Well!








I know.

My friend Leesa could have scribbled that mess on my Kenny Chesney concert ticket... cannot make heads nor tails of that handwriting....

But trust me, those really are Lady A autographs!

I stood in line for some time, and was just about to hand them my ticket stub to sign only to have Lady A leave their autograph table as  Kenny was beginning his descent into Wells Fargo Arena via ski lift, or whatever...

WHAT? Just where do they think they're going?

Never one to take rejection by the famous lightly, however, I thought fast and  tagged along with two young women who had caught the eye of that adorable Lady A lead singer, Charles Kelley -- he had beckoned them in to where the group was signing a few last autographs for the security staff.   Security had other ideas, however, and they wouldn't let us get near Lady A., but one of them graciously took my ticket and a couple of Lady A pics those other two gals had, and handed them to the group, and I watched as Hillary Scott , Charles and Dave Haywood all signed my ticket...

And then, Hillary came over to us and handed us our autographs and smiled...and thanked us...

I thanked her and said, "Thanks so much!  I love you guys!"

LOL. I can be such an autograph geek...

Kenny Chesney was AWESOME! Loved all the KC wannabes in the crowd...you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a cowboy hat, of course.

Note to self:   Learn more KC songs before the next KC concert...apparently he has sung many a great song since "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy". 

Leesa and I  rode in perfect Thelma and Louise style to the concert (in Des Moines) in her convertible, top down, tunes blaring...And we enjoyed a lovely meal at Spaghetti Works before the concert, I might add.  Later, we split a small  bag of  Strawberry Peanut Butter M&Ms on the way home while grooving to -- what else but -- Lady A -- and a little bit of Rascal and Toby...

What a great night!

Woo-Hoo!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

May Day! May Day!


May Day has always been a bit of a mystery to me.

Growing up in Madeira, OH, we never had May baskets. I do not recall one time when someone showed up at my door with a Styrofoam cup full of popcorn and candy on May 1.

When we first lived in Iowa, however, my friends and their little darlings blessed Daniel and me with many a treat on May 1...

Today, my office co-workers gave me a cup full of popcorn, sprinkled with blue M&Ms only, and on the cup it said, "Not a blue martini, but this will due for now."

LOLOLOLOLOLOL

NEW rocks!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN


That has been my motto since, well, since Cindy Lauper first came out with her hit song back in the 80s.

It struck a deep chord within me,  summed up my attitude toward how I wanted to live my life. How else to explain my obsession with class reunions, my love of laughter, my need to connect with friends and, well, have fun?

I come from a long line of fun-loving women, as evidenced by the picture posted here -- a glimpse of a day long ago in the life of my dear, departed Grandma Danna (she's the one in the middle in the stylin' yellow hat). I believe she and her pals at the assisted living facility where she resided are enjoying Kentucky Derby Day in this photo. They donned their special Derby Day hats on their way to the recreation room, and had a few cocktails while watching the race on TV.

I have oodles of old black and white pictures of my mom at class reunions and dances and various and sundry get togethers with her smiling, laughing friends. My sister is a big fan of dressing up in ornate costumes for Halloween. 

As for me, fun is hanging out with my girlfriends who have known me forever and love me anyway, laughing so hard your cheeks hurt. I'm up for a slumber part any time, at any age.

Fun for me is deciding on the spur of the moment to take off for Barnes and Noble in Des Moines on a weeknight, grabbing my favorite cuppa Starbucks, and perusing the shelves for hours...not necessarily buying anything.

Fun is making plans for a mini-class reunion in between official reunion years because, well, just because it's a good excuse to chuckle over old times with classmates I don't get to see every day since I live 750 (freaking) miles from my hometown. 

"Some boys take a beautiful girl and hide them away from the rest of the world. I want to be the one who walks in the sun!  Oh, girls, they wanna have fun. Girls just wanna have fun."

(Sherri, if you are reading this, you KNOW what I'm talkin' about. Dave and John aren't exactly  HIDING us away from the rest of the world, but somedays...)

Fun for me is blasting my favorite tunes from the CD player in my sister's convertible on a warm fall day on our way to visit my niece, Liz,  in Uptown, MN. It's drinking margaritas atop Stella's in Uptown, or having a pretty blue raspberry martini with my work pals at the Old School Pub in Coon Rapids after a long week's work.

Fun is spontaneous.

But fun is also planning getaways down the road -- like my upcoming trip to Cincinnati...the anticipation alone as the day for my departure draws near can carry me high above the fluffy white clouds of happiness for weeks!

"I come home in the morning light, my mother says when you gonna live your life right..."

Of course, as one gets older, coming home in the morning light isn't always a wise option. So fun needs to be had earlier...perhaps a night of Bunco or Majong...or just hanging out on a friend's front porch and gabbing...

And what about Facebook? FUN!

"What in the world do you DO for hours at a time on Facebook," John asked me the other night.

"I talk to people, mostly, take stupid quizzes that tell me what TV mom I am, and post old pictures of friends," I said.

It don't get any better than that, boyfriend. 

John, of course, is not the only one one in my life who does not understand my fascination with FB. Unless you have lived in a small Iowa town for nearly 20 years, and survived a couple of soul-killing winters, spending hours ad nauseam on FB  may be hard to fathom.

It's all about connecting. On a daily basis. Laughing...Sharing...seizing the day as it presents itself. 

My Grandma Danna would be proud.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Normal Is Just A Setting On the Dryer

So Daniel says to me, he says, his voice dripping with aggravation, "Why can't you be a normal mom and not be on Facebook?" 

Normal? Moi?  

Daniel,  honey, I don't know how to break this to you at the tender age of 16, but...

Your Mumsy Dearest  has been called a lot of things over the long and winding course of her life -- colorful, obsessive, over-the-top, crazy, silly, intense, overly sensitive, obsessive, stubborn, strong-willed, opinionated, obsessive, moody, talkative, spunky, bubbly, hormonally challenged, obsessive -- but I've rarely, if ever, been described as normal.  

Especially when it comes to being a mom.

"You're no June Cleaver!" your father proclaimed many moons ago in a bit of a sarcastic huff.

(Oooh. Snap.)

I say,  thank God I'm not. 

That 50s TV mom icon had to be a closet drinker otherwise she would not have been dusting the tops of her doorways and polishing the chrome on her stove while wearing a dress, heels and pearls. That wasn't and isn't the norm. At least not for the moms I chillax with.

However, my darling son, when it comes to Facebook, more and more folks my age and even older are hopping on the FB train as a fun, quick, easy way to stay in touch with family, and reconnect with long lost friends and other interesting acquaintances. (No, Daniel, I did not stalk 70s rock icon Peter Frampton...I merely caused him an outpouring of FB friend requests. There's a difference.)

My point -- and I do have one -- is that although I may seem to you to be a bit too long in the tooth to be taking FB quizzes , updating my status, adding songs to my Lyrics Domain, and chatting on line with my peeps, vying with their teenage kids for FB time on the computer is actually becoming more and more the norm for seemingly old-fart rents like me.

I know...it was a lot easier - and certainly less painful --  when I was merely scolding you for spending too much time on Facebook and not pushing you out of your computer chair in my nightly frenzied rush to sign in.  And I realize it seems just a tad hypocritical that I did all that scolding only to turn around and practically live on FB myself.

Well, Daniel, I am going to share with you the same insightful 1960s advice my parents once  shared with me when I caught them talking out both sides of their mouths:

Do as I say, not as I do.

(That also comes in as a handy parental axiom for a mom such as myself who came of age in the 70s...but I digress, and please don't ask me to explain...)

Anyway, honey, I know it hasn't been easy living with a colorful, obsessive, over-the-top, crazy, silly, intense, overly sensitive, obsessive, stubborn, strong-willed, opinionated, obsessive, moody, talkative, spunky, bubbly, hormonally challenged, obsessive mom. 

I remember how you cringed when I played zany Madam Zelda the Fortune Teller at your first PTO spring carnival back in grade school. And then, of course, there was the weekend I out-of-the-blue hopped that bus to Washington, DC, to protest the war in Iraq, and then later dragged you to that anti-war war prayer vigil at the Carroll County courthouse.  You really took to that. And let's not forget how you bemoaned (while I swooned over) my giant Johnny Depp/Captain Jack Sparrow poster I once plastered across the wall of our then computer room.  And now, heavens to Betsy, I'm on freaking Facebook?  That's your teenage turf. Or so you thought. 

It's gotta be tough. 

But the good news is, you are not alone. Daniel, there are lots of moms and dads out there in FB land these days. Maybe they're not all taking "What's Your Barbie Doll Name" or "What Is My Easter Bunny Name" quizzes and posting the results on their FB wall, or sending Worthless Gifts For Newsprint Veterans" to their old newsroom pals. But they are out there on FB every day.

 Trust me. It's OK.

What's "normal" anyway, but just a setting on the dryer?

Hey, it could be worse. 

I could chaperone your prom someday...

You know how this aging disco diva still loves to bust a move...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The New Phone Books Are Here!



Woo-Hoo!

The new Raccoon Valley Regional Phone Book has arrived!

I am somebody! (The Jerk, Steve Martin, 1980)

Sadly, with the onset of Google, and Whitepages.com and Facebook -- my beloved FB -- the arrival of the new phonebook just isn't the rush that it used to be.

Yawn.

It's like everything else that has gone the way of McInformation -- we gotta know it NOW. And we CAN know it now.

We leave nothing to chance, nothing to surprise.

Thanks to ultra sound, we know the sex of our unborn child months before he or she arrives.

Thanks to caller ID, we always know EXACTLY who is calling us at any given time.

We pick and choose who we talk to...we know what color to pain the baby's room before he or she is fully developed in the womb.

So much for the serendipitous nature of life...we have pretty much killed that off.

Does anyone even use a phonebook anymore? Landlines are going by the wayside daily...

Well, just out of a sense of tradition,I looked up my name and celebrated the fact that I, indeed, am in the new phonebook.

That's what we do in Podunk.

We celebrate the simple things...right Sherri?