October 6, 2008

A LIttle Girl in Pigtails

This past weekend we went to the Gap Casting Call, a contest which is across the country for babies and kids. You can enter at home or go to the sessions at the store where a professional photographer will take your child's picture and you can download it at home and then enter. They pick twenty finalists and then people vote on the website for the winner. There were so many adorable looking children at the mall that I can't imagine having to pick twenty among hundreds if not, thousands of children.
We arrived at the mall at 10 A.M. and they gave us a ticket to come back at 4:00 P.M. The exact time she happens to take her nap. When we came back at 3:30 P.M. they were running early so we had to immediately wake her up to take the picture. Poor girl. But I think it turned out quite well considering she was still tired.

September 27, 2008

Let's Celebrate. You've Gone Potty!

We are training our two year-old daughter to go on the potty chair. If you are a parent, you remember those days of potty dances, treats and the like just for the great achievement of either aiming in a precise spot or sitting on the potty "like the big girls/boys do."

A few weeks ago, our daughter wanted to celebrate and cheer on another person who has reached the achievement of going to the bathroom by herself: a Sam's Club worker. I took her to the public bathroom in the store where she listened intently to someone going to the bathroom in the stall next to us. After the toilet was flushed, she opened up her eyes wide and sent a barrage of cheering and clapping to the woman next to us. Consequently, doing the "potty dance" in an extremely small bathroom stall and then throwing a cheer to the woman next to us: "You've gone potty! Yeah!"

To Find Prince Charming You Must Kiss a Frog, or Two, or Twenty

My track record with doctors has been all but deplorable these past years. Here is an outtake from the X-Files.

My first jaunt into the unknown came several years ago when I needed to go to an urologist. I pick out a doctor on my insurance list that sounded like he has a nice name and his office was close to my house. The first warning should have been that his office was in an outlet mall and that he drove an old banged-up black Buick which he parks in the parking space directly next to his front door. I believe one of his windows was broken out.

I end up having my doctor’s appointment not in a room but at the receptionist’s desk because he only has two rooms and both are occupied. Apparently, these two rooms are separated only by an array of carefully stacked filing cabinets, with no ceiling in site. How do you like that for patient confidentiality!

On another visit, I noticed that he had all of his equipment, patient files and machines in the patient rooms. Yellow spots of God knows what and dirt were usually on them. I gave him the benefit of the doubt because he had newspaper articles written about how great he was and they were framed poignantly on the walls in his office. At another visit, a patient tells me, “And why do you come here if you don’t have to?” Apparently, the doctor is the Mecca for patients with no or low-cost insurance plans, which luckily, I’m not part of. She said, “If I were you, I would run, not walk out of this office.” After that visit, I left for good. And it didn’t finish there. He starts leaving messages at my house at 8:00 P.M. at night telling me I have to come back for more appointments. “We’re not finished yet!”
I think I met the ultra-ego of Dr. Frankenstein in that man.

Second incident, The Dentist X-File: I pick a dentist out of my provider list. I start to have doubts when I go to my appointment and it is in the back of a low-cost clinic and he has no receptionist, no nurse, nothing. As I walk in, he has one dentist chair which is consequently right in the middle of his one-room office, with a light streaming down above onto the middle of the chair. It looked very close to one of those sci-fi movies where the aliens strap abductees in a chair with mental equipment all over and then stand around and experiment on them. He tries to sell me a toothbrush for $5.00 that he picked up from Walgreens for a dollar (I saw the tag) and keeps asking me in broken English, “Are you sure none of your teeth hurt?”

Then I go to a new dentist, who again I pick out from the insurance list. After that visit, my tooth that she fixed starts to hurt. I call the office. She apparently sold her office to a new dentist who didn’t have the decency to tell me this important fact until I’m sitting in his dentist chair about to get serviced and that my chart has been lost, so we’ll have to start all over. By the end of the visit, he wants to refill all of the cavities and dental work I had done five months ago by the other dentist. I file a complaint against the second dentist. The insurance company calls me and says they have to drop the complaint because the second dentist has disappeared.

Yesterday, I went to see another medical specialist for the first time, again picking his name out because it sounded professional. As I park in the parking lot, I see a somewhat dilapidated old building. I walk by a window and notice what appears to be duck tape holding a crack together on a window. I go in the office and notice a patch of dirt on the wall, the kind which seems prevalent in the bathrooms of fast food Chinese restaurants. My instincts tell me it’s a foreshadowing of what’s to come. I say to myself, “Oh God.”

I’m in the waiting room. Out from the door pops this 80 year-old man in a lab coat asking for Mrs. Collier. I’m the only one there so I assume it’s me. I follow behind him as he shuffles through a security door like you would find in the ER and into a room which again, has a little dirt on the wall and some paper clips loose on the floor. He didn’t introduce himself and I’m thinking, “Is this some elderly 80 year-old nurse or is he the doctor?”
He immediately says in a perturbed voice, “So what’s wrong with you?”

It just got worse from there. I think he had a previous stroke or an onset of dementia because he kept asking me the same questions, then looking at an old coffee stained doctors manual he kept in his pocket and then only looked up when it came to thinking about what he had to say, never at me.

I told him I get migraines before my period. And here it is. At the end of the visit, when he is telling the receptionist what to do for my follow-up he says, “Here is a prescription for your migraines. This should help you when you get your surprise.” Surprise? I never thought I would here an 80 year-old male doctor refer to a period as "the surprise"???

I do have several good doctors in my repertoire now. Some I’m still working on. So my advice: don’t pick a dentist or other type of doctor from your insurance website just because the name sounds good or you’ll end up with a lot of frogs. So if the doctor's name is something like Dr. Arnold Finklestink, based on his name, he just might be your prince charming of a doctor in disguise.

May 1, 2008

A Moment of Reflection

Life has been busy lately.

I have been asked at work if I want to increase my hours from 19 to 30 per week.

A choice between receiving more money (which we need), or spending my normal two days with Olivia a week when she is not in daycare.

It is a dilemma many women face and my enthusiasm that somehow we are going to win the lottery or that my book will sell a million copies when I am finished has come to a bitter halt.

Reality has set in, life isn't so easy.

So I was going through my computer files one day and came across this little diary entry. I was going to start The Journal of My Life and as you can see, I started and finished at one entry. And after you read it, the answer is no, I was not on any drugs.

I guess we all have moments of contemplative reflection. When life doesn't go exactly the way we want it to and suddenly, we question if we made the right choices and what is life to mean, anyway?
So excuse the brief intermission from the humor, but life can't always be the fun ride that we want it to be.
Meanwhile, the temperature is a nice 73 degrees. So, I think I'll publish my post and go enjoy the day.


May 18, 2005

I am 33. What is that supposed to entail, I do not know. It is an age of uncertainty surely, or at least for me. It is an age where you analyze: Do I make enough money, do I have the job I’ve always wanted and am I good enough?

As I organize my office, a task that I am still working on four years after we have bought the house, I see letters and photographs of times which seem so long ago: high school yearbooks, love letters to college boyfriends—words which were so innocent and unassuming. I long to go back sometimes, a world full of tomorrows and a life with less responsibilities.

But as I remember quite well, they were times that were filled with heartaches as well, from the dissolving of relationships with boys—which at that period in life meant everything—to nights filled with homework and social systems which made you ask also, am I good enough?

Time now passes by so quickly and I still don’t understand quite why I am here in this world. Many people had their identity set during childhood from being raised with strong independent parents; others, still wonder aimlessly trying to find what it is that makes their life original. I am part of the latter, existing in life always wondering when my tomorrows for getting it right, run out.

I recognize my blessings as so many others do, but still, life is filled with chaotic moments and a never ending feeling of uncertain anxiety. Anxiety for how we are living our lives, diets which are an ever present concern for the majority of women, the house and yard work that never seems finished and people, pets and children who always have a need to fill. If in the old days, just the basic necessities of living were a concern and now, we are challenged to examine every aspect about our lives, what mind blowing hang-ups will future generations have to worry about? Too much, I would guess.

We as a society wait for the next big thrill: the closing of a deal, a bonus on our paycheck, a new guest arriving, shopping on Saturdays, the yearly vacation, the finale of a reality television show. We wait, our moments strung together by surges of excitement hoping for the next big event to come soon or else, what would the alternative be but to sit and contemplate whether we are doing justice to our life. We are bored with reality and easily discontent with normal happenings. Our ancestor’s anticipation came by just surviving another winter without disease or lack of food; our anticipation comes from a Christmas sale at Marshall Fields and if we will be able to lose the five lbs we gained at an overly abundant Thanksgiving.

So I end up taking out yet another blank piece of paper, a blank slate, which to me represents one more chance to plan and get it right. Lists abound, days with tasks and things to remember, times to do duties, ways to get things done, all indicating an unsettlement of the spirit and a need to be productive in a world where the end result is always measured by what you do in life, rather than what type of person you are.

Does anyone else fill this way, I wonder? So many people dawn the look of glamour, cell phones in various shades of color, clothes which show they are important and stylish, nails perfectly manicured assuring to everyone they know their worth. People buy monolithic houses they can't afford. Everything to allude to perfection on the outside, but what do these people do when they are alone, in the silence of these homes or cars, do they understand life? Do they wonder who it is they are trying to impress? Probably others, but more like themselves. Because if we have everything we dreamed of what is there left to still inspire our dreams.

If only we could understand what life is supposed to be, if we could be told what it is we search for as human beings, what we should be in life to bring about understanding within ourselves? Years go by and age sets in, I am 33, still trying to figure out if I am good enough and for whom am I trying to be good enough for?

April 10, 2008

Signs of Spring

Slowly spring is coming. And it's about time.

It has been a back and forth winter in the Midwest. One day we will have warm weather-making us believe spring has finally arrived-the next day we will have a full fledged snowstorm. Our morale here is all but failing.

This past weekend, with a brief warm temperature, we were finally able to open a window for the first time.

As you can see by the picture, humans are not the only ones waiting for spring to arrive. Moe, Larry, and Curly (actually known as Ghost, Chewie, and Tigger) made a decisive move to crowd into the one window that I had opened, forgoing their usual discomfort and general dislike of being this close together. To further add to my point, even Tigger, the cat to the far right, was willing to have a wooden spoon crammed against his back (there to keep the window up) in order to take full advantage of his allotted space.

But fear not, if you don't have cats to crowd into your windows to show you spring is coming, there is another simple method which doesn't include waiting for a groundhog to forgo seeing his shadow. (Which is overrated if you ask me.)

Just simply wait for the expensive convertibles with their tops off, to take their rightful place on the road. If you see an older man (similar to a Donald Trump look-a-like) with sparse hair flapping in the wind, it is then you know without a doubt that it is truly, spring.

March 31, 2008

It's a . . .It's a . . .What Did You Say It Is?

This is what I told my daughter and then to the man who was making balloon representations at the Easter Egg Hunt.

I asked him for Elmo, her favorite scruffy Sesame Street character, and this is what the man gave me.

I guess abstract art not only applies to paintings, but balloon renditions of Elmo as well.
My daughter looking at her balloon trying to conceptualize Elmo. As we walked back past the long line that had gathered for the balloon man, I overheard a woman tell her husband, "Oh isn't that cute. The little girl got a lobster balloon."

March 25, 2008

The Beverly Hillbillies of Scrap Iron Part Two

Yesterday, we arrived home to find the yearly garbage festival in full swing. I don't know who planned it on Easter, but it sure seemed like a dumb idea. Who wants to go through their house and haul out garbage, old appliances, furniture and the like on Easter Sunday?

Anyway, we arrived back in town in the late afternoon to find that either the garbage ghouls had already gone through the trash that day or people were not putting much out. Now here's the funny part.

My husband started to gather our wares to throw away: a mattress set, yard equipment, an old T.V. As my husband carried the first item out to the curb one of those monolithic garbage trucks appeared like a bat out of hell. Do these trucks have honing devices or what? The man parked the truck right at our curb so they could go through the junk exactly as my husband brought it out. I thought, surely this can't be happening.

Then, slowly trudging up the street, another one of these trucks came and parked on the other side of the street across from our house. The men from the two trucks got out and a huge shouting match in Spanish took place between them. And it was evident, it was all over who could go through our junk!

After some time went by the man from the first truck, obviously upset that my husband wasn't bringing out any prime garbage or appliances, picked up the van mat that my husband placed on the curb and then abruptly left.

I thought I had seen everything at last years spring cleaning garbage day but this takes the cake. And I even arrived late in town to bypass the event because I figured I pretty much covered everything I could in last years article. It just goes to show you: stories and situations will happen regardless if you are looking for them or not.

February 25, 2008

Finding Hope

Today was not such a good day. As most of you know, I am writing a novel. And for everyone else, I'm sure you've already guessed as much by the link that is so strategically placed to the right of my website which says Book in Progress/Finding Hope.

I have been working on this book for three years alongside a job and a baby.

The website, dedicated to the book, will be finished in a few months thanks to the help given by my computer savvy husband. And yes, normally book websites are made after the book is published, let alone written. But I have always been one to go full force.

When I started writing the story back in March 2005, I did a search on the internet for the title Finding Hope. I wanted to make sure there was not a novel by the same name.
There were a few self-help books but no fiction. I told myself, “I’m good to go!”

Now I admit, the title Finding Hope could be considered a tad overly dramatic and one can easily assume it to be the title of a Sunday night movie on Lifetime Television. However, my story is far from it. True, it is an inspirational story but the characters would be more in line with a Saturday Night Live episode rather than a Lifetime movie.

Today for some reason, I did a search for the title again. I not only found out that a romance book had been published by the same title but another book called Finding Hope is due out in December. There went my "good to go" feeling.

Another bit of information which I read is that titles of books can’t be copyrighted unless you make it a trademark or part of a business which can be quite expensive. Therefore, I will continue with the title of Finding Hope. And it’s not for a lack of creativity on my part. I can think of titles and story lines in my sleep.

So we’ll see. I’m not averse to changing it if it will increase the possibility of the book being published. As I’m sure someone somewhere would say, “Just get the book written. Everything else comes after that.”

Since the title is more popular than I thought, one day you may very well see me at a book signing telling a reader, “No not that one, no not that one either. It’s the last Finding Hope on the shelf: the one with the bridge on it. "Yeah,” I would say as I pointed to my name on the book, “this one’s mine.”

February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Since January 1, we have been on a steady initiative to eat better, healthier food. Today we decided to go to The Cheesecake Factory for lunch to celebrate St. Valentine's Day. For dessert, we reluctantly ordered a piece of Godiva chocolate cheesecake.

If you have ever been to The Cheesecake Factory, you know what I'm talking about when I say "cheesecake". It's not your run-of-the-mill homemade graham cracker crust in a tin pan with a Jell-O brand whipped cream type cheesecake. It's the grand daddy of the good cheesecakes.

Now this was all to celebrate Valentine's Day of course. Chocolate and Valentine's Day go hand in hand together, right? To have one without the other would be criminal, just plain criminal.

(I know, being overly dramatic is my second nature.)

And yes, we could have easily skipped that beautiful piece of Godiva chocolate cheesecake (if a cheesecake can be called beautiful) to go home and eat an individualized cup of sugar-free Jell-O chocolate pudding but somehow, they just aren't the same.

Here is our conversation:

"Boy, I bet there's a ton of calories in this bite," Stephane said holding up a piece on his fork.

"But it's dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has lots of antioxidants."

"This really blows are diet," he said.

"But," I reminded him, "we are sharing one piece. That's good."

"I guess," he said.

"You’ll go back to work and feel euphoric all day. And isn't that what Valentine's Day is for?"

"This is really good," he said taking another bite.

"Mmm, this is really good," I said.

So in honor of St. Valentine's Day, shun the guilt, go for the gusto and enjoy something rich and chocolaty because we all deserve one day to feel warm, cozy, and euphoric.

February 2, 2008

Lost and Found

Yesterday I called my mother, "We found your teeth!" Enthusiasm erupted. The long saga of the missing partials had been solved.

A month ago, my parents had come up to visit. An hour before they left, my mother started on her missing teeth crusade.

"They were in an apricot jelly jar, inside of an orange newspaper bag. Right there," she said pointing to a shelf in the dining room.

"What was?"

"My teeth!"

"What teeth?" I looked at her mouth.

"I had put my partials right there and they aren't there anymore."

I thought about asking why her teeth were in an apricot jar in the dining room in the first place. I mean, isn't there some lack of etiquette there or something? But I have learned that the less I say to my mother in a disagreement, the better.

For the next hour, we went about the house in a mad flurry all through the two story house, looking for a jar of teeth in a washed-out old jar of apricot preserves.

"Are you sure that's where you put them?"

"Yes, right there," she pointed to the shelf in the dining room.

"Are you sure you didn't leave them somewhere else and you just forgot?"

"Those are $500.”

They had to leave.

"We'll keep looking for them," I told her. (I volunteered my husband as well because I didn't want to be the only one looking for a jar of teeth. I hate looking at weird things: poopy diapers, throw-up and a jelly jar of floating teeth is included in that list.)

"They're in an orange newspaper bag. I left them right there in the dining room on the shelf."

"We'll look for it. I promise."

"Okay," she said with an overwhelming sadness. They left to go back to Indiana, my mother forlorn and my father more than ready to leave.

That night we received the first phone call. We heard the voice message when we got back from the grocery store.

“Debbie, are you there? Have Stephane go through the trash before he puts it out tonight. My partials could be in there. That’s $500 dollars.”

Stephane, my great and helpful husband, grimaced as he untied the trash bag, which was ready to go to the curb, and with latex gloves, sifted around for a plastic newspaper sack that contained a jar of false teeth. Nothing.

And then the looking started. For weeks we looked everywhere. I looked all over the all-purpose guest room/craft room/exercise room/anything that doesn't have a place room.

I looked under the bed where they had slept. I looked in the drawers. I looked in the upstairs bathroom several times. I followed the path from the bedroom where they slept to the bathroom that they used. I looked all over the dining room, behind books, on the ground, up on ledges. I looked in every place where she was and still, no jar of teeth.

Two weeks later and eight urgent phone call reminders from my mother asking if we had found them yet; I receive a letter in the mail - from my mother.

Inside the envelope was a piece of orange plastic newspaper bag with a note stapled to it: This is what the plastic bag looked like that my teeth are in.

A week after that, my husband was cleaning the island in the kitchen and said,”What is this?"

He was holding up an old apricot jar with a pair of partials.

"You found her teeth!" I declared.

You know how she said the teeth were in an orange newspaper bag in the dining room?

They were in a white Hobby Lobby sack in the kitchen.

And even though I’m nowhere near the age to have partials yet, I’ll now forever know they cost $500 dollars.


January 21, 2008

The new line, "And What Planet Did You Come From?"

If you haven't heard, there has been quite a controversy over the Tom Cruise Scientology tape which is out and pretty much everywhere. If you haven't seen it. It's on YouTube at:

After watching the video, the first thing I thought, is this guy crazy? I love Tom Cruise in Top Gun and Mission Impossible but clearly, what is he thinking because none of it sounds coherent. Especially the bit on why he can't go on vacation because of, what?
The second thing I thought is, what is Scientology really? I know it's a religion that was started by the late L. Ron Hubbard who was an author of science fiction books. Just that fact alone makes you wonder? So I googled the name and found some very interesting, yet very frightening information about it.

Is it fabricated and do all of these countless people just have an axe to grind? Or is it a cult? Click on the links below and see for yourself.

I would be interested in knowing if anyone has ever met someone who joined Scientology and what your take is on the subject by posting a comment.
Tom Cruise is another person which should be asked the question from one of my posts, "Where Did You Come From?" And according to the Scientology theory, I guess the answer would be

January 10, 2008

Come out Come out Wherever You Are

A ceremony was held to mark the completion of the first public toilets located on the streets in New York City, the first of which are located in Madison Square Park.

It costs 25 cents. The only thing you should be aware of is that after fifteen minutes, the doors open automatically - whether you’re finished or not.

It gives a whole new vantage point for the people who purposely expose themselves in the park.

So beware and take a watch with you.