Friday, November 26, 2010

Tell Me More

My blog has been neglected.  I've been busy and my mind is too muddled right now.  But, in the spirit of getting back to normalcy, Kristen provided a fun little mindless exercise. 

Where do you live: Just outside of San Francisco - a nice little suburb that has a distinct country feel.
Favorite art: Monet, Van Gogh, Ansel Adams
Pets: Two cats, Tucker and Jade
Favorite neighborhood restaurant: Gaudalajara Grill - can't get enough Mexican food
Favorite cocktail: Belvedere Cosmopolitans, GOOD tequila, Bud Light
Who inspires you: My boss
Necessary extravagance: Bi-weekly cleaning service
Favorite place in the world: Lake Tahoe in the winter

Designer: None, sad but true.
Jeans: Old Navy Sweethearts or Jag
Underwear: Victoria's Secret
Sneakers: Brooks for running, otherwise my Vans
Watch: My soon-to-be-fixed Seiko, til then my phone
T-shirt: Anything reminding me of a place I've visited (I like to "collect" t-shirts as momentos).
Day bag: An old Kate Spade
Evening bag: A couple different ones, always black
Favorite city to shop: I hate shopping so I mostly do it online or at a mall.

Lipstick: None.
Mascara: Sephora, black (if I wear any)
Shampoo: Redken All Soft, or Finese, or whatever
Moisturizer: Something Nutrageena
Perfume: Never, not ever
Toothpaste: Colgate
Soap: Dial
Nail-polish color: Opal Pink Champagne for my finger.  Anything bright red for my toes.  But I haven't polished either in years.
Who cuts your hair: Jeanne
Who colors your hair: No one, never.

What would you say?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

death in the end

Maybe I have a sixth sense.  Maybe cosmic forces were at work.  Likely it was simply coincidence.  It was on my mind and I finally felt I had the strength to write about it.  About an hour after I posted this, I got the call.  Unc had arrested.   He is gone.  It appears he was on the six month plan.  Damn me for hoping.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

death in the middle

Back in May I got a horrible telephone call.  The kind that makes you feel like you've just been socked in the gut.  My Uncle was diagnosed with a mass, a mass so large it had collapsed his lung.  He couldn't breathe.  He was on oxygen.

I am a pragmatist and a pessimist.   Not only am I practical, but I also have this awesome mother ability to imagine every worst-case-possible scenario.  Ask my kids or, better yet, my husband (it is a frequent source of conflict).  I can't help it.  My mind immediately goes to those dark places.  To counterbalance that darkness, I have a bit of superstition:  I tell myself, if I imagine it, then it won't actually happen.   The unfortunate flip side to this is that I can never imagine myself succeeding, be a "winner" if you will, because remember, if I imagine it, it won't happen. 

The pragmatist in me makes it difficult in this situation to imagine the best possible outcome.  I am not hopeful and I have no faith.  Sure, there are miracles....maybe?   However, all my experience around anything medical has taught me that whatever crazy can go wrong usually will. 

Unc was down at my house this weekend.  He jokes about how he still doesn't know if he's on the six month or two-year plan, but he looks like he's failing and failing fast.  No one really knows how much time they have, but for him it doesn't look good.  My husband tries to console me telling me that he'll bounce back after the chemo.  I'm doubtful.  And to see someone who used to be all things "alive" looking so frail and sick, kills me.

My sister and I were talking about it last night.  I've been thinking how surreal this experience is for me and her comment was that watching my uncle's decline is a weird thing.  I agree.  Where is his mind?  Where are you when the circumstances dictate that the likelihood of living is slim to none, but yet you are not dead?  

Death is not new to me; I've experienced it before.  But the death of my mom was different.  She was sick for most of my life.  It was a roller coaster of ups and downs.   Just when you thought it was over, she'd recover.  A big difference is that she didn't have a time line.  Her diagnosis didn't lead to Google pages indicating single digit survival rates.  Even with the roller coaster, my mom's death, at the time, was unexpected and a shock.  

I got a text from my sister today.  Unc is in the hospital.  It might be some good news, or it might be more of the same.  Either way, it doesn't change much.  There is a finite period of time left, and the amount is unknown.  As my sister said to me, "at least I have the fortune of being close by and I am able to spend as much time with him as possible".  Indeed I am lucky and I will choose to keep this thought front and center.  I will choose to look past the bleakness and think of what still remains.  I will be optimistic and hopeful that Unc and hubby can make eggplant parmesan (and destroy my kitchen) a few more times. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lessons learned from reality TV

Parenting a teen has been challenging lately.  It's all new.  There's no manual.  I am frustrated and sad.  I'm so far gone that I'm now learning parenting tips from reality TV.

If anyone ever said I'd learn something from reality TV, I'd laugh.  Are you kidding me?!  No way.  I am proud to say that I've never watched reality TV.  Crime-scene dramas peppered with a little paranormal activity are more my style.  As luck would have it though, I stumbled upon a winner:  World's Strictest Parents. 

Don't laugh.  I am inspired.  Taking rebellious teens and molding them into decent members of society, what's not to admire?  It gives me hope.  Oh, and that is so important right now.  After my marathon viewing this weekend I couldn't help but notice some common threads -  pieces of parenting that seem like the right thing to do.  I started paying attention.  I might have even taken some notes.

It's all about trust and it needs to go both ways.  And one thing is clear as the parent, until you can trust the child, nothing's off the table.

Manual labor helps.  For real.  Most of the "strict" parents I saw in my sampling of episodes lived on farms.  They had plenty of work to occupy the teens, and the parents made sure it got done.  There was an episode with the "strict" family living in the burbs but they ran a pizza business, so there again, manual labor was a positive influence.

There were some pretty good one-liners.  How about, "if you're going to expect, then you have to inspect."  This reinforces something we all know - it's all about follow-through.   Another favorite saying, "you can make your choice, but you cannot choose the consequence."  Set the rules, set the expectations, set the consequences, and then follow through.  It seems so simple.  Why is it so hard?

Another important take-away:  it wasn't all manual labor and rule-following.  These "strict" parents were lush with constant attention.  They set expectations for both good and bad behavior - they let the kids know how they could be successful.   They made sure they had fun times and showed the teens that life is both working hard and playing too.   It wasn't painted as a "reward", either.  It was positive reinforcement for getting the  work done.  There was no carrot to entice a job well done.  That was the expectation.  And, the emphasis was when you do a job well, you feel good about yourself, not....get a candy, or a trophy, or a dollar bill. 

In every episode I've seen, the "strict" parents are compassionate and fair.  They've earned some respect from me.  I'm not completely bonkers.  I know there must be some Hollywood coloring.  But I look at the similarities between the "strict" parents and I don't think these things are coincidences.  Now, if I could only keep my voice as calm, my tone with confidence, react with less emotion, maybe, just maybe....I'd have a chance?