Now that my final qualifying exam has been submitted and I’m trying to de-stress, I found this appropriate. Dream big, friends.
Now that my final qualifying exam has been submitted and I’m trying to de-stress, I found this appropriate. Dream big, friends.
Well friends, I may not have been a fan of 2012, but it gave me the chance to fix a lot of things. Starting 2013 with a new back thanks to my amazing surgeon, my nephew Jacob on the way, my sister-in-law Toula joining my family, and an open mind for everything else heading our way. Kicked some dead weight to the curb, and replaced them by welcoming back some great people and finding wonderful new friends. Not making any resolutions because those typically last a week. This year I’m only making promises to myself, and I intend to keep them. And, since I have two more weeks off from work and won’t be cleared to drive for another week and a half, I’m hoping to have some new posts up so check your email for updates!
Happy New Year, friends – Be safe tonight! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
This is your warning that there is a quasi-rant below. It is intended for your amusement at my expense.
Tonight, my friends, I am at my personal best. Evidence is listed below. I defy you to find a point when I’ve been a finer female specimen.
* I have not cleaned a single room or cooked/baked a single thing for the houseful of people I have coming over Saturday for the annual Christmas party. Still have several boxes of indoor decorations to put up and the outside has not been touched save for a snowman I put up on my door. I am in panic mode but cannot do anything about it because…
* I am an idiot and did not consider the fact that Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philly, where I’m having my back surgery next week, is a campus. Not a building. Since my back pain makes it difficult to stand for more than about a minute or so, I haven’t exactly exercised much lately. Therefore, walking from building to building down numerous city blocks and back for my battery of pre-admission tests and meetings yesterday did a hell of a number on my now completely and ridiculously sore thighs. And, I pulled my calf. Perfect. If you thought it was funny when I walked before, you should see me today. I should just crawl along the floor. It would look more normal.
* The dogs. Ugh, the dogs. Tonight’s game is a new one and I’m not amused. It goes something like this: Rio positions her face about 5 inches from Layla’s face, then growls and barks at her until Layla gets fed up enough to lunge at her. Rio humps the hell out of her, they roll around fighting on my lap until I break it up, and the whole debacle begins again from the start.
* Just to make things more interesting, the rest of my body hurts because I have a wicked cold and a fever. Both of these things had better kick it quickly due to the aforementioned party on Saturday, the research proposal I still have to finish but can’t think straight long enough to be able to work on, and the fact that my docs won’t even consider operating on me if I have so much as a hangnail.
* Current incredibly stylish outfit that perfectly compliments my bright red nose and red, swollen eyes: black hot-pink-lipstick-kiss-printed Victoria’s Secret flannel pajama pants, kelly green wife beater, ancient blue hooded Navy sweatshirt courtesy of my little brother from when he was in the service. No makeup. Ponytail. How’s that for an image? Needless to say my love, who is currently across the country on a business trip, and I will not be FaceTiming this evening.
At least the Christmas tree is on and it looks sparkly and pretty, if not a little bit blurry. Now, I hope you all feel better about yourselves and got a decent half chuckle out of my current pathetic state.
During a project the students were working on…
“Miss L, If I start singing Michael Jackson songs in the middle of class, I don’t mean to interfere – I think I just have a sickness where I like Michael Jackson too much. I even made a Michael Jackson PowerPoint!”
You go, girl – Rock on with your bad self.
I owe you guys a post, I know, but I couldn’t help myself. We currently have two pregnant teachers in my school. Today during homeroom, a student came up to me with this gem:
“Miss L – It’s pregnancy season! Are you going to catch a pregnancy?”
Interesting question, little darling. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
So I promised you the second half of The Great Pinterest Wall what, like, a month and a half ago? This is me living up to my promise to be a terrible blogger. I’m going to be getting that post up, hopefully by the end of the weekend, because I have so much other stuff to share with you guys!
First, the school year is in full swing. I moved across town to a new school and a new grade. I can’t wait to share some of the things I’ve been working on! You have to see the before and (hopefully soon-to-be-finished) after pictures of my new classroom. I inherited my room from an amazing teacher who had retired. Like many teachers (and sometimes I include myself in this category) she was a school supply and material hoarder. The first day I went, my friend and I threw out 6 leaf-sized garbage bags of junk and we didn’t even make a dent. Among some of the items we found were a ceramic Mrs. Claus and sombrero, which we had to combine and put in view of the security camera in the hallway so the office staff had something interesting to look at.
Second, grad school has been even crazier than usual – I have my regular two classes this semester, plus leftover projects for classes that started in the summer and finish in the spring: a pilot study for my dissertation and a leadership analysis project. That equals no free time and, I’m pretty sure, some extra gray hair. Don’t worry – I’m hiding them. The good news is that, as long as I pass my qualifying exam this winter, I’ll finally be a doctoral candidate and finish classes this summer!
Third, the situation with my back has been the bane of my existence for the past few months. I’m finally on the road to recovery! After waiting far too long for an MRI to be prescribed, it was discovered that I have a severely herniated disc. Yay for validation! My very conservative doc, who does not like to send patients to the operating table, gasped at the first sight of my MRI and said she’d be completely comfortable skipping alternative methods and going straight to the surgery due to the severity of the herniation and the pain I must be having. That, my friends, about sums up my luck in life! She also offered to write me out of work so I could stay home for a bit. I declined both (sometimes I regret the latter!). I had my first epidural a week and a half ago and it’s definitely helping, but there’s another in my future. Hopefully after that I’ll be back to working out, my heels, and moving at more than a snail’s pace.
Naturally after my procedure I heard about a bad batch of epidurals that can cause fungal meningitis. Minor heart attacks are good for your health, right? Because that’s what I had waiting to find out if I was in the clear.
Straight to the Point: I’ve been crazy busy and a terrible blogger. This back issue is making things that would take 20 minutes take 2 hours. I miss you guys and I’ll be back on my feet soon! I’ll post this weekend. Promise.
I rarely discuss my personal or family lives here, but there’s one story that has to be told. I’ve mentioned that my family recently suffered the huge loss of my Pop Pop after a very long, very emotional battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. I’ve been bouncing ideas around as to how I could describe what our family went through and the man he was. I’ll do the best I can to tell the story the way I’ve understood, interpreted, and personally remember it.
My grandparents have the kind of love story you would see in a movie. In their younger days, Pop Pop (Eddie) was in the Army and Nana (Marge) sang for RCA and the USO. At that time, if you walked the
much different streets of Newark, NJ, you would hear her beautiful voice being broadcast to the public. One night at a USO dance, Eddie asked Marge to dance. Even though she bashfully thought he was asking the girl behind her, the two danced and the pen was raised to write a love story that would span 70 years.
When Eddie asked Marge’s father for her hand in marriage, he replied, “You either take all of her or none of her!” And so it was.
When Eddie was deployed to the Philippines during WWII, Marge would write him a letter every day and twice on Sundays. Then, she would take the bus past the church in their town to go to mass at the church where they were married, several towns away. When he came home for good, the two had three amazing children. This was later to be followed by 10 grandchildren (that would be me, my brother, and our fabulous cousins!) and, much later, by 11 great-grandchildren.
Times were not always wonderful for Eddie and Marge. Despite the strength of their love, they had difficulty that stemmed from alcoholism. Eddie was a bartender for two decades, and wrestled with his demons in such a way that it nearly drove the family apart. But, Marge stuck with Eddie and Eddie eventually stuck it out. They were involved for many years with both Al-Anon and AA and helped countless others with their story, faith, patience and love. By the time Eddie passed away, he had been sober for 43 phenomenal years. Eddie and Marge would have celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary this October. When people asked how long they were married, he’d wink his famous wink and tell them the number of years, followed by, “I thought a title fight only went 15 rounds!”
I have many fantastic memories of my Nana and Pop Pop. We used to visit their home in Harwich Port, Cape Cod, MA every Thanksgiving and summer. My Pop Pop always had sparkling blue eyes, an infectious smile, that beautiful wavy hair, and the ability to make nearly anyone laugh. He was silly when it was time to be silly (as he had clearly been in the top picture, when he had me in a hysterical laughing fit) and serious when it was time to be serious.
One summer when I was very small, we went to a grocery store. Pop Pop and my dad stood me in front of the lobster tank and I was delighted to choose my very own lobster! However, there was a bit of a communication breakdown… When Pop Pop placed what I thought was going to be my new pet in front of me on the picnic table in their backyard, looking an awful lot more red and dead than I remembered him, I screamed and ran away in tears while everyone else erupted in laughter. To this day, I cannot take a lobster apart!
Later, as a teenager, Pop Pop had to find ways to entertain my brother and I during our visits. He would wake us when it was still dark and we would drive down to Bank Street Beach, head down to the jetty, and walk among the crashing waves, around the bend, all to the way to the end to go fishing. You’d think someone who grew up at the shore like me would know how to fish, but definitely not. Pop Pop and my dad were patient with me, though – They took turns holding my hand as we walked across the slippery rocks where I was sure I’d slip into the ocean, they baited my hook with squid, and they taught me how to cast. When I attempted my very first cast, they watched proudly as we found that I was so good at fishing, I managed to catch something before my hook even hit the waves: A seagull. I caught a seagull, mid-cast, who was thrashing around at the end of my line as I watched on, completely horrified. But Pop Pop and my dad were patient, unhooked the poor little guy, and cheered me on as we fished together throughout many more of those mornings.
If you’re not familiar with Alzheimer’s Disease, it’s a despicable and ugly disease. It slowly steals people’s lives and dignity. Towards the end, my grandparents moved to Jersey to be closer to family and lived in the same building – Nana in an apartment and Pop Pop in a hospital bed in skilled nursing. She spent time with him every morning, afternoon, and night. I was fortunate enough to live close by. Although I waited too long to start, I began visiting two-three times a week. By the end I made sure I was there every day. I’d sit by myself with Pop Pop… Hold his hand, stroke his hair, listen to music, watch TV. I’d introduce myself to him every 5 minutes or so, otherwise he could get startled or nervous because he didn’t know who I was. I’d tell him my name, remind him it was the same name as his mother, remind him I was his granddaughter and he was my Pop Pop, point out that I had inherited his blue eyes and they were exactly the same. I told him stories to remind him about things that happened when I was little and shared things that were currently happening in my life.
There were days his eyes would be alive and he’d wink at me in response to things I’d say, and there were days he seemed to look through me as I spoke to him. Just a few months ago, Nana, Pop Pop and I were able to have dinner at a table together in the dining room of skilled nursing – A fantastic memory. One evening I told Pop Pop how much I looked forward to seeing him every day, telling him, “This is MY happy hour now – Coming to see you!” A huge smile crossed his face and he belly laughed… Something I hadn’t heard in a long time. A week before he passed, he reached for my hand, winked, and I made jokes about how I might let him win if we arm wrestled. But through all of that, I was still introducing myself every five minutes, making sure he felt safe – A man who had always made me feel safe when we were together.
One day I went to my regular visit with Pop Pop and Nana, and a nurse told us that time was winding down. The next day I went back and some of the family sat together for a bit. The hospice nurse had told Nana that morning that it could be days; it could be hours. She wouldn’t leave his side. She held his hand the entire day. When they brought her dinner to the room, I watched as she held his hand with her left hand and ate her dinner with her right. Twenty five minutes after I left that evening, Nana was alone with Pop Pop in his room, holding his hand, when he slowly and peacefully stopped breathing. And then, she continued to hold his hand and sing him a song – Just her and the man she lovingly referred to as her “OAO” (One And Only) – The last sweet moments of the kind of love most people would do anything to find.
In this love story, so many people loved my Pop Pop, but no one more than Nana. That, my friends, is the kind of love that lives forever. I hope you find yours.