Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG: Oops Mom's Done it Again


It's time for another monthly meeting with Alex J. Cavanaugh's  Insecure Writer's Support Group, where writer's unleash their inner fears about everything from publishing problems to meddling moms.

Shortly after I began writing for a local online news website, some of my friends and family congratulated me. My mom said she was proud and excited for me, but I could tell that something else was on her mind. When I asked what was bothering her she replied, "Don't your blogging friends miss your stories about me?"

Here's what happened a few days later during a phone conversation:

ENI:  Mom, I just wanted you to know that I have a phone interview in a few minutes, so if you need to call me back, please wait at least an hour.

Mom: What if it's important?

ENI:  Is there anything important that you'd like to discuss now?

Mom:  I can't think of anything.

ENI:  Okay, then if you think of something else, just hold onto that thought for an hour until I'm done.

She agreed, and called me back fifteen minutes later during the interview to tell me about a great new movie.

Another instance occurred when Mom called while I was on the other line with a friend. I told her that I would call her back soon. Twenty minutes later, she was slightly agitated that I hadn't returned her call. I explained that I was still talking to my friend.

Mom took it well, and said, "I'm sorry that I'm only your mother and you can't find time to even talk to me on the phone. I'm sorry to bother you. I'll be fine. Goodbye."

Recently, I was out with my mom, and I checked my phone for messages. I immediately responded by emailing my editor, and followed-up with a call to the city manager's office.

My mom sat waiting with a drink and a snack while I finished my brief phone call. Then she said, "Why did you have to get back to them right away? Why are you such a pushover? I don't know why you let people take advantage of you like that."

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

IWSG: Lost and Found this Summer

Let's begin where we left off in July when our sons were moving in together. and I was lost in my empty nest. Shortly before the big move, I found a wonderful position as a reporter for a community news website that covers the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, Daily North Shore.  Selected stories are also featured in a weekend print edition.

I spent the rest of the summer losing and finding my way back again. Fortunately, Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group, always welcomes us back with open arms.

Last month I was at the library researching an upcoming event when I found myself heading over to the local author book shelf.  I was very impressed to learn that William Goldman the author of A Princess Bride, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, and All The President's Men, is also from Highland Park, IL. I couldn't believe that our little poetry anthology shared the same shelf space with this two-time academy award winner.

I combed through the section a few times, and Old Broads Waxing Poetic  was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, my whole life flashed before my eyes. Someone had actually checked it out. I wanted to personally thank this person for selecting our book, and find out what they did and didn't like about it. Okay, I just wanted to hear the first part.

I decided to approach the librarian. I explained that I couldn't find the book, and asked her to check the return file. She insisted that the book was still on the shelf, and we searched for it a second time together. Then it hit me. The library was selecting a book of the month for the upcoming fall poetry readings. Surely our book was under consideration, and put in a special place for safe keeping. I kept that thought to myself, as the librarian continued her search.

Finally, she decided not to mince words, "The book is missing. No one has checked it out. I've never seen anything like this before. It's simply lost."

I don't remember if I laughed, cried or a little bit of both, but I do know that I found my way home in one piece.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

IWSG: Back To The Empty Nest Again

One might call my older son a prince among men, as he and his little brother will shortly be moving in together. Though the boys were four years apart in school, I couldn't be happier that they get along so well. Of course, now that my younger son is officially leaving the nest after moving back in with us when he graduated from college last year, all of my insecurities are starting to pile up again.

This brings us to Alex J. Cavanaugh's, Insecure Writer's Support Group, a safe haven for bloggers to release their inner fears to an encouraging  and resourceful group of writers from all over the world. 

After my younger son moves out, some of my deepest fears include:

  • Who will side with me when my husband and I have an argument?
  • Who will watch my favorite shows with me when a sporting event is on TV?
  • Who will make me the best hot fudge I've ever tasted on sundae night? 

  • Okay, I made up the first two, but he really does make the best hot fudge, though he only makes it on rare occasions now, as his favorite saying about eating anything unhealthy is, "I'm not going to put that in my body."

    Both of my sons have big hearts, and are always there to help out in any situation. Whether my younger son is teaching me core strengthening exercises to help my back, or my older son is helping me troubleshoot with my computer on the phone while he's in the middle of work, I can always count on them.


    When they invited my husband and me to go apartment hunting with them, they promised that we'll often be invited over after they move in. We are extremely proud of the young men our sons have become, and their close relationship is the greatest gift of all. Though the fact that they're looking to hire a cleaning lady, who isn't me, is an added bonus.

    *Note - I'll be taking an extended blogging break to help our sons move, and to work on a new project. I really appreciate all of the support that everyone's given me throughout the years. I'll try my best to visit during the next several days. Wishing everyone a wonderful 4th of July weekend, and I hope to see you all at the end of the summer.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2015

    The Fools of the Road


    Recently, we were driving into the city for dinner with another couple. We were seated Flintstone style with Fred and Barney in the front, and Wilma and Betty in the back. All of a sudden, a car that didn't have its headlights on started to pass us. I encouraged our friend to signal the driver by honking or flashing his lights. He simply ignored my suggestions, as he and my husband continued their conversation.

    On the way home, another incident occurred. This happened on the expressway while Fred was trying to change lanes. The two hot rods were going head to head to prove who was King Of The Road, and our friend was determined not to let this young punk take over his title. As Wilma and I were hanging on for dear life, Fred and Barney were conspiring to teach this guy a lesson.

    After we knew we were out of danger, I brought up dinner, and maybe a bit of lunch, before I said, "What's the matter with you Fred, and Barney? You boys are just as guilty. How can two grown men with families waste all this time drag racing with a maniac, when you couldn't even help another driver who forgot to turn on his lights?"

    Then Fred replied matter-of-factly, "That guy was just playing a twisted game. He purposely drove without his lights on, so that the first person who flashed his lights would become a moving target for them to shoot. How could I risk getting us all killed?"

    Barney said that he had also heard stories about those gang related shootings. I told them the whole thing sounded absolutely ridiculous, and that by signaling to the driver it could prevent future accidents. The subject quickly changed, and Fred had us all laughing the rest of the way home.

    The next morning, I was rummaging through the Sunday paper when something interesting caught my eye. I grabbed my husband, as we called our friends to tell them to pull out the Motormouth Rides section of the Chicago Tribune. Coincidentally, someone else  was reluctant to help drivers who didn't have their lights on for the very same reason that Fred had mentioned. This was Bob Weber's (Motormouth) response:

    "This is an urban legend that, as far as I could find, goes back to 1993. Despite such stories bouncing around, this is not part of a gang initiation. Please don't let unfounded rumors prevent you from being a good Samaritan."

    Fred and Barney were also surprised to read this article only a day after the incident had occurred. Hopefully, this will result in them becoming more courteous drivers, instead of acting out their road rage. At least they both said, "You were right Julie, I mean Betty." I think "You are right," is the new "I love you."

    *A repost from March 2014. 

    Tuesday, June 2, 2015

    IWSG: When Characters Fall Out Of The Sky

    It's time for another addition of  Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit the diversely talented members who will welcome you with open arms. The following is a repost from last spring.

    The night before our flight home from Israel, we upgraded our seats to the exit aisle. Since we had to leave for the airport early in the morning with only a few hours sleep, we both took turns dozing off on the flight. Shortly after, the first character from another dimension appeared.

    The exit aisle was located next to the restroom. Though I was too far away to see if the "Vacant" or "Occupied" sign was on, the man's body language led me to believe that he was first in line. He started swaying back and forth doing the "potty dance." This dance occurs at an early age when children are having so much fun playing outside that they hold it in until the last minute. This results into spastic convulsions in a panic to race home to the bathroom. Sadly, this condition often begins to reappear in middle-age, and can be set-off with as little as a cup of coffee.

    As time passed, he decided to turn our little exit corner into his own personal gym. He did a series of exercises from running in place to a complete stretching routine. I was looking forward to getting back to my book, when the next character appeared.

    This man was in his late sixties, and enjoyed shuffling between the galley, and the restroom. He acted like an overserved patron at a singles bar. While nursing a cup of water, he unabashedly flirted with a pretty, young woman as she waited to use the restroom. When he ran out of people to bother, he eventually used the facilities himself. Afterward, he slid into our exit corner to tuck in his shirt, zip up his fly, and buckle his belt. It was almost as if he thought he was entering a fifth wall where no one would be able to see him. If only he had been invisible, then we wouldn't have had to see his Howard Hughes toenail peeking through the hole in his sock. For all of the rules on airlines, not being allowed to take your shoes off should be one of them.

    I began to doze off again, and awoke to a crowd full of people. Suddenly, our little corner was converted into a cozy comedy club. A group of men were laughing it up before their wives came to spoil their fun. Each of the three wives looked like one of Cinderella's wicked stepsisters, while each of the husbands looked like they wanted to find another hideout.

    Then I started wondering what they thought about me. Did they catch me sleeping with my mouth open? Was I covered in crumbs from the tasteless lunch? Could they see that I ran out of clean socks, and was wearing navy tweed with black pants? Of course my shoes never left my feet, as I follow my own rules.

    If the first character was The Gym Rat, the second Herbert The Pervert, the third Cinderella's Steps and Their Fellas, who would I be? Just a pale observer of unsavory characters, who looked like she could've been traveling from Wisconsin instead of a very warm climate from halfway around the world. Whoever said that you had to look out the window to see interesting sights?

    Thursday, May 21, 2015

    Mom's Adventures in Rehab Part II

    Some people choose a nursing home facility based on the quality of care, while my mom's choice was based on the quality of snacks. This was my mom's third stint in rehab after her five day hospital stay. Her last visit was about two years ago, so we knew the schedule by heart. The old fashioned ice-cream parlor was open every day until 4:00, and on Friday afternoons they served pizza, and had live music. All of the activities took place in their Main Street area which was located next to the beauty shop.

    Last Friday, I stopped off at my mom's room to drop off  her laundry before I met her at the beauty parlor. I noticed her roommate was just sitting there looking at the wall, so I asked if she'd like to go listen to the music downstairs. She was eager to leave, but was worried that her husband wouldn't be able to find her. I wheeled her over to the front desk and left word where we were going. Then I checked with her nurse to see if she had any dietary restrictions. After we got the okay, we ran into my mom's dear friends. I invited them to join us on the elevator, so they could surprise my mom. I felt like Dorothy leading her friends down the yellow brick road.

    As I escorted the couple inside the beauty shop, I set my mom's roommate near a table, so she could listen to the music. Then I told her I'd be back in a minute to get her something to eat. She decided to also have her hair done in the beauty shop, so I brought her inside with us. She politely offered to wait until the beautician was available.

    Though they had shared a room for three weeks, this was the longest conversation her roommate, and I ever had. It may have been the very first time she and my mom had actually spoken to each other. Their room was separated by a tall cabinet and curtain. Since they were both in wheelchairs, their paths only crossed on the way to the bathroom, or coming or going from the room. My mom was in charge of the windows and the air conditioning, while her roommate was in charge of blasting her TV loud enough, so my mom never had to turn on the volume on her set.

    As my mom was busy socializing with our close family friends in the beauty shop, my first job was to keep the snacks coming. I brought in slices of pizza and a root beer float for the happy couple to share. My second job was to translate over the noise from the blow dryer, and background music. Meanwhile, her roommate was pleasantly perched on the opposite end of the room.

    Suddenly, the mood changed as the hairdresser started whispering to the manicurist. When I asked what was wrong, she pointed to the oxygen tank on the back of the roommate's wheelchair. I didn't think it was a problem, because it wasn't in use. Then both the beautician and the manicurist explained how oxygen tanks and blow dryers do not mix.

    After I apologized and offered to remove her from the beauty shop, she asked if my mom would mind taking a break, so she could quickly comb her roommate's hair before we all blew up. I distracted my mom with another slice of pizza, while she worked her magic, and then I whisked her roommate back up to the room. All the while, she couldn't stop thanking me for transporting her to and from the beauty shop. She kindly added, "Your mom is adorable, and she's way too young to have you for a daughter."

    Fortunately, everyone made it out of the beauty shop alive. Then I noticed my mom's bangs were in her eyes, and asked why she didn't have the hairdresser trim them. She replied, "Do you think I could trust her to cut one hair on my head?"

    My mom asked me to bring her a pair of scissors, but I thought it would be better if she waited a week to go to her favorite beautician close to home. A few days later, I noticed there was something different about my mom. Then it hit me. When I brought her caregiver for a visit, she must have slipped her some contraband scissors, so she could trim her own bangs. I told Mom she would be an ideal prison inmate, and without missing a beat she quipped, "Well, I do look good in orange."

    Tuesday, May 5, 2015

    IWSG: Reflections On A to Z


    My first A to Z Challenge was in 2011, shortly after I began blogging. I couldn't believe how friendly everyone was. Not only did they willingly read my stories, but non-family members actually began to follow me. I signed on again for the next two challenges, and decided to take a break in 2014, as we were leaving on vacation toward the end of April. During the first few weeks before we left, it felt strange not participating in the challenge. As difficult as the challenges had been in the past, I missed the camaraderie of moaning and groaning with all of my blogging friends.This year it had an opposite effect, as it proved to be therapeutic in an unexpected way.

    During the last few months my mom has groan progressively weaker. Though she has been using a walker for years, her legs have become more wobbly, and she has been relying more and more on her wheelchair. I took her to the doctor in March who in turn, referred her to three other doctors: a cardiologist, a rheumatologist, and a hematologist. I told my mom she didn't need to waste time visiting all of these specialists, but she insisted on seeing them anyway.

    In early April she was scheduled for a lying down stress test with her cardiologist. By this time, she was so weak, that it was very difficult for her caregiver and me to get her in  and out of the car. After the results came back fine, I asked the cardiologist to test her legs for blood clots, check her for a urinary tract infection, and to also see if she was dehydrated. Though these are normally jobs for an internist, I thought he could send some orders down to the lab, since we were already at the hospital anyway. After he declined, we wheeled her over to her internist's office, but as my mom expected, it was her day off. After I dropped my mom off at home, I paged her doctor who made arrangements to have these tests taken by a visiting nurse the following day. For reasons unknown, all of the tests came back negative.

    Over the next few weeks we went to the other doctors on her list. One of the offices was so filthy, that I refused to take my mom in. This building was so rundown that it only had a one person elevator that looked like it was on the verge of collapse. It was getting to the point where every time I saw my mom, I wanted to check her in to the hospital. My brother, and her friends in the retirement community were also quite concerned.

    On April 17th, I picked my mom up to take her to the beauty shop. She had grown considerably weaker, and her doctor had ordered some follow up tests to be administered by her visiting nurse. During the ride home, I told her that this would be a great time to check herself in to the hospital. She refused again. I knew my brother would be visiting shortly, and mentioned that she would  probably be going at some point that day. Several hours later, my brother phoned me at 9 PM, to tell me they were heading over to the ER.

    My mom spent a few days in the hospital, before she was sent to a nursing home for rehab. It turns out that she was suffering from dehydration, a urinary tract infection, and blood clots in each of her legs. She still likes her doctor, and plans on continuing to use her. Fortunately, she hasn't lost her charm, and has deservedly so mouthed the words, "You are dumber than dirt," to both my brother and me while the nurses weren't looking.


    Being called "dumber than dirt," has unleashed a whole bag of insecurities for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.  I can't tell you how helpful it was to read through the encouraging comments during A to Z. It really was such a welcome diversion. I'd like to blame these events on getting so far behind in following up on the comments, but truth be told I still would've fallen behind. In any event, I hope to get back to everyone this week. Not only did your comments cheer me up, but my mom got a kick out of reading them too.

    Thanks to Arlee Bird for another successful A to Z Challenge. I'd also like to thank Alex,  Rhonda,  Hilary,  Delores,  Joanne,  Robyn,  Yvonne.  Lee,   Chrys,  Cherdo,  Dixie,   Birgit,  Sue,  Jo,  Julie, and Al  for all of your support.

    I'm also thankful for having this wonderful group cheering from the sidelines: Arleen,  Stephen,  Robin,  Gorilla,  Debra, and  Shady.  I also appreciate everyone else who took the time to pop in and say hello. I'm sorry if I left anyone out. Thanks for making my fourth A to Z truly memorable, and for keeping me sane in the process.