A few of you recently made comments about my lack of updates.   The major reasons for that are:  Fibro fog, Fibro fatigue, and pain (caused by Fibromyalgia, herniated discs, pinched nerves, torn rotator cuff, etc.).  It’s a miracle I can hold a job and get meals on the table.  My online journal, or blog, or whatever you want to call it, is simply not a priority for me these days.

Anyway, I have the day off because of a snow storm, so I decided to devote some of it to a review of 2010.

January: Went to a welcome home dinner for a young man who was kicked out of the armed forces and sent home from Afghanistan after someone blew the whistle on him for being gay.

A furnace repairman might have saved our lives… He discovered that the hot water heater exhaust flue had been knocked off the flue vent.  It must have been off for quite some time because the flue gasses melted some of the pipe insulation. According to him, we were in danger of dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

February: As I was going up to bed one night, I lost my balance and fell down a couple of stairs, twisting my right leg in the process, and landing heavily on it.  X-rays at the ER the next day revealed bone contusion and bruised muscles.  I just love adding more pain to my life.

In an unrelated incident – you know you’ve had too many MRIs when the technician recognizes you and greets you by saying, “Back for more?”

March: One of Leigh’s dear friends died during heart surgery.  Rest peacefully, Quicci.

Leigh had to have her cat, Simmy, put to sleep.  More heartbreak.

Daniel and I celebrated anniversary #5.

Developed an addiction to Chobani pomegranate Greek yogurt.

April: Had a “Scary headache” for the entire month.

May: Had the front porch painted, which turned out to be a very good thing because that’s pretty much where I spent my summer vacation…

June: Refinanced our mortgage to go from 6.25 interest rate down to 4.875.

July: Went to Seaside Heights.  Would have enjoyed it more if not for the god-awful heat. It should be against the law for temps to get that high (102).

My grandmother turned 99.

August: I was trapped at the chiropractor’s for two hours because of a devastating storm that passed through the area. Five cars in the parking lot were crushed under trees. One car belonged to my neighbor, and another to my cousin.  That storm was a sight to see!

The city damaged our driveway when they cut down the tree in front of our house.  They failed to respond to my letters, so a legal consultation will have to be the next step.

The front page of our local paper featured an article about a 17 year old girl I knew very well who was killed in a horrific accident the previous morning. In another section of the paper there was an obituary for a good friend of mine.  In three days, I lost two people I loved.  Rest peacefully Natia and Bob.

I turned 56.

While I was standing in the parking lot of a restaurant, a guy yelled, “Shorty, shorty!” When I turned around he asked, “Are you married?” I have to say that being called “shorty” made my day.

September: Adventures with ambien – Objects in photos seem to move just like they do in Harry Potter! Freaky, man.  I also discovered that I sometimes indulge in online shopping while under the influence of ambien. Definitely not a good thing.

Found out that the stabbing victim in a recent homicide was my father’s best friend.  Rest peacefully, Ron.

The results of my skin test revealed that I have perivascular dermatitis.  Because of the effing rash, my legs were so swollen I had elephant knees!

Reconnected with old friends (one of whom is Snooki’s mother).

Our community lost yet another young person who died much too soon. Rest peacefully, Zach.

October: One morning when Daniel was getting ready to drive me to work, we found a dead cat under the front tire. (No, it hadn’t been run over – it must have crawled there to die.) Not a good way to start the day.

This year’s Dress Up As A Literary Character costume – Esmeralda (from THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME by Victor Hugo)

Had a very enjoyable time at the Sheep &Wool Festival. Chatting with some llamas and alpacas (actually, they were humming) was the best part.

Four years…I miss you, Mark. Rest peacefully.

November: An old high school friend died after a long battle with cancer. Her brother (who was a very little boy at the time) gave me the only nickname I’ve ever had – “wild eyes.”  Rest peacefully, Beth.

A former student and friend of my daughters died unexpectedly. Rest peacefully, Peter.

I found out about a whopper of a lie that was spread about me 25 years ago… Apparently, I was a coke addict!  Diet coke, maybe, but certainly not the white powdery stuff.  Sheesh.  I guess there’s a statute of limitations on slander/defamation of character, huh… Oh well, at least I got a good laugh out of it!

Was stunned to learn that an old online friend took his own life. He was such a kind person and gentle soul, not to mention a brilliant mathematician and skating enthusiast. I’m really going to miss his nickname for me (Stephanova) and the praying mantis warnings (personal joke). Rest peacefully, Robby.

Spent over three hours at the ER – Leigh’s myoclonic seizures caused her to fall down the stairs AND on the driveway as we were guiding her to the car to take her to the hospital. They did NOTHING, and we finally announced that we were leaving (but not before I created a bit of a scene).  As Leigh pointed out, a Veterinary Clinic wouldn’t treat an ANIMAL that way. They wouldn’t just throw a cat or dog in a crate and let it seizure for three hours. Unbelievable!

Another ER visit  – for me, this time.  Diagnosis: mesenteric lymphadenitis – inflammation of the mesenteric lymph nodes. Causes pain that mimics acute appendicitis. I hope I never have to experience that kind of pain again.   That was the most agonizing experience of my life, and I’m no stranger to pain.

A former student (and Leigh’s childhood friend) celebrated the release of his first book. Congratulations, Daniel!

December: As usual, I hosted the Christmas festivities.

My former mother-in-law died on December 28th.  She had just been at my house for Christmas, and was in fine spirits, and seemed to be in good health. During the early hours of the 27th, she had a hemorrhagic stroke and had already suffered irreparable brain damage by the time she was found.   The all-day bedside vigil before she passed away was heart wrenching and draining. Rest peacefully, Marj.

All in all, it was a pretty shitty year with far too many deaths.  Which is another reason why I didn’t update.  So there you go.

Song of the Day: Bad Year by Sicko

The city I live in just lost one of its most legendary characters,  and in a place that boasts a cannibal killer and a serial murderer, that’s saying something.

I met Paul approximately forty years ago, when I was a high school student.  He was mad as a hatter, and even back then, the ravages of alcohol were evident.  He had the yellowest eyes I’ve ever seen.

Despite his mental instability (that’s putting it mildly), Paul was extremely intelligent, and was said to have been absolutely brilliant before whatever happened to him happened.  Some people say that he had been a Professor Emeritus of Literature & History at Vassar College; others say he was an accomplished chemist.  Among the many rumors about him, the most persistent was that Paul had a lot of money.  Yet he was often homeless.

In the 1970s, I spent quite a bit of my leisure time at a nightclub that featured live music; sometimes it was local talent, and other times it was major recording artists.   In between sets, Paul would roller skate across the stage, wearing a buffalo head hat with huge horns, a gigantic bow tie and enormous sunglasses.

Everybody knew Paul, and everybody I talk to has a story to tell about him.  Much to my delight, students often include him in their “I Am Frompoems.  The funniest incident from my own personal experiences with Paul has to have been the time he handed me a rose in a New Paltz dance club and asked me to go out to dinner with him. When I declined, he pulled down his pants and mooned me!  That memory still makes me laugh.

Rest peacefully, Paul.

Song of the Day: Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon

Enough is Enough

October 18, 2009

A lot has happened since I last posted here.  Right before I went back to work in early September, my grandmother was admitted to the hospital.  She was there for quite some time, and it was touch and go for a while.  She ended up getting a pacemaker.  As you can imagine, that was a very stressful time.

Last month, I participated in our annual  “Dress Up As A Literary Character Day”  at work.  I went as Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.  What a trip that was.

On Tuesday, the husband of a much loved co-worker died unexpectedly.  I went to the shiva house after work on Friday, and was dismayed to see how frail and fragile my co-worker looks.  She and her husband were married for 41 years, and they were incredibly devoted to each other.  My heart aches for her, as it does for my darling LA, her fiancée, and his family as they deal with the very recent loss of Mick’s grandmother.   Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.

A little over a week ago, my father had a total knee replacement.  At present, he is in a rehabilitation facility for physical therapy, which means that my 98 year-old grandmother is alone.  Michele, Mike and I have been running around like those proverbial chickens with their heads cut off.  I am beyond exhausted, and in extraordinary pain.  I don’t know how I’m going to walk to work every morning this week (Daniel is visiting his family in Canada)… The walk home isn’t too bad, but I am especially stiff and achy in the morning.  This is going to be very difficult for me.

Yesterday, Leigh had to go to a walk-in clinic because she thought she had a UTI. Turns out that she has an unusually high amount of protein in her urine, which the doctor said can be indicative of kidney disease.   He wants her to follow up with a urologist.

To top things off, Tuesday will mark the third anniversary of my brother’s death.

As I said on Facebook, my “downer” quota has been filled for the month.  No more, please.

Song of the Day:  Downer by Nirvana

Hurray!  I finally made it to the seashore!  Leigh, her boyfriend, Eric, and I spent Tuesday night and most of Wednesday afternoon in Seaside Heights, NJ.  Wednesday morning, I went for a walk around 7:00 a.m. in search of coffee.  I found a deli about a block from our motel.  Speaking of the motel, which was only a few steps from the boardwalk, this was the view from my window.  Sweet.

Anyway, while I was waiting at the counter, a woman walked over to pay for her breakfast sandwich.  I looked up and was stunned and overjoyed to see that it was LA!   After much squealing and hugging, LA channeled Humphrey Bogart and said, “Of all the delis in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

Heh!  We ended up spending the day together on the beach with our combined clans, and had an absolutely wonderful time.  I knew that LA was in Seaside Heights this week with Mick and Wolf, and did hope that we would be able to get together.  Before LA left for the Jersey shore, she made the comment that it would be funny if the first time we managed to see each other in so long would be when we were both 100 miles from home.  Well, that’s exactly what happened, but I never expected to bump into her at a deli first thing in the morning.  Talk about a serendipitous experience! When LA told Mick about our chance encounter, he remarked that he would have been more surprised if it had happened to any other people.  But, with the two of us, he’s come to expect wild and wonderful things.

One of those wonderful things happened when LA and I were standing at the edge of the water.  Mick came down and wrapped his arms around LA.  Seconds later, Wolf walked over and put his arms around me.  My heart melted into a puddle that mingled with the surf foam and was drawn out to sea by the receding waves.

I am reminded of the John Lennon song, “Beautiful Boy” every time I see Wolf.  He really is remarkable in a lot of ways, just like his mother.  Thanks for a perfectly delightful day, LA & Co!

Today marks yet another birthday…  I am now FIFTY-FREAKING-FIVE YEARS OLD.  I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it is for me to believe that.  Lucky for me, it seems to be difficult for others to believe, as well.

During the last week of summer school, a student was talking to two of her friends about “cougars.”  She turned to me and asked if I was familiar with the term.  I replied, “Well, yes, I guess I am, considering that I’m married to a much younger man.”  They asked how old I am, and the look on their faces when I told them was priceless.  One exclaimed, “No you’re not!”  Another demanded that I produce my birth certificate.  The third further endeared herself to me by remarking that I look like I’m in my thirties.  Now I know that’s not true (see entry title), but it felt good to hear it, nonetheless.

Here’s this year’s birthday photo.   (My hair is a lot shorter than I’m accustomed to wearing it, but, believe it or not, this is three month’s growth after a particularly devastating haircut.)

My blog (I still have a hard time using that word) had a birthday recently, too.  I started an online journal (that’s what we called it back then) on August 21, 2001.   On September 23, 2001, I posted this entry about my reasons for creating an online journal:

Anatomy of a Diarist

Since my initiation into the Online Journal Club, I’ve been giving the genre a fair amount of thought.  Non-journalers tend to perceive the phenomenon as a “Dear Diary” sort of thing.  For all I know, some journalers approach it that way themselves.  But, that’s not how I see it. I feel more like a reporter whose subject just happens to be (for the most part) my life.  Of course, I don’t “report” in a New York Times fashion.  I don’t have that kind of training, and I don’t take myself that seriously.  I try to inject a little humor into my entries, and maybe even the occasional stab at pathos.  To me, this process is more akin to journalism or writing essays than it is to keeping a diary.  While I will discuss personal matters, it is not necessarily my intention to bare my soul.  Some things are just too private.

My reasons for writing are varied.  For one thing, I find that I don’t express myself as well vocally, having a tendency to get tongue-tied.  I like to consider what I’m going to say before blurting it out, and verbal conversations don’t afford me enough time to do that.  Writing gives me the opportunity to make more in-depth observations.  Often, writing will lead me to a better understanding of myself, and even an occasional revelation.  (R-E-F-L-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!)

Before taking the online journal plunge, I indulged the frustrated writer lurking within on a fairly regular basis in the form of letter writing.  Email is a vehicle I use on a daily basis.  I also used to exchange lengthy “snail mail” missives (25 pages and upward) with a friend in Pennsylvania. (Hi, Karen!)  Our correspondences were written in installments, and mailed at intervals of approximately every six months.  We included lots of photos, and found this a very satisfying way to stay in touch.

My writing method varies.  Sometimes my mood is light and casual; at others, it is bruised and introspective.   My entries are typically full of whining, joking, and boasting (usually about my kids).  During my darker moments, I find that writing about my feelings (and what causes them) really can be therapeutic.  This catharsis doesn’t exactly purge me of all negativity, but it does help to lessen my load considerably.  Sharing my triumphs and/or failures with an audience through an online journal lightens my burden even more.  Also, I recently read that writing lowers stress-related chemicals in the body, which is another good reason to allow myself this indulgence!

In closing, I’d like to share something Daniel told me quite some time ago, in reference to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, author of A Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovitch, and the staggering Gulag Archipelago.

“When Solzhenitsyn was writing in secret in Russia, paper was such a luxury to him.  Where we in the West have the freedom to scrawl haphazardly across a seemingly endless supply of paper, Solzhenitsyn literally could not waste a square inch of paper.  Every blank space had to be filled with his brilliance before he dared move on to another piece lest he run out of pages, and not transmit his profound thoughts to a world in desperate need of them.”

How humbling. Certainly, the world is not in desperate need of MY thoughts, so I am especially appreciative of those taking the time to read this.

Re-reading that entry makes me realize how much I used to depend on this form of release to manage stress.  It also makes me realize how much lighter my stress load is these days.  Oh sure, I still have chronic pain and financial burdens to deal with.  But there’s not nearly as much angst in my life as there was before.  After years of turbulence and heartache, I now have wonderful relationships with my daughters.   I am married to a kind, loving, supportive man who compliments me daily.  In short, I don’t have as much to get off my chest as I did in the past, which I suppose is why I don’t post here very often any more.

Still, it’s good to know that this place is here if I need it as a dumping ground, or even if I just want to drop in to say hello or show you some pictures.  Thanks for sticking around.  My world wouldn’t be the same without you.

Reading:  Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Song of the Day:  Celebration by Kool and the Gang

A few years ago, a co-worker/friend was involved in a terrible car accident.   The car in which she was a passenger was hit head on by a drunk driver.

Felicia suffered severe head injuries, and was in a coma for 8 months.  Against all odds, she came out of the coma, but she will never be the same.

Felicia has three children, ages 9, 13, and 16.  They are currently on America’s Got Talent.   This clip isn’t the best quality, but it is incredibly moving.  I’ve been sitting here watching and crying (along with Sharon Osborne) for half an hour.

God bless you and your family, Felicia.

In other news, Daniel will become a U.S. citizen today.  When he went for his citizenship test in NYC a few weeks ago, he told the examiner, “After marrying my wife, this will be the greatest honor of my life.”

Congratulations, Daniel!  (I’ve been calling him Mr. America.)

Song of the Day: America the Beautiful

Wow, it sure has been a long time since I last posted here.  I think this is my longest hiatus since I started an online journal back in August of 2001.  There are a few reasons for my silence.  One is that I’ve been pretty tied up with an unhappy situation one of my sisters is dealing with.   The past few months have been physically and emotionally draining.

Another reason is that I just haven’t felt like going to the trouble of posting here.   When I do feel the need to make public mention of certain happenings, I do it on Facebook.  This appeals to me because I can do it in as few words as possible, without having to tax my brain trying to come up with an entire entry.  I’ve become a lazy blogger.

Speaking of Facebook, this social networking site has enabled me to make some new friends, as well as reconnect with some old and very dear friends.  One of those people is Joanne.  Her association with our family goes back to childhood.  She and my sister, Patti, were very good friends, and Joanne spent a lot of time at our house, and even traveled to our summer cottage in the Berkshires with us.  I was delighted when I recently received a Facebook friend request from her.  (She now lives in Virginia.)

I’ve been posting Youtube clips (like this one) all week, and Joanne left this comment the other day:  “God, you bring back memories…. [Singing] Someone saved my life tonight at the top of our lungs while you were getting ready to go to that place in New Paltz…. What was the name of it???? Some of my fondest memories are being at the Perri’s.”

Her remarks conjured up some fond memories of my own, and I went in search of photos.   I had a laughing fit when I came across this pic of Patti dressed up as Elton John.

My siblings and I loved to “dress up.”  Actually, I loved to dress other people up.  Unfortunately, most of the photographic evidence is stored in huge Rubbermaid bins in the basement, and I don’t have the stamina to sort through them right now.  It’s really too bad because there are some great shots of Mark and Mike dressed up as Robert Plant and Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, and Mike as King Tut and Mark as a mummy…  Oh well, I’ll get around to it someday… In the meantime, here are a few photos that were in albums, and therefore easier to locate.

This is Patti dressed up as a mime.

Punked out Michele.  (You can’t see them in this pic, but there are safety pins all over the shirt.)

Mark and Mike, and then Frank, as Gumbys.

We even dressed up our snowmen!

Those really were the days…

Reading:  The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

Song of the Day:  Someone Saved My Life Tonight by Elton John

Another Death

March 4, 2009

This morning, I woke up with the same tension headache I went to bed with last night.

Let me explain.  Yesterday, I was having a discussion about furnaces with a co-worker whose husband works for a heating company.  I mentioned that I needed to get my furnace cleaned, and asked if her husband does jobs on the side.  She said he does, but is very busy in the winter, and therefore recommended that I give him a call over the summer.  I made a note to do so.

As luck would have it (my luck, that is), I came home to a freezing cold house.

Fortunately, I was able to get someone from the aforementioned company to come over pretty quickly.  He replaced the thermocouple at the cost of $162 ($125 of which was just for the house call).  This came on the heels of a $940 gas & electric bill.  (We have gas heat.  Still, that’s a lot of money for two months, especially considering that we keep the thermostat set at 68 when we’re home, and 65 during the night and when we’re at work.)

To add to yesterday’s bad news, I also learned that our elderly neighbor died on Sunday.  A few days ago, I asked Daniel if he had seen Helen.  I said I was worried because there had been an unusual amount of activity going on over at her place.  It turns out that I was right to be concerned.

Helen was a tough old broad.  I’ll never forget the first time I met her.  She introduced herself with a handshake that crushed my fingers.  I swear, it hurt so much I couldn’t wait for her to let go.

Helen was on dialysis.  About a year ago, she was admitted to the hospital on an emergency basis.  Her cat, Lollipop, was hanging around our back porch late in the evening, so I realized something must have happened to Helen.  We put food and water out for Lollipop until Helen was discharged from the hospital.  Helen’s brother stopped by one afternoon, and I mentioned that we were looking after the cat.  He told Helen, and she called to thank us as soon as she got home.  She said she was especially grateful because Lollipop was the love of her life.  (Helen was a widow.)  I thought that was so cute.

A few months ago, I was out on my back porch around 5:30 pm.  It was pitch dark.  Suddenly, I heard Helen call my name.  She asked if I would help her.  I followed her voice to a spot between our properties, and found her standing there, afraid to move.   She said she had fallen, and, while she was able to get back on her feet, she was too shaky to walk to her house.  I asked what she was doing outside in the dark, and she said it wasn’t dark when she went out.  That meant that she had been standing there for at least an hour.

I put my arm around her and led her to her back door, step by painstaking step.  She kept stumbling, and had to stop and rest every few seconds.  A couple of days later, she sent me a thank you card.

Except for a few waves in passing, that’s the last real interaction I had with Helen.   It’s hard to believe I will never see her again.

Song of the Day:  If I Never See Your Face Again by Maroon 5

More Cheese, Please

January 18, 2009

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone for the encouraging words (in my comments section and via email) over the potentially catastrophic job situation. Fortunately, I belong to a union, and our contract says that, in the event of a layoff, the last ones hired are the first ones to go.  Still, I have cause to worry because I think there are only around sixty Teaching Assistants in the district, and they are talking about eliminating fifty-one of those positions.  There’s a very good chance that nine people have seniority over me.

LeAnn raised a point that I want to address.  Unfortunately, there wouldn’t be any severance pay, and the measly unemployment benefits I’d receive wouldn’t be enough to keep us afloat.  So, if I lose my job, we will be in serious trouble immediately.

In happier news, I had a chance to see the beautiful (inside and out) GBW and her stunning daughter, A, yesterday.  When I heard that GBW was going to be selling her wares at a winter farmer’s market at a college not far from my house, I made plans to stop by and say hello.  We haven’t seen each other in a very long time.  I mentioned to GBW that it’s also been way too long since I last saw LA.   I really miss her.

Another thing GBW and I talked about is how LA isn’t a big fan of cheese, but she sure can sell it.  Daniel doesn’t like cheese, either.  In fact, he hates the mere thought of it.  That goes for all dairy products except butter.  He has said that one of his biggest fears is that, when he is on his deathbed, I will lean in and whisper, “You know that dish you liked so much?  Well, it had cheese in it.”

GBW remarked that she can’t imagine life without cheese, and neither can I.  I have yet to try the Chevre logs sampler, (plain, garlic herb and herbs de Provence), but if it tastes as delectable as it looks, it’s sure to be absolutely delicious.  I did try the feta, and it’s the best I’ve ever tasted.  Word is bond.

Now I’m heading upstairs to take a shower so I can use GBW’s yummy Oatmeal & Honey all natural goat milk soap.   Then I’ll light a fire, read, knit, listen to music and alternate looking at the flames and looking out my window at the pretty wintry scene, courtesy of the freshly fallen snow.

Thank goodness for simple pleasures.

Song of the Day:  Mice Eat Cheese by Modest Mouse

Thanksgiving 2008

November 27, 2008

Today I am thankful for the usual things – the love of my husband, family and friends, the joy of pets, having a job that provides health insurance (including dental and optical), a roof over my head and food on my table.  I am also grateful for the kindness of my readers.  The friendship and support you have shown me over the years has helped me get through some really hard times.

I am also very appreciative of the nice comments about my “sharves.”   Some of you suggested that I try to sell them.  I did consider etsy, but I’ve heard that other knitters, far more experienced and skilled than I am, have had disappointing results with their etsy endeavors.

One of my co-workers has expressed an interest in buying a sharf, but I don’t know how much to charge.  Depending on the yarn, the materials expense is only $10 to $15.  The big thing is the amount of work involved.  Creating a sharf is labor intensive – it takes me about a month to knit one.  Any suggestions on pricing would be most welcome.

Sasha, you asked about surplus stock. I have lots of yarn left over (I’m pretty sure I have enough for any of the sharves featured in my last entry) , and I would be happy to knit whatever you want according to your color specifications.   This is just a sampling of my supply of sharf yarn.

Now for Thanksgiving dinner…  For the past several years, I’ve been alternating hosting holiday gatherings with my sister, Michele.  It’s her turn to do Thanksgiving but she didn’t want to invite The Ex and his mother.  Ex MIL  has Alzheimer’s, but that’s not why people don’t enjoy her company.  The truth of the matter is that she’s rude.   What’s worse, she’ll make an insulting remark and then repeat it over and over because she doesn’t remember that the cruel words were already uttered.

Anyway, we always include The Ex and his mother in our holiday plans.   Otherwise, they’d be alone, and I’d feel terrible.  Consequently, we won’t be going to Michele’s this year.  Since I’ll be hosting Christmas, I didn’t want to do Thanksgiving, too.  Therefore, I told The Ex he should do it and he agreed.

So, that’s where we’re going this afternoon.  I’m bringing pumpkin pies (recipe courtesy of Mary), brownies, and a Mexican chili cheese dip that I’d better go prepare before any more time slips away from me.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Song of the Day:  My Thanksgiving by Don Henley

Spirits In the Night

October 9, 2008

Our high school has been celebrating Spirit Week, which will culminate in the Homecoming Game and Dance on Saturday.  The festivities kicked off on Monday with “Decades Day.”  I already did my part for the Twenties, so I decided to wear something more comfortable this time.  I chose 1990 grunge.  My outfit consisted of ripped jeans and a flannel shirt over a Nirvana tee.

Tuesday was  Mismatch Day.  I wore green and white checked seersucker pants, a pink and white striped tank top under a patchwork shirt, one black boot and one brown boot.

Wednesday was Twin Day.  My Friend and I wore jean skirts, black boots, off-white tank tops and our identical corduroy jackets.   (Hers has been worn and washed more than mine so it’s a bit faded.)

We’re off today for Yom Kippur. I have an appointment with a pain management doctor this afternoon, and, for once, the appointment coincides with a full-blown flare-up. The stress of waiting for a response to my request for a health-related accommodation has exacerbated my symptoms, and I’m in terrible pain.

By the way, I was looking online for information about how quickly an employer should respond to an accommodation request, and found that employers should respond “expeditiously.”  Furthermore, “Unnecessary delays in responding or implementing an accommodation can result in a violation of the ADA.”  The EEOC provides an example in which an employee submitted two requests (I have submitted four).  “Yet, two months after the initial request, nothing has been done. Although the supervisor never definitively denies the request, the lack of action under these circumstances amounts to a denial, and thus violates the ADA.”

Tomorrow is School Colors Day (blue and white), but I’m taking the day off to have Sacroiliac Injections..  Again, the timing is uncharacteristically good.  My back has been killing me the last several days.

Stress at work is not the only factor that is wreaking havoc with my body.  The 20th of this month will mark the 2nd anniversary of my brother’s death.   Tuesday evening, Leigh left a hysterical message on my answering machine.  I was sleeping, and didn’t hear the message until yesterday morning, just before I left the house.  It sent me off to work in quite a state.

The message had something to do with a medium who visited her campus, and a question Leigh asked about Mark.  She was crying so hard it was difficult to understand what she was saying.  I called her yesterday afternoon to get the whole story.

Paranormal Investigator, Chris Moon, uses “Frank’s Box,” a device that allegedly can communicate with the dead.  Of course, I am skeptical of such things, and so is Leigh.  Others in attendance at the college event were quite skeptical, as well.  One young man challenged the voice coming through Frank’s Box to tell him his nickname.  It did.  Then a girl who wanted to contact her grandfather asked the voice what he died of.  The voice answered, “Disease.”  She pressed it to tell her what kind of disease.  The voice responded, “Lung.”  Her grandfather died of lung cancer.  The girl sobbed.

Leigh asked, “Is Mark P**** there?”

Voice:  “Yes.”

Leigh:  “Is there anything you want to say to my mother?”

Voice:  “I’m sorry.  I… (unintelligible).”

Now I know that some of you are rolling your eyes, and, as I said, I too am a skeptic when it comes to these things.  Still, “I’m sorry” strikes me as a rather strange response.  I would expect something more along the lines of “I’m okay,” which is what you typically hear during these episodes.

Regardless of whether this is real or fake, it shook me up because it caused me to relive what we went through two years ago.  It slammed the fact that my brother is not with us anymore right smack in my face.  It ripped my heart wide open again.

I’m sorry, too, Mark.  I’m so sorry you are gone.

Song of the Day:  Spirits in the Night by Bruce Springsteen