Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Did I mention that I just love The Myriad?

I do. They rock. They (ok, some of the guys) are from my little old town of Redding (although they CLAIM Seattle) and THEY WON the MTV2 Mountain Dew Circuit Breakout (say THAT three times fast) in 2007. They play amazingly great music, and the guys I've met (Jeremy and Randy) are very down-to-earth, great guys.

And, if you've been reading my blog for long, you know that Randy is currently fighting mesenchymal chondrosarcoma. It's cancer, and it sucks. It sucks bad.

He and his wife Krystin have been so amazingly upbeat through his diagnosis, surgery, and chemo. And now she's asking for help. She needs prayers.

If you want to know more about Randy, you can just click on his video to the right of this very post. He's the blonde guy...or he was. Kind of bald now, but it looks good on him.

His lovely wife keeps us all posted on what's going on via her blog. If you're too lazy to click on that link I just gave you, here's what she has to say today:

He had blood work done yesterday that showed his red blood count was low and his white blood cell count was even lower. That's what helps him fight off illness. They haven't been this low until now. Yesterday, he started having all over nerve pain and his bones were aching. Last night, he didn't sleep well at all and his sinuses are killing him. Hopefully it's just allergies, but if he starts getting a cough or more body aches, he will have to to into the hospital to hopefully keep whatever he has from going into pneumonia. This is the first time i have been scared throughout all of this. I'm trying to keep my anxiety from him, but he is so stubborn that i'm afraid he will keep his sickness from me in order to tough it out. Even his Dr. gets frustrated with him.

He has another blood test today, but that won't do much other than say his counts are up or down. He won't run a fever even if he's sick because his WBC is so low. Fever's are GOOD!!! It's our body's natural defense. It means you fighters are fighting. He doesn't have any, maybe 2...
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pray he gets healthy!

So....if you're the praying kind, pray. If you're not, pray anyway. It'll do both you and Randy good.

Thankful you're reading this, and thankful for my very healthy family,

Update: According to Krystin, Randy is doing much better now. Thank you!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Relay for Life

Cancer has really been a big, ugly presence in my life this year.

My friend Heide died.
My friend Dawn became a survivor.
My friend Randy is fighting for his life right now.

This isn't new. I've lost a lot of people to cancer: my brother, Tony; my father; two uncles...friends...the list could go on and on.

In 2003 I completed the Breast Cancer 3-Day. It was brutal. You can read about my experience here. I don't think I could do it again.

But I can do this. And you can help. Here's a link . You can donate online. Even if you're not able to donate, maybe you could lift a prayer for me.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is this why teachers drink?

Dear 3rd grade teacher,

First of all, let me thank you for helping to inspire my son in his life of learning. I really do get that my son loves to go to school, and is just soaking up anything you throw at him like a sponge. You are a teacher who truly does this because you love kids and you love teaching them. It's not just a job....if it was, would you and the other teachers at your school all have taken VOLUNTARY PAY CUTS to keep even one teacher from being laid off or one program from being cut?

And 3rd grade has to be fun. For one thing, they don't wet their pants on the playground anymore. And their romantic escapades should be enough to keep you in blogdom for ever.

But I need to ask you a question.

How many 3rd graders, no matter how computer savvy they are, actually know how to type beyond hunt and peck? Yes, I know that this makes them disturbingly similar to half the executives I've worked with. But....none, that I know of. And I conducted a highly scientific poll while accompanying the class on a field trip last week.

Now, I know that the history paper that you assigned can be either type-written or WRITTEN IN YOUR NEATEST HANDWRITING. These are 3rd graders...what are they going to do? Right. Bribe their mothers into typing for them.

And while I'm on this subject - what is wrong with me? Why do I still call it typing? It's keyboarding, and I know better.

Oh, yes - and the research that needed to be done. Right. Research on the Internet. Write a business letter asking for information. Interview a grown-up who knows about the subject.

Write the paper - with a title page and a bibliography. These are THIRD GRADERS!

Amazing. Thank you. My son is writing a pretty interesting paper. He's learned a lot. And so have I. I've learned my son is capable of pretty much anything thrown at him.

Except the typing part.

So, honestly...what's a parent to do? Do I let him write it out, painstakingly...or do I type it so that it looks just like everyone else's?

Just curious. And by the way - thanks for inspiring my son.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My connection to the Academy Awards

What would you do if you found a picture of a relative on eBay? You'd buy it, wouldn't you? Because I did!

This is my Uncle Costia. He had a pretty interesting life...and apparently enjoyed hamburgers. I don't have many pictures of him, and this is a good one. I wonder which restaurant he was in! This pic is testament to the fact that portion sizes have grown over the years. It's about the size of one you'd find on a value menu.

Here's his bio from Wikipedia:

Dr. Constantin Bakaleinikoff (1898 - 1966) was a Russian-born composer. He studied at the Moscow Conservatory, and following the Russian revolution he came to America with his older brother, composer Mischa Bakaleinikoff. Constantin Bakaleinikoff (pronounced back-a-LAIN-a-koff) worked as a conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic before beginning his Hollywood career as a freelance composer. Director Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings 1927 premiere at Hollywood's famed Grauman's Chinese Theater, where movie fans filled the boulevard, was hosted by D.W. Griffith and speakers DeMille and Mary Pickford. The audience was treated to a concert of film music "classics" conducted by Constantin Bakaleinikoff.

When sound movies came in, the Bakaleinikoff brothers became studio maestros. Mischa joined Columbia Pictures, while Constantin became a musical director at Paramount Pictures and then MGM. Constantin worked briefly at Columbia, and then for independent Grand National Pictures; he received an Academy Award nomination for scoring the James Cagney feature on Something to Sing About.

Bakaleinikoff soon became the senior musical director at RKO Radio Pictures, where he spent most of his motion picture career. He earned Academy Award nominations for his work on The Fallen Sparrow, Higher and Higher, and None But the Lonely Heart. On Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious (1946), starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, Bakaleinikoff's score complements the director's elements of suspense and danger throughout the film.

Constantin Bakaleinikoff, always billed as "C. Bakaleinikoff," appeared on camera as himself in RKO's backstage musical Ding Dong Williams (filmed 1945, released in April 1946).

He remained at RKO until the studio folded in 1956. He was married to silent film actress Fritzi Ridgeway.

His brother Mischa was my father. And yes, I'm old - but not THAT old. My father was 68 when I was born. My mother was 39. It was Hollywood, what can I say?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I had too much fun

I'll post about the Circus Center later today. I got home at midnight, and my son just woke me up - of course, there was the time change in the mix.

Let's just say......it wasn't what I expected.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I'll Fly Away....

Yes, if you're a Facebook friend, you'll know that's the song I want at my funeral. Hopefully, the events of today won't precipitate that.

I've been afraid of heights since I was a child. A tumble down the stairs may have been the trigger. It didn't get too much in my way when I was growing up...I do remember a bus ride to camp that traveled down a steep mountain road and terrified me. It wasn't as bad as the latrines once we actually got there. Still can't stand the scent of Pine-Sol....

I mostly avoided instances that would make me fearful. This came in handy in my early twenties, as I could ask the cute guy next door to come over and change the light bulb I would have needed a step-stool for. I spent a lot of time helping build sets when I was doing theater, but I could never get more than a couple steps up the ladder before my heart would pound and time would stop.

When I was dating my now ex-husband, he invited me to the coast so he could learn to go abalone diving. We went with one of his co-workers' families. Early in the morning, they were going to dive at Elk. I wanted to go along and watch. Co-worker said, "It's a bit of a walk down to where we dive." Okay, I got the walk part - apparently my mind just blanked out the DOWN.

It was straight down a cliff steep hill. Treacherous. Some divers had actually left ropes, tied to trees above and dangling down, to assist with the climb down. I made it, choking back tears, and was pretty proud of myself.

The guys spent a few hours diving, and I sat on the rocks watching the waves and waiting for them to reappear after each dive down, until they finally came out of the water with their catch.

It was time to return. Just one problem that I could see - the tide had come in, and we had to wade through water that was 4 feet deep just to get to the cliff steep hill again! Of course, the others were in wet-suits, and I was in jeans....argghh.

So that's how I found myself, soaking wet, cold, and scared, attempting to climb back up to reality.

The ropes were gone.

Apparently the divers who left them there didn't intend for them to be a permanent help, just a TEASE! If I ever find them, I will kill them.

It took me 45 minutes to make it up to the van, with my now ex-husband (gotta get that man a nick-name) encouraging me along the way. I was petrified. I actually told him to just leave me there to die. Of course, he didn't. And neither did I. I made it all the way, inch by inch, and felt pretty proud of myself.

And the fear subsided a bit. I've worked on conquering it since then. I can actually ride on a ferris wheel - although I freeze when we're at the top, afraid to talk or move because THE POWER OF MY VOICE COULD TIP THE WHOLE THING OVER. Really. I have that power.

So I've decided to do something really different today.

I'm going to join the circus. Okay, okay, just for a couple hours. I'm going to the Circus Center in San Francisco to take the Flying Trapeze class.

Wish me well, say a prayer, and wait for pictures. Because I AM GOING TO DO THIS. Hoping that it's actually Johnny Depp who'll be there to catch me:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

So, maybe I stink at keeping secrets

But I won't tell you everything.

Let's just say it involves....nets. And rigging. And fear.

My Secret Obsession

Well, this and figure skating, but I guess I just blew the secret.

Yes, you do have to wait until Saturday for the something big I promised...but it's going to be good! And hopefully worth the wait.

Anyway, back to my obsession.

The Voice.

Russell Watson.

He's beaten cancer, not once, but twice.

And his voice just makes me melt.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Something's brewing....

I can't tell you about it yet. But it's big. And it's exciting. And it's coming on Saturday, March 7. Stay tuned.

What's in a name?

And yes, they are 2 1/2 years apart in age and nearly the same height.

I am now sufficiently recovered from my vacation to blog again. I don't know what was wrong with me the last several weeks before I left, but I didn't do much blogging. Thankful, you say? Just watch out, I've got my eye on you.

In a gift shop at Disneyland, I was drawn to the same things I was when I was a child...some background here:

I went to Disneyland for the very first time when I was 7. Even though we'd lived not too terribly far away until I was almost 4, and then visited regularly (my step-father's evil sister lived in Fullerton - by the way, SHE was named after a scruffy little animal that represents a holiday), my mother refused to take me to the promised land until I was old enough to enjoy it. And I do remember that very first visit, for one very memorable reason - it rained the entire day. This was in the ancient days - the days of the ticket books. Remember them? Of course not, you're too young. You got a bunch of tickets, A through E...the A tickets were for cool rides like the Matterhorn bobsleds, or Mission to Mars. The E tickets were for things like King Arthur's Carousel. You'd finish the day crying because you didn't have any more A tickets, but always had Es left over. I have no idea which ticket It's a Small World took, but really? They should pay people to ride on that one.

After that, I went a lot. I remember one gloomy day, right after my mother died. I was 10. My older step-cousin (she was 10 years older than me, and impossibly worldly and glamorous in my eyes) took me for a drive one day. Anaheim is not a far drive from Fullerton, but I didn't know the roads in those days (who am I kidding, I still don't). All of a sudden, I remember seeing the Matterhorn, and looking at Chris expectantly...she'd planned a day to cheer me up. Mostly, I remember her sitting side-saddle on one of the horses of King Arthur's Carousel, and wondering when I'd be old enough to do the same.

This visit was free! I have a friend who knows someone. Really. Cool, huh? I know you're jealous. I would be.

I really, really, really love Disneyland. Well, except for that one trip, my senior year of high school. I wore a maxi-skirt (we truly called them that in those days), tripped and fell on my face. I don't remember much after that, except my teenage cynicism.

We had a tradition when I was a child - our last stops would be on Main Street...we'd stock up on candy from the wonderful candy shop, and then buy souvenirs. I always loved the stands with the little license plate holders for your bike. You could find your name, then everyone in the world would know it as you rode through town on your pretty pink bike with the banana seat and big handlebars (what are those called?).

And Disneyland always had Annie. Oh, you could find the key chains and license plate holders other places, too. But those places never had Annie. They would have Anne. Or Ann (which is truly my first name, but is impossibly short and boring - but does balance out my 13-letter last name quite nicely).

It was always exciting to find Annie. I wished my parents had named me something more regular, like Sandra, or Cathy, or Debbie...then I could have found my name anywhere! Or something exotic, like Astrid or Celeste or Suzette. But my parents were big on naming their kids after people they actually knew and liked - and since every one's first name was Mrs. in those days, I guess I should count myself lucky.

When my kids came to me, they had pretty good names. Which is a miracle. It seems like most of the kids who come into foster care have names like Prima or Sativa. Where do they get these names? Oh, yeah...right.

In fact, these days, it seems like unique is the new normal. Want to name your kid Jordan? Then don't spell it like that - spell it Jordyn, or Jor-din. Food names seem to be gaining in popularity. And unisex names are more popular then ever. Just ask my kids, who have to specify which Riley they're talking about - girl Riley or boy Riley. Since I'm a lot older than a lot of the other parents, even the parents' names sometimes confuse me. When my daughter started first grade and I got the roster, I thought one of her classmates had two dads - but really the mom just has a name I associate with really old stinky hillbilly men. Don't ask.

My kids have pretty regular names. My son came to me with a name that was really, really popular at the time, because a hot soap opera star was graced with it. In fact, he was actually named after the guy, as his birth mom's social worker was trying to help her find a name and gave her a list of the top-ten hunky soap opera stars of the year. Alphabetically, his was first. Our social worker advised us to change his name, as said birth-mother had a really nasty temper and we didn't want her to find us.

We picked a first name right out of the Bible, and a middle name that went really well with it, and just happens to be one of my favorite characters in E.T. Ohhhh, maybe I've finally come up with his pseudonym for this blog. E.T....do you like it? His first name has a pretty cool nickname available. And it's never really gone out of style. Of course, he gets really mad if one of us calls him by his full first name because he thinks it's dumb.

My daughter came with a really beautiful name, and an even cuter nickname. We shortened her first name to something beautifully classic, and changed the spelling of her nickname. After a model my ex thought was really hot...but now there's a new little celebre-baby with the same name. And we gave her a new middle name (her middle name was the same as my mom's and my ex didn't like it - he actually said it sounded too Catholic).

So I though my daughter would be so excited to find her name on a key chain or license plate holder. But she wasn't. She wanted....a diary. With a lock. Oh, my. She's 6...what kind of secrets could she have?

And my son wanted a truck.

Darn it, they've got minds of their own.

Here's a cool link to how some modern stuff was named.

And if I ever adopt another child, I'm naming them Maddosynn or Hektyr.