Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Down and Derby

Off to roller derby practice tonight. Tuesdays are "Derby 101", where new girls are able to come and kick the tires and see what it's all about, but regular derby girls are encouraged to attend as well, to show them the ropes and such. Since I took a couple of months off, I'm slowly getting back in the swing of things. I don't have a link for this, so get on Facebook and look up South Bend Roller Girls and join the site. If you have access to U.S.A. Skate Rink on Main Street in Mishawaka, show up at 8:15 on Tuesdays and check it out. Dues are $20/month and attendance is required at 66% to remain league-worthy. That's where I'm a little nervous, so I need to get some skate time in!!!

I finally finished the Truman Capote book "Summer Crossing". It was strange. The story itself was very good, the language -- once again -- was so intricate and beautiful. But the end! It was a train wreck. I don't mean that in the normal sense of "Ugh, did you see me mess up on stage? It was a train wreck!" I mean... something so totally different and unexpected happened that it felt like I just watched a train wreck. Then it ended. And I stared at my CD player thinking, "Did I miss something? Did that just happen?" I backed the CD up to listen to the last minute of it again, and it had happened. Wow. Very surprising. But in a good way. I will definitely read more Truman Capote.

I gave the dogs both baths this week. The difference between how well they take it is astounding. The big dog attempts to remove herself from the entire bathtub scene the whole time I'm washing and/or rinsing. She's not angry, or biting, or aggressive. She just surreptitiously slips a paw over the edge of the tub while I'm changing the temperature of the water, thinking I won't notice. Or she leans her entire body weight on the hand that is holding her, thinking I'll just give up if she keeps doing it, and let her out. I'm not certain she isn't part cat. I've never understood why she dislikes water so much. The little dog, on the other hand, shivers no matter how warm the water is, as if he's being punished for something. He is, however, stoic and takes the punishment he feels he deserves without attempting to weasel his way out of it. I have no thorough way of explaining to him that I'm not punishing him, he just smells like poo. Both dogs are, however, very grateful when they're finally out of the tub and back on solid ground, and neither dog will sit in the water, even if there's only an inch.

Speaking of dogs, let me tell you a little story about an Irish Setter. Friday we were on our way to the football game, because Zach is in the marching band and it was the first time we'd see what they've been working on. And we love, love, love football. As we're getting in gear to leave, I glanced out the office window and saw an Irish Setter going warp speed down our road. I looked out the front window, and he was gone. I thought not much of it, other than sad that someone's dog had obviously escaped. Then I went a few minutes later to get our dogs inside and lock up the house and there, on the other side of the fence, was the Irish Setter, sniffing at our dogs quietly. Our dogs, on the other hand, were broadcasting to the entirety of Elkhart County that a stray dog was near their fence. After we shut them up and took them in, I put the very exuberant Setter in the fenced-in area so he wouldn't get hit by a car, and brought him some food and water. He kept picking up sticks and bringing them to Steve. The only tag he had was a rabies tag, so we called the clinic and they still were open, and the nice lady on the phone said, "Does he respond to "Duke"?" I said, "Just a second," and hollered, "Duke?" Duke then shot me this amazed look, jumped in the air, and praised my psychic abilities. I affirmed to the lady on the phone, who then gave me the name and address of Duke's owner who lived just a couple of roads down from us. We asked Duke if he wanted to go for a ride, and he hopped in the van, and we drove over. We delivered Duke to a young boy, perhaps 9 years old, and looked rather sheepish -- his parents weren't home and we wondered if he accidentally let the dog loose while they were away!

After the football game, we came home, let our dogs out, and I went to dispose of the food and water. It was dark out, but I had enough light from inside to see. I picked up the food in one hand and poured the water out with the other. This is when I saw that, on the edge of the food bowl, was an earwig. Those of you who know of my intense fear of earwigs will either empathize with this story or laugh your buns off at me. I know which one you are, just FYI. Shivering, I dropped the plastic ice cream bucket of dog food on the deck to shake off the earwig. As I bent down to pick it back up, because I could see the earwig was gone now and I was trying to be manly about the situation, I noticed the crawling inside the bucket. Then I noticed the 8,000,000 other earwigs inside of the dog food bucket. Then I screamed and ran inside the house, through the living room, and threw myself against the far wall, brushing off my head and hair and face and legs and arms and chest to be sure nothing, nothing, NOTHING touched me... my skin was crawling, I was crying and hyperventilating at the same time, and when Steve came to ask me what was wrong I couldn't even tell him. I think I got out the word "earwigs" in the first five minutes. It took me a good half hour before I was anywhere near back to normal, but that included running into the bedroom and stripping all of my clothes off, and brushing off my body once again, and crying a little more, and shivering the rest of the night. Right now, just retelling this story, my skin is crawling once again. And I'm a little sick to my stomach, too.

This coming from one of those "tough" roller derby girls.

I started reading "Plain and Fancy" on audio book today. Not sure if I'm on an Amish kick, or what. I haven't gotten very far into it, so I can't even make a good judgment or tell you a story yet. I'll let you know when I get a little further.

Off to decide what exactly I should make for dinner. Only 20 more minutes of silence until the kids get home...

SJS

Friday, August 20, 2010

Juvenile Diabetes

GO TO THIS PAGE. Do it. Now. And donate.

My best friend Amberly and her husband Mike have a son with juvenile diabetes, so this is a cause that is near and dear to our hearts. Milo is an incredible little guy, and we need to seriously kick it in gear and raise some money for this cause. So, click on something on this page and donate. DO IT! Now!

SJS

Hosed by the BMV

Apparently, Indiana has an evil new law. Even though Zachary has already finished driver's ed and had a driving permit which expired before he tested to get his license, he has to get a new permit and drive for six months with a licensed driver over 25 before he can get his driver's license. He will be 18 in November, but that still doesn't matter. I have mixed feelings about this. I feel badly for him, because he had his heart set on getting his license, and none of us knew about this new law affecting him. He's been working very hard and saving up for a car, and has a good chunk in the bank. However, on the bright side, he won't be getting his license immediately before the first snowfall and making me a nervous wreck (no pun intended) over the winter months. He'll also be able to keep working and save more money, hopefully getting a better and more reliable car than he would have gotten otherwise. He, of course, does not see this as a silver lining. I think his Facebook status says "Who cares anymore?", or something dramatic like that. I empathize. I do. But I'd rather see him mope for awhile and be alive than get a car right before winter and total it. Yes, I am paranoid. Deal with it.

This weekend should be a good one! We're going to the first high school football game tonight at Northridge, and Zachary's playing in the marching band so we'll get to see that. Tomorrow, Steve and I have plans to escape the house early and go yard-saling and to the Berrien County Youth Fair, then we have a birthday party to go to in the evening where I will be dealing blackjack for the Vegas Theme. (How perfect is THAT!?) Sunday will be church and a cookout at my brother and sister-in-law's house for a belated 40th birthday party for my old, old, old brother... with swimming if the weather stays nice. I'm looking forward to all of this! Did I mention my brother is old? Hehe. It's okay, though. My husband's pretty old, too. His is one month from today. I, on the other hand, will still be in my thirties for several years. (I realize that both of these kind gentlemen will be repaying me when I hit the big 4-0. And to that I say... you guys are pretty old, and you'll probably be dead by then. >:)

Fantasy world collided with reality today. One of my favorite books is "The Mirror" by Marilys Millheiser* (I will check the spelling on that later.) In it, one of the superstitious old ladies tells her young daughter-in-law about Piskies. Piskies are, according to her legend, a sort of mirage, or hallucination. You will see a person that you know extremely well, someone that is a part of your daily life, for just a moment, and then you'll turn your head and they'll be gone, or they will disappear right in front of your eyes. This occurs at the moment of that person's death. You will find out later, after thinking maybe you didn't really see the person after all, that they had died at the exact time that you thought you saw them.

So today at work, it was pretty busy for a little while, and I saw my friend Oz (Coach Tim Osbourne from Northridge, for those of you who might know him), sitting at one of the tables in the back, alone. I said to Julia, "I'll be right back, I have to get something out of my car." I ran out to the car, came back, and he was gone. I had gotten a crossword puzzle that he left at work earlier in the week, and I had finished it and told him I'd save it for him. In the 60 seconds it took for me to run to the car and back, he'd disappeared. I asked Julia if he was in the bathroom. She said she hadn't seen him at all. A slightly uncomfortable feeling crept over me, and I asked Steve if he'd seen Oz when he was here. He hadn't. Now, this was perplexing. Because I knew I had seen him. He's not someone you would mistake for someone else (and I don't mean that in a disparaging way at all - Oz is Oz, and there's no one else you could mistake for him.) So that left two conclusions in my head. The first and logical explanation was that he was there and needed to leave right away. The second, and of course the one that made the most sense to me, was that Oz was dead and I had seen a Piskie. Please do not ask me why this made more sense to me. But I called him on his cell phone, and he didn't answer. When it went to voice mail after five rings, I was on the verge of a coronary. I left some sort of rambling message, and didn't hear back from him.

For about an hour.

Then he called the Daily Grind phone. I answered, and I could hear his voice. I explained the Piskie story to him and he laughed at me. Typical Oz. I spend an hour tearing out my hair, second-guessing myself, wondering if I had some rotten psychic abilities or evil intuition... and he laughs at me. Gotta love him. I am definitely going to smack him upside the head with the crossword puzzle when I see him again. Oh, and the reason behind the sighting was, we were busy and he could see I didn't have time to talk, so he left. At least I wasn't crazy in thinking I saw him when I didn't. I've got that going for me. Which is nice.

After reading the back of the "Summer Crossing" by Truman Capote, I found out that it was actually a handwritten manuscript found in 2004 with a bunch of his papers that were being auctioned of at Sotheby's, 20 years after he died. That made it even more interesting to me. I'm on the last disc and have only about 40 minutes to go, which I probably won't get to until Monday.

"Old Yeller" is actually kind of annoying me. For those of you who haven't read it (like me) it's told from the point of view of a 14-year-old boy, and I don't much like this particular 14-year-old boy. He's the kind of boy who throws rocks at dogs because he doesn't want them around. I say that because it's exactly what he does. I know most people cry when Old Yeller dies, and I have to say that, anticipating the end of the book, I'll bet this little jerk probably shoots the dog himself and then throws a party. I'll let you know when I get there.

And your tip for today, folks, is: Please let your barista know, before she makes your entire ridiculously long drink order, whether you wanted your half decaf/half regular venti mocha with 1/3 the usual amount of chocolate soy latte with extra whip cream HOT or whether you wanted it ICED. Because they just come hot. That's what a latte is. If you wanted it iced, you should've said ICED. And she'll get pretty peeved when she has to throw out your $4.17 drink because YOU made a mistake. Just a little tip from me to you.

You have a nice day now, and thanks for coming in.

SJS

*Marlys Millhiser, by the way. I wasn't even close.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pre-Weekend

I like Thursdays. Even when I have a house to clean, I still like Thursdays. It never did catch on to being my 'mental health day' the way I wanted it to, but I do get a few things accomplished, even if it's a little extra sleep.

Today was the kids' first day of school. Zachary's been working hard -- he gets up about 6:15am and rides his bike to work a couple of miles, and now he'll ride back home, shower up and go to school after that because he has work experience all morning. He's saving up to buy a car which he should be able to afford in a month or two. Senior year. Ugh. I saw Michael and Aria before school today and gave them lunch money for the week, and saw Zach between work/school and gave him a ride back up to the school so he didn't have to ride his bike again. A big part of me misses going to class. Not so much high school, but college. There is so much more I would like to learn and study. If I ever get a chance, I'd like to get my Master's degree. MFA in Creative Writing would allow me to teach at the University level, which is really the only place I'd be interested in teaching. Periodically I think I'd like to teach high school, or even elementary, but... my heart's just not there. I love campus life. I'm excited for Zachary next year, wherever he decides to go. If I never go back, I can still live vicariously through the kids!

The water softener guys are supposed to come install a new one for us today sometime after 11:00, but I haven't heard from them since last night. I'm hoping it will be sooner rather than later so that it's done by the time Steve and the kids get home. I have roller derby tonight, too. I would like to get some groceries as well, but I'm not sure that's going to happen today. I might have to wait until this weekend.

More audio book today, but that's about all. I have to get this house cleaned up. My dog continues to shed like there's no tomorrow. I guess it's the "in" thing to do with huskies. All the other snow dogs are doing it. I should stuff pillows with the fur and sell them. I'd make millions.

Clean. Clean. Clean.

SJS

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ninety

My blog says this is the ninetieth post I've put up. Ninetieth doesn't look like it's spelled right, but it totally is. This would be quite an accomplishment for me if this were, in fact, the ninetieth day of the year, but it's not. So I'm not feeling as jazzed about it as I would if it were April.

Work went pretty quickly today, and then a little before 1:00 pm my friend Andie came in with her twin boys, which is awesome because I got off at 1:00 pm and we all went for a walk. It was beautiful outside, nearly perfect weather, and our friend Ashley joined us with her little girl as well before I had to leave. It's nice to have a bit of downtime and enjoy the few female friends I have around this area. Tonight we're going to my best friend Amberly's house to have dinner, and our friend Amy is here from Arizona. The plethora of proper nouns in this paragraph that begin with the letter "A" is perplexing. (Yes, the "P"s were on purpose.)

I've listened to a bit more of the Truman Capote novel "Summer Crossing" (or novella, perhaps... it's pretty short). I'm still enjoying it. The language is so beautifully crafted. I wonder if everything he's written is like this linguistically. I'll have to look into that. I'm rather appalled at myself for having gotten 33 years into my life without having read anything by Capote. Nor have I seen the movie. It looks interesting, but I have to say... I am *not* a Philip Seymour Hoffman fan. He sort of makes my skin crawl. I think I dislike him for the same reason I dislike Mary-Louise Parker. They sound the same in everything they are in. They can play different characters, give different facial expressions, but they have this tell-tale nasal, apathetic tone to their voice that makes me want to root my eardrums out with a letter opener when they're done. I think this is why I haven't watched Weeds yet. No, I KNOW it's why I haven't watched Weeds yet. It's disturbing because lately, she's becoming like Michael Caine -- she's in EVERYTHING! And there's even a Mary-Louise Parker knock-off -- that girl in the first season of Mad Men that Jon Hamm's character is having an affair with? (I know, that doesn't really narrow it down much...) I don't like her, either. And with this girl, it's like... the generic version of M-LP. Not only do I not like you, you're not even being paid well for me to not like you.

My house is so silent right now I'm beginning to wonder if my family was abducted by aliens and/or the rapture occurred and I was, predictably, left behind. There are clothes on the floor in the bedroom... although, there are always clothes on the floor in the bedroom.*

The bad part about blogging on a daily basis is... my life really isn't all that interesting, and it becomes more obvious to me.

SJS

(*Please note that this is in jest. In the event of any rapture, I do not believe people will float away and/or disappear with clothing lying behind. I'm pretty sure we'll all be aware of it if it occurs. This was, however, a fun joke at my church school in 6-8th grade. Whenever we couldn't find someone, we'd just say "rapture" and go on about our business, then giggle.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Five Years

It has been five years since my husband and I last smoked. Doing the math, at one pack a day for each of us, mine being Marlboro Reds and his being whatever cheap menthol he could buy, we have now saved approximately $12775.00 -- I'm not sure where it went, though. Probably to junk food and pop which is what we replaced the cigarettes with. Instead of lung cancer and emphysema, we'll get hardened arteries and high blood pressure. Everything ends up being bad for you anyhow, if you enjoy it. Things that are good for you are like... lettuce. And apples. And even then, if you actually like lettuce and apples, I'm sure the surgeon general will put a warning on them in a few years that they cause some random Lettapple Disease which affects your thyroid and liver functions. Can people please stop liking chocolate and nicotine so that it eventually becomes good for us and I can have as much as I want? Forget that rant. There's logic in there somewhere, I just have to go back and read it a few times to find it. The gist is that I'm proud that we're not smoking anymore. Yay us.

I've got to figure out what to make for dinner tonight. It's just the three of us -- Steve and Aria and myself. The boys have Northern Lights practice until 8, I think. (Show choir, for those of you unaware of the overuse of the word "Lights" in the music department at Northridge). I've heard they have a pretty spectacular show lined up this year, so I'm excited to see what they're up to. School starts in two days. I still cannot wrap my brain around the fact that they are a senior, junior, and 8th grader.

For those of you who don't know me personally (if there are any) I'm about to let a big cat out of the online bag. I didn't give birth to my kids. My husband's ex-wife did. Which is the one thing I both appreciate from her and envy her for. When they came into my life, I was 25 years old, and they were 9, 7, and 4. My 'boyfriend' (tee hee) Steve called me up at my apartment and asked if I wanted to meet the kids. They had just gotten McDonald's and were about to go bowling, so they were about ten minutes away. We'd been dating for about a month and he had pretty much moved in with me by that point. A big part of me was afraid. I wasn't yet completely committed to anything, had just gotten a finalization on my divorce, was spiritually a wreck, and this wonderful man had walked into my life... with three kids... which didn't scare me... but... meeting them? Now, that scared me.

He pulled up in his Ford station wagon with all three of them seat-belted into the back and left the front seat open for me. I hopped in and turned around to see three very blond, very round smiling faces, two out of three of which were very excited to meet me and one (Zachary) looked a little wary. I smiled back (though I have to admit I think I felt the biggest kinship with Zachary at that point) and attempted the rest of the night to be 'fun' because that's all I knew how to do with kids.

At some point between the car ride and the last frame at the alley, I fell in love. The rest, to be as cliche as humanly possible, is history.

Now they're almost 18, 16, and almost 13. My love for them, and for their father, has done nothing but grow every single day. There is not a single thing about me that feels that they are not mine. Periodically there's the pesky phone call from 600 miles away that reminds me that they're beholden to someone else out there as well. I won't take her place. I can't. I don't attempt to. But there's nothing wrong with them having someone in their life, with whom they live, that loves them like a mother should love them.

There is so much more for me to say, to express, in this vein -- my hopes and dreams and fears and feelings -- but it's inappropriate for a public forum. God knows how I feel, and, at least for now, I'll leave it at that. Suffice to say that I'm proud of them for, among a myriad of other things, all their accomplishments, for not being judgmental, and for loving God and other people.

I've started a couple of books: "Old Yeller" in paperback (no, I've never read it) and "Summer Crossing" on audio which I picked out for two reasons ... it was short, and it was by Truman Capote whom I've also never read. I'm immersed in the language already. I don't even care what the story is about. The language is so creative, so artistically woven, that I just want to pull the car over and stare at the CD player.

And now I think I will call my husband and have him bring food home for us because I have yet to go grocery shopping this week.

Have a fantastic Tuesday!

SJS

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Relaxing Sunday

What an absolutely beautiful day today! The sky was the perfect shade of blue, with those big cartoon-like puffy clouds that every elementary school kid draws when they're told to draw a picture and they put the sky in the background (you know, the kind that the rainbow climbs to and from when it's not ending in a pot of gold?) The heat and humidity were perhaps just as oppressive as they were yesterday, but I spent much more of the day indoors than I did yesterday, so I feel more refreshed. I am more than a little certain that air conditioning is a gift from God.

We went to church today for the first time since I can't remember when. It's always nice to go back and have that familiarity after a long time away. I think it's been a couple of months, or something along those lines. On the way to the restroom, a lady saw me and did a double take, and asked, "Did I just see you in RENT?" To which I smiled and affirmed, and told her my husband was also in it. She and I introduced ourselves, and after she left, I said to my daughter, "That's another thing I love about our church -- people here see things like RENT, and actually enjoy them!" It's the largest group of non-judgmental Christians I think I've ever encountered all at the same time. Does wonders for my faith in humanity, secondary only to my faith in God.

After we got home, I made chicken alfredo and homemade garlic toast for an early dinner, then took a walk with Aria around the subdivision and back. I finally figured out how to program the universal garage door opener that my friend Danny bought for me so that I can avoid zombies overtaking me on my way to the car in the morning when it's dark. Laugh at me if you must, but I'll be the one safely backing out of my driveway while the zombies eat your brain instead, punk. I picked up all the sticks in the backyard while Steve took a nap because he said he'd mow when he woke up. He likes to mow. I don't get in the way, even though I also like to mow, because it's one of the rare times he enjoys being outdoors. I caught up on the rest of the laundry and did my devotional reading for the day. Getting back to this blog -- and the rest of my 'real life' -- is so wonderful it's almost unbelievable!

I finished reading "Plain Secrets" by Joe Mackall. There were parts that I enjoyed, but much of it seemed pointless and rather redundant. Mackall has a tendency to repeat himself using almost the same sentence he did before. I don't think it was so much to reiterate a point as it was that he didn't remember he'd already written about that particular thing and didn't have a good editor, if that makes sense. The book was sort of perfunctory. It started well and gave a basic delineation of different kinds of Amish sects, and then focused on one extended family that he knew personally because they were neighbors. It discussed the leaving of the Amish through one of the neighbor's extended family members, and gave periodic updates throughout the book. It discussed the death of the neighbor's oldest child. It swayed back and forth between whether the author respected or detested Amish life. No actual theme was established and it was pretty disjointed. I wouldn't recommend it, even though I didn't really hate it. I just thought that on the surface it looked intriguing and once I read for awhile, it became ... not tedious, just boring.

This week I'll be organizing my junk for a garage sale next week. School starts on Thursday the 19th. The kids are a mixture of sad and excited at the same time, which I remember poignantly. I'm waiting for that feeling or scent or chill in the air in the morning. It happens every year and when it hits me, I'm slapped in the face with nostalgia. Going school-supply shopping with my mom, raking leaves, getting ready for Hallowe'en, watching my grandpa peel an apple in one long strand, opening my first packed lunch of the year -- a jumble of images fly through my head on that morning each year, and I love it. In that moment I feel like I am young enough that my whole future is ahead of me, vibrant and energetic enough to take on the rest of the day, and old enough that I hope my kids have the same feeling when they're adults and that it's as enjoyable to them as it is to me.

Our daughter has a pretty nasty sunburn from the Pulse Festival yesterday. We made a special trip to the Dollar General before we left so that we could get sunscreen, too. The problem is, sunscreen is like a gym membership. Having it doesn't do you any good, it's USING it that matters.

Now I have to find something new to read. I've missed out on most of garage sale season this year, sadly -- so not a lot of new books were added to our library. That's both a blessing and a curse -- I don't have enough bookshelves for the ones we have, but I also can't get rid of some of the books that Steve owns that he will never, ever, ever, ever, ever read to make room for new ones. And, to go back to the beginning of this paragraph, I also have nothing new to read.

The dogs are so happy to see us lately they don't know what to do with themselves. Every time we look like we're about to leave, they have that forlorn look on their faces like, "Yeah, we know. It's work and then theatre and we'll see you for five minutes tomorrow" and then when we get back in a few minutes instead of a few hours, they're ecstatic. I'm not sure if teenagers or dogs are more emotional. I'll have to do some polling on that and get back to you.

I'd keep writing, but I have nothing more to say right now -- I know, that's crazy talk, right!? Hope that you had as wonderful of a weekend as I did, and that the week ahead brings us all much joy.

SJS

Friday, August 13, 2010

Humidity

"It's a dry heat". Those are some of my favorite words in the English language. People who say them really know what they are talking about. I honestly do not mind if it's 117 degrees as long as their is a lack of humidity. But, we live in Indiana. Therefore, even when it's just in the 90s I still feel like there is a 400-lb-sweaty-hog sitting on my chest. Not a pretty picture. And definitely not a pretty feeling. Even inside with the air conditioning, I can still feel the oppressive heat.

Tomorrow we are finally going to the World Pulse Festival. We've been talking about taking the kids the last several years, and for one reason or another, each year we're unable to make it on that particular date. This year, it's finally going to happen. Knock on wood. We're taking Aria and her friend Mikayla, and Michael and perhaps his friends Kevin and Chris. Zach can't make it because he has to play for the Middlebury Summer Festival downtown and work one of the booths, too. Savannah wants to go, but I'm not sure she'll be up for it after getting back from laser tag around 3am! We'll see if I can get her awake when she needs to be!

Today was a rough day. I worked until 11am, and then a couple of our friends came in and worked for us so Steve and I could leave early, shower and change, and go to Johnny's funeral. It started at two, and when we got there at twenty after one, it was over half full already. The impact that Johnny had on the community is nothing short of incredible. The words we heard today only showed what kind of a man he was: honorable, loving, patient, kind, and a true child of God. His brother Jimmy got up and said some words on behalf of all of the brothers, and it was so touching to hear him honor his older brother. Our cousin Annette read some words that Johnny's mom, Ginger, had to say as well -- about whatever trait we had admired in Johnny the most, we should incorporate that into our own life not only as a tribute to him, but to make the community a better place as well. What an incredible family, and room full of friends and loved ones. Johnny is gone from this Earth, but he is far from forgotten and he will live in our hearts and our memories every day of our lives. Please continue to pray for his wife Pam, their kids Jake and Quinn, his parents John and Ginger, and his brothers Jimmy, Danny, and David.

I got to have a nice long chat with my brother today. I really enjoy dishing about movies with him. We don't always have the same taste, but it's fun to bounce ideas back and forth and listen to what the other has to say.

I had a great talk with my daughter yesterday while we were cleaning the house, about how God made everyone differently and how no matter who you are, what you've done, or how you act you are not looked upon as less or more than anyone else in the eyes of God. It's pretty neat, to me, that she is so young and has already learned that. I told her the less judgmental she is, the more loving she can be and the more lives she can touch over her years.

My tummy hurts. :( I ate a lot at the luncheon after the funeral. I had a ham and cheese and potato chip sandwich, beans, cheesy potatoes, two chicken wings, a piece of chocolate cake that was fantastic, two cookie bars, and a bottled water. I might not eat for the rest of the night. Seriously. And maybe not tomorrow.

My sleepiness is getting the best of me. I think I'm going to crawl in a hot bath and read more of the latest book I'm working on, which is called "Plain Secrets" and is about an English man who befriends an Amish family in Ohio (true story, only the names have been changed). I can't remember who wrote it, so I'll update you on it next time when I look again. I'm about halfway through it.

Have a good weekend in case I don't get back on here soon, and remember to honor Johnny's memory in any way you can by showing someone some love today.

SJS

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Catching My Breath

Where to begin? It's been a long, rough three months or so, and I'm just now starting to get back on track but a lot has occurred and it's only fair that I catch up first before I continue with 'real life'.

We've been immersed in RENT at South Bend Civic Theatre since we auditioned the week before Memorial Day. Yeah, that's right, Memorial Day. Back in May. This is August. So when I ask myself, where did the summer go? I have to be honest and say that I donated it to Jonathon Larson. But it was with my whole heart. The experience itself is not exactly what I wanted. In close quarters and five to six nights a week, personalities can run rampant and people are not always who you think they are. I made some really good friends, and I also had an unknown person steal $40+ cash from my wallet. I laughed really hard offstage, I cried really hard onstage. I spent the summer with my husband, but I spent the summer without my kids. The show was beautiful and ugly at the same time. And now that the onstage tragedy is over, there's a real life tragedy awaiting.

My cousin Johnny, The Fighting Toad, finally succumbed to cancer early Sunday morning. He was 44. His family is devastated. The viewing is today from 2-8 and the funeral is tomorrow. I was blessed enough to get coverage at work for both my husband and I so we can attend the funeral. As awful as I feel right now, it's nothing compared to what his wife, his sons, his parents are feeling. Three things I can't imagine: losing my husband, the love of my life -- losing any of my children -- losing my Dad. I know that eventually I'll have to go through at least one of those things in this lifetime, but the thought of all of them just send me into a state of emotional pain that I don't even want to dwell on. A state which Pam, Jake, Quinn, John, and Ginger are all living in right now. Please read Johnny's story at www.thefightingtoad.blogspot.com and live your life as though your days are shorter than you think they are. Love deeper, laugh harder, cry more, let life touch you, and try to touch the heart of everyone you encounter.

We are taking a hiatus from theatre for awhile. Our oldest son, Zachary, is going to be a senior this year and then our son Michael is going to be one the following year. We want to be able to spend as much time with our kids as possible, see everything they are in, help them prepare for college, buy cars, save money, take SAT/ACTs, apply, work, etc. Plus, this last show was rewarding but exhausting. Other than A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, I can't remember a time when I've been so physically and emotionally exhausted. At one point during the rehearsal process I called my mom on the way home from work and just started sobbing for no good reason... or every reason combined... and she talked me through it like only she can do.

My cousin Charlene is graduating from Army Boot Camp tomorrow. Today is family day, so my parents are there with her. I'm not sure what her next step is from here, but I miss her so much already. My parents basically "adopted" Charlene when she was younger, and she's kind of an amalgamation of sister and cousin to me. She missed our family reunion, which we hadn't had in eight years. I wish she could've been there, but I support her with what she is doing and I am very proud of her.

My sister Savannah and I are back together for derby tonight! After we go to the viewing for Johnny, we're going to free skate and then derby so I can get back in the loop of things. Savannah is incredible. She is so spirited and we have an absolute blast together. She will be starting schooling again soon and she was very supportive of me during my hiatus for RENT. I miss spending time with her, and I'm glad to be going back to it!

Speaking of siblings, my older sister Jen and my brother and his wife, Mike and Stef, came to see my show. I don't think my sister has ever seen a production I've been in, and it's been years since Mike and Stef have gotten to do so -- it meant so much to me that they came. Our family is getting closer than it has been in years. Since Grandpa passed away, and through this ordeal with our cousin, and everything else that has been going on in each of our lives collectively, I personally feel that family is the most important thing on this Earth and I am so happy, so grateful to God, that we're all taking steps to be closer.

Believe it or not, I've actually finished a couple of books! (You thought I totally forgot why I was blogging in the first place, didn't you?) Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg was absolutely phenomenal. It sheds light historically on the things that Jesus said while he was here on Earth. The way in which we read it is completely different sometimes from the way a 1st Century Jew would have taken things. It gives a great history and I learned a lot about current and historic Jewish culture, religion, etc. I'm also re-reading the New Testament right now (though it doesn't count towards my books for the year because I've already read it a few times before) but after reading this book, it definitely sheds new light.

I also received an audiobook in the mail from my friend Danny, which was a novella by Stephen King, The Colorado Kid. He said they were making it into a series, or miniseries, but it wasn't that great. The book itself, however, was. And the narrator was spectacular. I love listening to good narrators as you might know by reading my previous blogs. This one had the Maine accent down so well he could use it for two different characters! The book was sort of an 'art of storytelling' kind of story. Not typical Stephen King. Usually I am overburdened by his descriptive manner, but in this case, he toned it down and changed it a bit, and I really enjoyed it.

Now it's time to say goodbye to the computer. I've finally caught up with everything I need to do on the internets. (Haha!) I have some severe cleaning and organizing to do around this place, and some other projects I need to take care of. Thanks for bearing with me during my hiatus. I'll probably be on here more often, but not everyday. I have to be realistic.

Until next time, pray for Johnny's family and have a meaningful day.

SJS