Friday, October 26, 2007

I got about six hours of sleep last night and I’m feeling pretty good. Those long days took a lot out of me, but I’m pretty close to normal today. Well, normal for me, anyway.

So, I had commented in my previous post that I would share the story of the ex-convict who made my sandwich at the conference. Now, I didn’t know he was an ex-convict, not that it matters. I work with the down-trodden of society and applaud anyone trying to make a decent living. Anyway, I’ve seen him many times at other conferences, and he’s always done a good job of putting lunches together. He recognized me and our conversation went something like this…

Him: Hey there young lady. Long time, no see. What can I get for you today?

Me: I think I’m going to have a chicken wrap.

Him: You got it ma’am. I’m very good at makin’ these wraps, yes I am. I am an ex-peer-ee-yanced food man.

Me [smiling]: You do make a mean sandwich. I have no complaints.

Him: Ain’t nobody ever be complainin’ about the sandwiches I make, no ma’am.

[We made idle chit chat about the crazy weather while he expertly arranged the chicken, cheese and vegetables in the wrap, bringing in the ends and tucking them in tightly so the filling wouldn’t come out while I was eating. I appreciated that. There’s nothing worse than rushing through a short lunch break, biting into a wrap and having the bottom fall open and everything landing in a heap on the wrapper.]

Him: Is there anything else I can be gettin’ for you today?

Me: I don’t think so. I’m happy with just this. You do a good job.

Him: I sure do. I got me the best experience preparing meals for hundreds of people every single day, yes I did. Ain’t never heard a complaint yet.

Me: That’s amazing. No complaints. You must have done a heck of a job. And had good training.

Him: Yes ma’am, I did have some good training. It helped too that my fellow prisoners just didn’t have much to say about my culinary skills.

With that, he gave me a big, gold-toothed smile and moved on to the next customer. Good for him.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Highway of My Mind

It’s been a long couple of days. I had to attend a 2-day conference downtown on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was only a pain because I had to set my alarm for zero-dark-thirty to catch an early train. Lots of people ask why I don’t drive downtown for the conferences. I say it’s because I can make it on time if I catch the train by 7:30. Otherwise, if I’m driving, I have to leave by 8:00. The night before. Just kidding. I just really don’t have the patience for dealing with rush hour traffic and on the train, I can just zone out.

I don’t really zone out, though. I start to think. A lot. And not just about the fact that I had to put in back-to-back seventeen hour days.

As the train rumbled out of the station, I thought about how the whole world seems to change over the miles between my home and downtown…going from modest homes and businesses where I live, past rolling landscapes, wetlands with deer milling about while geese take flight overhead, past million dollar homes and stunning golf courses, to a sort of barren wasteland of run down buildings, junkyards, and miles of decrepit land sprinkled with garbage and broken glass. Looking out the window, watching the city come to life, it’s hard not to notice the drastic line between the haves and the have-nots. I’ll never live in a million dollar home. I wouldn’t want to. But I wouldn’t want to live in a tiny, cramped space with bars on the windows to keep out the violence that lurks outside the front door, either. As the sun cracked open over the cloudy horizon and shed its light on the waking city, I watched young children hurrying along to school, weighted down with backpacks, looking straight ahead and trying to avoid eye-contact with the lingering drug dealers hanging around just outside of the schools. Every single day is such a fight for them. I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before those children succumb to their circumstances, how many children will get themselves out of those situations, how many will be featured on the news in the coming years as either criminals or victims.

I thought about my career thus far…how the days have turned into weeks and the weeks into years. Eight years trying to save everyone and everything. Trying to house every homeless person, trying to rescue every abused and neglected child, trying to help every addict stay clean and sober, trying to find every unemployed person a job. There’s so much to do and so little time to do it in.

I thought about my family…my sisters, who I think sometimes know me better than I know myself…my husband and daughter, who mean so much to me, and how in the world I ever managed to live my life before I was blessed with a child. I thought about how I got to where I am and wonder how things would be if I’d made different decisions.

I thought about me…about who I am and whether I’m happy with who I am. I thought about how, if I’m going to answer myself honestly, I have to admit that I’m not always happy with who I am. And I have to acknowledge that part of the reason I’m not happy with who I am is because I set standards for myself way too high.

I started thinking that I’m pretty sure that I’m the person I’m supposed to be, even if I keep telling myself I’m supposed to be better than what I am. And at the risk of sounding like a Bible-beater, I think I’m getting closer to being the person that God intends for me to be. There’s some peace in that bit of knowledge.

Looking over these sort of mindless ramblings, I’m also thinking that I’m badly sleep deprived and my mind is taking on a life of its own.

One more thing…remember that barren wasteland I saw from the train, the miles of decrepit land strewn with garbage and broken glass? If you look at it just right in the rising or setting sun, the light reflects off the glass and looks like thousands of diamonds sprinkled on the ground. Beautiful in its own way, you know?

I’m going to make my way through the rest of my workday, catch up on some much-needed sleep, and tomorrow, I’ll share the story of the ex-convict who made my lunch at the conference!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Weight Loss Woes

Caution: Lots of whining ahead.

I'm not skinny. Not by a long shot. I was thin in grade school, thin in high school, then filled out in college. Not in a bad way. I think my body just started looking the way it was supposed to. Since I had my daughter, though, I gained quite a bit and my weight has sort of re-distributed itself around the typical female problem areas--belly, butt, thighs and hips. Mostly butt.

Anyway, last summer, I found out that part of the problem with the weight gain was a result of a problem with my insulin levels. I've been working on following the food plan I'm supposed to, but it's hard for one reason. I love potatoes. Love 'em, love 'em, love 'em. I've cut out a lot of other "naughty" foods, but I'm clinging to my potatoes. It doesn't help that my favorite food is baked potato soup. Even so, I'm limiting my intake.

So why the heck have I gained 8 pounds instead of losing? My husband swears that muscle weighs more than fat, but I don't think I believe that. I mean, a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat right? They're both a pound. So, I'm trying to convince myself that while I'm building healthy muscle with my regular workouts, I'm just not losing any fat yet. When I flex my muscles, you can see them and feel them. There's just a layer of fat on top.

Which brings me back to my butt. I don't know how with the seven-mile daily bike rides and the two mile daily walks, but my butt is getting rounder. My legs are getting leaner, as is my waist, so my pants are fitting nicely in those areas, but my backside is still filling up my pants.

I've got a pregnant-looking rear end. But I'm not pregnant. I wish real-life had an edit button like in Photoshop. Then I could just erase the edges of my behind and be perfectly proportioned!

Friday, October 19, 2007


I love my family more than I can describe, but there are some days--like today--when I entertain the fantasy of being single again. No whiny, irritable, strep-throat-infested husband, no little girl with a sore thigh from her flu shot who doesn't want to go to sleep, no mountains of dishes or dirty floors or piles of laundry.

Just me.

And then, something happens that makes me smile and makes the daily grind a little bit easier to bear...I hear my little girl, still crabby and not sleeping, shrieking at her daddy to "GO AWAY! I WANT MY MOMMY!"

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pumpkin Hunting

We made the long trek this afternoon out to Dollinger Family Farm to get our pumpkins for Halloween. It's silly to make the long drive, I know, but this place is fantastic. We wandered the pumpkin patch, walking through rows and rows of thousands of pumpkins, letting our little sweetie pick out the ones she wanted. We ended up with 5 large pumpkins, and 3 teeny little baby pumpkins. It seems kind of excessive, but the pumpkins are enormous (except for the itty bitty ones, of course), and the prices are so reasonable, that honestly, it's hard not to get carried away.

After that, we spent about an hour petting the goats, cow, pigs, the biggest sheep I've ever seen, as well as watching the honeybees in the gift shop. I now fully understand the term "busy as a bee." Those furry little buggers were working hard. We also rode the miniature steam engine and then, just for fun, let the munchkin get her face painted. I took this picture of my two sweeties to mark the occasion. We really wanted to go on the hayride, but they were completely sold out of the tickets for the rest of the day. Even though we missed out on the actual ride, we did get to hang out with the massive Clydesdale horses. Those things are HUGE. And I got my hands on a much-coveted jar of apple butter.

After all that, we came home to a fabulous dinner of chicken and vegetables. And I opened that jar of apple butter and had a big spoonful of it with some animal crackers. YUM!

It was a beautiful day and a good time was had by all.

Formatting Woes

I was smack in the middle of changing the template and formatting on my blog when my computer overheated and shut down. *Sigh* And things were going so well. I'm now in the process of updating my link list with all my favorite blogs. I think I'm still missing a few, but hopefully, folks will e-mail me and ask why the link to their blog is missing. If you let me know, I'll replace it. I can't seem to find the Mundane Kate B. It disappeared from my list, and I can't remember the web address. Argghhhh. Ah well. My NavBar also disappeared. That just bugs me because I lost the ability to sign in, search and click that fun "Next Blog" button. Maybe I can figure out how to get that back. If not, oh well. At least I like the template! It would have sucked if I had done all that work, had the computer shut down and then ended up hating the results.

More nonsense later...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Film and Mental Illness

I am posting a copy of an e-mail I received regarding a movie that has recently been released based upon a true story of the life of a boy growing up with a mother who had Schizophrenia. It details the experience that the family goes through as they struggle to help the mother receive help for her syptoms, stigma that the boy faced in school, and how they worked to overcome the damaging effects of this illness on the family.

In order for the movie to be released to other movie theatres, it has to have a large showing since it does not have the money to back it up.

Dear Richard,

I hope this finds you well. I believe Dona De Sanctis in DC has already written you. I am a proud Italian-American and the writer & director of the film "Canvas" -- an independent film that stars Joe Pantoliano and Marcia Gay Harden. In addition to the Sons of Italy endorsement, "Canvas" has received awards & endorsements from MHA (Mental Health America), NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), and the endorsement of several well known doctors, including Dr. Ken Duckworth, Dr. Paul Summergrad of TUFTS University just to name a few. "Canvas" has also received numerous awards at film festivals and rave reviews in Variety and most recently by Peter Travers of Rolling Stone Magazine. "Canvas" is a film inspired by my own childhood growing up with a mentally ill parent, and the movie is a wonderful opportunity to combat stigma and education -- a real advocacy tool if promoted properly. It is also a film about unconditional love and a positive portrayal of an Italian-American family.

Unfortunately, even though the film has won awards at film festivals, it is a small movie with a tiny advertising budget. As a result, we are relying on the goodwill of fellow Italian Americans such as yourself to spread the word. If the film does well on opening weekend, it will stay in the theaters and spread to cities across the country. Would you be so kind as to encourage your lodges in Chicago to come see the film on opening weekend? Perhaps one of your colleagues can send an email blast out to your membership about the film? We can also send you posters to put up at the lodges. Below is a link to the film's website where you can watch the trailer and read about the film in more detail. I truly hope you can help us spread the word. Anything you can do would be most appreciated. Thank you for your valuable time. ps: below is the theater and date where "Canvas" will be playing. Best, Joseph Greco

CANVAS in Chicago October 12th

AMC Loews 600 North Michigan 9
600 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 255-9347

Monday, October 08, 2007

Time for a Change

To the wonderful readers who stop by to peek at my blog, please bear with me the next few days...I'm trying out some new templates and whatnot. I'm just feeling like it's time to jazz things up a bit. Now, with my luck, I'm going to play around with the format and then go back to exactly what I had originally!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Christmas in October

I was at Target today, getting a few odds and ends for Halloween, when, lo and behold! I ran into Christmas decorations! Are you kidding? Christmas decorations in October? There I was, pushing my card with the fake spiderwebs and 3-foot stuffed spider for my front porch, when all of a sudden, my eyeballs began melting from the sudden onslaught of blinking Christmas lights. I mean, hello? It's only October!

Of course, the months don't mean much here the Midwest. It was so hot out yesterday and today. Record breaking heat. It's October and the temperatures are in the 90s. It's crazy, I say. Crazy. There's something wrong, wrong, wrong with having to put the air conditioner on in October. I felt so bad for everyone running the Chicago Marathon today. It had to have been like running in a tropical jungle. And I got sunburn yesterday while doing some fall planting in my garden. Sunburn in October? Christmas decorations in October? What is the world coming to?