Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yeah, we had a burning river, let's move on

Cleveland's Terminal Tower
Cleveland has gotten a bad rap through the years. Not all of it undeserved. Have you seen the pro sports teams? Even with the shitty teams, Clevelanders stay loyal to them. But, really, Cleveland is pretty awesome.

When a Clevelander moves away, they may not realize how many things about Cleveland they had taken for granted. Obviously, I can't speak for all relocated Clevelanders, but here are some things about Cleveland I have come to appreciate now that I know how different things can be in other areas of the country. 

I live in the area of the foothills to the Rocky Mountains now. They are beautiful. Sunsets are amazing. Sometimes, though, I miss Lake Erie. Yes, even in all its gross, smelliness. It, too, is a spot for amazing sunsets.

The BIGGEST thing I realized when I moved was that C-Town is a cultural mecca of sorts. [DON'T YOU DARE LAUGH!]

If you are from Cleveland, you know the country of Slovenia (Republika Slovenija) exists. I have heard and read somewhere or other that Cleveland has the largest population of Slovenians outside of Slovenia. I'm not one, but some of my best friends are. The cultural impact this has made on the CLE is musical and epicurean. Musically we are known for Polka King, Frank Yankovic. When it comes to the food, I would say sausage is what people think of most. One popular spot for it is Raddell's Sausage Shop. Another food spot would have to be Sterle's. It brings polka and food together! I'm guessing the lady from the "Too Fat Polka" is the one "Who Stole the Kishka..."

This doesn't even show the outdoor produce stalls.
Food, food, food! There are so many options in the Cleveland area for people to experience cultures from all over the world. We're not talking Outback, Olive Garden, or P.F. Chang's. Restaurants, markets, and festivals provide opportunity after opportunity to "see" the world. It's like Epcot, but REAL. In order to make this entry shorter than it really could be, I'm going to have to name just one place where you can get the most-culturally-diverse-bang-for-your-buck, especially if your visit to the 216 (or the 330, or the 440) is a short one. The West Side Market. That's it. It's like mini-Cleveland. A place to bounce from culture to culture. Get a bratwurst sandwich, some cannoli, fresh pasta, spices, a gyro as big as your head, a lamb head, rabbit, cheeses and more as you go. I've even seen a butcher butchering right then and there.

I'll wrap things up with another area jamb-packed with amazing cultural experiences. Every visitor to the area should hit up University Circle. So much to do and see in this relatively small area of the city. Interests of all sorts can be met---history, science, nature, music, art, film, education, food, drink... My husband and I came to Cleveland to get married. We had our ceremony and reception at the Museum of Natural History. Another great spot in the area is the Cleveland Museum of Art.
No ticket required to see this guy and his friends.
It is one of the only FREE, yes, FREE art museums. The only time there is an entrance fee is for some of the special/traveling exhibits. Seriously, FREE access to art!

So much more can be written. If you haven't been to Cleveland, check it out. If you live there and haven't checked some of this out, DO IT! If you moved away, be grateful for the place from which you came.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In the TV viewing audience...

If there is a marathon of Law & Order, I am so easily sucked in, it is ridiculous!!! The only way I can walk away or turn the channel is if I do it right when I hear, "In the criminal justice system..." I'm partial to original recipe and also like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.  In my humble opinion, Law & Order: Criminal Intent is crap and an embarrassment to the other two series.

Since I have such mad love, well, addiction for the series, I started to think of my favorite characters "In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders." In the 20 years Law & Order was in production, many have filled these roles. I've come up with my list of who I think was the best in the main character roles. This is my list:

  • District Attorney -- Adam Schiff (Steven Hill)
  • Executive Assistant District Attorney -- Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston)
  • Assistant District Attorney -- Claire Kincaid (Jill Hennessy) [tough choice]
  • Detective -- Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) [not even a question that he had the best lines]
  • Detective -- Mike Logan (Chris Noth) [another tough choice, but his partnership with Briscoe was pretty great]
  • Lieutenant -- Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) [She was practically the only head of police, and Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) went to SVU, so he wasn't really lost]
And, that's the end of my case.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pipe dreams

Where does the term "pipe dream" come from? I think it's been around longer than the popularity of crack pipes. I just mean, I don't think it is talking about the dreams you might have in a drug induced state.

Anyway, already off topic and this post has only just begun.

I've been thinking about all different kinds of professions or things I dream would be professions.

I could:

  • Be a doctor. I would have to conquer my hyper-sensitive gag reflex when it comes to blood, guts, and odors, which is simple, right? Oh, and not pass-out.
  • Be a teacher. Now, I was on this path before and I'm not sure I could revisit it. See, to me, it resembles the stuff I hated about being a manager---discipline and performance reviews.
  • Write a book...that people would actually read. This means I'd have to fill more than a couple of pages. I think the longest thing I ever wrote was under 30 pages. It also included A LOT from source materials; was double spaced on 8 1/2" X 11" paper with 1 inch margins all around; and, was boring as hell (ok, hell probably isn't all that boring if it's filled with all the people who have been told to go there, but you get what I mean).
  • Open a business naming business. I've come up with some names that I think would be pretty clever names for businesses. However, are there enough businesses being created to make creating a business naming business worthwhile? 
  • Travel with my BFF Linda. We would go to quirky places, festivals, events that were specific to the area. I would write and she would take photos and it would be amazing. It would be our very own take on the British series, Two Fat Ladies. It would not be a cooking show, just an amazingly, snarky, and fun adventure with us in whatever our trademark vehicle turns out to be. This is probably the one I most wish would happen. This is the pipe dream; the one I would love to do if money were no object.

Well, in the meantime, I'll just blog along and try to get some work that IS NOT retail and/or management.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Check yourself before...

I originally wrote this back in March of 2013 and posted it on Facebook. I thought I'd post it here in case anyone out in internetland comes to this blog and isn't part of my Facebook friends:

March 26, 2013

Before I get to what I really want to say, really need to say, this is not a plea for sympathy, pity, reassurances, etc. As well intentioned as these things may be, it doesn't change the feelings I have to work through.

For three years, Shawn and I have been trying to have a baby. A very sensative and painful journey that ended today. This process led to the discovery of my pretty intense endometriosis. A diagnosis that shocked my ob/gyn as well as me. I didn't have symptoms that would make either of us think of this. Until my very painful cyst that acted up last summer. It was not a cyst, but a rather large sac of blood, an endometrinoma.

Along with this, my left ovary was pretty screwed up from the endometriosis. My ob/gyn said that it wasn't impossible, but highly unlikely that I could get pregnant without intervention. So, she recommended IVF and that's what we did. We made an appointment with a specialist and were on our way. Injections and transvaginal ultrasounds and trial transfers. Blood draws, patches, gels. Bills and bills.

Our last shot at me getting pregnant was March 15th. I didn't develop enough eggs to give us the greatest odds. Of the ones they did retrieve only 4 were showing any signs of strength. They were fertilized and watched. By the day of the transfer, only 3 were good enough quality for transfer. That left none to freeze for future attempt. This really was our last shot.

March 20th, I start to have some spotting. Shawn calls the doctor. Since it wasn't heavy bleeding, it wasn't out-of-the-ordinary. Okay, sigh of relief. Then, March 22nd, I wake up to blood. No pain, no cramps, but blood. Call the office and leave a message. Get a call back from the nurse who had been working with us throughout. Having gotten to know her, I could tell by her voice that things weren't good. But, we had to wait. Unless the blood was so heavy that I was going through multiple pads in an hour, there wasn't anything they could do or tell me at that point. I had to wait for the 26th, when it was time to do the pregnancy test. There would be nothing to detect until at least that day.

This was all going on over my birthday weekend. I wouldn't let Shawn and Conner acknowledge my birthday. There was nothing happy about it. The blood continued, I knew it was my period.

So, this morning, the blood draw for the pregnancy test was done. Then, more waiting. Finally the phone call I knew would come. It didn't work, I wasn't pregnant.

Each month, for the next few years, I will get a monthly bill for all of this. Another monthly reminder that I cannot get pregnant.

Well intentioned people will say things about adoption or other options. I would recommend against these comments if you encounter others in this situation. I know those things are said because people don't know what to say and/or don't understand that it isn't just about having someone to raise, someone to parent.

Some may see it as selfish, but for me, it was about other things. It was about loving Shawn so much that I wanted to create someone with him. I wanted us to do this amazing thing. But, I also physically wanted to carry a baby, grow a baby, do what a woman should be able to do. I wanted to know that the big thing that makes me a woman worked correctly. An "I am woman" kind of awesomeness. Some may find it ridiculous that infertility can make someone feel less of a woman...but, it can. I will not feel the life develop inside me, the kicking, the hiccups, the change in my body that marked the growth.

Here is what I want you to take away from this. You NEVER know what is going on inside another's life. The next time you want to ask a couple when they will have kids, jokingly or not, please don't. You don't know the pain that could trigger in them; you don't know their reasons. Whether they do not have children by choice or by some medical explanation, it is very personal and it's best to not say anything. I just want to save you and them the awkwardness of that moment. The moment of feeling on the spot. That moment of people trying to hold back tears because of what seems like a normal and innocent question. Just as you should avoid asking a woman if she is pregnant, you should skip asking when she's going to be, too.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Without a tether

Yesterday I had an appointment with my therapist, no different than any other Monday. Often, I ramble on like a trip down the stream of consciousness. I don't always know how we get from topic to topic and she can usually connect the dots for me, which is a pretty amazing skill.

At one point, in yesterday's appointment, I told her that I never saw myself getting to the age I am now. Not in a I'll-be-dead-before-I'm-forty kind of way. Really, it's just that I never saw that far ahead; never had a plan or vision of my life. As my 39th birthday approaches, I find myself less and less able to fathom I'm that old. It is beyond my mind's capacity to comprehend how I could possibly have friends that I've known for over 20 years. Seriously, how did that happen? My oldest brother just turned 45 and it totally blows my mind.

She was a bit surprised by what I was saying. She asked me questions about it. Couldn't really believe I never had visions of my adulthood when I was younger. As we continued on we talked about how my vision was always short term because it was about deadlines and milestones. Like I list to check off and move on to the next step. This worked for me for a long time. After college, when I still tried to not be an atheist and went into the convent, there were steps I was working toward. It would start with entrance as a candidate (aka postulant) for 1 to 2 years; moving on to the novitiate for another 2 years; then temporary profession for 3-6 years; and, lastly, final profession of vows for life.

Well, I didn't make it through candidacy before realizing these were not the deadlines I should be working toward. This really threw me off kilter. However, my job in publishing provided me with deadlines to keep me on my short-term way of looking at my life. Then I met Shawn and that brought another set of goals on which to focus. Things like next visits, moving, marriage, children, etc.

Now that the ability to have a child has proven not to be, I'm left without a focus. See, a baby would bring me a new set of deadlines and milestones to reach. My life had been tied to these very specific steps and goals. They were my tether, keeping me going, keeping me focused in very specific ways without a real need to look far ahead.

So, now we understand more about why I'm so overwhelmed, so full of anxiety, and feeling like I'm living without a tether.

And then, the hour was up.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

I just can't see it

A few years back, Shawn and I went to see a performance of August: Osage County. We both loved it. I haven't seen many plays; most live theater I've gone to has been musical. This play moved me to laughter and to tears.

The set didn't change; in a way, making it a character all its own. It was a member of the dysfunctional family. The tension, humor, pain of it all held within it.

So when I first heard the play was being made into a movie, I couldn't imagine how it could be done any justice. I just didn't see it working the same way. It didn't matter to me who was to be cast in the movie. The idea of the movie version having the same poignancy as the play just seemed impossible.

I have seen the trailer for the movie and the cast is pretty star-studded. But, the previews come across as a potential feel-good-Hollywood-ending story. Even the amazingly talented Meryl Streep can't convince me to see the film; she can't draw me in to believe the play will be done any justice.

As much as I love to go to movies, this is one I will have to skip. Maybe I'm wrong to judge it so harshly, but I'd rather keep my experience of the play untouched.