Chooch No Whining Too Long For Twitter Video

Second Daith and A New Tattoo

There was supposed to be a vow renewal ceremony with our full family and closest friends. Then the guy that we long planned to officiate moved on to greater adventures, beyond this world. 

Still, I really wish you were here, P.G. I know any words you’d haven given us would have been perfectly grumpy. And perfectly wonderful. 

We figure he’d approve of our revised plan – saving vow renewal ceremony/reception money to spend instead on a spontaneous, bonding-heavy, anything goes vacation with our kids and family. We did that a few weeks ago, and I lost yet another wedding bond.

I have been using cheap fake wedding rings for years, since I lost my engagement ring. Big, chunky and silly, but very clearly representative of being married. The real deal is locked up. Fibromyalgia “fog” and medications to fight pain make my memory horrible. No matter how crucial the memory, I have no power over whether I retain it or not. It’s truly crushing sometimes.

So FINALLY, before this big hop from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Sandia Mountains, we’ve ensured that I can’t lose my wedding ring again. The original will stay locked up and safe for the duration of the move. It’s perfect.

 The design we settled on is a “rupee” (gem) found in the Nintendo game, Legend of Zelda. It’s outline-only, in dark purple. (Purple is my favorite color, and my skin grabs it nicely.) Plus, dodging black for now gives me more options later.

Chooch did not get one because he’s our financial provider and who knows when employers that can’t see beyond the exterior may come in to play?
But he designed it along with me, just like our original wedding rings. #DayJobSecurityFTW #FamilyLife #FamilyLove
Now, because it’s a finger tattoo, it will blur and muddy over time more than other tattoos, as is often reported. Since that news, it’s taken us years to decide on the design, deciding to embrace that imperfections inherent, rather than abandon it something we love.
With this in mind, wanting more than just the rupee itself, there are little dots and bigger dots making up a disconnected “band” below the stone.
Happily, over the years together, we’ll get to watch as the natural process of aging blurs the series of dots into a strong, solid yet imperfect band. The longer we live, the stronger our bond and our band, as has happened all this time.
#ArmouringUp#EndingThisEra #StartingANewOne #FinallyWedding Ring Tattoo and new daith piercing. +200 to armour and mystery roll on migraine relief.

#BecausePGH Chooch Fibromyalgia No Whining

Hair Donations, Finally!

After our hair donations yesterday, I tried to figure out how to write about it. I knew that to some, it would sound weird, no matter what, so after a lot of revisions, I’m simply writing it as a letter to our best friend, P.G. Holyfield. We lost him last August to a horrifyingly fast-growing and hidden cancer.  I’ve probably written it poorly and with bad punctuation or pronouns, but I don’t have time to take another pass.


Chooch and I found it to be complete and total bullshit that you were diagnosed with cancer and were going to lose your gorgeous hair to chemo. The only form of rebellion against it was to join you in baldness. How better to show you that we all needed you to fight? That you were worthy of the love and respect that you ended up showered with by family, friends, coworkers, peers and fans.

So, surprise, P.G., we decided to shave our heads whenever you were ready to shave yours. We decided it even before you had your first chemo treatment and were due another one on Friday, our arrival date. And, as only he can, Chooch even thought up a way that was pretty cool to do it.

It was going to be easy, really, since we already had the plan for me to be your goofy, pig-tailed chemo buddy, so Kim could still work and none of us would worry over you by yourself at home. We’d simply planned for me to be disabled in Charlotte instead of Ashburn. At the very least, I would be with you and would know when your hair started to fall out and when we’d offer our solidarity.

As an aside, I delighted in the chance to be truly useful for the first time in five years. My inability to work meant I could give you companionship. You were still so strong that we just knew you wouldn’t need physical help, so it was fine that I couldn’t provide it. I’d just someone in the house, in case you suddenly didn’t feel well.

And while we thought it too soon for you to want to shave your gorgeous hair, we wanted to be ready for whenever it you chose to shave it. By us doing it too, we hoped to take the sadness and empower you with it. Clippers and a wig awaited us in my suitcase during those days as we altered our drive from Charlotte to Durham, to meet you where you were getting a second opinion.

I can’t even remember if it was Chooch or I who first brought up shaving our heads with you. But, as was so true with all four of us, the question was answered before it was asked. To hell with vanity, we needed you to know how much we wanted you to fight and that we were committed to your fight, too. Roomies for Life, and all that. And since you’d always complimented our hair and the length, and with yours getting long enough that you were becoming pleased with it, it was the obvious rallying point for us in the days approaching what ended up being our last drive to visit you and Kim.

We quickly decided not to bring it up, because, who the hell cared after the second opinion? Shaving it then would have just taken us time away from you and possibly upset you. And there were so many more important things to say and do for you and your family and friends.

I kept my hair in pigtails 5 or so days instead, at your side with wonderful people that love you so much. Thanks again for letting us be there with you and them. Peace would be much more difficult to find without knowing just how overwhelmingly smothered in love you were during your last days.

We decided to wait to shave our heads until after your memorial service, 2 months later. It just seemed not to have been cool to do. And those months packed a punch with serious grief processing over my Mom’s death years before, while two other of our family members were/had been battling cancer. Putting it off was fine, because it just meant our donations were growing longer.

The wig stayed in my suitcase through October. I liked having it close, back then. It was a tangible representation of what we would have done for you, all the while praying our plans might turn sadness into laughter.

The wig was a cartoon-y blue, because it’s Chooch’s favorite color and I thought it was yours, too. But I’d only need it if you let us shave it. You’d have had veto power, natch. I worried my bald and ginormous pumpkin head might be upsetting, so I quickly ordered it.

But now, winter hits hard enough to make my hands and other joints more and more miserable. Caring for my long thick hair became more and more problematic. Chooch and I were sure we still wanted cut our hair, but as a donation instead.

We started debating bald vs. short styles and ones that would give the most length to the charity we chose. I feared that shaving bald would just make me sad, as a constant reminder of your loss. Chooch was on the fence and considering shaving down to bald to honor you as we initially planned. He understood that I couldn’t go there because I already fear my reflection because of the resemblance to my Mom and I didn’t want a bald headed reminder of her during her cancer battles every time I looked in the mirror.

And truthfully, we didn’t think a hair cut was a big deal, especially since I’d already been plotting a cut similar to J.R. Blackwell’s after Balticon last year to ease the burden of styling my hair, which you agreed was brilliant. And, as Nutty mentioned, the first few years of Chooch and I going to Balticon were years we had short hair.

In our growing excitement, we shared our plans with various friends and family. They were not very well received and nearly every person seemed to advise against it. We decided to wait a little longer so that folks that love you or love us would know it wasn’t spontaneous or a crazed expression of grief. It’s just a hair donation and it’s done a lot. In fact, there was literally one being done by another stylist in the salon at the same time we were doing ours.

We’ve been looking forward to doing it for 6 or 7 months now, considered tons of hairstyles and off we went to our one and only stylist, Bree, at Rain in Ashburn, VA. It was nothing to donate my hair to the charity in your name, P.G., other than an honor.

You made the length of my hair so immediately meaningless, compared to all that you faced as well as how your loss cut so many so deeply. The shearing brought us much joy, and I think, to Bree as well, as we’ve been discussing a shorter cut for years. She really enjoyed that we insisted that only she could do the transformation for us, especially since she’d been hearing our tales before and after returning from our shenanigans.

So, as another winter storm bore down on us and with our grandson approximately 42 days away from arriving, we drove around three hours to keep our scheduled appointment. You know us and our love of road trips. And I decided that if our friends know us, they’ll trust us. The crazy lady time passed awhile ago. I am fine. Chooch is fine. We are fine.

Thank you for inspiring me to cut the hair that hurts too much to maintain, in spite of how many compliments I got or the threats I’d get when I’d talk about cutting it off. Jokingly, of course, but there was some pressure, too.

Lookit, our grandson, Codename: Little Bear, arrives soon and I’d rather snuggle with him instead of wrangling all that hair. Besides, it’s only a haircut, which is only one drop in an ocean of tiny kindnesses we all grant in this world. And I vowed to pay it forward every chance I’m able.

I will miss you, always. Know that this one remains grateful for the friendship that healed so many broken things in me.


Pix to prove it happened. More to come when there’s time for styling, we were literally racing a snowstorm and this was a recovery day.

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My Good Thing, 02/20/2014

Dunno if I’ve shared this or not, but after my Ex moved out, our kids and I moved in with my Mom, Dad and college student sister.

They made a home for us within their home, a recurring theme in my life, as I come to realize that I really like having a lot of heartbeats under my roof. The more equal, the better the flow. The more respect and privacy, you level up.

Trying to keep the boys focused on the positive, my Mom instituted “My good thing that happened to me today was __________.” You had to have at least one, even if pre-teen or surly or on restriction, or on a diet (me, eternally) but you could name as many as you want.

After reading a comment on a post Chooch made in Facebook today, all I can think of is, “Well. I know what my good thing is today.” Makes more sense when you know that this is, since that ritual ended long ago when our baby birds left the nest or remain in another, how I state that something bubbly-making has touched my heart.

Earlier, Chooch posted this photo:

Chooch's Tattoo on his right arm.
With this original post:
It only took 42 years, but I finally got my first tattoo! — with Vivid Muse.

So, my good thing that happened to me today? Chooch’s explanation on the 4 heart containers with only 2 filled, matching tattoos we just got.

“…you start the game with 3 hearts, so we added a fourth as a 10 year anniversary level up. Since Vivid Muse and I have them matching on opposite arms, when we hold hands all the hearts fill up so we’re ready to take on the next danger together!”

I initially had a different idea in mind altogether, but when he explained why he liked this design?

Done. Let’s go.

(whispers to myself): Thank you for loving me the way you do.

I’ll follow him anywhere.


Valentine’s Day, 2014

In a moment of long-planned and delayed and finally spontaneously, we blew our dinner, movie, sinful dessert and prezzie money and efforts at the last minute on Valentine’s Day matching tattoos, and then ended the day like most others, snuggled up, talking or watching TV, laughing and being goofy, like we do. Not letting a single giggle escape ungiggled. Our big and sinful dessert? Cherry pop-tarts, because we were too broke and tired to do anything else.

We had no plan going into the weekend, just plans with friends on Saturday that fizzled out and a visit to our Eldest son a few hours south on Sunday and an unexpectedly serendipitous visit with friends, the whole weekend was exceedingly awesome. As has happened frequently, we’ve found that sometimes, just when we need a spiritual boost,  the Fates or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or God or whatever you believe in make things just work out sometimes. This was proven COUNTLESS times over the weekend, as plans went silent and others sprang up, although I do wish I could have visited my sis while nearby. Greedy me.

I dunno if it was a different storm or the tail end of the insane snowstorm, dubbed Pax, but we got at least a foot of snow, which gave hubby the option to telework on Friday, VDay. As trashed as our street is after the combination of well over a foot of snow, melting and icing, and the cruelty of the snowplowing execution by those magical forces that make them hazardous to even check the mail. We got to at least spend the day in the same house, albeit in separate rooms. Close enough to sneak a smooch during a conference call, anyways.

At likely the last feasible moment, the scale was decided, the appointments made and we found ourselves excitedly slamming in a quick, standing-in-the-kitchen dinner and went out for our Valentine’s gift exchange at Inksanity in Leesburg, Virginia. We originally hoped to get them on our 10th Anniversary this past November 1st. We then hoped to get them while in Hawai’i. We kept having stuff come up and delaying it, but I have no complaints.

Chooch surprised me with romance in our ears in the car as he drove us there. He played music by Metric, “Breathing Underwater” (see previous post) first as we chatted and planned and chatted. Sadly, when we arrived at the nearby tattoo shop, the artists we selected were in different areas, so we were only very briefly together, me at the beginning of his, him at the end of mine.

We got heart containers from the Zelda games, same number of hearts, empty and filled. It’s not a clear shot of them, but you get the idea. He explains the specifics better than I. *swoon* Soul mate!

Blood, Ink and Bad Assery

The tattoo artists worked diligently to ensure ours matched, with an apprentice seemingly floating between us doing visual checks. It was sweet how they strove for perfection and it was a great first experience for Chooch as well as for me. (Yes, it still hurts on the third tattoo, especially on the first red heart fill on, because of placement.)

We held hands and giggled on our way back through all the snow to the car, like a couple of newlywed idiots. We were so happy. It was heaven.

Then on the way home he surprised my spinning and migraine-y self (physical stress triggers my neurological symptoms, which I anticipated) with songs from our wedding CD’s. It was part of a 4-disc set of about a three hour span of music that we jointly and painstakingly made to play at our wedding reception. Each and every song was debated and ranked, it was serious stuff! And we also took our very fave 12 songs as a separate playlist as wedding favors. (I’ll never forget how adorable my stepmother-in-law was as she explained her immediate love of one of the songs, the only time I remember that anyone actually saying they’d listened. Yays!)  I haven’t loaded either playlist onto my new player yet, and now I am reminded that I really, really need to manage that mischief.

We spent more time on picking songs than anything else for our wedding, as music is an intense and shared passion of ours. And we wanted our family and friends to be surrounded by the music that symbolizes so much of who we were then, separately and together.  A little bubble of silly calm floating down the Potomac River with views of all the beauty on the moonlit night of our wedding. It was a total break from the chaos of those days. I was told by several folks that ours was the favorite wedding attended because it didn’t feel like a wedding, more like a relaxed gathering with the ceremony at the very beginning of it. Pure magic.

Listening to it on the way home from the tattoo shop, I could reflect back on how I felt on our first Valentine’s Day together, while dating, and kind of compare it to this one. We get snowed in back then, just like this year. I better appreciate how well he knows and appreciates me.  Better than anyone, yet still loves my eternally flawed self. He didn’t turn and walk away when things got tough at various points over the years.  He can even keep me calm in times of great chaos, whether it’s ours or someone else’s, using only four words. See? Magic.

Chooch is an infinitely deeper, inquisitive, creative, sexy, thoughtful and more generous dude than I previously believed possible. Like I told him the other night, I can’t even get good and pissed at him, because I know that very soon he’ll do something that will make me forget it and then I’ll feel petty for it when I’m trying to catch my breath from laughing, loving or whatever the fun entails.

I am so grateful that our unintended celebration of  lurrrrrrve evolved this way, it’s always an adventure!

Hope yours rocked, too. Love, man. Love.

Chooch Family Firsts Too Long For Twitter

Happy Love Day

First of all, first post from new (to me) hotness! Chooch refurbished a laptop for me that is the perfect balance of keyboard + larger screen for big font (I tell ya, meds these days…) and is waaaaay more light weight than last. But this also means that I no longer have The Penguin, which saddens me, but this really does serve more of the function I need faster. It also frees Chooch up from constantly helping me fine tune with cross-over programs for Linux.

My review of the Linux machine? Raving five stars of awesome. It only crashed twice, and that was surely due to overheating, a frequent problem with that laptop.  At one point, while working the photo archive, I thought I lost over 1k (or something equally horrifying) of photos from our recent trip to Hawai’i when the machine froze. Normally, I would have had an instant panic attack, but I remember the change to Linux and I immediately decided to put the laptop down and trust in The Penguin.

When I came back an hour or so later, it had finished processing and the photos were safe. If it had done as it had been running before the Linux change, the pix would have been lost after a blue screen of death and we’d have had to start prayers that Crashplan had indeed backed the batch up for retrieval. I loved it, but felt pretty useless with it. I was afraid to muck around and make it stop being reliable.

Hubby surprised me with the refurb, when I hadn’t even asked to switch back and I’m guiltily grateful. If I need a program or Chrome extension, I know I can find it for Windows. And with my memory issues, shortened attention span and brief computing time available before a migraine sends me off, these are tremendous benefits for the woman I find myself to be these days. But I do love supporting the “under dog” or “working class” over the hugely corporate The Man or his politically correct off-shoot. The first thing I do if I can reclaim some brainpower is to rock Linux. The second is likely yarn bombing the world.


Now, on to the mushy stuff! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today is also my beautiful Li’l Sis’ 10th wedding anniversary! While we all still would have been excited, the health problems my baby (9 years younger) sister has had since last summer have me EXTRA SUPER HAPPY TERRIFIC that she is here with us as she and her amazing husband celebrate their love. I’m so proud and grateful that she’s doing the necessaries to live a healthier and longer life.

Our weddings are only 3.5 months apart and I’ve always felt a special bond with them as we were both at the marital starting gate at (nearly) the same time and I love sharing this with her.

As for my own valentine, Chooch, here’s our wedding day selfie, 10 years before it was called a selfie. New hubby and I snuck off to the front of the boat for a private snuggle and already traditional self-shot together.

Chooch said I should have the purple princess dress (I’d planned on plain and low-key, since it was 2nd marriage for both but fell in love with a bridesmaid dress while shopping with my Li’l Sis and Mom for LS’s wedding dress.).
Mom said I had to have the tiara to go with it and bought it on the spot.
I’m still so honored that they thought of me as royalty on that nearly perfect day. If only J (and even more family) could have attended, too. #StillVeryBlessed

Chooch, my love,
We spun just as much chaos back then and it was GLORIOUS then, too.
It was the happiest of days with you, and we’ve had so many since then and an infinite number still lie ahead.
Please, remember how much I love you when I’m kicking your ass during our gaming date tonight.

Chooch Hauntings Music Too Long For Twitter

Clone by Metric, My Ear Worm of the Day

I’ve long been intending to post songs of here and there as they wind their way into my brain, unprovoked. I’ll also be including a link to a video from the best available if there’s nothing on the band’s official YouTube channel.

First up is Metric. It’s a band that Chooch and I first encountered while watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The song “Black Sheep” was performed in the film by fictional band, The Clash at Demonhead, but is originally a Metric song. If memory serves, I purchased the soundtrack on the way home from the movie (something I’d never done before or since), and our poor house-guest PG Holyfield was forced to repeat listens as we fell in love with the soundtrack. (Completely fair since he and Chooch made me see it.)

Since then, we’ve slowly been taking in their albums, Fantasies, Let It Out and Synthetica with love and fervor. There’s more, but I’m just now really getting to know LIO and am not in a rush.

We even got to see Metric on their first go-round last year, touring for Synthetica. They put on a great live show and we were sad to have been unable to recently when they played locally. It was a really fun show and I can’t wait to see them again.

I greatly enjoy the music, but it’s the lyrics that stop me and make me put a song on repeat for 10 plays in a row. They have a way of capturing unnameable thoughts and impossible-to-express feelings/snapshots of my life with near-perfection. Lyrics provided by AZLyrics

rom Synthetica (2012)

Call me out
My regret
Only makes me
Stronger yet

Nothing I’ve ever done right
Happened on the safe side
It’s the other way
I’m missing everyone I know now

It’s too late in the day,
Too late in the day to take you on all the rides
I was afraid to tell you that

Back to that
Can you clone me?
I look like everyone you know now

It’s too late in the day,
Too late in the day to turn it around or change my mind
It’s too late in the day to take you on all the rides
It’s too late in the day to tell me I’m off the path
We’re already in the aftermath

Call me out
My regret
Only makes me
Stronger yet

It’s too late in the day,
Too late in the day to turn it around or change my mind
It’s too late in the day to take you on all the rides
It’s too late in the day to tell me I’m off the path
We’re already in the aftermath

Clone, from Merriam-Webster dictionary


 noun \ˈklōn\

biology : a plant or animal that is grown from one cell of its parent and that has exactly the same genes as its parent

: a product (such as a computer) that is a copy of another product produced by a well-known company

: a person or thing that appears to be an exact copy of another person or thing



: to make an exact copy of (a person, animal, or plant) : to make a clone of (something or someone)

/rant/ Chooch Too Long For Twitter

In Praise of a Man

I’m in utter awe of my husband. If you know me at all, this isn’t a news flash.

But with all that the furlough is doing (and with the work of countless staff members furloughed at home that is being dumped on him), Chooch continues to report to work and continues to diligently serve the mission he’s employed for, to aid Native Americans.

For ZERO pay, people. Because no income will be received for the work he performs, starting yesterday, Oct 1. For his standard 40+ hours a week but now with ZERO income.

Yup, he has to go in, even if he’s too sick. Or breaks his leg. There’s no one else but him. He cannot take time off for ANY reason.

Why does he do it, instead of quitting and seeking private sector work? Simply for the extra bit of hope that he will be paid at the end of this financial trauma and that our son’s lives will not be further negatively impacted by the childish cruelty of our politicians and failed political system.

Chooch and I pledged our love to each other over a decade ago, and united our lives in marriage 10 years ago, next month.

I remain fully aware that I am Blessed and beyond lucky to be hand-in-hand with a man such as he (him?).

I knew it then, but I learn it again every day he gets up and goes in to that shitty, shitty situation. Don’t bother making “lighter traffic” jokes, it’s not happening. He’s still gridlocked until he enters his nearly-deserted building.

I have immeasurable love and gratitude for each and every person that impacted/impacts the path of the man I will share the rest of my life.

Best of luck to all my friends and family impacted, and to the rest of you that will feel the economic impact soon. Over 2 million hard-working and gainfully employed Americans have suddenly lost their income.

I don’t care what your industry is or politics are, it’s going to hurt for a long time.

Prayers for us all, regardless of political beliefs. (And there are some TRUE assholes revealing themselves right now!)

Prayers for OUR Country(, or whatever non-prayer equivalent you choose).

Prayers that more people act like Chooch, by getting the work done that needs to be done.

Photo by J.R. Blackwell
Photo by J.R. Blackwell

On a scale from one to awesome, he’s the shit! Just look at him!

Chooch Music

How To Destroy Angels at the Fillmore

I promised myself I would write a blog post for every concert I go to, after wishing I’d already been doing it. I’m doing a hit and run with no research, so consider yourselves warned!

Last night’s How to Destroy Angels (HTDA) concert was originally a present for Chooch’s 42nd birthday in March. He’s a huge Trent Reznor fan, dontchaknow.  I never got it on the calendar and it was only because of a brief Twitter break yesterday that we even stood a chance of attending. (Take that, Twitter critics!)

Because of work stuffs, Chooch was stuck late at work which resulted in us missing the opening act. That was a bummer since I almost always find great new music this way. We got there with about 20 minutes to spare, finding bathrooms, beverages and our spot. Just as we started to look around, the show started. Perfection!

This was my third time seeing Reznor, but my first seeing him with his new band. The visuals are what I’ve come to expect, brilliant and startling and overwhelming. Between the dizzying visuals and the intense music, I had to miss about half the show to closed eyes. The room pulsed and the audience was mesmerized. Occasional peeks made it clear that I was missing out on some serious eye candy, but it was either that or bolt and I was enjoying my hubby’s hand in mind as we swayed together to the amazing live music.

The lightness that his wife brought to the stage and the music is heavenly. Her voice was crystal clear, a shocking perfection that I repeatedly questioned if it was live or lip synch, but the emotion in her voice showed itself and I eventually just relaxed into it.

Although one of the shortest concerts of my life, partly due to our lateness and partly due to their short list of songs (to date), it was immensely enjoyable. Every concert I go to with Chooch is joyful, even when the acts aren’t great. But seeing him so happy last night, moving to his favorite musician’s music was exquisite.

For our new interest, I’m happy to add the Fillmore as a venue I’ve been to, as it’s clean, well-appointed and laid out and has ample parking in the area. I’d have loved some vid screens, as my height prevented a clear view of the stage, but we didn’t get a chance to really explore to see if there was a more comfortable place to watch. Next time!

Happy birthday, Chooch. I pledge my turtle love!

Chooch Friends No Whining Too Long For Twitter

Unguarded, Within Castle Walls

Edit: I’m hoping to post a review of Ravenwood Castle itself, but I first wanted to share thoughts from the social experience point of view, since that was the point. Since I never know how long a post will take me to finish, I will say that I recommend it highly. The board games on hand and the atmosphere of the great hall made it impossible not to enjoy the experience. In short, I can’t wait to go back for another relaxing visit.
About a month ago, my husband and I were invited to join in on surprise birthday festivities for a friend. It turned out to be more fantastic than we could have hoped, in spite of our high expectations and my Health Blah aggro. There were old friends (comparatively speaking, back to the beginnings of my Twitter experience in 2007), but also new friends. And it takes only a tiny bit of bravery to say that, because I feel the bond of a shared experience, even if I didn’t get to spend much time with each of them.

And while I wish I had been less shy and gotten time with everyone, I prefer to err on the side of not being a pain in the ass (whenever possible). Besides, I cannot imagine being able to retain even ONE more memory or survive one more breathless and teary-eyed laughing fit. As I was trying to gather my scattered and grateful thoughts together to do a post commemorating the heart-container-filling weekend, something triggered a recurring thought, and I’ve decided to use our weekend setting to better noodle through what I keep returning to:

Human interaction is an unpredictable roll of the dice, as ALL parties imprint on shared experiences, depending on their mood, behavior and personality.

And in this case, it was tasty. 

Invited party guests were asked to keep it all quiet, both to keep the surprise from the honoree and to avoid hurting the feelings for those that space did not allow to include. It was excruciating not sharing more, but I will say that with the right combination of people, anything is possible.

The only downside was that we were “roughing it” without internet, cell signal or HD TV’s blasting ticker tape news over a reporter talking in another direction. An insulated bubble was in place around us and we were (primarily) our only distractions. Phone calls were not easily made, people (myself included) were not constantly reaching for their devices to check for messages, tweet, post or otherwise spend their time with a mental foot in the outside world. I found myself grateful to be disconnected with others that were more appreciative to be there than to waste any real time watching for connectivity, save those with important matters to address.

More frequently, people expressed gratitude for the experience and the efforts made by all to keep it truly special and just embraced it. There were some jokes and comments made, but I don’t remember anything other than general statements like, “Well, I’d check to tell you what else Ryan Gosling was in, but I can’t!” Which was typically met with laughter rather than kvetching.

In regards to my Health Blahs, the weekend reinforced in me, after several occurrences, that taking the time to meditate, nap or whatever else is needed to be on an even keel, MUST be done. Not only was my experience improved by trying to manage my neurological symptoms as they arose, but I found it easier to do so knowing that my “energy” or “mood” or whatever you choose to call it, could have a negative impact on the experience for others. 

When I wasn’t feeling well, I could easily take my leave and return recharged and ready for the next fascinating and/or giggling adventure. And although he offered, it would have been unkind to allow Chooch to come with me to give comfort when I was fine, just in pain or managing some symptom or another.  Better to leave he and the others to their fun and come back to watch or join in on the gaming, if and when I was feeling well enough to, for the greater enjoyment of us all.

But as for the impact of everyone’s mood, I think it’s the same kind of thing that all that advice from the Dog Whisperer and other animal trainers (as well as those that do Super Nanny/rescuing children in unhealthy situations) all boil down to — demonstrating how crappy behavior by those in charge directly impacts the behavior of their (fill in the blank). If your emotions are in conflict, you are likely create chaos in those around you. “Taking Five” or a “cigarette break” or a “mental health break” all fall into this as well. It’s a kindness to all, practicing self-care. This is kind of an epiphany for me, since I always put my energy into helping others and then straggling to keep up when things are in motion again. 

It also helped knowing that I wasn’t alone in the need to occasionally isolate myself. Others have similar health issues, anxiety issues, creative projects to work on, or whatevs, so I wasn’t mocked or teased for being a light weight. Or any other weight, for that matter. Even without a moat, I felt utterly safe.

I don’t know what my point is, other than total relief at having found myself in the middle of a group of people in a castle in the woods that were all of a similar mind, all being respectful of everyone else’s needs for the Greater Good. All being fascinating, extremely clever and open to the experience.

And, as always, the kindness demonstrated towards my husband always makes me appreciate the giver more, since I don’t think Chooch has revealed even the tiniest fraction of just how magnificent he really is. I’m an instant fan of anyone that gets that his Greatness. I mean, just look at him, for Glob’s sake!

Again, happy birthday to all we celebrated! Especially to my beloved Chooch, whose 42nd birthday was days later. Here’s to you, my love, and a birthday we’ll never forget.

(Photo taken by the stunningly talented and utterly captivating J.R. Blackwell. Many thanks for an image that we’ll treasure forever.)

Chooch Schubert at Ravenwood Castle in New Plymouth, OH. 03/09/13
Chooch Schubert at Ravenwood Castle in New Plymouth, OH. 03/09/13


Chooch Family Friends No Whining Uncategorized

43, Not 21

Yesterday was my birthday, and I’ve been spoiled by my husband for the last week or so as he drove me to see a few family and friends. Tuesday night (my birthday eve) I had dinner with my husband, oldest son (Naughty Bear), niece, sister, sister’s husband, brother and father. Due to some family drama, I had more than a little anxiety. I just simply pushed that aside and focused on the excitement I felt that they were all coming to my birthday dinner.

It was a wonderful time, although my brother announced his move far away in a week (?!?!!), and I was even more grateful to have gotten everyone together since we don’t know when we’ll see him next. Luckily, Chooch, my son and my niece are the kind of people that it’s impossible not to have a good time around.

When the waitress asked how old I was, my dad said, “21!” I was standing and taking a picture of someone when I heard, giggled and said “43! Woo hoo!” making it clear to all that I have no druthers about my age. Besides, how awkward would that have been with my 21 year old sitting at the table? No, I embrace my years, color my grays and smile at the laugh lines in my reflection, grateful for every smirk and belly laugh that’s contributed to them. 43!!!! In hindsight, based on his usual flirtatiousness, I think he wanted the waitress to think he was younger. Just kidding. I actually don’t think he knows that I embrace each birthday with such aggression. I love to level up to a new age. Have a giddy moment, even. Give a sigh of relief, even.

We slept in at a surprisingly nice, cheap ass hotel, and headed to the first fun item on the agenda: my annual *cough* physical. Regardless of where I live or how good my local general practitioner is, I always go back to Dr. E for this particular appointment. She’s thoughtful, very clever, empathetic (a rarity, I’ve found, in doctors) and a genuinely good person. She also keeps looking at all my symptoms and bringing up MS as a possibility, which scares the shit out of me. She keeps me honest, kicking me out of denial on an annual basis for well over a decade.

Then Chooch and I had lunch, which I inhaled since my appointment wasn’t until two pm (fasting bloodwork), made a grocery store run and headed home. Mmmm… jalepeno cheddar bread from Sweetwater Tavern … mmmm… Drunken Rib Eye (I don’t order the delish dish, Chooch does. It’s so rich, I only ever want one bite, which he sweetly shares.)

As planned, Housie Jen and daughters Tiny Expert and Feral Dancer joined Chooch in having a cake party for me, and the resulting silliness, giggles and feral impressions made the day special in a completely different way. They are at that amazing age where their full belly giggles and laughter are magical, stopping adults (is it just parents captivated by The Giggle?) in their tracks to stop and revel in the innocent sound. I was so happy to have had the time with them. It eased missing our kids a bit.

It was devastatingly difficult to leave, but TMC was running a special showing of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. I haven’t seen it since I was a teen and was startled and “migrained” by the difference. I don’t think I’ll ever view old movies the same, the ones I’ve only ever seen on a television screen. Never before had I recognized the tremendous difference between the two displays. Having the opening credits play over a wall of blurred images of attacking birds and over-loud screeching birds had my heart racing by the time the movie suddenly went silent and started.

It was something that had never blipped on my radar before, typically getting snacks or fussing with a blankie or whatever, waiting for the actual movie start. But I now see how movie theater viewers would have a much higher fear factor towards the flying murderers from the very beginning of the movie. On the tv, it’s like a commercial or filler (for me) that I only partially pay attention to and I had no fear of the birds at the start of the movie. I don’t know which is a better/more powerful, the lack of fear and seeing how they go from every day birds to killers? Or being immediately immersed into the terror to come?

Now I wish I could see all the AFI Top 100 movies on the big screen. I think seeing some of the ones I disliked may strike me differently. And it may eventually be possible with Turner Classic Movies dropping these tasty theatrical nuggets. My friend Andrea, just told me she heard they are brewing up a Karloff movie for Halloween.

There have been a few small birthday celebrations and toasts this year, no big party as circumstances just don’t accommodate it. And while Facebook doesn’t seem to allow me to reply for about 40 of the well wishes , I’ve read each of them and greatly appreciate each one.

Now, on an unrelated note, there’s a new Hobbit trailer! Yes, I’m annoyed it’s to be a trilogy. Yes, I pray McKellan’s role has been completely filmed. Yes, I’m FUCKING EXCITED. *swoon – Martin Freeman*