Thursday, May 31, 2007

I'm going to shut up now.

This morning started out with an argument with my dearly beloved "Q" and before it escalated to something worse, I decided that I would shut up and leave and when we were both calm, we would discuss the overdraft issue. Both of us were reacting badly to what the other was trying to communicate and since were were just misunderstanding each other's message, it was best I shut up and leave. He was mad, and I was mad, and I think both of us were hurt, so...enough.

Then I was listening to the radio on my way to my sister's house this morning. I'm a channel changer, I go up and down the dial, and I listen to KQRS and 107.1 FM's Ian and Marjorie show. It was during one of the commercials for Ian and Marjorie that I heard Kevin Burger detailing her recent diagnosis of breast cancer and that she would be later discussing this topic this morning on her show, The Kevin and Colleen show. I almost drove off the road. When her show came on, I was at home and I pulled out the only radio I have that will pick up the station to listen to what she had to say.

After the Race for the Cure, a Breast Cancer charity fundraiser in which most of the 107.1 FM radio personalities participated, Kevin was scheduled for a mammogram. She also has a monthly breast self-examination that she does Live on her radio program. It was after this mammogram, that she was diagnosed with breast cancer, possibly Stage 2 or 3. She is scheduled for a right breast mastectomy, with reconstruction, and a follow-up of chemotherapy. She was on an hour of her 3 hour show. It was emotional to say the least.

Kevin is a well-known television and radio personality here in the Twin Cities. She is fifty years old, with 3 kids, and a near newlywed to her husband of a year and a half. She makes her living making conversation and she is straight up funny and to the point and I love listening to the topics she discusses on the radio. She's her own person and she is every woman, all at the same time. And like every woman who has to face this diagnosis, she is asking, Why me? Why now? What can I do?

I fell apart listening to her in my kitchen, tears streaming down my face, especially when she said that her children would be forever changed because of this. They have no idea!

It reminded me of when my mother was diagnosed over 7 years ago, and the feelings that ran through me and the fear of the possibility of losing my mother. I remember the surgery, the recovery, the complications, the pain she had to go through, and the relief after one year, two, three, all the way up to now seven years of being cancer free.

My mother was lucky. She was diagnosed early, through a mammogram and later a biopsy, and surgical intervention was enough for her. She didn't have to go through chemo or radiation like her sisters did that year. Yes, you read that correctly, two of her sisters were diagnosed and underwent mastectomies in less than a year's time. Her younger sister was diagnosed first and had her surgery the week of Thanksgiving in 1999. Then my mother was diagnosed on her birthday, January 10, 2000. Then around April or May of 2000, her second oldest sister was diagnosed and had surgery.

Am I afraid this will happen to me? Yes. Am I doing anything to prevent this from happening? Yes, but I don't think it's enough, and I need to do more, but if you're going to get it, you're going to get it! I pray I don't, but I am also prepared for the reality that it just might show up someday. I won't sit back and let it run my life, but I know I will have to fight and I am prepared to do that.

In the end, I realized that as bad as the last few weeks have been, they haven't been as bad as that. No more whining. No more fighting. In the grand scheme of things, it's only money and I am grateful that "Q" is still in my life and I would take him over all the money in the world any day, and yes, including this morning when we were both not communicating properly to one another. After I thought about a while, I realized that in the end, he was just being concerned and trying to help, and that I shouldn't have reacted so defensively towards him. At least we are both in reasonably good health and that we aren't facing an illness or impending death. Sorry, I will try to do better, honey. Love you.

As for Kevin Burger and her family, I wish you love and luck and blessings as you help each other through this journey. Be kind to one another, hug a lot, laugh even more, and believe in your heart you are healing. Cry if you need to, it's painful, I don't care who you talk to, you are losing a part of your body. But that part that leaves doesn't define you as person, or a mother, or a wife, or a woman. My prayers are with you all and for anyone else going through this in your life right now.

OK, no more whining, and I'm going to shut up now.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Some days you just don't want to get out of bed!

"If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all..." I used to watch Hee Haw! That has been my theme song the last few weeks.

The last couple of weeks have been hell. Nobody has gotten terminally ill, or died, but it has been the little things, one after another after another that have hit me and my family in a series of disasters that it has almost become humorous. Let me share.

First, "Q", my soulmate and partner, went to pick up his son from the train station. His son was visiting from Montana because a high school friend was getting married. When they were on their way home, his truck died, right there in the middle of the street. Fuel pump went out. Thank God it was the company truck, but he still had to call AAA to have them tow him to the mechanics and he was forced to drive the car for a few days. But nobody got hurt, that's the main thing. Speaking of cars...

That same week, the starter went out on my son's car and that needed to be fixed. No big deal. He did his brakes at the same time, and then discovered that he had the wrong brake pads for his car. But the best was yet to come. His "CV" joints are bad. UHH!!! But wait, it gets BETTER!

This past weekend, me and "Q" decide to take his boat out for a spin on the lake. We took it out to Blue Lake, close to home, and the wind was blowing so hard that we couldn't anchor off to fish. I just purchased my fishing license for the year that very day (Saturday), and it was tucked safely in a small plastic ziplock bag in the pocket of my shorts, along with my digital camera and my cell phone. He gets frustrated because it's too windy to do anything and we decide to just pack it in. We reel up our lines, and off we go. He kicks it down and then we hear a strange sound, like a "crack, pop, ...PLOP!". He turns around just in time to see his trolling motor fly up in the air and come back down in about forty (40) feet of water in the middle of the lake. Nice. But wait, there's more...

As we approach the dock, I get ready to jump ship, (Captain Jack Sparrow has nothing on me!) and when I think we are close enough, I make my move. I land between the dock and the boat, right in the lake! I was not dressed for swimming. I didn't have my lifejacket on or my water wings or my floatie with the duck on the front (ala Country Acres). The temperature of the water was... well...frigid to say the least and then to come out and be hit by wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph, it can take your breath away!

When I got up to shore, I pulled the contents out of my pocket. My digital camera, in the case, wet. My cell phone, no case, wet. My keys, wet. My brand new fishing license, nice and dry in the little plastic ziplock bag! We loaded up the boat, and while on the landing, I could hear the people on the shore behind me laughing. 'Fat lady fell in the lake!' then to make my day even more special, a six year old by comes on the dock and looks at me and says, "You should have been wearing your life jacket!" Thanks, kid! I almost started crying right there, but I held it together until I got home and in the shower.

After a few days of drying them out, the camera still works and takes pictures and the phone works, but now I lost my SIM card and had to order a new one, so I still don't have a cell phone, but I hopefully will once I put it in there. (Murphy's Law: Once you order and receive a replacement for the item you lost, it will turn up.) So, it looks like "Q" will be getting a trolling motor for Father's Day. (Shhh! Don't tell him!) But first, I have to have a chat with my bank...

Today, I got a huge overdraft in the mail. Nice again! I almost didn't get out of bed today. But tomorrow will be better after I yell at my bank and ask them why they feel it necessary to bounce my checks when I had more than enough money in there to cover the bills and the checks I wrote. My mistake or theirs? Does it matter? I just hope that this is the end of this series of disasters so I can actually look forward to getting out of bed. At this point, I'm grateful I still can!

I hope the blue moon tomorrow night will bring a shift in my luck, and everyone around me. Now, where did I put my lottery tickets?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Writing for Gas Money

As writers, it is sometimes a challenge to find reasons to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, and the daunting goal of writing the "Great American Novel" can be overwhelming and keep you sitting in a corner muttering to yourself, or suddenly, the dishes are the most important thing to do "Right Now!" Well, I have come up with a new inspiration for my creations. Thanks to the government and the oil barons, I have decided that I am going to set my sights on writing for gas money!

You read that right! Gas here in the great state of Minnesota has been $3.29 a gallon. Remember when $5.00 would at least give you about a half of a tank or more and $10.00 was just about full? $15.00 will hardly give me a quarter of a tank of gas now. It's a good thing I gave up smoking or I would be in trouble! And to make this situation even more unbearable, the Minnesota Legislature is considering passing a "Gas Tax" that would increase the cost of each gallon of gasoline by as much as 5 cents per gallon. (As of this writing, I am not sure if it passed or not, and if our great governor, Tim Pawlenty, vetoed it as he said he would.)

Drastic times call for drastic measures and I really don't want to go out and work a second job dressed as a taco (OLA!). But I have to be able to drive. I have to be able to get around, and since I haven't written or sold my "Great American Novel" I have to use my God-given talent for good, the good of my family and my financial future. That, and I enjoy writing in my jammies until 11 am., OK?

Here's my plan. If I can write 2 articles a day, with 2 queries to go with them, send the queries off to various magazines and publications, and if I can do that for one year, that would be 730 articles sold (2 articles x 365 days per year). If I can get paid an average of $100 per article (give or take) then I would make $73,000.00 per year! I wouldn't have to drive! I could stay home and make money in my jammies! I could be home to cook and clean the house, to hold garage sales, to tutor young writers in the craft, to babysit my nephew, to...well, you get the idea!

So, instead of complaining about the gas prices, I have decided to turn this into an incentive to get on my butt and write my way into the next tax bracket!

Oh, darn! I didn't think of that! Oh, well, it's going to be a lot of fun to see if I can actually do it! Now, how much are stamps again??