Sunday, November 21, 2010

Depends (On Pee)

There comes a time in every one's life when they are embarrassed (I seem to have many). They trip over their own foot and look around to see if anyone is watching.  Or they slip on ice and fall on their butt.  Or they even have things happen to them, like getting pooped on by a bird.  Me?  I pee my pants.

I don't wet my pants on a regular basis, so don't get excited.  And I don't have a bladder control problem.  I am just thinking back to embarrassing moments, and a few seem revolve around me soaking my skivvies in public.

I recall the first time was when I was in the second grade.  I was the "Holly Boy" (Why couldn't they change it to Holly Girl?) in the school play, and from that, got a scholarship to take ballet class.  At the ballet studio, they were very strict.  About two months into my lessons, I had to "go" during class.  The teacher said to hold it, so I did.  When my parents came to pick me up, I told them I had to go to the bathroom.  They me to hold it till we got home.  Well...I couldn't.  I peed my leotard in the lobby of the ballet studio, right in front of all my friends.  My mother took me out to the car, and sent my father back in to clean it all up.  Oops.

The second time it happened, I was twelve.  Now, there are VERY few kids that wet their pants at the age of twelve.  I'm one of those special ones.  It was "Field Day", and all the kids were outside for the course of the day.  There were egg tosses, sack races, and three-legged races.  Everyone was having a good time, everyone but the girl that had to pee.  Yes, me.

It was a very hot day, and I had to pee from the moment we stepped outside.  But the teacher said to hold it until we all came in for a bathroom break.  I tried, I really did.  But by 9am, I had soaked my pants.  I didn't want anyone to see, so I did my best to hide.  I put my back against the wall of the school for a while.  I even hid behind other kids.  Then, when it became too difficult, I came up with a brilliant plan.

I decided that since it was REALLY hot outside, the best way to cool off (and hide all the pee) would be to sit on ice cubes. Nobody would question why I'm sitting on ice.  I got a bunch of ice cubes from the drink stand, and I set them in a pile on the ground.  Then, I sat on them.  All day.  All stupid day.  Everyone kept coming up to me and saying, "Ann, why don't you come and play this game?"  And I would respond, "Oh, no, it's SO hot outside.  I need to cool off by sitting on ice.".  Yes, I was miserable.  Yes, my pants were soaked with pee and water.  And yes, my butt was frozen.  But I'm pretty sure people just thought I was weird, and not "the girl who peed".

The THIRD time it happened, I was 23yrs old.  Look, it happens.  I had gone to the doctor on a Friday for pelvic pain.  He really didn't know what it was at the time (turned out it was Endometriosis), so he gave me some pills.  When he gave me the prescription, he warned me, "When you feel the need to go, GO right then!".  It was very ominous.  So I started taking the pills that Friday night.

Over the course of the weekend, I realized what the doctor was talking about.  As soon as I felt the need to pee, I had to get to the bathroom.  I had very little ability to hold my bladder.  Who makes a pill like that?  But I handled it like a pro, at least over the weekend.

Monday came.  Time to go back to work.  I was a mortgage processor, for a different company than the "chair" incident.  And it was a very large office.  I worked WAY in the back of the building, about a half mile from the I'm sure you can see where this is going.

I made it through the day without an issue.  Then, as 4:45 came, I felt a twinge.  I had to pee.  Alright, all I had to do was get to the bathroom.   I moved in and out of offices, working my way to the front.  People tried to stop me to talk, but I said, "I'll be right back.  Hold that thought!"  I felt the twinge again.  My pace quickened.  I only had a quarter mile to go.

By the time I got to the front of the office, I was jogging.   I only had a 20ft hallway to go before the bathrooms.  I was booking it now.  And running full speed apparently jostled me a little too much.  As I reached the door to the bathroom, I felt the warmth running down my legs.  Damn.  So close.

Luckily, I was wearing black pants, only now, they were just a little more shiny.  I walked back to my desk, trying to hold my knees together, so that I didn't fling pee particles on people's belongings.  I gathered my coat and purse, and headed straight for the door.  I didn't care that it was not yet five o'clock.  I had to go home and shower.

And finally, the last time I wet my pants was just a few weeks ago, in a porta-potty mishap.  I indulged on a very large Margarita during the city's annual food festival.  I was feeling great.  Hours later, I had to pee, like any normal person would.  Since I was outside, I decided to step into one of the ten porta-potties located on a side street.  My friend, Brenda, stood guard.

It was pitch black as the door shut.  But being in a porta-potty before, I knew the general layout, just bend down and pee.  So, I dropped my drawers and started to pee.  Now, being a girl, I don't sit on toilet seats in public places.  I hover.  One, I don't get germs on my legs.  And two, it's a good workout.

So as I am letting forth the flood waters of the giant Margarita, I realize that my legs are getting sprinkled with something wet.  Hmm, that's interesting.  Then I start wadding up toilet paper and blotting, and trying to get my legs dry.  I drop the toilet paper and my legs feel more "spray".  I got more toilet paper.  Same thing.  I said to Brenda, "I think something is wrong".  She responds, "I'm leaning on the door, just pee".

As light shines from a crack in the door, I see that the floor of the porta-potty is wet.  Hmm, that's even more interesting.  I got more toilet paper, as my backside is still feeling damp.  I dropped it and was splashed again.  Finally, the mountain of toilet paper was now reaching my butt (and that's up in the air). Panic set in. I was yelling to Brenda, "Let me out, there's a problem!"  She replied, "Just PEE!".  And I pushed and pushed on the door until she let me out.

Looking back into the porta-potty, as the light shined in, I finally discovered what the problem was.  Someone had put the lid down on the toilet.  I had peed on top of the lid, ricocheted pee onto my legs, and then made Mount PeeMore with toilet paper atop the lid.  My used Margarita was washing down the front of the potty, across the floor, out of the door onto the street.  I made a mess.

As I explained to Brenda what I did, we started laughing hysterically.  Then we sat and watched to see who would be fool enough to go in there.  It didn't take but a minute.  A man walked in, and despite what I thought, did not come right back out.   I guess he touched the lid I had just peed on.   Ew.

I am not proud of wetting my pants.  And I don't think I have a bladder problem.  But I do have a tendency to attract situations that cause "stuff" to happen.  For some reason, I am an embarrassment magnet.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Backup Career

No, it's not Gymnastics (don't think I won't try that though).  However, I have put great thought to this, and if this mothering thing doesn't work out, I will probably try my hand at Interior Design.  Yes, I do love to cook and bake, and I'm good at it, but that's a LOT of work for a minimal amount of money.  I think putting my brain to work would benefit EVERYONE.  The only downside to working my brain is all the smoke it creates from years of neglect.

Interior design runs in my family.  My mother's mother was an interior designer by profession.  Her specialty was commercial venues in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.  From what I know, she was high society and very respected for her work.

My mother also tried her hand at interior design around our family home.  Furniture, pictures, and even walls were moved to reflect current styles in design.  As a child, it was frustrating to see things constantly changing, but as an adult, I look back and love that she took the time and effort to make our house a home.

I have also tried to create particular looks with the homes in which I have lived.  In fact, I did it so much, that I'm  fairly certain the walls of my last home were about two inches thick from layers of paint.  I LOVE to paint.  I love to design.  And I love doing it myself (with help).  I would love to buy fixer uppers or investment properties, just for the fun of renovating and making them beautiful.

Here is some of the stuff I have designed over the past few years.



Friday, November 19, 2010

My Love of Food....(Or better yet, my love of people eating my food)

I have an's cooking, baking and making others eat it.  I get some crazy satisfaction out of other people enjoying the fruits of my kitchen labor.  And I have been this way since I was a child.  As a baby, I played with pots and pans.  At the age of 7, I was baking our holiday cookies.  As a teenager, I was experimenting with food, making meals for the whole family.   And in my twenties, I cooked for all my friends.

I can't say that I was always GREAT at cooking and baking, but I loved to try.  I had a few recipes that were my specialties, and I was known for being "pretty good".  Then, in 2001, my soon-to-be ex-husband decided that he wanted to open a restaurant.   At the time, we were in a position to try, so we jumped head first with no regrets.

Kelley's Grill opened, Downtown, in March of 2002.  It was a small hole in the wall, and just 15ft wide.  We only served hamburgers and hot dogs.  It was simple and cheap.  AND IT WAS AWESOME.

The best part (for me) of helping to run the restaurant, was coming up with new ideas and menu items.  I started baking huge Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies in the mornings.  And when I started selling out every day, I added more desserts.  I was making Cheesecakes, Apple Pies, Eclairs, Key Lime Pie and Key Lime Cheesecake.  Hell, I even made Sugar-free Cheesecake for our diabetic customers. At one point, I had two fine dining restaurant owners asking me to either be their pastry chef, or to sell them my stuff for their menus.  I loved every minute of it.

Pregnant with Natalie :)
Since I lived in Philly in the past, we HAD to add an authentic Cheeseteak to the menu.  We even had our bread shipped from Philadelphia.  We added Baked Potato Wedges and Baked Beans.  We added a full breakfast menu too.  I still miss those Country Ham Breakfast Burritos!

The Grill closed its doors in 2004, right as we were on the verge of "making it".  We had a line out the door every day for lunch.  But unforeseen circumstances led to it's closing.  However, I still dream about how much I loved being a part of owning and running that grill.

And since the close of the grill, I feel like I have come into my own with cooking and baking.  It was such a great experience.  It's like I finally know now what I'm doing, I'm enjoying it, and others benefit.  I would gladly spend my days cooking great meals, baking fresh bread and making decadent desserts.  And I will be happy to force anyone to eat it.

This is just a small fraction of the stuff I like to make.
Spinach & Pepperoni Calzone

Black Bean Hummus & Grilled Flat Bread

Homemade Pizza
Meatball Subs from 100yr old recipe
Even the bread & chips are homemade

Soft Pretzels, Rosemary Bread, French Bread,
Honey Wheat Bread & Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

Homemade Pasta

Brownies, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, Apple Pie, and Baguette

Homemade Baguette with Mozzarella, Roma Tomatoes, Basil and Olive Oil
Vegetable Beef Stew

Homemade baguette with Red Pepper Hummus and Blue Cheese
and baguette with Siracha, Smoked Gouda and Bacon

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Is your fear immobilizing or motivating?  I remember when I was about eleven years old, and I was with one of my friends, wandering in the woods.  We came upon a large, open field surrounded by woods on all sides.  As we ran across the field, we started to sense that someone or something was watching us from the far edge of woods in front of us.

Our run immediately slowed, then became a walk, then we just stood still, listening and looking around, trying to figure out what was out there.   And I remember my friend yelling, "I think there's a wolf!", and she turned and ran full speed in the direction we came.  My heart began to race.  I couldn't move.  I couldn't yell.  Fear and dread washed over me.  I was terrified that "something" was after me, and there was nothing I could do about it.  It turns out that it was nothing at all, but I remember that fear so clearly.  It was the most scared I had ever been, until I had my son Eliah.

At the age of five months, Eliah was in the hospital for two massive brain bleeds, non-stop seizures, surgery to put in a port, and to take years off my life.  About two weeks into our stay at the hospital, I was alone with Eliah one night in our hospital room.  We had just been moved from intensive care into a regular room at the end of a long hall in the children's hospital.  It was around 10pm, and a nurse was helping me get set up in the room, and she sat to talk for a while.  I was just holding and rocking Eliah, while the nurse and I got to know each other.

Eliah started to fuss and cry, still in pain from his recent surgery. He would often scream out, and I was usually able to calm him.  This time, however, he screamed out and did not take another breath.  I looked down at his little baby face and saw his lips begin to turn blue.  The nurse jumped up and hit the CODE button on the wall, alerting all staff to get down there.  Lights flashed down the halls, and a high pitched beeping sound began to echo through the wing.

By the time she placed his limp body on the bed, put the bag over his face, and began forcing oxygen into his lungs, Eliah's body was almost completely blue.  Then she looked up at me and said, "Go get help!"  My heart was in my throat.  That same dread as the field took hold.  My legs moved me out into the hall, but I could barely get myself more than a couple doors away.  I tried to call out, but all I had was a lump in my throat.  I tried again and again, and I must have made some sound, as a few other mothers appeared from their children's rooms to see what was going on.  I just kept trying to say, "Somebody help my son..."

Eventually, the staff responded to the Code call, and about twenty doctors and nurses filled the room.  They got Eliah breathing again.  They saved his life.  He was sent back to intensive care, and subsequently stopped breathing another fifty or more times over the course of the next few days.   And has done so many times in the couple years following, even this past July.

At the time, that fear was so crippling to me.  And there is no doubt that it was warranted.  But that type of fear is what motivates me now on a daily basis.  Maybe it's about perspective.  Maybe I don't sweat the small stuff that other people do, because in comparison, it's not worth it.

In the past, I have been afraid to change my life, because I'm afraid I will fail; staying in a bad relationship for example.  I have been afraid of being judged for doing what seemed (to other people) like the wrong thing.  My entire life, I have been afraid of what others think of me.  I have been afraid that I wasn't good enough, or pretty enough, or that I didn't have enough to offer.  And to some extent, that has motivated to try harder and do more with my life.

Recently though, there has been a shift.  Maybe I'm growing up.  HA!  (That is an absurd thought to me)  But I'm done being paralyzed by fear.  I'm done worrying about not being good enough.  There will always be a million people that think they know what's best for me, or how to live my life better.  There are always going to be people that don't like me, because of this reason or that.

And then, there will always be the people that see I'm special, beautiful, smart and funny; the people that support and love me through good times and bad.  When I'm surrounded by those people, what reason is there to be afraid??

I am done being afraid.  This is who I am.  I am Anncredible.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Toe" Up from the Flo Up

So, this weekend I broke out the Sketcher Shape Ups again to do some vigorous walking. I usually walk in crocs, because they are so comfortable, but I wanted to tone my butt like the Sketcher commercials imply.  Well, I don't know if you've worn these, or even tried them on, but they rock you from heel to toe as you walk.  In fact, it's hard to even stop in them.  Your body just wants to continue forward motion. I rarely wear them due to the fact that they change my equilibrium and I get motion sick (Yes, I do realize that's ridiculous).

So, I walked a couple miles and felt great, until I took my shoes off.  When I took them off, I realized I had sprained one of my toes.  It was my second toe on my left foot.  It's all swollen and red.  Really?  Walking heel to toe made me sprain my toe? What is it with my toes???

A couple months ago, I almost took my big toe off with a stainless steel pot full of green beans.  As I opened the refrigerator, I SWEAR the whole pan just jumped off the shelf, determined to sever the big one from the rest of my foot. Luckily, with my cat-like reflexes, I just stood there staring and let it hit my foot.

Earlier this year, as I was innocently walking through my apartment, a Walmart bag emerged from out of nowhere.  I took a header after tripping on the empty bag, landing face forward, spread eagle onto the floor.  When I stood up, I realized that I had broken my big toe.  Six hours in the Emergency Room later, I had the evidence to prove that I am capable of breaking my toe on a plastic bag. Fantastic. I am full of grace, and apparently have brittle toe bones.

The worst instance was when I was a Junior in High School.  I was a dancer in the school play, The King and I.  I was determined to be the best of my "B" group of girls that wanted to be in the play, but had no talent.  I practiced for what seemed like months.  I knew every move. I couldn't wait for opening night.

As the morning of opening night came, I was watching TV, and the winter Olympics had begun.  I was fascinated by the gymnastics competitions, as I have always wanted to do gymnastics myself.  I eagerly watched each move, and did each trick in my mind.  After watching a few floor mat routines, I was convinced that I too could be a gymnast. And with all that dancing I'd been doing, I figured I would have plenty of balance and strength.

So, I began my own floor routine in my parents family room.  I was a vision to behold.  Why was no one around to see my awesomeness?  Then, as I lifted my body up into the perfect handstand, one of my arms gave way, and I came crashing down into the arm of the sofa.  My big toe breaking my fall.

Immediately, I knew my toe was broken.  My bone was even sticking out.  I called for my parents, "Mom?? Dad??".  My father called downstairs, "Quiet, we're talking".  I called again, "I think you should come down here...".  And I heard the footsteps down the stairs.

When my father entered the room, I tried to explain what happened.  He grabbed my toe and wiggled, "Are you SURE it's broken?".  "Dad!  My bone is sticking out!"  And off we went to the ER.  They gave me a set of crutches, and said my toe would have to be reset, and a cast put on by orthopedic surgeon, the following day.

I missed opening night.  There was a hole on the stage without me.  The entire play was ruined because of my absence. And I was stuck on crutches, and in a cast, for the next eight weeks.

Bum Snoz

Over the course of my life, when people are getting to know me, they ask one question in particular.  It comes after all the pleasantries, and it's usually said during the second or third time getting together; you know, when it's comfortable enough to ask this.  "Ann, did you ever break your nose?"

I have looked in the mirror since I was a kid, and I guess I have never noticed it.  My nose is crooked.  It's not grossly out of alignment, but it is off enough to make one ask if I've ever taken a mallet to it.  Nice.

For many years, I said "No, I've never broken my nose".  I couldn't think back to a time when I went to the doctor or hospital for a broken nose.  So, I always assumed I never broke it.  Sure, there were times that I hit my nose with my knee, like when I was jumping on the bed or wrestling with my sister. But nope, I didn't recall breaking it.

Then, in 2001, I was having some problems with my tonsils, so I went to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. The first thing she asked was, Have you ever broken your nose?  I said, "No, not that I recall".  And as she continued looking at my nose, then, subsequently began jamming a wire, with an attached camera, into my sinus cavity, she looked perplexed.  (Side note:  I HATE things being stuck up my nose.  So don't ever do that.)

The doctor stopped, looked me in the eyes, and said, "Your nose has been broken".  WHAT?!  How could I not know or remember?  I started to think back over my childhood. And, I could remember getting hurt a million times, because I was a Tom Boy, but not breaking my no.......  Oh.....

It finally hit me.  There was this ONE time (not at band camp. that's another story), when I was about seven or eight years old, that may have been the one that did it.  The little incident that caused me a lifetime of questions.  Did that sound dramatic enough?

When I was about seven or eight, my dad had a weight bench.  I don't know if he was trying to work out, or if my mother just saw it at a yard sale and thought it was a good deal.  Regardless, this simple red weight bench sat at the bottom of the steps leading down to our family room.  Most of the time, I left it alone, because I had mud pies to make or birds to sing to in the back yard.  But the day came that my curiosity got the better of me.

At one point in time, I had seen my dad laying on his back, lifting weights above his head.  I could do that too.  My parents were at least smart enough not to leave the bar and weights on the weight bench, it laid on the floor in front.  And I was not strong enough to lift the bar, with weights attached, to put in the cradles of the weight bench.  But I was determined to lift SOME kind of weights.

I looked around and found two five pound dumbbells.  That would work.  They were heavy to me, but I was strong, and I was going to show them whose boss.  Don't ask me where my parents were at this point, because I haven't a clue.  But I laid down on the weight bench, my head between the bars, and I lifted the dumbbells from my chest to the ceiling and down again.  I was doing it!  I was strong!  I was only able to do it once!

Just as I had seen my father put the bar into the cradles when he was finished, I too put my dumbbells in the cradles.  As you can imagine, they aren't meant to go there or be balanced in that way.   And as I let go, one fell straight down on my nose. THUMP! I screamed and cried, and my parents came running.  I wasn't able to explain what had happened, because I was blubbering so badly, but they assumed it was one of my normal kid injuries and did not take me to the doctor.

I eventually got better, and I moved on with my kid life, not realizing that the course of my future had changed in that one single moment.  That instance ruined my modeling career (okay, not quite positive about that), and it caused me to lose my sense of smell. (For those that don't know me, I can't smell very well.  I rarely smell anything, and if I do, I have to try really hard.  To me, oatmeal cookies and cigarette smoke smell the same.)

But that's it.  I DID break my nose.  Now we can all breathe, well most of us can.  Thank you for asking.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Well, Hello My Name is Ann, and I Like to do Drawings.....

When the mood strikes, I like to draw/paint/doodle.  I do not call myself an artist by any means, rather a (not so) regular person that draws occasionally.  The last one is my first painting, done in 2002.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I like Big Lots and I Cannot Lie

So we fast forward to fall of 2006, where I was then married to Kelley, and my daughter, Natalie, was just over two years old.  She was just potty trained, and I was able to take her on shopping trips, with her walking at my side.  This particular day, Natalie and I went shopping in Big Lots.

As all mothers do at some point, I scared the hell out of Natalie by telling her about strangers.  Don't talk to strangers.  Be careful not to wander off, because someone might take you.  Stay by me, I will keep you safe.  The poor child was under the impression that everyone was out to get her.  She would point to each person in the store and say, "Are they going to take me?  How about her, is SHE going to take me?".

When I realized the error of my ways, I tried to comfort her, but she remained vigilant about keeping her hands on me at all times.  She would hook her fingers in my belt loops, or put her hands in my pockets.  All the while, I stumbled over her as I tried to walk down the aisles of the store.

As we approached the middle of the store, Natalie started getting a little wild, as most bored two year olds do.  So, she began to pull on my belt loops.  My hips would swing this way and that, and I tripped over my own feet trying to stay standing.  Then, it happened....

Natalie grabbed both back pockets of my jeans and swung  like a monkey.  I, having belt aversion, and jeans that were just a hair too loose, could not grab fast enough.  Yes, I was depantsed  in the middle of Big Lots.  I stood there in shock in my thong underwear, as I'm sure the video cameras were zooming in on the full moon in Aisle 6.

I quickly bent down to pull my jeans back up, but Natalie had a firm grip on the pockets.  She was laughing hysterically as she laid on the ground with a death grip on my jeans, and I was desperately pulling and tugging, trying to reclaim some dignity.  I was in panic mode.  I tried to turn around to get her, but I was unsuccessful and just looked like a dog chasing his tail.  At one point, I got up enough speed, that the centrifugal force was causing Natalie to catch a little air.

Finally, after raising my voice for her to LET GO, she complied.  I pulled my pants back up, and we immediately left the store.  Our basket of items remained.  I don't believe I went back there for almost a year. Though, I still wonder if they have that video tape.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My First Husband (Final Part)- You Want Happy Ending?

After the loss of my son, I felt hollow.  I had become a shell of my former confident self one year before.  I was in a very dark place, both literally and figuratively.  I was living in a dark house, and I was surrounded by fear and grief.  I couldn't even bring myself to go back to work. 

Josh and I fought all the time.  I blamed him for the baby's death, and he continued to make me believe that nobody else would want me, especially now that I had gained baby weight.  We split up a few times in the months following, as I would occasionally get the courage to tell him I wanted out.  And he would leave for a day or two, then come back and somehow convince me that I needed him. 

I started a new job, selling cemetery supplies by phone.  How crazy is that?  But I was good at it.  I won two sales awards in the first three months.  In a weird way, being surrounded by the products used to honor and bury loved ones, was very healing for me.  It gave me a different perspective, seeing what was behind the scenes.

Months passed, and Josh and I had our routine.  We went to work, came home, and I would sit and answer questions about what I had done that day, who I talked with, what I lied about, who I could have possibly slept with, etc.  Josh would even wait until I was falling asleep and ask more questions, because he believed I would tell the truth if I was half asleep.  He also had missionaries come to the house every week to preach to me about faithfulness and what it meant to be a good wife.

By June of 1999, I gathered the strength again to tell him to leave.  He decided that he would move back to South Carolina with his mother's side of the family.  He was gone four days.  When he returned to get his stuff, he convinced me to try again, but with a fresh start in South Carolina.  I admit, the thought of leaving was appealing.  So I quit my job that day, and we started loading a Uhaul in the days following. 

Not hearing from me for a while, my father happened to drive by the house, to discover that I was putting all my belongings onto a Uhaul.  He was upset to say the least.  But he wished me well.  Luckily, I found someone in need of a home, and they were able to move into the rental house in my place, so my dad wasn't out any money.

Once in South Carolina, we moved in with Josh's parents.  For three months, we all (including 3 cats and a dog) lived in a small lake house that was under renovation.  Life was actually good during that time.  We spent every evening on the lake.  I got a great job as an Account Manager for an Employee Leasing company.  And Josh's attitude mostly changed since his mother and step father were around to supervise.  He even got a decent job as a Manager for a Day Job company.

It all changed back when we rented our own lake house in September of 1999.  At first, I loved the house.  It was a custom built home with vaulted ceilings and wrap around porch, situated on 5 acres on a point on the lake.  It was really secluded and far away from everything, including town.  We even had to drive to the mailbox because it was so far away. That house became my new prison.

I was only allowed to leave for work, and the rest of the time was spent defending myself.  As soon as I walked in the door at night, Josh would be waiting to inspect my clothes and smell me, to make sure I was how I left in the morning.  The questions would begin immediately, what did I eat, who did I talk with, how much money did I spend....

Money started becoming a major issue.  Josh was in control of all finances, and we were always broke, living paycheck to paycheck.  I know we were making over 100k between the two of us, so I never understood why we didn't have money.  But I was blamed.

By November, it got to the point that I would walk in the house and just shut myself in the bathroom.  Josh would stand outside for up to two hours at a time, beating on the door, telling me how worthless I am, telling me that we didn't have any money because of me, telling me that I'm stupid, nobody would ever want me, and so on.  I would sit on the floor of the bathroom and sob.  He never let up.

I eventually got to my breaking point.  I remember laying on the bathroom floor crying, thinking to myself, either I'm going to kill myself or I will kill him.  That's when I knew we HAD to separate.   But I had to do it the right way.  Saying I wanted him to leave when we were mad just left the door open for me to change my mind.  I planned my escape.

I started telling him that I was going to leave him by the end of February.  He never believed me.  I even told his family not to buy Christmas presents because I was leaving.  I was GOING to leave.  There was no stopping me.

As February approached, I was working up to 16 hours a day.  I would get up at 4:30am, drive the hour drive to the office, and stay as late as I could.  Josh would yell, scream, cry, beg, threaten, or do whatever he could to affect me, but I had no emotion left.  I was a zombie, just trying to get through.  (By the way, I was terrible at that job.)

I moved to my own apartment at the end of February, just as I planned.  Josh tried several times to get me back.  He would wait at my apartment complex after work.  And I would follow that up with a call to the police.  He eventually stopped when I threatened him with a restraining order.

Six months later, he found someone I had never met to say (under oath in court), that we had been separated a year, so our divorce was final.  He was in a hurry to get divorced because he had already gotten another girl pregnant.  Lucky her.

I was free.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My First Husband (Part 3)- The Baby

When I first discovered that I was pregnant, I was devastated.  But once I accepted that I was going to have a baby, I got excited.  I called my sister, Lisa, to tell her the news.  She lived in Baltimore, and had just called in January, not but a couple weeks prior, to tell me that she was pregnant with her first child.  She was due at the end of September, I was due a month later (Halloween no less).  When I told her the news, she got angry with me.  She told me that I was stealing her thunder, and that I did it on purpose.  Eventually, she came around, and we were excited about the thought of having cousins close in age.

When I was about three or four months pregnant, only six months after my mother's death, my mother came to me in a dream.  This was the most vivid dream I have ever had.  She was standing over my bed, leaning down to talk to me.  I asked her what Lisa was going to have, and she said "A boy".  Then I asked her what I was going to have, and she said, "I can't tell you yet".  I called Lisa the next day to tell her, and she said that she was, in fact, having a boy.

Then, as my pregnancy went on, I started having nightmares.  I would dream that the baby was born premature, that he was born with white skin that was peeling off, and that he was too small to live; Horrible dreams that left me sick to my stomach.  I dreamed several times that he died.  Each following morning I woke up terrified.

Two weeks after the trip to Bristol for the baby shower, I had my regular 34 week check up.  I had a bad feeling about this appointment, and I begged Josh several times to go with me.  He refused, because he had plans later that evening to go to a WWF wrestling match.  So I went alone.

The doctor did his normal tests, and when he pulled out the doppler to check the baby's heartbeat, he couldn't find anything.  He moved the doppler all over my belly, and tried for several minutes.  He assured me that everything was okay, and asked that I step over into the ultrasound room and we would take a better look at the baby.

As he started the ultrasound, I saw my baby boy.  At 34 weeks, I could see all his details, the shape of his nose, his fingers, everything.  The doctor focused on his heart.  It wasn't beating.  Not having a clue, I stared at the monitor.  Wait, there was something.  A flutter inside his heart.  The doctor assured me again, "It's okay.  We're just going to take you over to the hospital and get a better look on their ultrasound machine." The doctor himself drove me to the the hospital.  He weaved in and out of traffic, speeding through yellow lights.

When we arrived at the hospital, I laid on the table for another ultrasound.  Several doctors were in the room at this point.  As the doctor again focused on my baby's heart, there was nothing.  No flutter.  No activity.  And he said, "Yeah, I don't see anything", and looked at me.  I don't know if I was in shock, or just didn't understand, but I didn't get it.  It did not occur to me that my baby's life ended in those last moments at the doctor's office or in the car on the way over to the hospital.  I just sat there and said, "Now what?"  He said, "Is there anyone you'd like to call?"

I couldn't get a hold of Josh, so I called my father.  It wasn't till I saw my dad's face, as he walked through the doorway, that it all hit me.  It was like getting hit by a truck.  The rush of emotions was so overwhelming, I broke down and cried on my father's shoulder for the second time in a year.

The doctor told me that they would be setting me up in a hospital room, and I had to deliver the baby the next day.  We spent the evening trying to track down Josh to tell him.  By 10pm, someone had called the venue for the wrestling match, and Josh was called down to the ring to tell him to head to the hospital.  He told me later that he was all excited, because he thought he was getting called down to wrestle.

He arrived by 11pm, and I told him what happened.  We cried all night.  He called his family, and they drove through the night to get there.  The doctor induced labor the following morning.  I found out later that my sister was in labor, in Baltimore, at the same time that I was.  Her son was born the very day that I lost mine.

After seven hours of labor, my baby boy was born breech and breathless.  He was three pounds.

I held my son, Tyler, for a while, rocking him while I sang lullabies. The hospital dressed him in his first outfit and took their professional pictures.  They gave me a hand painted box to put all his baby things in, like his blanket, the hospital bracelet, and a card with his footprint.  Then they sent me home.

I cannot tell you the feeling of going home, to a house prepared for a baby, with empty belly and empty arms.  It's surreal.

Monday, November 8, 2010

First husband (part 2)- My Own Personal Hell

The laser hair removal story was used to break up the harsh story of my first marriage.

So, to go back to the story, Josh and I married when I was 18 weeks pregnant.  Other than for obvious reasons, I married him because he threatened to leave me alone.  I was not working at the time and had no money to support myself.

I did have a great job with Delta Faucet Company.  I loved that job.  I was the head of the Commercial Division for the state of Virginia.  I traveled throughout the state, meeting with engineers and mechanical contractors to get them to specify and bid Delta faucets on commercial projects, like schools, prisons and hotels.  I had a company credit card, and I often took customers out to eat as part of my responsibility.  As you can imagine, this did not go over well with someone that was very possessive of me.

Despite the growing tension my job created at home, I was really good at it.  My first year in that position, I sold 621,000 commercial faucets.  The National sales meeting was to happen in Toronto, April of 1998, and I was told that I would be winning a National Sales Award, beating out 700+ other sales reps.

When Josh heard the news, he demanded that I quit immediately.  We fought for days, screaming at each other.  I was about twelve weeks pregnant, and he was threatening to leave me as a single mother if I didn't quit.  I finally gave in, and two weeks before I was supposed to receive my award, I gave my notice.  A week later, I tried to beg the company to let me keep my job, but they knew I was pregnant and told me I had to go.

Who's going to hire a pregnant woman now?  It took several months, but I got a job through a friend, working as an office assistant for a recruiter.  I worked for an older gentleman, about 55+ years old, just doing busy work until it was time for the baby.

During the pregnancy, our relationship got worse.  Josh was accusing me of sleeping with my new boss.  We would get unknown callers on the caller ID, and he would accuse me of having affairs.  If I ever checked the caller ID, he would see that there were no new calls, and he would assume that I deleted numbers.  If I was late coming home from work, even by five minutes, he was waiting in the driveway looking at his watch.  He would accuse me of lying and cheating if I wore my hair in a barrette instead of down.  He picked out my clothes every day.  He reminded me every day that I could never leave because nobody would want me.  He was the best I could ever do.  I had my own personal bully.

In addition to the daily mental abuse, I repeatedly asked Josh to smoke outside...cigarettes and pot.  He refused every single day.  And for months, while pregnant, I sat in a cloud of smoke in every room.  He would even smoke laying in bed while I slept.  I couldn't get away from the smoke.  No matter how much I begged, he wouldn't stop.

When I was 32 weeks pregnant, Josh and I drove to Bristol, TN to attend a baby shower thrown by his father.  The whole way there, Josh berated me on all the things I did wrong in the relationship.  I still had the marriage certificate laying in the car, and he grabbed it, writing on the back all the things I constantly did wrong and how I was going to fix them.

While in Bristol, we went to parties of Josh's friends.  Everyone smoked and drank the entire time. Pills were being passed around in a candy dish, and Josh was one of the first ones taking them.  He didn't even know what they were.  I was seven months pregnant, standing in a mobile home, just trying to avoid getting tackled, while the drunk guys got into physical fights.

On the return home, about five minutes after leaving his father's house, Josh pulled out his pipe to smoke pot in the car.  I had enough and I grabbed the pipe and threw it in the back seat.  At 80mph on the interstate, he slammed on the brakes.  We hit the guardrail and he jumped out of the car screaming at me. Shaken and terrified, I refused to get back in the car.  I sat on the ground and cried for about an hour.  He was so angry that he threw the keys at me and started walking back to his dad's.

Eventually, I calmed down and drove to pick him up.  We didn't speak the entire four hours home.  I was in prison.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Adventures in Laser Hair Removal

In the past, I looked at Laser Hair Removal as a fantastic invention for the rich, and something I really, REALLY wanted.  My mother was of English descent, my father of Spanish, so I was lucky enough to receive pasty white skin and dark, coarse hair.  From a distance, I look like I have a tan.  Get any closer, and I look like Sasquatch.  The thought of removing unwanted hair in a pain-free, permanent way, was gold to me.

As I hit puberty, it was apparent that I would have to take care of certain body hair.  I shaved my legs and  armpits like other girls.  But I couldn't walk around with a mustache.  Girls just don't do that.  Shaving was not an option, as a 5 o'clock shadow is not lady-like.  So I bleached it.  I bleached ALL the hair on my face (with exception of eyebrows).   And I also bleached the hair on my arms.

Years passed and I was used to my routine, but I still longed for the magic hair removal fix.  Then came middle age.  In case you guys that are reading don't know, as women age, they have hormonal shifts.  Those hormonal shifts are reflected by the growth of chin whiskers.  Sure, you can pluck for a while, but they grow back. They multiply.  They grow at light speed, even while you are in mid conversation with an attractive person of the opposite sex.

Finally, after years of embarrassing wolf-man features (yes, I am exaggerating here), I opted for laser hair removal.  My soon-to-be ex-husband and I, with children in tow, all sat in a small office with a laser professional and went over all our options.  Doing my face was a no brainer.  But did I want more??  Hell yes I did.

I chose to do my face and.... a Brazilian.  If you don't know what that is, let me explain.  It's the removal of hair from the front of the crotch to the back of the butt.  I THOUGHT it was an awesome idea at the time.  The 22yr old laser "technician" explained that it's easy and painless.  In just six short sessions I will be hair-free.  They guarantee it for two whole years.  No more shaving.  No waxing.  Forever! Woohoo!  Bring it on!

My first session was two weeks later.  I arrived early, freshly shaven on my face and "elsewhere", in excited anticipation of finally being a woman instead of a gorilla.  They called my name and I sprung up from my seat in the waiting room.  The technician led the way to the small room with just a paper covered table and the laser machine in the corner.  I was instructed to remove my clothes and lay on the table with a paper blanket over myself.

After a couple minutes, the very young (probably 24yr old) technician came in.  She was quiet and didn't say much.  She pulled out a camera, took a picture of my chin, then lifted up my paper blanket and snapped a couple more pictures.  After having three child births, with a million people viewing, there's no more shame left in me to be uncomfortable now.

The tech spread ultrasound gel all over my face and began with the laser treatment.  It is sudden, and feels like being snapped with a rubber band.  She did the first one, snap, "Is that okay?".  I say, "Sure, that's nothing." So, she continued on, moving the laser in a typewriter fashion.  When she was finished with my face, she held two ice packs against my cheeks.  It burned and froze all at the same time.

Did you know that the laser actually burns the hair follicle?  I learned that pretty fast when she moved South.

The tech didn't really say much at all.  I don't know if she just didn't like to talk, or if she was uncomfortable about sticking her face in some one else's crotch.  Maybe both.  She smeared the ultrasound gel on, and pressed the laser on the side of my bikini area.  "SNAP!"  HOLY CRAP!  Now that was different.  This area of my body does not see the sun, so it's a BIT more sensitive.

She continued on, head down, no words spoken.  Every snap of the laser I jumped.  I screamed.  There were many moments that there was air between my entire body and the table.  Why would anyone choose to do this?!  This is NOT painless!  When she was finished, my skin was burning.  You're not supposed to burn down there unless you have some sort of, you know, problem.  But I was sure happy to see those 14 ice packs.  I could have easily walked around with ice packs in my underwear all day.

Once I started breathing again, she set up my next appointment.  Again?!  You mean I have to do this again?!

The next month I got a very talkative technician.  She was fun and made me laugh.  It made the process so much easier.  She made me forget about the pain, and just talked.  That was not necessarily a good thing.  Point of note, when someone has your cheeks spread, and their face and a laser on your butt, don't laugh.  If you have gas, it's mortifying.  If you don't, you're sitting there puckered up.  Either way, it's really bad.

Ultimately, after a year and a couple months of going to the sadist laser torture chamber, I gave up.  It worked some.  Picture a soccer ball.  Was it worth the money?  No, definitely not.

Summer Fling Gone Awry- My First Husband (Part 1)

During the summer of 1997, a couple months before my mother died, I was working for Delta Faucet Company as a Commercial sales rep.  I spent my evenings hanging out with a rowdy group of friends.  I don't even remember how I met them, but we were together most nights.  And the more we were together, the better I got to know each of them.

I was drawn to the younger brother of my friend, Bill, because I'm a cougar you know.  His name was Josh, and he was only a couple years younger.  He always had a smile on his face, and he always had a hilarious story to tell.  He wasn't really anyone I would consider marrying, because he was a pot head and didn't really have any ambition, but we had fun hanging around together.  This is what we call a "Summer Fling".

Then my mother died in October, and I leaned on Josh for support and comfort.  My father moved back into my mother's house, leaving his house vacant.  And my father asked if I would rent that house from him, so I agreed.   Josh also moved to the rental house.

By Christmas, only two months after my mother's death, Josh asked me to marry him, and I said yes. I was 25yrs old and I really didn't have anything else positive going on with my life at the time.  I was coasting, thinking  I was living, trapped in a haze of grief over my mother.

During this time, Josh was becoming more and more protective.  He led me to believe that my friends were not good enough, that they were bringing me down.  When we went out, he thought that I was "making eyes" at other men.  We couldn't hang out with our group of friends, or even just his friends, without him accusing me of sneaking looks behind his back.  Systematically, I stopped contacting my friends.  I quit my pool league that I loved.  I rarely left the house, except for work.

In January, only a couple weeks after accepting his proposal, I decided that I was wrong and wanted him to leave.  When I told him that I wanted to end things, he convinced me that he would be different, so we stayed together.  We tried, all the while, removing ourselves from everyone we knew.  I was sinking into a hole.

February 6th, I found out I was pregnant.  It was devastating news to me.  I didn't want the baby.  I cried many, many times.  What had I gotten myself into?  I wasn't married.  I had a great career.  Josh was a controlling pothead.  That's not the type of man I wanted to be the father of my children.

I immediately started calling abortion clinics.  They don't even see you until you are six weeks pregnant.  Six weeks??  The baby has a heartbeat by then. I couldn't do it.  Morally, I was unable to make a decision like that.  It was up to God.  If he wanted me to have a baby, so be it.  I opened up the phone book and picked a doctor.

When I was 18 weeks pregnant, Josh and I went to the ultrasound, and found out it was a boy.  He looked healthy.  And as we left the hospital, Josh said that we should stop by City Hall and get married.  Get married?!  Today?  At least I was wearing a dress.  So what if I wore that dress to his grandmother's funeral, I could get married in it, right?

We were married within the hour.  No family.  No friends.  No pictures.  We just stood in front of some guy's desk, while he officiated. Then we drove to my dad's house to tell him.  He gave us money to buy dinner.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mrs. Roane and the Painted Rubbers

Throughout the fifth grade, I was known as Granny Rubbers.  The gray streak in my hair (my birthmark) was the source for much amusement for ALL the boys.  And I was always taunted with names like "Spot" and with the song, "Gonna wash that gray right out of my hair...".  So it made sense that they referred to me as Granny.  Why the "Rubbers" you ask?

My parents shopped discount stores, outlets, and thrift stores to provide a lot of the clothes for us kids.  And they were often excited when they found the BEST deal on "hip" new styles.  Then the day came when they brought home a pair of sneakers with a rubber sole that lifted me approximately a foot off the ground.  This was 20 years  before Sketcher Shape Ups were popular.   "Ann, this is the newest thing in shoes.  They're cool!  Really!"  When I put them on, I suddenly became taller than every single person I knew.  Oh yes, I was proud of these bad boys.

I strutted myself down the halls, looking as cool as an 11yr old in special needs shoes could look.  That's exactly what they were...special needs shoes.  What more could a girl struggling with fitting in want?  I was wearing shoes that made me trip, stumble and look like I needed help boarding the short bus. And from the moment I walked into Mrs. Roane's fifth grade class, I was known as "Granny Rubbers".

I hated those shoes.  I hated being teased.  And I especially hated my teacher Mrs. Roane.  How could one teacher dislike a student (me) so much?  She once scolded and punished me for drawing too much detail when illustrating The Chicago Fire.  She destroyed my Paper Mache' head of Abe Lincoln by placing other students' projects on TOP of Abe, crushing his poor balloon shaped skull.  The only redeeming thing she did, was to save me from my rubbery hell.

It was about a week after I sported my brand new rubbers to school, and we were working on a class project that involved paint.  If any of you know me well, it's that paint LOVES me and everything around me.  With paint placed in small buckets all around the room, I weaved in and out like a cat on the prowl.  HA!  Yeah right.  It was more like Godzilla taking out Tokyo.  As I stomped my big rubbers around the room, bright blue paint began to seep across the classroom floor.  Mrs. Roane knew it was me.  The evidence was all over my feet.  I had giant footprints all over the room....and she was furious.

I begged her to let me wash the paint off my new shoes, for I knew my parents would be angry.  I only had that one pair.  She refused.  I was told I had to clean the entire floor by hand, and I could not wash my shoes until the classroom was clean.  By the time I finished cleaning, the rubbers were permanently painted blue.  And so, they were retired, after only one week of torture.

Friday, November 5, 2010

What is embarrassment?

There are many moments in my life that I look back on with great embarrassment.  Some are from idiotic decisions, resulting in regret and shame, and some are from mishaps that befall me because of my clumsy nature.  All of them are funny, especially to other people.

The most memorable of these embarrassing events happened on the first day of my first real job.  It was 1992, and I had just gotten a job as a mortgage processor.  I was feeling proud and nervous as I entered the ten-story glass office building.  I was in the REAL world now, and I had to prove that I belonged there.

The mortgage company was a small satellite operation, located in a three room office on the fifth floor.  There was a main room, the manager's office, and a room full of filing cabinets.  Three people worked in the office, the branch manager, the head processor, and myself.

One of my first tasks as a processor was to file important documents into clients' folders.  So I went to the file room and I was going to file the heck out of those documents.  And I did, for a while.  Real work is so hard.  As I got to the lower file drawers, I decided I should sit down to do them. I looked over, saw a chair in the corner, and dragged it over.  It was one of those wood-framed office chairs with a padded seat, similar to the pic below.

Being the epitome of grace that I am, I flopped down into the chair like an elephant on it's stool at the circus.  And as I came down, the seat gave way, and I fell into the frame of the chair.  My butt hit the floor with great force, my legs shot in the air, and papers went flying.  My face immediately turned red, and I was praying that nobody heard what happened.

I could have recovered, without injury or detection, if it were not for the fact that I was now stuck. The frame of the chair was still in tact, holding me with my knees to my chest.  I wiggled.  I squirmed.  I kicked my feet.  For the life of me, I could not get out.

After what seemed like an eternity, and a million failed attempts at escape, I had to call for help.  I said in a meek voice, "Hello?...Hello?"  I waited.... No answer.  A little louder, "Can someone help me??"  And I waited some more.... No answer.  Finally, I yelled, "I NEED HELP!!".

The branch manager and the head processor immediately appeared in the doorway.  I could see the confused look on their faces as they tried to figure out what happened and which end of mine was up.  Once it sunk in, they burst into hysterical laughter.  I kicked and wiggled to show them I could not get out on my own. They were bent over, wide open mouth, with the silent laugh.  It took them another five minutes before they finally got me out. 

We didn't speak of the incident after that day.  But I further humiliated myself about a month later, when I was running to my car, fell in a small hole, and did a spread eagle in front of the building.  For weeks, people would get in the elevator with me and say, "Hey!  You're that girl that fell in front of the building!".  Yeah, thanks.....

Thank God they didn't have cell phone cameras back then.

The Loss of My Mother

Thirteen years ago, October 5th, 1997, my fifty year old mother took her own life.  She was found on the 6th, lying in a make-shift bed in her walk-in closet.  I was 24 years old at the time, and I was sitting at work when I got the call from my father.  I don't even remember the 30 minute drive to the house.

When I arrived at the house, the coroner was already there.  My father held me tight and we cried on each other's shoulder.  Sometimes those emotions don't release until you see someone close, and then it's like the floodgates open.

The coroner then asked if we could identify her.  As we walked up the stairs, there were police or some other officials standing in the doorway to the master bedroom.  We stepped slowly in and towards the closet.  Looking in and seeing my mother lying there motionless was too much for Dad to handle.  But I looked, and I remember it like it was yesterday.  That's the thing about having a photographic memory, these images stay with you.

My mother laid peacefully there on a bed of blankets with a pillow under her head.  Around her were those candles you put in the window at Christmas and a picture of my sister on her wedding day (one of the proudest days of my mother's life). Dried blood was under her nose and she had stained the blankets underneath.  I stared.  A million thoughts raced through my head.  What did she do?  Was she that desperate and I didn't know? What were her last moments like?  Did she feel pain?  Did she feel regret as the breath left her body? 

Once the coroners took her body, I had the task of cleaning the closet, washing the blankets and pillows.  It was pointless, but I did it anyway.  There is a distinct smell when someone dies, and that doesn't wash out.  I will say one thing, there is no glamor in death.

The next few days consisted of many tears and making funeral arrangements.  My brother and sister came to stay in the house with me while we went through our mother's belongings.  My sister and I cried, fought and laughed the entire time over memories, belongings and things we regretted not doing.

I found out from my father that she had attempted to take her life a year prior.  He found her unconscious with a note, and he rushed her to the hospital.  She begged him not to tell us kids.  Oh, the things I could have done to help her had I only known.  That is an impossible amount of guilt for me to deal with, even now.

The funeral had a nice turnout of familiar faces.  My mother would have been proud at the crowd she drew.  And as I stood up in front of everyone to give her eulogy, I felt strong and proud to be her daughter.  It's funny that even then, when I was 24, I had that strength.

Beautiful words were spoken about my mother.  And the wonderful things about her are still cherished to this day by the people who knew her.  Her death may not have been glamorous, but my mother had class.  From head to toe, she was a lady.