Sunday, March 31, 2013

Everyone loves Jello

As Eric was placing the decorated jello on the Easter table today, he said "Aunt Thelma would be proud of this jello." Yes, she would be. It was a multi flavored jello with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Aunt Thelma wasn't a good cook, but she played a great support role with her jello. She had more jello recipes the anyone I know or will ever know. Most turned out pretty well and always had something uniquely stylish about them whether it be the jello itself or the dish it was contained within. Every once in a while the jello would be, well, different.

Once an olive showed up in the jello. There was another time all the fruit in the jello sank to the bottom. That was more like plain jello with a fruit bottom crust. The piece de resistance however was the time she confused sour cream with whipped cream. That was a memorable jello. For a while after that everyone took a quick finger touch of the topping to test it before eating that great big spoonful. After Uncle Marion died and she attempted to make pickled pigs feet, it turned out more like a jello with a glob of meat in it. It was the effort and love put in it that mattered most.

Every jello mold was made with love. Every jello made evoked a comment from the peanut gallery. Every holiday table contained a special fruity treat. Since she passed, jello still remains on the table even though the kids are no longer small. It isn't the same if Aunt Thelma isn't there with us. There's always room for jello.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Shouldn't you get wet in the shower?

As I dug through the 12 inches deep layer of shoes in my closet, I realized several things. One - I had a lot of shoes. Two - I had a lot of old shoes that are now with Goodwill, some never worn. And three, I never even came close to having this kind of stuff when I was a kid.

I wore the same set of clothes as much as possible when I was a kid. I had my favorite outfits and as soon as they went through the wash they were on again. There was this soft green sweater and bell bottom green pants and this patchwork multi-color sweater with a pair of jeans that had been sewn up more than Frankenstein. I had like two pairs of shoes - sneakers and sneakers. I had very limited attire, except for the hand-me-downs from my aunt. I had quite a bit of old person clothes. Those Frankenstein jeans are actually the pants I wore to play softball. Yep, didn't wear shorts. I know I must have looked crazy, but I LOVED those jeans. Many a time I got the "I am throwing these away if I have to sew them one more time" speech.

The other thing I am reminded of is how much Febreze would have helped me out. There were times when I was in a hurry and would turn on the shower and never get in or times when I would get in but miraculously run around and never be touched by the water. I don't even think I used deodorant, I bet I smelled. Good thing I figured out not too long after that, that I should indeed take a shower quite often and use deodorant. I think though it wasn't entirely my idea. I am pretty sure when Mr. Karstens (who had a pinkie that bent straight sideways) told me that if I came to class smelling bad and not washing my gym outfit that he would say it in front of the whole class, it had a positive impact. Embarrassment is not fun at all. I thank him for setting a young smelly kid straight.

I am happy to have several sets of clothes and shoes. I am glad my kids don't smell and that they have always come out of the shower wet (well one of them may have gone awry for a bit). And I am glad that I will be spending Easter with my crazy family. No matter what I think or say about my past, every day is an opportunity to make things right and better.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I like Green Eggs and Ham

Coloring Easter Eggs, a yearly activity. This year will probably be year 40 or close to that I have been involved. When I was a kid there was nothing better than getting ready for Easter egg hunts. Each year devising a better strategy to yield you more eggs. One year running to the end and then picking up all the booty while all the other kids were at the front. Sneaking into the hunt area and spotting where the really good stuff was hidden. Have you ever wondered if all that dye that soaked through the shell of the egg would kill you? Well it hasn't yet. And I always wondered why the eggs would be in the frig to be kept fresh but after coloring them they would sit for at least a week on the table in a basket before everyone ate them. Maybe that's why we don't get sick much salmonella as a kid we are immune now.

Remember when you learned you could write with a crayon on the egg before coloring it and the writing would stay? That was so cool until "shit" showed up on an egg. Then the crayons mysteriously disappeared. Remember that first time you realized the eggs were hard boiled, you know, when you tried to color a raw one and smashed it all over...and licked your finger before your mom screamed at you that could kill you. Okay that line made me a little sick to think about.

Eggs tasted best at Easter. I have no idea why. With salt, without, it didn't matter. And then, there would be egg salad for sandwiches. I think that is the only time of year I didn't eat beefaroni.

I used to enjoy eating the green eggs. The egg would be colored inside and then I would remember Dr. Seuss' great story. This year our kids are all in theirs 20s and we will again have an egg hunt. I think I will put a letter on each egg and make the girls find enough to spell their names. Yep, I think that sounds like fun.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How Achluophobia saved my life

I think it is way easier to say scared of the dark. I have been afraid of the dark for as long as I can remember. When I was 9, my parents went out and left me home alone. I turned on every light in the house and had the TV up as loud as it would go to fend of the evil spirits or whatever else was there that could attack me. Our neighbor Gene came over to check on me and I didn't even hear him banging on the door. He called my parents at the restaurant and told them they should come home.

You all know about my grandparent's basement. If I wasn't scared of the dark, I may have well gone and stayed in that room with the hat boxes and would clearly have been killed by the zombie body parts of husbands past.

What about the horror movie test, you know the one where you see how long you would survive in a horror flick? I would survive BECAUSE I AM SMART ENOUGH NOT TO GO INTO THE DARK HOUSE AFTER NOTICING THE LOCK WAS TAMPERED WITH. "Hello, hello, is anyone in here?" Not me.

How about the nights where I almost broke my leg, neck or other body part when I thought I heard something behind me in the kitchen and then moved at a pace known as breakneck to get up the stairs and into my room. Wait a minute, I just said I was smart enough not to...damnit. I clearly would have been horribly killed in a spook movie.

I certainly hope our hearts don't have a certain amount of beats in them before they stop. I seriously used a lot of beats up in my childhood running and hiding from things that didn't exist.

One thing I do find funny is my inner monologue as these events unfold. I am not going to be scared. Nothing is there. I just need to remain calm. I am going to die. Can't I run faster. God help me. Don't breathe heavy they will hear you. Don't move. Someone will come and find you soon.

I do however have a sobering part of this tale of fun...when I was in college there was a boyfriend I broke up with. He couldn't take no for an answer and one dark night he followed me to my apartment. I got that feeling I would always get when I was scared in the dark. So I ran, fast, toward my building. This time someone was there in the dark. I got in the building and up the stairs. As I put the key in my lock he was on me. I struggled to open the door but finally got it. My puppy ran out and he grabbed him. He turned around and hit me square. I remember what happened next although it was a seriously out of body experience. I experienced a rage I have only felt twice since. I picked myself up as he reached the stairs. I don't know what I said but he started to turn. In that moment I grabbed my dog and pushed the guy down the stairs. I grabbed my keys and left. I went to a friends house, vomited wildly once I settled down a bit and then we called the police. I moved the next day. I am certain that my fear of the dark saved my life. If I wouldn't have run when I did, I wouldn't have made it to the building, I maybe would have not made it out of the situation with only a blackened eye. I am grateful I am scared of the dark.

Only 3 people knew is story, now there are more. This blog is therapeutic. I have been carrying that around half my life.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Devil's Den and my brother the stripper

Michigan City was the home of Elston Sr. High School. We were the Red Devils and our gym was affectionately know as the Devil's Den. No one wanted to come there. We had the best cheer block anywhere. We were wicked to visitors. We had great basketball teams and the biggest rivalry against Michigan City Rogers. Everyone knew the name Delray Brooks and Eric Frageman....excuse me? Yep. Delray was an amazing basketball player and Eric was the high school stripper.

Yes, when I was in high school, we had a stripper. Eric clearly was the best stripper ever. In 1981-82, Elston had the best swim team in the state. They were also the sexiest 15-18 year old boys I had ever seen, not to mention they wore speedos. They had state wins and records across the board. The name Doug Elenz still makes me smile. So when Eric was elected stripper, you can just imagine how scandalous it would become. A group of high school boys who were extremely social, very sexy, and who every girl in the school had a crush on. Needless to say there were times in my house when there was a girl upstairs and downstairs and I was running interference.

Eric stripped before every home basketball game. There were 2 extremely memorable games. I usually knew what was coming because the planning took place at our house. One time they planned it as a funeral. The Funeral March began to play and a coffin with pallbearers came into the gym. A "minister" started a solemn ceremony when the stripper music started...the coffin lid flew open, there was Eric lying in a suit.  Suddenly a shoe flew out, the place went wild. Our games were always, always, packed. The girls were screaming. It was insanity. More clothes started to fly out of the coffin, then Eric jumped up. Madness. I am certain some girls fainted. The game was an afterthought.

The second most memorable stripping event was very well crafted.  The stripper music started and everyone was looking around. They couldn't find him anywhere. Then an old woman on the visitor's side stood up. She began to take off her clothes, yep, it was him. THEN, the rest of the swim team got up and they started stripping. All down to their speedos. It was heart-stopping. I was hoarse after that. I aged 10 years with all that excitement. It was one of the most memorable events and I know I am not giving it justice. It was just fantastic, game after game. He would on occasion embarrass me by "shaking his junk" right in front of me, but it got me attention so I can't complain. I got many more "friends" during basketball season.

I haven't come across anyone else in my travels who had a high school stripper, let alone have it be her brother. Just lucky I guess...

Now that was some snow!

1978. I was a paperboy with my brother. We had a neighborhood route. Eric was good at it, me not so much. I was never good with telling direction or remembering who on our route got the paper. Then came the collection work. I knew I wasn't cut out for sales early in life because I hated asking people for money. And I never knew what to say when they didn't pay me.

One winter the snow started. And it snowed, and it snowed, and it snowed some more. At the end of it we had at least 2 feet, probably more. Well our hometown was good at plowing so quickly the papers came. We had to trudge out into the snow and deliver the news. It became fun once we started digging in it to get to people's porches. Some of our customers had dug a little spot by their door and left silver dollars or other change for us. Payment for a job well done.

It was a big job to do with all that snow, but at the end we had enough money to go to the bakery and get donuts and milk. We dug our way to Franklin Road, easily crossed what was usually a very busy road and ate well. That place had the best cream horns I have ever eaten to this day.

Funny how every time it snows a lot, I think of that paper route. That big bag of papers strung across my chest as we rode our bikes on the route. I didn't do it long after Eric stopped. It just wasn't the same.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Popping the Clutch

Finally getting my driver's license just before I turned 17 presented a fantastic opportunity. I didn't realize it when I was learning to drive, but some of my more savvy friends informed me that I could start the car, our yellow VW bug, by popping the clutch. I called it my batmobile. it could do some great tricks. Using the clutch would save me in the event that I had a tough time getting the engine to turn over, etc. etc. I have often heard that you haven't lived unless you have had to pop the clutch. Well, I quickly learned that I could use this fantastic tip for something way more dastardly. That's right, sneaking out of the house.

My room was on the second floor at the very back of the house totally at the opposite end to my parent's room. We had crank open windows. They were crap for letting air in, but they were great for opening, removing the screen and climbing out onto the about 3 foot wide section of roof. I would then quietly walk down to my parent's balcony and climb down the post to the patio. I would continue to walk around to the front of the house and down the driveway to the small piece of blacktop where the VW bug sat just awaiting adventure. From there I would unlock it, put it in neutral, back it out of the driveway, and then start pushing it forward until I got it going pretty fast. Yep all that gymnastics training really paid off in the strength department. I would then jump in and pop the clutch. I would be far from the house so no one was the wiser.

From there it was to the beach or a friend's house to get the evening started. This went on for a long time. As with all good things, it did eventually come to an end. Someone gave me up and one night my mom was waiting for me. When I arrived home and shimmied up the post to the balcony, she was waiting for me. She was quietly lying on the floor of her room. As I started to climb over the railing, she spoke up. In that first moment, I thought either ghosts had achieved a new level of scary or it was God. As the initial fear wore off, I realized I had been caught. Grounded forever and no car. It was all worth it though. I had some great times in the middle of the night. We didn't do drugs, but we did drink on occasion. We would be smelting on the beach or just hang out. Sometimes I would even meet my cousin Kathy and her friends. They were the kind of kids I wasn't supposed to hang around. They smoked like chimneys, but I always thought Kathy was so cool. She was a lot older than me and was a rebel. But this is a story for another day...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Paying it Forward

One of the things I want to do stemming from my years of experience is help others not go down the same path I have chosen. It is not a path I recommend. So in light of that, here are the TOP TEN THINGS TO DO TO BE I serious, hmmm, only I know that.

10. Smile and wave, like all the time, even at someone who you would rather run over slowly with a monster truck
9. Have long hair and WHATEVER YOU DO keep it in a normal style, nothing wild and crazy like say... spiking it up
8. Always, I repeat, always say yes to everything, do not, I repeat, DO NOT challenge authority. Lets face it, that will not end well so don't do it.
7. Learn to say "that is a great idea, I love it"
6. Do not ever show emotion in the workplace. I cannot help you if you do. No one will forgive an ugly cry or a passionate stand.
5. If you are asked to go out of your way to meet with someone in authority, for God's sake do it and be happy about it.
4. Rent the Jim Carrey tape on facial motion. Learn how to control all facial muscle functions.
3. Goes with #4, join a poker club and learn the face. It will be useful. This tip alone is worth more than the previous 7. If you think it will help, listen to Lady Gaga.
2. Learn to accept the things you cannot control, no really, let everything wash off your back like water off a duck.


1. Actually I have no idea. I don't do any of these things...I work hard, am very straight-forward, get emotional about my work, and have short, spikey hair.

Do what makes you excited to get up in the morning.
Do what makes you feel accomplished when you go home at night.
Do what allows you the balanced time with your family to make beautiful and forever-lasting memories.
Don't miss family birthdays including your own for business trips.
Do the best job you can.
Make sure you learn something each day.
Take feedback with a grain of salt, use what will make you a better person, throw the rest in the trash.
Don't allow others to cast the shadow of doubt over you.
Share what you know - the feeling is great.
Leave a legacy that when you look honestly back at it, you are proud to say that is what you achieved.
Understand why you do what you do.
Most of all, be happy - life goes quick.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Everyone should know how to drive a stick

Back in the day it was a requirement to learn how to drive using a car with a manual transmission. What the hell is that some of you say? Well as a new driver it is the worst possible scenario ever. As a teenager sneaking out of the house, it is phenomenal (oh yeah, this will be the topic of the next blog). My mom's rationale is that if you learn on a stick you will always be able to drive any car. Yeah, you never know when you will have to steal a car to save your life. Would suck to break into it and say "Damn, I should've listened to my mom."

So I had to learn to drive with my mom and Jack. After Eric took Driver's Ed, my parents decided the price wasn't worth the benefit. Jack would take me to the country roads and create scenarios and expect me, a 15 yr old, to follow along like they were real. Did I tell you I was a really sarcastic and fairly nasty kid? Then you all know how that went. Jack: now as you pull up to this road to your left, pretend it is a 4 way stop. Me: it isn't a 4 way stop. Jack: I said pretend, and you arrive at the same time as the other car, what should you do? Me: well, since there is no other car, I can't even tell if we arrived at the same time and it isn't a 4 way stop, I am just going to keep driving. WAY WRONG ANSWER. Pull over, get out.

Six months later my mom gave it a shot. She would put a coke bottle on the transmission hump and say "Okay, now you have to drive so that the bottle doesn't fall over." What the fu**? Are you fu**ing kidding me? Game over before it starts. I got like to the end of our road.

Six months later Jack takes me out again. I am kind of like the cheese used in Cheese-Its. I required quite a bit of aging before I would pass the parent test. Since I was now 16 and a half, it was in my best interest to behave.

The day finally came when I took my driving test. You would think it would go smooth after trying for over a year to get to this point, but no. Instead of leaving me with the stick, they "allow" me to drive the automatic. Did I tell you I hadn't trained in that car??!!! Thank God the driving instructor was drunk (at least that's the only thing that makes sense), I passed.

Thus began a series of adventures that will live in Infamy!!!!!

Friday, March 15, 2013


I don't care what anyone says about spiders, they are the scourge of the earth. When I was a kid I don't remember if I was scared of spiders or not, but I do know that after MY MOM CHASED ME AROUND MY HOUSE WITH SPIDERS SHE HAD JUST GRABBED OFF THE WALL OR WHATEVER, I was. Yep you heard me right. My mom used to take pleasure in making fun of things that bothered me. At this point in my life I think she was like the psychiatrist on the last season of American Horror Story, thinking what she was doing was in some warped way an attempt to cure me. Yeah, no. It was a great way to psychologically damage me.

Spiders have had a lasting impact. I still struggle to deal with them. There have been the spiders in my car that almost cause me to wreck. The spiders hanging down from the patio door frame when I let the dogs out at night causing an ugly dance that if tortured I would die before admitting to. The spiders that get on the couch and jump on you when you are sitting there. AND THE ONE THAT DROPS FROM THE CEILING AND LANDS IN YOUR HAIR...AHHHHHHHHHHHH! Let's just say that I have a very close relationship with Don at Orkin. Which reminds me, Don just got promoted and I will have a new Orkin man. I love bug killers.

I have been known to find where spiders hibernate in the winter and dig them up and kill them. Now that has been 19 years ago, so I may have outgrown that craziness. And it was on my property. It wasn't like I became Super Shelley Spider Slayer, although I may go as that character next Halloween.

Well as the Spring thaw is upon us and the creepy crawlies come out of the woodwork, literally, I am again reminded of my childhood and the desperation I felt as I ran away from my mom...sometimes getting away clean, sometimes running headlong into some painfully non-moving object. Nonetheless, I survived to tell the tale and have not passed on this parental action to my kids so the cycle is broken. Just keep in mind, if you have this fear, I am certain you can rustle up a little Super Spider Slayer of your own and conquer your fear.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Whirlpool

So before Jaws, we lived in a house that had a round above ground pool in the backyard. We would have neighbors over to swim. When it was just the kids we would jump in and get everyone walking in the same direction along the inside edge of the pool. Slowly we would increase our speed. Pretty soon the flow of water would start to carry us. Faster, faster, until we couldn't even keep our footing anymore and the water would carry us around in our own man-made whirlpool. That was the most fun ever. The thrill, the bit of fear that it would move too fast and pull us under...the sound of my mom's voice telling us to stop. Hehe.

Now I am reminded of the hocker contests my brother would have. Who could spit a large nasty hocker and get it to land just at the bottom of the fence surrounding the yard. Land in a way that it was just hang down off the fence but not fall to the ground. Totally gross, yet I remember one time there being three just hanging there. Why was there a need to look at it? Maybe it was the physics of it. Maybe it was just a little kid fascinated by snot.

Now I am reminded of Andy Tweardy. I know I am not spelling his last name properly. It just doesn't look right. Andy lived across the street from us. He smoked a lot. His wife, Marge, smoked a lot. They had a smoking hot son named Kevin. He was too old for me and I wasn't pretty enough for him even if I was the right age. Andy used to come over to our house and swim. Whenever he wanted. No he wasn't invited. He just did it. We would be inside the house and hear SPLASH! He would be in the pool. I liked Andy. He was always nice to me, always. He had a really raspy voice. It was cool sounding. He and Mr. Falbo argued all the time. Apparently Andy took some tools from Mr. Falbo and didn't return them. At least that was Mr. Falbo's story and he stuck to it for 40+ years. They lived right across the street from each other on the other corner of Kildeer and Roeske. I think they fought until Andy died and beyond. I remember Mr. Falbo talking about it when I was an adult and Andy had been gone for years. The Tweardy's always had cherries in a dish on their round brown kitchen table. The dish was either a blue or green glass dish. I always got to have cherries at their house. I loved the taste of those cherries, bing cherries. I would go over to their house and talk to them while they would smoke.

As I write this blog I am starting to realize I hung out with a lot of old people when I was a kid. I didn't have a lot of friends my age. I was always with my grandmas, aunts, the Falbos or the Tweardys. Holy moly...I knew this writing thing would be therapeutic. This explains why I didn't think like the other kids. Hell, I was surrounded by conversations of the 50 and over crowd when I was 8. Huh, Mr. Obvious, I didn't make the connection....

Monday, March 11, 2013

Barry Manilow

Oh Mandy, you came and you gave without taking, and I sent you away, oh Mandy, you licked me and stopped me from shaking...

Wait a minute, I don't think the word is licked, but licking is what Mandy did. Mandy was our 150 lb. Great Dane. We didn't have her long, but it was the best time. She was fawn in color and humongous! She was so tall she could eat food right out of the pans on the stove. You couldn't push the food back far enough on the counter for her not to be able to reach it. She used to do this thing where if you were sitting on the couch she would give you little bites across your whole arm up to your shoulder. It felt so weird and wonderful all at the same time. We did have a bit of trouble with her putting her toenails through the couch in the living room...yes the living room we weren't allowed in unless people were over.

One time she got into my mom's closet and chewed up her shoes. Darren tried to hide them in the back of the closet but eventually my mom found them. She chewed up many things, but I think my mom loved the little bites and the fact that no one, I repeat no one, had the balls to come up our driveway after seeing Mandy in the front window, so she let it go.

There were a lot of crazy times, like the time she jumped through the screen in my brother's window on the second floor and got out onto the roof. We came home and there she was. Holy cow that was tense. We were afraid she would jump off, but Eric got her back in the house. She used to open the doors with her paws. We would come home and the doors would be open and she would be lounging in the back yard. My parents had to take the door handles off. She was a great dog.

One summer there was some kind of fungus on the grass, she ate some and she died. She died right outside my room. My mom said she thinks the people who sold her to us knew she was sick already, that it wasn't the grass issue. I think she couldn't manage the thought that she didn't take her to the vet. She felt really bad. I can sympathize with that. I don't remember Mandy showing any signs of illness. My parents put her in the far back yard to bury her. No one was supposed to go out there, but my little brother came home and no one realized he had gone to the back. He was just sitting there next to her, petting her. It was really sad. There is nothing quite like losing your dog. She is buried in the back yard. After that my mom said we couldn't have any more dogs.

Mandy brought many wonderful times to our home and many memories remain. Oh Mandy, you came and you gave without taking... Barry Manilow, little do you know the impact of your song on my life.

Friday, March 8, 2013

I loved TV

Ah, TV. I loved watching tv shows. I had a little black and white tv from when I was about 10 through college. His name was Peanut. He had a turn dial and got all the local stations plus channels 32 and 44 out of Chicago. I used a metal coat hangar for reception and foil. Reception was always better with foil. I loved Channel 32. It had all the Saturday afternoon spook movies with The Son of Svengooli. I loved Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, and Lon Cheney. Edgar Allen Poe was my favorite author. They used to creep me out then I couldn't sleep. I just gave the ghosts plenty of ammo always watching scary movies.

Channel 44 got the cartoons. Mostly crazy Japanese cartoons, but some good ones like Speed Racer, Underdog, Boris and Natasha, Bullwinkle, and the really smart dog with the little boy, I can't remember their names, but they led me through history. Peabody, that was the dog's name. And lest we not forget SCHOOL HOUSE ROCK!!!! You can view these on You Tube. There are so many!

Favorite all time show: hands down was Starsky and Hutch. The episode when Starsky was almost poisoned to death, I thought I was going to die.
Favorite variety show: The Carol Burnett Show. They laughed during every skit, so did I. Especially the Gone With The Wind skit.
Favorite cartoon: Speed Racer, however, Trixie was a worthless girlfriend
Favorite movie: all the old black and white movies (even though they were all black and white to me). Which reminds me...I never knew the Wizard of Oz had the big color scene when Dorothy opened the door of her house in Oz until I saw the movie in color as a teenager.

Remember all these theme songs?
Conjunction junction what's your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses...
VERB, that's the action!...
Lolly lolly lolly get your adverbs here...
I'm just a bill just a lonely old bill sitting here on capital hill...
Three six nine twelves fifteen eighteen twenty-one....

Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer. He's a demon on wheels. He's a demon and he's gonna be chasing after someone....

Here's a story of a lovely lady who was bringing up 3 very lovely girls. All of them had hair of gold like their mother, the youngest one in curls.It's the story of a man named Brady who was living with 3 boys of his own. They were 4 men living all together, yet they were all alone....

Here they come, walk down the street, we get the funniest looks from everyone we meet. Hey hey we're the Monkees. People say we monkey around, but we're too busy singing to put anybody down...

Come on and zoom zoom zoom a zoom. Come on and zoom a zoom a zoom a zoom. We're all coming along. We're all singing a song...

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine, could you be mine? It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood a neighborly day for a beauty would you be mine, could you be mine...

Good times all the way around that's for sure.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A mouse in the house

Not only was I freaked out because dead people came to see me, but others did as well. I would hear something moving around in my room at night. I would be as quiet as I could be to figure out where it was. As soon as I would move it would go silent. I would yell for my mom and she would come in and kneel next to my bed. Undoubtedly the damn things wouldn't make a sound. She would tell me I was imagining things and would get up and leave. Sure enough the minute she left the room the tiny little scratching would begin again.

Well for weeks I never saw anything but I would hear it every night. I knew it was just a matter of time before it would creep onto my bed, look me in the eye, I would awake and die of a heart attack upon seeing it. In a fit of bravery one night I decided - no more. I was going to own this and I was taking back my room from all that was scary.

I didn't get into bed that night. Instead I was standing straight up with pajamas and shoes on. I stood over by my shelves and waited. I bet I stood there for 2 hours patiently waiting. I think he knew it too. I think he knew I had had enough. But he decided it was worth the risk. I began to hear the scratching and pitter-patter of tiny little feet. Then in a fit of what I can only say was Shelley-crazy I starting slamming everything on my shelf against the wall. I was going to get him at all costs. My parents heard the commotion and came flying in. Everything was on the ground including the shelf. My mom was irate. I am certain she thought it was time for me to be committed. Just then that dastardly little mouse skirted from under some rubble and out the door into Darren's room. Victory was mine. I was not crazy. It was not all in my head. I WAS JUSTIFIED!!!!! A few minutes later I saw why the little dude had graced me with his creepy little presence. He was eating the little shellacked bridesmaid cake that I had as a rememberance from my cousin Kathy's wedding. He had eaten most of the skirt on the beautiful little hardened cake shaped as a wonderful princess in a yellow dress, that was the color of my dress at the wedding.

I don't know what happened to that mouse, but I do know he had left my room with a belly full of shellac and cake.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cadaver Chemistry

Everyone out there who has had a class across the hall from a cadaver lab raise your hand.  I am lifting my hands, both of them, up high!  Nuclear Chemistry was in the basement of Lilly Hall.  It was the coolest chemistry class I ever.  We did all kinds of experiments.  We messed with radio isotopes, performed radioactive tracer experiments, and learned how Marie Curie died a slow horrible death. I probably glow at night which isn't a bad thing since I remain a bit scared of the dark.  Our best times though were the illegal visits we paid to the lab across the hall.  Periodically on the campus the hursts would pull up with those bodies donated to science.  They would take the bodies in bags to the basement and put them in the body room.  The bodies were used for nursing and PT students.

Have you ever seen the movie "An American Werewolf in London?"  Well I have and as the semester went along these bodies looked more and more like Jack.  They went from just naked and dead to torn to shreds, naked and dead.  It was seriously creepy and cold in that room.  You would think with my ghostly experiences that I wouldn't screw around with the dead, but chalk it up to college humor and stupid bravery.  We would make them talk, make them wave, have them hold hands, etc. etc.

Being one of only 8 Chemistry majors, we clearly had the best fun of any major ever.  We did all kinds of inappropriate stuff because many of our classes and labs were at night and we had a post doc as a prof.  He was doing his own research.  There was more making out in those labs than anything, but from a purely scientific point of view that is Chemistry, am I right?  We also were the ones responsible for the night pseudo-chemistry student labs.  These were the kids/adults taking a gen chem class because they had to.  Those people should never have been allowed to touch chemicals.  They set the lab benches on fire, each other on fire, and occasionally tried to blow us all up by leaving the gas on.  I said on more than one occasion "EVERYBODY OUT OF THE BUILDING NOW!"  I am thinking that Lilly Hall is lucky to still be standing.

They didn't deserve to see the cadaver room. Eventually someone found out about our visits with the dead and the locks were changed.  We could have hacked in, being smart asses and all, but we figured it wasn't worth getting thrown out.  Those were some seriously good days.  Next time you see a skeleton and have the mad desire to pose him or make him sing or are playing with a crab claw at the table, think of me.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Remember back in the day when braces weren't cool? I do. I had braces for a year and it was tragic. For a girl going through puberty, that's all you needed was a mouth full of metal. Okay, it wasn't that bad for me because at that time of my life I really didn't give a rat's ass what anyone else thought. Actually, I wasn't that self aware of how I looked which people today would be shocked to know.

Funniest moment with braces, well not funny but memorable... Darren hit me in the face with a toboggan and all my brackets fell off and I had this cool long time imprint of the brackets impaled upon my lips.

Today I got braces again. My kids were like "wow Mom." My youngest in a sarcastic tweet said "you are a brave woman." I like them so far. They were my choice to fix some teeth that were turning. I am equally thrilled times have changed and I can wear hot pink bands to match my red hot honey badger personality.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


So my little brother is over six feet tall and I am just over five, but he will always be my little brother. Darren was born deaf. I remember when he came home from wherever adopted kids were picked up from that he had the biggest eyes I had ever seen. Those eyes would play a big part in his childhood. They were very expressive and always gave him away. So it was fairly early on when my mom realized he was not hearing properly. She contacted some people to gain further information. I remember hearing that the adoption agency offered to take him back - that is horrific. He was a keeper for sure. He was the cutest little boy with light brown super curly hair. He smiled all the time. I remember when he started learning to say "mom." It was amazing. My mom would hold his hand on her throat when she said it, then he would hold his hand to his own throat and try to get the same feeling. One night I bet he worked on it for hours - bomba, bomba, momba, momba, momma...that was an amazing night for sure. At first he went to a special school in Chesterton. A limo came and picked him up every day. He was pretty special! After a while though, he had to go away to the School for the Deaf in Indianapolis. He was gone every week and would come home on weekends. The bus would come to Merrillville and my mom would pick him up from there. That must have been really hard.

We learned sign language when we were little. It was really useful not only to talk to Darren but to talk across crowded rooms and about people when you didn't want them to know. We did that a lot. There were some really interesting times at our house with Darren, like hide and go seek. Darren would forget we could hear him breathe and laugh so when he would hide we would always find him. Most of the time we would let him see us looking and we would look right past him and he would laugh thinking we didn't see him. The tougher times were when we were in trouble. When my mom would be yelling, he would just close his eyes so he didn't have to listen to her signing (yep let it sink in). She could never sign as fast as she would yell and then when she would see his eyes closed she would be just irate. He got liquid soap too.

My "dad" never learned sign language so he never really communicated with Darren. I really don't remember him having any relationship with Darren until my parents got divorced and then Darren was used as a pon in a terrible game. Don took Darren once when he had visitation and wouldn't bring him back to my mom. I still remember that. If he had any hope of ever having or keeping a relationship with me, it ended that day. Who does that? Who takes a child from their mother in a power play? Well as you have learned by now, my mom doesn't put up with that shit and Don got what was coming to him.

When I went to college in Indianapolis, I would go get Darren from school and we would do things together. I would also go and do science experiments with the kids there kind of like science fair. You have never been in a more quiet environment. I would go to his football games. They would hike the ball by listening for the vibration from this huge drum someone beat on the sideline. They played their skinny little hearts out.

Many more experiences were had, too many to talk about. Darren now has 3 little perfect girls. Perfect in every way. He is so blessed.