Monday, April 28, 2008

Miley Cyrus, 2015's Britney Spears

It looks like Miley Cyrus is entering Britney territory. The Hannah Montana star is more than a girl, not yet a woman. No doubt 15 is a difficult age to traverse in our hyper-mature society, but it appears the crash and burn of this "innocent" child star is looming. Today, Miley is apologizing for sophisticated pictures snapped by esteemed photographer Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair Magazine. Cyrus says she's "embarrassed", and that the end result of the photo shoot is not what she intended. I've seen the pictures, and I do agree that the poses are somewhat suggestive for a little girls' role model. But rather than questioning the appropriateness of the photos, I wonder if Miley is apologizing for tarnishing Disney's image, and threatening her 1 billion dollar empire. Miley and her parents knew the image they were capturing. A little girl, a little vixen. Hoping to appeal to everyone, and growing their wealth was their intention. They are just sorry the tart was over- baked, and now they are getting burned.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Last weekend, Scot suggested we order sushi and go eat it by the lake near our house. We brought a cooler of beer and sat watching the sunset. It was just like when we used to BBQ in Lafayette Park in San Francisco. Except I didn't get drunk or sunburned.

My father will be released from the hospital today, and Maggie does NOT have pneumonia. I took her to the doctor today and was alarmed when he thought she might. Thankfully, the xray came back negative. Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Turn off the noise!

When you get up every day and the news on TV is bleak, you look for a sign that something is going right in the world. It seems like the whole place is going to hell in a hand basket lately. All you hear about are high gas prices, a poor economy, and campus rage. Closer to home the day can be just as bad. My father has spent the entire week in the hospital. He had a lung biopsy performed on Monday so doctors can ascertain how advanced his pulmonary fibrosis is. On Wednesday night, Maggie came down with a fever. Crappy week. Crappy month. Where was the miracle of restored health and a great economy when I needed it most? Then I remembered the signs I saw earlier in the week. They were small signs, but they were there.

Late Monday afternoon Nora suggested we make "Pi" a get-well card. Maggie jumped up, and together the two of them hit the computer and printed off two Disney "get well soon" cards. They spent the next half-hour coloring their handiwork, and stuffing the self-cut cards into envelopes. On Tuesday night I went to visit my dad. When I returned home late that evening, Maggie was still awake. Acutely perceptive and sensitive, she seemed to know something was amiss. As soon as I comforted her, she drifted off to sleep. In both of these small gestures my children were exhibiting love and empathy. For a moment I forgot all the bad numbers and facts that bombard me on a daily basis and realized that the world is not caving in. Goodness is around us all the time. No lightning bolt here. No great leader to change our country. It just took me knowing where to look and who to listen to.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A new day began with the usual routine. Hurry, hurry, go fast, uh oh, it's 7:00, I'm running late, oh shoot, what did I forget, okay, they are all out the door, big sigh. In a moment of peace and quiet my day care child, Micah, placed a play tiara on my head. What a smart man. An innocent gesture that made me feel like I was more than Queen of the Laundry.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's such a perfect Day

Well, some days really are better than others. Having children gives you the clarity to see the difference between a good day, and a bad day. Bad days contain tears and wheezing, and good days are filled with running feet and fighting. Because if ya got the energy to fight, you're feeling pretty good.

Maggie earned her white belt in karate today. She had to recite her name, phone number and full address. Nora doesn't sound like a fifty year old with emphyesema . And I'm going out to sushi with my husband. Everyone is happy. Everyone is healthy. And it doesn't get any better than that.

Friday, April 18, 2008

What's in a name?

What's in a name?

This morning I was supposed to meet an acquaintance for a walk along the green belt. I don’t know this woman well, except to know her children have names reminiscent of where they might have been conceived. Ya know- River, Aspen, Denver . As the morning dawned, I noticed a bit of pleurisy taking hold in my lungs, and my back hurt. I was going to have to cancel our outing. Normal-name Jane’s daughter and my daughter go to school together. I started hunting through the school directory for her phone number. Aspen… Aspen, let’s see where was she? Dylan, Kale, Sage (hey, we could almost make a salad!) Riley, Chase. I was reading through the kindergarten names when I stumbled upon one I had never heard before. Cashlee. Cashlee. Huh, is that like Ashley, but with more bling? Is that to today what Tiffany was to the 1980’s? Was this name an invention of Cashlee’s creative parents, or did some crazy baby name book lend it credence as a power name for the class of 2025? And why didn’t someone tell these parents lay off the cutesy sauce and realize that today’s Britney used to sound perky, too. I also saw a “Lacey”. That name not only conjures up poor Lacey Peterson, but it also brings to mind shiny brass poles. There were plenty of good names in the school directory. I spied a Sophia, a Rose, and a Bella. Never mind these girls probably won't hang sheets from a window next to the Pont Vechio. At least the names don't scream "HOOKER". In twenty years, I have a sinking feeling Maggie and Nora will want to bring a Kerrick or a Reagan home from college, and the shock will be on me when a male shows up on the doorstep. There is a baby name book out called “Beyond Jennifer and Jason”. What’s wrong with Jennifer and Jason? At least we knew the sex of the person. Pay no attention that my name is Toni. Really. Seriously. Did I even bring this up?

At right, you’ll see my name favorites, and some serious offenders.

Running out of Steps

My mother-in-law has always said that a person only has so many steps in them. She thinks that when you use that mystery number of paces up, your number is up. She told me this once on the eve of a 10K I was running. While she admired what I was doing, she also thought I was unnecessarily tapping into my stash of steps. I'm going to hazard a guess here and believe that this is Betty's way out of doing some serious exercise, but she is a wise woman. Perhaps she hada point. Nonetheless, I figured at 34, I had to have a lot more steps left in me.

This past weekend was the New York City Marathon. Katie Holmes and other celebrities ran, along with your usual inspirational cancer patients. I say that without a trace of sarcasm. Also running in the US men's Olympic marathon trials on Saturday was Ryan Shay, a 28-year old world-class runner. Shay had run for Notre Dame, and later lived and trained in high-altitude Flagstaff, Arizona. This guy wasn't a novice; he was a serious athlete. During mile 5, Ryan dropped dead. It was later acknowledged that Ryan had an enlarged heart, but was given the "all clear" to run last spring. When I first heard that Shay knew his condition but continued to run , my immediate response was to think this was one dumb jock. But then, the runner in me decided to withhold judgement.

Ten years ago, I was single and working as a flight attendant. I worked out in gyms during overnights and found that I enjoyed running on indoor tracks. Not every hotel had a track, but when they did, I took advantage of the ability to really "move" and feel the wind hit my face. I felt a certain thrill in pushing myself to go faster, and I got downright giddy when I would pass men on the track. Not only did I hope they were admiring my legs, but I also hoped they were slightly threatened by a girl. For a long time, that was the extent of my running. It would
be many years before I stopped driving to exercise and started sprinting off my front porch.

My life changed when I met another new mom, who was a runner. She mentioned that she was competing in the PF Changs Rock-n-Roll 1/2 Marathon. The month was September, and the Marathon was in January. I did some quick computing and figured that I could ready myself for
the challenge. "Okay" I told her , "I'll do it , too". I'm not sure she thought I was serious, but I meant it. Once I put it out there, I knew I had to follow through.
By January, I was ready. I ran the race in 2:17, potty break included. I had never competed in any competitive sports activity before. The tough girls in high school would yell at me for misses in volleyball, and the waspy white girls out caught me in lacrosse. Finally, at 32 years old, I had found something I could do.

A sister with breast cancer, a colicky one year old, a semi-unemployed husband, and a new house don't go well together. Now, pile that up on someone who
already balks at change, and you've got a particularly heinous case of depression on your hands. In September 2005, I hit rock bottom. Already having anxiety issues, I wasn't dealing well with issues in my life. At night, I would lie awake for hours, wondering when I would die, when my parents would die, when the terrorists would attack, and we would all die. Food tasted like metal, every day was a chore, and I found no joy in life. I regretted having children, and wished I could be Katie Couric. Perpetually cute and bubbly. Yeah, I forgot about the fact that she had a prematurely dead husband and sister. Depression will do that to you. I was out shopping with my mom one day and she noticed I was rail-thin. Very unlike me. And I could not focus on anything in the store. Completely unlike me. She took me home and the next day I went to a psychiatrist. I needed help.

My treatment plan for the depression included meds and excercise. Over the course of the summer, I had completely abandoned my running routine. Between life stress, the house move and the Arizona heat, I forgot to keep the body moving. Now, in my weakened state, all I could do was walk. Running is such a physical and mental ballet and it was completely out of the question. The first day out, I walked a mile. It was excruciating. My meds weren't correct yet, so the whole way I felt that people were watching me, whispering, "she's mentally
ill". I fought back hot tears, and forced myself to keep moving. One foot in front of the other was the only way I got it done. Over the course of two months, I
saw a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and got my medication balanced (I joke to my husband that even if these meds take 5 years off my life, it will be worth it) Soon enough, I was jogging, and feeling my humor beginning to return.. By winter I was running. Really running. And I was really happy.

I run. For so many reasons. I run because I tell myself that I'm flushing out the demons. I run so I feel I'm equal, if not superior to all those mean girls in gym class. I run to have woman admire me, and men desire me (yeah right). I even run to smell what people are cooking for dinner. And I will run for life. It's something that has saved my life and continues to challenge me every day. When Ryan Shay was diagnosed with an enlarged heart at 27, he had a choice. He could run and run the risk, or he could stop running. If I was a betting girl, I would
wager he would have cut his life short by 5 years to be able to run. After all, if I feel like a star running, Ryan must have felt like a supernova. Or maybe Ryan never felt he had a choice. Perhaps running was all he knew, all he loved. Hell, the guy probably ran more miles than he drove in his life. And here's where my mother-in-laws wisdom comes in. Forget the enlarged heart issue. Maybe Ryan had simply run out of steps.


I've never been a fan of February. In my whole life, I've only known 4 people born in the month, and two are mentally unstable. You've heard the whole saying of why February is only 28 days, etc. Well, that's because it's a rotten month. It's neither here, nor there. Spring is still far off, and the joy and delight of winter is decaying with the dirty snow in the gutter (well, not for me, but for you east coast suckers). I've always felt this way about February. For me, there is such a stigma surrounding the month that I planned NOT to have a child born during it. When I lived in New Jersey, I took my annual trip to the psychologist in February to find out why I was so down in the mouth. Now I realize that it was SAD, and February. And for me, when March came, life bloomed again.

Arizona is beautiful in February, but there is still a weird aura surrounding the month. Year after year, crazy shit goes down in February. Ten years ago, my dad had heart bypass surgery. That was my first serious drama that ushered me into adulthood in a big way. Four years ago, my dog and my parent's dog got in a heinous fight on February 2. One day I heard snarling and barking in the back yard. When I went out back to see what the noise was, I found Bernice and Annie covered in blood. Apparently they had been fighting over a bone. When I approached the nasty scene, I quickly realized that there was a strong possibility one of the dogs would not walk away from this fight. Blood was literally flying off the dogs, making the grass slippery. Both dogs were savagely attacking each others necks. It was as if they had been trained for dogfights. After using a hose, 2 bikes, and a trashcan to separate the two, I stepped in and tried something incredibly foolish. I pulled the dogs apart with my hands. Bernice miscalculated her jab at Annie, and bit me through the meaty, fleshy part of my hand. However, I held them apart long enough so that they caught their breath and come to their senses. I was bloody, wet and weepy. The bad dogs spent the next day lying in their beds, licking their wounds. For weeks their fur fell out in patches. It was gory and cool all at the same time. A good way to end the cursed month.

Three years ago, in February, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. My mother was out of the country, so I was the first call Julie made. She had surgery in March and April of that year, and is now in remission. Two years ago, in February, my sister in law's sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a complete mastectomy, and it was later determined that she did have a malignancy in the "healthy" breast. Last February, the damn dogs got in another fight (another thing is my parents always travel during the month of February). This was the first fight the dogs had since their altercation three years prior. This time I received help from a landscaper, and the dogs didn't have enough time to do too much damage to each other. I was so pissed this time that I threw them in the frigid pool to clean their sores.

So, what's it going to be this year? Well, after a lot of thought, I've decided to schedule my tonsillectomy for February 15th. What not a better month to have a general anesthetic, a flaming fire throat, and mouth scabs. When I told my mother about all of this, she expressed concern. Almost as if I'm tempting my fate gods by doing this in my unlucky month. "What if you bleed too much, what if you have a problem with the anaesthesia? " she said. "Nah... I've just got some nasty tonsils and chronic sore throats to lose. And if I'm really lucky, ten pounds." I've been informed that most people lose ten pounds after a tonsillectomy. Can you believe my possible good fortune? Not only a healthy throat, but pants that fit. It looks like this year February might come in like a lion and out like a lamb for me. It looks like February might be the new June.

Postscript-My father was diagnosed with fibrosis of the lungs in late February. Next year, I'm fleeing to the islands for the month.

An old post for some, new for others ORANGE BLOSSOMS

The air is redolent with orange blossoms!

If you’ve never smelled an orange blossom, come to Phoenix in March. Please, really, it’s worth it. Quite simply, orange blossoms are the small white flowers on citrus trees. They bloom in March and drive allergy sufferers wild. You can’t help but breath deeply, knowing that later you’ll pay the price with crumpled snot rags strewn all over the house. The smell is indescribable. It’s not orangy, it’s not floral-like, it’s spring season and spring fever all rolled into one. It’s everything that is lush, tropical, and heady about the beach. I run daily and gulp the air, and am reminded of first love, suntan lotion, puppy dogs, and romance. I feel sexy, alive, and happy when I smell orange blossoms. I have no real emotional memory that is tied to this scent, but I do find it ironic that many of my Phoenix friends were married in March. Sure, it could be that spring offers perfect weather, but I can’t help but think that orange blossoms seem to be a lovely accompaniment to a garden wedding. I got married in June. It was 96 degrees. Plastering myself into the long sleeved gown I purchased in November was an oversight. A more serious problem (well, serious for a crazy bride) was that I couldn’t carry my flower of choice- orchids. Too damn hot, I was told. Those babies would wilt straight out the door. So I carried some forgettable flowers. Looking back, I should have gotten married in March. Carrying a small, simple bouquet of orange blossoms would have been just the right thing.


Those damn Cyalis commercials make me cringe. The football being thrown through the "hole" and the faucet springing a leak are about as suggestive as an exposed penis. We get it- take this drug and you’re getting lucky. Tonight, I saw the Cyalis ad that takes the cake. In the commercial, a youthfully vibrant 50something couple has their college daughter at home for the weekend. The handsome duo can hardly wait to jump each other’s bones, but must wait till college-aged daughter goes out for the evening. When she leaves early, the couple is ecstatic (he has taken his Cyalis and is "up" for the challenge). So many things are wrong with this ad, I don’t even know where to start. But let me begin by saying that anyone that’s lived with children for 18+ years isn’t going to look as shiny and smooth as the actors in the ad. Children add not only love to their parents life, but also excessive worry and the accompanying gray hair, wrinkles and undereye bags that go with it. I’ll be lucky if I don’t look like a rotten apple when I hit the big 5-0. Where this comedy of a commercial gets really funny though is by suggesting that an empty-nester couple simply cannot contain themselves for the 48 hours that their coed is home to do her laundry. Do they mean to imply that this is the same couple that produced this college-age daughter? Is this the same couple that went through chldbirth, recovery, late nights of vomit and fevers, and studying for night school? In other words, there are plenty of times in a marriage where you cannot hop each other’s bones. Life gets in the way. So really, can’t you keep it under wraps long enough to hear about the big homecoming game? You know what? I bet a man wrote this commercial. I’m sure of it. Men are always up and ready. And I bet most wouldn’t complain of an erection lasting longer than four hour