audio books · blogging · blogs · books · celebrity · Craig Ferguson · insomnia · lazy · meditation · poetry · reading · tarapieceofpaper · vision · writing

Tell Me a Story

It’s been nearly two months since my last post. I am a slacker. In my defense, I DID spend two weeks of that time without vision, after I scratched my eyeball and had to go without contacts while it healed. Since I don’t have a pair of glasses at the moment (and for some reason, we never found time to make it to the nearest vision center), and I am blind as the proverbial bat (without the great hearing), I was pretty much stuck in a chair, doing nothing.

“But, Jonna,” I hear you ask, “How is that any different than your normal, everyday, vision-filled life?”

Yeah, shut up.

I know I’m a slacker, you know I’m a slacker, we all know, Jonna’s a slacker. Old news. They don’t call me the Queen of Procrastination for nothing! My friend and fellow blogger/slacker, Tara of tarapieceofpaper went seven months between posts, and she actually has a life and stuff to write about, so I don’t feel so bad!

Anyway. While blind, or blurry, I discovered that audio books are actually kinda nifty, if the person reading them doesn’t sound like Daffy Duck. Until now the only experience I had with them was listening to a few celebs read their memoirs, which I enjoyed. Craig Ferguson, my favorite comedian and talk show host, has written two books, and I own his memoir on tape. This time, I broadened my horizons, first trying a book I was halfway through reading. I had to give that up, because the reader was terrible. I am assuming she is related to the author or sleeping with the producer, because otherwise, nobody would hire her to read for a living. Remember the actress with the horrible voice in “Singin’ In the Rain?” Yeah. This was her, only younger, and with a Southern accent.

So I gave up on that book and moved on to others, all of which were better, I am happy to say. My choices ranged from new age (Depak Choprah) to Stephen Fry reading short stories, to poetry collections, and podcasts. And I listened to Carol Burnett read her memoirs, too. She’s always been one of my hero, so that was wonderful!

Now, I can see again, but I’ve not given up on audio books. It’s so nice to have someone else read to me for a change. When insomnia strikes, as it often does, I just slip on my headphones, lay in the dark, and a soft voice tells me a story. Who wouldn’t love that?

story

BFF · breast cancer · cancer · Michele · reading · Shel · tears · writing

A Howling

I’m writing this post on an airplane to Grand Junction, where tomorrow we’re having a memorial service for Michele. Whenever mother called to tell me of the service, and ask if I would like to say something, there was never any doubt in my mind. Yes.
That was just over a week ago, and I am still unsure what I’ll be saying tomorrow.

Since Michele died in April, there has been a gaping hole in my life. A small tear that opened when she first told me she was sick, and grew larger with each progression of theater, until that day when she was gone. Leaving this rent in the fabric of my world. Our world, for there are many of us grieving her.
I’ve tried to read books by others who have lost loved ones, but never repast the first few chapters. Then I either begin crying so hard I can no longer see the page, or I become annoyed at the self-righteous tone taken by some, and my anger overflows. Either way , I end up crying.
While reading ‘Wild’  by Cheryl Strayed, a memoir about a woman who hikes the Pacific Crest Trail after her mother dies of cancer, I stumbled on a passage that summed up exactly how I have felt in the last year.
“I almost howled in agony. I almost choked to death on what I knew…. I was going to live the rest of my life without my mother.”
Strayed says she felt this way from the moment her mother received her diagnosis; her cancer was so advanced there was no hope. Yet for me, these words say exactly how I have felt since I received that phone call, saying Shel was gone.
Inside my mind, my soul, there is a constant howling, a never ending scream of pain and sadness, loss and grief. The person I loved most in the world is gone, and I am alone. For the rest of my life.
We will never race wheelchairs through the rest home, and annoy the nurses. We’ll never make it to see Barry Manilow sing in Vegas, or do our Copa dance wearing the feathered hats we made. I’ll have to sit through the next class reunion alone. And without her, I have nobody to call and tell my life to.
Every day I miss her. That will never end. I believe the noise of grief inside me will quiet down; I’m hoping tomorrow’s memorial will help with that.
Until we are together again, I will grieve. I miss you, Michele.

Colorado · Facebook · finances · goals · Portland · resolve · seizures · writing

First Step

After months of being unsure about what to do with the next in my life, a Facebook post on conversation with an old friend has clarified some things. I know what I’m doing next. Kind of.

Yesterday, my friend Elissa, who I’ve known since wee both were students at what was then Mesa College in our hometown of Grand Junction,  posted that she’s thinking of opening a school. After five years of saying no to God’s prodding, she’s saying yes. She called, and we talked about it, and about the possibilities of my joining her in this venture (along with the reasons for the school, which I won’t get into, because that’s her story, not mine), and somehow, we got into a discussion about my returning to school for my Master’s degree.

I have a BA in English, and a few years ago, right after my divorce, I began classes for the graduate program in Early Childhood Education at Portland State University. I enjoyed the classes, but I was very nervous about taking the test required for actual admittance, and my financial aid was shaky. So I quit. (I’ve quit a lot of things in my life; it’s a pattern I’m not proud of, one I’m trying to change.)

I always loved being in school, and I miss it. If you look at my college transcripts, that’s obvious: I studied at three different schools, changed my major a number of times, and took ten years to finally graduate! Then I took courses at two community colleges later!  Up until the last four years, I’d spent most of my life in a classroom of some sorts, either as a student or a teacher. No wonder I’ve felt so lost these last few years; I’ve away from my native soil!

With a Master’s degree in ECE, and all my years of teaching experience, I could qualify as a Director of a preschool, which would be pretty nifty. I’ve not made a decision yet what degree to pursue, just that I’m going to do it.It’s at least the beginning of a plan. Taking a step forward in my life, even if it’s a baby step.And oddly enough, I’m not scared at all this time.

God will put me where He wants me to be, doing what He wants me to do. I’ve always believed He had a plan for me, that He was watching over me for some reason, and I’m pretty sure that sitting in this chair watching Golden Girls reruns isn’t it. He kept me safe – well, alive, anyway – through all those seizures, and accidents caused by seizures – car accidents, falls in the shower, tumbles down stairs,  all that crap –  and I don’t think it was so I could end up sitting around, doing nothing, wishing for a different life, making no impact on the world around me, or even the world within me. He didn’t create me to be this barren landscape.

action · book reviews · books · character development · Chelsea Cain · Gretchen Lowell · mystery · Portland · thriller · Vanport · Wilamette River · writing

Book Review: The Night Season

The Night Season (Gretchen Lowell, #4)The Night Season by Chelsea Cain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chelsea Cain has been credited with making the serial killer genre “female friendly.” I can’t say if that’s true or not, but she does write one hell of a book! The Night Season is #4 in the Gretchen Lowell Series, and it is another fabulous thriller. The one issue I have is that Gretchen Lowell only appears in two paragraphs, at the very end! Her presence is felt throughout the book, as Portland police detective Archie Sheridan searches for a killer. The Willamette River is flooding, and someone is poisoning people before pushing them into the river. Archie and reporter Susan Ward are once again in danger as they track down this murderer and his odd weapon.

I must say, I was surprised by the serial killer’s choice of weapon, but reading on, it started to make more sense. I was disappointed that Cain did not explore the Vanport story line further, choosing to neatly tie it all up in few paragraphs at the end. It seemed too easy, and I for one, would have liked for that story line to have been included more in the entire plot. It was interesting, and since it was, indeed, crucial to the actual killer, it should have been explored further. Instead, it was simply a side note, a story only Susan was interested in.

That being said, I completely enjoyed this novel. The development of the characters since book one is remarkably real; Archie still craves Vicodin, Susan has a hard time standing up to her boss. The action in this novel is not as gorey as the previous three, but still thrilling, and closer to home. I love seeing places I know in Cain’s novels; I’m a Portland girl, too. I’m looking forward to the next Chelsea Cain novel; you should, too!

View all my reviews

blogs · book reviews · books · exercise · fat · food · headaches · http://pastaqueen.com/blog/ · Jennette Fulda · medication · pain · skinny · topamax · weight · writing

Read This Book!

I’ve spent the last two weeks obsessed with Jennette Fulda. I began by reading an excerpt of her newest book, Chocolate and Vicodin:My Quest For Relief from the Headache that Wouldn’t Go Away, and then searched out her first book, Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir at the library. This led me to the blog she’s known for, http://pastaqueen.com/blog/. It’s been difficult to tear myself away!

Jennette, at her heaviest, weighed nearly 400 pounds, and by changing her eating habits & exercise, she lost half her body weight! I loved reading her stories of this change, partially because she’s honest, and not one bit self-righteous, but mostly because she’s just plain funny. I laughed out loud (lol) when she says “I felt confident enough to sign up for a 5K race. The former fat-girl bylaws dictate that you must run a 5K or you will be forced to gain back all the weight.” Seems that every formerly fat-girl I know is now running 5k’s and I think perhaps that’s why I’m still fat. I don’t want to run.

Jennette’s second book, Chocolate and Vicodin is in stores now. It’s the story of the headache that wouldn’t go away. In February 2008, she got a headache, and has been searching for a cure ever since. Chronic pain is nothing to laugh at, yet she manages to make it funny; the woman has a gift.

Now, I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet; it was just released last month, and I am too broke to purchase it. (It is on hold at the library, and my birthday is coming up, so..) I have read a couple of excerpts and the blog, and I must say, I am feeling very in sync with Jennette.

In the search of a cure for never-ending headache pain, she’s given a number of medications, and I have personal knowledge of several of these. The section of her blog that put my feelings into words is quoted below.
“To complicate things further, although the Topamax was making it easier to eat less, it was also making me stupid. It’s nicknamed “Stupamax” and “Dopamax.” It made it harder to speak right, like someone had placed the English language on the top shelf where it was just out of my reach. I could still see it, but I had to stand on my tippy toes to grab words, and even then I was just knocking them over instead of grabbing them firmly. I just felt…dumb. I found myself unable to focus as well. It put a damper on my mood. The crazy switch was turned off, but the stupid switch was turned on.”

I took Topamax for nearly 4 years, as an anti-seizure medication, and hoo-boy, do I remember that feeling. When I couldn’t find the words I wanted I used to say my brain was skipping, like a scratched record. My neurologist would test me to see how my verbal skills were, and eventually, as they deteriorated, and the Topamax wasn’t controlling the seizures, we switched meds. Right now I’m on a very low dose of it again, to help with chronic headaches (ugh), and I’m skipping every so often. But it is helping me lose weight.

Jennette Fulda writes in a real & humorous manner about things that are happening in her life. It’s feels like talking to a friend. I think this is why I’ve been unable to tear myself away from her blog archives for the last two weeks–I was getting to know my new friend! She’s smart, snarky, strong and talented. Read her books! I promise you won’t be disappointed.