Monday, November 23, 2009

Good News / Bad News

What a series of incredibly bad news and good news I've had in the past 48 hours.

Bad News: It started last week. My Dad was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. He'd had surgery to remove the tumor. There have been a lot of complications and on Saturday afternoon they felt more emergency surgery was necessary. They told us we needed to be prepared to say 'goodbye.'

Good News: Several friends offered me frequent flyer miles to help get me and my two sons to Sacramento to see my Dad. This generosity is so heart-warming that I can't begin to say how grateful I am. And even though it was Thanksgiving week, we were able to get on direct flights to Sacramento leaving early Sunday morning.

Bad News: The 6:52am RTD SkyRide bus to the airport never showed up! After waiting for 35 minutes, we decide we'd better drive.

Good News: We make it to the Wally parking lot by the airport in record time! Since I always take the bus, I hadn't been aware of this relatively low-cost parking option so close to the airport.

Bad News: The Wally shuttle takes an incredibly long time to pick everyone up. When we get to the airport, it's just past the cutoff time for getting a boarding pass. A very inflexible woman with a heavy accent tells me I'm going to have to pay $150/ticket to get later tickets that go through Vegas and LA and arrive in Sacramento at 7:30pm. I am uncharacteristically aggressive, insisting that she let me on the 9:15am flight. She doesn't budge.

Good News: I plead my case to an agent at the ticket counter. She tells me she doesn't think I can make it, but gives me boarding passes that will get us through security. We run through the airport. I duck under ropes, cutting to the front of the security line. A security lady tells me I can't do that. Having watched several Nicolas Cage movies lately, I sport a "Just try and stop me" attitude.

Bad News: I suppose acting like a crazy person caused some suspicions to airport security. They pull me aside and tell me they are going to inspect my bags. As they are slowly digging through my stuff, confiscating toothpaste and a prescription skin cream, I suffer from a total meltdown, head in hands, and sob like an inconsolable baby. Scotty pats my back and tells me it will be OK.

Good News: I recover my composure and carry on with the marathon-speed race through the airport to the gate, arriving one minute before departure time.

Bad News: They still don't let us on the plane.

Good News: They get us on another direct flight leaving two hours later at no additional cost. Considering it is Thanksgiving week, this is miraculous.

Good News: We make it to the hospital. Dad is happy to see us. Everyone says he's looking better. They may even be able to fix this latest complication without surgery. Mom is incredibly relieved, ready to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Bad News: My Mom wakes me up at 11:30pm. She's crying. They're taking Dad in for emergency surgery after all. Sobbing, she tells me of the final conversation they had...things he tried to remember to tell her, wanting to make sure she'd be OK, telling her a final, "I Love You."

Good News: I'm here with Mom. I crawl into her big bed with her and she calms down. We watch TV, doze, and pray as we wait for a phone call from the hospital. The last surgery took 11 hours. This one could take as long.

6am Still waiting and praying that the next phone call we receive will be good news.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pictures of Joy

When I got laid off, I had a long list of things I wanted to do every day. One of those things was to take a picture each day of something that made me smile.

During the summer, confident that I'd find that new job without too much delay. I enjoyed the long lazy days with my sons at home -- we were three unemployed bums taking advantage of picnics and sunshine. My daughter had a beautiful baby boy -- my first grandchild. I spent lots of time with family and friends. I took lots of pictures.

But then the Fall came. My older son went off to medical school and my younger one became involved in about a million activities. We agreed that we were "busier and poorer" than we'd ever been. Life got cold, dark, and overwhelming. The job search became a roller coaster - One day up, the next day down. The perfect jobs -- ones that I was sure I would get -- fell through. I spent all day in front of the computer, in an attempt to learn everything and anything that might get me closer to that job. I stopped going out, afraid to spend even two dollars on coffee, not wanting to impose any more on my generous friends. I stopped taking my daily picture.

Last week, I met with a friend and we discussed our weekly goals. I told her that my life had been so focused on the job search that I'd neglected spending time with my family and friends. She encouraged me to make an effort to take those "pictures of joy" again. And so I did. I took a picture of the surprise visit from my friend when he came to help me shovel after a snowstorm (I like to call this "a generous act of shovelry".) I took pictures when I went out to lunch and coffee again with friends. When I chauffeured my son to one of his many school events, we told jokes in the car. And even though I couldn't whip out the camera at that moment, when I got home, I wrote down the jokes in my journal, remembering that beautiful carefree attitude that I so admire in my son.

Yesterday I learned that my father has stage 3 colon cancer. Suddenly jobs and money no longer felt so important. When there is a problem, I want to find some way to control fix at least do something. My father is in a hospital bed in California and there is absolutely nothing I can do but wait and hope and pray that he'll get better. This did not feel like a day to take a picture of joy. I couldn't imagine anything that would make me smile.

But I had an appointment to meet with a friend to help her set up her blog. When I told her the news, she gave me a hug, and listened. She pulled out some home-made pasta sauce made with tomatoes from her garden, put on some soothing music, poured me a glass of red wine, and made me an Italian lunch -- just like my father would do. And, realizing it was more important than ever, I took my picture of joy.

Life is short. Don't take it for granted. Take those pictures of joy.

I love you, Dad.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Laptop Dancer Diaries - Getting Ready

A couple of weeks ago I printed the proof of my book, The Laptop Dancer Diaries. It's so exciting to have a real book in my hands! I just used a ready made cover for my proof copies, but I want to have a more custom one before my official release in February.

Over the weekend, my friend, Sue Campbell created 6 sample covers. They look excellent. My daughter created an impressive design as well. Her original design left the sexy lass on the right unclothed and I said... cute, but nope... get some clothes on the girl. I know sex sells, but I can't have people thinking the book is going to be as titillating as Sex and the City. I was tempted to name the book, No Sex and the Suburbs but one of my friends told me I might as well paint a big 'L' on my forehead if I name it that.

So what is it about? It's a humor memoir about a Single Mom(that would be me) with three goals: To Have an Adventure a Month, Write a Book, and Fall in Love. It's about having a "just do it" attitude... getting out and living your dreams, in spite of fears and insecurities.

I'd put off working on the book while I was in job search mode. I've been worried that a book about finding love would not necessarily help my IT Manager "professional" image. But my goal has been to have a book published before I turned 50, and my 50th birthday is coming up in 4 months, so, job or no job, I am moving forward. And though the book does disclose many embarrassing situations that I get myself into, if nothing else, it shows that I accomplish my goals!

Come join the Laptop Dancer Diaries FaceBook Fan Page and vote on the cover design that you think is best!
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