Wednesday, September 26, 2007

When Things Were the "Best"

After watching me obsess over the whole Graceann issue last week, my daughter finally asked me where my yearbook was, so she could get a visual. I told her it was in the basement, and she dug it out with great enthusiasm. I showed her Graceann’s high school picture, and then we jumped over to the best section. You know, “best dressed"…"best looking"…"best hair", etc.

Graceann had won “best body.” When my daughter viewed the picture of Graceann in her white man-tailored, buttoned-up shirt tucked into her high-waist chinos with a small, thin belt, her mouth opened. Almost forlornly, she stated: “This girl would never win ‘best body’ in my school.” When I looked at the picture, I realized she was right. As a matter of fact, the only reason we knew that Graceann had a nice figure was because she was a cheerleader. She would never dream of coming to school in a micro-mini skirt with a miniscule tank top combined with a push-up bra that gave her more cleavage than one sees in a Victoria’s Secret catalog. None of us would have done that. Somewhere along the line, modesty flew out the window and headed so far down south, it made it to Antarctica. Add to this the large amount of young teachers coming into the schools, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. After going to “Back to School” night last night and meeting up with teachers who looked like they were hiding surfboards under their desks, I wondered how these young men could possibly teach a class without being distracted by the ocean of boobs in front of them.

Although we both agreed that the girl who won “best looking” was, by far, the prettiest girl in the school (and she was really nice, too, and now she’s a doctor…don’t you hate those girls?), she was shocked when she saw the girl who won “most popular”. “Mom, how was this girl the most popular girl in the whole school? She’s not even amazingly pretty, and she’s a little chunky.” Wow, I thought. So this is where our kids’ heads are at.

I looked at my daughter in disbelief, and she kindly retorted, “…Not that she wasn’t nice, or anything. But she would never win in my school, either.” I told her that not only was the girl who won “Most Popular” really nice, she was on every sport, she was one of the cheerleading captains, she was captain of “Heraea” (girl’s sports night) every year amongst other clubs, she was smart, and she knew just about everyone in the whole entire school. Surprisingly, my daughter looked at me and said, “I wish it was still like that now.” Admittedly, I felt her pain.

Perhaps there are more young girls out there than we would imagine who are tired of keeping up with their peers. Who are tired of starving themselves or throwing up to achieve some unnatural state of emaciation, just so they can fit into clothes from Abercrombe & Fitche. But what are we, as adults, doing to rectify this situation?

Absolutely not one damn thing.

Let’s take a look at our teenage girls’ (and younger) role models…Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, and that ever-popular Long Islander who lives one town over, Lindsay Lohan. These young women (dis)grace every magazine cover at the supermarket checkout stand. We idly watch as Britney walks around with no underwear, exposing herself and not even seeming to care. We as adults watched in horror as Nicole Ritchie starved herself down to 80lbs., while the attention she received only ignited our teens’ fire for their own attention even more. And as cruel as this sounds, Paris Hilton seems to be nothing more than the world’s biggest slut. Which is sad, because she seems to be the nicest one out of her group. Haven’t her parents taught her anything about morality?

Speaking of parents, we here on LI get to watch firsthand the antics of Dina Lohan. This woman’s actions speak volumes…she’s the “white Oprah Winfrey”?!? Hello!

Ms. Lohan…I know some of your friends. Some of them are only friends with you because they are narcissistic attention-mongers just as you seem to be. And then there are the others who “knew you when.” Those people are shocked at your behavior. They are shocked at your parenting skills (or lack of them). When your daughter was making a movie in L.A. at the vulnerable age of 17, living in a hotel by herself, and begging you to come out there every week, why didn’t you go? As a matter of fact, if Lindsay’s career was so important to you, why didn’t you just up and move your family to California? Your other children were certainly young enough to make the transition. Perhaps you were too busy trying to fulfill your own selfish career needs here in NY. When we hear stories such as the one about you being at a party with your daughter and introducing yourself to George Clooney as her “assistant” because according to you, once you say you’re someone’s “mom”, men don’t want to know from you…well, what do you expect us to think? Apparently, you thought that Mr. Clooney was just going to drop everything for you. I don’t know him from a hole in the wall, but I do know this: there has been less gossip about George Clooney in the last ten years than you’ve had in the last ten months. He seems like a gentleman who appreciates honesty (how many times has he said he’s not getting married?), and to be embarrassed by the fact that you are someone’s mom makes you as shallow as they come. Shame on you. Your daughter had the talent to be something amazing for years to come. Why don’t you step out of the limelight, and be what she needs in order to get back on her feet…her MOTHER. Not her competition. Perhaps the caption should read "Bizarre."

Whew…I feel better.

Sadly, I have no idea how to make the situation better. It seems as though I fight an uphill battle with my kids every single day about one selfish thing or another. They are surrounded by narcissism and self-absorption everywhere they turn ( as a matter of fact, so are we…if I hear the name OJ mentioned one more time in conjunction with a “not guilty” verdict, you will hear my scream around the world). It is getting harder and harder to be a parent, and it’s much more stressful than when our folks raised us (and I don’t even think they’d disagree, even though they walked ten miles to school every day in the snow, barefoot). I try my best every day, and I hope for the same. Yes, sometimes I feel like running away. But perhaps someday, all of this stress will be worth it. Lord knows, it would be a lot easier to ignore my kids and only worry about myself. I guess in some way, I should be thanking the parents who have done just that. They’ve given us a glimpse of the horrors of being a child’s “pal” instead of their “parent.” And in most cases, even though I know they love their kids, the outcome is not good.

(The following video clip is supposed to be funny...but quite frankly, I found it appalling and hypocritical. What are your thoughts?)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Big Chill

(Please see update in comments.)

It all started with an email from a high school friend titled, "Bad, bad news". I opened it up and read a very cryptic note that gave me the chills: "Just heard....GraceAnn passed away last night, something about a train in Bellmore last night.She has 2 boys.... not sure what happened...holy...."

My first thought was to blame this damn Long Island Railroad, with it's infamous gap problems. Although I hadn't seen Grace Ann since right after high school (somehow, she never made it to any of the reunions), I always remembered how tiny and petite she was (she even won "class body"). I was saddened to think that a beautiful woman was lost to the claws of the LIRR because of her miniscule stature. But what really gave me the creeps was that I had woken up that morning at 4:30am, and couldn't go back to sleep. Since I'm within walking distance of the train, I kept hearing it's slow and steady chug-a-chug as it came in from the towns just east and west of us. It would be picking up the early birds in my own town who either wanted to get to Manhattan early enough to deal with the lines at Starbucks, or to drop off the night owls who spent a weekend in the city. Twice, I heard the honking of the express train, warning all passengers still waiting on the platform to stand back and keep clear of the tracks. But for some reason, a vision of someone nameless and faceless kept creeping into my head. My daughter had shared a horror story with me a few months ago about a passenger who met an untimely demise after being hit by a train at another station, and I couldn't stop thinking about this person and how scared they must have been when they realized that they weren't going to make it. I actually had to say a prayer to get this vision out of my head so I could go back to sleep. When I read the devastating email, I couldn't help but think how ironic my thoughts were.

I decided to look up the local newspaper online and see if anything was in the obituaries. While I didn't find any information there, what I did find after doing a quick search was disheartening: "Woman Killed by LIRR Train in Apparent Suicide."

...Suicide?? No, it couldn't be. People like Grace Ann don't commit suicide. She was one of the most popular girls in high school: a beautiful girl who was captain of the cheerleading team, a bright student, a smile always on her face. She married her high school sweetheart, and they had two teenage boys. There was just no way it could be a suicide. She wouldn't do that to her family; not to her husband, her kids, even her parents, who I heard are still alive. I don't understand. Dear God, I just don't understand.

When someone is crying out for help and feels like dying, sometimes they go a gentler route and take a handful of pills with some strong alcohol. Or they'll slit their wrists and lay in a warm bath tub. Or they might sit in their running car inside the garage so they'll go peacefully and easily (and unknowingly). In all these instances, there is always the thought that someone might find them and actually have the time to save them, and quite possibly, that was the outcome they were hoping for in the first place. But when one throws themselves in front of a speeding train, they are absolutely sure and certain of what they want their outcome to be...and it's the final ending of death.

Although I search for answers, there are none. I can not begin to imagine the pain that she must have been in to take her life in such a violent, disfiguring, permanent way. The "what if's" swim around in my head, only to be sucked into the whirlpool of helplessness. If I feel this badly after not having seen her in so many years, what must her family be going through? And those children...being a teenager is so hard emotionally as it is. Are they feeling guilt? Are they accepting all of this? Or are they just as shocked as the rest of us? Could someone have helped her? Was her depression obvious? And the most disturbing thought of all...Dear Lord...where is she now? The questions are unending, and none of them have definitive answers. But the one that haunts me unendingly is only short and sad: Why?

Annie introduced me to this wonderful video several weeks ago on her blog. I only wish Grace Ann had seen it before she took her own life. It's just a reminder that no matter what, all is not hopeless. You always need to keep the faith...and you always need to know you're not alone. God bless her family. And God, in your mercy...please bless Grace Ann.

Lifehouse Video

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What Would You Do? (A Personal Poll)

I have been dealing with the repercussions of my actions before my operation for a few days now.

I had my reasons for doing (or, actually NOT doing) the things that I did in the weeks and days leading up to the surgery. Now, I would like honest opinions on how YOU would've gone about it. I'll be honest myself; I'm hoping you'll agree with me so I don't feel crazy. But if you don't, I want to know why...and I will accept your opinion and ponder it in order to humble myself a little and try to see things from another's perspective. Just some background:

I was once very close with a relative through marriage who I'll call Linda. Linda's husband Mitch was never on the up-and-up and was involved in a scandal in our area that caused him to be sentenced to prison for a few years. Right before he went in, he made a very inappropriate phone call to me that my husband caught the tail end of. We did not know how to tell Linda, so we told her parents (who are also my husband's parents). After a while, my husband couldn't take it anymore and confronted Linda and Mitch. Mitch denied his actions to the whole family and tried to depict me as a drug addict who had the hots for him (his own fantasy; Simply Me can vouch for me on this one). Since Linda is very, very beautiful, the family had a hard time swallowing my story. Needless to say, Mitch spewed hatred towards me and my husband and even wrote the nastiest of letters to us displaying this hatred after he went to prison. Eventually, he was caught in all sorts of lies while he was away, and the family realized that he probably was to blame for what happened after all. However, Linda and I stopped speaking on a personal basis and only made small talk whenever we saw each other. It was very uncomfortable.

Fast forward 2 1/2 years. He has done most of his time and is now in a program that allows him to come home on the weekends. Thankfully, we have not had to cross paths with him or her at all (no holidays yet). However, I was now faced with my surgery and all the frightening aspects of it that I had posted about. I decided to keep the information of my surgery to myself until the last minute, and requested that my husband do the same. While we were waiting for the results of the CA125 test, however, my husband became distraught and told his parents what we were going through. When I saw them, they asked if they could do anything for me, and I requested that they keep it to themselves and not let Linda know, because she would then tell Mitch. My point was, I wanted all the positive thoughts and prayers that I could find during this difficult time. Under no circumstances at all did I want someone who loathed me to have any opportunity to wish me ill will while I was on that operating table. My in-laws respected my request and did not say a word.

I had told my husband that once I was out of surgery, he could tell whomever he wanted to; he could shout it on the rooftops. His first call was to his mother, who works in an office with Linda and their other brother, Ralph. He told her that everything went well, there wasn't any cancer, and that she could pass the word along to Linda and Ralph ( I had previously told Ralph's wife what was going on, but she also didn't say anything). I imagine that's where Linda first learned of my surgery in the first place. That was last Thursday. On Friday, my in-laws came to visit me at the hospital, and on Saturday, Ralph and his wife came up. It is now one week later, and I haven't heard from Linda. Sadly, she hasn't even called her brother to ask him how he was faring through all of this.

Through the grapevine, I am hearing possible reports that Linda is insulted that she wasn't called personally about my operation, and as far as she's concerned, she doesn't even know that it took place. I consider that standing a bit on ceremony; does it really matter how you heard the news? Either you're going to call, or you're not. To blame someone else is just giving yourself an easy way out of making the effort to be a grown-up and just pick up the phone (that's my humble opinion...I doubt she would've called, regardless).

My question to all of you is this: If you were faced with an operation that was absolutely frightening to you; if you knew that one found cancer cell meant a complete hysterectomy and possible chemotherapy...would you want to take the chance that someone would be thinking bad thoughts about you while you were on that operating table? Or would you rather go into surgery knowing that you had the best of blessings and sincerest of prayers from people who honestly cared about you?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Home and Healing

I wanted to write a quick post today to let you--all of my dear blogging friends--know that I came through my surgery just fine, with nary a cancer cell in sight. I am feeling very lucky and very, very blessed right now, and I wanted to say "thanks" to all of you who took the time out of your own hectic lives to pray for me and send me good wishes. I don't know if I would've had the positive attitude that I felt going into surgery if it was not for the knowledge that there were so many people rooting for me.

And God bless my Dylan...he saved my sanity today by lending me his laptop, since I can't make the trip downstairs yet to get to my own! I'm not much of a television person, so this was a true blessing. Also, "Simply Me" and my cousin Tina are bringing me some books to read, so I'll be set for the week!

So once again, thank you. I know I've said it before, but I truly don't know what I would've done without all of my wonderful blogging buddies throughout this ordeal. You are the BEST!!!

Sunday, September 02, 2007


After a week of hearing about tragic accidents involving children--many life-altering, some fatal--I felt an overwhelming need to express gratitude towards God for blessing me with my kids.

Last night, all of my teens were home by 11pm. Kristin was safely ensconced in her room, IM-ing with her friends. Kayla and Dylan were on the couch, battling it out on "Guitar Hero", having a ball. David...well, I was hoping he was safe, being that he and my husband were camping at that dreaded "13th Lake" ( But they brought so many cans of baked beans with them, I'm sure the bears had no desire to go anywhere near their tent.

I love my children with all my heart, and I thank God that he grants me each day with them. I may have a messy house; I may have financial woes; I definitely have some annoying health issues. But I was blessed with a wonderful family, and to me, that's all that really matters.

Special blessings to Annie (, and my friend Vinnie and his family in Oregon.

If anyone can remind me how to rename a web address to just say the person's name, please feel free to tell me.