Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My New Day Job

Outside Lazy Julie Land (believe it or not, I do have a life beyond the blog), there are people who are privy to what I do for a paycheck and the name of my employer. But not here. To protect them and me, I do not publicly align myself with any particular company or organization. I avoid the possibility that a clueless reader will mistake me for a representative of the company and, given my propensity to write whatever the hell I want regardless of whether or not it pisses anybody off, I would guess that could possibly cause trouble with my employer.

So, I have this job that is far, far away from my house and I have a position that is not a good fit for my skill set and preferred work culture. I'm not sure if the job changed or if I changed. I mean, I know I've changed in the last 2 1/2 years--most especially since being diagnosed with MS in September. I think the job I'm leaving used to be a good job for me or who I used to be, but not anymore. During my exit interview, I suggested to the HR person that they may not want to hire a writer who lives so far away, is a single mother of 2 kids, and has MS.

My new employer, however, knows exactly who I am and they like me anyway! In fact, during my interview, I found out that the person who will be my boss is aware of and has visited this blog!!!!! While at first that fact was somewhat horrific, I now think it's very cool. All of the potential things that could be shocking information and judged as negatives (MS, single parenthood, recovering alcoholic/addict, a little flaky with money, etc.) are already out in the open and not deal breakers.

So, beginning Monday, March 31, I will have a new employer who, for reasons already stated, shall also remain nameless. I'm very excited. It's a great job, I'll work with smart people who work hard but don't seem to take themselves or their work attire too seriously, I'll make a bit more money, and it's a much, much shorter commute. Yay!

Now I just have to finish all the wrap-up activities at my old job and figure out what to wear on the first day at the new job.

A Little Wednesday Morning Humor

Theresa just send me a good laugh that is definitely worth sharing.

Edge Designs is an all-women-run company that designs interior office space. They had a recent opportunity to do an office project in NYC. The client was another all women-run company.

The results in the men's room were hysterical. You know how men never talk or look at each other and, I would guess, don't do a lot of laughing in public restrooms?

The Word Dreams Ends in an M and an S

My fellow MS blogger, Kim, posted a link at Sunshine and Moonlight to one of the best MS-related videos I've ever seen. This is not a boring, feel-sorry-for-me PSA. It's creative, funny, and hopeful. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Counting Crows

When I'm working on more than a few hours sleep, I'll write about my 14-year love of Counting Crows and my idea for a book called Stupid Things People Say and Do to Famous People. This yet to be compiled collection of interview stories would be modeled after Stud Terkel's Working. It was inspired by the first time I met Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz. It was bad...really, really bad. I've often wished for Superman's powers so I could fly around the world backwards and turn back time.

Oooooh. Maybe I'm missing an opportunity here! Since this blog has so many visitors, maybe you can be my interview subjects!!!!! If you have a story of something stupid that you said or did to a famous person, send me your story! If the book is published I will give you a copy and send a copy to the famous person in your story along with the suggestion that you be given another opportunity to meet them and not act stupid.

But I digress. Counting Crows came out with a new album today, Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings. I pre-ordered it from Amazon and my CD arrived in my office this morning. (I now own an MP3 player but I still buy CDs because I like holding something in my hands and reading the liner notes.) I waited all day to tear open the cellophane so I could listen to the CD all alone on my drive home.

After just one listen, I've concluded a few things: It's very different; I like it; I would still do Adam Duritz in a heartbeat; and I need to find a friend who hasn't aged out of wanting to stand in the front row to see Counting Crows when they go on tour again.

Follow this link to get to the video for the first single off the new album: You Can't Count on Me.

And, if you're up for the front row at a general admission show, let me know.

Happy Belated Birthday Doctor Seuss!

I can't believe I missed Dr. Seuss' birthday! After all, I have One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish tattooed on my lower back! I regularly quote Green Eggs and Ham, "I do not like them Sam, I am."

I discovered my oversight because it is 1:29 a.m. and I am still awake. I am writing, working and watching that Craig Ferguson guy with the Scottish accent. He read Dr. Seuss on the air in celebration of the big b-day. But then I googled Dr. Seuss and discovered that the birthday was the first week in March. Oh well. Happy Belated!

“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!” - Dr. Seuss

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Alarm This Morning

My beautiful little boy is all but trained to stay dry in underpants through the night. Usually between 11:00 p.m. and midnight, I carry him to the bathroom to have him get one last pee in before I go to bed. It's hysterical. He never actually wakes up all the way. When I lift the seat, pull down his jammie pants and stand him in front of the toilet, he just starts peeing. I think it has something to do with the cool air on his body.

Recently, during one of my bathroom walks, I pulled down his pants to discover that he had a little erection (something I had seen before but never during a bathroom walk). I did what I usually do and stood him in front of the toilet, expecting to see the stream of urine arc into the bowl. Well, since his penis was pointing in a difference direction than usual, the stream went in a different direction than usual. (This may seem obvious but, before Zane, my interactions with the male member were limited to the bedroom.) The pee coming from his erect penis sprayed on the wall, the ceiling, and on me, until I pushed his penis down to aim it into the bowl. Zane, who is being raised in an era of "good touch/bad touch," immediately began reprimanding me in his sleepy state: "Don't touch my penis. That's pwivate."

I started to defend my actions when I realized he would have no memory of this conversation. I let it go and figured that, if he brought it up the next day, I would explain that I only touched his "pwivates" to avoid having him urinate on me. It was self defense!

Well, last night I followed my usual routine. I walked him to the bathroom around 11pm, pulled down his Diego jammie bottoms, lifted the seat (something he forgets to do during the daytime which is just as unpleasant as when a grown man does it), and stood him in front of the bowl to pee. Which he did and I pulled up his pants and carried him back to bed, returning to the bathroom to wash my hands, of course. Don't get me started on a washing hands after going to the bathroom tangent!

Well, apparently, our bathroom walk didn't finish him off for the night. At some point well after midnight, he must have peed in his jammies, gone to the bathroom, peed some more, and removed his wet jammie pants, leaving them in a lump on the floor in front of the toilet. (I know this because the toilet was filled with urine this morning and the wet jammies were right where he dropped them.) Zane then climbed into bed with me, naked from the waist down. I, of course, didn't notice his lack of attire since I was sleeping and he must have gotten under the covers, rolled over and gone back to sleep.

If only he had stayed under the covers. At some point this morning, I think it was about 6:00 a.m.--it was definitely before my alarm was scheduled to go off, Zane kicked off the covers. If only he didn't get another erection. Lifelong lesbians and virgins may not know this but males of all ages often wake up to a tenting in the blankets. So, there he is: naked from the waist down, penis pointed high, and the cool air hits him. Can you guess what happened next?

I was sound asleep, dreaming of something nice and warm and pleasant, and all of a sudden a noise permeates my unconsciousness. It was the sound of liquid spraying something. Then, I opened my eyes and couldn't believe what I was seeing. Zane had an arc going that put the McDonalds arches to shame. The end of the yellow rainbow was a pile of papers on the floor about a foot or two away from my bed. The sound I heard was the sound of his pee hitting the pile. Thank God it was mostly old newspapers and magazines and not work documents. I screamed, threw the blanket over his midsection, and then carried him back to bed. At first it seemed like his feelings were hurt but I'm not sure if he was embarrassed by the peeing off my bed or if he had no idea why I was kicking him out. I may need to check back with him on that one. I didn't want to talk about it in front of Ruby this morning because she is totally capable of spreading his business all over town.

While writing this I realized that this is not the first time I've been awakened to almost the same sound! When my ex and I were first living together, we rented an apartment in a building that housed mostly partying students from Boston College. We lived on the top floor of the 4-story walk-up. During particularly raucous parties, people would go up to the roof and make a lot of noise. Well, one night I woke to the sound of splashing against our closed window. Thank God we had purchased an air conditioner so we had the window closed! I looked out the window to see a very drunk guy standing on the roof across the courtyard and aiming his urine arc at our window.

Ewwwwwwwwww! Boys are gross.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Vernal Equinox, Good Friday, Purim, Easter, and Persian New Year!

This has been a very busy week for spiritual, religious, and natural concerns. I spent the last hour and a half writing and rewriting an incredibly thoughtful and very detailed essay about this week's happenings, including: the Vernal Equinox; Wicca; Good Friday and the crucifixion of JC; the lack of separation between church and state; the fun-filled Jewish Purim holiday; the difference between the practices of Lazy Julie's Paas egg decorating and the meticulous practice of creating Ukrainian Easter eggs; the Easter Resurrection of the aforementioned Christian savior; the UU church that I attend and my dad has nicknamed the Church of What's Happening Now; and NowRuz, the Persian New Year celebration that involves spring cleaning and leaping over fire.

I'm coming down from a contraband sugar high (jelly beans are my downfall) and this is my third attempt to write and post this entry about these serious and profound matters. Each time I think I've successfully saved it, however, I go back in and it's deleted. Oh well. Happy everything...or nothing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Are we all animals?

I am not condoning infidelity. I am an incredibly faithful person and I am completely monogamous in my relationship with Ken. I do not aspire to return to the wanna-be promiscuous days of my youth.

That having been said, click on the title link to read about birds and lizards that pay for sex and unfaithful baboons and beetles. And, it's not just men--both male and female animals have issues with monogamy. Just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pet Peeves in no Particular Order

Empty ice cube trays in a communal freezer. I think the inconsiderate clods who take all the ice cubes out of a tray and put the empty trays back into the freezer without refilling them, should be shamed into shape. If they attempt to place an empty ice cube tray into the freezer, they should hear a very loud, foghorn-type alarm and an angry voiceover that shouts the following message over and over again until the empty tray is filled and replaced: "What the he&&'s the matter with you? Why are you putting an empty ice cube tray back into the freezer? Since you obviously don't care about other people having icy cold beverages, why don't you just leave the empty tray on the God Da$% counter? Shame on you!" This alarm would, of course, be loud enough to be overheard by all surrounding co-workers.

Seat savers. Sometimes meeting rooms or presentation spaces have a limited amount of preferred seating. These chosen chairs might be cushier than the other seats, positioned to see or hear better, or maybe they're close to the snacks or the door. People who have a particular seating preference should show up early enough so they can use their own butts to save their own seats. Yes, your neighbor can put a coat or purse on "your" chair and avoid eye contact with people who glare at the seat saver and stare longingly at the empty seat, but why should these kind friends be put in that position? If you're fortunate enough to get one of these sweet spots, don't just put down your things and go mill around the room. Sit there and consider yourself lucky. If you get up to go to the bathroom or something, fine. Put down your own coat to HOLD (not to be confused with SAVING) your seat.

At a meeting earlier last week, a heard about a variation on this pet peeve: Parking Space Saving. Apparently, a certain CEO tried to park in a certain office park that houses the CEO's company and a bank. The CEO saw an empty parking space in front of his office. When he tried to maneuver his car into the space, however, he encountered a security guard standing guard in the middle of the space. This particular parking space was near a bunch of other spaces that were reserved for customers of a bank. When the CEO asked the security guard what was up, the guard told him that he was "saving" the space for the CEO of the bank.

Universal male reverence for Caddy Shack. Why is it that all men, regardless of sexual orientation, age, IQ, or political affiliation, can quote scene after scene from this movie? Sure, Caddy Shack is funny, but does is really reflect and/or comment on society as a whole? I actually heard a particular bald man who shall remain nameless, describe Bill Murray's performance as "brilliant." Sean Penn is Dead Man Walking is brilliant. The groundskeeper blowing up gopher holes, not so much.

Petty edits. If I'm sending something to be printed, I try to go over it with a fine tooth comb (not so much with the blog, as you can tell). If it's a work project, I usually ask a fresh set of eyes to proof it, as well. When I write an internal email to another member of my department, however, I just do a quick spell check and hit send. If, in a rush, I write "the" instead of "their," spell check will obviously not catch that. So, let's just say this kind of typo slips through the cracks in an internal email that is not printed and does not go to anyone outside of the department much less the company. Tell me this: Does a "the/their" mistake really constitute a critical typo that should be printed, circled in red, and brought to the sender's attention with a note that this kind of error should not happen again in the future?

That's it for now. I'm sure I will get peeved some more in the future at which time I will add to the pet peeve saga.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Brief Acting Career

When I was little (and not so little), I used to squint my eyes at the end of movies and imagine I could read my name in the credits. When I watched the Oscars and other award shows, I used to think about what I would wear when I went up on stage to accept my statue for Best Actress. I was particularly concerned about footwear since there were always so many steps and I was 40 years old before I mastered heels. When Cybill Shepherd wore Reebok high tops with an evening gown to the Emmys one year, I breathed a sigh of relief.

In college, I changed my major MANY times, especially during my never-ending first-semester junior year between Hartford College for Women and UMass. I was a student at Central Connecticut State University but, since I never received a degree from there, I don't really count that year as part of my college career. Basically, I was taking classes willy nilly, working as a waitress, and trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was a relief when I decided to move to Boston to live with my now ex-husband.

I was either an English or an Education major when my friend Rachel tricked me into auditioning for a play. I thought I was there just to keep her company, until I was called to the front of the room to audition. Apparently, Rachel had filled out an audition slip with my information. I was too embarrassed to make a scene, so I went to the front of the room with a few other young women and vowed to get back at Rachel later. We were asked to say the alphabet in a ghostly voice. I thought it was hysterical and I loved making Rachel laugh, so I really hammed it up. Next, we were asked to say the alphabet in a sexy voice. Rachel and I played off each other and it was like that diner scene in When Harry Met Sally where Sally throws her head back and fakes an orgasm. By the time we got to S, Rachel and I were moaning and thrashing. When the audition ended, Rachel and I left laughing and I thought that was the end of it.

A day or two later, I came home to find a message on my answering machine, asking why I didn't show up for call-backs. I didn't even know what a call-back was. (People who make the first cut have their names posted on a board and they come back for a second audition.) I thought, "Oh well, I wasn't really planning to audition anyway. No biggy." But, then, the next message, said, "Congratulations! You have a part in the play."

Rachel and I went to the Theatre department bulletin board the next day where I saw my name listed next to the words, "Neighbor Woman." "Great," I thought. "If she doesn't even have a name, my character must be minor." Not so. In Francesco Garcia Lorca's Blood Wedding, most characters are called by their role and not by a name. The Neighbor Woman was actually a principal role. Rachel also got a the chorus.

So, there began my love of acting. After my critically-acclaimed performance in Blood Wedding (my friends and my godmother raved), I switched majors again and joined the Theatre department. I got a few leads, read a lot of plays, learned how to talk with Irish and Southern accents, and was humiliated by a director named Thad when he told me in front of the entire cast that I should never, ever sing in public. But I loved acting. I loved becoming someone else, I loved the limelight, and I loved the applause. I was not, however, willing to starve and give up everything else I cared about. I didn't have the money or the parental support to get a summer stock theatre camp placement and not work for three months. I also felt ostracized by the black-clad theatre majors who resented my "luck" at getting lead roles when I was up against "real" Theatre majors. Finally, when I looked to the future of auditioning and auditioning and waitressing and waitressing, I thought, "Naaa."

When I followed my ex to Boston, I didn't totally give up acting. While I worked at BU in a secretarial job, I actually had a freelance gig acting for real money (I think it was $10 per hour) at the BU Playwrights Theatre. Playwrighting students hired actors to present their plays to the Director of the department, Nobel Prize-winning poet/playwright, Derek Walcott. I worked with a student in the program who was a friend and often pictured me when she created certain characters. Wendy was an interesting woman--a talented writer with the messiest apartment I have ever seen...yes...even worse than my college apartment in Hartford.

It was very intimidating to be on stage in front of Derek Walcott. In his 60s when I met him, Derek Walcott is of West Indian decent and speaks with what is not so much an accent as extremely proper English, that makes everyone else sound unsophisticated in comparison. He sat smoking in the front row of the theatre, wearing a worn blazer with corduroy elbow patches, surrounded by attractive, fawning female students.

Although he was supposed to be critiquing his playwrighting students' work, he sometimes gave feedback to actors, too. Professor Walcott always gave me suggestion and they were often outside my skill set or just bizarre. In one scene, he suggested that I use a French accent which I couldn't do. I made "je" noises, looked apologetically at my playwright, and blushed. After what felt like forever, Professor Walcott (I never thought of him as Derek) let me off the hook with a wave of his hand and a "Never mind."

Another time, when Wendy presented a scene where she told me I was a very proper, middle-aged, snooty artist's agent, coming on to a young man in his dirty artist's loft, Derek stopped the action to suggest that I play the scene crawling across the floor. Wendy had directed me to dress in my best business attire, so I had on a pair of white silk slacks, a blouse and a blazer. When he interrupted the scene, I faced Professor Walcott, still in character, and said, "I would never, ever, crawl across a dirty floor in white, silk trousers."

Unfortunately, Professor Walcott misunderstood my comment. He thought I was objecting as an actor and that I was worried about getting my pants dirty. "Actors must do what needs to be done," he said flatly.

I got out of character for a moment to respond, "No, you don't understand," I stuttered, mortified that he thought I was too prissy to crawl if the part called for it. "My character would never crawl across the dirty floor of the artist's loft with paint and mess. I'm not saying that I would not crawl across the stage floor...." I trailed off as I saw Professor Walcott start whispering to one of the young women seated next to him.

Believe it or not, I continued to act. I had parts in a few student films and I recorded a PSA about recycling that aired in the middle of the night on cable channels. When I returned to college at UMass Boston, I had the lead role in a student play that was performed at the Black Box Theatre in the South End. I played a woman who. like me, was living in sin. During one scene I had to make out with my boyfriend (while my actual boyfriend watched from the audience). It was a little weird. Also, while I was kissing my pretend boyfriend, he was only wearing a towel and he had the largest nipples I had ever seen. I'm not positive, but I think that was my final role performance in a play.

I don't blame the nipples for my ultimate departure from the theatre. And, I don't really think of it as a departure so much as a hiatus. When I'm retired and wearing purple every day, I will become one of those quirky women who gets every old lady role in community theatre productions and hosts sushi and sorbet parties for the cast. Play your cards right and you could get invited to opening night.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Become an MS activist with a click of your mouse!

Click on the title of this post to find out if your congressional representative supports important and necessary funding for MS research.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Interesting Career Happenings and Health Updates

I can only hint at the interesting career happenings (this is the downside to public journaling) but it's all good. Or gonna be. It's weird. I'm writing this book/blog and totally comfortable laying it all out there. For some ridiculous reason, however, it never occurred to me that the lack of inhibition would cross the personal/professional barrier...until today.

I am who I am everywhere I go, but I usually ease work people into the true, authentic me in my full glory. This blog has erased that easing-in process. No more wading into the shallow end. If you're all out there, you can't pull yourself back in on a case-by-case basis. It's all out, or all in. I guess I'm all out. And, you know what? As frightening as that seems, it's kind of a relief. Here I am. Take me or leave me.

The health updates (mine and Tim's) are mixed.

First Tim: I realized today that I never wrote about how Tim did not, in fact, need a lung biopsy, and he was ultimately diagnosed with atypical pneumonia that was initially resistant to antibiotics. He is back at home and back at work. PHEW! (Thank you God/Goddess/Universe.) I realized I never provided that update when I saw Bond Cindy Bond this morning and she asked about him. (Her name is not a typo. When I first met mi amiga, Cindy, one of our WBUR colleagues who crushed on her used to play off the James Bond introduction).

Now, my health update: I'm having some medication toxicity issues. I'm still fine--you can ask Cindy. There's still no slurring or foot dragging. I was tempted to tease her by limping and drooling into the room since we haven't laid eyes on each other for over a year, but I spared her my sick MS humor. The neuro and I will have to determine whether the positive outcome of the meds outweighs the bad effects on my liver and possibly switch to something else. Hopefully, it won't be one of the 5 day a week , big needle injections. I am already one big bruise and summer is just around the corner.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

MS Awareness Week, March 10-17

From the National MS Society Web Site:

The MS movement is all about expressing what it means to you to end MS. Every person and every action makes a difference.
What will you do?

Hmmm. What will I do? I guess I will have MS. I will also continue to write about my life with MS try to focus on the funny and positive, connect with others with MS, get commitments from team members for the Accelerated Cure Project MS Scavenger Hunt, figure out what's up with the Green Team and the upcoming MS Walk, send my Lola article to agents/publishers as a book proposal, and take care of myself (vitamins, meditation, yoga, Rebif shots, no sugar, limit saturated fat, plenty of sleep, etc.).

What will you do?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Here a blog, there a blog, everywhere a blog, blog!

One of my fellow MS bloggers sent me the following message and I thought I would do my part to spread the love:

MS Awareness, Blogging Friends, and a little Link Love
There are at least 137 MS Bloggers out there actively discussing whatever suits their fancy. Below you will find many of these suspects....wait... I mean lovely blogger friends who happen to have multiple sclerosis.Remember how I mentioned a group project was in the works? Well here it is. As the founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers, I'd like your help in spreading the word, and in doing so we will strengthen the bonds of our own little Multiple Sclerosis Blogging Web (and share some linkie love with each other). If you are not an MS Blogger, but are a regular reader here, please feel free to help spread the word too.

Here's what you do:

  • Copy the entirety of this post

  • Create a new post and paste this content

  • Visit 3 of the blogs listed below which you were unfamiliar

  • Leave a comment on their blog encouraging them to participate

  • Please add Brass and Ivory to your sidebar, if it's not already

New editions of the Carnival of MS Bloggers will be presented bi-weekly at Brass and Ivory. Previous editions will be are archived here and the button below has been revised to include the new link. Please update your sidebar.

Names of the Blogs - Name of Blogger (if known) and # of posts in 2008 (as of 3/5)

9 Brand New MS Bloggers joined the blogosphere in 2008!!

Most Prolific MS Blogger - so far in 2008!!

Top 10 Rather Prolific MS Bloggers - so far in 2008!!

28 Moderately Prolific MS Bloggers - so far in 2008!!

51 Mildly Prolific MS Bloggers - so far in 2008!!

26 Less Prolific MS Bloggers - so far in 2008!!

538 Barely Prolific MS Bloggers - so far in 2008!!

And finally - 26 MS Bloggers who have been silent in 2008!!

Hard to categorize:

Thank you for helping to build a stronger MS Community.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Could this be the service monkey Ken promised me?

From Craigslist Free Stuff:

beautiful baby Capuchin looking for new a home
Date: 2008-03-05, 10:17AM EST
Have the opportunity to acquire a cute capuchin monkey baby which is very calm, vet check , and has all available documents including all shots up to date.Baby is looking to spend the all her life in a different has very good temperament and behaves exactly like a human by doing household works.also baby love playing with kids and is cute lovely and friendly to other pets.get back to me for more infos.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Another Book Hoax

On NPR this morning, I heard that a former Here and Now guest is an even better creative writer than people thought she was. Unfortunately, the book she wrote and promoted during her earlier interview on the radio show was reported to be about her real life experience growing up on the South Side of LA. (I've never been there but I'm assuming it's the flip side of Beverly Hills.) Apparently, her neighborhood was more burb than hood and the experiences she wrote about were all made up.

Last week, a Belgian writer admitted that she made up the events described in Misha: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years, and that she didn't really live in the woods with wolves during the Holocaust. This book was a best seller and inspired a French film about her ordeal. Another hoax.

Rather than vilify these writers as if they were plagiarists, I think we should just refile their books in the fiction section. They didn't steal another writer's words; they just made up some stories. They did lie when they said the stories were reports of actual events, which is a problem, but should the baby be thrown out with the bathwater? Were they journalists reporting the news or authors allowed to express their creativity and opinion?

I haven't read either book but I'm assuming both authors were good storytellers, otherwise their books wouldn't have received such rave reviews. Are their stories less entertaining because they're "pretend?" Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale is a great story. I'm assuming the author didn't travel back from the future where fertile women were enslaved to bear the babies of wealthy citizens, which means the story is made up. It doesn't have to be true to be a compelling story. Perhaps the authors thought or even knew that their works wouldn't have been published if they were presented as fiction.

How did it come to be, I wonder? Was the South Side of LA hood story something the author made up and told to her colleagues so they would see her as tough and worthy of their respect? Did one thing lead to another and she wrote it down and it was published? Was it a lie she told so often that she started to believe it was true? Did she have family? Didn't any of them say: "Um, we grew up in Brentwood, not Watts. What up?"

And what about Misha in the woods with the wolves? Apparently, she wasn't even Jewish but her parents were reportedly killed by the Nazis for participating in the Resistance. During World War II, she resided with relatives in Brussels and not in the woods with a kindly wolf family who adopted her. She claims that, because of her parents' death and the subsequent abuse she suffered by her new guardians, she made up the fantasy as a coping mechanism.

I don't know about you, but I would have questioned right off the bat why the wolves didn't eat the little girl. Call me crazy, but have you heard of Little Red Riding Hood? Nevertheless, it was a good story and one that received rave reviews for decades. In addition to not actually living the story, Misha (not her real name) did not even write the tale down. Her publisher hired a ghost writer who says she was told and believed that the story was true. So, basically, as a little girl, Misha (not her real name) made up a story as little girls often do, told it to the right people, they hired a writer to put it into words, and she made a lot of money and a name for herself all based on her imagination. Pretty darn incredible, if you ask me! I made up lots of stories as a little girl including one about climbing Rattlesnake Mountain and turning into a rattlesnake, but I still have/need a day job! I feel a little bad for the ghost writer who I'm sure didn't make quite as much money as Misha (not her real name). That just doesn't seem kosher (forgive the pun) since it all started with her words.

For me, truth is still stranger--and funnier--than fiction. I swear to God I couldn't make up the stuff that is my life. My childhood is filled with some pretty incredible writing foder. Like when a guy came to look at a car my dad advertised in the want ads. He walked in to find my dad drunk in a bathrobe, staking out a mouse hole with a shotgun while four children looked on while eating breakfast a few feet away. Just as my dad yelled "Come in!" the mouse poked his head out and my dad shot an even bigger hole in the wall. The stranger just stared and then turned and ran up the driveway. My brothers and sister and I just laughed and kept on eating our cereal.

I continued to laugh every time I repeated the gun and the mouse story until I noticed that the listeners weren't always amused. Sometimes they were horrified. That was when I realized I needed to assess my audience and do a little self censorship. As you can read, I've since unlearned that skill. Although that proves my point. Why would I make up some of the the stuff I've written about having MS that makes me look pretty bad? Think about it: Depends Thongs, Getting Lost at Work, Deli Hell, Clown Costume Hangover, etc.

Hey! I just discovered another gift of MS! I have lost whatever was left of my shame...and maybe dignity, too...? Who cares! Saucy single moms don't need dignity.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Messy Me

I sometimes feel remarkably comfortable surrounded by mess...not filth exactly, just clutter. I usually clean it up for people who don't live with me but tonight, when it's just us, I see the mess and it doesn't really phase me. Right now, there are at least 5 clean loads of laundry piled on, over, and next to my oversized living room chair. There are also dishes (dirty) in the sink because the dishwasher is full of clean dishes and, apparently, these new-fangled dishwashers don't empty themselves.

My bedroom is filled with laundry baskets full of toiletries and other crap that I cleaned out of the bathroom vanity and over-the-toilet cabinet the other day when I started but didn't finish my latest organization project. There are also more clean clothes piled on my chair and spilling out of my closet. There are numerous piles and baskets full of paper that were compiled during a previous organization project. There are hats, and shoes, and books and belts on the floor next to the bed.

In addition to the sink full of dishes, the kitchen has some piling going on, too. I made some piles of papers that I needed to go through, but then the piles spilled over and had new papers and cat toys and batteries and, what-have-you, added to the top of the spilled-over pile. The recycling bin is filled to the brim with...well, recycling AND some of the kids' outgrown clothing and books that I want to bring to the Goodwill.

The hall, the bathroom, and the kids' room are pretty neat, actually. Today, anyway. That's what I do. I move the mess around. When I was first diagnosed with MS and Christina and then Liz, and then Sandra, my angel housecleaner, came into the house, I was way too exhausted to hide...I mean CLEAN UP the mess. It was awful. Here I was feeling like moldy bread and I couldn't put on the neat girl mask.

Hmmm. I did it again. When I rant and rave about something like clothing sizes, voting, or slovenly housecleaning, I always feel the need to bring it back to MS since that was the impetus for this blog. But, you know what? I'm pretty sure I am not in a relapse so I'm also pretty sure I can't blame the MS for the mess that currently surrounds me. People who share my last name will tell you that I have ALWAYS been this way. And, as far as I know, everyone with the MS gene isn't a slob.

I am a woman with MS and I don't always want to write about the MS. Oooooh. I think that means I'm moving along on the happy trail of acceptance. Stop the presses. Messy Woman With MS Finds Something Else to Write About.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

How is "0" (Zero) a Size???!!!!

I love a bargain. I take great pride in dressing myself from head to toe for as little money as possible. I am not a snob and I will buy clothes anywhere--Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, Filene's Basement, Kohls, consignment shops, the Goodwill, Building 19, Target, K-mart, and, yes, even Walmart. I get a rush when I find a beautiful silk blouse or a designer wrap dress for under $10. I don't think I've every paid more than $30 for a pair of pants, including jeans. Some people probably wouldn't brag about this character trait, but I am who I am. I slept on a pull-out couch with my sister for two years when we were little, my family never ate out unless we had a coupon, and my grandmother still steals packets of Sweet-n-Low to this day. Cheap is in my blood.

So, when I entered T.J. Maxx this past Saturday, I immediately went to the section in the middle of the store with the big red signs hanging from the ceiling. "CLEARANCE!" they shouted at me, drawing me in like a moth to a flame. I actually find it incredibly relaxing, when the kids go with John to spend an hour perusing the clearance racks in search of a bargain. Sometimes, I walk out with a $7 pair of purple shoes, sometimes I walk out with nothing, but it's almost like meditation to just be in the store alone with no where to be, no time to be there, and no one expecting me.

Clearance racks are not organized for the timid or impatient. You're lucky if the shirts are with the shirts and the pants are with the pants. You can't just look in your own size since 2s are sometimes put with the 12s and 14s with the...which is why I had the opportunity to see all the Size 0 pants. What the hell? When did 0 become a size exactly? What happens if a O is too big? Is there a -1? And, why are women a size O? We are WOMEN not girls. We have (or are supposed to have) hips and breasts. Butts and boobs could not possible fit in a Size 0. I actually don't think one of my thighs could fit in both legs of a Size 0 if I cut them down the inseam.

OK. I'm not skinny by anyone's standards but I don't shop at big women's stores either. I generally consider myself average. The only one who has ever called me "fat" is me...mostly inside my own brain when I've just eaten a pint of sorbet all by myself or four Bertuccis rolls after lunch when I find a bag of leftovers just sitting on the "give away counter" at work.

I can see if maybe you're battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy you might be emaciated enough to wear a Size 0. Or maybe you're suffering from anorexia or have a hyper thyroid disease. But, if that's the case, why is the fashion industry creating a Size O for this incredibly small exception to the rule?

I distinctly remember the embarrassment I felt in high school when I went shopping with some friends and I needed to look in the Size 7 jeans. The friends I was with were wearing Size 5. I felt HUGE. Do teenage girls today feel ashamed when they have to shop in the Size 2s? And, more importantly, what will it be like for Ruby?

Ruby is very tall for her age (like I was growing up) and her weight is in proportion to her height. The pediatrician says she's off the charts for height and in the 95th percentile for weight. At 5ft. tall, she towers over most other 8-year-olds in the 3rd grade. She is strong and lean, but is not wearing the size that the littler, shorter girls are wearing. First of all, the pants would all be capris since she has legs that go on for days. Based on her current rate of growth and her genes, Ruby will probably never be a Size O. I hope not.

Zero literally means NOTHING. Who wants to be NOTHING? I don't want my daughter or any other girls to want to be nothing. But...maybe they don't. Hey! Maybe that's why all the Size Os were on the clearance racks at T.J. Maxx! Maybe, the clothing designers are reading reports right now showing that they are writing off millions of dollars in losses for all the Size 0 pants that end up on clearance racks! Maybe, by the time Ruby is going to the mall with her friends, there will be no such thing as a Size 0! Maybe, when Zane is a teenager, his friends and he will be caught checking out the hot girls in Size, 10s, 12s, 14s or even "plus" sizes. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a worldwide revolt that will end with all women wearing sarongs, defeating any reason for clothing sizes!

And maybe, my cat will stand up, walk across the room on two feet, tap me on the shoulder, and ask me what's for dinner.

Still More on Lola

Are you fricken kidding me? Am I talking about Lola again???! I better get a new published writing gig soon so I don't become boring.

Lazy Julie has some regular visitors from outside the Boston area (and the state, and the country!) so I'm cutting and pasting the Lola article here. This is not EXACTLY the same as it appears in the printed magazine, but it is the version I submitted:

TRUE STORY: Maybe I'm Just Lazy
I’m gorgeous, hilarious, and an amazing mom. Why should Multiple Sclerosis get in the way?

(This subhead was definitely NOT my idea. I would never have described myself as "gorgeous." "Stunning" or "beautiful" maybe, but not "gorgeous.")

You’d never guess I have MS. I’ve got some other stuff going on. I’m a single mom, a writer with a day job, a friend of some awesome women, a girlfriend to Bald Hot Ken, a member of a rather bizarre family, a clean and sober alcoholic/drug addict, and a spiritual, but not religious, person.

Before diagnosis last September, my life was perfect. I was stunningly beautiful, had only 10 percent body fat, was great in bed, won “Mother of the Year,” and I paid all my bills on time. (Okay, I am great in bed, but the rest is just wishful thinking.)

My diagnosis story is unusual. Probably because this is a disease that affects twice as many women as men, it can take years for seemingly random symptoms to be taken seriously. I’ve heard many stories of women with MS who are given referrals to psychiatrists rather than MRIs. Not me. I was diagnosed three days after I called my GP to get a script for conjunctivitis, which I thought was the reason behind my sudden loss of vision in my right eye. Instead, I got a referral to an ophthalmologist, who sent me to a neurologist, who sent me for an emergency MRI that showed probable MS. What the hell? I came in for pink eye!

I was convinced that this was a medical mistake. Keep in mind, I was blind in one eye, partially blind in the other, I couldn’t drive (the RMV frowns on blind people operating motor vehicles). I had fatigue that made me long for the first trimester of pregnancy, I had shocks up and down my spine, headaches, muscle aches and pains, numbness and tingling, and I was getting IV steroid infusions in the ER every day in the hope of sending my MS into remission.

Over the next couple of weeks, I had two more MRIs of my brain and spine; vision, blood, and neurological reflex tests; and a lumbar puncture (which is just a fancy way of describing a hot neuro resident jamming a long needle into your spine). To confirm the diagnosis, doctors have to rule out all the copycat diseases and try to identify some MS markers. I was lucky, I guess. I tested negative for all the other diseases (Ken was relieved when syphilis was eliminated). The MRIs showed a dozen old and new lesions, and the spinal fluid revealed three bands of protein that are often visible with MS. It was official.

When all the tests finally broke through my wall of denial, I told the kids, 8-year-old Ruby and 4-year-old Zane, who took it pretty well. They let me read them a story about a mommy with MS, they asked a couple questions, and then they asked if we could stop talking so they could watch Curious George.

On the other hand, when I tell grownups about the MS, I often get one of three responses:

“I’m so sorry. That’s terrible!” The speaker has wide eyes filled with horror and pity and it comes with either a hand pat or an arm squeeze. I smile, say “thank you,” and assure them that MS is not fatal and that the advances in treatment mean I will probably live a near normal life. What appears in the thought bubble over my head, however, is “Jesus Christ! Aren’t you just a ray of sunshine!?”

“But you look so good!” This statement is accompanied by an expression of disbelief and a glance from head to toe. I recite the list I’ve memorized of all the famous people with MS who also look pretty good: Ann Romney, Montel Williams, Lena Horne, one of the Osmonds. What I want to do is drag one foot, slur my speech, drool a bit, and then ask if that’s how someone with MS is supposed to look.

Total denial. My family is particularly fond of this one, making comments like “What makes you think you have MS?” (Oh, I dunno, three MRIs, a lumbar puncture, and a team of neurologists at two of the world’s leading hospitals.)

I shouldn’t be surprised by the responses I get from people in my gene pool. I was born into a somewhat crazy family that included the future spouses of circus performers. My youngest brother married a woman who traveled with the circus as a child. My older brother married a professional fire-eating, unicycle-riding juggler. My sister, who works really hard at being normal, married an amateur magician. I don’t think these are coincidences. After growing up in our home, carnival folk were right up our alley.

My unconventional father, who loves me very much, responded to my MS diagnosis by purchasing a 1994 Buick on eBay and shipping it from Florida to Boston via auto-transport. Not your typical reaction to a chronic, debilitating neurological disease, but appreciated. In addition to the Buick (which I bartered for housecleaning on Craigslist), I received cards, letters, calls, emails, and even a delivery of chocolate-covered strawberries. (Had I known there’d be cars and snacks, I might have gotten MS sooner.)

My women friends have rallied around MS Me in a big way. When I was first diagnosed, Liz drove up from DC to chauffeur the kids and me around. Christina dropped everything at her power-chick job to rescue me when I started to go blind at work, and she paid for a Merry Maid to clean my messy house. My nurse friend Gina held my hand when I gave myself the first injection of MS meds that I have to shoot up three times a week. I don’t have the cushion of a husband, but I have a pretty warm patchwork quilt of supporters.

That wasn’t always the case. Before I got sober, I ingested whatever drink or drug was available as often as possible with the single goal of blacking out. At my bottom I was just shy of 19, but I felt old and tired. I lived in my mother’s attic, where she left room-for-rent ads on my floor; I was fired from my minimum-wage job after I woke up far from home at punch-in time, wearing a clown costume after dropping acid at a Halloween party the night before; and I regularly considered stepping in front of a bus so I wouldn’t have to get up the next day and do it all over again.

After I went to rehab, I set off on a mission to figure out who the hell I was. I did a lot of lot of typical recovery stuff – 12-step meetings, therapy. I went to college and discovered that I still had brain cells left. I wasn’t drinking or drugging, but I found lots of other ways to escape.

One of those escapes was my ex-husband. He was the cute chef in the kitchen when I was working my way through college as a waitress. I loved that everyone else wanted him and I was the one who got to see him naked. Fifteen years later, we owned a home, were married with two children, and had nothing in common. When we split, I became a dating machine, going out with anyone who answered my online personal ad. I made up mnemonics to remember their names. Pants Too High Tom was my first date after almost 20 years of monogamy; I can’t forget Blue Dress Gene (don’t ask); and then there was Bald Hot Ken. He was there holding my hand when I got the MS news. He even suggested an upside to MS: I might be able to get a service monkey.

MS has not changed the fact that Bald Hot Ken and I love each other very much. We do not, however, live together. Like me, he’s a divorced, custodial parent, so cohabitation would be akin to teaching my cat to pee on the toilet – not impossible, but definitely not easy. I’m the only grownup living in my apartment, but I am not alone. My two children remind me on an hourly basis that I am not the most important person in the room, much less on the planet. If I respond to MS by lying around feeling sorry for myself, who would take Ruby to Counting Crows concerts and play Hot Wheels with Zane? Who would roll up the windows in the car so we can all scream at the top of our lungs when we’re having a rough morning?

At the risk of sounding like an insufferable Pollyanna, I can already see that MS is a gift in my life. It’s a weird gift I never asked for, kind of like a painting that the Universe left on my doorstep covered in bird shit. Once you get past the smell, you do a little scraping and find the beauty underneath. I can bitch and moan or I can make something out of it—which I’m doing by writing a book about my experiences. The best part of MS is that it’s given me my voice as a writer. Now just try to shut me up!

Julie Baker is a writer who lives in a messy apartment south of Boston and commutes into Boston for her day job in marketing. Julie is writing a book about her journey with MS. To learn more, visit:

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Lola and Reiki

I had a Reiki appointment with Nancy today. It was awesome. I need to work on being grounded. (Big shocker, huh?) During the session, I asked my higher power to help me forgive all those that were the focus of my anger and resentment. Good thing, too. One of those targets (who shall remain nameless) called me after the session and did his best to get me going. Thanks to Reiki, it did not penetrate my shield of serenity. Ohmmmm.

I picked up one...ok, two...ok SEVEN copies of Lola today. The copy was cut down from the last version I saw but it was still wonderful to see/read my words in print. The editor did a great job but I miss some of my favorite phrases. I may post the submitted article in its entirety here so I can get them back. Writers are such primadonnas with fragile egos, aren't we?

Ken and I went out for a nice dinner and I'm stopping home before I go pack my bag to sleep over his house.

Tomorrow I want to write about WTF Is Up With All The Size Os I saw at TJ Maxx Today? and My Last First Date. Just wanted to wet the appetite of regular visitors.