Thankful, Grateful, Yet Pissed Off

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My ancestors didn’t come to this country until the late 1800’s or 1920ish, if not later than that.

Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the United States. There is much history behind this holiday (I currently live in Massachusetts and you can’t escape people talking about spending the holiday in Plymouth. I’ve never spent Thanksgiving at a restaurant; I’ve always participated among family, cooked it myself, etc.), but for me, especially this year, this is the first Thanksgiving where I’ll be completely without my brother.

He was just released from the hospital once again. He’s SO sick, and while I am thankful and grateful that he is alive, I am exceptionally upset that he isn’t in a good situation and is so far away. It makes me ill. The fact that the medicine he needs for his heart and lungs is more expensive than I can handle is also too much for me emotionally. I want to help him, to fix the situation and the problems, but I can’t fix every problem he presents me with. It kills me. You are only given so many people in a life and I have been given one living brother. Not helping when he asks (or doesn’t ask) is to be a lower life form. I can’t be like that. I stand up as much as humanly possible.

I have much to be thankful for this year. I am thankful for what little in my life is mine. I’m grateful for the roof over my head, clothes, food, Cat and Kitten, my friends, and family. However, I’m also pissed off.

This has been an extremely painful year for me. I don’t know when it gets easier, or if it ever does, but I hope and pray that the coming year (and years) won’t wreck me like the previous dozen, or so, have. I’m a human-being, I’m imperfect, my feelings are real, and valid, and in 2017, I’d like to break out of this horrible shell I am in and be reborn in some way.

For the past six months or so, I’ve been experiencing bouts of Fibro Fog that are terrifying. I’ve done so many bizarre things that I’d never normally do if I was at 100% capacity (like trying to put black pepper in the freezer). For over seven months, I’ve been experiencing blackouts where I cannot account for my time. I’m not passing out and waking up on the side of the road or anything, and I’m lucky that they are no longer happening daily, but there are far too many days where I look at the clock and it’s 9:00 a.m. and the next thing I know, it’s 4:00 PM and I couldn’t tell you where my day went if you paid me a million dollars. These are not normal things for anyone, leave alone me. I stopped talking about these episodes with friends and family because no one seemed that interested or concerned, but I’m walking around on auto-pilot and I have no idea how I get from point A to point B most days. It’s scary and it’s completely unlike me.

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This year, Thanksgiving will lack all forms of tradition. The only “tradition” I’ll be bringing to the table is a 40+ year old recipe for stuffing. In my entire life, I’ve only eaten one other type of stuffing and it paled in comparison to my Mom’s. However, to highlight my Fibro Fog I have to say I’m embarrassed and mortified that I remembered all of the ingredients for the stuffing, but once I hit store #3 on Sunday, I realized I never purchased the actual stuffing, herbs, or a turkey pan for it. I tend to make stuffing the night before, that way it’s perfect Thanksgiving Day (and only takes a little while to heat up). It also helps me pace myself because making it involves a lot of vegetable chopping and ingredient play. However, I am happy to make it and enjoy that piece of my Mom that she passed on to me; the ability to cook and cook well (In fairness, I did inherit other things from her, for which I am also eternally grateful.).

So yeah, lots of sadness at the moment. I’m praying I will somehow be able to come through for my brother, and as it has been nearly a year since I’ve seen him (Unheard of!), I am hoping & praying I will be able to see him next month. I have learned this year that the person who knows me best is my brother (only regarding certain things, not all things). Part of me finds that exceptionally sad, and the other part thinks it’s extremely fitting.

Wishing everyone, in advance, a wonderful start to the holiday season. You don’t have to be American to appreciate that sentiment.

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Be safe, everyone!

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Rules Of The Week

I hope everyone had a prosperous, happy week and weekend. Me? Not so much. I’ve been plagued by migraines at a near non-stop pace. The warmth of last weekend (which wasn’t all that warm, really.) gave way to incredibly awful Fibromyalgia pain during the past week into this weekend. The cold has forced its way deep into my bones, as if dry ice resides there. A pleasant feeling it is not. I cycle back and forth between being too warm and suddenly feeling as if I’m dying from exposure. All of this is indoors, mind you. The ‘great outdoors’ is a whole other ballgame entirely. 😦

I was lucky to spend Friday morning in Boston with my Zia. I’d like to thank David’s Tea (They have locations in the U.S. & Canada. Do not hesitate to shop here for all kinds of tea-related happiness. I’ve included the link to their website which includes free shipping for purchases of $50 and up, as well as specials for clearance items.) for the yummy tea goodies to be enjoyed. Seriously folks, Banana.Nut.Bread.Tea. Those are four words I never thought I’d utter in a sentence, much less type. It is delicious, but my favorite, for now, is the Organic Earl Grey. They have three different types of this particular tea, if you’re so inclined. Also, the staff is particularly wonderful at the Washington Street location. An enormous shout-out to Falafel King for inducting me into an aspect of Judaism I had not yet embarked upon. I am obsessed. I’m also hard-pressed to stay away! 😀 Also, thank you to Ten Thousand Villages where, upon browsing, we came across Spicy Hot Cocoa. If you know anything about me, you know I am a chili pepper dark chocolate fanatic. Mexican hot chocolate is made with cayenne pepper and cinnamon, among many other delicious things you tend not to find in regular hot cocoa. It is unmatched in its fabulousness. I can’t wait to make it! Here’s hoping it’s as sinful as it should be. 😉

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Saturday I spent some time in Swampscott, MA. I would have taken some photos, but other than low tide, there wasn’t much to see because the weather was atrocious. It was a grey, stormy morning with heavy rain and a period of slushy snow. Today I am grateful to be home in the warmth where I can recuperate, despite the 3-4 inches of snow that fell overnight. It was quite pretty until all the shoveling and plowing began. Now it’s only pretty in the backyard, though the wind isn’t helping. It’s bitter out there!

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Due to the rough time I had on all levels last week, the stress of the past few months, my Boston-induced injuries that suddenly manifested as I was getting off the T (I’m in excruciating pain, so bear with me.), and something in my personal life that I can only constitute as a form of passive-aggressive abuse, I bring you my “Rules Of The Week”.

I have decided that many of these are rules for life. Some of this is merely where my head is at now, and other things are more about common sense and how others treat you. If someone reads this and doesn’t like what I’ve said, by all means; Please say something to me about it directly. Try any day that doesn’t end in a Y. That will be the day when you’re right and I am wrong.

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1) I don’t care who a person is; If they’re yelling & screaming at you, or accusing you of insane shit you haven’t done; Walk away. It cuts down on the time you might have to spend in jail by staying put and opening your mouth in response…or worse.

It has never occurred to certain types of people that they are truly in the wrong, so let them rant and rave in their wrongness. When they finally realize they’re wrong (Eventually it may happen.), you will likely be blamed for it. You have big shoulders, you can handle the hypocrisy/stupidity.

2) No one has the right to question your pain or tell you that it inconveniences their life. They are NOT you, they are NOT suffering (Why isn’t stupidity painful? It should be.), they do not reside within your body, and quite frankly, they can jump off the nearest bridge and see if the landing is smooth.

3) If someone tells you that other people are in worse pain than you, it is more than okay to tell them off. In fact, it should be automatic. I nearly did tell someone off for it. I still might.

Realistically speaking: How the fuck does anyone know what my pain levels are? If it hasn’t been brought up in conversation then precisely how do they know that “other people are physically in more pain than you are” each day? Do they even hear what they say or how it is presented? And by the way, for the person that did say this to me: BITE ME, but please do so after living for a year in my body and then come back and tell me how other people are in more pain. Don’t denounce the pain you don’t experience. You do not have the right to that.

What I experience and endure could very easily happen to you. It is a life-sentence I would not wish on anyone, except Hitler, so please, don’t ever question how bad it is.

4) Just because someone says something in a blase’ tone of voice does not mean they are being disrespectful, rude, or sarcastic. It probably means they don’t feel good or feel burdened by their day/life/situation/physical pain, etc. Not everything in life requires a fireworks display in response.

People should know me by now. I don’t hide sarcasm beneath a flat tone of voice. I DELIVER. The way in which I say things is rarely, if ever, delivered in a tone of voice that denotes someone else’s perception. If I wanted to say something disrespectful and/or rude, I’d say it in a different tone than my normal speaking voice. I’m nothing if not a powerful speaker, and you can tell a lot by the tones I use, providing you a’re smart enough to realize something has shifted. Moreover, I’ve lost the ability to give a damn about how people interpret things. Buy a clue, stop being so anal-retentive, and realize that not everything I say or do revolves around you or has anything to do with you. Sometimes “Whatever.” really just means “Do what you want, I don’t have a preference.” Also, I don’t understand the double-standard of a person doing that to me, but disliking when I’m not feeling so great and say something similar. That’s not disrespectful. I am smart enough to know the difference.

5) When a person expresses extreme unhappiness, depression, and/or suicidal thoughts to you, it is NOT okay to act like that’s no big deal. NOT EVER. Don’t claim to love someone and then abandon them to their pain. I assure you, that is not love.

6) Do no harm, but take no shit.

7) It is a hell of a lot more powerful to destroy a person with words than to do so physically. I highly recommend the former, especially if, like me, you are gifted with words.

If you feel the urge to hit someone, it’s often better to hit back with the appropriate statement. If you’re a passive, non-confrontational sort, as so many people are, it’s okay to say how you feel in private and cut someone out of your life. It’s okay to write about it and get it out of your system. Don’t be afraid to rid yourself of the toxicity, and make no apologies for it.

8) Unfortunately, some people think they can say anything to you. They can’t. Their assumptions, presumptions, and idiocy need to be nipped in the bud. Much like the filter in a Brita pitcher, which needs to be replaced every 60 days, you might want to suggest they have their internal filter(s) checked regularly, lest they run into some form of ‘water-poisoning’.

9) Never disrespect the person that does the cooking. This is absolute. If you don’t like something and it doesn’t adversely effect your health, pretend to be deaf, dumb, and completely fucking blind, but by G-d, do NOT be rude and ungrateful. Also, call if you’re going to be late.

10) If you can’t say it to my face, you’re a fucking coward.

11) If you do say it to my face, be prepared for the outcome.

12) Don’t say shit in a text message or e-mail that you wouldn’t dare say to a person’s face. It’s cowardly, classless, childish, and a host of other things that just plain annoy me. If you’re going to show your true colors, I want to be able to see the vivid yellow stripe down your back.

13) Assumptions are the death of so much. They’re major relationship killers. Don’t assume things.

14) The people you may know who suffer from any chronic, debilitating illness and are on disability, privately wealthy, or work from home in some capacity are, in all likelihood, NOT “sitting at home all day watching TV”. Strictly speaking, I fall into the category of a disabled person who works from home, at least for now (the “work from home” part applies). If I’m “sitting”, it’s because I’m writing. I’m not “being lazy”. And NO, writing is not “some hobby I have”. Introduce me to the hobbyist writer who’s been doing it for 29 years. I have yet to meet one.

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15) Curb the douchebag tendencies. Curb the bitchiness. There is always a better, clearer way to communicate.

16) Sometimes a person doesn’t hear you, usually for an extremely valid reason. That does not mean they aren’t listening. It is not a tragedy to repeat yourself.

In situations like this, I remember my Grandmother, an absolute saint of a woman, who would patiently have the same conversation with one of her best friends sometimes a dozen times a day once this friend was stricken with Alzheimer’s. Never once did she tell her “We just talked about this five minutes ago.” or ever let on that they’d spoken so many times about any particular topic. She would patiently and calmly repeat what she’d said in the previous conversation, reassure her, she was always kind, and when the phone rang again, sometimes a minute or two later, she would simply repeat the entire process, and continued to do so as often as necessary. She NEVER complained about it. They do not make them like her any more. 😦 It baffles me how long she’s been gone because I feel like I just spoke to her yesterday. I am glad our last words spoken were of love. There are so many people who could take a lesson in patience and grace from her.

17) Take moments each day to enjoy something. It might be your morning coffee/tea, a long walk, the sun, the moon, the crystal clear sky full of stars. Choose something each day and let that be yours.

18) People are not predominantly good. It’s a simple fact of life. Be discerning in those you allow around you because some energy is so toxic, it can physically make you ill. If you feel drained in a person’s presence, they are likely a psychic vampire. Google it, I can’t make this shit up.

19) Unless you legitimately suffer from multiple personalities, there’s no need to go from on to off a hundred times a day, or more. Pick a personality everyone likes and stick with it. Your mood swings, be they due to an illness or not, shouldn’t blow so hot and cold that a person could take a shower standing next to you. Perhaps a trip to the doctor is in order?

20) When in doubt, treat people the way you want to be treated. We all have bad habits and idiosyncrasies, but are we capable of coexisting? Yes.

21) If you’ve had a bad day, just say so. It’s easier to say you need/want space and don’t want to talk as opposed to thundering in on someone and being so unpleasant that they cannot stand to be in your presence.

22) If you cannot empathize with someone, I think it’s best to keep your fucking mouth shut, as opposed to judging when you’re completely not “in the know”. That pisses me off. Judging situations you aren’t privy to is a secondary mistake. You can’t apologize once the judgment has come out of your mouth or been put in some form of print. Well, maybe you can apologize to someone who’ll accept it, but I won’t.

23) Just because I’m an introvert does not mean I am a negative, unpleasant person. Some of the most talented people on the planet are introverts. A great deal of them are wonderful human beings. In the right setting with the right people, I am always an introverted extrovert, but I do not respond kindly to negative people or toxic energy. Please refer to #6.

24) Sometimes I am incredibly silent, but that doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention.

25) Random acts of kindness are important. Do things that you’d want done if it were you, your siblings, or your children/nieces/nephews in a bad situation. Prepare a meal for a homeless person or volunteer at a shelter. It might seem like a small thing, but to someone else, it’s HUGE.

26) Choose a charity and do what you can, even if it’s not a financial contribution. Delete Blood Cancer is looking for plasma, stem cell, and bone marrow donors. I cannot donate because I have Fibromyalgia (I still plan on doing an event as soon as I am settled into this new community.), but if you’re healthy and can get swabbed (they send you a kit in the mail), you could very well save a life, or multiple lives. I’ve included a link, and if that doesn’t feel right to you, choose something that does. We all have causes that are close to our hearts, or at the very least, we should.

27) Don’t sacrifice yourself for anything and everything. If you know a person would sacrifice for you, don’t take that, or them, for granted.

28) It’s okay to say no or to admit you don’t want to do something. Being honest isn’t a crime…yet.

29) Choose your friends wisely. I have friendships that have outlived marriages, relationships, other friendships, and endured serious illnesses, the arrival and loss of children and other family members, etc. Treat your circle with the same level of love and respect as the circle treats you. Check in with people when you haven’t heard from them. I have a few friends with whom I always check in on. Not because I have to, but because I want to. It means the world to them to get an e-mail or voicemail message because they know my heart and they know I am genuine in my concern and love for them. I wish I had people like that in my life who were as loyal and loved with some fierceness, but when they made me, they broke the mold and beat the hell out of the mold-maker. 😉

30) Do not harm, but take NO SHIT. (Because it bears repeating.)

Basically, no one is going to flog you for your imperfections, so go out there and BE YOU.

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Who am I to argue?

Friday: The Dark Artifice

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I woke up far too early this morning to a dark, grey day. Normally that wouldn’t bother me (it rarely does), but it’s the fact that the weekend is hanging over my head…the artifice of it darkening my mood.

Under normal circumstances the weekend is a dear friend I welcome with open arms, but it isn’t at the moment. The weekends are now Loki; the trickster. Instead of being able to enjoy them, because who doesn’t enjoy Tom Hiddleston (I would usually say it’s the accent, but the truth is, I find him charming as a human-being.), I am almost certain to contemplate purchasing rope, and not for Fifty Shades of Grey type activities. More’s the pity.

I miss Cat and Kitten. They are my constant companions, the only two ‘little people’ who’d notice if I went missing. I don’t get to spend any time with them. Last night, while in the process of feeding them, OGK came creeping up the stairs and refused to heed the warning Kitten gave him with her baby hiss. It was a non-threatening “Back off!” kind of hiss. If you hadn’t been standing in front of her, you wouldn’t have heard it. Instead of realizing he wasn’t welcome at the moment, he took it as a challenge, as he always does. Thankfully I blocked his little stampede and herded him down the stairs away to diffuse potential drama. I’d plugged the Feliway diffuser downstairs earlier on in the evening to try and help keep him calm (It already helped diffuse the tension the girls experienced from the move.) and maybe allow him to adapt, but so far, no dice. Next step: A baby gate. The girls can jump over it with ease, they have a lot of energy, especially the little one (who I am sad to say, is no longer little. She’s actually taller than all three cats. I often wonder if she’s part hybrid. I’ll never know unless her new vet mentions it.). So, I’ve come to the conclusion that once I clip their nails this weekend, I’m not going to baby OGK any more. It’s been nearly a full month and I can’t allow this to go on any longer. It’s stressing me out and making me sick. He needs to adjust. The Feliway diffuser will help, but there’s no way it will do anything if the girls remain behind closed doors 23 hours a day. I didn’t adopt them to keep them locked away. That’s no way for any animal to live. Perhaps next week, progress will be made. It’s exhausting, to say the least.

Sadly, I’m already exhausted enough. Between the migraines, smacking the back of my head into the wall this week (an accident on my part, as I am not used to being that close to a wall), and the bitter cold causing my body to go into varying degrees of Fibro flares, I’m not very pleasant to be around. That’s okay though because there’s no one here to listen to what I have to say. My life could easily be a reality show: “Three Cats & A Kitchen Knife”. Because unless I am caring for them, writing, or in absolute agony, I am probably chopping vegetables and making something. My cousin thinks I should become a “celebrity chef”. I disagree. The thought of making tasteless food for egos the size of Russia is not something I could ever become accustomed to, unless it came with a seven-figure salary. I bristle when someone says “Don’t put any salt into that.” I am a traditionalist. The only salt you will see me use is kosher salt or sea salt. I don’t buy anything else and I will not use anything else in the cooking process. I’ll be damned if I put something tasteless on the table for anyone. It’s an immense pet peeve of mine.

This past week I learned that there are a few words I NEVER want to see on an item I spent nearly $5 on and that is: Hearty Minestrone Soup: VEGAN. My percentage of Italian blood boiled, wondering what psycho came up with that idea. Trader Joe’s, you’re damn lucky it didn’t taste like crap or I would have gone after one of your cheerful employees this weekend upon returning. Of course now, I don’t trust them and will be obsessively reading labels in the store, thus adding a good hour to my grocery shopping time from here on in. I will keep the vegan concept in mind for my few vegan obsessed friends, but in the future I want all of my groceries to be marked “We didn’t screw with it, Lisa!” That’s right, I want a special section with my name on it for things I buy weekly. Thus far, only Polar Seltzer has received the memo. Kudos to the Vanilla Pear. 🙂 The only holiday flavor I was able to find was Blackberry Apple and it was good, but it wasn’t stellar. C’est la vie.

I am torn between desperately wanting a nap and trying to organize a few things for the weekend. Oh screw it! I’ve already done 95% of what’s on the list, I’m allowed a two hour migraine-induced nap.

As I attempt to recover in order to embark on my Loki-filled weekend, I wish everyone a weekend full of happiness and productivity. Here’s hoping no one has to hear about me on the news. I can’t promise I’ll behave or be very nice though. In fact, I might take up hissing myself. I already hiss at the next door neighbor’s dog because she viciously barks at me. Now while she does bark at everyone, she liked Patient X just fine as soon as he tossed her a few Milk Bones. I refuse to succumb to her pleading for treats. I may be a trained human for cats, but uncivilized dogs can kiss my ass!

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copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

P.S. My eye is better.

One Of Those Moods

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We’ve all, at one point or another during the course of our lives, been in “one of those moods”. No one on this planet is ecstatic in their happiness at all times. If they were, there would be no such thing as mental illness or anti-depressants. There would be no practical need for such medication, and psychiatrists would all have to retire or find another form of medicine in which to work. Since we do not live in any kind of euphoric utopia where all is right in the world, we all tend to have moments where we hit walls, patches that derail us, and/or get into a “funk” from time-to-time.

For some, these things go on for years before something happens to change those feelings, whether it be medical intervention or something more. It’s human and normal. There’s no such thing as perfect happiness 24/7, and anyone that tries to feed you that line is likely selling something, or trying to convert you to Scientology (It had to be said.).

It bothers people who I am not this warm, welcoming, smiling, blissfully happy idiot. But it doesn’t bother me. I prefer to be warm and welcoming to those I genuinely like. I prefer to laugh with people when something is truly funny, and I choose to be happy during times of real happiness. I accept life, to a degree, on a day-to-day basis. Maybe I’d be happier if I didn’t suffer from so much pain, who knows? But on a realistic level, I have always known I am “other”, that I don’t blend in to the woodwork, and I learned to be okay with that. Acceptance of others begins with acceptance of self. I live with me every single day and ultimately, I have to like who I am as a person, live fully in my skin, and be content in my company. I’m not responsible for how anyone else perceives me.

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I’ve never pretended that the holidays are an easy time for me. They’re not, and I’m quite open about that fact. This year though, I’ve had bigger fish to fry and it wasn’t weighing heavy on my mind or heart.

Christmas Eve was spent recovering from a migraine (I’ve been dealing with a lot of them.), and later on in the day, enjoying time with my family. Being Jewish, Christmas itself is just another day on the calendar, but I do try to make a nice meal and do something quiet and enjoyable for those I may be with. Normally it’s a movie and a really awesome home-cooked meal, even if it’s a DVD/Blu-Ray at home, it’s still something oriented around being together. This year, I focused mainly on cooking, which is something I absolutely love doing. Cooking solely for myself isn’t always fun, but cooking for a few people (or more) makes me happy. I did want to take photos of the table and the meal itself, but I got distracted, so maybe next year? 😉

This week I will be busy with as much writing as I can cram into my days. There’s so much going on in my head, and the best therapy in the world is getting it written. I also have to get caught up on all the book and beauty reviews I have committed to.

I think as I write, my mood will shift into one of focus, and I’ll be able to purge some of what I am feeling. Moving into 2016 has all kinds of positive potential for me, and the best thing for me to do is think ahead, look forward, and don’t turn around. In a way, my mind is already shielding me from the trauma I have endured, and there’s simply so much of it at the moment. A lot of it is old, some of it is brand new, but I need to focus and let it go. I need to be healthier for myself. Perhaps I’ll take up yoga or something that allows me to be calm and collected. Who knows.

I hope everyone was able to spend their respective holidays in a manner that made them happy.

Being able to write this without interruption has shifted my mood quite a bit. After all, tomorrow is a brand new day. 🙂

Live your life the way you choose, and follow your passions, or misery will accompany far too many days.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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I’ve been in such horrible pain for the past ten days or so, and there is snow in the forecast starting Monday night, so I am more than a little hesitant to get too excited about my pain levels tapering off. I truly hate this disease!

Silence, Leaf Blowers, & Sunday Dinner

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Waking up this morning, I had a plan. Thus far, that plan is at a standstill as I am still dealing with yesterday’s migraine. In turn, all I wanted was silence, in all its perfect glory. This, of course, is where the leaf blowers come in, and threaten to make me sicker.

After doing some mundane things earlier on in the day, the sound of three (I wish I were joking) leaf blowers on my property became unbearable. I was in the kitchen at the time doing some early prep for Sunday dinner, otherwise I might not have heard them in the back of the house, which is where I do most of my work.

I glanced out a window after a while because the noise was getting louder and closer, and there were no less than six people on my front lawn, three of whom had leaf blowers. I cannot tell you how annoyed I was, but I decided to let it go. If you can’t shoot people for being idiots, you might as well let them look like the idiots they truly are as they mind someone else’s business on a suburban street for all to see.

Yesterday my vile next door neighbor took it upon herself, as she does every Fall, to break out the leaf blower and blow every leaf off of her property onto mine. She blew them halfway to the middle of the front lawn, as if they magically got there on their own. Who does that, you ask? Someone not entirely sane.

She pretended she didn’t see me go to the mailbox before she started this nonsense, that I hadn’t answered a question when her husband stopped me to ask about my brother’s surgery, as he visited him in the hospital last week, and that she had not seen me Friday night when I came home from running errands. She was too busy gossiping, but believe me when I say her eyes are always on me and my business. As my brother would say “Don’t watch me, watch TV.”

Today, she did the same thing with the leaves, except this time she, her husband, and several other members of her family bagged the leaves up, because apparently they have nothing better to do on a Sunday morning. There are eighteen bags of leaves sitting at the end of my driveway, as if she did a good, neighborly thing out of some semblance of goodness that I can attest, does not exist. She put three bags in front of her driveway and the rest in front of mine, as if I am blind. She wants it to be obvious that she did it, but I’m smart enough to know her motives.

Don’t get me wrong, if this was a genuine move, I would be quite appreciative. I cannot afford to be an ungrateful bitch, and I’m not. However, she knew I was home. There were two cars in the driveway before she started and after she finished. There are several other houses on this street that could have used her brand of “assistance”. The neighbor next door lost her husband in April and is having a difficult time. I would think it would make a hell of a lot more sense to help her as she’s visibly struggling with such a severe loss, so believe me when I say this was far from genuine. If I were going to help someone, I would be doing the yard work for the other neighbor whose husband used to do to it for her and their family. That, at least, makes sense.

Here’s the issue, apart from my desperately needing quiet; This isn’t her house. If the leaves from my trees bother her, tough shit. They aren’t hurting anything or anyone, and there is no mandate in this township that says when or if you must bag up leaves or not. It is November, and it’s early November at that. The leaves can be bagged up for pick-up, if one chooses, well into mid-December. Generally the majority of mine get removed in early Spring because I’m not so OCD that it needs to be perfect. In fact, I’d prefer the chipmunks have leaves lying around in case they need them. Moreover, I have more important things to think about at the moment, and raking leaves is extremely low on the totem pole of thought. But hey, if she wants to waste over two hours, have at it. It will get colder, the wind will continue to blow, because hurricane season is not yet finished, and she’ll be back at it in a week or two weeks from now because both trees out front are FULL of leaves. They’re going to keep falling. It makes no sense to bag leaves up more than once, if one is going to do it at all.

Instead of treating me like a human-being that exists, she does this because the leaves bother her (God forbid a leaf get on her new car! The woman, I kid you not, threw a party to show her new car off to anyone and everyone, as if she hadn’t been driving a relatively new car before this. Did you just shake your head at the craziness of such a stunt? It’s very similar to driving around with the sale’s sticker on your car for months.), and what’s more, it bothers her that I do not say a word to her, not in English any way. I lack the ability to be polite to people once I’ve seen their true colors. I’m contemplating slipping a note under her husband’s windshield wiper when I go out tomorrow morning to thank him for bagging up the leaves, despite the fact that I know he wouldn’t do all that work on his own since he’s due for knee replacement surgery any day now. She thinks she’s being cute, but she has no idea who she’s screwing with. I should have taken video or photos, because if you’d seen the behavior as she barked orders at her minions, I mean family, you’d understand my reaction. I strongly suggest she see a doctor and get her medication adjusted.

Now that it is quieter, I am still hearing leaf blowers (and lawn mowers) throughout the neighborhood. It’s kind of like dogs that all bark in sync the second the mailman is on the street. If I knew where my ear plugs were, I might be able to quell some of the nausea the noise is inducing.

On the flip side, I LOVE preparing Sunday dinner, but since it’s just me (my brother won’t be eating solid food for quite some time and Case Study #2 is on his way to the airport.), I broke it up into three meals to prolong the culinary delights. I still have mushrooms to saute, some additional veggies to chop, and the centerpiece of it all to throw together. If I can get my stomach to settle down, dinner will be awesome and continue to be awesome for a few nights. 🙂

I have so many friends who don’t understand my love for cooking (My cousin once asked me how to make corn on the cob. I tried hard not to laugh as I explained the simplicity of it.), or who don’t cook at all, which is why I’m the one that feeds them when they visit, or when I visit them. Cooking is merely another art form I enjoy, it’s a skill set that not all people have. That doesn’t mean I don’t scoff when a friend of over 20 years happens to let me know that she’s learning how to cook for her husband. I had to explain that when cooking, you need to cleanse the palate in order to be able to taste what it is you are making and gauge the seasoning accordingly. When I received a giggly, moronic response, I rolled my eyes and have tried my level best to keep my mouth shut since. If you’re public with your stupidity, or you advertise it via social media, don’t expect me to pretend I didn’t just hear what you said. Don’t hand-feed the writer material!

And on that note my loves, I am off to the kitchen once more to put all of the finishing touches on one of my favorite meals. Buon appetito! 🙂

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Blame It On The Pain

I hate the color red.

UGH! Yes, that’s what I have to say. I’m tired, because apparently “crack of dawn” in my house means “We’re all awake Mommy! Don’t you want to feed us?” Mmm…not so much. LOL.

After truly forcing myself to get things done yesterday, today barely feels like a Sunday. It is quiet, thankfully, and there’s supposed to be a thunderstorm later on. At the very least, rain is predicted for the first half of the week, so I’m content with that because it explains a lot of my aches and pains. The rest is from overdoing it. The mileage I clocked on my pedometer over the last few days is insane.

I completed all of my jobs, except for the big one. I will focus on that this week, as much as humanly possible. I hope additional work comes in, especially proofreading and anything else that isn’t mind-numbing and/or soul-sucking. The faster the job, the faster I get paid, and that makes my life slightly easier in the moment, which is a huge help.

Today I am allowing myself to take it easy. I’m in clean PJ’s with wet hair, I already did a load of laundry, and I completed 95% of the prep for Sunday dinner. Everything else can wait until later or tomorrow because “rush” isn’t in my vocabulary at the moment.

For now I think it’s safe to say that I have some things I want to accomplish going into this week, but beyond that, I can only take things on a day-to-day basis. My pain has escalated to the point where my daily activities revolve around how much pain I am in. I have been off of traditional prescription pain medication for over two years now. For every doctor that assumes we are all drug-seeking addicts: SCREW YOU. Living my life each day with little to no access to genuine pain relief is agonizing. I do take Eastern medicine when I am able because herbs work when taken properly, but through trial and error I have come to decide that the new herbs for lower body pain is not something that should be taken each night. I’ve had several episodes where the combination of different compounds made me sick for a good 24 hours after taking it. So seen, even some herbal remedies have their side effects. Acupuncture is next on my list. No, I am not afraid of needles. In fact, I barely register that sort of thing because the pain I am in each day is so severe, little things simply don’t show up on my physical radar.

I am hoping this will not be a summer chock full of migraines. I am strongly considering starting a new migraine journal if things get out of hand again. I do have medication for that which can be taken daily, but it’s horrible to start during the summer because one of the side effects is that you MUST drink at least 120 ounces of water every single day and the second is that you don’t sweat. It’s not a good combination of immediate side effects during rough summer conditions, so I might start it again in September when things start to cool down and I am able to focus on the dosing. I’ll have to download an app for my phone because it is all too easy for me to forget whether or not I took medication each morning. With tiny pills, I often find it easier to forget as opposed to the monster pills that you simply cannot forget. Odd, but true for me.

I hope everyone has had a delightfully restful weekend. I’m off to take a nap. I woke up WAY too early this morning and since I haven’t been sleeping well, I’m not going to beat myself up because I need to rest. In the words of my Uncle: It is what it is.

I’ll be back with more interesting things soon.

XO…L

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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It’s usually 4:00 a.m., I’m lucky if it’s 5:30 or later. The enchantingly beautiful cat and kitten are featured on the ABOUT page.

As A Direct Result

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It’s also an evil life-destroyer.

I’ve decided that today is going to be a work-free day.

I went to bed this morning sick as a dog. I suspect my brief time out yesterday affected me more severely than it ought to. Within a few hours of coming home, I got my fourth migraine of the week. I took a brief nap and I wasn’t entirely okay afterward, but now? UGH!

Sadly, with migraines, you often question whether you did something wrong, ate the wrong thing, etc. All I did was go out in tremendous heat for an hour and a half and come home. It wasn’t a lot of physical exertion, but my body says otherwise. I had a mild headache upon returning, but it wasn’t until I actually felt pain in my head that I took something for it. By 7:30, as my neighbors attempted to power wash something right near my bedroom window, I contemplated outright murder. My ears simply cannot bear the noise, and what are they up to at this precise moment? Yard work. At 9:23 a.m. On a Saturday. When it’s already 85 degrees and a heat advisory has been issued for the entire area, AGAIN. Schools actually closed early yesterday, if they opened at all, because it was over 100 degrees with the humidity and people were experiencing breathing problems. But hey, dumb & dumbest need to make noise on a yard that requires no work at all this week. This is where I would like to point out that I refrained from putting #TheyNeedToBeShot. I’m not a violent person…just don’t make noise when I’m sick or on any day ending in a y.

As a direct result of this migraine/heat/stomach agony, I’m trying to decompress this morning. I’d rather be asleep, but I desperately need to hit the grocery store. Not a fun task, I do not look forward to this, but I am going to try going once it cools down. There’s no point in making myself any sicker by attempting to do it early on in the day. Everyone and their grandmother will be there to capitalize on the digital coupon extravaganza, which has already turned into an epic fail because 9/4’s of the coupons don’t come off at the end of each order, which means customer service is inundated with questions as to why they didn’t work and precisely “Where are my savings? Are you going to give me my money back?” Actually, the store is set up to make sure you actually loaded the coupons on to your savings card in the first place. If you didn’t use the physical coupons that were also provided for the week, chances are you didn’t get the savings on those four items. I clipped all of my mine last night and will print up a few others later on. I’ve saved nearly $1000 this year alone in coupons at one store. That is a small accomplishment, but it feels good every single time I look at my receipt.

I’ve completed all of my work this week (though I am seemingly still loosely on the consulting job), except for the manuscript, which I will devote more daily time to next week in my attempt to complete it. I’m not looking forward to that, I’m simply tired of seeing it and knowing that it’s not complete. I do NOT relish the line of questioning that will come with the delivery, but since I stated in the contract how much time I will spend on answering questions before charging again for my time, I hope that will make the client aware that I mean business. It’s in black and white, how hard is it to follow guidelines?

Before I forget, I want to thank Writerstream for featuring my work this week, and I’d also like to give a huge shout out to the dozen or so new Twitter followers in the last 12 hours alone. (Special thanks to Lillian for encouraging me to join Twitter. Hugs sweet pea!) I never knew I’d grow to love it so much. To the friend that reads my Tweets and isn’t afraid to joke with me and laugh, I appreciate it. (You know who you are, doll!)

If you need me, I’ll be here for the next few hours. Drinking coconut water. Praying that it helps. If it doesn’t, I’m seriously considering an ER visit because this level of pain is out of control.

Have a great weekend everyone! And please, stay out of the heat and wear sunscreen.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Pie For Breakfast

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When someone brings you two pies, each covered in chunks of Oreo cookies, with an Oreo cookie crust, and whipped cream as the filling to this confection, do you ignore this sugary delight before you (Especially when you’ve had minimal sugar for months on end.) or do you blissfully enjoy a few bites?

I have a love/hate relationship with sweets. (I said sweets, not chocolate. Dark chocolate and I are on a first name basis.) I know that too much sugar is not a good thing for anyone, but a sweet treat once in a while is not going to prematurely age you, nor will it kill you (Unless you’re diabetic and truly cannot have even small amounts of anything that is made with real sugar.). People who claim they “don’t eat sweets”, but eat pounds of fruit aren’t being realistic about their sugar intake. Natural sugar and sugar in desserts is processed the same way by the body. We know if we’re eating chocolate or peaches, but our body simply takes the vitamins from the fruit and uses what is needed, or it allows the chocolate to “calm the beast”, but after that, your body does the same thing with it, regardless of what type of sugar is may be.

Some people are traditionalists; they’ll only eat breakfast food for breakfast and “dinner food” for dinner. Me? I will reheat pizza or even Chinese food for breakfast if that’s what I’m in the mood for. Sometimes I will make breakfast food for dinner, because that’s what I felt like making/eating. Sometimes cooking an elaborate meal is simply too exhausting, so I will do whatever takes between 10-30 minutes, or less. I cook a LOT, so there are days I simply want to go on strike and not cook again for a month. This stems from exhaustion of the soul and honestly not giving a damn about what’s being prepared  However, if I did go on strike, I’d probably starve, so I cook. No matter how many times you make different things, it all becomes boring at some point. I eat to live.

This is precisely why you sometimes need to be a little crazy and have pie for breakfast, or whatever suits your fancy.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

There Are Days

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There are days, weeks, months even, when I have absolutely nothing to say. It doesn’t mean I’ve shut down or that the thoughts and ideas in my head have stopped, it simply means I’ve got nothing to say. Sometimes it’s very individualized. I have friends I speak with regularly that I do not tire of, and others where I feel like they’re so dramatic and heavy, that I often need a break from them. This goes for family as well. Sometimes, you just need to step away and step back, even if only to give yourself some breathing room. In some situations, you need more breathing room than you do with others.

It takes a special kind of person to know when I am joking, when I’m being serious, when I need space, comfort, etc. Too many people think they’re so incredibly funny when they aren’t, or they think they’re kidding when what they’ve just said is a truly unhealthy thing to say to someone like me.

This isn’t a sensitivity issue. I have my moments, we all do, but mostly I’m soft with who I choose to be soft with and I am harder with those who have proven they do not deserve a softer side. Some people get a blend because that’s truly me. I’m a multi-faceted individual, I suspect many people are. However, I try to read very little into others because most people are just trying to be nice or polite. Others… Others have ulterior motives and they’re ugly.

There’s something about the holiday season that can either bring out the beauty in people or the ugliness. Right now, I am seeing a whole lot of “Run and hide!” I have no idea how people contain their crazy for 11 months out of a year and then unleash it for a mere four weeks, somehow magically reining it back in on December 31st. That’s a level of crazy I can’t comprehend. I don’t do multiple personalities in the sense that a person suppresses all of their issues for so long that they unleash it towards the end of the year like a bomb just went off. Not my deal.

I do think that when large quantities of alcohol are involved, people often use that as an excuse to be free with their words. I don’t. Whatever I say to you when I am sober is the exact same thing I’d say if I was having a glass of wine. I’m not a big drinker, but alcohol doesn’t change my personality in any way, shape, or form. I’d rather just say what needs to be said than later say I was a bitch because I had too much to drink. No, that’s not an acceptable excuse or reason to bring out the bitch card. I don’t care what time of year it is. If you’re going to drink to excess, make sure you have a reliable, safe designated driver or cab fare with you.

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So, what am I doing right now? I am rocking out with a good station on Pandora Radio and trying to come up with some ideas for this lousy weather. Heavy rain is much more preferable to several feet of snow, but amid all this unpleasantness, my crazy ass has to hit the grocery store. In pain, on no sleep, and on empty thoughts. On the plus side, I did make a list when I WAS able to think clearly, so all I have to do is find it and toss it into my purse otherwise it’s pointless. The rain is a good excuse to not wear anything too nice since I will come home having to throw everything right into the washing machine. Trust me, it could be worse. I’m counting my blessings and taking the time to get my brain focused. I hope this fogged brain clears up soon. I can deal with a lot of things, but this is just plain weird, even for me.

I hope everyone is having a good start to their week. I am sure many of you are finishing up (or just starting) your holiday shopping. I was notified a few days ago that I am “expected” to get my brother a gift. All of a sudden?! I honestly want to tell him to go fly a kite. I am being hounded several times a day about this “gift”. What do you get for the person who appreciates little to nothing? Do not for a single second think I have not received extensive e-mails about this, all of which included links and instructions, because, in his eyes, I’ve never purchased a gift before in my life. <rolls eyes> Normally I do all the gift-giving and he does NOTHING, so to say I am annoyed would be a vast understatement. I have been informed that I am not only expected to give him a gift, but I am also charged with preparing a meal for the holidays. “I’ll help.” are the famous last words of ANYONE I know. I don’t like anyone else in my kitchen and I can’t stand anyone standing over me while I am working. Moreover, I have no ideas on what to make.

Chanukah food, traditionally, is predominantly deep fried or lightly fried, and unless someone else is doing all that deep frying, I don’t want to be involved at all. The thought of all that oil makes me want to gag. There’s nothing appetizing about any of it, so I guess I’ll just have to wing it next week at the last minute. I pray I am able to figure it out and that it won’t drain the rest of my life force.

I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted beyond words. All I truly want is quality rest. I know I’m not the only one hoping & praying for this very simple request. Bad weather is poison to Fibromyalgia. So while I love the silence of a rainy day and what it provides me, I do not love the way it makes me feel.

And off I go… Maybe to read until the rain dies down a bit more.        

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Overreaching

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I decided a few weeks ago to forgo all the “traditional” Thanksgiving Day fare. I did not relish the idea of dealing with a turkey when a good half of it would end up in the garbage or making stuffing because I made it last year and there is simply NEVER enough stuffing one can have. I’m a carb fiend, take my word on this. FYI for all pet owners: Do not give your dogs or cats dark meat, it’s too rich for them.

Alas, I came up with a different idea. It’s a great idea. However, after a very long day of shopping in two different stores for everything I needed yesterday, I woke up this morning (way too early) and had a moment of utter panic.

What possessed me to think that chopping 7 pounds of vegetables would be “no big deal”? I’m more concerned with my Fibromyalgia, because it is flaring up BIG TIME today from my neck to my ankles, than I am about my skills with a knife (I already sliced myself last night on a mixer blade.). I will have no choice, but to take breaks in between each veggie (there are 4 in total, but there is, obviously, a LOT of it.). My only “plus” is that having had a migraine yesterday afternoon, which required medicine with caffeine to abort it out of my system, I was left wide awake into the wee hours of the morning. It was around 10:30 or so last night when I decided I was “awake, therefore I should bake”. It took more time to mix up the batter than it did to bake the two cakes I made. I thought they were awful, until I tasted the 100% cooled product this morning. It’s a little like dying and going to heaven, depending on what you like cake wise. I’m only feeling certain flavors these days. But hey, that’s one additional thing out of the way. All I have to do is frost the cake, though I do have to say that certain frostings are so disgusting, and filled with chemicals that terrify me, that I wish I’d taken a spare 30 seconds to read one can before agreeing to it. However, it’s not going into MY body, so it’s not on me. At least the normal one has ingredients in it that I can pronounce, as opposed to “Let me just Google this…” That is the quickest way to ruin dessert.

I think Aleve should be forced to change their advertising slogan from “It’s your life, pain shouldn’t get in the way. 2 pills will provide up to 12 hours of relief.” (Less than ten years ago, they claimed that 2-3 pills was 24 hours of pain relief compared to 8 Tylenol. Who the hell are they kidding? Neither of them work.) to “2 pills MIGHT give you an hour or so of peace.” There’s absolutely no drastic difference if I use the brand name or a generic version, there’s no such thing as true “relief”. I’m willing to do a LOT right now for true pain relief, but I have my limits. I already feel like someone beat me to death and no one has found my body yet, so if you don’t hear from me for a while, I must have posted from the spirit realm.

Dinner won’t be “early” tonight, hell, it might not even be served in a timely fashion, but I’ll do my best to get it all done. I have an assistant, we’ll see how long he lasts before I throw him out of the kitchen. As long as there’s no bloodshed (from my chopping knife), it’s all good.

No matter how you spend this holiday or where you are spending it, especially for our troops overseas who are away from their families, take a moment to appreciate the good things in your life and all the unhappy, bad shit that lead you to this place. Take stock of all that is important to you. Sometimes we find that the list is huge and other times we find that the list is smaller. My list is in the acknowledgements of Book One. I cannot say it’s short.

Don’t just be thankful today, be thankful every day.

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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