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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fill that basket. We only get one chance.




Yep, that's me, hanging upside down. All the blood rushing to my head, seeing the world from a different perspective. Daring anyone to tell me I am wrong for wanting to experience something different.

Living with MS is a far cry from every little girl's dream, but it is allowing me to see a different side to life. And it forces me out of my comfort zone. Mainly because everyday is outside said comfort zone. 

I no longer wilt at the prospect of taking control of my day. I ask strangers for directions and I go out of my way to find answers. I mean...I write a blog that only millions of prospective viewers possibly see. I am pouring my life out to people whom I may never meet.

I talked about basket lists last week. Well, without even trying, my basket is filling up. Just this month this has happened (in no particular order):

*I won my first ever, paid writing competition. FIRST PLACE! For the first 5,000 words of my soon-to-be-published young adult novel Bombs Bursting in Air, I received top prize at the West Virginia Writers Conference. Here is a sneak peak. All comments are welcome.

BOMBS BURSTING IN AIR

CHAPTER ONE: Theater Pee

If one more bomb sounds, I thought, my bladder is going to burst.
“Dad!” Even in my stage whisper, I heard my voice carry throughout the cinema. Dad was engrossed in the action on the screen and obviously mistook my plea as part of the movie script. “Dad, I have to go!”
“Shh!” The hisses from the seats behind us sounded more annoyed than angry, but I still felt guilty. No one liked to waste good money on their entertainment to be interrupted by someone who couldn’t keep their mouth shut and their bladder under control during a public movie.
“You cannot mean it, Meri! You’ll miss the best part. Let me check Theatre Pee. Can you hold it for a second or two?” Dad quickly tuned into his new phone app that was supposed to advise movie viewers of the appropriate time to leave the viewing area. Mom and I liked to tease him about his obsession with his smart phone but he was probably very excited to try out this new function.
“I can’t wait, Dad. Just let me know what I missed.”
“Next time don’t down an entire 18 ounce Pepsi before the opening credits are over,” Dad’s admonishing words were accompanied with a chorus of annoyed shushes and disgruntled noises as I climbed over the viewers in an attempt to quietly reach the theatre aisle.
Another loud cinematic explosion made me nearly leap over the last person in the row.  I sincerely began to doubt if I would make it to the restroom in time to save myself another reason for embarrassment. I silently asked myself one more time why I had agreed to come to the matinee with Dad today instead of hanging out at the mall with my friends. Since his retirement from the military, he had become even more obsessed with war movies and the need to share these with his family. After three tours in the Middle East, you would think he had enough of war.
 I like hanging out with Dad, but we were going to have to have a conversation about his choice of appropriate entertainment for his teenage daughter. Mom always got out of these outings on the premise of staying home with my baby brother. Since I was their prime babysitter, she knew what my options were. I liked being the big sister, don’t get me wrong. Baby Andy is cute, cute, and cute; diaper duty is a BIG drawback, though. Besides, the alternative would have been to watch Holly and Janie try on countless dresses for the upcoming spring dance for which I had no date and was not planning to go.
“I am absolutely pathetic. My life is pathetic. My Saturday is pathetic.  My dad’s movie choices are pathetic. My social life is pathetic.”
“Yea, so join the club.”
I had no idea my muttering was actually audible until the voice from the neighboring bathroom stall interrupted my barrage of personal putdowns. I just couldn’t seem to keep my mouth shut today.
“Oops. Sorry. I didn’t know there was anyone else in here. I hope you’re not missing an important scene in your movie.”
There was a semi-amused grunt and the sudden flush of the toilet before an answer came.
“As if. If I ever agree to come with my sister to another one of these sappy chick flicks…Well, there is no appropriate punishment. Guess I’ll just have to invent some ridiculous seven thousand page research paper due in, like, twelve hours when she begs me to come along the next time. I mean, really. We’re in college.  Does she really think I want to tag along while she mourns the loss of her last douche bag boyfriend by commiserating in the screen presence likes of the most beautiful actresses Hollywood has to offer? I don’t see how this helps the situation at all.”
I did my own flushing and nearly sighed out loud with physical relief. I did have to congratulate myself on the brilliant idea to consume my entire soft drink so early in the film. This was the second time this month that I had escaped probably the goriest scenes in dad’s marathon of blood and guts.
When I exited the stall to wash up, I was surprised that my secret cohort was still in the room. And, she was smoking a cigarette. Or at least, waving a lit cigarette in the air close to the smoke detector. Which obviously was not working.
“I really don’t think that’s allowed in here,” I did my best not to sound judgmental as I lathered my hands with the astringent disinfectant hand soap.
My eyes met those of the smoker in the mirror just as she tossed the cigarette under the stream of water I intended to rinse.
The girl was about the same age as me, but infinitely more worldly. Her eyes were ringed like a raccoon with the blackest eye liner and her hair was a teased, ratty mass of died black curls. She reminded me of the Wildling character in that HBO series I wasn’t supposed to watch. Of course she is smoking in a public place, I thought. That’s what her type does.
Raccoon eyes met my gaze in the mirror, causing me to immediately panic that I had spoken once again out loud. Those thoughts were actually more a reflection of Holly’s influence and Janie’s attempt to attract the popular crowd than what I really believed; but I also realized shamefully my attitude toward the Goth, EMO, and basically socially inept school crowd was dangerously close to matching my friend’s opinion.
I understood the need for social acceptance, but silently was indifferent to appease my gal pals. Life could get a little boring around our small town without the company of a friend or two, so it was my custom to not rock the proverbial boat.
“Well, at least your movie will probably end happily ever after with little to no bloodshed or climate destruction,” I checked my teeth in the mirror for popcorn husks and wondered what else I could do to keep away from the big screen.
“Yea, but at least that is reality. I guess you’re telling me that you’re in the exploding film in Cinema Three? We’re right beside you. Daphne, that’s my sister, checked her phone to make sure my potty break didn’t coincide with any good love scenes.”
I had to laugh at that. Evidently the new phone app was a popular item with film goers.
“So, you know that anything you miss will be on instant replay for your viewing pleasure as soon as you leave the theater.”
“Yes, but as my sister likes to say, “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.”
“I think that was Natchez,” I hoped I didn’t sound as superior as that knowledge made me feel.
“That’s who Daphne thinks she is,” came her reply and our grins met one another in the reflection.
We joined in a conspiratory giggle as we both reached into our individual pants pockets for identical tubes of Burt’s Bees lip gloss.
Tipping our separate glosses in an air salute, we leaned toward the mirror to apply champagne tint to our lips. I had to marvel at the opposite effect of the pale pink lip color. It made me look even younger, but with her wild dyed hair and dramatic eye make-up, she just looked more “out there.”
“I’m Americka, by the way. Meri, for short,” I said as I rubbed my lips together to even out the thickness of the lip application.
“I bet you have quite the story behind that name. Fiona, here. Nice to meet you, Americka. Why do I feel like I’m about to break out into an old folk song?”
And without prompting, I belted out the first verse of America the Beautiful in perfect pitch. Because that’s what I do. I sing.
Fiona sat in stunned silence for less than a second before bursting out into laughter.
“That’s perfect, Americka. You and that song are as one. Americka, freakin’, beautiful!”
I couldn’t help it. I started laughing. SO HARD. This would be classified as what Holly called the Stupid Giggles. The perfect stress release, senseless and uncontrollable. But it was nothing compared to what came from Fiona. The tears running down her face turned to black rivers of eye liner as she gulped for air and we nearly fell over one another to sit on the grimy floor and lean against the cold tile of the restroom wall.
“D-do you think that pee-pee app says anything about a laugh break?” I wanted to say something back to Fiona, but when I opened my mouth only a giant hiccup erupted, causing another round of insane laughter.
I don’t know how long we squirmed around on that filthy floor, bound together in this shared mirth, neither of us too concerned about movie companions. I couldn’t remember the last time I had laughed so hard.
Little did I know this would be the last chance I had to laugh in a long, long time.
We did our best to gain control of ourselves, dry our eyes, reapply the champagne lip goo, and put on our game faces. I checked my watch to affirm that Dad’s current war would conclude in less than ten minutes and my arrival would perfectly coincide with the closing credits. Fiona and I shared one last grin and pushed open the heavy restroom door. This hadn’t been such a bad day after all.
Until we heard the explosions.
And the screaming.
And realized our lives were about to change.

Forever.


Point being, I never imagined that I would be living my dream of being a professional writer. So, this wan't an immediate basket list accomplishment, but it is something I have worked toward all my life. I full-filled a dream.

* My son (I am  mother! That is definitely an honor I really never thought about when I was younger.) is away for the third year at a summer camp for gifted individuals. My home-body boy looks forward to this activity all year. He is surrounded by "his people". They all think alike and I really believe he learns more in these two weeks than he does during the school year. Currently fifteen years old, he knows more about mathematics, music, world affairs,  and technology than I will ever attempt to grasp. 
How does this fit my basket list? I have and will continue to sacrifice my shoe fetish to make this financially possible. 

* I really stepped out side my comfort zone last evening and attended my first ever writer's group meeting. I am not at all comfortable in social settings nor surrounded by strangers. Granted I met a fellow author there with whom I share conversation and I kept quiet in the corner, cowering with intimidation, but I attended. And I felt welcome. And I will probably return next month. 

* Today I am calling my insurance company. Again. If you truly know me, you are aware of the fact that I really, really detest phones. I do not like talking on the phone. I really, really hate answering the phone. But my desire...no, NEED...to reclaim my Ampyra prescription has become an obsession. That two week free trial in April convinced me that I really do need  drug to combat some ill effects of MS. While taking Ampyra, I could WALK. Without a cane. I could lift my right leg into the car without helping it with my hands. Steps were becoming fun. I actually envisioned myself attending WVU games with my husband again. 

Ampyra gave me hope. I'll be damned if government issue is going to take that away from me. 

So, watch out, PEIA! Here I come!

This is the new me. This is the monster that the MonSter created. No Fear!

Yep, I am that little ballerina on the end. Rebellious and eager to continue my cause, whether I chose to hang upside down or not.

Find your cause. Go for it. 
Fill that basket.
We only get one chance.

Lisa

Friday, June 17, 2016

Ann Romney and I are really NOT in this together.





Today is the day! Your last badge assignment was to read a book about multiple sclerosis. I hope you found an interesting one. They are not all nonfiction statistics, y'know.

I chose Ann Romney's memoir in this together: my story. I really enjoy true life stories and I enjoyed reading Mrs. Romney's journey with MS. Since she was diagnosed prior to me, many of our recollections differ. And, unfortunately, much of our treatment(s) are vastly unalike.

Whoever coined the phrase "money can't buy happiness" didn't have an incurable disease. While folks in Ann Romney's world find solace in equestrian therapy, this country bumpkin wants her insurance to assist in paying for Ampyra so that I  can walk. Ann Romney has one of the leading neurologists in the world on her side, and I am happy for her; but I cannot relate to the privileges she enjoys.

It is not Ann Romney's fault that she is wealthy and I am not. We are very, very different in every aspect other than the MonSter.

I feel that Mrs. Romney sincerely cares for her fellow MSers and I am much impressed with her affiliation to her own neurological center. I enjoy reading about other folks' relationship to their disease, even when I have no or little point of reference the their lifestyle.

It just all comes down to the fact that our bodies have besieged us and we must find our best form of defense. I am not going to be riding horses in my treatment. I cannot afford it nor am I even interested in attempting to balance my wobbly self atop such a mountain of muscle. I am glad that Ann Romney can afford this and that she does so with such passion.



So, I will earn my book badge by recommending this story with a guarded heart. Even though I find Romney's story intriguing and even though I am secretly in love with her husband and even though I will never find myself in the position to share the air she breathes (literally and figuratively), I suggest in this together to be a part of your MS library.

So, here they are: Your MS badges to date. 



What's next? Summer always reminds me of fulfilling peersonal objectives...that bucket list kinda thing.

Actually I prefer to refer to it as a basket list. It sounds so much more feminine...and, well...summery.

So, I challenge you to complete an item on your basket list. Write that novel. Clean out that closet. Take that knitting class. Run that mile.

Take as long as you need. Just do not let it get away from you.

Commit to something and see it through.

Have a great weekend.
Lisa

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Call for Book Reviews


This is so me, and not just with MS symptoms and issues. I like to believe that I am living the life I always dreamed of living. I am writing, and more importantly, I am publishing.
My latest young adult novel Bombs Bursting in Air is in the final stages of the process and I am in need of some assistance.
I have collected several beautiful reviews and have even won an award for this yet-to-published story, but I really need a perspective from someone with military experience. A Marine, preferably. Or a combat veteran. Or both.
I will gladly forward my manuscript to any qualifying individual interested in tackling this mission.
Your review will be published on the book cover and I will personally make certain that you get a first edition, signed (oo, la, la) copy of Bombs Bursting in Air.

There is no mention of MS in this novel. The main conflict is PTSD.

To my readers, out there...You have 2 days left to complete your reading challenge. Let's earn those badges!

Lisa

Monday, June 13, 2016

Attempting to be normal




It is always there...that question. Because the MonSter has become as essential to me as my right arm, the question often catches me off guard and I actually have think about it really hard before realizing that is directed to me.

"What is wrong with your leg?"

"Did you hurt your leg?"

In the beginning I blamed my cane. The physical existence of my colorful walking aid is enough to alarm some folks, even without seeing my crazy walking gait.

Other times I can fully understand the inquisition as I literally sail through the air from point A to point B.

Being physically handicapped is so difficult to hide. I hate it: the looks of alternating sympathy and disdain; the quickness to assist or ignore; the unnecessary need to verbalize support in the form of a related story in order to relate to my situation. 

Firstly, do not feel sorry for me. I have actually been very fortunate to this point. On the other hand, do not curl up your nose when you look at me and my cane. We do not need you.

Secondly, I really do appreciate your assistance if it is truly required and done in a unobtrusive manner. The less attention given to the situation, the better. If you choose to ignore me, do so in politely quiet manner. Thank you.

Lastly, I am truly sorry for your uncle's brother's great grand niece who also suffers from some related or totally unrelated illness, so you know how I feel. I appreciate that my illness makes you uncomfortable, but there is really no need to belabor the existence of it. The MonSter does plenty of that daily. 

I hope I do not come off as totally ungrateful. I am not.

Sometimes, though, I get very tired of living with MS. 

SCREECH....

Do not misread that statement. It is not that I get tired of living. I really enjoy living. Some of my best memories are of living and I hope to have many more. Yep, I am going to continue living, so do not send an intervention to my house. I have no intentions of offing myself.

 I just grow weary of living with MS. And I will not apologize to the MonSter for saying that. If you know a good MonSter hit-man, I will gladly receive him/her with open arms.

And, I really am not ungrateful for sincere concern. I just become a bit overwhelmed at times. Yesterday, the question was thrown my way a total of four times, making me both uncomfortable and extremely anxious to return to the sanctuary of my own home where I could be as handicapped as I wanted to be without witness.

At a craft store my cane slid onto the floor from its perch against the counter. I had things under control. I just needed to complete my transaction and retrieve the cane before exiting the building. Standard procedure for me.
But, boy-oh-boy, like bees to an empty soda can, three people rushed to right my situation in the process nearly knocking me on my behind. I was so shoo-ken up that I really needed that cane to get to my car.

Later the clerk at the grocery asked multiple questions about my "hurt leg" between gum snaps. I only had three items on the conveyor, but her eyes never left mine as she told me all about my disease. 

"Y'know it's hereditary," she said. 

"No, it isn't," I replied.

"Sure it is. My niece's dad has it and so did his grandfather, so my niece will get it too."

How can one argue with that logic?

So, I didn't. I simply wished her luck and got the heck out of there.

The other two incidents aren't worth mentioning. I just ignored them and went about my way with a plan to engage my textbook knowledge of American Sign Language if approached. It is always good to have a back up handicap at the ready. 

After spending wonderful weekend at our state writing conference, I had no plans to allow random strangers to dowse my creative high. Because...drum roll...

I won first place for novel length fiction for a book that is yet to be published. I am still in a fog. This is my first monetary contest win. It is not enough to pay the mortgage, but that is beside the point. It allows me to announce my new novel.

Bombs Bursting in Air will be published early this autumn. This is the story of a young girl who suffers PTSD when caught in a terrorist attack.  I am very excited to keep you posted, so head on over to my Facebook author page from time-to-time. https://www.facebook.com/lisa.mccombs.568




Enough abut me...Enjoy your day. The sun is shining in West Virginia!
Lisa

P.S. I am nearly finished reading Ann Romney's book In This Together. Are you reading for the badge?







Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Oh, no! I have become my mother!




We are told it will happen. We are reminded of it often. We are warned to select our words and actions carefully. 

We then shake our head vigorously and deny the inevitable.

And then...

It happens.

We become our mother.

Well, not totally, but certainly very close.

Since my retirement  my mother has become pretty mu ch my best friend. We do everything together. We exercise, we shop, we get mani/pedis,  we attend meetings, we plan our calendars...To the point where I have begun to worry is we will be going on double dates soon. 

I am okay with it all, though. Mom has been my champion for years, even when I was practicing my young rendition of angst in the worst way. I was a terrible teenager. My young adult years were not much better. In fact, I will admit that I probably did not gain any type of maturity until MS came to live with me. And even then it was not immediate. Talk about late bloomers. I was 41 when diagnosed and still playing the role of unruly child.

Now roles are reversing. Mom's short-term memory is not so great any more and mobility is becoming an issue. She wants to do so much more than she is capable of. Her 80 year old body constantly rejects her 50 year old mindset. We spend more time talking about our activities than doing them. 

Maybe I am just much more impatient than I realized, but while Mom is weighing her options, I normally have completed my morning chores with the phone on speaker so that I can be alerted of any break in dialogue for expected verbal response. A grunt is good enough to ensure she will continue for five minutes. By the time she has finished ranting, venting,  relaying stories about people I have never met, fussing about my dad, and detailing her daily/weekly/monthly calendar events, I am usually ready for the day. Literally.

But when we get on the road, we always have a good time. She tells people that I push her to do things, so I guess that is a good thing. This weekend she is attending a writing conference with me if she can figure out what to wear. I am sure this will concern her to the point of extreme anxiety. How can I make her understand that no one really cares what we wear. Just be comfortable.She preached that to me often enough in my youth. 

Pack as if you are camping. (Of course, that means she will probably bring an extra bag full of flashlights.)  This event is extremely casual and relaxed. Even the Saturday night banquet is low key. For a three day event I am taking a clean shirt, a pair of shorts, and a sweater. This is what living with the MonSter has done to me. I look at life with much less anxiety where personal comfort is concerned. Just be comfortable. 

MS has made me so much more patient with other people. Most of the time. 

I do get impatient with ignorance, poor manners, and a lack of consideration. As Mom and I  were driving through town yesterday I spotted an old friend out in her yard. I nearly stopped to chat, but traffic forced me to reconsider. And I am glad that happened. Although I miss our friendship,  I am really tired of being the one to make the effort. Because since MS, that is what I do. I am the one to pick up the phone or mail the card. I am the one to listen instead of talk. 

While all of this flits through my mind, my mother's soliloquy has not stopped. And I am glad. Mom is my friend and she has not stopped calling or mailing cards. This is where I am supposed to be right now.

So,  today during our Silver Sneakers exercise class I am going to look at my mother and be glad. No one else matters.

Lisa




Monday, June 6, 2016

My new Monday mantra.




Good Monday morning!

Yesterday I got thrown with a very awkward question. It was awkward because of its specific content. The person who asked is not known for having a refined social persona, but she is highly educated. Book smarts versus mature common sense? Probably.

The question: How are you doing with your MS?

Not How are you doing? How are you feeling? What's up with you?

How are you dong with your MS?

While I attempted to filter that question, she continued; either oblivious to my confusion or in an attempt to cover up what she really did recognize as weird on her part.

Her: I ask that because Aunt So-and-so asked me if you were still walking. She has't seen you for a while. I told her that you walk with a cane but you get around okay.

At this point I am still processing and silent.

Her: When I mentioned the walking stick she about freaked, though. I told her that you have had that cane for years. She thought you were probably in a wheel chair by now.

Okay, this is when the bomb exploded in my head. What gave people the right to assume my decline just because I have an incurable disease? 

I didn't respond to the inquisition at hand, but just smiled at the insensitive nature of conversation. Some people just don't get it. No, MOST people just don't get it.

Research and medical science have come a long way, even since my 2001 diagnosis. To think that right before I was born , individuals with multiple sclerosis were undergoing shock treatments in response to their weird symptoms. As of 2001 there were only three acceptable pharmaceutical treatment prescribed to people with MS. Now there is a shopping list from which to choose. Even medical advice has changed from living a sedentary life to being more physically active. 

MS and its treatment change daily...and quickly. MS is no longer a disease that deems its recipients helpless, cicada shells. Yes, I have MS, but I am a Warrior. 

I have had dealings with Aunt So-and-so before and her vibe is decidedly negative. Her attitude is also one of someone totally ignorant to the MonSter. She remembers my dear friend who died a few years ago following a relatively brief stint with MS. Jamie suffered  PRMS. She fell quickly. But MS did not kill her. The complications of her MS contributed to her illness. I don't know if she could have done anything differently to prevent this sad end just as I do not know where my MS will take me. Right now I am relapsing-remitting and doing fairly well. The doesn't mean that tomorrow will be the same.

Unfortunately, folks with little to no knowledge of MS have only the image of that one particular individual  upon which to base their opinions. And Jamie was good fodder for the wagging tongue of small town gossip. Jamie was an athlete. The mother of two sons. A beautiful girl of an affluent family. Bad things do not happen to the beautiful people, right?

And if Jamie's life was snuffed out at such an early age, then surely I must be next.

I really hate harboring such negative thoughts, but just because I am a Warrior does not make me immune to hurtful words. Aunt So-and-so is not a bad person. She probably means well. She just doesn't know and to the ears of her messenger, Aunt So-and-so is concerned. I get that. And I forgive that.

So, walking with a cane or in a wheelchair, bedridden or hospitalized, I am a Warrior. And I will continue to be for as long as I am on this earth. As far as I am concerned, that will be for a long time.

Have a wonderful Monday! The sun is shining in Monongah, West Virginia! 
Lisa

P.S. How is the reading going? I am really enjoying Ann Romney's book.






Friday, June 3, 2016

School's out for the summer and my MS is still here.

                                                                            



This has decidedly been an interesting ear for me. After thirty-three years of teaching this is the first time I have not been in on the end-of-the-school-year hoopla. I find myself in a very bittersweet frame of mind.

I loved my job. The smell of new text books, the eraser dust on the chalk tray (I refused to transform to the white board phase), the sound of the pencil sharpener, the blank page of a new grade book. the million and one requests to go to the bathroom...
I loved it all.
It was that bathroom thing that got me in the end, though. I thanked God daily that my classroom was right beside the girls' bathroom because I spent most of my time there. And I often paid the consequences for slipping out in the middle of class. You just do not leave twenty eighth graders to fend for themselves. But I had no choice. It was either blind trust that they could hold it together for a minute or two, or total public mortification. Unfortunately my public mortification might have been the best choice; at least according to my school administration.

Incontinence is not easily explained to folks who have never experienced it. In fact, it is impossible to explain because there simply is not enough time. As my disease has progressed my incontinence has become an alarming issue. I no longer have much warning when my bladder empties. If there is the slightest tug, I drop everything to get to the bathroom. If I am in an unfamiliar environment, I usually do not make it in time. So, I stay close to home.

I really do not mind this, as I am a home body by nature, but it often fringes on my family's plans. 

Of course, if I do not hydrate often there is the absolute possibility of dehydration, which leads to UTI, which leads to doctor appointments and medication, which leads to no milk in the fridge because mommy had to buy drugs. It is just an ugly mess, but I usually do not have time to explain all of this because I am in the bathroom or in route to that place.

I often think about characterization, but I am not knowledgeable enough on that topic to understand how self-cath works. And it is scary. And I am not supposed to be scared. I am Mom, Wife, and Queen of my domain. It is my job to be in control. Right?

So, I just quietly adjust my time and schedule with as little explanation as possible. I no longer attend university football games, much to my husband's displeasure. But his brother bought my season ticket, so there still exists a tailgate pal. I recently declined an invitation to join friends for a fundraiser four-wheel poker run. It is 25 miles and I figured there was no room for the suitcase of dry clothes that I would have to bring. Travel terrifies  me so my husband's dream trip to the Grand Canyon no longer holds any appeal for me. And I could go on and on. 

But I will not, because SCHOOL IS OUT FOR THE SUMMER.

My baby boy will complete his freshman year in high school today.When he walks through the front door this afternoon, Alice Cooper will be chanting that age old ballad from my Bose speakers. For thirty-three years, that is the song I played on the last day of school. In my early years as a high school teacher, I blared it from my car stereo on the way out of the parking lot. In those days I had a t-top sports car and everyone in town heard my departure. Then I became mature and only played it at a modest decibel with the windows open. In my final years of teaching, Alice sang behind closed windows with the AC cranked. 

Never-the-less, today is a day of celebration. And bittersweet nostalgia.

I miss my job, but I have the memories. I wan't forced to retire. It was a much contemplated decision and  I believe I made the right one, although I really kinda wish I was there right now. I know exactly what my eighth graders and colleagues are doing today. Eighth grade scavenger hunt is a ritual on the last day, but then the faculty meetings begin to finish out the semester. Hmmmm...

Yep, I have the memories. That's good enough for me.

So, when my high school freshman (He won't officially be a sophomore until August, will he?) gets home at 3PM, Alice Cooper and I will greet him and our summer will begin.

I can't wait!

But, for now, I am headed to the bathroom.

Have a good weekend!
Lisa