happy birthday

my daughter had a birthday yesterday. now that she’s ‘older’, she never wants anything special done for her on her birthday. ‘it’s just another day’ is her mantra, knowing full well that she’s lying through her perfectly straight white teeth.

when she was little, her birthday was bigger than christmas. how she loved her birthday. she’d hand out wish-lists months in advance and mark the calendar days down starting in july.

it was so close to valentines day, most of the time her birthday parties had a heart theme. then there were the barbie birthdays, the bowling themed birthday, and who knows what else tickled her fancy so long ago.

i remember gifts she received from us that have never been forgotten by her. one year i loaded her up with Slim Jim beef  jerky and Play-Doh. she was in college then. don’t ask me why i gave my kids Play-Doh for all their birthdays. darn it all – i forgot to do that this year.

she complained as an older child that she never received any of those pretty little ceramic/porcelain girlie figurines with the appropriate age stuck to their long flowing dresses. so, guess what she got this year? two of those dolls – along with some other gifts, like concert tickets, new age music and a trip to the hockey game with Happy Birthday to her personally on the JumboTron. a nice thrill for all three of us.

oh, the dolls. which two did i buy? i bought a three year old and a two year old. she told me i was crazy. then she set them up on the dining table and gazed at them.

happy birthday, baby girl. i love you.

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i was 16 again, i was beautiful and i was mine.

if you’ve read my blog about Classmates.com you’d know i’d been contacted by gail, a friend from elementary school through high school. i’ve also been contacted by Teri, another junior high and high school friend and nancy who has been a found buddy from Classmates.com for a few years now.  still waiting for the elusive Patty to join in.

my conversations with gail and teri have been through email – until yesterday when my phone rang at 10:30 in the morning. i was still in my bathrobe and had just finished a semi-healthy breakfast of Constant Comment tea and Amish bread. i was trying to buy hockey tickets for the Washington Capitals game on the Internet. bossman and i are going to be in D.C. on vacation and we wanted to take in a hockey game while we were there. i was on the Ticketmaster website with the clock ticking away as i was trying to decide if i really wanted to spend a gazillion dollars to sit in the lower bowl or go for the upper deck and get a bird’s eye view for half a gazillion dollars.  i looked at the unfamiliar number on the phone as it rang, then back at my computer screen. two minutes. they only give you two lousy minutes to figure out if you want those tickets. who the hell is this on the phone? probably somebody wanting to know if we want to sell our timeshare or buy a timeshare or lease a timeshare. do i want to spend all that money – or have a nice dinner instead and sit in the nosebleed section… ***ring*** damn!

“Hello?”

“Sue?” a soft female voice.

Sue? nobody calls me “Sue” any more. who in the world…“Yeeessss…”

“It’s Teri.”

Terry? (Bossman’s real name) terry is sitting on the couch and he’s a him. wait. a girl terry. Teri…TERI… “Teri?!”

“Yeah…Teri. Are you busy?”

i looked over at the computer screen counting down the seconds.

“No! No, not at all! Teri! oh my gosh…” i closed the laptop.

we had lost touch around 1982. i think that’s the year we decided on.  we started talking about our present day lives and worked backwards to kindergarten at Powers School. we still had a lot we didn’t cover completely but i had to hang up because it was time to get ready for the hockey game that was happening that night. yes, that’s what i said.  bossman had started coming in and pointing at his watch as i laughed with my old friend. we usually leave for the game around 5:30. i still needed to take my shower and eat something. it was quarter to five. we’d been on the phone for over six hours. i had been transported back to being 16 years old and i didn’t want to leave. the time had flown on the phone. teri sounded the same way she did in school.

i hung up with promises to stay in touch and someday finish the long conversation. i grabbed a bite to eat, wrapped a valentines gift for a neighbor that we needed to drop off before we left and headed to the shower. i was still on a high as i turned on the shower, remembering all the fun things we talked about. drum corps, boyfriends, the field trip to NYC, junior high pictures, high school graduation parties… then i shrugged off my bathrobe and nightie, turned towards the giant mirror and got the shock of my life. who the hell was that saggy old naked woman in the mirror? dammit, i’m only 16! i shouldn’t look like that. i stood for a few seconds and looked myself over. reality came back in a flash. i stuck out my tongue at myself and laughed – headed to the shower and was ready by 5:30, dropping off the gift and off to the game with bossman who listened to me gush about my marathon phone call.

so, i’ll take a chance and answer an unfamiliar phone number any ol’ day. it might be an old long lost friend. again.

hurricanes on the ice – tornados in the sky

 the weather had been the buzz all day yesterday, tuesday, february 5th. strong storms were going to roll into the nashville area – but when?

“after midnight,” bossman told me as we rode up to the Sommet Center to watch our Predators take on the Carolina Hurricanes. he assured me that the storms weren’t going to be in the area until we were home and close to our FamilySafe tornado shelter( http://www.familysafeshelters.com/existing.html)  in the garage.

wrong!

we arrived in nashville for a 5:30 meeting at the convention center, with about 2,000 other season ticket holders, to hear what commissioner gary bettman, owner representative david freeman, general manager david poile and the president of business operations ed lang had to say about the future of our franchise.

GNASH, our mascot was in attendance, pete weber was the m.c. and handed out prizes while waiting for the panel to arrive. the atmosphere was lively and friendly. bettman was very off-the-cuff with his statements and answers to questions. the meeting was off-the-record with the tennessean’s john glennon just standing, holding a legal pad and quiet pencil. standing ovations were generously given. poile spilled the beans about the speculation about forsberg coming back to the preds. “He’s passing.” so be it. we don’t need him.

the meeting ended at 6:30 when we were instructed to go through the double doors and enter the underground tunnel which would take us under Broadway to the Sommet Center. some people chose to leave via a side door to the outside. we went through the tunnel and into the arena, picked up a piece of pizza and a soda and headed to our seats.

the first thing we always look at inside the rink, is the crowd. it was filling in nicely. the family that sits in the row in front of us were there. mom, dad, meghan 8, a.j. 5, and allison 1 year. the ‘beer guy’ was next to me with a buddy. the ‘two funny big-mouth guys’ were next to them and on the other side of bossman was the ‘dad-guy’ with his pre-teen son and two friends. everyone said ‘hi’ to each other, the ‘big-mouth guys’ shared peanuts with a.j., the ‘beer-guy’ wanted to know if i brought him a piece of pizza and the ‘dad-guy’ asked if we’d like a beer. we’re a weird little family up there in section 114, rows O and P, seats 1 – 10, respectively.

the crowd in the rest of the arena totaled almost 14,000 – all with weird little families of their own.

pregame stuff went on as usual. GNASH on his four-wheeler, t-shirts were scudded through the air, jumbo-tron craziness to rouse the crowd and a national anthem singer who did a fine job until she tried to jazz it up and instead checked it into the boards.

then our daughter texted us from home with updated news on locations and ETA’s of storms and tornadoes, including the fact that 15 had touched down since the beginning of the deadly line of super cells.

the crowd wasn’t 100% in the game. they were on cell phones, distracted by weather updates. with 11:24 remaining in the first period, darcy hordichuk got the attention of the preoccupied cell phone users by getting five-for-fighting, which got the crowd back into the game which helped to energize the team.

that’s my opinion, anyway.

going into the third period the score was 0 – 0, with verizon closing in on a win.

about half-way into the last period, the refs all gathered in the center of the ice. shortly after the announcement of a tornado warning… fans remain in their seats – the game would continue. some people chose to leave at that point while others cheered. then we scored with 11:59 left and the bad weather dissipated for a moment or two. another announcement with about 11 seconds left, asking that the crowd remain where you are and do not to leave the building. they would let us know when they were given the all-clear. more people left their seats.

the game was over, the three stars were announced the team raised their sticks to the crowd and the band started playing. people were sharing information they were getting from family that were home glued to the weather channel and local news channels. our daughter was in the shelter with our neighbor, plus two dogs.

another announcement. please remain calm and in an orderly manner go to a safer place…underground tunnel…let you know when it’s safe to return home…

everyone around us disappeared except the family in front of us. we helped them with their kids and together we melted into the thousands of others who were trying to get to the underground tunnel.  our exodus was blocked by people stopping at concession stands trying to get that last beer or hot-dog, or people watching one of the many televisions in the concourse that were showing replays or weather news or even worse, people just staring out the 4 or 5 story glass front of the Sommet Center at the lightning waiting for the funnels to appear from behind the BellSouth building. people were coming down staircases and escalators into the flood of people.  i hoped we’d get away from the glass wall with the kids and into the safety of solidness soon. it seemed to take forever, but we snaked into an area where we felt safe, made sure the family of five was together and turned to watch the weather on the news. we we turned back around, they were gone.

soon, security moved all of us out of the main concourse and into an area that led to the tunnel. bossman is claustrophobic and refused to enter the hallway. we decided to sit in a doorway of a meeting room off the hallway that led to the tunnel and convention center and many others joined us.

finally, the all clear. everyone filed out of the building and into the warm muggy air. sirens started to blow. people looked skyward. it was only the all clear signal – we hoped.

the roads were empty with the exception of hockey fans leaving nashville. very few cars were on the highways and side roads. no obvious damage – just a few puddles.  at home, daughter and our neighbor were watching the news. now, we knew what was going on in living color. tragedy struck all around the state. we had a few bands of rain and a little lightning until around 1:30am. i went outside to see what mother nature had in mind for us as we were slated to be in direct path of a tornado at 1:40am. the shelter was waiting steps away. lightning surrounded us, a gentle wind blew and clouds raced through the night sky. then the sirens went off and we were in the shelter. four adults and two dogs. we have small fold-up chairs and provisions, lights, a weather tv and dog provisions. we closed the door, bolted both bolts and waited. was that thunder? the tv says it’s headed right at us. waiting… waiting… it’s gone north of us. is it safe to leave? after about 15 or 20 minutes bossman leaves and checks the living room tv. it’s safe for us – for now.

after 2am, our neighbor and her little dog go sleepily back to her home. our daughter is still sitting in the shelter with her dog on her lap. we finally convince her it’s safe and we all go to bed, exhausted, saddened by the news reports of deaths and damage, and grateful for being spared and having our tornado shelter.

oh, and i almost remember seeing a hockey game.

random post

it’s late. i’m supposed to be sleeping. i’m not. i’m supposed to have finished critiquing two pieces of writer’s works. i’m not finished. i’m not sleeping. i’m writing. holy crap. i’m writing again. blogging about not doing anything. i’m thinking this is how seinfeld got started. sex in the city, too. sitting up late at night, not doing the things you’re supposed to be doing and doing basically nothing on the computer or yellow legal pad –  only doing it while you could be doing what you’re supposed to be doing which is either sleeping or working. i’m too tired to work and have eaten too many M&M’s to sleep. wait – deep sigh… okay. now i’ve hit the exhausted, too tired to finish typlinggggggg anythinnngggggg phase of whatevear……ohoh…..niggggghtttt allll………………

Good as Gold

a couple of weeks ago, i received an email from Classmates.com. in the subject box they said that a note from a friend had been left in my mailbox.

yeah, right, i thought.

i signed up at Classmates.com years ago. even went $$GOLD$$ so people could email me and make plans to get together, chat about old times and compare memories of cafeteria food. one person emailed me; nancy-and she was worth the cost of joining. we’ve kept in touch ever since. now that i think of it another girl emailed me, too. she told me she was a prison guard in upstate new york. we didn’t stay in touch.

i didn’t open the new email from classmates.com right away, though. i let it sit a while and would gaze at it in my in-box until it got the better of me. then i opened the damn thing and read their propaganda. “gail left you a note. to read this note go to readthedamnnote.com” so i did.  the note said something like, “hi, it’s me, gail this-used-to-be-my-last-name, just wanted to say hi and see if you’re still alive and kicking.”

okay, she didn’t really say that, but it was something like that. then Classmates.com had their own side-note. “To read the rest of Gail’s note to you, become GOLD. To become GOLD, click on this icon.” i clicked. GOLDwas $39.95. nuts. i looked at gail’s note again. “gail…gail…gail…i wonder what gail is doing now? i wonder if she’s still tall? damn…” i left the site and checked my other emails. then i went back to the site and read gail’s note again. this time Classmates had a new approach.

a bubble popped up. “This is a one-time only opportunity to become GOLD for one year for $9.95″

SOLD!

where the hell is my credit card? i punched those numbers in and felt the GOLD flow through my veins as my processing went without a hitch. i was now GOLDand could read gail’s note along with her hidden message.  and what a message it was. such a kind, thoughtful and sincere letter of concern, curiosity and friendship.

we graduated in 1970 and i hadn’t seen or heard from her until Classmates.com teased me with her note.

we’ve been in touch numerous times since and through gail i’ve also reconnected with another friend, teri. (who was in my wedding in 1971!) teri and i had lost touch and then reconnected in the 80’s when our kids were in pre-school together, but we lost touch when she went through a divorce and i moved out-of-state. (the two episodes were not connected!)

now, i’m waiting for my high school best friend, patty, to contact me. she and gail and teri have all been in touch for a while. years from what i gather.  i’m hoping patty will email me soon, because there are a lot of things i’d like to talk to her about.

nancy is now in touch with gail and teri, but the elusive patty remains…well, remains elusive to a few of us.

thanks gail, for taking a chance with me. you sure were worth the $9.95 i spent! quite the investment for renewing friendships.

i’ve learned over the last 38 years that friendships are to be cherished and i’ve missed having old neighborhood friends to reminisce the days in The Burgh at Powers Elementary, Knickerbacker Junior High and Lansingburgh High School.

 i’ve struck GOLD with Classmates.com.  Nancy, Gail, Teri and hopefully…Patty.