Stay Pumped, Y’all!

I have been always been a gym rat, meaning I thoroughly enjoy getting “swolled up” at a fitness center.  I’ve been a tomboy all of my life, even in my days of fake nails and bleach blonde hair. I made my mom sign me up at Powerhouse Gym in Detroit as soon as I got my license and I spent a number of years hanging out and training with guys who most likely had shrunken testicles.  I’ve belonged to a gym as long as I’ve lived in Asheville as well and while it’s a different city in a different part of the country, some things certainly remain the same, just on a smaller scale.

I’ve been a member of the Rush for a number of years now and it is a logical choice as I can spit from my house and hit it.  Well, it’s not that close but it’s certainly in walking distance. It’s your typical big box gym, with ugly day-glo colors and really bad music.  If you call them on the phone they are required to say “It’s a great day to feel the rush!” and when you leave, they do say, “Stay pumped!”  Not every time but I’ve heard it enough times to justify making fun of it.  And it makes it only funnier to hear it in a southern drawl.  Don’t judge me, if you live in the South, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you are offended by this then I urge you to stop reading now…

I do not have any set schedule when it comes to working out.  I go when I have the time and I try to go early in the morning or on the weekends.  I enjoy the early morning workouts but I also love how dead it is on the weekend.  The mornings are filled with people who are on a schedule, getting in before work and have a daily routine.  The weekends tend to be filled with people who are more spur of the moment; the type who decided to go to the gym over say, seeing Les Miserables for the second time.

This last Sunday I was at the gym minding my own business as I tend to do.  This is a small town and you just have to deal with the fact that you will run into people everywhere you go.  I have no problem with this, even when you run into people whom you don’t care for or drive you crazy.  So when I was approached by this first person, I took it in stride.

I was on the stationary bike and just happened to look up when our eyes met.  There was no going back so I decided to do the polite thing and engage.  It is highly unlikely said person will ever read my blog but I still need to make sure that I practice some discretion.  Let me just say that no amount of peddling got me away from the situation.  I will say however, that working out harder to become out of breath so you cannot speak to someone only helps your physique and nothing else.

I moved on to my chest and tri workout (that’s code for pectoral and tricep muscles for you lazy people.) I had two sets of weights with me, listening to some Southernplayalisticadillacmusic. I am usually sort sighted, just paying attention to my immediate surroundings and making sure I don’t get in anyone else’s way while I work out.  So you can imagine that when I’m approached by this scrawny young guy I think that I have some weights or the bench he needs.

He approaches me as I have my right arm bent behind my neck, stretching my tricep muscle.  I have my headphones on, basking in my early nineties hiphop and practicing restraint not to shake my ass to the music.  This happens to me often while working out, having the need to resist dancing in the gym.  Perhaps I should try one of the dance classes they have at the gym and just get it out of my system, even though it’s not my style. He starts talking to me while I have my headphones still on.  I immediately assume he wants the extra set of weights I’ve been hoarding.

As I begin to take my headphones off I say, “I’m sorry did you want these 15 lbs weights?”

“No, I wanted to give you some advice on your technique.”

Now if there is one thing you should know about me it’s that I don’t take kindly to advice I didn’t ask for.  Maybe this developed from  hearing many diatribes from my mother that started with, “You know what your problem is?  Because I do.” Which many years later I am eternally grateful for, but alas, I was not grateful for the advice from this early twenty something waif-like guy.

“I’m a massage therapist and I noticed that you are overextending your elbow with your stance.”

Have I mentioned that I worked out with a trainer for years?  Also, said elbow had no weight on it as I was making sure to focus on tightening my core (that’s stomach muscles, just in case my parents are reading this.)

“I’ve seen people with joint problems after many years of doing what you’re doing.”

Me: “Are you finished?”

Scrawny massage therapist: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay, two things. First, I’m double jointed in my elbows and I have no pressure on said elbow that you think is over extended.  Second, let me give you a tip.  Before you give someone your unsolicited advice you might want to ask them if they want it first. Because I don’t give a shit about your opinion.”

His eyes grow wide. “Have a good workout.”

He turns to walk away as fast as humanly possible and trips over a free weight on the floor and falls on his face.  I did not laugh outwardly but I have to say it was pretty damn funny.

I know this may have seemed harsh to some people but I saw it as a small victory.  I know all too well about the intimidation of being in a predominately male world. All I could think about was that hopefully this guy would think twice before just offering his supposed expertise to a woman.  I think it’s easy to just fall into the stereotypes that we were so used to growing up.  This guy clearly thought I was new to working out and didn’t even think to ask me about my experiences before just offering up his guidance.  I often see guys with bad techniques working out at the gym.  Can you imagine if I walked up to them and said, “Let me show you how to do that the right way?”  How would they perceive that?  How would you perceive that?

Just food for thought. Stay pumped y’all…..





One Amazing Year

So I have this really great friend named Doc Klein who has this company called Uncharted Territories.  Doc is one of the main reasons I moved to Asheville, we met when we were both hired to do contract work with Phillip Morris and met on the road somewhere in the SouthWest.  We kept in touch and he invited me down to Asheville to visit in the summer of ’99.  I came down in July for a week to visit and Doc took me out to Linville Gorge for my first time and I was sold.  I moved down to Asheville two months later with $35 in my pocket.  That’s roughly the same amount of money I have in my checking account 13 years later.

I worked with Doc for a couple of  years, not right when I moved down here but a couple of years in.  I have learned so much from him about how to really focusing on the things I’ve wanted to create in life.  I am a nerd for business and Doc is as well, or rather what makes them tick.  You see, he’s a consultant.  Not they type you see in Office Space who come in and fire people, he’s the type who comes in and helps people look at the driving forces behind why people make the decisions they do.  What’s the cause and effect of the decisions they make.  For instance, he worked with the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta on a Type II diabetes campaign.  Instead of just trying to get people to work out and eat right, they look at what are the social and economic impacts that cause people to get type II diabetes. And look at what can we do as a community to have an impact on those who have it.

Doc created this program called One Amazing Year and he’s been putting businesses through it for some time now. The goal of it is to really focus on what kind of impact an organization can have in this short amount of time. It really forces a company to set clear intentions and guidelines to hold all of their decisions up to.   He decided to put himself through it as an individual and now, he’s offered the experience to me.  I’ve decided to blog about it as writing more is one of the intentions I’ve set for myself.  And it’s one of the things that is going to help keep me accountable for what I set out to do.  I meet with Doc once a month and he gives me homework to do.  So here’s the start of it:

Step One – Pick 3 or 4 key themes that you want to focus on for the next year.  These are the things you will hold your actions up to to make sure you are staying on track. Here are my themes”

Community Service – I love Asheville, and I believe we are only as strong as our weakest link.  I have volunteered here as long as I lived here.  When I first moved here I volunteered with the Writer’s Workshop, a local non-profit literary agency that offers all sorts of events and has an advisory board with such greats as Kurt Vonnegut, John Le Carre, and E. L. Doctorow.  Through them I taught writing classes through the local ABCCM shelter.  I have also been reading to preschoolers for 10 years through the Preschool Outreach Program.  I wanted to do more, and since have started doing other things in the community but I’ll save that for another post.

Adventure – I love to travel and am one of those folks who is generally up for anything.  I definitely wanted to make this a focus for the next year and making sure this was part of where my focus was.  As of today, I have some serious adventure planned.  I am going to Nashville at the end of January to be a part of the Cowboy Jack Clement Tribute.  I’m going to SXSW (which is always an adventure) and I’ve already booked my trip for the first weekend of Jazzfest in New Orleans.

Creativity – I am trying to find that balance of the right brain and left brain.  I have been a writer all of my life, but I only do it when everything else is taken care of.  I like to make furniture.  I make noise, not music because I don’t devote enough time to practicing. I love crafting but again, that only happens after I cleaned the house, taken care of the 3 jobs I do, trimmed the dogs toenails, etc.  We make the time for the things we want and I want to make time for this.

Best Overall Health of My Life – This is an extremely difficult yet important theme for me and this is why I chose it.  I tend to put myself last before all else like so many of us do.  I am not yet 35 and I have tendonitis in both shoulders and biceps.  I have an “old lady hip” which actually means I have torn the cartilage in my hip socket. My job requires me to be on call 24/7 and I will go weeks on end without a day off.  I book my schedule so full that when I get a day off I get sick from exhaustion. This is all about to change.  I will be pain free, well rested, and lookin’ good this year.

So that’s the start of it.  My one amazing year.  I’ll keep posting as I get more homework and do exciting things that fall in line with my goals.



I Thought I Had An Original Idea But…..

So last night I was stripping some beds after a band from Nola had been renting my house.  Randomly, the idea of a bluegrass Bon Jovi cover band, called Banjovi krept into my brain. I started thinking how you could not only play the songs with traditional bluegrass instruments and time signatures but also change the words of the songs.  Fiddle On A Prayer or Blades of Glory.

Naturally I took the most obvious course of action and I googled that shit. And wouldn’t you know it two guys beat me to it.  Tim Turd and Long Schlong DeLong recorded this little ditty.  I would like to say that I was completely sober when I came up with this idea.  Something tells me this guys were not.  Enjoy!

My Mother and Her Language


I was once again reminded this evening about how amazing my mother is.  She did so much with so little and I am eternally grateful for the sacrifices she made for my brother and I and what she taught me.  She sounds like June Cleaver right?  Well, not even in the slightest.  I say this as a precursor for the examples I am about to give to sick sense of humor and no bull parenting approach.

With my mother, what you see is what you get.  She doesn’t mince words and you never have to worry about what she’s thinking because she’ll tell you.  Often while growing up our conversations would start like this: “You know what your problem is?”  Sometimes I wouldn’t even get a chance to respond with something snarky before she launched into a full on psychological evaluation.  One of the funniest things, however, are my mother’s sayings and she also seems to have her own language.  Here is your warning now, there will be some explicit language in the post.  My mother likes to use the word Fuck as a noun, pronoun, advective, verb… you get the point.  So here are a few of the sayings that I heard frequently  growing up in our household.

“Want in one hand, shit in the other. See which one fills up faster.”  – Now, I’m pretty sure this saying is “spit in the other” because it’s supposed to mean that even though you can spit in your hand pretty quickly but you still can want a whole lot more. Alas, she took it and made it her own.

“Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.” – By far one of my brother’s and I favorite sayings of hers.  This saying wasn’t normally used if say, we were trying to pull a prank on someone.  It was more used if someone got bent out of shape about anything.

“Birth control is not a license to bend over.” – There is a whole other story to go along with this quote but you get the point.  The subtitle of this would be, “Don’t be a slut.”

“You’re so full of shit the birds won’t eat you.” – Needless to say, it was hard to pull one over on my mom. She always knew when we were lying.

“Your taste in all in your mouth.” – Whether she was talking about a pair of shoes my brother picked out or one of my boyfriends I brought home, it was obvious how she felt about our choice.

“Armadillons” – Yep, she calls armadillos, armadillons.  And she likes to hit them with her car.

“Pomeranian Juice” – Pomegranate juice.  She likes to drink Pomeranian Margaritas.

“Colin Farwell and Justin Timberland” – Pronounced Coe-lin.  I think she thinks they are in a boy band together. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure they are too.

I hope I haven’t given you the wrong impression.  My mother while she is very matter of fact and calls us out, she is very loving and supportive.  She’s my biggest fan.  At least she was until she reads this.  I can hear her now….

Mom: “I read your blog.”

Me: “Oh yea, what did you think?”

Mom: “Don’t quit your day job.”

Me: “Trust me, I won’t.”




I attract only the finest of creatures


My friends and I have an ongoing joke that in a roomful of guys, the craziest one is going to hit on me.  It’s funny because it’s true.  Now I don’t get hit on very often, but when I do it’s usually highly entertaining and lucky for both you and I, I’ve created this blog so we both laugh about it.  Today was one of those days.

I had driving to work at 9 AM this morning.  We had two sessions starting at the studio at 10 AM which is unusual because that’s considered early in rock and roll time.  Nonetheless, I was on my way to get there before them and make sure there was fresh coffee going.

The day was overcast and I could see that I was just missing the light at the corner of Patton and Louisiana, the longest light in Asheville. Just as I pull up to the light a Sears delivery truck pulls up next to me and is honking at me and motioning for me to roll my window down.  I oblige since it’s 9 in the morning and I am guessing they are going to tell me I have a low tire or something like that.  I know that my car is currently leaking oil so I think maybe that’s it. Here’s what happens next:

Delivery Guy: “Hey Girl. How you doin’?”

Me: “Seriously? It’s like that?” As I realize this guy is trying to holler at me, I decide what could it hurt to see where this will go. “I’m good, how are you?”

Delivery Guy: “I’m good. I like your dog. What is it?”

Me: “She’s a Rhodesian Ridgeback.”

Delivery Guy: “For real? Where’s she from, Italy?”

Me: “No man, Rhodesia is now Zimbabwe. In Africa.”

Delivery Guy: “Oh yea. Take your sunglasses off.  I bet you have pretty eyes. Let me see.”

Me: “No, my eyes are sensitive to light.  Sorry.”

Delivery Guy: “It ain’t even bright out! Ooooh, you are hung over or high.  Which one is it?”

Me: “A little of both.”  (Yes this is the longest light ever.)

Delivery Guy: “Yeeeeeaaaahh.  What do you smoke?”

Me: “Not crack if that’s what you mean.”

Delivery Guy: “Me neither, just that good weed.  I got me some of that and a little courvoisier up in here right now.”

Me: “Right now? Isn’t it hard to get a dryer up a flight of stairs when you’re drunk and high?”

Delivery Guy: “Nah man.  It helps me keep my balance.”

FINALLY, the light changes.  I take off as he’s yelling at me to get my number.  I roll my window up and he’s still frantically waving at me and the driver is honking the horn as we drive next to each other on Patton.

What a way to start my day.

Happy Horrordaze!


For some people, spending time with their relatives for the holidays can be a nightmare.  Fortunately for me, that’s not the case.  For one, my parents never lay guilt trips on myself or my siblings for not visiting.  They work from the mindset that everyone is busy, and as grownups we all have our own lives to attend to.  I personally like to spend time with my family on either Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years.  This year I chose to visit my parents in Florida on Thanksgiving.

I drove down the Tuesday before turkey day so that I could leave the following Saturday.  I had a meeting to come back to and didn’t want to get stuck in the Sunday traffic on I-95.  I was also excited to be in the lovely FL sunshine.  Even if it meant missing my Wednesday before thanksgiving tradition with friends to be in a 55 and older retirement community.

I would like to point out that I am not from Florida.  I am from Detroit, MI, a much more suitable place to tell people you were born and raised.  Sure I may stab you for cutting in front of me at Popeye’s chicken but at least I will be able to drive the getaway car.  Glad we got that covered.

I was looking forward to spending time with Rat-a-tat-Pat (my madre) and Big Z (my stepdiddy). It was going to be just the three of us for the most part, except for my aunt and uncle and cousin for a few hours on turkey day.  When I arrived on Tuesday Big Z was well into a bottle of red wine.  He told me he had wanted to open it and make sure it “breathed” before I got there.  Let me be clear about something here.  My family are big fans of wine, however I don’t think you really need to let Carlos & Rossi really breathe, do you?  Isn’t it better if you don’t smell it before you drink it?  I’m kidding really, they don’t drink that crap but I can assure you this bottle probably cost somewhere in the $10 range.  I realize you can get plenty of good bottles of wine for $10, but they don’t usually come in the economy size.

My mother tends to go to bed early most work nights.  She goes to be at 9 to read her scandal magazines and gets up at 5:30.  She stayed up later than usual that night as I didn’t get in until 8:30.  She went to bed around 10:30 and warned Big Z and I to behave ourselves, which we promptly did by finishing the supersized bottle of wine.  We went to bed shortly after so we could be ready for our next day of “bonding.”  By the way, bonding in my family means drinking.  You’ll need to know this for future reference.

My parents have extremely thin walls in their house, so of course I heard my mom up at 5:30 and then heard Z up at 8.  As much as I wanted to sleep in, because this is supposed to be a vacation after all, I decided to get up.  I was ready to knock out our errands so we could commence to bonding.

My mother is very particular and used to getting things her way so we made sure not to stray from the list she gave us to get.  She told us to get some green beans to steam.  This is surprising because my mother doesn’t like vegetables that much.  Unless it’s green peppers or cream corn.  When I was a child, I was anemic.  When I went to the doctor he asked me, “What do you eat that’s green?” I responded by telling him that I eat green peppers and M&Ms. I grew to love vegetables on my own, and in fact didn’t have my first brussel sprout until I was 26! And now I love them.  But I digress… Z went straight to the frozen section.  I tried to tell him that I would gladly by fresh ones and blanche them in a white wine sauce but there was no having that.  Birds Eye was the way to go.

Our next stop was to buy lotto tickets and good bread at the local Publix (Which we kept calling Pubics.  We have the habit of turning everything into 14 year old toilet humour when we’re together.) Then our last and final stop was the liquor store.

I love liquor stores in Florida.  They are such a one stop shop.  I wish it was the case here.  Not only can you buy beer, wine and liquor, but you can buy mixers, good cheese and specialty items.  I found something that I have not been able to find anywhere but New Orleans….Pickled green beans!  Since my travels to New Orleans, I have been spoiled by pickled green beans in my bloody marys.  I adore them. I quickly snatched them up and the fixings for a good bloody mary.  As I checked out, I told the cashier that my mom sent us to the store for green beans and I was going to tell her we bought these for our Thanksgiving dinner.

Big Z and I made it back to the house and he started to make his famous stuffing as I set out to make Bloody Marys before making deviled eggs. The next thing we needed was a soundtrack to our madness.  Z loves music.  He’s played the accordion since he was a kid and now plays both that and the button box.  He plays in a polka band and hopes someday to start his own, called Marty and the Polka Pussies. I believe you’ve already been warned about my family and our crudeness.  But alas, I digress.  I decided to introduce Z to Spotify so I set him up an account on his computer.  Then I set up a radio station based on Dave Bartholomew songs and he was in all his glory.  This is something we share, our love of old music.  We went about our cooking until we were finished and then we had some time to kill before my mom came home.  So we devised a plan. First part of the plan was to switch from bloody marys to greyhounds.

Z: “Let’s mess with your mom.”

Me: “I’m down.  What do you have in mind?”

Z: “I’ll give you the little binoculars, and I’ll take the big ones and let’s sit on the porch and pretend we’re spying on the neighbors when she gets home from work.”

Me: “Why pretend?  Let’s just spy on the neighbors.”

Z: “Actually sometimes I do but nothing interesting ever happens around here.  Normally I just watch this 85 year old guy passed out on a lawn chair in his front yard.”

So we do just that.  We’re sitting on the smoking porch when she comes home.  Their stereo is in the house so we had to have the music pretty loud so we could here it.  My mom comes home and we lift our binoculars to our eyes, pretending to spy on the boring neighbors.  She doesn’t even notice what we’re doing.  She’s home and she’s pissed.

Mom: “What the hell is the matter with you two?  I can hear that shit all the way in the driveway.  Jesus Christ, Marty.  Did you forget to put your hearing aids in again?”

Me: “Hi mom.  We’ve missed you too.  And that shit is called music and it’s AMAZING!”

Mom: “Not at that decible, that shit’s annoying.  Turn it off.”

I go to turn it off and come back onto the screen porch where she is not sitting and smoking a cigarette.  She looks at Z and then at me, and then back at Z.

“Jesus you two.  Did you save any vodka for tomorrow?”

Z: “We have moonshine for tomorrow.  And we bought another bottle of vodka at the liquor store today.  Don’t you worry.”

Mom: “I’m not worried. As long as you made your stuffing the way you normally do I don’t give a damn what you did today.”

Part of me thinks she was a little jealous that we were having fun all day while she had a tough day at work.  I can’t blame her.  The rest of the evening was pretty uneventful except for one of the neighbors coming over to gossip about other people in the park. That’s what they call it, the “park.”  Perhaps because it’s a trailer park? That’s my guess.

The next day was Thanksgiving.  I woke up pretty early because I couldn’t sleep the night before. I get up and this is the first conversation I had with my mother.

Mom: “Will you please wash your hair today so I can see what color it is under all that filth?”

Me: “I just washed it two days ago. It’s not that bad.”

Mom: “Well it looks like crap so go wash it.”

I obliged of course because that’s what you do when you are with your parents.  And my aunt and uncle and cousin were coming over and I wanted to look nice.  They come and all is well and normal until we start taking pictures.  My aunt takes a picture of my cousin and I.  I show it to my mother.

Mom: “What a great photo of you two.  Too bad you’re related, you’d make beautiful babies.”

Me: “Are you out of your mind? He is my cousin, what is wrong with you?”

Mom: “I’m just saying you guys would have cute kids.”

Me: “I think you’ve been smoking those cigarettes with your left hand.”

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful.  We were all tired and wanted to go to bed early. I needed a little rest after the last two eventful (that’s code for drunken) days.

My mother and I braved Black Friday the next day to do some shopping.  We didn’t go to the mall or get crazy and quite frankly I would rather miss all the crowds.  But I was not going to pass up an opportunity for my mommy to take me shopping.  And indeed she did. It was nice to have a day for just her and I.

Saturday seemed to come way too soon. It’s always hard to leave my folks.  We get along really well and we only see each other 3 times a year at most.  We’re all getting older and while I love my life as it is, I wish they were in it more.  We’re already planning their next visit here, and I’m sure I will be down there this summer.  I’ve been instructed that I’m never allowed to bring another boyfriend down there, because, in the words of Z, “You’re just too damn fun on your own.”

Don’t threaten me with a good time.


The Art in Losing Someone You Love

A friend of mine recently passed.  We weren’t that close, although I would call us friends.  We have some mutual friends that are very and near to us both.  It was through them that I knew he had fallen ill, quite quickly and while he diagnosed with a couple of months to live, he lasted just about two weeks.  His friends gathered around him in his final days, celebrating his life and the joy that he had brought to everyone who knew him.

I can’t stop thinking about him and all those whose lives he touched.  I’ve been thinking about the fact that while you can’t pick your family, you certainly can pick your friends, and hopefully they will help fill in those gaps that your family may have left unfulfilled.  Sid was certainly that person to many people.  I have lost one of those people in my life too, two years ago.  Her name was Margaret Lauzon.

Margaret and I met through the studio.  She was a true music lover if there every was one.  She played the hammer dulcimer.  She was also a filmmaker, documentarian, rabblerouser, stoner, and a whole lot more.  She was a lot of things to me, she was one of my best friends.  If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I love to laugh.  I try to be funny, I like to make others laugh, and there have been just a couple of people in my life who could make me laugh as much as Margaret.  She had the best sense of humour and could turn anything into a good time.  You also never knew what was going to come out of her mouth when she opened it.  One of the first times I hung out with her, we went to the Orange Peel together.  A guy approached us after recognizing her.  This is how their exchange happened.

Random Guy: “Hey, I know you, didn’t we meet at a party in Fairview?”

Margaret:  “I didn’t have sex with your friend in the closet, if that’s way you mean.”

Random Guy: “Umm…..yea, okay. I’m Rob.”

Margaret: “Sorry Rob, I just had to make sure I was clear about that.  I’m not a tramp. I’m Margaret.”

I just stood there bewildered with the fact she answered the question the way she did.  For years after that I would walk up to her while she was talking to someone at a party and say, “Excuse me, didn’t we have sex in a closet in Fairview once?”  She laughed every time.


Margaret was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.  I was in Jamaica when it happened.  All of a sudden I was getting all of these voicemails whenever I turned my phone on.  I had changed my voicemail before I left to say that I was out of the country and please don’t leave me a message unless it was an emergency.  When I finally checked it I had several messages about Margaret being in the hospital.  I was finally able to reach her after several attempts of calling her.  She was scared, in pain, and felt helpless.  As did I.  I couldn’t wait to get back to North Carolina to see her.

It was a long road of chemo and radiation.  Margaret’s mom was there by her side all the time.  At this point she had moved to Shelby and was getting her treatments in Charlotte.  I would give her mom a break and come to take Margaret for her treatments for a few days. It was here that I got to learn all about cancer and what it does to the human body and spirit. I told Margaret I was there for comic relief and did my best to make her laugh, although I have to say it was never one sided.  I was never grossed out by her “poop bag” and made sure to talk about it as much as possible with her.  We both were fans of toilet humour, and having a poop bag just gave us so much ammunition for dirty jokes.

At one point Margaret was declared cancer free after countless treatments and months and months of being sick.  We threw her a party, even made her a pinata of a human ass so she could beat the crap out of it.  She got her colostomy bag removed which was a big deal.  She was always concerned that she would have that thing for the rest of her life.  And I don’t blame her, what 34 year old single girl wants to explain to every guy she dates that she has a shit bag on her hip? She had a big part of her colon removed so between that and the treatments, she was having some issues.  Margaret came and stayed with me for two weeks in March of 2010. Needless to say, her stay was nothing short of entertaining.  During this time she rearranged my furniture several times while I was at work.  While I was working she would sent me text pictures if she had a bowel movement.  “These things should be celebrated, dammit!”, she would say.  This was when the iphone couldn’t get picture texts and I would have to go that website, and enter the long, stupid code.  I would sit there and watch the page slowly load, only to realize I was looking at a tiny turd in my very own toilet.  One day I left for work and she was watching Pineapple Express, I came home 10 hours later and she still hadn’t finished it.  She had been distracted a few, well, a few hundred times throughout the day and just couldn’t finish it.  It was on this visit that Margaret decided to have the surgery reversed and get her bag once again.  She said it just wasn’t worth the pain in the ass she had to deal with.  Literally.

When she went for the surgery, the discovered a tumor in her stomach.  She told me she didn’t want to spend the time she had left poisoning herself with chemo. I have to say after seeing what she went through for the colon cancer, I didn’t blame her one bit. I tried to spend as much time with her as possible.  I tried to make her laugh as much as I could.

Shortly before Margaret passed my mom was diagnosed with anal cancer.  I wanted to tell Margaret about my mom, but didn’t how she would feel or say about it.  On top of going through the last stages of one my best friend’s life and my mother being sick, my relationship was falling apart and my professional life was a mess.  I was one big ol’ sloppy mess.

I drove down to Florida to take my mom to her first chemo treatment.  Margaret had been admitted to Hospice, and I have to say, I really didn’t understand that Hospice meant the end of the line.  I thought she was just trying to get her “drug cocktail” just right and then she would come home.  I don’t know if this was just me willing that to be the case or I was just trying to remain blissfully ignorant.  We were texting everyday and her texts varied in wackiness depending on her cocktail.  She was trying to figure out that right balance of being out of pain but still being coherent.  I have saved all of those text messages from her and often look back at them.

I finally texted Margaret.

“I’m down in FL, my mom has anal cancer, taking her to her first chemo treatment.”

“Well soldier, this isn’t your first battle. You know what to do…”

She was right.  My mom went through 7 weeks of chemo and radiation.  It was miserable, but then again, what can you expect?  Cancer’s a bitch. I just tried to be there as much as possible for her.

After Margaret died, I held a memorial for her, and invited everyone to tell their favorite Margaret stories. There were so many great stories and I was so happy that her brother was there to hear them.

This was the first time that I have lost someone so close to me.  I know it’s supposed to get easier with time and I’m sure at some point it will.  But I can tell you, I have cried the entire time writing this post, taking short breaks to swill some vodka and blow my nose. I think of her often and I have a great memorial piece in my kitchen of her thanks to Whitney Ponder. She left me all of her pottery so all of my dishes are plates from her collection of handmade pieces. It’s hard not to think of all the fun things we would of done together.  We would of created so many great movies and stories together.

If I have one piece of advice to give someone who has a loved one who is sick or dying it would be this: Do not let your fear or pain of losing them get in the way of spending time with them. Do not worry about being awkward or saying the wrong thing or being emotional stop you from reaching out to them.  Margaret and I talked about the people in her life who didn’t contact her after finding out she had cancer. No one expects you to be perfect in these imperfect situations and remember we are all in this world together.  I know how hard it is to watch someone you love slowly or quickly physically wither, but missing out on those last precious moments with someone you love is much, much harder to deal with.

With much love and respect…

And if you want to see some of the cinematic magic we made together….