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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Lisa's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, December 31st, 2009
7:19 pm
2009 meme (Shamelessly Stolen from kauket)
1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
Went to Alaska, traveled with the RV, touched a glacier, went dogsledding

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For the most part, I did. My resolutions for next year are simple and realistic.

3. & 4. Did anyone close to you give birth? Did anyone close to you die? Did anyone close to you get married?
A few close internet friends got married, a few gave birth. Thankfully no close deaths this year, although I feel like I lost a bit of my childhood with all the celebrity deaths.

5. What countries did you visit?
Canada, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and all over the US

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 25, 2009. I was in a hostel in Seward, Alaska and happened to get online within minutes of Michael Jackson's death being announced. I had the unfortunate duty of telling everyone at the hostel. It was a little strange, but cool in a morbid way, sitting around a dining room table with people from literally all over the world mourning the death of the King of Pop.

July 5, 2009. I was in the airport in Philadelphia on over 40 hours of travel and no sleep. The plane was delayed, so we were watching the news on the TV at the gate when they broke the story of the fatal Disney monorail crash. Had we been able to get an earlier flight, Dad and I had planned to be at Disney for the 4th, and likely would have been on the last monorail of the night, possibly sitting up front with the driver.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Had my first print article published. Web writing is awesome, but I finally got to show my 89-year-old grandmother what I actually DO all day.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Flaking out on a few things

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Thankfully I had a pretty healthy year

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A Haunted Mansion painting for my father, which I was fortunate enough to have autographed by the artist. For myself, a really awesome Michael Jackson tribute poster

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Definitely my Dad. He has grown this year in ways I never thought possible!

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
My cousin and her husband, and my uncle. I'm still sad when I think through that situation.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Travel...and it was SO worth it.

15. What events did you get really, really, really excited about?
Stone Mountain Christmas, Thanksgiving at Jellystone in Gatlinburg

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
All I Want for Christmas Is You

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) Happier or sadder? Much happier, or at least more content
b) Thinner or fatter? About the same
c) Richer or poorer? A little richer financially, much richer in spirit

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Stop and smell the roses

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Feeling frustrated. *I concur*

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Spent it relaxing at home watching movies and playing games, then went out to the comedy show at Capone's.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
Most of my phone time this year was work related.

22. Did you fall in love in 2009?
Had/have a couple of definite crushes, but actual love, no

23. How many one-night stands? How much action?
Not as much as last year, by choice.

24. What was your favourite TV program?
Survivor, Amazing Race

25. Do you dislike anyone now that you didn't dislike this time last year?
Oh yeah.

26. What was the best book you read?
Goodtime Girls, about the "ladies of the night" during the Yukon Gold Rush

27. What was your greatest musical discovery or rediscovery?
I had a nostalgic musical year. Mostly listened to songs that had meaning for me from long ago

28. What did you want and get?
A stable writing career

29. What did you want and not get?
To see the farewell tour of Rent

30. What were your favorite films of this year?
Star Trek, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Went to Disney for my free birthday gift card and spent a lot of time riding the monorail (it was a week after the crash). Recuperated from the jet lag caused by the travel snafu coming back from Alaska--an overnight flight, 18 hours in the Denver airport, another overnight flight, major delays in Philadelphia...I was exhausted!

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Better financial stability, rather than the feast or famine. My own fault, I've always been bad at saving money.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Artsy-goth, but a bit more casual than it used to be.

34. What kept you sane?
My Dad, music, friends

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most/least?
Most-Barack Obama...and I was deeply touched by the untimely deaths of Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze, the list just goes on and on.

Least-Octomom, Balloon Boy's parents and many other attention whores

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Health care reform...I can't believe we might finally actually get it.

37. Whom did you miss?
My mom and the ex who committed suicide...I miss them every single day.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Too hard to pick just one. I met some truly wonderful people this year.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009
Appreciate what you have, because so many people have it so much worse.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
"To days of inspiration, playing hooky, making something out of nothing. The need to express, to communicate. To going against the grain, going insane, going mad..." From La Vie Boheme, Rent.

Current Mood: thoughtful
6:20 pm
Wrapping Up the Decade
Wow, I can't believe we are now 10 years into the new millennium. Anybody remember Y2K? How silly and almost quaint it seems now. I generally do a wrapup of the year on New Year's Eve, but I think tonight deserves a look back at the entire decade.

Ten Years Ago Tonight:

I was married to my first husband, Jason. We were having some pretty serious problems, but I had no idea it was anything we couldn't work through. We lived with my parents at the big house in Lakeland, FL. I had never lived anywhere but central Florida, except for a few apartments in Chicago and Norfolk when Dad was in the Navy (he got out when I was four).

We had a small house party with a few friends, mostly members of our Rocky Horror cast. We had a cookout and Mom made some great desserts. We had CNN on in the background all day, watching coverage of the New Year's festivities around the world. Everything seemed so new and exciting, full of possibilities.

Over the course of the decade, a lot of really good and really bad things happened:

Jason and I split up and ultimately divorced
Sept 11 rocked the world and changed travel as we know it
I would have joined the Air Force if not for a random conversation that stopped me between seeing the enlisted recruiter on Friday afternoon and the officer recruiter on Monday morning
I moved to NOLA on a month's notice with a guy I'd known for two months and a girl I'd known for two weeks
I fell in love with the person I still think about every single day
My parents came to NOLA for Christmas and stayed

Not quite as eventful as the year before. Made some stupid decisions, learned a lot.
Walked away from the one I loved due to him going down a very dangerous path
Married Josh for all the wrong reasons
Founded a remodeling company and became reasonably successful
Moved to Mid-City, marking my first move away from the French Quarter

The bottom fell out of my life. Went lower than I ever thought possible.
NOLA economy went to hell, causing my business to go belly up and me to spend the latter half of the year unemployed
Lost my house when I couldn't pay rent after the business crashed
Moved into a tent on my parents' RV site after they gave up their apartment and bought a travel trailer
Mom passed away exactly three weeks before Christmas
Put everything in storage and went to FL for the funeral

Two more tragedies.
Josh ran out in the middle of the night, the night before we were supposed to go back to NOLA
Wasted the first half of the year trying to see what was going to happen with him
Went back to work for the theme parks for the first time in five years
Hurricane Katrina destroyed my stuff, my home, my friends and my way of life
Scare actor at HHN

A time of regrouping and learning to heal.
Pretty uneventful year for the most part, joined AntiBabe, made new friends, took improv classes at Sak, settled into life in Orlando
Went through a major health crisis with Dad, when he nearly died from a lung infection
Left Universal for a job that didn't pan out in Alaska and ended up unemployed in Orlando
Answered a random Craigslist ad, and ended up with a new career as a writer
Found out the person I loved but had to leave due to his choices, committed suicide

Needed desperately to go home for awhile.
Went back to NOLA for Mardi Gras and stayed for nearly a year
Lived and worked in a hostel for months
Started dating a guy who looked great on paper, ended up getting an apartment with him
Found out said guy was a misogynistic, self-centered creep
Moved back to Orlando
Got accepted into training for a potential job as a writer for About.com

I missed most of this year due to intense focus on my budding career.
Was offered the position at About.com and spent the next eight months working literally around the clock to develop that site while doing my numerous other gigs
Crawled out of my hole long enough to cruise the Caribbean and Canada/New England
Lost touch with pretty much everyone I know and love

Finally decided to embrace the RV lifestyle.
Had another major health crisis with Dad when he nearly died of a blocked artery. Thankfully the stent was a success!
Moved out of the RV park where we'd been stuck for five years
Spent a lot of the year traveling
Actually made it to Alaska after years of trying
Found out what my father's family truly thinks of us
Had a wonderful Christmas tour of the Southeast
Reconnected with members of my mom's family that I hadn't seen in forever
Decided to own up to my life and my background, and realized nobody cares. It's a secret I didn't have to keep all those years

It's been a hell of a ride! I've learned a lot, changed a lot and rediscovered myself. My resolutions this year are simple: be kinder and gentler to myself and my father, reconnect with the friends I've been neglecting, fine-tune my career and develop new successes, and start (and hopefully finish!!) book one of my memoir.

I love you all. Here's to a happy, healthy and successful 2010!!

Current Mood: pensive
Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
9:45 pm
Ramblings on Difficult Topics
So, I barely even update this thing anymore. Pretty much moved on to Facebook and occasionally MySpace. But I need more than a handful of characters, so here I am. It's hard to talk about myself and my thoughts on a semi-public forum, because I feel like I'll be seen as either a) lying or b) bragging about certain things in my past. Which has led to constant self-editing and measuring my words, and keeping many of my thoughts to myself. I'm sick of living like that.

Hi, I'm Lisa and I was a child prodigy. When I say child prodigy, I don't mean "gee, I was MVP on my baseball team," or "I was captain of the cheerleaders." I mean that for about a year, way back in 1984, I was a nationally known celebrity. I appeared in newspapers from coast to coast. I was on Phil Donahue's Gifted and Talented Kids episode alongside pre-teen concert violinist Eunice Lee, legendary concert pianist Lorin Hollander, and a 12 year old Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton on Fresh Prince). News helicopters landed on the football field at my elementary school. NBC sent a limo to my home to pick me up at take me to the NBC affiliate in Tampa, where I was interviewed by Bryant Gumbel. I was on the cover of Star, my photo roughly the same size as Michael Jackson's, who was on the same cover.

So what was my accomplishment? Why was I famous? Find out behind the cut!Collapse )

I didn't go back to finish my BA until I was 21 and married to my first husband. I've been married twice. Lots of people don't know that either. Just another thing that's been compartmentalized over the years. Now you know why. So there you have it. My early life in a nutshell. It's been bouncing around in my brain for awhile now, hence the post a few months back about writing my memoir. But everything didn't really come together until I went to the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site today. I wrote in the guest book about how much Carter had inspired me and the way that I've tried to live my life. That's when I realized that, for better or worse, my life experiences have shaped who I am today. And I'm tired of running from myself. I don't want to hide anymore.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Sunday, July 5th, 2009
7:18 am
Sleep Dep and Airports
Currently on hour 42 without sleep, and hour 31 involving airports/airplanes. Long story short, US Airways sucks. Short story long, we were supposed to fly back from Anchorage on an $1133 credit that expires July 28. When we tried to book the flight, the credit suddenly became $833. After many phone calls, it was determined that we were charged a $300 cancellation fee on the previous flight. In order to make a new booking with the credit, we had to pay yet another $300 plus the difference in fare.

So it became cheaper to fly to Denver on Alaska Air ($150 change fee for the two of us), then Denver to Orlando on US Airways, due to the credits. So the plan was to fly to Denver overnight the 3rd/4th, stay in a hostel for a couple of nights, and then fly to Orlando. Except when we tried to actually book the US Airways flight, the credit went poof. No unflown credit at all. Apparently the original booking was for May something of last year, except that in actuality a brand new set of tickets was issued last July, supposedly resetting the clock.

Well, being stuck for a way home, I called US Airways back and explained the situation again. We're in Anchorage and our only way home is using the credit that you assured me we had. If we had been advised differently when we spoke to you the past 20 times, we would have planned differently. Eventually I got a sympathetic agent who informed me that if it was an "emergency," then the credit would be honored. But it couldn't possibly be an emergency if I wasn't trying to fly the same day. Net result: a one-time offer to use the credit overnight on July 4/5.

So we took it, for the low, low price of only another $300 out of pocket change fee plus $15 per bag check fee. $330 later, we had the unmitigated pleasure of spending the 18 hours between the overnight Alaska Air flight and the overnight US Airways flight sitting in the Denver airport. We're now in Philadelphia and the plane to Orlando is delayed. Ugh, I hate airports!!

On a happier note, Alaska was fantastic!! I'll post details once I've eaten and slept.

Current Mood: exhausted
Monday, June 22nd, 2009
2:05 am
Sigh...So Many Boys, So Little Time
Can I just say that cruise ships and hostels are wonderful places to meet men? I chased a really young but really hot guy (he was at least 21, since he was being served, but probably just barely) around the ship for awhile. Then I met a devastatingly handsome Ukrainian crew member with whom I'm still in contact. The first night at the hostel, I fell for a rugged trail guide. The best by far, however, is the Israeli hiker that I spent the afternoon with today. We're both here for a few days, so I'm hoping to get to know him a bit better. And from what I hear, even in the 21st century, men in Alaska still outnumber women by a pretty significant margin. I wonder how long until I find myself a wild Alaskan fisherman.

I fell in love with the state for so many deep and profound reasons...but that doesn't stop me from swimming in the shallow end of the pool now and then. I wish we could stay here forever!!

Current Mood: giddy
Sunday, June 21st, 2009
1:47 am
Describing the Indescribable
My job, my livelihood, the very essence of my being is my words. I am extremely descriptive, and capable of bringing virtually anything to life with the way that I write about it. Yet words fail me now. Here in Alaska, it is a truly different world. I look out the window and I see snow-capped mountains. Down the street walks a young couple, wrapped in sweatshirts and jackets, faces grimacing against the bitter wind and cold rain.

Does that do it justice? No, I don't think so. How can I truly describe the sensations involved in dining on a gourmet breakfast outdoors on the open deck, at the very stern of the ship, ten feet from one of the world's most stunning glaciers? How do I describe the ice pack in the water; the blend of gunshots, thunder, and creaking old stairs that emanates from the glacier as it calves? How do I convey the energy projected from the mountains and the trees and the water on the forest trail in the tiny port town of Icy Strait Point?

What can I say about the Aleutian Ballad, an old crab fishing boat that was recently retrofitted for tourism in Ketchikan after years of trolling the Bering Sea? How do I describe Chief and Kiwi, a captain and a deckhand who plied those waters, appeared on Deadliest Catch, and have stories that go on for miles? They were there, they lived it, and they brought it to us. Shall I talk about the majesty of literally hundreds of bald eagles swooping and diving within mere inches of the boat?

Or how about Skagway, that old gold rush town that lived and nearly died over only a two-year span, yet remains today a tribute to those brave souls that risked virtually certain death and despair for a chance at fortunes untold? Or shall I focus on the good-time girls who entertained them, and the brothel tour that I almost had a job narrating two years ago?

Juneau, Seward, the ship itself...the port town locals I have met and bonded with, the devastatingly handsome Ukranian crewman on the Millennium with whom I am still in contact, the middle schoolers from Illinois here in Seward on an eco-tour...all have touched my heart and soul, and all deserve recognition and appreciation.

What about the midnight sun? It's cloudy here most of the time, with the sun only occasionally peeking through. Yet it is almost always light. A few nights ago, Dad took pictures from Deck 4 at 3:30 in the morning. It looked like a late afternoon in Florida. I would never have thought that I, a creature of the night, would be able to handle constant sunlight, but in the haze, fog, and clouds, it's not a harsh light. Instead, it is an enveloping, peaceful, welcoming blanket of soft and quiet light.

We're on day nine of an approximately month-long journey through Alaska, and I have already discovered enough moments and created enough memories to last me for a lifetime. All that remains is to figure out how to tell the story. But describing Alaska to those who have never experienced it is like trying to describe sight to someone born blind. This is going to be one hell of an interesting set of tours to write!!

Current Mood: enthralled
Saturday, May 30th, 2009
12:47 pm
Guess Who's Headed to Alaska???
So finally, after YEARS of trying to get there, Alaska has indeed worked out for us!!! Thanks to airline credits from last year's fiasco, we are flying FREE of charge to Seattle on Southwest. From there, we will board a bus to Vancouver to catch our ship, the Celebrity Millennium, for a seven night Inside Passage cruise to Seward (outside Anchorage). We'll hang out for a few days in Anchorage, and then fly to Fairbanks for a few days. Destination: Arctic Circle. We'll then return to Anchorage and fly back to Orlando on US Airways credits. Not *quite* as good a deal, since we have to pay a combined $300 change fee, but not bad considering.

So yeah, that's the plan. Ship leaves June 12 from Vancouver.

So excited I can't stand it!!!!

Current Mood: ecstatic
Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
12:31 pm
Note to Father: The fact that you have real-life grownup crap to take care of, like your car maintenance and doctor visits does not in fact make you special or unique, or give you the right to curse me out when said things do not go as easily as planned. I take care of all those things, and hold down a job too. Yesterday, I put in 18 hours at said job, ending at 4:30 this morning. You chose to call and whine at me at 8:30, despite knowing what time I quit working this morning, and I let you get away with it. I then resumed work, since I was awake anyway. Coming in at noon screaming at me and telling me that boohoo, you're the one who's had to DEAL with all this shit, while I've done nothing (because my job doesn't count as doing something) does NOT, in fact, get you the sympathy you think you need. Life sucks. Deal with it. I have to.

Further Note to Father: Offering, of your own volition, to bring home breakfast and then leaving me waiting for three hours while you do other stuff, then coming home empty handed and deciding to cook, and then an hour later throwing the pan across the room and telling me to do it myself while you stalk out, is also not endearing. Get over yourself.

Current Mood: annoyed
Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
6:36 pm
Yep, It's Official. I'm a Geek
Shamelessly stolen from Geek 2 Geek:


Top Questions Asked by Geeks:

Why do they put braille dots on the keypad of a drive-up ATM ?


You know how most packages say "Open Here." What is the protocol if the package says, "Open Somewhere Else?"


If you're in a vehicle going the speed of light, what happens when you turn on the headlights?


If you tied buttered toast to the back of a cat and dropped it from a height, what would happen?


If nothing ever sticks to Teflon, how do they make Teflon stick to the pan?


If 7-11 is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, why are there locks on the doors?


How does the guy who drives the snowplow get to work in the morning?


Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?


Do you need a silencer if you are going to shoot a mime?


Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?


Why isn't phonetic spelled the way it sounds?

I have honestly contemplated at least seven or eight of these questions. Somehow I get the feeling that most of the world does not find them important or interesting. Yay geeks!

Current Mood: amused
Wednesday, April 8th, 2009
6:35 pm
Pulling Up Roots
So we've decided to finally, after four years, go on the road with the RV. A lot of reasons, really, but I think it's finally time. And I'm having a huge emotional reaction to everything. I mean, yes, I've been living in this RV for years...but I've sort of been rooted. Now we're going to be rootless and not tied to anything or anyone. I'm excited, of course, it's like living out a dream. But I'm also scared. This is going to be the first time in my life that I have nowhere to really call home.

I'm sure it doesn't help how I'm feeling that I found out today that, in effect, both Louisiana and Florida have kicked us out. Neither state will grant us residency without a brick and mortar physical residential address. Mail forwarding doesn't count. So it looks like I'm about to be a cowgirl....we're members of Escapees RV Club, and their headquarters is in Livingston, TX. Apparently it's the biggest thing going in Livingston, and even in Polk County, TX. Therefore, the government is full-timer friendly, and if we use the Escapees mail forwarding service, it counts for residency. Meaning we can register the vehicles, vote, have driver licenses, and all that other fun stuff. Yeehaw, y'all!

So yeah...I'm moving to Texas, or at least legally domiciling there. It's also costing a fortune to get ready to go. We took the van in for tires yesterday. Four hours and $650 later, we have new brakes too, and an alignment. Rear brakes were mis-adjusted and not catching at all, and front brakes were down to 10%. Not good for pulling the rig. Plus it's going to cost a few hundred to move to TX. Plus we have a leak in the intake hose for our fresh water pump. We're taking the RV to Camping World for a once-over, which is going to cost over $200 just for the inspection, never mind if they find anything wrong.

We got home from the auto shop last night to discover our awning ripped to shreds. Apparently there was a 45 mph wind gust. The neighbors thankfully rolled up what was left, so it didn't damage the rig, but the awning's toast. Fortunately it was covered by insurance, so we can either straight up replace it for free, or upgrade to a deluxe power model for around $150.

And Monica and Jonathan arrive on May 1. We're paying for their whole Disney trip...which sounded like a great idea when we planned it, and is now making me nervous with all of these unexpected recent cash outlays. I just hope we make it, not only through their trip, but through the rest of May.

Happy Passover to the Jewish contingent. We were going to go to Chabad, who apparently host a nice Seder for travelers, but I got all nostalgic and nesting-feeling, so we're having my uncle over for second night Seder tomorrow. I don't know why, but I've always preferred hosting holidays at home, and I've felt like I couldn't do it in the RV. But if this is going to be my home, I've got to learn how. We've picked up some tips and ideas from the full-timer forums, so we'll see how it goes. Wish us luck!!

Current Mood: blah
Thursday, March 19th, 2009
3:45 pm
Rant About Family
Why can't you divorce your family??? *Warning: King size rant ahead*

So dad had his stent put in last Thursday. Exactly one whole week ago. The day after he got out of the hospital, his younger brother went in. I dunno what they were doing up there (it's FL Hospital Altamonte), but they spent nearly a whole week deciding it was the heart...no it wasn't the heart, it was the gall bladder...no, maybe it was stomach inflammation...on and on, yada yada. Well, we stopped running out there every day, since it was always more of the same. Sitting around with the psycho girlfriend, learning absolutely nothing.

Well, they finally decided that they didn't like the sound of one of the ECGs, so they scheduled a diagnostic cardiac cath for this morning. We got a panicked call from the girlfriend: they're transporting him by ambulance to FL Hospital South, where he's going to have emergency heart surgery.

Considering we're in Davenport, and the transport was only from Altamonte to Downtown, we correctly deduced that if we went up, we wouldn' get there before the procedure started. FL Hospital South happens to be where Dad had the stent placed last week, so he called the cath lab directly.

No, it wasn't emergency surgery. Steve had a 95% blockage and they were placing a stent. Sound familiar? I *think* Steve's was in the left main, which is slightly riskier than where Dad's was, but I got that third hand from the panicking girlfriend, so I dunno...this is the same woman who argued adamantly that Steve has gallstones...IN HIS STOMACH. Unless he's half bird, that would be a neat trick.

Dad manages to get a message to the doctor to go with a bare metal stent like he has. Steve is going to need gallbladder surgery sooner or later, as well as other procedures, so it's best to do the bare metal stent so he can come off Plavix in a month or so. Score one for Dad, he was successful.

Anyway, a 95% blockage with a stent...yep, just what Dad had. We come down from panic mode and decide not to head up there yet, since the procedure would be over by the time we got there. Then the girlfriend informs us that Monica is flying down. Now, Monica is my cousin, Steve's daughter, the one that we're bringing down for a week at the beginning of May. Since she has no money to fly down, and Steve and Joyce certainly don't, that's a neat trick.

I call Monica and explain that Steve's fine, it's the same procedure Dad just had, he'll be released in the morning, yada yada. And this girl's mother has been an RN in a cardiac cath lab for nearly 20 years. I convince her that a last minute flight would be prohibitively expensive, she can't afford the time off work, and there's absolutely no need to come.

Well, a series of further phone calls transpire. The girlfriend informs us the procedure was a success, he's fine...but he also had an 85% blockage in another artery which "they couldn't get to so they just left it alone." We later confirmed with the nurse that no, they had placed stents in both arteries. Meanwhile, she has convinced Monica to borrow money from her brother in law to fly down. Joyce will be picking her up at the Tampa Airport, and Monica will be staying with Joyce's friends in Altamonte Springs.

We get hold of Monica. Turns out Joyce has been calling her nonstop, crying and guilt tripping her, telling her that Steve's likely to die, and if he doesn't he'll have a long and painful recovery, and he'll be in the hospital for at least two weeks and blah blah blah. So Monica is indeed doing what Joyce says.

OK...here's the part that really pisses me off. DAD JUST HAD THE SAME THING. I was by myself. Nobody came to sit with us. Monica didn't fly down. Steve didn't show up. Joyce didn't show up. And guess what? DAD'S FINE NOW!! He did three theme parks in a single day on Monday for cripes sake! And apparently Joyce thinks Dad's doing well enough to pull him into her circle of drama. Why is Steve so damned special? What makes his stents an emergency worthy of rallying the troops, when Dad's wasn't even worthy of notice????

I hate my family. Except my dad. I still love him. Everybody else can kiss my ass.

Current Mood: pissed off
Saturday, March 14th, 2009
3:31 pm
Good News and Bad News
So Dad had his stent put in Thursday. It turned out to be a complicated blockage...at a bifurcation, which is a branch of the artery. The danger was that some of the plaque could have broken off and gone down the secondary artery. Also, the 95% blockage was apparently an underestimation... the passage was about the width of a human hair. It could easily have caused a massive heart attack, which would have either been fatal or left Dad a cardiac cripple. But thanks to the extreme skill of the cardiologist, the stent placement was a success.

Dad has massive bruising down his leg from the procedure, but that's apparently normal. That's causing a bit of pain right now, and he's exhausted from everything, but he should be just fine. He can go back on roller coasters in two weeks :)

So his brother came up to see us on the way to Altamonte Springs to visit his gf's friends. We got a call a couple of hours after they left-- he's in Florida Hospital Altamonte with chest pains and spiking blood pressure! The dr asked if there were cardiac problems in his family, and he said "well, no, except my brother just had a stent placed." On the upshot, they asked about Dad's bruising and were told it was to be expected.

Dad's feeling guilty that he can't go up there to be with him, but I feel like there's nothing we could do anyway, and Dad's been told not to drive, not to spend too long on his feet...I don't think hanging around another hospital for hours would be very good for him. We're staying in close contact by phone, but that's all we can really do at the moment.

Bah....they've always been in competition...but this is not a fun one LOL

Current Mood: exhausted
Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
9:20 pm
Medical Tourism
So Dad ended up having to have a cardiac catheterization last week. We had picked out Florida Hospital Celebration Health as our new hospital of choice, so we had the procedure done there. Wow, wow, wow! The cath lab was absolutely spectacular! The nurses were fabulous, both extremely good and extremely friendly. The doctor was terrific as well. A very positive experience all the way around.

Since Dad wasn't allowed to drive for a couple of days, and we hadn't been able to go on the last few trips, we decided where better for him to recover than Disney? We spent four fabulous nights at the Best Western at Downtown Disney, with a theme park view from our balcony, and by day 2 he was recuperating at the parks. "You've just had a major cardiac procedure. What are you going to do now?" "I'm going to Disney World!"

The bad news is that they found a 95% blockage in his left anterior descending artery, which is one of the three main branches from the left main artery, which supplies most of the heart's blood flow. So he's having a stent placed tomorrow. They don't do stenting at Celebration, so we're using Florida Hospital South, near Downtown Orlando.

So now we're at the Comfort Suites Downtown for four nights. Not exactly a theme park view, but it's a surprisingly nice (and big!!) room. There's plenty of stuff to do within walking distance, so hopefully I won't have to fight him for the keys (it's easier just not to take the car out, since he always INSISTS on doing the driving).

Wish us luck...the procedure is at 1:00 tomorrow.

Current Mood: nervous
Sunday, February 22nd, 2009
9:47 am
It Could Have Been Us
Last night Dad and I were at home, watching Twilight Zone and then Urban Legends (TV show, not the movie). All of a sudden somebody started pounding on the window, screaming for us to move our van. We ran out to find the RV two spaces over engulfed in flames. We needed to move for the second fire truck to run a hose...one was already on the scene from the other side, along with an ambulance and a couple of police officers. After moving the van, we grabbed some stuff in case we needed to evacuate...there are two trees practically touching, one of which is on our site, and the first tree was starting to burn.

Thankfully they got the fire under control before the trees went up, and the owner of the burning RV wasn't home. Her neighbor across the street saw the fire pretty quickly and pulled her propane tanks out, and broke down the door to try to get to her dogs, but it was too late for them :( and her RV is totaled. It was so scary, watching it burn like that and being completely helpless to do anything.

Today we found out the even scarier part....they traced the fire to her refrigerator. I posted back in November about our refrigerator blowing up. Thankfully, ours only spewed ammonia all over the place and drove us to a motel for a week. Here's the thing: ALL RV refrigerators from several model years (around a decade or so), from both manufacturers, are under recall. The cooling coil runs on ammonia, and is prone to bursting. That's what happened to ours, and that's what happened to hers. But the "recall repair" is simply to install a metal shield around the cooling unit, which is supposed to stop it from catching fire. We didn't know about it till after ours blew. But the neighbor HAD the repair done several months ago...and her RV still went up in flames.

Why did hers burn and ours not? I have no answer to that. We also had an undiagnosed gas leak from the hose to our propane tanks for several months...finally found out about it when one of the tanks emptied itself almost immediately. We got it fixed as soon as we found out. What if we had still been leaking when this happened? There were sparks all the way to the neighbor on the other side...I'm sure our leaking propane would have gone boom.

Why were we spared? Who knows, but it really does make me feel grateful!

Current Mood: drained
Sunday, February 8th, 2009
4:43 pm
Just Venting
Well, I suppose it was inevitable. Dad's always held his medical conditions over my head, I guess it was only a matter of time until he started wielding the power of the heart condition. I woke up violently nauseous today. Probably just a reaction to the stress of the past few days, but doesn't make it any less miserable. I've barely been able to eat or even get out of bed. Well, Dad gets it into his head to go to the grocery store. And I'm supposed to go too. Well, first it's just going to be milk and bread. Okay, fine. I can stay upright that long. First, I need to get the trash out. Okay, fine, I can do that if I must. Then Dad makes a long, detailed grocery list...I'm almost puking just looking at the list. I tell him I can't go do all that today. Apparently I didn't say it in the right tone of voice, or with the right look on my face or something. He goes into a black rage, despite me getting dressed and out the door to go with him anyway.

Now he's been raging at me for the past four hours. We ended up only getting bread and milk. He's furious about that. He's furious that I "treated him like an invalid." He's furious that he "dared to ask me to get off my ass and do something and I refused." The worst part? He keeps repetitively informing me that he is going to have a heart attack from getting upset, and it is entirely my fault for "riling him up." According to him, his emotions are entirely under my control, and it is my fault that he is raging.

He's been off and on holding his chest. He won't take his nitro. He swears his chest doesn't hurt. He can't wait till his doctor appointment tomorrow, when the doctor is apparently going to tell me how I am going to cause him to drop dead. He flatly refuses to accept apologies, calm talk, being ignored or anything else. He likes the feeling of power, it's the same one he gets when his blood sugar is 50 and he refuses to eat because I've wronged him somehow.

Meanwhile I'm still nauseous and rather dizzy. But why should my medical condition matter? It never has before. It's all about Andy.

Current Mood: depressed
Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
6:23 pm
Is It a Hospital or the Ritz?
Question for the Orlando peeps: Have any of you had experience with the hospital in Celebration? Let me know!

Long story short (full story behind the cut): After a nightmarish two day stay at Heart of Florida in Haines City, we ended up firing Dad's primary care doc and vowing never to set foot there again.

The full storyCollapse )
Meanwhile, we talked to Dad's hospital roommate and his entourage about other hospitals. They had wonderful things to say about Celebration. So we decided to check it out today. The place is the freaking Ritz-Carlton of hospitals!!!!

Awesomeness hereCollapse )
Now, would you believe that between Medicare and Dad's federal employee insurance, he doesn't pay a dime for any of it (except the Fitness Center membership, with a waived enrollment fee if he comes through physical therapy referral). Needless to say, we're sold. It's just amazing. Dad's now in the process of setting up initial appts with all sorts of specialists, plus a family doctor who's also a DO and therefore knowledgeable about his arthritis. I couldn't be happier about all of it, so I guess the mess at the other hospital was for the best in the long run. Even better, we're moving soon to a really nice park on 192, Tropical Palms. It's right next to Old Town, and is where Angela's friends stayed when they were down. Planning to move after my cousin comes down in May. That park also happens to be 1.2 miles from the new hospital.

In other news, About.com is going phenomenally well. I just got my annual review, and it was glowing. The podcast job is awesome, and I have a gazillion tours in the works. I've also got a couple of other possible off and on gigs lined up. Yay money!!

Dad and I are bringing my cousin and her husband down for a week at Disney in May. They're having a phenomenal buy 4 nights get 3 free deal, so we're staying at the Ft Wilderness Cabins, which normally run over $300 a night. I'm ecstatic about that!

Current Mood: sleepy
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
11:25 pm
It All Comes Back to Sarai
Well, I just found out what has been going on, why Dad's been so emotionally abusive ever since we got back from NOLA a year and a half ago. After India House, before we got the apartment, we answered a Craigslist ad for a room for rent. It was a tiny house, just three bedrooms, with Dad and me in one, a young guy in another and the landlady in the third, and a teeny combination kitchen and living room. Anyway, the landlady hated me from Day One. And loooved my father...or actually, wanted his money.

She was nasty. Just mean. And had so many rules on everything from buying toilet paper to washing her dishes. She moved in on Dad, she gave him sex, and she started poisoning him against me. And all of a sudden, he was the model husband figure...waiting on her hand and foot, doing her laundry, taking out her garbage....and not speaking to me. For weeks, all I got were snotty one word answers.

Then I found out she was about to lose the house to foreclosure. She was flat broke. Apparently Dad found out too, because he offered to buy the house (on what? MY money maybe? I was paying both of our rent at the time.) Dad never mentioned this to me. Sarai did. She came to me all nasty and uppity and told me Dad was buying the house, but it was going to stay in her name, and as soon as he did, I was out in the cold. She insinuated that she knew how much life insurance he had too, and that plans were already underway to replace my name with hers on the policy. Whether that part's true or not, I don't know, Dad won't tell me either way.

At any rate, I went to Dad with everything. I told her what she had told me. I had heard as much from the old guy who set up a permanent yard sale in Sarai's lawn, and from the young guy in the other bedroom, but I waited until I got it from Sarai directly. We had a long talk, and he said he had no idea. He decided to split with her immediately, and we would leave the house within the week.

I had a date that night. When I got home, you guessed it...Dad was in bed with Sarai. I lost it. We ended up in a screaming argument. I have never felt as hurt and betrayed and lied to as I felt that night. Dad ended up leaving, leaving me alone in the house with her. So then I got it from that end. Lucas and I found the apartment soon after, and Dad ended up coming along. We grudgingly made up, and I thought everything was okay.

Well, I just found out tonight that Dad still resents me. It was none of my business what went on between him and Sarai. I had no right to confront him. After three years of being his full-time caregiver, I was supposed to just be happy he found someone and quietly bow out of his life. Well, tonight is the second night of my life of being this hurt and betrayed and devastated.

I mean, God, I have done everything for him. I've spent thousands of dollars. I've nursed him through illnesses. I've sacrificed a marriage and most of my own life. I don't expect a medal. I don't expect anything except not to be shut out of his life. He's had plenty of girlfriends, and I could care less. I'd like to see him happy. But not with someone who was actively trying to convince him what a horrible person I am. Not with someone who talked him into cutting me off. Am I in the wrong here????

Current Mood: crushed
Friday, January 16th, 2009
5:19 pm
It's Warmer in Daytona
Well, Dad and I were all set to go to DC for the inauguration...ended up with a fabulous rate on a hotel on the Metro line, and plane tickets courtesy of our Southwest credit. Except stuff kept not falling into place...couldn't get swearing in tickets, couldn't get parade tickets, couldn't get guaranteed admission to the Newseum (which is on the parade route and has floor to ceiling windows), couldn't get tickets to the Inaugural Ball.

So we were kind of debating whether or not to go...that's an awful lot of money to spend just to end up shoulder to shoulder all week with 4 million of our closest friends, and watching the Swearing In on a Jumbotron on the National Mall. And they've been warning of 6 hour delays for the subway...we were planning to leave the hotel at 4 am to catch Metro when it starts running at 4:30, but still no guarantee we'd actually get on a train in time to actually get to the Mall in time to actually get a spot. The Mall holds something like half a million at crush density, and there will be 4 million attending.

Anyway, then I watched CNN weather this morning. Temperature is expected to reach 30 degrees...maybe...late in the afternoon. By parade time, it'll only be low 20s. At 4:30 am, around 19 at the most! Now, I'm all for an adventure and all....but standing around for 6-12 hours in subfreezing temps is not my idea of fun.

We're now attending an Inaugural party at the Daytona Beach bandshell. Estimated temperature? A balmy 57 degrees. I made the suggestion to Dad, and all I got in response was, "It's warmer in Daytona. Let's do it." So if you want to see me, that's where I'll be. We're renting a condo at the Wyndham Ocean Walk the night before and the night of, and partying it up on the beach all day.

Current Mood: content
Friday, November 21st, 2008
4:51 pm
Now I Can Call Myself a Travel Writer
So you might remember that I've recently written four podcasts on Universal. I was pretty happy with that assignment, especially considering they pay $150 each up front, plus 13% royalties. Other than that, I still have the About.com job, and I'm writing a very highly paid piece for Diabetes Management magazine on handling diabetes at the theme parks. So work was doing pretty well overall.

I wanted more, though, so I e-mailed the podcast guy last week. See, it's a new site and they're looking to buy at least 2000 tours of locations around the world. So I figured there might be more work available. He wrote back that he loves my work, but he's not too familiar with Orlando and what it offers. I sent him a detailed description of the theme parks, Downtown, even Daytona Beach. He then had me write up a list of tours with projected deadlines (my choice, not his!!!). I sent him a long list, expecting to get approval for maybe half.

Well, I heard back yesterday. I have the official go-ahead on 31 additional tours, keeping me in highly paid work through the spring!!! Now here's the really amazing part. When putting together my schedule to see what was realistic, before sending that list, I decided to cancel the Mardi Gras trip and take a cruise in March instead. It just made sense time-wise. So I mentioned that we would be in Cozumel, Belize, Costa Maya and Nassau, and asked if he wanted any tours from those places. I made a few suggestions for possible angles based on shore excursion descriptions, and asked what he thought. He put me down for tours of each city, and told me he trusted my judgment in deciding what would be most tour-worthy!!!! Can you imagine that????

He also gave me glowing praise, telling me that he really enjoys my hand-in-hand style of writing, which makes the podcasts really accessible to the listeners!!!

On top of all that, podcast guy has decided to partner with a marketing team with decades of international experience. They plan to sell my tours on CD in both national and local bookstores, tourist offices....and if Universal goes for it, they'll even be on the shelves in the Studios Store and other official Universal retail locations!!! I was able to get the phone number for the chief buyer for Universal, so now it's up to the marketing team to work their magic!

Can you imagine? I haven't managed to land a book deal (yet!), but I'll actually have a product that I created available on real retail store shelves!!!! Yeah, it's a writer's dream come true.

About.com is being annoying at the moment, but meh...it's just a few days out of each month, and the pay is decent. Check out my piece on the Obama Health Care Plan if you have a few free minutes.

Love you all!

Current Mood: shocked
Monday, November 17th, 2008
6:49 pm
So I had an epiphany tonight...bit of stream of consciousness, so bear with me. I realized that I have finally achieved what most people never do: freedom. It all started when Dad and I got on the topic of the Concrete Blonde concert in New Orleans about five years ago, which led me to thinking about Tim, who was at the same concert, though it was before we met. I was there with Mom and Scott from New York, which has nothing to do with anything.

So I was thinking about how Tim was always my friend with money. I mean, some of my other friends had reasonable incomes, but like mine, they tended to be low, transient and always spent. Tim had the great job making $9 an hour, which seemed like a fortune, and he always had money for rent and his car payment, plus money to go out. The rest of us were out of work a lot, and when we did work we never seemed to get ahead. We were always looking for the best angle, and more frequently than not, ending up behind the eight ball.

Anyway, fast forward five years to the present. I still have the same wanderlust, the same thirst for adventure and the same disdain for the 9 to 5 life. But I'm five years older and five years wiser. I've been through a lot more. Through a combination of circumstances, persistence and pure dumb Forrest-Gumping my way through, I've managed to parlay those instincts into a workable and successful career. I have a college degree I hadn't used in years...and suddenly I'm the expert on Phobias for About.com. I've been taking care of my Dad for four years, and suddenly I'm qualified to make multiple hundreds of dollars on a single article for Diabetes Management magazine. My wanderlust has taken me here there and everyone, and suddenly I'm being paid $150 a shot for travel podcast scripts. I've discovered that my various life experiences can be turned into excellent fodder for things that people want to read, and it's a lot more satisfying than churning out credit card articles for web mills.

I just had to replace the refrigerator, plus pay a guy to install it, plus pay for a week in a hotel. Yet when a hotel came available for $225 a night in DC for the inauguration, I was able to grab it. I have the freedom to work a ton and make money fast, but also the freedom to slow down, work less and enjoy life. I am on reasonable deadlines now, rather than pouring out dozens of blog posts every week. It's all up to me.

We're in uncertain economic times, and I keep hearing of more and more layoffs and foreclosures. I know that this could all be gone tomorrow, yet I also know that every single article builds my portfolio. The better my credentials, the more competitive I am for the next job and the next. If it does all blow up in my face, though, at least I'll know that for a time, I lived a life that most people only dream of.

For now, at least, I choose to live in an RV because it's cheap and it provides a sort of writers retreat, a place to escape and focus on the creative process, not because I can't afford an alternative. Meanwhile, I am a jet setter. I don't have gobs of money, but I am way better off than I ever have been, and I am traveling every month or two to exotic destinations. I'm very blessed, and I'm very thankful to each and every one of you, who have seen me at my worst and loved me anyway. You all rock!!

Current Mood: peaceful
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