Summer Style


If money were no object, what is the perfect gift?  This question was posed as a part of the Let’s Blog Off series.  Surprise.  This was easy to answer.

A true nurturer, Mom continuously puts others before herself.  She has been through so much pain within the last three years, I feel sorry for her.

Mom has vacationed in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan since she was young and always loved Mackinac Island.  Since she is constantly around for support, I would make her Mackinac Island dream come true and buy her a summer cottage.

Mom’s other wish is to own a BMW Z4.  She has a 328i, but goes gaga over the Z4 whenever she sees one.  If she has a summer home, she might as well have a summer car.

I could list the endless projects for the house as perfect gifts for me, but that is egotistical on my part.  Being unemployed for the last 12 months has taught me that I can live without material possessions.  I have learned to be happy with what I have.  (Although a deck for the back yard would be quite nice.)

<— my back yard (Note: The white chairs are history.)

My best wishes to everyone for a joyous holiday season! 🙂


Open Letter to John Boehner


Dear Mr. Boehner:

I have been watching the news lately and couldn’t help but notice that the extension of unemployment insurance is up for vote in Congress.  As one of your constituents (I live in Dayton, OH) who is unemployed, I thought I would write to tell you how important these extensions are to me and others like me.

I was laid off after Christmas 2009 due to the economic conditions.  I was at this company for two and a half years.  I have a business degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH, and paid my own way through college.

While I knew that finding a job would be difficult, I did not realize how difficult it would be.  I cashed out my 401k to help pay expenses.  When the 401k money ran out, I tapped into my savings.  My savings didn’t last long because my real estate taxes increased by $600 per year.  This increase in taxes caused my mortgage payment to rise by $105 per month.  I suffer from hypothyroidism and can no longer afford to see the doctor.  Without a prescription, I can not get medication.

This isn’t a plea to keep the new health care plan, this is a plea to extend unemployment.  My unemployment benefits are roughly half of my salary.  Benefits pay my utilities and keep a roof over my head.  If I have any money left over (which is rare), I go grocery shopping.  I am down to eating once a day to make food last longer.

The GOP argument is unemployment benefits add to the deficit.  I understand this position, but you need to make an effort to understand mine.  Unemployment benefits keep me afloat.  Without it, I would be homeless and probably fall into a coma due to my hypothyroidism.

Another argument is that extending unemployment just makes people lazy.  This is absolutely UNTRUE!  I apply – on average – to five jobs per week.  My resume is posted on various job boards.  I spend two to three hours per day applying for jobs.  I have applied for blue collar positions (e.g. warehouse worker, retail, etc), but was told I was overqualified. I do want to work!

What you and the rest of your party need to realize is that there is a new breed of unemployed workers.  The unemployed are no longer the uneducated, flighty people who bounce around from job to job.  The unemployed include people like me – hard-working, educated people who have specialized skills.

Maybe what you need to do is visit your constituents more than three times a year and see how the majority of people really live, not just the top tier.  You should see the struggles some of us go through and the agonizing decisions we have to make.  Please Mr. Boehner, extend unemployment insurance.  Some of our lives depend on it, literally.


A Time for Healing


When I saw the Let’s Blog Off topic of Thanksgiving memories, I must be honest when I say I wasn’t too pleased.  I decided to forge ahead (this is therapy, you know) and participate anyway.  Maybe someone will finally understand why I am not a fan of the holiday.

There are a couple of warnings.  First, this is in no way a ploy to get sympathy.  Like I said, this is my way of (hopefully) getting someone to understand me.  Secondly, these experiences do not make me the proverbial crazy.  They are a part of who I am.

1996 – I was single and pregnant, much to the chagrin of my parents.  I just finished college and didn’t have a decent job.  The baby deserved a better life than what I could provide at that time, so I decided to put the baby up for adoption.  The baby’s birthday?  Wednesday, 27 November 1996, the day before Thanksgiving.

Fast forward to 1997.  My phone rang around 7:30PM on 20 November 1997.  It was my mother telling me that my grandfather passed away from a stroke.  This was quite unexpected.  Grandpa had not been sick and showed no symptoms of any illness.  Ironically, my paternal grandfather passed away this same day back in 1971.

Ten years later, a similar situation.  My mother called me around 11:00AM on Thanksgiving 2007 (22 November).  She stated that EMTs were working on my father.  I threw on a clean pair of jeans and jumped into the car.  Don’t ask me how I made it to the hospital because I don’t know.  All I know is that the usual one hour trip to my parents’ town took half that time.  I walked into the ER and saw my mother in the condolence room.  I knew it wasn’t good news.  She said that Dad didn’t make it.  He passed while I was on the road from a massive heart attack.  And guess who had to call and tell my brother in NYC?  Me.

Thanksgiving should be a joyous time, but for me it isn’t.  It is a time of reflection and healing.  I think this year I will sit back and have a glass or two of chardonnay and celebrate the lives of those that I have lost.  I know Dad would approve.

Finding Humor in Yourself


What makes people laugh?  This seemingly simple question was unusually difficult for me to answer.  However, it did give me a chance to flashback through my life.  Then the answer hit me like an anvil – I make myself laugh.

People that know me will tell you that I am a bit silly & clumsy.  OK, so I am silly & clumsy.  A few of examples will prove this endearing quality of mine.

Halloween is arguably a child’s second favorite holiday besides Christmas.  Not mine.  At the age of seven, I was trick or treating and tripped down some cement steps.  I felt some slight pain, but I didn’t say anything.  After running around & playing with my cousins for a couple of hours, everyone sat down to eat.  My mother noticed that my right ankle was the size of a grapefruit.  After arguing with Mom (I am also stubborn) for a half hour, I agreed to go to the hospital.  The result: a broken ankle that tore the ligaments.

Fast forward to the age of eight.  I was crawling around playing with my younger brother.  My outstretched leg slammed against the stereo.  This resulted in two broken toes.

The paramount example of my clumsiness occurred a few years ago.  I leaned over to open a door to the bathroom vanity.  I was talented enough to catch the door in an eye socket.  This hurt like you-know-what.  There was no blood and no scratches, so I continued on with my chores.  When I awoke the next morning, my right eye was swollen shut and had more colors than a Sherwin-Williams store.  My co-workers thought I had been beaten.  My mother was not too pleased either.  They couldn’t believe that I really did lean over into a door.

When I think about these incidents, and believe me there are more, I still laugh so hard I cry.  The past year has been quite tough for me.  I have had to find joy in the little things.  This blog post has made me realize that humor lies within myself.  If I can’t laugh at myself, then who can I laugh at?

What Gen Y Has Taught Me


I have always been a pessimist.  It is my form of protection.  So seven years ago, when I returned to Miami University in Oxford, OH, I was a bit nervous.  I didn’t think I had much in common with some 20-something, since I had already been in the real world.

The first year and a half at Miami was the worst.  The only time I left my apartment was to go to class.  I didn’t socialize with anyone.  If I was awake, I was either studying or in class.  The defining moment came when a classmate asked me what I had done to “screw up my life” to be in college at my age.  I was livid.  How dare this person question me!

My anger lasted nearly seven years.  Whenever I would have an exchange with a Gen Y-er, I immediately dismissed the person and didn’t even consider his or her point of view.  I thought they were all spoiled brats, like the person who asked me the question.  There was a point when I didn’t even want to talk to Gen Y.

What changed?  Following a fellow Miamian on Twitter.  Tyler Durbin’s website – – is a website for the Gen Y generation to discuss life & career advice with each other.  Mr. Durbin occasionally tweets links with job search advice.  I must say that was skeptical at first, but some of the articles do have some very valid points.

The more I read, the more I began to think that maybe all Gen Y-ers aren’t as clueless & spoiled as I had originally thought.  If a recent college graduate can write such insightful work that applies to other generations, then maybe they do have a clue.  (The piece on making the most of career fairs is particularly intuitive.)

Gen Y also taught me to relax and have fun.  After my classmate made that comment, I went out for a few drinks.  As I sat at the table by myself, I watched other students interacting with each other.  They appeared to be having so much fun.  ‘Why can’t I have fun like that?’ I thought.  Then it occurred to me that I needed to let my guard down & relax a bit.  I did so and spent four hours talking to someone I met that evening.

Other generations should follow my lead.  Give Gen Y a chance.  They just might surprise you.

Belshazzar’s Feast: Escape to Optimism


Everyone needs an escape, whether it be sports, music, or family.  It is what keeps us sane.  My escape has always been music.  Music allows people to live out their fantasies, to momentarily become a part of a story.  While it is true that the last decade has not been one to write home about, there is reason to be optimistic.  All someone has to do is look at Sir William Walton’s famous oratorio, Belshazzar’s Feast, for answers.

Belshazzar’s Feast is a story about the fall of the greedy & immoral King Belshazzar.  During a grand feast, the king finds the words ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL UPHARSIN’ written.  Belshazzar can not interpret the writing and promises that whoever correctly interprets it will become the third ruler of the kingdom of Babylon.  Daniel was brought before the king and proceeds to do exactly that.

  • MENE – God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it;
  • TEKEL – Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting; 
  • PERES – Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.)

Daniel is immediately made the kingdom’s ruler, and Belshazzar is slain.

King Belshazzar is similar to today’s athletes & celebrities.  Celebrities want larger contracts with more money, and they want more fans.  King Belshazzar and today’s celebrities represent what is wrong with society – greed, ego-centricism, and the unwillingness to accept responsibility.

Daniel represents optimism.  Even though King Belshazzar was immoral, Daniel remained steadfast.  He was hopeful that an honest, God-fearing person would become ruler.  I believe it was Daniel’s optimism that made him king. 

Instead of believing everything the media puts out, which is  mostly negative, we need to believe that things will work out.   If there isn’t optimism, then there is no hope.  If there is no hope, then there is no point to living.

Do Blogs Matter?


Do blogs matter?  In a word: yes.

Look at other social media sites, such as Facebook & MySpace.  I realize these sites are not true blogs, but their concept is similar to blogs: tell the world what’s on your mind.  For example, Tyler Clementi committed suicide as a result of his college roommate uploading Clementi’s sexual encounter and later tweeting about it.  Phoebe Prince also committed suicide in January 2010 because of intense cyberbullying.

The Cyberbullying Research Center recently published a study that reveals some frightening facts.  Thirty percent of middle school students surveyed stated that had been a victim of some form of cyberbullying within the last 30 days.  Twenty two percent of middle school students reported that they participated in some form of cyberbullying within the same time frame.  The Clementi & Prince cases should leave little doubt that blogs do matter.

If teenage angst is not your thing, look at the case of Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell.  He created a blog entitled the Chris Armstrong Watch.  The blog is supposedly a site for people who oppose the election of Armstrong (who is openly gay) as student body president of the University of Michigan.  Yet the content of the site is nothing but prejudicial & racist rhetoric.  Shirvell’s career with the AG’s office is now in question.

On a more personal note, I lost one of my closest friends because of a blog.  I ranted that he and his family didn’t have a concept of money, but yet they chastised me for being unemployed and having difficulty paying my bills.  While I didn’t threaten anyone, I guess I did say some hurtful things.  This was a case of me not thinking before I did something, and now I am paying the price.

My friend and I no longer speak to each other.  Since I don’t have many friends in this area, I miss having someone to talk to and spend time with.  I miss having someone to share a beer with.  If blogs don’t matter, then I would still have my best friend.