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Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day: The 25th Year

Picture It: Valentine's Day, 1990. At the beginning of the school day, a very sweet boy gave me three roses as a token of friendship. We were in 11th grade that year, and we had been friends since 3rd. He gave roses to other girls in our little circle of friends that day, so my roses weren’t fraught with any romantic notions, no awkward “Will you be my Valentine” stuff. 
Whew! Amirite?
Little did he know that I’d been interested in him as more than a friend for a long time. I was simply too scared to say anything about it. I was afraid of ruining our friendship or making things weird with our circle of friends. I was especially afraid that he didn’t feel the same way. I was even more afraid that he did.

Fast-forward to the end of the school day. After carrying the roses with me all day and answering like a bajillion questions about them, I could not ignore my feelings any more.
REO Speedwagon Would Understand
When I got home from school I did what any self-respecting 16-year-old girl would do: I ran to the wall-mounted kitchen phone (next to my pet dinosaur's cage) and immediately called my BFF.

Me: Eau-mi-gawd, I like totally have to tell you something!

BFF: Eaukeh, tell me!

Me: I like, totally like Mike.

BFF: You mean you like, like-like him?

Me: Totally.

In unison: SQUEEEE!

But there was still the little problem that I was too scared to say anything to him about it. Luckily, my BFF was easily recruited to the task of nudging him in my direction. The next afternoon, he called me to say, “What is with BFF today? She keeps telling me I should ask you out.” The conversation blossomed from there, and we shyly confessed having “feelings” for each other. Like, totally.
Seriously, how could these two kids NOT end up together?
A few days later, we had our first official date. What we did not know then is that a movie at Laurel Lakes 9 and dinner at Pizza Villa would be the last first date either of us would have. Our shy confessions of “feelings” (like, totally) grew over the years into a deep and enduring love. From a foundation of nervous giggles and sweaty-palmed hand holding, we would go on to get married, build a life together in a sleepy little town by the Chesapeake Bay, and bring two amazing new people into the world.

That’s not to say it was all lollipops and rainbows. God knows we had our battles over the years, both petty and epic. But through it all, we always managed to hash it out, come to a mutual understanding, and confirm that we still loved each other – even in moments when we didn’t particularly like each other.
Storybook romances can be messy sometimes.
On a side note, it turns out my early fears about making things weird in our little circle of friends were unfounded. To this day, they are my closest friends in the world. They celebrated with us at our wedding. They happily welcomed our babies to the world. And more recently, they stood with me as we watched the funeral director close his casket. They held me as I wept for my Sweet Boy, and they took care of me while I crumbled under the weight of my grief even though they had just lost one of their best friends.

This is the first Valentine’s Day in 25 years that Mike won’t give me roses. It’s not the flowers I’ll miss. It’s his presence. His vitality. His devotion. His dedication to just being the best version of himself he could be. Hopefully some memories will bubble to the surface that make me smile. After 25 years, I have so very many to cherish.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

In Loving Memory: Michael Anthony Salek

It's been one week since I buried my soul mate. The father of my children. The one I was supposed to grow old with. My very own Miracle Man. I'm still waiting to wake up from this nightmare.

When I last posted in this space, it was to flip the big ol' double bird to Arnold Chiari Malformation.  Mike was getting ready to go in for decompression surgery. He was supposed to heal up and come home to resume his normal life. Unbeknownst to us, "normal" would go on permanent hiatus.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

An Open Letter to Arnold Chiari Malformation

Hello, Arnold.

Didn’t think I’d see you back again so soon. It doesn’t seem very much time has passed since you last turned my world upside down. In fact, I didn’t think you’d dare show your face around here for another ten years or more.

It’s not the first time I’ve been wrong.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Honoring Carl: Out of the Darkness

Last summer my family was rocked when my nephew's father Carl ended his long and heartbreaking battle with schizoaffective bipolar disorder. This summer, exactly one year and one day after Carl's funeral, Sweet Little Sister and her teammates - the aptly named Iron Maidens - will participate in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness overnight walk in Philadelphia.

Instead of creating a long and rambling post about it, I'll let Sweet Little Sister's words convey what suicide leaves in its wake, and how the AFSP is working to prevent future suicides.

Yes, I am linking to a fundraising page. If you are inspired to donate, please do. Every little bit helps. But even if you don't donate for whatever reason, please read what she wrote. Mental illness is very real. And it is very deadly. And raising awareness is as important as raising dollars for research - so pass the word along.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Polar Vortex According to Sassyfats

If you live anywhere near North America, you are aware that people are freezing their assess off damn near everywhere this week. We’re not just having chilly winter temperatures, though. Oh no. This time around TV meteorologists have given us a new (to us) name for Mother Nature’s temper tantrum: the Polar Vortex.

Let me rephrase that: Polar!!!! Freaking!!!! Vortex!!!!!

Apparently the term is not new to meteorologists. They know all about global weather patterns and the fancy scientific names for them. For reasons I will never clearly understand, they have decided to share the term polar vortex with the general public this week. Which leads me to wonder if meteorologists have ever met the general public.

Agent K got it right.
We can deal with terms like freezing temperatures and wind chills. We've been hearing those terms for decades. We're comfortable with them. We understand that they are actual things that are normal. But if you tell us a freaking VORTEX is escaping the North Pole (!!!) and turning a large portion of our continent into an ice cube, what you have is a “situation.” Close the schools!! Save the children!! You know those doomsday preppers we've all been ridiculing the last couple of years? Well eat crow, motherfuckers, because you’re gonna have to build a bunker and stock it with canned goods and water BEFORE THE VORTEX HITS!!! AAAHHHHHHHGGGGG!!!!

We all have the SyFy channel. We know that a vortex is never a good thing. 

Ok, ok. Calm down. According to meteorologists, there is always a swirl (aka vortex) of air above both poles, it’s all part of the global weather system, it’s normal and natural, we just don’t usually feel the effects because the swirly air stays up where it belongs. But this time, the swirly air at the North Pole got all lopsided n’shit, thereby giving TV news people the opportunity to get everyone all spun up about a vortex then go outside to see if they could turn boiling water into snow.
Pro Tip: Using a Supersoaker is way cooler than using a coffee mug.
Some people (assuming Rush Limbaugh counts as a person) have accused left-wing global warming alarmists of making stuff up to push their left-wing agenda to save the leftmost wing of the leftiest side of our planet. Ugh, liberals.

Or something like that. I, however, have another theory. It’s not political. It’s not religious. But it is very, very alarming. And it is very, very real.

Which pole got a lopsided vortex? The North Pole. And who lives at the North Pole?

This Guy!!
To be clear: I am not implicating Santa in any wrongdoing. He is likely still in the Bahamas enjoying a well-deserved vacation with the Missus. That being said, Santa does rule over a large civilization of elves who also live at the North Pole. I am not implicating them in any intentional wrongdoing, seeing as how most of them work very hard to help Santa pull the whole Christmas Eve thing off every year.

However, Santa does also have an intelligence collecting agency aptly named the North Pole Intelligence Agency (NPIA). The special agents who work for the NPIA are dispatched to homes all over the world right around the beginning of advent - because nothing heralds the birth of Christ quite like elf spies. Their mission is to monitor their assigned children and give Santa daily behavior reports so that Santa knows how much coal he needs to bring with him on the sleigh. 

Yeah. Him. And many the others like him.
The average elf on the shelf is known to be both sneaky (they are, after all, spies) and mischievous. During the holiday season my Facebook feed was full of my friends’ pictures showing their in-home elves swinging from ceiling fans, sitting on piles of toilet paper they’d unrolled, and binge-eating leftover Halloween candy, among other things. 

To some parents, the elves are a helpful part of the parenting team, a visual reminder to children that they really need to up their game if they want the cool swag this year. To other parents (myself included) they are annual reminders that some dolls are just plain creepy. See how the eyes are cast to the side? How long do you have to stare into its adorable face before the eyes slowly turn toward you and peer into your very soul? How long after that before it kills your entire family in the middle of the night, all the while giggling like an innocent child as a cheerful music box plays in the background? Not that my elf-on-the-shelf aversion has anything to do with some of the movie viewing choices I’ve made in my lifetime.
See, Mom? Poltergeist didn't rot my brain. It warned me about the dangers of creepy-ass dolls. 
My point (yes, I have a point) with all this elf talk is that thousands (perhaps millions) of NPIA operatives who have a known penchant for mischief (at best) and are possibly evil murderers (at worst) all had to return to NPIA headquarters after Christmas. Since they work for a jolly old soul, they got a week or so to
cut loose before returning to HQ. 
It's like their Spring Break. Only elfier.
However they chose to spend their vacation time, they all had to report back to NPIA HQ on the same day. Their preferred mode of transportation is flying like Superman above the clouds. But since the legion of creepy-ass flying dolls all returned at once, the atmosphere could not sustain the impact of all their little bodies slamming into the same swirly airspace en mass. As a result, those jokers done popped a hole in the atmosphere, thereby allowing the vortex to get all lopsided n’shit. To put things into a more scientific perspective: Popped Atmosphere + Lopsided Vortex = Frozen Lighthouses.

Move over Einstein. You're not the only one who can create scientific equations.
Now there is talk of us getting hit with another dose of polar vortex in the near future. My guess is because when all those elves saw what they did, mischievous and/or evil bunch of creepy-ass dolls that they are, they celebrated their massive power and then decided to see if they could do it again. Exactly when they'll try their little experiment is not exactly known, but it has been strongly hinted at by TV meteorologists who aren't above scaring the shit out of the general public to get ratings. But whenever they do plan to repeat it, they'll start off like this: 

Gather, Legion!! The time has come!!
 And we'll end up like this:
Is it cold enough for ya? Har har!
Some doubters may disagree with my hypothesis. But since my writeup includes a radar map at the top and a scientific equation near the bottom. I'm pretty sure that qualifies as some rock solid sciencey stuff right there.
Including a picture of Einstein makes it all the more legit.