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I'm a down to earth girl who loves to laugh at others...I mean make others laugh.
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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
30 Rock


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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Write Back, Period! "Verrrry Interesting..."

Okay, so it's been established that I'm grossly overdo in regards to my posting. I did hope to make up for lost time during my week off, but you know how that is, best laid plans and all of that jazz. In fact, those of you who remember my posting from a weeks ago will recall that I was sick at the time. Yeah, well I'm sick again which is rare, even for me. So what I'm going to do right here is attempt to go back, way back. Back into time. Maybe not so far back, but since I have yet to answer two different Tell It To Me Tuesday questions, I decided to lump them together in one big post now. I also realize that there was no Tell It To Me Tuesday question for this week. I figured why kick a girl while she's already down, no?

The first question was...What are your thoughts on life outside of Earth? Do you believe in aliens? If so, what do you think when you think about them?...

For me, it all comes down to one word, believe. I'd like to believe there is intelligent life outside our planet. Do I personally have any proof? No, but then again there are a lot of things I haven't seen for myself that I believe in, too. For example, there's the fact that Tom Cruise is really a gay man or that God really exists, just not necessarily in that order.

I'd like to believe that there is life outside our planet because it makes life interesting. I don't know if any life outside our planet is nearly as exciting as the movies makes it out to be, but it's fun to wonder and in that wonderment, create any reality we want. I somehow think that if we had the answer for certain we'd all be worse off for it. It might let us down. It would certainly disappoint people like Steven Spielberg. I do so wish that they were all like E.T. though.

I guess it all boils down to the fact that I have a hard time believing that there isn't a reason to believe. Imagining that we are the only intelligent beings in the whole galaxy just seems so far-fetched. Maybe it's even outside our galaxy, who knows? But the fact that someone, or some "thing" somewhere might be wondering the smae thing is exciting, too.

Now on to question number two...What's the strangest food(s) you've ever eaten?

Unintentionally there is somewhat of a common, quirky theme in these two questions. If only I had dined with an alien, now that would be unique in itself. Then again, maybe I already have. How would I really know?

Anyway, when it comes to food, I am no stranger to experimentation. I don't like people who say they don't like this or that, when in actuality they've never really tried...this or that. Another term my students over misuse is that they say they are allergic to things they haven't tried or things they have tried, but haven't liked. I try to explain to them that there's an important distinction to be made between people who can't say drink milk because they'll break out into hives versus someone who doesn't drink milk because they don't like white foods.

But when I say I like to try a lot of different foods I should clarify. One of my favorite things to do is try foods that come from different places. When I first went to Epcot Center in Florida I was so excited about the trip for that reason alone. I thought it would be so cool to "visit" each country and try a bit of their food, too. I didn't realize at the time that even Epcot had many limitations in this area, but I digress.

Since then I've discovered that cities are the best melting pots of different kinds of authentic culture. For instance, you can have Mexican food at Taco Bell, or you can have Mexican food at an authentic, Mexican restaurant. As anyone who has had both will tell you, they are entirely different experiences. When you've had good food of any culture and you compare it to the bad, only then do you really know. It's just like the words to the Facts of Life theme once said, "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have...the perfect bite." No, that can't be right.

Anyway, it is within those given cultures that I've probably tried some interesting foods that I wouldn't try otherwise. In Japanese culture I love to eat sushi which when you think about it sounds disgusting, but it's actually really delicious to those of us who've ventured out and actually tried it. It's not even that unusual anymore. I can't even tell you all the different types of sushi I tried, but I'm glad I did. The other most unusual food I can remember trying was at an Indian restaurant in Philadelphia. My boyfriend ordered frog's legs just for the hell of it, and I had to try them because they were on his plate. I can honestly say that everything you've heard about frogs are true...they really do taste like chicken! Drier, chewier chicken, but chicken all the same.

Although I do try a lot of different foods, more than the average bear anyway, I do have some limitations. For example, I have no interest in knowingly eating any bugs or random body parts like brains or stomachs. Notice I said the word "knowingly". That's because I do realize that unbeknownst to myself I may very well have tried something, or will try something, that I wouldn't want to. I acknowledge this because I, like many of you, go out to eat. Like it or not, when you go out to eat, you really are at the mercy of the chef in the back. Sure you may order the chicken, but do you really know that what you ordered was chicken? It's a scary, sometimes disgusting thought that I don't like to dwell on too much.

All I'm saying really is that when it comes to foods, and even aliens for that matter, there's a motto to remember, "Never say Never".
Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Just Eat It!"

First of all I'd like to say thank you to everyone who left me supportive messages and gave my mom, a virtual (no pun intended) stranger, well wishes. I know that my answer to last weekend's TITMT question has yet to be posted, but given the post below, I think you'll all understand why I didn't get the chance to respond. The good news is that spring break is coming up next week so I should have a little extra time on my hands to post and to visit your blogs. In short, just hang tight!

Ari (who shares delicious recipes on your blog, by the way) gave me the idea for this week's question so I hope you all play along...

What's the strangest food(s) you've ever eaten?

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Truth Be Told

As I sit down to write this post, I'm taking a deep breath. This is the post I've been putting off writing for sometime as I haven't really known what to say. I guess in a way I still don't, but here I am, full steam ahead, attempting to say it anyway. It's no secret that this blog is a shell of what it used to be and to be honest, there's a number of factors that have contributed to it's slow demise. When I started AOGB, it was was an outlet for me in so many respects, personally, professionally and mentally. Now it's more like an old friend, one I hate neglecting, but one that when I do get the chance to visit, things fall right back into place as if no time has passed at all.

Before I proceed, I realize as I write that the tone of this post is hinting that I am giving up on AOGB and no, this is not the case. I've toyed with closing its doors completely, but instead I've opted for the alternative, the understanding that those of you can accept that my posting is sporadic at best are going to be with me regardless of how often I post. I know that blog readership itself is fickle and I've seen its effects first hand. Maybe one day I'll have the time and the energy to get this blog back to where it used to be, but in all honesty, as many of you already know, truly running a good blog is like having a part time job. So instead I settle for second best. This blog might be winning any additional awards or even any new readers, but I've made peace with that. The fact that I haven't folded completely while other good blogging friends have come and gone over the years is in itself, a reason to be proud.

So why is it so hard to update AOGB as often as I used to do it? I have examined the reasons before myself and I've come to a variety of conclusions. Simply put, when I first started this site there was just less on my plate. In the last year or so the cup has overflowed so to speak and it's made it hard to catch up. It all started with my getting engaged and having a lot of my time, at least initially, devoted to planning a wedding which is, as many of you know, no easy task. With the planning of the wedding came the staging of the house my fiance has yet to sell and all that entails. A dismal housing market caused him to take the house off for the winter. Now, with more work being put into the house and less of a profit to be made, he's poised to put it up a second time in the hopes that we can still get it off our hands by the wedding in August. Needless to say we're cautiously optimistic.

From there, last fall I received my first student teacher which allocated my time differently as it was an additional responsibility. I'm not complaining about this responsibility in the slightest however, considering I learned a lot, had a great time and made a new friend in the process. I was so happy with the experience, in fact that when asked if I wanted another student teacher for the spring semester I happily agreed. But factors in and out of work have made this experience far different from the first one. There's more pressure for one thing the second half of the year and there are extenuating factors outside of school that have made this harder.

Which brings me to this week and another added pressure, the big state test. It's something I prepare for every year, but this year it really seemed to sneak up on us. All of us are feeling the pressure because it's a bit earlier than it usually is and the kids feel less prepared than they normally do. This compacted with the fact that the percentage of kids that need to be proficient each year increases and you realize the outlook doesn't look good. Still for better or worse, the test is almost over now and by this Wednesday I can heave a big sigh of relief that it's done for the time being, until I have to hone in on a new batch of kids, that is.

So now you have a taste of what I've been going through the last year or so. Maybe you think this already seems like a lot, maybe it's nothing compared to what you go through on a daily basis. Regardless of what it is, it's a lot all at once. Which makes the fact that one more thing getting added to my plate last fall truly pushed things over the edge. That's because on New Years Eve my mother was diagnosed with cancer.

It all started in the fall when she felt what she thought was a swollen lymph node under her arm. It triggered her to make an appointment for a routine mammography that was a bit overdue. Results from the mammography were inconclusive and after a series of tests, including a needle biopsy, it was discovered that she had Stage One breast cancer in both breasts.

The good news is that it was Stage One which makes it very easy to treat and the prognosis was excellent. But as any of you who have dealt with cancer directly or indirectly before know, it's still not an easy thing to deal with. The process itself is amazingly a long, drawn out one all things considered. Perhaps if she had a more advanced stage of cancer everything would seem to go faster, but they haven't. She went in to have a lumpectomy on both breasts in early February. The process of being in the hospital all day was a grueling one at best and disheartening, too. But really that is a post in itself that I won't bore you with here. Needless to say we were there from 8:30 in the morning and didn't get home until after midnight. The wait was worth it though when we got the news that her lymph nodes were clear and that the cancer itself had been removed. Had the cancer been present in her lymph nodes the battle would have been far greater, but thankfully and luckily, it was not.

My mom's recovery from the surgery itself was a relatively painless procedure, her words not mine. They do something now where they can hook you up to a pain ball which sends medications locally to the site where you had the surgery. In essence, the surgical site was numbed without her having to feel the side effects of pain meds throughout her body. It made her recovery much smoother and more pleasant. But after the surgery, we had entered the next phase, the hurry up and wait of treatment.

See we figured that since her cancer was stage one and for all intents and purposes had been removed, she'd have radiation and then move on. But unfortunately my mother was a rather unusual case, something you don't want to be in circumstances such as these. For whatever the reason, she had stage one cancer in both breasts, however the cancer she had in each breast was different. The good news is that meant that the cancer itself hadn't spread from breast to breast as it seems that it would have. The bad news is that she technically had two different types of cancers which effects the course of treatment they ultimately suggest.

So as a precautionary measure, it was suggested that my mother have four cycles of chemotherapy spaced twenty-one days apart to be followed by five weeks of radiation for five minutes each day. In addition, she also will take some sort of pill. The doctors showed her a chart that mapped out her chances of reoccurrence decreasing with each form of treatment that was added. They were the experts, so she trusted what they said and that's where we are now as she finally starts chemotherapy tomorrow.

As a bystander the whole experience has been surreal at best. As a family we are known for being worriers and over analyzers and even at times can be accused of seeing the glass as half empty and that would be right. But I must say it's true that you don't know how you'll deal with things until they happen. It's also corny and cliche to say, but God does not give you more than he thinks you can handle. I know she's my mom, but I must say that she has handled this whole process amazingly well. She has maintained a positive attitude and most importantly, her sense of humor. She has a great group of friends, lifetime friends and work friends, that have been extremely supportive, too. I also have told only a few close friends up until now and have seen first hand how others react to what you are going through. In general this has been a bittersweet experience because it can sweeten or sour the experience as the case may be. I wish I didn't take such matters to heart, but going through something like this and seeing where you truly stand with people is quite the eye opening experience.

My mom has continued to work while all of this has been going on, only taking off days as necessary for various appointments. She doesn't have to work at all, but she chooses to do so and I think it's great she has that outlet for her mental health. Just recently I started to see her show signs of being more scared now that she knows that she has to undergo the chemotherapy. After all, up until now she hasn't really felt sick. The chemotherapy and radiation however may change all of that and it's the unknown that scares her, not the fact that she's not really "sick" anymore. She also gets sad when she thinks about the possibility of losing her hair, especially since that means that she will have to wear a wig most likely for my wedding. I suggested postponing the date but there's no way around it. If the date is changed she'll always look at pictures and remember her sickness was the reason why. If the date isn't changed she'll probably always look at the pictures and remember what was going on at the time. One thing we can't change is the fact that cancer itself changes things, period.

So why am I telling all of you this now? Well it's not so much avoiding sharing it with all of you, it just hasn't seemed necessary or appropriate up until now. But for those of you who have been loyal enough to stick with AOGB through highs and lows I felt I owed you something. This isn't an excuse, merely an explanation and a disclaimer that the highs and lows continue indefinitely, until further notice. Regardless of the fact that I've never met any of you, many of you are like an extended family of sorts, knowing me in different ways than some of my own friends and family do. Only like minded bloggers know what this sort of experience is like. It's hard to explain to people who haven't experienced it for themselves, but needless to say I'm glad I'm still along for the ride.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tell It To Me Tuesday "They Came From Outer Space"

Thanks again to all who come here and have been patient in my ongoing absence. Rest assured there is a post explaining all coming tomorrow so I hope you swing by and accept my sincerest apologies.

In the meantime, for today's TITMT question, I'm going to go with a twist on Rhodester's question. His original question was the following...

"Have you ever been abducted by aliens, be it from another planet OR country, and if so, did they experiment on you?"

Now since this question, even if it was meant to be serious, is rather narrow in scope, I took an idea that he gave me and instead went in my own direction.

So the new and perhaps improved TITMT question that at the very least, encourages more people to answer, is the following...

What are your thoughts on life outside of Earth? Do you believe in aliens? If so, what do you think when you think about them? I am purposely being vague here in the hopes you'll expand upon your own.

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Write Back Weekend "Making Sense"

So here I am with the long overdue response to the week before last's TITMT question. I am pretty much back to normal in terms of my health, except for a stubborn, lingering cough I can't seem to get rid of. But enough about that.

The question in question was all about your senses, your hits and your misses.

Most Favorites

The things you are about to read about qualify as my most favorite in some way, shape or form. As with anything else, I'm sure the list is a lot longer than this, but it's a start anyhow.

Favorite Taste

Of course my favorite taste depends on the mood I'm in, but overall I prefer salty to sweet. I'm not really a typical dessert type person. I next to never would choose a piece of candy over a raw vegetable. I can't really tell you why, it's just how I roll. Unless of course it's (cover your ears, or eyes as the case may be, men) my time of the month.

Favorite Smells

I can go in two different directions with this one. I have always loved the smell of the laundry detergent aisle in the supermarket. I guess you could say I love the smell of clean. I love taking in the smell of my newly cleaned sheets for instance. It's addictive to me. It's also the reason why I'm greatly upset when I can't smell such things due to a cold like I went through last week.

But on the flip side, I also love the smell of good foods cooking. Newly baked bread is a good one, as are any type of baked goods. But really the smell of most foods, sans perhaps cabbage, cooking are pluses for me.

Favorite Touch

This might seem like an odd one, but I if I had to pick touches I like, I like the feeling of holding someone's hand whom I trust. I find that holding hands can be very comforting, calming and soothing. There's also a sense of protection that comes along with it, not to mention what it says to the outside world. But don't take my word for it. Just ask Angela Chase.

Favorite Sight

This is the trickiest one to answer because sight encompasses so many different things. I love the sight of some of my friends after not seeing them for awhile. I love to see people laugh heartedly. I love to see my favorite movie when I find it by accident on television one afternoon. I love to watch people's reactions to good news. I also love to watch things that don't know we're watching them like animals or babies. Just a whole hodge podge of stuff.

Favorite Sound

I love the sound of water. I like waves crashing on a beach, splashing in a pool or a fountain or waterfall overflowing. I know this sound can also make you want to pee. I feel it's a small price to pay though.

Least Favorites

At the risk of stating the obvious, this category is going to be restricted to things that I've actually experienced that I feel are awful, not awful in the traditional sense. For one thing, that's gross. For another, it's not realistic. So there.

Least Favorite Taste

I always hated the taste of cucumbers. Even worse than the taste of cucumbers is cucumbers when they are repeating. There are some instances I can tolerate eating cucumbers when they are mixed in with something else, but the repeating part after I'm done eating is what really does me in.

Least Favorite Smell

I don't know about anyone else's house, but the first time the heat is turned on when it starts to get colder, there is a good awful smell that permeates the house. Luckily it's temporary, but it really gets to me and makes me gag. I also incidentally, hate the smell of cigarette smoke because there's no escaping it, it's everywhere and it's cumbersome to get rid of to boot.

Least Favorite Touch

This might seem odd, but the one touch that comes to mind is the sensation of a fortune cookie on my fingers. I hate opening them. I do it all the time, though I rarely eat them, if only to get to the actual fortune. I do it begrudgingly so though, as a means to an end, because I really, truly hate that sensation.

Least Favorite Sight

I seriously hate seeing cruelty to animals. It makes me very sad, overwhelmingly so, even if it's just depicted on television and I know it isn't real. Maybe I was a dog or something in another life, I don't know. All I do know is that seeing animals being treated meanly or being ignored completely really does something to me. I think it's sadder to me than people because animals are completely at our mercy and can't defend themselves the way we can.

Least Favorite Sound

For some reason, it really, really irritates me when a fly whizzes past my ear. It bothers me so much to the point that it's a slow torture for me. It's even worse if you're stuck in a house with a dying flying because it's buzz gets louder as it struggles to live. I've been known to trap a fly or two in a room with the door closed when I can't get it to leave, simply because I need to put it, and me, out of their misery.

The other sound I hate is snoring. I'm a light sleeper and once a snorer has infiltrated my sleep system, rarely is there any going back. I know the snorer can't help it, but that doesn't make it any less annoying.

So there you have it, my hits and misses, the abbreviated version. Thanks to the few of you who have been patient enough for me to get it posted!
Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Calling In Sick"

Although I've been no stranger lately to being a bit behind as far as AOGB is concerned, this week I actually have a legitimate excuse. I got sick on Saturday and so once again I'm behind. Apparently in addition to having a bad cold, I have double ear infections and pink eye. Good times, my friends. Good times.

So today's TITMT is an open-ended question that I've asked before, but it never hurts to ask again. I decided to go this route since I'm still trying to make up for the post I'm behind on from last week. So....

What sorts of questions do you want to see for future Tell It To Me Tuesdays? As always, if a question of yours is used, you will be given credit.

I'm not going to do the Mister Linky thing today for obvious reasons, but if you happen to stop here today, I hope you decide to jump in with ideas anyhow. I also hope to get to many of your blogs sometime today, too.



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