Friday, May 22, 2009

Marisa vs. the flu

Hi and Happy Friday!

Unfortunately, for me, it's not such a happy Friday. The flu hit me hard. I've been out for the count since Wednesday with a fever, bad cough, and some hard-to-even-get-off-the-couch fatigue.

Wednesday night was actually the worst of it. The American Idol finale was on, and I was in and out of sleep on the couch. Somehow, I woke up at 10 PM, just in time to hear the winner announced: Kris Allen. I thought I might be warm just from anger over Adam Lambert losing -- but then I took my temperature.

It was 104.3!

I was home alone, so I called my dad, who yelled, "TAKE TWO TYLENOL RIGHT NOW!" and hung up. (He just lost a friend to the swine flu, so he was especially panicked). I did what he said and then spoke to Mark, who immediately jumped in a cab to come over. In the 20 minutes I waited for him, I talked to my dad, brother, and Mark. We all decided that once Mark got there, he and I should go to the hospital together.

But the Tylenol helped immediately, and within the hour my temperature went down to 103.3, and then 102.1. Should we really go to the hospital? we wondered. After all, we'd probably wait in a gross waiting room all night long. We decided not to go. Instead, we stayed up 'til about 2 AM watching TV so I could continue taking my temperature and take Tylenol once more before I went to sleep. We fielded like 80 phone calls, too -- all our family and friends were so nervous! At 2 AM, Mark tucked me into bed and went to sleep on the couch. He was so anxious he fell asleep watching The Weather Channel. Poor guy!

Yesterday, Mark stayed home from work to take care of me. I felt like was 7 again, when my mom would stay home to make me tea and toast. I spent most of the day sleeping, and then Mark took me to the doctor, who didn't seem that concerned and gave me an antibiotic "just in case." Sometimes I hate doctors!

Today I'm just taking it easy. "Dr. Mark" had to head back to work, and I'm home monitoring my temperature and watching Top Chef reruns. I do have more energy today -- not like I'm going to run a marathon, more like I might wash last night's dishes (Mark made us enchiladas!). At least I have a 3-day weekend to feel better. So much for using the long weekend to pack for the big move -- oh well!

Any tips on what helps cure the flu?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Moving in and moving on

I have terrific news to share: Mark and I found an apartment! Now I can officially tell you that we're moving in together.

After 7 days of searching, the 7th apartment we saw was the one. Located on a tree-lined block in a beautiful Brooklyn neighborhood, this converted brownstone was a no-brainer to take. As I walked down the block to meet Mark and the broker last Thursday, I felt it in my gut: this is our block, this is our apartment. And as soon as we walked in, Mark's eyes lit up like a little kid. It took only a 2-minute private conversation to say YES YES YES!!!

This might sound funny, but I can't believe how happy I am. Deciding to move in together was a big deal to both of us, and for a while I felt incapable of making this decision without my mother's words of wisdom. However, once I gave Mark my "yes" to move in together in March, I've never looked back. Link
On our way to sign the lease on Saturday morning, I felt not even an inch of nervousness (and I always feel jitters for big decisions). After we signed, a perma-beam stayed plastered on my face for the rest of the day. I never thought I'd be "that girl" who had such a girly reaction, but I'm totally guilty of it!

As I learned on Mother's Day, part of moving in with Mark means moving on from my mom's death. Surprisingly, I didn't feel sad on Saturday that I couldn't share it with her. I called everyone on my list and squealed in their ears, and then I looked up at the ceiling and knew she knew and was happy for me. I just knew.

So now, I'm focused on the countdown. We move on June 1, which means we have 14 days 'til the big day. I'll keep you updated on our progress!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

From a Special Guest Blogger: How to reach out to sick friends or family

You meet lots of people in the "blogosphere"! Luckily, I've met a lovely woman, brave cancer survivor, and kind mom named Ashley. She's here to share her story and give some advice. Take it away, Ash!

What a privilege to be a guest blogger,
for one of the best blogs in town
or should I say web.

When I spoke with Marisa
about this project of sharing my story,
the key was to keep it short and sweet,
in hopes of bringing light for others
to gain good pointers in helping those
who are in the time of need, whether it be
death, illness or a general troubled time.

The year was 2000,
millennium bug year
as most of you remember.

A year my life was turned upside down.

Just when I, Ashley, thought life couldn't
get any worse, already at the age of 19
I became a mother, then a wife.

A year later at the age of 20
my father passed away,
due to liver failure,
the following day my grandmother died,
from pancreatic cancer..

The month was March,
at the age of 23,
I had just taking on a new job,
during my last two weeks
of my old job, I was diagnosed with
FHC, Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma,
a liver malignancy in young adults,

I saw first hand, with a great team of doctors,
family and friends, how one
should be treated in a time of need.

1. Sit with the patient, even if it's in silence,
the day of surgery, home or even go to the doctor.

2. House hold duties, cook, laundry, yard, groceries etc..,
make sure you ask first.

3. Send cards, flowers, a phone call, gift basket,
a book, funny movie or a gift card,
for a salon, house cleaning or a meal.

Honestly guys anything is better than nothing,
I learned this first hand as well.
One of my best friends
was absent during my battle
with cancer!

I am now a 32 year old
cancer survivor,
on a mission to share my story.

As you can tell my story
is deep, so deep I can not
share it all here.

Instead I am writing a book!

Vist me at my blog, Blog a Verse, to learn more...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mother's Day Recap: Finally finding peace

I feel so weird saying this... like I might jinx myself... so I'm just going to whisper it in your ear: Mother's Day was surprisingly OK this year!

Sunday, that is.

Saturday was a little rough. I knew Mother's Day was coming, and I was dreading it. All day my stomach was upset and I felt on the verge of tears. After a few hours of lying on my couch, I finally forced myself to go to my friend Maria's housewarming party. Instinct told me that being around my friends would be an instant cure. It was. As soon as I arrived, a good giggle and a glass of sangria did the trick. The sad spell was broken.

Sunday started much better. I woke up happy and energized. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and I was ready for the day. This was a surprise -- especially since sometimes on Mother's Day, I literally don't want to get out of bed.

Mark and I were in the bagel line by 10:30AM (just in time to beat out the Brooklyn hipsters who sleep in!). As we walked to the subway, I told him that the weather being sunny always makes me happier on days like this. "The day my mom died and the next day at her funeral were both really sunny, beautiful days," I told him. "It makes me feel like the heavens are at peace."

We spent the next few hours on the apartment hunt. We're moving in together (yay!), and this was day 2 of the search. Between apartments, we visited our friend Melissa who's a first-time mommy celebrating Mother's Day. It felt so nice to celebrate a young mother. It reminded that the holiday is happy, too.

At 3PM, my brother picked us up and we drove to Long Island to spend the afternoon at my dad's girlfriend Susan's house. This time, I didn't care about wearing a dress or impressing everyone. I wore jeans and acted like myself -- and I had a great time. Susan and I had some really nice chats, I enjoyed talking to her two children who are in their 30s, and I even got a hug from her 1-year-old cutie-pie grandson, Cooper -- I'm smitten!

When I finally crashed into bed, I was totally wiped but content. It had been a good day, mostly because I finally understood that my life had to go this way. My mom had to pass. This is part of my story. And it shapes the path my life takes -- and I like my life! I used to long for a life with my mom in it again. But now, I long for the life I have, with all the people I might not have met and grown to love like Susan and Mark. I'm thankful, and I'm at peace.

What surprises you about your own story or life path? What turns has it taken that you didn't expect, but now you accept?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day: How I try to stay OK

Hi friends,

Well, Sunday is Mother's Day. It comes every year, as relentless as the seasons changing, and I tend to approach it half-filled with dread that I'll feel depressed and half-filled with hope that I'll be OK.

I wish I could tell you that I do something wonderfully charitable on Mother's Day -- that I volunteer at a soup kitchen or plant a tree. The truth is, those things seem a little too forced or cheesy. On any hard day that has to do with Sally, I really just want to be near my dad and brother (and recently, Mark), who understand me and fill me with great comfort.

Oddly enough, on the first Mother's Day after my mom died, I didn't spend the day with my family. Instead, I hid. I went on tour with my band and kept all my tears tucked away as my bandmates called their moms that Sunday. I hadn't yet dealt with my mom's death, and I couldn't bear to face my family -- but I did "man up" enough to call my dad and brother and share some mumbled words of how crappy we felt.

For the next few years, we spent the day with my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Brooklyn. Surprisingly, it always felt good to wish my Aunt Christine a happy mother's day, since she often feels like a mom to me. On that day, she would always say something to me and my cousins about missing my mom, and all our eyes would well up in that way that feels good and bad at the same time.

This year, and for the past two years, I now spend Mother's Day with my dad's girlfriend, Susan. She invites over our family and her family, and we barbecue burgers and hang out as one big strange Brady Bunch sort of crew. I have to admit: I really like this tradition. I like that she opens her arms to us on a tough day, and I'm thankful there's a plan so I don't have to think abuot what to do or sit around all day feeling sorry for myself. Plus, it means I still get to see my dad and brother and share the day with them, which is what I care about most.

Last year on Mother's Day, I was feeling blue and Mark said something that really changed my attitude. He said: "Ya know, one day Mother's Day might actually be a happy day for you."

What do you do on Mother's Day, or on other challenging days? I know Father's Day is a hard one for some of you readers, too. Please share your thoughts with me here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Dad: The father of rock 'n' roll

For the past 6 years, ever since I visited the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, I swore I'd return with the absolute best tour guide: my dad.

This past weekend, I finally made that promise come true. Off to Cleveland we went!

The Hall of Fame was incredible. For 7 hours we wandered through exhibits, marveled at Mick Jagger's super-skinny jumpsuit and Diana Ross's sequined dress, listened to songs together on oversized headphones, and watched videos of exclusive interviews and performances. The main exhibit was on Bruce Springsteen, an artist I never particularly loved and am now totally obsessed with. (My dad actually scored a last-minute ticket to see Bruce tonight -- on the phone just now he said it was "the perfect end to a perfect weekend").

Music has always been a wonderful bond between my dad and I. Whether singing along to Erasure as he drove me to a playdate as a kid, or blasting Blink-182 as we drove home from visiting my mom in the hospital (Dad loves the entire "Enema of the State" album!), music has always been our secret language.

But music isn't our only language. Throughout the weekend, we talked about lots of other stuff: life, work, relationships. All the things you want to talk about with your dad... to get his advice, to learn from his wisdom, to prove to him that you're growing up and making good decisions (even when you're pretty sure he already knows that).

So, tonight's a tribute to "the father of rock 'n' roll" -- my pops! He just called me back to tell me they're playing all Bruce Springsteen on 104.3 FM. So as he drives home from the concert and plays Bruce on the radio, I'm getting ready for bed and letting Bruce croon me to sleep. Miles apart, music is our great connector.

Have you ever been on a trip with your parent(s) that meant a lot to you? Share it here!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My blog post is on!

Hi everyone!

I wrote another "guest blog" for Glamour magazine's "Life with Cancer" blog. Click here to check it out!

I'll tell you all about my awesome trip to Cleveland later tonight.


Friday, May 1, 2009

I'm taking a daddy-daughter trip

This weekend I'm taking my pops to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. My dad's the ultimate rock fan. He loves Neil Young, The Who, Tom Petty, and lots of other legendary musicians. Although he never really played an instrument (minus the clarinet in elementary school for about 5 minutes), his love for music certainly inspired my brother and I to become musicians.

Growing up, our house or car was often filled with music. My dad says when I was 4 I used to bop around to Springstein's "Born in the USA." The first song my brother and I loved as teenagers was "Video Kill the Radio Star," and my dad used to sing along to the chorus in the car. My whole fam has gone to countless concerts: Billy Joel, Elton John, Tina Turner. Dad even once stayed up 'til 2AM to see my band play a show in Syracuse, NY. What a trooper!

I went to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame five years ago, when my college band Janet Drive was on tour. I loved every second of it, and knew I had to go back with my dad one day. I can't wait to experience the museum with him, since he'll have so much information to offer and experiences to talk about.

I'll report back on Sunday!