Saturday, December 31, 2016

#428 Run My Own Fantasy League

The Year is 2011. 
I had been chirping to my dad the last two years about Fantasy Football. I was asking his advice, gloating about my wins and bitching about my losses. Sundays morning were all about football talk with my father. And he was so smart when it came to the sport. From hearing my chatter about the upcoming season he had expressed interest in learning to play, so I offered to start a league for him to learn. A few weeks later my brother comes up with the great idea of starting a league so our dad could play. This is how that went down.

My brother: “Hey. You need to start a football league so dad can play.”
Me: “Yea Bill…I told you a few weeks ago I was doing that. Thanks for listening.” (He never listens to what I say…EVER!)
My brother: “Oh. (His typical response.) Well let me know what night you are going to do it.”

There were still two weeks before the season was slated to start but since I had never been the Commish before I thought it would be best to prepare early. I went on to Yahoo to set up the family draft. I had no idea what do but Yahoo is pretty easy to follow. I created the league and named it Fess’ Football League. Original I know, but my creative juices were not flowing that night.

I am not going to lie, I freaked a little when a huge page popped up with all of this crazy scoring stuff. Yahoo was asking me how I would like to customize the league. I had no freakin idea how I would like to customize my league. Aren’t they all the same? Obviously not! Thankfully I scrolled down to see that Yahoo gave me the option of using the same setting as my other league. I understood that league so I chose those settings. A wave of relief washed over me. Now I had to chose a date and time. That was easy. I picked my date and time and started sending out invites. (No worries…I assure you I still managed to f@ck it up!)

I informed everyone of the invites and checked everyday to see who had accepted the invitations. Everyday no one accepted the invites. In turn, I became this "Fantasy Football Creeper". Each day I would ask the persons I invited to the league if they accepted the invites. My brother completely ignored me which wasn’t a surprise. I guess he didn’t see my 1700 text messages. Everyone else kept saying they never received invites or that they accepted the invites. Finally, after day 5, I decided to investigate why everyone was lying to me because it couldn’t possibly have been something I had done wrong.

I log into Yahoo. I stare at the screen for about 15 minutes stupefied. Why does it say offline draft results have not yet been entered? I could have sworn I chose a live draft. Furthermore, I scheduled it and sent out invites. Seriously Yahoo? I try to change it from an offline draft to a live draft setting but when I go to select the date and time of the draft, it no longer allows me to pick that time. No worries. I had originally scheduled it for 7:30, I can change it to 8.

The drop down box on the schedule shows that time is available, yet, when I go to select it, it will not allow me to choose that time. I resort to the number one solution for fixing the whole “this web site is really pissing me off” phenomena. I close the page and re-open it. Sometimes a plug in ( Shockwave, Java, Aliens) crashes and creates a ripple effect of very extreme frustration.

Yea….that didn’t work. You have got to be kidding me? It still wouldn't allow me to select that time even though it was offering that time. I didn’t clear my cache. Perhaps I should do that. I hate clearing my cache. It takes forever because quite frankly, I look at a lot of stuff on the web. Ten minutes, one cigarette and a cherry vodka and diet coke later and I am still SOL. Now I am getting pissed.

For the next 20 minutes I try different variations of days and times to get my league on the draft schedule. Not one combination worked. I had to walk away from the keyboard because I was ten seconds from slamming my laptop off of my desk and I COULD NOT afford to break it...... although it would have felt really REALLY fabulous for about a minute.

I had to admit defeat. We were going to have to draft a week after the football season started. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was the only time available on Yahoo’s jacked up, lying ass, schedule. Of course when I inform “the supervisor”, aka my brother, about the change in plans, he pulls out the sarcasm rocket launcher and starts firing away. He must have been having an off night because he was rather redundant in his assault. “That’s retarded” and “That is gay.” were used about ten times during the assault. Usually he is more creative with his sarcastic verbiage. 

It is funny how the one who can’t spell likes to down the one with the gifted IQ. It’s all good though because I know my brother. I have yet to pull the Ace card out of my sleeve. I continue to listen patiently as I always do. I get some rather good material for my own sarcastic arsenal from my brother. If they gave out degrees in sarcasm my brother would have a doctorate. He was truly gifted in the medium. When he finally comes up for air, I pull the Ace out of my sleeve.

Calmly and ever so sweetly I say, “Why don’t you set up the draft then?” That ends the sarcasm tirade immediately. It is settled. We will be drafting a week after the season starts. Figure out how your opponent thinks, and you will always be victorious. 

I proceed to inform everyone about the change. Once again, I become the “Fantasy Football Creeper” because no one accepts these invitations either. I was beyond frustrated at this point. I walked over to my father’s house ( he and I only lived a house apart back then) to see why no one had accepted the invite. My mind was boggled once more because both parents stated that they had accepted the invite. 

While my mother is pulling up the email to show me the invite, my brother texts my phone to start on me YET AGAIN about the draft day. It’s funny how he does not have to respond to me yet, I am REQUIRED to respond to him. I am ready to throw in the towel. As I walk back to my house prepared to call the whole thing off I remember commercials for football drafts on A glimmer of hope in this pendulous black cloud begins to shine. 

When I get to my house, I go to my office and head to I had never drafted with them before, but from what I was gathering, it was very similar to Yahoo. We could do the draft tomorrow night, which was a Wednesday, before the season started. I sent texts all around to see if this was good for everyone. Turns out it was! We were back in action! I gave myself a pat on the back for my knack for overcoming obstacles. This was going to be great.

Let me tell you, the family draft turned into quite a night.

It is now Wednesday aka Draft Day. I am driving home from work when I get a text from the “supervisor”. He wants me to set everything up for our family draft tonight. He will be home by 7:30. He also wanted me to bring over wine. When did he become a wine drinker I ask myself? As I drive the rest of the way home I wonder what it would be like to boss people around and have them actually listen to you. “Hey Billy, go to my house and do my laundry. I will be home around 8:30. Oh and stop by the liquor store and get me some cherry vodka.” His response would be simple yet definitive. It would be “No.” Whatever! I’m doing this for my father anyway.

I arrive home around 3:00 and check to make sure the draft didn’t magically change from “online” to “offline”. It did not. Thank you football gods. I look at my team from my other league. I had won the award for best projected draft. I wanted to try and get as similar a team as possible for my family draft with the exception of trying a different QB.

I walk over to my dads because SURPRISE, no one has accepted the invitations AGAIN. My mother is my first victim. I ask her why she hasn’t accepted the invitation. The draft is at 8:30. We need to get her account set up. She claims she hasn’t received one. (You have GOT to be f@cking KIDDING me goes through my mind and I may have even said it out loud although I try really hard not to drop the “F” bomb in front on my parents.)

She proceeds to open her email, which takes about five hours because her computer is old and she is constantly running out of virtual memory. Why? She has a browser open containing content that takes up a whole lot of RAM. In other words… She is playing Farmville. SMH. It locks up on us a record 15 times. Yep…no invitation in there. F%$#KIN GREAT!

I walk over to my house and proceed to send everyone the invites 18 times…just to be safe! I come back over and we wait. And wait. I look at my cell phone. It is 5 PM. We still got time. I also text my brother and tell him to get his ass home. He responds that he can’t get home any earlier than 7:30 and to just figure it out. I won’t write what I sent back to him but it wasn’t nice.

There are two laptops in the living room. I tell my mother I am going to get Billy’s and Dad’s accounts set up. She just looks at me. I ask her if she is okay with that. She informs me that they don’t have their email set up on those computers so we will have to use hers to get the invitation links. I tell her I can log directly into their webmail. She searches but cannot find the passwords. I start laughing. Fantastic! We are at the mercy of the slowest computer on the entire planet. We definitely aren’t going to make the 8:30 draft time.

I walk into the kitchen to sit with my dad and try to figure out what to do. Am I seriously going to have to change the draft time again? I glance at the kitchen table and there are football pools lying there. They are the type of pools where you have to pick the winner for each game and write the total points of Monday night’s game for the tie breaker. I ask my dad if I can have one. I needed to clear my head.

I walk back into the living room, sit on the couch and begin studying the paper. My mother looks over and says she played one too. I asked her what teams she picked. She said she picked the ones with the birds and animals she liked the most. Without missing a beat, I ask what she picked if there were two teams playing against each other without a bird or animal as a mascot such as The Packers vs. The Saints and The Vikings vs. The Chargers. Colors was her reply. She asked my dad what color uniforms the teams wore and chose the ones with the colors she liked better. Of course she will win the pool. Screw player stats and expert projections. Maybe I need to start doing that too.

I was also hoping that was the method she was going to use to pick her team in the draft. I mean, Dolphins and Bengals are adorable. Go with lots of players from those teams. Seahawks are cool birds. Throw a few of them in the mix. ( This was before they were good.) Perhaps a flock of Rams to even it out. I was laughing to myself when I had an epiphany. I jumped up from the couch and went back over to my house.

I pull up my account. I created it through Facebook. How could I have forgotten that? They all have Facebook accounts. We can just do that! I walk back over my dad’s. I was starting to make my neighbors dizzy. Hell, I was dizzy. As I come through the front door, my mother, full of excitement, informs me she that finally got the link. Great! You do it that way I tell her. I am going to go on the other two computers and set up Dad’s and Billy’s through Facebook. I text my friends and tell them to do the same.

We called my sister Steph and tried walking her through the log in step by step. Of course I confused her because sometimes I talk too technical, an annoying side effect from my previous job. She was on her way over with her laptop so I could just do it myself. I decided it would be best to bump the draft time to 9 PM just to be safe since it was already 7PM and nothing had gone right so far. Big mistake.

I grab my laptop from my house, bring it over my father’s, have my son configure it to use their wireless connection, then log into to change the draft time to 9PM. The “supervisor” finally arrives at 7:30 just as my sister does. I get her set up. My brother sits down at the laptop and begins scanning players while informing me I am going to spend the season getting my ass kicked by him. I tell him I will have a box of tissues ready for when he loses the championship to me. He tells me “in my dreams.” I tell him I make my dreams a reality. He makes a face at me. Did I mention we are 38 and 33 years old?

As my brother and I continue to exchange smack talk, a draft window pops open on my screen. It says “Enter live draft now”. I click on it thinking it is going to bring me into the draft room. I start scanning the room but the only name I recognize is mine. The timer is ticking and it is my turn to select a player. I begin freaking out. “It started the draft now?“ I exclaimed. “Who are these people?“ Panic stricken I start scanning the page. I see “NFL Managed” with a bunch of numbers after it as the league home.

 I was in a random live draft. How the hell did that happen? The rest of my family started getting the "enter live draft now" screens too. I warn them not to click on that page. I needed to figure out what was going on. I also grabbed a glass of 2/3 vodka and 1/3 ice tea because sometimes an abundance of alcohol is required when you live in Whatthef#ckville.

The madness ensues……

Mom: “So I am not supposed to click on this page even though it says to enter the draft?”
Me (furiously clicking through pages to find my league): “No, DO NOT click on that page. It is not our draft room.”
Mom: “Okay, because your father has the same screen up.”
Me (glancing over to my father): “Dad, don’t select that.”
Dad: “So I am not supposed to go in here?”
Me (taking a huge gulp of vodka spiked with ice tea): “No.”
Steph: “It just popped up on mine too.”
Mom: “Is hers the right one?”
Me (finally arriving at the my league home, praying the buzz would kick in ASAP): "What the f@ck?”
Me (Quickly looking up at my mom): “Oops. That wasn’t meant for you. No, it is not the right one.”
Mom (laughing): “Okay. How do we know when we are supposed to click on it?”
Me (taking another big swig o‘vodka): “I will tell you when.”
Dad: “So no clicking on this page.”
Me: “No. No clicking on that page.”
Mom: “Do you know why that came up?”
Me (half annoyed, half laughing, not nearly buzzed enough): “I am trying to figure it out but I keep getting interrupted.”
Mom (trying to hold her laughter): ”Okay. We will be quiet.”
Me (The blood flowing through my veins finally turning warm and tingly while my brain starts to send sparks of light headed goodness): “Thanx!”

I begin looking at the league home. The whole “What the F@ck” statement stems back to what I first noticed when I got to the home page. I guess when I changed the time, it defaulted to an offline draft. No worries, is not Yahoo. I will just change it to an online draft and all will be FUUUUUUDDDDDDGGGGEEEEEE!!!

The next available live draft is not until 10:30 PM. THAT'S IT! I am NEVER going to be the Commish EVER again! EVER! As I look up to inform my family that we are going to have to wait 2 ½ hours to draft my brother speaks up.

Billy: “Chrissy, what is this?”
Me (looking over at his screen, shaking my head): “It’s a random live draft Bill.”
Billy: “Why am I in here?”
Me (Not only was my brother sitting five feet away from me but he was in the room the ENTIRE time the above conversation was taking place. I need more alcohol and he drank all my wine.): “Well I guess you must not have heard me one of the 500 TIMES I said not to click the “Enter Live Draft Now” screen.”
Billy: “Oh.”
Me (speaking to everyone): “When I changed the draft time to 9PM it knocked it offline. The next live draft is not available until 10:30. What do you want to do?”
Billy: “What the hell? No! That’s too long to wait.”
Mom: “I’ll wait”
Dad: “Yea, we can wait.”
Steph: “I don’t have any plans.”
Billy (showing his Santino Corleone side): “Chrissy, it is going to take hours for us to pick all our players. Then you are going to be up until 4 in the morning entering all that information. My friend Eric spends hours entering all the picks for our draft. It’s too late. Let’s just do it now.”
Me (giving my brother the “have a nice warm cup of shut the hell up” look): “I have work at 4AM. Besides, it is online. I don’t have to enter anything. The computer logs and saves all the information as you pick your players.”
Billy (not buying it): “What? Really?”
Me: “Yea. The draft shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes tops and everything will be online.”
Billy (still apprehensive): “ I never did it this way before. That’s pretty cool. And why do you have work at 4AM?”
Me (sighing): “Don’t ask.”
It figures. The only two people in the room that know anything about Fantasy Football have thrown themselves into random live drafts.

For the next two hours I show everyone how to select players. I show them how to filter by position and rank. This is very confusing to most of them because they have never played before and my brother…well he isn’t very versed with computers. My mother knows nothing about football so I show her where each player ranks that way if she is unsure who to take, she can just choose the next player available by rank.

My father gives her a crash course on player positions. I “suggest” what positions they should focus on first. I recommend getting running backs and a quarterback in the first few rounds because they are your big point earners. She decides she is going to stick with the birds, animals and colors for draft selection. My sister, brother and I snicker among ourselves.

Finally 10:30 rolls around. It is time to draft. There are five of us scattered around the living room. Four on laptops, my mother on the desktop. Steph goes first and picks Ray Rice. I call her out on her pride pick. Actually though, it was a great choice and was a few years before the whole beating in the elevator incident. I draft second. I mull between Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. I go with Johnson since I already have Peterson in my other league.

My mother wanted him. (I will most certainly end up regretting this selection later. Mid season my mother tells me it is karma for stealing him away from her.) My brother takes Jamal Charles. I wonder what his strategy is. My father takes Cedric Benson. I am beginning to wonder what both males are thinking. My mother takes McCoy because Eagles are one of her favorite birds.

Round two my father takes Brandon Jacobs. Another pride pick. I don’t have the heart to tell him it wasn’t the best choice. He says Jacobs is going to make a comeback this year. He and my brother are both Giants fans and find this sarcastic statement extremely hilarious. I grab Arian Foster knowing he will probably be on the bench for awhile, but in the long run, will produce for me. My brother mutters “Way to pick an injured player.” I give him the finger. My mother picks Darren McFadden because the black and silver uniforms look nice.

In the third round I decide to go with Rivers. (Another bad decision.) My father picks Mario Manningham. I warn him about Giants players. My father steals Dallas Clark from me in the 4th round. I don’t give him a hard time because..... he is my dad. It is also my job to remind the elders when it is their turn to pick.

Me (Round 7 in full swing): “Dad, you need to make your pick. You only have 30 seconds left.”
Dad: “I already have my choice ready. I am going to take Lawrence Tynes as my kicker.”
Billy (snickering at the choice): “You thinking lots of field goals this year?”
Dad (laughing): “If Eli has another season like he did last year, Tynes will be very busy kicking field goals.”
Me (trying to mentally recall my father’s roster): “Dad…you took a kicker before your quarterback??”
This really makes my brother laugh out loud.
Dad: “Don’t worry. My choice is still out there.”
Me: “ Um...Okay? Cathy.... it’s your turn.”
Steph (turning to me): “She is being awfully quiet over there.”
Mom: “I am concentrating.”
Me (whispering to Steph): “ I can’t wait to see what her team looks like.”
Steph: “Well we know it will definitely have the coolest animals and colors out of all the teams.”
We both begin rolling.
Mom (Still facing her computer): “I heard that.”
Billy: “Who is she choosing?”
Me: “I have no idea but she picked her football pool based on her favorite birds, animals and colors.”
Billy (laughing out loud): “Does she even know what players she needs?”
Me: “The computer is helping her.”
The three of us start cracking up.
Steph: “Watch her win.”
Me: “I know. I said that earlier.”
Dad: “ I am taking Matt Cassel as my Quarterback.”
We all go silent and just stare at him. Why would he do that?
Dad: “The NFL channel said this could be his year.”
I never question my father but I began to worry that he may be going a little senile like my grandfather.
Me: “That is good to know.” It was all I could manage without laughing.

When the draft is over, I review everyone’s roster. Naturally my father’s is heavy with Giants players. I completely understand. I did the same thing my first year with Steeler players. My brother’s team makes no sense to me but perfect sense to him. My friend Mel fell asleep halfway through the draft but was thrilled with the automated picks she got. When I get to my mother’s team I gasp. She has arguably the best team out of all of us. My sister did very well too. It is almost midnight. Everyone begins winding down.

Before I leave, we all agree this needs to become a family tradition. We all had a lot of fun and it is rare we are all together like this anymore. And it has become a family tradition. Every year draft night pretty much goes exactly the same as the first ever draft night. I go insane running from computer to computer. Draft times get screwed up. Drafts go from online to offline. I field 100 questions. My brother arrives 2 minutes before draft time. He always forgets how to log in. I drink a few heavily laced alcoholic beverages. It's good stuff!

The league is now called The Lector League. Has been since 2012. Yes, I am still the Commish even though I said I would never, ever be Commish again. We did not get a draft going this year because we all had too much going on around the beginning of football season year. It was the first time in 4 years there was no family draft which sucked. We will definitely have a 2017 draft though. The family goal, to beat the GOAT, aka my brother-in-law Mike, who joined the league in 2012 and also does not lose in Fantasy Football.....ever. I am being completely for real. He is always the champion.

One of us, one of these years will beat him though. It will happen......maybe. We are also going to add a pot to next year's league. There will be a financial stake. Practice is over. We are all pros now. We are gonna play like pros. My family is a football loving family and it's one of the greatest things to play in a family league! I will gladly be the Commish for The Lector League as long as they will have me. I promise I will not fine anyone for unsportsmanlike conduct or flag anyone for excessive celebration after a hard earned weekly victory! I may slap my brother though for being a smart ass. Unnecessary roughness is legal in this league!

As Bill Belicheck would say..... On To 2017!


2017 Year of the Purge

Sometimes I name my upcoming years. I don't think I named this year, or 2015. I know 2014 was the Year of Sports since Becky and I went to a lot of sporting events that year. It was so awesome. I checked quite a bit off my bucket list that year. For 2017 though, I want to make sure it is a yearlong activity. I want it to be something I do continuously every month. This is where the theme "The Purge" came into play. No, I will not be purging the way they do in the popular movie series. I will be purging in ways that are beneficial to my health and well being.

I will be purging toxins, clutter, stress, anxiety, finances and a host of other bad habits from my life. I know this is not going to be an easy task at all. I know this yearlong purge can and will add more stress and anxiety to my life in the short term, but in the long term, it will ultimately reduce it. I am going to experiment with different ideas and plans to find what works best for me and my lifestyle. Sacrifice is a difficult thing for anyone, and I do not want to sacrifice a happy life filled with things I love at the expense of this purge.

What I do want from this purge is to find a happy medium between what I really enjoy, what really keeps me in my best frame of mind/well being and what I don't really need in my life. The goal I am hoping to accomplish is the trimming of as much excess and unnecessary activity as possible. Let's face it, most of us have a lot of excess in our life. And that excess is often negative in nature, even if it does not seem so moment to moment.

They say it takes 21-28 days to form a good habit. A bad habit can become reality in as little as a day. You may not even realize you have formed a bad habit until one day you notice that you have less energy, or you develop an illness, or your savings account is empty and you have nothing to show for it. You may be cleaning your house and realize you have way too much stuff to clean. You may be drinking 12 beers after work instead of two. You may be throwing away more food than you eat. Bad habits are not limited to the standard addictions we see and read about in the news or on social media.

Bad habits have many faces and come in many forms. There are many scenarios and everyone is different. I'm not here to judge anyone. We all live our lives differently. What one person may consider a bad habit, may be perfectly acceptable to another person. I am not here to give lectures or unsolicited opinions to anyone. God knows I hate when people do that to me. The only person I am here to judge and evaluate is myself. I have to live with myself 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. My opinion of me is what matters most.

I am going to try to have fun with it. I am going to try different things. I am going to reward myself for accomplishments in various ways. I know I am going to screw up. I know I am going to have days where I am going to cave. I'm not going to beat myself up over those days like I normally have in the past. You don't have to scrap an entire plan because of a few missteps. In fact, having a few missteps will assist me in learning how to rebound and push forward with my goals.

I am not going to give myself crazy difficult challenges I know I will not be able to accomplish. This is not about becoming Wonder Woman and impressing the masses. This is not about a complete transformation on an individual level. There are many things about myself that I love and accept. This is about becoming a better version of the person I am today in areas where I feel I could use some improvement.

I plan to build from one challenge to another in the various aspects of my life where I would like to see improvement. I know some of the challenges I will present to myself will seem like a walk in the park to some and a few of the challenges I take on will seem like torture to others. But, it won't matter because it's about the individual. It's not about society at large. I plan to write about as much of my purging as possible so I can to take you on my journeys. Perhaps I will inspire a few people in areas where they too feel they could use improvement. It will also help me in holding myself accountable for the challenges I give myself.

I have a bunch of items on my bucket list that I hope to accomplish through this yearlong purge. A lot of these goals have been sitting on the list for years. Why not just do them? Most of them are of minimal cost. I may even add a few items to my bucket list as well since I often discover new things that pique my interest while researching other bucket list goals. Sometimes I even remove items from my bucket list based on how I, as an individual, have changed. Some goals I no longer wish to accomplish.

We are forever evolving and changing as individuals. I believe that is necessary and vital for each individual. So.... on to 2017 I go. Can't wait to experience both the accomplishments and failures of my purges since both are going to shape me in beneficial ways. It's good stuff!!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

#260 Give Blood

Blood Types

Type O Negative.....that is me.

From years of watching the TV show ER, I always wondered why the trauma teams asked for O Negative blood in emergency situations. Isn't O Negative a rarer blood type? How could all of these people have O Negative blood? How did the doctors and nurses even know the patient's blood type? I decided to look into this. Turns out, they usually didn't know the patient's blood type.

If a trauma unit has a patient that needs blood and they are unable to ask the patient's blood type, or if the patient does not know their blood type, the automatically give the patient O Negative blood. Why? Because O Negative blood is the only Universal blood type. Just about everyone can have O Negative blood regardless of their blood type. That is why this blood type is always in demand by donor banks.

My dad won all these donor awards for giving blood when I was younger. I am not sure what the time span was in which he donated but his pint donations added up to a few gallons. The Red Cross would present a special donor pin to him and his photo would be published in the local newspaper every time he reached another milestone. I always thought that was very cool. So of course, I wanted to be a blood donor. I especially wanted to be one because I had O Negative blood.

Turns out.....I am not exactly good at giving blood. First off, my veins are not so easy to find. I have been poked and prodded and bruised from technicians and nurses trying to find a good vein to siphon. And if I didn't pass out during the whole poking and prodding process, it was a given I was going to pass out after the blood was drawn. Nothing like waking up to a bunch of people standing over you while someone administers smelling salts only to discover you have yet to even donate.

Not that the whole smelling salt experience was something new to me. I've fainted a few times when I went for blood work during both my pregnancies. Nothing like passing out with a needle in your arm. That bruise is going to be a huge, purple and black nightmare. It will also take 3 weeks to heal and cause some conversation among the customers you serve at Friendly's. Fun times!

After my second time passing out at the blood drive, the attendants told me to make sure I let them know I was a "fainter" on my next return. They would be able to take extra caution with me if they knew ahead of time. I smiled and nodded, assuring them I would certainly let them know. In my head all I kept thinking was great, now I'm marked for life. I am a menace to society. I'm trouble. They don't want me here. I might as well paint a Scarlett "F" on my shirt for FAINTER next time I walk in the building. Sighs. Tis' the story of my life.

I did a little better the next time I donated blood. I was able to fight the fainting spell. I was still weak and dizzy but the lights did not go out. I was happy. I wanted to earn a gallon pin and have my picture in the paper like my dad. But.... it was not meant to be. The last time I donated blood, which was over 15 years ago, I thought I had it licked. I made it through the needles and the drawing of the blood. I was able to walk over to the juice and donut table all on my own. I remember standing at the table and the nice lady assisting the donors asked me if I wanted orange juice or apple juice.

Donate Blood

That is when my ears started ringing. The cold washed over me. I felt like an ice cube. The horrible wave of nausea that often accompanies a fainting spell, hit me out of nowhere. Thank god the lady was sharp and noticed me turn white. I was going down and I couldn't fight it. When I woke, I was strapped into a weird rolling wooden chair. The attendant had the chair tilted way back and was rolling me into another room away from the other donors.

He noticed that I was awake and placed me upright. He handed me a little brown paper lunch bag and instructed me to take very deep breaths into the bag. I noticed there were two other "fainters" in the room with me. They were also being attended to. Although I was still discombobulated and trying to grasp what just happened, I found some comfort in knowing I was not the only one who made a complete jack ass out of myself. These were my peeps. We were the "fainters".

My attendant asked me how I was doing. I managed a little smile and told him I felt like a dork. He laughed. He explained that I gave them a little scare. I seemed fine then boom, I went down quick. Thankfully the lady at the juice table was able to grab me before I hit my head.  I felt bad for her. I'm not exactly a twig. My attendant now had a serious look on his face.

He asks me to please consider donating blood again next time I am eligible. He does not want my fainting to deter me. I smiled at him. I tell him the story about my dad. He is very impressed. He then asked me if I thought I would able to stand up. I felt awful, dizzy and sick to my stomach but I was also not a baby. I started to stand up. He helped me walk back into the room where the blood drive was taking place.

He sat me at a table and told me to rest for a few minutes. I didn't feel like fainting again but I felt so weak. My attendant returned with a donut and a cup of orange juice. It is not often that I don't have an appetite but at the moment, I had zero appetite. He could tell by my face that I was about to interject. He informed me that I had to eat and drink. I was allowed to take as much time as I needed, but I had to eat and drink.

I knew this. This wasn't my first rodeo. Happened to me four other times. However, this was by far the worst spell yet. I knew what was going to be in store for me today and tomorrow. I would be ill and weak. I could possibly faint again. This was the worst fainting spell I have ever had. I really just wanted to go home. Of course, I also drove myself there so I knew I had to wait a little bit until the dizziness wore off some.

I eventually ate my donut and drank my juice. As I got up to leave, I made sure to thank the lady at the juice table for ensuring I did not hit my head. She was so sweet. She also said I gave her a scare but everyone was very quick to assist. They are used to this happening. It happens more than you would think. Again, I found some solace in this. She too, also asked me to keep donating blood and to not allow this set me back.

Unfortunately, I was sick for almost a week from passing out and having a pint of blood missing from my body. As a mother of two elementary school kids whom had to be shuttled to numerous activities and appointments, I could not afford to be down and out by choice. I just couldn't do it anymore. That was the last time I donated blood. It was right after 9/11. I wanted to help somehow. I had already donated a bunch of blankets and sheets for the cadaver dogs. A local truck ran them up to NYC. I also donated bottled water and laundry detergent for another truck a friend was bringing up to the city. I felt it still wasn't enough. I saw on the TV how the hospitals needed blood. So I donated blood.

I am not sure if my blood was used for any of the injured from 9/11 but I know it was used to help someone, somewhere, who was in need. I wish I could still donate. It's one of the easiest ways to be charitable and helpful. It truly does save lives. My body just doesn't adapt well to the process. We are all different. I truly don't have many weaknesses but this is one of them. I did try though. I may eventually try again. And there are so many others who gladly donate every chance they get. Have you ever given it a chance? Have you ever donated blood? You should try. One pint of blood can save three lives.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

#214 Master A Video Game

Yoshies! I love Yoshi. Too cute!
Yes, I am old enough to remember the first video games. I hail from Generation X. We witnessed the birth of the Atari, the Commodore computer, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, cassette decks, VHS players, John Cusack's career and that pesky little Rubik's Cube. The only way I could solve that damn thing was to peel the stickers off and LIE. Generation Liar! Every single one of us were liars because we all had Rubik's Cubes with a bunch of crooked stickers on them. You would take one look at a friend's cube and be like "Yea, I know what you did there. Mmmm-hmmmm. Sure you solved it."

Ah, the joys of being an 80's child. The 80's truly rocked and I miss them much. Video games were the shit in the 80's. Yes, I know they were around in the 70's but they really exploded in populaity in the 80's. Our first family video game console was the Atari 2600. It was a thing of beauty hooked up to our big, wooden, 1970's floor model TV. The system came with a game called Pong. Pong was about exciting to me as watching The Lawrence Welk Show. I may have played it twice in my lifetime and that was two times, too many.

And don't get me started on that game Yars' Revenge! First of all, it had a scary bug on the cover. Second of all, it sounded like a bunch of buzzing bugs. F that! I think I'd rather enter a lead paint eating contest then subject myself to a creepy game with bugs in it. File that one under G for Garbage. Spaced Invaders, on the hand, well that was my bitch! It was way better than Yars' Revenge. I became so good and so arrogant at Spaced Invaders that I used to make designs and patterns with the space creatures just cuz...... I could.

Spaced Invaders. Damn right I will press start!
Eventually we got the video game Asteroids and my siblings and I pretty much never played the Atari again. Why is that you ask? Two words....My Mother. She played that game ALL day long. The only time she took a break was if Princess Diana was on TV or if the new Star or Globe magazine hit the newsstand. Not gonna lie though, she was really, really good at Asteroids. Like, REALLY good. It took me a long time to beat her high score, but eventually, the day had come. I then proceeded to make the fatal error of telling her to come look at my score on the TV. Bad move kid. Bad move.

My mother's lips were pressed so tightly together they turned white as she sneered at my score. She was pissed! Later that day I got grounded for some stupid "thing" I did. I think it was for breathing or being alive or something along those lines. Guess someone was pretty butt hurt that day. Whatever. She didn't like me anyway. (I really wish I was making this up but I'm not.) I told myself if I ever had kids, I would be happy if they beat my high score. You want your kids to be better than you at everything. You pray for that! Sighs.

Link- The Legend of Zelda
Through the 80's and into the 90's, I mastered a lot of video games on the Atari and Nintendo gaming systems. There was Pitfall, Frogger, Super Mario World, Dr, Mario, Yoshi's Cookie, Donkey Kong Country, Mike Tyson's Punch Out, Tetris, Q-Bert, Final Fantasy, and The Legend of Zelda to name a few. We won't even get into the computer games but let's just say, I was a big Leisure Suit Larry fan. It was definitely more of an "adult" game but funny too.

Then the Sony PlayStation came out in 1995. We ignored it's presence in the gaming world for quite some time. We were a bunch of Nintendo snobs in this house. We bled NES! Mario for President. Luigi for VP. We love mushrooms. Play that Ocarina white boy. Ain't no way a Sega Genesis or PlayStation was coming in THIS house. It probably wasn't any good anyway right? I mean did they have Yoshi? No! They did not have Yoshi so they had to suck.

Then the unthinkable happened. My beloved Final Fantasy series made the move from Nintendo to PlayStation. Shit just got real. Those bastards at PlayStation stole Final Fantasy. How could Nintendo let this happen? Did they not care? Was Mario next? Oh my god my life was ruined. This was so wrong on so many levels. I coped with the utter shock by becoming more involved in surfing the Web. It's probably the only surfing I will ever do in my life but hot damn, I am good at it. 

Did you know I have been online since 1993? It was mainly Bulletin Boards (BBS) back then. There were only a handful of websites. Now, it's huge and I was there for pretty much the entire ride. It's wicked cool to see how much the WWW has evolved since I first hopped on back in it's infancy. I even got a commission job as a local writer on a city travel site back in 1998. That lasted a whole 3 months. The company never got the funds to truly go live and the website went under.

Still, I was having a blast with the Interwebz. Final Fantasy who? Traitors! I already forgot about them. I forgot about them until the year 2000. The year 2000 is when PlayStation introduced their new PlayStation 2. All of a sudden all the regular PlayStations were now selling dirt cheap. The kids knew this. They vocalized that really wanted to try games on other systems. They wanted to broaden their horizons and open their minds.

Well..... they didn't word it exactly like that, they were 6 and 8 years old, but I knew what they were putting down. I pride myself on being open minded and free spirited. My kids were displaying those very same qualities. It just melted my heart and filled me with pride.  So.......we bought a PlayStation. Never say never right? Let the games begin once again!

Like I mentioned above, I have mastered many video games in my life. The one I am going to talk about though is my favorite video game of all time, Final Fantasy VII. On Christmas in the year 2001, I received Final Fantasy VII and the complete walk through guide for a Christmas present. And while I loved my Christmas present, I did not play my game right away. My daughter had her Spyro games to play and my son, well my son got over the PlayStation really fast. He is definitely a Nintendo boy and at the time, he was totally wrapped up in Pikman.

This game was really neat and so cute. Used to love when my son would play it.

But I still didn't want to take any time away from my kids playing their games. Then, about a month after Christmas, both my kids were like, "Mommy, why aren't you playing your new game?" So that night I unwrapped the game and the rest is history. The first time I played it, I did so without looking at the guide book. I liked wandering around trying to figure things out on my own. It's a wonder I beat it the first time because I was missing a key piece of materia. The second time around I used the book to find the things I missed my first go round. I missed A LOT!

I remember being in awe of how advanced the graphics were for that time. The game opened up with a pretty girl carrying flowers in downtown Midgar. Later I would come to find her name was Aeris/Aerith and she was the chosen one. She was last in a 2000 year blood line of ancients. She also had materia/magic inside of her but someone needed to stab it out of her. Perhaps an alien could do that but...I am getting ahead of myself.

The game jumps right from Aeris' scene into a battle with the game's star and antihero Cloud. Cloud had this big ass sword that is as tall as he is and chunky, blonde spiked hair. Cloud bands together with Aeris. a gang of fighters and a red wolf/dog to defeat the evil powers of Shinra, a company that was draining the life blood from the earth. Hmmmm.....Kind of like humans cutting down the rainforests, deploring the world's natural resources and fucking up the ecosystem. Pretty slick there Squaresoft. Pretty slick.

Jenova and Sephiroth were also evil and needed to be destroyed. They were the main villains in this game. Jenova was locked away but her son Sephiroth was walking around causing all kinds of mayhem. Guess what they were....

This game gave me many premature gray hairs and way too many hours of enjoyment. FF7 helped me coin some new swear word combinations I never thought possible. Of course these inventive and colorful phrases were only spoken after the kids were asleep. One of my favorite memories of this game was when I would get so into it that I would keep playing and playing and playing for hours on end; then I would get in a battle with a really hard monster and as I lay dying on the ground because I used all my magic and health potions, it would dawn on me that I did not get my ass to a save point and I pretty much wasted five fucking hours of my life for NOTHING!

That movie Groundhog's Day with Bill Murray, yea....that was often my reality when I was playing FF7. I was also a habitual re-setter. ( When you screw up in the game and reboot it to the last save.) My son still busts my ass to this day about it.

Traveling the world and visiting all the spots on the map was my for real favorite part of the game. At the Gold Saucer, FF7's version of the Mohegan Sun casino, I would laugh my ass off racing Chocobos. They looked like goofy ostrich chickens running around in a circle. My characters could also fight in the battle arena to win much needed cash, potions and materia. I spent more time in this fake casino than I ever have at a real casino in my entire life. I also got to breed my own Chocobos at the Chocobo Ranch.

Baby Chocobo Hatching - Concept Art
The goal was to breed the ultimate Chocobo, a gold one, that could take you all over the map of Gaia. It took me forever to get a gold Chocobo. There were about 100 things I had to do in order to breed one. Go here to get greens. Go here to get a lure. Now you need a rare nut that can only be found here. Now go race 17 Chocobos you already bred. Now brush their hair and tell them they're pretty. Now take a vile of blood from your first born Chocobo and burn in a fire under the 11th full moon of the year. Oh, you burned it on the 10th month. You fucked up kid. Now you have to start all over again. It was a huge pain in the ass but it was still fun. And yes, I got my gold Chocobo. I named him Chrissy.

Growing Materia by equipping it to your weapons during battles was also a lot of fun but very time consuming. Materia was magic that gave you powers to heal, steal and summon creatures to assist you in your battles. Kjata, Phoenix and Hades were my most heavily used summons but summoning Knights of the Round, now that was MAGIC! I would spend days and days just walking around the world getting in battle after battle to grow my materia to it's max potential.
Summon Phoenix Concept Art

Did I have to? No. Did I have VGOCD ( Video Game Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and need to have everything at it's max potential? Yes. I felt strongly that it was important to have my materia maxed out because when you forgot to get your ass to a save point, stronger materia makes the difference on whether or not your game controller, game console, the game itself and your TV are all getting hurled out your front window because you died!! Who wants to clean up all that broken glass? Not I.

Of course there was a very sad scene in this video game. Final Fantasy always likes to kill off a beloved character. I am not sure where it happened exactly but I remember having a conversation with a few people about Final Fantasy 7. We were going on and on about battles and monsters and characters. I started talking about Aeris and how I could not believe Sephiroth killed her. One of my friends lost all color in his face when I said this.

"Aeris dies?" he exclaimed. "She is my favorite character!" I seriously thought this kid was going to burst into tears. Yes, there is a lot of passion among us FF fans. Sometimes there are tears as well. I honesty felt horrible for spoiling it on him. I felt like Sephiroth, only instead of piercing Aeris in the back with a blade, I pierced this kid's heart. I apologized profusely to him. He assured me that he was not mad at me, he was just sad that Aeris was gonna die. He asked me what part of the game this terrible tragedy was going to occur so he could mentally prepare. I helped a brother out.

Aeris and Cloud Aeris' Death Concept Art

Anyways, I beat this game three times. I also went on to beat FF8 too.

Of course I spent way too much time playing this game. I knew I would. I'm a junkie. It's why I rarely play them now. I can go almost 24 hours straight playing a game. That's a lie. I have gone 24 hours straight playing a game. This game. It was nice though because the kids liked to watch me play. They would come in the room and sit next to me on the couch or pull up a pillow on the floor and watch their mother beat monsters and save the world. The both of them have also played and beaten FF7.

Quistis Final Fantasy VIII Card Game

Below is funny videos that sum up FF7 but for real, it is an awesome game and an amazing series. My son still plays the series here and there. He is actually playing FF7 again, as I write this. My daughter is an avid and outstanding FF player. She is the captain now. And I will never ground her for being better at the game than me.

Honest Game Trailer Final Fantasy VII

In closing I would like to say "Cheers" to all the gamers out there.....The past gamers, the present gamers and the future gamers. Gaming can be a lot of fun. Just remember, everything with moderation peeps. There is a real world out there to be experienced and there are real people out there to meet. Enjoy participating in your gaming adventures, but don't forget to participate in your own, real life, adventures as well. 

Cloud and Aeris.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

#151 Dine At Tavern On The Green

I remember walking by Tavern on the Green in Central Park a few years ago. It was haunting to see it barren. Gone. This landmark of Central Park had become a ghost. How could it have slipped away? So many people had walked under the long red awning into it's big wooden doors, myself included. It is the most beautiful restaurant I have ever visited, and definitely one of the fanciest meals I have ever experienced.

However, much to my happiness and complete surprise (sometimes I live under a rock), Tavern On The Green has re-opened. It re-opened like three years ago. Well ok! I did not know that.

My visit to Tavern occurred in the autumn of 2006. Three of my co-workers and I talked about taking a bus into the city. I hadn't been there in a few years so I was yearning for the big apple. With the help of the restaurant manager Diane, we were able to arrange a Wednesday where all four of us could have off that day. It was set. We were going to the city!! I was too excited.

Upon booking the tickets, one of my friends, Carolyn, mentioned having brunch at Tavern on the Green. I winced a little at the thought. There was no way I could afford such a fancy restaurant. She laughed at me. She said there was no way she could afford it either if it were ala carte, but they were having a Thanksgiving brunch in November that was actually affordable. For $65.00 we could have a full meal complete with dessert. We just had to be happy with turkey.

I thought about it for a moment. I could swing $65 for a chance to eat at this historic landmark. It would be a dream come true for me. The restaurant where I worked was really busy. I was making really good money the past few months. Why not? I really did need to get out of the house and live a little as a newly single woman.

I gave her the green light to count me in. I was even more excited now! I could not wait for the day. Our seating was early so as soon as we exited the bus in midtown, we headed towards Central Park. My smile was so big as we approached the red awning. I was going to walk under the awning and into the big wooden doors which were being held open for us by the handsome doorman.

I remember gasping at the beautiful holiday decor all around me as I walked through those doors. I think I got whiplash from trying to soak in all the ornate and intrinsic detail of the wreathes, garlands, stained glass, chandeliers and trees surrounding my every turn. Stunning, elaborate, colorful... all these adjectives kept popping into my head. I was taking pictures left and right.

I was such a tourist but, for the first time that day, I forgot about the heartbreak I was still feeling. I knew the first round of holidays after the split were going to be tough but they were almost unbearable. $65 was a small price to pay for some distraction and genuine happiness. Besides, we were all tourists in there. Everyone was snapping pics and posing for the camera.

The gals and I were escorted to our table in the Chestnut Room. There was a huge Christmas tree by the window directly across from our table. As I was admiring it's festive ornamentation, our hostess laid the pre fix menu on our plates. I began studying it. I knew turkey was the main course but I did have a choice of appetizer and dessert.  After going back and forth between an exotic salad, another option which I cannot recall and French Onion soup, I decide to order French Onion Soup for my appetizer. It was a bit brisk outside. A perfect day for soup.

A buser arrived with a basket of unbelievably delicious warm rolls and brie. How exciting! I love the taste of creamy brie. It's delicate but has a little punch of nuttiness. It is fantastic with sliced roast beef sandwiches. Our server welcomes us to Tavern then asks if we would like to order a drink from the daily drink list. I had spotted a pear martini on the menu. It was a little pricey but I love pears. I decided to go for it. I knew I wasn't going to buy anything else really, maybe some Godiva chocolate and a few things from Sephora but that was it. I rarely buy anything in midtown and that is where the gals wanted to hang.

Anyways, I decide I am having a pear martini and a glass of water. The server tells me I made an excellent choice. I smile. She wasn't lying. My martini was so sweet and heavenly on my tongue. There was real pear nectar in it! Most places back home rarely offer pear anything and when they do, it is just pear flavored alcohol. This martini was also twice as large as the ones back home. I payed double the price but it was premium and smooth and.... it had pear nectar. I take my little green reindeer stirrer and swirl it around my martini glass. I will savor this moment. 

The gals and I start chatting about life, work, kids and the approaching holidays. The steamy scent of French Onion stops me mid sentence. I look to my left. Our server was back with our soups. We all ordered the French Onion. I could not wait to dip my spoon into the gooey, golden brown cheese, layered over the crock of soup. After allowing it to cool for a few minutes, I dove in.

A puddle of onions and broth formed where my spoon caved into the cheese. I slowly slurped the cheese and soup from my spoon. Oh wow! I could taste the sherry in the soup. It added depth to the soup, enhancing the flavor of the onions without overwhelming the broth. It was perfect.

The cheese topping covering the soup was not your typical Swiss, which is still very good. This cheese was called Gruyere cheese. It was my first time trying this cheese in which I had no idea how to even pronounce. I fell in love with it immediately. Gruyere is creamy and flavorful but not at all pungent. It matched perfectly with the sherry flavor of the soup. My taste buds were doing a happy dance with each spoonful.

The very nice and attentive buser removes our dishes as we finish our first course. Turkey is next on deck. I have to admit, I am not a huge turkey fan. I like it, but it is not something I really ever crave except for the few sandwiches after Thanksgiving. So while I was sure it would be good, I wasn't expecting to be blown away by it. Wrong Chrissy!! Wrong again!

This gorgeous dinner plate of turkey and trimmings made me want to sing a song about turkey. I sometimes sing about my food. It makes me happy. LOL! Looking back, this turkey had to have been brined. I mean wow! For this turkey to taste so juicy and full of flavor was mind blowing. At the time I had no clue how it was prepared. It wasn't until 4 years later when I brined my first turkey that I had tasted a flavor which took me right back to Tavern on the Green. I have no idea for real if they brined their turkey but my brined turkey tasted just like Tavern's. Mine wasn't sliced as pretty since I butcher my turkeys but it tasted just as juicy and flavorful as theirs. I have been bringing my turkeys ever since.

It was also due to Tavern's fantastic meal that I rediscovered my love for cranberry sauce, but in a different way. This cranberry sauce was made with real cranberries. I was used to the gelled cranberry that plopped out of the can in the exact shape of ....the can. Oh no. That won't due anymore. Now I used the canned cranberry sauce with whole cranberries. LOL! I know how to make cranberry sauce from scratch, and it is fabulous, but since I am the only one in the house that eats it, I won't spend the money to make it just for me to eat for two days.

Not going to lie though, I was apprehensive about trying the sauce because real cranberries are very, very tart but for what I paid for this meal, I was eating every single last bit. Again, the heavens opened and my tastebuds rejoiced. My meal also had a delicious cranberry stuffing, green beans with pearl onions and sweet potatoes with pecans and apples. Another first for my tastebuds was the sweet potatoes with pecans. I always ate my sweet potatoes with marshmallows but the pecans were surprisingly perfect with the sweet potatoes.

They were nutty & buttery. The touch of brown sugar added complimentary sweetness to the natural sweetness of the potato. Inspired, I began making a killer sweet potato casserole with a brown sugar pecan topping for Thanksgiving. I am the only one who eats it though, so I haven't made it the past few years because that is definitely not cheap to make.

Moving on to my Creme Brulee dessert. When our server brought our desserts to the table, I noticed my creme brulee was a perfect golden brown with a slightly darker brown in the center of the dish. I cracked the sugary top. It was the perfect crack! That matters believe it or not. If it is not torched enough, the sugary topping affects the texture of the creme, if it is torched too long, it burns and not only tastes bitter but does not crack as easily and also affects the creme, either by it flying all over because you have to hit it too hard or because sharp burnt bits mix with the creme.

I spoon a little of my creme brulee and bring it to my lips. Whoa!! They used real vanilla beans in the creme brulee. The cream used to make this dessert had to be top quality. It tasted so pure. Do I sound like a nut yet? Good. I hope so. I am no Gordon Ramsey or Ina Garten but I do have a very extensive knowledge of food. I certainly took my time with this dish of heaven, savoring every bite of the creme brulee. I was seriously trying to be dainty throughout this entire meal which is not at all natural for me. I am the bull in the china shop. I am Godzilla running through the village. I am so not dainty. But...I did okay. I was pretty classy. I didn't swear or lick the bowls or drop anything.

Go me!! I must say, this was one of the best meals I have ever had. I was sad when it was over. Not one thing tasted bad. I tried some new food items and combos and actually enjoyed them. Even the pearl onions were good and I am not at all a fan of their texture. I find them slimy and weird. Everything was just that delicious and well prepared. +

Tavern On The Green has a special kind of magic to it. I don't know how else to describe it. The rooms and decor were stunning, quirky and in some instances, toed the line of gaudiness, but in the most spectacular and tasteful way. The service was top notch. For how busy this place was, we did not wait very long for our courses. Everyone who interacted with us throughout our experience was super nice. They made us feel like VIPs for real. And it felt genuine, not forced. I had no problem tipping more than the added gratuity. It can't be easy serving and hosting in a place so prominent and busy. My hats off to them. I hope they did well because rent is not cheap in the Big Apple.

In closing, after having such a wonderful meal at such a beautiful restaurant, I did become a little diva of sorts. I do go to a few nice places every year and I will spend $$$ for those meals. I stopped feeling guilty about it. Food is a passion of mine and I need to feed that passion once in awhile. And while I find that little "hole in the wall" places have the best food on the planet and will always be my preference, once in awhile I want to feel a little fancy and go all out. Sometimes Godzilla wants to wear her tiara. It happens.

The little green reindeer stirrer that accompanied my pear martini now sits in my box of treasures with many of my other cherished souvenirs. When I hold it, I can recall perfectly, the taste of that memorable martini. I may have to visit Tavern again.....even if it's just to stop by for a pear martini in the springtime. I know I will savor every sip.  Ciao! Miei dolci


 As Julia Childs once said...."People who love to eat are always the best people."
Tavern On The Green's Website


Monday, December 5, 2016

#393 Get Something Pierced

What do you on a Friday night when you are feeling bored and antisocial? I personally find many ways to occupy myself. I write my blog. I organize stuff like my pictures or spice rack. I read. I plan. I clean. I conquer. I am one of those people that are both a social butterfly and reclusive hermit. It depends on the stressors currently streaming through my life. When my stress level is on overload, I tend to withdraw. I call it mental restoration. You call it what you will. I can be withdrawn for a day, but as long as several weeks.

When I am withdrawn, I still let people in, but it is limited. At the moment I am withdrawn.

Becky, one of my closest friends, is among the few able to draw me out of my shell when I am like this. We are kindred. I adore her. She is as crazy, quirky, deep and adventurous as I am. She is one of the greatest people I have ever met. I am blessed with her friendship. It is this kindred friendship we share that often leads to some off the wall "You can't make this shit up" moments. When Becky and I are bored and together, it usually turns into an adventure. Sometimes we find ourselves in a completely different state. It happens.

This particular Friday night in question, occurred a few summers ago. Becky texts me to hang out. I say sure. A few hours later she arrives at my house. She ends up falling asleep on my couch for an hour while I watch a movie. We are that bored. When she wakes we start talking about life. Somehow we get on the subject of piercings. She would like to get one. Would I come and hold her hand? She doesn't need to ask twice. I'm so there.

We take off for a local tattoo and piercing parlor. Upon entering the shop, we are told the gentleman that does the piercings will be back in about ten minutes. He had to run for supplies. If we wouldn't mind hanging around for a bit he would happily give Becky her piercing. It is in this fateful ten minutes that I make a big decision.

Becky and I make ourselves at home. We humorously comment on everything that catches our eye. We are quite the witty and clever comediennes. We tend to get really comfortable, like we own the place, where ever we may go. We are alpha females I guess. We walk over to the piercing book to check out the pics. At first the photos are tame. Belly buttons, nose rings, lip and eyebrow piercings are some of the first photos we peruse. Next are the tongue rings. I mention how I had wanted one for a few years now but the idea of needles in general gives me goosebumps. A long thick needle working its way through my tongue sounded so painful.

I tell how I heard horror stories of seriously infected tongues, not being able to speak and tongues swollen to the size of grapefruits from research I had done two years ago. I also know of many people whose tongue piercings were without incident. It can pretty much go either way depending on the person. Becky knows I am tossing the idea around in my head. Mostly because I am being vocally curious about wanting one but even if I wasn't being vocal, she would have picked up on the fact that I paused longer before turning the pages when it came to the tongue rings. I just shrug my shoulders and continue flipping through the album.

We come across a warning stating to the onlooker that the next several pages contained photographs with adult content. Becky and I smirk. Hell yeah we are going to check them out. First stop....nipple piercings. I'm not going to lie, the nipple piercings looked very sexy. We turn more pages. I figured we would see a few "down there" piercings next but Madone!!! All I can say is....why in the hell would people actually do that to themselves down there? Eastern medicine? I doubt it. Sexual enhancement? I don't know. May have to do more research on this just because I can't comprehend it. Described below are some of the things we saw in that photo album.

One guy had bars going up his entire thing. I want to say there were at least four, possibly five. They were under the skin, pocket piercings. He was literally ribbed for her pleasure although that looked like it would hurt. I wince. Another guy had a bunch of little hoops across his sac. Becky could not figure out the purpose for that. "A painful pencil holder?" I reply.

Another dude had this whole chain and hook thing going on. I grimaced. I am pretty positive the common consensus among all males is how very sensitive their private area could be. Just like women have been said to be very overly sensitive and emotional when it comes to their feelings, well men can be just as overly sensitive and emotional...... when it comes to their dick. Shocker! LOL!

So why would this guy risk his penis being subjected hooks and chains I thought. I mean, what if it gets snagged in his underwear. What if the chain gets caught in the zipper of his jeans. Ouch! That could cause one to see stars. What if he pisses his woman off and she gives that chain a good ole yank to even the score? Maybe he likes that. Maybe he wants a little tug and rub. would that feel to a woman? We are sensitive down there too.

I started thinking of the movie Se7en (One of my all time favs) and the scene where the killer makes a guy wear a metal knife strap on to use on a hooker. This piercing display wasn't nearly as extreme but I feel strongly that sharp metal, jagged metal and any type of hook should not be introduced to your genitals or the genitals of others. And I am one of the more open minded people out there. Maybe some women really like that. I know of none...but there is a fetish for everything out there. His must be intense pain.

The one that really made me do a double take was that of a chick. She had her piercings arranged to look like a crucifix on her vajayjay. That is one hell of a chastity belt if you ask me. Praise Jesus! There had to be seven or eight piercings just on her hood and several more on her clitoris. Perhaps she is known for giving men "near god" experiences and decided decorating her puss with a cross was the next logical step. Could be. We are legends in our own minds on one level or another aren't we?

Body Piercing Jewelry Types
Body piercing jewelry types
I am not naive, I have heard how "certain" piercings can enhance sexual pleasure but really? Maybe some people have fantasies about screwing a toolbox. Again, who am I to judge? We are all our own unique flower in this garden of life. I flip back to the tongue rings. I have heard the whole story about tongue rings being an enhancement too. Strippers and porn stars all have them. They use them. That is not why I want one though.

I just think they are cool while not being as obvious as other piercings. No one really has to know you have one unless you show them or you give a big old yawn. It is like saying, I am mysterious and very cool. Here is the book cover, but wait until you see the pages. Delve a little deeper and I'll show you. Pretty deep huh? I know! LMAO! I slay myself.

Becky looks at me with a smile. She is reading my thoughts. She tells me I should get my tongue pierced. It's my birthday month and she would love to get me a tongue piercing for my birthday. I remind her she took me to the NY Fingerlakes Wine Festival for my birthday. She declares I need a pick me up. I've been dealing with a lot. This would be adventurous and who doesn't love a little adventure. She wants to spoil her friend. Can I allow her to do that for me. I hesitate for a few moments than say "Fuck it. I'll do it."

The piercing guy happens to be walking in the door as I make my decision. I ask him how bad a tongue piercing hurts. He thinks for a moment than says it is about a 32. I am like a 32 out of 100? He laughs. He says it depends on the person but it is really one of the less painful piercings. I remind myself I spent 24 hours in hard labor with my daughter. No drugs. I injure myself daily on something. I could do this.

We give him our I.D.s, sign the waivers and head back to the piercing room. Becky goes first. She is my hero. She doesn't even flinch. I feel braver just watching her. It makes it so much easier that our piercing guy is very outgoing and humorous but also very knowledgeable. He put us at ease. Becky was joking with him about passing out. He said it has happened quite a few times in his 10 years doing piercings. This conversation jars my memory.

Oral Piercings
I am a fainter. How could I have forgotten that! It has been years since I have fainted but it can happen. I no longer donate blood because I would pass out every time. It would take me days to recover from the lightheadedness and weak stomach. I have to mention anytime I am sent for blood work that I am a fainter. I have passed out on the poor techs before. Once I woke up to a group of people standing over me as a guy put smelling salts under my nose. Shit!! It would really suck passing out with a needle in my tongue. Didn't think of that.

I look at our piercing friend sheepishly. I make him aware that there is a possibility of me fainting. He is not phased at all. He gets me a soda from the fridge to drink while he sterilizes the room for my piercing. When I walk back into the room I notice immediately that my needle is much longer and thicker than the one he used on Becky. My anxiety jumps several levels. Why did I look?? I make a joke about it and remember to breath.

He has me hop up on the table and rinse my mouth with antiseptic rinse. It tastes like salt and lemon with a hint of Listerine and an undertone of mint. As I am swishing and swirling thoroughly he explains the whole tongue ring process. He tells me from start to finish it will take no longer than 30 seconds. He is going to hold my tongue with the clamp, insert the needle, put the bar through the piercing then tighten it. First he needs to dry my tongue with a paper towel and mark the entry and exit spots. Time to stop swishing.

He grabs a paper towel and tell me to stick out my tongue. I have dry mouth. My blood pressure pills are the culprit. I always need a drink near by. However, the experience of having your tongue thoroughly dried with a paper towel is.....very strange and drying. LOL! I don't know how else to describe it. It was so dry it felt as if it would stick to the wall. He pulls a bib out of the drawer and tucks into my shirt. I joke that Becky didn't have to use a bib. He laughed and said Becky's piercing would not cause her to drool. Becky finds this hilarious. Great! Just call me Drooly Julie.

He takes my tongue in the clamp to mark the entry and exit spots. I feel a twinge of pain when he pulls my tongue to get underneath it. The underside of your tongue is always very sensitive to begin with. Imagine pulling it out as far as you can with tongs. It may hurt a little. As brave as I am trying to be, as hard as I am trying to think of anything other than the fact that a giant freakin needle is going straight through my really dry tongue and may hurt a mind goes to that place....the panic place. I think, if the clamp is hurting me, than the needle is going to be excruciating. I am not going to bail, but I ask myself why I do the things I do to myself. The answer, because in the end it is always a good time and always worth it.

My piercer snaps me out of my panic place to ask if I was ready to go. I nod. A wave of anxiety begins to rush through my body. Becky said my face went completely white. He turns to get the needle while still holding my tongue with the clamp. He reminds me to keep still for 30 seconds. Here comes the needle. It's like the samurai sword of piercing needles. This is serious and it is going down right now!

It feels like it is sliding through a stick of butter. That is how your tongue feels when a needle is pushed through it. It's an odd feeling. I begin drooling and bleeding. A tear runs from my eye down my cheek but it is not from pain. It is from the pressure in my mouth. He is already tightening the bar in my tongue. Wait! Hold on a second here! Where is this excruciating pain? I've had papercuts that have hurt way worse than this. He applies more pressure to my tongue to stop the bleeding and wipes the tear from my cheek.

He then hands me a mirror and tells me it is done. I start talking but I am still drooling. I seemed to have also developed a lisp. Becky is laughing at me. He asks if I have any questions for him. Can I eat pizza is what I ask him. (Hey, it is an important question.) He said it depends. He knows people that have had steak dinners after a tongue piercing and he knows people that were all soup and mashed potatoes for a few days. I would have to see for myself. I figure I will try but my tongue is starting to get sore from the clamp as well as being pulled a half mile out of my mouth. I have a long tongue he told me. More to pull he laughs.

Then he gets serious. The next part is very crucial he informs me. He says to prevent infection or major swelling I needed to rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash diluted with water every time I eat or smoke. (Oh boy, going to be rinsing all day long because I am a chain smoker I think to myself. ) I could get the mouthwash they sell which is an antiseptic/sea salt rinse. It's very good. Becky gets me that as a parting gift. He also says to take some ibuprofen every 4-6 hours to help with inflammation but to eat when taking them so I do not tear my stomach apart. No problem taking the pills, the eating part would be a challenge since I had no desire to eat because my tongue was so sore.

He says not to talk too much the next few days. It's the weekend and I am being anti social anyway so there will not be an issue there I inform him. Becky finds that statement amusing. I heart Becky. He said as tempting as it was, do not flick or play with the ring until it heals because that too can cause swelling. I have a feeling I am going to be gape mouthed all weekend till I get use to this thing in my mouth so there will be no flicking. I promise! No kissing either because I do not want to introduce more germs to the wound. (Again, got the whole anti social thing going on so this won't be a problem either.) And finally, I should constantly eat ice chips.

As for the rings themselves, he explains that I should only get rings from certified body piercers.The stuff Hot Topic and other places hawk are made in China and can contain lead as well as other unsafe material that can cause brain damage. A certified piercer will only sell top quality pieces of jewelry. I promise him I will do that. We are now finished here. Becky and I walk back to the lobby with our care instructions in hand. We say good bye to our new friend, thanking him for being there to make our boring Friday night into a fun one. He laughs and says he makes his living off of people that are bored on a Friday night! He was one cool cat! We get into the Jeep, excited about our new piercings, although I don't want to talk about it because he told me not to. We get pizza.

The pizza worked my sore tongue way too much. I guess I am an applesauce and banana person. I pop some ibuprofen and call it a night. And what a night it turned out to be! Over the course of the next few days, I do get some swelling in my tongue but nothing significant. The medicine keeps the soreness at bay so I can eat applesauce and bananas. I religiously rinse my mouth 17 times a day. I completely forget about the ice chips.

I do not talk much although when I visit my parents, my mother knows something is off. I still have the lisp. I show her what I did but tell her I am going to wait a bit until I show my father. I have a tendency to dumbfound him so it may be better to wait until it is healed to show him so he knows I am okay. She agrees but thinks I am crazy. My daughter thinks it is cool. My son...I decide to wait.

By Tuesday I can pretty much eat normal. By Friday, my actual birthday, I am ready for the big reveal. I show my dad and son what I did for my birthday. My father laughs and says "not you too." My son has a look of shock and tells me he is now scarred for life. That went over way better than I was expecting. My dad was at least happy that it was a discreet piercing. "Exactly" I exclaim!

Book.... cover....pages.

My son repeats that he is scarred for life. He laughs this time. As for me, I love my ball tongue. It is fun! I am glad Becky gave me the opportunity to have one. She is my sista from another mista. Can't wait until the next time we are bored on a Friday night!

What is Body Piercing?

Contemporary Body Piercing

Body Piercing History

Tongue Piercings


Tongue ring

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