Saturday, February 14, 2015

Is It A Crush If It Lasts Six Years??!!

His name was Jimmy.

He was tall…with brown eyes that melted my soul every time he looked in my direction, and a lopsided grin that could make my heart skip a beat and my tummy get all fluttery….

I was all of 7 years old…in the 2nd grade…and I was totally, hopelessly, irrevocably, in love with this handsome stranger in my class.

I did everything but stand on my head and do somersaults to get his attention, to no avail, really…until it eventually dawned on me that Jimmy was a lover of sports.


To say that my passion for all things baseball-related and football-related began with a 2nd-grade crush would be too simplistic, and yet I have to wonder if you'd ALSO have to say that it's true.

I'm kinda' shallow like that.

I began reading the sports page in our local newspaper, soaking up statistics and trivia so I could saunter in to school the next day and impress Jimmy with my knowledge, while he looked at me in astonishment, stuttering, "But…but…you're a GIRL!!"


Ha. I liked to think of myself as a TOMBOY, thank you very much, as if there was something to be embarrassed about by being a girl. At recess, I hung with the boys, playing Tether Ball, Four Square, and Kickball, proving to the guys - especially Jimmy - that I was JUST as good as they were, and I was "cool". "Cool" in my own mind, at least - because looking back at some of the pictures, and seeing some of the clothes I would wear to school…I have to confess that I was FAR from cool.

I was the Nerdy Girl with Glasses.


Valentine's Day was agonizing, as I had to choose THE most perfect Valentine's card for Jimmy…it couldn't be too mushy, as to scare him away - and yet, it couldn't be too disdainful - as to give him the wrong idea. It had to be just right…conveying just a hint of the attraction I felt for him, and yet…leaving the mystery there…so he could do the pursuing, if he so desired.

Gah - so much pressure for a 7-year old.

And when I got a Valentine from HIM (which I still have, by the way - preserved forever in my 2nd-grade scrapbook!!), I studied it for clues as to his feelings…did he sign his name with just a bit more flourish than usual? Was that a sign of attraction?? Was there a hidden message in the sentiment on the card???!!

My crush on Jimmy lasted a full six years.

Yes. SIX years.

Up until 8th-grade, actually…it probably would have lasted longer if I hadn't moved away from that school district at the beginning of my 9th-grade year. You'd think that I would have eventually given up on him and taken the hint that he just wasn't that in to me, but being the ever hopeful girl that I was (and perpetually stubborn one, as well), I never gave up.

I sometimes wonder what ever happened to Jimmy.

Did he marry? Did he have a family? Was he happy?

Life goes on, and we grow up…and the Jimmys in our lives disappear forever, but the memories remain…. I wouldn't change anything for the world, as I discovered just who I was over those years, and what I could aspire to be, and how much fun reading the sports page could be.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone - and Jimmy, if you're still out there…this one's for you.



Friday, February 13, 2015

Breakfast Club to Bristol to Barry Manilow

It's hard to believe that it's been 30 years since the release of one of greatest movies, like, EVER, in cinematic history….

I am of COURSE referring to "The Breakfast Club."


What an awesome movie.

Having seen said movie approximately 525,600 times - on any given day - it's understandable that I pretty much have the entire movie memorized, and can pretty much, at the drop of a hat, insert a cool quote from said movie into any given conversation.

Because there's only like 525,600 cool quotes to choose from…the movie is just one quote to the next…but a particular favorite of mine is when Bender says, "Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?"

Which segues into what the topic of this blog entry is all about, which actually, is NOT about "The Breakfast Club" (I know…try not to be too disappointed) - but about Barry Manilow.

Hubby and I went to see Barry Manilow ONE LAST TIME last night here in Kansas City - and I emphasize the ONE LAST TIME because that is the name of this particular tour. NOOOOOO - say it ain't so, Barry!!! One last time?? To see the idol of my 12-year old eye? Whose romantic ballads would croon me to sleep on my cheap little record player in my poster-laden room?


Prior to the concert, though, Hubby and I headed to our favorite restaurant, Bristol Seafood Grille, located in Kansas City's Power and Light Entertainment District in the revitalized downtown area of KC. Normally, one doesn't associate "seafood" with "Kansas City," as we are known as the Beef Capital of the World…but Bristol manages to produce some seafood creations that can compete with any decent restaurant on the coast. They also have a terrific Gluten-Free menu, which makes ordering extremely helpful. Kudos to restaurants who are "jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon" (gah!) and making it easier on us poor folks who have food allergies or intolerances.


I began by ordering a delicious chocolate martini, which never fails to disappoint:


I took one sip, and HOLY SMOKES, was this strong!!!! I'm pretty sure it was 99.9% alcohol, as it left a trail of fire down my throat. But oh, oh so delicious. We were off to a good start.

The gluten-free appetizers are pretty limited, so we stuck with what we know, and ordered our usual shrimp cocktail:

Presented on a 12" tray of ice, the shrimp are HUGE. And icy-cold. And tasty.

Nom. Nom. Nom.

For my entree, I went with the grilled salmon, with sides of roasted cauliflower with bacon, and whipped potatoes:

I normally sorta' freak out when I have two vegetables of the same color on my plate (yes, because I'm mature like that), but I love, love, love potatoes - and I was curious about the cauliflower, so I chose it instead of the usual green beans. The verdict on the cauliflower? Meh. It was okay. The "roasted" seemed to translate to a slight taste of "burnt" in my mouth, so I wasn't thrilled.

But the flakiness and seasoning of the salmon more than made up for that. It was divine - a true plate of Fish Nirvana.

Dinner was nearing an end, and we still had about 45 minutes before our date with Barry, (which was literally like, right across the street), so I was delighted to receive a text from one of my best girlfriends, Suzie, who was ALSO going to see Barry and was in a bar a few doors down.

It was a no-brainer to join Suzie and her friend, Rick, for a pre-concert drink. Suzie and I went to high school together and are now neighbors, and she can always make me laugh…especially after I've guzzled a strong martini:

I'm feeling no pain in this picture from that delicious martini…

Pretty soon, it was time to walk across the street and enter the Sprint Center, where we were all given green glow sticks:

Full disclosure. When I've had a martini, pretty much ANYTHING can make me happy. But a FREE green glow stick???!!


Making our way down to our seats, I noticed the concert demographics: predominantly middle-aged women (like me - go figure) with a few husbands who were there because they were good sports. It looked like a very happy and laid-back crowd, especially since everyone had their green glow sticks flying high.

Of course, before the concert started, I had to take the obligatory selfie:

Terrible photo…but hey. We were having fun.

Soon, the show started…but not until the TWO MOST ANNOYING EVER women sat down beside me. One of the women had seen Barry five times, which she stated to anyone - and everyone - who would listen to her, at least 100 times before the show started. The other woman had never seen Barry before, and had been "dragged" to the concert by her friend…which would prove to be a NIGHTMARE for those of us around her.

I'm stepping up on my soapbox for this…but seriously. If you have NO INTEREST in the performer…that's fine. But DO NOT SPEND THE NEXT TWO HOURS TALKING TO THE LADY NEXT TO YOU ABOUT YOUR MUNDANE LIFE, BITCHING ABOUT WORK, YOUR NEIGHBORS, AND YOUR DIET. The rest of us are not there to HEAR YOU BITCH in your loudest voice possible. We are there to hear the music. NOT YOU.


Rude, much??!!

Stepping off my soapbox.

I swear, I could see steam coming from the ears of the people sitting in front us - so I know I was not alone in fuming about their rudeness.

But. Back to Barry.

He was fun. He was entertaining. He was energetic, especially for a 71-year old. He was enthusiastic, and he played to the crowd. He went through his extensive repertoire, with sometimes resorting to medleys, which was fine.

It was everything you'd expect from Barry and ONE LAST TIME.

Our local paper wrote up a review today, and from the tone of it, our reviewer enjoyed it as much as I did. Here's the link if anyone's interested:

Barry Manilow takes a Sprint Center crowd through a final arena extravaganza

All in all, a great night…with a great date…and great food…and great fun.



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fighting With My Physician??!!

Let me begin by saying that I hope my Mother is not reading this post.




Because I acted SOOOOO maturely while in the doctor's office the other day…




Okay. Not really.

In full disclosure, it wasn't my fault. Well, duh. It never is, actually. For every single and solitary time that I have, um, misbehaved, I have always, ALWAYS been able to point the blame elsewhere. I know. It's a gift. I can unequivocally, without hesitation, always point out that someone ELSE started it, whether that "someone else" be my little brother, or my baby sister, or in this case…the doctor. It's never me.

I was visiting the orthopedic doctor the other morning so that he could have a look at my bum knee, which is the LAST thing a runner wants to have - a bum knee. Like, ever. In my particular case, my knee has decided in the last three weeks to go all bum on me, and that it doesn't particularly WANT to run a 5k, a 10k, and a half-marathon, back-to-back, in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS. My knee had the past seven months to decide it didn't want to do this, but did it make a peep over those months of training??? Did it ever, EVER give me a hint that it wasn't particularly happy???

Oh heck no. Let's wait UNTIL THE LAST POSSIBLE MINUTE to throw a wrench (literally, it seems) into things.


So, anyway.

I'm at the doctor's office.

Yup - those are my legs!!!! Awesomesauce!!!

And he looks at my X-rays, (which, are like, WAY COOL, in my opinion…I can totally GET IT why some people go into Radiology, because looking at bones ((on an X-ray film, mind you - not in real life - eww)) - is like, totally freaking AWESOME!!! But I digress…) and he says,

"Well…I don't see a tear."

And I'm like, "Woot Woot!!"

And he's like, "But that doesn't rule out a stress fracture…cuz sometimes those don't show up on an X-ray."

So I'm like, "Well, but I can still run, right? Even if it hurts? Even with a stress fracture??"

And he's like, "Are you CRAZY??!! I would never, EVER tell a runner to run through pain!!! Especially if it's a stress fracture!!!"

Oh. Well, that sucked. But thinking quickly, I came up with a BRILLIANT argument:

"But what if it's NOT a stress fracture??!!"

I amaze myself sometimes. I should have been a lawyer in a court room.

Not to be outdone, the doctor immediately responds with, "But what if it IS a stress fracture??!!"

So this is when I got totally mature, because, really, this conversation is suddenly taking me back to the days in the back seat of the car, on long car trips, where Little Brother and I would get into the most insane and ridiculous arguments over something so important as to who touched the other first, that could last for hours and hours, with just the two of us going back and forth, back and forth, that would drive my parents so crazy I'm surprised they didn't dump us and abandon us at a gas station…so..I countered with the following:

"But what if it's NOT??!!"

Cuz that's really all I had at this point.

And the good doctor must have had a sibling, as well, that HE'D argued with as a child, as he picked up the thread BEAUTIFULLY, and countered back with,

"But what if it IS???!!!"

"But what if it's NOT??!!"

You get the drift.

It was a thing of beauty, our conversation. Mom would have been so proud.

And both Mom and Hubby could have told the doctor that he was never, ever going to win this argument.

So, anyway.

Bottom line.

I'm running AMA.

Against Medical Advice.

Do you think I should put those letters on my running bib next weekend??? A big giant, "AMA"???

Or maybe tattoo 'em on my Bum Knee.

But just in case Mom IS reading this…eek…don't worry, Mom…I promised the doctor - and I'll promise you - that if my knee gives out during the race…I will quietly take myself off the race course and quietly remove myself to the Medical tent, where I will quietly keep my mouth shut and not argue with any more doctors.

Pinky swear.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

$27,500 Richer?? Wowza!!!

Have you ever seen a Twitter feed blow-up??

One of my responsibilities as the volunteer Social Media Manager for the American Red Cross here in Kansas City is monitoring our social media accounts - namely, Twitter and Facebook. Not only do I post content each day, but I monitor to see what others are posting to us - or about us, as the case may be. It's kinda' a REALLY AWESOME JOB because I not only get to hang out on Social Media all day - but I get to do it from home. In my pajamas. Which makes me very, very happy.

On a typical day, our Twitter feed may get 2-3 notifications and mentions - nothing too outrageous or alarming, which is always good when you're in the disaster business. But yesterday…that all changed.

I signed on to our Twitter feed for a quick check, and I was stunned to see we had dozens and dozens of "mentions" - in other words, dozens and dozens of other Twitterers were "mentioning" the Kansas City Red Cross in their tweets.


Upon closer investigation, I discovered that yesterday afternoon, a local meteorologist here in town, JD Rudd, had been a contestant on the national syndicated game show, "Let's Ask America". Apparently, he competed against three other meteorologists from across the country, all competing for charity - and JD ended up winning an eye-popping $27,500 - which he donated to the Kansas City Red Cross, his charity of choice.


Not sure whether this was for real - or was it a cruel joke - I soon found JD's local TV station, and their Twitter said it all:

41 Action News ‏@41ActionNews
YAY! Congrats to @jdrudd for winning $27,500 for @kcredcross on @letsaskamerica!

Well. I was rather busy for awhile on both Twitter and Facebook, thanking JD (on behalf of the Red Cross) for his incredible generosity, and spreading the good news. JD later sent a response to our thank you, saying, "I sincerely appreciate your comments. THANK YOU. I have seen first-hand how valuable & helpful the Red Cross is when mother nature is at her worst. There's no other charity I'd rather be playing for. I'm very happy I was able to bring in a donation of that size; I was nervous! Keep up the great work!"

To say this made me happy is an understatement.

During all this crazy, hectic activity on social media, my cell phone rang - and it was, strangely enough, the Red Cross. It seems that there was a natural gas leak at a large apartment complex yesterday afternoon in Kansas City, and the residents would have no heat that night during the frigid temperatures. The Red Cross would most likely be opening a shelter, offering a warm & safe place for the residents to sleep, and would I be available to be the Shelter Manager?

EEP again.

I haven't managed a shelter in quite awhile - maybe since the floods in Fargo back in 2008 - so I'm a bit rusty.

But I said yes, and before I knew it, I'd packed a quick bag with supplies and headed down to the community center where the shelter was being set up. I hadn't been there more than 5 minutes before I was back in the groove, as apparently being a Shelter Manager is a lot like riding a bicycle - you never forget.

My small crew quickly had a dormitory set up by 9:00 pm to accommodate twenty clients:

Outside the gym, we set up the Registration area, where my all-star crew of two, Peg & Kathy, were reviewing the paperwork and ready to receive clients:

In addition to these areas, we set up a small canteen with water and snacks, and a small desk for me, so I could do my paperwork (because with the Red Cross, I've learned - it's all about the reports!!!):

And then we waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

By midnight, it was very evident that no one was showing up…the affected residents had all apparently found other accommodations, with friends or family, for the evening - and this made me very happy. It's always better for folks to spend the night with friends or family rather than in a giant, cavernous gymnasium on a cot…trust me, as I've done it on previous deployments when hotel rooms were not available. Cots suck, to put it bluntly.

So, my crew of two - and myself - broke down the cots, and packed everything up and shut down the shelter.


I was home in my own bed by 1:30 in the morning, and although I was a happy girl, I was also a tired girl. That was a lot of physical hard work, and I'm not getting any younger.

As I was driving home, though, I couldn't help but reflect on the generous gift from JD Rudd - and how it will be utilized to help the residents of our metropolitan area after a disaster - whether that disaster is a home fire, a tornado, an ice storm - or a natural gas leak. You never know when it's going to hit, but it's always nice to know that there will be volunteers ready to help out.



Monday, November 24, 2014

The Happiness Project

Happiness…what does it mean?

It's interesting…I looked up the definition online, and I chuckled when I read that it meant, "the state of being happy." Yup - that certainly explains it, huh??!!

Which does beg the question, though…what makes you happy?

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this lately…most likely due to my feelings of sadness that have shadowed me since losing my father last month. I've felt burdened by tears and grief, and believing that my life was void of happiness. Sometimes, when faced with overwhelming grief or joylessness, it can be hard to find the small moments in life that make us happy…it's as if we can't be happy unless something huge or major comes along that surrounds us with glee and delight…and that's not a good thing.

We sometimes need to be reminded to find the happiness in the small things.

I needed a good kick in the butt reminder of this, and so I'm grateful to a friend, Kathi, who challenged me to find three things a day that bring happiness…no matter how big, no matter how small. And, of course, being the competitive person that I am, I will ALWAYS rise up to a challenge (or a dare, but we won't go there!), and so yesterday, I deliberately and determinedly looked for those small things that made me smile.

And boy - was I surprised by the results.

I didn't find just THREEE things yesterday…oh, no.

The day ended up being full of moments that brought a smile to my face…a warmth to my heart…pleasure to my soul.

The day began with a bowl of warm potato soup for breakfast:

Yes. I said potato soup for breakfast.

DO NOT JUDGE ME on my breakfast choice!!!

I had made a HUGE batch of homemade potato soup on Saturday, deliberately making extra so we'd have leftovers. And on Sunday morning, a nice, warm bowl of potato soup - with some cheese and bacon on top - sounded perfect for breakfast.

And it was. Nom. Nom. Nom.

Happy, happy, happy.

After breakfast, I said a quick goodbye to Hubby and Daughter, and then headed to a Ladies Holiday Brunch and Ornament Exchange. For three hours, I giggled, laughed, drank delicious mimosas, and played a cutthroat game of Swipe the Ornament with some delightful and super-fun women:

Okay, so we don't look like we're having much fun in this picture, but BLAME THE PHOTOGRAPHER (me!), because this is so not representative of the laughter - to the point of tears - that ensued later! I think we were actually listening to our hostess go over the rules of the game here…which is why we're all looking a bit serious. Stealing ornaments from someone else is definitely serious business, for sure.

I was also tickled because I was sitting next to THIS girl, Suzie, one of my BFF's - going all the way back to high school:

Suzie can always make me laugh and bring me out of a funk, which is a good thing…girlfriends are definitely good for the soul.

When it was my turn to play, I made a beeline for THIS set of ornaments and stole them from another lady:

I really, really, really liked these - as I decorate one of the rooms in my house with a woodsy theme, highlighted with bronze ornaments…these would go PERFECT in my house!! I did feel a tad guilty about swiping these beauties from the other lady, but I was assured it was all part of the game. My happiness in having scored the perfect ornaments overshadowed the guilt, though, so after a heartfelt apology to the original owner, I left the party very, very happy.

Hubby and I then headed down to the Kauffman Center to catch the matinee performance of Mannheim Steamroller:

The Kauffman Center is truly a gem here in Kansas City, and I'm always impressed at the beauty of the venue:

Pictures do NOT do it justice, as it will blow your mind pretty much every time you visit.

Before the show, I took a selfie of Hubby and I:

I'm a lucky girl, so this guy always makes me happy. I think the lady behind me doesn't look too happy, though - maybe she's sleeping…or most likely, checking her phone. Let's hope.

So, the concert was pretty amazing…I love the music of Mannheim Steamroller…so soothing, so relaxing, and so cool to watch them perform it live with the entire orchestra on stage. One song, though, had me in tears - Auld Lange Syne. Gah. I couldn't help but think of my Dad, and so I shed a few.

After the concert, it was going on 6:00 pm - and dinner was now in store. Hubby took me to one of my favorite restaurants, the Grand Street Cafe. And there, I was thrilled to discover they had a gluten-free pasta now on the menu:

This was a buckwheat farfalle "Mac & Cheese" dish - made with sun gold tomato, olive oil, fried kale, fontina cheese, pecorino & romano cheese, and smokehouse bacon.


It was delicious. And gluten-free, to boot!!!


And truly one of the best parts of the day were the pants that I was wearing:

I splurged on these Antonio Melani wool pants two years ago - after falling in love with the beautiful pattern & bronze/gold ribbon running through them - but I was a little too thick-in-the-middle to wear them.


This running has definitely paid off, as I managed to fit into these pants all day yesterday with ROOM TO SPARE!!!!

Woot. Woot.

Happy, happy, happy - that was me!!!!

Strangely enough, I had a very, very vivid dream last night - about my Dad…and in my dream, my Dad was admonishing me for being gloomy and sad…telling me I needed to get on with life and enjoy the moments…coincidence???