Tag Archives: Molly Rossiter

Still recovering from vacation

20140803_145557I have a vacation hangover.

True, getting away for a week to the beauty of the Rockies and the “newness” of Denver (my first visit to the city that lasted longer than a 2-hour airport layover) was, literally and figuratively, a breath of fresh air. I needed that vacation, more than I even realized. It had been six years since my last vacation, and that was a whirlwind weekend in Phoenix where I stayed with a friend/cousin. There have been overnight getaways but nothing like this, where I actually had the opportunity to unpack things and leave them for several days before rounding them up again.

We’ve been back for a little more than a week now and I still haven’t gotten this blog written or posted. When I’m not at work, sleep always seems to get in the way.

But here it is – a bit more on the wonderful trip to Denver.

Our first full day in Colorado we went to the mountains, driving to Mount Evans. Although I’d spent seven years in Alaska growing up – Dad’s uncle helped built the Alcan Highway and told great stories to his nieces and nephews, making my dad determined to live there one day – I still found myself caught up in the peace and the beauty of everything the mountains had to offer.

Young mountain sheep

Young longhorn sheep

We drove to the summit of Mount Evans – 14 miles up (the highest paved road in North America, according to the website) and 14,000 feet above sea level. On our way we had to stop for young longhorn sheep, and a mountain goat (yes, there’s a difference) met us at the top.

Mountain goat

Mountain goat

The drive up was interesting: I remember once we left Alaska my dad would tell stories of the mountain roads we had to take to get to our hiking destinations – long, winding roads barely wide enough for two vehicles, with steep mountain going up on one side and going straight down on the other.

I didn’t remember the roads being as treacherous as he made them seem, and I do my dad is a bit of a storyteller (blarney runs deep in our blood), so I just dismissed it at a bit of an exaggeration.

Then we drove up to the summit parking lot at Mount Evans. Mountains straight up on one side, straight down on the other, and despite the steady speed of about 25 mph, there were many curves on which we slowed down considerably.

Ummm ... don't look down.

Ummm … don’t look down.

I drove us up, Mark (thankfully) drove us down.

Once we got to the top, I found myself experiencing a bit of altitude sickness. I got a little dizzy and had a hard time drawing a deep breath at first. My speech was slurred, almost like I was drunk, and I just fell a little … off. I sat down and took some breaths and started to feel better – until I realized how cold I was. The outside temperature at the base of the mountain was 85 degrees; at the peak, it was 50.

Our second full day, Monday, was a trip to the Denver Zoo. It was hot and there was little breeze, so many of the big animals weren’t out. Mondays must also be the day zoo staff clean the cages, so to speak, so in some exhibits we saw humans instead of the lions or bears we were hoping to see.

The last night in Denver, Tuesday, included a Rockies-Cubs game with club level seats Mark’s daughter and son-in-law had won at an auction. There were a couple of firsts that night: I’d never seen the Cubs play live, and I’ve never sat in club level seating in a baseball stadium.

One of the things that was most striking about our vacation was that we traveled nearly 800 miles from home to learn just what a small world it really is. Either Mark or Nate, his son-in-law, was almost always in some kind of Hawkeye gear and that drew the attention of many people in our hotel and in the places we visited – not because they were interested in learning more about our state but because they were from our state. There were at least a half-dozen families from Iowa staying in our hotel at the same time we were there, most of them from Eastern Iowa. One of the ushers was originally from West Branch and still has family there. The restaurant we went to on game day, Stadium Club, was first opened in Iowa City, and a customer at a nearby table grew up in Iowa and moved to Denver just five years ago. Even the owners of the marijuana shop we visited (we were in Colorado where it’s legal – the curious cat in me had to go in just to see what it was like) were from Iowa – one was a University of Iowa business school graduate.

It’s always a nice reminder that, no matter how far you travel, you’re never too far from home.

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What kind of writer doesn’t take a laptop – or even paper – on vacation??

20140803_111838I really wish I was back in the mountains.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to be home. Home is, after all, where the heart is. And where my dogs are. And my job, my bank, my son (since he didn’t go with us) and the rest of the family.

But the mountains … oh, those beautiful mountains.

We – my daughter, boyfriend, and his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter – went for a five-day vacation in Colorado (well, four in Colorado, one in Nebraska) and it was heavenly. Not only because it was the first real “vacation” I’ve had in many years, but because of the locale, the scenery, the company and just the time away.

But those mountains … there was just something magical there.

We spent one entire day leaving Denver proper and heading out to the mountain range – first to Red Rocks Amphitheater (a must see if you head that way) then to the summit of Mount Evans. I spent several years growing up in Alaska, so I’m no stranger to the beauty a mountain view provides – but it’s been 30+ years since we left and I’ve not been up-close and personal with the mountains since.

I had been in the mountain air for mere minutes when I first thought, “I should have brought my computer. I should be blogging this.” Then we climbed to the amphitheater seating at Red Rocks and saw people running the trail, running the seats, doing yoga, jumping from bench to bench doing squat jumps – even football players running the stairs carrying a teammate on their backs. Then came the sound checks for a concert later that evening. Again – “I should be blogging this.”

It was a common theme: The young longhorn sheep that made us stop on our ascent to the summit of Mount Evans. The dizziness I felt from being up 14,000 feet above sea level. The mountain goat that greeted us at the peak. The sometimes-scary 14-mile drive up the mountain. The zoo. The Cubs game (my first-ever time seeing the Cubs live and it was in Denver!). Even the trip to the “weed store” just to say I did.

At one point Mark even said out loud just what I’d been thinking: “What a great place for a writer – sit up in the mountains, write a chapter and then go pour a cup of coffee to get ready for the next.”

Yep.

I couldn't resist getting out of the car and joining them on the hillside - just to see if they'd let me. They did!

I couldn’t resist getting out of the car and joining them on the hillside – just to see if they’d let me. They did!

The blog ideas were flooding my brain, just waiting to get out, and I didn’t even bring a notebook to write them down the old-fashioned way. I went to three different convenience stores to see if they had a small notebook – nope. Not a one.

Once we left Denver and stayed overnight in a hotel in Lincoln, Neb. – we were going to visit the Strategic Air Command Museum in Ashland the next day – the lady at the front desk loaned me a notebook.

About 15 minutes later, Mark found a notebook in the trunk of my car, under all of the suitcases. Figures.

Now I’m home and am thankful to that lady at the hotel in Lincoln – as much as the blog ideas were flooding my brain in the mountain air, they seem to have dissipated back in the humidity of Iowa. That notebook allowed me to write some of the highlights, so I can still get that one written. Kind of.

But I guarantee it would have been better if I’d had my laptop with me when the thoughts were fresh.

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August 9, 2014 · 6:01 pm

Superman’s got nothing on ‘my girls’

Superman may be the Man of Steel, able to leap tall buildings, blah blah blah … But when it comes to spreading strength and giving power, nothing compares to a woman and her besties.

I’m always amazed at how strong I feel when I’ve spent some time with any of my best friends. I don’t consider myself a “weak” person overall, but like anyone else I have my weak moments – those time when I doubt myself, don’t think I’m good enough for this or that or generally just feel insecure. Whether we admit it or not, we all have those moments.

(Don't judge me - I'm a writer, not an artist.)

(Don’t judge me – I’m a writer, not an artist.)

And sometimes we get caught up in those moments. Sometimes it seems there are more of those moments than any other kind of moments. No matter how much we know we have it good – I’ve got amazing kids, a wonderful extended family, am seeing a great man, have a great job and am, for the most part, really, really happy – those moments can take over and make us feel weak and insignificant.

But just like our body reacts when we’re thirsty or hungry by going after food and drink, my “being” tends to reach out to those I know can fill me with strength, just by being by my side.

This winter gave me a lot of those “weak” moments. I started physical therapy last fall for IT Band Syndrome in my right leg, followed that up with wearing a brace on my right knee because ITBS had pulled my kneecap off-center, then had my right foot in a boot. Christmas just didn’t feel “Christmas-y” enough, and then the snow just kept coming and coming and coming … it seemed winter would never end.

Then about three weeks ago I reached out to one of my girls. A week later, I had dinner with another one on a Friday and went and spent time with yet another that Sunday. The following weekend I met another one at her daughter’s softball tournament, and  later that week I had dinner with yet another one. Three weeks, five of my besties.

There was some chatter about things that might be going wrong in different parts of our lives, but really about 95 percent of the conversation – if not more – was just about life. Kids, work, catching up, laughing (lots and lots of laughing) and promises to do this more often.

And then something happened. Those “moments” began to disappear. The self-doubt went away, and took a heaping handful of insecurity with it. I felt stronger. More confident. Ready to take on the world.

(OK, I meant that kind of not-so-literally, so my health scare and my daughter’s pneumonia almost knocked me off my foundation, but I recovered quickly!)

The point is, my girls make me stronger. Not by saying or doing anything special – just by being “my girls.” Knowing I have that base – and I’m assuming each of them has their own base, as well – and reconnecting to that base does more for me than any energy drink or hour at the gym ever could.

 

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I saw it on Facebook …

Anyone who knows me at all knows my life is pretty much an open book. Ask me a question and chances are pretty good I’ll answer it, no matter how personal or private the subject. (Note I said, “… chances are pretty good.” There are some things I still hold sacred.)

Social media has made it even easier to share things – or harder to keep things to myself, however you want to look at it. Follow me on Facebook for just a few days and you’re going to know more about me than you may have ever wanted to know. I went to a cousin’s birthday party a few years ago and, at separate times, her mother, brother and father all commented about how all of Facebook would know what was happening at the party because I was there.

This was my view for the nearly seven hours I was hooked up to a heart monitor and on oxygen at UI Hospitals and Clinics earlier this week.

This was my view for the nearly seven hours I was hooked up to a heart monitor and on oxygen at UI Hospitals and Clinics earlier this week.

Facebook has made it easier to share.

For all it’s benefits, though, there are some downsides to social media, too. While I personally think it’s great to share some things – including an endless supply of snark and sarcasm – with my friends and family, there are some things that have always been private, and always will be. If I have a personal disagreement with someone I care about, you won’t know about it by reading my Facebook timeline. I won’t make vague posts about my unhappiness with someone close to me, or use Facebook as my personal aresenal to call names to or belittle any of my friends.

There are some things, however, where the line is kind of blurred – more specifically, health issues. Don’t get me wrong, I have no trouble posting when I do something stupid that results in a doctor’s appointment or a splint or a rehab boot – like breaking my pinky toe while putting on my pajamas, or hurting my knee when Mia the Newfoundland head-butted me to sway me in her direction. I post about my migraines, the flu, stupid head colds and achy bones.

But the big stuff? How do you handle that? The kind of stuff where you know it’s serious, you know there are people who should know what’s going on, but you don’t want to post it on Facebook and look like you’re trying to get attention. The I-went-to-the-hospital kind of stuff? It’s not that I wouldn’t post it – God knows I would – but when do you put it up for public consumption?

I faced this very issue earlier this week when I went to the emergency room following a “minor cardiac event.” We’re still not sure what it ended up being, but emergency room doctors told me I had all the indications of a minor attack, but a CT scan of my heart showed no damage and no clogged arteries.

The “event” happened while I was at work – and luck would have it that I work in the best hospital in the area. I was sitting at my desk working – nothing stressful, just writing, because that’s what I do, I write. Suddenly I had this searing pain under my left breast, kind of like that side ache we used to get as kids when we’d run too much or too fast or for too long – kind of like that, but worse, and higher. It lasted for a good 8-10 minutes before it even started to subside. I tried doubling over, bending to the side, even standing up to make the pain go away and nothing worked. Once it finally did stop I was left with a pain in the back of my neck and in my left jaw.

The jaw pain was what stopped the 24-hour nurse from asking questions. Once I got to that, she told me to head to the ER immediately. So I did. When you go to the ER with complaints of chest pain, you get to go to the front of the line. No waiting in the waiting room, you get an EKG and then sent to a room. Not long into my stay they told me I’d be staying overnight for observation (that changed with the clean CT scan, but not until right at the last minute).

My first thoughts were to wait and see how everything came out before I told anyone, but I was already texting Mark about regular “stuff” when I got sent to a room, so I shot him an, “Oh, by the way, I’m in the ER getting my heart checked out” text. Classy, I know.

The more I chatted with Mark, the more I knew there were some people who had to know where I was. My kids. My parents. My list grew, but then the doubt started setting in: Do I tell others now, while I’m still here, or wait until I go home? Or at least until I get out of the ER and up to the room I thought I was going to be in? Do I post it on Facebook? No, I know I’d catch holy hell from quite a few people if that’s where they first heard about it. If I tell people now, will it seem odd, like I’m an attention-seeker, or do I tell them now because they’ll want to know? Who do I tell immediately, and who finds out on social media?

I don’t know that I know the right answer even now. There were a handful of people who knew I was in the hospital on Monday, but most everyone found out later. Today, in fact, in an email I sent to some letting them know what happened so they’d hear it from me before reading about it in this blog or on Facebook.

So if you’re offended because you’re just hearing about this now, and this way, I’m sorry. I guess I’m still learning.

(The heart issue came out OK, no overnight stay – just orders to follow up and reduce stress. Ha! Yeah, right …)

 

 

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I think you’ve got the wrong number …

When your cell phone number spells out something profane, chances are pretty good you’re going to get a few prank calls.

Trust me on this – I speak from experience.

I was selling real estate 10-11 years ago, with a business partner/boyfriend, when we both switched cell phone carriers and received new numbers. Neither of us thought anything of our numbers until we saw other Realtors who had personalized their phone numbers: 319-SELL-IOWA or 319-SHE-SELLS. Something like that.

BoyWrongNumber001We quick pulled out our phones and looked at the number pad to see what our own numbers spelled out. Mark #1 (or more commonly, “Bad Mark,” because my new boyfriend is also a Mark) shook his head, his numbers spelled out gibberish. I looked at my own numbers a bit, then raised my head, grinned a little, and said, “Ah, shit.”

He thought I meant my numbers spelled gibberish, too.

Actually, they spell out, “AH_-SHIT.”

Not exactly the kind of thing you want on your business card. It didn’t work so well when I stopped selling real estate and became the faith and values reporter at The Gazette in Cedar Rapids. You don’t really want to hand a card to a minister with a shortcut like that.

It wasn’t long after I got the new number that I started getting prank phone calls, usually from someone drunk, most often between 1 and 3 a.m. “Hey, do you know you’re shit?” “Awwww, shit.” “Can I have your number? I want shit.”

And so it went. I even had one co-worker ask me to let him know if I ever wanted to change my number – he wanted to take it over.

I never did get rid of the number; I guess it just got too easy to tell people if they wanted to remember my number, there was a really easy way. And somehow, the prank calls stopped. Apparently it became less funny to be drunk and look at your phone to see what kind of obscene telephone numbers were out there, and who really had them.

Now with the popularity of texting, the wrong numbers are much more humorous – and maybe a little frightening.

A few months ago I received a text from a man telling me he’d changed his mind, he was willing to give it a shot and could I meet him somewhere to deliver the package. Me being me, I texted him back that he’d gotten the wrong number but “good luck with the package.”

He then felt the need to tell me he had changed his mind on giving up women and that the package was a new sex toy designed for men who didn’t like women. But hey, “while I’ve got you, you could try to help me change my mind again.”

Um … no.

Then there was rant I received a few days ago from a guy who swore we’d been in a heated argument the night before.

“No,” I texted back, “you’ve got the wrong number.”

“No, I don’t. Quit being an ass.”

He then sent me three screen shots of the heated text argument he’d been in – complete with the other phone number, the one that was close to mine, but wasn’t mine.

I pointed that out to him.

“Oh, I have the wrong number.”

“Ya think?”

It may be time to consider a new number …

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Who hasn’t broken a toe?

clumsyYou know you’ve reached some upper level of clutz-ness when you don’t realize that some things just aren’t normal.

To be fair, I know I’m a clutz – I always have been. It’s what happens when you grow too tall too fast, and your momentum can’t keep up with the size. At my tallest (at 46 I’ve noticed I’m starting to shrink a bit – or “settle,” as my Great Aunt Bev would say) I was an even 6’0″ – and I hit that at age 12. My feet grew pretty quickly, too – from the time I was 5 to the time I was 12 my age and my shoe size were the same number. I used to worry as a child what my feet would look like when I turned 30.

When I was a teenager my mom thought she could help by sending me to modeling classes. I could re-learn how to walk, she thought, and pick up some other tips along the way. It worked, sort of. I did learn to walk with my head up, shoulders back, and with confidence. I learned to appreciate the natural look rather than the over-makeup’ed look. And I got to do a few runway shows and photo shoots.

But I still ran into things. I still fell. I still got bruises and scratches and cuts and scrapes.

I was still me.

Which brings me to this week, and my discovery that some things I thought were normal just … aren’t.

Things like broken toes.

I broke my pinky toe Friday night. It wasn’t the first time, so I didn’t think too much of it. I mean, it hurt – a lot – but there’s really nothing you can do for a broken pinky toe other than tape it up and let it heal on its own. So that’s what I did.

Before you jump to conclusions – you know who you are – I was completely sober. OK, I had one beer with dinner, but that was a few hours earlier. I was changing into my pajamas and was uber tired and you know when you get so darned tired and you just can’t get your foot out of your yoga pants (OK, maybe those of you with normal-sized feet don’t have this problem) and the more it won’t come out the more frustrated you get, so you just shake it harder and harder, and it keeps not coming out? Finally I’m shaking and kicking really hard and I kick my bed – and my pinky toe got stuck between the box springs and the bed frame. The toe instantly turned several shades of pink, red and purple, swelled to double the size and hurt. like. hell.

I cried and yelled and laughed and cried and my daughter, who was home from college, came running in to see what happened. When I showed her my toe she stopped, looked at it, and simply said, “Again?”

So, yeah. This wasn’t the first time.

And I thought everybody broke their little toes. My now-ex-husband did it a few times, once shortly after we were married when he was trying to lift the garage door at the old farmhouse we rented, and it was frozen to the ground. He thought – wrongly – that getting mad and kicking it would solve the problem. The door didn’t budge, but his toe swelled and turned all sorts of great holiday colors.

My brother has had broken pinky toes. Both of my parents have, at various times, had broken pinky toes. It’s just a thing. It happens. The little toes are tiny, they’re fragile. And they’re down on the ground where anything can happen to them.

Because I’d broken my toe so many times before, I was actually getting around pretty well by Saturday night and Sunday, and started getting ready for work on Monday morning. Then, in the shower, I went to put my foot up on the ledge so I could shave my leg, and – you guessed it – I slammed that toe right into the tub wall.

I collapsed. I cried – no laughter this time, just tears. The dogs came running in – I swear they looked at my toe and thought, “Again?” and left – and I sent a note to work letting them know I was incapacitated and would be working from home.

The next day my concerned coworkers asked about my foot. I started to explain and I said, “You know, it’s a broken toe. It happens all the time!”

They all just looked at me. Then at each other. Then back at me.

Apparently none of them have ever broken a toe. So I went about on a mission to see who around me had never broken a toe. I couldn’t find anyone all day who had ever broken a toe.

I could have sworn it was normal.

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Thou Shalt Not Be Late to the Doctor’s Office

ImpatienceIt’s no secret in my family, or with my friends, or with anyone with whom I’ve ever had an appointment that I have a chronic problem with being on time. Most of the time it’s just a few minutes, but there have been occasions – and I’m not particularly proud of them – where I’ve been a half-hour late or better.

Don’t get me wrong, I typically call well in advance of the 30-minute mark passing by – but that does little to quell the frustration of someone who wanted two drinks instead of one before a show, or who wanted dinner rather than appetizers before a movie. I’m not intentionally late – but yet, I’m almost always late. It’s gotten so some members of my family – my parents, my kids, my boyfriend – will sometimes hedge the time they want me to be somewhere and tell me 30 minutes earlier, just because they know I’ll be late and by showing up late I’ll still be early.

It’s a problem, I know.

My doctor’s office, however, has apparently found a way to deter late-comers.

This morning I was about 15 minutes late for my annual physical – again, not intentional, my doctor is super-cool and we have a great time talking – but when I apologized while checking in the clerk smiled politely and oh-so-nicely brushed it aside and said, “Oh, no big deal, things happen. You’re not that late.”

Great, I didn’t cause a backlog, I thought.

She pointed me to the waiting room – Waiting Room 3, down the hall and to the left, and then all the way to the end – and I walked in and joined an older couple, probably in their 60s. I generally try not to pay too much attention to other patients so I pulled out my phone and started a game of Candy Crack Saga. A nurse came in and called the other woman into a room and after some shuffling of papers and a short discussion with the-man-I’ll-assume-was-her-husband, she went with the nurse.

And that’s when it started.

The man pulled out a bag of something and began crunching away, savoring every crunch as though it were his last. The bag must have been small because the crunching didn’t last long. What I didn’t know, though, was that the crunching was just the beginning.

No sooner had he stopped crunching did he start those strange hiccup/burps, the ones that start to sound like a hiccup, have a little bit of burp in them and end with a slight expulsion of air. You know the ones – the sounds Grandpa would make after a big meal, or after half a can of beer. And with that slight expulsion of air came the distorted stomach-acid lined smell of whatever was last eaten.

I don’t know what it was, but if I ever smell that on my plate, I’m not eating it.

The man’s issues didn’t end there. Oh no, after about a half dozen of these hiccup/burps, his stomach started to gurgle. Not in an “I’m still kinda hungry” way, but more of a, “What in the hell did you just put in me?” kind of way. It started slow, and small, but gradually got a little louder and more fierce.

I could no longer concentrate on my game. I tried. I matched a few purple candies, then a few red ones, but the louder he got the more frightened I became.

Then the nurse came in and called my name. I jumped up and followed her.

“You made it in, huh?” she said.

“Yes, and I’m so very sorry. I promise, I’ll never be late again.”

I swear she turned back and winked at that guy.

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