My Father Died Because He Didn’t Have Insurance

 

Corey and Jim Doyle

My father was my everything.  He was my mother, my father, my best friend.  While we grew closer after my Mom and brother both died in 1992, from the very beginning I was a Daddy’s girl.  My earliest memories are of us on adventures together – fishing, camping, him teaching me about the world.  Few days would go by as a kid that I don’t remember my Dad pointing out some kind of plant and explaining to me what it was and all about its purpose.  While my brother would run away from most things in nature, I would be the one found picking up crabs, holding opossums and petting porcupines under my Dad’s watchful eye (yes, you can pet them if they aren’t scared).

In the summer of 2005 my Dad starting getting a few strange symptoms.  Nothing major but also things that niggle at you and, if you were insured, something you would have probably sought treatment at a doctor’s office for.  However, my Dad was an electrician and his union had some really goofy rules and he wasn’t eligible for the insurance because he hadn’t worked enough hours that year due to layoffs to qualify for their insurance.  He scoffed it off and just hoped things would get better.  The sore throat was probably just sinus drainage after all and the aches and pains were just age.

By the spring of 2006 his symptoms had come and gone but whenever they returned they were much, much worse.  However, this coincided with my future niece coming to the house while having strep throat so again, my Dad wrote it off and just hoped it wasn’t strep and didn’t get worse.  By late May he was sweating when he ate and sleeping more and I finally told him he HAD to see a doctor.

It’s easier said than done though – turns out most doctors won’t even see you if you don’t have insurance.  Eventually I called my doctor and begged him to take my father.  He agreed and we went the next day.  However, the news was not good.  I was brought back and Dr. Davis looked at me and said that my Dad asked him to tell me because he couldn’t.  My Dad had cancer, it was likely terminal and he didn’t have long to live.  He had a tumor in his throat about the size of a grapefruit and it was likely to only grow in size cutting off his airway and killing him.

Needless to say, I teared up even though I KNEW it wasn’t good and he let us have a moment.  Dad couldn’t stop apologizing and kept saying that he knew it wasn’t good but he didn’t think it was that bad.  He kept saying he wished he’d had insurance so he had gone sooner.  It was too far gone for treatment at that point but even IF we wanted to, we were told that now my Dad couldn’t likely get insurance due to the cancer now being pre-existing.  Even though he had money, as many know, treatment for cancer doesn’t come cheap and it’s unlikely he’d have been able to even afford the scans to get to treatment.

My doctor took pity on us and called in some favors.  We were able to see an ear, nose and throat specialist for the office fee only who ordered scans and tests of my Dad.  Those scans were written off.  They confirmed what we knew – he had tonsillar cancer (primary) which had spread to his brain, liver and lungs.  From there he was admitted into hospice (again, for free as a favor) where he was able to get weekly visits from a nurse and pain medication to see him through the rest of his life.

If it wasn’t for my wonderful doctor, none of the very little that was able to be done for my Dad would have happened because he was without insurance.

My father died 2 months after diagnosis.  We were told had it been caught in the early “sore throat” phase he would have likely lived.  They remove the tonsil/s that are infected and if it had progressed a round of chemo.  Even if he’d caught it a month or two earlier, he still may have lived.  Instead the fear of costs he couldn’t afford and the lack of healthcare options for the uninsured left him home and hoping it was just a cold.

I plead and beg of anyone reading to take a moment and think of the amazing man I lost due to the lack of healthcare before the ACA.  This is currently a thing of the past and I’ve read hundreds of stories online about people who were able to live because of the ACA.  It may not be perfect but it’s saving LIVES and that, my friends, is a big deal that shouldn’t be tossed to the wayside just because it needs improved.

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NKOTB Cincinnati After Party Epic Fail

Jordan Knight in Cincinnati

Jordan Knight in Cincinnati 6/25/13 © Corey Ann Balazowich

I don’t even know where to begin with this one, I really don’t.  I am writing this blog because SO MANY people keep asking me WTF happened last night and Twitter’s character limit just can’t contain it all.

I’m a huge NKOTB fan, if you know me, you know this.  Even still, people from elementary school remember my epic crush on Joe (I just can’t with the Joey LOL) and ask me on Facebook if I “know” that they are back together and touring.  I’ve met them a few times and while there’s always bumps in the road when it comes to meet and greets and after parties, nothing has ever been an epic of a fail as this, to the point where I’m being a bitch and writing a blog about it.

Last night I attended the NKOTB “The Package” Tour concert in Cincinnati, which is a 4 + hour drive for me in my home base of North Canton, Ohio.  Generally I go to the Cleveland concerts but I had obligations that day and the Cincy date worked out best for my friends and I.  We had front row seats and had an absolute blast during the show, which is amazing and I highly recommend to all women from the 90’s.  I will smile for a long time due to memories from that show.  What wasn’t so great was the insane heat in the arena, which is not remotely anyone’s fault but the US Bank Arena, but it was beyond hot.  I went to a concert a few years ago at Blossom, which was 90 something degrees and a million percent humidity but it was cooler than this!  I heard that the a/c units broke down due to the heat outside but I can’t say for sure that’s what happened.  Still, despite being a hot and sweaty mess, we still had so much fun because of what a fantastic show that Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees (ironic, no?), and New Kids On the Block put on for us.  It was especially special because it was 98 Degrees hometown show and Drew Lachey’s family was right in front of us and it was utterly charming to watch his little kiddos watch Daddy on stage and be completely enthralled with the experience.

I had purchased After Party tickets for me and my 2 friends because I wanted to go and I wanted to surprise my friends with the gifts.  They were SO excited and it was one girl’s birthday and she cried when she realized what my text meant. Neither had ever met any of the New Kids and were SO excited to go to the After Party.  We all knew the pictures would be fast and NOT a meet and greet but we were looking forward to the mingling and fun of the After Party which from all other reports, was a great time.  We got checked in after the concert and waited in line and quickly found out that the humidity in the room was worse than anything in the arena but we purchased some waters ($3.75 a pop, told none was available from the tap for free) and prepared for a fun evening dancing and enjoying some hopeful “facetime” with Donnie and maybe a straggling New Kid or two.  We were happy to hear that Donnie, Danny, Joe and Jordan were in attendance along with Boyz II Men.

The picture line moved quickly and we were told to get into groups of 4 or more and we ended up with 6 in our group, which was fine because no one was too particular about who they were with.  When it was our time to go, we were shoved in, found a spot, smiled and said a quick hi to whomever we were by and left.  That’s what we expected though so it was what it was, I do not have a single iota of an issue with how the picture taking went.  We were more looking forward to the mingling afterwards with Donnie and just having fun.  After the line was over, Donnie took the stage and begged us to all take a step back from the end where the “stage” area was with DJ Cheapshot and make sure everyone had breathing room b/c he didn’t want anyone to get sick and how he would be around to everyone so don’t rush in.  Joe got up and did a toast to everyone and a few other “Joe-isms.”  Shawn finished out the speeches with something I couldn’t hear but more about just having fun and not trying to all turn into a mob rushing them.  All three led us to believe they were going to be mingling and so long as we didn’t act a fool, they’d be around to us all.  We were towards the back so it was hard to see.  The next song I saw Jordan shaking his groove to barely through the crowd and then I just had fun in my corner assuming they were saying hi to people and just not visible.  Then I realized I didn’t see any men during the next song and stood up on a chair to figure out what was going on and then I realized there was NO men (well the men we paid to party with).  Donnie was gone – everyone was gone.  There was a curtain to the side of the “stage” where people were coming in and out of but never to come back out?  Donnie and the rest of the crew.

Here’s the thing: I get it was a swamp in that hot box of a room.  I get that only Donnie is on the party as the host and therefore the only one obligated to be there.  If I were the other guys, I’d probably have peaced out too.  Jonathan is a wise man.  Hell, I am JEALOUS they didn’t have to stay in that sauna for an additional 2 hours like we did because that was really miserable.  I still have a headache.  However as the host, I really wish Donnie would have given us the respect to let us know that they were miserable, exhausted and just couldn’t do the party as they’d hoped.  Heck, if he wasn’t man enough to do it without fear of lynching, send out some paid minion to tell us what was going on.  Instead we waited for two hours in that soup – the a/c was broken is the rumor – for guys that left not long after the pictures were completed.  People were getting headaches, people were not feeling well and water was not cheap.  Donnie, why in the world did you leave us up there on false hopes when you KNEW the conditions up there?  I just do not get it.  Johnny kept telling people they were coming back so everyone stayed on, until the bitter and quiet end where DJ Cheapshot ended his tunes and started silently cleaning up.  Not a single word from anyone as to what the ever loving fuck just happened.  Ironically, I think our “party” was one of the latest ones, ending around 1:45AM.

Shit happens, it’s kind of a motto in my life.  It was proven when after that epic failure of an After Party I walked out into a thunderstorm and had to walk back to our hotel in the pouring rain (it did feel good but that whole lightning thing is a bit freaky).  After sleeping on the whole mess I woke up less angry, more confused and laughing about the whole situation because this stuff only seems to happen to me.  It’s kind of humorous in a dark and demented way.  I should have known better than to hope for anything less than a total shitshow.  At least the concert was fun!

My friends and I consoled ourselves on the ride home by saying at least we had fun with each other and the pics were still a highlight, no matter what happened.

Well.

NKOTB Cincinnati After Party Picture

 

I’m the literal hot mess in the blue dress on the end (in my defense the wet spots on my dress are from ice cubes I realize now that cooling down via that method was not one of my wiser choices in life), one of my friends is the girl in yellow next to Donnie.  My other friend?  She’s next to Danny.  Don’t see Danny?  He was on my left… and him AND my friend were cut out of the image. I’ve edited this picture for clarity FYI if you want to see how bad image originally was and the other images are, go here and type in nkotbappix for the password.  Also, if you are an attendee and want me to try and edit yours, let me know (I’m a professional photographer).

Needless to say, I’m pretty peeved.  Not only is the picture terrible due to the humidity, MY FRIEND IS MISSING.  This isn’t the only person from the night that was cropped out, there are a few others this appears to have happened to last night.  I feel so terrible for her and so sorry this happened.  I got her this birthday gift hoping it would be a fun night.  I called VIP Nation to complain and they told me to “send it in email” and hung up on me.  So I sent my email but here’s my blog to go along with it.  This is unacceptable and just sad.  I would like a refund and I think that all attendees last night deserve one as well.

Were you a fellow comrade in sweat?  If so, I am so sorry this happened.  🙁

If you’d like to see my photos from the concert, here is the opening acts and here is NKOTB.

 

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The Letters

It’s amazing how much one accumulates when they not only have all of the detritus of their own lives but the artifacts from their deceased parents, grandparents (both sides) and brother.  What’s even more amazing is the vast amount that I have is just a tiny fragment of all that I once had that was lost in the many moves, due to lack of care and so forth.  It’s insane all the crap I have of everyones lives.  We’ve moved the boxes of stuff a few different times and it’s always been a sore spot between me and Chris.  He wants me to go through it, I do and throw away some and then find a shiny object and move onto another thing and never quite make it through things.  I also have never sat and sorted.  I’ve opened boxes and gone “oh it’s ____” and move it to the keep side and keep on trucking.   In April, I finally took on the task of sitting down with the things and going through it, organizing it and deciding what to do with it all.

It’s always a bit of an emotional roller coaster going through this kind of stuff.  Pictures of people that are all dead.  Memories that come flying back that are bitter and sweet.  Times you wished you remembered and times you wish you could forget.  I think that’s a lot of why I became a photographer was because all I have left of my family is pictures.  The letters are a different matter.  It’s funny to look back and see so many letters one saved.  All of my love letters from high school boyfriends (I pitched those finally).  Notes from friends secretly passed between classes.  Cards for my birthday.  Our kids won’t likely see these things from our generation forward as all of our correspondence now is digital and hidden behind passwords.  These are some of my favorite treasures to find from my family as they give a peek into what life was really like in that small snippet of time.

I found a box within one of the big boxes full of cards and letters my Mom’s parents saved.  Cards from various events from 1979 – 1985, they saved them all.  I ended up making the decision to not hold onto these any longer as I don’t know most of the people in the cards and letters and sent them on to my Aunt whom will appreciate them more than I or my kin (if I have any) ever could.  Then I came to letters from my Mom to my brother while he was in Basic Training and then on duty with the Navy.  I’ve read many of these letters before when they were sent to us along with other things from his room after his death.  I haven’t re-read them in years and just took the envelope with them and moved them to the keep pile and kept on sorting.  Then I came across three letters that were apart from the main letters that were kept.

I should have just sorted them along with the others.

I read the first of the three letters and while it’s harsh and biting towards my father and calls me lazy, it’s not so bad.  I’m not one that looks back upon someone that died with starry eyes.  I know my Mom had a lot of faults and one was that she wasn’t nice.  She was very sick with COPD and that exacerbated her grumpiness.  The letters to my brother always had a theme: I’m sick, I hate your Dad, send me money, you hurt my feelings and your sister doesn’t help enough around the house.  Keep in mind that my age through the span of these letters was around 10-13.  While I was “older” I was still a kid.  The second letter was more mean than her normal self and mentions how my Dad didn’t want to kill a bees nest because he hated to kill them.  She then tells my brother how she doesn’t get how he could be upset about killing a bees nest when he killed the dog without any qualms.  I about fell over.  KILLED MY DOG?!  See, I’d been told that Mandy went to a farm because she was too old to be inside anymore.  She was peeing everywhere and going blind.  FOR YEARS my Dad kept this ruse up and eventually a few years later he told me she died.  I get it now why he did what he did, he did it to protect me.  Mandy was old and in pain, it was time for her to go on but he knew I’d be upset so created the farm story.  I now wonder if the cats really made it to a REAL farm or if it was the same farm Mandy went to.  Poor Mandy.

The final letter.

Why didn’t I stop?

The final letter was more of the same and lots of guilt trips about my brother not sending money or spending time with her when he was home.  NOW I totally get it.  Back then though, I didn’t know about the letters and never understood why Mike didn’t stay with us or see us much when he was home on leave.  After reading these letters, I can’t blame him at all.  Anyway, she was complaining about not having time to write like she usually does because I stayed up late every night keeping her company, playing cards etc. and how finally that night I was in bed “early” at 12:30AM.  That made me laugh because I’ve always been a night owl.  Then there was more bashing of my Dad and the usual and she comes to me again.  This time I get bashed too.  She tells my brother how I’m such a strange child and how she just doesn’t know where I came from because she can’t relate to me.  She says I’m unfeeling and how she doesn’t understand why I don’t cry at movies or books.  She just doesn’t like me and probably never will.

WTF?  OUCH?!

What kind of mother says that kind of shit?  Beyond that what kind of mother says that to her SON about his SISTER?

I cried when I read it so guess what Mom?  Apparently I do have feelings.  I was freaking 10, of course I didn’t cry at movies or books.  I mean it’s not like Superfudge is all that sad?   I don’t know why it bothers me so much, I KNOW my Mom didn’t like me, hell I listened to her try to plot how to kill me, but it doesn’t mean that it hurt any less.  Just another chapter I guess in my screwed up childhood.  Mothers Day was a couple weeks after I read these letters and I have to be honest, I didn’t miss her much that day.  I feel so darn guilty about harboring some ill will towards her but that letter, in particular that line, really sliced to the core.

Maybe this is why I am not a mother.  I really worry that I won’t be any better.

Thank god for Dad.  He may have not been nice to Mom but he was amazing to me.  The letters made me miss him so much.  I think he must have kept them separate from the others so I didn’t read them.  Because that’s the kind of parent he was, he told me my dog went to a farm to protect me from the pain of seeing a beloved pet die.  He hid the letters to protect me from the pain of knowing my Mom didn’t like me.  He gives me hope that someday I will be the kind of parent that would protect their children from pain instead of cause it.

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Regristries

‘Tis the season for showers.  Not April showers but Baby and Bridal showers.  This year – correction – last year – apparently something was in the water because I know at least a dozen people all due this summer with babies.  Then on top of that there are weddings.  It’s shower palooza over here which means the ever present registry.  Oh… registries.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the idea of them.  I think it’s SUCH a great idea and I even like that they do them for kiddos bday wishes now too.  Since I’m childless, I am clueless when it comes to buying my baby niece gifts for birthdays and Christmas.  The older ones are easy as pie (here’s some cash! don’t use it all on beer!) but the 2 year old is a tough one.  I think they are a great thing so that you don’t end up with 3 different Forman grills or 4 Crock Pots.  Wait.  I had exactly that happen with my first wedding and I didn’t register for either item.  Thankfully more people are sticking to registries since my first wedding in 2000 though so hopefully that problem has been eliminated.

Here’s my pet peeve when it comes to registries.  Ideally you are going through all of this hassle (trust me, I know people say registering is SO MUCH FUN but they are mostly liars, the gun is cool but arguing with one’s fiance about what kidn of towels are more ideal for your home is not fun) to end up with items that aren’t doubled and are things you’ve chosen carefully.  Same goes for babies, you plot out, stalk consumer reports, pinterest and Mommy blogs to make sure you are opting for the BEST of the best.  Who has time for returns?  I am dreadful at returns.  They never make it back to the store.  Then I end up with doubles of stuff.  I never returned a smoothie maker from our wedding shower that was a double so we have TWO things that I discovered suck.  Yay me!  I’ve noticed lately though in my shopping that people are registering in multiple places (which is fine, I get that) but they are registering for THE SAME STUFF!  Why on earth would you do that?  Do you WANT to return that crib or stroller or grill?  I know I don’t!  I just don’t get it, why bother if you’re going to screw it all up. The current wedding I am shopping for is a case in point about this but instead of the exact items (we are talking Walmart vs Bed, Bath & Beyond) it’s very similar items at both places.  *smh*  Then there’s the ADD lists.  You know what I’m talking about I think.  The one I’m currently looking at has 4 bed in a bags, 2 comforter sets and umpteen different sheet sets.  They still live (and plan to live) with parents so I’m really scratching my head on this one.  Then there’s the bagillion towels.  I’m more than happy to give but it always makes me raise an eyebrow when perusing a registry.

Fair warning to those that do this that invite me.  I may get irritated and decide to do my own gift.  Which is usually a creative gift idea I stole from a past bridesmaid at a wedding I photographed.  She did a fully stocked bar b/c she couldn’t think of what else to get them (I guess the registry had been cleared – another pet peeve, make sure you register enough so people can BUY you crap – oh and not just all $100 items either).  So my gift this weekend is going to be a bar: a bottle of all of the “main” alcohols, mixers and utensils.  I’ve yet to do this for a baby shower though, somehow I don’t think someone would like me for that as it’d be a big tease.  My default gift there tends to be getting every small $$ item on the registry, tossing in a shitbrick of diapers and thowing it all in a basket.  Classy, no?

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NKOTB Town Hall

NKOTB Town Hall in Cleveland Ohio at smartspace

I’ve been a New Kids On the Block fan forever and a day.  Everyone that knows me, knows I love the New Kids.  I didn’t get to see them in the 90s (maybe I’ll tell the sob story about that another time) but I DID get to go to the first reunion show they performed in NYC for the Today Show in 2008 and I’ve been lucky enough to see them a few times after that (along with Joe solo, whom I “followed” a lot in the early 2000s).  Today I was one of the lucky ones chosen to see the NKOTB Town Hall meeting in Cleveland.  What is a Town Hall?  Honestly?  I don’t know how to describe it myself but they had three this weekend – two yesterday in CT and PA and then today’s in Cleveland.  Donnie, Danny and Joe were “representing” the New Kids and each venue had about 300 people and they did a Q&A session for about an hour or so and then played a video of their performance at Fenway which was about 40 minutes long or so.  It’s hard to tell time because no phones or cameras were allowed!  🙂

Cleveland’s venue was smARTspace in Cleveland on 78th street and when I got there around 12:15 or so there were two lines – one for invited guests and their +1 and another line for people hoping to get in w/o tickets.  It was all rather organized and unlike the day before, it started pretty close to on time at 1PM.  Mostly everyone was able to have a seat except for a few of the people that didn’t have tickets.  They were just happy to get in so they didn’t mind standing (it ended up working out for them).

The guys came in – Joe first, then Donnie and finally Danny.  Everyone was on their feet and cheering.  Some were holding up signs but thankfully that stopped for the most part early on.  Some signs were creative but damn, they suck to see around!  Each of the guys gave their little campaign speech and as a friend said, Donnie has the Obama DOWN pat!  Ha!  They each said how much they are enjoying this reunion and how no one expected it to be still going strong 4 years later.

They asked people asking questions to line up – each side of the room (it was a long and skinny room) had a line that formed.  I want to say in the end they took around 20 or so questions?  Everyone was very civil and there was NO STUPID QUESTIONS!  I think everyone took notes from some of yesterdays stupidity and decided to be adults.  Whew!

Here’s some of the questions/topics that I can recall (in no particular order)

• Q:  Who/what band influenced your music most?  A:  Joe – anything his sisters were listening to – Michael Jackson, Elton John — anything that one could dance to in the kitchen. Donnie – AC/DC, Van Halen and other rock bands. Danny – New Edition.

• Q:  Are there going to be any more Waffle House events? A:  Donnie – He’d love to do them but it’s become a safety issue. People are following him from table to table and wanting more and more pics if theirs didn’t turn out and it’s getting scary. He never wants to pull into a Waffle House and not want to get out because it doesn’t look safe in there, and doesn’t want us to feel the same way. Joe – crazy bitches! (mimicing what girls say about the girls at the Waffle Houses – got lots of laughs). Donnie wants to continue it but he stressed that when/if it happens girls have GOT to chill and let him say hi and move on and not make safety issues.  He doesn’t want anyone slipping and falling on bacon grease!  There was also talks of heart attacks but I missed how that bit started?  Basically – he’ll  be doing them again if people can be civilized and calm.

• Q:  Will you do a CD with a compilation of bands you have performed with? A:  All – that’s a good idea and something we may want to consider.

• They are currently recording a new CD – have managed to refrain from tweeting about it but said it’s time for new material as they can’t keep performing Full Service.  I think they said 3 songs but I could be wrong.

• Q:  Are you going to include more Face the Music stuff? A:  Joe – They always answer this with they sing If You Go Away but said the fans are not accepting that anymore as an answer. He actually has the goggles from Dirty Dawg and wanted to use it in the upcoming tour but things got cut since they paired up with BSB. Donnie – plans were there to include this in the upcoming tour but the good news is since it wasn’t it’s in the vault for the next tour. Danny – (I’m not sure where this came from?) No one wants us to sing This One’s For the Children. Everyone is “meh” about it.

• Q:  Is there plans for another CasiNO Tour this year? A:  No, there isn’t. There will be one special event, this summer, that brings the best of the cruise, CasiNO tour, Waffle House etc. to land but they are not doing a tour this year in the US. However, they will be doing something in 2013 for US & Canada.

• Q:  Joe – will you perform Twisted like you did on the CasiNO tour again?  A:  Joe -today?!?  No.  (laughs)  He hasn’t done push ups in at least 6 months, outside of running he’s not exercising. He was in the best shape of his life then – perhaps because he was taking his clothes off every night. (laughs) Said he really loved that mashup though and felt the two songs went well together and is open to doing it again in the future. There wasn’t room for many solos with this last tour w BSB.

• Q:  Can we get a live CD from a concert so we can hear the PDGG concert version when we want to? A:  All – good idea, something to think about.

• Q:  For all the fans who aren’t here, are you going to do minutes and post them so others can see/read what is being discussed? A:  All – perhaps? Has anyone yet? Asks about an easel. Not here so someone hands up a dry erase board and Joe proceeds to take notes the rest of the meeting. Donnie states that this was really a special something for the Fan Club and it’s not really something they were planning on posting all about but we can get the word out there via twitter and blogs.

• Q:  Will there be a Cruise DVD? A:  All – There’s a lot of footage and they know that the demand is out there. It was kind of a vague answer – sounds like it is something they are planning on but it hasn’t been put together yet.

• Q:  Can you lower the ticket prices so my husband doesn’t divorce me? A:  Donnie – they’ve fought really, really, hard to keep them as low as they have. They got into a huge fight with the promoters of the NKOTBSB tour bc other similar tours were charging $300/$400 but they wanted to keep the tickets under a $100. They were able to but there are a lot of things at play and they try to do their best to keep things affordable. Mentions that this does NOT include the VIP stuff.  Mentioned that today’s event was free and they are glad to be able to do stuff like this for people that can’t always afford the concerts.

• Q:  Is there any way possible to get more of an advance notice when things are going on sale? A:  Danny – he totally hears and understands, hopes that they can do what they can do.

• Q:  Can you stop adding on dates – esp out of order (like Radio City)? A:  Donnie – they get added on because of the demand so it’s something we can’t control until we see what the demand is.  It’s out of their control.  Joe (I think) – we didn’t expect to have 3 Radio City concerts!!!! Danny – you WANT us to stop adding on dates?!!?!?!?!

• Q:  We need more marshmallow!!! A:  Donnie – now that he has stopped eating all the candy, cookies and brownies he’s been given over the past 6 months, he’s getting back in shape and the marshmallow has been primed and is almost ready for prime time again.

• Q:  Will you feature fans in any upcoming videos?! A:  Donnie – you never know.  It’s a good idea.  We like to do things differently.

• Q: I couldn’t hear this one well but it was something about a fan vote on what songs to release/what other bands to pair up with on a CD.  A:  That’s a good suggestion and it worked well in the past.  — someone yells out Boys II Men.

• Q:  Is there a possibility of getting the New Kids all on Blue Bloods? A:  Donnie – not sure, Jordan was on last year but Joe’s too big time to be an extra and costs more. He got a NK song title in every episode last year, was quite proud of that. Tried to get Rise & Grind in recently but it was cut b/c they said it didn’t even make SENSE. Said they are always there in spirit but may try to arrange something.

NKOTB Town Hall in Cleveland Ohio
Joe’s Minutes…have NO idea what the jugs thing is about!?  LMAO

They then played the Fenway video and the guys all dispersed.  I heard a YIPE/squee behind me and noticed that Joe was coming around one side and was hugging en route to the back (the table w/ the computers, Jared, Kevin and sound peeps was right behind me).  Donnie was doing the same en route to the back on the other side.  Eventually Joe made it and only stayed behind the table for a few seconds then went back out and hugged people.  Donnie did the same, dropped some stuff off at the table then went back out to hug.  I never saw where Danny was until later.  For the whole video, the guys wandered around the venue hugging, saying hi and signing random things.  It was pretty low key, no mobbing that I saw (more of a swarm lol) and the guys were super generous with their time and smiles.  Joe’s sweater was crazy soft BTW.  He was the first I hugged b/c he ended up setting up hug camp at our aisle so we had to move out so that we didn’t get stomped.  I did get one heel spike to the foot though… so if they do more, wear steel toes!  ha!  After Joe we went over and got a quick fast hug from Danny and then waited for Donnie.  He was doing more than a super fast hug, he was actually talking with people and being crazy kind.  He was signing anything you’d give him and talking and giving super awesome hugs.  At my first ILAA M&G he was swarmed so I just got a super fast hug in and my second he was mobbed so this was actually my first “quality” time saying hi and seeing him for more than a millisecond.  He was so amazingly kind and sweet, the memory will stick with me forever. 🙂

After everyone had their hugs the guys just meandered around and would crash random groups.  I was talking with a friend and Donnie went to the girls in front of me and slung his arms over their shoulders and they swayed back and forth to the music.  It was a sweet moment and it KILLED me not to have my camera!  🙂  There was a guy there with a camera though and he did take pics of quite a few ladies with Donnie towards the end.  It was cool that they were able to just roam around and people were pretty respectful and not attacking.  YAY Cleveland, ya’ll did me proud!

At the end everyone said goodbye and we filled out and left.  OH!  They also provided bags of chips on the way out – they must have heard the snacks complaint from CT and were ready!  🙂  I thought that was a nice touch, even if I didn’t take any.  I’m not sure if they came out and did any more hugs after – tons of people were hanging around but not sure if that amounted to anything or not.  I left and got lost about 5 different times on my way home (for me it’s not a trip to Cleveland unless I get lost at least once due to their shitacular signage).

I have to say a HUGE thank you to the New Kids (especially Danny, Donnie and Joe) for doing this and for the invite, it was awesome to be able to do something like this with you all!  I also want to say that I’m sad to see that people ignored the rules of no camera/cell phones/recording devices and did it anyway.  Stuff like that ruins a good thing!  This was a FREE event, they only asked that we respect their wishes and you went against that.  We ALL wanted to have cameras and cell phones but we respected their wishes, shameful that not all did and may have ruined a truly good thing.  Just enjoy the moment and tweet later and focus on the now.  Memories last a lifetime!

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The Jelly Bean Incident

I am not much of a candy eater, which is ironic because my Dad was a total candy addict.  I go through spurts – that usually coincide with the letters p, m and s – where I’ll eat a few bites of something but generally I’m a potato-chip-junkie and I pass over the candy.  We still have a bowl of Halloween candy left!  It’s kind of funny, anyone that comes to our house always hits the candy bowl because the good stuff is always still there.  It’s not like most houses where the only candy left is the crap you would only eat after the good stuff is taken or ingest after the age of 70.  Honestly, I don’t even know why we have a candy bowl since neither of us ever eat it.  LOL.

However at Easter I usually pick up a few choice bags of candy.  Cadbury Mini Eggs are the one thing that I adore and will sit and eat the entire bag of if given the option (and lack of willpower).  I also like jelly beans.  I think the jelly beans are related to memories more than like though.  My Dad had this hilarious way of eating jelly beans.  He’d eat them in color order.  He’d start with his favorite color (red) and work his way down from there, in order, until the bag was only pink and white jelly beans.  This was the good ol’ Brach kind – this was way before they fancified jelly beans.  Every time I see a bag, I think of Dad.  So I picked up a bag of the Starbust “FaveReds” jelly beans because a) I went to the store hungry, b) I was sick and c) I was hungry.  I’ve had them on my desk since then and munch on a bite or two every now and again – typically when I’m hungry and waiting for the hubs to get home.

Friday I was hitting the sugar lows waiting for the hubs to get home from work and I figured I’d eat a couple bites of jelly beans to tide me over until dinner.  I took about two bites and somehow swallowed the suckers nearly whole.  Of course they went down the wrong pipe and I coughed them up when they hit my lugs.  Let me tell you, that was a fun feeling!  I then got to reswallow the whole mess and felt the scraping – again! – the entire way down my throat.  Oh, my god.  It burned, it hurt and it brought tears to my eyes.  Then, I got the lovely taste of iron.  Yes.  I managed to slice and dice my throat on two jelly beans.

Meanwhile, my husband’s friend Paul decided we should all go out to dinner so wanted ME to make reservations.  So I had to call and gasp out our reservations.  My throat bled for about an hour and that dinner??  I don’t recommend following the jelly bean incident up with spicy sausage.

I finally can swallow easier today but it still feels sore.  I have a feeling though I’m going to be teased about this one for years.  Already my husband is saying. “you are the one that nearly died on a jelly bean.”  Great.  LOL

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Chardon Shootings

What a whirlwind today has been.

13 years ago I still vividly recall the horror of watching the scenes unfold from Columbine.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget watching the teenager climb/fall out of the window, bloodied, into rescuers arms below live on television.  My Dad and I both couldn’t turn away and were shocked, shocked! at everything unfolding.  While Colorado is worlds away from Ohio, my cousin lives in the town where Columbine is so it was a bit close to home.  In the years since there has been other shootings and each of them strike a sad note but none have gripped me like Columbine did.

Today that changed when I woke up to find out that a gunman had opened fire and shot 5 students here in Ohio in nearby Chardon.

Words fail me.

It’s also been interesting to watch as things unfold online vs. only having the TV and chat rooms years ago.  Now news is hitting Twitter long before it’s hitting local media or the national news.  Some is wrong but today, much has been correct long before the media outlets could verify.  However, people are also making quick and fast assumptions.  The shooter was bullied.  Homeschooling is the answer.  Guns should be banned completely.  The shooter was living a goth lifestyle and that’s what happens from those kids.  I am curious what the “real story” will be as time unfolds.

The bullying angle often infuriates me.  YES, bullying is awful and shouldn’t EVER happen but you know what?  It happens.  I think my friend’s son said it best on Facebook, “I don’t care if you’re bullied you never take it to the point of taking anyones life or even your own, you tell an adult and avoid the situation.”  I couldn’t say it better myself and this is a kid that is a Junior in a High School very near to Chardon.  I hope that more kids take his advice and avoid the situation and/or tell an adult.  Bullying sucks but violence isn’t the answer.

The one thing that was the answer today though was preparedness.  Due to the drills that Chardon had in place they immediately were able to go into lockdown and get things rolling to minimize the impact of the shooter.  No one knows for sure but it sounds like he had more killings planned that did not take place.  Much of this is indeed thanks to the drills in place at the High School and the response time from the police and other emergency personnel.  Thanks to Columbine, today’s disaster was minimized as much as possible.  Hopefully from today’s tragedy, a future attack is even further minimized or hopefully eliminated.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the friends, family and victims of today’s senseless tragedy in Chardon.  Give your loved ones an extra hug tonight, even if it has to be a virtual one.

 

 

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On the Eve of 33

My birthday is tomorrow.  Technically it’s not until 1:59AM but we won’t get all technical lol.  I’ve always thought it was so cool that I was born at 1:59AM though… not on the dot or any other number but the last minute before the new hour.  Not sure why but when I was a kid I totally thought it was one of the more awesome things about me.  Ahh, when you were 6 and things like that (you thought) gave you street cred.

No big plans then again, there rarely are plans for my birthday.  My birthdays tend to be epic fails. 9 times out of 10 I’m sick on my birthday (ok once was on my 21st when I had the awesome idea to be at the bar when I turned 21 at midnight and proceeded to drink WAY too much in a matter of an hour, that was self inflicted and my only hangover to date).  I’m getting over a cold right now so I’ve already got that against me for tomorrow.  Last year was one of the few years where I can say I had a good birthday but even still it had its pitfalls (husband FORGOT my birthday).  I just have learned to not put too much stock in birthdays and no, I don’t do that whole birth-week, birth-MONTH shit.  Holy cow who ARE those people?

My exciting plans include getting my license renewed (god how awful will this picture be!?) and going to the post office.  Here’s hoping that hubs actually gets me a cake.  That is one thing I’m big on, CAKE! He better get me a cake… That’s all I am saying.  😉

 

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Titanic 3D Review

 

I just got home from screening Titanic 3D and all I have to say is WOW.

I am a huge Titanic fan.  Back in the day I had one of the most popular fansites (Collide With Destiny) and still contribute to Back to Titanic which my friend still runs.  I honestly wasn’t sure going in how I would feel about it.  Would things change?  There were rampant rumors that things had been edited.  I knew he wouldn’t mess with the storyline too much but still… Then there is the 3D.  Generally, I’ve never been a big fan.  I end up with a headache and nothing really wows me.  I was excited to see one of my all-time favorite movies return to the big screen but I was apprehensive about the treatment of it.

I shouldn’t have worried.

I was one of the lucky ones that managed to snag a pass for the Valentine’s Day screening online a couple weeks ago.  The site was terrible and was totally bogged down but I persevered and secured my tickets.  Keep in mind they were free which was even more awesome!  You could have two people per person which was even better.  The night before I saw online that they were expecting a full house and I was worried that our projected arrival of around an hour before may be cutting it too close but there wasn’t anything I could really do.  We walked into the theater and the local radio stations were there doing giveaways and prizes.  When walking into the theater the movie was in, they handed you a boarding pass (to get in and out), a voucher for a drink/popcorn and Titanic themed 3D glasses.  Every 50th person got selected to have a sketch done by an artist.  There was a string band playing at the front of the theater and people were dressed up in Titanic like costumes.  On the way out of the theater we were each handed a Titanic themed swag bag with a Titanic t-shirt, a mini-poster with some coupons in it.  It was pretty impressive!

The movie itself was awesome. It’s been so long since I’ve seen it on the big screen (the last time may have been Valentine’s Day 1998) and I forgot how much more amazing it is to see at that size. Since almost everything is in 3D there were lots of bits and pieces that were new or new-to-me. I found myself watching the scenes that were going on behind the main scenes more than the actual storyline. I found myself captivated by things and people that would have originally been blocked/partially obscured by the original 2D shot. It was just awesome to see.  I wish I could sit and go over every awesome scene that was almost new-to-me with the 3D but I’ll stick to the highlights.

The scene that wowed me the most is probably one that others wouldn’t have paid attention to but the lunch scene was done amazingly well. The beams of light shooting through the cafe were amazing and the breaks in the light when people walked through the beam were what sold it. Maybe since I am a photographer the light grabbed me the most but regardless it was a splendid scene!  Much of the rest of the scenes were similar – just enough 3D to make you say, “wow” quietly to yourself but nothing that made you duck and cover.  I will say that the more crowded the scene, the harder it was to focus as things got blurry.

The sinking was just was amazing as one would think it would be. It’s a whole new dimension with the 3D added – although I as prior in the movie when things got moving often things got a bit blurry.  Still, it really made you feel like you were right there with them – especially when you’d be in the POV from the water looking at the ship. You also got more of a feel for the depth of the water as things were submersing into the water and being 3D you could gauge JUST how deep the water was and how fast it was coming at you.  I think the most impressive shot in the sinking scene though was the boat returning at the end. You really felt like you were in the water with the bodies. Creepy and cool.

I definitely give this two thumbs up! I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it not being a normal fan of 3D but I loved it.  I can’t wait until the full release so I can see it again.  I may give the IMAX a whirl this time to see what the difference would be between that and the RealD 3D.

P.S.:  The ONLY downside to the entire experience was this group of morons in front of us.  There was about 8 or so people that all came together.  After the movie started the Mom handed out bags of chips so for the first portion of the movie I couldn’t see the bottom of the screen because the kid in front of me had the  bag raised above her head eating the chips out of it like it was a cup.  Then after that finally stopped the two girls on the end (caddy corner to me) were texting each other for the whole movie.  It was so.rude.  I haven’t been to a theater in a while and I just wanted to smack the kids and their Mom.  I’m still not sure how she managed to get that many tickets since the max was 2 but beyond that, tell your kid to put the damn cell phone away in the theater.  You don’t need to sit and text through the whole movie.  The bright screen was so distracting and I know I sound like a grump but there you have it.  I was so excited for this and while it didn’t ruin the experience it was definitely annoying.

P.P.S: PLEASE VOTE FOR ME AS TITANIC’S BIGGEST FAN!  That would make me the QUEEN of the world!  ha!

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Valentine’s Day

Do you have your gift for your loved one(s) in your life all set to go?  If so I am jealous as I’ve yet to even think of what to get my husband.  Yes, I realize I have less than 2 hours before it is officially V-Day but he is quite frankly one of the hardest people to shop for.  I think I’m still burned out from expending all of my energy on Christmas for him (Keurig machine FTW at the last moment!) so I am out of ideas.  This is how it generally happens so I’m sure he’s not surprised.  At least I have another month before his birthday (and I’ve got an idea cooking for that!) so I may phone it in with his favorite gift: Amazon gift card.   My gift is the gift of him going to see Titanic in 3D with me!!  I’m SO excited!

This blog isn’t about THIS Valentine’s Day though, this is about my absolute worst one ever in history of Valentine’s.  To be ended with a story of best one ever that I remember to keep it all sweet and stuff.

9 years ago (holy moly it’s been that long… wow) I had just fallen on a patch of ice going in to see my friend’s fiance’s band play.  Wait.  I need to back this up further.  At the end of 2002 one thing was glaringly obvious, I needed a divorce.  The marriage was not working for me, for him, or for anyone.  I summoned a great deal of courage and met up with my Dad after work at a bar and finally told him what I was considering doing.  He bought me a drink and congratulated me.  No joke. Then again, I should not have been too surprised given that this is the man that told me JUST before he walked me down the aisle that, “you don’t have to do this you know.  You can call it off and we can still have one hell of a party.”  Needless to say, he wasn’t a fan of my ex-husband.  It took a bit of time (and I’ll blog that whole story someday) to finally ask for one and at the end of January I moved back home with my Dad.  Boxes were EVERYWHERE in the house and paths went from here to there due to literally just throwing things down and adding more to the pile.

After a week of moving and boxes I wanted a night out.  I went and saw some Collin Farrell movie with a friend who was OBSESSED with him and another friend called when I was on my way home begging me to come keep her company while her fiance’s band played at a local bar.  I agreed even though all I really wanted to do was go home and crawl into bed.  So as my luck would have it as soon as I stepped out of my SUV, I stepped on a patch of ice and down I went, ruining my new shoes that I ADORED.  I still miss those shoes but they had a wood sole and were destroyed.  Sniff.  I felt my ankle snap after the fall and while there was no immediate pain, I knew that it was bad.  My cell phone was in my SUV – which while it was close it was also UP.  I was totally stuck and unsure what to do.  So I did what any other self respecting woman would do, I whipped up some tears as soon as I saw a couple cute guys coming near me and asked for help.  They helped me hop into the bar, my friend was retrieved and off to the ER we went.  Long story shorter – I had a broken ankle and not just an ordinary one!  I had an S shaped break through the joint which required surgery.  YAY!  I saw an orthopedist and surgery was scheduled for that Friday.  Valentine’s Day.

Up until this point in my life the ONLY surgery I’d had was when I had my wisdom teeth out.  I’d narrowly avoided one as a child for a clogged tear duct (I was just being put under when they discovered it’d finally broke loose) but other than that I’d been lucky.  I was scared shitless.  I was a total absolute wreck.  On top of that, my Dad’s first question about my surgery was where the closest bar was.  I loved him to bits but staying sober was never one of his strong suits.  This meant I had to call in reinforces – which was my ex as much as I hated to do it.  He wasn’t very kind about it either but agreed to come.  I had also needed him to get prescriptions and the like for me while I was out and since we were still married he could do that for me.  My surgery went well, so well that the nurses were SHOCKED with how fast I came out of it in post-op and how quickly I was “normal” and ready to leave.  My ex left while I was in surgery when my Dad decided not to go to the bar so I had the added bonus of not dealing with him post-op, BONUS.  In the end, it all went swimmingly and the day was okay.  However I’ll NEVER forget that absolute craptacular Valentine’s Day.

As for the BEST Valentine’s Day ever… it’s quite silly but still warms my heart.  I can’t recall the year but I’m thinking it was my Senior Year (definitely know it was when I was in high school).  My Dad usually always left for work long before I would wake up for school so I never saw him in the morning (and if he was up when I got up I generally avoided him as he was NOT a morning person).  When I opened my eyes as they were adjusting I was so confused.  My room was always a mess and I knew there was something odd but while my eyes adjusted I couldn’t figure it out.  Eventually things became clear and I was able to make out a box with an item perched on top.  I got up to inspect it and my Dad had left a box with a stuffed dog (puff a lump style if those recall them!) with a rose in his hand.  You could tell the hand was designed to hold something as it had a clip like mechanism in it.  I’m guessing it was from Hallmark or something similar – at that time I think he was working at a mall (he was a local union electrician so worked all over).   Regardless, I was so touched that my Dad went out of his way for me like that and surprised me.  It’s rare that I am surprised by gifts and this one shocked me!!!  I wish I’d thought to preserve that rose.  To this day it amuses me that it’s not a gift/event from a romantic partner that I remember but a gift from my Dad!

What was your best and worst Valentine’s Day?  Do you celebrate it or not?

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