Thursday, December 30, 2004

12/30 Another holiday weekend

I rented movies and watched three tonight...a marathon. Saw Uptown Girl, Dodgeball, and Napoleon Dynamite and enjoyed them all. I'm looking forward to the long weekend. Some plans have come up which will make the weekend tons of fun. Will write more about it later.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

12/29 Shoot!

Just found out I'm not working at CSz this weekend. That reeks. I could have stayed in Quincy instead of coming back to Milwaukee. I came back because I didn't think I should take off two weekends in a row from CSz.

Ah, well. I guess it will be nice to have a full three-day weekend with no obligations. Quite unusual actually. Perhaps I'll see what my brother and s-i-l in Aurora are doing for NY Eve.

I really do want to be in Quincy. Our New Year's Day ritual is unique, I believe. We all go out to the cemetary and have a beer with Mom and Dad. We stand around their graves and laugh at the great times we had and remember how wonderful they were. One of my brothers then usually pours a little beer on their graves. When there's snow on the ground, the beer looks like pee and that makes us laugh too.

After a little while we all adjourn to the house we grew up in, now owned by my brother Joe and his wife Cindy. We spend the day eating and playing games...and making fun of each other. It's actually an exquisite day, and I wish I could be there.

(I must confess there's another ritual--the boys try to make me wet my pants. It happened once, about 15 years ago, and they keep trying for a repeat performance. I laughed so hard that day that pepsi squirted out of my nose and I couldn't control myself.)

I always get so homesick around the holidays. But it'll pass and I'll be my old self again. Rob and Beata look forward to moving to Chicago from Japan to rescue me from this. That will be awesome, having my son and d-i-l so nearby.

12/29 Thinking about tragedy

Are you glued to the news because of the earthquake and tsunami tragedy in Asia? I'm finding it hard to stay away from the news websites, but need to do so because I'm at work. What a horrible tragedy--now CNN confirms more than 80,000 people are dead. Many thousands more are still missing.

It hit me mid-morning that the child I sponsor through Christian Children's Fund lives in Indonesia. I'm trying to get more information to see if the area he lives in was hit by the tsunami.

I donated money through Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders)--that's the organization I have the fantasy of working with when I retire. They recruit mental health specialists as well as medical personnel. Don't know if it will ever become a reality, but it's quite possible.

This is horrific. The government is really helping. But I'm afraid though that the rest of us will look at it for a while and then forget about it. We, the public, tend to agonize more on tragedies in the US.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

12/28 Back to work

Today will go quickly because I have so much to do. Plus I had to leave for 3 hours for a dentist appointment. Next Monday I get my permanent bridge. Hooray--I'll be so happy to get these visits over with.

Tonight is the last rehearsal before our stand-up performance next Tuesday. I'm really looking forward to the show.

And today I got player #3 for our Rec League team. Am waiting for a reply from someone else. The league should be a lot of fun. It starts January 11th and runs for 10 weeks.

Talked to Rob and Beata again last night. They loved the presents I sent, and I loved theirs as well. My Christmas was blessed--not just with being with family, but also in the generosity of people who love me (and me them). I got so many cool gifts.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

12/26 Vacation's almost over

After having a delightful lunch at Jan and Tim's yesterday we played dominoes, then came back to Jane's for more movies. Very relaxing.

This morning at Mass we celebrated the feast of the Holy Family. I loved it because I was there with family members, but I desperately missed my own kids. Hope that someday we'll all be together. Maybe at the next wedding, who knows? But I sure missed my kids this trip. It was great talking to them so often, however.

After Mass, Jordan and Pete went camping with the Scouts, so Jane, Sarah and I met Jan, Tim and Kristen for lunch, then the gals all went shopping for After Christmas Bargains. I got some great ones, that's for sure.

Sarah had an indoor soccer game tonight. Her team had to play a boys' team--there aren't enough girls' teams in the league. So 7th grade girls played 8th grade boys. Sad... but the girls did score 2 goals. Very cool. My favorite part of the game was when a cocky boy (good player though) was showing off trying to pass Sarah and she stole the ball from him. Everyone on his team applauded her and screamed for more. Loved it.

Tonight Sarah and I watched another movie she wanted me to see. Jane went to bed early because she has to work tomorrow. I'm driving back to Milwaukee. It'll be good to be back to my own place. Wish I could transplant my Milwaukee life into Quincy. That would make it just about perfect--then if my kids and their families would move to Quincy too, that would make everything absolutely perfect. Maybe that will be my Christmas wish next year. You never know what lies in store....

Saturday, December 25, 2004

12/25 Merry Christmas

What a night we had at Jan and Tim's on Christmas Eve. We still buy for everyone, although we keep saying we want to start drawing names. But the day after Christmas everyone is out looking for bargains for the next year. It was so much fun though, giving out and receiving tons of presents. Even little kids were giving out gifts--stuff they'd made. Loved it.

We had such a wonderful time. The only downside was that both my kids called (Rob from Japan, and Jill from LA) and I didn't hear my mobile phone ring. Aaaarrrrggghh! But I called them back later and that was cool.

Several college aged nephews and I played ComedySportz games. I think I told you all before that they call them "Jer games," and I can't get them to change it. They also say Jerberish instead of gibberish. But we had a riot. Played for HOURS. The rest of the gang watches and every now and then someone new will jump in when we're playing freeze.

I gave those nephews CSz UK shirts and cock 'n toast T-shirts and bumper stickers. They were thrilled. Two of them had visited me in Milwaukee last year and saw a CSz show and C 'n T show.

Then a few folks convinced me to do my stand-up routine. I was nervous because I knew my brothers would be heckling me. Only one made a smart comment however, but I'm so new at this that it did throw me. But that's okay. Good practice. And people said they really liked it. The laughter was reinforcing, that's for sure.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all. (We haven't opened presents yet at my sister Jane's house, and I'm looking forward to that.)

Friday, December 24, 2004

12/24 I love this time of year

Arrived at Jim and Karen's (bro and s-i-l) on Tuesday around 8 PM. Had a late dinner and did my routine for them and guests. They loved it, so I hope that kind of review continues. We exchanged gifts and made it an early night since Jim had to get up at 6 for work.

I got up at 8, showered and made it upstairs by 8:30. Met Jim in the kitchen. He'd overslept but wasn't too worried about it. Wish all my sibs lived a bit closer to each other. It's fun to be around them.

Had a quick breakfast with Karen, Frank, and Katy. Then took off for Quincy. I arrived yesterday around 2:30 PM and immediately needed to go over to Jan and Tim's (sis and b-i-l) to drop off presents. Jim and Karen had given me so many gifts to bring plus added to my own, well my car was so stuffed I couldn't see. The drive from Aurora to Quincy (about 5 hours) seemed like a really long drive because I couldn't see in my mirrors. Anyway, Sarah (13 yo) squeezed into the front seat and sat cross legged because the floor in front was full of gifts too. We first drove to Joe and Cindy's (bro and s-i-l) to drop off some stuff and then went to Jan and Tim's. Their new home that Tim built (with Jan's and a little help from others) is absolutely gorgeous. I'm so glad they're having us all there for Christmas Eve. It will be grand. The house isn't entirely done yet, but what is done is beautiful. They have every right to be proud. They invited me to stay at their home--the guests rooms are HUGE--but I said I'll stay at Jane's again because I love getting up Christmas morning and opening presents with kids.

We went to dinner at Krieger's and Kris (niece) and her boyfriend Rich were shopping and we saw them through the window, so they joined us. (I'm putting down relationships because most of my friends can't keep track of our family without a scorecard.)

Then we went back to Jane and Pete's (sis and b-i-l) and I watched Elf with Sarah and Jordan. We also have Princess Diaries 2 and Shrek 2 to watch. I love being around other discerning movie watchers. :) Today Sarah, Jordan and I are going to the threatre to see the Lemony Snicket movie. I can't wait. Doesn't matter what reviews say, I know I'm going to love it. Jane loves this tradition. She can get her last minute Christmas stuff done while I am having fun with her kids. I've been doing this for years. And the best thing is--she pays for it. Can't beat that.

Tonight we'll all be together for Christmas Eve. It will be wonderful but I'll miss my own kids so much. Damn now I'm tearing up. Damn. damn damn damn. Jill called yesterday and will call again tonight. Rob and Beata will call I'm sure. And Jim and Karen said they would call as well. Jan and Tim's son Craig and his gf Megan are in Columbus OH and will arrive for New Year's so they'll probably call tonight too.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all who read this note--and even to those who don't. It's a blessing to be alive and relatively healthy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

12/22 Annual review

12:52 PM: In 8 minutes I get my annual review. It's hard to type with your fingers crossed. More later.

Later: The review went better than I'd even hoped. So my Christmas vacation will start off with a light heart. Christmas carols are playing on my computer (I LOVE Launchcast), I'm going to finish up what I can today and leave around 6 PM for five days of no-responsibilities except FUN! I love Christmas with family.

Oh, one other responsibility besides having fun will be to memorize my comedy routine. No problem, as that really falls under the fun category anyway.

Monday, December 20, 2004

12/20 Fun day at work

The day started with an early dentist appointment to finally get impressions for my permanent bridge. I'll get the permanent one put in on January 3rd--one day before I make my stand-up debut. Hooray. It will feel so good to have a "real" tooth again. Guess this will teach me not to bite on any frozen candy bars again. Yikes. I paid for it dearly--figuratively and literally. Another dental note--on December 28 I'm going to get a Zoom cleaning, and I'm thrilled about that. Even though they said my teeth aren't discolored, it seems that way to me. Especially when I see myself in a group shot. Some of the people I'm comparing myself to are professionals actors or public figures. Like my friends in California. But tough. I'm just going to have it done and will feel better.

Didn't get to work until 10:30 and at 11:15 we went out for a department holiday lunch. Went to TGIFridays at Miller Park. All of us received a gift card for Blockbuster, which was a nice surprise.

Tonight I need to FINALLY get my Christmas cards done, and I'll be glad to have that off my plate. I really love to send them, but am kind of stressed this year.

I'm really really really looking forward to Christmas in Quincy.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

12/18 12 hour workday

I was supposed to work from 12-5 today but ended up working 12 hours. From 5-midnight I was the floor manager. First time. But I was glad to do it. Extra money, since I won't be working over Christmas weekend. And while doing that I got to watch a lot of the shows. You do a lot of work prior to and in between the shows, but during the show it's a lot easier than Box Office. Dick said to sit in the aisle and make sure the door gets opened when the players rush in. I can do that! It was fun. But I am really beat.

I'd planned to come home at 5 and do some of the hours and hours of work needed, but now have to cram it in tomorrow. And I have stand-up class tomorrow night too. So I think I better get to bed and get some zzzzs. (I changed the date and time, so it would look like this was posed on Saturday, but actually it's 12:45 on Sunday morning.)

Friday, December 17, 2004

12/17 Holiday frenzy

I'm feeling a bit rushed. Working at my regular job, plus two times this weekend at CSz, plus dealing with this damn bridge in my mouth, trying to get out Christmas cards, and finishing wrapping what I have for Quincy is causing a little stress. Of course, that's not uncommon during this time. But since I'd bought everything early, I thought I could get it all done early. Alas, not to be.

I did figure out my routine for 1/4, but now need to memorize it, or at least begin to memorize it for our class on Sunday. I'm looking forward to that. Refining the act is much more fun than I thought it would be.

Someone is coming to clean on Monday, so that means I MUST finish preparations for Quincy this weekend. Right now, no one could clean because there's too much crap strewn about. I'm a mess when I'm wrapping. But I can't wait to go there. My sister Jan and her husband Tim just built a house and moved into it a few weeks ago. So we're having Christmas Eve there this year. I'm sure it will be lovely. And it's always fun getting the gang together.

I stay at my sister Jane's house and enjoy Christmas morning her family. This year they're all going out to the Illinois Veteran's Home to assist wheel-chair bound patients in attending Mass. That's neat. Jer

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

12/15 A really good day

Today is a good one. Not only is it payday, but we got a nice gift card inside the envelope. This will make my last minute shopping a little easier. I bought most of my Christmas gifts while in the UK, but still have a few more. With the number of relatives I have, it's a wonder everything fits into my SUV.

And as usual, last night's Stand-Up class was fun and informative. Lee is wonderful for teaching us for free. A nice guy. And he really is knowledgeable about the subject. I find I'm eagerly anticipating our performance on 1/4.

We're meeting Sunday instead of next Tuesday, because Tuesday is a special workshop by Jill of CSz Twin Cities. So between now and Sunday I have to tentatively decide what's going to be in my routine. That's the hard part. I know what made the others laugh, but will the audience be made up of the same "type" of people? Probably, since the only ones there will be relatives and friends.

Three of my friends made it into the Minor Leagues. I knew it earlier, but it was announced via the CSz paychecks so it's public. I'm very happy for them, all three deserve it.

It makes me wonder about me. This was the first time I was eligible to be called up, since I just finished 104. Guess I need to ask Dick or Dave what I need to work on. I also wonder if my age is an issue. We'll see.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

12/14 Work keeps multiplying

Like Tribbles. The piles on my desk keep getting higher and they taunt me. Taking time out to eat lunch at my desk, and check on personal emails and two forums. I'll probably work this weekend to help me catch up.

Tonight is Stand-Up class. I'm really looking forward to it because we're going to start building our routine out of all the "stuff" we've performed so far. We're going to pick out what has worked and find a theme that will make the jokes flow.

I need to make a sign to put up at work, letting people know when the performance is. But I'm rather nervous about people I know attending. I've never felt that way about improv, but stand-up is different. It's very personal.

Monday, December 13, 2004

12/12 Back home and back to reality

Don't know where to begin. Friday night was tons of fun. My friends absolutely loved CSz. For all of them, it was there first visit. But all will return. In fact, one friend booked her daughter's 16th birthday party there.

LA CSz was superb. The theatre is small, but wonderful, with no bad seats. I saw two people perform that I knew--Natasha and Kurt. Natasha shared that they just got engaged. So cool. I like them both...had lunch with them when they were in Milwaukee for WC. Kurt said he'll be back here for the holidays; Milwaukee is his hometown.

After the show I met two other people from the forums, Andy and Eric. That was neat too. Andy and I hugged like old friends. I'll definitely return for another show next time I'm in LA.

Saturday, we bought the tree for Jill and Todd's house and had fun decorating that with the kids. The kids got a small tree for Kayla's room, and I think next year it will be in Hunter's room. And they asked Grandma to help them decorate. Loved that.

Then Saturday night we opened presents. It's such a joy to be around little ones at a time like that. Plus, I made out like a bandit myself. :) I received a really nice gift certificate to Home Depot--one of my favorite stores. And they bought me a new printer, that prints photo quality prints. I'm thrilled with that. I use my digital camera all the time, but never print anything. And on my desk at work I know have Kayla's first school photo--from pre-school.

It was a great visit, but as usual was hard to leave on Sunday. I'll probably go back in a few months, but it's still sad to leave them.

However, the trip back to Milwaukee was eventful. While Heidi (the girl from the flight out) was in the bathroom Tony (the boy from the flight out) jumped over me and took her seat. She then sat in the middle seat and we laughed all the way back to Milwaukee. It was really REALLY turbulent as we got ready to land and Tony was scared, so he got out the emergency card and read it to us. I think he began seriously, but ended up being a comedian. An exchange student from Lithuania (adorable young man) stood by me, flirting with Heidi too. I don't think I've ever felt so old. But they ended up paying a lot of attention to me too--and Andrius said, "You're a hot grandmother" in German to me, so that was certainly a bit of fun.

Tony is coming to my stand-up debut. Hope that works out.

Friday, December 10, 2004

12/10 In sunny LA

It's 80 degrees and sunny and of course I neglected to bring shorts. I also neglected to bring something to sleep in and wore one of Todd's T-shirts last night. Omigod it was laughable. If I had more humility I would have taken a picture. A size M on a size XL body. Not a pretty sight. So I bought a pair of pajamas at Walmart today. I let the kids pick them out, so they are of Charlie Brown and the gang having fun in the snow. :)

The trip here was a stitch. A 19 year old girl was in A and I was in C--luckily we had an empty seat between. The kids from Marquette University High School soccer team were on the plane. The one in front of me was playing cards and every time he played a good card he'd jump up in his seat and then back in his seat. My seatmate Heidi and I just laughed, but it stopped being funny when the kid spilled my coffee. So I politely tapped him on the head and asked him to settle down. We started talking and Tony is so much fun. 16 years old and a bundle of energy, but Mr. Congeniality definitely. Did he stop jumping? Absolutely not, but he did apologize every time thereafter. :)

I told him that no matter how crazy he made me that I got a joke out of it for my routine. Don't know if it will fit into my 5-10 minute stand-up debut, but it cracked up everyone around us. I'm going to talk about the kid with ADD who sat in front of me and drove me nuts. (Of course I'll do a little overacting.) And finally, when I could stand it no long, I jumped up, grabbed the mike from the flight attendant and yelled, "For God's sake does anyone have any Ritalin?" (Gee it sure doesn't read funny, but it sounds funny, I promise.)

Sweet Tony wants to come to the performance. I told him there's no guarantee the joke will be in there, but if it is I'm going to exaggerate the whole scenario. He understands but he still wants to come and bring friends. I hope it works out.

A nice thing is that all of us are taking the same plane back to Milwaukee and we're sitting in the same seats. I love it. The kids said it'll give them something to look forward to. How sweet.

My grandkids were asleep when I arrived, but Kayla woke up and crawled in bed with me. Then Hunter woke up crying, I coughed and couldn't sleep, took medicine, got indigestion, and didn't sleep a wink because when the indigestion ended around 6 AM, it was time to get up. Yikes.

I'm going to be tired for our trip to LA CSz tonight, but will still enjoy being with family and friends and watching the show.

Today I'm with the kids all day while Jill and Todd are at work. We're having fun. Right now it's nearly naptime for the kids--and for Grandma.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

12/9 Another brother, another birthday

I wrote three birthday messages, three days in a row--one each for John, Joe and Jay. Three out of five brothers. All five are beyond crazy. That's what I love about them. They keep me laughing. One of their goals when we get together is to see which one can make me wet my pants because of laughing so hard. It happened once. ONCE. In the late 80s or early 90s. But it's a legacy I'll never live down.

Sure wish I was famous in the family for something besides that.

Well, everyone's got to be good at something.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

12/8/04 Fun last night

Stand-up comedy class was really fun last night. All six of us are starting to get some confidence and we all have such a different style of delivery. That's cool. The show won't be so boring because of the differences.

Last night we were to talk about our childhood or our future. I'd asked relatives to tell me what they wanted to be when they grew up--when they were asked as children. And I was going to make my routine about how no one ever becomes what they said, etc. But I had to cut so much to get to the punch lines, that it took too long. So I ended up using material from me. About what I'd wanted to be, and how it got me out of housework and chores as a kid. Then segued into looking forward to retirement. I got more laughs last night than at the other classes.

Next week, we're taking the best of each week and crafting our routine for our performance night, which is going to be January 4, at Giggles Comedy Pub. I'm really excited about it, and hope we can get a good-sized audience.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

12/7 Birthdays 1, 2, 3

Today's my brother John's birthday, tomorrow is brother Joe's birthday, and the following day is brother Jay's birthday (and also b'day of son-in-law and ex-husband). Lots of sex going on in early March apparently.

Yesterday was just work, come home, crash. Boring. But a friend sent me a website for those days when you're very bored. It's nuts.

This morning Rob and Beata called from Japan. Very cool to talk to them. And a little while ago I talked to Jill in LA. I'm going there on Thursday evening for a very short weekend--coming back on Sunday.

That's it.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

12/5 Weekend

What a super weekend. Since I worked at CSz on Thursday night I have the weekend to myself. I decided to take care of a few things at home. Yesterday I got all the presents ready and in a suitcase for my early Christmas trip to LA on Thursday. Then I relaxed. :)

Today I'll do laundry, start Christmas cards, work on my comedy routine for Tuesday (I hope), and of course watch the Packer game.

This morning I was online with my friend Bron. Right now it's around noon here and 6 PM there. It's really fun to be able to communicate so easily. We also played some Scrabble. She's really picking it up for someone who'd never played before. And also she's spelling in American English instead of UK.

Friday, December 03, 2004

12/3 Good day--Friday

First of all, I just came back from lunch and found that my son Rob had submitted comments on my blog, and that was a nice surprise. In fact it made me cry. Especially the one I've linked to here.

My theory of child rearing is no matter how painful it can be at times (and how lovely too), when your kids grow up what wonderful benefits you reap. To have grown up friends who are also your kids. Unbelievable.

Last night I worked at CSz and it was fun. A nice easy evening, which contrasts with my usual Friday or Saturday night mayhem. Afterward there was a birthday party for one of the players. That was fun too, especially because I got to kiss him. He's a cutie. I also had a beer and enjoyed that too.

I've been having such fun with Bron and Jen. Bron has been the only pal consistently submitting comments to this blog. Guess that's because I consistently submit them to hers too. She runs CSz in the UK (and performs too). Jen is with the CSz troupe in Portland OR. We've become such good friends online--of course I've met them both. Jen at the World Championship in August, and Bron was there too, but I also spent 5 months working with Bron's group when I lived in the UK for that time. But lately we've been emailing and IMing so much that they're like my little sisters. Nice women. Funny women.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

12/2 Rob's writing and one more thing.

Yesterday I received 12 pages of writing from my son, Rob. He has a great premise for a techno-thriller and finally his wife and a friend convinced him to actually begin writing. I'm going to love this manuscript, I know. He's very talented. Now we've just got to get him to finish it. Being a Special Ops guy himself, he knows this kind of stuff from the inside. I think there's a market for it. And it just so happens his Mom is an editor.

Oh, and my temporary bridge broke and fell out, and I had to go get a new one this morning. Joy beyond compare.

The good news is that they made two, so if I break one I have another. Very cool. I'll get my permanent bridge right after New Years.

Tonight I work at CSz and have the weekend off. Life is indeed good.

Our stand-up class was fun again on Tuesday and I got some good feedback. Have to develop another routine and memorize it for next week's class, but I'll be able to do it this weekend in between wrapping Christmas presents and addressing cards.

I'm so excited that I'm not working this weekend. And next weekend I won't work either because I'll be in LA. Hooray!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

12/1 December already?

I love December. The holidays are precious times. The last few years I haven't decorated my house however. I go to LA in early December to visit Jill and her family for an early Christmas. Then I go to Quincy to be with my sibs and extended family. We have a Christmas Eve that is awesome (my opinion), scary (new guests' opinions), overdone (everyone's opinion), and wild. I LOVE IT! Most of us still buy for everyone, but we don't keep score to see who doesn't. Doesn't matter at all. I feel so blessed when I'm at that gathering of 40 people or so. (I don't have the energy to count.)

My brother and sister-in-law from Aurora may not make it this year--his job has him on call at that time. There's a definite void when someone's missing. And you definitely need a note from someone in authority if you do miss. It is a rare and wonderful experience. And I always think that National Lampoon had us in mind when they produced Christmas Vacation. (Have I mentioned I love it?)

Many of us go to early Mass on Christmas Eve--some at 4 PM, some at 5 PM--then we gather at the designated house. One brother's house isn't big enough to hold the gang, but I've never heard anyone say anything negative about it. Whoever has enough room just takes turns. When I lived in Quincy, I had the gang over, but that was before everyone's kids started having kids. I know the group wouldn't fit in my old house now.

So we begin with food--everyone brings something and we eat and drink and laugh (and sometimes choke on our food and laughter). The kids (including a few of my brothers) begin anxiously saying, "Can we open presents now? Can we? Huh?"

And that's when the real craziness begins. Words can't describe it. I once made the mistake of asking if we could just give out one present at a time, so we could enjoy watching everyone open their presents. One of my brothers yelled out, "Only if we stay here two weeks." So we continue the tradition of a few people sitting on the floor near the tree, grabbing presents and yelling out names. Then it becomes a free-for-all. Such fun.

Many times we'll play some games. Usually not Jer-games on Christmas Eve. We save those for other occasions--like New Year's Day. I'll save those comments for another note.

People with little ones leave fairly early because the kids are anxious to get to sleep so Santa will come. Those of us with grown kids stay around and play games or talk. Then the rest of the crew goes to midnight mass--at our parish back home it begins at 10:30 PM. Kind of a faux midnight mass.

I can't wait for Christmas!