Friday, January 28, 2011

American Idiot

No, I’m not talking about me, though I get how you could easily make that assumption.  I am speaking of the Broadway Musical of Green Day’s American Idiot. I had the privilege of watching Green Day’s front man, Billie Joe Armstrong; perform in the role of St. Jimmy this past weekend.  I had the time of my life!  It was fascinating to watch the creator of this album bring it to life on stage with an entire cast of extremely talented people.

American Idiot was right up my alley, being the punk that I am.  However, it’s not necessarily the kind of show I would take my mother to.  She hesitates to see Broadway shows with me anyway.  After taking her to RENT a few years ago, she no longer trusts my judgment.  In fact, I’m surprise she didn’t require a personal inspection of the Radio City Rockettes to prove they were not actually men in drag. 

In American Idiot, Billie Joe’s character of St. Jimmy is imaginary.  He’s a figment of the main character, Johnny’s imagination.  St. Jimmy represents the manifestation of demons Johnny struggles with, similar to an animated devil sitting on his shoulder.  He lures Johnny toward the decadent temptations of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Since the show, I’ve been wondering what it would be like to have St. Jimmy, in the form of Billie Joe, follow me around all day.  The thought should scare me, but honestly, it would be totally cool.  Unfortunately, Billie Joe would be board to tears with my vices of chocolate, cheesecake and Bravo Channel reality programing.  In the end it’s right to bid him good riddance....At least for my imaginary Billie Joe's sake. 

Thank you for all the well wishes on my last post about managing skin caner.  I want you all to know, I am finished with the Carac treatment and my face looks and feels much better.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Managing Skin Cancer

My previous posts highlighted the goofy ways I manage to mismanage myself.  Today’s post will shift more towards the serious efforts to manage myself when it matters the most. 

Here is a picture taken of me this morning.  If you look closely, you will see dry, scaly lesions on the nose, cheeks, and forehead.  Embarrassing huh? Can you believe I did this on purpose?  I volunteered.  I'll go as far to say I'm tickled to see my face covered in red blotches.  Why?  Because each red blotch is sun-damaged skin being destroyed and replaced by healthy cells.  Yep...I managed to get Skin Cancer. 

My Dermatologist prescribed a treatment of Carac, Fluorouracil cream, used to treat actinic or solar keratoses which are scaly or crusted lesions caused by years of too much exposure to sunlight. It works by killing fast-growing cells such as the abnormal cells in actinic keratoses and basal cell carcinoma, according to PubMed

I am choosing to remain optimistic by looking at it similar to muscle pain you feel after a really good work out.  The discomfort is a sign it’s working and it’s only temporary.  The treatment will last another week, then my face will return to its normal, cheery self. 

However, it is startling the hear your son say "What’s wrong with your face?”

Skin cancer has been a part of my life since I was ten years old, after watching my grandfather endure numerous surgeries and infections from skin graphs.  In keeping with our family’s sense of humor, he made jokes.  It serves me right," he'd say.  "A man with skin as white as mine should never become a sailor.”

At the time, I just thought the best way to not get skin cancer was not become a sailor.  Problem solved, Right?  Wrong.  Hey, what did I know?  I was 10. 

Sailing wasn’t to blame.  It was the excessive amount of sun exposure with little to no sunscreen.  Something I had already been doing for a decade and I would continue for another two. 

Ahhh...the life of the sun worshiper...lying on the beach...drenched in tanning oil...accumulating burn after burn in quest of the perfect tan.  SPF?  What’s That?

Harsh reality struck at age 36 while expecting my third child.  My Obstetrician noticed a small red spot on my upper left shoulder when injecting a necessary rhogam shot.  An initial biopsy's results were negative for cancer, fooling us in believing everything was fine.  It wasn’t.  Within one year, the small red spot, about the size of a pea, grew to the size of a quarter.  A second biopsy revealed malignant melanoma. 

The doctors wasted no time.  Hours upon receiving the diagnosis, I was in an operating room with a large section of skin removed from my upper left arm. I was lucky....even with a nasty scar.  The melanoma spread across the top layer of skin, the epidermis, resembling oil on water.  If it had broken through the second layer, the dermis, I might not be here to share my story.

Cancer management requires 6 month check ups with my local dermatologist.  Additionally, I am seen by the Pigmented Lesion Group at the University of Pennsylvania once a year for a more extensive examination.  U of Penn is “mapping” the progression of my many moles to keep cancer under control, using photographs to document any changes. 

These less than attractive photos, I will not be sharing.  I have nightmares of coming across them in medical journals on melanoma.  Trust me...they're scary.

Please think of me when you are in the sun.  No matter what the weather or time of year, wear your sunscreen.  Make it a part of your daily routine.  Protect yourself.  And moms out there....PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN.  Save them from looking like this.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snow Day

The storm left us with 8 inches of snow.  On top of a storm earlier this week, our snow totals are....Well....A Lot.  We are a fickle bunch here in New Jersey.  We will tell you we like it here because we can experience all four seasons.  We are also the first to complain about the weather.  We huddle up in houses and wait till every last flake is melted.  In up-state New York, where my sister lives, they know how to embrace winter.  They enjoy getting out in it.  They look forward to snowmobiling, skiing, ice skating, you name it.  Personally, I'd rather be at the beach.

The worse aspect of the snow is shoveling it.  I hate shoveling snow.  I manage to wiggle out most of the time.  My husband had the nerve to be annoyed with me during the last storm....all because he came home from a long days work with a hellish commute to find 6 inches of snow in his driveway.   In my mind, snow removal is his job.  Doesn’t he know that’s why I got married? 

All kidding aside, I do feel guilty.  I didn’t even consider helping him out by shoveling.  This time, I made sure to pitch in.  The kids were home from school, so we had plenty of hands.  Teamwork is key.  We cleared the driveway, sidewalk, and both cars within an hour.  I was especially proud to see my two sons help a neighbor who is an older woman living alone. 

Managing meals today was disappointing.  I looked for “Quick” foods.  In a 24-hour period, I managed to make for my husband; nachos with ground meat, egg sandwiches with bacon, and an Italian sub.  When I asked Dan if he wanted chicken wings, his response was...”Am I on the TGIFriday’s diet now?  Look at me....the preachy one about eating healthy.  

We ended our snow day with the Nutrimirror Bowl.  My friend Jessica, who I know through Nutrimirror, (a site dedicated to eating healthy,) connected over the Xbox to play Kinect Sports.  We had a blast competing in different sporting events.  We even spent time video chatting.  Video chat is an interesting thing.  Christmas morning, I stepped in to my family room to find my son’s friend looking at me through the TV.  When the initial shock wore off, and I confirmed I was completely dressed, it was comforting to see his house was as messy as ours.

I suddenly feel like Mrs. Jetson.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


The Northeast has been hit pretty hard by snow.  We are expecting another storm tonight.  My town is not as bad off as New York City; however, our icy, snow-covered sidewalks do make it difficult for walking a dog...especially an impatient one who wants to pull you across those snow-covered walks.  This past Sunday, after a grueling walk with Katie, my husband, who I lovingly refer to as Diligent Dan, decided it was time to sign Katie up for dog training.  He had asked me to do this many times, but my response was the usual, “I’ll look into it,” which means, in procrastinator’s code, the chances of that happening are slim to none.  Unfortunately, Dan has become fluent in this language. 

He parked himself at the computer, turned to me saying “Come here.” 

He pulled over another chair, pointed to it and said “Sit.” 

He got on the website for a local pet store to register for training. 

I noticed some dirty dishes on the counter. 

When I got up he said “No.” 

He pointed back to the chair and said “Sit.” 

A few seconds later, my daughter called from another room. 

He gave me the stern look and a hand to my face, followed by the command, “Stay.” 

I am beginning to suspect Dan has been secretly taking wife training classes.  If this is true, then in my defense I must mention, it has taken him 16 years to look into it. 

Katie’s dog training classes are scheduled for Tuesdays starting January 25th.

The kids got an Xbox for Christmas and have been playing with it non-stop.  Microsoft set random, unique, temporary user-names when signing up for Xbox Live.  The name they gave me:  FallibleObject3.  No lie! 

Fallible Object didn’t sound too flattering, so I looked it up.  According to the Cambridge Dictionary Online, the definition of Fallible Object is something that is not likely to work on a satisfactory level.  Well....This got my blood pumping.  Apparently I need to have a long, serious discussion with the brainiacs at Microsoft.  The first question on my list....How did they know?  Don't worry.  I do have the option to change my user name.  I'm looking into it.

One Xbox Kinect game that peaked my interest was Dance Central.  My nine-year old daughter Kasey can really shake it.  It looks like a fun way to exercise.  Now, like most mothers, I worry about what my children are exposed to.  When I hear a song on the radio that seems a bit too explicit for young ears, such as Katy Perry’s, “I Kissed a Girl,” I quickly change the station and say, “I don’t want to listen to that.  It’s inappropriate.”  A lot of good this has done.  The first thing Kasey helped me with on Dance Central was to point out all the songs I won’t want to listen to because they're inappropriate.   

Dance Central didn’t work out well.  All the time spent in clubs during the 80’s and 90's hasn’t helped me out at all.  Yesterday I bought a more appropriate work out game for me....The Biggest Loser.  Which reminds me, I better get to my training before the anminated Jillian Michaels yells at me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Puppy Play Date Presents, Pepperonata, & A Fire in the Dryer

This is my puppy, Katie, and this is the pathetic puppy look she shoots me on a regular basis.  Bottom line...I'm boring.  At least by perky puppy standards. When the kids are home from school, she is not for want of attention.  Three kids have no problem keeping a puppy thoroughly entertained.  However, unfortunate for Katie, for a majority of the day, she's stuck with me.  I try not too, but it happens....I manage to neglect my puppy.  Poor Pup.  Good thing Sandra and Diamond are just a few houses away.

My friend Sandra operates her own business from her home called Li'l Inspirations, making absolutely beautiful embroidered baby, wedding, and special occasion gifts, which means she is almost always there.  She is also the mommy of Katie's best puppy buddy, Diamond.  What do most mommies do when stuck at home with bored babies?  We arrange play dates.  In our case, puppy play dates.

With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays now over, I realized how I managed to neglect my friend Sandra too.  She likes drinking tea, so to make up for the slack, I went to Trader Joe's.  Here is the basket I put together for Sandra, filled with some funky teas, peppermint hot chocolate and all natural doggie treats that smelled so much like real cookies, Sandra and I wanted to eat them.

This was only my second time at Trader Joe's.  It gave me an opportunity to use my recipe book "Cooking with all things Trader Joe's," by Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati.  I chose Penne Pepperonata with Shrimp and Asparagus, since the only ingredient I needed was the Penne Pepperonata.  I walked up and down each aisle for 40 minutes, scrutinizing every package looking for something close to "Penne Pepperonata."  What the Hell is a Pepperonata?  Deana and Wona need to write a book called "Trader Joe's for Dummies" including pictures of each ingredient along with a map pointing out it's location in the store.  Needless to say, last night we ate Pork Roast Florentine.

Katie began barking while I was getting Sandra's basket ready.  I suddenly heard men yelling in my side yard and loud BONKS from a fire engine, followed by a huge, hunky fireman walking past my window lugging a fire hose on his shoulder.  I grabbed my camera and walked around snapping pictures of the scene...all in full view of my next door neighbors sadly watching their home filled with firemen and smoke.

I called my husband to tell him of what was going on.  He asked me to snap some shots with my cell phone for him, not knowing I'd already taken pictures.  He added that I should take pictures discreetly.  He was silent when I said it was too late and to be grateful I didn't ask the neighbors to say "Cheese."

Everyone is ok and there was no significant damage.  She smelled the smoke coming from her basement soon after putting a load of towels in the dryer.  She opened the dryer door to see flames.  She immediately shut the door and called 911.  Because of her quick action, the water damage was contained in a small corner of their unfinished basement.

Now think...How many times have you put towels in your dryer and walked away?  Scary, isn't? 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Managing Myself

Welcome to my blog.  Let me introduce myself.  My name is Mary and my blog will mainly focus on how I manage to mismanage myself most of the time.  No worries though.  Don't be alarmed.  Remaining optimistic is the main goal.  As the great Yogi Berra put it...."If life were perfect, it wouldn't be."  By sharing experiences of how I manage and mismanage myself, I hope to meet in the middle to find true balance in peace of mind.

Managing my health is THE MOST IMPORTANT GOAL.   Many of the great members on have inspired this blog.  For excellent blogs to get you motivated, check out The Kel Show and The Country Tart for the stimulation you need to get yourself moving.  However, don't be expecting that level of commitment here.  Think of this more along the lines of comic relief.  Miss-Managing Mary is just as it sounds....A blog for the screw ups!  Sorry....Optimistic screw ups.  A blog for those of us with good intentions, but somehow get distracted too easily.  For those of us who go to Costco with the intention to buy Greek Yogurt in bulk, only to come home with David's Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie.   

Why?  Why do I do that?  How do I recover?  I manage to get back to what I know is right.  I don't give in and I don't give up.  I don't think I've blown it, and veer wildly off track by eating half the pie.  I remember that even a piece of cookie pie can fit within a healthy balanced day. 

The intention is to keep moving on my journey to good health and peace of mind, overcoming my mismanagement along the way.  By putting my intentions out here for you to see, there is little opportunity to weasel out of them.  Even so, trust me, I will try.  This blog and you will serve as my accountability.  A flogging might be necessary.

There is pleasure in knowing that my successes and mistakes make up who I am.  If I were perfect, I wouldn't be me.