My name is not Lisa
  • Oct16th2012

    I haven’t yet had the chance to begin writing the next part of The Story, but I need to write about today.

    Shortly after my mother passed (September 27, 2012), so many wonderful friends reached out to me. Some warned me that grief would strike at inexplicable times. Others told me that  that I would never get over this loss. For the most part, I’ve been handling things well. I have my ups and my downs. I’ve made sure to not close myself off from friends or family – which would be my natural tendency. I’ve learned to lean on the people closest to me and that’s been blessing. I even re-upped my therapy sessions, in anticipation of working through these complex emotions.

    I suspected this week would be rough, though. On Sunday, I returned from Atlanta where we had a small memorial service for my mother. I suppose the finality of putting her – even if it’s just a portion of her remains – in the ground, next to her mother and her mother’s mother, would bring about a new wave of emotions. I was right.

    Today, I called our cellular provider to have mom’s phone service discontinued. I was surprised, I suppose even pleasantly surprised, when they asked, “Would you like to save her out-going message as a memorial?” Huh? I hadn’t thought of that. I thought to myself, “gee, that’s very kind of them. That must give some folks some sort of peace … to be able to hear their loved one’s voice from time to time.” As my heart started beating quicker and quicker, I started to stumble on words. “What … Uhm … How do I do that?” As the kind person on the other phone suggested I use a smartphone or other audio recording device, it dawned on me that I already knew how to do it, but that my mother actually didn’t have an out-going message on her voicemail. “Uh, no … no, I don’t think we want to do that. Thank you, though. That’s nice.”

    After I hung up the phone, my heart began beating even quicker. Before I knew what I was doing, I had logged into my Google Voice account … I knew my mother had left me messages there over the past few years, even though I had tried to get her to just call my iPhone directly. Sure enough, I found a five second voice message from her, dated September 13, 2013 – just one week before she died. The message itself was insignificant … something along the lines of “Lori, it’s me. You don’t have to call me back.” She sounded so frail. I froze instantly. I’m not sure how I remembered to keep breathing, but the tears began to pour from my eyes.

    My heart felt like it was going to leap out of my chest. I ran to the bathroom at work, where I wanted nothing more than to let the most gut wrenching sobs out of my mouth. I saw someone else’s feet in the stall next to me. I tried to compose myself and exited the bathroom. I couldn’t think of where I could go. I felt under pressure to finish work. There was only only an hour and a half left of the day, surely I could pull myself together.

    As I sat at my keyboard, muffling my tears, I noticed that my boss was gone. His door was open. I grabbed my tissues and headed in there where I could have some privacy. After a few minutes had passed, I tried to get back to work. The tears were still pouring down my face. My heart was still racing. I felt like I needed to retreat. Thankfully, my coworkers noticed that I was losing it. One offered to take over my duties for the remaining hour of work, while the other consoled me and told me it was okay – that I should go on and head home.

    As I pulled out of the garage at work, the tears were still falling down my face. Finally, my heart began to slow down to it’s usual pace. I tried to let myself cry peacefully, to just let the tears roll down my face, to my chin, from my chin to my shirt. To stop fighting them. To give in. My soundtrack for the ride home mirrored that of my emotions: from Yo-Yo Ma’s heartfelt cello solos, to Coheed and Cambria’s gut wrenching screams, and finally to the Civil Wars tearful ballads.

     

  • Oct10th2012

    It’s weird knowing how quickly life can change – or even end. This is the story of the beginning of the end of my mother’s life.  Because of how raw and emotional this is, I’m breaking this up into a few posts, working through things as I write them. Please bear with me. Thanks.

    Unbearable pain

    In January, my mother, who had a longterm back injury, became disabled when her sciatic nerve rendered her bedridden for six weeks. I would wake up, hearing her screaming in pain. I’d have to rush in and massage her calves, or find the right pain killers to give her. Slowly, she got some relief and we had planned for her to undergo a 360-degree spinal fusion once we had her worker’s comp and disability specs all figured out. The surgery never happened, but the pain at the least was more manageable than it was initially.

    Everything changes

    On June 17 (Father’s Day), everything changed. I witnessed my mom, age 54, suffer a major stroke. Luckily, all of our family was with her at home when it happened. After convincing my family that what was happening was serious, I called 911 for an ambulance while my dad and brother were screaming at me. They were trying get her into the car and she kept slipping out of her wheelchair.

    I was with her and my brother in the emergency room as the doctors repeatedly performed tests to monitor the progress of the stroke. Her grip on her left side would come and go. Her smile would wane, but then come back. All she really wanted to know was how the Miami Heat playoff game was going. Once she was finally settled into the cardiovascular intensive care unit, I went home to get some rest.

    When I came back the next day, mom was all out of sorts. She was fighting withdrawal from nicotine and narcotics, thrashing the right side of her body in the bed, rocking back and forth, and moaning in pain. Years ago, she had been prescribed Oxycontin to help manage her pain after she was in a severe car accident. Between her daily dosage and annual steroid injections to her spinal cord, she managed to get by. Now, she was without it all.

    June 20, 2012: A caregiver’s dinner at the hospital is whatever you can find in your purse.

    Rehab

    In the following days, we learned more about the stroke. A clot had blocked the blood flow in the right side of her brain. This was the reason why her left side of her body was not functioning, but also why she could still talk and understand us (thankfully). The stroke was likely a result of her 30 years of smoking. She as transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation center where she would work herself as hard as she could for two weeks, retraining her muscles to swallow, enunciate clearer, walk and move her left arm and hand. All the while, suffering her usual back pain without her regular medications. We were hopeful that this was a blessing in disguise – that having kicked both nicotine and narcotics, perhaps we could find a less addictive means of managing her pain when she came home.

    While mom was in the hospital, I had experienced the humbling realization that my mother was someone who I’d be taking care of for a while – whether that meant monitoring her medication, changing her clothes, feeding her, or even bathing her. Once mom returned home, almost three weeks after her stroke, my job as primary caretaker became even more daunting.

    To be continued …

  • Oct8th2012

    I’m the world’s worst blogger. I know it. And I’m not fooling anyone. Over the years, I’ve tried time and again to restart my blog, spent weeks obsessing over getting the design just right, and then made one or two posts. Only to repeat the pattern a year later.

    For years, I’ve been trying to get back to the discipline I had in high school. Yes, the years of online aliases and LiveJournal. I was an incessant blogger back then, but my hormones were racing and my emotions spilled from my fingertips.

    When the folks over at South Florida Social Media Club mentioned a 30 day blog challenge, I was game. I was looking for motivation and knew I had plenty to say. I’m going to try to update the site daily over the next month, but won’t be too hard on myself if I miss a day or two.

    This blog has always been a mix of my personal life and passions – from rants about social media strategy to really awesome photography projects. I’m hesitant to nail down a particular niche, so who knows how this little project might develop. I guess that’s what’s exciting about it. (Full disclosure: Things might get a little raw here, as my mother and best friend passed away just over a week ago. So, keep the tissue box handy.)

    With just a few minutes to spare, at least I got this one completed before deadline!

  • Feb15th2012

    Heart of Gold

    Posted in: Likes

    I have a soft spot for acoustic guitar. I started playing when I was 10 years old, and over the years I’ve picked up and set down the guitar for months and years at a time. Neil Young’s music has always been special to me – partly because it reminds me of my father, playing his own guitar and partly because I know just how much both my parents have loved the dude since his Crosby, Stills & Nash years.

    I stumbled upon this performance of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold by Tavi Gevinson at a New York Fashion Week event and my heart melted:

    Tavi Gevinson Performs “Heart of Gold” from CADAVER @ The Standard East Village, NYFW 2012 from JAMS on Vimeo.

  • Feb2nd2012

    Happy February?

    Posted in: Life

    February gets a bad rep for being especially harsh from those of us who are #foreveralone. Spinsters like myself are thought to spend Valentine’s Day at home with their cats, eating a box of chocolate they bought for themselves while tearing up watching The Diary of Bridget Jones (video: All by myself). But I won’t let V-Day get the best of me. That’s cause January was painful enough.

    Seriously, I’m just so glad January is over. My mother has been unable to walk more than a few steps since January 5. After many doctors appointments and many mornings of  being awoken to hearing her scream, I was initially quite sad when her epidural to her spinal cord  yesterday did not result in immediate relief. February, you’re off to a not-so-great start, damn it. That’s okay though, cause there are plenty of things to look forward to:

    Saturday is HeartCamp

    Locals, listen up. South Florida’s notorious blogging socialite Maria de los Angeles is hosting the first ever HeartCamp. She’s brought in a diverse group of speakers to discuss all matters of the heart — the physical, emotional, spiritual and creative heart. I am actually most interested to hear from many of the South Florida community members who are sharing their own stories:

    While regular price tickets have already sold out, you might still be able to get a late-bird ticket for $40. The event is being held at Hyatt Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. I have volunteered my services for the day to handle all the fun social coverage of the event. You’ll be able to follow along on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.

    Finishing the new piece of art on my arm

    At the end of January, I had some ink added to my forearm where my New York Times Magazine “T” logo was placed. I wanted something bold, colorful and feminine. After stumbling upon the work of Steve Whittenberger at Rock-a-billy Tattoos in Lauderhill, Fla., via Instagram (no joke), I knew he’d come up with something great – that wouldn’t take away from the “T” or diminish it, but really build upon it.

    The day before Valentine’s, Steve will be finishing up the shading and adding some really bold colors to this piece.

    In March, I’ll be in Austin for 9 days

    My now annual trip to Austin in booked – the company is paying for me to attend SXSW Interactive again (awesome), and I’ve tacked on some vacation time to the end of that so I can see all of my Austin buddies (even more awesome). I plan to spend some time doing some self-reflection and perhaps finally getting a chance to visit some of the things I never got to when I lived there. To name a few: Hamilton Pool (seen below) and  the Salt Lick (yum).

    Hamilton Pool Grotto Panorama (HDR)

  • Jan26th2012

    Transparency and Open Government have become buzzwords over the past few years that I fully support. President Obama’s Open Government Initiative has prompted many government organizations to begin releasing once private data. Today, thousands of records are being published on Data.gov and awesome projects are being built out of it by geeks around the world.

    I like to think that this movement comes on the heels of the Creative Commons movement, which began in 2001. As a former information graphics designer, it’s awesome to see just how much has been added to The Commons on Flickr.

    Here’s a really cool project by the New York Public Library Labs where you can transform historical stereographs from their collections into shareable animated GIFs: Stereogranimator.

    You can create  your own right now. Here are some I made:

    GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at http://stereo.nypl.org/gallery/index GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at http://stereo.nypl.org/gallery/index GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at http://stereo.nypl.org/gallery/index

  • Jan23rd2012

    Over a year has gone by since I last gave blogging a try. It’s not that I didn’t intend to keep up with this place. I did. Every damn month. And the site itself has gone through many designs – all of which I hoped would jump-start my enthusiasm for wanting to write again. I can’t say that I’ll be posting on a regular basis, but let’s get to it.

    What you might have missed:

    • Got laid off from the newspaper
    • Had a short-lived gig at the as a community manager at an awesome journalism foundation
    • Landed on my feet in the corporate world doing social media.
    • Still living at home with my parents
    • Got recurring bronchitis and sinus-related health problems
    • Made awesome friends that I love so, so much
    • Put my oldest cat to sleep after his health began to dwindle
    • Took a$12,000 pay cut
    • Learned the joys of massage
    • Visited Colorado to see my college roomie and explored the mountains
    • Picked up the camera again and got semi-serious about it
    • Began crafting again (posts to come about this!)
    • Went to New York and came back starry-eyed
    • Continued with my on-again, off-again exercise regimen
    • Got lots of injections into my sinus cavities
    • Took a second job working on an awesome local radio program
    • My job took me to a few fun places: Las Vegas, Denver, New York and Austin
    • Became a red head again
    • Got more ink
    • Read a lot of books on my Kindle

    Many ups and many downs, but c’est la vie.