A Kick in the Kidneys

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As I’ve mentioned here a time or two, last year my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 Renal Failure just after I lost my job. 2016 was not our finest year. 2017 isn’t shaping up all that well either.

As a person who is fairly Internet inclined tends to do, I went in search of blogs where I could hear from other people going through the same things we are. I found some great ones, but most of those were by the dialysis patient and focused on their perspective, and rightly so. But I didn’t really find what I was looking for.

So I did what someone Internet inclined tends to do, I started a blog. A Kick in the Kidneys hasn’t been up very long, but I’ve gotten pretty positive reactions so far. I’d appreciate it if you’d take a look and pass it along to someone with kidney issues, or someone who is a caregiver.

I decided on creating a new site rather than doing it here for a big reason, my sanity. There is so much happening in that part of my life that storytelling has become an even bigger escape for me. And maybe it’s selfish but I want to keep those two parts of my life separate. You will occasionally see some crossover, after all I am one person, but for the most part this will remain the little eclectic story haven it has been.

We really are just stories in the end, and I’ve got a new one to tell. I hope to see you there.

Punxsutawney Phil, Top Hats & the Weather

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UPDATE: Phil was named the Honorary Coin Tosser for the 2017 Puppy Bowl! Phil and his friends looked pretty chill and happy to be there. Great job Phil!

For those who are curious about the coin toss, it was tails.

Groundhog being held aloft by man in top hat

Phil and Friend

Punxsutawney Phil is a local legend where I come from. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is in the local television market, so we get live updates from Gobbler’s Nob. They even break into national programming to bring Phil, his friends, and the prediction as it happens. I’ve known a lot of people who spend February 2nd in the freezing cold waiting for the rodent to get drug out of his little temporary home. There may be large amounts of alcohol involved as well. I’ve never been there so I won’t incriminate those who’d like to remain innocent, or can’t remember for sure that they were there.

Guys in top hats with Punxsy Phil

Phil and his Inner Circle

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, Punxsutawney Phil is the name used by a long line of groundhogs who live a pampered life in the Punxsutawney Library. In exchange for the luxurious room and board “Phil” puts up with people tapping on the window to his enclosure, conjugal visits from his “wife” Phyllis, makes public appearances throughout the year with a group of guys in top hats, and in the early morning hours of February 2nd every year he gets pulled out of a lovely heated manmade tree stump, held up in front of a screaming mass of people and bright lights in order for a guy in a top hat with an old stick to “talk” groundhog-ease with him and tell the world whether the furry little guy has seen his shadow.

groundhog20day20livestreamI don’t have anything against Phil. I mean he was great in Bill Murray’s movie. He’s a local hero for Pete’s sake! I just feel bad for the poor guy. Obviously, he is not a morning person…er…groundhog. I mean the Inner Circle has to wear heavy gloves on February 2nd because Phil has taken a chunk out of the hand or more than one of them. They usually have a hard time getting him out of the nice warm, dark burrow that they put him in on the stage. He usually glares at the camera when they pull him out. Put it all together and I would say Phil is not all that happy when sunrise rolls around.

29906170001_5307778419001_5307762324001-vsThis year Dear Old Phil saw his shadow, which means we can expect 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow spring is supposed to be right around the corner. People have questioned his accuracy over the years. He’s a groundhog. It’s not like the guy’s in the library window studying weather maps. What do you expect?

Here’s my take on Punxsutawney Phil – if he sees his shadow it means six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, spring will be in six weeks. Which is probably a more accurate description of what happens.

2016-02-02t14-02-14-133z-1280x720-today-vid-canonical-featured-desktopOf course, where I lived growing up we had Phil’s cousin – Tire Hill Ted. He usually contradicted Phil out of spite. I’m not going to guess at the family dynamics, I just hope that in today’s political climate the two can put aside their differences and find agreement on travel restrictions for groundhogs.

Whether we get six more weeks of winter or spring arrives in six weeks, we all know one thing for sure – Punxsutawney Phil is best weather rodent in the world.

 

Forensic Flashback

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Words on the wall know the score.

I had the opportunity recently to judge a high school forensics meet. No, there are no bodies, no ballistics to study or fibers to test. As a matter of fact, it’s about as far as you can get from a police procedural drama as you can get. In this case, forensics is a speech competition where students participate in different categories like interpretation, extemporaneous, and my favorite category, informative.

 

That’s right, I competed in high school and in college. I loved it, in a masochistic kind of way. You stand up in front of six or eight students and a judge who listened to your speech/performance and rank you against the other people in the round. Considering most people are not fans of public speaking, doing it for fun and competition makes you a special kind of strange. Or at least a special kind of attention seeker.

It was really exciting for me to be back at a meet as a judge (I judged a bit while I was in college too), and I was surprised at just how familiar it all was. It’s been….let’s leave it at a while, shall we…since I was competing, or judging for that matter. But the nervous energy when you walk into the room is the same (whether you’re a competitor or judge). The pieces were different – we would have had points taken off for four-letter words when I competed, but the feeling was the same.20170129_174823

I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Okay, I encouraged my daughter to join her HS team this year, and I helped her work on her piece, but I didn’t realize how much I missed being part of the competitions. Was it nostalgia? Probably. But it was also the love of performing, competing, watching your fellow competitors get better and better (and maybe hoping  just a little that they would get a case of brain freeze), and the feeling of being in a cafeteria or auditorium in a school somewhere filled with people just as excited and nervous as you.

The good news is that I’ve been asked back to judge another competition – I’m not saying when or where to try to keep things fair. But I’m really looking forward to it.

New Year, New Look, New Outlook

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As my intelligent and beautiful ones of readers have already noticed, I’ve not only changed the look and feel of my blog, I’ve changed the title too. A Look Through Lorie’s Lens was created when I was working in video, and while video production will always be my first love, it doesn’t reflect me or what I want to do any more.

laptop-820274_960_720I want to tell stories, my own and other people’s. So, We’re All Just Stories in the End was born from what was on editing room floor. (Bonus points to anyone WHO knows where I got the title from.) With the change in title comes a change in perspective.

We’re All Just Stories in the End is going to focus on telling stories. I’m going to look at how business and individuals can use stories in their marketing to grow their reach and their profit. I’ll be talking about how different mediums can help tell stories. Of course, I’m also going to talk about telling my stories.

Regulars readers will also notice that I’ve added a page with samples of some of my writing. This is all part of my plan to continue to work as a freelancer to help people tell their stories. If you’d like to talk to me about your story, and what I can do to assist, just drop me a message here.

I’m really excited about the opportunities that lay ahead in 2017. I hope you’ll join me.

 

 

 

Unsinkable

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My mother loved movies from when she was young, what we call classics now. One of my early movie memories was being sick at home with a stomach bug one Easter. While my brother and sister were off hunting eggs, my mom introduced me to one of her favorites – Tammy and the Bachelor. As mom pointed out the gorgeous clothes, clever lines and how simple but beautiful the story was, I fell in love with it all. That day Tammy and the Bachelor became one of my all-time favorite movies, and Debbie Reynolds one of my all-time favorite actresses.

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Over the years I saw more of her movies, and each time I became more enthralled with her work and the stories she told. Her acting was simple and pure, and somehow larger than life at the same time. The simple sad words of Tammy as she sang by a moonlit window. The strength and heartbreak of Molly Brown as she grew and changed before refusing to go down on the Titanic. And of course the beautiful innocence of a small-town girl dreaming of stardom in one of the best know and just plain best movie musicals ever made – Singing in the Rain. Stories so beautiful and full of life it was impossible to not get completely mesmerized.

annex20-20reynolds20debbie_04As a teenager I read her first autobiography and admired her even more. From the literal blood, sweat and tears during Singing in the Rain, to the little details she put into films, I learned about dedication to craft. From the grace she displayed when her first husband, Eddie Fisher, left her with two small children while he went off to be with Elizabeth Taylor – and the strength of character she had later in life when she faced Taylor in the bathroom of a ship as they sailed across the Atlantic. There was her poor choices in men that became obvious when two husbands left her penniless and forced to start all over, all with her kids by her side.

I was a fan of her daughter Carrie since I was a little girl. I read and heard about their relationship through books both wrote and through interviews. And yes, there were periods of time when they didn’t speak. But they never stopped loving each other. They always had each other’s back. Through the ups and down…through marriages and addiction, mental illness and bankruptcy, they always found their way back to one another.

debbie-reynolds-carrie-fisher-e97d69fe-4bde-4d7d-85a8-0b768581a72fWhen I learned that Carrie passed, I knew that Debbie wouldn’t be far behind. I had a feeling that Debbie hadn’t been well (it’s been over a year since I’ve heard that she was performing). I knew that they were close, and I know as a mother, having to bury your child would be horrific and a stress that many could not survive. I had a feeling that another amazing and talented actress would soon be moving on. I just didn’t think it would be so soon.

There are so many people who don’t give “old movies” a chance. But they are missing out on so much. They’re missing out on talent and and glamour that seems to be so rare in Hollywood today. They’re missing out on woman who was unsinkable as the characters she played. They’re missing out on movies that have can capture the imagination and unite a mother and daughter.

My Kind of Princess

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princessleia1This week has been a strange one for me. Some of the news I’ll share with you later in another post. For now, I have to find the words to talk about Carrie Fisher. My princess. My hero. My inspiration. Someone I had always hoped to meet. Her death has shook me in a way I never expected.

I am just one of a generation of women who had their outlook on the universe, and what being a princess means, when a young woman (with a somewhat unfortunate choice in hairstyle) grabbed a gun of one of the guys there to rescue her and saved them instead. tumblr_n1430cie4d1r09qfio5_r1_250We saw a woman who was as tough as nails, who didn’t take crap from anyone, was snarky and amazing. She didn’t use her looks to get ahead. She was as smart, or smarter, than the men around her. And, maybe best of all, the men accepted her for who she was and what she brought to the table – no one questioned her ability to lead because she was female. Princess Leia was the very definition of a badass in the best possible ways.

Up until then all the princesses we knew were rescued by a prince in shinning armor. They were bright, but not as bright as the men around them. They were pretty and important for what they could bring to the world as a wife and mother. They weren’t warriors. They weren’t heroes. They didn’t do the rescuing and they weren’t they weren’t leaders.

Princess Leia instantly became my hero. I wanted to be her in the worst way possible. I insisted on a homemade Halloween costume of long white silk and a black wig. My brother and cousin decided to do our own version of Star Wars and took my role as the princess very seriously. Princess Leia was, and is, my example of one of the best female characters ever to grace the big screen.

But it wasn’t just Leia, it was the actress behind her that made all the difference. Many other actresses could have played the part, but none of them could have combined the snark, the layers and the strength that Carrie Fisher did.

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For me, the admiration for Carrie Fisher didn’t stop with one character. She was a brilliant writer, and I studied her writing in both novel and scripts to try to gain some understanding of what made her writing so honest. Her dialogue was always so real, so funny, and so perfect it made me wish she could be in my head and feeding me smart and witty things to say.

I admired the way she talked about all the things she’d been through. She was so honest, and usually brutally so, about her addiction and her mental health. She did so much to help normalize the discussion of mental health care and overcoming addiction that it’s hard to imagine what the world would be like if she didn’t go there.

Most of us can’t imagine what her life was like from the very start. She was the daughter of America’s Sweethearts. She was watched and photographed from the day she was born. When her father left her mother for Elizabeth Taylor it made international news. She was only three years old and she in the media spot-light beside her mother. Her mother didn’t have the best eye for men and Carrie was there to help her get the family back up on their feet more than once. They fought, they didn’t speak, but they never really stopped loving each other. The difference between their story and most families was that they did it with the world watching.

When I heard that she was rushed to the hospital, my stomach dropped. When I heard she had passed I was stunned. She was a huge part of the world that captured my imagination in Star Wars. She changed the way I looked at writing. She wasn’t fearless, but she refused to let fear control her. I admired her in so many ways and it was a shock to the system to realize that one of my heroes was gone. I still want to be like her when I grow up.

Carrie Fisher, just like Princess Leia, was strong, she was brave, she was intelligent, she was witty, she was talented. Ms Fisher was a storyteller that made a difference on and off the screen. Something most of us could only hope to do.