Monday, August 30, 2010

Just Checking In

I am in Florida relaxing. Saturday I head to Indiana for the wedding.

Everything is good.

Miss me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

three Hours Of Sleep

I open my eyes....what is that??
I turn my head. Yeah, it's the moon.
On the way to the bathroom....the sun isn't even up.

OK, I am going to try again.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

OK, Enough Moping

I psyched myself out and had a shitty day. But I have pulled my head out of my ass and I'm ready to press on.

When I had the last infusion a week ago, they mentioned it would take a little bit for the drugs to work their way out of my system. They said I would be clear by Wednesday or Thursday. So as crappy as I felt over the weekend, I just kept saying "Wednesday or Thursday" like a mantra. Just kept on keeping on, with my eye on Wednesday & Thursday.

I was kinda mental on Friday......but I was waiting for Wednesday and Thursday.

I was tired and weepy on Saturday.....but I was waiting for Wednesday and Thursday.

I was achy and awake all night Sunday.....but I was waiting for Wednesday and Thursday.

I missed out on my scheduled fun on Monday.....but I was waiting for Wednesday and Thursday.

Tuesday I only got to some of the stuff I had scheduled, but it was progress and I thought there was nowhere to go but up.

Wednesday I had a list of things to get to and the going was slow, but I did get to everything. Met my friend Trish for breakfast. Ran my errands. Got to the gym. Stopped in work and was very little help, lol. Dinner with my sisters and our cousins. Not bad.

Best of all......the next day would be BETTER.


It was like I had to flu. I slept poorly. Woke up achy. Got winded showering.

HOW CAN THIS BE????? It is Thursday! I have been waiting for effin' Thursday like it was effin' Christmas!

And then I started dwelling on everything I am missing. It's Heritage Week on the USS Constitution. I had plans. I have been looking forward to this for ages. I had fun last year and this year would only be better. I was invited to some of the events. Do I even have to explain to you how excited I was? Do I need to tell you how upset I am to know that I am missing these things?

And I am trying to get ready for another "La-la-la" next week. Actually two. First is a trip to Miami, Florida to see alligators with Andi. And then onto Indiana for TSO & Caro's wedding.

I was starting to panic.

I scrubbed the half bath on my hands and knees. Have I mentioned that I am turning into Howard his later crazy germa-phobe years? Yeah, anti-bacterial this...anti-microbial that....Clorox is my friend. I don't care about creating super bugs. I can think only about the drugs that are depressing my natural immunities. Sorry.

Finally, I hit a point where I couldn't stand being alone with my own thoughts. I got in the car and took my sorry butt into work. I dumped all my unhappiness on the girls in the office. they tried logic and sympathy....two things I am impervious to. Then they just let it go and in the course of talking about work and their lives, I had a few laughs and felt better.

Then I decided to take myself to the movies. I have said it before....but I am my own favorite date. I get to pic the movie, I buy myself popcorn, I never talk during the movie. Really, I am an awesome movie date. LOL I went to Hingham's Loring Hall to see "The Girl Who Played With Fire". It's the second of the Millennium series - the first was "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" which I saw at the Plimoth Cinema a while ago. I missed the showing in Plimoth two weeks ago when I was blindsided by Dr. Miller (yes...yes... I know I am being childish and unfair in that characterization).

Then I drove home along 3A. A beautiful drive along the shoreline with the moon almost full.

So I've read my emails and some blogs. I've cleaned the kitchen and living room. I've posted this and gotten it all out of my system.

If tomorrow works. If it doesn' doesn't. I've got to accept that I can't control it or I will never make it through the next few months. I've got to let go when my plans don't work.

Yesterday's Drive

Wareham Road in Carver winds through piney woods and cranberry bogs. Lovely drive.

Last Thursday

USS Constitution commemorates the ship's historic victory over HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812.

Last Thursday after my last infusion (for this month), I dashed over to the Charlestown Navy Yard for one of my favorite events. The annual commemoration of this important naval battle happens aboard ship during August. It's generally a warm, pleasant evening in one of my happiest places.

I had planned on leaving the hospital, heading to my parents and napping before heading down to the ship. However, instead of spending an hour there, the nurses held me hostage for 3 hours (kidding!). But it was still enough time to get across town, park, grab my water and get aboard the ship.....barely, lol.

There is still lots of construction going on so they have Sailors waiting to escort people aboard the ship. When I passed through the gate I was greeted by name by a very enthusiastic Sailor...ok, they are all happy and enthusiastic. Anyway, she seemed to have a particular spot in mind for me and I am sure it was great. However, there was only so much steam left in the engine after my treatment, so when we passed an empty front row seat, I plopped right in it!

I am in the front row, far left (port) seat of the section facing the podium. After resting a moment and taking a few sips of water, I sent a few Tweets. I noted the master of ceremonies, LCDR Savage, and CDR Cooper's remarks. There was a speaker from the museum and a gentleman who gave a very stirring recitation of "Old Ironsides" by Oliver Wendell Holmes. You could see the absolute delight on CDR Cooper's face as he listened.

Of course my favorite speaker was Mr. Michael Jackson. Mr. Jackson is a descendent of
First Lieutenant William Sharp Bush, officer in charge of the Marine Guard. 1st LT Bush was the first United States Marine officer killed in combat. Mr. Jackson tells of a letter writter to his ancestor, 1st LT Bush's brother that was passed down through the family. The letter is now in the USS Constitution Museum after some restoriation work. Even with the added fibers, etc., you can still see the crease where Mr. Jackson father folded it so he could carry it in his wallet as he fought with the US Navy on a minesweeper in the Pacific during WWII. Think of the many times the letter could have been lost or damaged beyond repair. Amazing.

After the ceremony I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jackson and we spoke about LT Bush and the ship named in his honor, the destroyer USS Bush. I asked about his father's service. Turns out his father was a "skivvy waver" like my own!

When we were discussing the letter itself and how it came to land in the museum, Mr. Jackson said he almost didn't mention his father carrying it around the Pacific. I told him to NEVER leave that part out because it resounds with my Sailors. I tell the story all the time and Sailors love that part, just like me.

My last tweet was about how there aren't words to describe how happy I am to be aboard Old Ironsides on a warm August night. The sun was going down, the view was an enormous ensign waving gently with Building 5 and the Monument behind.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ha!!! I Love It!!!!

She has my attitude! Desserts and liquor. Although, eventually, you get a stomach ache, so I am sure there will be real food.

I can identify with not telling people, I kept my multiple myeloma diagnosis to myself for quite a bit while I processed it.
But I was never self-sacrificing like the character of "Cathy" played by Laura Linney. She took care of everyone else and now she is putting herself first. I was always more balanced (selfish?) than that, lol.

But I love the "I want it and I am not putting it off" mindset.

And you don't need to have cancer to have that attitude. Almost everyone I know should have a little more of that attitude.

I've Surfaced

I slept well.....and when most people are expected to sleep, lol. It is still windy and stormy here. I love how it sounds.....very "Ghost & Mrs. Muir".The ocean is less than a hundred feet from where I sleep. If you climb the stairs from the beach, walk across about ten feet of grass, cross the are in Jen's front yard. My room faces the back. I love the window and as you can see I have my bed pulled right into it. The desk is one I likely sat in during my years ar St. Francis de Sales School. My uncle Walter refinished it and it's a treasured possession. So I am sitting here, sorting through emails and eating my flax cereal...another plan that got away from me, lol. When I am on Atkins, there is this hot flax cereal I eat and it's good, I like it. So even when I am not on Atkins, I try to eat it to counteract how bad I am being. So I had planned to make a point of eating it every day when I went into know, when I was supposed to do it in October. I thought it might be easier if I ate the cereal and went to the gym every day. But then I got ambushed into going on chemo early and all plans went out the window. LOL! Guess what? My liver can't multi-task. I am not supposed to be drinking. So, that party with all the M&Ms and vodka.....turns out I couldn't have picked a worse theme. Oh well, live and learn.

So I ate my cereal, I am headed to the gym. I have some errands to run. And then tonight....there may be blogging. you know, real blogging about something other than my health and my chemo.

Criminy! Might even be something about the Navy!!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 1 Of The Drug Free Time.....Wrecked!

Good thing the steroid is pretty much gone.....or I'd be raging!


I don't know whether to get up or go back to sleep.

I have a headache that isn't too bad, but won't go away.

I feel restless and jittery.

I just took the phone survey you have to complete before they ship the Revlimid.

Everything is about waiting for the chemo. Getting ready for the chemo. Rearranging the deck chairs on USS Maggie.

Logically, this is not the end of the world. Father Mahoney says Mass everyday. The people who arranged the tour know I didn't blow them off to go visit the Army. My friends will be happy to see me for lunch another day.

But I still feel like I wasted something important. Now I only have 15 left.

I'm going back to sleep. I flipped the coin....and the gym lost.

I Am So Eager To Begin My 16 Drug Free Days

I have packed this next sixteen days full of things. Navy things. Family things. Fun things.

And it's getting off to a bad start, lol.

It's 0345 and I am wide awake.

My Monday plan was Mass at St. Francis at 0730....then down to the Charlestown Navy Yard at 0800 for my tour of the Naval Historical Detachment. I am supposed to meet two dear friends for lunch after that.

But I can't imagine that I won't crash soon. That's how this usually works.

They had better be right about my system being clear of all this stuff by Wednesday! I want my drug free days!!!!! LOL!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


But other kinds too!

Eating my perfectly paoched eggs at the counter while I bake cookies for the infusion room nurses and wait for my Bloggers RoundTable to start in 10.
***UPDATE - I wasn't as good as I thought. The cookies baked during the RT were slightly overdone. They will still be eaten, but they were not perfect. The next four dozen were perfect. Kitchen cleaned! Onward!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Snuck Off & Gave Myself A Treat

The gym totally kicked my ass. I thought I was going to go right off the back of the treadmill like George Jetson at one point. Yoga was mostly me laying on my back huffing....very little "bridge pose".

But it was still important for me to go and I did.

I made it to the bank and straightened some stuff out.

Then I snuck down to Lily's and got myself a little treat. I know I should be conserving money, but Lily's dolls up the package and you just feel like it's an even bigger treat. Plus I sprayed myself with the expensive Michael Kors Eau de parfum for free.

I passed a Soldier and thanked him for his service.

Then I spent a few moments at the Town Brook emjoying the warm August day.

Yesterday Was Productive

There was no crying thank heavens! And today will be better.

I have to start paying more attention to the weather so I know when it's better to leave the windows open. Jen keeps the house at a steady 68 to 72. But I have been having hot flashes/night sweats and last night it was 61 outside. That would have been nice. Tonight will be cool too, so remind me to open the windows. Besides the AC in my room occassionally gives off a funny plastic smell. That was happening before the drugs and Jen has smelled it (in my room only) so it's not a phantom. *Note, I didn't say I'm not crazy*

I made it into work after cleaning my room and brought all the food /snacks from Saturday night that I didn't prepare and put out. When I have a party my sisters are always carping that I spend too much time in the kitchen so lots of my food was never assembled and brought to the guests. No one went hungry because I overbuy to a ridiculous degree and other people were paying the grocery tab. I ran three errands Saturday. Frankie gave me mad money for Walmart and Mary Ripley was with me in the liquor store and Stop & Shop and handily outwitted me when it came to forking over a credit card.

Anyway, my bosses son who is always hungry was thrilled and everyone else enjoyed the snacks except for Bette who hangs onto Atkins with a steel grip. I should aspire to be like her. I actually have a plan to get back on because Atkins or low carbs make it much easier to handle the steroid. If I have this correct, Friday is my last steroid until September 7th. So I could shoot for that being back on in time for their resumption.

Then I took myself to the movies. I am one of my favorite I saw "Inception" I enjoyed it. I love the whole dream/fantasy/change life's circumstances to suit your own need. Plus there was an aspect that I found irresistably romantic.

Today is a largely drug-free day. No steroid, no infusion, no revlimid. I was up early, dressed, made and enjoyed breakfast with Jen. I have finished the laundry and even made Jen's bed for her. I am hitting the gym. After work I will make cookies for the infusion room nurses tomorrow.

I am blogging, answering email while I listen to Kosheen "All In My Head". Seven years ago, I was in the midst of the BEST VACATION EVAH! and this played on the European MTV channel. It was one of several songs I loved that summer. Beyonce "Crazy in Love"; ColdPlay "Clocks"; Limp Bizkit "Eat You Alive" and especially Lifehouse "Take Me Away" the Amsterdam concert version. When they would come on, I would run through the apartment turning all 3 TVs to max and sing. I'm sure the neighbors loved me, the stupid deaf American.

Did you know I got presents from the Navy this week? I got added to the CHINFO Clips mailing list. I used to get other people to forward them to me....but now I am in! LOL!

Things to Contemplate

"Lou Gehrig may not have really had Lou Gehrig's disease" h/t Carla

It's not piracy if you don't succeed.

It's not fraud if you knowingly lie about your military service. As a matter of fact, it's constitutionally protected.

Do you need something solid to hang onto?

Tomorrow night the officers and crew of USS Constitution will commemorate "USS Constitution captures HMS Guerriere, 19 August 1812"

You can join us in the Charlestown Navy Yard tomorrow at 6 pm. Details here.

By the way, are you a Sailor who has ever aspired to serve aboard Old Ironsides? Read this story.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Being Ungrateful

My father's father was one of six McInnis children. My grandfather was John. There was Virginia, Elizabeth, Francis (who my father was named for), Joseph who became a priest and Kathleen, who became a Sister of St. Joseph, Sr. M Terence. She signed all her correspondence to us "Lovingly, Aunt Kee" but the nuns at our schools called her Sr. Terence and so did we. When Grace and I were attending St. Francis de Sales elementary school back in the early 70s, Boston, the Archdiocese and the Feds started up this Title I or Title II program. I can't quite remember, but it was an alliance to help students in Catholic schools receive their share of Federal program money to help with students who were struggling. I was never involved. Reading was my strong suit. Now had their been money for teaching deportment and other lady-like Anyway, my Aunt Terence was a liaison between the Feds and the Archdiocese. She would visit the schools to assist or assess with the various programs. When she would visit St. Francis, the nuns would pull us out of class to say hi.

You know how I love being the center of attention! That would have been enough to make me adore her....but she was so much more. I could never put into words how special and kind and patient she was. Back then it was all about how she made me feel, but as I matured (yeah, I did a little), i came to realize that she was someone I should strive to emulate.

But you know how completely unrealistic it is that I should have any hope of being that good. I am vain and selfish and egotistical. But along the way I have done some things right and whatever they were, Sr. Terence and my mother's mother, Mama Kelley get all the credit.

Any patience or generosity or kindness in my teeny-tiny heart were due to their influence.

When I was in high school at Pope John XXIII, the nuns were even more enthusiastic because they were in Terence's order. Sisters of St. Joseph. The nuns at St. Francis were Dominicans. So at Pope John, Terence, and to a lesser extent Grace, Frankie (my brother as opposed to the other Frankies) and Jennifer and I, were even more special.
It was when I was in high school that Terence was diagnosed with cancer. It was metastatic and invaded her everywhere. I came to understand that she was in great pain, but it was never spoken of. Her weight plummeted and she endured many hospitalizations and treatments.

She would often stop at my parent's house with her brown bag lunch and have tea with my mother and grandmother. She was always interested in us and in my mother's extended family as well. My sister Grace was her favorite and I have no problem with that. I know I was loved completely.

As she grew more frail and the treatments battered her, she frequently had ace bandages on her arms. It hurt to see them. I averted my eyes. I tried not to think about it.

I remember a famous case in Boston where some kid's parents wanted to stop their son's chemo and try less difficult things and possibly let him die. I supported them and she corrected me. Nicely, but vehemently. Life was a gift from God and it was wrong not to try everything. What could I say to that? She was exhausted and beaten down from trying to protect the life God gave her. And she was grateful.

I am ashamed to this very day.

Terence passed away in 1981. I was just one month into my pregnancy with Tommy and had not gotten out the the Mother House to tell her. I remember my ex-husband coming down to the Beachmont train station to get me as I left the train - no cell phones there - I cried out and collapsed in his arms. I can still feel the pain. It is as real as when it happened. It was just like when Mama Kelley passed 18 years later.

So today was the third infusion day. We are getting a rhythm going and it went quickly. Although at the end, the IV site wouldn't stop bleeding and the nurse pressed down on it rather strongly. I winced but bit my tongue.

On the way home I was really wiped out, which is strange. Last week I felt energized after the two treatments. Today it was a struggle to get in the car and get rolling.

>As I neared the gas tanks, traffic slowed and I glanced at my right wrist all bruised and wrapped up in Coban. A wave a nausea threatened to overwhelm me. It was just like looking at Terence's arm. I have to do better. I have to try harder.

This treatment is not fully rolling yet. I am not receiving the Revlimid yet. It's $6000 for the 21 day supply. My insurance has a 50% copay. Celgene, the manufacturer has people who help you work this all out. I have had the nicest woman named Lisa helping me.

You know I have not been as cooperative as I should be. You know I have slacked and let them think I am distracted. But I remember exactly what it was like to take Revlimid. I remember what it did to me.

I have been hoping for a long delay.

Oops. Sorry. Not my fault.

Today Lisa called to tell me I have been approved for six rounds of free drug.

She has literally saved me $18,000.

I thanked her profusely.

I didn't mean a word.

I didn't look at my wrist until I could get home and take off the Coban.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Well, There Were M&Ms....21Lbs of Them

Last night about a dozen or so friends showed up for a get together. Andi of SpouseBuzz showed up with a big bag of M&Ms and a card that said "Because if Maggie ain't happy.....ain't nobody happy". Between her giant bag and what my sister Grace brought, we has just over 21 pounds of M&Ms here!

This was the last minute party that replaced the Cold River Adventure. My sisters were here of course, and my coworkers and some Rocky Nook friends. My sons and their girlfriends. But what was most stunning to me....Andi and Mary Ripley came from out of state to eat chocolate and drink booze and listen to my sister Grace tell them every last embarrassing thing she could think of about me.

We went to Pioppis to get some of my favorite Cold River vodka. There was one bottle left. I grabbed it so quickly, I really didn't look. We also picked up some vodka from Nantucket. so I started off the night with a few Triple Eight Cape Codders. Finally it was time to crack open the *ahhh* COLD RIVER VODKA! Chris makes me a Cape Codder and I am drinking and thinking...wht's wrong??? Jen clues me in....did I know that I bought BLUEBERRY vodka? Umm, no. It was delish, but it didn't go with the cranberry juice.

I also put out a bowl of Hershey "Extra Creamy, Milk Chocolate w/Toffee & Almonds". They are in little gold wrapped blocks. Bette confessed after a little bit that she thought I had put out little butter pats..... Well that would be a good offering for an Atkins crowd!

My blog boss....Mary Ripley was there and my sisters loved her! Which is a good thing considering that she wants to be a "McInnis sister". After this weekend, she is in.

Oh well. We ended up on the second floor deck. I gave up at 2:30 am.
We laughed and drank and ate until the wee hours of the morning.
It was great.

Friday, August 13, 2010

This Weekend

Ok, so I had to cancel the Cold River Adventure. It's a bummer, but I had to be realistic....for once, lol. But there were actually two blogging friends who were awesome enough to come in from out of town for this, so there will still be a get-together.

Saturday these friends, my sisters, some cousins, some work friends, some Rocky Nook friends and whoever else wants to show (seriously drop me an email if you are interested) will get together here at Jen's house.

I was pretty sure based on all I have read about my particular chemo drugs that I would not be up for a drive to the Cold River Distillery and wander around. I don't drink very often, on average once every other month. I am generally the designated driver. But a few years ago when I was having a problem with the foreign policy decision that is choosing a vodka.....someone told me about Cold River. It is made from Maine potatoes and it is delicious. So when I found out they gave tours, I thought that sounded like fun.

From that idea, a whole adventure grew. there was going to the tour, then dinner and then thanks to AW1Tim, the next day there would be a Bath Iron Works tour.

It was going to be a primo Princess Crabby Adventure! Friends, food, vodka, Navy ships!

So, instead....there will be friends, food, vodka here in Rocky Nook. Join us if you can. As an enticement let me say that I become nicer as I imbibe.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

5 AM

Like an old acquaintance I am not really happy to see....the side effects of chemo are back. Bette, Jen & I went to dinner at East Bay last night. I had the special, Sole Oscar with basmati rice and asparagus. It was delicious.

We were home at a decent hour. I was online until just after midnight. Brushed my teeth and washed my face like a good girl and off to sleep. I should have been out like a light until at least 8am. That's how I am. I am a world champion sleeper. But steroids bring heartburn, even if you eat the most bland foods. And steroids steal sleep.
I walked outside, I would just drag the computer to the deck, but that would mean disturbing Jen on the way by.
I woke up thinking about an awkward exchange last night at the bar. I maneuvered our spot last night so we would have Dick, my favorite bartender. Jen & I were there first, but Bette showed up fairly quickly. Bette settled in her spot and Dick greeted her. She asked me "Did you tell Dick your news?" I was startled. Dick looked at me expectantly with a smile. He was anticipating some fun Navy thing I am sure or a newly planned trip.
I actually stuttered. Bette said "She's back in chemo." Now Dick is confused for half a second and then apologizes to me.
I know this is two, Bette is completely distressed and not thinking. Two, she worries about when I don't tell people things and then they feel bad that they didn't get to comfort me.
But man! Did I want to be anywhere but there!
Ok, I think I will try to sleep a little more. There are things I could do, but I'd probably just wake Jen.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tomorrow There Will Be.....

....tuna in the tuna fish bowl.Grace told my parents about my sudden re-entry into chemo. So I didn't have to. Thanks Gracie-baby.

So I called my mother yesterday afternoon and said that I planned to stop in Thursday morning before heading over to Tufts NEMC infusion room for my second treatment.

I asked if I could have tuna fish. She said yes.

I said "in the tuna fish bowl". She said "Of course."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Social Graces

I am not exactly the Duchess of Windsor, but I was raised to be polite. I was taught how to act in polite society.

When people say "How are you?" I reply "Well...and yourself?" It's an automatic thing. I know that rarely in casual conversation do other people actually want to know that something is wrong. They don't want to hear about your troubles.

Well sometimes it's just silly.

For example, yesterday. I was sitting on the exam table waiting for Dr. Miller to come in. I had just detailed my problems to Kate the nurse practitioner.

"How are you?"

"Well, and yourself?"

He laughs and says he's heard that I am not so well and I say "Well, this is how I was raised." Then we go on to our discussion. Once he penetrates my profound shock with his insistence that I must begin chemo in an hour, I began to cry and I could not stop. There was a constant stream of tears rolling down my face. We were having this whole conversation about the medications and dosages and schedules....and I am quietly crying.

I told them I had to go feed my parking meter. I thought this was a quick in-and-out appointment. they scheduled my X-rays and infusion time. I left to get quarters. I stood by me car crying, keys in hand, wiping my face with a paper towel and I thought "I can just get behind the wheel and go."

I don't even know where I got the strength to go back inside.

You see, I don't believe this will work. I think I am about to torture myself for about a year. I think we will do this for several months. It will damage me. They will realize that it doesn't work and then it will be months before I recover.

I am not being dramatic. I am being practical. I am IgA and that type is know to be drug resistant. They gave me Revlimid and low dose dex. That it the best they have to offer these days and it works for over 80% of patients. It didn't work for me. So they are adding Velcade which works in less than 50% of patients who are refractory - meaning drug resistant. I am refractory because I have had one prior therapy that failed.

I can not help but feel shitty because the same two drugs, RCheck Spellingevlimid and dex will be used again with the Velcade. Plus, Velcade is more harsh than Revlimid to begin with.

So why am I doing it? Because I can not face my parents if I don't. I can not tell them no.

I reached this conclusion a while ago. That I would face the equivalent of a year in prison. If I am lucky I will come out of it on the other end as I am now. If not, then some of the side effects will be permanent.

So I toook a swig of water, then poured some on the papertowel and wiped my face. I fixed my lipstick and brushed my hair......but never stopped crying.

I went up to X-ray. Every person, reception, escort and X-Ray tech, asked how I was....and I said "I am well and yourself?"

I went to the infusion room. Again they all asked and got the same answer.

I've got to come up with something else.

SouthieBoy's Other Maggie

You know Maggie isn't my real name. Very shortly after meeting me, SouthieBoy found out it wasn't either. At the time, that was a closely held years ago.

One of his first questions was "What shall I call you? Maggie? Diane?" I replied that either was fine, it was his choice. He chose Maggie. He said he had always liked it because of "In Harm's Way" a movie that both of us love. I explained that I was not a stoic Lt. Maggie Haynes type....I was more a hysterical Madelyn Buckman type and we laughed.

I remember when he was promoted a few years ago and I stole a line from "In Harm's Way" from when John Wayne is promoted from Captain to Rear Admiral. Maggie asks "How do admirals feel about nurses?" and Rock says "The same way captains did." Only I substituted his rank and "girls named Maggie".

I called him and told him about Patricia Neal's passing yesterday and he said "You know, I think we'll watch that movie again soon."


Monday, August 09, 2010

I'll give You The Fun Stuff First

See? For all the ranting and raving - "Maggie, why can't you be nice?" I am going to be nice.
The fun part -

My Marine told me to be in the Charlestown Navy Yard at 0700 to see them put USS Cassin Young DD-793 into Dry Dock #1 for repairs.

Actually, he called me Friday, too excited to wait to see me on Saturday and said "Where are you going to be Monday morning?" I answered that I was going to be wherever he told me to be! That was the right answer wasn't it?

I have never seen such an operation and I had to be in Boston anyway for a Dr. Miller appointment.

Plus, I have to do everything My Marine says.....right?

So I was there at 0715, which, before you start moaning about tardiness...admit that's pretty damn good for me. Turns out that it was pushed back twice to 0900.
This is what I saw at 0739, so I didn't miss a thing!
So I wandered around and talked to different people till I found who I wanted to hang with. I totally struck gold!
Three retired Sailors! A radioman, a Bubblehead & a SeaBee! Better yet, it was mutual, they were amused by me. They were sitting on this electric line winch or something. It's a big cement block with a motor inside (that apparently doesn't work) and this knob thing the main tow line goes around. So I thought they were just hanging like me to watch. I explained I was a blogger and asked if they read blogs. One had on occasion read CDR Salamander and I jumped on it! "I've been out drinking with him!" There I was engaging in an activity I excel at....riding other people's coattails! At one point I went off to ask a question and my new friends; Jimmy, Alan and Artie called out goodbye and told me to have a good time. I looked back and said "Oh, I'll be guys are a find!"

And I did. They were talking about knots and the electric winch we were sitting on and the bulldozer parked next to us. Guess what? They were there to pull the main tow line (yeah, it's not a rope, it's a line) around the knob thing on the winch with Jimmy driving the bulldozer. How effin' cool it that? It's wicked cool.

So someone brings them work gloves and they ask where my gloves are. I explain that I am "unhelpful". I sit on the block while they work around me.

Finally I am made to move back behind the lines. I have some shaky pics, but I think in a day or two, I will have better ones. I looked for the person who appeared to be as enthusiastic about the event as myself and I found two young ladies who were hanging with one of the Park Rangers. They work in the Navy Yard and came down in their off time to see this. Cross your fingers we get pics!

So for the next 45 minutes or so, all kinds of different people, construction people, contractors, USS Cassin Young volunteers, and my new friends all pulled together and with the help of a tug, nudged, pulled, guided USS Cassin Young DD-793 from her berth into Dry Dock #1.
It effin' rocked! I did not realize that I could love My Marine more than I already did....but for sending me on this adventure....I love him more than when I woke up this morning!
See this yellow and black block? That was where we were sitting, facing the ship until they had to get to work and I had to move behind the caution tape.
When the ship was secure, Jimmy mentioned that he had hoped for a quick visit over to USS Constitution. I told him it was closed on Mondays. I took one look at his disappointed face and said "I'll be back." I ran over to Old Ironsides gate and asked if I could see CDR Cooper for five minutes and true to form, he and his crew were gracious enough to make it happen for me. I am so grateful that they even entertain my requests, much less grant them!

So I went back and grabbed them up and presented them to the gate. I had to leave then for my Dr. Miller appointment. But I got one last piece of info. they will be involved with the repairs, so I will be back, looking to see even more cool stuff. I have already talked to My Marine and he agrees....we have to get down there for this!!

Some of you are reading this and thinking "What is this nerd girl so excited about?" If you don't get it, I can't explain it.....but let me tell you, I am excited. I think this was a stellar day. And it comes in the middle of a whole timeline of cool things. My trip to Denver (thank you Fishmugger), my tour if the USS Truxton DDG-103 (thank you Navy League & Tom Redden), lunch with My Marine and now this. Still to come is a tour of the NHC Detachment Boston as soon as I can schedule it; the anniversary of the Battle of the USS Constitution vs. HMS Guerriere on 19 August 2010 (open to the public, please come!!!) and CPO Heritage Weeks!

~~~~~OK, this is the suck part. Stop if you are only here for the fun Navy stuff.

So I left and went to Dr. Miller's office in NEMC. I was hoping to get some pain meds. The pain has been worse than the little hints I have been dropping. Instead of pain meds he insisted that chemo begin now, six weeks early.

We had this discussion at 1500 (3 pm) and I was in the infusion room at 1600 (4 pm). So, I am awake, cranky, mean, with a headache and a pain in my chest to take my mind off of the pain in my ankles with I still have. I have been crying since he told me.

It's been a huge pity party. I am not ready. I had a plan. I had all kinds of things. I am not just disappointed, but thanks to the dex they gave with the Velcade, I am raging that I didn't make it to Kansas or the Grand Canyon.

I have cancelled Cold River.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

My Marine's Wish......

...well, you know the rest....

I am posting his email whole and unedited. It is My Marine's version of the event chronicled in this post -

The subject line read "I Demand Equal Billing"

Put this on your post, if you think it is fair:

"When the late Johnny Most used to broadcast Celtics games,
Tommy Heinsohn (who has been known in his own right to
overwork hyperbole) would say that the Cs played a double
header, the one on the court and the one that Most broadcast.

Similar is true of reading Maggie's version of events.
While not wrong, per se, just different from how one

On the Midway question, I gave her all the hints in the
world. I bet you haven't watched the movie even once yet,
and probably had Jen sign off on the papers.

She did like shooting. She will be damned if she will admit
it, but she did.

And we did establish that someone who reads an article and
is thrown into distraction by a typo or a grammatical faux
pas is, well, FUSSY. Not wrong, but fussy.

As for being teased for saying something isn't her fault,
she would be endlessly teased for actually admitting that
something IS her fault. (Once I recovered from the shock of
hearing her say so.) The four words most people likely say
when they greet someone are 'Hi, how are you?' Maggie's
four words are 'It's not my fault!'.

But the time spent was delightful and her company charming.
Four hours went in a blink. She is mistaken about the ego,
however. I know all too well what my shortcomings are, and
what little I know about so many things.

Oh, and Maggie, those pipes I pointed out? Chaff launchers
Whatever you say, baby!

And you can call me whatever name you like.....but Armed Forces Journal needs a better editor.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Sr. Mary My Marine

***UPDATE - My Marine would like his chance on the witness stand.***At lunch today with My Marine we were discussing politics, the military, life, my recent travels and our earlier tour of USS Truxtun DDG-103.

He was tied up and had missed the beginning of the tour, I was recapping. When I got to explaining about the CIC (Combat Information Center), I was relaying a point that Chief Schmidt made. The Chief told us how all the computers made it so much easier to share information being gathered by the Sea, Air & Surface components with the TAO & the CO. He brought up the parallel with Henry Fonda standing over the table with the ship models being pushed back and forth like shuffleboard.

My Marine....who is forever quizzing me....said "Midway! Point.....???" and the eyebrow went up. Clearly I was supposed to know the rest.


"Midway! Henry Fonda was Nimitz. Where was the rendezvous point? Point???"

"I'm not a Henry Fonda fan."

There was a strangled sound before he said "Luck! Point Luck! Go watch "Midway" seven times!"

I burst out laughing. "Ok, Sr. Mary My Marine! Do I have to have my parents sign off acknowledging I watched it seven times?"

I was picked on endlessly. Called a drama queen. Mocked when I said something wasn't my fault.....why do I hang with him?

Oh, yeah, he's witty and intelligent and I always have a good time. Don't tell him though, he's already got a ridiculously overblown ego.

Four plus hours after we sat down to lunch, he realized he had to hurry if he was to make his appointment back on the base. I am sure our waitress was thrilled that we tied up a table that long.

As we left the restaurant he said "I don't have time for a long goodbye." I was momentarily confused, but then I realized he was making a joke about our last visit together when Jen's car wouldn't start. That goodbye went on for quite a while, lol.

During lunch, he started in on me again about the shooting "Admit it! Admit you like shooting. You know you do!" You know, he is not a small man. He is very imposing. He is used to telling people what to do and they hop to it. I looked him dead in the eye. "I like you. I always have fun with you." This was not sufficient. Again he demands that I admit to liking shooting. So I needed Italica red herring. "Did you know that Mary Ripley once met Andy Griffith?"

His eyebrows come together. It's a total non-sequitar. "Ok..." I go on to explain that she told me the other day and I told her that she should repeat the story for him since I know what a fan he is. This successfully distracts him and we move on.


All in all it was a very successful day. I was on time for the tour aboard USS Truxtun DDG-104 and enjoyed it very much. Wendy from "My Military Life" and her son made it. Her son is quiet and respectful....but better than that he is funny and engaging. This was also a smaller group of people from the Navy League and I felt, more enjoyable. When I am on the bigger tours, I miss a lot of what's being said. Ships are noisy, even in port.

Plus, since My Marine didn't show up until the second half of the tour, there was wasn't as much questioning. He is forever pointing at weapons and such - "Maggie.....what is this?"

But he more than served his purpose over lunch when he answered questions and let me bounce stuff off of him after I read the May issue of Armed Forces Journal (that I stole from a Sailor....hope you were finished with that, baby!)

Friday, August 06, 2010

Down Time

I am not doing anything constructive today.


I took a long shower.

I am headed to the pool.

No work.

No Navy.

Just lounging.

Darn it.....I just realized that I have no Cosmopolitan to read. It's my favorite pool side read.

But I have M&Ms and sunblock, thank goodness.

If you need me...bring a Cape Codder to the pool and I'll consider letting you interrupt.

But tomorrow, I return & it's alllll Navy....and some USMC, lol. I am touring USS Truxton, DDG-103. They have come to Newport to visit me!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


To someone in particular and you know who you are....

Kiss my royal Irish ass!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Khandahar Marine Update

A little over a month ago I asked for something. I asked you all to help my favorite BMCS take care of some wounded Marines who were temporarily billeted near his unit in Khandahar. I asked you to send stuff and to spread the word on this to your friends. I also asked my fellow bloggers to get the word out.

What happened was a really great thing......a bunch of you opened up your hearts and your wallets and sent over care packages. Or should we say "because you care" packages. You cared that these Marines were in a tough spot. You cared that they were hanging out in a boring place with no comfort items while they waited the two or three or five weeks to be transported to their next destination. You cared that they needed sheets and t-shirts and shower shoes and stuff to pass the time.
And because you cared, this truck pulled up and was full of packages.
Look how happy my favorite BMCS is! Yes, that's the happy face of a Senior Chief Boatswain's me, I know these things.
LEGOS!!! Who sent Legos? Hmmm, I think I know....and it's pretty damn cool. I wish I thought of it! That's a happy Marine!
So now all the SeaBees of NMCB21 and the Marines get to work unloading. (Marines are in green t-shirts. Note the difference in the camo pattern. What can I say, I am a connoisseur)
Well, not everyone. I guess I'm going to be talking to these two guys later. (Kidding! I am sure they helped earlier.)
Load this boy up!

Now what?
There is some prep work going on.
They celebrated with a cook-out!

Thanks everyone!
If you read this post and you are thinking "Gee, I wish I could have gotten in on this and sent a care package." No worries! This project is far from over. There is a 2 to 5 week turnover in this wounded Marine population. They are arriving every few days, directly from the battlefield where they were injured & all they have is the clothes on their back. So if you want to drop me an email, we can keep this going!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Well...They Showed Me!

Many great Missourians (Mizzourans?) showed me how proud they were of their state and her connections to the US Navy
Many great Americans showed me how proud they were of working on the USS Missouri in their jobs with Northrop Grumman ship Building, Electric Boat, General Dynamics and other ship building contractors.

Many great Sailors showed me how proud they were of the newest Virginia class, nuclear powered attack sub in specific and their Navy as a whole.
It was picture perfect weather, bright and sunny - I have the wicked sunburn to prove it - yet breezy and cool.

I managed somehow to drag myself out of bed at 0600 yesterday morning, which was quite the feat! After all my traveling lately, sleep hasn't been top on the list. But if anything could get me up's the Navy! I made it down to the US Navy Submarine Base in Groton, CT in less than two hours. Gotta love these Saturday morning drives!

Wendy of My Military Life met me in a nearby parking lot and drove me in. I had the pleasure of meeting her son and husband. After one quick seat upgrade (that's how we roll!), we were settled in a great spot well before the ceremony began. This gave us time to walk around and "work the crowd" lol. we popped into the press section and introduced ourselves to the various public affairs Sailors. In particular we talked with one Sailor about all the cool things she has experienced in the Navy. She spoke of meeting living history in the form of retired Sailors, especially those who fought at Midway. Then she announced that she was retiring soon and I was confused because she looked really young. She laughed and thanked me for the compliment...but you would have paused too!

We met @SubGru2. It's always funny to walk up to a stranger and say "I follow you!" But better than that, I got to meet @CarolCasey who is a "Tweep" I have corresponded with for a while and a fellow member of Project Valour-IT Team Navy. Carol was a WAVE and is from "Missoura". She wants to remind everyone..."Submarines are NOT ships - they ARE boats!" And here I thought "Boats" was an affectionate term for Boatswains Mates. So what do you call a boatswain's mate when he/she is on a sub?

The remarks weren't too long and Rep Ike Skelton was the best of all speakers. He wasn't just up there talking....he was sharing his many connections with the Navy, with America and with every USS Missouri. Skelton's father served on one of USS Missouri's predecessor's the BB-11.
After USS Missouri's ship's sponsor, Becky Gates (she brought some guy Bob with her) gave the order to "Man this ship and bring her to life!"...the roar of "Aye, aye ma'am!" in return was deafening. The crew was standing right behind us, in front of the Navy Band Northeast. Speaking of which. People were raving about the band. I was like "Yeah, they're good." But so many people said it and repeated themselves.....I guess they are unusually good. Does this mean I am spoiled? Anyway, the Navy Band Northeast was always.

After the Sailors ran aboard the boat and the (help me out here...) masts? pipes? protrusions? Come on! I am a surface warfare girl, this is not my forte. Dad was a Tincan Sailor. USS Constitution is a frigate. Anyway, it was quite the sight.
***UPDATE - Bubblehead posted about the commissioning and he had the correct terminology....cause he is Bubblehead - it's "cycle the masts and antennas"**
Then there was lots of cheering and a loud whistle from the sub and returning alarms sounded elsewhere on the base.
There was a reception with what was, from all accounts, completely fabulous BBQ. I didn't eat, between the sunburn and being tired and facing the drive home, I didn't think it was wise to do more than drink water. Which they had a lot of.
Everyone moved from the pier to the reception tent, I saw the CNO. I grabbed Wendy to bring her over. ADM Roughead was greeting everyone and taking pictures. I shook his hand and it took him a sec to realize who I was, obbing to the surface in this sea of humanity. But then he greeted me warmly. He took a picture with Wendy and I. It would have been tempting to talk longer, but there were people (and BBQ!) waiting. Inside the tent I spotted his wife and wanted to say hi, but she was just sitting down to eat. then when I went back, I overestimated time-wise and they were gone. So, just know I was thinking of you Mrs. Roughead.
There had to have been more people than they expected because every seat in the tent was full and loads of people ate standing up outside. I know it's a southern thing....but serving BBQ to a bunch of guys dressed in white??? LOL! But I didn't see any spills. I wonder if that was because it was so good, no one wanted to lose even a drop?
So you could spot the people from Missouri because they were wearing their state flag (every guest was handed a small state flag on the way in as well as a program) in their shirt pockets or in their hats. Hats....hmmm, now that is something I could have used. Did I mention that my nose is glowing red like Rudolph?
I spoke with one woman who was visiting from Missouri. Her husband's fraternity donated the silver service for the wardroom in honor of a deceased fraternity borther who was in the Navy. She said when they were told by the commissioning committee that anyone who particpated could go.....she told her husband that they could visit their daughter in Hartford and kill two birds with one stone. She was having a great time. I was told later that she also spoke of the Sailor in question very movingly at the previous night's reception. I will have to check the program to see if there is any info there.
As people were wrapping up their BBQ, I was leaning on a jersey barrier and people watching.
A man came off the pier in a suit with a box under his arms and walked toward a group of Sailors in NWUs. I think the Sailors were some sort of security. The man shifted his box and shook the hand of each Sailor thanking him for his service. Then he continued toward the opening in the barrier near me and I called out "Now come over here and meet me." Of course he did. I shook his hand and said "I'm Maggie" he smiled and told me he was Charlie. I asked what he was did and he downplayed. I laughed and said "Charlie, you have a box and badge and a list. You are doing something. Are you on the commissioning committee?" He said he was and I complimented them for their web page and Facebook page. Charlie told me he was retired Navy and he was from Missouri. LOL! Clearly. He asked if I was local and I told him I was from Boston. He asked if I would say "Harvard Yard." Now normally when people ask me that I say "Yes, I can" and walk away. But Charlie was just so darn cute, I had to say it for him.
After that, we all headed out. But there may be another adventure with Wendy next weekend....stay tuned!
Someone posted a video link on the Commissioning Committee's Facebook page. It is pretty much exactly my view. If you were to peek over the shoulder of the 3rd Sailor from the left, I was in a chair directly in front of him.
Here is a story on the commissioning from