Friday, January 29, 2010

77 comments later...

I created a stir this week, a big one. It was on Facebook and really innocent enough. I was super duper hung over Tuesday and instead of my usual uplifting daily quote I updated my status with what was on my mind. (Big no-no for furture)

First I posted this: Lemme make sure I got this right. Just because I am not interested in you I must hate men or be a lesbian? Buddy, if my last chance for sex on earth were you or a woman, I will take the vajayjay. At least with a woman I would have a full head of hair to grab onto and I could avoid the stupid questions like "what's the ...wildest thing you've ever done?” Bang; dead douche walking. And he still almost went in for a kiss!

I was still clearly frustrated from Monday night's debauchery!

Second: Bottomless pit Tuesday over here at Hangover Hollow. 1 bagel and cream cheese, 8 cups of coffee, a 2 piece Church's Chicken lunch with double mashed taters and gravy WITH corn and fried okra (hangover remedy of champions) all before noon. Still hungry. (posted around 11am, not proud, just sayin')

I eat like a horse when I am hung over.

Third (This is the doozy that got panties in a bunch): Is it just me or does anyone else wonder where all of these millions for Haiti are really going?

I got 77 comments and 3 "likes". My issue is that most of these comments were politically driven. My friends come from all different walks of life and have varied opinions. This became a platform to hate on current reform, recent elections and become downright insulting to others' political views. WHERE IS THE FREAKING MONEY? I don't care who you voted for. I am very liberal in most of my views but perhaps this is one where I am more conservative. I don't see why our government, who has enough trouble of their own, sees the need to fork over millions of dollars to a corrupt government. This aid has been pouring in for weeks but we see little results on the ground.

Between the Hope for Haiti telethon, our government (in debt how many trillions?) and the millions of independent donors I think we can all agree the figure raised is upwards of 100 million. Does anyone have any idea the amount of interest earned on 100 million dollars, daily? How about this texting for the Red Cross? They are airing commercials on Clear Channel. Who is paying for that? Last I checked the Red Cross has out-of-hand administrative costs so something like $4 comes off the top of your donation to pay salaries, healthcare and for private jets. Where does the other $6 go? You can give an extra dollar anywhere and everywhere right now in the name of Haiti. Who is making sure that money get to the victims?

Let's be honest, for probably 50 million, you could level the whole country and start over. So where is the damned money? There is this little gem of a website: that makes you wonder when it is ok to ask where your money went. If you read long and hard enough it basically says you can't. In a few months you may get a general answer but nothing specific.

I am a giver. I am all about helping others. This whole scene reminds me of Katrina. I know they are not the same but the images of people in our country experiencing the same crisis did not evoke this level of concern. Our government did a terrible job of helping those in need here at home. I am not saying we deserve help more or less than the next person but shouldn't we take care of ourselves so we are better prepared to help others? We are not in a position as a country to help right now. American citizens are struggling each day. I talk to union workers who lose their jobs daily. I know many single moms who aren't sure where there next meal will appear from. I know Haiti deserves help. I know that, unfortunately, as Americans we are taught the best way to help is to send money. There seems to be a lot of money that remains unaccounted for. I am thinking the Haitians would do better with our prayers for a stable government. Or how about prayers that the relief we have already given will be received? How long will America continue to capitalize on this tragedy? I pray for a better way of life for them as they rebuild but I won't be sending my text to save Haiti anytime soon.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Me and Leigh-Leigh~The full story

Today is the 10 year anniversary of Leigh's death. I want to remember her always and many people ask me about our friendship so I tried my best to detail it here. Our story is a lengthy one so I broke it down into 8 parts. Here are the links to each:

Where it all began- Part 1

The early years- Part 2

Finding home- Part 3

Making friends for life- Part 4

Growing up- Part 5

The best of times- Part 6

LOST- Part 7

Changes deep within- Part 8

I love hearing other people's memories of Leigh and I know her mom does too so feel free to leave a comment of your memories, either on my blog itself or on Facebook, and I will share with the Gramlich's.

Changes deep within- Part 8

Losing Leigh rocked my world. I didn’t believe in God before she died and I hated him/her after. My old Aunt Louise was on her last leg, blind and sick when Leigh died. She met and loved Leigh like the rest of my family and for months after it hurt her deeply to think that God let her live in such a horrible state and took Leigh’s young life. Eventually it was Aunt Louise that convinced me there was a higher power, maybe not God, as people speak of the man but someone or something that knows better than we do. If Leigh was taken, there was a good reason. I think it helped both me and Aunt Louise to talk through this. She felt like there was a bigger job for Leigh in Heaven than there was on Earth. This is how she explained that old theory that only the good die young.

This theory really made me think. Leigh was way wise beyond her years so it made sense. She didn’t waste time on things. She embraced and enjoyed every second of her life on earth. This realization made me start to take stock of my own life. I wasn’t happy in my relationship. I was too young for where it was headed and it wasn’t what I wanted. I knew this before Leigh died. But losing her made me see that life was too short to waste time on what you don’t want. I could die tomorrow and this wasn’t the legacy that I wanted to leave behind. I thought long and hard about my decision. After 6 months I told Chad we were through and I got my very own apartment for the first time in my life. Instead of praying to God/spirit/Universe at the time, I prayed to Leigh.

During this time, my bond with Leigh’s family and friends solidified. We did fund raiser for Leigh’s house which required a lot of planning and together time. I don’t know how I would have gotten through without that time. I spent lots of time at the Gramlich’s house, my home away from home, and it never got less weird to be there without Leigh. Right up until they sold the house last year, I always felt her there. Sometimes that was what really drew me back.
Paul, me and Robin at one of the fundraisers for the Vivian Leigh Gramlich Cornerstone House
The fundraising committee

There are still times to this day that I can feel Leigh in my car with me. Like she is riding shot gun and just chatting away about something. I can FEEL her there. This might sound creepy to some of you but with the feeling of peace that comes over me, I know it is her. When Aunt Louise died and I had to read her eulogy I prayed to Leigh for support. I didn’t cry, stutter or miss a beat and everyone told me how wonderful I did. I gave all credit to Leigh.

They say the angels are speaking to you if you look at a clock and it is 11:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44…well, you get the point. This used to happen ALL of the time and still does when I am down or need that connection. It seems to happen a lot around the times I talk to the Gramlich’s, Joanne or Brooke for some reason. So many times I run into Leigh’s girls and know that she is orchestrating from Heaven. Just last week I was out with my friend Gina when Meaghan just appeared out of nowhere. I haven’t seen her in a long time and we just happened to be at the same place, same time. This wouldn’t be strange accept Meaghan is married with kids and rarely goes out. Not to mention she NEVER really goes to the city and that is where we saw each other. I know we could both feel Leigh in that one too.

I would have never thought 10 years ago that I would be able to look back on Leigh’s death with anything but grief. I am still sad. I miss her every day. I think about her, her parents and what they brought to my life so often. I think of her smile and her amazing blue eyes and it makes my mind go all sorts of directions. It is much like in one of the last episodes of Sex and the City when Carrie is leaving for Paris and she says to her girls; “I had a thought today. What if I had never met you?”

If I had never met Leigh I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn't be where I am. I wouldn’t have had anywhere to live junior year. I wouldn’t have met all of Leigh’s girls who have had such an influence on my life and are still friends of mine to this day. I wouldn’t have had the Gramlich’s words of wisdom at every turn. More than half of my life’s lessons would be gone. I wouldn’t have the faith in a higher power that I have. I might have married Chad or at least still be with him. I would never have learned my worth as an independent woman (or maybe it would have just taken much longer). I wouldn’t have the relationship with my mom that I have today. I wouldn't have the knowing that no matter what happens I can make it through. I woundn't have the ability on my worst days to stop, think and consider that today someone lost their best friend and what is going on with me is way less consequential than that. I wouldn't be able to go through life knowing that I have my very own angel, out there somewhere, has always got my back.

The month before I moved out of mine and Chad's house I visited my sister in Reno. We were driving up the mountain and I had a vision of this tattoo. My brother-in-law at the time new a great artist and so we made it happen. This was one of the best decisions I ever made. I love it when people ask me what it means and who she was. I once ran into a sorority sister of Leigh's in a bar. I had never met her but she saw my tattoo and stopped me to let me know that she had been touched by her as well.

I love you Leigh-Leigh. I miss you everyday. I thank you so much for what you have given to my life and I know that someday we will be together again.

LOST- Part 7

In the days and weeks following Leigh’s death my life was a haze. I missed a week of work at a job I had had since graduation. My co-workers, friends, family and everyone in my life were absolutely amazing. A guy at work that I didn’t really like painted a picture of a cross in a meadow and left it on my desk with a note about how much he felt for me. I visited Leigh’s grave almost daily. She would frequently send me signs that she was with me; sometimes blowing up my skirt or shirt while at the gravesite (who else would do that?) other times with just a feeling.

The Christmas before Leigh died she and her mom took gifts to the Youth In Need Cornerstone house for girls. Leigh was devastated by the conditions in which they lived. It was bare necessity, nothing pretty, girly or frilly and that just wasn’t acceptable to Leigh. She wanted to go out right then and there to buy new comforters, pillow, towels and décor for each girl. It just wasn’t possible.

After losing Leigh it was NECESSARY for us all to have something to put our energy into. Memorial donations were made to Youth In Need with whom the Gramlich’s had been active with prior to Leigh’s death. Youth In Need decided to dedicate the Cornerstone House to Leigh’s memory and take all of those donations to make it a better place. We had so many volunteers. We painted and fixed up the house and then went to work on Leigh’s original goal. Each girl got a comforter with matching sheets in their freshly painted rooms. There was color, light and warmth and it looked like a home. We got very close to the girls living in the house at the time. Tuesday nights became our night to go over there and make dinner. Whoever could make it went. Usually it was the Gramlich’s and some of their friends, Brooke, Joanne, myself and Tommy, one of Leigh’s old boyfriends. I don’t know who it helped more, the girls that were living there or all of us. It was time together in Leigh’s memory that we all needed to move on.

As time went by, it got hard to visit the house. I lived very close to where all of the girls went to school and the director and I worried that they would find out how close I was and attempt to run away to my house. Even after we stopped Tuesday night dinner, Robin still made sure every girl was adopted for Christmas and got everything on her list. Like I said, we needed this time. Youth In Need gave us healing and we gave them a whole new and improved Vivian Leigh Gramlich Cornerstone House.

The best of times- Part 6

Leigh and I talked almost weekly while she was away at school. Our lives continued to grow in separate directions but we always maintained the sisterhood we formed in junior high. When she was home on the weekend or for holidays we were together. We continued to celebrate the holidays as a family each year. The Gramlich’s house was just another stop for me after mom and dads.

My 21st birthday was our last party time together. I still have the gift that Leigh gave me, the top that I wore out that night. We got a party bus and went to The Oz nightclub to see strippers. We had a fantastic time! Leigh was a new woman compared to the girl I had known. We hadn’t been OUT together in a long time and college had definitely taught her some things. We danced in the cage that night (my first time) and we must have heard Back that Ass Up 10 times. We made it our song of the evening. To this day when I hear it I can see Leigh and Meaghan backing it up in the parking lot of The Oz before we went in. It is always at the top of my club requests even now.
At my house, getting ready to go out. I love this picture because it shows her goofy side!
Me and Leigh outside of The Oz, partying in the bus
Gettin' our groove on...
I can easily take myself back to this moment and it is one I use often when I am sad.

Our last Thanksgiving together I remember that Leigh, Joanne, Dawn and I went shopping while Leigh was home on break from school. We were an unlikely quartet to say the least but we had a blast! I remember being in the car that day and thinking “I will remember this day for the rest of my life”. We had so much fun! Christmas of 1999 Leigh called to tell me that she had gotten a puppy for Christmas. She told me he was only 1 pound and I remember hanging up the phone and thinking that I must have heard her wrong. I went to meet this puppy, now known as Tanner, and Leigh was a different person. She was a mommy! Her parents had crumbled under her request for the dog. She cried because she wanted him so badly (which she didn’t do) and eventually Daddy Paul caved. Both of her parents were in awe of themselves for letting her have this dog that cost a small fortune. It wasn’t like them to just give Leigh what she wanted but she rarely asked for things either so they felt like it was a sign that they should. Almost 1 month to the day of my meeting Tanner, Leigh was gone. To this day I know Tanner is a saving grace to them and they never once regretted fulfilling that wish.

Our final conversation was the week before Leigh died. My dad and my sister had just started talking after 8 years of no communication. Leigh knew my family well and she was so excited for this reunion. Meaghan and I had recently started hanging out as well. Meaghan was Leigh’s friend from grade school whom I never really got along with before so she was happy to hear that as well. We talked for over an hour. There was no sign that would have told me it would be our last conversation. Leigh always told everyone that she loved them when she left or ended a phone conversation…always. We said our “I love you’s” and we hung up.

If you wish, you can read about the night that Leigh died here. Today is about remembering her life to me.

Growing up- Part 5

I remember defining moments of our friendship and our lives came when we lost someone we loved. Our freshman year our friend Andy died in a car accident. It is hard at any age to deal with death but we were just kids. We cried together and talked about what it would be like to die or to lose someone even closer to you. The summer before junior year while Leigh and her parents were in Ohio and I was staying with Joanne, our friend Clint died. We were even closer to Clint than we had been to Andy, Leigh especially. Again we discussed life and death, never knowing how close to home it would hit us both.

I moved out of the Gramlich’s towards the end of junior year and into my sister’s house. Leigh would come visit me there sometimes with friends, sometimes without. I remember a party at my sister’s house in April of 1996 where I met my ex fiancé, Chad. Leigh did a quick assessment on him and deemed him quality goods; he was wearing Tommy jeans after all! He drove a hot little red car like Jake Ryan from 16 Candles and she just ate that up. Leigh might be one of the main reasons that I dated Chad and, oddly, the relationship fizzled just after she died.

Chad and I moved in together very quickly and I still remember my conversation with Leigh about it. She was wise beyond her years and she said she felt like I was moving in for lack of a better option. She was right but I didn’t know that at the time. She wasn’t being offensive and I didn’t take it that way. She understood my dilemma even though she could not imagine being in my position, she empathized with me. In the end she supported my decision and visited our little apartment frequently. I went to school and worked full time while Leigh lived out her dream of what high school should be. Again our lives were in completely different places but we managed to stay close.

After graduation Leigh attended the University of Missouri at Columbia. My focus was survival at the time so college did not feel like an option. I lived vicariously through Leigh and her college experiences. I love to hear about her sorority, classes, life on campus and parties. She met some completely amazing friends on her journey there and I felt like I knew them all even before I met them. She was always willing to listen to me complain about unpaid bills, lazy boyfriends and working too hard.

Making friends for life- Part 4

Living together opened Leigh and I both up to new worlds. She was friends with a lot of the same girls from grade school that also lived in her neighborhood. I had my fair share of grade school pals as well. Then we both met new people in junior high and high school to add to the mix. I will never forget when Leigh met Joanne. Joanne was from Louisville (Lul-vul, if you are a native) and had just moved into the neighborhood. She had this ridiculous accent that Leigh was just drawn to. Joanne had a tough childhood and I know Leigh could sense that. It was another time that she reached out to someone with a completely different background from hers and ended up with a lifelong best friend. Meeting Joanne led to other new friends and before we knew it we were traveling in 6 or 8 different circles of people. Between grade school, junior high and high school, with 2 girls, there were a lot of friends over all of the time. I would hang out with Leigh and her friends and she would hang out with me, Dawn, Bri and Manda (to name a few).

Joanne, Leigh and Me

We definitely had our stupid girly quarrels. We would be very open with each other when we did not like someone but we always tolerated them for the sake of each other. We were like sisters in the sense that we could plot against the parental units. I don’t mean this in a bad way but I remember Jenny Higgins having a party that we knew the Gramlich’s would never allow us to attend so we came up with a huge outlandish story. I don’t remember how or why but Robin did eventually learn the truth (I think we broke the curfew we worked so hard to extend and then Leigh broke under pressure) and I am pretty sure that was the only time we were grounded.

During the time we lived together we also had Drama 4 together. One of my best friends, Dawn, was in the class as well. Our teacher called home on us because we were a distraction to others. He thought it was an issue that we lived together and had a class together. Despite the distractions, we both aced the class and solidified our love of theatre together.

Joanne, Heather, Me and Leigh after our production of Dark of the Moon

Finding home- Part 3

I had never had a home in the true sense of the word. My parents fought constantly and in front of us. I always felt like it was my fault when they fought over me. They made it very clear that we were inconveniences to their lives. I never once felt that way in the year that I lived with the Gramlich’s. There were so many firsts for me in my experience of living with them. We ate dinner as a family most of the time. Robin didn’t really cook but we went out or ordered in and ate together, as a family, no fighting. We had game night where friends would gather to eat, drink and have tons of fun! We had something they called “family meetings”. If there was an important issue or topic that needed discussing as a family, we sat around the table and talked it out. My family screamed and yelled. I had no idea there was another way until I moved in with them. It was the first time in my life that I felt secure and loved.

I had my own room and Leigh had hers but we slept together in my room most times. We would lie in bed for at least an hour each night solving the world’s problems. I can think back to those times and almost feel myself there next to her. She would throw her fist out and punch down the corner of my pillow so she could see my face. Every night I thought she was going to miss and hit me in the face. She never did.

Somehow with all of the privilege that Leigh had been raised with she understood those who did not have what she had. We were a very unlikely pair, Leigh and I. I never felt like she judged me or anything that I shared with her and I shared everything. I had seen so much of life, not necessarily in the best light, and Leigh still seemed wiser. I remember talking to her about my mom and my disappointment that I had nothing close with my mom to what she had with hers. She knew that and I always thought that was why she shared her own parents so freely. Now I think about it and I don’t really think she ever gave it a second thought. She understood me and my issues with my mom. She didn’t try to explain it away like most people either. She told me that she was the only mom I was going to get. Basically it was up to me to forgive and move on so that I had my mom or I could walk away and have nothing. My relationship with my mom immediately improved because I changed my outlook.

I had my license when I moved in with the Gramlich’s and Leigh didn’t so teaching her to drive became my job. He dad’s company had an old F150 with huge side runners on it that I taught her to drive in. She was an ok driver. Her issue was more not having a clue where she was going. For having lived all of her life in the same town, she apparently never looked up and paid attention while she was being driven around. Leigh could only get you to places that were close to a mall. We had many great adventures out on those drives. She called her mom once because I told her to take me to Wal-Mart, any Wal-Mart, and she couldn’t. She was crying and telling her mom how mean I was. It still makes me laugh to think about it today. There were those times that we had to take her mom’s Jaguar for her driving lesson. It was a V12 and every time Leigh got behind the wheel despite my lack of faith, I prayed. She always did fine.

The early years-Part 2

Me and Leigh, Freshman year. I think this was Pat Ruzuski's (sp?) going away party?
(That is a mini Meaghan in the background there with Damon Noel's back)

By our freshman year, Leigh and I were attached at the hip. We were kind of like the couple that you can’t think of one without the other. We celebrated every milestone, birthday, holiday and small occasion together. We had our first date together (with the Dave’s). We went to underage clubs, we almost contracted spinal meningitis and we said good bye to her lifelong dog, Rocky. When we weren’t together we spent countless hours on the phone together. I was always a relationship girl. Long-term relationships. Leigh’s interest in boys only went so far at that age. She wasn’t seeking that approval that I was, as she got it at home, so she was not and did not look for love in all of the wrong places like I did. She would date someone for a while, lose interest and move on. I always admired her ability to shrug things off and get past ill will or hurt feelings to be friends with the boys after. (Side note: Many of her pall bearers were old boyfriends. It was funny to see them all together. Even at such a sad time I could see her enjoying it immensely from her seat up above). She was never really serious about boys in our younger years. She knew there was way more out there for her and she didn’t waste time. I learned a lot from her about relationships. It took me a while but I look back now and wonder how she was so wise at such a young age.

During this time Leigh and I had a very close threesome friendship with Mike. He was a friend of Leigh’s from grade school who lived in the neighborhood. We were inseparable. We used to jump the fence to the neighborhood pool to swim at night (or skinny dip). We spent hours talking, laughing and just enjoying each other. Leigh and I even convinced Mikey to dress up with us for twin day. I wish I could find the photos. Mike is over 6 feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds even back then. He put on a tennis skirt, carried a racket and didn’t bat an eye. He used to let us do whatever we wanted to him. He did the best gay man impression I had ever seen before. Mike and I dated briefly in high school but our friendship always won out. I still talk to him off and on. We will always be connected by Leigh and those years we had together.

Mikey and Leigh at Homecoming (she always said she had Elvis lip here)

I left my parents house at 16 and moved in with my uncle for a while. Remember, both of my parents had moved from my school district so I was floating, if you will. After almost a year there, Leigh and her parents asked me to move in with them. They knew my situation at home and I think they just saw a child in need and could not keep watching it happen. Whatever their reason, I moved in with Leigh and her parents sometime between sophomore and junior year. Leigh went on vacation to South Padre with Joanne and I had her parents all to myself for almost 2 weeks. That is where my major bond started with the Gramlich’s.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Where it all began- Part 1

I went to grade school at Becky-David Elementary with Leigh. We had 4 cycles: A, B, C and D. We went for 9 weeks and then we were off for 3. Leigh and I were on different cycles which pretty much meant we were sworn enemies. These cycles might as well have been countries because we were much divided. There was no fraternization with other cycles in those days. Sometimes someone would step out of their cycle for a boy but that always created havoc. I remember Leigh in grade school from the lunch room and play ground. I didn’t know much about her but I genuinely disliked many of her friends. Leigh was raised in an affluent neighborhood where the families earned well over my lower to middle class parents. There was clearly a divide but she didn’t see it. I remember Leigh was MC of our talent show and her mom came up to school to fluff and accessorize her for her big debut. My mother was not so active in my own childhood and I yearned for a mom who supported and praised. I was impressed with Robin Gramlich from the moment I laid eyes on her. I don’t remember ever speaking to Leigh in grade school. I really don’t remember any direct contact. My only memory is really wishing that I had a mom like hers.

Fast forward to the first day of 7th grade and my 1st hour class is drama. I LOVE drama! Who is sitting next to me but Leigh Gramlich of the cycle B, bitches (yep, that is what we called them). I remember she said; “I love your sense of style. I always noticed your clothes in elementary school”. I was raiding my older sister’s closet everyday and I shared that with her. She had no siblings at home so she ate that up. Our first assignment was to pair up (clearly we chose each other, what kind of story do you think this is?) and make nicknames for our new partner. From that day forward we were known as Laughing Leigh and Talking Toni.

We hung out almost every weekend that first year of our friendship. My parents moved out of the school district the summer before 8th grade and Leigh’s mom offered for me to ride the bus from their house since there was no bus to my house anymore. Leigh and I were inseparable all through our 8th grade year. We found so many similarities in ourselves and also so many differences during that time. I was going through the recent divorce of my parents and she was an amazing support. It was the first time in my life that I had a home to come home to. At my house it was just me and my dad. No one got me off the bus, asked about my day or made me any cookies. I will never forget that first day off of the bus, Robin waiting for us both with open arms. She wanted to know everything! To my amazement she knew all of the players and she could flow with the conversation like I had never seen a mom do before. I asked Leigh later why she shared so much with her mom (I sure didn’t) and she said her mom was one of her best friends and they talked about everything. She wasn’t lying.

Way Back Wednesday- Photo booth

Leigh, Mikey and Me. I was just talking about Mikey's enourmous tongue recently and here it is!
All smiles here. The 3 of us were tight!
I love this picture of the 2 of us. I wish it were bigger.
Mikey, Me, Leigh's cousin, Eddy and Leigh (well, half of her!)
Joanne, Leigh and Me. God, we were young!
Leigh's mama used to hate it when we did this to each other. It was like our own personal "DUH"!
I can't help but smile when I see all of these! I still can't believe tomorrow is 10 years without her.

Vivian Leigh Gramlich
April 23, 1979-January 28, 2000

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I remember...

After writing yesterday's post I felt like I needed to come back today with something a bit more positive. I wrote this last year on the anniversary of Leigh's death. I think I just wanted to make sure I could remember her. Leigh's mom absolutely loved every bit of it. I hope you do too. Those of you who knew her will appreciate it.

Another year has passed us by again. Time does not heal all wounds. Losing someone you love is something that you never forget. Tomorrow, January 28th, marks 9 years since Leigh died. I have been missing her terribly for 9 long years. Those first few months I tried to concentrate on our memories together. I didn’t want to forget her face, her smile, our good times, the feeling of being with her. I didn’t want to lose that with her. It is hard sometimes to think of those times without letting the sadness of losing her cloud the happy memory. I was talking to Joanne this morning via e-mail. We don’t talk often but these are the times that we need each other and one of us always reaches out to find the other one there. In talking with her, I realized something. I didn’t lose Leigh. I carry her with me everyday. She is with everyone she loved. I feel her closer to me now than I ever did when she was alive. I also gained the lifelong friendships of her friends. I know that no matter where life finds us, Leigh has bounds us together…forever. I took some time today to really let myself remember. Here is just a little bit of what I still carry with me. I encourage you all to add your own thoughts, if you like.

I still remember:

The way your smile could light up a room or my day with just one flash.

Your Fred Flintstone feet and how much you hated squeezing them into stilettos.

The way you would pop your head back to expose the inside of your nose and ask “Grevits?”

How much you loved your parents.

Laying in bed and talking about school, boys and life until the wee hours of morning.

Twin day when we dressed as tennis players and got Mike to wear a tennis skirt too!

Our first date/double date with the Dave’s.

Our mutual love of green M&M's Coming home to the smell of cookies and your mom asking how our day was.

Getting busted for missing curfew and holding “Family Meetings” to discuss our actions.

The hot tub fiasco that scared us both so much we searched the house with butcher knives.

When you were MC at the grade school talent show and I thought you had the coolest mom ever!

Your dad driving us to school at Barnwell, prepping us for the future the whole way.

Family dinners at Applebee’s, Wiliker’s and Vivian’s Vineyard, to name a few.

My 13th birthday when you and your parents took me to Noble Romans.

That first day of 7th grade drama class when I realized you were not the snot I thought you were in grade school.

Hippie day; that picture will live in infamy.

I remember exactly how I felt when this picture was taken. We both loved the way we looked in it at the time and just looking at it takes me back to that moment and day in time.

Our entire routine to Leader of the Pack, right down to your revving of the engine in the background. And that Duke of Earl was the next song on the CD!

Our Language class nicknames: Laughing Leigh and Talking Toni

The first time we smoked together.

Summer nights in Brooke’s convertible, just looking for trouble.

The night you got “lost” in the Vineyards with Aaron Zinc and I came home to the front door hanging wide open and your daddy patrolling the neighborhood.

The way your eyes turned clouded blue with crystals when you cried.

Your unbelievable insight on relationships and love.

The love that you shared with not just me but everyone around you.

Breaking into the Heritage pool after dark and skinny dipping with Mikey Kortkamp.

The “little holidays” that were so BIG with you around: St. Patrick’s, Valentine’s and Mardi Gras. You loved to celebrate anything.

The school plays, NightClub and drama class with Linder. He was the only teacher in our history together with enough balls to call home on us…EVER! “Perhaps it isn’t a good idea if the girls continue to live together AND have classes together”

School football games when you would ask me to tell you when to cheer because you didn’t get the rules of the game.

Countless 3-way calls on your speaker phone in junior high. I am pretty sure we solved some world issues there.

Playing video games with your mom on your favorite rug in your room before bed.

Countless boy situations that I will not give personal shout-outs on but we experienced them, dealt with them and got over them together. Thank you, Friend!

My 21st birthday, in the cage, at the Oz. And oh, the strippers that night!

I am so glad I have these photos. This cage dancing shot is one of my favorites ever! I am a stage and cage dancer to this day because of Leigh!

Our last phone conversation and the message from it that I will carry with me forever.

The night that you died, being with Meaghan and Nichole…knowing you somehow had something to do with that.

How much you loved your girls and in-turn, I loved them. Still do.

The comforts that you sent me in the days after you died, through people, events and overwhelming feelings of love.

The day you suggested that I just move into your house with you and your parents.

The conversation we had about my parents and how no matter what they had done, they are the only parents that I will ever have. And it was up to me to make the most of that.

Figuring out that Lisa was gay in junior high and then the talk you had with her, YEARS later about it. They were all so nervous!

When my dog, Smokey, peed in your shoe.

Benson and Hedge’s Ultra Light 100’s…in a box, Please!

Your 13th birthday at Gramlich Electric when it was at the front of the sub-division. (Didn’t your dad run off some hooligans with a knife?)

Spades, Hand and Foot…many, many game nights.

8th grade: riding the bus from your house and Rocky’s whooping cough that year.

The night you called me and told me that Rocky had to be put down. We cried for hours together.

Welcoming Tucker home!

Tucker eating chocolate and us pumping his stomach. We went back to eating. He threw up and Joanne about died…all the while we ate our macaroni.

When you called to tell me you got Tanner and I thought I heard you wrong when you said he was 1 pound.

Countless Thanksgivings, Christmases, Easters and other holidays with you and your family.

How much your mom loved Halloween and made chili every year, if it was the only time she cooked. You loved that tradition.

The clothes we shared, some I still have, and the memories of shopping that I will have forever.

The accessories, oh, the accessories.

The way you shared your parents, grandparents and siblings without question and with all love.

Teaching you to drive in the F150 and then the Jag…quell nightmare? All you had to do was get us to A Wal-Mart; I didn’t even care which one. That ended with you crying and calling your mom to tattle on me.

When your room was in my room, way back in the day.

The way you hit the edge of my pillow so you could see my face before bed. I always thought you were going to sock me in the eye.

Getting ready for school in the morning…2 girls, 1 bathroom.

Your short-lived tennis lessons but oh, the tennis clothes you bought!

The parties we attended, the trouble we got into and the way we always knew we had each others back.

Riding dirt bikes with Dawes and Jay Laurent, we let them jump over us and rode with no helmets. What were we thinking?

Slumber parties with Joanne, Brooke, Meaghan and the gang at your parents’ house.

Realizing after talking to you that your mom was the first person I ever knew that broke the cycle and feeling your overwhelming faith that I could do the same.

Your college apartment and roommates, who were sensational!

The quite dinners with your dad when your mom was away with friends.

Experiencing loss together, talking about it and ultimately losing you. You have no idea the affect that losing you will always have on my life, everyday.

The friendships that were forged because of you, we had a friendship that we could go weeks or months without talking and it was always the same when we spoke. I have that now with your girls because of you. You have tied us together for the rest of our lives.

The ways that you helped me forget the past and look ahead to a better future.

Bingo to benefit Youth In Need, WE WON!

How your mom stressed the importance of always having your girls to fall back on, even when you do have a great man. How right she was! You knew that, even then.

The night of my mom’s bachelorette party when you got so excited over the strippers that you blew out the entire ass of your Z. Cavaricci’s, which I still have, BTW!

Yo, Viv, Babe!

Your smell, no soap, no perfume…just you.

Your faith in me and my abilities.

Your ability to see the good in all people and point it out to others.

The feeling of having you by my side and knowing we would rule the world someday.

Trying to teach you to cook.

Our conquest of older football players that ended up revealing that most of them were douche bags. Oh, the fun in that one though.

The trouble we made, the gossip we stirred and the hearts we broke. No matter where we are or what the circumstances, you were and will always be one of my very best friends. Until we meet again, my friend; I love you, I miss you and I will never forget.

"Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy." Author Unknown

Monday, January 25, 2010

Man Candy Monday

It has been too long! I thought with MLK Day being last Monday I should probably skip Man Candy out of respect. This week we are back in full force with a real deal lesbian as our lesbian lick this week! But first, Man Candy!

I first met this fellow when he played Eric Brady on Days of our Lives. Meet Jensen Ackles!

He was a guest on Dawson's Creek back in the day too.

Love his smile.

This is just goofy which makes him more sexy to me.

I like that he isn't scared to take of his shirt.

This is the kind of man I am looking for! One who reads with his pants half off!

He is a stage actor as well which is impressive to me.

Young and Restless

So serious!


He likes a serious pose.

This is just hot.

Love a man with a gun!

Looks like he's going to eat somebody up. Pick me, pick me!

Dirty, grrrr.

Sweet sexy


Ok, now on to our real deal lesbian. She is one of my favorites. Her and her wife actually. My sister is going to love this. Our Lesbian Lick today is Amanda Lee Rogers aka, Portia De Rossi!

I first saw her on Ally McBeal. I will never forget the first time she let her gorgeous blond hair down and wowed the world.

She was born in Australia.

As a child she worked as a print and TV model.

This is why she traded in Amanda Lee Rogers: "When I was 15, I changed my name legally. In retrospect, I think it was largely due to my struggle about being gay. Everything just didn’t fit, and I was trying to find things I could identify myself with, and it started with my name. I picked Portia because I was a Shakespeare fan (Portia is the character in The Merchant of Venice who comes to the rescue of Antonio and Bassanio in their time of need). De Rossi because I was Australian and I thought that an exotic Italian name would somehow suit me more than Amanda Rogers. When you live in Australia, Europe is so far away and so fascinating, so stylish and cultured and sophisticated."

She played a memorable lesbian in Nip Tuck as a guest roll. I mean the woman is just beautiful!

With her awesome wife, Ellen, on their wedding day. Look how happy they are! Do we really want to take this right from people?

She was named number 69 in Stuff's 100 Sexiest Women, 31 in Femme Fatales Sexiest Women of 2003 list, 24 in Maxim's 100 Sexiest Women List in 2004, and in late 2006, the magazine Blender listed her as one of the hottest women of film and TV. I cannot disagree.

She was married to a man from 1996-1999 as part of a plan to get a greencard.

Even her profile is gorgeous!

She is vegan. That must explain the perfect complexion.

She admittedly struggled with anorexia for 4 years while filming Ally McBeal.

Those early modeling years paid off.

Just a wee bebe!

She married her soul mate in 2008 with just 19 guests present. This is one of my favorite pics!