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Tales and Tidbits from the Desert...

Updated: 2018-01-18T04:15:55.100-08:00


8 Days In


Last Wednesday evening, I stood in front of my bathroom sink for nearly an hour... Just to practice spitting. Gross, right? Thankfully, I've since gotten my saliva somewhat under control. I'm no longer gagging or insistent that I'll drown in my own spit, but there is still an abundance. I have a sore throat, clogged ears and sinus pressure. Sounds like a cold, right? But I'm not sick. I'm beginning to wonder if some of the achiness I feel is from my salivary glands working overtime? Maybe creating post nasal drip or something. The first couple days I had brutal acid reflux like I used to get before my allergy shots. I go to the doctor tomorrow with any luck he'll provide me a better understanding of what's going on. I've never been so excited to go, I want my ears examined so badly. There is so much pressure, sensitivity, clicking, crackle and echo - I'm so over it. They haven't felt this bad since I had an ear infection two years ago. I'm actually hoping that there is an infection and all it will take is a round of antibiotics to begin feeling better. It definitely sounds like a better alternative than the source of the discomfort being this appliance or the latest TMD symptom. Fortunately, my speech improved fairly quickly. I could barely form words without gagging the first day. By the third, I could say most words. It just sounds like I'm chewing gum or sucking on a cough drop. Though, some words do trip me up and a lisp is occasionally clear. I practiced by speaking aloud, reading anything in sight. I have to speak slower and enunciate more, but there is no more gagging - thank goodness. My jaw just grows tired and saliva increases the more I talk. ...The more my throat hurts. I'm sure you can recognize the cycle. Anything with carbonation is somewhat soothing. Needless to say, my diet coke habit has doubled or even tripled.My teeth brushing, flossing and cleaning of the appliance routine is down to ten minutes from thirty. I've eaten a few things of substance like a burger from Freddy's and a grilled cheese. I tire easily and it takes me a long time and I rarely finish anything, but I can chew... sorta. I can eat soft noodles, I made chili thinking I could manage, but the chunks of tomato were too hard to chew. I pureed it and doing so provided great relief. The meal was no longer a chore. My hands and lips are dry as can be from (toothpaste) brushing 3x/day. I no longer snack and I drink protein for breakfast to save me one brushing. I've developed an ulcer on the right side of my tongue. It doesn't feel like there is enough room for it and this appliance in my mouth. I wanted to wait for the first adjustment to see if it helped the positioning. So far, today, it is better. But it didn't develop until the forth day or so, so I'm not confident that the problem is corrected. I fear once it settles in, it will bother me again.By settling in, I mean that when I first got the appliance it didn't seem to really fit. Pressure on my teeth was more intense and there was a large gap between the roof of my mouth and the appliance. As the week went on, the gap got smaller. The more snug it got less food was captured, my speech was better and my muscles relaxed a bit. I was feeling pretty confident yesterday. My discomfort was easing up, chewing wasn't quite as hard and my speech felt almost normal. I wasn't popping ibuprofen every four hours. Then, it was time for the first adjustment. One crank of the key and I was back to feeling like I did last week. Everything was harder again. I'm so tired today as a result. I'm afraid this will be the drill over the next 6 months. Which if that's all it would take, I could cope a bit easier. But I have an incredibly long road ahead of me. When I outgrow this appliance then, it's on to the next which is sure to have its own set of aches, pains and learning curves. Oh my goodness! Sneezing is the worst. I was a violent sneezer as it was, but now it's companied by the worst spray because I cannot close my mouth. It is the most awkward feeling. Let's pray I don't catch a cold. The tension i[...]

To Do List



And So it Begins


As I previously mentioned, some big changes are in store this year. The first of which has begun. I'm embarking on what's to be expected as a two year (maybe three) journey to correct my bite and provide relief and (hopefully) repair my temporomandibular joint. About seven years now, I've had TMD symptoms, but the severity has worsened in recent years. It's become a daily burden. Back in August, my symptoms became pretty severe hindering every day activities like chewing, yawning, kissing, etc. No matter what I tried to ease the discomfort, nothing provided relief. I was referred to a TMJ Specialist. I underwent a series of exams, tests and imaging. My issues were clear from the very first panoramic xray and everything else supported the diagnoses. First, I have a Class II Division 2 Malocclusion. My overbite is so bad, my upper teeth completely cover those on the bottom. I've chipped a tooth and the one next to it has become loose. My lower jaw has receded over the years. I also have significant damage to the left TMJ joint and both joints show signs of arthritis. The left disc is displaced and the condyle which is the bone that fits into the joint has been worn flat. Normally, these are rounded. When my jaw opens and closes it shifts to the side sort of like a misaligned jewelry box. This causes pain in the joint, ear, tension in the neck and shoulders and headaches. I have bone deposits on my skull from the tension - the muscle on the right side of neck is tight like a banjo. No amount of manipulation releases it. It is literally a constant pain in the neck. My treatment plan includes multiple appliances over the course of a year (or two) followed by another year in wire braces. Or in other words, I'm on my way to gilding yet another joint in gold. Yesterday, I received my first expansion appliance. This is a custom fit, with three sets of screws. I will turn only one for now once per week. This will push my two front teeth outward. Down the road, I'll start adjusting the other two which will expand/grow the roof of my mouth. Which is much too narrow. Once the expansion takes place, I'll transition to a twin block which will encourage forward growth of the lower jaw, and finally the braces will align everything as it should be. Correcting the bite will allow the joint to sit in the proper position which should promote healing. I'm told I should feel relief from TMD symptoms shortly because it will be under less stress.I'm only a day in, but right now, it seems unfathomable that it will feel comfortable to have equipment in my mouth 24/7. The only saving grace is that the appliance is removable. If it were fixed, it'd be a deal breaker. I'd have countless panic attacks if that were the case. I'm only to remove the appliance for cleaning when brushing my teeth. Currently, I have an abundance of saliva. I'm told this will improve. It is difficult to swallow and a challenge to speak. I keep practicing so I'm hopeful for a quick adjustment. Eating is the most difficult task. Only my front teeth feel free so little bites are all I can handle. But, I can't really push food again the roof of my mouth. It just gets stuck around the appliance. It feels awful and it is utterly disgusting how much gets caught up in the crevices and around the screws. There will be a large learning curve.Fortunately, sleep came easier than I expected. I thought for sure I'd drown from the amount of saliva and inability to fully clear it. But there was no gagging - so some of my troubles are more anxiety driven. Usually, I wake with a sore jaw and teeth. This morning my jaw felt more relaxed which was nice. However, I have a weird sensation in my ears. They were clicking like mad this morning, but it's improved throughout the day. My nose, upper lip have felt tingly and today I feel a lot of pressure behind my front left tooth. The tension in my neck feels higher today than usual and a headache set in last night and hasn't let up. Below you can see how differently my mouth closes in a resting [...]

Thoughts for the New Year



Another One Bites the Dust


I'm not sure how it's possible, but 2018 is here! It seems like only yesterday the world was a buzz for Y2K. Yet, kids born in 2000 will turn 18 this year. Freaky. Earthquakes, hurricanes, fires and floods, and most recently bitter cold. It is safe to say 2017 was rough! It was tough on Las Vegas with the 1 October shooting. Losing my dad so suddenly was hard on me. I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing good riddance to 2017. Thankfully, I had just enough grit to see me through.Even in the most shitastic years there are plenty of beautiful moments and treasured memories. I try to focus on the good, rather than dwell on the heart ache. Even if challenges outweighed my triumphs I'm extremely fortunate to have my home, my health and my core. Frank, Mike and Amy and the kids make me whole. To see them thrive and grow make all the difference in my world.It felt like I longed for trips on the calendar. The end of the year felt like a real drought, but we snuck in a few trips. Overall, we traveled far more than I had realized, with trips to San Felipe, San Diego, Cancun (Tulum, Mahahual, Xpu-ha, Akumal, and Playa del Carmen), Hualapai Mountain, Los Cabos (La Paz, Buena Vista, Los Barriles, La Ventana, El Sargento, Todos Santos, El Pescadero and Cerritos), San Diego (Tijuana), Chicago (Johnson's Beach, IN), Palm Springs, Chicago, Louisville (Frankfort) and finally San Francisco. After 20 years together Frank and I found something new - Hockey. Watching the Vegas Golden Knights has been a wild ride. The city was ready for a professional sport and they came when the community needed it most. We've rallied and united. The games are electric. It's been great fun. Dining has taken back seat, we're cooking more at home. But we still visited our favorites (Cleo, Joe's and Mariscos Playa Escondido) and found some new gems like Meraki and El Tamalucas.In 2017 we got started with home improvements by painting and adding shutters. There will be more to come in 2018. More importantly, we'll be improving ourselves.The past few years have really taken a toll on me. I'm hopeful 2018 will be magical. If nothing else more kind. Unlike years past, I've chosen a word to kick off the new year because I know there are big changes on the horizon. Resilience. With any luck it will serve me well, and provide encouragement and inspiration as I navigate these 365 days of 2018.And now, the notable of 2017 (local eats were lacking this year; so they've been excluded):Biggest Regret - Letting my dad return home in JulyDo More - That feeds my soulTRAVELSLife Changing - Carne Asada Tacos, TijuanaBest Eats - San Francisco it's such a melting pot; the best of every cuisine. SuppenkücheMost Disappointing - Baja Fish Tacos San Felipe CaboMost Relaxing - Farewell tour of Al Cielo, Xpu-Ha ENTERTAINMENTBest Song - Good Old Days, Macklemore and Kesha. Best Album - Divide, Ed SheeranBest TV Show - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, AmazonBest Concert - Rebelution at Mandalay BeachBest Movie - Slim pickings. Pretty sure I saw three and not one wowed me.Television Movie - The Wizard of Lies, HBO.[...]

My Sugar Plums





The Turkey with a Boob Job


Turkey Day came early for us this year. We celebrated with the family on Sunday because Frank and I will be traveling to Kentucky over the holiday. We will spend Thanksgiving with Frank's family. Bob and Hugh are hosting us. I sent my Sunbasket order to Bob's to assist with the meal. We arrive mid afternoon on Thursday so shopping was out of the question. I'm hopeful the meal kit will work out as beautifully as intended. The family is all in Kentucky this year, because Frank's cousin is getting married at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Initially, I wasn't going to attend because airfare was more than $700 on Southwest. I was able to reserve Frank a more affordable fare because we was able to stay until Tuesday. I, on the other hand, must be back to work Monday morning. Last minute, though, I was able to find fairly cheap fares on Allegiant. They recently started flying to Louisville, and their schedule doesn't allow flights every day, but for this trip, it was just what we needed. I cancelled Frank's flight on Southwest and rebooked him sharing my dates. It ought to be a nice time.A little over a week ago, I took requests for our Thanksgiving feast. Nick wanted glazed carrots, Jeff wanted asparagus and Frank requested a turkey with implants. What can I say, I like to make things happen. Jeff's request was the only one not honored, not for lack of trying, the asparagus at Albertson's was so thin it would instantly turn to mush. Our turkey was more obscene than I had intended, but it was all in good fun. When life gives you lemons, give your turkey... tatas.This year, I also coated it in a herb butter mask. I also tented only the breast after the first half hour at high heat for about 2.5 hours. Then, removed the foil for the final half hour to achieve even browning. The extras didn't make for a more flavorful bird. Nor did the lemon boobs. It was very moist, but some pieces from the breast were tough. I don't know if that was a result of my doing or not. I stand by loading the area between the skin and the meat with butter, it really does make a difference. I've had great success with juicy turkeys by doing it that way. These Bourbon Maple Glazed Carrots were pretty tasty. I omitted the dill. I probably could have dressed it with parsley, thyme or rosemary since I had all on hand, but it never occurred to me. I have a run of bad luck when it comes to mashed potatoes. One, I'm not particularly fond of them unless they are those by Joel Robuchon, but let's be real those are more butter with an essence of potato. And who does not like butter?! Mashed taters are such a staple I keep trying to find a recipe that works for me. I've tried ricers, whipping them and even the crock pot. Meh. I was going to scrap them this year, but I decided to make one last ditch effort by trying Pioneer Woman's Creamy Mashed Potatoes. They could be made in advance and with all that butter, cream cheese and cream how could they be anything but creamy? They were my greatest success to date, but they're miles from anything Robuchon like. I only cooked dinner for nine, which is far less than I prepared for last year. So, the day was much easier. Plus, Amy brought green bean casserole - um. yum, and Lauren prepared salad with mixed greens, cranberries, apples, walnuts, bacon, and feta. It was the perfect blend of sweet and salty. I rounded our feast out with sausage stuffing (technically, dressing), steamed broccoli and cheese (another of Amy's specialties), cranberries and yeasty dinner rolls. We finished with pumpkin pie for dessert. The biggest tip for your holiday spread is to invest in a electric knife. I received one as a gift last year for Christmas. It was thought to be blasphemous my kitchen was lacking one at Thanksgiving a year ago. And truly it was. Because this baby sliced like a dream, even right through the bones. Frank had t[...]

November Rain


The proceeds of my dad's condo were sent to me second day after closing. I was anxious to get the funds in the bank. I had received the EIN for the estate days before so I believed everything I needed to open his estate account was in order. I confirmed this with a phone call to my bank of choice and I was told to "come in", but when I showed up on a Saturday, I learned that the representatives that open estate accounts are only available Monday-Friday. It would've been nice if that was mentioned on the phone. Oh well. The agent set an appointment for the next Monday, and took copies of the documents to expedite the process. I arrived at my scheduled appointment and the rep sent off the documents to legal. This was after I received a call stating that I needed to bring in the originals because the copies would not suffice. Fortunately, I had them together already assuming that would be the case. All good - right?! Nope. The first snag was that one of the probate docs did not have a raised seal. Apparently, only a copy was issued by the courts. They were willing to waive it given the circumstances - court in another state and all, but then, they saw the other state was Illinois. This was a big problem. Illinois is one of the few, if not the only states, that require estate monies to remain in IL until probate has concluded. I was at a national bank with branches in Nevada, Illinois and in all likelihood the rest of the 48 states. But the appointment came to a screeching halt. The account would have to be opened in Illinois. Period.Um. Wow. I had numerous conversations with the probate attorney prior to this and she failed to mention this detail. Even when I asked multiple times that there was nothing that would require my presence in IL. Needless to say, I was frustrated. I've now made two trips to the bank that were a complete waste of my time. I've spent a great sum to date that cannot be reimbursed until the estate account is open and I'm able to draw from it. Worst of all, I was looking at the added expense of a trip to Chicago or attorney fees to find a work around.The universe took pity on me, I managed to find a flight to Chicago on Southwest the first week of November for $76 round trip. The fare was so inexpensive I easily had enough Rapid Rewards to cover it. Though, I was completely out of time off, my boss approved my two day absence given the circumstances. My only real expense was the rental car I picked up at Midway. This was considerably cheaper than the legal fees so the choice was easy, even if it meant - Chicago in November. Brrr. I faced a real chance of snow and blustery cold. There were frost warnings the week before my trip. I whined about it every chance I got, it was 80's in Vegas. I wanted no part of the cold. But it was there to greet me on arrival. It was an incredibly wet weekend too, but I was fortunate that the temps never dipped below freezing so I didn't encounter snow. Small victories. When I got into town I took the shuttle to the rental car facility. It was extremely busy for it being one o'clock in the morning. All sorts of high school kids and their families were in town for some sort of hockey tournament. You couldn't walk without tripping over a hockey stick. I happened to be (proudly) wearing my Vegas Golden Knights hoodie, but no one acknowledged it (boo). After sorting out the paperwork, I was given the choice of two vehicles in the lot. My first pick was a Mitsubishi which I quickly learned that it had bad brakes and a check engine light illuminated. So, that was a no go. The other vehicle was a Hyundai with a missing a back license plate. I was paranoid the whole trip that I was going to be pulled over. It was a relief when I returned the vehicle without incident. I know it was a busy weekend, but I really would expect better from Alam[...]

You know you're in Chicago when....



21 Days: List to Close


I left Chicago and returned home. It was only a day before we left for San Diego, but it was nice to have one night's rest in the comforts of my own bed. I had been away for 17 days, the longest ever from home and the most days I've missed from work. Two weeks had been the prior record when traveling to Italy and Ecuador. This Chicago trip was anything, but vacation. To say I slept very little while I was gone would be a major understatement. It's surprising I was able to function. I swear, I ran purely on adrenaline. Once I hit the ground running there was barely a break to take a breath. No joke."Winter is coming!" I was in real life, Game of Thrones. This condo had to sell before winter. I was concerned about the carrying costs, the risks of the unit being vacant, pipes freezing, the hot water heater leaking, the shower flooding and that just scratched the surface of my worries. After taking 10 days to flip my dad's condo, the listing agreement was executed on August 29. I wanted it on the market for Labor Day weekend, just in case eager buyers or looky-loos stayed home for the holiday. When it went live the next day, it was hard to sit back and wait. My home selling experiences have been far from the norm, and I have zero knowledge regarding IL real estate so I didn't know what to expect. It was completely out of my control, which made me anxious.Fortunately, the first showing came the next day. When people started coming to see it, I was eager for feedback. Very few left comments, the biggest concerns were the hot water heater and the windows. We were offering a home warranty and the asking price reflected the need for window replacement and bathroom repairs. I was hopeful the right buyer would understand this. Eight days after list, I received a call from our agent; she had multiple offers. Two were serious, one would be financed and the other cash. The cash offer was enticing. It would allow a lower commission, sell as-is, and it'd be quick to close. After discussing with Mike and Amy, we countered, and I was hopeful the cash offer would go to contract. Per my lucky stars, it did the very next day. Closing was anticipated 10 days later. Wow. I was speechless. Nothing is ever this easy. I just waited for the other shoe to drop, but no issues ever came. Illinois real estate transactions require attorneys; their coordination with the title company took longer than the suggested 10 days to close. I did everything in my power to make it happen timely, but it was scheduled for two days later. I signed power of attorney to the probate attorney's office so I didn't have to be present. That afternoon, I clung to my phone and email anticipating some sort of hiccup, but the transaction was flawless. The proceeds were overnighted the very next day.35 days to pack, move, flip, list, sell and close. I could finally breathe.Probate is a very public process so I've been fielding calls and mailers from all sorts of investors hungry to ease my burden. Some may be well intended; many are clearly not. I get it, it's business, but it feels so dirty to prey on the vulnerable. I take great pride when I inform them that the property has been listed and sold, the fizzle in their tone when I ask to remove me from their list thrills me. It's the little things...[...]

Our Flip?!


Mike and Amy headed back to Vegas, I stayed in Chicago to get the ball rolling. I didn't know how long I'd stay, I only knew there was a lot to do. I first thought I'd stay long enough to collect my dad's cremains. I planned to begin cleaning and sorting through my dad's place to pass the time - I figured I'd have to wait for probate to sell the condo. My hope was to drive my dad's car while in town, but his brakes were barely functioning. I had a friend that is a mechanic give it a look, it definitely needed brakes and calipers. Plus, a whole lot more. More than the car is likely worth. I thought I had no choice, but to extend my rental. However, my aunt kindly offered to let me use her vehicle. I quickly accepted knowing I'd be amassing a great deal of debt handling my dad's affairs. No will, no beneficiaries, assets and real estate meant probate was unavoidable. It was new waters to navigate. I was fortunate to settle my mom's estate with small affidavits and avoid legal fees. I gained a great deal of knowledge in Nevada, but I'd learn little applies in Illinois.In short, Illinois is racket. Everything is more costly and has more red tape. The cost for direct cremation, for example, was nearly double in Illinois compared to Nevada. That was after a slew of phone calls, too. The first few quotes through funeral homes were four, yes 4! times as much as we paid La Paloma in Las Vegas. It was a pill I couldn't swallow, we persisted. By cutting out the middle man, we saved a bundle by going to Skyline Crematory. They were professional, timely, compassionate and I was very appreciative they weren't out to take advantage at such a vulnerable time. I began by finding a probate attorney on Avvo. It's like Yelp, but for lawyers. I weighed options, got Mike and Amy's input and ultimately decided to get started right away. I pulled as much paperwork as I could for the appointment, and only had to follow up with a few items. The consult was a whirlwind. Naturally, I was overwhelmed. I have already carried the costs of my mom's estate since she passed, and the burden of my dad's was far greater. Cook County has incredibly high taxes, even for a modest condo in the 'burbs. Fortunately, there was no mortgage. But once you combine the taxes with the monthly HOA, insurance and utilities; I was looking to carry at least a grand per month. At least, I did not have to wait for probate to list the condo. I only had to wait to petition the court before I could sign the sales contract as representative of the estate. Initially, it was a relief to learn this, but it solidified the fact that I had an insurmountable task ahead of me. Time was of the essence. Though, I was grief stricken I knew I had to be practical and sensible. The attorney recommended a real estate agent. I followed up with her to gauge how to proceed. She was helpful and informative. The market has grown stronger, but it's no where near the level we are experiencing in Vegas. I also realized I was heading into the second slowest season for real estate sales. School was just about begin, and winter was coming. My fear was confirmed, I was in race against time. However, she was encouraging and said that life happens, even in stale markets. You just never know. My dad lived in his condo for 20 years. He was a smoker, he rarely opened the windows and never used the A/C. The condo was nearly thirty years old, it had been in our family since '93. My great grandparents bought the place for my aunt to live. She passed, shortly before my parents divorced. My dad moved in, inherited her belongings and collected his own over the years. My brother and sister had both lived with my dad for periods of time. M[...]

Golden Knights Fever



Practice Makes Perfect!




Then, There Were Three


Our family has weathered a number of storms. It's true, the past few have been the most difficult, but we've stuck together through it all. The bond the three of us share will carry us through the hardest times and propel us into the future of countless joys.In the days that followed our dad's passing, we were exhausted and stunned. There was only one place to dull the numb. Johnson's Beach was calling us home. It's where we spent a number of summer days. Nearby, West Beach was far more popular. I went a couple times with my aunt and cousins, but our parents were never ones to follow a crowd. They always opted for the path less traveled. I have no doubt it is where I acquired my sense of adventure. Growing up, my dad spent his summers at my grandparents home in Chesterton, IN. He spent many of days at the beaches that dot the shores of the Indiana Dunes State Park. He was most fond of Johnson's Beach and we too would develop a penchant for it.The dunes were unlike anything I had ever seen. Far bigger than any hills I had known. I'd struggle to run up as high as I could before my feet would tire beneath me, then, I'd fall to the ground and roll to the bottom while trying to tighten my smile to keep from eating a mouthful of sand. I brush myself off and try again. Rinse and repeat.I loved it most when storms were brewing up sizable waves. Big waves were my favorite. My best memory was in 1990, my brother and sister were small so they stayed behind with family. It was an incredibly humid day so we went to the beach. As the day went on the waves grew bigger and bigger. It was a struggle to swim to the sand bar like we would routinely do. The waves were so fierce in the afternoon we were easily turned into pretzels. It was positively fun. We splished and splashed having the best time. Mid afternoon the skies turned dark and electricity filled the air. Our wet hair stood on end. It remains one of the wildest sights I've seen to date. The ominous clouds signaled that it was time to go. We grabbed lunch at the Lure which was tradition. It was there were learned a tornado ripped through Plainfield, IL. It is the only F5 tornado that has struck the Chicagoland area. Watching the news coverage that night I recall feeling guilt that the storm delivered us the best of times, but the destruction was devastating for so many.Returning to Johnson's Beach proved to be more challenging that anticipated. It had been about 18 or 19 years since I had been back. I took Frank one summer just before the 4th of July. After buying fireworks at the nearby stand, we had a spontaneous day at the beach. Mike and Amy had been more recently, but it had still been a few years. Our memory isn't as vivid and the trees and brush have certainly grown over time. We eventually found our way. The dunes aren't as big as I remember them - the bias likely comes from being surrounded by mountains these days - it seems the beach has eroded too. Having less shore made it far more crowded than I can ever recall it being. The water was calm as could be, and painfully cold, to me. Though, others didn't seem to mind. That afternoon the three of us we sat in peace and reflected on the memories that were born here. Ones that will live on, and forever, be cherished.[...]

3-0 VGK!


The night began with a poignant ceremony that struck a balance of solace and celebration. As each player was introduced they honored first responders from our community with an escort to the ice. The lights dimmed for 58 seconds of silence to honor the victims of the Route 91 shooting. Their names appeared in a golden glow on the ice. I doubt there was a dry eye in the arena. It was moving and inspirational. I knew this night would be one for the history books, but I never could have imagined such a somber start for our Knights. However, having the team, fans and the community join together for this inaugural season home opener was just what the city needed to begin to heal.Once the puck hit the ice, it was game on! Two goals in the matter of minutes. It was nonstop action throughout the game. The energy in the arena was unparalleled. We'd go on to win 5-2 against the Coyotes, securing victory for our first three games. A first in NHL Expansion history. It was a night I knew I had to be part of, and it did not disappoint. frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="640" height="360" src=""> frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="640" height="360" src="">There you have it. Vegas Golden Knights hockey has begun. [...]

Two Months Ago


We were celebrating my sister's birthday a day early. She'd be working the actual day of, which she shares with my dad on August 9. I got the family together and we went to Shake Shack at the District for dinner. Afterwards, we headed back to my house to continue the celebration with cupcakes. Shortly, after we returned, my phone was buzzing. I had missed a call from my aunt that lives in Chicago. It was highly unusual for her to call, especially this late, as it was nearly 9PM PST. I immediately called back, my uncle answered - it is here, when my world begins to blur. Even, now, weeks later, it remains unclear.My dad was found on the floor of his condo unconscious by his youngest of three sisters. She had went over to tell him that the family would be celebrating his birthday the next day at Bartolini's. It's a favorite of my dad's, they have delicious calzones. My dad doesn't have a home phone (he stopped paying the bill years ago). Not a big surprise, he never did like the telephone. Amy gave him a cell a couple years back that he'll turn on for special occasions. The only sure way to get a hold of my dad was to go to his house. He'd appear after a few taps on the window. However, this night, he did not. Even though his car was home. My aunt knew something was wrong and had the neighbor let her in. An ambulance was called immediately. He has had no insurance since he was laid off from his job in 2016, where he worked for 40 years. Without insurance, there was no choice in hospitals. He was brought to the hospital Mike and Amy were both born in. The hospital has since been renamed and had a shift in management after bankruptcy a few years back. I actually thought it closed completely, but I digress. My aunt left my dad's condo, and met my aunt and uncle at the emergency room. After a CT scan and preliminary tests they determined my dad was in renal failure and severely dehydrated. He was too weak for further testing so they weren't able to determine more. They moved him to ICU, my aunts (and uncle) left when they had him situated in a room.After I hung up with my uncle. I had to explain the little I knew to my brother and sister. At least, we were all together. We immediately began searching for flights. Spirit had a red eye that left in two hours. We quickly decided to book Amy and I on that flight. Mike had just visited days earlier so he stayed behind to help with the kids. We quickly packed and made it to the airport with minimal time to spare. We opted for Starbucks at the gate rather than a beer, though, the latter was tempting. We were on edge. It wasn't that long ago we were left helpless traveling between hospitals in Pahrump and Las Vegas the day my mom died. And, when Frank's dad passed away, he died when I was mid-air. I was terrified my dad wouldn't make it through the night, and if he did, I was nervous about his condition. All I could do was replay the last time I saw him over and over again in my mind... It was three week prior, I reluctantly dropped him off at the airport. He didn't want to go, but he insisted he had bills to pay. But he'd tend to his responsibilities and then return to us (in Las Vegas) long term. He asked that I mail him driving directions from his house to mine. I had printed them out and mailed them the very next day. I hadn't talked to him since, but planned to on his birthday - since his phone would be on, special occasion and all.We didn't get a wink of sleep on the flight. We flew into O'Hare, I rented a car and then we drove to the south side. Thankfully, we were dri[...]



Still reeling from the death of my dad and the anniversary of my mom's passing, Sunday's attack has left me raw. I'm extremely fortunate that I don't personally know any victims. I cannot say the same for friends of friends or friends of coworkers. But having it occur miles from my home in the city I love, to have that monster in one of my favorite hotels, to have so many causalities on the grounds I've attended events... Needless to say, I'm shaken.

My brother is a huge fan of music and he attends concerts of all genres. He could have easily attended the show. If my mom was still alive there'd be a good chance they'd would've been in attendance. Just a week before the attack my brother and sister attended Life is Beautiful together. I immediately acknowledged how vulnerable they had been and then the Sheriff and MSM confirmed it. My heart sank.

The other night as I slept in my bed in the early morning hours with my windows open I awoke to gunfire. Frank was in the hot tub. I quickly texted him, "I heard gunshots!" He confirmed he heard it too. My heart raced. I paused for sirens. Meanwhile, Frank had already opened the police scanner app. Best we could tell it was a murder suicide. Though, it never made the news the next day.

I won't succumb to terror, but I admit being on edge. I was fearful of my own death since losing my parents. Not the actual event, but leaving those I love behind. Particularly, leaving my brother and sister without anyone to count on unconditionally. Nothing like becoming the matriarch to acknowledge your own mortality. I've since learned worse, yet, is being faced with the mortality of my loved ones. So many are facing just that. I ache for them.

I was eager to attend fan fest for the Golden Knights on Tuesday, but the event was understandably cancelled. This weekend marks the first public gatherings since the attack. Frank and I planned a quick getaway weeks ago. I needed an escape for my own well being. Now, I'm feeling a bit guilty I won't be in my city to show my support at First Friday or the unveiling of the Healing Garden or the number of other events planned for this weekend. I will, however, attend the home opener of the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. I shall rally, then.

Love What Matters



I've never been prouder of my city than I was on Monday. Everyone found a way to pitch in whether it be by a small or grand gesture. It was truly remarkable. Donations for blood, goods and services where not only met, but exceeded far beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Love was all around and kindness spread like wildfire. It warmed the (broken) hearts of our community.

Even when stuck in traffic during the morning commute due to I-15's Tropicana exit being closed in both directions, drivers were calm and allowed others to merge freely. As much as I love Las Vegas, I typically cannot praise our habits on valley roads. However, on Monday, kindness was also felt on our roadways.


Local efforts continued yesterday, though, it felt more "business as usual". Life does go on, so that return to normalcy is not only what many crave, but it's a natural continuum. I still felt a great deal of pride in regards to our community, but it was difficult not to be tainted by national media or social media. The sensationalism and circus made me sick. I understand that we all seek answers. They will come in time. Admittedly, I'm a huge skeptic. I question everything, probably to a fault. But. Goodness people! Have some decency and patience. There will be infinite amount of time to criticize, point fingers and push agenda. For now, Can't we just take a moment?!

I wish the media would focus on the beauty of humanity. Showcase the heroics that were displayed after this tragedy unfolded without being clouded by ugliness and judgment. I know, I know, I'm dreaming. But if you'd prefer to find the light in this dark time, turn to Love What Matters on Facebook. These are the real stories. The ones that need to be heard.

Vegas Strong


When the unthinkable happens it's hard to overcome the shock that comes from the situation. Last night was horrific as we listened to the events unfold, and today is quite somber here in Las Vegas. Frank and I were sitting in the hottub when news broke that shots were fired at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. He quickly opened his police scanner app and we heard the sirens from Henderson responding to plea for help. The severity of the situation became vastly apparent we began checking on loved ones. Frank also called his staff to be sure they were safe and secure. There was so much uncertainty of what was real and what was fake the casinos went on lockdown and shelter in place was enforced.

There were possible shooters at NYNY, Tropicana, The Park, Aria, Caesars, Paris, Harrahs and even as far as Circus Circus. Thankfully, all came back negative. A bomb was suspected at Luxor, but that was negative too. SWAT was immediately dispatched to Mandalay Bay and the property was evacuated. We could hear radio clips as teams closed in on the suspect's hotel suite on the 32nd floor. Shortly after we heard a blast and then confirmation that the suspect was dead. As details emerged and casualty count rose, I grew sick. For the next four hours we scoured videos, reached out to friends and shared information. I was so thankful that I was home and I knew my family was safe. I know far too many weren't so fortunate. The agony of the unknown still plagues them. My heart aches for everyone hurt by this attack.

I'm also incredibly proud of my city. Dispatchers on the scanner were amazingly calm and collected. First responders were on the scene quickly. Medical staff across the city sprang in action and today blood centers are overwhelmed with folks lined up ready to donate. A Go Fund Me was set up to assist the victims of this tragedy and over a million dollars has already been raised. The people of Las Vegas are volunteering their time and opening their homes, supplying food, water and battery chargers wherever needed. Cox has opened WiFi hotspots so people can connect as easily and quickly as possible. The outpouring of support shines bright during this dark, dark time.




Since the loss of my mom just shy of two years ago, I have learned that losing a parent is a wound that never heals. Still raw from that void in our hearts, we now know that the most painful goodbyes are those that are unexplained. Dad, you will be missed more than you could know. I love you. I'm grateful for our time shared and memories made, and I will hold those over the past couple years most dear.