Our group became stronger, and our bonds tighter, over the next couple of years. We renamed ourselves "The Cul De Sac" because one day one of us declared, "Dang it...I wish we all lived on a cul de sac together. Then we could just hang out in someone's living room and do this." We celebrated births, we cheered each other on through down times, we gossiped and clucked. In 2005, we all took a big leap and decided to meet IRL (that's in real life, I just figured that out about a month ago. So now I'm going to use it). A bunch of us gathered at one boardie's (that's what you were called back then) house in Dubin, Ohio. Turned out to be one of the best trips of my life.
That's how I know Sarah. And that's how I got to know her son, James. In our little group, we often posted pictures of our kids, bragged about our kids, bemoaned the horrific behavior of our kids...you know the drill. We watched our kids reach and pass countless milestones on that little chat board. James was four years old when I first "met" him.
Our little group started to wane after a while, life got busy for all of us. There was a divorce or two, one of us moved out of the country, others left the glamorous world of eBay for other jobs. For a while, we didn't keep in touch.
Until facebook, that is. Say what you want about facebook, but man does it bring people together. I remember oohing and ahhing out loud as all of the Cul De Sac ladies posted pics of their kids, now bigger and taller and doing crazy things like riding two-wheelers and learning to drive and going to middle school and high school and college. Those little kids we used to chat about back in the day, they were all growing up.
My friend Sarah is a single mom. When Big Daddy first took off, Sarah reached out, offered advice and let me know I wasn't the only one dealing with an ex-husband and all of the side effects they can cause.
James is her only child. I remember when he was little, and Sarah would post things about him, I'd feel a twinge of jealousy now and then. How nice it would be, I'd think, to be able to devote all of my attention to just one kid! And devoted, she was. That kid was the sun in her sky. Her love for him was obvious to anyone who spent even just a few minutes gabbing with her.
Last April, on Easter Sunday, James told his mom that he wasn't feeling well. I clearly remember her posting about it on facebook: "He's so pale! I'm taking him to Urgent Care in the morning." By the end of that week, he had been diagnosed with leukemia.
I don't have much experience with leukemia. There was a boy in my Sunday school class a ways back, who had survived leukemia, not just once but twice. Survived it so well that there were some Sunday mornings I wanted to throw a Bible at him (loveable smartass). So as awful, and shocking, and scary as the news about James was, I felt like this was something he would defeat. I sent Sarah a message, relayed to her the story about my Sunday school kid, and told her James would be ok. James would get through this.
And he did. It wasn't an easy feat. There were scares and chemo and infections and sickness. But at long last, one day Sarah posted the good news. The cancer was gone.
He had done it. He had kicked cancer's slimy ass out the door. Recovery is never easy, though. He had to have a bone marrow transplant, there were hospital visits and tests and procedures. But we, her far-away friends, thought that the worst of it was over.
Then something happened. You obviously know something happened, otherwise I would be writing about yoga pants or some stupid celebrity crush or my own kids.
He had complications, and complications on top of those complications. He was admitted back to the hospital.
And all the while, I kept thinking, "He's gonna beat this. He will pull through. He's going to go back to school and sports and being a goofy 14 year old kid." Because that's how it always works out, right? The good guys win in the end.
James died today. He was 14 years old.
He loved South Park, baseball, The Walking Dead, chocolate milk and video games.
Sarah had some spiritual conflicts while James was sick. She questioned things, and eventually decided that religion wasn't for her. Every once in a while she'd post things about it, and it made me uneasy. I judged her for it, I'm ashamed to admit. I thought, "Why would you question God?".
God, I'm questioning you today. I'm questioning why you would do this to a kid. Why you would do this to his mother, his father, his grandparents.
James spent the last couple months of his too-short life in a hospital bed. Being poked and prodded and operated on. He should have been swimming at his grandparent's house. He should have been playing baseball. He should have been riding bikes with his friends and getting texts from girls and watching zombie movies with his mom.
And Sarah, his mom? She shouldn't be making funeral plans tonight. Tonight she should be thinking about how fast the summer has gone, and maybe picking up big teenage boy socks from the living room floor, and telling James to GET TO BED.
God, I know that you work in mysterious ways. I know that death is a part of life, and that all of us are born with our very own invisible hourglasses hovering above our heads, each grain of sand part of a predetermined amount. I know that James isn't the first innocent to perish at the hands of some heinous disease and I know that Sarah isn't the first mother to find herself living the nightmare that losing a child must be.
I know all of this, but what I don't know...what I cannot figure out, is...why?
Rest in Peace, sweet James.
For me? It used to be...drumroll...the mancave bathroom. Yuck, right? But listen, crystallized urine and way too many used Kleenex in the trash (no comment) aside, that room has THE best lighting and the best mirror ever. I spent countless hours down there, with my contacts out and tweezers in hand. Only women of a certain age and hirsute ethnicity will understand why I loved that room.
But not anymore.
When I first took the tour of this house, given by my angel landlord Dan, the porch didn't even register a blip on my radar. Having never had one, I didn't realize what a fabulous little room a porch could be. I was more excited about the mancave. And that mirror....
But I digress. When we first moved in, the porch became one of those "catch all" spaces. You know, the spot you put the t.v. that's no longer being used, or the boxes that need to be taken apart for recycling. Every once in a while, I'd think that it would be a nice little space for a treadmill, or for summer sleepovers, but at that time, I had bigger, stinkier fish to fry.
I had no idea what that room was going to become in just a few short months.
At one of my winter hen parties, a friend of mine approached me with a sort of business arrangement. At that time I was still the unproud owner of the beastly Ford Excursion that was too big to fit inside the garage. So this friend, who owns a vintage/retro furniture business, asked if I would be open to her storing furniture in there for a while. Of course I said yes, and didn't think anything of it...until one day she showed up in my driveway with a little gift.
It was a patio furniture set, kind of beautifully hideous...there was a couch, two chairs, an ottoman and an end table. The wood was blond and heavily shellacked. And the cushions..oh the cushions. They were clad with a print that I can only describe as the bastard love child of Laura Ashley and Tommy Bahama. At first, I looked at it and thought, "Holy Hell."
Something happened to it, though, something magical and transforming, when I dragged it into the porch. It seemed to mesh with the old-school wood paneled walls and the indoor/outdoor astroturf carpet. Seemed to not only mesh, but also became...inviting. I sat down on the couch, put my feet up on the ottoman and for the first time felt the porch magic.
I invited some hens over, and as we were sitting there, soaking up both wine and atmosphere, we bandied about some names for this new gathering place. We decided that the furniture had a very "Golden Girls" vibe to it, and so the porch was christened: THE GOLDEN GIRLS PORCH OF LOVE. The love part was probably due to the wine, but whatever. Even without wine it's a love-filled space.
Eventually it became my favorite room. I start most of my mornings out here (I'm clickety clacking on the laptop there, right now!), enjoying my iced coffee and the quiet with my life partner/Walter. The kids and I sit out here during thunderstorms, safe from the rain and lightning but still able to watch Mother Nature's fireworks.
It's where I go when I actually have time to sit and read, all three Hunger Games books were devoured while I sat on the couch and ignored my kids. It's where the kids know to look for me when their frantic calls of "MOM? MOOOM?" are not answered immediately. It's also a wonderful napping spot, if it happens to be a day when my anal-retentive neighbor isn't running his god-forsaken leaf blower.
It's where an old beau and I reconnected a few weeks ago (reconnected by talking, again I ask, what were you thinking, dirty birds?). Did I mention that the Golden Girls Porch of Love lighting is super flattering at night? It is.
And the hens...oh yes. It's been the backdrop to so many hen gatherings I've now lost count. At one point, I think we crammed about 11 of us on the porch all at once. If these walls could talk, I'm sure they'd say, "OMG" or maybe "Have you no shame, ladies?" or more likely, "Why so long between showers, Jenny?". I've had weepfests on the porch, had celebratory cheers, comforted friends and likewise, have been comforted within the confines of these paneled walls. These cheesy cushions have enveloped the derrieres of the best friends a girl could ask for.
I think everyone should have their own little happy place, don't you? I'm so grateful that I have this one.
Ahh...a new weekly post. Thursdays are now my weigh-in days with WW (that's what all the cool kids call Weight Watchers, don't cha know). And last night I caught a glimpse of what life may be like for high school/college wrestlers. I knew the weigh-in was looming, and so I carefully plotted out my moves for the day: keep the sodium low. High protein meals and snacks. And water. I drank so much water I do believe I was sloshing as I walked. And then, around 8:45 last night, as I was settling in with Henry to watch episode 74 of Heroes (it only goes up to 77, people...I NEED A NEW SHOW), it dawned on me that I hadn't been ACTIVE yet that day.
So I told Walter to get his leash, and we set out for a fast paced waddle. In the dark. It was about 80 degrees then, with a humidity level of about 79%. Which means, the air was as full of water as my innards. We walked, my best friend and I, for almost an hour. Roughly 3, maybe 3 1/2 miles. When I got back home, I looked as though I had been a contestant in the world's saddest wet t-shirt contest (yes, here I go again. I promise I won't reference my nipples this time. Oops.). But like that little wrestler guy who is bound and determined to make his weight for the week, I felt good.
Last week I lost 4 pounds. I guess it's typical to lose a bigger amount your first week (according to WW, the average loss per week is between .5-2 lbs), but for me that seemed almost anticlimactic. Mayhap it's too many viewings of The Biggest Loser, and I imagined myself on that ginormous scale, clad only in a jogbra and bike shorts, with some fabulous number like "14" or "12" flashing behind me and shots of Jillian Michaels pumping her fist in angry approval...oops, sorry. I like to daydream.
Like I told Danielle, who shamed me with her amazing loss last week, by the way...like I told her, one of the things I'm going to have to learn with this whole WW experience is the fine art of patience. Patience and me, we are a funny pair. In some regards, I have tons of it. I can sit back, like one of those spiders who dig tunnels and just wait. Just....wait. But in other situations, I am so very much like that ADD-riddled kid you see in the checkout line at Target, you know, the one with the mom who looks like she needs a stiff drink and a vacation? I'm like that kid, jumping and spazzing and talking100wordspersecond. I want results yesterday!
But it's not like that. It's not going to be like it was in my 30's, when I'd strap the babies into the double stroller and walk to the park a few times a week and ten pounds would come off in a nanosecond. This time around is going to be tough. One thing I keep reading about, that of course worries me, is the role stress plays in weight loss (and gain), especially for women of a certain age (ahem. That would be Middle Age). While the daily stress doesn't seem to be as gnawing as it used to be, it's still there. I wonder if I've just become accustomed to it, or if I've actually learned to deflect it? I'm guessing the fact that I put on about 40 pounds in just over a year's time could mean that my version of deflecting something is to eat it. But that's neither here, nor there.
And since this is now "Weigh In Thursday", I'm going to weigh in on something that I read this morning. The cast of Modern Family is pulling a very Friends-like move and banding together (well, at least the grown up actors are, not the kids) and actually suing the producers of the show (20th Century Fox Television) for more money. The link to the story I read is right here.
Here's the deal: I can only imagine what it's like to be in their positions: you are a relatively unknown, hardworking actor. You get a chance on a new network series, and you sign a long contract because it's a network series and it looks promising. At this point in your life, you've had bit parts in some mediocre movies, you've guest starred on some other network shows...but this is like the Brass Ring for actors, right? This is steady work with a nice paycheck. So you sign the contract and hope for the best. And BAM, the best happens. Your show is a smash hit. Like, Diet Coke-and-Got Milk?-commercial-successful. You see the studio making tons of money off of your hard work. So you want more money. Who wouldn't?
But here's the deal: these people are saying that $4 million dollars a year isn't enough. And that's just what they've been offered for this upcoming season.
Disclaimer: I've only watched the first season of Modern Family, and random episodes here and there throughout the other seasons (it's on Wednesday nights, when I'm busy teaching my confirmation class...praise God). And from what I can see, the success of that show is due mainly to the writers. I mean, yeah..the actors are very good at what they do, but without their amazingly talented writers they'd be just another ensemble cast with very pretty sets (I want the Dunphy house).
What I'm saying is, it's no Arrested Development (and look what happened to that kick ass show). You know what will happen though. The stars will keep their tantrums going, the exasperated
Oh and one other weigh-in...apparently Kristen Stewart (the wooden actress who has bored us through several Twilight movies) has had an affair with the married director of her last movie, "Snow White and The Huntsman" (which I still want to see because I have a mad girl crush on Charlize Theron). But you know what? She's really, really sorry! And she cried a little bit when she said she's sorry! And the director tweeted about it. His wife and kids mean the world to him. And he's also really, really sorry. So I guess it's all ok now. Sweet Mary and baby Jesus. Sometimes I can't stand the world we live in.
Ok. It's now almost 8:00. Weigh in is nigh. I will post this now and then check back with my progress...here's how I've seen some of the ladies do it on the WW forums:
Week 1: 4 lbs.
Week 2: 3.8 lbs. YEAH BABY!
To be updated soon.
Until then, have a swell Thursday, people.
Now I have some guilt about the stuttering thing. Maybe I should just go ahead and out myself as a nervous stutterer...it's true. I stammer and trip over words when I'm nervous. Or tired. Plus I get an eye twitch, so you can see how attractive I must be in high-pressure situations.
Before I completely expose my insanity, I'd better get to the ten:
1. So I took Walter out for a walk today, you know, trying to be ACTIVE as part of my Weight Watchers routine. And about 5 minutes into the walk, it started sprinkling. Nothing awful, but of course today I was wearing a white t-shirt, with a pale pink bra. As we progressed, and as the rain kept falling, I began to silently freak out about my shirt becoming transparent. Because I live in Mayberry, RFD....everyone knows everything about everybody. And the last thing I want people to know is the size and color of my nipples. Thankfully, just about at the time I started to cross my arms and head home (crossing arms quite a feat when holding the leash of a 75 pound dog), the rain stopped. Nipple neuroses, over. Phew.
2. Speaking of being ACTIVE, I went to the gym yesterday. You know, to be ACTIVE. It's only been a couple of weeks since the last time I was there, but I felt really weird and exposed and well, fat. I go to the Y, so it's not like one of the meat market gyms, where tiny-assed yoga milfs do the elliptical next to buff marathon men, but still. I felt really gross. And the fact that every time I got up from a machine, I had to quickly wipe off the capital Y shaped sweat mark left by my sweaty butt and girly bits wasn't helping. I couldn't help but wonder what people were thinking as they saw me waddle from machine to machine, and then hauled ass on the treadmill. I wonder if it was anything like this:
Is she fat, or pregnant?
Wait..she's kind of old to be pregnant.
Her face is pretty purple..should I go ask if she needs help?
I have never seen a woman sweat like that before.
Who left the sweaty capital Y on the seat of this machine?
3. We are about two months into our life without cable television, and woooot! we're still alive. I decided to keep Hulu Plus, even though it is a glitchy mother effer. In fact, I tried to watch Teen Wolf on there the other night (the MTV show, not the movie...wait...do I sense some judging? IT'S GOOD!) and had to stop it because of the constant freezing. I found out that they have actual humans who answer their customer service emails, even the really bitchy ones, so that's a good thing.
4. Rest in Peace, Sherman Hemsley....this is one honky who loved you and your show back in the day.
Look at him with Weezy! This picture gets me a little teary. I remember, clear as day, looking up at my mom and asking her, "What is a honky?" while we were watching the Jeffersons. I was little, but man...I thought that show was great. I kind of wanted George and Louise Jefferson to adopt me. Like a reverse Webster or Diff'rent Strokes.
You don't hear a lot of honky these days, do you?
5. Here is my favorite Weight Watchers tip I've received yet, courtesy of my friend Tricia (who lost over 100 lbs. and is a BLAZING inspiration to me...seriously, she's amazing):
They are available at Costco (at least here in Minneapolis, I think Tricia said she can't get them in her state)..and let me tell you, I am in HEAVEN. If you're craving a brat but are watching fat and calories, you need to get these IN YOUR BELLY. I had one, and used half of a Brownberry whole wheat sandwich thin, for a total of 4 WW PointsPlus. For those of you not in the WW cult, that's pretty amazing. I'm full from one (even though there is a voice inside my head screaming PLEASE GRILL THE REST OF THEM AND PUT THEM IN YOUR MOUTH). Tricia gave me some great serving suggestions: cook, cut up and throw in with some pasta and veggies, put some in with eggs, put them on little pizzas...there are endless ways to get these things from the package to your mouth. Nutritional information here.
6. I'm re-watching the series "Heroes" on Netflix right now. And you know what's sad? I spent a good chunk of time fantasizing about how awesome it would be to have a super power that would enable me to remember things so I could kick some ass at trivia. Now that's sad. But wouldn't that be awesome? Never again would the name of the guy who played Zach on Saved by the Bell trip me up (Mark Paul Gosselaar, duh)
7. William and I saw Spiderman a few nights ago, and yes I loved it (I love me some Spidey). I was skeptical about Andrew Garfield playing Spidey but you know what? He did a great job. Something was bugging me during the movie though, and when I got home I took a look around the interweb and found this:
Dude looks just like Anthony Perkins (for my younger readers, damn you, he's the guy from Psycho). Weird, huh?
8. A couple of weeks ago, someone stole my bike, and William's bike from our driveway. Yes, it's my bad for not making sure they were in the garage, but they were about 20 feet from our front door. I filed a police report, and the lady cop (I like lady cops) told me the bikes could be covered on my renter's insurance. So I called my State Farm guy, and that's when I discovered that I don't have renter's insurance. Even though I called him and thought we had it set up ohh...around TWO YEARS AGO. So it turns out I'm paying almost $100 a month to insure my 2006 Ford Focus, and nothing else. Time to part ways...any suggestions for a new insurance company?
9. I'm thinking about firing up the grill right now and eating another sausage.
10. I can't not say anything about the shootings in Aurora. It makes me sick, and sad, and angry that it happened...my heart broke when I read the stories of the people who were killed. And now I wish the media would do the right thing and STOP reporting stories about the piece of crap who pulled the trigger. They need to not give him any attention, not give him any air time, not publish pictures of him in the paper or on websites. Give him a trial, lock him up and let prison justice prevail.
You know, on some level my heart breaks for him, and even more so for his parents. But what he did was awful and evil and he shouldn't be the top story or the featured story or the exclusive story...he shouldn't be part of the story. He needs to just go away so the families of the victims can mourn and so that the survivors can heal. And so everyone can move on. Somewhere out there is another whackadoo craving attention, any kind of attention. Let's stop giving it to this one.
Oh, and one more thing...I have submitted a very rough draft of what could become my book! My friend from high school, you know, THE AUTHOR wanted me to put together a few posts, like maybe 10 of them, and arrange them into little themed groups, like "The Beginning", "The Hens", "Circling The Drain". I think I ended up using about 70. He's reading it now, and so far, he says it's good. The next step is The Polishing Step, where someone corrects all of my hideous grammar errors (I realized, while compiling and organizing posts, I am addicted to the word "that". It could be a drinking game to play while you read this blog. Every time you see the word "that", take a sip). After that, it gets sent to a few people. And so on, and so on.
The ball is rolling, my friends!
And that's the ten (plus). If you are a fellow blogger and want to get in on the ten action, get it written and then link up at my bloggy friend Lin's page, right here.
Now, it's sausage time. And sadly, that's not a euphemism.
Yes, I'm paying for it. I felt that old indignation creeping up on me as I looked over all of their membership options. Of course my cheap ass wanted to do the "Pay As You Go" plan, but there was a catch: With that one, you didn't have free access to the online tracker thing (they call it eTools). So I chose the Monthly Pass option, which is going to run about $45 per month. I think that's kind of high (oh really, broke ass? Shocker.) but here's the deal:
More importantly, I'm sick of being fat. If you've read my blog with some regularity over the past two years, you know that I struggle with many things. Finances, guilt, interpersonal relationships, etc. But I think the biggest struggle, the struggle that never seems to get any easier, is my fatness.
I've tried so many things, from my awesome friend Faith volunteering her Wellness Coach services, to using My Fitness Pal, to just plain old self-flagellation. All of them worked....for a while. And this isn't saying that any of those options aren't great, in fact, I know that they work. Faith has clients who have had absolute success, My Fitness Pal has hundreds of testimonials on their site, and just about everybody knows someone who has conquered the Fat Demon armed with nothing but sheer will-power and a dash of self loathing.
But not me.
The last time I lost a significant amount of pounds (about 70, to be exact) and was at my lowest weight and looked my best, was when I was on the Divorce Diet. I wish I had started blogging back then, so I could look back and see what was going on in my head, but all I have are fuzzy memories and few pictures of a much slimmer, smiling me.
I do remember this, however: I was so sad. Not sad about being skinny, God no. But sad because my life had changed, and changed radically over just a few months. Part of my weight loss then was an effort to woo my absent husband back, to try and get things back to "normal". I was desperate and delusional.
Don't get me wrong, at this point I would gladly take a few months of desperate and delusional. Anything, really, just to get back to that point where I could look at myself in the mirror and not want to cry or scream or go buy a bag of salt and vinegar chips, turn down the lights and eat all of my bad feelings until my fingers were coated with a vinegary crust.
But I know that being desperate and delusional is not conducive to healthy living. And I know that going through another divorce is not possible. Back then, back in my skinny days, I didn't eat much. I drank lots of wine. And margaritas. I viewed food as the enemy, as part of the reason my life had collapsed, part of the reason I was now facing a very uncertain, very scary future. I blamed food, and myself, for everything bad that had happened.
And here I am today. I have obviously overcome my hatred of food (lol). I'm not going to publicize my current weight, because if I did that I think my keyboard would start smoking and arcs of fire would start shooting from the monitor. Let's just say it's the biggest I've been, ever. And I mean even bigger than I was when carrying 10 pound fetuses in my belly.
I've written before about how I've let the fat control my life, how it's made me a prisoner. A prisoner inside fat girl yoga pants and 3/4 length sleeve tunics. Blah blah blah, right? But it's done more than that. It's like my brain and heart are prisoners, too. It doesn't take a degree in psychology to see that a lot of us fat girls are using all those extra layers to insulate ourselves, to protect us from whatever it is that we think is going to hurt us or challenge us or expose us. I haven't sat in a therapist's office for quite some time, but when I did, and when that therapist started peeling back some of my layers of crazy...it was terrifying. I started remembering things, bad things, from my past. Things that I think altered my brain, and for sure altered my soul. I don't know how big this piece is in the fat puzzle, but I think it's a pretty significant piece in the puzzle that is my life.
HOWEVER. I'm slowly learning that the past is, well..passed. You can't go back and change things. You can't relive events, or alter them in hopes of changing the present. You can't unscramble an egg, ya know? All we have is the here and now, and the days ahead. It's up to us to make the most of them.
I'm choosing to live in the present. For a melancholy, "what if" kind of gal like me, that's a big choice to make, and not an easy one. Living in the present means letting go of the past. Not forgetting, mind you...I think forgetting what has happened in your life is being disrespectful to yourself. Rather, it's akin to a photo album. You are absolutely entitled to go through it now and then, to walk through the memories like they were a field of daisies, to inhale the phantom smells of years long gone. But you can't paper the walls of your life with those images. Keep the walls current, if you will.
And it was with those deep thoughts in mind that I followed one of my BFF's urgings, and joined Weight Watchers. I've spoken at great length about my friend Danielle, she of the silvery tresses and luminescent skin. She's also struggling with her body, like me. And like me, she has also tackled the Fat Demon, and for a while, was svelte and slender, just like I used to be.
She did it with Weight Watchers. Now, I'm not going to speak for Danielle here, or make assumptions about why or how she gained her weight back. It's not like it's an unusual occurrence. Millions of "diets" are started every Monday morning, and by Monday afternoon I'd bet half of them are finished. It's what makes Jenny Craig and the CEOs of NutriSystem and Weight Watchers and health clubs and the docs who perform gastric bypasses employed and wealthy. Bottom line is, she's right there with me as far as the fat thing is concerned.
So we went together, mentally holding hands (ha, sorry Danielle, but we were, right??) and walked into the Weight Watchers center. Stepping on that scale, in front of a complete stranger, was like one of those dreams you have where you're sitting in a lecture hall or a restaurant buck naked. It was humiliating, and heartbreaking and yet...it was kind of affirming. It felt like I was finally, after all these years, being honest with myself. And the lady who recorded my weight, she didn't gasp or start laughing or dry heave or anything. She clicked a few keys, attached my little sticker to my Weight Tracker and said, "There you go! You're all set!".
That was 10 days ago (yes, Friday the 13th. I certainly like to tempt fate, right?). I had my first weigh in last Thursday morning and had lost four pounds. When the lady looked at me and said, "Good job!", I felt like a million bucks. If I had a tail, it would have been wagging.
Now, I don't put much faith in the numbers game. In fact, it was just a couple of months ago that I broke down and bought my very first scale. Seriously, the first scale I've ever owned. And after calling the suicide hotline when I stepped on it for the first time (ok not really but damn...that was an eye opener), I figured out that my weight can fluctuate by as much as 5 pounds in a day. So I don't know that I'm 100% sold on the scale. But, if nothing else it's a way to chart things. And I like charts. Charts show progress, or lack thereof. Charts are tangible proof that change is (or isn't) happening.
So now I am a member of Weight Watchers. I couldn't, and wouldn't have done it without my friend by my side. Having Danielle do this with me has been invaluable. She was the one who fielded my "I'M STARVING" texts the first week, she's the one who knows how many points are in the iced coffee I need every morning, she's the one who turned me on to pre-cooked brown rice in steaming bags (5 points for a cup, yo). If you're thinking about doing this, I'd highly recommend doing it with a friend. In fact, I'll be your friend, if you want. Just let me know.
Thus begins my latest Adventure in Weight Loss. I'm learning a lot, learning something new every single day. It's given me some invaluable insight into the mysterious dark cavern that is my brain. I'm figuring out why I want to eat (boredom is number one, stress is number two). I'm figuring out what time of day is my witching hour (between 3:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon, and of course after 10:00 at night). I'm figuring out that any fears I had about alcohol and my consumption of it are unfounded: given the choice between a glass of wine or a bag of 94% fat free popcorn? Popcorn wins, every damn time. I'd rather eat my points than drink them, thank you very much. Booze is FATTENING, friends.
I'm also learning that living in the present is ok. And not as scary and overwhelming as I thought it would be.
My best friend from high school wasn't able to make it to our 25th class reunion a few months back. We were gabbing on the phone one day, and I tried to fill her in on all the juicy details...who's looking good, who's not, weight loss/gains, divorces, marriages, etc.
I told her how one former "It Girl" seems to have lost "it" somewhere along the way. This girl was wanted by boys, envied by girls. Good grades, good hair, good life. But no one ever went to her house when we were young. Her dad was rumored to be very mean, very strict, her mom to be a little nutty. Sometime between then and now she has tripped up, made some bad choices and has ended up in a place far different than anyone could have predicted. Let me clarify that I'm not dissing her. She's a nice woman, and she's trying hard to get things back on track. It's just surprising when someone seems to have had everything and doesn't live up to everyone's expectations.
Then we discussed how maybe her home life was not so good. Maybe there was a reason no one went to her house. And then we felt ashamed for even talking about it. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors? Maybe she's been trying to escape the demons of her childhood for these past 25 years...maybe she just gave up. Doesn't matter. It's not our business, not anyone's business.
And then my friend said: "I still think it's amazing that you grew up so normal." I laughed, thinking that she was referencing my parent's divorce or my sketchy teens. "Really" she continued, "I still remember some of the stuff that happened to you and to this day it makes me sad." Now I was intrigued. What in the world was she talking about? Sure, I had a stepdad who wasn't exactly Mr. Rogers, but I was a smart mouthed kid. I talked back, rolled my eyes. But all I could recall was some yelling, a couple of shoves and slaps. A coffee mug thrown at my head. That's all.
My friend went on. "I will never forget that time you and I were watching t.v. and your stepdad came in, threw you down on the floor and started kicking you. I mean, kicking the shit out of you. I can still see you scrambling on the floor, trying to get away. Trying to get to your room." At this point it was as if she was reading a passage from a book. This wasn't me, this hadn't happened. I stopped her, and said, "No way. I totally don't remember this happening. Are you kidding?". She said, "Seriously? I can still see you crawling away. It happened a few times while I was there. I still remember just standing there, thinking how surreal it was. I never told anyone, no one. Not even my parents. We were 13, I had no idea how to process it."
And then I started remembering. I remembered the pain. I remembered the shame, the embarrassment. I remembered the rage.
My dreams were filled with horror that night. Horror and fear and a sadness so big and huge and black that I woke up in tears several times. I saw my mom standing there, watching, doing nothing. I saw his eyes, so filled with hate that I thought he would kill me. I remembered huddling on the floor, next to my bed, my Laura Ashley comforter wrapped around me as I rocked and sobbed. "Go apologize to her" I heard my mom say, and he would come into my room. Face still red and beaded with sweat, big meaty hands still clenched into doughy fists. "I'm sorry" he'd say. "I'm sorry."
You know what? Me too.
First of all, let me say, YOU GO GIRL! I love it. I love everything about this story. I love that she's taking advantage of the world's short attention span and selling fridge magnets (she jokingly says on her website, "Hey, if I sell 40,000 or so magnets I can buy my own house"...lady, don't be surprised if that happens...just saying). I love that her tool of an ex actually consented to having his indiscretions put out on the laundry line for the whole world to see (seems a little off to me, but you know what? Doesn't matter.). I love that by doing this, she has stirred up dialogue in the media about the epidemic of husbands leaving their families for other women. And I'm not kidding when I use the word epidemic.
Have you read some of the comments on that Yahoo article? Or on her blog? Every other comment is from someone just like her, someone just like me, someone just like the women who find my blog every single day looking for some help or advice or just some company.
The other comments, sadly, seem to be from asshats who say something along the lines of, "Well look at her. She's fat. No wonder he left."
Really? I mean, REALLY? Is that an acceptable excuse now, a valid reason to commit adultery, to go outside of a marriage and ultimately destroy a family?
When Big Daddy first broached the fact that he was having "icky feelings" about our marriage (about a month before he officially walked out), I asked him point-blank if he was seeing someone else. He denied it so vehemently, and actually looked so horrified I had even suggested such an awful thing, that I let it go. The next thing I asked him was, "Is it because I'm out of shape?". I will never forget this...we were lying in bed, the room was dark. The head of our bed was in front of a window and there was just the faintest, silvery beam of moonlight filtering in through the blinds. I looked over at him, waiting for his response, and in the dim light saw his profile slowly nodding up and down. Affirmative.
Did I get mad? Hell no. I got scared. I'm pretty sure I stopped eating, and began working out. But you know what?
At that point, it was already too late. By this time he had already done the deed, already jumped the shark...he'd already screwed the secretary. I could have turned myself into a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and it wouldn't have mattered (well, ok...that may be stretching things, but you know what I mean).
Before a man physically cheats on his wife, he does it mentally. I would love it if a man who has cheated would sit down with someone and go through it, step by step. I mean honestly go through it, not the same bullshit story of "Well I used to love her so much but then we had kids/she gained weight/my job got too stressful/she stopped supporting me/blah/blah/blah...and then I fell out of love. But I still love her, you know? Just not in the way I used to."
I'm sure studies have been done, articles written, talk shows aired, that have addressed the subject of Husbands who Leave. I don't have the time nor the energy to dig up any statistics or figures or pie charts, but wouldn't it be cool if a husband who cheated and left would actually spill the beans and tell us exactly what goes through their heads before they do the dirty deed? Is there a window of opportunity for the first wife to fix things, or is the marriage doomed from the moment the man finds his Plan B?
And is a wife gaining weight a valid reason for leaving? Is one spouse gaining weight over time enough of a burden on a marriage that the other spouse has no other choice but to ditch and find a new life?
I don't think it is. I think a real, solid marriage, one built on a foundation of love and trust and faith, is built to withstand something as horrifying as weight gain. I think that if you love someone enough to be in a relationship with them, love them enough to make babies, make plans for the future...I think that means you love them enough to stick around when their waistline thickens or they get in a workout slump and gain some pounds. Or have babies and find that their bodies don't snap back into shape as fast as Heidi Klum or Jessica Alba.
I think there are real men out there who love their wives for who they are, not what size jeans they wear. In fact, I know these men exist, because some of my friends are married to them. They love their wives no matter what size they are, and here's a shocker- some of them actually like their wives in a curvier form. I also have some friends who are married to guys who don't like the extra weight, but you know what? None of them have left because of it. They ask their wives to go on walks with them, offer to go to the gym with them or do South Beach together or whatever. They don't go outside of their marriage and seek comfort in the skinnier arms or between the thinner thighs of some other chick.
Those are the keepers, ladies.
But here's what really chaps my hide about the whole "If she hadn't gotten fat, he wouldn't have left" claim: it once again blames the wife, blames the woman for something the husband did. And it sends the wrong message to women EVERYWHERE. The message that if you look a certain way, you are safe from the sordid world of mistresses and affairs and cheating husbands.
Let's ask Jennifer Aniston what she thinks of that, shall we?
Jen (as I like to call her) was going through her messy divorce just about the same time I was going through mine. And just like when a celebrity is pregnant at the same time you are, I felt some sort of affinity with her. In my really pathetic moments, I thought how awesome it would be if she and were BFF's and could get together and bitch about our woes.
Me and Jen, walking our dogs. Jen: "Augghhh...you would not believe the text I got from Brad today. Told me that he's thinking about 'us' lately, and he wonders if he's making a mistake. What an ass!" Me: "Oh jeeze..I know what you mean. Big Daddy sent me this pathetic email last night. I'm pretty sure he was bombed, it actually sounded like a human being wrote it." Both of us: "LOL!!" Then we'd go do some pilates and have margaritas. /crazy
Ok so maybe that was just sad. But my point is, being thin or fit or gorgeous or wealthy or smart or a super coupon clipper...none of that is a guarantee that a man won't cheat.
Because the problem isn't YOU, my dears. It's them.
I know, I know...I bemoan the whole menstrual thing, and I do think that whole end of the deal sucks. But I really and truly will miss this honeymoon phase of the cycle.
I can read my body like a book. A very worn, dog-eared, stained up book, but a book nonetheless. When Big Daddy and I were in the family-building business, and it was baby-making time? I'd simply do some math, find the date on the calendar and write down "make baby". Seriously.
Now, here's my disclaimer: I no longer keep track of things like I should. My friends who are on the same cycle will testify that they get monthly texts from me asking, "Is the tick about to pop? Because I feel like I could cut a bitch today." And yes, men who are reading...we ladies do talk about this stuff. I also now know for a fact that God has a sense of humor, because my daughter and I are on the exact same cycle...TO THE DAY. You gotta feel some sympathy for the poor boys in this house. There are about three days per month when the mancave is a very crowded, very popular place.
But back to the ovulating: that's the fun phase. The few days of the month where life is so freaking AWESOME, where I don't see a plate and fork left on the floor of the living room like a direct insult, where I am 100% certain that everything will be just FINE.
My hibernating libido wakes up during these couple of days, which, when you are oh-so-single like me, isn't always a positive but hey, it's nice to know there's still life in that area. And it certainly makes dream time more fun. Last night I dreamed about two things: wearing my long down coat in the snow, and making whoopie with Ray Romano (I fell asleep while watching Everybody Loves Raymond, ok? Give me a break.)(at least it wasn't Kevin James..he was in the episode that was on...shudder).
Women's bodies are wired to be pregnant, to procreate, to keep the human race going. It's so animalistic, so primal. If you take some time to really get in touch with that somewhat annoying biological clock, it's actually pretty cool.
We are wired to mate during ovulation. It's like nature slipping us some rose-colored glasses and a hit of ecstasy. Today, I was in the kitchen measuring out salad dressing (I have started Weight Watchers...hooo boy you know I'll be boring you to tears with that tale in a day or two) and hand to God I felt like singing. I felt like Snow White in that scene where she's out in the forest and all the little woodland creatures are gathering 'round, chirping and smiling and hopping on her shoulders.
Anyhoo. So when this woman first told me of the news, that her husband was leaving her for someone new and shiny and oh so much better for him than her, I thought I had done what most of us would do in this situation: I picked a side. When you're friends with both parties, you try to sell yourself a bill of goods which goes like this: "I like both of them! I can be friends with both of them and it will be ok and not at all uncomfortable or awkward for any of us!". Bullshit. It's like trying to be both a Republican and a Democrat. Can't be done.
Or wait, can it? I suppose in the cases of divorce where it was a truly two-sided, even, amicable split...I suppose it can be done. I have another friend who is recently split, who has done just this: she and her ex are parting as friends. And knowing that, if the three of us ever find ourselves in the same space, I would totally be buds with both of them. Because I know that's how she wants it.
That said, in a situation like the one my aforementioned friend is in, I don't think it's so easy for people who are friends with both parties. I think a lot of people want to remain neutral, to stay in the good graces of both parties. And that mystifies me. I think when you remain on good terms with the spouse who cheats and lies and leaves, that is the same as supporting what they've done. I know, I've heard the rationale: "But what he does doesn't define him, Jenny, he's still a good person. I can't judge him, that's for God or Zeus or whomever to do." Again I have to say bullshit.
In my very humble opinion, it does define a person. Let's say, for example, you have a friend. He is a GREAT guy, a pillar of society, a stand-up dude. Let's say, then, that this stand up guy is found guilty of, oh...let's say animal abuse. Bad animal abuse, like dog-fighting caliber. Would your former opinions of him still stand? Would you still think that, deep down, this guy is still all that and a bag of chips? I don't think so. I think the act that he has committed has shown what kind of person he has been all along.
Same with these guys who leave their families for greener, more taut, pastures. And here come the waves of excuses: But there are two sides to every story! You don't know what he's been going through! I get it, really I do. I'm right there with you on the "two sides to every story" thing, really I am. I am always the first to say that my marriage wasn't perfect, that there are things I could have done differently, but there is never, ever any excuse to cheat. Never. I summed up my feeling about this in a post titled, go figure, "Such Bullshit". Click on the title if you want to read it...I was mad that day so it's kind of ranty, but I like it.
Let me just say that I don't condone ostracizing the offending spouse, or bad-mouthing them or doing any of that alienation junk. I have never once asked my friends to not speak to Big Daddy, nor have I asked them to keep their kids from seeing mine while they are in the custody of Big Daddy. That's not my call. Would I let my kids go over to the house of a friend's ex-spouse? It depends. It would matter to me if the ex-spouse in question did something I found to be questionable. I realize that doesn't matter to a lot of people, and I respect that. However, I know that I find it unpalatable that my kids have to be around people who have done crappy things, and if I had my druthers they wouldn't be there. But that's another diatribe for another time.
So back to the point of this post: When my dear friend confided to me that her husband was philandering, I thought I did what a friend should do: unfriend him on the facebook. Apparently, though, I didn't do it, because last night, before I settled in with William to watch Iron Giant (OMG please, if you haven't watched that movie, do so very soon. I forgot how completely awesome it is!) I perused my facebook for a few minutes. And I saw that my friend's soon-to-be ex-husband (they haven't yet started the grisly dismemberment process) was tagged in a few pictures. Being the nosy snoop I am, I clicked on them.
There he was, with his new lady (and her kids), enjoying a fun getaway to Florida. At first I was just all, "Ewww." and then I decided to read some of the comments people had left.
"OMG you guys are SO CUTE!"
"Good for you, man. Good for you!"
"WOW girl, you snagged a hot one!"
"So so happy for both of you!"
And I got mad. I got mad for my friend, who was home dealing with two teens while her a-hole husband was romping the beach in Florida with his new conquest (who, of course, looks A LOT like my friend. What is up with that???). I got mad for her kids, because their dad was on a vacation with some other woman's children. I got mad for all of us who have been discarded when I read the comments other people had left.
So I did what I think a lot of people think of doing, but don't. I left a comment. I wrote, "XXXX, I feel sorry for your wife and kids." That was it. Then I unfriended him like I should have a few months ago.
Was I wrong to do that? The pictures weren't even his, they were the girlfriends, but as one of his "friends", I was privy to them. And as one of his friends, I was allowed to comment.
When I was going through my divorce, when Big Daddy unveiled Secretary to the world, when they came out as a couple, I often wondered if anyone ever said anything to them. I wondered if anyone had the balls or the lack of tact (I'll admit that one right here, folks) or the integrity or the loyalty to call them out on it. I don't think anyone did. And I think that's a shame. Because I think this is another case where silence is interpreted as support.
I don't support this kind of activity, so I wasn't silent. Did I screw up? I don't think I did. It probably didn't come across as "HELL YEAH NORMA RAE YOU TELL 'EM" as I hoped it did. In fact, it probably came across as very bitter and shrewish. I don't care.
He sent me a message later that night, I didn't see it until this afternoon. It was an angry message, in which he told me to mind my effing business, told me that when I was dumped he was on my side, told me how dare I sully his girlfriend's photos with my bitchy comment. Then he told me to enjoy my life, and stay out of his.
Do you think I did the mature, emotionally-stable thing, and just delete/ignore? Of course I didn't. I had to write back. Because it's how I roll. So I wrote back (addressing him the way he addressed me, and also using the same "relaxed" writing style he did):
Yo XXXX, here's the deal 1 if that crap shows up in my newsfeed, it is my business. I've removed you from my friends and will go ahead and block you to save myself from further exposure to this kind of stuff. 2 Have Einstein fix her privacy settings...that way only people who support what you're both doing can see it and you'll only get positive responses. 3 thank you for your support during my dumping, it was appreciated. However, how anyone can go ahead and do the same thing after seeing what it does to the family torn up and left behind is beyond me. I've dealt with kids who became suicidal after Daddy left for something younger and shinier and newer, and let me tell you, it's not fun. It makes one angry and sad and when I see it happening to a family that I adore it makes those feelings even more tangible.
However I know you are in the honeymoon phase right now so nothing that I say will sink in.
I apologize for encroaching on your happiness, however I will never apologize for speaking up for women and children who are the victims of cheating husbands/dads.
You reap what you sow, ya know?
I will enjoy my life, and pray to all things good and positive and holy that you are able to enjoy yours.
I am thinking that people will be divided on this one. I'm sure that more than one person will tell me that I overstepped some lines, some boundaries, and you know what? I'm sure I did. But I am also confident that some other women, most likely women like me who have had their worlds ripped apart, will support what I did. There are women out there who will read this and wish that someone had done this for them, so that all of those people slapping the Big Daddys of the world on the back and saying "Congratulations" may see, for just a second, the wreckage that these men have left behind. And the friends of those women, the women who knowingly enter a relationship with a married man? I think they need to see, even if it's just for a moment, what kind of disastrous consequences come from "snagging" a married guy.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Just like I'm sticking to the couch right now. Even with the air cranked my pasty thighs are sweating like a whore in church.
Stay cool, friends. And stand your ground when you are given the chance. Or don't. I won't judge you either way. But someone will be grateful to you for doing it, that's a guarantee.
But now, back to the bitching about the heat.
I've held it together thus far, even with temperatures going over 100 degrees and the fact that the Grown Up Little Tykes car I drive DOES NOT HAVE FUNCTIONING A/C. Yes, I was yelling. I could take it in, and have it fixed, I suppose, but being that it's summer and I'm settling in for an interesting child support battle (yawn, right?) I've decided that the few hundred dollars it would cost could be better spent on other things. Like my electricity bill, and feeding my kids. Whenever it gets bad, like the other day when I waddled into Office Max and it slowly dawned on me that I had visible butt sweat marks on the seat of my faded yoga pants, I just mutter to myself, "This is a First World Problem...." and then I go home and read about something like the Rwanda genocides. That's when I realize that driving around in a hot car isn't such a huge pain.
And yes, I have now referenced butt sweat twice. Sorry. Just be thankful I'm not describing what I find in my cleavage after a day of driving and sweating. Because that's a whole 'nother realm of awfulness.
I've been lazy with posting, I blame myself and to some extent, my kids. We are down to one functioning computer in my house and that happens to be my old pink Dell. I've tried blogging from my phone but since that stupid Swype keyboard has a habit of changing seemingly innocent words like "party" into "pussy", and cannot recognize the words "last" (which invariably becomes LSAT, because yeah I reference law school so much) and "Hey" into "Get", I stopped trying almost immediately. So, I've been fighting for screen time with Henry, who likes to watch clips from NBA games on YouTube for hours at a time, and Charlie, who apparently likes to sit and refresh his facebook for hours at a time. William is an anomaly and is usually outside. Molly has her own laptop so I guess it could be worse. That's my excuse.
So here's the Ten:
1. I came home the other night and found my stainless steel martini shaker on the coffee table. It had some lemonade left in it. William walked in and said, "What? We were shaking our lemonade." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I think I did a little bit of both.
2. Yes, I saw Magic Mike. And yes, I have something to say about it. Soon. After I can get the image of Matthew McConaughey's ass crack and swinging, thong-encased package out of my head. Because listen, I love me some MM but I don't need to see anybody's body from that angle. Bottom line (pun intended): I loved it. Go see it with some ladies, a big old group if you can. And try to block out the fact that, if you're my age, you could have easily birthed at least two of the strippers.
3. Obamacare? I'm going to admit my utter ignorance. I have no idea what it means. I just know that half of my facebook friends were all, "Yeah! Thank God!!" and the other half were all "This is the end." I figure I'm going to be somewhere in between those, if I ever figure out what it all means.
4. If we're friends on facebook you've already seen this but it made me laugh, so here is it again:
"I used to put kids in these little seats."
5. My friend Danielle doesn't know this yet, but my friend Gillian and I have decided to cast Louis C.K. as Danielle's husband Charlie in the Happy Hausfrau Movie. All we need now is to hear back from Louis. And a big fat reality check.
6. Please tell me I'm not the only one who manages to plump up during a heat wave? How is this even possible? It's hard to BREATHE, and yet I'm finding the strength to eat. I'm beginning to think it's time to make my videotape audition for "The Biggest Loser". Is that still on?
7. Aging is fun! Aging when you're part albino is even more fun. I have white, freckled skin (so sexy, don't I know it) and now I'm discovering what I first thought were syrup blotches on my arms and legs. Yes, I for reals thought I had blotches of syrup on my skin, even though I can't tell you the last time I ingested maple syrup. My kids do, though, and therefore I probably sit in syrup several times a day. But no, no dice. Not syrup. It's just weird old person skin. And yes, I did spend a nice chunk of time on WebMD looking at pictures of skin cancer. So far I'm just old, not cancerous. I am, however, regretting those years of slathering my shockingly white body with baby oil in a futile attempt to get tan.
8. Have I mentioned before that Big Daddy has an in-ground pool at his house? He does. And even though I'm pretty sure the only reason he bought a house with a pool was so the kids would want to go over there, and I think he's an asshat, I'm glad the kids have someplace cool to play. Even if it's only two of my kids, and it's only for 5 or so days a month. What makes me sad is that I'd be willing to bet he's spent more on that pool than he has on his kids (in both time and money). But, like I said, at least the kids have some place fun to splash for a few weeks in the summer. And I'm not bitter at ALL.
9. Some of my favorite people in this world are servers (or what we lay-people call waiters and waitresses). I have worn many hats, worked many a job, but have never ever been a server (unless you call throwing bags of peanuts and wrestling half-cans of pop from people in airplanes serving). I can guarantee you this: If I ever had to wait tables, I'd be fired within hours. Probably minutes. People can be a-holes, but put food in front of them, add some booze...the potential for douchebaggery is infinite. So I'd like to share with you one of my favorite "new" blogs (I use the ever-annoying quotation marks because I've read this blog before but now am a regular reader). It's called Bitchy Waiter and you can find it here. Be warned, Bitchy Waiter drops him some f-bombs, but you will most likely guffaw out loud. Especially if you've ever had to be nice to a stupid person.
10. THANK YOU for your post suggestions for my book-in-progress (so far it's a word document with about 40 words in it, ha). It's wild to see which posts people like, and I'm thrilled to the gills that anything I have written has had an impact on some pretty awesome folks (meaning YOU). I'll keep you updated on my progress, but I have to tell you, this is a daunting task. I used to picture myself sitting at a Starbucks, laptop open, fingers flying over the keyboard and a wry, all-knowing smile on my face as I typed out my Great American Novel. Never thought I'd be sitting on a dumpy Ikea couch, trying to ignore the dog scratching at the back door, the two kids wrestling under my feet and putting things like cleaning and personal hygiene on the way back burner. It's slow going but progress has been made.
Now I'm working on a title....any suggestions?
Ok people, I managed to invite myself and my brood to a little Fourth of July party, so it's time to take a shower...even though after five minutes in that little silver microwave I call a car, all showers are null and void. I guess it's the thought that counts.
Be safe, and have a fun Fourth. Cheers!