Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Enormity of Forever.

I was talking to someone today about healthy lifestyles and how sometimes knowing better doesn't always mean we do better.

I've been on a quest for a few weeks now to improve my health, but it's not just about weight loss.  There's more to it than that.

If you're new to my blog or in case you've forgotten, my mother was completely incapacitated by Multiple Sclerosis before her eventual death from complications of the disease at the age of 61.  She showed symptoms of the illness in her late 30s.  She first used a wheelchair the night of my high school graduation and she never got out of it.  She went into a nursing home when she was 53.

While MS isn't considered hereditary, there are some genetic links.  I know that this is vague enough that I shouldn't worry, but it's also vague enough that I do.

And I should also point out that my age, 36, is pretty close to my late 30s.

Last year, my doctor diagnosed me with Raynaud's Syndrome.  Basically this is a condition where my hands and feet overreact to cold temperatures by not getting blood to flow to them.  My fingers and toes turn white and blue.  Sometimes they are numb; sometimes they hurt.

There are two types of Raynaud's:  Primary and Secondary.  Primary means that the syndrome occurs independent of another illness with no known cause.  It tends to occur in people who get migraines and can have flare ups after caffeine consumption and stress.

The other type, Secondary, occurs as a symptom of another illness like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.  Or MS.  But, you may say, you don't have any other symptoms of MS, so why worry?  Well, sometimes even though the Raynaud's is technically secondary, it can actually be the first symptom of the underlying disease and can sometimes occur 20 years before a diagnosis can be made on the disease the Raynaud's is secondary to.


I'm not saying that I'm worried I have MS.  I am saying I can't help worrying that I'll get MS.  I am saying that I have read enough about MS and Raynaud's to know that I am not living a healthy enough lifestyle to prevent real threats from becoming real problems.  I do not eat like someone who seeks to avoid disease.  I do not exercise like someone who wants her body in top fighting form no matter what enemy it's up against.  I put things in my body that will do nothing other than offer me some temporary enjoyment at the expense of long term suffering.

Very simply put:
  • I should not drink alcohol.
  • I should never touch another cigarette.
  • I should eliminate my caffeine addiction.
  • I should engage in vigorous exercise 5-6 times per week.
  • I should eat a plant-based, low calorie, low fat diet.  And I mean vegan, not lacto-ovo vegetarian.
There's no guarantee that making these changes would save my life.  There's no guarantee that not making these changes means I'd get sick.  There are just no guarantees.

But making the changes certainly wouldn't hurt me.  They can do nothing at all for me, but they can't hurt me.  I don't really have a choice, do I? 

My first thought is that I can do these things.  I can choose a different path and maybe I can worry less. But can I make permanent changes?  Can I change my habits and my diet for the rest of my life?  I know that I shouldn't think that far into the future.  How can I not though?

How do I not think about the enormity of forever?

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Tale of Three Pants

This is the Week 4 post for the Pish Posh Challenge.

In May of 2011, I What Not To Weared myself.  I tried to get on the show, but to no avail.  It became clear I was going to have to throw away my own deplorable wardrobe and buy a new one with my own money.  For those unaware, What Not To Wear is a show on TLC where two hosts tell you why you dress terribly, throw all your clothes in a garbage can and help you buy new ones up to $5,000.  The best part is they secretly film you looking awful and then ambush you.  I was always looking around for the secret cameras, but I was always so disappointed.

The good part about not being ambushed was that I had time to lose weight before my big day.  I had 20 weeks from the inception of this idea to shopping day, so losing 15 or so pounds should have been easy.  I lost 5.  Well, 5-ish.  Fine.  It was 4.

I purchased 3 pairs of jeans on my shopping day.  I should note here that I work in a very casual office and I wear jeans every day, every season.

One pair fit perfectly.  They weren't Skinny Jeans, but they were meant to be form fitting.  They looked really cute on, which is unusual for me and jeans.  Another pair were my fat jeans.  When I lost another 2 pounds, I was afraid I'd be retiring them early.  The third pair was cut in a normal way everywhere, but the waistband (not that they were elastic, mind you) seemed to be cut smaller so these were not jeans I enjoyed sitting down in.

By the time I started this challenge, the skinny pair and I weren't getting along, the weird waistband ones weren't even an option and the fat jeans were getting a bit snug.  Things looked bleak.  It was bad enough I had needed to buy fat shorts to get me through the summer, but now I was going to need more fat pants.

As of today:  The weird waistband ones are still weird, but they fit again.  The skinny pants fit again and my muffin top only protrudes over the top instead of trying to escape completely, so I can wear almost any of my shirts with them (as opposed to only the few tent-like shirts I have).  The fat pants are starting to become looser.  Sadly I still need new jeans because when you wear the same 3 pairs every day for 16 months, they tend to wear out a bit, but I'm going to give it a few more weeks and see if I can't drop a size.

Goal 1:  No alcohol during the week.  I've actually had none at all since 9/4.

Goal 2:  No take out/restaurant breakfast or lunch during the week.  I almost caved twice this week, but I held firm.

Goal 3:  Exercise 20 minutes per day. I missed 2 days completely.  One day I walked all day long on the boardwalk and at a museum with the family, but it wasn't "fitness walking."  I'm still counting it.  That means I've missed 2 out of 25 days.  This may be a new record for me.

Starting weight: 162.8
Weight as of 9/28: 154.6

That's 8.2 pounds!!  Someone get a camera, I'm actually smiling!

I'm going to keep the same goals for October, plus add 1 more.  I'm going to add in weights/strength moves 2 times per week.  My plan to set very small goals so I could attain them and feel good about my progress seems to be working.  I'm going to stick with that.  I had wanted to lose 10-15 pounds in the 8 week challenge and it looks like I'm on track to meet that goal.

Pish had a picture on her post this week that said something like, "If you're tired of starting over, stop giving up."  Well, if that ain't the truth.  I'm going to get that embroidered on a pillow.  I'm going to blow it up into posters and hang them up all over my house and office.  Actually I'll probably just try to remember it when I'm feeling weak or wanting to bail on my goals.

Every day I have two choices:  I move towards my goals or I can move away from them.  I won't always choose wisely, but hopefully I will more often or not.  Hopefully each choice becomes easier.

Wish me luck next week, you guys.  I'm about to embark on the worst week for a woman and her diet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Am Not Safe.

From the summer of 1991 to the fall of 1995, I slung ice cream and made Dilly Bars for the fine folks in the surrounding vicinity of the Rutherford, New Jersey, Dairy Queen.  I met many a character in my seasons there, but none were as disturbing as Ant Man.

Ant Man.  His name alone strikes fear in my heart.  It's important that I point out here that other than occasionally serving the man ice cream, I never had any real interactions with him.  He never said or did anything to imply anything was amiss or that I should be alarmed in any way.  His head was simply too small for his body.

Notice how skinny the body of the ant is in relation to the size of its head.  Ant Man was the opposite, thus making his moniker somewhat perplexing.  Just the same, the man creeped me out with his too-small head and I maintain that he reminded me of an ant.  He also reminded me the Shrunken Head Guy from Beetlejuice, but honestly, that's just a mouthful. 

So it was that wherever I went around town, Ant Man was driving along in his 1970s-esque pale blue car.  Mostly I saw him driving down the main road where the DQ was located and mostly I saw him around rush hour when he was likely to be driving home from work or something of that nature.  Nonetheless, I became convinced he was out to get me.  In all the years I lived in that area, I saw him probably hundreds of times.  Possibly all but 3 of them were while I was at the DQ.  

Surely you can see why I was unnerved. I mean, his head was tiny.  And he drove down the street where I worked!

Every time something went wrong, I conjured up an elaborate story for how Ant Man was to blame.  If he appeared at my DQ window, I would make up a task requiring completion in the back and force one of the newer workers deal with him.  I always warned them though.

"Don't trust Ant Man.  I mean, just LOOK at that head of his!"

They looked at me like I was crazy.  He seemed perfectly harmless to everyone, but of course he would.  He wasn't following everyone else around.  He was following me. 

Eventually I stopped seeing Ant Man.  He may have passed away, though with his exceptionally small head it was impossible to tell how old he may have been.  Perhaps when I quit the DQ he got thrown off and couldn't find me.  Perhaps he only followed me around when I was in his hometown.  I really don't know.  But I was relieved, that much I can tell you.

Relieved, that is, until just a few weeks ago.  As I was out for a fitness walk a mere 5 miles from the ol' DQ, a familiar looking pale blue old car drove by.  I didn't get a good look at the driver, but his hair was dark and his head did not look all that regular-sized. Worried, I sped up to get home.  I didn't tell anyone who knew me back in the day about this because I didn't want to scare them.

I can remain silent no more.

A week or two later, as I was out for a walk during my lunch break at work, all sorts of troubles befell me.  There were many, many bees hovering in the flowers that perfectly lined my path.  There was a squirrel fight.  A scary pit bull growled at me.  A rock fell from the sky and landed straight on my head.  Sure, it was only about an inch in diameter, but had it hit in just the right place, the results could have been disastrous. 

Also, since then, the sidewalks on my route seem to be getting more and more uneven causing me to trip and nearly fall every single day.  

This is no coincidence.  This is a calculated assault perpetrated by none other than, I suspect, Ant Man. Everything was fine until I saw someone who sort of maybe looked like some guy with a small head who I used to see many years ago.  

You can't convince me that I'm safe.  I know he's out there.  I just know it.

I'm linking up with some wonderful writers again this week.  Please stop by and read their hard work.  If you've got a great story to tell, we'd love to have you join us.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Woman and the Butter.

For as long as this story has been in my life, my husband has been making fun of me for it.  (If you haven't read the story, please do!)  Of course, he wasn't my husband at the time, but when you begin dating someone as a teenager, there's a certain amount of seemingly never ending teasing that goes on.  It's all good, and it's one of the reasons I love him so much, but I tell you, he has no respect for the story.

He will often yell out, "The woman!  She has BUTTER!" Sometimes he'll grab a stick and wave it in my face making ghost noises.  There have been times when he'll shout, "Watch out!" because the butter is out on the counter.  And a few times he has offered to console me in case the butter is frightening me.

I often squawk back that it is not about the butter.  I tend to use my best teenage girl squealy voice to do this.  If I was 25 years younger, you may accuse me of flirting.

"Yes, I know.  The woman. She walked through you.  It was scary.  I know,"  he says.

Then I call him names and life goes on.

The idea of writing about the woman with butter has been swimming in my head for quite some time and I couldn't figure out how to do it.  Starting out a blog post with "I had this dream once" is worse than starting a conversation like that.  A blog post you can click off of.  If I'm telling you a dream in person, you have to pretend to be interested so I can finish telling you.

I've always been afraid of writing fiction.  I can write from my heart or I can tell you a story in my own way that hopefully makes it interesting to you.  But making up a story is damn near impossible for me.  Or at least it is when I'm awake.

In the comments of the post, several people said I could make the woman with the butter into something more.  I'm very easily influenced, so now I'm thinking of writing more story for this.  I am not really sure what the story will be.  Will I write about the back story?  The 15 year time lapse?  What happened after the return of the woman?

Considering I didn't ask anyone if they thought I should expand it, I'm taking the suggestions as sincere and not merely friends blowing smoke up my ass.

And I kind of think it's funny that now I can torture my husband of more tales of the woman with butter.  That's as good a reason as any to expand a dream into something larger, isn't it?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Challenge Week 3: Muffin Tops and Music

This week's theme is muffin tops and music.  I don't have a muffin top, I have a bakery.  Oh wait, I was supposed to be nicer to myself.   Never mind.

As for music, I don't really listen to music when I exercise.  All day long I hear noise.  My kid or my kid pretending it's his stuffed Angry Birds and not him screaming, the TV, coworkers or the noise of a busy office...  By the end of the day I want to stick a letter opener into my eardrum because I just  cannot take the noise.  Remember the The Grinch?  All that noise, noise, noise!  Remember that's why he hated the Whos?  I get it.  I'd steal their Christmas too.  OK, maybe not, but I might mutter under my breath that I wish they would shut the eff up.  If you consult with my office-mate you'd find that all day long I'm audibly wishing people would shut up.  I bet it's really annoying for her.

My point on that tirade is that when I go out for my walk, I listen to nothing.  The background noise of cars or birds or pit bulls growling or squirrel fights is enough.  I do listen to the creepy robotic voice on MapMyWalk tell me how far I've gone and how long I've been walking, but sometimes I turn her down because she gets on my nerves, too.

When I was training for a 5K a many years ago, I listened to the Green Day album that was popular around the time, with that Batman song about the city streets.  I'm really bad with song names.  But it worked for my pace.  If I was going to treadmill train again I'd probably listen to that (on my portable CD player!) because I'm a creature of habit.

I've been sticking to my goals of no alcohol (none since 9/4) and not buying lunch or breakfast on weekdays.  I miss my friends at Chipotle and I think they miss me too.  I've been walking every day except Saturday, yesterday and today.  I'm really pissed about the last two days because I find it really irritating when my workload infringes upon my me time.

I'm going to come clean about numbers.  Really I'm coming clean about math skills.  Trying to be vague is making it harder to report progress.  Reporting progress helps to keep me on track and really what do I care if people know the number of pounds I am?  You can look at me and see I'm overweight, so I just decided it's silly to hide it.  My estimates were off in my original post because I can't do mental math, so here is the whole truth.

My healthy weight is between 98 and 128 pounds, depending on who you ask.  I'm just under 5' tall.  On Labor Day, I was 162.8.  Today I'm 157.4.  Two days ago I was 157, but don't tell anyone that I'm still weighing myself every day.

I haven't been 98 pounds since high school and I'm 36, so, um, no, that's not happening.  I was 128 when I found out I was pregnant in 2006 and I still felt like I could stand to lose another 5-10 pounds.  So I'm shooting for 120.  If I'm 125 in good shape (you know, muscle weight and all that jazz), then fine.  I know it isn't all about the numbers but I also know that without a goal weight, even a goal weight range, I'm going to stay where I am which is unacceptable.

I'm down 5.4 pounds.  At least I think I am, I'm too lazy to get a calculator.  To hit my goal, I have 37.4 pounds to lose.  There, now we're on the same page.

I reread this post and it sounds really grumpy.  I'm not going to change it and pretend that this isn't how I'm feeling.  I don't know if it's adjusting to a diet that doesn't include stress eating or a variety of other difficulties, but I am grumpy.  Maybe I'm grumpy from missing my walks.  Sorry for the TMI, but I'm ovulating and that makes me hormonal and grouchy.  (Anyone else get this?  I swear it's like I PMS twice a month.)  Normally I take out this aggression on food and the snack of apple slices and graham crackers I just had is just not anger management cuisine.  Give me a bowl of melted cheese and then we can talk.  Except don't give me a bowl of melted cheese because I need to lose 37.4 pounds.

I'm going to wrap this up.  My kid and I are going to go for a walk when he finishes his snack.  It's not going to be a real calorie burner, but it's better than sitting here complaining.

See you all in Week 4!

I'm linking up with Pish Posh for this Challenge, so go check it all out!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Only Logical Explanation.

I stood in the corner of her kitchen and watched.  She stood at the center island, her children on chairs by her side.  She was mixing ingredients as the children measured and poured.  It was a scene straight out of an old fashioned women's magazine.

The woman left the children to the stirring.  She opened the refrigerator and retrieved milk and eggs.  She moved a few things around and turned back to the workspace.  Her disappointment was apparent.  She told the children she must have forgotten to buy butter and the cookies would need to wait.  The children hopped from their perches and scampered off, running right past me yet unaware of my presence.  Their mother grabbed her pocketbook from the counter and poked her head into the den.

"I have to run to the market.  I forgot to buy butter," she announced to her husband.

She doubled back the way she came and exited through the kitchen screen door.  I watched her as she went across the wooden porch, down the stairs and down the dirt path.  Her house looked like a farm house on a prairie, similar to those I'd seen on TV.  I went outside and sat on the porch steps, watching as she walked farther away.  Her silhouette became smaller and smaller until she practically disappeared.  She walked a perfectly straight line, off towards the horizon.  I watched her until she disappeared out of sight.

I wondered where this store was because as far as the eye could see, there was nothing.  Just the path she walked, directly in front of me and in the center of my view until it met the sunset.

Time went by, but how much I could not be sure.  Days at least, maybe weeks and the woman did not return.  The cookies were never made.  Life went on.  The children grew up, their father grew older.

More time went by.  I was not a part of it.

The family that now only numbered three sat on the porch.  It was sunset and the light was fading.  The grown children were chatting with one another as the father read the paper.  From where I was sitting on the steps, I could see the date.  It was exactly 15 years to the day since the woman had disappeared, but they didn't seem to notice the anniversary.  I watched them as they passed the evening, relaxing in the cool night air.

I turned my gaze toward the horizon.  Off in the distance, I saw the silhouette of a figure walking towards me.  As the form grew closer, I could make out the shape.  It was the woman who had once walked the opposite way down this same path.  She approached quickly, but as she did, she remained a shadow.  Her features were never clear, but I knew it was her.  In her hand she clutched a small sack.  It was the butter.

I looked behind me.  The family carried on, completely unaware of what was happening.  They chatted and laughed, just as they had been.

My attention returned to the woman and she continued to advance towards me.  She was much closer now, but still a shadow.

I darted my eyes to the family.  They were oblivious.

Quickly, I turned back to the woman.

But the landscape was no longer the prairie.  Instead, it was my bedroom and the woman had come through my door.  I was in my bed and her shadow approached.  I was too scared to move.  I tried to scream, but no sound emerged.

The woman kept walking, the bag of butter in her right hand, until she was at the side of my bed near my feet.  She never broke her stride.  Instead, she walked right through me.

When she was gone, I reached for the light on my night table.  I threw the lamp on in a hurry and scanned the room.  Everything appeared as it did when I had gone to bed earlier that evening.

This happened more than twenty years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.  I can only assume that I partially woke up as the woman walked towards me and that is how the view changed from the prairie to my childhood bedroom.  At least I hope that's what happened.  It is, after all, the only logical explanation.

I'm linking up with Yeah Write this week.  Still Family Free.  Please click through and read the work of the other writers who are bringing their best this week.  And if you're a writer, would you consider joining us?  I promise you'll find a supportive community in which to share your work.  Not sure what it's about?  That badge above brings you straight to the source.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I'm Getting Used To It.

This isn't going to be one of those well thought out posts.  It's going to be more of the this is how it is right now sort of posts.

We are lucky that my in-laws love having my son spend the night at their house.  Nathan is such an early riser that any chance I have to send him over there I take.  All last week he woke up around 5:15. Last Saturday he was up at 4:50.

I wish I knew what was waking him up.  I've tried putting him to bed earlier and later.  I've tried closing the curtains, opening or closing the windows, turning on or off the air, more or less night lights.  I've tried everything except chloroform and the kid just won't sleep.  He mostly goes to sleep without issue, but I suspect this is because he is exhausted.  I know I am.

He rarely sleeps through the night.  I remember celebrating when he started sleeping from 7-12 in his own room, by himself, in his crib and I got 5 hours of not holding him.  He was 16 months old at that time.  I eventually got us to where he wouldn't come into my room until 2 am.  When he was 3 and half, we moved to this house and he started staying in his room all night.

His night, however, ends way earlier than mine does.

If he would go back to sleep, I wouldn't care if he came into my room in the morning.   If I bring him to my room like I did when he was really little, he won't go back to sleep.  If it's 5 and he's awake, he is AWAKE.

And it's not like he'll come to my room.  He won't get out of his own bed.  He calls for me and I go to him.  I know what you're thinking:  Why don't you just tell him you won't go to him and then not go?  I've tried.  He calls me, endlessly.  If I don't go, he panics.  I've tried telling him during the day when he's awake that he should come to my room if he needs me in the night.  I've tried telling him at 2 am and 4 am when wakes that he should come get me next time he wakes up.

"Mama.  I can't.  I'm afraid."

Sometimes he just needs a reassurance that I'm around and he'll go right back to sleep.  Sometimes he wants me to stand there and hold his hand until he's back to sleep.  I've also tried telling him that if he can't sleep, he needn't wake up the whole house, he should just find a way to occupy himself quietly until 6 am.  He claims he can do none of those things.

And so I cave so that he's not screeching like a maniac.  There was one day, shortly after we moved here, when the neighbor said she heard a baby calling for his mommy in the night but didn't know whose it was because it was 3 am and she didn't know who would be out that late.  It was my kid.  I had forgotten the windows were open and I had been trying to get him to go back to sleep.

Anyway, all this was to say that last night he slept at his grandparents' house and I woke up to the beautiful sound of silence.  I didn't hear my name.  It was 7 am.

I wish I could say it was enough for me to be rested, but not so much.  That's OK, I'm sort of used to the sleep deprivation.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Challenge Week 2

Don't you just love when people do challenges and they give you a play by play of how it went?  No?  Well, too bad.

You can read my post here about what challenge I'm talking about.  If you don't want to go back, I can tell you, in one sentence, what my goals are.  For 8 weeks, I'm giving up 2 bad habits and adding 1 new one:
  • No drinking alcohol during the week.
  • No take out/restaurant breakfasts or lunches during the week.
  • Exercise at least 20 minutes per day.
So how did it go?

I've had no alcohol since 9/5.  Yes, I know 9/3 and 9/4 were part of the challenge, but, but, but...

I've been eating my meals at home on the prescribed days and having responsible meals the rest of the time mostly.

I've been exercising for at least 20 minutes all but Saturday, unless you count my 20 minute walk through Target which you obviously shouldn't.

This week we are talking about insecurities.  I have about a zillion of them, but one that's relevant to this fitness challenge is my weight.  I call myself fat constantly.  I try to be cute about it, but it's sort of ridiculous.  I figure if I say it first then it lets people off the hook because I know they were thinking it.

For the record, I also know that most people aren't actually thinking about it.  But my perception that everyone is thinking about my weight is a bit out of control.  For example, when we order dinner and it's delivered, I figure the delivery guy is thinking that I have no business eating a pizza with this large of an ass.  Or when I order a diet soda in a restaurant, I figure the waitress is wondering why I bother with diet because, you know, look at me.  Honestly my thinking is absurd and I know it.

Here's the other thing:  I've lost the same weight multiple times.  Between May 2011 and Labor Day 2012, I have gained 14 pounds.  But earlier this spring, I was 13 pounds lighter than I was at Labor Day.  I lost the weight and put it right back on within a few weeks.  In the last 5 years, I've been gaining and losing the same 10-15 pounds over and over again.  This is so discouraging.  I know the only solution is to make changes slowly over time and not revert back to old behaviors.  But if it was that easy, we'd all be thin and in perfect shape.

I also have a terrible habit of weighing myself every day.  Somehow between yesterday morning and this morning, I gained almost a pound.  I ate reasonably yesterday so I'm sure it's just a normal fluctuation but instead I berated myself yesterday about getting fatter somehow.  This is ridiculous behavior, I know, but well, it's what happens.  I need to stop it.

So since Labor Day, I was down 4 pounds, except for yesterday so I guess I net out at 3.2 pounds for the first 10 days.  I know that's a good start. I wish it was healthy to drop 60 pounds in one week because it feels like this will take forever at this rate.

That's it.  That's how it's going.  I'm hoping for a more positive outlook next week and continued success in meeting my goals.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It Wasn't Entirely About the Salad.

I didn't think I was asking for very much.  I wanted one small thing for me and me alone.

It was about 10 days before Christmas and I was working two part-time jobs as well as going to school full time.  I was single and in my early 20s, but I still had another to care for, at least in part, financially.  My scholarship, my only real chance to get a college degree without mountains of debt, only covered tuition.  I still had to cough up enough cash for books, transportation and incidentals.  I had a day job in an office, but by night I worked in the mall.

If you've had the pleasure, or misfortune, to enter the mall during a holiday season, chances are you will understand my general level of misery. The store I worked in was very busy which meant shift after shift of stocking shelves, ringing customers up and helping people find that absolutely perfect gift for their loved one.  I wasn't allowed to send them to a different store and therein lay the challenge.

After yet another week of working like crazy, getting ready for finals and the responsibilities of home, I had to spend my one Saturday off shopping at the same mall for Christmas presents.  I got up early and arrived with the rest of the crowds.  Even though not a single store was open yet, I already had to park at the back of the lot and walk close to a quarter of a mile to get to the entrance.  I found all of the items on my list quickly and in one fell swoop all of my shopping was done.  I trekked out to the car to drop off my acquisitions, all the while the bags cutting off circulation in my fingers.  Shoppers who were just arriving followed me and were visibly furious to learn I wasn't leaving, just making a deposit.

Although my shopping was finished, there was one last thing I needed.  In the food court, just to the left of the down escalator was We're Talking Turkey.  Here one could feast upon a full Thanksgiving dinner, any day of the year except Thanksgiving.  For the sandwich lover, WTT offered sliced turkey with gravy, stuffing, and cranberry on white bread.  There was an extensive menu of turkey-based treats. But what I loved, what I craved, was the Turkey and Pasta Salad.  Radiatore pasta, chunks of turkey and red peppers were coated in a delicate dressing of oil and lemon.  It was a very plain salad, but I absolutely loved it.  I intended to take it home, put my feet up and eat it and rest for the remainder of my day off.

My salad was placed in a to-go container, white plastic with a clear lid. The container was placed into a brown paper bag, folded over.  Inside was a napkin and plastic fork.  I contemplated eating in my car, but by the time I got back to it, the vultures were circling again for my spot.  I drove home, practically drooling over the thought of my salad.

I had been working hard.  I was exhausted.  I was going to eat that salad and enjoy every single bite of it.

I pulled into the driveway, put the car in park and opened the door just enough to stick my leg out onto the ground.  Leaning to the passenger seat, I grabbed my belongings and that precious bag of lunch. I turned slowly to push the door open with my left side as I lifted my body out.  My arms were so full of things that I couldn't fit to get out of the car.  As I shimmied and shifted, somehow the salad bag got caught on the steering wheel.  Suddenly everything began happening in slow motion.  I tried to release everything in my left hand to catch the salad since my right hand could no longer balance it.  I leaned further out of the car, the salad slipping from my grasp.  My last ditch effort to catch it caused it to bounce off the door and straight onto the driveway.

The bag had landed open end down.  I sat for a moment, unable to breathe.  When I finally worked up the nerve to retrieve it, I found my beloved salad had spilled all over the asphalt.  The lid had either opened on impact or had never been closed properly in the first place.

On my hands and knees, I picked up each and every piece of dirt covered pasta, turkey and red pepper.  I could smell just how delicious it would have been and I wept.  I mourned the loss of that salad.  I heaved heavy sobs, tears and snot pouring down my face, mouth agape as I moaned.

Because all I had wanted was a salad and an hour to myself to eat it.  A short walk from the car to the house and that peace would have been mine.  I was finally presented with the opportunity to rest, to not be a superwoman, to not "do it all" for one short Saturday afternoon, after weeks and weeks of barely keeping it together.

I had been doing everything I could to hold on and in the end, I couldn't even hold on to the salad.

Linking up once again with the amazing crew over at Yeah Write.  Please click through and read the work of the other wonderful writers.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Only 178 More To Go.

The first two days of school are behind us and I am exhausted already.

I was never a worrier until I met this kid.  Even in the worst of times, I generally took the attitude that things would work out eventually, whatever the problem.  I could work to find a solution, there was almost always something I could do to get a better grip on the thing stressing me out.

When it comes to my son though, I can't seem to stop worrying.  If somehow I could just see into the future and know that none of this stuff will ruin him eventually, I'd feel better.  I know, I mean I really do know in my head, that a rough first two days of kindergarten will not mean he will be a disaster his whole life.

It's not like I know anyone who is a mess and everyone says "Oh, him?  Yeah, it all started when he had to go to kindergarten and he cried for the first two mornings."

Nathan expressed his fear of going to kindergarten more than a year ago.  As soon as he saw the school in our neighborhood and found out he'd eventually go there, he was worried about it.  I was able to put off the discussions for a long time because they weren't relevant.  He was worried about something so far off there was no point talking about it.

As kindergarten approached, I talked it up, but not too much.  I looked for clues he was interested in the topic and stopped when he was done.  I told him I am always here to talk or answer questions or whatever he needed.  I didn't push.  I advised others not to push.  He's sensitive.  Change and anticipation of change are hard for him.  He doesn't like not knowing what's coming next.  I get it.  I respect it.

On the first day, we walked to the school and he lost it on the courtyard playground.  He cried and sobbed and snotted all over my shirt.  He entered the school on line with his class just as he was told but he sniffled and gulped air the whole way.

I know I can't protect him from sadness and hurt and these are necessary lessons for him growing up.  But watching your baby be afraid and sad is just heartbreaking.

When I returned to pick him up, he was all smiles.  Everything was great and he was happy.  He said he was ready to take on the next day.  Until the next day actually arrived and this time he cried before we left the house.  He sobbed and wailed the entire walk.  He stopped briefly to talk to a new friend about Angry Birds but when he was left with his thoughts for more than a minute he was crying again.  As he walked in, he just kept calling my name saying he loved me.

Heartbreaking, I tell you.

I picked him again all smiles.  He said he thinks he could have a better Monday with less tears.

I hope so.  Because I don't know if I can spend the next 178 school days sitting at my desk at work, worried that he's sad.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Because I Love A Challenge.

When someone named Pish Posh insinuates that you need to get your head out of a bucket of KFC, you listen.

OK, that's actually not at all what happened.  Here's what really happened.  Pish is one of my favorite bloggers and a Twitter friend and though I've never actually met her, I'm sure is 100% awesome in real life too.  I totally want to hang out with her but she lives on the other side of the country.  Right now, if she's reading this, she probably is thankful for that since I'm sounding a bit stalkerish.  But I promise if you read her stuff you will think she is so great too.

Anyway, she is embarking on an 8-week challenge focused on getting herself back in shape. Coincidentally, I was recently thinking that I need to do something to get MY focus back where it needs to be:  off the burritos and pizza and back on making my ass smaller.  She's hosting a link up to her challenge where we can all join in on her fun, and so I am.

To make a very long story short, I'm overweight.  My Wii Fit says I'm obese and then it makes that "womp womp" noise and my Mii hangs her head in shame.  My actual Me does the same.  I am shaped like my mother.  And my grandmother.  I am round.  I am a quarter-inch shy of five feet tall and I am anywhere from 42-60 pounds overweight depending on my body frame.  I haven't seen the frame of my body in so long that I don't know if it's small, medium or large.

I could blame this on baby weight. I'm now at the weight I was the day I gave birth, before the child left the womb. Or I could blame it on the mountains of stress I've been under for the last 35 years.  I don't remember my first year, I assume it was pretty stress free.  I could be wrong.  But I'd probably be better off blaming it on the fact that I love to eat and I usually eat too much.  I eat the wrong foods. I don't exercise.

The joints of my lower extremities hurt.  I am getting winded doing simple activities.  I need a whole new wardrobe, again, because I can't fit in anything I own.  This is not who I want to be.  I used to be in decent shape.  I want to be in decent shape again.  I don't want to get sick because I have no self-control.  I want to enjoy life and time with my son.  I don't want to be obese anymore.

The challenge is to cut out a bad habit and add a good one.  Simple enough.  Here goes:
I'm going to give up my bad habit of having alcohol during the week.  It's unnecessary, period.  I'm also going to give up take-out breakfasts and lunches during the week.  I didn't do this every day, but I did it often enough.  Again, it's unnecessary.

My new good habit will be 20 minutes of exercise (at least) every single day.  On work days, I'll walk at lunch.  On the weekends, surely I can find a way to squeeze in 20 minutes.  If I can't get outside to walk, I will walk in the basement of my office or march or jog in place. Yes, I know this is not a "real" workout, but it's something and it's better than the nothing I'm currently doing.

There is no way I can lose all the weight I need to in 8 weeks.  I guess 8-16 pounds is realistic, but I'm hoping to just build the better habit and not need to buy new clothes.  I need to stop the progression of my waistband before I can get it moving in the other direction.

When this 8 weeks is up, I hope to have enough momentum to start a new challenge.

Thank Pish for such a great idea and for letting me be a part of it!

Why don't you click on the button above and check out who else is up for the challenge?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Maria's Husband.

Who the hell is screaming like that?

I had just settled in at the computer to work when I heard yelling.  I peeked through the window, but I saw nothing.  I turned my attention to my emails.

The yelling resumed.  I again looked out the window, this time to see my neighbor from across the street, Maria, running to my next door neighbor's house.

"Donna!  Donna!"  It was hard to tell if Maria was upset or just animated.  I had only met her twice before and each time I had no idea what she was talking about.  I mostly just smiled and nodded while dodging her elaborate hand gestures.  We were living in this neighborhood for about a month, so I didn't have the chance to get to know her yet.

Maria pounded on Donna's door.  Donna and her husband, Bob, appeared to be home.  Their cars were in their driveway but they did not answer the door.  Unable to get the attention of the neighbors, Maria stumbled confusedly back toward her house, stopping in the middle of the street.

"I need help!" she wailed.

I jumped up, grabbed my phone and slid my feet into my flip flops.  I ran downstairs and out the front door, barely remembering to unlock the knob-lock so I could get back in later.

"What's wrong?" I asked as the door slammed behind me.

"My husband, he fall.  He help with groceries.  He carry watermelon.  I tell him all the days, don't drink so much," her Italian accent was so thick, but today I understood her.

"Did you call an ambulance?"

"Yes, yes."

I had, at one time, been certified in CPR.  I figured I could at least see what happened and maybe comfort the old man to whom I'd only previously waved.  We entered through the garage and I saw pieces of watermelon on the cement floor.  Maria pointed towards the doorway that led to stairs.

I walked ahead and Maria followed trepidatiously behind.  As I approached the landing, I saw Maria's husband.  His head was up against the wall at an odd angle, his neck bent in a way that no person's neck should be.  His back stretched across the landing, his hips and legs ascending the stairs.  He looked as though someone had been trying to drag him up by his feet and stopped because he was too heavy.  A pool of blood was widening beneath him and I could see it coming from his ears as well as from, I suspected, the back of his head.  A smashed watermelon was on the floor next to his near-lifeless body.

I spun on my heels and grabbed Maria by the shoulders, shoving her back out of the garage.  Clearly this was worse than when she had come across the street because her color was somewhere between white and green and she was gasping through her hands as they covered her mouth.

"Can you help?" She was in shock.

"No.  We can't move him.  We need to wait for the paramedics."  As we stood there, I could hear him breathing, or rather, gurgling.  I could hear the air and who knows what else pounding in his chest and throat, even from the distance between us.

We moved further away.  No one should hear those sounds coming out of her husband.  As we approached the street, Bob and Donna came running over.  Bob, a retired emergency room trauma doctor, asked what happened as he was already running past me.

"He fell down the stairs.  It's bad, Bob," I said, using the calm voice they taught to me in the Red Cross CPR class.  I was trying my best not to alarm Maria, as if that was even remotely possible.

I stood in the street searching for an ambulance while Donna comforted Maria.  I could hear her saying Bob would do what he could and I tried to telepathically get her to realize, without having seen Maria's husband, that there was likely nothing anyone could do.  I'm not a doctor, but this was obviously a major brain injury.  And the last time I heard breathing like that, it was from someone on the brink of death.

Bob came out of the garage shaking his head.  He turned to Donna and mouthed "It's not good."

He just kept shaking his head.

The EMTs from a neighboring town finally showed up.  They cared for Maria's husband and loaded him into the ambulance.  They sat for a long time in front of the house, the universal sign for This Is Going To End Badly.  I urged Maria to give me her keys, even though she didn't know me, so that I could clean up.  It was July and it was hot and I didn't want her or her grown children to have to deal with a mess when they eventually returned.  We all exchanged phone numbers and Maria accepted a ride to the hospital with Bob and Donna.  I promised Maria I'd look out for her daughters.

I went home and collected a bucket, gloves, garbage bags and rags.  As I surveyed our cleaning supplies, I wondered just what does one use to clean up watermelon and blood from a garage floor?  I opted for bleach and the industrial bathroom cleaner we bought when we moved in.  When I returned to Maria's house, I was surprised to find that the EMTs cleaned up most of the area.  Only a few drips and spots and one chunk of watermelon rind remained.

I cleaned the area anyway because it just seemed like it should be done.  I placed the garbage bags in the cans on the side of Maria's house and lowered the garage door behind me as I left.  I went home and showered.  I sat back down at my computer to try to work, but instead I just stared at Maria's house for the next thirty minutes.

Maria's husband died the next day.

I'm linking up with Yeah Write's latest challenge:  Family Free writing.  Please do check it out.

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

What I Have.

I have dog food and treats, shampoo and ear cleaner.

I have plenty of old dog beds and blankets, the car cover and his old steps he never really used.

I have leashes and collars.  There's a bin full of toys.

I have the beef scented bubbles you can blow out of a motorized bubble blowing gun.

I have coupons for more dog food.

Those treats I mentioned?  They have a their own special container in its own special spot on the counter.

Those dog beds and blankets?  There is a space set aside just for them on the living room floor.

There are two sets of bowls.  There's a tray to catch his drippings.  We have an airtight container to hold the food that a frisky puppy would steal out of cabinets.

I have an abundance of what I like to call "shit bags," which are exactly what the name implies.

I have doggie breath mints, senior doggie vitamins and half a bottle of painkillers.

I have all this stuff.

But I don't have a dog anymore.

Rest in peace, Pup.

Dexter Terrence Dogg III
August 15, 1998 - August 31, 2012