Thursday, September 26, 2013

Day 118: It Was Twenty Years Ago Today...

Whee! Today is my china or platinum anniversary, depending on whether you're old-school or newfangled. Or a little kinky-boots, in which case it's the Bryan Cranston anniversary. Bryan Cranston! Bryan Cranston! I am so so SO excited!!! (We are seeing All the Way tonight at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, which has gotten simply smashing reviews. And we have front-row tickets! And Michael McKean — Lenny! — is playing J. Edgar Hoover!!)

But I'm also thinking of my besty Lady Darcy, whose husband CPA Boy gets the results of a medical test today, and it's possible that the news will be, at the least, a tad disconcerting. Today is definitely the assortment pack of emotions.

As I wrote to Brunie:
Lady D and her husband find out what's going on for sure on Sept. 26, my 20th wedding anniversary, the day I meet Bryan Cranston as LBJ since I'll be sitting in the front row and perhaps tossing him my panties. A big day for us all, in other words, but especially Bryan Cranston.
Bryan Cranston!!!

I've never seen even one second of Breaking Bad, my deep love for this actor is all from Malcolm in the Middle, most particularly his delivery of these, my favorite lines in the entire series:

  • Lois: If it's so obvious I need a little human consideration, I shouldn't even have to ask.
  • Hal: Geez, honey . . . that's never going to happen. 
  • Lois: What?
  • Hal: We're not smart enough to do that. You might as well ask us all to be a foot taller.
            [Lois gapes]
  • Hal: I mean, look at this half-baked celebration. And we're at the top of our game here! Honey, the only thing that we're ever going to be able to offer you is our total abject obedience. I — I know that doesn't sound like much, but if you look at this way, our meager abilities are yours completely — 100 percent!
It's a master actor who can make this sound like the most romantic speech ever. Husband and I quote "We're at the top of our game here!" all the time.

So — let's go back 20 years. I woke up to an empty house; my family was over at California Park setting up chairs and tables. Husband tells this great story of my mom rushing up to him and a groomsman, shrieking, "No no no! The cake table can't go next to the Tower of Crudites!" and then rushing off again.

Note: Not one of the tables was labeled.

In any way.

The men were somewhat . . . stupefied. (Though at the top of their game — let that be stated for the record.)

But Mom had left me a lovely wedding breakfast of coffee, a croissant, raspberries, vanilla yogurt, and a mimosa! Dad and Uncle Bill came home (to watch the game*) while I was spooning the last of the yogurt, and I commented, "I'm happy!" There was a pause, and then my uncle said, "Well . . . that's good."

Oh, that silver-tongued devil.

It was such a beautiful day, and the best part, of course, was marrying my dearest darling. When he slid that ring on my expectant finger, I got such a rush! I think I even exclaimed, "Woo!", which of course made everyone laugh.

(Everyone laughed a lot during my wedding. At one point in my vows, I said, "I've always wanted to marry a man exactly like my mother," and that brought down the house. But seriously, folks, you could do a lot worse. She's an awesome life partner.)

Husband and I have a tradition of having someone take our picture on our anniversary, and then I add those photos to the blank pages at the end of our wedding album. It's funny, because we completely spaced this during the years the kids were babies, and neither could even remember what we did on our anniversary; I cheated and added photos from other outings during the year. But still, it's a lovely record. Perhaps I'll have him scan our wedding photo and then post it next to tonight's photo: me, Husband, and Bryan Cranston.

A girl can dream!

Getting married was the happiest thing I have ever done in my life. Having kids, buying a house, finding my career — these were all fantastic but also stressful. Marrying Husband — piece of cake. Good cake.

(Though as I say to every newly engaged person I meet, "I hope you will be as happy in your marriage as Husband has always been in ours.)

A happy and blissful day to all! (But most especially to Lady D and CPA Boy. Sending powerful thoughts of love and good health and strength westward, my darlings.)


—Lady C, still blushing and bridelike after 20 years

* What game? I have no idea. Isn't there always a game?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Day 116: Healthy Hooters and Other Life News

I'll start with the very great good news: My biopsy came back negative!

And it's all good news, really, but I still have to have a surgical consult to figure out what this little bugger is inside Left Boob and why it's growing so relatively quickly. (I can't feel it at all; it's still pretty darn small.) But my darling nurse practitioner said, repeatedly, "There is no worrisome tissue," and I'm taking my cue from her; I am officially Not Worried. So don't you be either.

Honestly, the worst part of the biopsy was holding my shoulder in one position for 20 minutes; I was flooded with adrenaline and anxiety, waiting for it to pop out. But it stayed in place and all was well, and then I had a wonderful lunch and dinner with two sets of great friends. And the day before, Writer Jenny and I walked to Sutherland Woods, the loveliest little forested area just a few blocks from my house, which I never even knew existed!! And the day after, I heard my darling firstborn angel sing with the Madrigals (so! beautiful!) and our state rep, who's my buddy, blew me a kiss while he was being interviewed, which cracked me up, and it's been a whirlwind couple of days, and — whew!

Sadly, my Saturday zumba class with Eddie Dance Party was canceled, so now I'm taking a class on Monday nights. The first one was last night and I definitely got a good workout, but the jury's out on the instructor; she's got this giant false smile that doesn't fully connect with her eyes, and I just don't know. I was a front-row girl, of course, and as I left I said thanks for a great class, and she chirped, giantly and falsely, "OK! I hope you come back next week!" and it all felt very impersonal. But did I love the Italian Spitfire and Sexi Danci Nanci the first time I met them? I can't even remember now, it's been so long, but I suspect it took a few sessions for my ardor to bloom.

However, with Eddie Dance Party it was love at first sight. This I know for sure.

This week I've had a ton of work (yay!), so that's filled both days so far. I'd hoped to take a walk today and am even wearing my workout clothes, but between editing and the kids' early release from school and Husband's car in the shop again and him needing rides from me and cooking dinner— too much!

And I still, still!, have this stupid almost-cold dancing around me! Li'l Martini still has his almost-cold as well, though it seems like it might be turning into an actual cold. I don't want to be sick, but it might be a relief just to get it over with.

It just feels like there's a lot going on, but the biggest stress in my life at the moment is not cancer worries or money anxiety or even my poor yeasty cuticles — it's friend drama.

I alluded to a conflict I'm having with an old friend, and I guess I can come out and say it now: Bride Boy and I ended our 25-year friendship this week, and I am in grief. I went through denial and anger, then was prepared to bargain — and that, I think, was the stage at which I realized there was no bargain to be made, it was really over. So now I'm in depression . . . and my response has been to eat like I'm going to the chair, particularly since I can only drink four days a week while I'm on this medication. (Four more weeks! My cuticles had better be writing their thank-you notes now.)

Another friendship also ended this month; someone I've been close to in the Betsy-Tacy world got angry with me over a misunderstanding, then rebuffed both my loving let's-make-up overtures — and with that, I'm done. But I feel somewhat stunned, like, really? she can just drop me that easily? Doesn't she realize what a good and constant friend I've been to her??

Apparently not.

And then on Sunday, I had a horrible conversation with Good Neighbor Anne, one of my very dearest besties! (We're fine — this friendship is totes secure. But it was not a good day!)

So here's me questioning everything. Am I really the kind of friend I believe myself to be? What went so terribly wrong this summer? Could I (and should I) have done something differently, or was my friendship with Bride Boy simply not meant to be a lifelong one?

In church a couple of weeks ago we learned about Tashlich, a ritual traditionally performed on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, and I love rituals; I think I'm going to do it:
The word Tashlich means "You will cast away." It refers to a Jewish custom based on the last verses of the book of Micah: "And the Lord will cast into the depths of the sea all their sins." Tashlich is an invitation to consider what you need to change in yourself so as not to hurt others in the coming year. As a spiritual practice, you might write your answers to the following, roll the paper into a small ball, and symbolically cast it into a body of water:

• The name of a person who hurt me:
• The harm he or she did and the impact on my life:
• Aspects of this situation that are my responsibility:
• A learning from this experience that helps me avoid or minimize being harmed again:
• In order to free myself from this pain, I cast off or let go by:
I'll let you know how it goes.

In two days, Husband and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary! Which means that we are now 24 hours from my most favorite wedding memory: when the musicians called in sick the day before.

Good times.

Oh, and probably you figured this out from my mention of Depression Eating, but I have no weight-loss news to report — though, to be fair, I'm only up a couple of pounds. And this week at church, $u$an said I looked amazing, which was lovely to hear.  What with the burgeoning sinus cold and the biopsy and activities almost every night last week, it had been almost two weeks since I'd done zumba (though I walked a ton, including three full miles with Writer Jenny) and boy howdy did I feel wheezy and elderly last night. But now I'm back in the groove, with zumba on Monday and Wednesday — and I have Thursday and Friday night options if I want them. All will be well.

I'm going to close with a prayer for inner strength and peace:

Make me strong in spirit 
Courageous in action 
And gentle of heart.
Let me act in wisdom 
Conquer my fear and doubt 
Discover my own hidden gifts 
Meet others with compassion 
Be a source of healing energies 
And face each day with hope and joy.

—Lady C, ready to face the day with hope and joy

. . . and maybe one less pound. Then again, I had a cheese omelet and corn fritters for dinner. Also sangria.

And it was good.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day 109: Dull and Clogged (But Not a Psycho)

I use my editing powers for good, not evil.

(My favorite example of the need for series commas is this possibly apocryphal book dedication: "To my parents, Ayn Rand and God.")

Just got off the phone with Inspirational Kathy, who may singlehandedly jump-start my brilliant editing career, whee! We'll see what happens. More will be revealed.

I did get some editing work for this week and next, so I'm less panicky; still, things are definitely slower. I will and must address this ASAP.

But not today, I'm feeling dull and stupit, I've succumbed to the cold that has been dancing around me since school began, and it's ironic because I have a sore throat and all-over body aches, for which I would usually take Motrin, but I can't have any ibuprofen before my biopsy on Friday because it will thin my blood too much.

So I sneeze, I ache, I mope, I guzzle hot tea. What else can I do?

(And wouldn't you think this would result in weight loss? But I am too full of snot, apparently; the scale's not budging.)

I'm only allowing myself to wallow today, though; tonight I must be sprightly and attentive at Mimosa's back-to-school night (I won't touch anyone, and I'll sneeze into my sleeve), and tomorrow begins a 72-hour whirlwind of activity:
  • A walk and coffee with Writer Jenny, lunch with Kind Tina, dessert-making, and dinner in my neighbor's sukkah!
  • Biopsy, lunch with Mrs. Cynicletary, pie-baking, a journey by subway into the big city, and dinner with my Alterna-Husband and his nice wife!
  • Zumba with Eddie Dance Party, and Town Day, which includes a performance by Mimosa and the Madrigals, plus Man-Made Chili and the Pie Palace at our church!
And then . . . collapse! But I can't be really sick, in other words. The Great World needs me.

Off to sit on my couch huddled under a blankie, with 90 drinks and some hot mushroom-barley soup and a pile of enticing library books. I am depending on the magic of Tylenol, which I have nicknamed "the drug that does nothing!", also prayer. Keep a good thought for me, will you?

Honk, sneeze, blow.

—Lady C

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Day 106: Does This Anxiety Make Me Look Fat?

I thought I'd be down another pound this Friday, I've been skirting a new weight all week, but when the "All clear!" drinkin' whistle blew . . . I may have succumbed. Maybe even a little earlier than sundown on Friday.

It's been quite the week!

Apologies to all of you who worried that you might be the "old friend" who upset me, which I alluded to in my last post. Nope — that particular friend knows what's going on (and isn't reading my blog right now). Suffice it to say: If you and I are not currently engaged in a tense discussion of the state of our friendship, all is well!

(Sigh. All is not well, and I am very upset about all of this.)

My cuticles also bore the brunt of it, which is a drag, because I've been so dedicated to hand-healing! But now I'm back to being dedicated, and I do think that the combo of Prohibition-inducing oral meds and the super-sticky hand cream I remember to apply about every third night are helping. I just looked under a bright light, and my nail beds don't look inflamed at all.

And my nails are painted in a jazzy design of black, white, and plum splotches on a periwinkle background, very Jackson Pollock. Today I plan to wear a periwinkle shirt and a black pencil skirt and black sandals and silver waterfall earrings; I'm "interviewing the minister" during the Time for All Ages, and it will be fun. Though I slept on my hair funny and it's dented on one side. Ah, I have a few hours; let's see what magic I can do with a curling iron. And prayer.

Tomorrow I bring my 15-year-old car to its 100K-mile checkup, which I know will be a big bill; I'm girding my loins in anticipation. Then I will come home and blanket my editing clients with pleas for work (disguised as a cheerful "just checking in!" note). And then I will call a temp agency and make an appointment. So, yay, a plan — just one I'm not excited about. In any way. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

Zumba was funny this week. A little while ago the Italian Spitfire said that she's going to start offering two Wednesday night classes, Zumba Gold for people over 55 and then regular zumba.
  • Me: I am totally doing Zumba Gold!
  • Spitfire: No you're not, you're too young.
  • Me: I'm 55. I'm 55 and a HALF!
(I'm only 51, but c'mon! Close enough.)

The Italian Spitfire frowned at me, then she turned to the rest of the class and said "How about you guys?" She looks straight at my old Dallin-school-mom friend Skinny Ann.
  • Skinny Ann: I'll probably do the over-55.
  • Spitfire: YOU'RE NOT 55.
  • Me: Yes she is! We went to each other's birthday parties, and I distinctly remember her blowing out 55 candles!!
We gave each other thumbs-ups, while the Spitfire glared at us.

So I did go to Zumba Gold this week, predicting that the Spitfire would yell at me, and she did. But I convinced her to let me try it, and I must say: That was the day I took a morning walk with Good Neighbor Anne, so zumba was my second big exercise of the day, and while my knees were feeling it the next day, enough for me to turn down an enticing invitation to walk with Writer Jenny, I was more tired than crippled, which is awesome. I also had an ingrown toenail Wednesday night, which was KILLING ME, so that is perhaps not the best night to consider my true test case; I think I will likely push myself a little harder next week.

(I cured my ingrown toenail with dental floss. Seriously! I love the Internet!!!)

But if I don't feel like I'm getting a good workout from Zumba Gold, I'll just switch to the other class. No prob!

(But I probably should have walked with Writer Jenny. I bet my weight would've been down then. And I would've stewed less. C'est la vie. And we do have a walky date for this Thursday, the first day of Sukkot, and I am very psyched to see her!)

So, in review, here's what I'm stewing about:
  • The scale needle that won't drop
  • The old friendship that may be ending
  • The nonexistent work and the ever-present bills
  • The elderly car that may not survive another year
  • The need to go a scary new temp agency
And — drum roll, please:
  • The big fat nodule in Left Boob that may or may not be cancer!!!
But my nail beds are a thing of beauty, and I clipped the hedges on Friday and the yard looks very nice. And boy can I feel that in my biceps, so I know my muscles are doing their part for my metabolism. And I did 22 throw-downs yesterday; slowly, slowly, the number increases, and core strength is always something to applaud. And Brunie and I just made a date for an outing in October that I am beyond excited about — stay tuned for more on that!

Husband always says, "Some people see the glass as half full, some people see it as half empty. My wife says, 'Who left a glass here, and why do I have to pick it up???'"

(Husband and I have a hot date coming up, too — our 20th wedding anniversary! I will start getting excited about that.)

OK, time to get dressed for church.

—Lady C, child of God


Li'l Martini is sitting behind me coloring a map for his geography class.
  • Li'l Martini: What is your blog about today?
  • Me: Things I'm worried about and what I'm wearing to church.
A pause.
  • Martini: Is it even still about your weight loss???

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day 103: Taking a Nothing Day and Suddenly Making It All Seem Worthwhile

My morning was off to a poor start (though I didn't have a headache for the first time in a week, and that was something).

First, my computer screen kept freezing, I couldn't figure out what was going on, and twice I lost the text I was writing for a piece for our church newsletter, trying to convince people to join the (unpopulated and wildly unpopular) Stewardship Committee, the group charged with convincing people in our church to cough up money every year.

(I Googled the phrase "I hate asking people for money" and got 85,000,000 hits. It's going to be a hard sell.)

Second, I got a very upsetting e-mail from an old friend. It made me both sad and mad, so now I'm smad, and it's an awful feeling.

Third, I have to pay our credit card bill today, and I can only pay part of it; I don't know why my editing work has suddenly and mysteriously dried up; I am stressed and anxious about money again.

Anyway, there I was, glaring at my computer, shredding my thumb cuticles, stewing, stewing, when Good Neighbor Anne called and invited me to take a walk with her. And my first instinct was, "Oh hell no, I've got all this CRAP to deal with!" and then I thought: Oh hell yes, all I will do if I stay here is stew some more, I might as well stew and do my body some good at the same time.

And we walked the bike path, 2.7 miles, and it's a glorious morning. It's supposed to get up to 95 degrees today and it's already very humid, but the bike path is reliably cooler than any other spot in Arlington, and it was just beautiful, green and lush and dewy.

(I think I forgot to note that when I walked it on Monday, I saw a chicken! A very sociable chicken, who didn't seem fazed by my stopping to gawk at it. Life's a trip, man.)

But the most wonderful thing, besides unexpected exercise, was time with a friend. We talked and talked, she gave me an interesting perspective on the situation with my old friend, we got caught up on each other's lives, it was just a lovely and perfect reboot to my day.

And now I'm sweaty and stinky (and I still have zumba tonight!), but my computer seems to have fixed itself, and as for the rest . . . que sera sera. If I have no work next week, I will make an appointment at a temp agency. (Which will be a trip — I haven't temped in 20 years! Though I landed at EDC through a temp job . . . But anyway, it feels good to have a plan.) 

As for the old friend . . . we'll see. This is an old bad issue between us, and it may be unsolvable. But again — we'll see.

Exercise can work magic, but time with a good friend — there's nothing better.

Off to hit the shower! You would thank me if you were here. (Husband says I look wicked hot and the sweat stains only add to it, but I think you know that he is not a reliable reporter.)

xo Lady C

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Day 102: Distracted By Distractions

My thoughts are a'whirl. Last week I had a mammogram,* which was supposed to be followed by an ultrasound, but it all took too long and I had to leave to go pick up Li'l Martini and his glock — so Part 2 was today. I have two nodules in Left Boob that were biopsied in 2005 and declared benign, and my doc's been keeping an eye on them ever since. Today, the doc said, "Nodule 1 hasn't changed much at all, but Nodule 2 has doubled in size since 2005 — it's probably nothing to worry about [I'm clinging to these words], but we should do another biopsy."

So I'm doing that a week from Friday, then baking pies for my church, then having dinner with my Alterna-Husband and his nice wife, which will be a delightful distraction and will also involve much hooch consumption.

(Nope, no drinking problem here!)

(Listen, Carrie Nation, I'm half Irish and half Native American. Give me a freaking break. Blood will out!)

It's been an odd week; my last session of zumba ended and the next one hasn't started yet, so I've been on my own for exercise, and I haven't had any editing work (and got word that yet another EDC center, good clients of mine, lost its funding, and I'm a little worried about my work future), so I've been on my own for how to fill my days, and now I've got Left Boob to worry about.

Or not. I'm mostly choosing not; breast cancer is not my particular health fear (the role of Lady C's Particular Health Fear is played by: diabetes!), and I'm going in with a good hand: breastfed two kids, low red meat consumption, no family history. Nothing's a sure thing, but I plan not to worry until I have something to worry about.

Except, and except. It's my breast, for heaven's sake. My beautiful, beautiful breast!!! (Trust me on this, I don't plan to post a photo.)

Plus it's my special ladytime, so I've been headachey most mornings, and the kids are bringing home two new schools' worth of germs, so I've got a budding cold dancing around my sinuses, and we have a new back-to-school rhythm to adjust to, and bronchitis-plagued Husband is finally reaching the end of the Road to Wellville and is back in our bed again, which is lovely, of course, but I've gotten used to sleeping peacefully and alone, and the white noise of his sleep apnea machine kept waking me up last night.

An odd week!

But I'm very proud of myself, because yesterday I was sitting in front of the computer, consumed by ennui and torpor, and I forced myself to go upstairs and squeeze into exercise clothes (compression is my friend!) and then go walk the bike path, which was the very last thing I wanted to do multiplied by one million. And it was lovely outside, my perfect weather — breezy and gray — and I had a wonderful walk, and my weight was down again this morning. (I am very very hopeful for this Friday's weigh in!)

And I've been focusing a lot on food. One trick that's helping is to make tons of extra salad when we have green salad for dinner, so I've got lots of leftovers and can have it for lunch several days a week. A big salad and some protein on the side, that is a perfect lunch for me. And I've also been eating smallish dinners and eschewing dessert and going to bed slightly hungry, and that seems to be working well too (though may also account for my morning headaches). Persistence has been my watchword:
"Nothing in the world will take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
                                  —Calvin Coolidge
I don't often have occasion to quote Calvin Coolidge, but I like this. I especially like the phrase "educated derelicts" and will look for opportunities to use it this week.

I want to talk about a weight-loss article I just read in Good Housekeeping, because I found it very unsettling — but I'm tired now and really just want to take a hot bath. It's one of those weeks where I'm doing something every single night (Sunday: teach OWL, Monday: host church committee, Tuesday: LARP parents meeting, Wednesday: zumba, Thursday: RE teacher meeting, Friday: collapse), so I will grab chill time where I find it. Anyway — stay tuned.


—Lady C, somewhat out of sorts and ready to embrace a new normal

p.s. Thank you so much for all your comments on my last post. According to Blogger, it got 70+ page views — a new record for me! I believe I am now an Internet star.

* Here's something awesome: Because of my dislocating shoulders, the hardest part of a mammogram for me is lifting my arm enough for them to collect a handful of armpit skin (to then squish and X-ray). But I found it much easier to do this time, and I commented to the technician that I think all my weight-lifting is helping to keep my shoulder supported. She replied, "I sure am seeing a lot more muscle here than last year." !!!!!!!!!! How cool is that?!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Day 98: A Splash o' This, a Dab o' That

(re: today's image: I Googled "random tidbits" and was enchanted by this odd little picture, which took me forever to interpret; I kept trying to make the middle word "killed." Owen kylt Meera? Hmm.)

Sometimes I see something in the paper or a magazine and think, "Ooh, I should blog about that," so I dutifully tear it out and put it by my computer . . . where it sits. And begins to form a pile. Once in a while I go through the pile, read something, say "What on earth was I thinking?" and pitch it, but mostly the pile just grows.

This week I am a girl on a mission: finish all those projects that have been piling up! Which will also help with my general feeling of overwhelmedness, which I always have for the first month the children are back in school. Forms to fill out! Supplies to purchase! Calendar to update! New life rhythms to adjust to!

(This week's sticker shock: Mimosa needs a graphing calculator for algebra, which costs over a hundred bucks!!! It seems insane to me that a school can require this! But Husband points out that we're buying a good one and she can use it throughout college [where I fully expect her to major in something like Liberal Arts, so I'm sure her graphing calculator will be used 24/7], and then I also remembered that we can resell it for a goodly amount, so I'm a little calmer. But still annoyed, make no mistake.)

September is simply a lost month for parents with kids in school, I realized that long ago. (And May is as well, because of all the end-of-the-year stuff.) Unfortunately, it's also a busy time for my other life commitments; I teach my first fall OWL class this Sunday, the Leadership Development Committee I co-chair meets this Monday, and I'm helping Kind Tina with the first sermons (what we call Time for All Ages — the children-focused portion of the worship service) — lots on my plate!

So getting some of these big projects and piles dealt with this week, when I have no editing work for the most part, is a Very Good Thing. I mentioned that I did all my thank-you notes and letters — check! Yesterday, I finished my Betsy-Tacy 2012 Convention diary/scrapbook — check! And today I will address all these random bloggy things, outline my OWL lesson, draft the agenda for Monday's meeting, pay my Discover bill, and get a mammogram — whee!


The story, "An Old-School Unfriending," appeared in the back page of the Boston Globe Magazine back in March, and I read it with mounting horror. The author had just been scolded by a friend of 30 years who was hurt that the author never called, e-mailed, or made an effort to see her, yet spent hours on Facebook talking to people she doesn't even know. The author was suprised and hurt but also felt justified by her choices — "40-minute phone calls," she writes, "who has time for such a luxury?"

Her friend Amy agrees, saying, "It sounds like your friend hasn't made the technological leap that you have. She's living in another time." Amy then shared a story about a niece who wants Grandpa to use Skype, though Grandpa bristles at the idea. The niece is hurt, Grandpa is annoyed. Why can't she just call him in the regular way? he wonders. Why doesn't Grandpa love her kids? she wonders.

The author concludes by noting that she shared her tale of woe on Facebook, and 37 friends responded with words of encouragement, which "felt pretty darned good."

And . . . here's me going, Seriously? You can't find the time to e-mail a friend of 30 years, though you can find time to post on Facebook — which is an almost identical action?? I understand the long phone call thing — I don't talk on the phone much either, and long phone calls are reserved solely for Mom. But writing an e-mail and posting on Facebook — I don't get why one is so cumbersome and one is so easy. Can't you just copy and paste?

But I know it must be cumbersome because I, the friend who's not on Facebook, am frequently the last to be invited to parties or to hear about my friend's major life events. Mrs. Cynicletary turned 50 and had a big bash, her husband Handsome D posted the invite and details on Facebook . . . and I was in the dark for weeks, wondering why I wasn't hearing anything. Arty Jenny spends an hour or so each morning "doing Facebook," but I had to hear from a friend that she's just been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis.

No one has actually said the words, "Lady C, you make it difficult to be friends with you by refusing to be on Facebook," but I definitely feel it.

(And I don't want to do Skype either! Feel free to call me a Luddite — as I sit here blogging on my computer, cell phone at my side. Yeah, sure, I hate and fear technology, whatever.)


Elizabeth Berg, one of my favorite authors, wrote "The Case for Face: Are You 'Friending' or Hiding?", published in the April Good Housekeeping, which opened with a friend chiding her for not updating her blog. She says, "This man is one of my dearest friends. Anytime he wants to...he can call or e-mail me. . . . So why is he reading my blog?"

Her larger point was that we shouldn't let electronic communication replace in-person get-togethers with our friends, which I generally agree with — though if your friends live 3,000 miles away, what are you to do? But she actually took me in another reflective direction, namely: I know that anywhere from 10 to 40 people read my blog posts on any given day, because Blogger keeps those statistics. But I certainly never get anywhere near that many comments! Why do so many of my friends read what I've written and not comment on it?

And I'm guilty of this myself, of course. I read a number of blogs faithfully but rarely comment. And I'm not talking about The Bloggess or The Pioneer Woman, who get thousands of comments — I'm talking about the blogs of people I consider friends. What stops me from commenting, when I know how much I enjoy getting comments?

And this led me to reflect on a conversation I had with a small group of people from the Betsy-Tacy e-list regarding our annual Christmas Ornament Exchange. I noted that I'm surprised when people who rarely or never post to the list sign up to participate in the exchange; to me, this is the equivalent of a complete stranger asking me to buy her a present. (I hasten to add: I do not express this opinion to said stranger! I am the soul of kindness on the List itself.) But it led to an interesting discussion about what it means to "participate" in an online discussion of any kind, particularly if you are a shy or introverted person. If you read and absorb the words, laugh at the humor, pray for the writer, empathize with her pain . . . are you not "participating," albeit silently?

I am still mulling this over. It was definitely food for thought.

Anyway — I'm grateful for all my readers, whether or not you leave comments. But it is nice to have some tangible evidence that you're there, I will say that.

(And I am likewise cross with Elizabeth Berg, who no longer updates her blog at all; she has gone over to Facebook. I feel your friend's pain, Elizabeth Berg!)


The Boston Globe had an interesting article about women and drinking — apparently, more and more women are becoming alcoholics without realizing it. As I read, I'm thinking, "Oh, those poor deluded women" (or something like that) — and then I got to the section titled "Getting Help: How to Identify Warning Signs":
  • "How often [do you] think about alcohol? Is it the thing you're looking forward to on your way home from work? If you're looking forward to a drink more than you're looking forward to seeing your kids or partner, that's a warning sign.*
  • "People tend to downplay how much they drink. Most people will say, 'Oh, I'm a social drinker' ... which can mean that you ... have three drinks each night.**
  • "People think, 'I did a good job today, and the best way to unwind is to have wine.'***
  • "[You make a deal with yourself]: I'll only drink every other day; I'll only drink on weekends. People who don't have a problem don't need to make deals."****
Crap! I am screwed.


Well, I guess that explains why I put off writing about this stuff — I knew it would take some time. But now it's done, and my pile is teensy! Check!!

It's also turned cold here — autumn has arrived, at least for the day. Perfect weather for a long sweaty walk or some hedge-clipping! We'll see which wins out. (Hmm, am I making a deal? You can bet that there will be some end-of-day wine as a reward!)

TGIF, my peeps! Wish me a happy mammo. And l'shanah tovah to all who are celebrating a new year!
 —Lady C, of the happy mammories

* Dude, I've been married 20 years. I'm happy to see him, believe me, but I've kinda gotten used to the joy.

** Wait — am I at a party in this scenario? Is three drinks . . . bad? Crap.

*** Seriously? Are there really people who say "And the best way to unwind is to have broccoli! I'll reward myself with some sit-ups!"?

**** I make deals with myself for everything. (I'll count to 20, then I'll get up! I'll clean the catbox as soon as I finish this chapter!) Clearly I am riddled with problems!

(Screwed. Totally screwed.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Day 95: Reflections (Cuervo-Scented)

You may recall that my plan had been a morning of yardwork and margaritas. Instead, my morning comprised a lot of birthday thank-you note-and-letter-writing, as my mom pointed out that next Tuesday is the one-month anniversary of my birthday, and those notes continue to languish, unwritten.

Eek! I was brought up more genteelly than this!

So I got up early, made breakfast, got everyone off to school, and wrote feverishly. When the last envelope was sealed, I pulled on my crappy clothes and headed out to clip my front hedges, which grow like Topsy.

And saw . . . that the phone company was parked in front of my house, here to deal with our illegal double pole situation, and neatly blocking my entire row of hedges.

I mean, there's always other yardwork I can do . . . but I was all psyched to clip hedges.


So, Plan B. I grabbed the largish package of stuff for my folks (thank-you notes plus 90 articles I've clipped on why my mom should be lifting weights) and walked down the hill the long easy way to my post office, then stopped at Walgreens, and then ascended Cardiac Crest, puffing, puffing all the way.

(Dude. I can dance hard for a 60-minute zumba class without panting. Why does this one hill kill me, every single time? I climbed it with Good Neighbor Anne last week; we ran some Walgreens errands, then sat outside and drank coffee at Starbucks, then ascended Heart Attack Hill, and she, a slender slip of a thing, merely glided in an upward direction, as I plodded next to her, panting like a St. Bernard with a keg around its neck. What the heck??)

And now I must give a shout-out to Inspirational Kathy, who wrote me the following:
Walked over the bridges downtown with a friend yesterday and did NOT stop going up the way too many steps up the one bridge. Normally I go the other direction so I go DOWN those steps, but she led. She is 13 years younger and thin. I am ridiculously proud of the fact that I did not stop to pant. 
I'm proud of you too, girlfriend! And now we all are.

(I might not have stopped, but I definitely would have panted.)

In any event, after climbing the hill I did a mini muscle workout, lifting weights (60 bicep and tricep curls! 30 arm extensions! 20 of another thing that's like an arm extension!) and doing throw-downs (21, my biggest number yet, I think! And I learned that I can easily do them while holding on to the treadmill, I don't need my children's feet!). And then I showered, and then, one minute shy of 1 p.m., I had a margarita.

And it was good.

Inspirational Kathy and I have been talking a lot lately, and she has given me much food for thought. With her permission, I'm sharing some of our recent correspondence.

First, let me back up and say that I met I. K. almost 20 years ago — we became friends on the Betsy-Tacy e-list (because we are both awesome), then we found ourselves on the same flight from Minneapolis to Sacramento (that was our first in-person meeting), and since then we've seen each other multiple dozens of times. She's met my entire extended family, I've met her adorable late mother (I hosted her for dinner!) and her husband and niece. She is one of my favorite people in the world and a truly adored friend — when we're together, we talk nonstop and never run out of conversation. She is a tireless cheerleader for anyone lucky enough to call her a friend, and I love love love her.

This is what she wrote to me recently:
I am stunned at how great you look in your photos. MUCH thinner, less puffy, almost thin. Really. You are so beautiful and you carry yourself with such elan that who notices that weight?
It boggles my mind to think of myself this way. If you asked me to describe how I looked, without hesitation I would reply, "Fat, frumpy, and middle-aged." But Kathy really made me stop and think for a minute — in other words, to hesitate rather than reply without hesitation. I wrote back to her:
You really made me reflect: I have never, not once, looked at you and thought, "There's a fat woman." That is not the look you convey. I think "stylish," I think "confident," I think "happy," I think "lovely, glowing, engaging woman." And when I first met [Kathy's niece, who also struggles with weight, though she is quite lovely], all I saw was how pretty she was. Such a beautiful face, such gorgeous skin! And reflecting on this, I finally heard what you and others have said to me: I don't present myself as a fat person. If it's true of you and [niece], then it can be true of me too.
I'm still wrestling with this, but I'm closer to absorbing it.

We also talked about wearing clothes that actually fit, rather than loose clothes that we believe camouflage our weight (but really don't). Kathy wrote:
You dress as though you were thin, which terrifies most of us. And works wonderfully well on you.  

I am really thinking that the loose tops I fancy add to my bulk. I have one close-fitting top, and everyone asks if I have lost weight. I think it shows all my bulges!!!! Man, we human beings are complex things. I am, however, wearing that top a lot . . .
I remember the first time I wore the tight-fitting outfit to zumba and how completely naked I felt. I now wear that outfit, and similar ones, all the time — it is in fact my preferred way to dress at zumba. (Good Neighbor Anne once remarked, on the topic of exercise apparel, "Compression is your friend." And she is right!)

Clothes that fit are key. I'm actually thinking of giving up my skirtsuits for a pretty tank-style swimsuit. Who do I think I'm fooling? And since I'm more likely to sit in a hot tub than swim in a pool, not having a whole bathing dress fill up with air bubbles and billow around me like my own personal life-raft will be a nice change indeed.
I. K. also gave me an inspirational pep talk:
You seem to have permanently lowered your set point. And, that, IMHO, is a fantastic achievement. How much more do you have to give up to get to the next set point? Are you willing to do that?  
The answer is, Eat a lot less. And I'm trying! We shall see just how much more I have to give up. I'm losing again, which is wonderful, but it is slow slow slow.

Yes, I've had my margaritas today, but the kids are having deli sandwiches tonight, and I'm just having water and salad. I picked up my CSA share today and my house is bursting with fresh veg, including a basket of ripe tomatoes. I've also got ripe, sweet nectarines in the fruit basket, and their perfume is blanketing my kitchen. Yummy!

I do love a liverwurst deli sandwich, though. And it would be lovely to eat foot prepared by someone other than myself. But I will stand tall! I will be strong! I will reject the siren song of the wurst!!

(Wouldn't it be wonderful if you lost a pound every time you resisted a treat?? It seems so unfair that you don't.)

—Lady C, tall, strong, wurst-free

Monday, September 2, 2013

Day 94: Some Things Are Better Left As Memories

The craptastic motel that the kids and I have enjoyed for so many years has fallen onto hard times, and now, I fear, it's 90 percent crap, 10 percent tastic. We saw the handwriting on the wall and decided within hours to come home a day early. No regrets!

And we celebrated our last day of summer with one of our traditions: boy movie, girl movie. The boys went to see my spiritual husband Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine (Husband says I need to see it, if only for the scene in which Wolverine takes a bath, oh my); the girls went across the street to see our gal Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now, which was depressing as all giddy-up, but SHAILENE WOODLEY! We love her very much.

And then we had dinner at a yummy Asian fusion place in Danvers; Husband and Mimosa shared many plates of Chinese food, Martini had Pad Thai, and I had very divine sushi; if we'd only thrown in some Korean and Burmese snacks, we could've covered a whole continent. It was excellent.

And now we're home to do the final scrubbing and rinsing and shellac-ing in prep for that wonder of wonders: the first day of school!!!! It's worth noting that no one seems quite as excited about this as I am. I plan to make an excellent breakfast for everyone (to somewhat atone for my very obvious delight), so in a minute I'll head over to Trader Joe's for some Canadian bacon, also limes so I can properly celebrate.

I'd said that once they were all out the door, I planned to make a pitcher of margaritas and dance in my scanties. I have now somewhat refined the plan; I will do some yardwork and work up a good sweat after they go, then turn to my good buddy Jose Cuervo.

Because, sister, I did almost nothing this weekend but sit. And eat. And drink wine. Though I did read a lot of good books, and that was cool. But today, even though it's humid and overcast, I took a long sweaty walk before the movie, and my only movie snacks (in lieu of lunch) were dry popcorn and diet Pepsi, and I am back in the Spartan swing o' things. And so, like I said, some good sweaty yardwork tomorrow, and possibly zumba tomorrow night to make up for the class I missed; we'll see how it goes. (Plan B is that I will be so exhausted from rising at dawn to see off my three school-bound darlings, I will want nothing more than a bowl of Wheatena, a good book, and an early bedtime.)

I don't care what the calendar says; today is the last day of summer. Hope you all had a good one!

—Lady C, ready to embrace autumn

p.s. The fortune in my cookie reads, "Why not treat yourself to a good time instead of waiting for someone else to do it?" It's like they know my plans for tomorrow. Eerie!