Monday, March 31, 2014

Walking the Yellow-Brick Labyrinth

Have you ever walked a labyrinth? It is the trippiest thing. My church brings our Coming of Age class, eighth-graders on the verge of graduating from middle school, to walk a labyrinth every year, and I've gone with them twice now. The first time I was asked to go with my daughter's class because she was presenting as silent, withdrawn, and unhappy, and the teachers wanted some suggestions from me on how to get her to feel more part of the group.

So I walked the labyrinth, this twisty path painted on a church floor in Medford, holding one question in my mind: "How can I help my daughter be happier?"

And when I came to the end (it's a long, steady process), I had my answer — though it wasn't the answer I'd been hoping for.

In short: I can't.

Hey, I was a moody, introverted 14 year old. What could my mother have done to make me happier? Nothing, really. I just needed her to love me and be nice to me and be there for me — but I had to get through it myself, and so does my daughter.

And she's mostly through it. She's way better, anyway, though we still have some dark moments.

Last night I went with my former OWL class, the kids I taught sex ed to, and it was so great to see them again!! I loved sharing this experience with my sweeties. This time my question was, "Why am I not devoting more time and effort to losing weight, when it is the thing I want most?"

And again, I got an answer that surprised me.

The answer was: "Because it's not the thing I want most."

Sure, in an overarching Life Goals kinda way, yes, being thinner and being healthier are right up there with getting my novel published. But in a day-to-day choices kinda way, work (including volunteer work) and family are way more important to me, and I structure my day to make sure I do everything I want and need to do in those two areas. I also make sure I do something fun and soothing for myself (take a bath, read a book, watch a movie or TV show) every day, so I don't feel like a martyr. And I would not give up any of that for a chance to lose a pound. If I can squeeze in exercise and food-logging, I will and I do — but not at the expense of work commitments or family time.

Probably some of you are saying, "Duh," but it was a revelation to me.

Labyrinths are amazing!

In other news, I've got a little pile in front of my computer again, so let's see what I've hoarded here.

As I've mentioned a million times, I love taking quizzes, and this month's Good Housekeeping offered me "How Easily Can You Let Go?" I rocked this one! Even though I am not remotely easygoing, nonetheless, after a squazillion years of therapy, I am very good at not stewing over things I have no control over.

Which leads me to another Good Housekeeping gem. You may remember that I have — ahem! —  well-formed opinions about party-guest etiquette (Writer Jenny delighted me by quoting from my list of expectations at my recent Hollywood Game Night), including that potluck contributions should require nothing from me; bring your own serving dish, in other words; don't make me have to take care of you, adult guest. Brunie will be happy to hear that etiquette maven Peggy Post says "Potlucks are informal — hosts should take unexpected activity in the kitchen in stride."

I'm adding "potluck party guests in the kitchen" to my list of Things I Have No Control Over. Officially letting go now.

Hey, want to read something funny? A Betsy-Tacy friend directed me to 16 Classic Children's Books Retold for Adults. Here's a sample from my most-loathed children's book, The Tree Who Loved Its Abuser (A Child's Guide to Sado-Masochism):

In two weeks I'm auctioneering at our biannual church auction, and I plan to wear the fairly revealing dress that Mrs. Cynicletary gave me for my birthday last year. I haven't lifted weights since I injured my knee four weeks ago, so today I'm starting a modified 14-day Boot Camp, mostly focused on my arms. Arms are awesome in that they respond quickly to attention, so I'm feeling positive. Weights! Wall push-ups! And register for zumba again, I still haven't done that — these are my goals for today.

(Walking the labyrinth did aggravate my knee a little — arggh. Ready to be healed!!!!)

— Lady C

Friday, March 28, 2014

From Lady C's Mailbag

My trip to California was PERFECT. I haven't gone without the kids in a long, long time, and as it turns out — children are distracting! and worky! I had so much fun having my parents all to myself!
It was so good that I went. At 80 and 71, respectively, Dad and Mom are still in good shape, but none of us are getting any younger. We ate well and laughed uproariously and made memories and had a seriously good time. I will get out there again as soon as the pocketbook allows.

And things are looking good on that front. I've had some nice editing work, slow but steady, and I'm also into the subbing groove now — did a second job and have several others lined up — and, most excitingly, one of the 10 million jobs I applied for finally resulted in an interview; I'm taking the editing test today, and I feel good about it. 

And in even better news — my stupid knee finally seems to be healed! I went back to zumba this week, which resulted in all kinds of hilarity:
  • Italian Spitfire: I cannot believe my eyes.
  • Me: I'm here! Though I can only do Zumba for Paraplegics.

  • Italian Spitfire (to new students): Go at your own pace. I jump around a lot, but you don't have to jump.
  • Fit Blondie: Just watch Lady C.
  • Me: Yeah, I do zumba in a rocking chair.

  • Me, to Upstart: That is MY SPOT.
  • Upstart: You haven't been here for weeks! It's my spot now!
  • Me: You weren't here for TWO YEARS! [which is true, and Upstart laughed — I then lifted my leg and pretended to pee on the spot]
  • Me: See? I'm marking my territory.
The Italian Spitfire e-mailed me this week: 
It was great seeing you back in class, you were surely missed. I love your sense of humor and your quick wit. Good to see that nobody took your spot, like that's going to happen!!!
Today is my day to address hoarded mail. Read on!

Regarding the AARP aging tests (which doomed me), my pal Bronwyn Editrix wrote:
The next time I talk to the saps at AARP, I will absolutely do this! You betcha. But first I'll look up how to pronounce prosopagnosia, so it's fully clear who the sap is.

Some time ago, I told my pal Midwest Susan that I always refer to her as having a Playboy body: perfectly proportioned and petite, with an amazing rack. (I invited her to thank me.) She responded:
So let me tell you what I think of YOU!  You're two "V" words to me:  VIVACIOUS and VA-VOOM!  I've always love the word "vivacious" and, really, you personify it.  I also love the way you carry yourself with self-confidence and an easy (but not over-the-top or in-your-face) sexuality.  And you're one mighty, mighty fine writer, too, even if that doesn't start with "V"! 
Isn't that nice? (That's why I saved it, after all.) I pull this out and reread it when I'm feeling low. Which, during these fat sluggish weeks of waiting for my knee to heal, was often.

My Sleepy Dear Friend Susan wrote to me about my grandma:
Your writing really moved me.  I, too, am listening to your grandma’s voice, through you, and hoping to find a way to integrate physical activity into my life for good and all. 
I told Susan that Grandma would be thrilled to know that people were still listening to her 13 years after she left this planet! That's her picture, by the way, adorning this post. I didn't know her at this age (in fact, I'm not even sure what age this is), but this is my absolute favorite picture of Claire Hermona Demeritt MacCool. Isn't she the jazziest jazz baby? Man, I miss her!!

And this is my all-time favorite picture of the two of us together, on Christmas Eve, sometime in the '80s. Look closely now:

We both have our mouths open, oui? Exactly who is listening in this picture?!!
To wrap up, I will share the beautiful note I got from Shrieki's mom. She is Japanese and has a high, lilting voice, and I adore her:
Thank you very much Lady C.
You are always helps my life. 
It made me so happy! My goal is always to helps my friends' lives, if I possibly can.

OK! Time to take an editing test and a shower and carpe some diem!

love to all,
Lady C

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hollywood Game Night: Oscar Edition

I'm newly back from the Left Coast and totally jet-lagged (as I get older, it takes forever to get back on track, time-wise, and stupid spring Daylight Savings coupled with Mimosa's dawn-singing Madrigals doesn't help — I am one tuckered tootsie), but nonetheless — it's time to party!

Though we are several weeks removed from the Oscars, one might note. Getting my popular friends together on the same night, it is comparable to herding smoke. I finally gave up on having everyone I could want, which was probably for the best, as the 10 of us were very cozy in my living room. Husband suggested that we remove the coffee table for the evening, but then where would people put their drinks?

It was such a fun party!! And no one took a single picture, so my dazzling stretch-velour hot-rollered beauty was not recorded for posterity. Though no one also recorded me pulling up my Spanx — repeatedly — so that is a blessing.

New rule for next year's party guests:

1. Kindly refrain from referring to your hostess as a "Nazi" or "Hitler." She doesn't like that.

One might think this would go without saying, but one would be wrong. However, it did lead to a pretty funny line. I said, "If I'm going to be any of those guys, I'll be Mussolini — because I would make the trains run on time." Mrs. C added, "And get much better food." Then someone (Brunie? Husband? Superdad?) called, "I'll be Stalin!" and my own darling Mimosa, fruit of my loins, said:
"Aww — you're taking all the good dictators."
Such a funny kid!

We played 10,000 games and drank much champagne and Prosecco and many cocktails. I served Blue Jasmines (which could be watered down to Nairobi-Blue Lagoons), Gravitinis, Scarlett Johannsens (a pomegranate mocktail — naturally intoxicating!), Dallas Breyers Club Punch, and my favorite, Ed Pegram and Seven, in honor of my favorite movie character in my favorite Oscar-nominated movie of last year, Nebraska. Bravo, Stacy Keach! And that's not something you'll hear me say often. Or ever again, probably.

So much laughing!!! Here are some of my favorite moments:

Writer Jenny, playing Mash-Up: "Yo, Adrian! We're late, we're late, for a very important date!"

Sister Hart the Elder, playing Salad Bowl, and looking pointedly at Brunie: "Not Harriet Tubman, but . . . ?"
Brunie: "Hilary Swank!"
Sister Hart: "Right!"
The rest of us: "What the f . . .?????"

(Still not sure, but we riffed on this all night: "Hilary Swank, soon to be starring in The Harriet Tubman Story . . .")

JG, playing Marry Shag or Kill?: "Well, I'm 13, so I'm not doing the second one."

(Husband killed Hitler during Marry Shag or Kill. Shortly after, it was Writer Jenny's turn)
Writer Jenny: "I guess I'll shag Anne Frank?"
Mrs. C: "Better hurry."
Husband: "I know a great pick-up line you can use: Hey, guess who I just killed?"

Mimosa, playing In Other Words, where you restate a classic movie quote: "Roman garment! Roman garment! Roman garment!"

Li'l Martini, playing Consequences, where you have to read other people's writing: "He said, 'I want more piss in a blanket.'"
Brunie: "PIGS in a blanket!!!"

Oh, man, it was funny.

And now I must wait another year. Which is good, because it will be at least that long before I drink alcohol again, as God is my witness.

All sorts of other life news, but I have editing work so must attend. Or take a shower, that would be good and useful too.


— Lady C

Monday, March 10, 2014

The AARP Says I'm Doomed

The February-March issue of AARP: The Magazine (fun reading, people! And I'm only a junior member, thankyouverymuch) has an exciting article titled "Tests That Could Save Your Life." As I may have mentioned twelve hundred times, I am very competitive and love the word "test" (the funniest example being the time Brunie and I leapt upon the Time magazine cover story "Are You Autistic? A Quiz"), so I had right at it:
  • Test #1: Name That Famous Face: I did quite well on this and don't have dementia — at least, according to this test. I routinely get in my car and drive somewhere I'm not going, so I wouldn't totally rule it out . . . but they didn't ask me about that.
  • Test #2: Assess Your Sleep Quality, a test for Parkinson's disease. My sleep has been more unsettled lately, but I blame Tam, night sweats, and leg cramps. It was interesting to see that constipation was a symptom of Parkinson's; I've gone a full 180 on that particular issue. Truly, you don't want to know (but in case you did, sister, I am fecund).
  • Test #3: Smell the Peanut Butter: I'm going to have Mom do this one with me when I'm in California (you can't administer it to yourself). She does have Parkinson's, which for her means no sense of smell at all, so she can't take the test, but she will be happy to aid her daughter in this quest. (It's a test for Alzheimer's; apparently, there are issues with smell long before memory problems occur. Fascinating!)
  • Test #4: Sit Down, Stand Up: Yeah, I was feeling smug till now. Alzheimer's, ha! Parkinson's, no way! I can smell anything, anywhere! Sometimes even things that aren't there! (Ask Husband how often I sniff him, trying to determine the source of a noxious odor.) But here's where it all falls apart for me. In theory, healthy adults in the 51–80 age range should be able to sit on the floor and get up again without needing assistance — including leaning on their own hand, forearm, or knee for support. Especially during my current crippled state, I need a lot of hand and knee help to get up . . . but even when I'm relatively healthy and strong, I'm still pretty sure I'd need some additional support to sit and stand. And what does this test detect? Early risk of death. I am doomed.
  • Test #5: Open That Jar: Apparently there's a clear relationship between grip strength and likelihood of future disability. My hands are very strong, so I'm good here. Not that it matters, since I'm dying soon anyway. Howdy, Grim Reaper! I'll be right there, just let me open this jar for my daughter — my flexible long-living daughter who has the grip strength of a hamster. Hrrumph.
In other news, I have felt so joyfully optimistic since my successful subbing job on Friday! Which is good, because this knee injury has really gotten me down (my mood goes down, my weight goes up . . . sigh). I plan to be extremely devoted with my physical therapy whilst in California and then be all healed and ready to rock when I'm back on the 20th — just in time for all the snow around here to have melted! This is my dream. And whether I'll go back to zumba right away (I am so scared of re-injury), try tai chi instead, or engage in daily walking, I don't know — we'll see what feels right.

Errands today, including buying new jeans that fit right (I have a gift card), which will be fun, and pulling together health-care-expense info for our tax accountant — less fun, per se, but satisfying in its own way.

Ah, and look — it's snowing again. Mom says it will be 70 degrees in Chico when I'm there. I can't even wrap my head around this.

Off to find a high-fiber low-cal breakfast and maybe do some physical therapy before my errands. I am motivated!

— Lady C, who plans to walk on the sunny side of the street for many more decades, AARP be damned

Friday, March 7, 2014

Up the Down Staircase and Back Again

As Red Skelton once said, "I dood it!"

(Red Skelton??? Good lord but I am old.)

I survived my first day as a substitute teacher, and it was a blast!

Granted, I lost my class once, all 24 of 'em. They trooped downstairs for recess, two whole flights, and I'm still Hopalong Cassidy (yet another ancient reference — as if I have ever seen either vintage gentleman perform in anything! Yet this is where my mind goes), hobbling slowly behind them, and by the time I reached the ground floor . . . they had disappeared. And I don't know this elementary school well, I had no idea where recess occurs. So I went to the office:
  • Me: Um, my class just went to recess.
  • Office Lady: You're supposed to be out there with them!
  • Me: Yeah. Where are they?
  • Office Lady: On the playground!
  • Me [shrugging elaborately and looking moronic]
  • Office Lady: Ohhhh. Down the hall, turn right by the cafeteria.
Truly, it takes a special skill to lose an entire class.

But otherwise this was the best first sub gig ever because the teacher was actually at the school the whole time; she just had to keep ducking out to tend to the new-teacher group she was mentoring — so I really couldn't break her class too badly, despite my best efforts. In fact, I spent a fair amount of time in the teachers lounge reading my book, because no one else had any projects for me. For this, I made $75.

In the grand scheme of things it is a small sum indeed, but if I do it four more times, I'll have paid off my airplane ticket.

(Did I mention that I'm flying to California next week? So many of my friends have recently lost parents, and it's made me hyper-aware of the fact that I'm 51 and still have both Mom and Dad; I need to spend time with them now. I told Mom this, and she said, dryly, "We'll try to stay alive till next week." In the background, I heard Dad: "No guarantees." Oh, they're a funny pair.)

Anyway, even though today was a pretty atypical assignment, I think I'm going to love it. My third-graders were adorable, and so helpful! 

But in other life news, my knee still troubles me, I haven't been able to exercise, and my weight isn't budging — though my other Tam-related symptoms are slowly, slowly normalizing. (I just had a monstrous period and a two-day migraine, so The Menopause remains a far-off dream . . .)

Whatev. I've had leg injuries before, and they do eventually heal — and my physical therapy definitely helps, I always feel so much better afterward. I'll just keep on keepin' on and call my doc when I get back. It may well be time for a cortisone shot, who knows.

Anyway. I'm trying to get back in the habit of more regular blogging, and this quicky update will do for now. I'm also wiped from my migraine medicine (yep, the second of the two besieged days was today; at 9 a.m. I was in the teachers lounge clutching my head and trying not to barf up my meds — fortunately, it quickly passed), so hot bath and early bed are in the forecast for this Lady.

One of my grade 3 kids colored a picture of the Cat in the Hat's hat for me and wrote "Thank you for teaching us, Mrs. Chardonnay!" I am swoony over the cuteness!!!!


— Mrs. Lady Teacher C

Sunday, March 2, 2014

If I Picked the Oscars . . .

I've seen all but one of the major nominees, the Prosecco is a-chillin', and I'm sporting chandelier earrings and pussycat eyeliner. It's time for . . . THE OSCARS!!!!!!!

And I'm excited because even though a couple of the races appear to be sure things, several others seem too close to call, which always makes things fun. But if I were a member of the Academy, here's how I would complete my ballot:
  • Best Picture: I saw everything but The Wolf of Wall Street, and while I admire the technical wizardry of Gravity, the audacious fun of American Hustle, and the soul-agonizing cinematic experience of 12 Years a Slave, the movie that grabbed my heart, kept me riveted, and continued to surprise me for two hours was Nebraska — much to my astonishment! It will be overlooked in this sea of bigger pictures, but it has my vote.
  • Best Actor: Again, didn't see Leonardo DiCaprio, so I can't speak to his performance, but everyone else in this category did a stellar job and fully deserves to be here (along with Tom Hanks, Joaquin Phoenix, and Michael B. Jordan — and likely Robert Redford too, though I haven't seen his movie yet). Such a strong category! But I gotta go with Chiwetel Ejiofor, who became a different man before our eyes. From the first frame of the movie to the last, we see him stand differently, hold his face differently, even use his hands differently, while always perfectly true to his character. And though his primary expressions are disbelief and horror, he finds shades within those two, over and over again, for two hours. A completely captivating, brilliant, and original performance.
  • Best Actress: You can't really go wrong here, though Meryl's performance was the least surprising. But I agree with the majority that Cate Blanchett's fresh take on Blanche DuBois is the one to beat. She was fantastic.
Note: I usually avoid Woody Allen movies, but this one had been out long enough that I figured my money would go to the theater rather than Mr. Perv — and there also wasn't a clear Woody Allen character in this movie, which I would have found unbearable.
  • Best Supporting Actor: I feel bad for Michael Fassbender who, any other year, might've won this easily — but I believe his day will come. I am Team Jordan Catalano all the way. I would never have predicted that Jared Leto had this performance in him. Rayon's sweet tender soul radiated through that entire movie. Wonderful job.
  • Best Supporting Actress: I would swap out Julia Roberts, who was just OK, I thought, for Oprah Winfrey, who was marvelous in The Butler. Here I'm truly torn between Lupita Nyong'o and June Squibb, both of whom blew my mind and rocked my world with fresh, new, fully colored characters. I'm hoping for a tie.
  • Best Animated Short: They're all excellent, but Mr. Hublot, featuring a man with OCD living in a futuristic robotic world, is crazy imaginative, deeply moving, funny, and splendid.
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Fingers crossed so hard for Philomena! I want to see Steve Coogan give an acceptance speech (and it's also a wonderful screenplay). 
  • Best Original Screenplay: Nebraska, for all the reasons stated above. Every actor is perfect, and perfectly cast, but the kick-ass screenplay (and cinematography) bring it to the highest level of awesome.
  • Best Documentary Feature: OK, this was the only one I saw, but 20 Feet from Stardom totally rocks!!!!!
I'm psyched for Host Ellen, Mimosa and I have pate and Brie and fresh ripe strawberries and dark chocolate to snack on, and we'll start watching the red carpet arrivals in about twenty minutes. (20 minutes from stardom!!) So. Much. Fun!!!!

I love the Oscars!!!!!

— Lady C, practicing her acceptance speech, just in case