A Lost Art?

The profile picture I use for my blog, Instagram, and Facebook page is of me when I was five years old. Although this particular outfit is not made by hand, the bows to tie my hair up in pigtails are.

My dad was always better at hair. He must have been busy that day.

She didn’t spin the wool herself, but my mom cut off foot-long pieces of yarn from a skein of red wool she had hanging around the house, and tied them using her best basic double knot.

She liked to knit. She never made anything extravagant, but we had enough afghans and winter scarves to last a lifetime. It was good to know we wouldn’t freeze to death.

She also liked to sew. But more on that in a minute.

When I was growing up, my parents didn’t have a lot of money. It wasn’t like we were an anomaly. This is the way it was for everyone we knew. We were an Army family. We hung out with other Army families. We lived amongst Army families.

In retrospect, the signs were clear. Typically, Santa’s toys don’t smell like bleach. And our weekly jaunts picking up other people’s discarded items along the curb on garbage day most likely wasn’t just an “adventure.”

Then there were the handmade clothes.

I can still remember going into the local fabric store and purchasing patterns with my mom. I remember the tan colored paper McCall’s patterns laid out across the kitchen table. The shears that were meant for nothing but fabric. And the straight pins that would inevitably stab us if we moved too much while being fitted for the perfect polyester red and blue plaid bell bottoms that we were all going to be forced to wear.

My mom actually made me that little number on the left. This was during what I like to lovingly refer to as my “Mary Ingalls” phase

After my dad retired from the Army, we moved to a small town about an hour north of New York City. As if being the new kid at school wasn’t bad enough, wearing “Mom’s Special” was the icing on the cake. For me it was a pair of stiff denim gauchos — made stiffer with a can of extra crisp Niagara starch spray, or so it seemed — and a checkered shirt that came equipped with its own elastic neckline. You know, so I could hang myself with it if it got bad.

On my first day of school, Mr. Levi called my name to stand at the head of the class. I must have looked like a dark blue Acute Triangle to my fellow students. These were followed up by a pair of white knee socks and black and white saddle shoes which, unbelievably, did not catch on. Apparently, saddle shoes should have been left behind in 1956. Trying to bring them into 1979 just wasn’t going to happen.

A trend setter I was not.

Although I don’t have an actual photograph, I can still close my eyes and see myself standing there. With barrettes to hold back my long blonde hair, and a wide-toothed half smile that I’m sure said “please don’t throw anything larger than a whiffle ball at me” all over it.

I must have been a sight. I’m certain I was the only kid in my class to don clothes that were stitched by her own mother’s hands.

And you know what? I didn’t realize it until years later, but I was also the luckiest kid. Because my mother took the time to make clothes for me. Who needed Jordache jeans anyway? Well actually, I did. But I don’t want to talk about it.

I don’t know if I ever wore that outfit again. Even though I adored those gauchos. Peer pressure gets the better of you even at the tender age of twelve. My mother made them with love and I will forever be grateful for that.

But an elastic neckline, mom? Just so you know, there’s the crew neck, the boat neck, the scoop neck, the V-neck…shall I go on?

The Gym Bag Blues

Have you ever embarrassed yourself so badly that you aren’t sure how you can ever recover? For me, there are too many such moments to count. But my most recent incident makes me either want to put a bag over my head or lock myself in the bathroom for life.

Dramatic? I think not.

I started making exercise a habit of mine earlier this year. It was a New Year’s Resolution that actually stuck (I also joined this amazing online course that helped to seriously motivate me, so I can’t take all the credit).

As a woman in her 50s, I was really starting to see and feel things happening to my body that I did not want to see and feel. Bingo wings and a behind that practically hits the back of my knees are just two examples of phenomena that have occurred.

Add in tight hips, pain in my lower back, and the inability to stand up from a sitting position on the floor. The latter makes me want to give up and stay there until I die because it would take less time.

After a year with my current place of employment, I finally started taking serious advantage of the free gym. I am now an active member and go just about every single work day.

Note to self #1: when you go to the gym nearly every single work day for nine months, you might want to make sure your gym bag AND gym clothes are fresh.

I started noticing my gym bag was a little ripe a couple months ago. I thought it was my sneakers, so I started throwing them into a plastic bag. Problem fixed?

No.

And then I realized something.

It wasn’t my sneakers.

What happens to clothes that you hard-core sweat in almost everyday? They start to take on a life of their own. I wish I could be one of those cute, perky girls who barely breaks a sweat and when she does, she still smells good.

But I’m not.

I stink when I perspire hard. It doesn’t matter how much deodorant or body spray or baby powder I use.

Last Wednesday (I remember the exact day because I have PTSD) I pulled my workout clothes from my bag and oh.my.dear.god. The odor that hit my nose was akin to something the cat dragged in.

But because I really wanted to get in a workout I put them on — against my better judgement — and went and did my thing.

Note to self #2: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT turn on the wall fan that is behind you when you know you smell like Fluffy’s latest conquest.

After about 20 minutes on the elliptical, the man on the machine in front of me turned around and gave me a look. Then it hit me. About as hard as it hit that poor guy.

People could smell me. After about another two minutes, he moved along. The paranoia in me was running deep. I stuck my face down into my shirt and inhaled. Even though I already knew. I knew like I know my own name.

Note to self #3: If your own stench makes your toes curl, then you’ve got a problem, Houston.

I finished my workout and high-tailed it out of there, although it was a little too late.

I should have gone home as soon as I took those clothes out of my bag. These are people I see in the halls at work.

All.the.time.

Needless to say, I spent the better part of last weekend de-stinking my gym clothes, gym bag, and sneakers. Although I feel more confident I won’t smell too badly anymore, I’m afraid I have stained my reputation (pardon the pun).

It’s too late for me, but it may be not too late for you. Below are some tips to stay fresh as a daisy, although you most likely have more common sense than a goldfish than I do:

  1. Hang your workout clothes to dry after the gym. Because putting them into a hamper wet is just asking for it and is the beginning of all your problems.
  2. Speaking of hampers, keep these clothes in a separate one. Or a bucket. Or the garbage. Burning them is also an option.
  3. Before you wash them, turn them inside out. For obvious reasons. I, apparently, am not familiar with Captain Obvious.
  4. Do not put them in the dryer ever. Heat + Odors = Disaster.
  5. Wash them with a 1/2 cup of vinegar sometimes. Vinegar, the Miracle Liquid. Good for everything from a sore throat to washing your windows.
  6. Wash your gym clothes separately from all your other clothes, in cold water, and detergent specifically made for said clothes. This is not the occasion to try to save time. Or water. Or electricity. Or soap. This activity will not help to reduce your carbon footprint. But it is reducing pollution, so take your pick.
  7. Store your sneakers in a bag that is vented, hanging from the outside of your gym bag. That person walking by you will not appreciate it, but he will just have to take one for the team now won’t he?
  8. Drop a couple dryer sheets in your gym bag. By a couple, I mean fifty.
  9. Spray your sneakers with some kind of odor refreshing spray. I picked up Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X. The can is already half empty and I bought it three days ago.
  10. Repeat all of the above for as long as you live or suffer the consequences.

So, my friends, there you have it. Some words of wisdom from the apparent not so wise. I had ten ways to get it right, and I didn’t even get one. I was never a good test taker.

Now go live long and prosper, exercise almost everyday, and stay odor-free. If you can’t stay odor-free, just don’t turn on the wall fan.

Smoke by Egg

“911 what’s your emergency?”

“Actually this isn’t an emergency really. The smoke detector which is also a CO detector went off in the basement a couple of times and I was wondering if you could send someone over to test the air?”

“Yes, I’ll send someone right over. In the meantime, do not open any doors or windows and get everyone out of the house.”

Me running through the house: OMG EVERYONE GET OUT OF THE HOUSE NOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!!

Yes, that’s me. In full-on panic mode because I run on two emotions: “Panic” and “Over-reaction.”

The Kid wasn’t home at the time, so DH, me, and the dog went outside to step to the curb. It was hot and I had to put on a bra so I was a little less than happy. I’m not sure if I brushed my teeth, but I was certain that I hadn’t brushed my hair. The nest that was met by a run through with my fingers told me I hadn’t.

I had taken the day off so my offspring and I could spend some time together gallivanting in the city that never sleeps. I was unshowered and had stuff to do to get ready.

This wasn’t in the schedule and there was no time for it. When my over-reaction emotion kicked in, I was certain our plans would have to change.

You know, because a fire/CO detector went off in the basement. The world was coming to an end as I knew it. We would be forced to vacate our property while the good team of First Responders would traipse through our home to eradicate the carbon monoxide that would surely have killed us had I not called “911” when I did.

I clearly saved our lives.

When I saw a utility pick-up truck-type vehicle pull up to the front of the house, I was relieved to see they didn’t send out the calvary to embarrass us in front of the entire neighborhood.

But I was a little too premature in my relief. Within minutes, there was a large fire truck, several more utility pick-up truck-type vehicles, and a couple of cars lining the street in front of our house. The scene was looking like Firehouse Family Safety Day hosted by Yours Truly.

Donned with full-on Bunker Gear, our wonderful local First Responders entered our home with carbon monoxide detectors ablaze. After about three minutes, the man who seemed to be in charge approached me.

Man In Charge: Ma’am, did you burn anything this morning?

Me: Well, yes, actually, I did. I made an egg and it dripped on the stovetop and caused quite a mess. How did you know?

Man In Charge: Ma’am, that is what caused the smoke detector to go off in the basement. Not carbon monoxide. I could smell it when I walked in the house.

Me: But how can that be? That’s all the way in the basement! Also, this happened a couple weeks ago, too! I swear the culprit can’t be just an egg!

I don’t remember his reply except for a “shake my head” type of response and a hint that perhaps we need to replace the alarms in our home. But yes, I was trying to argue away my embarrassment with a highly qualified member of the local fire department.

As nuts as it sounds, I was hoping for a little more drama so that I could report back to all my friends, family, and co-workers about how we almost died.

Thank you, First Responders. You really are truly amazing.

Also, you’re welcome. Surely, I must have been the laughing stock back at the firehouse.

A Bloody Apocalypse

Did you ever have a nose bleed that was so intense you were sure you were going to bleed to death?

Last week I had nine such nose bleeds. This whole bloody nose thing started around the beginning of the year. It started out slow and steady, but was getting worse. It seemed to be a growing trend in my life. One that was very unwelcome.

Last Wednesday I was taking an exercise class during my lunch break. I felt a little something running down my nose, but I thought it was, you know, snot. Because that happens when I exercise a little too hard sometimes.

It was not snot. And before I knew it I painted my little section of floor with the red stuff. It’s amazing how bright it looks under those fluorescent lights.

It was gross. Not to mention embarrassing. The nurse’s office happens to be in the same area as the gym, so I decided to take a walk over. My thinking was she could give me some tips on how to stop it.

She reached into her drawer, pulled out two tampons, and shoved them up my nostrils. Just like that. I remember making a comment that I hadn’t used a tampon in years, and then I laughed and laughed at the absurdity of it.

It took forty-five minutes for the flow to stop. Apparently, the old-fashioned way of tilting your head back is a no-no. Something about giving you an upset stomach.

The nurse also mentioned something about drowning. That certainly would be an interesting obituary.

I find the old-fashioned way to be much more controllable and less time-consuming. If I were to tilt my head back, that bad boy would have ended in a short few minutes.

Credit goes to The Kid for making this picture a little less disgusting for your viewing pleasure.

But who am I to go against modern medicine? And besides, drowning is one of my biggest fears.

The problem was the dear nurse wanted to call an ambulance. Visions of me laying on a gurney with two bloody tampons sticking out of my nose, being wheeled through the corridors of my place of employment in front of all my colleagues put a fear in me so deep I had to revert to begging.

She must have felt bad for me because she eventually backed off with the ambulance threat. But she did make me call my physician, who was none too happy to be pulled away from a patient so she could tell me to call an ENT.

Duh. Ears, Nose, Throat. “Nose” being the operative word here.

I finally made it back to my desk and called the ENT, but was forced to leave a message. Eh. That’s ok. Maybe it wouldn’t happen again. Dumb thought, seeing that this is a growing trend, not a descending one.

Except it did happen again. The following night. That time it took over an hour for the flow to stop. After I spit out a blood clot the size of a newborn puppy, I decided it was time to do something about it. I mean, I’m pretty sure I lost enough blood that week alone to save a small army of really big men.

I was able to get in to see the Nose doctor from the ENT establishment. One quick look up my left nostril confirmed what I never even thought of — I had a broken blood vessel. I’ll be honest with you, visions of something dark danced through my head. Because that’s just how I roll. Yet another instance of when I started to plan out my funeral prematurely.

Interesting fact: Only 6% of the 60% of people who experience nosebleeds, suffer from a broken blood vessel. I’m not sure if I should play the lotto or lock myself in a padded closet.

I am not ashamed to admit I was a tad nervous about the procedure. I felt my blood pressure start to rise. I told myself that I gave birth naturally, so this would be a walk in the park. But the good doctor put some numbing solution up my nose, and carefully got to work with repairing the broken vessel, making it as painless and comfortable as possible.

Ten minutes and $900 something later, I was good as new. You know, if it took. Because sometimes “it doesn’t always take.” Perfect.

Before I left, he told me not to blow my nose, exercise, or really exert myself in any way for a few days. He also explained what to do in the case of another bloody nose.

You know, in case that $900 procedure didn’t take.

“Pinch the nostrils and lean forward.” Which prompted this conversation:

Me: What about tampons? That’s what I’ve been using.

Doc: Sure. You can put cotton up there. That’ll work.

Me: No, I mean tampons.

Doc:

Me:

Doc: You mean, as in vaginal?

Me: Uhh, yeah.

Doc: Oh, ok. So, you split them in half first. Sure, that does the job.

Me: No, actually. The entire thing. I put the entire thing in my nostril.

Doc: (jaw on floor)

And that is how I taught my doctor a new trick. I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I’m thinking I should get at least some of my money back. I mean, that was a pretty good tip. Even if it really came from the work nurse. But I won’t tell her, if you don’t.

No Hold Barres Ever Again

A few weeks ago I took a Barre class with a good friend of mine. This Barre class really was of no interest to me.

Why not?

Because I’m embarrassed to say that the most exercise I’ve had in the last couple years has been random walks around the block with the dog, and twenty (really fifteen) minutes on the elliptical at the gym during my “I’m going to get healthy” phase that lasted all of two weeks.

So, how did I get roped into this Barre class thing, you ask?

The Kid and I were spending the weekend with a friend and her step-daughter. Every Saturday morning they take a Barre class. Who were we to stand between these ladies and their routine?

Besides, I soon found out that pretty much death is the only thing that could come between my friend and her Barre class.

So we scheduled a class for the next morning. Bright and early.

On a weekend. When I was supposed to be sleeping late, drinking cocktails, catching up with my friend and doing nothing. Let me repeat…doing NOTHING (all caps, bolded and italicized in case you didn’t quite get the gist).

Anyway, when the two young’uns woke up with liquid coming out of both ends due to eating a bowl of bad Acai berries, I thought we would be off the hook. In fact, I was pretty sure we were. You know, off the hook.

Remember I said only death would come between my friend and her Barre class?

It wasn’t a lie.

I supposed if two food poisoned-stricken young ladies could muster up the energy to sit (sit really isn’t the correct word here) through a fifty minute Barre class, then so could I.

I was wrong.

Upon our arrival, I warned the cute little class instructor that I was going to look like a complete jackass to which she replied, “oh, you’ll be fine.”

She soon discovered the joke was on her.

If you have never been to a Barre class (Is this even a proper noun? Is it really deserving of capitalization?), the room looks like a long and narrow torture chamber. With mirrors lining one entire wall so that you can watch yourself looking like the complete jackass you claimed you are (I certainly didn’t want to disappoint anyone).

Oh, and there are bars. Or Barres. Running up and down two walls. The kind of bars you would find in a ballet studio.

Except this was no ballet class. Not that I’m saying ballet is any easier. But I was in a room with ballet bars. I mean, why?

The instructor had us do some stretches. I think. I’ve blocked some of it out. I’m sure my brain went into protection mode.

You may think I’m being a tad dramatic, but I’m not. It was bad. And it hurt. It hurt in places that I didn’t even know existed.

During the first three minutes, I discovered that I could no longer touch my toes. The last time I couldn’t touch my toes, I was nine months pregnant. That should tell you something.

Apparently, the purpose of Barre class (there goes that capitalization again) is, and I quote, “to perform multi-directional dynamic movements to target different muscle groups simultaneously.”

Well, let me assure you that there were muscle groups in my body that were in a deep hibernating state since 2014 and they were none too happy with me.

It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “…a long winter’s nap,” don’t ‘cha think?

After correcting me seventeen times in the first twenty minutes, the instructor shrugged her shoulders and gave up.

There was not one move I could accomplish. I stood/sat/died there for most of the class, with my eyes averted. Looking on the ground pretending an earring dropped out of my ear.

And I don’t wear earrings.

I kept peeking around the room to see if I had a partner in crime. Someone I could be in cahoots with. Someone who was struggling like I was because, as the saying goes, “misery loves company,” and that expression could not have been more true during this fifty minutes of hell.

But nope, I was the only jackass in class. Everyone looked like they knew what they were doing and doing it well.

Even the food-poisoned young ladies.

IMG_8375After sweating through class, with my heart pounding so hard I was concerned the paramedics were going to be called, I realized one thing:

I am out of shape.

And not just out of shape. My body is completely deplete of any shape at all.

I am a fifty-year old woman whose body is that of a seventy-year old (I apologize to all you seventy-year old women right now, because you probably still look and feel better than I do but if I put the number any higher, I will most likely drop dead of a stroke from the thought of it).

When I get out of bed in the morning, it takes a good five minutes to warm up. My back hurts, every bone pops, and forget about my knees. Those babies are shot and are in dire need of a repair.

I can no longer sit on the floor. If I do, I resemble one of those baby elephants trying to get a feel for standing except the baby elephant has a higher success rate.

After I prayed hard for the class to end, it finally did. I glared at my friend and pretty much threatened her life. “NEVER AGAIN,” I proclaimed for the entire class to hear.

The instructor actually breathed a big sigh of relief.

There was one benefit to this class. And that is I realized how badly I need to make some changes.

If I don’t start moving my ass, I am not going to be in good shape by the end of the decade. I mean, even worse than I am now. And that scares the hell out of me.

Four years ago...FOUR lousy years ago! It took me over a year to lose 30 pounds, and mere months to put them back on. WHY????
Four years ago…FOUR lousy years ago! It took me over a year to lose 30 pounds, and mere months to put them back on. WHY????

How in the world did I let myself go? Four years ago I was running five miles three to four times a week. I could run circles around most of the young people I knew. I was thirty pounds lighter, fit, tone, and best of all I felt amazing.

Now?

I’m just a fifty-year old woman stuck in a seventy-year old body who can’t do Barre class without looking like a walrus trying to scratch his own back.

I don’t really know what that means, but believe me it can’t be pretty.

Cheers to healthier days. Maybe next time you see me, I will look less like zoo animals, and more like a woman in the prime of her life.

Endocolonoscopy Part II

You all know I had a colonoscopy a couple weeks ago. If you didn’t know, read this.

Everyone from the Pope to the girl at work said the worst part was the prep.

Don’t believe everything you hear. That advice right there is something we were given at a very young age, yet I went against it.

There are maybe two benefits to a colonoscopy:

1) Rapid weight loss within a 24 hour period. I don’t recommend it though because having your insides empty into a toilet bowl at the velocity of a 747 doing a nose dive is probably not so good for you; and 2) A colonoscopy can save your life.

There is something very awkward about meeting the man who will be shoving a 6′ hose where the sun really does not ever shine,\

for the first time on the actual day of said shoving.

Besides the fact that he said he had a hangover, I think it went well. He was joking by the way.

I think.

Not only will he be doing an unmentionable to you, he will be giving you a mind blowing and vomit inducing drug.

I’m pretty sure if this were a blind date, there would not be a second. This guy is everything your mother warned you about. Plus some.

The Pope and the girl at work were right about how you feel like you took a thirty second nap because before I knew it I was lying on a gurney in the recovery room with about a dozen other victims. I mean, people. Also recovering from whatever their procedure of the day was.

They sat me almost immediately in a chair, of which I did not feel ready for. Because I didn’t feel well. I didn’t feel well at all. The room was spinning and before I knew it I was yelling, “I’M GONNA THROW UP!!!”

It sure is amazing how quickly the nursing staff moves when they hear that because within 1.2 seconds I had one of those kidney shaped plastic bowl things shoved under my chin. With a nurse on one side of me and my husband on the other, I vomited who knows what exactly because there literally was nothing in my stomach.

But before that moment I have to tell you, I had a rather large bit of flatulence escape from my underside.

Did I saw large? Yes I did, and I meant it. I looked at DH in surprise and disgust. “Did that just come out of ME??? Please tell me it was the guy next door.”

So, not only did I pass gas in front of a dozen strangers but I vomited as well.

This day is not going as planned. All I had to do was burp and I would have covered all of the unpleasant bodily functions in record  time. In front of strangers. Just so you know, this was NOT on my bucket list.

So, with my head spinning and my breath smelling of vomit, my doctor came in to tell me what he claims he already told me which is weird because I don’t remember at all.

Here’s a question for you — why, if you know there is a pretty high chance that your patient is going to be, well, high, would you try to talk to them so soon?

Anyway, I had a little inflammation in my esophagus, as well as the removal of a Z-Formation. I don’t really know what that is, but he didn’t seem concerned.

During my colonoscopy, he found three polyps. They were benign but polyps can turn into cancer if left to their own devices.

Would I do it again? Of course I would. And I will. In three years. Because they found those polyps, and I not only care about my colon health, but my life.

So, the moral of the story? Go get a colonoscopy. It’s really important, and at the end of the day it wasn’t so bad. Just pretend you didn’t hear that part about the vomit.

 

The Getaway Part II – The Upgrade

If you missed Part I, click here and come back. I’ll wait…

Are you caught up? Now where was I? Oh right (ants on the sill in case you forgot).

So, surprisingly we weren’t upset. Typically this would be something that would set one or the other off. But we were here to have fun and enjoy each other’s company, so basically we would have laughed off a natural disaster. Well, maybe not a tsunami. Those things scare the hell out of me.

The 1950s girl looked at us in disbelief when we walked through the lobby door. I almost felt sorry for her sitting there in her poodle skirt. I just really wish she was wearing saddle shoes. I love saddle shoes. I actually had a pair in 1979. Let’s just say, they didn’t make me a lot of friends.

I let DH talk to her because I am not a fan of confrontation. So I went outside to take pictures of the parking lot. When I came back in I heard her say she was giving us the best room in the house. The one that typically costs $320 a night but we were getting at no additional cost. You know, for our troubles.

Mind you, there was not a room to be found on the Island of Long and so far, in the last fifteen minutes we were able to move to three separate rooms in one hotel with no problem. Just an observation.

Moving along.

We walked up the rusty, I mean rustic stairs for the second time and made a hard left to a locked gate at the end of the walkway that looked more like Leavenworth and less like our own private terrace.

Of course, we couldn’t make the key work so I stood there and watched over our bags while DH traipsed back to the lobby.

I tried desperately to avoid eye contact with our new neighbors who were sitting on the other side of their large plate glass window by keeping my gaze out over the parking lot. I was getting to know that parking lot pretty intimately. Just so you know, there were exactly 78 parking spots.

The broken key was just operator error, but I can only imagine the look of terror on 1950s girl’s face when DH walked in that lobby again. Maybe I should have gone with him. That could have been the entertainment for the night.

img_7460
Ignore the smoke stacks. What smoke stacks? I don’t see any smoke stacks.

When we got through the gate and turned the corner of the balcony, what to our wondering eyes should appear?

Water.

No, not the kind that gets stuck in a sink. But the kind where boats live. And docks. And seagulls. We had a view of the bay, and it was lovely.

img_0536
The Vanity/VCR/Alarm Clock All-In-One Station. Where else can you get one of these gems?

We turned to unlock the door to the “best room in the house.” And stepped into, umm, I’m not sure what we expected, but that room was not $320 a night for the decor.

It seemed all the lampshades had the same disease. And the carpet had seen more dirt than, well, earth. But we had water. A view of the water trumps all else. Pretty much most of the time.

Believe it or not, it was clean (except the carpet — just so you know, I didn’t take my shoes off). It actually smelled nice, and the hubs liked it. He is not a fan of hotels, so I’m still getting over the shock. Seriously. I needed a little bit of smelling salts to make me come to.

You can just barely make out the rain showerhead. I always wanted one of those.
It had a rain shower showerhead. I always wanted one of those. Too bad the next day was not “wash my hair” day.

It had an amazing updated bathroom. The shower was big enough for a foursome and the tile was new (observation #27 – only renovation in probably thirty years).

It looked nice even with the old coffee pot half filled with sludge water, that sat on top of a mini fridge that had probably been there since the Nixon administration (observation #28 – a fridge in the bathroom is weird, and so is a coffee pot especially since poo can splash out from the toilet into your coffee but I digress).

After we looked out over the water for a bit, we realized we had some time to kill before dinner. We thought we would go into town, grab a cocktail and mosey on to the restaurant.

What were our dinner plans, you ask? We had reservations on Fire Island. All I wanted was to have dinner looking out over the waves since I didn’t get to the ocean this past summer and I really needed my fix. The only place I found on the Internet was in a little section on Fire Island called “Cherry Grove.”

Which was a gay community unbeknownst to us (we found out quite accidentally). Not that it mattered, but DH, when we realized, quickly figured out why the nice lady who answered the phone hesitated when he said, “my WIFE and I are celebrating an anniversary…”

“So, how do you think we’ll get there,” asked DH, the sensible one who plans everything from vacation to which foot gets dressed in a sock first.

After doing a bit of research, I found that there aren’t any paved roads on Fire Island. No paved roads means no cars pretty much.

If left to my own devices, I would have thrown caution to the wind. But a little voice (DH’s) inside my head said we should probably check things out further.

So, I called a water taxi company. After the lady who answered the phone very exuberantly exclaimed, “OH MY GOD, WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO?” she told me that we would have to walk from the parking lot (Robert Moses parking lot — surely you’ve heard of it — it is right up the street from Jones Beach according to Google Maps) to the lighthouse.

See that lighthouse way bottom left corner? Robert Moses is to the left of that. WAY to the left.
See that lighthouse way bottom left corner? Robert Moses is to the left of that. WAY to the left.

“How long is that walk?” I ask. Her reply was “a half an hour.” Then we’d have to catch a water taxi from there that would take an hour, plus pay approximately $44 round trip.

Phew. This story is getting long. Maybe I should stop here and write Part III – Dinner and Beyond. Besides, I’m tired and I have to work tomorrow. Darn work, always gets in the way of a good story.

Stay tuned once more. Just once more, I promise.

 

Where’s the CPU?

There really needs to be a refresher course, or should I say — some seriously intense classes — offered for women (or men) reentering the workplace, whether it be after raising children, or just taking a long break for whatever reason. Technology change is enough to make me feel like I’m on a ship during a tsunami. It makes my head spin. Yesterday there was the rotary phone. Today there aren’t any phones at all. I’m not lying.

I started a new job less than a month ago. This company has a “Workplace of the Future” environment. The first day, it took me about an hour to lift my jaw off the ground when I found out there are no phones. And another hour to wrap my head around the fact that there is no voicemail.

Well, hell. I remember when voicemail first showed its face, now they are doing away with it? How can that be? I also walked to school barefoot in the snow. Uphill. Both ways. Then they invented shoes. Oh sorry. That’s my mother’s story.

There are no offices either. Just a large space with about a million cubicles. There are “white noise” speakers in the ceiling so you can’t hear each other’s conversations. Everything is done online. It’s all very futuristic. Although very different from the type of corporations I used to work in when I was a young woman, I have to say I like it.

But all this new technology put me in a little bit of a situation a couple of weeks ago…

CPURemember the CPU? I believe it stands for “Central Processing Unit” and it is, or was, the size of one of those mini-fridges you keep in a dorm room. In my day, they sat under the desk practically at your knees. Where you would slam your legs into it and your stockings would get snagged on the metal edge causing your stockings to run.

If you were lucky enough to find someone who had clear nail polish on them, you could stop the damage before half your leg skin was exposed. Possibly the worst thing that could ever happen. Showing skin in the office? Now it’s all you see. But I digress.

I had to upload (download? who knows the difference?) some software to my computer for a task I needed to complete. I took the CD (I could have said floppy disk but I’m not THAT old…okay I lie, I am) out of the sleeve it was stored in and proceeded to insert it into the computer.

I looked under my desk for the CPU. It wasn’t there. I looked on my desk, behind my desk. I got on my hands and knees and followed the cables into the wall. Can you just picture my forty-eight year old black-slacked ass sticking up in the air? I’m sure it wasn’t pretty.

With all this new-fangled technology, perhaps they keep the CPU INSIDE the walls? Or in a nearby closet? Don’t tell anyone, but I even looked on the ceiling. I was desperate. Not to mention perplexed. I was thisclose to hauling out a ladder and climbing on the roof.

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally established there are no CPUs. They went down the river with the voicemail. I started to feel around the computer screen. They have televisions that you can put a DVD directly into. Why not a monitor? After about twenty seconds, I realized, no. Not in the monitor. Not this one, anyway.

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These are dinosaurs…

...these are not.
…these are not.

I sat there with my head in my hands repeating to myself, “think, think think,” when I noticed the laptop that is “docked” on my desk. “But I don’t use the laptop,” I thought to myself. I use the keyboard and a large flatscreen monitor when I do computer work.

The laptop is so I can take it home with me to do work if I need to stay home for the day or whatever. I thought it was just sitting here staying charged in that thing the people around here refer to as a “docking station.” But I took a shot and felt the side of it. What did I have to lose? Nothing. Because I hit pay dirt. BAM! There it was.

With a red face and the push of a button, I was in business. And I didn’t even have to ask anyone. I do have to admit that I felt like my grandmother at the time.

After three weeks, I still work there so I guess I’m doing something right. What I’m trying to say is, if I can do it, so can you. So, good luck to all you people who are going back to the grind. I have hard core respect for you.

Oh and I still wear stockings. Old habits die hard, my friends. Except now I keep a bottle of Maybelline Clear Coat in my bag at all times. But I don’t think I’ll be needing it. After all, there is no CPU.

It’s All About the Boob and Being a Boob – Part II

Yesterday I told you about my new friend, Wendy and her cancer diagnosis. Today, I am going to talk about how we react to bad news.

While at work last week, I received a Facebook private message from Wendy. “Bad news…I have breast cancer…”

After I let the message sit there for a couple of minutes, gathering my wits about me, I replied with this: “I’m so sorry” and “you will be okay” and “let me know if there is anything I can do.” Not very original and kinda stupid. Probably not the best words to say to someone who is suffering a traumatic event. And that was AFTER I gathered my wits.

Then a couple of days later she PM’ed me with this, among other things, “…take samples from my lymph nodes to make sure it has not spread…”

“I’ll keep you in my prayers, hoping it didn’t spread,” was my response. Really? How stupid. Keeping someone in their prayers is totally acceptable and comforting. But hoping it didn’t spread? That goes without saying. It just wasn’t necessary.

Whatever. I’m awkward in these kinds of situations. Some people have the gift. I do not. When God was handing out Common Sense, I thought he said “Be All Dense,” and I didn’t get in line.

But, I have to ask. Is there really a “right” thing to say? I think we are so concerned about what to say, how to react, that we wind up saying the wrong thing anyway. Basically, you can’t win.

A long time ago, a friend of a family member had a miscarriage. She was very far along in her pregnancy. When I heard the news, my heart broke for her. I was already a mother at the time and I couldn’t even begin to fathom it. But I knew when I saw her, I would be awkward. And I was.

“Oooh yeah, umm, sorry about the baby.” Followed by a literal cringe on my face. A cringe, as if I was trying to hold in a fart. I walked away feeling like the biggest asshole. I froze. I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t want to NOT acknowledge it. I was afraid she would think I was cold.

Instead, I made myself look more like an ice princess, like I didn’t care, when in actuality I did. Very much so. Although it has been many years, I feel like every time I see this woman, that is what she remembers.

And when I go to a wake? Fuhgettaboutit. I’m a bumbling idiot. I’ve decided to just say the generic speech that goes like this, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Done. Over. No room for error. Then go sit in a chair at the back of the room and be there. Because that’s really all anyone ever wants. For you to just be there.

When The Kid was hit by a car, there were many people who expressed their concern. They were all wonderful, with a little awkwardness thrown in here and there, but I knew they meant well.

One woman actually said something like this, “geez, that would have been awful if she died because you don’t have any other children.” This is not verbatim, but close.

That one made me laugh out loud in disbelief. Then I remembered that people are just weird and awkward in these situations. I can’t even blame her. I’m sure, like the fart-face I made at the lady who lost her baby, she didn’t mean for it to sound so callous. I’m sure she was coming from a good place. Besides, if I really judged her, it would be like me living in a glass house and throwing stones. Or being a pot and calling a kettle black. Get it? I don’t have the right.

So, what have I decided to do in these situations? Pray to the good Lord above that I don’t throw up crap. That’s all I can do. And if I do sound like a bumbling asshole? I apology in advance for what my mouth does. I swear I have no control. My heart and tongue just aren’t always on the same page.

In the meantime, my friend Wendy is going to get this big, ugly mo-fo of a “C” word out of her and she’s going to fight it. How do I know? Because although I’ve not known her for a long time, I get that she is tough as nails. She can hold her own. If I was walking in a dark alley with her and we were mugged, I get the feeling she’d kick some serious ass and save the day while I lay in a puddle, shriveling up and pooping myself. Yeah. I would definitely poop myself.

So, to continue the theme from yesterday…here is my #MyLeftBoob pic for @WendiPopRock. Let’s get it trending for her y’all.

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And next time you say something stupid when someone gives you bad news, brush it off and go buy a card. Because card companies actually PAY people to be appropriate and smart. Then go sit by your friend’s side. She will appreciate it.

 

Inner Thoughts of a Gassy Woman

The below post is based on a story I heard during Christmas break. The words may not be verbatim, but the facts are true. This is not me — even though I am telling the story as if it is — but rather it is another very funny person in my life who does not realize how funny she is. She shall remain anonymous as per her request.

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One day, a few years ago (I cannot pinpoint the exact year because I would much rather just put the entire incident somewhere where I cannot reach it. You know, like in a titanium vault that not even the nuclear bomb could open), I had a serious problem that was emitting from the bottom half of my body. Particularly, my ass.

I felt it coming and I knew it wasn’t going to be good. You know that feeling? That almost runny, burning feeling when you eat too much spicy food and fiber? You can feel it collect right at the door. It wasn’t good.

My boss asked me to run to the bank to make a deposit. I used his car. Upon entering the vehicle, I let it loose. It wasn’t a “shart” exactly, but I felt below for clarification. Because it sure the hell felt like one.

Well, let me just tell you, the worse smell known to man came out of me. It curled my toes and singed my hair. Thank God I was alone. Except when I looked up, I saw my boss coming toward me. I totally pretended I didn’t see him. I knew I had to move fast. I started the car and drove out of the parking lot, right past him.

I’m surprised I didn’t run him over. But I just could not, under any circumstance, let him in. He would have died. He didn’t know it, but I was saving his life.

Later that afternoon, I felt it again. It was coming and it was coming hard. I was in the office and I knew I needed to get to a private place, quickly. I opted for the file room up in the attic. I knew I’d be safe there.

I climbed the stairs, looked around and let loose. I pulled down my pants because I didn’t want the gasses to linger in my underwear. The smell was horrific. If there was anything alive up in that space, they were now, umm…dead.

I thought I was out of the woods, but what do you know? As luck would have it, who comes up? My boss. Can you believe it? The same man whose life I was trying to save just hours earlier. I was wondering how I was going to get out of this one when he said this:

“Oh My God. What is that smell? I think something died up here. Jocelyn, call the exterminator. I think we’ve got mice.”

He thought something died up there. Yeah, something died. In my butt. I went to my desk and did what he asked. I dialed the number for Mike’s Pest Control.

They came at once and put out mice traps all over the attic. And do you know that smell lasted for a good 4 hours? I wish I could have told him to save his money, because like I said before, if there was anything alive up there, they were now among the dead. I literally and naturally fumigated the place.

But I couldn’t tell him. I didn’t want to be known as the woman whose farts likened to that of a dead mouse. I certainly didn’t need that to be my legacy.

And that, my friends, is how I almost peed my pants on Christmas. I laughed so hard, I probably added a few years to my life. And for that I am grateful. Lord knows, it’s been a trying year with some of my life taken from me.

I know we all have an embarrassing fart story. But this one takes the cake. Now go on and have a Happy New Year! And please, don’t eat anything that could potentially be deadly while coming from your other end. Or you might get pest control called on you.