The Big Clean Up

Is it just me? Or does everyone do it? I am talking about the opposite of purging. Not purging. Of accumulating. And collecting.

I don’t collect, per se. Not on purpose anyway. I don’t think my old cans of tomato paste will be worth much. Unless I just didn’t get the memo.

I have suddenly realized in the last few weeks that I really need to clean up. Every drawer, every closet, every cabinet, every everything.

And no, I am not KonMari’ing my life. Yea, I would love to choose joy, Marie. But I’d rather wallow in my joyless self-pity of collecting crap.

Also, I can’t really talk to my things.

Oh, that’s not true. I have been known to curse at the hangers in my closet when they’ve gotten tangled beyond recognition, among other conversations with inanimate objects I’m too embarrassed to admit to.

We don’t have clutter out and about. We don’t keep stuff on our countertops, or on the tables, or shoved into corners. No, we make sure the clutter is hidden. Away from everyone. Including myself.

Except now it’s starting to bother me. Like when I open any given drawer or closet in my house, I am suddenly filled with this irrational rage. Maybe it’s a mid-life thing seeing that pretty much everything pisses me off lately.

Maybe I’m “nesting” for the next phase of my life. I certainly don’t want to leave all this for The Kid to have to deal with if we, say, kick the bucket or decide to move without a forwarding address.

I just spent hours — on a Saturday, my precious Saturday — cleaning out the “kitchen” pantry. It’s not even in the kitchen. It’s really a mini “mud room” off my family room leading out to the garage. There is a door so we don’t see the mess and the reminder of what bad things lurk beyond.

God bless that door.

This is the “after.” I wasn’t swift enough to get the “before.” Don’t be jealous of my 1970’s wallpaper.

There is also a cabinet IN my kitchen. It’s one of those tall ones with the pull out shelves. I love those pull out shelves. I almost didn’t get them. When we were designing our kitchen, the consultant lady said, “oh, you’ll want to get the pull out shelves. Believe me, you’ll appreciate them.” And she was right. I can’t imagine my life without them. They are almost at the same level of fondness I feel for my daughter.

Those drawers give me joy. Also, another inanimate object I talk to.

Let me just tell you, I’m pretty sure the last time I cleaned out either one of these things, was back when Ross was on his third wife (Rachel, in case you’ve forgotten or just didn’t know).

So, here’s a glimpse into some of the things I tossed:

  • Four jars of pizza sauce that expired in 2013
  • Three opened boxes of crackers from New Year’s Eve 2012
  • Too many to count cans of tomato paste that really were probably empty from evaporation
  • Rice so old there may have been bugs crawling in there but I wouldn’t know because I was afraid to look
  • Much, much more

And the most surprising find?

That umbrella I thought we left behind on our last vacation.

In our food pantry.

On to the next project. I have written in my new planner what I am going to attempt to clean out. According to my plans, I should be done by the end of April. I’ll let you know how it goes. But if you go by my procrastinational ways of the past, you’ll need to add seven years. You know, like you do for a dog.

My Netflix show would be called “Cleaning Like a Dog.” I’m not sure I would talk about items that bring you joy, but I can promise it would be quite entertaining.

And next time you are looking for an umbrella, check the place where you keep your food. You just never know.

The Non-Facial Facial

I went for a facial last week. I haven’t had a facial in over twenty years. My pores have got to be as big as Lake Eerie. But I wouldn’t really know, so don’t pack your swimsuits yet.

You can’t tell from this photo, but my face is on fire.

I was expecting to be criticized by the apparent lack of time I spend on my skin.

I pictured in my mind what was going to go down between me and the esthetician:

Her: What do you do to take care of your skin?

Me: Oil of Olay cleanser and moisturizer. Twice a day.

Her: **faints**

But that’s not how it went. More on that in a moment.

When I entered the room, she told me to get undressed. I then had a choice to put on the wrap-around terry-cloth thingy or get under the covers naked.

Since I couldn’t figure out the terry-cloth thingy attachments, I opted for nude. I don’t have a problem being nude when I go for massages, so why should it be different for a facial?

When she re-entered the room, she gasped when she saw the terry-cloth thingy sitting there.

Her: “OH, you chose to go NAKED! Ummm, okaaaeeee then???!!!”

Well damn, lady. You gave me a choice. Don’t make me feel bad about it. I’m pretty certain I’m not the only nude person you “facialed” in your lifetime.

She never asked the question I was fairly certain she’d ask. Instead, my face was immediately accosted by a 50,000 watt light bulb and scrutinized by something that must have been equivalent to the highest powered microscope legally allowed on the market.

Her: Oh honey, do you wax?

Me: I used to but now I don’t because it’s all grey and you can’t see it. 

Her: Oh honey, I’m looking at black hair on your lip. Your face is the first thing people see. You really need to clean this up. And your eyebrows. And oh my, your CHIN!

Me: Wait. What? I don’t have hair on my chin!

Her: Oh honey, you do.

I know I’m starting to go through the change, but come on. Enough WAX-ABLE hair on my CHIN? I’m still trying to deal with this new bit of information.

I may need several hours of psycho-therapy.

She then proceeded to tell me I should get contact lenses. I suppose to be able to see my facial hair. If I need to get contact lenses just so I can see my hairy chin, then I believe I would really need to have my mental stability looked into.

Next on her agenda? Her interest in my diet. I should eat greens. All kinds of different shades. Every chance I get.

The words “I exercise,” came out of my mouth. I don’t know why.

“Oh, honey, eating greens is MUCH better than exercise. How can you expect to lose weight?”

Come on, lady. I’m not THAT fat! I may be nude under here, but you didn’t actually get a peek.

The insults kept on coming. When she told me I don’t want to look like my mother, I nearly took my naked self out of her room.

Instead, I informed her that she didn’t even know my mother, and told her I know how to eat thankyouverymuch. I’ve been eating since 1967, after all. A lot longer than her. But of course she may just look younger. Because you know, she gets facials…and eats greens.

Anyway, she could give me a nice wax right then if I’d like. But it will cost me $15 per section. 

Yup $45 to wax parts of my face. Oh, what the hell. I was having a day at the spa with my girlfriends. Suddenly I heard myself say it. “Ok. Sure. Go for it.”

Off came the hair.

Of course, I’m very sensitive to waxing and so my face looked like a flaming cherries jubilee for three days. But hey. I have no facial hair at the moment. And that was the purpose of that exercise after all. I suppose I should call this a “Win.”

The next item on her list to conquer was the issue of dryness. “Oh honey, your skin is so dry. For $25 I can moisturize you and it will be wonderful. You’ll feel like a new woman.”

Yes. You heard that right. Twenty-five dollars to slather on some lotion. It could have been Ponds Cold Cream for all I knew.

I sat there trying to quickly calculate this twenty-five minute “facial” that really was no facial at all. I initially laid on her spa bed for $75. We were, at that moment, approximately eighteen minutes and $145 into it.

Again, I heard myself say it. “Ok. Sure. Go for it.”

I should have had my tongue cut out. It would have been cheaper.

As she slathered on the $25 moisturizer that I was hoping was not Ponds Cold Cream, she informed me that she had no time to give me an actual facial.

But she could massage my hands and arms.

It’s a miracle. 

If this ordeal and exchange of whatever the hell I just paid $175 for, including the 20% gratuity this “spa” took upon themselves to gift this judgmental, pushy, wax-hungry, over-moisturizing member of the gestapo, wasn’t so comical, I’d be pretty pissed off.

Instead we all laughed it off at the hotel bar with some margaritas and my hairless, red face. Shall I mention that I had a lime in my drink? I think my esthetician would have been proud.

Next time I’ll stick to tweezers and my Olay. Although, that place did smell really good. Oh, what the hell. I’ll throw in a lavender candle, too. I think I have one in my junk drawer.

The Widening of the Hips and Other Ailments

I am an administrative assistant by trade. My “trade” was referred to as a secretary once upon a time. That is no longer acceptable. I don’t know if it’s politically incorrect or demeaning, or what. But don’t call an administrative assistant a “secretary.” Or you might get punched in the eyebrow.

I have a secretarial “degree” (aka “certificate”). I went to a secretarial school. Now they are as extinct as the pterodactyl. It seems these days you need a degree to be a secretary.

Ahem…an administrative assistant.

Some companies will only hire you if you have a two- or four-year degree. While others will hire you based on experience. You know, as long as you started working around the time Eisenhower was in office.

But then you’re too old.

Vicious circle.

I got lucky. I found a wonderful company to work for. I have no four- or two-year degree. And I’m kinda old. Ok, so maybe not dinosaur old, but I’m no spring chicken either. My twenty plus year secretarial/admin experience is acceptable.

Anyway, my profession has its perils, believe it or not. And I’m finding out quickly what those perils are.

Back in the day, people would complain and warn me about the dreaded “Secretarial Spread.” It sounds obscene (don’t google it, because what popped up would have made even Hugh Hefner blush). But it’s not what you might think.

The official definition according to Urban Dictionary:

“Secretarial spread means sitting down for a long period of time while the hind-end spreads outward in order to accommodate the chair. “

Sounds awful, right?

Well, it is.

Back in the day, I didn’t worry about it too much. I was young, I exercised and moved a lot. I wore high heels and ran in them.

No, seriously. I did.

Now if I so much as put on a pair of heels that measure higher than half an inch, I run the risk of being hospitalized.

Fast forward 30+ years and there are all kinds of reports and studies on what can happen if you sit all day. In a nutshell, it reduces your lifespan. The instructor at the gym referred to sitting as “the new smoking.”

The only time I touched a cigarette was back in 1982. And I didn’t even inhale.

I swear. 

No, I wasn’t hanging out with Clinton.

Since working back in the profession for which I was trained after a very long respite, I’m comprehending what they meant by the “Secretarial Spread.”

I’m comprehending big (no pun intended).

When I wrote the first draft of this post months ago, I was sedentary.

“Sedentary.” A word I never thought in a million years I would use to describe myself.

But yet, that’s what I was.

I got up to go to the bathroom or the water cooler during the day.  When I got home, I took off the bra, put on my “non-yoga” yoga pants, and moved my ass to the couch.

That was it.

Ok, so I still get home, take off the bra, and move my ass to the couch. Because I’m tired. I’m just TIRED.

But during the day, I’ve been exercising. I go to the gym at work, I do stretching exercises, planks, push-ups, what have you, in the morning before I leave for work.

And it feels great.

But the sitting has caused me to develop hip flexor problems. Oh.my.god. Does that hurt! Had I not been “sedentary” for so long, I don’t think that would have happened.

This hip flexor situation has since given me lower back pain. You know, because my back is compensating for the job my hip flexors aren’t doing.

I think. I mean, I’m no doctor, but this makes sense. Right?

My abdominal wall is also weak. Which is not helping my cause. But I’m working on that.

I’m working on getting myself to a good place health-wise. It’s time. I decided a wheel chair, or even a cane, would not be a good accessory for me.

I mean, I don’t really accessorize anyway, so why start now?

One more thing…

The second part of that definition, according to Urban Dictionary:

“It can be changed with exercise, and activity away from sitting down on one’s spread for too many hours a day.”

I had this thing called a “Veridesk” installed on my desktop at work. It has levers and allows you to lift the thing up so you can stand while you work. It’s a pain in the ass to pull up, but the way I see it, I’m also getting some upper body strength training in.

Getting into shape at work. That brings the expression “multi-tasking” to a whole new level.

If I save one person from the dreaded “Secretarial Spread” then I have done my job.

You’re welcome.

Resolutions Schmesolutions

As I sit here on this second to last day of 2018, I reflect on all the year has brought. I will not hash it out, because that’s what my Christmas letter is for (if you missed it, it’s not too late to catch up by clicking here).

I will say 2018 was pretty uneventful, which is good. But bad in the way that I did nothing to better myself in any way. It was another lazy year that I wish to not talk about.

But as I sit here reflecting, I also think about 2019, and the endless possibilities the coming year may bring.

Speaking of 2019, I saw something, a meme or whatever they are called, that reminded me that 2019 will be the last “teen” years for most of us. That totally freaked me out. I don’t know why. I wasn’t a large fan of my own teens, so I’m not sure why I care so much.

Anyway, a few couple of years ago, I realized New Year’s Resolutions are a complete waste of time. Statistically speaking, 80% of all resolutions fail by February. Thanks again, Google.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I got through high school without Google. It sure is much better than those grocery store Funk & Wagnall Encyclopedias our moms would get when they purchased enough olive loaf, Twinkies, and cherry Kool-Aid to earn a single volume. It took a year to get the entire series, and by then they would be outdated.

ANYWAY, I’m not making resolutions this year. What I AM going to do is make better decisions and conscious efforts to be a better person. To live the life I should be living, that I want to live. And because I am a cliche…be authentic.

These may sound like resolutions, and look suspiciously like resolutions, but they are what I would like to refer to as “Getting My Shit Together and Stop Being a Sloth Once and For All.” Or simply “Life Adjustments.”

All of this has been a long time coming, and honestly, would be happening if it was January 1st or May 19th. It’s time and the new year really has nothing to do with it. I joined an online fitness course a couple of months ago and it really has opened my eyes to what I wasn’t doing. Sometimes, we need a little push and a serious punch in the face.

I am fifty-one years old. I will be fifty-two in less than four months.

FIFTY-TWO.

I realize that fifty is the new thirty.

Or is it forty?

My point is people are living longer and living better, more productive lives. Lives that are filled with quality.

Quality. My life needs to be “quality.” I’m not saying I don’t have a good quality of life. Because I do. I am married to a wonderful man, was blessed with the best daughter anyone could possibly ask for, and pretty much want for nothing. And my health, although I could feel and look better, is pretty good for the most part.

But in this case, when I talk about “quality” I don’t mean what you think. My life has become chaotic. If that’s possible. I never know where anything is. I don’t know if I’m coming or going. I’m disorganized, disheveled, and not always doing what I truly want to do.

I feel like crap because I eat crap. And I look like crap because of the crap I eat. I’m not writing as often as I like, I’m not reading as much as I should, and I’m not exercising like a person who wants to live a better, longer life.

I bought a planner for the first time in my life, and some stickers, and a nice set of pens. For the first time in my life I intend to plan out what I want and need to do. I will plan out my meals, my exercise, my writing sessions, and anything else deemed worthy to be added. Which in my case, is pretty much everything.

I need to start making myself accountable for myself. I need to stop being lazy. Laziness just fosters more laziness. It’s a spiral that I don’t want to be on. And besides, it’s making me dizzy.

Snowpooling

I’ve been waiting two years for someone from our town to go to The Kid’s college. Why, you ask? To ride-share, of course.

I mean, it’s not that I mind the six hour round-trip drive. Typically, I love to drive. I always have. It’s just that that trip can be a bit trying on, well, everything. From my ankles to the ends of my hair.

Ok, so my hair doesn’t really hurt. But you get the picture.

And I pretty much do it alone. Since DH has lost most of the sight in his left eye, he has terrible night vision and really can’t, shouldn’t, drive once the moon comes out. And most of the time I’m coming back from getting her from school when it’s dark.

When I found out a girl from our town — whose mother is a friend of mine — was going to be going to The Kid’s school this year, I jumped up and down for joy so hard I peed my pants a little.

Someone to carpool with. Finally.

I realize it won’t always work out with schedules, etc. But it will work out sometimes. Even if just once or twice. And that is good enough for me.

Luckily, this Thanksgiving is one of the times it worked out. My friend was doing the retrieving, and I am doing the returning.

Except my friend kinda got the short end of the stick. For her retrieval, “they” were predicting a snowstorm. But hey, she’s tough. I knew it wouldn’t ruffle her feathers much. Besides, it wasn’t going to be all that bad. We’ve had worse.

Except this turned out to be one of the craziest snowstorms we’ve had in a long time, this early in the season.

The three-hour drive took exactly twelve. Door-to-door. No lie.

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Smooth sailing at 1.5 hours. Little did they know what lurked just ahead. Makes you want to scream at the screen, “don’t go in there, DON’T GO IN THERE!”

The storm they were predicting came on us strong and fast. No one was really expecting the velocity of which the snow and ice bore down in these parts. I don’t believe anyone, including the highway department, was prepared.

Roads quickly turned to sheets of ice. From what I was hearing, all the highways and byways pretty much from Virginia to Ohio to Connecticut transformed into “Disney on Ice” within minutes. With Cinderella being played by the Snow Miser.

Before she knew it, my poor friend, along with her passengers, were at a standstill.

A more-than-five-hour standstill.

Stuck. With thousands of other commuters. On the roadway to a major bridge. One that had shut down due to multiple accidents.

There was nowhere to go. Nothing to do. But sit. And sit. And sit some more.

As the mom of one of the occupants of this vehicle, I was a little anxious. I trusted my friend whole-heartedly. It wasn’t her driving I was concerned about. I was concerned they would run out of gas, get stuck on a snowy highway, and freeze to death (yes, I watch too much television, read too many books).

I had a daughter who was a bit distressed and sending anxiety-ridden texts to me. “Mom, I’m never getting home,” “It’s freaking me out,” “I feel trapped.” And finally, “I want tacos.”

Twenty-year-old people and their appetites. Ne’er shall an icicle, snowflake, or semi-crisis keep the hunger away. Stomachs on Kriptonite. There should be a superhero named after that.

My friend, who is amazing, kept the mood fun and light, spirits high. They broadcast their adventures via Facebook Live, which, let me tell you, was quite entertaining. Saturday Night Live had nothing on these three and brought a whole new meaning to “Carpool Karaoke.”

If they weren’t already on the road, I would have suggested they take their show on, you know, the road. Ba-dum.

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A clip from their “Live” session…my amazing friend (left) with her gorgeous daughter (right), and mine (back), trying not to lose their minds. I’m guestimating this was around Hour Eight of the total “drive.” Hour Three of the standstill. (Permission was granted to use this photo by the inmates, err, passengers)

They were pretty resourceful on this trip. My friend’s daughter, using the highway to void. Because when you gotta go, you gotta go. Whether that toilet is on the inside of a bathroom, or on asphalt. Nature is nature and does not discriminate.

All of them figuring out how to turn half a bag of chips into a gourmet meal. Rationing water like they were lost on the prairie. Skills that will carry them throughout their lives.

What I found most humorous was the conversation they had with the man in the car next to them who was smoking a “blunt.” I suppose that’s a good way to deal with a situation like that. Although, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Just so you know, in my day it was called a “joint” or a “doobie.” There is nothing else in this world that shows my age more than having to ask what a “blunt” is. All this contemporary lingo got me like, “gag me with a spoon.”

Finally, they made it home. I think there was a little bit of each of us that wasn’t sure when it would happen. They were tired, a little worse for the wear, and totally freaked out. But they were safe. My friend is a rockstar. All of them are rockstars.

And those tacos? Have you ever had them at two-thirty in the morning? Me either. But I’m told they were pretty good. No blunt necessary.

I’ll Take One Cardboard Box…er, Microwave Oven, Please

What happened to the good old days — days that existed before I did — where everyday household appliances lasted longer than Betty White?

I know this to be true because my mother-in-law gave us her old Electrolux when we first got married. You know the kind. It had a turquoise blue canister that you dragged around behind you. The only reason we don’t have it anymore is because we were tired of dragging it behind us.

But that baby sucked. And good.

About six years ago, we renovated our kitchen. Gutted it to the studs. It was past due by about two decades. The flooring was this weird blue or gray or Blay-something linoleum with a mystery burn mark from 1989.

The cabinets were resurfaced so many times, veneer was being held together by Scotch tape. Want to know how many pieces of Scotch tape? I can’t tell you because I can’t count that high.

The ceilings were made of popcorn. Not the kind you eat. The kind that is ugly. The “kernels” of the ceiling were unclean-able. But this post isn’t about my ugly unclean-able popcorn ceilings.

Or the cabinets.

Or the linoleum.

Which were all replaced anyway in The Great Kitchen Makeover.

With our new kitchen, came all new appliances. A fridge, dishwasher, oven, stove top, and microwave. Beautiful, gleaming, stainless steel, gorgeous appliances.

Word to your mother: Stainless steel is a pain in the literal ass. I love it, and there really is nothing else I like better. But dang, don’t touch it or you’ll be sorry.

The microwave started to go last fall. Or winter. I don’t remember the exact timing. What I CAN tell you is it was one month past the five year extended warranty we purchased with the, umm, purchase.

Want to know what DH was told when he called? “Well, sir. This is why you should have bought the 10-year warranty.”

This guy was the start of our troubles -- not the towel, the towel is great -- the microwave.
This guy was the start of our troubles. Not the towel. The towel, which was a gift from a friend of mine, is awesome and if I knew you were coming I would have ironed it. So, no. Not the towel. The trouble I speak of is this here microwave.

Yes, he said that. He basically implied, in so many words, that this happens. The lifespan of an appliance is five years. Five. Cinco. Fem. Five.

You know what lives longer than this microwave? A fire ant.

That’s embarrassing.

He then proceeded to inform us that we were basically shit out of luck. You know, in so many words.

Unfortunately, this man doesn’t know my DH who does not take “no” for an answer (legally, of course). After many phone calls, going into the store that shall remain nameless countless times, emails and more phone calls, it finally got fixed. Albeit, six months later.

Or maybe it was longer. When you are in microwave-less hell, time marches on like waiting for a sloth to cross a six lane highway.

I mean we had to pay for it. You know, because our five year warranty expired. But for unexplainable reasons, we had to just about sell our first born to get someone out here to repair it.

That is just as big of a mystery as the burn hole in our 1989 linoleum.

It wasn’t easy either because the microwave is set into the wall. But I don’t need to explain the specifics because I don’t really care. It’s fixed. Although I will add that every time we get some kind of electrical storm, we have to turn off the power that runs to it so it doesn’t get fried.

It’s great fun running into the basement to pull the fuse when we hear thunder in the distance. Remember that old trick we used to do when we were kids? Counting between thunderclaps to see how far away a storm was (one one thousand, two one thousand…)? It’s not so fun when your life –I mean, microwave — is on the line.

We spent a lot of money on these appliances. We could have paid for a trip around the world for one. Ok, so that’s an exaggeration, but we definitely could have gone to Disney World. Twice.

Next to go? The dishwasher. My treasured dishwasher. The dishwasher I cannot live without. I do not do dishes. Even emptying the dishwasher is a chore. I cried for a whole month when The Kid left for college. Not necessarily because I missed her (I did), but because that was her thing.

Not by choice, but because I made her.

I’m an awful mother who hates manual labor and all kids should have to pay their dues anyway, you know?

But I’d take emptying the dishwasher over washing dishes any day. I sometimes wonder if, in a previous life, I was horribly mauled by a wild boar while leaning over a river washing dishes.

Anyway, I think the dishwasher must have felt the same way about washing dishes as I did. It would run. It would SOUND like it was doing something. But it wasn’t, sad to say.

Note: only buy a dishwasher that loves — no, LIVES — for washing dishes. One word: Research.

The next thing to act up was the lower left burner on the stove top. We can turn it on, but can’t turn it off. Well, we can with a swift smack of your hand in the middle of it by someone who has enough power to knock some sense into it, but that requires third degree burns and a high pain threshold.

I really liked that burner too. It’s the kind that you can connect to the back burner to make it one long burner. Perfect for those big griddles to make pancakes and such.

Next? Our oven. Kind of. It hasn’t actually died. It has just slowed down. In it’s heyday of 2013 it would heat up faster than a rocket being shot up into orbit. Now it takes forever. I can probably build my own fire in the backyard, cook up a gourmet meal for ten, wash my dishes in the river, and it would still be warming up.

I’m afraid to say this out loud, but the fridge is the only guy standing. It’s still going strong. Until tomorrow. Because I’m superstitious and that’s just what happens. (Knocks on wood)

So, what do you think? Is this the biggest conspiracy since the whole “Elvis is still alive” thing? Maybe. I mean, I’m pretty sure I saw him in Shop Rite last week.

 

Weight For It – A Random Tale of the Girl With More Than One Chin

Courtesy of Pinterest somewhere
Courtesy of Pinterest somewhere (Dobardor.com to be exact)

I am at an all time high in the weight department.

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Me in Florida a few weeks ago. I’m wearing a fat suit on my face. I’m sure of it.

See? I told you.
See? I told you.

Ok, so I was about 24 here. Why can't I look like this again? WHY????
Ok, so I was about twenty-four years old here. But why can’t I look like this again? WHY???? God, if you let me look like this again, I’ll…oh, never mind.

I had never really had a problem with weight. When I was in high school, I could eat my lunch, all my friends’ leftovers, go home and eat Steak-umm sandwiches and Twinkies washed down with cherry Kool-Aid and still only weigh ninety-eight pounds soaking wet.

Well, it seems those days are gone.

I can no longer eat Twinkies — it turns out there isn’t a food group for chemicals anyway.

Why can’t I eat them? You know, aside from the fact that they are made of ingredients that are virtually unpronounceable, and umm, soap?

Because now they just take a detour to sit on my stomach, upper arms, and anywhere else they are not welcome.

Practically everyone I know is on Weight Watchers. I have always avoided the big WW or any other kind of weight loss program. I’ve always been in the camp of “just eat right and exercise” and you will be able to lose weight.

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Smack in the middle of my running days

Just over four years ago I did just that. I lost thirty pounds. I took up running and I journaled every single morsel of anything I put in my mouth.

A chocolate kiss? Twenty-two calories. A single potato chip? Fourteen.

I ran. The one thing I declared that I would never, ever do. Yet, I fell for it. Hard. I loved it. But it didn’t love me back. After a short few months into my new hobby, my meniscus tore in two places.

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Look ma, no Spanx!

After my surgery, I would cry tears of frustration whenever I would pass a runner. Aside from step class in the late eighties, running is the only exercise I actually enjoyed.

Anyway, I was in the best shape of my life. It took me a year to take off the weight, and a mere months to put it all back on, plus an extra five pounds for good measure.

Do you know how hard it is to lose weight once you hit fifty? Also, something happens to your middle. It grows and well, sags. It gets in the way of doing simple daily tasks. You all know what I’m talking about.

I don't know what this is, but be assured I ate it.
I don’t know what this is, but rest assured I ate it.

So, I kind of joined Weight Watchers. No, I do not go to meetings. Meetings have never been my thing. I have the app on my iPhone and I have been following it for almost a month now. They actually have pretty good recipes. DH is also on Weight Watchers, he just doesn’t know it.

And I’m down four pounds.

If I'm at a restaurant and I don't finish it, I always have to take it home. "One doggy bag to go." Except it wasn't for my dog.
Waste not, want not. And I wanted it.

The point of my blog post here is to say that I ate. I ate a lot. I always ate way more than DH does. The way I piled food on my plate, you’d think it was my last meal. Or that food was going to go out of fashion. Or a shortage was coming. Or an apocalyptic event.

I love bread
My love affair with bread.

I’m not talking vegetables and boiled chicken either. If I had a hankering for a plate of nachos, I would make some. I would stop into a McDonald’s on a whim. Not smart for someone who has struggled with genetically high cholesterol since 1986. Don’t lecture me. I know. My doctor is none too thrilled either.

When I started WW four weeks ago, I would bet I cut down my intake of

This was Buffalo Chicken dip. I made it on a whim and ate the entire thing. In one sitting. With tortilla chips.
This was Buffalo Chicken dip. I made it on a whim and ate the entire thing. In one sitting. With tortilla chips. .

food by a pound or two a day. Seriously. If I had a scale and actually weighed what I ate, I would be able to prove it to you.

For now, you’ll have to settle with eye-witnesses who can corroborate my story. And there are a lot of them so take your pick.

Again, my point is this…if I went from eating like a sumo wrestler to eating like a rabbit, why is it I only lost four pounds?

Oh, and I also cut back on my wine intake. Like, A LOT. You’d think I would have lost a ton of weight in the first week just based on the sheer volume of wine I no longer throw back.

I eat so many vegetables now, my nose is starting to twitch. And I haven’t even had so much as

All kinds of fish -- even shellfish -- are zero points. That's right, ZERO!
All kinds of fish — even shellfish — are zero points. That’s right, ZERO!

one ounce of red meat in thirty days.

I’m not saying losing a pound a week is bad. It’s a good and healthy way of losing weight. Slow and steady wins the race, right? I’m just saying, well, you know, I’m just surprised given what I’ve stopped ingesting.

Since I can’t run, I am having a difficult time getting back into the swing of exercising. Because, let’s be honest here. Exercising kind of sucks. I can always find other things that I’d rather be doing with my time.

You know, like swim with piranhas. And I can’t even swim.

The excuses I have for not going to the gym (which is FREE and three floors down from my desk at WORK), would impress even the Generation Z set.

So, I’m going to start up at the gym again. Also, I downloaded an app where they guarantee you will lose weight if you do what they tell you to do for seven minutes a day. So far, I haven’t opened it. Part of me is afraid of what will be required of me. You know, like moving. If apps could collect dust, I fear it most likely would start to resemble the elliptical in the spare room in no time.

So here I am, about day thirty. I’ll keep you posted. Hopefully, you won’t find me binge eating at the local McDonald’s. If you do, look the other way.

 

Our Family Christmas Letter – Volume 5

Fa la la la la and welcome to Our Family Christmas Letter #5.

The year of 2017 was the year of discovery.

I discovered that I can’t sleep past 6:00am and that I can no longer sit criss-cross apple sauce. If I do, I feel like my hips are going to crack out of their sockets. Also, I’m pretty sure there is nothing left of my knees. How do I know? It could be the fact that I cannot so much as walk to the end of my driveway without feeling like someone took a baseball bat to my kneecaps. Call it a hunch.

Why is all this happening? I don’t really know but I’m blaming the number 50 because it all went downhill starting on the magical day of April 6. Yes, I am officially middle-aged and it ain’t pretty.

I’ve also discovered that my pits have decided to sweat a river a day. I spent the better part of the second half of 2017 looking for the perfect deodorant. Just so you know, it doesn’t exist. Not even on the men’s shelf at Stop and Shop so don’t bother. Those dress shield things — otherwise known as maxi pads for your armpits — work well enough until one of them pops out of the top of your shirt. That’s a nice look. I highly recommend it.

I had my first colonoscopy which was a real joy. Everyone told me it was nothing. That the prep was the worst. I discovered that was not true and that my friends are all liars.

The worst part of it was vomiting upon waking from my procedure. Anyone who knows me knows I would rather give a speech about quantum physics with centipedes crawling all over me to a room of 12,000 people, than vomit.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration…let’s make it spiders.

Also, I still haven’t figured out how it was possible to throw-up when I hadn’t eaten in nearly 20 hours. One of the many mysteries of the world, I guess. Maybe I’ll discover why in 2018, as that discovery just was not to be so in 2017.

(Note: three polyps were found, so please don’t let the fact that I threw up deter you from having a colonoscopy. It could very well save your life.)

Work for me is going great. It took a few months, but the cobwebs are finally clearing out of my brain. I seem to have grown out of all my old work pants though, so I’ve been wearing the same four pairs.

I plan on fitting back into those too-tight pants this year, but my New Year’s resolution track record is not a good one; therefore, I wouldn’t count on it. I apologize to all my co-workers but I promise I’ll try to wash them as much as possible.

Our dishwasher died this year. So, in addition to not being able to prevent the occurrence of the River Nile from developing in my underarm region, I have become a literal prairie woman by washing my own dishes. My new nickname is Caroline Ingalls. You can call me Carol for short.

Our washer and dryer also kicked the bucket this year, as well as our microwave. There is nothing like having to warm up your leftovers on an open flame. “Carol” seems to be more fitting with every appliance breakdown, don’t you think? And no, I did not hand wash our clothes. I have to draw the line somewhere. Attention co-workers: I just lied to you back there.

As for the other members of the family, they are doing just fine.

Our college age dear daughter has decided when she comes home she is a guest; therefore, expects us to pull out all the stops. I put my foot down at putting out a pitcher of Perrier on her nightstand, though. Poland Springs will have to do.

Other than that, she is doing great. The college debt is building up just like it should be. The best part is spending an evening applying for FAFSA when we don’t get a dime. I find it entertaining to be declined. It makes me feel rich even if for just a moment when in actuality l’m pretty sure if you have at least a house made of cardboard, you are too wealthy for a government handout.

DH is doing well. Nothing much has changed with him. He still likes to park the motorcycle in the living room during the winter season. Even though I tried to explain to him that we are prairie people now and prairie people don’t do those things. He never listens.

He still has his job he loves. Last week, I caught him trying to poke his good eye out with a fork. I’m so glad I stopped him. It’s hard to do the job he loves with only half an eye. If you recall, he lost part of his eyesight last year.

He’s still slim as ever. To all you ladies out there who don’t want a fat husband, cook really bad food. Twenty five years and counting so I am living proof this method works.

Then what’s MY excuse? I love bad food. I’m selfless like that.

I almost forgot to tell you, we finally went on a real vacation! After months of planning, the three of us flew to Turks and Caicos. It rained five days out of six and I contracted something close to Dengue Fever and basically got our money’s worth in toilet paper but it was fun overall.

I’m pretty sure we’re the only people on the planet who come back from the Caribbean without a tan but that’s just how we roll. (Toilet paper + roll = pun — see what I did there?)

That’s it in a nutshell. I would write a recap, but I need to go help pick up the Christmas Tree that just fell in our living room.

Discovery #9: If it seems like the old plastic Christmas tree stand that is leaking, leans to one side, and that you’ve had since the beginning of time is not going to hold a hundred pound tree, it probably won’t.

Why is there a live tree in the living room anyway? Yet another discovery hopefully to come in 2018.

See you all in the New Year…be safe and prosper.

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.

The Getaway Part III – The Conclusion

If you need to catch up, click here for Part I, and click here for Part II.

Ready?

Needless to say, we didn’t go to Fire Island. The idea of us walking in the dark in a place we’ve never been to didn’t really appeal to either of us. Lord knows I love food, but I didn’t need to work that hard for it. Ocean or not.

DH remembered a restaurant someone recommended…an over-priced italian place right on the sound. We decided that sounded like a nice place to celebrate our anniversary dinner, so he called to make a reservation.

Unfortunately, the only open spot was at eight, but at that point we were pretty happy with anything so we took it.

Since we had so much time to kill, we decided to go into town to see if we could find a cute place where we could have a cocktail on the sidewalk. Well, not ON the sidewalk exactly. That would be weird and probably illegal or something.

We quickly settled on a trendy little spot (with some tables outside) with THE BEST margarita with muddled cucumber. Don’t knock it ’till you try it. I raved so much about it, the server actually got the bartender to write down the recipe for me.

But I totally digressed there.

When the maitre de showed us our street-side table, I noticed a woman leaning over the fence/wall, right where we were going to sit. I maneuvered myself around her bobbing and weaving body and sat pretty much right under her. I didn’t ask her to move because I don’t like confrontation. I was fine with her hair hanging down into my plate. Really, I was.

At first I thought she had an impairment. A disability of some sort. But then the stench of alcohol permeating from her pores was so intense I almost didn’t have to order a drink because I was beginning to catch a buzz off her breath.

After about five minutes, the man she was with was able to finally pry her off the wall/fence and into a waiting car. Just in time too. My blood alcohol level had most likely reached .08%. And that was before I ordered a drink.

We slowly drank our cocktails, but somehow we still had some time to kill. We stopped into a liquor store and picked up a bottle of wine to share for a nightcap later on our private balcony, then ducked into a dollar store to purchase a couple of wine glasses, and headed off to dinner.

img_0556It was dark when we pulled into the parking lot, but the restaurant was lit up like a Christmas tree. It was beautiful. There was a wedding going on and the atmosphere was lively. The way I like it.

DH spoke to the hostess and explained it was our anniversary and asked for a table out on the back deck. We were led outside to a table “on the rail” except the rail was a solid concrete seawall that came to my neck.img_0544

I know there was salt water on the other side because we were told so. I just couldn’t see it. Unless I stood on tippy toe. Even then it was so dark out, I would not even have known there was water out there save for the working lighthouse a mile or two out.

DH ordered a beer, I the house wine. My wine tasted like swill. I had barium better than that. Somehow I was mistakenly under the impression that the house wine in a fancy italian restaurant would be good.

Not sure where I got that idea from.

For dinner, I had the clams as an appetizer and the spaghetti and meatballs as an entree. Simple, sure. But I wanted something comforting for some reason. Besides, we were in an italian restaurant. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to order?

Needless to say, half the clams wound up in my napkin. They were so chewy, if I didn’t actually take them from the shell myself, I would have thought I ordered cow balls.

And the meatballs? My Irish grandmother made better. I made better and I don’t even make meatballs. As for the sauce, I was pretty sure it was taken right out of Chef Boyardee’s kitchen.

Sorry, Chef B.

We had a nice time though. It’s about the company, not the meal. We laughed it off. Anyway, it seemed to be par for the course that weekend.

After we got back to the hotel, we uncorked our bottle and sat on our plastic adirondack chairs on our private terrace, and sipped wine out of our dollar store glasses while overlooking our little piece of water.

But it doesn’t end there.

On the other side of the shore, there was a building. We didn’t know what it was because it was dark, but we did see a couple of cars pull into the parking lot and turn off the headlights while their vehicles were still in motion.

We immediately went into Magnum PI mode. Trying to crack a crime that may or may not have been happening. A couple of dark figures got out of their cars and walked into the shadows. Was it a drug bust? Disposing of a body? A heist?

Most likely just a couple of kids sharing a joint, but it was fun to imagine something sinister.

Fast forward to the next morning (because you don’t need to know the in-between…wink wink). That long-awaited spa-like shower I was looking forward to taking was not to be.

The faucet was broken. The water temperature couldn’t be regulated nor would it turn off once it was turned on. The water was hot and getting hotter by the minute.

Well, there was always breakfast.

After we got dressed, we made our way down to the 5×6 foot lobby to eat.

img_0561On our way down, we saw a lady come out of the front door with a package of Pop Tarts. I turned and made a joke to DH about it.

When we entered and made our way to the “buffet,” we saw that our choices were stale bagels, three types of cereal, and frozen Leggo My Eggo waffles.

I was desperately searching for the Pop Tarts that suddenly didn’t seem so bad, but the early bird catches the worm, and I lost out.

I settled on the bagel and cranberry juice when what I really wanted was a diner and a stack of pancakes. DH had the same but with a cup of coffee.

We took our Top Shelf breakfast back up to our balcony. Across the way, where the night before the Crime of the Century was going down, we saw was actually a fire training center.img_0564

Yes, a building on “mock” fire with firemen trying to put it out with big hoses, and all the works. It was cool, but just the topper to the end of our weekend.

As we were leaving, DH told me how much he enjoyed our little room. Anyone who knows him, knows he is not a traveller and especially abhors hotels. His comment was worthy of a heart attack, but made me happy nonetheless.

Long of the short, but long story…I discovered that Long Island does not mean The Hamptons. After all that it was a great anniversary celebration, Hamptons or not.

img_0559
Cheers from our Dollar Store wine glasses!