In 1983, no matter how farfetched it seems, I was the only virgin out of my small circle of friends. I wasn't a prude. I did "make out" and I had been to third base and back again, but I hadn't gone "all the way." A fact which made my best friend, Toni, extremely irritated.
She liked to call me Beth White. A little play on Snow White and done in irritating sing song. If I had known one day I'd be listening to the White Stripes, I might have worn this name with pride, but I was downright ashamed of it then.
I was only 13. I mean, there was a good reason I was a virgin; I was a child, but at the time, I felt like I was lagging behind. I felt there was a rite of passage I hadn't yet conquered. I felt alone and childish.
My boyfriend at the time (half Filipino/half Italian) went by the name of Ruzzo. Yes, his mother actually put that on his birth certificate. Unlike me, he was fast, older, more experienced. Half of the year we dated or more, he spent in a group home due to a large number of stolen bicycles the cops found in his garage. No, a new bicycle was not the temptation. Ruzzo looked like Eddie Van Halen and smelled like Old Spice ... an intoxicating combination ... at least to me.
I can't say he pressured me into sex. I mean, he TRIED and I would just push him away. Then he would just stop, so he was more than happy when I announced one night on the phone, "It's time I did IT."
Ruzzo said he would "make it special". This meant we would "do it" at his house (his mother wouldn't be home) during the next school day. I had instructed it to be dark so he put a piece of cardboard with holes in it blocking his bedroom window. He said the holes would make it "like stars." This kid wasn't exactly Mensa material.
That morning, I remember painting my face like I was going off to battle ... in layers. It was more like war paint than make up. When I got off the bus, even my friends commented on how dark it was to which I replied, "Well, won't it wear off?" Everyone was nervous, but I didn't know why. Wasn't I the lamb heading to slaughter? Wasn't this a GOOD thing though?
Ruzzo came strolling up the back hill directly to me. He looked most nervous of all, but he'd done this before ... just not with a virgin. He put his arm around me and when the bell rang, led me back to his house. One friend, Julie, ran down the path to me, stopped me and said, "You don't HAVE to do this. Just remember that." I didn't say anything. I was afraid I might cry and have all that sludge run down both cheeks on my new ecru buckle front top (it was cooler sounding in the 80's).
Ruzzo walked hand-in-hand with me the whole way. I kept stealing looks at him thinking, 'He's a good boyfriend. We've been together a year. We'll get married someday. This is all right. I'm not sinning. I won't burn in Hell.'
Finally at his house and in his room, he made stupid small talk. He read a beer mug to me, but didn't know how to pronounced "particularly", he kept saying "partially". I took the time to sound it out for him thinking his idiocy was actually cute. (What a difference a couple decades make.)
At the end of his recitations, it was time to actually get down to business. (no pun intended) I was too embarrassed to just undress so I pulled the covers over my head and did piece by piece. Slowly. Whatever thought of stopping came into my mind, I pushed away with, "Toni will be questioning you after. You can't just make up details."
When we began, awkward doesn't do the situation justice. For one, I was feeling more scared than any other emotion. Secondly, entry seemed rather impossible. It was as if an invisible chastity forcefield was blocking the way. Worried he was causing me pain, and rightly so, Ruzzo said, "I should just stop."
Worried Toni would cause me emotional pain, I said, "NO, just keep going! Just do it." Affirmation to proceed with vaginal beating out of the way, it took only five short minutes, if that (and oh my gosh, a whirlwind of agony) to finish.
I don't think I'll ever forget when he got up, got dressed, and announced rather coldly, "I need to take a shower." I know I won't forget kneeling on his bedroom floor ... partly out of the still throbbing sensation and partly because I felt something precious was now gone ... forever. I just cried. I didn't think about Toni, my mother, God, or Ruzzo. I thought about me ... and the hurt. Before he came back, I took the cardboard off his window and glanced into the mirror. The make up was gone. I was flushed, stripped of color. "Beth White," I mimicked.
When Ruzzo returned, the walk to Main Street to meet our friends was different than walking away from them that morning. He no longer held my hand. Ruzzo now walked a few paces in front of me. My pelvic floor now felt like a full blown injury. It hurt to walk so I let him get far ahead of me and didn't say a word.
On Main Street, the Julie looked at me with sadness in her eyes and said, "You're so pale. Did you?" I shook my head yes. I thought about the war paint, how I'd won nothing, yet lost everything. Toni said, "I don't believe it. No, you didn't." I tried to convince her by giving light details, but a glance over to Ruzzo was all it took. Ruzzo, laughing, shaking his long hair with a proud look on his face while getting pats on the back from his friends.
A month later, I knew Ruzzo had lost interest. Knew it like I knew I wasn't a kid anymore. I told him we should probably see other people. How fast he jumped on that statement. "Yes, Beth, I think so too. I mean, yeah, we love each other, but we're young."
Mmhmm. Too young to really plan marriage. Too young to make adult decisions. Far too young to have sex, especially to give away my virginity to you, but I just shook my head and said, "Exactly."
When I was a youngster, my dad would take me on strange road trips at least a couple times a summer. Not to the zoo or to a park or even to the beach, but to things like the "abandoned shack" or "one street across from the Amityville Horror house."
I was an impatient child, but riding in my father's truck meant good behavior. Although he never smacked me, jayhawked me, or even cuffed the back of my head, I always felt he would ... if given the chance. He was the father of yesteryear, growing up during the Great Depression ... the "don't mess with me" Marlboro man ... sans cowboy hat.
On one particular trip to a "potato store" (no, I'm not making that up), we drove for miles and miles. (although based on young age at the time, it could have been 5) Finally, we pulled up in front of this tiny Mom & Pop-type joint. I don't remember the name of it, but I do remember wondering what type of potatoes would be there. Would they be king-size like on "Land of the Lost" or just funky colors? Perhaps they really would have eyes instead of just "holes we call eyes for no apparent reason".
Anyhow, while walking into the market, I was surrounded by adults. This place was hopping. Shocking, but true. People just liked the potatoes, I guess.
The floor was covered in old linoleum tiles that were waxed. They gleamed in the light ... and smack dab in the middle of that floor was a pile of money. Not just a few tens or twenties, but a legitimate pile (picture size of bed pillow) of cash.
I stopped walking. I stared. I blinked. I looked at others around me walking around or directly on the booty. I had this feeling of claim. I wanted to hurl my body over the loot while shouting "MINE, MINE" in my best Daffy Duck voice only to shove the money in my Tough Skins (synthetic jeans of the 70's meant to take great wear ... like falling out of trees, skidding on rocks, hurling yourself on floors) pockets.
Being a semi-idiotic and truthful child, I instead tugged on my dad's arm, which caused him to shout, "WHAT?" I didn't want any attention to us or the money. I had already moved a good five feet away from it and knew I was in a dangerous 'non-claim' position.
I whispered up at him: "Dad, there's a big pile of money in the middle of the store right behind me and no one sees it."
Dad: "WHAT?" (obviously thinking I am saying nothing worthwhile)
Me, beginning to sweat and panic (poor kids everywhere know this type of sweat ... the kind where you never see money so when it's finally in front of you, the body almost convulses with glee): "Dad, we have to be quiet. Look behind me at the floor."
He looks. He stops dead. He looks around at all the people passing by and over it. Much like I did moments before. Then he does what I should have done, but didn't ... he bends down and begins making a neater pile of the money in his hand. A neat, huge stack.
After he finished, he brought the money to the owner of the store. At this point, I wanted to scream, "It's mine! I found it! Don't do it! Just give it to me!" I did nothing. To my shock and surprise, the owner says in almost boredom, "Well, no one has said a word about it. If it's still unclaimed in the morning, you can have it. Take it home with you so you don't have to make a return trip."
Oh joy! Rapture! The money could possibly be mine by the morning. Visions of a new bike were dancing in my head. Pink Huffy with the extra-cushioned and rippled banana seat. Oh, yes! I'll take one of those. New basket, new horn, deflectors, glow-in-the-dark spoke protectors. Good-bye junkyard bike painted with Rustoleum rust-colored paint with the non-matching ripped up green and white seat. Hello, Bike of My Dreams! Hello, Goddess on Two Wheels!
Let's just say I didn't sleep that night. I didn't sleep most nights, but this one was filled with bike visions and anticipation. Even my evil older siblings were excited, yet I'll admit it, very very jealous. Bonus!
By the next morning, I was sitting directly in front of the phone, waiting for my father to call. After he leisurely (too leisurely for my taste) ate breakfast, he made the phone call which may/may not change my life forever.
Dad holding phone to ear: "No? Well, wow!"
Me (to myself): He's not smiling. Uh oh. Someone claimed it. I knew it! Pillaging pirate has come back to take the treasure on the ship with him. No, mobster dropped briefcase spilling cash out on the floor. Ugh. It's over.
Dad: "Yeah, my daughter saw it. Yup, people were just walking all over it." Then he laughed.
Me: He laughed! Things may have changed. Maybe impending reward. At least new accessories for my bike ... enough for green can of paint. I can deal.
Dad: "Well, thanks a lot! Yep, you too. Bye."
I waited, wide-eyed, listening to my father announce to my mother quietly, "No one claimed it. He said I could keep it."
I went to jump for joy and then I realized there was the wrong pronoun in that sentence. "I" should have been "she". "She" meant "Beth", "his daughter", "one who actually saved money from trampling".
Since I was afraid of my father, I knew I couldn't actually shout "MINE, MINE" at him while pulling out his chest hairs, so instead I quietly asked, "Dad, did you say you were keeping it? Like all of it?"
Then the words came out that deflated those beautiful richly-grooved black Huffy tires forever, "Yes, I'M keeping it! End of story."
And like me, he was a truthful guy so he meant what he said. HE kept it. I never saw a dime of that money. I never did get accessories to my bike. It never was re-painted and the siblings even frowned at the decision. The evil siblings without a conscious thought my father was wrong.
Decades have passed, yet even now in quiet moments sitting by his bed, I still look at him, still think about it, the money, the expectations, and I say to him, "Pink Huffy."
Since my dad is now unable to speak well and barely move, I'm not sure if he knows what I mean. Heck, I'm sure he doesn't since I never told him all the plans that money and I had, but I know.
So, just remember ... if you ever see a big pile of loot, lunge for it, tell no one you are with it is there. Sure, bring it to the counter in case deadly mobster or crazy pirate actually DID lose it, but still ... finder's keepers, right?
Lastnight was one of the two softball games my daughter has to attend weekly. Of course it was scorching hot ... 95 degrees, only hot wind was occasionally blowing the sweat around your face. And of course instead of being able to finish my latest read (Girl With A Pearl Earring) during warm-up, I had to listen to my daughter's best friend's mother rattle on and on concerning her life. I usually forget this woman's name (my mind tries to block her out), but it's Cathy.
I sit, book on knee, get khaki chair comfy, and down she comes with similar chair, yet it's shockingly turquoise. My mind wonders if she actually chose the color based on what she loved ... or what was nearest the front. Then I look at her tropical pants and realize ... yep, she likes color.
Cathy places chair right by mine even though mine was clearly in the "do not bother me" zone. Nowhere near the bleachers, but oh well, I put the purse aside. I take a breath and soon Cathy begins giving me more tidbits of her life ... all the tidbits, even the ones that make me blush.
I now know she's 40, but super horny. Cathy prefers sex 5x a day. She doesn't really care who it is with, but current shagmate is helping her pay the bills. As for the bills, she can hardly pay them. Cathy's shopping habit keeps her in the hole. She's worried, but figures "money is for spending." I wanted to tell her some people also did this crazy thing with money called "save" or even crazier ... "invest"! I didn't think Cathy'd believe me so I just nodded.
Now I am stroking cover of book wishing I could be lost in that world instead of hearing about Cathy's.
Warm-up is over. The game begins. My daughter gets up to bat and finally, begins playing like she does at home. CRACK, the first ball goes sailing. She gets a double.
Second time up to bat ... CRACK! Ball goes sailing. It's a double again. This happens the entire game. Either my daughter hits like a pro or she fields even better. Everyone was freaking out on her with cheers and praise. The other team was even told to "watch her" when she went up to the plate. What a feeling of immense pride when other girls are "watching" your daughter, much like Gestapo or Mob.
Cathy, being competitive in all things, tells me my daughter's victories are amazing flukes.
Me: Blink blink blink (brain is trying to process rudeness, fists are trying not to pummel her face) Her: "They are amazing though." Me: "Not truly amazing. This is how she plays at home. This is what she's been afraid to do in public because she doesn't like attention." Her: "I think the pitcher is getting them right in there for her though." Me: "Hmmm, could be. I mean, once you find out she can hit, why not throw them perfectly? Yet, I suck as a pitcher and she hits mine at home." Her: (no actual sound .... thinking of new line of competition)
Time goes by and Cathy brings up basketball and how that's HER daughter's sport. I'm like, "Super!" Then she keeps saying her daughter hurt her knee so is "off" tonight. I'm like, "Awww, poor kid."
I bring up track and how my daughter was asked to be on the team this year. How happy it made me, but how surprised I was she agreed. How my daughter isn't into athletic pursuits and neither was I.
Now Cathy must go on and on about how my daughter couldn't possibly be faster than her daughter. (yes, my daughter is) I just nod my head once again. It's obvious my daughter is faster, but I don't give a flying fig about it. I was happy about track in general, not because I thought she'd be in the Olympics someday, but because she was recognized for something and actually wanted to do it.
Almost on cue, coach yells out to my daughter as she's coming over to me, "Hey, you're the fastest kid on the team!" My daughter shrugged, kept walking and asked me, "Did you hear what he said?"
Me: "Yep, great job, honey! I'm proud of you." Cathy: Looking off to side, pretending she doesn't hear us. Me: Insides are laughing, guffawing, chuckling and knee slapping
Now Cathy has started picking on the heavy players on the team to the parents on the bleachers. Saying things like, "Wow, I would make my kid diet if they were that big. It's just not right. No one must like them in school. Oh, they'd get picked on daily!"
Other parents also agree. Give silly little anecdotes.
Then another mom, "Oh, I KNOW! I try to be a good role model for my child. I eat right. I run. I do sit-ups! I don't even think my mother did ONE sit up! What were our parents thinking?"
Laughter from crowd.
Me: Begin obnoxious laugh then almost shout, "They were too busy enjoying life! You know, having FUN! I mean, REAL FUN! Can you believe it? They worked their asses off and relaxed when it was appropriate. Big Sunday dinners. NO counting carbs, no portion control ... just good food, good conversation. But I guess progress means picking on heavy children, worrying over everything you eat, and all that craziness, all that calorie counting and dieting, just lead to obesity being out of control in this country. More divorces. Unhappier children. Go figure!"
The crowd: Silence.
One rogue fellow: "Yeah, my parents did actually have fun and I really can't stand the carb thing."
Another rogue fellow: "I miss mashed potatoes."
Woman who's a "good" role model: "OH, mashed potatoes with a half stick of butter melting in them. Mmmmmmm."
Me: That's more like it.
Here's hoping this Wednesday Cathy finds another mother to accost. (fingers crossed)
All I Really Need to Know About Being a Woman, I Learned From Drag Queens
Growing up in the 70's was a strange time. The free-loving sixties were being left behind for a decadent disco world. Still free-loving, but much more expensive. My big brothers fit right in. At the time, I didn't know why my brothers could decorate, dress, dance, and debate so well, but before the 80's and my "double digit" years began; I was informed the oldest brother was gay.
Not JUST gay, although this alone was more than surprising in small town life, but a full-fledged drag queen on weekends. From Monday through Friday, my oldest brother played a pretty normal routine. Although he had highlights before it was considered "okay" for men, he still dressed "down" for most occasions. On the weekend, however ... look out! His hair would be pulled back with a stocking cap to accentuate his eyes, a wig would be donned, full make up, nails ... you name it. Most gowns were created a la Scarlet O' Hara ... from drapes.
To me, this didn't mean anything at all. I was a tomboy ... climbing trees, playing with army men, building forts. My major relationships were with Snickers candy bars and Coca-Cola in the glass bottle (pre-plastic). I didn't see gender-specific roles yet.
By the time I hit the pre-teens, I had my first eyebrow "plucking", a right of passage for many coming-of-agers everywhere. My brother in his high flamboyant style said, "Unibrows will never be in ... so it's time to get rid of yours." 500 hairs, some swelling, redness and about an hour later, my one Muppet-like eyebrow was transformed into two "sperm-shaped" (his words, not mine) eyebrows. Sperm-shaped eyebrows were THE shape to have back then. Perfectly rounded in front, pointed in the back back.
I was now expected to give up climbing trees. Fingernail polish should be on my nails at all time, which meant growing my nails past a "diesel dyke" (again, his words) length. This alone was a major feat since nail biting was one of my favorite nighttime hobbies.
Soon all my clothes were picked out by my brother and if they weren't, he would evaluate my own choices. Each morning the eldest brother would iron them, lay them out, accessorize me, and send me on my way. I was a life-size Barbie complete with bleach blonde (from a home concoction of Ivory Snow detergent and peroxide) hair.
This brother had a particular bent towards the unusual. He wanted me to stand out, but without being a clown or whore-like. His motto was, "Create the trends others will mock." My second oldest brother, who still wasn't "out of the closet" yet, began to rebel against this way of teaching. This should have given me a clue about his sexuality as well, (if not then the ever popular chant of "pretty fades" should have at least flipped some switch) but I thought he just was concerned regarding my fashion sense.
Instead of playing football like most big brothers, he just thought Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand were the way, the light, and the truth. Judy Garland was fabulous because he wanted to nail her, not BE her. Oh, the things we tell ourselves to make sense out of situations when we're young.
Brother #2 began working in a boutique where he would buy me more upscale, more sophisticated outfits. Skirts replaced jeans. Hand-knit sweaters replaced neon "big shirts". Black was a staple, but always coupled with an eye-catching shade of emerald or fuschia ... and jewelry, can't forget the little extras.
By this brother, I was told I needed to either lose weight or get my molars extracted. I was under 100 pounds. He thought my cheeks were reminiscent of Alvin (chipmunk-like) and said ALL models extracted the back teeth to get that "sunken in" look. It was either that or be a full-fledged anorexic. I opted for neither, much to his chagrin. I rather liked chewing my food and I didn't have complaints regarding a 24" waist.
When Brother #2 finally divorced his wife and came out in high style, I found out by walking in on him in my room in full make up that he also was a drag queen. I can't say I screamed or jumped or even laughed. I was just like, "Oh, that explains a lot." He laughed, sucked in his cheeks, and said, "I am a gorgeous woman though," to which I just shrugged. I mean, I had two brothers and now both of them were more feminine than me. What are the odds?
Now the battle of the Barbie was truly on. Brother #1 would buy me a new mini-skirt as a bribe for me to have my haircut in new "bob-like" style. Brother #2 would buy me full outfit to replace jean mini-skirt. I was taught by one to apply full "Vogue" make-up within 15 minutes, exactly to my coloring, but with a bit of drama ... sweeping black eyeliner much like in the Egyptian style. I was taught by the other to wipe off the eyeliner because it was tacky.
All my brother's gay friends pitched in to teach me as well. Some for hair, some for manners, and others just for walking in heels.
I still remember eating dinner with one of their favorite wealthy yet elderly gay friends. He was the spitting image of Yoda in a wig. We were eating steak and he slapped my hand then snipped, "It's already dead, honey. You don't need to kill it! THIS is how you eat with a fork and knife." Then he began to demonstrate ... my way, his way. My way looking like something out of "Deliverance" and his way, looking like something out of Buckingham Palace.
Sure, I had tears in my eyes. Sure, I wanted to spontaneously combust, but I watched him. The knife, the fork, the napkin, the dab of the lip, the water glass ... all of it. I will admit, I was one of few who actually knew how to behave and look at formal functions ... although at 12, I didn't get many an opportunity.
Growing up, getting older, getting married, I had a built-in fashion sense. I knew exactly how to do my make up, what to wear, what to avoid, and how to help others along this same light. Now I have my own daughter, but I have battled hard to keep my inner drag queen at bay.
I will admit, I have been able to help her a lot. I haven't pushed it on her, but I did gently say, "Let's give you two eyebrows someday soon!" Or "you are not a prostitute so let's skip this whole section of the store." At times she will ask in a huff, "Why do you always sound like my uncles when we discuss clothes?" To which I'll reply, "Those old queens? They've got nothin' on me!"
I know how to make pretty beautiful. I know how to lovingly say, back that ass up and take a seat so we can fix that mess. I know how to make a dead potted plant thrive again, set a beautiful dinner, and decorate a bare wall. I know what not to wear and what to buy more of instead. I know all this and more because all I really need to know about being a woman, I learned from drag queens.
And The Winning Awards for Everything Under the Sun Goes To ...
everyone except my daughter. (a bit of an exaggeration, yes)
Lastnight was my daughter's 6th grade graduation.
My beauty can be seen here accepting her certificate:
I really think I need some kind of medication for parents who expect more than they are getting from their children or medication for parents who are trying to vicariously live through their children. Seriously!
I have a son and daughter. One year apart. Both good looking, perfect weight, good students, musical, funny, and with good morals. Should I complain? No.
My daughter is one of the few of her friends who isn't boy crazy. She's only 12, but some of her friends are getting "felt up." My kid still thinks this is gross.
Although my son becomes like rabid dog when Victoria's Secret commercials are on, he always ends up saying, "Yeah, but I'd like my wife to not be slutty like them." The fact that he's calling super models slutty always makes me smile.
They receive A's and B's in school. My daughter has always been in the accelerated program. Yet, I always want more. I'll admit it along with admitting it's a problem.
Lastnight, all the teachers handed out awards to students in areas of Social Studies, Mathematics, ELA (English), and Science. Out of about 8 teachers, they handed out roughly 8-12 awards each. My daughter received none. It was the first time she hasn't received anything.
So, up comes the principal giving out two Citizenship awards and a brand new Principal's award for leadership capabilities. Again, none to my daughter. And the boy chosen for the leadership award can't even spell. He said the students voted and I know he's a popular long-haired little dude, but the first time he called my daughter on the phone, he said, "I'm really stupid. I'll admit it." She thought he was joking until he wrote her a letter and she had to decipher his outrageous spelling errors.
And I sat there thinking, "This is what makes an outstanding leader? Long hair and stupidity? What's going on?" Then I realized I was feasting on sour grapes so righted myself, went to the reception, smiled, congratulated, took pictures. Yet my mind was racing.
By the time we left, I just burst out with, "I really can't believe you didn't receive anything. I can't believe that idiot won the Principal's new award! Don't you even speak in class or anything?" And that's all it took. My daughter's face dropped, she didn't speak, we got home, she went to her room and cried. =(
It's hard for me to admit when I drop the ball in parenting, but this one has me confused. Do I not expect the best? Do I not expect anything? Are expectations a bad thing? Should I expect her worst and be happy if it's better? Should I just not push my children to do better? I don't know.
I did go to her, I did apologize. I hugged her and told her that I was wrong, that her best is what I cared about and not the recognition of it. I said a lot more than that, but it was basically one big apology from my huge cock up.
When I was in school, awards were political. If your parents had money, if you were popular, you received awards. Period. Even in high school, votes would be written in for superlatives and about 10 seniors and one teacher would throw out all votes for those students who weren't "preppy" or "jocks" or "ass kissers." This is just how it was done and how it's still done today in most schools. Knowing this, I always told my daughter the importance of balance ... a large group of friends, good grades, good attitude. She's done well, yet no teacher recognized it lastnight.
OK, as I was typing this, both the kids came in with awards from the morning program today. Still, awards aside, I need some kind of pill, counseling at the very least.
I wanted to show everyone the progress I'm making outdoors. This isn't one of those side splitting posts or deep "get to know me" ones either, but I'm hoping to show off some of what makes my hands look so ragged.
Semi-befores (I raked it down and put some mulch on it) ... of wall above rose bushes & bushes themselves (it was much worse before I pulled all the roots & debris off of hill and levelled ground, raised beds, etc.)
After black mulch, boxwoods, privets, major growth and some more shaping
Before of North Forest (this was after I raked the whole thing out) After of Cleared North Forest & VEGGIE Garden (it's really taking off!)
The Plain Ole Stump - Before
Not So Plain Stump - After (done with hollowing out stump, planting around, using rocks, etc.)
Just to Prove I'm Nuts ... I started a second rock wall above massive first rock wall and anchored it with a sour cherry bush (the start of my Japanese-style garden)
That's it for now. Maybe I'll show my patchwork blanket next time. =)
Rarely in life do I find something that I need, I love, and that works well. On a short Wal-Mart trip two days ago, I found this:
If you're not a water drinker or without water for long periods of time due to being in an office with crappola water or being outside where water is non-existent, you may not understand the joy my Monster Mug brings me. I call it the Blue Giant.
Before I had to stop at least every hour to run inside and grab water. This was not a good method of doing any physical outdoors labor because I am usually covered with mud or some sort of debris. This means I have to wash before I can drink.
I'm woozy, dehydrated, and washing up first.
I try to drink 10-12 eight-ounce servings a day and the Blue Giant now gives me 8 out of those servings all in one shot! At under $4.00 a mug, it's affordable and has a nifty enclosed holder for water so the hot outside of the mug doesn't heat up the water inside. Pretty nifty, eh?
It also comes complete with some cool water facts like:
- The body is 80% water. - We need to drink at least 1/2 our body weight in ounces of water. - Dehydration slows down the body's metabolism. - Lack of H20 causes daytime fatigue. - 75% of the U.S. population are chronically dehydrated. - 37% of the U.S. population mistake thirst for hunger. - 98% of dieters use water to deter hunger pangs.
Oh, there's more, but that's a full and complete review.
So, how much water are you drinking? Should you drink more? Do you care? Let's get a hydration chain out there going and perhaps come up with lyrics to the new "Ode to the Blue Giant." lol
Happy sipping! Or as my mother used to chant,
"Sip suck Suck sorrow What you don't sip today You'll suck tomorrow!"
Unlike most women, my favorite place to shop is NOT at malls or special boutiques. I don't do shoe outlets or even Macy's. My shopping mecca resides at Home Depot ... any Home Depot.
I even received a Home Depot card in the mail and even though I don't like credit cards, I kept it. Just because it's orange, has my name, and Home Depot right above it. =) I also received a 10% coupon if I use the card, which is great because I figured just to pay for it right after retrieving the online balance through my checking account.
Yeah, this was all great ... in theory.
I soon found out the 10% coupon doesn't cover exactly what I wanted ... a Neptune washer and dryer. So, I decided to forego the new set for another year and be more practical. Stick with building supplies, paint.
I bought a parquet floor ... along with a dishwasher, which I desperately needed. My old dishwasher(s) don't do a good job ... even though they get paid for it. None other than my own son and daughter.
When I got up to the register, I realized I forgot my 10% coupon. I figured, "Oh well, I'll be back and with a bigger purchase someday." During the checkout I realize I've been overcharged for the flooring so I stop the cashier to tell her. She says, "Oh, I can't do anything about that now. We'll have to let it go through and then Customer Service will help you."
Are Home Depot registers actually made without a void key? Can transactions not be stopped once started? What if I suddenly realized I used the wrong card or had a heart attack? Would my purchase just stay on the computer screen until I was ready to go through with it? Or would all Home Depot employees have to chip in and pay for it? Is this how they help?
As I was pondering this and walking up to Customer Service, I see the representative leaving. I stand behind an empty desk ... and wait and wait and wait. A customer behind me asks, "What brings you to this desert?" I find this quite funny. We begin chatting while I continue to wait ... and wait ... and wait.
Finally, a cashier takes pity on me and comes over to page someone ... anyone. No one responds to any page. I've been standing here for about 20 or more minutes. 10 more pass. She keeps apologizing. Customer behind me keeps talking.
After about a half hour, customer service rep finally comes back to desk ... only to have me walk her over to the placard advertising sale. She's very confused by this, by the numbers, that the sale itself exists ... as if I've just shown her Home Depot heiroglyphics and said, "Figure this out."
I explain the numbers to her, the sales price, how it probably isn't in the computer for some reason, how I skipped breakfast because I thought I'd be home by lunch. She doesn't acknowledge me. Just keeps this baffled look on her face.
Light bulb (and I'm thinking it can only be a 20 watt) goes off and she writes sale price on receipt and then does what? Does she go back and correct it? Give me money back? Apologize? Get me out of there quickly since it's now been over 30 minutes? No, she hands receipt to the SAME cashier who took pity on me, who said she couldn't refund, and says, "Refund then recharge," and just walks away.
Caring cashier looks at me and says, "I'm not really sure about any of this." Now floor guy comes up blaming some "Jennifer" for not switching prices and causing this mess. He doesn't apologize either. Someone tells cashier how easy it is to give me money back and recharge. Cashier has epiphany and handles me now. 45 minutes have passed. She apologizes profusely and tells me, "Your original cashier could have stopped this right when you told her at the checkout. I don't know why she told you otherwise, but she lied."
So, not only does Home Depot not care about my loyal patronage, they also lie to me. Could it get any worse?
Don't be fooled by dazzling smile and lovely potted plant. She can't help you.
Recently, I purchased the White Stripes new CD, "Get Behind Me Satan." Seen here:
I'm already a White Stripes fan so there was no need to be sold. I recommend all their CDs highly. This one received a rave review in "Rolling Stone" telling other bands, "It sucks to be you." High praise.
Most of my attraction to this band initially, however, was based on the slightly offbeat members ... only two - Jack and Meg White. Quirky? You decide:
I always believed they were brother and sister. They look like two kids cut from the same goth gene pool. I loved the idea of two siblings teaming up to actually make really good music. My husband would even use these two as representatives for my children saying, "Jack and Meg did it, you can too! It's a hook to be brother and sister, but you both have talent to boot." The ability to make good music. Not rap, pop, or the ever popular whiney semi-punk on the scene now.
Then I read they weren't even siblings, but once husband and wife. I was like, "Huh?" =/ It just didn't add up. It certainly would not be as effective in lecturing the kids to practice their instruments.
So while taking my daughter to the orthodontist, I see a magazine, which contains a White Stripes article. Hurray ... a tasty news nugget! Then I read how the magazine can neither confirm nor deny whether Jack and Meg are sister/brother or ex-husband/ex-wife. =/ again. BUT they can confirm Jack just married some Brazilian model on some wacko shaman officiated boat trip ceremony and Meg was there as a witness.
And I don't care about the shaman or getting married on some canoe while traveling down a river running through some jungle. I see two words: "Jack" and "model". My heart sinks because maybe I'm the one who's plastic, but once a dude in the music or acting industry does this, marries a model, I think, "Oh yeah, there's no depth there."
This fellow's right where Jack White is for me now:
The shallow end.
Ah well, I still like the music. I just lost respect for the singer. A divorce within a year could change that, but far be it for me to hope for any sort of downfall.
Happy weekend, everyone, and for those about to rock, I salute you!
Friday is usually my busiest day of the week ... for indoors cleaning. Daughter called me from the bathroom at school today to come home. She was so embarrassed over throwing up, she didn't want anyone to see her. Ha! So, I told her just to slip out when I arrived and I would explain it to the school.
Since she's been home there has been no vomiting and lots of eating. Hmmm. If she weren't a good student who never missed school, I would believe I was played.
Son is still at school and will be quite shocked not to see sister on the return bus home. Hopefully, all turns out well.
Weekend plans include outdoor work and more renovations. Anyone have anything more interesting planned?
One thing I love to do now and then is ask random "get to know you" questions. Since a few people have been visiting my blogs (thanks so much!), I thought I'd shoot out five to see the responses. I hope whoever passes by takes a couple minutes to answer:
1.) What book are you currently reading and are you enjoying it?
2.) What is the last film you saw in the theater and would you recommend it?
3.) What is the last DVD/VHS you rented and did you like it?
One of the hardest things for me to do as a mom of pre-teens is to look back at old videos of the children when they were toddlers. Learning to speak fluently, gesturing with their hands, making messes, hugging and playing with each other instead of fighting ... toddlers force you to see the magic of the world.
My children are still close, but their fights are sometimes physical. The last time this happened, I sat them down and just told the two of them (an 11-year old boy and a 12-year old girl) how much this hurt me because I couldn't find a reason for it. They weren't raised in an abusive home, they've never seen their parents fight and hit so what gives? I told them I didn't expect great from them anymore, I was happy with just "okay" and that letting go of those expectations should hurt them more than me. It means I've stopped believing in the possibilities. Harsh? Maybe.
For some reason, this talk really hit the two of them. There hasn't been a physical fight since. Sure, there've been some slammed doors and raised voices, but on the whole, the children don't like the idea of mom thinking they're not great anymore. I mean, it's a hard thing to tell your children. It's hard to sit them down and talk when part of you wants to show them what a true beating feels like.
My daughter is getting ready for her Moving Up Ceremony ... from elementary school to middle school, 6th to 7th grade. It's a pretty big deal in the school. We bought her a beautiful dress and the principal has asked every family to bake 3 dozen of "something." Good luck in this heat wave, Pal!
I look at my tiny daughter who now has a petite woman's figure and a beautiful face to match. The french manicure on the nails, the long dark hair down her back with little heels on and I can't help to think about my blonde-haired little girl in jean overalls. The one who loved to be barefoot and wear anything with flowers on it. The one who collected caterpillars and bugs just to put them on her and "study" while walking around.
I feel lucky where she's concerned. While other friends of hers are seeing shrinks over body image, cutting themselves, being felt up at the movies, and talking about losing their virginity (all without their parents knowing most of it), my daughter is coming to me to talk about it all. To ask me why they do it, to see how she can help them to stop, to tell me the latest plan she wouldn't support which required no parental supervision, lying, and all the rest of it.
I'm guilty of still thinking my kids are pretty great. As a mother, I have this love of my children ... unconditional, but I do miss the innocence. A time before my daughter was playing guitar and listening to punk music. A time before my son played drums and was unmotivated by the world. A time where magic was in everything and adventure was right around the corner.
Life goes on. You get older. You're no longer tripping over toys or cleaning a sticky mess off a high chair.
The children trade in their walkie talkies for cellphones. Crayon drawings are replaced with band posters ... and if you're like me, you just try to find some meaning in all of it while praying for lots of grandchildren. (after the kids finish college, of course!)
Summertime will be the death of me. I cannot get 5 minutes into outdoor yardwork without my body being slick with sweat. After an hour, it looks as if I've entered into insane version of wet t-shirt contest where hair and arms are also soaked.
I gave up wearing work gloves because it's just too damned hot. I have no idea how people are working outdoors or why lunatic weathermen keep stating it will rain all day long. It hasn't rained in well over a week.
The one air conditioner hubby put in keeps the indoor temp at a balmy 80 degrees. I suppose this is better than the 90's we are reaching outdoors, but still ... 72 would be much better.
I cannot even fathom winter tempteratures anymore or that the 400 foot driveway I'm now weed whacking was once needing to be ravaged by the snowblower. I am sincerely trying to find joy in all the seasons, but it rained all during fall, snowed all during winter, rained again all during spring, and now is just blistering hot and humid.
May have to dig deep into American Indian roots and try a Rain Dance. Of course, as forecasters are once again calling for rain, I will probably be unsuccessful. Here's hoping I don't melt during the steps!
Over the weekend, I watched the film "Supersize Me" from the film maker who now has his own FX original special "30 Days". While I felt his portions made for a biased review (5,000 calories a day just isn't the norm), I was still rather amazed with some of the information.
Like ... did you know supersize fries used to be half a pound? Half a pound?!? I mean, that's a lot of fries! Supersize drinks were 42 ounces. Good Lord, that's more soda than I would drink in a week.
I've never actually seen a super size until this special. It was an eye opening experience to say the least, but I still don't like any film that points its finger at a group of people and says, "You are wrong. You need to change. Period."
That's just too black and white for me.
Blaming out of control insurance costs on the obese is like blaming pollution on smokers. It's just not correct. It isn't the whole story.
One out of control contributor is our Medicare/Medicaid expenses. It used to be public assistance was for widows of war, but now it's "unmarried mothers" or "mothers who husbands don't want to work" assistance. That's my black and white view and I don't think it's right.
I married my husband before shacking up with him. We were married four years before I became pregnant, but even then ... we had to tighten our belts to afford having a child, then another a year later. It meant going without the frivolties of life (take out, new cars, big house), but it all worked out.
I know unmarried mothers who work their tails off to be able to keep their children clothed, food on the table, and the like. It can be done.
So, while I agree obesity is a problem, I don't agree the overweight or obese ARE themselves problems. I believe instead of labeling a group of people as lazy, overweight, etc., and so forth, we need to find real treatment that works and not be stingy with it. For example, I knew a woman who was overweight her whole life ... not just overweight, but morbidly obese. Finally, she had good health insurance, which supposedly covered gastric bypass surgery, BUT ... and here's the hook, in order to get the surgery she had to have a major medical condition like diabetes or a heart condition. Since she was young (in the early 20's), she didn't have any serious condition and therefore was denied. Period. End of story.
No one even tried to say, "Well, let's try another option." It was just the end of story.
So, until someone actually costs the insurance company thousands of dollars due to having a serious medical condition, nothing will be done about the weight itself, yet unmarried and even married mothers on welfare can go to the emergency room if their child even just has a case of the sniffles.
My insurance company would make me pay for it. My contract states I cannot go to the emergency room unless I'm bleeding profusely, having chest pains, or in a major accident. Even then, they'd like you to contact your health care provider first.
I'd like to see the person who actually follows rules so well, they call during the bouts of major chest pain:
Receptionist: "Dr.'s office." Chest pain sufferer: "Ow. I can't breathe. Chest hurts. Needed to call before going to E.R. Ow. Dropped phone. Arm went numb."
You get the picture.
If we're going to blame the faults of society on any group of people, perhaps we should start with the health care system first. The inflated prices, the mark-ups, prescription prices, and the loss of preventive medicine or advice. I think if we start here instead of McDonald's or Burger King, any film maker will at least have something I can sink my teeth into and swallow. And heck, I won't even have to worry about cholesterol, fat, or sodium.
I went to Wally World today for the kidget's lunchbox stuff, but ended up in the outdoor garden section. Their flowers are wilted and grotesque (due to non-watering and severe heat wave here), but the shrubbery looked great so I bought some. I am doing the lowered part of my backyard (the part beneath the rock wall) in an Asian theme. I put in a walkway by digging out the backyard and lowering it. This is still not completed. I am putting a second rock wall up on the base of the walkway along with a rounded grassy here in front of the rosebushes. I decided to plant bushes at the top of my one slope (by the stump, etc.) to give total privacy. I also planted a red cherry bush in the corner of the backyard to give a focal point. I am still not finished.
Doing this kind of work in 95 degree humid heat makes me want to pass out. I work until I hit the woozy point and head indoors.
I also took out the yellow flowers from around my stump and planted an herb garden staggered with ferns. Actually, my daughter did this part. She can work right along in the heat, but her little brother gave up in less than an hour. Can't say that I blame him. =)
Yesterday I took the children and my son's friend to the beach, but today it was work work work. Husband is still working on bathroom even though we are now using it. Lovely taking shower in rainfall in a large fully tiled enclosure. Disgusting to still not have door on bathroom or completed ceiling.
My vegetable garden is growing well. The corn and beans are huge, but getting nibbled at. Still waiting for hubby to put up fence. Hopefully soon. Sooner than new bathroom.
This year I threw together my first vegetable garden. The soil had a burning pile on top, which was fully burned, then it was tilled so I knew the soil would be excellent, but I still added timed release fertilizer. When it came time to plant, I just didn't have it in me, but I still used a pick axe (only tool available), made the rows and began planting.
I planted everything from seeds except for eggplant. The list includes corn, onions, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, pole beans, lettuce, white pumpkins, musk melons, watermelon and I think that's it. I was told the tomatoes would never grow, but a little over a week later ... EVERYTHING had popped up. The lettuce was huge as is the corn and beans. I was so happy with my lettuce, but then the next day, it's gone. All of it!
Vile bunnies must have snuck into garden during nightfall to steal my prize crops. Now hubby is putting some type of ugly fence around it over the weekend, but still ... the damage is done.
If I catch vile bunnies, I intend on holding them hostage in cages by garden to be an example to other bunnies. That is all.
Yesterday at the yard sales, the first one I hit had a ginormous weed wacker for sale. It wasn't new, but it was in good condition. I thought the ticket said $12.00. I asked the woman running the sale if it worked and she assured me it did, but didn't know specifics. I pulled down the weed wacker plus two Nat King Cole cassettes and handed her $20.00. She said she didn't have enough change since the weed wacker was $2.00 and the cassettes were 25 cents apiece. I handed her $2.50 exactly and practically ran to the car.
Hubby checked it out and the only thing "wrong" with it was the on/off switch is worn so you need to manually work the choke. Other than that, it works perfectly. I used it today until it ran out of gas.
Truthfully, it's a heavy sucker. My forearms were shaking after I finished and at some points, I had "dead arm", but I am ecstatic. No more manual clippers! Now if only the 80 plus degree weather could go back to more moderate temps. I'd be a weed wacking fool. =)
When I was younger, even though I didn't particularly "like" my father, I had this unwavering awe for his strength. He wasn't an overly large man. He did have muscles in his chest and arms, but nothing like the Brawny guy or bodybuilders, yet he could lift things, which I couldn't even move.
Once when my husband, John, and I were stuck in the driveway in John's father's old Ford truck, my dad literally picked up the front end and moved it to the side. Picked up and moved it over ... with us in it. I remember John just looked and me with these huge eyes. My dad just turned around and put his hand up like, "You're dismissed." He just wanted to get back inside where it was warm and the TV would keep him company.
Yesterday I went on one of my weekly visits to see my mother. Right there is a clue. To see my mother. Only. This is something I need to be doing a lot more. I should be going at least 3-4x a week. I can't bring myself to go this much even though she needs me. Yet, why do I not go?
Over three years ago, my father had a major heart attack. He did not seek care when the pain hit. Like so many of us, he just sat in his chair, taking aspirin and ignoring it. Since this was his second heart attack (the first was silent), the damage was severe. He was left with just a bit of heart function, his body gave out, his mind would follow.
After leaving the hospital, it was thought he would walk with a cane, but not be able to drive again. When he left the hospital, he could talk to us, talk to my mother, but he needed to sleep a lot more. He still loved food and would forage when he thought no one was around. He took naps in his favorite chair. He still used the bathroom.
Then time passes and his mind starts to just dissolve. He begins trying to convince me that characters on a cartoon show really exist, that he's visited with them lastnight. Then he shows me the clock on the wall and tells me the numbers are patterns that mean something. I try to pretend I understand, but he gets frustrated, slams his hand on the table, tells me to listen, goddamnit! He likes to eat, but no longer hunts for food or requests special ones. He's now using the bathroom and a commode.
More time passes and his eyes begin to close. He stops "counting" with the clock. He doesn't sit in his chair anymore. He won't watch TV. He talks only to call for my mother. He eats more meals in the bedroom. He doesn't request any favorites. He no longer uses the bathroom, only a commode in his bedroom now.
Until over three years pass. He's almost completely bedridden. He won't open his eyes. He doesn't talk. He stands with help and support. He can't walk without a walker and someone holding him, supporting him. He no longer enjoys eating. He eats a quarter of what is on his plate. He wears a bib. He wears most of it on his chest. He uses the commode occasionally, but now wears adult diapers full-time and usually messes them without knowing it.
This is my dad. I can no longer talk to him. I can't ask him why my car is making a "tick tick whirr whirr" noise, which he'd be able to diagnose immediately. I can't make fun of John to him, which would have him defending John and telling me to behave. I can't have him stop me before I pull out to "check under the hood" of my car, which took another half hour and would make me want to scream. He doesn't even know what kind of car I drive or that it's a Ford and will always be a Ford because that's all he would drive.
So I go to my mom's and I see this man who looks a lot like my dad, but it's not him. I close up my heart and look away. I bring him to the bedroom, hold his 280-pound frame up tightly by grabbing the sides of his t-shirt and dragging him back along the floor to the bed, because he forgot how to walk backwards. I wipe off his mouth, kiss the side of his head, and then wipe off my lips. I've already buried my father and this man, this shell, is left behind.
I look at my mother's sick face. Her red eyes. The deep rings around them and I tell her it's time he was put away. Like a Christmas present you no longer use so needs to find a home in the basement. Put away. Like comforters for the summer.
I try to convince her she has a life to lead also and he needs more help than she can give. I talk about Maine, about living with us, about taking it easy for a while. About getting some sleep.
She talks about responsibility, how if he could just come back for a while, how tired she is now, how she really thought he was coming back a couple of days ago, how he's still not totally gone. And I don't know how to do this more than once a week. I just don't.
How long can you deny what is right there before your eyes?
Lastnight was my daughter's first softball game of the year. Her team lost by one point! 15-16. =( Still, it was close so they felt better about that. She plays on the "red team" with her best friend, Alexandria or Alex, for short.
Alex's mother thought it was time her and I became "friends" so she walked right up to me on the grass and said so. I was fine with that statement until she came back with a blanket for us "to share." Then panic mode kicked in so I took a Klonopin, excused myself, and went to my car. The excuse was to get the keys out of it and put up the windows, but the truth was I needed to breathe again. (Still feeling Howard Hughes at this point)
So, I go back and use guise of being allergic to grass and "itching" to not sit on blanket, which thankfully is true. Hives on legs were added bonus.
Kind mother of Alex stands up to talk with me. She talked and talked and talked. I have this affect on people. I heard the entire story of her life ... even the bad parts. I liked how open she was and how I could tell she was down to earth. The Klonopin kicked in so I really just enjoyed the conversation until she began talking about overweight people.
I believe I'm overweight people. Heck, I know I am so when she was discussing how overweight girls need to dress properly for their size or how could one of the girls on the baseball team wear tight clothing when clearly "she needed to cover up," I just felt like, "Oh boy, here we go again."
I told her the heavy girl in question was quite popular with the boys. Her answer, "She probably puts out." I said, "No, I don't think that's it. I think women are under this illusion because of TV that men prefer stick figures and to see bones through the flesh than understanding what men really want is something soft to touch, some junk in the trunk, etc." Besides laughing at junk in the trunk she said, "You're probably right."
I wanted to say, "Well, you're not married and I am. You're divorced. I'm not. I'm happy. You're sad. I'm heavy. You're thin. Do you REALLY think it's a weight issue?"
Oh well. I realize some people just look at fat like some racists look at black. I will be with this woman for 20 more games so I just have to deal with the quirks. Hopefully she'll talk less and watch the games more. =)
And hurray for CC my daughter! She was nervous of not being able to hit under the pressure yet never struck out! Woohoo!
Lastnight I finally saw "The Aviator" ... the story of Howard Hughes as acted by Leonardo DeCaprio. Leo did an amazing job (and really, regardless of hunk factor, he is BRILLIANT), but the movie itself had me making parallels right and left.
No, I don't have this genius mind for numbers or aviation, hydraulics, lift, weight versus drag and all the rest of it, but there were other parallels.
I mean, you know you're a germaphobe when you find yourself watching this film and saying out loud, "What a great idea!" The "great idea" I exclaimed over was how Howard Hughes had his whole staff wear white gloves at all times ... even the paper pushers. And probably unlike 75% of the other watchers of this film, the bathroom scene, when the hands are washed, but all the towels are in the garbage ... how will he open the door ... this had me in minor panic. I yelled out, "Wait for someone to come in! That's what I do." John (hubby) nodded his head along with me and said, "Yes, just wait ... or use your feet." It was worse than "The Ring." I whispered, "Don't touch the handle!" (insert beads of sweat on top lip)
All in all, it was a great film that will now have me heading to the local library to read more about Mr. Hughes. The madness, the panic disorder, fear of germs meshed with all that brilliance ... I find it extremely interesting.
Hubby and I then had long conversation regarding germs, filthy rest rooms, how easy it would be to slip into the mode of not touching anything ... anywhere! My husband is worse than I am about germs. He never uses his hands in any bathroom ... even his own. It does not matter how often I disinfect it, this is him. He can open doors, flush toilets, pick up lids, put them down ... you name it ... all with his feet. While this would alarm other women, I find it comforting. He understands the risk. Gotta love that about him. =)
Ah well ... time to begin my day. Does anyone know where people buy those white cotton gloves? They're exactly what I've been looking for to shop in.