Category Archives: blogging

A Three-Banded Armadillo & A Flamingo…

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A Three-Banded Armadillo & A Flamingo…

Hey friends, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve written. I’m sorry I’ve been so absent, I’ve started and stopped writing about a dozen times in the past two months. I tend to go in when things gets rough…deploy the shield and turn into a three-banded armadillo, tuck and roll. Yup, that’s what I do.

Photo Ark: Southern Three-Banded Armadillo | National Geographic ...

You’ve been in my thoughts though and I wanted to give you an update for those that have followed me a while…

Rob passed away in May. It was just a couple of days after his 96th birthday. In early May, Rob went to the hospital for an issue and it was discovered he had Co-vid. Due to the virus he could not get the necessary treatment, it was indeed a death sentence. His family fought like hell for 10 days to get him home so he could die there instead of alone at the hospital. I don’t know how many strings his son had to pull to make that happen. I’m guessing that the family contribution of 50+ years of community service helped get that monumental task completed.

The day he came home I was dropping off groceries for the family. I volunteered to do their grocery shopping because I wanted to limit their exposure. It was the day before Rob’s 96th birthday. I am grateful he was able to die at home with a handful of loved ones at his bed and many more tuned in remotely for a final round of camp fire songs and cherished memories relived out loud.

Rob, like many that have died of the virus, deserves a big celebration. His life was full of community service, education, love, tolerance, patience, an abundance of birds and laughter. Sadly that celebration is on hold until it is safe to gather in a large group. My only regret is that I didn’t ask him to appear to me in the after-life as a flamingo. He would make an outstanding flamingo.

Flamingo Metal Sign Wall Décor

 

A three-banded armadillo and a flamingo walk into a bar….kidding, bars are closed silly. Wear a mask, wash your hands, be kind and if you can’t be kind, be quiet.

The Struggle is Real

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The Struggle is Real

In 2016 my daughter went through an intense hand sanitizer phase, it was sandwiched between the days of making her own slime and travel soccer. She was not alone, all of her tween BFFs were afflicted with the same disease, a hallmark of the middle school years for girls.

Such a carefree time when my biggest concern was….can they actually get drunk from smelling this sh*t? How many hours can 5 tween girls spend in Bath & Body Works? Why am I the only mom schlepping these girls to the mall? What is a reasonable amount of hand sanitizer and is that affected by the buy 12/get 82 free sale? So many questions as we navigated our way through the days of olfactory overload.

Fast forward four years and now that once annoying and inconvenient phase has gifted us with a plethora of outdated and funky smelling gel. I haven’t seen traditional hand sanitizer in any store for over two months. My supplies are dwindling so I had to put on my mom jeans and raid the leftover stash from my daughter who has since moved on to grunge, goth and her two faves Brian May & Gordon Ramsay. If you have a tween or teen daughter, chances are you have a similar stash if you didn’t get all Marie Kondo and throw them out three years ago like a responsible parent, tsk, tsk.

If you do have a stash on hand of the 2016 Bath & Body Works Collection, please allow me to provide a little guidance. Here’s a review of the three bottles of hand sanitizer that I “borrowed” from my daughter’s room earlier today.

Chill Out

Sage advice B & B W. The bottle features a penguin wearing a grass skirt on a beach with a palm tree. That would be a nice place to chill out. Trying to sort out what part of the world this penguin is from, perhaps the Galapagos?

Anyhow, the scent (inhales deeply while holding the canister in my right hand, the left hand flutters in an upward motion).…it smells like a pina colada with strong notes of Axe deodorant. That’s a brilliant move by the marketing department – 98% of the male middle school population wore Axe deodorant in 2016. Bravo!

ISLAND *MARG*ARITA

WTAF B & B W. This bottle has a boozy looking drink on it with a partial white face with blondish hair which looks Trumpian. I think someone in the marketing department may have gotten a contact high from all the product. The median age of your hand sanitizer demographic in 2016 was 11 years and 7 months. Are they supposed to drink this sh*t or are trying to sort out which parents aren’t paying attention to their kids purchases and then question their decisions 4 years after the fact. Touche, sorry I got side tracked.

The scent is (inhales once again, same hand motions)….tough to dissect this one, it’s complicated. There is a hint of lime with a suggestion of future bad decisions and a twinge of vomit. Well played marketing, well played.

The Struggle is Real

This bottle features what I can only guess is an ice cream container with a spoon. The ambiguity of the artwork is a good call since your customer can fill in the blanks – is it an ice cream container or cookie dough, what’s your comfort food of choice? And really it’s never too early to introduce emotional eating is it? It has become clear to me that you are casting a wider net then I originally anticipated. Perhaps you went into this venture hoping to appeal to tweens and their boozy and/or mildly depressed moms. Sure it was a reach but I do appreciate the effort. Whispers…my comfort food is Milk Duds.

Last time, inhales deeply (forget the hand motions, who are we fooling this stuff all smells the same)….ah…this is a familiar scent…Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen and wait….ah yes, the tears & sweat found only in a middle school gym locker room. You’ve out done yourself with this one. You have the perfect formula for happy scent with a dash of realism. I suspect the adult version of this replaces the gym locker room scents with something like unrealized dreams and cortisol.

The struggle is real, it sure f^cking is.

Dog Days Indeed

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Dog Days Indeed

I don’t think there has ever been a better time to be a domesticated dog. Blanche is loving the quarantine life and I feel less guilty taking a walk with my four-legged hall pass. When I get the mail at our PO box I bring Blanche to take her around the nearby shopping village.

This place is usually a hive of activity. They hold seasonal festivals throughout the year, typically with a food theme – strawberry, blueberry, beer. In mid November they flip the switch and the outdoor space transforms into a sparkling Holiday Wonderland. It really is breathtaking. Right now the tulips are in bloom and it’s a welcome distraction from otherwise dreary days. Lately, even the weather is depressed, overcast, cloudy, the sky cries a lot these days.

Blanche doesn’t know why she gets so many walks now, why her humans are home all the time and I don’t think she gives the “why” much contemplation. She simply soaks in the affection, the extra attention, the constant togetherness and the abundant treats. I may be a little envious of her simplicity at the moment.

That’s not the only spark of jealousy though, Blanche got a spa day a few weeks ago. For some reason, it’s legal for her to get groomed. The place where she goes sells pet food so maybe they found a loophole? I didn’t dig too deep. My girl was shedding like it’s her job, ticks are hard to find on a furry black dog and honestly her beard was out of control. Yes you read the right, my lady dog grows a beard…I blame it on the Bouvier. My mutt is a Labradoodle mixed with a Bouvier.

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Not a bear. An actual Bouvier des flandres, source FB Kao Khane des Dasilva Winner

Blanche’s “Before” picture…

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Poor baby is terrified at the vet. That beard though…

Now let me stop you before you start with questions like – Who, What, Why & Where – I don’t know. We adopted Blanche from Brookline Lab Rescue when she was about 18 months old. She and her brother lived with a wonderful family that had to re-home the dogs because a member of their family became gravely ill. They were good people going through a tremendously difficult time and needed to simplify their lives. Blanche’s brother went to an equally loving home so it worked out well for the dogs.

Anyhow, Blanche got her much needed grooming day….meanwhile, I look like an extra from the Walking Dead. To add insult to injury, there was an incident last week.

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This is me looking for pizza…kidding, I wish I was that skinny.

We have been ordering take out from our favorite restaurant at least once a week since this mess started. I have a teenage son with a significant chicken parm addiction and we all like the Brooklyn pizza. The Brooklyn pizza is a large, thin crust, square shaped pizza with 12 slices. Because biology is a sadistic MF to midlife women, I eat one slice once a week and hope to not gain 3 pounds. Everyone else in the house can eat multiple slices and maintain a sleek build (grrrr…Science).

Last week I heard my husband in the kitchen, I was in an adjacent room. I was within ear shot but couldn’t see him.

Hubs: What happened to the pizza?

Me: (I walk into the kitchen) What do you mean?

Hubs: There are only 3 slices left?

Me: I had one and so did she (pointing to our daughter).

Within minutes we confirm that our son has not eaten seven slices of pizza which, let’s face it, is entirely possible. It was Blanche! That bitch went ninja on us and silently stole SEVEN slices of pizza. The real shock was the only tell tale (tail?) sign was that the wax paper had shifted inside the box….somehow and this is the amazing part, she managed to close the pizza box lid. I sh*t you not.

I’m equal parts annoyed and amazed by her abilities. The real rub though…she can eat seven slices of pizza and still have a bikini ready body. And yet again, I wish I could draw because, Blanche wearing a bikini…sigh.

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Thank you Internet for this random photo of a pug wearing a bikini. It’ll have to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Net

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No Net

I haven’t wanted to write for months. I’m having a difficult time coming to terms with the enormity of this situation. I force myself to do the self care things that have helped  me to remain sober for more than 36 years…I eat well, exercise, start my day with gratitude, pray…yet, I find myself fighting that gravitational pull. That invisible, powerful force that wants to take me down. I don’t want to die, I just don’t want to do anything.

Early on I acknowledged to myself that I wasn’t going to Marie Kondo my way through this mess. I may get around to tidying up my desk of shame in the kitchen if the urge hits. I will not be learning a new language, sewing masks (they would suck), or (sigh) writing the great American novel (or the mediocre pandemic novel).

I’m shadowboxing depression and my usual moves are tired, weak.

I go through the motions anyway, a weird automatic setting that kicks in like a worn out, haggard looking Stepford Wife. I feed my family (a seemingly endless loop of meals), I do the laundry, I get my ass outside to walk, I check in on my elderly clients and my mom, try to find the humor…I’m struggling, I mean, aren’t we all?

Mind you, I have no reason to complain. I live in a spacious house with people that are not abusive or threatening. Sure we get on each other’s nerves but I’m not in danger here. My awareness that other people do not have a safe space haunts me. Women are getting beaten by abusive partners, children live in fear of their parents, many people are hungry, cold and without adequate shelter and I feel powerless.

I worry about marginalized people, the ones that were barely making it before the virus. Minorities afraid to wear masks in public because that may be more dangerous then not wearing one…people living on the street, those scraping by paycheck to paycheck, the uninsured, the ones with no safety net whatsoever…I used to be a member of that club.

It sounds great to call grocery store workers heroes. The truth is most of them work to survive, they don’t want to stock shelves, run the register or listen to you bitch about a lack of mangoes, they don’t have a viable alternative. They prefer to live indoors with electricity and running water.

Prior to this sh*t storm it was not unusual for me to be at several grocery/specialty stores in a week, sometimes several in a day. I would take my elderly clients out food shopping, to the butcher, etc, then I would go shopping for my family. If someone wanted the Brooklyn Bread, I would drive 15 minutes to that store….croissants, no problem, 12 minutes in the opposite direction. Need Italian cookies (the real ones with an almond base and pignoli nuts), I know a place (stated in a NY accent with exaggerated hand gestures). Back in the carefree days of early March, I was the step & fetch it gal for my family for each whim and craving. That horse has left the barn and in the immortal words of Ke$ha, I ain’t coming back.

Tik Tok Bitches

By the second week of March I realized that exposing myself to multiple stores in different geographic areas was high risk. So I hunkered down to one local store, once a week (or less) and made due with what I could get. I also shop for my mother and my elderly clients, I look like a hoarder whenever I go. I tried the online shopping with dismal results so this is my new normal.

I happen to know one of the workers at my store. Lindsay (not her real name) is a friend of a friend. Sadly our mutual friend passed away a few years ago and I was the one that broke the news to her. We have bonded over our grief and are on friendly terms. I always look for her when I shop, let’s face it, that’s pretty much the only real life social interaction I get outside of my home.

I was shopping two Fridays before Easter, April 3rd. My intention was to get enough for three households to make it past Easter. It was a monster order. My large cart was overflowing and I required two carts to get everything to my car. Lindsay bagged my groceries and helped me take groceries to my car that day. I was careful, I had a mask on even though it wasn’t required yet. I have a habit of bringing hand sanitizer in my pocket when I go into the store so I can put it on before I touch my door handles. I took those precautions.

As we were loading my car, Lindsay talked about wanting a mask. I happened to have an extra one in my car. Nothing exotic, just a basic dust mask. A different friend of a friend gifted me with a 4 pack of them about a month ago. I offered one to Lindsay and she accepted with gratitude. That was the last time I saw Lindsay face to face.

On April 15th I got a Facebook message from Lindsay. I commented that I missed her in the store when I went on April 14th. Turns out Lindsay and her partner both tested positive for COVID 19, they were 8 days into isolation. She didn’t go into too many details just that it was awful and scary. I offered to shop for them, cook, anything…she declined said they were covered for now.

I haven’t heard from her in a week.

 

 

If you have the means and feel inclined, I urge you to donate to the charity of your choice during this time. Here are links to two charities that are dear to me –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crazy Train Indeed

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Crazy Train Indeed

Disclaimer – This was written a couple of months ago before the world turned into a smoldering nuclear sh*t pile. I held off on posting it because I wanted to see if my friends IRL would be able to see a difference without knowing that I “did a thing”. Since we are all in quarantine until *whenever* I have given up on that experiment. Please stay well my friends, I hope this makes you laugh. XOXO, Bryce

So I look horrible right now. Imagine that Ozzy Ozbourne just lost a fight in a rainstorm so his eyeliner is running halfway down his face in uneven splotches and his hair is a stringy mess, that’s me. Except instead of eyeliner, it’s bruises – the stringy, messy hair stands (even dry shampoo can’t save me now).

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Inspirational photo: I hope to look this good again (sigh)….someday.

For the past 10 years, I’ve wanted to do something about the bags under my eyes. When I was 45 I got some filler, the result was just meh. I waited until I turned 50, told myself I could get it then. 50 came and went and there was always a reason not to do it – family plans, work obligations, social events, chicken shit-itis. One primary concern was how to explain it to my teens. Specifically my daughter….I don’t want her thinking cosmetic surgery is a quick fix that’s a dangerous message. So I did what any good mom would do, I lied.

As far as my kids know, I had a revision to the strabismus surgery I had a 16. I did actually have that surgery so it’s not completely unfamiliar to me – the point is that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Don’t judge me Karen I know your “hernia” operation was a tummy tuck.

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Anyhow…I was supposed to have this procedure (lower blepharoplasty – just lower bleph now that we’re close) done in November but then that pesky zombie arm came out of nowhere. My priorities shifted and I had neck surgery instead. A few months out from ACDF and I got restrictions lifted so I got my bleph “strabismus” on the calendar again. I selected a date that would give me two weeks without client visits so I booked it.

I scheduled it despite the fact that there is sh*t going on in my family right now because let’s face it, if I wait for the day when nothing is happening, I’ll be dead. For some reason I felt a strong pull to be true to myself in this situation which is relatively new territory for me. Perhaps that unanticipated neck surgery reminded me that life is short and you need to be your own advocate.

Yesterday was the big day and I felt as prepared as one could be…I’ve been taking Arnica Montana and Bromelain. I purchased a special eye mask for icing the area, have been eating pineapple and making sacrifices to the soft fruit Gawds in the hopes that my bruising would be limited. I realize it’s only day 1 but I already know I will look like hell for a minimum of two weeks (3…it was 3 weeks of looking like Rocky Balboa after he’s gone too many rounds with  Ivan Drago). One just knows…at least the physical pain isn’t that bad. The procedure itself was very INTENSE.

Image result for Rocky balboa fight with eye who is he fighting

I must admit I went into this with a bit of bravado. My recent stint with neck surgery made me a wee bit over confident. It’s after all a cosmetic procedure….surely I can get through this with a single Valium and needles to localize the area. I soldiered through but if a close friend inquired, hell if a stranger asked, I would urge them to consider general anesthesia or at a minimum, a fist full of Valium.

First the surgeon took a picture (please Geezus don’t let that end up on a his website) and placed some marks under my eyes. The doctor asked me what kind of music I wanted played, I went with 70’s classic rock. Then I walked into the operating room and placed myself on the table, that part was fine. I got concerned when they strapped my arms down. That was a red flag, flailing limbs must be a concern. Not sure if the straps got added after one spectacular event or if it was a series of minor mishaps that prompted the addition. Inquiring minds want to know but not as I’m getting ready to board this crazy train, tell me two weeks from now.

You close your eyes for most of the procedure. The nurse warned me before each numbing injection. She also informed me that each needle would burn and take it’s sweet time getting to that numb phase which was required. I probably had 6 or 8 needles on each side. I was hoping to pass out from the pain but sadly that did not happen.

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Ok the needles were finally done…onto the actual incision. I didn’t feel that though, I did hear the faint sound of snip, snip, snip, snip – similar the sound of hair being cut. As I was lying on the table, I realized I was too far in to get out at this point (Duh, this is why the arms are restrained). I braced myself for the next assault which turned out to be olfactory in nature. The smell of burning flesh is not pleasant, particularly if you are the owner of said burning flesh. The smell was accompanied with a faint sizzling sound which has been seared into my brain. I will reflect on this whenever I hear Fat Bottom Girls by Queen. I’m left wondering if that song was purposely put into the shuffle to plant a subliminal seed for future procedures. I still like my ass doc stop trying to up-sell me, we don’t all want a backside like KK.

 

The last bit was stitching which I started to feel because apparently Satan’s numbing needles don’t last all that long. The whole process took about an hour, that is a long stretch to be in the midst of that hot-stinging-fleshburning-blooddrenched mess. My hubs drove me home and I was in significant pain, maybe a 7 out of 10. I took two Tylenol when I got home and that helped tremendously. I then followed a regime of 15 minutes with ice/15 minutes without for the first 24 hours. I wasn’t as fastidious over night, I just iced it whenever I had to get up to relieve myself which turned out to be several times (thanks tiny bladder). I woke with an expanded bruise zone. By expanded, I mean it went from the width of a dime to the size of Warren Buffet’s bank account.

And now we wait…

 

 

Smile & Wave…

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Smile & Wave…

When things get bad I either retreat inward like a turtle hiding in their own shell or bleed all over the floor, on a stage with spotlights and a large audience. It seems I’m not great at middle ground. I use to compare parenting to jumping off a cliff with no knowledge of what you’ll be landing on – could be a pillows, could be razor blades, no one knows. Right now I feel like I am threading a needle in the dark with shaky hands, it’s not a great place to be in.

Most of the monsters I am fighting are not my own. This adds to the frustration and the fear, the unknown is a formidable beast. Throw in vastly different opinions regarding medicine & parenting and you have yourself an unsavory cocktail of emotions and no real path for progress. I’m in a bit of limbo right now, a shitty version of purgatory, not sure which direction we’ll be going in next.

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Anyhow, moving on….I haven’t posted in a while so here’s an update for the curious –

Two weeks ago I got cleared off restrictions from my ACDF surgery. That means I can go back to the gym (YAY!!!!). This made me obscenely happy. Exercise is my primary means of maintaining mental health. Not exercising to the level that I am accustomed was tough during my recovery. I understood the need, I just missed the endorphins and the familiar faces at the gym.

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Speaking of familiar faces…I saw one lady at the grocery store last week and she asked where I’d been. I gave her an update and we chatted pleasantly, told her I’d see her back at the gym. Fast forward to Saturday and the gym parking lot was a hot mess. I had to wait for an open spot because the lot was completely full. I had my blinker on waiting for a car to vacate….then a women rolls up next to me and starts screaming.

Her face was distorted with rage, she was using hand gestures and possibly frothing at the mouth. I responded with a few friendly shrugs, pointing to the spot I was waiting for and a what-can-you-do look on my face. Who was this angry woman….the same lady I chatted with at the grocery store. A few days later I was in the gym parking lot again and she walked past my car – we made eye contact, I smiled and waved enthusiastically, she looked down at the ground and walked to her car. Namaste parking lot lady.

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I went back to work with Rob and Laura after the holidays. For the first couple of weeks I just went out on solo missions to do their shopping. I would also cook them meals and run errands as needed. One day Laura forgot I wasn’t cleared to drive them yet. When I arrived in the morning she had her coat on, ready to go. When I reminded her of the temporary grounding, I got some side eye and a huffy “Fiddlesticks!”

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Fortunately I can drive my friends again.

Fed Up!

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Fed Up!

Everyone is in full on crazy mode right now. Hanukkah and Christmas are just around the corner, weather has been a complete mess for a large swath of the population and I still need to figure what to get my Brother In-law.  Since my surgery last month I have become pretty good at saying – “nope, not doing it” and Christmas is no exception.

I have gotten gifts for my kids, the hubs and my nieces and nephew…I’m just not stretching much beyond that this year. I may attempt to make biscotti, maybe not. I tried to bake something last week and it made me awful to be around. I go into a weird rage when I attempt to bake, it isn’t pretty.

Clearly I’m not the only one feeling the pressure, a local mom posted this picture in a Facebook Group –

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Sure, it’s all fun and games until little Timmy goes to school and starts discussing how Snowball landed on his dinner plate and it takes a few beats for his first grade teacher to realize that mom has probably been hitting the eggnog a little too hard this year. Or perhaps the offspring of this stressed out parent is observant and wonders why Snowball’s right leg is longer than his left (inquisitive little monster). Then dad has to come up with some convincing backstory on the fly about a sledding accident in 2004. I tend not to lie simply because it’s too exhausting.

It’s not just the holidays making me nuts, it’s the recovery from my ACDF. The other night I went to a women’s networking holiday party. It was great to get out and feel human again. Bonus I ate a meal that I didn’t shop for, cook, serve or clean up – that is always a plus. I got a bit panicked when it was time to leave because a snow squall had come through and I was afraid of slipping on ice and snow. My friend graciously walked me to my car as I held on to her arm (just in case). Then I had a white-knuckle ride home on black ice. I am usually excellent about driving in the snow – since the surgery I’m afraid of getting into a fender bender or skidding off the road. I’m sure this will calm down as I get further into recovery but right now I’m feeling fragile and it effects me in ways that never have before. I don’t like this new version of chicken-shit me, not one bit.

I went back to a modified work schedule a couple of weeks ago. The modifications mean I do not drive Rob and Laura around anymore, not for the foreseeable future. Instead I visit them at home, run solo errands and do some cooking for them. This has been working out except one day last week when Laura forgot I wasn’t driving them anymore. You haven’t lived until a 93 year old woman is pissed off because you won’t take her to the laundromat. Luckily a driver was coming the next day to tackle that task.

One of the new chores is to assist Rob with the spraying of the fruitcakes. I didn’t know this was a thing until about a month ago. Rob made 22 fruitcake loaves and one wreath back in November. Since then, he sprays the bounty every Wednesday. The loaves each get 5 sprays of brandy and then they are sealed in a Ziploc bag and placed in an airtight container. The wreath gets about a dozen sprays. I’m fairly certain the wreath is an alcoholic, it’s a broken mess. I didn’t get the specifics but I did see the results and I explained what a smash cake is to my friends. We have deemed the boozy treat a smash wreath and that should totally be a thing.

This week was special because it was time to remove the cheesecloth. Pieces of liquored up fruit were falling off like a drunken avalanche. Rob (a non-drinker) was scooping up the bits like a kid who just busted up a Pinata. I’ve never seen a 95 year old move with such cat like reflexes. After a few fistfuls his aim was off on the spraying and the right side of my body smelled like a bar at 11:59pm on New Year’s Eve. Luckily I made it home without getting pulled over. I may need to change my sobriety date.

On the plus side, I still have my sense of humor and luckily I’m not the only one….this gem popped up on Facebook the other day. I like this an unreasonable amount. Happy-whatever-you-celebrate! 80406706_1768755406589367_978716565929197568_n.jpg

 

Schadenfreude

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Schadenfreude

Hello friends not sure what part of the world you’re in…this week in America people are freaking out over a Peloton ad. For those not in the know, Peloton is a luxury brand of an in home stationary bicycle which has a strong community of enthusiasts. I don’t own one and I don’t want one, I have friends that have made this their religion. Whatever makes you happy.

Here’s a link to the ad in case you missed it –

Peloton Ad

Clearly the husband is an asshole. He is berating his wife and fat shaming her with the $2K dollar gift which is just a smack in the face. This woman obviously suffers from some type of body dysmorphia disorder and her husband is fanning the flames with this so called present. Thanks for the eating disorder babe, perhaps you can gift me with a new neurosis for Mother’s Day.

Oh but wait, none of that actually happens in the ad. Nope, not a speck of it. The husband gives the wife a Peloton for Christmas. She is equal parts excited and nervous about it and spoiler – she loves it. WTAF people?

I guess people are projecting their own feelings about exercise and gift giving onto the world. Do the pissed off people exercise at all, why so many assumptions? The husband says maybe five words in this ad and none of them are related to weight loss or misogyny. I know this is mind blowing for some…(lean in) people don’t just exercise to lose weight. I have exercised consistently for 30 years, weight loss has never been the primary goal.

For me, exercise has been as much for my mental health as my physical well being. Sure I would love to drop a few pounds, exercise alone won’t likely do that. I know that if I want to lose weight the best way to do that is to tweak my nutrition. Move more (always good) and eat less (less junk). One of the most difficult aspects of recovering from my ACDF surgery has been the activity restrictions. I miss the camaraderie of fitness classes. For the next few months I’m limited to walking and a stationary bike (still not gonna happen Peloton).

Here’s 5 things that piss me off way more than that Peloton ad:

1) Health Care in America, it’s a f*cking mess.

2) An ineffective and inequitable judicial system where minorities do hard time for possession of weed, while rich dudes commit “white collar” crimes and pay off lawyers to the tune of 6 or 7 figures to avoid jail time.

3) Immigrant kids dying in detention centers and the entire separation of families bullshit that is happening.

4) Gun violence.

5) Ninja chin hairs (ladies over 40 know what I’m talking about).

In other news…I got a parking ticket last week. I took my son into town to have breakfast and came out to a ticket on my windshield. Our town is notorious for handing out parking tickets so I wasn’t surprised. I tried to pay when we parked but the kiosk wasn’t working. I took a picture of the machine display which announced it’s “malfunction”, I thought I’d be covered.

I called the phone number on the ticket, it seemed promising at first. “Sure – send us an email, we’ll look it over.” A few hours later I did that, here’s how that went:

Me: Hello – I called earlier to discuss a parking ticket I got this morning. The kiosk behind the pizza shop isn’t working, I’ve attached a photo of the display stating a malfunction. I made a good faith effort to pay for parking, it was not possible. Please waive the parking violation. Thank you for your consideration.

PVD (Perfectly Vindictive Dicks – oops my bad….Parking Violations Department): Did you try another kiosk? Your ticket remains open.

Me: I didn’t know I could pay at another kiosk, I thought they were assigned specific zones. Your kind consideration is much appreciated. Have a fabulous holiday. Namaste (Pssst…when I use the term Namaste it’s my polite way of saying f*ck all the way off.)

PVD: I am not going to waive this ticket. There are numerous kiosks. Sorry I can’t void this.

Me: Yeah, I know. I was trying for kindness-guilt-sarcastic Jedi mind trick, it seldom works.

PVD:                   SILENCE

Later that day I took an informal poll on Facebook to identify the best way to pay this fine. The options were – 1) go to town hall with a clear plastic bag full of pennies, Werther’s candies & crumpled up tissues and count it out at the counter or 2) write “schadenfreude” in the memo section of the check.

Ultimately I decided to go with option 2 because the person that gets stuck counting the pennies doesn’t likely have the authority to void my ticket. I tried to lighten the mood by using a Scooby-Doo stamp. I thought of using the upside down flag stamp as a sign of protest but that seemed like too much.

For those that are not familiar with the term schadenfreude, here’s an explanation –

Schadenfreude is the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another. Wikipedia

 

Ethel, Not the Prairie Dog

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Ethel, Not the Prairie Dog

If you are a regular reader of the blog (all six of you), you may recall that I named my inner critic Ethel. I’m pretty sure we all have an inner critic, that asshole in your head that makes you second guess your life choices. Sure sometimes they make a valid point, for instance, meth is always a bad idea. Other times it’s less obvious like beating yourself up over that new bold haircut (psst…they rarely go well) or that second slice of chocolate cake.

I visualize my inner critic as an elderly prairie dog named Ethel. Ethel has bifocal glasses that lean so far down her snout they are in danger of falling off her face. She wears hand crocheted sweater vests in terrible color combinations like orange and fuchsia with a splash of brown. Her right hand is on her right hip in that universal condescending stance. Her nose is scrunched in judgement and as a means to keep those glasses from sliding off her sour face. Oh and she’s fat but we don’t discuss that because fat shaming is wrong. She wears sensible brown shoes (to match the vest) and she has a broken pen behind her left ear. That pen hasn’t worked since 1992. Anyway, this post is about a different Ethel, but wasn’t that a fun distraction.

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A nude shot of Ethel. You have to imagine the ugly sweater vest, bifocals, brown orthopedic shoes and broken pen.

Last night I stayed with an almost 92 year old lady named Ethel who prefers to be called Jane (keep UP). Her son in-law recently passed away and the family was at his wake. Ethel, I mean Jane, is one of those fun feisty nonagenarians. I didn’t have to do much except bring her food and follow her cues as to how social she wanted to be.

She’s fiercely independent and very lucid with the occasional lapse of judgement. At one point she wanted to ask her daughter about how the Thanksgiving turkey was cooked…not a great idea to call during a wake. I tried to distract her but her will won out and then she felt bad. I assured her it was fine, that the phone was likely on silent and I got the answer via text. In case you’re wondering, the bird was cooked for 14 hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, it felt wrong to ask for more details than that.

Jane gets a glass of wine promptly at 7pm, Chianti if you’re curious. After the vino my new friend started spilling family secrets. It’s amazing how much one glass of Chianti can yield, perhaps governments need to change their tactics when dealing with hostile prisoners. We’d probably get further along than we do with water boarding…but that’s an entirely different kind of post.

I will keep the family secrets in the vault but I can share one amusing tale. Jane was in Ireland on vacation with her daughter in-law (Debbie) and a friend (Ann). They were on their way to Trinity College in Dublin to see The Book of Kells exhibition.

For those that don’t know (including myself until 5 minutes ago) The Book of Kells was created around the year 800 and contains the four gospels. The emphasis of the book is on the 340 folios made from calfskin vellum. The book is primarily visual as much of the text is either truncated or erroneously repetitive. So it’s basically a fancy biblical picture book y’all! Here’s a link in case you find yourself in Dublin – The Book of Kells

On this particular trip, Jane discovered a deep dark secret about her friend Ann. Ann was (in the CIA – that’s Catholic Irish American, not the other CIA) a closet smoker. Jane caught her smoking a few times and pretended not to notice (much like I pretend not to see people I know at the grocery store).

Years earlier her other travel companion, Debbie, lost an arm to cancer. She had a prosthetic arm but it was too heavy so she usually went without it. The three of them were walking in a spread out single file line on their way to the exhibition. Debbie, the youngest, was far ahead. My new friend Jane was in the middle and Ann, the closet smoker with undiagnosed emphysema, was the caboose.

Jane: Ann if you don’t slow down….so help me God I will rip off your good arm and beat you over the head with it! Miss smokes-a-lot can’t keep up!!!

True story.

 

 

Blue Bird

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Blue Bird

I think I have a team of angels around me. Many are the clients I have met since starting my business a handful of years ago. The business is set up as a concierge, more times than not, I work with elderly clients. I’m usually brought in by the adult children who worry about their parents safety or want to improve their quality of life. I never know what I’m walking into until the situation reveals itself. Before I can blink I’m attached to my new friends.

Many of my clients are sick and/or elderly and we typically part ways when they die or move to a nursing home. That’s the hard part. I saw a blue bird this morning and was reminded of a dear client.

Clara, she comes as a blue bird per my request. I didn’t want a cardinal because well, that’s been overplayed. Clara was the mother of an acquaintance of mine. The business was fairly new when she reached out several years ago and asked me to meet her parents. We have since become close friends.

I felt an instant pull toward Clara and honestly I would have visited her for free. If she turned down my services, I would have wept. She had a soul that pulsated love and good energy. I’ve only met a few people like her in my life and I was desperate to be around her. She and her husband lived on a small farm and she was pretty sick when I started. Within a week I suggested that she transition to hospice to be as comfortable as possible.

It was an interesting work environment. I did a lot of laundry and light house keeping which is typical. I also washed outdoor furniture and helped prep for meals and social events. I made my first quiche ever for Clara because she was hosting a breakfast. I’ve since made many and they are super easy and quite impressive. Clara had a way of getting you to do things slightly outside of your comfort zone and then you felt a little bit of pride for the successful stretch.

One of the most memorable days was helping Clara shower before she transitioned to Hospice and got a Home Health Aide. It’s not something I typically do but she was uncomfortable and I would have done just about anything for her. She lost what was left of her hair in that shower. It upset her husband, she was relieved.

Clara moved to America from China as a teenager. From what I can remember she taught herself English over a single summer. She and her husband met at a private prestigious high school. She went on to become a nurse and eventually worked at that school. She was intelligent, kind and just being in her presence made you a better person. She had a life rich with experiences, family, profound friendships, service, world travel and she hosted many delicious meals. Thank you blue bird for the visit this morning.