When ideas aren't fresh, reheat

Brenda at MummyTime always makes me laugh. Although we’ve never met  (she lives in Australia, for Pete’s sake!) I have the feeling she’d be the life of the party. I imagine she has a big personality. I’m guessing she has one of those loud, infectious laughs that invites you to join in, even if you don’t know the joke.  I picture a friend who laughs at all her foibles and makes you feel good about your own. Now she’s started this online party and used the word flog. It seems like a good idea on a snowy day when a fresh post seems about as accessible as an open swim at an outdoor pool.


Check out her blog and the others linked up to it today.

Meanwhile, let me pull some leftovers out of the refrigerator and heat them in the microwave:

  • I’ve had a freakish few days. On top of all the stuff that makes up my life, the tending to children, the side work that’s making my eyeballs swell, and the volunteer commitments that excite me but threaten to explode my calendar, I’ve gotten a little loopy and careless.
  • I’ve broken two mirrors in the last few weeks. Yesterday I dropped one hand-held mirror and two wine glasses. Not sure what this does to my luck-o-meter.
  • On Tuesday night  I arrived around 10 p.m. at my gym, as is my habit. The maintenance guy always teases me that I’m early and then we laugh. On this night, he was dead serious in telling me that some oddball had been lurking outside the gym and peering in the windows. At one point, creepy guy approached a member at the door asking to be let in. (Access is by an electronic key card since it’s a 24/7 operation.) The member declined and the maintenance man asked the lurker to return during business hours. I asked maintenance guy if he called the police to report creepy guy.  He said no. I suppose that might be an overreaction, but it made me realize I need to be more vigilant, especially running around alone at night the way I do.
  • At the coffee shop where I write and edit on Wednesdays, I had a close call with my laptop computer. It’s a newer model MacBook. I left it unattended for a few minutes as I do on occasion to get a coffee refill, buy a bagel, or go to the bathroom. What do you do? Pack up the operation every time you leave your table? I found out later from a guy sitting behind me that two young men were lurking by my table, eyeing my computer and looking around.  The guy behind me didn’t say anything to them but his presence must have been enough to deter the would-be thieves.  I guess I’ll be packing my laptop with me now. The thought of replacing it along with all the lost data is scary beyond comprehension.
  • Last week a client gave me tickets to a professional basketball game. The event was a special night focused on the client’s business and its high achievers. As I was maneuvering my way through the crowd, balancing a tray with drinks and food in one hand, and guiding along my four-year-old with the other hand, I lost my balance and gave the people sitting directly below an unexpected shower. Thank goodness it was only water. After I apologized and got over my embarrassment, I started to find it unbearably funny. I  had to get up and walk around to hide my laughter. I’m an inappropriate giggler at times. That night, the laughs burst out of me every time I envisioned that arc of water splashing on their backs and their puzzled looks as they looked at me and dabbed at the back of their necks.
  • That’s it for the reheated tidbits. Now brush your teeth.
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Beautiful, tiny, gone

MZ archives, June 2007

“Why are you wearing those sandals?”

“Because they are so beautiful.”

“But they don’t fit.”

“But I want them.”

Do you want things, wear things, even if they don’t fit,  just because they are so beautiful?

My Girl from the East, who is four, is sitting on the floor trying to stuff her size 8 toddler feet into size 6 sandals. She doesn’t want to let go, much like the middle-aged woman who cooks her meals and drives her to school. That woman, who happens to be me,  also tries on beautiful things that don’t fit and insists on keeping them for irrational reasons.

In spite of these emotions, I purged her closet and mine and formed three piles on the floor: toss, donate and sell. She didn’t look twice at the jumpers and rompers and sun suits in the donate pile. Some things in the sell pile stirred feelings.

Like the white faux leather sandals accented by red and green butterflies. They were a favorite. When my Girl saw them on the floor, she immediately yanked off her socks and stuffed her feet into them. She walked in them for a few minutes, denying that the toe and heel overhang bothered her. (I know it did.) Then she sat on the couch (I’m sure as a way to avoid the feeling of walking in them) outstretched her legs and stared at them as if they were long-lost friends.

I know what she’s doing. She’s reminiscing. Those sandals, along with their scuff marks and wear, hold memories of summers gone by. I’m saying good-bye to the baby who became the toddler who is now a preschooler.  I’m putting the past in bags and boxes and getting it out of my life. Show’s over, folks. Time to toss, donate or convert to cash that which no longer serves a purpose.

I felt a little bad tugging the sandals off her feet. As I scrubbed them with a Magic Eraser and tucked them into the plastic bin marked for the consignment shop, I talked with her a little about growing up and letting go.

I know how she feels. I have my bag of things that don’t fit. I have my own issues of wanting what’s beautiful but no longer serves a useful purpose. After our chat, I grabbed the skinny jeans that won’t budge past my knee caps and threw them back on the donate pile. You see, I’d pulled them off the donate pile and sneakily stashed them on the staircase, with visions of saving them for when they’d fit again.

We made peace with the idea that newer, bigger, more beautiful things are out there. We can’t wait to find them.

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If the Olympics had an eating event, I'd have a medal

I’m wondering:

Is there a connection between my junk-food addiction …

By CarbonNYC via Creative Commons

and the fact that not one pair of pants in my closet fits properly? Is my muffin top a result of excessive muffin consumption?

By Yukari* via Creative Commons

This lack of pants, it’s bothering me. So, I jumped on board with the Catholics yesterday and declared my digestive system a No Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Doughnuts, Candy or Scones Zone. It had to be done.

Did I mention none of my jeans fit?

Did I mention that I go to the gym regularly and work my butt off? I do 30 minutes of cardio, 30 to 45 minutes of weight training and another 30 minutes of cardio three times weekly. On alternate days I work out in my basement. So, I’m not lethargic.

Yet when I  look in the mirror, my butt is still attached and spreading to all points on the compass. I see cellulite everywhere. Everywhere, people. I feel the muscle tone buried deep under a layer of fat. I see the body of a middle-aged woman. I might even be willing to accept it in a I’m-the-best-I-can-be-for-a-45-year-old kind of way. Except I have the great good fortune of having friends who can eat like it’s an Olympic event and not gain an ounce. None of them has any body fat. I’ve never seen them bloated. Desserts, bacon, extra dollops of cream on their pie and still, flat bellies and thin thighs. They’ve had babies and can still look smoking hot in a bikini. They just have good genes.

No. I’m not fat. But I am overweight. I’m sure my BMI is higher than it should be. Essentially I was born a skinny girl with no appetite and remained reasonably thin until I turned 40. Then nature played a cruel trick on me: It gave me a ravenous appetite while slowing my metabolism to a drip. I’ve tried all sorts of things: special diets, pills, loading up on caffeine. While these things worked temporarily, they all had one thing in common: Little to no eating. Sure my jeans fit again, but I felt miserably hungry.

It’s hard to eat well in a  world filled with bakeries and cupcake parties and cookie fund-raiser sales.

Yesterday, on Day One, my mother handed me a box of freshly baked cinnamon rolls from her bakery. I left them in the car all day and force-fed them to my family so I wouldn’t be tempted.

Last night at the gym, I nearly ran out to the nearest Tim Horton’s drive-through when I heard “Double McTwist  1260” for the third time while watching the Olympics on TV.  In my mind I was holding a fresh-from-the-oven doughy pretzel doubled dipped in chocolate and drizzled with caramel and 1,260 calories per bite. I could smell the cinnamon,  taste the gooey chocolate-caramel mix, feel it drip down my chin.

It was all I could do to keep my focus. I drank so much water I could hear my stomach sloshing as I walked to the car.

Day Two with 44 more to go.

God help me.

Presidents, Pitocin and pipe attacks

Sixteen years ago today — Presidents’ Day 1994, I was watching the Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, waiting for the Pitocin drip to work its magic and make a baby fly out of my body like a luge racer.

I wondered: boy or girl? What will he or she be like? Am I ready for this?

Turns out she would be stubborn and feisty and arrive when she was good and ready. Turns out she’s still that way.

Since I was heading into the second week past my due date, I had a  scheduled induction delivery*.  I was so big I could not drive a car or tie my shoes. I couldn’t get out of bed or stand up from a chair or the couch without help. I was ready to apply for a job at SeaWorld as Shamu’s stunt double. I developed high-blood pressure and  had to be monitored every other day at the hospital. Yeah, it was that kind of third trimester.

Shamu via SeaWorld.com

We arrived before dawn at the hospital. Within an hour I was shackled to internal and eternal fetal monitors, a blood pressure cuff and a IV drip of Pitocin. I was glad to have a TV to break the boredom.

My obstetrician strolled in around noon, hoping to guide my baby into the world. Instead she found me nodding off to Sally Jessy Raphael. She awakened me, checked my vital signs, then ceremoniously unsheathed something that looked like a knitting needle and (sorry, folks) inserted it swiftly to break my water.

Well, hell, why didn’t she do that in the first place? Labor began shortly afterwards.

The battle for the rest of the day was pushing out this baby (forget luge racing, think Winnie-the-Pooh stuck in rabbit’s doorway) and keeping the nurses and my labor coach focused on me and not the Olympic events on TV.

via poohfriends.com

I also was angry that all my natural childbirth classes were rendered useless due to my incarceration. Not only  was I not allowed to get out of bed without a nurse’s help,  but I also had to resort to drugs due to the intensity of the chemically induced labor.

Maybe it was the U.S. hockey team playing that night, but whatever the reason, I had to beg for attention.  At my breaking point, I shouted, ” Shut the fucking Olympics off!” I didn’t want to hear another joke about Picabo Street or hear Nancy Kerrigan’s wailing sound bite:  “Why, why, why?”

Like a screaming, hysterical woman anywhere outside an ice arena is going to get any attention.

But no one could tear their eyes away from the Olympics that year. Even with all my yelling, screaming and facial contortion, how could I compete with this?

Tonya Harding via MSN.com

Nancy Kerrigan via People.com/archives

Via the whole darned Internet

Gold Medal goes to me for delivering a 9-pound, 10- ounce baby girl without a C-section. I was bedridden for two days afterward due to a postpartum hemorrhage and cursed the day I ever decided to lose my virginity.

Silver Medal goes to my girl, who arrived healthy and robust and still pushes me to the edge.

Bronze goes to all those skinny skaters in their tight costumes, who motivated me to lose the jelly belly and get back into shape.  There is nothing more traumatic than looking at your postpartum body while Katarina Witt  and Oksana Baiul swan around on the ice.

* I didn’t have the Internet available to me in 1994 nor was I particularly savvy about having a birth plan. At the time I was convinced that due to the size of my baby , the lack of contractions and my high-blood pressure, induction was medically necessary. Thankfully my baby was OK and eventually I was, too. Later I learned of the risks and side effects of Pitocin and induced labor, including hemorrhage. I made a birth plan with a nurse/midwife for future pregnancies.

In my non-medically trained opinion, I link my postpartum hemorrhage and  inability to carry any other pregnancy to term to the trauma of that induced labor.  I feel it’s worth mentioning to any woman out there who is putting together a birth plan. Do your research and come up with multiple plans for different outcomes.

Valentines I've known

Photo by MZ

Last night we dumped out the contents of a pale pink paper bag that came home from school with our girl from the East. Onto the rug spilled squares and rectangles and heart-shaped greetings. Some were store-bought. Some were home-made. Mixed in were heart-shaped lollipops, foil wrapped chocolates and one homemade heart-shaped sugar cookie coated in pink icing.

This is the idealist’s Valentine’s Day: a magical day that stands along Halloween, Christmas and birthdays, when treats are handed out in equal measure and intentions are sincere.

The reality of Valentine’s Day emerges with a crush or first love. The day becomes an exclusive event between two, no longer shared with the masses.

Depending on the state of your love life, February 14 can swing between elation and misery. Break-ups, unrequited love, divorces and dry spells deliver bouquets of crushing loneliness tightly wrapped in agony.

I’m firmly planted in the middle this year. A decade into a marriage, the crazy overkill of new romance is behind us. Yet over dinner last night (and a bottle of wine) our eyes locked and we shared a moment of joy realizing that we are still together and going strong. We don’t need cards or candies to confirm that. Still, cards and candies are always nice.

It hasn’t always been so good. Here’s my list of good, bad and ugly valentines.

The good: My first serious boyfriend, who gave me my first real bouquet of red roses and a big heart-shaped box of chocolates.  Together we gave our parents serious stress. We stayed together a little more than 3 years, split amicably and still talk occasionally.

My  husband — who still gives me “that look” even after all these years.

The bad: Opening an excessively romantic card bleeding with explicit intentions, from which spilled a stack of cheesy candid self-portraits, from my long-distance boyfriend, whom I had broken up with days earlier by phone and called off our Valentine’s Day romantic weekend/reunion. I’d called without knowing of this package working its way through the U.S. mail system.  He’d sent it my way, unaware of my intentions to break it off for good. Awkward. Painful. Embarrassing.  It was the right thing to do, but I felt like such a jerk for hurting him when he obviously didn’t see it coming.

The ugly: Having the dubious distinction of being  the only woman in the office one year who didn’t receive some token of affection to display on her desk.

Dating someone who didn’t believe in observing Valentine’s day or any other so-called “Hallmark holiday.” Likewise, being in a relationship with someone who tosses a gift at you that is so obviously an afterthought that it’s offensive, such as a pair of garish earrings still in the bag with the receipt, showing the cheapness of the gift as well as the fact it was purchased within the last 30 minutes.

I’m glad my Girl from the East can enjoy this day as something pure and sweet, like the sugar cookie she devoured immediately after opening the pink bag. I’m relieved my Girl from the West hasn’t had her heart broken yet, but I hope that when and if it happens, she’ll feel comfortable enough to come to me.  Finally, I’m grateful that my relationship stands on solid ground and that I’m past the days of bad and ugly valentines.

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Wardrobe malfunction, Part II

Two weeks ago I tweeted:

That morning, when selecting what to wear, I considered the following:

  • I’ll be in a dark theater.
  • I’ll be with a bunch of kids.
  • I haven’t worn this shirt in two years. (I know there is a reason, but I cannot remember what it is.)

During the performance, the reason came back to me in a whisper of cold air up my spine. I do not wear this shirt because it does not fit properly.

It’s one of those crossover V-neck shirts that looks really cute when you first put it on and even retains some level of cuteness for the first hour of wear. It’s also striped in shades of red that flatter my hair color and skin tone. After a few hours of wear, however, it stretches and sags in the front, forcing constant adjustment to prevent, er, wardrobe malfunctions, particularly in the neckline area.  Also, I’d forgotten to wear a tank top or camisole under the shirt. By the end of the performance, I’d tugged and twisted the shirt so many times it had stretched to almost twice its size.

Like this, only with more sag. Via Treehugger.com

Shortly after the show ended, I thought I’d just slip into my jacket and slink on out of the theater. But this wasn’t just any show. It was the first U.S. tour for this traveling troupe of musicians and dancers from a university in Hubei Province, China. We heard the call for students in the audience to head onstage if they were interested in a meet and greet with the troupe.

Being the mother of a four-year-old Girl from China who loves, loves, loves all things Chinese, it didn’t take long for me to find myself being pulled by one hand toward the stage by my eager daughter while the other tugged at my malfunctioning top.

Once the college students made eye contact with my girl it was all over. I don’t now who gushed and giggled more: my girl or the pretty young women. My girl was passed around from student to student for photo opportunities and even rode on the shoulders of one of the male musicians. No amount of backing into the shadows stopped the inevitable, “Mom, how about you get into a few of these pictures?”

On the way home it occurred to me that I shouldn’t ever dress myself with a dark theater, it’s just kids, who cares attitude. You never know who you’ll bump into, and when you do, you’ll be judged by what you are wearing, like it or not.

When I got home I did two things: I tweeted my revelation and then I tossed that saggy shirt into the trash.

Lesson learned.