Words of Wisdom, From Joe

“Jimmie!” said Joe. “Did you know that macaroni has lots of calories?”

My supper club bunch and I were having dinner at Finezza’s (Italian – very good, highly recommend), and Joe had apparently watched a new documentary.

“Yes, I know,” I replied.

“It’s got more than the cheese! I thought macaroni and cheese was healthy!”

“No,” I replied smugly*, “noodles have a lot of empty calories. They are a great way to convey flavors to your mouth but the calorie payoff is pretty rough.”

*I can say this with smugness because I’ve recently given up all grains and if I don’t say it smugly, I might cry.

“Also, did you know that fruit juice is mostly sugar?” Joe was distraught.

“Yes, Joe, I know. It’s disappointing.  It sounds so good for you but it’s really not,” I replied.

Joe shook his head mournfully. “No wonder I’ve gained so much weight,” he said (he hasn’t) and then he sighed.

The waiter rounded the table to take our orders and I wondered what Joe would eat. He’s a lot like Dammit Todd.  His food is his focus until the meal is gone and there’s no talking to him until the last bite has been consumed.  He thoroughly enjoys whatever he has ordered and it’s a pleasure to watch him at dinner.

“What will you have, sir?” she asked Joe.

“Lasagna, please. Extra cheese.  And lemonade, thanks.”

Oh, Joe. I do love him.

IMG_4242

Snarky

This weekend I went shopping with Daisy. Often I like to shop for undergarments and often I drive my shopping partners nuts because I only wear matching sets.  Finding matching sets isn’t always easy for me despite all those cute undercracker sets you see in Target.  Those cute sets only come in size perky or petite, and this will surprise you, but I am neither.

I’ve been on a quest to find the right nude and white sets of undies. I’m sorry, this is TMI, but we are in the trenches now.  Anyway, on my quest, I’ve recently purchased and worn a set of each, only to discover that the brassieres are at minimum a size too large, despite my having been measured by an “expert.”  (“Expert” here means a shop girl holding a measuring tape and the measuring is done over the blouse, not “expert” like that high school football player who offered to “measure” me that one time because he “knows titties.”)

Daisy was off in the sized perky and petite bathing suits, rummaging for a suit for our pending Florida vacation, when a brassiere measuring “expert” approached me about the undergarments I was riffling through. “Would you like to try one of those?” she asked.  “It’s the best brand.  They fit like a dream.”

“Sure,” I said, because we all know that once a woman trails off into the bathing suit section, things can take a lengthy turn. It’s because women like being mean to themselves and criticizing all their perceived flaws, and I was going to let Daisy do that in peace because no amount of my telling her she’s perky and petite will make trying on a bathing suit any easier.  What else was I going to do with my time but try on some bras? Plus, I was in the market for one.

The “expert” trundled me off to the dressing room to give me a thorough measuring and once she got a gander at my (super cute, almost perfectly fitting) bra, she began bellowing.

“WELL NO WONDER YOU ARE IN HERE. That bra fit is AWFUL. MY GOD, THIS IS TERRIBLE.  You aren’t in the right size AT ALL.  Look at that wide back!  You need a triple D, with LOTS OF SUPPORT, GOODNESS!!!”

She waddled out of the dressing room after my thorough tongue-lashing during which I had to say, “Could you please not let everyone in the store hear my business? Could you please stop yelling?” and helped me select three bras. I picked the pretty ones and she picked the parachutes.

“Try these on,” she ordered. “They are meant to COVER THE BREAST UNLIKE THAT THING YOU HAVE ON THAT LETS THEM SHOW OUT THE TOP.” I clutched my three selections and shame-facedly made it back to the dressing room, me and my ill-fitted bosoms.

The first one, her selection, sure did fit like a dream, if a dream fits too large and droopy. My whole breast was swimming in there, and if any of you have breasts, you could have put one of yours off in there with mine.  It isn’t often I put on an undergarment that is too large, but I have to say, that was heady stuff.  I turned to the side to see how the breast just kind of pushed out from the body and then flopped over like a pancake on the lip of a plate.  That was weird because my breasts don’t do that even on their own, even unfettered.  I’m 44 but gravity hasn’t killed me yet.

The second one was just as bad. Maybe bigger in the cup size, though, and instead of making me look like I had pancakes for boobs, I looked like a little kid in my grandmother’s bra which was stuffed with pads and slightly pointy.

“How’s it going in there?” the sales lady hollered through the door.

“I look like a battle ax in these. I mean, the hooks on the back cover up the entire area between the top of my shoulder blade to the bottom of my rib cage.  And the straps are like rip cords. Very sturdy and not at all flattering.”  I was not impressed.

Neither was she. “YOUR ENTIRE BREAST IS FALLING OUT OF YOUR BRA.  These are meant to be SUPPORTIVE, something you CLEARLY NEED.”  I remembered how my breasts looked in my super cute, almost perfectly fitted t-shirt just five minutes ago when they were high and tight in my super cute, almost perfectly fitted bra and was puzzled.

I tried, though. “Sure, I’m with you, but this bra will stick out of my shirts because it comes up so high. The one I own is more of a lifter and separator, because I like my breasts placed in the breast region, not smashed down and covered to my neck, where, and this is weird, I don’t have any breasts. Does anyone have breasts up to their neck? Because this cup comes up to my neck.”

“You do what you want but I wear these all the time,” she sniffed, and then stiffly marched back to her cash register.

I tried on the pretty bra that I picked out and wouldn’t you know it really did fit like a dream. I didn’t look like a ‘ho, but then I didn’t look like Maxine either.  I turned this way and that and admired how high and tight everything was, how I could breathe normally, how nothing fell out of the bottom, and then I took it off and hung it back on the hanger.

As I walked out of the dressing room, the sales lady called, “Did you like that one?”

“I did,” I replied.

“There is a free gift with purchase,” she enticed even though she was still offended.

“Ooh,” I mulled. “Is the free gift a matching panty?” I was intrigued and would have slapped down the ridiculous $65-per-bra lickety split if she had said yes.  But she didn’t.

“No, it’s a lingerie bag. We don’t have matching panties for that bra.”

And that was that. Bra back on the rack, Daisy and I out, saleslady miffed.

That’s how it goes, folks. Never an easy answer for boobs like mine.

 

 

Good-bye, Little Man

Hi, guys. I have some news.

Murphy is gone. I don’t want to cry so just please accept that he was an old man at 16, and that I never wanted either of my little men to be in any pain at any time.  Letting him go was best for him and Murphy had always made it clear that his life was not about me, it was about him.  He went to sleep peacefully in my arms as I rubbed his scruffy ear.  It was his favorite thing in the world.

IMG_2072

For those of you who are new, I adopted Murphy and Seamus when they were 7 and 8 years old.   I bought a house and decided it needed a cat, so I wandered into the pet store to have a gander at the adopt-a-cat selections.  I was looking for a nice, cozy, fat beast to lie around on my sofa and purr and generally make my house feel like it was really mine.  The staff presented many selections, all of whom I loved, but most of whom I could see tearing up my furniture instead of lounging on it.  When the staff presented two very mature kitties, I was taken.  Seamus was promised to be a letdown because he didn’t do normal cat things, and Murphy was promised to be every cat lover’s dream.  The two had to be adopted together, otherwise Seamus would have  . . . . what? Fallen apart?  Hidden forever?  Expired from sorrow?  I have no idea anymore.  Their owner died and Seamus didn’t recover well and Murphy was his only steady source of comfort, so viola!  I found myself with two cats.

Seamus really was weird and shy and hid under the bed for four years. That is not an exaggeration. Four years, and I’d only see him occasionally because he had to eat and poop.  He’s good now, not a letdown at all, coming out often to eat and poop and also play with his stuffed crab and my ponytail holders and beg for treats.  Murphy taught him the joys of drinking from the toilet so now he finds great fun in that.  I’m terrified he’s going to slide in and get stuck because he’s as fat as a bear, but who am I to deny him his comforts?

And as it turns out, Murphy really was the cat lover’s dream. He was curious, as evidenced by the shreds he ripped through my curtains when he leapt from the dining room table to the top of the tabbed fabric panels over my glass doors.  Ripped his way all the way down and then leapt again in a new spot to shred his way down on the other side.  He was friendly, absolutely.  I can’t tell you how many people in my neighborhood have entertained him in their homes or on their vehicles on a sunny day. He was a lover.  So many fights happened in the neighborhood between Murphy and some nemesis who was encroaching on his girlfriends.  Murphy would blow up like a watermelon, all hissing and fur, and get the crap beaten out of himself by a cat with real neuters and twice the weight.  His poor little ears were full of dings and chips yet he always went back for more and then strutted around the house like a peacock with raggedy fur.

IMG_0032

I said just a few days ago that when I expired, Murphy would go with me because his heart was broken. Well now he’s gone and broken mine.  Of all the men who got to choose whether or not they loved me, Murphy did so the longest.  We bonded on day one and if he ever caught me prone on the sofa or the bed, he’d drape himself across my legs or my chest and make biscuits, purring until he went to sleep. He never purred otherwise.  If I wasn’t prone but upright, he’d perch near my head and make biscuits until he went to sleep.  I never got to go the bathroom alone but always had an audience of Murphy at my feet, watching me with sleepy eyes.  If we were outside together, he followed behind me wherever I walked and softly meowed at me to let me know he was there.  On good days and on bad days, I could pick him up like a baby, head in the crook of my arm and paws up in the air, and rub his ears until his eyes glazed over and his paws splayed wide open.  Like the most contented cat in the world.

Murphy lived his life full of zeal. There wasn’t a single part of it that he did not embrace with wild abandon.  I’m so thankful he had a good life.  I’m so thankful that I could give him the gift of peace when that good life was no longer an option.  And I will have you note that my dreams of having a cozy, fat beast to lie around on my sofa and purr never did materialize but the one of making my house mine, well that one did.  Ah, yes. Such is life with cats.

Salut, little Murph. I sure do miss you.

 

Don’t Freak Out. I Am Okay.

So I had a heart test last week. I’m leading with that in case any of you were planning to give me a hard time about being gone for so long.  Making you feel guilty right out of the gate is a neat deflector when I don’t have a good explanation for my absence other than “lazy” and “in a highly committed relationship with my sofa.”

I had stress echocardiogram to be exact, which is usually prescribed when someone is having chest pains and the like. I wasn’t having chest pains or shortness of breath but I could feel my heart inside my chest.  When I can feel my ovaries inside my abdomen, I know the pain is coming and that there’s no amount of Advil or chocolate or heating pads that will make that pain stop, so when I became suddenly aware of a new sensation in my heart, I assumed it would be the same.  Like all rational people, when the sensation hit at 2:00 am, I self-diagnosed “impending heart attack” and took an aspirin and then toyed with the idea of writing a living will in case I kicked off in the middle of the night.  Note that I did not drive myself to the ER or make a doctor’s appointment, nor did I write a living will.

Perhaps I will do that now in case I ever do kick off in the middle of the night.

Jimmie’s Living Will:

Do not put me on a machine to live.

Give away every organ you can.

Incinerate the remainder of me or donate the remainder of me to science.

Martie is to sell my house and pocket the equity, give my car to whichever kid is next in line to get one, and use my retirement money for somebody’s college education.

Woney gets my Tiffany bow necklace, Daisy can have back the earrings she lent me, Phranke gets Seamus (because Murphy will expire from a broken heart when I do), and Martie gets all the rest.

There. Done.

After self-diagnosing “impending heart attack” three or four times, I did make an appointment with my doctor who scheduled my stress echo, and clearly I am okay because I told you in the title that I was. Here’s the good part, though, the part you have been waiting for ever since I started this post.  I had to take my clothes off for this test.  And because I had to take my clothes off, I handled this doctor’s appointment with as much aplomb and finesse as all my other doctors’ appointments wherein my clothing has to be removed.   Here’s the breakdown of that visit:

Pro:

  • Nothing is wrong with my heart.

Cons:

  • I waited 52 minutes for my test. I asked and was told twice that there was no back up and that my appointment would happen right on time but I waited 52 minutes and had to listen to not only Rachael Ray’s talk show but also The Price is Right.
  • I had to wear a gown.
  • The schedulers told me three times I could keep my clothes on but I had to wear a gown.
  • The gown was too small.
  • Steven, a student, was invited to observe my test for which I had to wear a gown that was too small.
  • It took too much screeching at a pitch only dogs could hear before we all agreed that having Steven the student join us was a bad idea. My throat hurt.
  • No matter how much screeching at a pitch only dogs could hear that I did, I still had to hoof it 12 minutes on a treadmill with no bra and in a gown that was too small.
  • It took too much screeching at a pitch only dogs could hear for one of the technicians to finally say to her co-workers, “You know, we should probably try to remember what this is like on both sides of the table, shouldn’t we?”
  • My eyes looked like two peas in the snow for 48 hours from all the crying.

Pro:

  • The gown wasn’t paper.

With excellent test results, I’m still left with the question of what’s causing my new occasional heart sensation. A few months ago I began a new eating plan in an effort to rid myself of all of these pesky hips and stomachs I have collected.  I cut out all grains, all diet sodas, and most sugar.  My only treats are unsweetened tea, delicious, and 90% cacao chocolate, which on the first pass tastes like scorched coffee grounds with a hint of cocoa but on the third or fourth pass tastes like divinity made by God, Himself.  I’ve lost a small hunk of weight due to this eating plan – not enough that you will be clamoring for me to sun myself at your beach parties so that you may behold the beauty of my body, but enough that my pants are too big.  It also seems that this new eating plan has done something to the sensitivity of my insides because caffeine, found in both of my meager and sad treats, causes me heart sensations that I do not enjoy.  There’s nothing wrong with me that cutting out my two pitiful and pathetic treats won’t fix.

I mean, I’m guessing. We have no answer for my heart feelings, but as we all have learned, I’m the master at self-diagnosing.  I’m so, so good at it, so good in fact that I get to pay an enormous chunk of my medical deductible off early in the year for a test that told me absolutely nothing was wrong and that I am free to be sick as a dog for the whole rest of the year without monetary penalty from my insurance company.  I have no delicious treats with which to console myself but spending $2200 to discover that when I feel my heart in my chest, the pain of losing my favorite creature comforts is coming and there really is no amount of chocolate, Advil, or heating pad that can fix it.

Sigh . . . no more chocolate.

I missed you all, btw.

Love,

Jimmie, M.D.

I Knew It! Still Got It!

This morning I made my long (long) trek into work. Usually I sit at the light on the entrance ramp to my office for a few minutes, and usually I use that time to catch up on my correspondence.  Since I deleted Facebook, that consists scrolling through Instagram and liking everyone’s pictures.  Anyway, I was catching up on my correspondence when I heard a horn blare.  I jumped, threw my phone, and said, “Poop!” because I just knew I had missed the light.  (I did not say, “Poop!”  I said a different word that means the same thing.)

Turns out I didn’t miss the light. It was still red.  I looked around in confusion and connected eyes with the man in the white van in the next lane who was looking at me like this:

cat-smiling-cartoon-1

Probably you should picture him as more of a man, less of a cat, but the teeth were the same and he had just honked his horn at me. Nonetheless, the man smiled

cat-smiling-cartoon-1

and waved and then I waved and hollered “good morning” as if he could hear me through our respective windows. Then the light changed and we drove off.

Except remember from my previous story, how people flirt on the interstate? What do you do with it past the initial contact?  Well, he did what normal people do (except the slimy ones) – he pulled up next to me and drove like this

cat-smiling-cartoon-1

for a whole mile until we parted ways and waved and I hollered “good-bye” as if he could hear me through our respective widows.

Y’all. I still got it!

For you ladies who encounter my new boyfriend in the white van on the highway and try to steal him from me, I will be forced say this because at heart, I am still a child:

Don’t make me snap my fingers in a Z for.ma.tion

Hip ro.ta.tion, booty circu.la.tion

 Talk to the hand, talk to the wrist

Girl I think you just got dissed!

(lyric and choreography credits go to 11-year-old girls worldwide, but most recently credited to Tigger who, incidentally, also taught me the correct choreography to “JuJu on that Beat” just this weekend.)

Who Decided Eggs Had To Be Breakfast Food Anyway

Speaking of Squirt, the last time I was in Florida with Daisy, Squirt came to stay at our snazzy beach house with us. She had to sleep on the couch, of course, because one of the beautiful things about being single and self-indulgent is that when you go on vacation with a friend who is also single and self-indulgent, everyone gets their own room. No sharing of the bed, I don’t care how much I love you.  (God, when my husband who does not wear skinny jeans comes along, and also my husband who is similarly-to-me aged comes along [same man], please bring us a king sized bed.  I’m going to love him but I’m going to like him better when he’s all the way over there while I sleep. Amen.)

Anyway, Daisy and I went to Florida, now an annual trip in case you were wondering, and Squirt came to stay. Daisy and I took turns cooking breakfast. Since neither of us can abide an egg, and since Daisy is currently off carbs, our breakfast grocery shopping is a bit unconventional.  Daisy’s offering came in the form of hot dogs and Atkins bars, always delicious.  Mine came in the form of this:

img_4570

I slaved away in kitchen and presented plates to both roomies. “Ta da,” I said, “breakfast is served!”

Squirt looked at me, fresh from her slumber on the sofa. “Wha?  Why?  That’s peas . . . “

“Yes!” I exclaimed. “With turkey bacon and cheese!”

Daisy said, “Is there butter?” Squirt said, “Is this even real meat?”

“NO! Peas are good on their own! Yes, I think so! Except it smells like plastic if you cook it for too long, so I don’t do that!”  I was muy entusiasmado, usually a problem for those who are not also similarly morning people.

Tentatively, Squirt said, “Do you have any eggs, maybe?”

Which brings me to my rant. Why do eggs have to be breakfast food?  Who determined that sausage should have an Italian version, a smoked version and also a breakfast version which is a complete non-descriptor?  Why pancakes only in the morning?  Why can’t we have pancakes for dinner and just call it pancakes for dinner?  We always have to say “breakfast foods for dinner.  I love breakfast foods for dinner!”  No. This is wrong on many levels.

Firstly, eggs are gross. They taste like eggs, particularly when scrambled.  I can abide a good deviled egg but it must be super salty and mustardy and I only eat the white parts if they are covered in yellow.  I can abide a fried egg only when it’s over something like toast or potatoes which mask the flavor.  I can abide a hard-boiled egg covered in ranch dressing or a very good Italian.  First thing in the morning, though?  Oh, my stomach.  OH, HURK.

no-eggs

Secondly, why aren’t turkey sandwiches considered a breakfast food? Peas, also.  Lately, I’ve even found myself enamored of a roasted beet or steamed Brussels sprout for breakfast.  Full of fiber, pretty colors, throw some olive on there to clean out the arteries.  What’s not great about starting your day that way?

cb9f16e814c1759cd09200bc82a4bde5

I did some research to figure this out so that you don’t have to. I found this, about Edward Bernays, long considered the father of public relations:

“To get an idea of Bernays’ abilities, think for a moment about a traditional breakfast. What do you think of? If you are like most, you will come up with bacon and eggs — so what? Prior to 1915, bacon was not part of a traditional breakfast — so Edward Bernays was hired to increase bacon consumption in the United States. He incorporated a new theory of gaining assent from recognized leaders either with their knowing cooperation or without. He conducted a survey among physicians and received their overwhelming recommendation that Americans should eat a hearty breakfast. Coupled with predictive results from the physicians, he began an advertising campaign stressing that a breakfast of bacon and eggs was just that — a hearty breakfast. It may sound simple, but look where we are today because of it.” (Jack Monnett, PhD.)*

I guess I can blame Edward Bernays for eggs-for-breakfast tradition. And I guess this is only two levels of wrong but it’s my post.

For the record, Martie has lots to say about my breakfast selections. Mostly they involve phrases like, “No.”  Also, “OMG, why???”  Perhaps even a “You are gross, how are we sisters?”  Then she sends pictures of her lobster grits, consumed at Blue Heaven in Key West and I ask the same question.  Daisy felt similiarly, I think, despite her fondness for hotdogs at breakfast but I believe I changed her.  On our last day of Florida vacation, Daisy fixed us breakfast.  It was a giant bowl of peas, loaded with butter and salt, and it was delicious.

And that, my friends, is all I have to say about that.

*http://www.ourrepubliconline.com/Author/183

kid-and-goat

Squirt with her new Paraguayan friend, Gilbert.

Squirt

Have you guys ever used a tongue scraper?  I read about them once in a Marian Keyes novel and also heard the term “fresh as a daisy” thrown around as an after effect from using one, so I got me one and put it to use a few times a week.  I guess it works but it’s not something I go around asking. “Hey,” hack directly into someone’s face, “do you notice that my breath smells like daisies?”  Talk about instant social ostracism, no matter how daisy fresh I am.

Anyway, yesterday I put it to use but apparently a little too enthusiastically because I gagged myself. It took an inordinately long time to recover from that.  I had to lie down.  Everything revolted for a long number of minutes and when I felt I could stand, I commenced to drying my hair and mentally disposed of any breakfast I had planned on eating.  I might be permanently off of trying to achieve that level of oral hygiene anymore.

That story really has nothing to do with anything but I felt I should share it.

I talk a lot about Martie here but I do have another sister, Squirt, who I talk about less. She’s just as great but she often lives far away and quite honestly, she is a terrible communicator.  She is significantly younger than me, so much so that if I were to date one of her friends I’d feel like a ridiculous wrinkled up old hag with a young whippersnapper type sugar baby.  If I shared funny stories about her I’d mostly be making them up because I don’t get to experience them for myself very often.  She’s a cute little thing, though.  Here, look.

image

One super cute story – when she was tiny, big enough to have hair and eat adult food but young enough to speak in her toddler language still, she asked for chips. Ruffles, specifically, and I’m only telling you this so you can recreate the picture in your head.

“Uh-ona jap, plz,” she said.

Fortunately, Martie and I spoke Squirt toddler and understood that “uh-ona jap, plz” meant “I want a chip, please.” Also fortunately, Squirt was amenable to repeating this over and over at our request while we flailed about on the sofa wheezing with mirth at the cuteness of it.

Anyway. After a time, we gave Squirt the bag of Ruffles which she protectively placed between her legs and against her body, effectively hiding herself behind the bag.  All we could see were two tiny toddler feet on either side of the bag, one blonde pigtail sprouting from both the right and left of the Ruffles, and a tiny hand reaching ever so often into the bag to pluck a single chip for her consumption.  We’d hear the crunch, watch the hand, and flail around wheezing until our stomachs hurt. Unfortunately for Squirt, we still have the same reaction when we tell the story now, which is often.  Poor kid. I don’t think she will ever be allowed to grow up as far as Martie and I are concerned.

I say that, but it isn’t true. See, Squirt just left two weeks ago for a stint in the Peace Corps. She’s in Paraguay for 27 months and it is unlikely that she will come back to the States during those months.  Martie and I were super excited for her until it came time for her to go.  Suddenly, she was leaving.  It was real and she was going and to say that we were distraught is putting it far too lightly.  We had taken her shopping for things she would need.  We asked a million questions about what she’d be doing.  We spent more quality time with her than we’d done in a while but two days before she got on that plane, we had a comeapart.  I say comeapart but what I really mean is comeaparts.  Ssss.  More than one.

Our small younger sister is in another country with people she only met at the staging session. We saw the group picture of the pile of Peace Corps, Paraguay, but we don’t know those people. We don’t know her host family.  We cannot visit for three months which feels like an eternity even though we might only see each other once a year sometimes and had no plans to go Paraguay in those three months anyway.

On the Tuesday before the Thursday that Squirt left, my boss came to my desk to give me good news. She said, “I have good news,” and when she delivered it, I burst into tears, much to the surprise of both of us.  She paused for a moment and said, “You heard the part where I said good news, right?”  I did that a lot that week.  I especially did that when Squirt sent a text from the plane in New York, right before they took off for Asuncion.  I called Martie and sobbed; then when I stopped Martie started.  Why? Why do we feel this way?  Squirt has been taking good care of herself for years now. She’s an adult.  She is more than capable. She loves meeting new people and moving to new places and most importantly she loves to give back. She always has.  Why is this different?  I have to stop asking these questions because I’m crying a little now and I have to drive soon.

I suppose I wrote the oral hygiene story because it’s a silly moment in my life, one that I would have shared with Squirt during one of our many beach visits. We would sip on champagne, because why not, and tell stupid stories and laugh. Sometimes cry.  But we connected. And if she comes here to read my life, she’ll see it and know what it would feel like if I were telling her this perched on my beach towel with a cocktail in hand while I cooked myself into bacon in the hot sun.  This is our connection.  I hope we don’t lose it.  We aren’t going to lose it.

Love you, Squirt. Always.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries