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:

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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

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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

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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:

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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.

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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?

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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

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Squirt with her new Paraguayan friend, Gilbert.

Serves Me Right

A couple of weeks ago I was driving my senior citizens in our big fifteen-passenger bus (we have upgraded from van to bus, and it’s a hoss) to dinner, and when I stopped at a red light I got out my lipstick.

“You never know when you are going to meet the love of your life,” I said as I caked it on. Pink is a good color for me.

I didn’t think another thing about it because we were headed to Tenn16 over in East Nashville which everyone knows if full of hipsters wearing skinny jeans, and everyone knows I am not going to find myself in a relationship with a man who wears skinny jeans. Ever.  (God, hear me on this.)  During dinner I noticed that Jan, me in thirty years, was talking to a man at the bar.  Since I like to make new friends in bars and restaurants my own self, I thought nothing of that either.

Later, after food was consumed and plates were cleared, Jan got out her lipstick and caked it on. Mauve is a good color for her.  She motioned for me to do the same and once that chore was accomplished, she invited me down to her end of the table.

“Jimmie,” she said, “I have someone I want you to meet. That man behind me at the bar?  His name is Jerry.  I went to high school with him and while I’m furious with him for aging better than me, I want you to meet him.  Here’s what I think I’m going to say:  This is Jimmie. She’s looking for a hookup.  Are you interested in going out with her?”

Y’all. Y’all!  Jerry is 70 years old.* Open up that floor and swallow me whole.  I’ve got to keep my mouth shut around Jan.

In other related-but-not-really news, I recently lost my driver’s license in Key West. This story would be far more exciting if I were able to tell you that I lost it in the bar or on the beach, but alas, I believe I lost it in the grocery store buying something boring like cheese. Anyway, I had to go through TSA twice with no ID of any kind and unless you count a pat down so thorough I felt like I needed a cigarette after, it was not a pleasant experience.  Getting a new license was not a pleasant experience either but I was rewarded with a new license photo that makes me look like a melted piece of cheese (apropos, no?).  Also, it looks like every chin I ever had in my life showed up for that photo.  I suppose that is what I get for losing my license, although I feel good about replacing it so soon because I can speed again.  Was terrified to do that without one.

In final related news (not really), in our last blogging episode I threw my dear sister, Martie, under the bus. In retaliation, she threw me under the bus and in a display of her pipes and creativity, she wrote me a song.

Please enjoy her non-warbling-nor-screeching tune written rightfully at my expense. For the record, I feel about Willie Nelson much like I do about Patsy Cline.

In Which Martie Throws Me Under The Bus; Or, A Song By Martie

Ain’t we great? That is some sisterly love right there.

*I feel I should defend myself here – while I’m not opposed to an older man, I think maybe five years is my limit. Seven, tops. (God, hear me on this.) I’d like for our wrinkling pattern to be roughly the same.

You, Too, Can Look As Good As All This

Katniss and I were having lunch the other day and she said, “I went to lunch with a girl in my office last week and Jimmie, I missed you. We went to Blaze and we ordered our pizzas and she ate three pieces and claimed she was stuffed.  Just crammed to the gills.  Couldn’t eat another bite or she’d be sick.  I was on piece four, heading for piece five and I felt so guilty for eating it all that I quit.  Please don’t make me do that again.”

Katniss does not have to worry. I will eat a whole Blaze pizza* and not feel one bit bad about it.  Besides, Iman, you know her, she’s the gorgeous angular, exotic toothpick widow of David Bowie, said that older women should maintain an extra five or ten pounds to keep our faces looking young.  That extra bit of fat plumps out the wrinkles, see, and keeps us from drooping into our later years.  I feel like if five or ten pounds is enough for Iman with her gorgeous cheekbones, then I need to go a step further with my lesser cheekbones.  Maybe more like twenty-five or thirty pounds, yeah?  I’m just doing my part to look young, to inspire all these kids to embrace aging with relish.

*For the record, Blaze pizzas are created for single individuals and are as thin as a Kleenex. They are meant to be eaten in one sitting because they are small and taste terrible when they get cold.

Speaking of looking young and beauty routines, I thought I’d share some of my tips and secrets with you today. I turned 44 a month or so ago and when I tell people, they’ve often said, “Well, you barely look over 43 and a half, what’s your secret?”  I’ll tell you.

Firstly, I maintain a youthful exuberance with the wavy, loose curls I like to iron into my hair. Ideally you’ll use a 1.5 – 2 inch barrel Hot Tools curling iron because it can heat up to 400 degrees in a matter of moments. This really puts a good scald on your hair which is necessary for getting a good curl.  If you can smell the heat, it’s hot enough.  In reality, I used to use the ideal 1.5 – 2 inch barrel Hot Tools curling iron but it slipped off my hair one day and onto my shoulder.  The 400-degree barrel gave me a nice oblong blistered burn that looked like a bubbled up hickey, and that really ticked me off because not only am I celibate for what seems like FOREVER, but I got a hickey from a curling iron and not a hot man. In retaliation I whacked the 1.5 – 2 inch barrel over and over against the counter whilst cursing like Andrew Dice Clay and the end result was this:

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Now I use the 1-inch barrel Hot Tools curling iron that also heats up to 400 degrees that had been lounging in the bathroom cabinet for a year or two because the curls it makes are too tight for my liking. You can still reach the youthful exuberant look with this wand, though, as evidenced here:

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Once I get my coif fluffed to an appropriate fullness, I begin work on my eyes. The eyes really tell the story of your aging, so you want to take very good care of them.  Ideally you will have a regimen than includes delicately patting ludicrously expensive eye cream under your eyes morning and night, and you will use a gentle cleanser, equally ludicrously expensive, to remove any makeup you have caked on in an effort to make your eyelashes look like caterpillars. I’m on board with that except for the part where I cannot afford ludicrously expensive anything.  I can afford Avon makeup remover which is actually very good, so that is what I use until I run out and realize that I forgot to reorder and then I rummage in my cabinets until I find something else that will work.  Behold:

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And this is how well it works. Behold:

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Ain’t that awesome? I’m down to the bottom of the jar now so I have to stick my longest finger down in it and scrape some out which I then smear on my eyes, squishing it all around until the mascara finally releases its spidery death grip on my lashes and gets washed off with a very thin washcloth which has permanent mascara stains.  Works great! I think the fat from the coconut oil and the potential allergy issues I could have from the amount of cat fur in my house (behold below) keep my eyes nice and puffy which as we read earlier, keeps the wrinkles from wrinkling which makes me look youthful!

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Once I have performed all beauty ablutions, I head to the closet to pick my clothing for the day. I told you once that I like to wear wafty, gauzy, floaty things because they make me look like a calm and serene type person. This remains true. I also believe that they make me appear younger.  No “good looking” severely cut blazers for me. No skin tight pencil skirts with fitted shirts that emphasize my (not) tiny waist and (not) bubbly bum.  I like stuff that doesn’t really touch me.  Ideally.  In reality, it turns out that wafty, gauzy, floaty things make me look pregnant as proven by the eight-year-old girl who caught me talking to her eight-year-old boyfriend at church.

“Hi, Lee,” she said as she pulled his arm into hers. “Hi,” she said to me with a squinched up mouth.  “We need to go, Lee,” she said as she dragged him off, and as she sashayed away she flung over her shoulder, “That dress makes you look pregnant.”

Well, at least I look young enough to be pregnant.

Speaking of stuff I like and use, my go to brands are below. These are the things I will spend ludicrous amounts of money on, no matter how little money I actually have:

  • Lancome Eyelash Primer – Oh my crackers, this stuff is expensive but it WORKS!
  • Benefit Mascara, Black – Talk about tar but this mascara will give you the best spidery lashes in the world!
  • Clinique Chubby Stick, Mightiest Maraschino – I wore this lipstick the other day and a girl at work said, “Wow, you look edgy. Kind of bitchy. I wouldn’t mess with you at all!” Thank you, my work here is done.
  • A Hair in My Biscuit’s Hot/Cold Eye Mask – Martie makes these and I keep one in the freezer at all times. When you have slept in cat fur all night (Thank you, Murphy) or eaten too much salt (Thank you, anything more than one grain) or stayed up too late watching Downton Abbey (Thank you, Amazon Prime), you’ll want one.
  • Flax clothing – Generously sized so that when I purchase a medium and it floats around me, I feel dainty and small. This I love because the only other way I’d ever feel dainty and small was if I had lunch next to Shaquille O’Neal.

I think this whole list screams youthful, don’t you? I mean, isn’t that what youthful really means?  Very poor decisions regarding things that really do matter and very expensive decisions on things that do not? Don’t care.  I love my caterpillar eyelashes.

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Don’t look a minute over 43, do I? Puffy eyes and all.

 

Photo Dump

Man, what a lazy cow I have been lately! I had all these intentions for writing excellent stuff, really scintillating material that would wow you, and then Madre and I took a vacation.  Since we have returned I’ve read eight nine books (finished another last night).  I’m guessing that lazing around in a hammock chair for six days really did me a lot of good as far as relaxing me but it also put some kind of lazy haze on me and I can’t seem to snap out of it.  Oof.

Anyway, I was scrolling through the photos on my phone the other day because somehow I have used up most of my storage and I can’t figure out why. I play no games.  I have maybe four songs I listen to on a rotation.  I don’t Facebook anymore, and I’ve posted seven pictures to Instagram.  I wanted to see if I could delete anything, maybe some pictures of some meals I already blogged about here or an accidental 3-minute video of my floor covered in cat fur, and it so happens that I found about 62 pictures similar to this:

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Pooh

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Tigger

Turns out if you give your phone password to your nieces and then leave them in the same room with said phone, they take liberties. I miss those children.

I’m not one to really miss people. I enjoy you when I have you and I look forward to seeing you, but I’m not going to miss you, not really.  But Madre and I flew down to Key West with Pooh and Tigger a few weeks ago to deliver them to Aunties Anne and Susanne for a three-week European trip, and I MISS them.

(Also, do you like how I casually just threw “Key West” and “Europe” in there? Very blasé, like this happens to us all the time.  These kids are in EUROPE!  And Madre and I were in KEY WEST!)

(To be fair, I suppose Key West isn’t really that big of a deal because we do have open access to the aunties’ house any time we want to go plus it’s hotter than is healthy or fun for any human down there. I do believe it is currently too hot for even the iguanas and that is saying something.)

The girls come back home tomorrow. I am beyond ready.  Their parents are frantically beyond ready which is really the only word I can think of to describe what it must feel like to be a parent of children that you miss more than I do.

In honor of their return, and in honor of them in general, I’ll share this picture and then tell you the story of how it came to be.

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About a year ago I headed down to their house for my monthly babysitting gig, although babysitting sounds very juvenile for two girls who are already shaving their legs. Let’s say that I headed down for my monthly hangout with some preteens and we decided to go on an adventure.  We set off for the woods, in the fall where we were certain to not run into any ticks, and kicked rocks along the dirt road as we walked.  After a few good kicks, Pooh kicked a clod of dirt off of something round and sort of smooth and suddenly we were on the ground digging at it with rocks and twigs trying to see what it was.  I had to scurry back to the house for a shovel with which to dig it up and only after quite a lot of work did we discover that tortoise shell.

Pooh said, “I knew it! I knew something exciting would happen today!” We unearthed it, liquid dead turtle poured out in a chunky, vile-smelling stream, and suddenly it seemed less exciting.  I was not one to crush the excited hopes of a preteenager, though, so I excitedly placed the shell in the scoop of the shovel and excitedly carried it hobo-style back home. We placed it on the rail of the porch for the parents to exclaim over upon their return which they did with hands clasped over their noses and faint traces of nausea on their faces.

I think what I really want to focus on here is the hopes and dreams of these girls, the exciting opportunities available to them. I’m such a selfish person, or maybe an indulgent person, and while I want good things for everyone, truly, it is very hard to be as enthusiastic about your hopes and dreams as I am about my own.  I think that is human.  These children have forced me to be different.  They have forced me to face the fact that I am not the most important person to me anymore, the spinster, the person who gives herself everything she wants because it is clear that no one else will. Now that indulgent person wants every good thing I ever had or never had to be theirs, whether it be a stinky tortoise shell or a trip to Europe or a boy to just stand in front of the girl and say he really, really likes her.  I want them to have it all.  I’ve never felt so selflessly about anyone in my life.

Perhaps I will have stories to tell about their adventures when they return.  I hope I hear them all.

To sign off, I’ll deliver more of my photo dump to you so that I can delete this mess off my phone and save more room for teenaged selfies.

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Jimmie and Pooh

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Tigger and Jimmie

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Groundhog who actually posed for this photo

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And then turned the other way for another shot.  Not joking.

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Seamus, just because

Things That Make Me Cry

“Oh, goodie,” I can hear you saying now. “This ought to be uplifting. Anyone want to skip this one and go get some donuts?”

Tell you what, if you are mad at me by the end of this post, I’ll buy you your very own personal donut and ship it to your home address, any flavor you want. Okay? Okay.

Back when Poppa was so very sick and we spent more hours than anyone wanted at Vanderbilt, we found ourselves in need of some nighttime sitters. See, Poppa was struggling with Sundowners which basically means he was out of his head and hallucinating a whole lot. Only now can we laugh about some of his stories because only now we can accept the loss of him without feeling gutted all the time. Anyway, at night Poppa would get feisty and Brother Bear, Coach and I each took turns hanging out overnight to keep him in the bed, clothed, and stuck with all the appropriate tubes. Each of us still had to work and travel and take care of children so there came a point when we all got too sleepy to be effective. Enter Caleb.

The first night that Caleb arrived, I thought to myself, “Oh, Lort. Poppa’s not going to like this one bit.” Caleb was young. He was wearing a Bob Marley nightgown as a t-shirt, and under that he had some baggy pants and over that he had a flannel shirt. His hair was neatly pulled back from his forehead and ensconced in a ponytail holder but from there his afro exploded outward into the biggest puff of hair cloud I’ve ever seen. He had his backpack over one shoulder and he dragged his feet when he walked. Poppa liked clothes that fit, hair that was neat and youngsters who walked like they were walking, not shuffling.

Right away Caleb went into the hall and got himself a bench to sit on despite the comfy chair options he had inside the room. He placed it a foot away from Poppa and sat upright, posture better than mine, and very, very still. Right away he familiarized himself with the equipment attached to Poppa. Right away Caleb put a reassuring hand on Poppa’s toe, letting Poppa know that he wasn’t alone. And when Caleb saw me petting Poppa’s head, he got up from his bench, picked up one of the comfy chairs and placed it next to Poppa’s bed so I could pet him without getting tired. He told me the story of his grandfather who died when he was six, how he and the grandfather did everything together, literally everything, and how he wanted to help people deal with sickness because he was good at it and he knew what it was to be scared. I can attest that he was good at both helping those who are sick and helping those who are scared.

Poppa was oblivious to all of this, or so I thought. He reached over to his hand and began tugging at a tube to yank it out, something he had done with great regularity since day one of the stay.

“Hey, buddy,” Caleb said for the first of a thousand times that night, “don’t to that,” and he gently pulled Poppa’s hand away.

Poppa looked over at him and said, “Kid, I need you to take me home. Go around and get my car and I’ll meet you out front. Jimmie, you meet us at home, this kid is going to take me there.”

God, I laughed. “Kid.” Oh, Poppa, I miss you.

So that makes me cry. And this makes me cry, because it reminds me of Poppa in the best and fiercest way, but also because it is a picture of life, of getting back up when you fall down over and over again. Isn’t this picture great?

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Baby owl learning to fly, photo by Peter Brannon

Speaking of pictures, here’s another, from the cruise My Girls and I took in March.

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This was in Jamaica, and I’ll be honest, Jamaica was not my favorite place. It was hot which I suppose is normal so I can’t fault it for that, but it was pushy and smelly and we were seen as walking wallets. I guess tourists often are seen as ATMs but I can’t say that’s how I like to make an entrance into a new place. Anyway, after a whole day of grasping our purses close to our body and being made to feel very guilty because we did not part with all our funds for all time and on into eternity, we finally escaped through customs and back onto the port where our boat was docked. That picture was taken right outside that customs shelter.

I bet you look at that picture and see a mildly interesting array of boys banging on some drums, but what I see is a crew of kids who were hustling. Hustling. Those boys stood there in those hot-ass uniforms that they picked up somewhere, mismatched buttons and hats and pants, and they played their hearts out ALL DAY. They played for every person that showed even a modicum of interest. They danced for every person there and played for every person there, sometimes on their knees at our feet when they could tell someone was particularly moved (me), and sometimes as the whole line; sometimes it was a Michael Jackson song and sometimes it was just the thrum of our collective heartbeats, banging in time with the drums. If a single person watched alone, they played just as hard as they would for a whole crowd. They hustled, and it was all I could do to hold the tears back as I watched them with their young hearts and their strong arms and their glistening foreheads, trying to make a better way for themselves. I hope you see them my way and offer your prayers for them, that the hustling pays off and they get a solid shot at whatever they try, because their work for those moments on the drums is more than enough to earn them that. I also hope you realize that it took an extraordinary amount of time for me to come back to myself, what was left of me anyway, and stop the leaking in my eyes so I could count the money I had left after I dumped all I could find into their tip basket.

With that, I’ll take you to the next picture that makes me cry. Not fierce, not sad, but just about the cutest thing I ever did see in my whole life. For those of you who do not understand my deep and yearning, burning desire for a donkey, behold:

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Donkey being toted by a soldier

I have to stop. I need a donut. This whole post is killing me.

In conclusion, and I promise to you and me both that this is the end, I have one final story to tell.

Two years ago Martie and I reached a tentative agreement wherein she would take possession of the house and property called Big Creek, the family abode where we did most of our growing up, and in return for me not getting my panties in a twist over it, I’d get a donkey. By tentative I mean that I was thrilled that Martie, the most sentimental of the wad of us, would preserve our history and that Martie sort of agreed with a wavering voice that maybe, someday, perhaps there could be a donkey on their property that I’d get to name. Maybe. One day.

Pretty much I asked about that donkey every time I went home to babysit Pooh and Tigger. I drove over to the neighboring farm that housed the show donkeys to stare at them, and I pointed out the fuzzy and cute regular non-show donkeys we saw while driving the back roads in my home town. I’ve stated my earnest and deep desire to marry a donkey farmer more than once and have already mentally packed my truck in anticipation of his proposal, this farmer with his burros whom I have not yet met.

This has been a fantasy, and like all fantasies, I understand that it may never come to pass. That is okay. Still a fantasy, still nice to dream about, but likely saved for my mansion in heaven where God assuredly has a donkey with long eyelashes already waiting for me.

On Saturday, that fantasy became reality. You guys! I’m getting a donkey!

My birthday card from Martie, et al, received Saturday, June 11th at 5:13 pm, which she asked that I read aloud and which I couldn’t because the tears started in my throat and made it to my eyes and my voice which shook so badly I could not speak:

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Pictures will be coming forthwith. In the manner of someone who is expecting a child, I shall expect gifts and fetes, and I’ll register for hay and donkey brushes and festive neck attire with which I will adorn his or her neck and take selfies. Rest assured I will be crying in most of them but these will be tears of joy and love and the knowledge that my family loves me more than anyone rightly deserves. I am loved more than I can fathom. I’ve got it so good. Thank you, God. Selah.

Now, who needs a donut?

Conversations With Joe

You guys remember Joe, right? Joe has been a long time member of my Supper Club at Fifty Forward and honestly, he provides me with most of the fun stories I have even though I almost never share them here. He is a lifelong bachelor and you wonder when you meet him if that is by choice or circumstance. What I mean by that is he’s sneaky. He will begin a conversation with you in a myriad of ways:

Jimmie, I watched a show on tv the other day and did you know that they inject corn with high fructose corn syrup? It’s true, they do. The guy said that the only time you should ever eat corn is if you grow it yourself.

Hey Jimmie, have you ever been to Canada? I have. We went to that part that is so rich you need to have green blood to afford a hotel there.

I’m giving up refined sugar. Unless it’s a sorbet. I will eat some sorbet but I won’t eat refined sugar. It’s bad for you.

Jimmie, what’s a starch? (This one is asked in the middle of dinner when he hasn’t spoken for twenty minutes because he’s intent on his hamburger and fries – his favorite meal. Once he asks and gets an answer he goes back to his burger and never brings it up again.)

It’s in Banff Springs! (When you ask him “What?” he replies, “That hotel in Canada? The one that is in the rich part? It’s in Banff Springs. We were there.)

You know what that guy said, he said that if you want to give someone cancer you should send them to chemo. (At this point I was no longer really tracking because it was the third time he mentioned it, but I suspect this was another tidbit from the guy on the tv show he recently watched.)

After a couple of hours of conversation with Joe, you find yourself wondering if he’s all there. He drives just fine and always has money to pay for dinner and it is clear that he held down a steady job for many years so that he could retire in relative comfort, but you wonder if maybe he has a benefactor of some sort or a guardian who stays in the shadows. It isn’t until he pops off with something like the below that you see how sneaky he really is:

Jimmie, I would never finance a car. You should never buy a car that has a payment larger than your rent. People who do that are just showing off and the amount they pay in interest could be invested into a 401(k) and they could increase their retirement income by 7.5%. That could mean a higher grocery budget every week and people later in life need to pay attention to these things.

And you look at him in utter astonishment because in the five years you’ve been doing this, you never suspected that underneath the wavy eye and the shuffling feet and the nearly incoherent Kroger rant he subjected you to two years ago for the sum total of three hours, Joe is a pretty smart guy. Not even pretty smart, but very smart as in he paid cash for his car AND his house and lives debt free today. Damn. Caught me off guard, that one.

I leave you with one final Joe conversation.

“Joe,” I asked, “did you ever have a girlfriend that got away?”

“Oh, yeah,” he said, “several of them. And some of them I had to kick away. Bad news.”

I LOVE THESE PEOPLE!

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Here’s The Truth Of It

Back last year Woney and I were having a conversation about taking a trip.  Like, last year in May as we were training for and completing a half marathon.

“We,” I wheezed, “are going,” <wheeze> “on a cruise,” <wheeze> “right?”

<Wheeze> “Yes, because,” <wheeze> “I hate being,” <wheeze> “cold,” wheezed Woney. 

“I want to go,” breezed Squash as she sped past us.

“Me,” <wheeze> “too,” wheezed Nurse Bananahammock. 

Wheeze.

Planning that trip pretty much got us through those 13 miles, and as we sipped celebratory cocktails that evening, we nailed down the details for a cruise nine months out.  That was where this picture was taken and the base line for the story I wanted to tell.  Wanted.  Not want. 

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Now that I’ve been wishy washy, I’m going to tell the original story I wanted to tell because everyone abhors a tease, but before any of you who will soon be perched at your desk with your mouth hanging open, kind of gaping at the words that pour forth from my fingers, fires off a salvo to me tell me how you’ll never read me again because you cannot believe I’d say something so pervy, I’ll remind you that there is more story coming.  Please get to the end before writing me off as a floozy.

While we were at the port stop in the Grand Caymans, Woney and I found ourselves on the sidewalk outside an ice bar, one of those places that advertises itself as five degrees below zero.  All seats are made from the ice, all walls and ceilings, and you have to wear puffy coats and Russian-style babushka hats with gloves so as not to lose your appendages to frostbite.  Now just nine months prior, Woney wheezed that she didn’t enjoy being cold and I wheezed my agreement so it was a bit of a surprise that we found ourselves so enamored of an ice bar.  But here’s how the story went.

“Oh, look,” Woney said, “there’s an ice bar.  I’ve always wanted to do that. It is nearly 100 degrees here in the sunny Grand Caymans.  Perhaps we would enjoy some below freezing temperatures?”

“Meh,” I responded. 

“Yeah.  Meh,” Woney agreed.

“You could watch the video,” the girl behind the counter said.  “Just see what it is like.  We provide the coats and gloves and these awesome t-shirts for purchase after you come out.”

“Meh,” we responded. 

“We offer Big Black Dick,” the girl said.

Suddenly I was intrigued.  “Big Black Dick?  Is that, like, a gummy?  Or, you know, a man?”  Woney listened with rapt attention, also, and we both dug around our respective purses looking for the twenties we could throw on the counter to gain entrance into the place that housed the Big Black Dick.

Turns out Big Black Dick is rum, and turns out it is delicious.  I wanted to tell you that this face I am making is due to the Big Black Dick and then I wanted to tell you that I scampered around the Grand Caymans hollering about Big Black Dick, and also tell you that I told everyone on the ship I had Big Black Dick and also called my mother, proud as a peacock, to say, “I had Big Black Dick in the Grand Caymans!”  For the record, my mother would respond in this manner:  “I am so proud!”

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I wanted to tell you as I wheezed with mirth that I was a woman of the world who picked up Big Black Dick on all her voyages.   I would wheeze with mirth until I realized that a missionary I love reads this blog.  My father reads this blog.  My old bosses and all my friends read this blog.  Some of them will be all, “Go, Jimmie, Big Black Dick, woo!”  The rest of them would purse their lips and make tsking noises and know that I was lying about what that Big Black Dick meant to me.   

Here’s the truth of my life, the story I want to tell now.  I did all those things and said all those things but I live a very different story than that.  Years ago, after I got my heart smashed into a pancake by a sledge hammer, I made some significant changes to the way I do things. These things don’t necessarily make sense to the world at large and I realize that I’m bucking a lot of trends here but I really cannot care about that.  For example, I read up on yoga and nixed that from my exercise repertoire because the spiritual implications of the poses and chanting made me uncomfortable. I stopped attending traditional churches that promoted their own programs and rules to a fault and instead just decided to love people.  I vowed that celibacy was for me until I was fortunate enough to remarry.  No matter what I say about Big Black Dick, hahahaha, and how I wheeze with mirth about it, hahahaha, I won’t experience it unless I marry it, no hahahaha at all.

All this makes me super fun at parties and on dates which is likely why I am no longer invited to any of those things anymore.

But here’s how I see it – pleasing Him is now more important than pleasing me. I’ll follow His rules because He says to do it, but by following those rules I’ve found a thousand other reasons that point to them being an excellent idea all on their own.   For example, loving people was always something I’ve done, sure, but once I became a die-hard, balls-to-the-wall, knocked-down, dragged-out, on-fire, hardcore follower of Jesus, (mind you not religious, not a Baptist, not anything other than following my Christ) it became sweeter. Love is just sweeter.

Likely I will catch a lot of flak for this, or likely I won’t.  We each get our own story to tell and I’ve never been one to tell you that your story is wrong.  I doubt anyone who loves me would repay me not in kind, but even if they do, I’m strong enough to stand on my own two feet about it.  No approval necessary.   

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How To Win Over and Influence Your Owner. A Guest Post by Seamus.

Hai.

Person has the treats. Did you know this? I learned it when Person bought me.  I thought they appeared on my scratcher after I finished my nap under the bed.  One day I got behind the refrigerator and got stuck (must lose weight) and she sat on the floor looking at me for an hour and she had treats in her hand!  I wouldn’t dare eat them from her hand because then she would know I knew they came from her, plus I was wedged in there pretty tight.  Some guy with a furry face had to move the refrigerator before I could get out but after that when I found treats on my scratcher, I knew they came from her.

This complicates things. I thought there was a treat fairy but it’s Person.  I’m not sure I like her, really.  How do I get more treats from Person?

After thinking about this for a few years, I have devised a plan to get more treats. You can use this too with great success.

  1. Wind your body around her legs. You don’t have to get close or actually touch her, because horrors! But, if you kind of twist your way in a figure eight near her, she will see this as a sign of affection and give more treats!
  2. Groom her. This usually involves stuffing your face into her hair but horrors! It is so close! You can trick her by separating with your claw two or three hairs from the wad on the pillow and then lick those with great fervor. She will see this as a sign of affection and give more treats!
  3. Greet her at the door when she comes in from Outside. Meow firmly. Do not back down. When she makes noise at you with her mouth, this is a sign that she hears you and is going to give treats! In case she forgets, run from the door to the scratcher and meow firmly the whole way. She sees this as affection and gives more treats! Note: sometimes the couch gets in the way. Pay attention to it! It hurts your head when you hit it and makes you forget to meow.
  4. When she wakes up in the morning is the best time to remind her you have had no treats in a really long time. Also when she goes to the bathroom. Also when she comes in from Outside. Also when she climbs into the bed. By the way, did you know that on the bed is better than under the bed? It’s so nice up there and I don’t get stuck!
  5. The last trick is the hardest one. Use it as a last resort when she’s being very stingy with the treats. Climb onto the bed when she is there. Sit next to her and stare. You would think that she would see that as affection and give more treats! It doesn’t work but it’s a good start. What you have to do next is reach out with your paw and tap her arm. Murphy does it all the time and she whaps him on the head a lot when he does it which he says is affection, but lame. No treats there. Anyway, after she whaps your head a lot, crawl in between her body and her arm and purr. She sees this as affection and gives more treats!! BE VERY CAREFUL! You can be lulled into a false sense of security while lying there and go to sleep. Do not put your head down under any circumstances or you will wake yourself up by snoring too loud after a long time of sleeping. Humiliating. I was drooling. Horrors!

This will work for you. Try these plans.  The end.

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Editor’s Note: These do not work.  Seamus gets no more treats now than he ever did although it is pretty cute to watch him try so hard for them.  Also, he likes me!  He really likes me!

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