Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This week

My life has been crazy lately. My ankle surgery is tomorrow. I'm almost looking forward to it just because I will be able to rest and be left alone! I'm trying to imagine how it's all going to work, not being able to put weight on it at all for almost a month. The knee scooter is actually kind of fun. Showers are going to be tricky, but a friend lent me a shower chair and I don't plan on attempting to use it unless Mr. Salted is home. I bought one of those plastic covers to protect the cast or boot at the pharmacy. I'm wondering how much the ankle will hurt and for how long--I had to track down the liquid Demerol again, which is no mean feat, and the bottle isn't that big to begin with.

I've been working as much as I could because they have needed extra help, and I just had a copywriting job to do this morning as well. My grandmother was sent home to live independently today, much to my disgust. I made a decision to back far away from THAT situation (a) because I have done everything I could and (b) for my own sanity, but I have still been in daily phone and/or email contact with family members as well as checking in on her via the phone.

I saw the nutritionist yesterday--a different nutritionist who is filling in for the one I've seen this whole time. She was nice enough, but her affect bugged me--I felt like she was doing the swooping in, "tell me about your mother", Dr.Freud kind of thing. I just don't feel that I have much to say now--I take my supplements, I eat what I'm supposed to, and my weight loss is more than satisfactory. In fact, I had lost 12 pounds in the last month and was actually two pounds lighter than that weight this morning. I just don't care about food anymore. The less it factors into my life, the better. I make sure I get my protein and I eat my healthy snacks that I can have, and it keeps me alive. Sometimes I have a couple of bites of what Mr. Salted makes, but the majority of what I eat now is protein bullets, shakes, and bars. It is weird that so much of it isn't "natural" food, but I'm getting the vitamins and minerals I need, I feel great, and my hair isn't falling out!

I will be glad when my ankle is fixed so that I can work out, but I really don't want to see the exercise physiologist. It's a big part of the wellness center's follow-up thing, so I don't know if I can really avoid it, but I think it's a waste of time and money and I hate it. I don't need to work out in front of this guy while he says "good job" like I'm a dog he's training. I know a lot of my resistance is due to my past experiences with being forced to exercise, ridiculed, etc., but I just want to make my own decision to go to the pool or go for a walk my damn self. I don't want a coach or a trainer, and I find dealing with him really annoying--it just isn't working for me.

After I weighed myself this morning, I was 235, which is less than I have weighed in ten years. Needless to say, that felt great. I heard Old Navy was having a big sale, and it was payday, so I stopped by on my way home from work. I found some great lounge pants with skulls and hearts on them that fit now, some yoga pants that will fit soon, and some absolutely darling summer dresses (that will fit by summer) for $15 and $20. It's so strange to buy clothes that are too small on purpose. It's also disconcerting to feel good about your weight all day, then try on clothes that make you look like the Michelin tire man. I had to remind myself how much weight I've already lost and have faith in the progress I will continue to make.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Like many people, I have a hard time accepting compliments, especially about the way I look. I actually used to be much, much worse about this than I am today. It drove one man I dated absolutely nuts--he would tell me I was beautiful and I would say, "No, I'm not" reflexively, as the knee bounces when hit with the little testing hammer. It took years of time and effort to get from "No, I'm not" to "I believe you think so." I've evolved enough now to just say "thank you"--or not say anything at all. (I don't believe compliments require a verbal response. A smile works, too.)

People I know are complimenting me on a daily basis now and I'm finding it disconcerting. "You look great", "you look fantastic", and even today, "You're so beautiful." My response is usually, "Thanks, I feel good!"

Part of it may be the word: beautiful. Gorgeous is even worse; if someone says I look gorgeous (which has only happened a couple of times in my life--NOT a common occurrence!) that has to be a lie. I consider myself an average-looking, if not plain, middle-aged woman, and of course, there's the weight issue. My awkward phase was epic and fantastically bad--it lasted at least twenty years. (Come to think of it, I'm not quite certain that it's over yet.) Beautiful is a loaded word--not as loaded as perfect, which I basically consider a curse word (I have no problem using actual curse words and probably enjoy it more than I should, but that's another issue altogether). Perfect is a curse word, to me, because it is impossible. The opposite of perfect is imperfect or flawed--which defines every single solitary human being. No one can live up to perfect.

I could be complimented on my looks every day of my life and it could never erase how ugly I have known that I was. This belief goes much deeper than fat; when I am sick or down, I don't just feel ugly, I know I am ugly--I don't want anyone looking at me at all, even people I love and who I know love me. Some folks consider fat and ugly one word: fatandugly. Most fat people have heard themselves assessed in such a way at some point in their lives, and many have certainly thought it about themselves in darker moments, when it is difficult for it not to seem true. But fat does not automatically equal ugly, any more than it equals lazy, stupid, desperate, or a number of other negative traits with which fat are often associated.

I know I am a beautiful person--because I work rather hard at being one--but it isn't the same thing. I'm not always even a beautiful person, because no one is. It is something to strive for, certainly, but the word always in this context veers dangerously close to perfect, and there we are back at impossible. I spent too much of my earlier life thinking I had to seem happy and nice and funny to make up for the way I looked, but again, it went so much deeper than just looks--I felt like I had to compensate for the very air I breathed because of where and what I came from, among other things. Another thing it took time and effort to realize in my adult life was that not everyone I encountered could see the ugly on me, that they might meet me and think I was normal and okay. This was, and sometimes is still, a revelation.

My most fervent wish as a child was to be invisible, because it would have been the safest option: I knew ugly was no good, but neither was pretty because the attention pretty got was not necessarily the best kind. There was also the definite possibility that pretty could lead to the worst kind of joke--the one on me.

I don't long for invisibility as much as I once did--ironic, since women seem to become increasingly invisible as they grow older (such a shallow world). I should be happy that people tell me I look good or they find me beautiful and I am; I'm not unhappy about it by any means. However, I also cannot trust it. That is more a reflection on me than anyone else, and it serves as an illustration of how much work I still have to do, work that has nothing to do with how many grams of protein I ingest in a day or how many pounds I have lost since the surgery.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Escape, Part Two: A Summary



Divine salmon fettucine.

An observation deck with a spiral staircase.

The moon.

The sun.

Sugar-free salt water taffy.

Cell phone turned off.

Blue, blue sky.

A couple selling tie-dyes by the side of the road.

Jacuzzi tub.

A new animal print purse.

My love.

Good times.

Sunday Stealing: A Fall Meme

What did you need to do in the waning days of summer for it to feel complete?

We went to the coast this weekend. It was fantastic.

A person I know was wrong for me but about whom I frequently thought after a break-up was...

Probably all of them while I was recovering from whatever breakup was happening at the time. I process everything exhaustively.

If you could only attend one major sporting event what would it be?

Olympic figure skating!

Assuming that you write an anonymous or partially anonymous blog, by what non-physically identifying characteristics might you be identified in a bar?

I'd probably be wearing tie-dye and/or Chucks and/or Vans and laughing a lot.

Most blogs cover some sort of niche – personal, political, dating, culinary, etc. What topic, if any, would you like to address on your blog but doesn’t fit into your niche?

I'd write more about writing. I may do that.

If you could manipulate the time space continuum and give as many as three pieces of advice to a younger version of yourself, what advice would you give and to what age of you?

1. Almost everyone around you is crazy. You WILL get away from them. Don't believe all the negative things they are telling you about yourself. (ages birth to eighteen)

2. Get on antidepressants and stay on them. (ages fifteen to thirty)

3. Have more fun. Don't look at every guy you date like he has to be The One. (ages 18-28)

Who among your friends do you really wish had a blog because their stories, or perspective on something ought to be shared?

All of them. They're all interesting.

If you were to take an e-cation (vacation from the trappings of our electronic world,) and assuming that employment obligations would allow it, how long of a break could you take? What would you miss the most, the least?

I think I could go without it for weeks. I'd miss the Internet the most and the phone the least.

On September 11th of this year, I attended a couple of parties and was somewhat conflicted by the fact that this ignoble anniversary shall pass with it being just another day in the eyes of many (and in some ways my own eyes as well.) Thoughts?

I think no one is going to forget September 11--nor should they--but that we have to move on.

How high are your walls? Who was the last person to scale them? What tools should would-be climbers have on their belt?

(1) Really high. (2) Probably my husband. (3) Hard to articulate, but they would need to be considerable.

The sexiest thing a man or a woman can say to you (or has said to you) is:

I'll do it, honey.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Late-breaking news--literally, I found this out officially at 3:45 and it's Friday--the rest home is discharging my grandmother to live alone again on Monday. I'm completely disgusted with the entire situation, but there is nothing I can do about it that hasn't already been done. I have a job, and I have reconstructive ankle surgery Thursday. I just flat refuse to be the one on the hook for every rise and fall of this whole saga, which has basically served as a validation of every choice I've made to forge an adult life that includes very few biological relatives. My journey in life has taught me that one must create oneself; Mr. Salted and me are my home. Family has chosen me and I have chosen them. They know who they are.

Speaking of the Mr., he and I are escaping to the ocean this weekend. I'm not promising we'll come back, either.

Saturday 9: I Call Your Name

1. If you could have named yourself, which name would you have chosen, and why?

I DID name myself. I legally changed all three of my names when I was 22 years old. It was an immensely healing act of personal power that is one of the best gifts I have ever given myself. I picked three names that are beautiful, strong, and sound great together. I could not be happier with my name.

2. If you could relive a year in your life, what age would it be, and why?

I think the best is yet to come for me--so I wouldn't.

3. If you could go back and change one friendship in your past, who would it have been, and why?

I would make my best friend still be alive. If I could have done anything to save him, I would do it.

4. If you could have dated one person in your past that you did not date, who would it be, and why?

Probably no one. I ended up with who I was supposed to.

6. If you had the opportunity to live in another country, which one would it be, and why? If you choose NOT to live in another country, why do you want to stay in your current country?

I'd love to go to England and live in the country with big dogs and a polka-dotted pair of wellies. My friend B could live on the next estate and we could meet for tea.

7. If you could choose your dream job, what would it be, and why?

I'd be a writer because that's all I've ever wanted to be.

8. If you could wish a wish and it be guaranteed to come true (other than riches) what would it be, and why?

I'd like to not lose my marbles before I die. Why? Because it blows.

9. If you could meet two blogger friends (you may choose more, if you wish) who would they be?

All of them, especially my invisible friend J. She is not a blogger, but we "met" ten years ago on a message board and she knows me better than most people in my life do. To me, she is family and I've never laid eyes on her in person. The Internet can be a wonderful thing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Major appliance failure

A few months ago our fridge gave up the ghost, and now the dryer died. The washer was perilously close to death as well and had a mysterious periodic leak, so we bit the bullet, applied for credit, and ordered a matching set of the second-cheapest from Home Depot: Maytag, commercial grade, allegedly good for 25 years. Front loaders are cool, and it would have been fun to get them in some jazzy color, but it was hardly necessary and we're paying off surgery bills. I'm waiting for our new set to be delivered now, and I wish they'd shake a leg. I have so few things that fit me that laundry needs frequent doing these days.

I am not losing weight as quickly as I was initially, but I was relieved to get on the scale this morning and see a couple more pounds gone. I can tell by the way clothes fit, too. I was 237 this morning; that is the least I've weighed in about ten years. I'm doing better with keeping drinking and eating separate, and physically I am feeling great. I'm still tired, but that has to do with work and life stuff. I finally got my fancy-schmancy scale today. It's mostly made of glass, and it doesn't work properly on a carpeted floor. It kept cycling between weights in the 140s and I thought, "If only." Then it said "Error" and I discovered it has to be used on bare floors. It can figure body fat ratio as well, but I didn't have the strength to see what that was today. When I think of my body fat being measured, images of calipers and public humiliation spring forth, and I'm not really in the mood.

On Monday, a doctor is supposed to make the final determination as to whether my grandmother can return to living independently or not. Everything hinges on that when it comes to her situation.

My ankle surgery is Thursday, the 1st. They have told me if I am not in too much pain and can maneuver my knee scooter, I don't have to be off work the entire month that I am non-weight-bearing. We'll see. I haven't picked the scooter up yet. Mr. Salted will be off for the first ten days with me, so hopefully any granny duties that may arise will do so during that time so that he can drive me. I may carpool to work with one of my friends from there. I am SO glad to have this job; I don't know how we would have managed if these folks hadn't asked me to come back. They have been really flexible, too, which has been a huge help.

Thursday Thunks

1. Does soap or shampoo have to really lather up for you to feel that it cleaned throughly?

Medium, I'd say.

2. Do you have a long standing joke with someone that you still laugh about every time you talk to that person?

Lots of these with several people. Good stuff.

3. Share something that happened to you this past week that was unusual.

My dryer died. That was unusual enough for me. I'm sitting here waiting for the new one to be delivered.

4. If you dropped a purple crayon and a green crayon off a roof, which would melt faster in the sun?

I'm in the Pacific Northwest, so probably neither.

5. You are standing in line (grocery store, bank, etc.), and someone gets in line behind you that stinks. The stink is so bad that people in line in front of you turn around and look to see if you are the one causing the stink. Do you cover your nose, hold your breath, breathe through your mouth or just get out of line altogether?

Tough it out so I don't have to get back in the line.

6. If you dropped your cell phone in the toilet, would you fish it out? If so, how much soap would you use to wash your hands afterwards?

I'd fish it out so it didn't clog the toilet, but I'm about due for a new one anyway. I'd probably wash my hands a couple of times for good measure. Or even use hand sanitizer.

7. How long do you think it would take you to clean your house after a big dust storm?

About as long as it would take to clean it now. I don't dust enough.

8. Do you think you can dance?
I'm not bad.

9. You are out to eat and someone across the room is staring at you. Do you get paranoid, try to ignore them, or go find out why they are staring at you?
Ignore. Disengage.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Writing sentences

I must not think bad thoughts.

I must not think bad thoughts.

I must not think bad thoughts.

(Only kidding--that's just a little shout-out to X, one of my favorite bands)

I delivered clothes to three people yesterday and drove several hundred miles combined to do it. Everyone liked most of what I brought them. Granny even liked her pajamas--AND they fit her. A minor miracle. I do have to go to Costco and exchange her slippers.

My other friend just sent me more clothes. It's like Christmas would be--if I liked Christmas. I like just-because gifting much better.

I am losing weight again according to my POS scale. The good one still hasn't arrived yet.

My ankle hurts because it's been raining. I wonder how big the scar on my leg is going to be after my surgery.

I don't think my hair is falling out. People keep telling me they like it more my natural color and a couple have even said it makes me look younger. I am so tired right now that there could be no way in hell I look younger. I'm a little melancholy about being old enough for people to comment that things make me look younger. Feh.

I am wondering if I should start a second blog just about writing.

I need to download my friend's Wilco CD. I should also update my Flickr page--it has been MONTHS--and get a bunch of pictures off my PC's hard drive before it crashes.

We also need to book our one-night getaway for next weekend. I also need to decide if I want to get 2010 figure skating nationals tickets because it will pretty much take my whole paycheck this time. I can't go to the Olympics, even though they are two hours away this winter; I'm really disappointed about that.

And as usual, my home office is a wreck. I never quite get it organized.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wow, I am tired.

I feel too tired to sleep, but I really need to. I canceled plans with a friend tonight because I could barely drag myself through six hours of work. I was trying for eight, but six was pushing it, at least today. They have asked me to put in as many hours as I have energy for until the end of the month--which is great--but, of course, my body has other ideas. My first eight-hour shift since surgery was yesterday, and on the way home I spent about an hour at Wal-Mart because my grandma wants/needs new pajamas and I only had forty bucks to get them for her. Thankfully, I managed to get her two pairs for that amount. She is really picky, so it was a project contemplating what colors she might like or hate and what she would feel comfortable in; she likes things just so, preferably in sets. I also bought her a nice soft pair of Dearfoam slippers at Costco last week--in pink--so she can stop obsessing about the plain old beige ones she has now and how ugly she thinks they are. I only hope some of what I bought her fits and that she won't hate ALL of it. One pair of the pajamas has Betty Boop on them; she loves Betty Boop. I am going to go take them up to her tomorrow. Being in the facility she is, her laundry sometimes doesn't make it back to her immediately, even though I carefully printed her name in Sharpie in all of it myself. If/when she is going to be in there permanently, I am going to buy her some of those personalized clothing labels. I'll sit there and sew them in by hand if I have to. (The way I sew, my fingers will look like the craters of the moon from all the needle pricks.) The care center has a couple of private meeting rooms, and one includes a closet where clothes end up when the staff can't figure out which resident they belong to. The last time I visited, we located her favorite sweater in there; from our recent phone conversations, it sounds like we'll have to peruse that closet again tomorrow. She is so confused about everything; her short-term memory is only a few seconds long, and sometimes the mood swings cycle as fast as the memory goes in and out.

I think I am six weeks out from surgery now, just barely. My weight hasn't changed in a week now. I can tell by the way things fit that I am still losing body fat, but it's extremely discouraging to plateau this quickly. I'm struggling to focus on the positive. My body-fat scale hasn't arrived yet, and people tell me I shouldn't weigh myself every day, just once a week or every two weeks. One friend went so far as to suggest I should only let the doctor weigh me. On the other hand, people ask me constantly how much I have lost, and frankly, I really want to know myself. I don't know if it's a recovering-bulimic thing or just a human thing: I want to see some tangible results. I'm barely eating anything, I'm diligent about all the supplements, and I'm writing out checks for our portion of the medical bills, so that number on the scale continuing to creep down would be a bit of a soothing balm. I'm also frustrated because I can't work out--that would certainly help keep things moving. I hope I can make up for lost time after my ankle is healed.

Today was almost a migraine, but I think I headed it off with a Maxalt and an hour in the dark in front of the air conditioning.

Mr. Salted and I are going to try for a getaway next weekend. He has worked so hard and been so supportive through all of this, and we could both use a little break before the next surgery and recovery period. That's why grandma duty is this weekend--so that next weekend will be free. We talked about going up in a hot-air balloon, which we both have always wanted to do, but came to the conclusion that a short getaway would be preferable. If at all possible, a beach will be involved.

Thursday Thunks meme

1. Would you give up hugs - giving and receiving - for the rest of your life, for a million dollars?

Not just no but HELL no.

2.Have you ever been bitten by a member of the canine family?

Not really.

3. What is your favorite color of jeans?

Blue or black; I like all the funky washes, but I can't believe acid wash is "back". At least, I saw some in the fall clothes online and whatnot. What's next, the mullet? The El Camino? THE APOCALYPSE???

4. What is something that has changed in public schools that you wish was the norm when you were in school?

The world is a lot more child-centered now. I think there is more respect for different types of learners than there used to be. That would have been nice.

5. What is your news source?

TV, Internet, newspaper, radio

6. What sort of people do you think read your blog?

I can't believe anyone reads it, but most of my readers are people who know me in real life.

7. If I told you that I had a headache, you would say..........???

Have you tried Excedrin Tension Headache? It's made of awesome.

8. You go to a buffet style restaurant, what is the first food you put on your plate?

I probably look for a three-bean salad or just some salad in general.

9. Would you volunteer to be dropped off on a desert island, to be picked up in a month? And you don't get to bring those 3 items, either.

No. I don't find deprivation enjoyable.

10. When the sun sets, what are you usually doing?


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Conditional relief

My uncle just told me that my grandmother's doctor is giving it a couple more weeks, but he doesn't think she will be able to go home and live independently. She would have to improve 20 to 45% for him to okay it, and he doesn't see it happening. There is also the matter of the state ponying up the funds to keep her apartment while all this is going on. Their decision is still pending, in part, because it hinges on what the doctor decides.

I said, "I can be a real b***h about this and refuse to drive her home if he decides to release her, because I don't agree." He replied, "You don't have to, because I'll be here."

Well. Okay then.

Hand-me-down world

Yesterday was a freakishly long day for me. I worked a four-hour shift, in the middle of which I got a call from some people on Craigslist who were selling a wheelchair ramp for a great price. They didn't call us back over the weekend, so we assumed it had been sold. When I heard from them, I was overjoyed and ready to drive the two or so hours to fetch it. It is a suitcase ramp that folds in half, is the perfect length for our porch, and cost less than half of what ramps anywhere else we've seen have retailed for, so we were happy as pigs in mud to get it.

My beautiful home state of Washington is strangely constructed in places, full of peninsulas and such that you have to ride a ferry to get to or from--and so it was in this case. The ramp was in a place only about an hour from where I used to live on a peninsula, and I have friends about an hour from THAT area that have been talking about passing smaller clothes along to me there. I decided to meet up with them and make this happen since I was already relatively close by. It was good to see everyone--it had been a couple of years--and one friend took me out to dinner and we had a nice visit. I had the loaded baked potato soup at Shari's. OMG, I LOVE that stuff and was so happy I could still eat it (albeit maybe 1/3 of it). YUM. I then had to drive about an hour or more to catch a ferry home, which sailed about 14 hours after I'd left my house for work that morning. It took another hour to get home. (Needless to say, naps feature heavily in today's plans.)

When it comes to clothing, I enjoy thrifting/Ebay/consignment a lot. (I grew to hate hand-me-downs as a child, probably because that felt like mostly all I had until I began earning my own money. I reveled in the things I bought myself because they were my taste and my taste alone.) For the most part, though, I hated my clothes--they were never even close to "right" (and neither was my body, which was probably the genuine root of my feelings). My wardrobe often came from one local donation bin or other--I was worried someone I knew from school would recognize their--or God forbid, their mom's--castoff clothes on me, because I lived in a sordid little burg where everyone strained to pretend they had more money than they did. It seems like a silly thing now, but that stuff can feel huge when you are nine, or eleven, or thirteen. Kids now can at least go to Target or several other chain stores with decent prices and get a reasonably priced knockoff of whatever is acceptable. That wasn't an option back then. Thrifting and being frugal is also much more in vogue than it was when I was growing up. (It's not junking--it's vintage! I made some fantastic finds back then because that was before so many others were doing it. I still have, and wear, some of the jewelry.) Back then, I remember having to wear things that were much too "old" for me--the phrase that pops into my mind is "shiny old-lady blouses"--because there were never plus sizes (much less fashionable, age-appropriate plus sizes) available anywhere near me. Long before I was out of my teens, I embraced the joys of mail order. I still love it, and of course, Internet shopping has been a godsend--and stumbling upon the occasional plus-size consignment shop is a lovely, lovely thing.

Getting clothes handed down to me from friends is something I actually haven't been able to do in probably fifteen years because I had gained so much weight. I passed my clothes on to others as I expanded--I was never one to keep smaller clothes around "just in case" I fit into them again.

Until today, I had forgotten many of the positive aspects of getting clothes from friends. I really enjoy the element of surprise in it. Friends don't always share the same exact clothing tastes, but then I find something I absolutely love and would have bought for myself if I had seen it. I love that. It's also sweet to wear something you have seen your friend wear, if you feel good wearing it as well. (When I have a stressful situation or a big event, I like to consciously wear a piece of jewelry or clothing or shoes a friend has given me, because it's like having them with me in spirit--I feel like it gives me extra strength.)

It will be easier for me to let go of my larger clothing because I have smaller things to replace those items now. Until yesterday's haul, I was still feeling a bit unwilling to part with a few things--even as I am swimming in them. (I'm sure this is left over from childhood, wanting to hang onto whatever I can because I'm afraid there won't be anything to replace it. I squeeze every drop of blood out of my therapy nickel, can you tell?)

And on a lighter note--YAAAYYYY!!!! New clothes!!!!! :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Stealing meme

1. The phone rings. Who will it to be?

It will be the blood bank. They want my husband's blood really, really badly; he is a clean and healthy sort.

2. When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart?

ALWAYS. Warning: this is one of my things, a knee-jerk reaction to always hearing about how lazy fat people are. (Sample inner dialogue: "See? SEE? The fat girl is returning her cart. Your judgmental bony ass has nothing to prove, get in your SUV and shut the hell up, but: THE FAT GIRL IS RETURNING HER CART. Yes, even in the driving rain and wind. So put your fat-girl stereotypes in your overpriced caffeinated drink/energy drink/free-range filtered water of choice and SUCK 'EM DOWN."

3. In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener?

If I'm comfortable I can be TOO talkative. If I'm not comfortable, I barely talk at all. It's that simple.

4. Do you take compliments well?

Not really. It is something I will always have to work on doing better. I like to compliment other people. It's much easier to give than receive compliments.

5. Do you play Sudoku?

No, it sounds boring to me. I'm not into games like that. I'd rather read or write or do something with words or pictures. A lot of my job involves number-crunching, but all that is is attention to detail. I'm lucky enough to be fairly good at both numbers and words.

6. If abandoned alone in the wilderness, would you survive?

No. I don't like bugs, I don't like getting dirty, I'd rather not walk up hills, I'm clumsy, and I'd probably be a tasty treat for a bear, since I am a "fine doorful of a woman" (thank you, JZ).

7. Did you ever go to camp as a kid?

I went to some day camp that the Salvation Army put on when I was a young grade-schooler and I remember just loving it. We just played on the swings and made crafts. We also had a great public library summer program in my hometown, back in the mid- to late-'70s when there was still funding for such things and "Sesame Street" was in its glory days.

8. What was your favorite game as a kid?

Being an only kid and alone a lot, I was not much of a game player. I played the usual classics with friends--Monopoly, Life, Mousetrap, Chutes and Ladders--but I would rather have been reading or drawing.

9. If a sexy person was pursuing you, but you knew she was married, would you?

Hell no, and I'd think I was being punked to boot.

10. Could you date someone with different religious beliefs than you?

Definitely, if there was mutual respect, which is a must anyway. I realize this is not a commonly expressed belief, but for ME, religion is one of the most private, personal things there is. There are not many people I will discuss it with in any depth; it just isn't anyone's business what I believe or don't believe.

11. Do you like to pursue or be pursued?

Both in equal amounts. Being pursued is a lot of fun IF you want to pursue the person back!

12. Use three words to describe yourself?

Funny, thoughtful, stubborn.

13. Do any songs make you cry?

Yes, many. The soundtrack from the movie "Chaplin", for some reason. "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" by Led Zeppelin can. But the perfect accompaniment to tears, especially love-trouble tears, is Patsy Cline, any day of the week.

14. Are you continuing your education?

Funny you should ask. I have been giving this a lot of consideration of late. I am thinking of applying for an MFA program or two. I started an MA right after my BA and it was disastrous--I was burned out and couldn't handle the politics. I'm wondering if enough time has passed--it has been twelve years. It's frustrating because I don't particularly want to teach, but I want to write. I know you don't need a degree to write, but it helps to make contacts so one can Work As A Writer, or so they say. I am torn. Also, I don't know if I can get funding, so it might be a moot point anyway. I am still paying on my BA.

I am also considering a Technical Writing Certificate, because THAT would likely actually PAY when I was done, in theory.

15. Do you know how to shoot a gun?

I can shoot a .22.

16. Have you ever taken pictures in a photo booth?
Every chance I get, but only with someone else--they are so much fun. I miss them; they are a rarity now, although I have seen one at the zoo and at a local movie theater recently.

17. How often do you read books?

18. Do you think more about the past, present or future?

Probably all three about equally.

19. What is your favorite children’s book?

When I was very little, it was "Never Tease a Weasel". I also liked Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, Ferdinand the Bull...

20.What color are your eyes?

21. How tall are you?


22. Where is your dream house located?

Cannon Beach, OR

23. If your house was on fire, what would be the first thing you grabbed?

Husband, cats, and photos

24. When was the last time you were at Olive Garden?

A couple of years ago--I think it was a work lunch.

25. Where was the furthest place you traveled today?

I worked four hours this morning--it's about a 25-minute drive each way.

26. Do you like mustard?

No. I can tolerate it if it's not spicy and applied very lightly to the bread.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

weekly round-up

So, my insurance company still has not "made a determination" on my pre-op bloodwork bill, and I was billed again. Fortunately, I called the lab, they rolled the billing odometer back to zero once informed, and I called the insurance, who swore that they had to resolve the matter within thirty days--in other words, by September 18. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

My uncle finally arrived in the state midweek and he, I, and Mr. Salted met for a summit conference. I'm letting them have their mother-son time while I inhale large and beautiful gulps of sane, serene, family-free air. She was so nasty to me on the phone the day he was coming that I took a mental health day the day afterward or I knew it would be Migraine City. Mental health day for me = lie in dark room, read or watch TV, maybe futz around on the laptop. Only answer the phone for actual friends I feel like talking to, often prefer no human interaction whatsoever. In other words: bliss. My uncle is the power of attorney, and I hope he does what needs doing. It's out of my hands. I am advocating for her with the state behind the scenes; she probably would have lost her apartment this month or in short order if I hadn't been. I care a great deal less about whether she's pissed at me than I do about doing the right thing by her. Being a decent, mature human being is rather exhausting. I bet that's why so many people don't do it. That's probably also why I needed the mental health day--that and I'm still not even six weeks out from surgery yet. HELLO.

I've been working as much as I could, albeit in four-hour blocks, since I'm going to be out for all of next month. I'm really grateful for the flexibility I have at this job--I can go in on the weekend or evening if I have doctor's appointments or need a mental health day or have to run up and deal with the Granny situation for any reason. We are trying to figure out what kind of ramp I will need, and if it's better to buy, build or rent one. I also still need to get a knee scooter.

Today we went and got our hair did--and I'm feelin' sporty! I just like short hair on myself. I often like it on others better than they do. It's easy to take care of, and easy to make look professional. I don't have good long hair anyway, so the only time I am seen with long hair is on Halloween. (I was Kelly Osbourne at work a few Halloweens ago and I had a long black wig that I kept tossing out of the way. I kept saying, "I forgot what this was like" and was really bloody annoyed with it by noon.)

I also ordered the body-fat measuring scale I need--got it for a song at (yes, I hate their politics too, but I'm too poor to be picky at the moment) because Mr. Salted had a $25 Walmart gift card lying around from years ago that, as it turned out, was still good.

Oh, and I'm losing weight again as of this morning. So, about 37 pounds lost so far, as of today! It makes writing out the checks for the various and sundry medical bills less painful. My smallest pre-op clothes are getting to be huge on me. The T-shirts are suddenly long enough to sleep in, which is nice because I love some of them too much to give them away altogether. I wish I was a seamstress--I have some graphic-print hoodies that I would to be able to take in and keep.

Saturday 9: Money for Food

1. If everyone liked each other, what would we complain about?

The weather, the government, our health, stupid drivers--there's never a shortage of things to complain about.

2. If you were most powerful person in the world, how would you use that power?

I'd make sure everyone had food, clothing and shelter before we started wars or went to space. You know, take care of children that are already born. Everyone was someone's child once.

3. If had exactly one year to live, what are the three things you'd want to do before you died?

Write, travel, and see everyone I loved.

4. If you could change one thing about the world, what would that one thing be?

Denial. There is far too much of it.

5. If you could take one thing back, what would that one thing be?

I would take better care of myself.

6. If you were stuck on an island forever but had all the water, food and shelter you needed. What would be the three other things you'd bring with you?

My husband, my cats and my books.

7. If the internet didn't exist, would the quality of life go up or down?

Down, for me. It keeps me connected to people, relatively informed, and mostly satisfies my curiosity, which is almost nearly infinite.

8. If a million dollars fell off a back of a truck, would you keep it?

I would want to, of course, but I would find out if it belonged to someone else, and of course--it would.

9. What is something you said, something you stole, something you did wrong?

I stole food and money for food when I was a child, because I was not always allowed to eat.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Thunks 9/10

1. A 90 year old man's dying wish in South Carolina was to be buried in his car. If you were told tomorrow you have 3 weeks to live, would you have any dying wishes or something special done before you died?

I'd have a big party so I could see everyone I loved and give them stuff of mine I wanted them to have and say everything I wanted to say.

2. Do you pay for more stuff using a credit/debit card or cold hard cash?

Usually the debit card. Always trying not to use credit. Cash is great--when I have it!

3. What's cuter- a baby lizard or a baby snake?

Definitely the lizard. Snakes can be poisonous.

4. You go out to eat by yourself at a restaurant. While waiting for your food do you people watch & eavesdrop on others conversations, read a book, use a laptop or chat with people around you?

I read if I have a book, otherwise I just stare off into space and wait patiently. (As I once told a boss of mine, "I have a rich inner life." The look I got in response was priceless.)

5. If you see someone walking around with toilet paper stuck to their shoe, do you tell them or just laugh?

I tell them. Karma.

6. You are talking to someone you just met but you can't understand them at all because of their accent. Do you tell them you can't understand them or just smile and nod?

I tell them I can't understand them, or I try to piece together what they are saying, smiling a lot.

7. Mudfest! Park filled with pools of mud and an obstacle course of mud. Do you go and play in the mud?

No, I actually hate getting dirty--I mean, it can be fun, but I don't want to deal with the shoes, getting mud in the car, etc.

8. Have you ever had a headache so bad it affected your vision?

More times than you can imagine. I have migraines with nausea can land me in bed for days.

9. Would you fit in more with the circus, Hollywood, Broadway, or comedy circuit types?

Definitely comedy.

Plateau? ALREADY???

I'm afraid I may have hit a weight plateau--ALREADY. Isn't it a little early? Jeebus. My weight hasn't changed in a couple of days--but I don't have a great scale. It cost $9.99 and we only bought it to weigh our luggage for international travel--until that trip, I banished scales from my house for the majority of my adult life. The needle on my current scale is dodgy enough to have to be adjusted almost every time it is used. I try not to obsess about what it says. My nutritionist advised to get a scale that measured body fat as well as weight to prevent me from being discouraged when the inevitable plateau interludes occur. It looks like that type of scale costs about $80.

I'm doing better with separating eating and drinking by half an hour--not as well with getting in the protein every day. My daily intake has been more in the 40-50g range rather than the 60-80g. Sometimes I want something to actually CHEW--so sue me. So far, I like to crunch on Life cereal, oyster crackers, and that BearNaked granola stuff. I am still super paranoid about my hair falling out--every time I touch my head I'm checking my hand for excess hair loss. So far, so good.

I still haven't really been tempted by food I absolutely used to live for. Doughnuts at the office? I just think about how sick I would get. It's very simple inside my brain: doughnut = vomit. When I have gone out to a restaurant, I either have cup of soup or a dinner salad, either of which I can only finish maybe 1/3 of. My husband was sitting next to me eating a burger and fries last night. I looked at his fries and all I could think about was how sick I could get. I still haven't whipped out the gastric bypass card they gave me. I tried to drink a diet Coke and after two sips I could tell my stomach didn't like it. Water remains my nearest and dearest liquid friend.

Today, I did Sit and Be Fit for the first time. It was nice and easy. I don't have a good straightbacked chair, just an office chair with a pillow behind me for back support. I didn't work up much of a sweat, but it has to help with range of motion and circulation. It will be so great when the ankle gets repaired and I can move around again. I'm feeling fantastic physically and actually looking forward to moving more.

Sugar-Free Margarita Mix Packets!

I am ridiculously excited about this for someone who can't have a margarita for at least two more months...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Beware of Goop

No one who hasn't had weight-loss surgery really needs to read this one...

I have been mixing Amino 2222 with powdered single-serving sugar-free drinks and it's been pretty tasty. I mixed it with Fuze Slenderize--it was just fine. I use two tablespoons instead of four just to get some extra protein in so it doesn't taste all protein-y. (Yes, protein does have a flavor. Don't ask me to describe it, it just does. There's an aftertaste and some heft.)

Today, I mixed two tablespoons of Amino 2222 with Sobe Life Water--the 0-calorie version--mango melon, to be specific. Shook it up, took a drink. All good. Took the second drink and this long stringy piece of goo was attached to my lips. Something in the specific chemical makeup of O-calorie Sobe Life Water turned the Amino 2222 into a big clump pinky-red slime, its consistency a hybrid of seaweed and Silly Putty. It was just nasty. (I can't believe I didn't upchuck right then and there, since nausea has become one of the four food groups for me.) I scooped it out with a spoon and drank about half the drink before I gave it up, because every time I took a sip, I could taste and feel that goo again.

I only posted this because I wanted to warn anyone who might be inclined to mix these two things against doing it. Say it with me: BLECCH!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Size and guys

When I was first starting to crush on boys and date them, I liked the ones that tended to be shorter. Since I am 5'3", this isn't an issue, and in truth, I have had crushes on guys in every color and size of the rainbow. But when I think back on it, I know why this was: I had seen considerable violence in my life that I hadn't worked through yet and I didn't want to be with anyone who I might not be able to defend myself against physically. I had fleeting moments of feeling like a moose sometimes, but I always felt like a moose anyway. I was a lot lighter then and it wasn't so obvious that someone in the street would point out the size differential.

As I got heavier, I liked guys that were heavier--and I still would, if I were single. (I've always had a crush on John Goodman, and I think Drew Carey is adorable.) I guess it's that whole teddy bear syndrome, and I like the way they look--but anyone I like, and/or love, is beautiful to me.

It was interesting to fall in love with Mr. Salted because I was at my heaviest when we met--within shouting distance of 300 pounds. (I'm down almost 60 pounds since then! Wow!) He weighs a whisper-thin 150 and is one inch taller than me. It was a real test of my own neuroses and very difficult for me not to think about it constantly and relax, particularly when we were in public together. I knew it would make me work on things in my own brain that I didn't want to acknowledge, but he is worth it. I wondered why he would want someone so overweight--and in my weaker moments, sometimes I still do. He never seemed to notice my weight, not from Day One--he just loves me. He supports my decision to have weight loss surgery, because he has seen how I suffer physically and otherwise--and he has watched me exercise and eat right with little to no results for years before I went under the minimally invasive knife. He has never brought up my weight unless I did first--or because he was angrily reacting to someone who was rude to me about it.

"I want you around for a long time," he has said to me a million times. I just noticed this morning that he can get his arms further around me now, and that felt so good. I'm looking forward to when he can get his arms all the way around me. It's certainly another motivator in this journey, and sweeter than any chocolate I've ever eaten.

Friday, September 4, 2009

30-day post-op nutritionist appointment and some resulting findings

In all the hubbub, I never blogged about this...

They are really happy with my progress. (As of today, 33 pounds lost.) I have been tracking my food in terms of calories, protein, and fluid intake. I talked about the issues I've had and they seemed to be relatively common ones.

(1) I hate protein powder. It's all lumpy and clumpy and I hate the texture, and yes, I do use my blender or Magic Bullet knockoff. I can tolerate the Chocolate Peanut Butter Muscle Milk Light powder, probably because I like the taste. I think the Bariatric Advantage Meal Replacement powders taste the worst of all of them, but some people just love them (and Bariatric Advantage makes AWESOME vitamins and supplements). The nutritionist was telling me that it is totally individual and all a learning curve. She is actually going to do some protein tastings and I am donating her all my unused stuff. I haven't tried the unflavored protein powder yet but am going to try to build up a tolerance to it so I can add it to things to meet my RDAs.

(2) Not fond of the liquid protein supplements either, except Amino 2222 and the Perfect Protein Shakes. If you put four tablespoons of that into your drink (Crystal Light or what have you), it is 22 grams of protein. Though it has a decent taste, it is still quite strong, so I have cut it to two tablespoons per 16 ounces of Crystal Light/sugar-free Hawaiian Punch/insert sugar-free drink here and it is much more palatable. I put two tablespoons in a glass of Diet V-8 Splash (the tropical one) and I can't even taste it, but it's still 11 grams toward that 60-80 grams per day goal.

(3) I have struggled with keeping eating and drinking separate. I am supposed to shoot for a 30-minute window between them. Since I have been making a more conscious effort to comply with it, I have felt much less discomfort. That has actually been one of the most difficult adjustments to make.

(4) When we went over things that had caused me problems, it totally made sense. Like those low-carb breakfast tacos--it was a soft tortilla, which isn't great; eggs tend to clump up; and the grease content of the bacon sent me over the edge. The salmon that was problematic for me was too dry. She told me to really pay attention to moisture, to cook meat to 160 degrees rather than 165, and to buy things like those rotisserie chickens from the store. We just ate some California rolls that were also great--very moist, and one makes me full! I just have to make sure there isn't wasabi already added.

(5) She keeps pushing the Greek yogurt as a good protein source but it has not impressed me. However, she wants me to try it with Stevia or Splenda and I haven't yet. I can't figure out why it is so much more expensive than the other yogurt. She also recommended edamame beans with the skin removed. I ate one at work today and they are okay--I can get used to them as a snack, no problem. Another suggestion was the turkey meatballs at Trader Joe's, because I could microwave one at a time and that's a meal.

Edit: tried the Greek yogurt with the Splenda. Not bad. Liked the plain and the pomegranate best. It comes in weird flavors, like fig.

(6) One thing that blew my mind--she told me to go for 80% fat in ground beef if I used it because I need the fat. WTF? She's worried about me getting enough fiber, so she said to try cold cereal, but stuff like Fiber One and Total. I didn't find one that didn't have a buttload of sugar in it. I actually bought some plain Life Cereal at Target and ate that and didn't have a problem with it. I think it has 6 g protein per serving instead of the 5 g limit, but my serving is half a cup and theirs is 3/4 cup.

(7) She reminded me the hair loss starts at 2-3 months "but it's temporary". My hair has actually been looking thicker and better (probably from all this protein) and I'm really hoping I can keep enough in me to prevent much of it.

(8) My coworker made some great bran muffins that I could actually eat! I was able to enjoy one today. :)

Back to work, Granny, shopping

I went back to work today. It is so perfect for my situation right now to have this part-time job that is so flexible. I did four hours (most of it was spent catching up with everyone, to be truthful) and will do four hours tomorrow. I can get a lot done on Saturday with no one there. I want to also try to pick up two or three shifts next week in between Granny dealings. My uncle and I are on the same page and think she should stay where she is. She is quite lucid when you speak to her, she knows everyone and recognizes voices on the phone, but at the end of the conversation, she broke down crying: "I've never been so sick in my life," she said. "I don't know what's the matter, I felt better this morning but now I'm feeling so sick again." I just told her to rest. She has to have help to toilet or bathe herself; this does not sound like a person who can live on her own. It's not like I'm trying to get rid of her or stow her somewhere--I want her somewhere where she is cared for, and she is.

I stopped at Catherine's after work to look for some 2X pants--just the lovely elastic-waist basics to get me through the transitions. Actually, I wanted capri pants, but it was too late in the year for those. I tried on a few shirts, also 2X and they almost fit. The 3Xs were HUGE. The 2X stretch pants basically fit already. I have stuff in my closet as large as 5X, so that was pretty exciting. I still looked horrible in those stupid mirrors--I know everyone does, but there was my nasty stomach, still needing its own zip code. I have tried on so many pairs of pants over the years that would have fit everywhere else if my stomach wasn't there. Sigh. I'm an APPLE, but not the kind that keeps the doctor away.

Saturday 9: Thunking on a Saturday

1. You are walking down a rainy road. There is a five hundred dollar bill on the road. You look around and except for someone a half block away, you are alone. You naturally pick up the bill and put it away. That person approaching stops and says, "I saw you pick up that money. It's mine." You ask how much it was. She yells, "Are you calling me a liar?" What do you do?

Hand it to her, I guess. I'm a lover, not a fighter. Actually, I'm both, but I don't like fisticuffs as a rule. :)

2. If I were to inspect your guest bathroom, how would I find it?
We don't have one. We have two bathrooms and one is more the cats' bathroom than ours. It is full of cat litter and Devil Duckies from Archie McPhee.

3. You are given a state of the art bow and arrow. Who or what is your first target (after a lesson or two)?

I am not coordinated enough for archery. Trust me on this.

4. The doorbell rings. The person at the door is wearing a raincoat and you know them. They flash you and are completely naked. Other than your S/O, who would you think would it would be and would guess you'd find that funny? Why do you guess that person and would you laugh or be pissed off? No one I know is a flasher...anymore.

5. What do you call a male Ladybug?
In touch with his feminine side?

6. Your friends throw you a party. They've got a big national music star to come and perform. It is someone you detest. Do you make believe you like the songs or do you fess up and get the star out of the party?
I'd just be nice about it. Even though I would rather die than be the featured guest at a party in the first place.

7. What's your favorite breed of wild, mean attack dogs?
I like dogs period. I've known some very sweet pit bulls and Rottweilers. It's the people that are bad, not the dogs.

8. If I called your high school guidance counselor, what would they say about you? Good things--we are Facebook friends. He actually dug out the senior picture I had given him and posted it the other day to show me he'd kept it around. Very kind man.

9. Car A is moving at 63 miles an hour. 4 people are in the Car A. Car B is moving at 22 miles an hour. There is a driver and passenger who just came from a hotel while cheating on their spouses in Car B. They will crash into each other in exactly 3.5 minutes. What are your fun plans for this Labor day Weekend while these six people meet a brutal and gruesome death??

Working Saturday morning, girls' night Saturday night, not sure about the rest.

Thursday Thunks for 9/3--a day late.

1. Your thoughts on truck drivers? They're necessary. I think of CBs and the '70s and the fact that one of my uncles had the handle "Green Weenie".

2. Did you hear Michelle Duggar is pregnant for the 15th time? (but that will be kid #19 if you lost count....)

See above. :)

3. Have you ever done something to hurt someone intentionally... just for the sole purpose of hurting them because you thought they deserved it? Maybe a payback's a bitch sort of thing?

4. Is there anyone in your life that when you go to their place of residence, you just walk in without bother knocking? Does anyone just walk into your house without knocking? No and no. I call first, I expect other people to as well, even if it's from the driveway. One of my "things". I want to make sure I'm wearing a bra, for starters.

5. Whats in the trunk of your car? Do you even have a clue? Reusable grocery bags, a bunch of protein supplements I hate and am donating to my nutritionist, some bottled water, a couple of camp chairs, a golf umbrella, some food I need to take to the food bank...

6. When you go to a family holiday get together (such as Christmas or Thanksgiving), about how many people are there? four

7. What is in your kitchen sink right at this very moment?

8. You go to a store to buy an expensive item... say $150. You pick up that item and a couple other this n' thats. You get to the register and the expensive item rings up at $40. The cashier doesn't seem to notice and tells you your total. Do you go with what they say and pay it or do you question the price difference? You know you would question it if your $40 item rang up at $150....
I tell them. I'm disturbingly honest.

9. Do you fold your underwear or do you just toss it in a drawer? Just cram it in there.

10. There is a Harley-Davidson giveaway. Chances are $100 and they are only selling 250 tickets. Do you buy one?
Maybe. I do like riding a motorcycle. I haven't done it in years.

11. Who is your favorite Disney character?

Ferdinand the Bull!

12. It's September - most of the weekly sitcoms/dramas are starting new seasons again. Which one are you most looking forward to?Big Love and the Riches, if they come back on. I'm going to try watching "Glee" too. (Edit: the "Glee" pilot, at least, was pretty funny.)

13. You are at a grocery store and are on your way out to your car with your cart full of grocery bags. On your way to your car you see a black kitten in an empty cart. What do you do?
Take it to PAWS or the Humane Society. Take it home for a while if I have to. I have three rescued kitties.

14. Is there anything that you do for a hobby that you are asked to do for friends/family that most people would hire a professional to do? (example: cake decorating, fixing cars....)
photography--I usually offer before I'm even asked because I enjoy it and then I don't have to think of a gift

15. Are we there yet?

Are we ever?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Accident prone

I saw Granny again yesterday so that we could pay her rent together, and plan to go back to my job tomorrow (only doing a four-hour shift to start on Friday and Saturday, and perhaps a couple more short shifts next week before my uncle arrives), so today has been earmarked to Do Nothing. I never actually Do ABSOLUTELY Nothing, though it may look like that to the outside observer, because there is always, ALWAYS Something To Do. I always at least do laundry, basic cat maintenance, and the like.

I thought a simple task that I could perform on this low-key day at home was to organize recent sale and Ebay finds, clothes that are too small for me now but that won't be for long, with any luck. In our bedroom closet, we have about six file boxes on the top shelf so that we can organize and rotate Mr. Salted's seasonal work uniforms--so we have four boxes for that purpose and two for my clothes-to-be. I wanted to organize each box by size, hang up some of the stuff I thought would fit shortly--you get the jist.

At least one of my cats decided that he had to "help" and got on top of the boxes. Quite possibly, all three were in there at once. They are all absolutely transfixed by the closet--the smells, the light that operates with a pull string, and most powerfully, the fact that we shoo them out of there as quickly as possible. I had my two boxes of clothes down and was shifting them around. I was in the closet hanging up a couple of items and suddenly all four remaining boxes fell from the shelf simultaneously--and somehow, slashed the side of my head open, thankfully IN my hair. It was like an Olympic-caliber paper gash (it's a good three inches long, I took a picture of it so I could see it better). I immediately started crying--I'll cry over those Humane Society commercials, but usually not over physical pain, so that was strange--and instantaneously also got a massive headache. I took two Excedrin Tension Headache pills (my medical team would plotz, as it contains DEMON CAFFEINE--listen hard, see if you hear me caring) and got horizontal with a cold cloth as quickly as I could. It did bleed a bit.

Now, a couple of hours later, I think I am feeling sufficiently well enough to clean the clothes up. (I hate to have Mr. Salted bust his hump all day to come home and deal with something like this.) But you, know, CATS O' MINE, with everything I am juggling at the moment, I really did not need the head cut! Grrrrr.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Three positive things

It took all this morning to write the last entry--it also helped me process. Writing always does. It also drained me, and I applaud anyone who read the whole thing, if you did. What patience you must have.

I want to write about three happy things today because I am a balanced, multifaceted kind of gal. Maybe they are silly, but I don't care. Any port in a storm.

1) A hoodie I'd gotten from Ebay that has the Count from Sesame Street on it arrived in yesterday's mail. It was supposed to be way too small and I figured I'd diet into it, but it must be oversized because IT ALREADY FITS. It says "Count #13" on the back, like a sports jersey. I am so totally stoked to wear it! Ah ah ah!!!

2) I dragged my butt to the grocery store today so Mr. Salted wouldn't have to. I clipped coupons, I bargain hunted, and let me just say that today, I am a rock star. Why, you may ask yourself? I saved (drum roll please) $78.00 with coupons. I don't want to hear about it if you can do better than that, because I'm a lifelong coupon clipper and that is my new record by a long way, and today, I am a rock star. I'm putting my fingers in my ears and singing "lalala" right after I stop typing this. Rock star.

3) Ben and Jerry's officially changed the name of their ice cream Chubby Hubby to Hubby Hubby in honor of marriage equality. This has a special meaning for me because my dear friend, who I blogged about in May ("Ten Years After"), loved this ice cream. He also lived in Burlington, Vermont, for a time, near where the Ben and Jerry's factory was, and we visited it together. It was great fun, and I remember even back then (1992) he commented that they were a very forward-thinking company with domestic partner benefits and that people were clamoring to work for them because they treated their workers so well. So hurray for Ben and Jerry's. I always loved their ice cream, too--I don't believe they ever made a bad flavor.

battle fatigue

I have spent the majority of my life tired--emotionally, physically, and literally. I don't remember a time when I didn't feel a couple thousand years old. I fortunately got to experience a few brief snippets of reckless, stupid, and heavenly youth, but they were so fleeting and always weighed down with possible consequences the entire time they were happening so I could never fully enjoy them. I never got to be a true flake because I had no safety net--I was too busy keeping myself in glasses, teeth, transportation, and by some miracle, college. Bone-tired sums up depression in two words and a hyphen, and of course there was the added FATigue, from dragging lots of extra weight around, but that has come mostly in the last half of my life. Conversely, I am chock-a-block full of humor and love--and it is very genuine (humor has been my healthiest coping mechanism; I highly recommend it)--and I can make people feel good. I've always been able to help other people laugh at and like themselves better--kind of pride myself on it as a skill, if I'm being truthful--but relaxing enough to have fun and cut myself some slack have been among the hardest things for me to do in life. Part of this is likely due to mostly growing up around people who did not welcome emotions, good or bad, and I think I had more of them than the average bear to begin with, so it was not meant to be a smooth journey. I appear to be the most laid-back, mellow person in the world, but my insides continually churn like a comet and the off switch to my brain is broken. (Nothing shuts my brain up at night other than Seroquel, and they will pry that drug out of my cold, dead hands because I am finally sleeping and not gaining weight from a pill.)

I decided a couple of years ago when it was revealed that I would never be able to have children that the rest of my life was going to be about enjoying whatever I had left, loving who I love, and that hopefully, that list would include me at some point. It helps immensely to have a partner in life like Mr. Salted and the friends I do, who love my true self. When I was thirty, I finally got to start having my own pets--cats--and that has been absolutely lovely for me. My cats not only make me laugh every single day, they give me more than I could ever give them. (Even though the traitors they all prefer Mr. Salted.)

Mr. Salted and I spent a couple of hours with Granny on Sunday. When I got there, she was dressed and sitting up in bed, but bent down holding her feet and crying. (She has horrible neuropathy and pain in her feet that nothing has been able to cure. I cannot tell you how many doctors and specialists she has seen over the years about it.) Instinctively, I swooped down and hugged her. "Oh, Granny, are you okay? What's the matter?"

She just looked at me and said, "I don't're here now, and I will straighten up." She just snapped herself to. We talked with her, I brought her clothes and phone numbers and a phone card with a pin number so she could call people long-distance, and her bite-size Milky Ways, and I organized her clothes in the closet. We wrote the check for her power bill together. She tried to give us money, and Mr. Salted piped up immediately, "No, this is what we do for family." I love him more every day that I know him, and just the fact that he made that simple, definitive statement to her--he is not always one to speak up--made my heart full. That has not been my experience with how it is to be family for the majority of my life--and I don't think it has been Grandma's experience, either, but it certainly is how it should be. I would have said something similar myself, but I was glad it was him that spoke up this time. Let somebody else have a turn.

We ate lunch with her, if you could call it that--definitely institutional food, but all that matters is that she loves it. She went on and on about how good it always is. Of course, I couldn't really eat any of it and sipped at the milk. I sat in her in her room once while she ate, and that didn't bother me, but going to the dining room with her--I will find a way to avoid doing that ever again. It was one of the most depressing things I've ever seen. The staff was great--all young, energetic, sweet, running around making jokes--they could not have been kinder or served us better. Everything was clean. There were lots of open windows and natural light, and photos everywhere of activities they'd done. They had rock oldies playing, and people that didn't have family visiting sat around big tables--they tried to put the ones that did have family in their own little areas so they could visit more easily, and they did this for us. Grandma introduced me to several people she knew as we passed, and I tried to smile and wave at everyone. None of the ones she introduced me to had visitors that day.

Several people just sitting up asleep. One was singing a song only she could hear, and no one seemed to notice or care. Another had a lot of his face gone. Many of them were bent over, just trying to get in a bite or two on their own, with quite some effort being made to do so.

Living as much of my life with my grandmother as I did, I have always been around elderly people. I have seen most of the people we knew when I was growing up decline and pass away. I have visited them with her over the years, even in this same facility. She has outlived most of her friends. She made it a point to volunteer wherever they were being housed so that she could stay in touch with them as long as she could. She has always thrived on caring for people, and indeed was not happy without at least one person to care for. She has never met a stray person she didn't feed, and she even feeds this one cat that hangs around her apartment complex--and she despises cats. Many people think she is the just the nicest lady they've ever met. My response to that is, "Yes, if you are not related to her, that is likely true."

I believe one of the reasons she and I have always butted heads is because I am extremely independent and always wanted to do everything for myself. I was not enough of a project for her--she always had to find someone more broken to do for. The fact is that I was plenty broken, just not in ways she was willing to face or deal with. I also learned very early on that my life would be easier the less I needed from anyone else.

Since about the age of nine or ten, I have never been able to interact with her without a shield up and a sword at the ready. When I was growing up, she called me names, implied I was a burden, a liar, a slut. She constantly haranged me about my weight. She told me only whores wore tampons and that I never had an original idea. Nothing was ever good enough--ever. She allowed me no privacy and no grief. If I was ever ill or injured, it was a major inconvenience and she had to be sicker and more injured. My father raped me as a child and she does not believe me, and he is not even her son. They continue to have a relationship to this day, even though they have not seen in each other in over twenty years, and she mentions it to me nearly every time we speak, despite the fact I have repeatedly asked her not to. It is like being raped again every time I have to hear about it. At eleven years old, I dealt with it completely on my own so she would not have to; around that time, she had been hospitalized for her depression and received electroshock. I did try to tell her after the last incident, when I was sixteen, and these were her exact words: "Shut up. I'm watching 'Name That Tune'." Many years later, when I tried to discuss it with her, she said I must have wanted it and followed up with articles in the mail about false memory syndrome. My friends, the people who love me more fiercely than anyone on Earth, are amazed I still speak to her at all and are cautious in their support of my relationship with her. She has suffered a difficult and abuse-filled life and battled mental illness for much of it. I have a great deal of empathy for her, knowing from my own experiences that those things not only shaped her, but left plenty of poison behind, more than enough to share. But it is also a fine line between self-preservation and having to lie down in a quiet, dark room for a few days.

This is the most difficult part for me: whatever medication they have her on, she is incredibly sweet, and extremely open emotionally. She talked about what a good, smart kid I always was, how I was the prettiest baby, all the awards I won in school, the National Spelling Bees I competed in. "I want you to write a book," she kept saying. (Oh, I'll write at least one book, believe you me.) At another point she said, "You were perfect, but I couldn't tell you that." (Inside, I was screaming, "Oh REALLY? Well, why the @#$% not?" I thought--no, knew--I was the most disgusting, unwanted piece of crap on the planet. I literally thought about suicide every day until I was in my thirties, finally got health insurance and could get some help.) Maybe my mom's spirit entered my body for a minute and took over, because I heard a level voice I did not quite recognize as my own reply, "Well, that would have been nice to hear. But it's also nice to hear now." It made me, quite simply, crazy. Part of me quietly left the building. This is that tried-and-true abuse-survivor tool: dissociation. It comes at a price, but it also protects. I did not know what to do with any of it and simply refused to react. Later, I asked Mr. Salted about the positive things she had said toward me. "Is that what a mother is like?" I demanded to know. "Did your mom say things like that to you?" He nodded yes.

My first husband's mother is also that lovely brand of sweet mom. She looked at me the first time we met twelve years ago, opened her arms, and said "Welcome to the family." And she meant it--her son and I have been divorced for seven years, and I am still part of her family. When I met this beautiful woman, I was stunned, wracked with immediate, all-encompassing, nearly uncontrollable grief. It was a three-plus hour drive home from their house and I cried the entire way, as best as I can remember. I hadn't known that kind of love existed in real life, and in that moment, I realized on every level what I had lost at two years old when my mother died. I knew a few moms as a child, mothers of my friends who had shown me much more kindness than they needed to, and they helped me through, I had to be older to really get it. You want your mom to encourage you to stay with college when you're having a rough patch. You want your mom when you fall in love, get married. You want your mom when you have a baby, or try to. You just want your mom.

So, on Sunday, Granny told me there was a big garbage bag in her front room that had a mattress cover that the ulcer in her toe had bled on before she went to the hospital. I thought I had done all the laundry, but I went back and got it, took it home, and did it. It took about a bottle and a half of Shout and a lot of bleach. The considerable time it took to lay the groundwork to get this blood out, I got furious, so completely and deeply angry that the anger felt ancient, like it came from the core of the Earth and could control the weather. It had nothing to do with the actual laundry, but it also felt like the ultimate metaphor. "Why has it ALWAYS BEEN ME, scrubbing out the @#$%ing blood ALONE? I'm supposed to be so selfish and ungrateful! Such a burden! I didn't get to have a mother and I shouldn't have to take care of a mother."

I have spoken with the COPES caseworker the last couple of days and it sounds as though they will try to have Granny returning to her apartment within 30 days of her being in the care center. She is coming along well--her mobility improves every time I see her. I tried to take care of a credit card issue--someone charged $800 on a closed credit card of hers--and since there is no financial power of attorney in place, they wouldn't tell me anything. I am going to have to sit with her in the care center and hand the phone back and forth and hope we can do it that way.

I don't mind helping her like this right now, but something has to give. I am still recovering from a MAJOR surgery and have a reconstructive ankle surgery taking place one month from today. I will have to be off my ankle FOR A MONTH. No one seems to really remember this but me. My stamina is so nonexistent that it's not even funny. I need to return to work but just haven't had it in me to make it there and deal with all this alone. At this rate, I just hope I will still have a job; things cannot continue in this vein. My uncle is due to arrive a week from today; something else is going to have to happen. For my stomach lining (or what's left of it) and for my sanity, other arrangements need to be made.

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Seattle, WA, United States
This blog focuses largely on a personal journey to and through weight-loss surgery. It's also about reading, writing, animals, photography, love, humor, music, thinking out loud, and memes. In other
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