Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Big Blah

I'm trying.  I'm trying to hold it together on Halloween but....... 

I'm tired.
I'm sick.
I just don't like this season.

Most all of y'all know that Halloween is the anniversary of my mom's death.  It's not like it's been recent.  It's been TWENTY-ONE years! 

Wow.  I didn't think I would survive ONE year --- ONE MONTH --- ONE WEEK! --- without her. 

But, for me, time really has lessened my grief.  I don't think about my mom every minute.  I don't see all of life's daily experiences through a dark lens of sadness.  I know that I can live in this world without her physical presence.  I didn't know that for a long time. 

But..... inevitably this time of the year rolls around and I try to be happyHAPPYHAPPYISAIDBEHAPPYDAMNIT! all the time................. and I fail.


On top of it all, I'm tired.  It was 11:00 before I got home from play rehearsal last night. 

And I'm sick.  Well, not really -  but I can feel my body trying to fight off some upper respiratory thing that makes my mouth taste like doo-doo every time I cough. 

And, tomorrow's Halloween.

This is how it affected me this year.

First, the background:
I've told you how I crazily thought I had to somehow keep my mother alive after my dad died.  And it was crazy.  My behavior included hiding in the backseat while she drove somewhere so I could jump to the front and take control of the car and save us if needed.  The fact that I was nine didn't matter.  I also had to wake her up repeatedly through the night to make sure she was still alive and hide in an empty bathtub when I couldn't find her.

Do you see why I became a counselor of children?  I was fucked and nobody did anything about it.

Anyway, after my mom got sober, my insanity evolved into me being OK as long as I could get in touch with my mom whenever I tried to

I don't know.  Maybe this came from the fact that the sheriff couldn't find her when my dad died.  Whatever the reason, it was how my insanity manifested while my mother was alive.

That's right.  From the time she got sober when I was fifteen to when she died when I was thirty-seven. 

My anxiety would go from zero to sixty-seven hundred if I tried to get in touch with her and couldn't. 

If I drove by her house (which I did) and her car wasn't there when I thought it was supposed to be - I panicked. 

If I called her and she didn't answer the phone when I thought she should - I panicked. 

It's funny.  I still dream that I can't find her.  The dream is usually me either being in the house across the street from her, or me driving down her street, and her car not being there.  Sometimes in my dream, there are other people living in her house.  But I'm still waiting for her to show up.  And I'm panicked that something's happened to her. 

When I have anxiety - at least this kind of panicked anxiety (oh-god-i-just-made-up-a-new-psychological-term-me-and-freud-are-so-cool) - I perseverate.    Do you know what that means?  It means (thank you, Google)  to repeat or prolong an action, thought, or utterance after the stimulus that prompted it has ceased.

In my case, it means I drive myself and everyone else crazy worryingworryingworrying and fretting and whining.  

With my mom, it meant that I had to repeatedly drive by her house until she got home.  Or I had to repeatedly call her until she answered.

And, let me tell you, that kind of behavior can be a bitch.  It can mean you have to stay up all night to dial the same number over and over and over again. 

So.... that's the history.  This is how it affects me today:  

I'd like to say it's not a problem anymore. 

I'd like to say it affects me by me happily giving out candy on Halloween.

But, the real truth is --

I just transferred it all to Tyler.  Now, he's the one that I worry about, perseverate about, panic about - when he's not where he's supposed to be (in my mind) or he doesn't answer his phone. 

I'm so embarrassed to admit that.  I can hear all my therapist friends (well, actually all my friends with any sense) saying "Jenny, that's not fair to Tyler.",  "Jenny, that's sick.",  "Jenny, just let go and let God.",  "Jenny, Jenny, Jenny".

Believe me.  Anything you could tell me, I've already been told by all my other wise friends.  I've gone over this, ad nauseam, with countless therapists, psychologists, friends, family members, and pets. 

It makes me and everyone else in my life (especially Tyler, I might add) feel like this:

And I don't do it all the time.

But today.  Today is the day before Halloween.  Today, I have on my orange shirt and my orange booties and my baby rattlesnake head earrings.  Today-I'm-fucking-celebrating-Halloween!!!!!

And I went crazy.  It didn't last long -- maybe half an hour at most -- but, shit, you wouldn't believe the emotional and physical angst it puts me through and the disappointment in myself/self loathing/wanting to kick myself in the butt -  that lingers afterwards.

Here's what happened:
I tried to call Tyler last night about taking our cat to the vet.  His phone was off.

I didn't happen to be crazy at the time so it was OK.  I know that his phone loses charges quickly.  I know that he sometimes forgets his phone.  I know that he sometimes just doesn't want to talk to his mother.

The key is that I didn't happen to be crazy at the time

This morning around 9:00, I tried to call him about the cat again.  His phone was off but, I still didn't happen to be crazy at the time so it was OK.  I assumed he was asleep as today is his day off. 

At 11:00 this morning, I tried to call him again and his phone was still off. 

Unbeknownst to me, some internal switch in my brain had been tripped and I was now in crazy mode. 

I called him at 11:00.  I called him at 11:10.  I called him at 11:15.  I called him at 11:20. 

No longer did I see him ignoring my calls or having an uncharged phone or sweetly sleeping in his bed.

This is what I saw:

I saw him dead, with a needle in his arm. 

That vision has been branded into my brain since 2005 when one of my group home girls - actually one that Charlie and I had considered adopting - was found that way in a field outside Las Cruces. 

But today, in my head it became Tyler instead of Amy. 

Once that vision took root in my brain, I was off.  Off my butt, off my rocker, off to check up on Tyler. 

I told my coworker some (actually true, but unnecessary) story about needing to go home to check my crockpot, and I raced to Tyler's house, doing my crazy Jenny prayer GodpleaseletitbeallrightGodpleaseletitbeallrightGodpleaseletitbeallright all the way over there. 

I know where that prayer came from.  I can still see my fifteen-year-old self running down the street in my jammies the day my mom had alcoholic convulsions praying that prayer like a mantra. 

I got to Tyler's apartment.  His car was in the parking lot.  When you're crazy, that's not a good sign.  I went in yelling "Tyler! Tyler! Tyler!".  I could hear Nurdy in Tyler's room barking and trying to get out to greet me.  Another bad sign.  I threw open Tyler's bedroom door


find him sitting up in bed while trying to cover himself and hollering "MOM!, WHAT'S HAPPENING?  WHAT'S WRONG?"

Shit. Thank God.  Attempt self butt kick.  All I could do was plop on his bed and say "I'm just crazy".   And apologize for my craziness.  Again.

Then I did go to my house and check the chicken in my crockpot. 

Then, I came back to work where I am actually a successful, professional, sane person.  I do good things here.  I help people.  I make people feel better.  I make people happy. 

But that thirty minutes of insanity has left a bad taste in my mouth.  It's the taste of "shit, I did it again".   It's the taste of shame. 

But I have to remind myself that it's Halloween.  My ghosts are out.  My goblins are picking on me. 

It's nearly Halloween.
My mom is gone.
And that makes me sad.
It reminds me that we can lose the people that we love.
And I forget that we can survive it.
Because it's nearly Halloween. 

HFH!   (A kiss to who guesses what that means first!)

Crazy Jenny

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Desperation Or Open-Minded?? Doesn't Really Matter.

I'm trying something that seems like it must be a gimmick to me because it's just too durn easy. 

I'm taking Green Coffee Bean extract 30 minutes before I eat, with a glass of water. 

Before you roll your eyes,  remember that it can't hurt anything. 

And Dr. Oz recommended it.  He doesn't usually recommend any quick and easy "cure all". 

And besides, I am very suggestible.  Even the placebo effect will work on me.

So, what I need from you is a rousing chorus of

Oh Jenny!  We're so glad you're taking Green Coffee Bean extract.  You will lose about three pounds a week as long as you're taking it.   You will find that you're not hungry, you have more energy, you're in a great mood, it's easy to wake up in the morning, your wrinkles are not as noticeable, your hair is thicker, and there is more money in your bank account. 

Keep telling me.  Keep telling me.  Keep telling me.


Saturday, October 27, 2012


I have to blog about my friend, Jean.

Jean is the one of the most spiritual people I've ever met.  I have Christian friends who will disagree with this as they continue to read this blog but Jean, truly, is one of the most "Christ-like" people I know.  He's one of the "goodest" people I know.

Jean is the kind of friend that makes me know that God has a hand in everything and everyone that is put into my life. 

Jean is the kind of friend that makes me understand - on a cellular level - Ecclesiastes 3:1:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

I met Jean - and yes, he is male and his mother named him using the French spelling of Jean - at some spiritual growth group in my late teens or early 20's.  I actually don't know how long I've known him.   

Jean is an important part of my past.  The past that makes me who I am in my present.  He's not part of my present.   I have contact with him so infrequently - maybe once every two or three - or even four - years.  But the lack of contact, the fact that he is a person from my past - doesn't lessen AT ALL the importance he has in my life.

Jean was my "family" for many years.   He listened to me work through many relationships, he mediated conflicts between me and my mom, he was beside me as I fell in love with Charlie and followed him to Idaho, he visited my mom when I lived elsewhere, he has been one of the important rocks in my life.  

In the beginning, Jean had a unrequited crush on me.  It was unrequited because I knew Jean was gay.  Jean later said that he didn't know it, but I did.  Obviously, Jean knew, but being a male from a small west Texas town, he denied what was really in his heart.   Years later when he was embracing his lifestyle, he said that I pulled him, "kicking and screaming, out of the closet".  I really didn't do that.  I was just there

I was there to watch the process, the deeply painful process, that Jean went through as he walked the road to self-knowledge and self-acceptance.

I was there  -  literally on the other side of the closet door, as he sat weeping in his bedroom closet so people in the adjoining apartments wouldn't hear his pain through the thin walls.

I was there - waiting for him to get back to the hotel when we went to Dallas so he could experiment with people he met in the gay clubs that were popular in the '70's.

I was there - through romances, break-ups, pain, and laughter.

I was there when he met John.

Jean fell in love with John in the very early '80's - before I met Charlie.  I resented having to share Jean with John.  He was no longer available every evening for nachos and driving around, talking.  He was no longer available to out-of-town weekend jaunts.  He was no longer interested in looking at guys with me, rating them on our own little scale of 1 to 10.

Our relationship changed - as relationships do when someone falls in love.

When I fell in love with Charlie, my relationship with Jean continued to evolve into what it needed to be at that time of our lives.  He no longer spent Christmas at my mom's house.  We no longer had to visit each other's homes.  We no longer had to catch up with each other daily. 

But, Jean's importance in my life never wavered.

When my mom died on Halloween in 1991, Jean is the person who planned and conducted my mother's memorial service.  He did this at my request.  The person who loves you, and loved your mom enough, to lead her funeral never, absolutely never, loses their importance in your life.

The last time I saw Jean was two years ago when we met up for coffee in Lubbock and spent hours catching up.  I marveled at his love and commitment to John and at his tales about his relationship with John that, at that time, had lasted ten years longer than my marriage.  Jean spoke of a full life and a relationship that "completed" him. 

I found out on Facebook that John died this week.  He apparently died of a massive heart attack while he and Jean were traveling. 

My heart is breaking for Jean. 
But I'm glad that he has known love.
I'm glad that he has experienced knowing that he was loved.
I'm glad that he has had a relationship that has defied the odds and lasted so much longer than so many "accepted" relationships.
I'm glad that he had John.

Please pray for this man who has lost his life partner.

Jean's friend, Jenn
Two years ago.

I Am Being Held Hostage By My Emotions!

I feel like I need to stand up to my emotions and holler "YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!" - because I sure have let them play havoc with my eating for the past two days.

And it's funny how it hits you.  The decision-making process is either non-existent or is so quick that it flies by your brain without notice and then next thing you know - you've crammed all sorts of crap into your mouth.  

For the past two days, I have spent my mornings at Mountain School, the elementary school where I worked for six years.  Two years ago, I quit working as a guidance counselor at Mountain because, in order to be on the public schools' district seniority list,  I needed to be employed in the field that I am licensed in (social work rather than guidance counseling). 

But I loved Mountain.

I loved the school.
I loved my job.
I loved my coworkers.
I loved the parents.
And I loved worshiped the kids.

I think I was made to be an elementary school counselor.  I "get" little kids.  And they "get" me. 

Working with elementary-aged children was a good fit for my personality.  I am a nurturer.  I like to hug.  I like to hold hands.

I don't mean that weird.  I believe that we impact people, not through what we say, but through relationship with others.  I had relationships with the kids at Mountain.

And, I'm not saying that I don't at the Middle School where I work now, but it is different.  It's not as good of a fit with my personality.   Middle school kids like cool and hip.  They like edgy.  

I'm more roly-poly than edgy.

I'm old and fat and soft and cuddly.  I'm -- oh, fuck it! -- grandmotherly!

Elementary-aged kids like grandmotherly more than middle school kids do. 

Developmentally, middle school kids should be separating and individuating from the adults in their lives.  They need less hugs.  They don't tend to want a hug from their school counselor; and they definitely don't want to walk around the playground holding their school counselor's hand.

And that's what I got to do for the last two mornings at Mountain.  I went out at recess and spent the whole 20 minutes with 4th grade girls on both sides of me, holding my hands, and telling me everything that had happened to them in the last two years.  I walked into various classrooms and was met with "Mz Neil!", "Mz Neil!".  I walked down the hallways, stopping every few steps to share a hug with a student.

(Sigh).            I've missed that.                 I've missed them. 

I love my current job at the middle school.  I adore the people I work with.  I think the world of my principal and assistant principal.  I like the kids.  I am committed to the kids.

But they're not my little Mountain kids.

It's just not as good of a fit.

So.  For the past few days, my emotions have been all over the place.  I've grieved not working at Mountain full-time.  I've felt overwhelmed with trying to do my job at the Middle School and do my temporary job at Mountain.   I've felt sad and worried about the clinical counselor who normally works at Mountain who has been seriously ill.   I've felt happy being with the Mountain kids.  I've felt frustrated that not all their emotional needs have been met by the person who took my place.

And how these emotions have affected me?     I've. Felt. Hungry.

No, that's not true.  I've not felt hungry.  I've told myself that I was hungry, starving really, but I've just been feeding my feelings.

Thursday, after working the morning at Mountain, I went to Sonic for lunch and ordered my usual grilled chicken sandwich without dressing.  That was OK.  Then, as an afterthought, I ordered onion rings.

And, it was really crazy...  This is how it went:
Disembodied Sonic Voice:  Can I help you?
Me:  Yes.  I want a grilled chicken sandwich, no dressing on it but jalapenos added, and a large Diet Cherry Limeade with real cherries and no cherry syrup.
Disembodied Sonic Voice:  OK.  That will be a grilled chicken sandwich with jalapenos, no mayo, and a large Diet Cherry Limeade with cherries but no cherry syrup?
Me:  Yes, that's it.     andanorderofonionrings

It's like it snuck up on me.  And onion rings are not even something that I get when I eat at Sonic when I'm not watching what I eat.  Normally, I would get tater tots.  Or possibly french fries with spicy mustard.  But, not onion rings! 

After lunch, I went back to the Middle School and immediately went into my coworker's office and said "I need chocolate".

I never do that.  She handed me two Reese's peanut butter cups that I crammed in my mouth before a student came up for his regular appointment with me (because I didn't want to share).  But the insane urge to stuff my face was still there.  I asked my student if he wanted a s'more's granola bar.  I gave him one and stuffed two into my mouth before he even got his open.

And I'm not done.
* After my student left, I went back into Dawn's office and got another Reese's peanut butter cup.
* After work, Barb and I went back to Sonic where I got a HOTDOG and crammed into the hole.
* That evening, Kara came over and brought dinner - rice, beans, sour cream, cheese, avocado, and wine.
* After Kara left, I ate THREE 100-cal granola bars before bed!!!!!!!

It was insane.  And with all my self-absorbed self-reflection, I still can't figure out exactly what I was feeding!  I know the emotions I was feeling, but why did I need to stuff them?  Was I trying to "stuff" down the feelings of missing Mountain?  I really don't know.

Yesterday, was no better on the feeding front.  I felt happy to be at Mountain, was loving seeing the kids - but every time I walked into the front office, I took a HANDFUL of  - get this - CANDY CORN - and stuffed into my mouth.

Candy Corn.   No one over 12 likes Candy Corn.  I don't like Candy Corn.

But I probably ate three handfuls.  And some Snickers bars.  And some other little candies that I couldn't even identify - except to recognize that they were chocolate.

Last night, was Trick Or Treat On Mainstreet - a wonderful family activity in Los Alamos.  I walked around town with friends, asking Middle School students for candy.

WTF.  I'm an adult.  I should have been giving candy.  But instead, every time I'd see a Middle School student that I knew, I'd ask if they had any Reese's peanut butter cups to share.  I was given three peanut butter cups, one tootsie roll, one tootsie roll pop, and one toothbrush (Ann Marie is such a little caretaker).  I ate everything except the toothbrush. 

Then, I went to dinner with friends - to a restaurant where "my usual" is a bowl of beans and lots of salsa - and had chips, a beef and bean stuffed sopapilla, potatoes, and a sopapilla and honey for dessert. 

I came home and fell into a carb-induced sleep.

Today, I'm OK.  Three pounds up, but OK.  It's Saturday.  I don't have to work at Mountain today, though I am working at the Halloween Carnival there tonight. 

I've got three more weeks of working Thursday and Friday mornings at my favorite school in the whole wide world.  I've got to figure out how to do it without stuffing my feelings.


217.5 weighing Jenn

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I'll Invite You All To My Book Signing Party. You Bring The Food.

I've made a decision.

I've decided to write a cookbook.

How do you spell that sound you make when you laugh without opening your mouth so it just comes out like a snort in the back of your throat?  I need to know how to spell that so I can tell y'all not to do that. 

Oh, what the hell...... I did it myself when I wrote that I was going to write a cookbook.

I actually rolled my own eyes at me. 

But...... I've decided that there are people out there who need my cookbook.

I don't like to cook.
I don't do it well because -
     I don't do details
     I don't read directions
     It takes energy
     I have to stand up
     I frequently cut myself
     I have to clean stuff afterwards
     I have to touch raw meat
     I don't like long lists
     I don't have patience
     I have warped taste buds after years of ketchup abuse
     I have no idea what words like blanch, al dente, dredge, clarify, fricassee, or meuniere mean

I really don't.  I just googled 'cooking terms' to get these words and didn't even read the definitions except for meuniere - because I think that's one that lots of people have no idea about.  

Do you know what it means?  
Is anybody raising their hand with the answer?  
No?  Well, I'll have to tell you.

Meuniere means dredged with flour and sauteed in butter.   

I think I gained four pounds just by reading that.  

Let's face it.  I hate cooking.  And I stink at it. 

 It's just not a princessy thing to do.  You know??

Anyway, I refuse to believe that I'm the only one like me out there.  I know there has got to be other princesses women who eat out at Subway five times a week, think putting a Lean Cuisine in the microwave is cooking, cover their food in ketchup and hot sauce, and don't own a muffin tin.

Actually, I own a lot of cooking apparatuses.  I have NO IDEA how to use most of them.

 I own:
 * A food processor (purchased last Black Friday when I was supposed to be buying presents for others but had a whiny fit of "It's my turn" and started buying stuff for myself).   I've used it ....... once.  And that was to make salsa that DIDN'T EVEN TURN OUT RED!!!!!!!  Since then, I've forgotten what all the little parts of the food processor are for and I long ago threw away the directions. 

That's another thing.  Since I don't read directions, I just throw them away.  I have no idea how half the stuff in my house works. 

* A George Foreman grill.  I've had this since I got divorced eleven years ago.  I've used it two or three times.  You know, the problem with a George Foreman grill is that it doesn't clean itself.  And it's a bitch to clean. 
Maybe not a bitch. 
But you do have to clean it.

* My famous Texas-shaped waffle maker.  I've made waffles once.  And come to think of it, I didn't even make them then.  Kara did.   But it was my waffle maker!

* An iced-tea maker.  Well, half of one.  I've lost the pitcher.  Doesn't matter, because it NEVER got used.

* A commercial-grade blender.  I went on a smoothie kick back in 1983 and Charlie wanted us to get a blender that would last a lifetime.  And I swear, this blender is going to outlive my children's children's children.  It's non-destructible.  Like a Tonka truck.  It will be the one heirloom that will be passed down through the line of my direct descendents.   Aren't.  They.  Lucky.  

* A pancake griddle that I bought last Spring while having hallucinations fantasies about making pancakes and fried eggs for numerous happy people that were just sitting around my living room playing board games. 

There are quite a few things wrong with that picture.  First, if numerous happy people were over here, I can guarantee you that they'd be watching TV and playing with their respective laptops, phones, and ipods.  Not playing board games.  Second, Christmas is really the only time of the year that I get numerous people over here at one time and they don't usually tend to be .... happy.   There's always lots of sullen grumpiness with periodic outbreaks of down-right hostility.   Now, that behavior is my kids, mind you.  I tend to vacillate between pretending I'm Donna Reed and pretending I'm the Queen of Sheba.  Ummmm, not pretty.  And finally, if there were numerous happy people over here, you can bet that I'd be in the middle of the crowd suggesting that we all go out to eat.  Dutch. 

* A hand mixer.  And yes, I know how to use it. 

* A snow-cone maker.  I bought this a few years ago so Nina and I could make snow cones together.  While singing Kumbayah.  You know the rest of that story.

* A s'mores maker.  Unfortunately, we've never had the thingamajig that you're supposed to light so you'll have a little fire in your kitchen.  Plus, I'm afraid of a fire in my kitchen.  I don't trust my ability to keep it "little".

* A fondue pot.  
Snort!  Give me a break.  I'm an overeater.  I don't do fondue.  Like cracking nuts with a nutcracker, it just takes too dang long.  

I also have a new coffee maker (used a few times), an ice cream maker (from the days before electricity when you had to crank it yourself - hasn't been used since then either), an air popcorn popper (that makes the driest popcorn in the world and is therefore only used when I'm hungry for cardboard), an electric knife sharpener (that Charlie forgot to take when he left), a rice maker (another Charlie thing - I don't even like rice), and my crock pot.  My trusty crock pot.  I do use that.

So, you see that I could write a fancy-smancy cookbook utilitzing all my cooking apparatuses.  


But I won't.  I want to write a cookbook for the me's of the world.  

Recipes that you can cook while doing Facebook on your phone and applying make-up.  Recipes that you can remember all the ingredients without looking at the list.  Recipes that use ONE well-known spice rather than a myriad of spices that you've never heard of.  Recipes that you can eyeball amounts rather than using measuring devices.  I personally appreciate recipes that call for a "can" of one thing and a "handful" of another.  Recipes that start calling for "a teaspoon", "a third of a teaspoon", six-eights of a tablespoon" - make my eyes blur over and I start seeing all words as "wonk wonk wonk".  

Don't you know someone like me who could use a cookbook?  A cookbook designed just for dingbats?  Ohh, please tell me you do!

I don't want to be the only one. 

Stay tuned.
Chef Jenn

Friday, October 19, 2012

What Does One Blog About When One's Brain Is Blogless?

Blogging about my dad last week left my brain blogless.

Truly.  There is not even a tiny shred of real blog material in my head.

Blog material feels like something I really need to talk about, analyze, re-experience, learn.

It feels like words that rush from my head to my fingers and fight to see who can get out first. 

This describes blogging perfectly:

In comparison, Facebook statuses are random, inconsequential things that I want to say - not necessarily talk about.  Can you see the difference?

Today, my head is just full of little Facebook statuses, not blog material.

Here they are:

I'm going to a Lap-Band Information and Orientation Seminar at Lovelace Hospital in Albuquerque next week.  Lap-bands appear to be a topic that everybody has an opinion about -- except me.   I just want to explore the possibility.  That doesn't mean I'm going to get one.   That doesn't mean I'm not going to get one either.  

Last year while I was busy saying "ME!ME!ME!ME!ME!ME!ME!" through my blog, my friend, Kara, was quietly losing all the weight I wanted to lose.  She lost over 40 pounds and is now weighs exactly what I want to weigh.  I'm so impressed with her.  She didn't really try to lose weight.  She just started eating differently and walking her dog. 

My friend, Barb, has stuck to a vegan diet all week.    Even with us going to a workshop and eating out twice on Wednesday.  She has lost FIVE POUNDS this week!  Again, I'm impressed.

I have anxiety about the next two days.  Nina has come to spend the weekend and she is in a BAD mood.   That doesn't bode well.

This morning, I weighed 215.  I've kind of been stuck here this week.  I've not made any huge mistakes but I haven't made huge headway either. 

I'm coasting. 

I probably should start pumping. 

Nina angry > Me bad mood > Coasting = Set Up For A Screw Up. 

And the fact that I'm blogless makes it even worse, I fear. 


Friday, October 12, 2012

James Clyde Branch

My dad.

Today is the 50th anniversary of his death.  Fifty years.

October 12th has been a day of remembrance since I was 8 years old. 

It's so weird to feel such a connection to someone that I barely remember.  And I do barely remember him.  Most adults have lots of memories of their childhood, beginning at about age 3.  I'm sure I would, too, if I hadn't experienced the trauma of losing my dad at age 8.

Trauma can kind of wipe things cleanNo...... that sounds too positive.  It's usually good to have things wiped clean.

Trauma can kind of wipe things ... gone.  The good memories go away along with the bad.  Or at least that's how it's been for me.

These are things that I actually consciously remember:
* Riding a train with my dad.
* My dad waking me up in the middle of the night when he got home from work to give me a little
   tiny pocket knife that he had found.
* Standing up next to my dad in a moving car (I must have been really short and children's car seats
   were not invented).  He slammed on the brakes and I hit the dashboard and broke a tooth.  He then
   took me to a drugstore in Knox City for a milk shake. 
* Walking down University Avenue to a pizza joint with my dad.
* My dad showing me a spider web on our front porch - explaining to me about the "spider's home".
* Walking in on my dad in the bathroom and him getting mad.
* Watching my dad build a boat in our carport.
* Ice skating with my dad on a pond in McKenzie Park.
* Standing on a bridge with my dad, fishing.  Feeling a fish tug at my line.  Squealing and dropping
   the pole into the water.  (And getting into trouble.)
* Standing at my back door while he took pictures of me (that he later used for a painting).
* Riding in a small convertible with my dad.
* My dad trying to pull my tooth and me running out the back door into the alley with him chasing
   me, yelling "let's get that tooth pulled before your mother gets home!"
* Watching my dad paint a picture for my Aunt Annie.  I can remember how the oil paint smelled.
* Watching my dad order a root beer for me, ask for the closest doctor, and fall backwards off
   the cafe stool, dead.
* My final memory of him is a fleeting glance of him laying on the restaurant floor.

In the hour that I've sat here, those are the only actual memories that I can dredge up.

It's sad.  I think of the countless times in the last 26 years that I've done something for or with one of my children and have thought "this is going to be such a great memory".   I've made a conscious effort to try to give my children good memories of me.

*Disclaimer:  That does not mean that I haven't horribly screwed up at times and inadvertently given them memories of my rage and ugliness.

I have a feeling that my dad made a conscious effort to give me good memories.

And, for the most part, I've lost them.

Here are some things that I KNOW, but I don't have conscious memory of:
* I was a "daddy's little girl".
* My dad spent HOURS building me the most perfect backyard playhouse - with real    
   windows and a mailbox.  It was perfect!  He built that playhouse when I was 5 and we lived in
   Knox City.  We moved it to Lubbock when I was 6.  When my mom died when I was 36, I moved
   the playhouse to New Mexico so my own kids could play in it.  I lost the playhouse when I got
   divorced at 47.  I wish I still had it. 
* My dad wanted me to experience all kinds of travel - train, plane, boat, bus, taxi.  The short train
   trip he took me on (from Lubbock to Slaton) was just to give me the experience of riding a train.
   We took a taxi back to Lubbock. 
* His dream was to own a small town weekly newspaper in Oregon or Washington.  Living in
   Lubbock was just a temporary stop on the way to his dream.
* My dad told my mom that I didn't have to go to school if I didn't want to and he spent the
   whole morning of my first day of first grade in the classroom with me because I was crying.
* My dad took my mom and me on a long vacation in a camper.  I think we visited the Pacific
   Northwest.    Probably in search of his dream.

I know these things about my dad because people have told me:
1.  He was quiet.
2.  He loved fishing and hunting.  I think especially fishing.
3.  He was an amateur artist, primarily painting in oils.
4.  He loved the small town newspaper business.

I believe that these things are some of my dad's legacy:
1.  My forehead.
2.  The number of people in my family who are, or have been, in the newspaper business.  Uncle Charles, Mary Nelle, J.Tom, Jean Carol - they all got their start working for my dad.  And they influenced Doak and Little Jay.  I still have relatives who own, or work at, small Texas town newspapers.  And I think that started with my dad.
3.  My cousin, Marc, is an artist.  I have some amazing paintings of my dad that he did from photographs.  I think that my dad's artistic abilities were passed down to Marc.  (They sure missed me!)

A few years ago, I was given a wonderful gift (that I think I've already blogged about).  A family friend found an old reel to reel audio tape that was made in Ruidoso in 1960.  My dad and his friend are visiting on it.  I had no memory of his voice until I heard that tape.  His voice was low and calm and serious ..... and sounded just like his nephew, Lynn Royce.

I can't describe what the experience of hearing his voice was like.  I'll always be indebted to William Roy for giving me that gift.

My dad.  I wish I had known him better.

Jennifer Jean (he chose my name)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Miss A. Laneous

In junior high, I used to pretend in my head that that was my name.


I don't really have anything to say, but these few things:

1.  After my four days in Artesia, this morning I weighed 218.  That's not how I wanted it to be.  But I didn't do what I knew I had to do to make it any different. 

2.  I got a call from my oncologist's office saying that my pap smear came back negative for cancer.  Praise God!

3.  Tomorrow, I have my annual physical with my primary care doctor.  As with all things medical, I dread this and could go to a place of anxiety and fear if I chose to.

Wow, I think that's progress.  Have I always had a choice?  It sure hasn't felt like it.  My usual spiral down to anxious angst before doctors' appointments sure hasn't felt like anything that I chose.

But, I need to remember that a choice can be a split-second activity - made so quickly that we have no awareness that there was ever any other option.

It's those split-second choices that bite me in the butt.  

It's those split-second choices that bite us all in the butt. 

The collective butt. 

And the words "collective butt" seem like a good place to end this post.  I want to watch something uplifting tonight.  I'm gonna start with a couple of episodes of Walking Dead. 

Miss A.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

How I Made A Wrong Turn On The Way To Fat Camp

It ain't pretty, is it.

I've had a wonderfully relaxing three days in a hotel in Artesia.  I've...
* swam at least once a day
* lounged in the hot tub at least once a day
* spent a couple of hours at a wonderful antique store where I bought....... a cookie jar.....
* tried to sneak up on the United States Law Enforcement Training Facility - (things behind
   barbed-wire fences and "DO NOT ENTER" roads interest me)
* shopped every day at K-Mart.  OK, I know that's low life but - hellloooooo, who do you think you're talking to?  And they had clothes for $2.99.  I kept buying Tyler shorts.  And stuff for myself.
* gotten a pedicure that included an amazing calf massage
* driven around
* taken Moe for dog walks to poop and pee
* visited statutes of cows' butts and other things
* driven around
* visited with a young woman who I hadn't see since she was 15.  Now she's 32!
* driven around
* taken naps
* Facebooked
* Pinterested
* driven around
* talked Donna out of one of her shirts that I really liked
* read
* watched Grey's Anatomy, Revolution, Last Resort, and Walking Dead
* driven around
* and eaten

Did y'all hear that?  EATEN.

Our hotel has free breakfast, of course.  It's better than many hotels - this is free breakfast in a restaurant - eggs and bacon or sausage, then your choice of hashbrowns, french toast, or pancakes.  And orange juice.  

Well, every self-respecting overeater knows that you must eat any food that can be conceived as "free" because, Lord knows, you spend enough money on it the rest of the time. 

I felt like I had to get my money's worth.  Even though I wasn't paying for the hotel.

And then Donna and I went out to eat one meal a day.  We went out for steak and baked potatoes (and a huge salad bar - the fat kind that has 50 million kinds of salad made with mayonnaise).  We went out for shredded beef and potato burritos.  We went out for chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes and gravy (we're real close to Texas, you know). 

And then there was the blackberry cobbler and icecream.
And the sopapillas.
And the wine. 

Tonight, we decided that it would be good if we ate the food that we actually brought and put in the hotel room frig.  So we had stale bread and hummus, grapes, cheese, chips, and cantaloupe.   It was the most healthy (low calorie) meal that we've had since we've been here.  But we ate it like two slobs.  No plates, no napkins, right in the middle of the table with the hair dye, hand lotion, and doggie pain pills. 

In the middle of stuffing my face like a cave dweller, I thought about the message that my eating environments gives my insides. 
Nice environment (restaurant, manners, good company) = pig out
Trashed environment (eating half naked, sitting sideways on the arm of a chair, with your fingers, while watching reality tv) = healthy food

What does that say to my insides? You aren't worth doing this good?  You aren't worth doing this right?

All I know if that, right now, I'm not taking this seriously.

And it's a serious matter.

It's my health, my life, my self esteem, my future.

But, I've just been feeding the urges this weekend. 

I took a wrong turn on my way to fat camp and ended up at hedonistic camp on the opposite shore. 

I have a doctor's appointment this Wednesday for my annual physical.  (My anxiety about that is another blog.)  I want to ask Dr. Church about lap band surgery.  I've asked him about it before and he's said something about it being high risk for blood clots.  But that was a few years ago.

I also need to think about Weight Watchers again.  My blogging friend, Deezer, on the other side of the world has been very successful with WW. 

Something I'm doing is not working.  And it's something in my head.  My 'fuck this' gland is ........ all fucked up. 

But I love you guys!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Going To Fat Camp

Ohhhh, not really, but it's a fantasy of mine.....

I envision a fat camp weight loss resort on the beaches of Maui.  I would stay in a little grass hut.  It would look so quaint and..... islandy..... on the outside but would have all the comforts of home - well, a really rich person's home - on the inside.  A hot jacuzzi tub, a king size canopy bed with luscious linens, ceiling fans gently blowing my hair as I relax in a vibrating recliner and await a handsome room service attendant who will bring me fresh fruit, lean meats, and lots of ketchup.  After lunching, I would go outside for a walk through the trees, pulling oranges, lemons, and grapefruits off the trees and eating them as I walk.  I would come upon a lush, green ..... watermelon patch ..... where, to my amazement, the watermelons were not only seedless, but ice cold and already cut into bite-size morsels.  After my short walk (where I don't even get out of breath or work up a sweat but inexplicably lose 80 pounds), I turn somersaults and stand on my hands in a huge, warm swimming pool that overlooks the ocean.  I play in the pool for hours and enjoy talking to all the people because they are all fatter than me and have thinner hair but are very, very interesting.  And kind.  They like me!  My handsome room attendant serves me wine and non-smelly cheese (IhopeIhopeIhopeIhope it's Velveeta) while I float around in one of those fancy-smancy floaties that has a place for your drink.  I discover a lazy river - not a real river with fish and mud and all sorts of creepy crawlers - but a chlorine-clean concrete lazy river to float the afternoon away.  I dine with friends in a lively nightclub where there are all sorts of strange people to watch and talk about.  I eat steak and grilled shrimp and baked potatoes and chicken fried steak and gravy and enchiladas and ketchup and watermelon and chips and salsa and pinto beans and chocolate pie (surprisingly fresh for being made by Aunt Annie, the best chocolate pie maker, who has been dead for 17 years), and homemade banana ice cream.  

I end my day at fat camp knowing that, in addition to losing 80 pounds and being really relaxed, my knee has healed, my hair has gotten thicker, longer, and turned brown again, my wrinkles have disappeared, my teeth have whitened (and a tooth has grown in the toothless space that shows when I smile), and the little bald spots in my eyebrows have filled in. 


This weekend - actually beginning in two hours - I'm gonna have my real (and low) life version of fat camp.

I'm going to the Best Western Pecos Inn in Artesia, New Mexico for the next four nights.  I'm taking Moe, my nearly fourteen year old decrepit/blind/deaf dog, and Donna, my older, deafer yet skinnier friend, with me.   Donna has to work there.  Poor, poor Donna.

I'm going to swim in the swimming pool, veg in the hot tub, take Moe on long, brisk short, slow walks, watch TV in the workout room, eat healthy Trader Joe's food, drink healthy (and cheap) Trader Joe's wine, read, watch movies, facebook, and blog.  I'm going to relax.  I'm going to be silly.  I'm going to sleep.  I'm going to have fun. 

I probably won't lose 80 pounds (ya think?) and I'm pretty sure a tooth is not gonna grow in my toothless spot - but who knows?  And I do have some hope about the bald eyebrows.

In truth, I'm hoping that I can eat healthy, move freely, and make conscious decisions this weekend.  I can make it what I want it to be.  I need to remind myself not to feed the momentary impulses but to remember what and who I want to be a week from now, a month from now, a year from now, a decade from now. 

I'll write you from my grass cabana while dipping my toes in the Pacific. 


Monday, October 1, 2012

An Argument With My Knee

My knee is angry. 

Yes, I know it's weird to draw a face on your knee.  But I had to give visual expression to how she is acting.


Has your knee ever been a bitch?  With every step I take, she complains and complains and complains.  

I can't walk 10,000 steps today.
I can't go to Zumba.

It just hurts so bad to walk. 

I'm going to the chiropractor tomorrow.  He's the only one I know that has ever been able to give my knee an attitude adjustment. 

The doctor hasn't.
The orthopedist hasn't.
The physical therapist hasn't. 

My knee obviously doesn't like any of them.  But she seems to like the chiropractor. 

Probably because he lets her play with that vibrating thingy.


Today, she wins.   Yesterday, I forced her to walk 7,000 steps.  That was all I could get out of her.  With each one of those steps, I had to listen to her scream. 

So tiresome. 

And she paid me back by basically refusing to move at all last night when I needed to get up to go to the bathroom. 

So today, she can rest. 

Because tomorrow there is going to be a come-to-Jesus-meetin' between her and the chiropractor.  And she's going to have NO CHOICE but to change her attitude!

The Martyred Mother Of A Badly Misbehaving Knee