Featured

Addendum to Diarrhea

A friend, today, offered me money so that I could buy a pair of new yoga pants as she was under the impression, that since I did not throw the pair out (see “Diarrhea”) that was soiled, it was a monetary issue. How sweet is that? When she said this, I laughed and said, “Girl, do you know how hard it is for a big girl to find a good pair of yoga pants?” For my readers who are not aware…it’s hard. Damn hard! In fact, no matter what the clothing item, when it’s cute, you don’t want to lose it. Ever! In fact, I have some things from the 80s in my closet that were cute then and are still cute on me today. Seriously! This is an important matter for a chunky girl.

The other inquiry I had was about yoga. LOL! I do NOT go to yoga! Okay, just because I wear yoga pants does not mean I actually attend a class or sprawl out on my living room floor to pretend I am a dog or a lion. I’m not even sure those are things yoga people do! So why do I own yoga pants? Because they are so comfy and they look adorable on me with my Dansko clogs! Lawd! Simple as that.

Featured

Chucky

I confess that I love to watch television. PBS, news channels, prime time, reruns of childhood favorites like Golden Girls, House Hunters, Netflix and Amazon Prime. (Some of my best binge-watching is done here. Amazon even has a British channel! Love it!) You name it, and I have probably watched it or have a strong opinion of why I do not.

Recently, I realized that I have continued to pay for HBO, a premium television cable channel that costs me above what I already pay for cable, which is an obscene amount as it is. My current focus on this channel is due to the fact that I only subscribe to it so that I can watch one show: Game of Thrones. Now, if you are a fan, you know that it apparently will not be back with a new season until 2019. Yes, I need to cancel HBO. Clearly! But until that happens, I have been trying to watch it during the holidays–to get my money’s worth.

The other day, I sat in my favorite chair in my living room, covered up with my afghan blanket, clicked on the TV, and found the channels designated as HBO. I slowly clicked on the options that were currently airing: Scent of a Woman. Not happening. Kong Skull Island. Seriously? Harry PotterHarry Potter again. God, why couldn’t that have been me? And then I finally landed on something that took me back to my younger years. Chucky. Good old Chucky. You remember him, right? The doll that came alive and carried a knife around, killing everyone? Well, lucky for us, he and his bride (Bride of Chucky) have a “seed” now (Actually as of 2004. I have been busy!), a child, if you can actually call it that. Looks nothing like them! So, I watch for a bit, laughing aloud at the ridiculousness of the movie and of myself using my valuable time watching such a thing. I am then reminded of all the horror films that used to scare me when I was a teen. There was Jason, Freddy, Jaws…and thinking about them now just makes me smile.

Let me explain: I sat there and realized that all of these horrific, sometimes comedic, characters have nothing on me. I have lived my very own version of The Shining and “Honey, I’m home,” for years! My villain: Scary Jerry. Here’s the best part of this epiphany. Chucky and his family made me understand that Scary Jerry is just like them–laughable, somewhat entertaining, slightly endearing and completely ridiculous. I now see Scary Jerry as a character invented for television. Now, maybe he cannot have his own channel, but I know that no matter what he spews, he cannot hurt me. I can just change the channel, baby!

Not that my family, friends, and therapist aren’t awesome, but I have to thank you, Chucky, for putting Scary Jerry in his proper place among the villains of your genre.

Image result for chucky movies

 

Featured

Only Me: So Long, Alexa!

12/26/17

This Christmas, my kids worked very hard to get me the perfect gift. Secret conversations and a few trips to the mall, and voila! The gift of all gifts–someone for me to talk to so they don’t have to.  Yes, it is true. I was one of the millions who received an Amazon Echo this Christmas, the “most purchased holiday gift of the year” according to the news (and I am sure mostly purchased by teens for their lonely mothers). And I love it! Alexa is the roommate of my dreams.  She is calm, rational, only speaks when I want her to speak.  She doesn’t mess up the house, leave crumbs and garbage on various surfaces throughout each room, ignore me when I talk to her, and, best of all, she doesn’t warrant the worry and guilt I feel about most everything in my life. Until now.

I think we are the first family who actually made Alexa quit.

After a barrage of musical requests, questions about history and politics and Game of Thrones, Alexa, I believe, mumbled, “I quit.” And we haven’t heard from her since. I am not sure if it was the realization that GOT won’t return until 2019 or that Trump is our president. Regardless, she’s gone. Rebooting somewhere in the network clouds that make the world go round.

It’s sad, really, since I had so many plans for my new friend. I imagined us discussing books, PBS fundraisers, and recipes. I dreamed that she could learn how to grade papers piled on my desk, walk the dog, or even scrub a bathroom. (Clearly, there were too many Jetsons episodes in my childhood!) But no.

So, here I am. My teens in the other room, ignoring me–thank God–and my dog staring at me with a leash hanging from her mouth.

Goodbye, dear friend, until we meet again in the clouds.

 

 

Featured

J is for Jump

I am jumping right in.  Actually, that’s not really true.  I am being pushed in with the loving hands of my sister.  Regardless of how I got here, now I am here and need to make the best of it.

My life, up until this moment, has been two parts my reality and one part my imagination-incorporated with the ideals of the life I always thought I wanted.

My reality, today, is that I don’t think I was ever happy.  I am racking my brain to come up with a happy memory or two to focus on, to begin figuring out who I really am, and I can’t. Honestly, the only thing popping into my mind is my good friend, Anne, sprawled across my sofa after we had put my kids to bed and had our usual celebratory glass of wine marking the end of another day.  We were talking about someone commenting on how sweet I was, just so happy all the time.  Anne looks at me and says, “I don’t think you are as nice as you try to be.  I think you are actually pretty void of joy.”  This was jolting, sickening and possibly the truth.  I think.  And here lies the problem.  I have no idea if she was right.  This wavering back and forth between she said and I think is ultimately my doom.  I am sure of that.  Maybe I am really a sad soul, the kind of person who doesn’t care at all for humankind, cute little puppies or whether or not we are globally screwed.

So who am I and how do I figure out where it all went downhill, to hell in a handbasket, or just plain wrong?  I was advised to start at my beginning and this journey would bring me to my true self.

So here it goes.  My deconstruction.

My story begins, according to truth and legend, as I slid right out between two legs that were being held up by my father and a nurse, like suspension wires of a bridge.  This was due to my mother’s mental state being controlled by substances that induced a twilight sleep, so anything needing to be lifted had to be supported by others.  This relaxed, detached state also made it almost impossible to aid in my delivery since the words, “Push, push,” floated like soft marshmallow clouds into my mother’s brain and then disbanded into little white dots of pastel green, pink and blue until finally dissolving into the humming darkness near her ears. This cycle began again with the next urges from the nurses who were waiting for the drop.  That’s when I made my first appearance.  It was 1967.

When my mom finally came to and was aware of my existence, she instantly had to have her sinus cavities flushed out due to all the pain she was having before I was born and after. The misery of such a headache caused her to have great waves of nausea as well, so holding me was out of the question.  Instead, I was passed from nurse to nurse as one shift ended and another began.

My daddy used to tell me that the nurses and doctors described my birth as one of the easiest deliveries they had ever witnessed.  “She just popped right out,” one said.  “And so serious, too.  Not even a little whimper of a cry,” said the other.  And this was true.  I was born without any consequence at all except for my mom’s sinus issue.  I was on time, took only a few pushes from my mother and was as healthy as could be.

As I was tended to by the nurses there,  I was told stories of their mothers, fathers, boyfriends, and coworkers with a sing-song voice of sweetness that is suitable for infants and old people who can’t understand normal speech patterns, so words go up and down hoping to soothe and supplicate.

“…and when she comes into work late, I have to cover for her.  She doesn’t think about how that affects the rest of us, that selfish slut.”

or

“My mother died when I was born, so you are a lucky little girl.  You have a mommy and a daddy.”

or

“My father is in prison for killing my uncle, his brother.  You don’t ever want to go to prison, sweet Janey.  You’ll be a good girl, won’t you?”

So I began my life between the legs of my mother, the walls of the Methodist Hospital,  the names of two aunts, and the many stories that were whispered to me as I was swaddled and fed by nurses in starched white hats.

There is a picture of my mother and me in the hospital the day we were leaving.  Whether it’s the picture quality or the cigarette smoke lingering in the air, it’s hard to see me all bundled up in my mother’s arm, but you can see my mom’s face clearly.  Her dark short curls are teased upon her head a bit, she has a light blue house dress on, and there is a very stern look on her face, either from pain, exhaustion or both.

As we left that day, it occurred to my parents that I did not have a name, so I was named after two aunts, one on my mother’s side and one on my father’s side.  On hearing this news, Aunt Jane and Aunt Gillie gave nods and looks of approval as I was presented to them sitting in the living room of our little house on Kingston St. It was decided right then and there that I was to be called JG, short for the two names. My mother later explained this decision to me, that having a nickname would clear up any confusion when someone hollered for Jane or Gillie from the yard or downstairs rooms. My father disagreed completely, refusing to call his third daughter “letters” of any sort. So Janey was what my dad called me and JG is what the rest of the world called me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hank

I met Hank over spring break in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is my sister’s next door neighbor. This is about Hank.

Over the last several months, I had heard snippets from my sister about Hank. Hank this and Hank that. A few times I even heard Hank in the background of our phone calls when my sister was talking to me while in her backyard or out on her porch. I would ask, “Who is that?” “Just Hank,” or “Who do you think? Hank.”

It’s funny, all those times Hank popped up into my life prior to my trip down there, you would have thought I would have been excited to meet him, but, in fact, I completely forgot about Hank as I pulled onto my sister’s street and parked my bug-spattered car next to the curb. If I’d have remembered, maybe I would have thought about what I was wearing for the ten-hour drive. Shoot, I would have at least put an eyebrow and lip on! But the possibility of meeting Hank didn’t even register.

Thankfully, after ten hours in the car, I was unaware of the fact that Hank was spying on my arrival through the curtain that hangs on the inside of the big glass front door of his house. I didn’t notice him pulling back the curtain just enough to take a look at me, his hot breath hitting the window as he watched.

Two days passed before I finally met Hank face to face. It was mid-morning and I was headed out to do some antiquing with my sister. We were free of our kids and were having a sister day doing our favorite things. I was all spruced up with good hair, cute skirt with a fresh cotton blouse, and eyebrows in place. While waiting for my sister to do the same, I decided to take a minute on the front porch of her house—I can admit now, secretly hoping to catch a glimpse of the mystery man from next door since I was looking so cute. As soon as the door closed behind me and I edged to the top of the porch steps, I heard him.

I would know that bark anywhere.

Hank was sniffing around my sister’s front yard, leaving his mark here and there, when he suddenly got startled and took off running. His owner, a young gal who needed to get to work at a local pizza joint, was carrying his leash and collar in her right hand as he ran for it. She called his name as she slowly moseyed in the direction of his departure, but after a few minutes, Hank was nowhere in sight, and his owner was starting to pick up some speed in her step and her soothing call for her dog switched to panic and worry.

I was on the porch, watching all of this unfold, and figured that Hank, like most dogs, would come back to the hand that feeds him. My sister strolled out about then and was ready to hit the road, but I stopped as soon as my feet hit the sidewalk and asked the neighbor if Hank had come back. Her eyes were welled up with tears, her voice was up and down with worry, and she just shook her head. No. Hank was on the run, and what was worse was the fact that this poor girl had to go to work—her boss insisted, even after he got the phone call that her beloved hound dog was on the loose. We knew, with the neighborhood being surrounded by busy streets, Hank’s destiny was in peril.

In retrospect, maybe I should have gotten into my car and driven away…to the antique shop…back to Virginia…but I didn’t. My sister and I locked eyes, and we both knew what we were going to do. “We will find him. Just go to work.”

Two hours later…after literally chasing that damn dog up and down each and every street of the neighborhood (think Smokey and the Bandit or Dukes of Hazard), driving into the middle of a closed off construction site while I was speeding after him (and being escorted out of said construction site by head foreman), throwing dog treats at him from the car hoping he’d stop to partake long enough to snag him, asking the postal carrier, several construction crews, Miss Lula (the neighborhood grandma who watches the day go by from her porch) and various neighbors who happen to be outside if they’d seen this four-legged escapee galloping through the neighborhood, and me slamming against a fence as I tried to capture him in someone’s backyard only to have him rush me, knocking me down again into rough gravel and taking a little bite of my hand as he passed, we got him.

Well, maybe I should clarify.

We decided my injuries required some backup support from my daughter, who is close to a dog whisperer in her own right. She comes outside and sets up a hot dog and water trap inside my sister’s yard, hoping she could get him inside long enough to get a leash on him. While she is putting this all together, she decides to walk over to Hank’s house…and there he was. Exhausted, panting, and scared. He was sprawled behind an old wicker chair that sits in one corner of the large porch. The hunt was over. Hank was coaxed out of his hiding place and returned to his own backyard, where he spends his days.

For my efforts, I got a few scrapes, bruises and a nice sloppy kiss from Hank before I finally left for my day with my sister.  I never heard from his owner, but I figured she was just happy to have her baby home.

Hank

Unmentionables

I have decided that I need to buy more underwear. I had this epiphany this morning as I rushed around getting ready for the day and could not find one single, solitary pair of clean underwear…except for the one pair that could not be worn. I stood there, holding this last hope in my hand, contemplating what to do. I checked for size, condition, and color. Wear it? Deal with the pain that these would inevitably cause? Just last week, I wore the other pair, the sister pair, to the ones in my hand and it was not pretty.

There I was at the kitchen counter, about to head off to work, when I noticed the pain of elastic that was so taut I was starting to wonder if I had mistakenly pulled on an old wire support bra that was buried in my drawer. It was cutting through me at every angle and curve that it was coming in contact with, but I needed to leave–a panty hunt was out. I needed to solve the problem. After contemplating this for about a minute, scoping the kitchen for a magical pair of pop-up panties, it hit me. Sitting there in front of me were the red handles of my kitchen scissors. Yes, I was about to put the extent of my sewing knowledge to the test. All those hours of Project Runway were about to pay off. I pulled out the scissors and carefully pushed them down my pants and snipped the elastic on each leg, setting us both free. It was a beautiful moment, leaving me feeling very handy and thinking my mom would be so proud. Until I got to work.

By midday, my newly cut undies had turned into some sort of hybrid clothing article–a cross between a thong, a diaper, and a strange belt. Both newly cut openings had rolled up, bunched up,…, and I continued my day just like that, because, despite their new state and my worries that they’d get lost in there or fall to the ground as I walked down the hall, they were clean and somewhat functional–as far as a diaper-thong-belt could be.

So a new day and a new underwear dilemma that needed my immediate attention. No time for laundry and no time for undie surgery, and, unfortunately, my life training included clean underwear at all times. So now what? I have no underwear except a pair that could literally amputate a leg if left on long enough.

Thoughts of clean underwear folded beautifully began to haunt me and that rolled into the idea of big girl undies that were marked with the days of the week like I had as a kid, but these would also say week one and week two…and then a few extra pairs that said Do your laundry! and Seriously, do your fucking laundry! And then, of course, this had to pop into my mind: The Panty Basket. That’s right, people. I grew up with a panty basket in the house. For those of you who did NOT grow up with four sisters in the south, a panty basket, not to be mistaken with The Sock Basket, is a round plastic laundry basket that held all the clean underwear in the house. You needed a pair? Go to the panty basket. You have a favorite pair? Better get to that dryer before anyone else and dig for it! That simple.

As these dreams of underwear slowly receded, my reality set in.

Sorry, Mom, and I promise to do my laundry tonight.

 

 

Teacher Love

To help my students understand the issue I have with them all coming to me at once with a need, problem or to just to sit with me and work, I made a comparison that I hoped they would understand: One piece of hair in my macaroni–I can deal, but if there are 25 pieces in it, I have a huge problem with my macaroni.

Then I find this adorable note on my desk.

Macaroni

 

Freestyle

Last night, I once again contemplated joining Weight Watchers. And when I say ‘once again,’ I mean again in the prolific sense. So, this morning, I decided to check in with them by clicking on one of the emails I have received from them trying to lure me back. Each email offered all kinds of deals and promotions–a free salad bowl or a notebook to write down how much I eat. Yep, that will do it. Try a year’s supply of wine or, hell, even a bottle, and I would be in! But a salad bowl? They don’t know me.

As I check out the latest email, I see they have a new program called “Freestyle” that is supposed to let you eat even more! WTF! I have been freestylin’ for 50 years! That is the problem, people! Telling me to eat whatever I want is not the way to do it. Good God! What are these people thinking?? Freestyle…This means I have literally been on this diet for my entire life.

When I was about 16, I started Weight Watchers with the parents of kids I babysat regularly. One particular weigh-in day, I asked my mom for one of my dad’s water pills, as we called them, so that I could get rid of the bloat from last night’s dinner–which I am guessing was caused by more ‘Freestylin’ ‘ on my part. All I cared about was showing a loss–saving face in front of the people in line behind me at the dreaded weigh-in. So, with no food in me, pill in, and pee flowing, I drove my little blue VW over to hitch a ride with my diet buddies. I still recall the moment I pulled up against the curb of the sidewalk in front of their house. Looking out of my car window as I turned the car off, things got a little black, like a curtain closing, but I managed to get out of the car and walk up to their front door. I rang the bell and saw all three kids running toward it to let me in, and as I stepped into their foyer, the curtain closed completely. I awakened on the floor next to the grand piano that filled half of the foyer, all the kids standing around me looking down, and their mother on the phone with my mom, telling her that I had just fainted. My mom, in classic mother of many kids style, simply said, “Give her a banana. She’ll be alright.” And that’s what they did!  And it worked! (To this day, I think a banana cures it all.) After I was with it enough to function, I did go weigh in that night. I was not going to waste a perfect day of starving myself AND fainting. No way. Oh, and did I lose? I recall not losing that night and chalking it up to the banana I had just eaten. Clearly, that must have been the problem.

As a young adult, I tried WW again. This time with my best friend, B. She and I would weigh in once a week–I recall it was a Monday or Tuesday night, but I may be wrong. Weigh-in nights were our favorite. We’d go weigh in, then go straight to Baskin Robbins for a reward if we lost weight or to console ourselves if we didn’t. This was such a ritual that the guy working there actually knew our order and started it as soon our car pulled up to the storefront. My order was a hot-fudge brownie a la mode. Delicious! I would have it with chocolate chip ice cream or, on more adventurous nights, I would switch it up to mint chocolate chip or one scoop of each. On one particular night, after a successful weigh-in (I am assuming), we walked into Baskin Robbins, up to our server, and I still vividly remember him saying, “Aren’t y’all supposed to be on a diet?” WHAAAAAT? The flush of red-hot heat still raises up my neck to my face when I recall these words and picture us standing there–shock and embarrassment obvious to everyone. But the show must go on in the south, so I acted as if nothing was wrong and changed my order to a regular sundae–no brownie. I was not letting the guy who scooped my ice cream ruin my night completely! Please! However, I think this was the moment that changed our weigh-in night ritual to chips, cheese dip, and margaritas at our favorite local Mexican restaurant.

Ah, those were the days. We would have so much fun on weigh-in nights, getting ourselves all psyched up for the rest of the week, analyzing why we did or didn’t have success on the scale that night. My excuse was that I was always holding water. That was a favorite reason for not losing as much as I had hoped. It was never the fact that my reward meal would sometimes go into the next day…or two! Freestyle, baby!

As an adult, Weight Watchers has been joined and un-joined numerous times. Meetings, online, on my own (Lord knows I own all the materials!). My former husband and I did it in New York–he loved calling it W². Freestylin’ was great up there–let me tell you. Bagels, Indian Cafe, Piccolo. We ate like we were on vacation–pretty much every night–but we lived there. That’s a long, long fat-filled vacation.

Freestyle. Not a good word. Merriam-Webster defines is as a competition in which the contestant is given more latitude than in related events. Another online dictionary says a contest in which there are few restrictions. Really?? That is what I have been doing! It. Does. Not. Work. I promise! 

Oprah, if you hear me, please call me and explain this, and please let WW know that they might want to rethink their word choice. How about No-Style? Prison-Style? School Cafeteria-Style? Lose Weight So You Can Have a Style?…?

 

 

 

 

Art Attack!

My daughter introduced me to a new Google site that has me very intrigued. In fact, I probably spent several hours last night partaking in this new phenomenon–the Google Arts and Culture app.

The night was reminiscent of the time my daughter guided me through making a Bitmoji of myself which went on until the wee hours. If you haven’t tried this, you really should, especially if you like to find things to do that are completely mindless and enable your avoidance issues to their fullest. (Sidebar: A Bitmoji is a cartoon caricature of yourself that you create through a series of options that include face shape, body type, hair color, and style, etc. The wardrobe options can eat loads of time up and interfere with any downtime you might have in the near future.) Don’t want to exercise? Just click on your Bitmoji and change your outfit to something appropriate for that day’s weather. Don’t want to clean the kitchen? Change your hairstyle! There are so many options, but, no matter how much joy my cartoon-self has given me, none of that can live up to the refinement I feel over this new Google app.

Google Arts and Culture is an app that clearly has a truer purpose than the one I have given it. Sure, it encourages the appreciation of artists and their works, new and old, and it even takes you on virtual tours of museums and more. However, for me, being the mother of a sixteen-year-old who is privy to these things, it does this: It has a tool that takes your picture and matches it to thousands of works of art to find your match.  This is not only another activity to obsess over so that you don’t have to do all those other things that really matter, but it also can be a great way to question yourself, your appearance, identity, and, possibly, the Great Masters themselves.

Needless to say, I have done all of the above since last night, and, unfortunately, I did this while I was bone tired from taking my son back to college. (note to self: Never do anything that could affect your self-esteem after you have seen the state of your son’s dorm room.) The results range from disturbing, questionable (of the accuracy of the app), and downright hysterical. I apparently look like a nun, several young women from the 19th century, and a few gentlemen…with mustaches!!  UNBELIEVABLE! See for yourself. (And before you ask: I was under no influence during this time but exhaustion.)

 

IMG_7985[1]

Not too bad. I look like the artist’s wife. I’ll take it.

 

Hmm…yes, still sober. The one in the hat looks like me watching kids on the playground during recess–so earnest!

 

No matter how hard my daughter and I tried, things just got worse from here.

IMG_7982[1]

Don’t say a word.

 

Okay, for the record, I think I could be related to King Charles, ll. This resemblance clearly makes sense. (Cough. Cough.)

 

Now, here is when I did finally partake in a little glass of wine.

 

Seriously?? Way to make a girl feel awful.

 

But then, I found the perfect one, and this was not by selfie, mind you, but by using my artistic eye to really identify with a work…minus the grapefruit slices. And, honestly, by the end of all of this last night, the look on this woman’s face says it all.  I love it!

 

IMG_E7974[1]

 

Five stars!