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exercise, weight, Carnie Wilson and me.

May 13th, 2012

Meanwhile, at the haunted rink

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

i kinda love that picture. Happy Mother’s Day, to you mothers out there ;)

I thought today I would write about a subject that’s near and dear to Americans: morbid obesity. Oh, wait… we like our french fries and beer in this country, so very, very, much. Along with our weight loss surgeries. So is weight truly an issue that can be described as “near and dear” to us? Discuss amongst yourselves — I have reality TV to move along to.

I’ve been working out pretty much every day for a long time now. Months? A year? Who knows. I walk on the treadmill and do yoga, mainly. Go for hikes and walks with Steve and the kids, and sometimes make it to the rec center for aqua aerobics. (Zumba! Shake those ta-ta’s, ladies…) I tivo a lot of stuff, but I still run out of crap to watch. Which is why I ended up watching the new TV Guide (?) reality show, “Wilson Phillips, Still Holding On.” Carnie Wilson (daughter of Beach Boy Brian) hates exercise, she sez. Carnie and her sister Wendy Wilson, and Chynna Phillips (daughter of Michelle and John, Mamas & the Papas) are always in a fight. They have their children to raise, their husbands to try to pressure into getting vasectomies, and also? They live in California. It is stressful there, apparently, with all the driving and birthday parties.

Plus they’re trying to make a comeback, and they’re all in their 40s now.

Girls, I feel ya. So Carnie decides to get another weight reduction surgery done, even tho she’s already gained back 2/3rds of the weight she lost with the last one. Girl, i don’t feel ya on this one, but que sera, sera. Just go for some long walks; it’s easier. I’m not into running — i blew out the ACL on my right knee, skiing, and it hurts when i run. It also hurts when i have extra weight on my bod. But unlike Carnie, i f*&@!ng hate surgeons, doctors, hospitals, and i think i would have to be unconscious and toted there before you’ll get me near one again.

it must be tough when weight is something you’ve struggled with your whole life. Chynna Phillips was being quite rude and giggling about going to visit Carnie at the “fat farm” when they were kids. With “sisters” like that, who needs enemies?

i was lucky enough to not experience being a heavy kid. also lucky to have two skinny parents, who ate right, exercised because they liked to move around, and weren’t weirdos about food. I’ve never been more than 30 pounds overweight, and by American standards, I’m svelte. Ha. American standards need to be revised. Thirty extra pounds is uncomfortable. Two extra pounds is uncomfortable. I’ve lost about 20, gained back 6, whatever. I love sugar, and if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know i love to bake, especially when i’m stressed out. Chocolate therapy.

i danced as a kid, always rode my bike, hiked, backpacked, swam, have done yoga since I was 17. i’m not a jock, but i like to move. Even so, it was hard for me to get enough exercise because i was having health problems and the kids were little. We lived in a cruddy neighborhood before, and i had all these visions of taking the kids and dog out for walks and oh! lovely exercise! Yeah. That worked until the dog kept getting attacked by shepherds, pit bulls, boxers and various other doggie fiends. I had a pit bull lunge at me once when i was alone and just about had a heart attack. The neighborhood was polluted (lots of industrial traffic) and my asthma sucked and it was a total hassle to get to the gym because 1) we didn’t have a lot of extra income to pay for a membership and 2) while everyone was pretty happy to dump their kids on me, no one seemed all that keen on babysitting my kids. Even though, hello, my kids are mellow and your kid just trashed my house are you f&@!#ng kidding me?

But i digress.

i was scrawny for years — 5’10″ by the time I was 15. I remember walking home from school (theme in my life ;) I’ve always walked a lot) and having my hip pop right out of the socket. I took my hand and popped it smack back in and kept walking. Ouch. That happened more than once. I was growing so fast, everything was loose and limber. I’ve had thyroid problems (hypo and hyper, so alternating between being exhausted/unable to sleep, restless/listless and go-go-go). I didn’t realize my calcium and potassium were messed up because my doctors were quacks and no one bothered to refer me to a specialist. I didn’t even know what an endocrinologist was until years later. I had my throat cut the first time when i was 14. I had my throat cut for the 2nd (and hopefully, last) time when I was 27. i had my tonsils out when i was 6, c-sections when the babies were born (they were both 10-pounders) and had a long-needed hysterectomy a few years ago. Along the way i had to have a bunch of “procedures” and “bloodwork” and “tests for cancer” (i’m good, thanks) and all kinds of other invasive shit.

so let’s stop for a moment to ponder all that. I hate the health stuff.

But you know what hurt the most? My sister, screaming “You’re a fat f!@#$ng cow!” at me in my own kitchen. With my own kids right in the next room.

1) Am not fat f!@#$ng cow, thank you.
2) If someone is, you think they don’t already know that?
3) Not helpful, and kind of destroyed our relationship, along with some other crap.

So Chynna, that’s nice that you’re skinny and blonde and all, but sweetheart? Please don’t lord it over people. Work on the humility a little bit.

what has helped me (please talk to a doctor, though, i’m not a professional here):

1) drinking more water

2) getting enough sleep

3) the kids getting older, so I don’t have to arrange care for them in order to work out

4) having a treadmill in my office. I get up early sometimes, use it while i’m watching TV, or late at night, even, if i can’t sleep. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, a full hour, whatever. I go until I unwind.

5) working my yoga practice so it’s just mine. I can’t stand “competitive yoga” and haven’t done an inversion in years. I get dizzy, have extremely low blood pressure, and get embarrassed by how stiff I am. So i do a weigh-in on the scale in my bathroom and the Wii every day, do yoga and work-outs with the Wii and my favorite TV yoga teacher, Priscilla Patrick. I do it how much I want to, when I want to, and I customize it every day so it suits me.

6) I try to walk on the treadmill or out in the neighborhood for an hour a day, but if it’s less, who cares. If it’s more, that’s fine, too. All of this can be hard to start, but once i got into a routine i was okay. Now I know if i’m stressing out it’s cuz i need to stretch or go for a walk. Usually the endorphins kick in after 20 minutes or so, but damn. Sometimes it’s an hour! Then i think, That was a lot of stress to release, but it’s gone now.

7) eating right. my cousin taught me the “take 6″ trick. She fills up a platter with pea pods, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, asparagus, whatever she wants. Makes a dip out of BBQ sauce and Thousand Island dressing and puts it in the middle, then tells my little cousins to take 6 pieces. It works and is really pretty to look at, too. I like protein shakes, but i don’t drink them every day. I try to have one meal a day that’s just a protein shake (with yogurt, fruit and lots of ice), OR soup (if it’s cream soup, a lot of calories, with a handful of croutons, no i do not care. (and sometimes it is just a simple bowl of vegetable soup, which has, what 40 calories? ha, and that’s fine, too) OR cereal (i’m like a 6-year-old about cereal) (non-fat milk) OR a salad. I’m not into bacon or bleu cheese dressing, but I do like chicken, or taco salads (plain yogurt, usually, instead of sour cream).

That works, if you just sub out a few meals. Don’t torture yourself, life is too short.

8) I stopped drinking any and all booze. I’m hypoglycemic, on verge of diabetes. The mixers and the white wine (with its sugar) were doing a lot of damage. I didn’t drink very much, and have always been a lightweight, but even that small amount was doing damage. I also was having a hard time working out because even 10 or 15 minutes would make me dizzy as hell and sick. Duh, it was low blood sugar, along with the damn low blood pressure. So now i stop and have yogurt, a banana, a rice cake or an orange, and that helps. Sometimes I just say forget it, eat a real meal and then work out half an hour later.

9) i feel good. mainly because anybody in my head, screaming at me? I imagine that I’m putting them, their words, their put-downs and all the rest, into a big manila envelope. I seal it shut, and in my head, walk it out to the trash and put it in there. Then I shut the lid. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Because you wouldn’t want to take something out of the trash and keep it, would you now? So the next time it starts to run through my head, I remind myself, Naw, that’s trashed, remember? It works, try it sometime.

Carnie, I love you.

– nancy

contact lenses vs. glasses vs. bifocals vs. I need to see

January 24th, 2012

I can read this pretty well:

Huh?

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

And the winner is: The AcuVue TruEye, 1-day disposable soft contact lens

Second place: AcuVue Moist 1-day disposable lens

Third place: AcuVue Oasys, which are supposed to last two weeks but bug me after about three days

No place: Bifocals, aka “Progressive lenses,” which make me throw up (I’m talking about glasses; my mom uses the bifocal contact lenses and says they’re alright, but to me that sounds like a smaller version of hell)

Glasses: Mostly work, except when I need to read. (Middle age equals… I don’t get it. But although I am near-sighted, and barely have any correction in my left eye, I can only see close-up when I take off my glasses. “Playing the trombone,” as Bing Crosby called it in “White Christmas” — holding the letter far away from you, then up close in a vain attempt to see what those little squiggly words say.)

Reading glasses: The cheap-o’s from Safeway. Over contacts, I can see great for everything. Except driving. Then I need plain contact lenses or regular glasses

Readers: Like the cheap-o reading glasses, but prescription (see: right eye/left eye variances). Great for reading and writing longhand; worthless for computer. I wear them by themselves — no contacts.

Sunglasses: Prescription. They had to adjust the “warp” around the edges so I don’t get sick

Stupid motion-sickness. Stupid bad eyes. Can’t do Lasix — doc says my eyes are too dry, and I have astigmatism in both and “You would not be a good candidate.” Would my first wish be for world peace? Or perfect vision? Argh. Don’t ask me that, today. You know those eye tests where they ask, Which is better? 1? or 2? 2? or 3? 3? or 4? My response is now: “Uh…”

My eye doc and I have been working on all of this for two years, and this elaborate plan is working for now. The fierce headaches are lifting. We’ll see how this goes…

(No, I didn’t get paid for any of this. Going into debt just so I can see properly to read, work on computer and focus on the tiny print.)

“pre-” (“there is no such thing as pre-!!!”) diabetes and me and Paula Deen

January 23rd, 2012

Oh, Paula Deen, Paula Deen. Jamie and Bobbie… You get over here, too, please, so we can have a little chat.

The Op-Ed pieces are arriving, so here’s mine along with the rest of the flood. She has known for three years she has Type 2 diabetes, and the woman who shares her life, “Y’all, I have to tell ya…” didn’t tell us.

Then she makes a deal with a pharmaceutical company to rep for them, and her son gets his “low-cal” cooking show going and… there ya have it, y’all. Step right up and have a fried treat. Only in moderation. (cough, choke.) Here, try this:

Compose yourself
(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Fried Twinkies are just never a good idea. Not even on a dare. “Once you’ve had one, you’ll never go back.” For that matter, donuts instead of buns on a cheeseburger? Equally lousy idea. Cheeseburgers, just your standard cheeseburgers, are a lousy idea all by their lone. Having one once in awhile is OK. If by “once in awhile” you mean “maybe twice a year.” I still prefer mine the way I did when I was a kid — no cheese, no bacon, light on the condiments and lots of pickles, lettuce and tomatoes. Then I would eat about half the burger (one patty, not two or three or four) and feed the rest to the dog.

After we lost Good Dog Gus, the first time we went out for a burger I started to set mine aside for him like always. Steve asked, Who u gonna feed your burger to now? (He eats veggie burgers, as do the kids.) (OK, make that veggie nuggets for them, or just french fries and ketchup.)

I like her shows and her family’s cookbooks, but damn. I like them in a i am hypnotized by you gah, gah, gah way.

* It is possible to make greens without ham and bacon grease.
* Just eat a damn Twinkie if you want one — don’t fry it up.
* Ribs? Once a year, if that, gaaahhhhhh…

Anthony Bourdain called her “the worst, most dangerous person” in America. Yeah, obesity and diabetes and just generally livin’ large and congratulating ourselves for it truly are the worst problems in America, in my opinion. That kind of thinking leads you to health problems, a huge deficit and war. Deen retaliates by saying, “…not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills.”

You’re worried about the grocery bill? Stop eating meat and substitute beans and rice. Anytime I buy meat, fish or chicken at the store, I go into sticker shock and swear I’m never buying it again. Yesterday, for instance, I was craving salmon cakes. Ten dollars for two of them. And salmon grows here. It isn’t like I’m having it shipped in from Europe.

Why not have some beets, instead? They’re cheaper… and really pretty.

Beets me!
(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Costs? Budget? Don’t forget to budget in the health costs of cigarettes, sodapop, junk food and Pixie Sticks. Who can afford $500 a month for diabetes medicine? Get some exercise, eat right and try to rein that diabetes in if you can. It’s treatable, so much of the time. (No, I am not a medical professional, that’s my disclaimer, what do I know? But that’s what I’ve heard. The docs say that losing even 5 percent of your body weight can get your blood sugars under control. Also, people who are cutting back on or cutting out meat/dairy/eggs seem to be having luck combating diabetes.)

For those of you concerned about my innocent, growing children, “You must feed them meat!” Yeah… that. I would, you know. If they’d eat it. If they weren’t vegetarians. We do multi-vits and cook using cast-iron. Their calcium, protein, B12 and iron levels are just fine. We try to eat right and mostly do OK with it. We could do better.

I do feel a little defensive sometimes, when I hear the voices of critics, or my Dear Late Granny in my head. (I finally finished the recipes and story for her cookbook/memoir, by the way. Go me. It only took me… uh… six years? Lots of bacon, fear not. Feel free to omit it. Also lots of veggie recipes from Steve, me and our family and friends. And 100 dessert recipes. Gawd. I’ll post the link when we’re done editing and get it bound — probably a month or two down the road? #famouslastwords…)

Back to Bourdain… he seems to prefer street food in Vietnam to $650 bottles of wine. When he’s asked, Aren’t you worried about getting sick? He says, You’re more likely to get food poisoning from a buffet in America. True that.

You know what makes you sick? Eating a whole ton of greasy, fried everything. It makes your tummy sick, your skin sick, and it can make you bloated, fat and miserable. I can speak freely now cuz God love her, she’s gone, but I used to be one unhappy chick after I ate a big Sunday meal at Granny’s. Someone would scoop out three-fourths of the bacon grease from a pot of beans, and she would add in another two cups the next time she walked by.

My mom and dad cooked everything simply, without a lot of salt and hardly any grease. We joke that we’d have two or three baked pork chops on a plate, pass them around and around, and there would still be two left over. We didn’t have a lot of money and ate out only occasionally. My friends were all fast food and candy junkies. Doritos, frozen pizza, sodapop and deep-fried burritos left me grimacing. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, though, and liked to bake.

This, by the way, is not moderation:

cake pops

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

I have had a thyroid condition since I was 12 or 13. It alternates between hypo- and hyper- (cold/hot, down/up, sluggish/restless) so I never had to worry about my weight much until I hit my thirties. Even though I only gained 25 pounds with my first kid, I lost 50 after. Doesn’t that sound great? Nope. God, I was sick. The doctor had my thyroid dose racheted way too high, and between that and nursing my baby, I was dropping a pound a day. I used to joke, Want to lose a pound a day? Ask me how.

I almost bled to death and was exhausted. With our second baby, I gained 33 pounds, and took better care of myself, after. (Both kids were 10-pounders, but I didn’t get gestational diabetes. We grow ‘em big in our families.)

The sugar blues hit during the first pregnancy, once the morning sickness lifted (I was actually sick for most of both pregnancies, except for the first and ninth months). Mad, mad cravings like I’ve never had before. Pepsi, Orange Crush, ice cream, cookies, cake. Dreaming about sugar, baking more than I’ve ever baked in my life. Then we shifted into “kid diet”: mac and cheese, goldfish crackers, apple and grape juice, birthday cakes, Easter candy, Halloween candy… Next thing you know, I’m swooping down into sugar crashes, not eating enough vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, and I’m comforting myself with white wine or vodka. (We bloggers have not done anyone any favors with our “Mama deserves a drinkie” mentality. We’re the new version of the drunk ’50s housewife, partying with her friends and waiting for the men to come home.)

I’ve put on too many pounds.

So I quit drinking last April — it was becoming a crutch, I was worried about diabetes, I didn’t want to set a bad example for my kids. Thyroid/diabetes issues seem to go hand-in-hand, all that hormonal/endocrine stuff ties together. I finally had the surgery I’d been putting off. Two years later, I work out almost every day (half hour yoga, plus an hour on the treadmill, water aerobics — when I make it there– and walks around our hilly neighborhood). I have loads of energy and don’t end up in the ER anymore for health complications (knock wood twice, good Lord).

Every time I have had my blood sugar levels measured, even when I’m feeling my crummiest, “oh you’re fine! and besides, there is no thing as being pre-diabetic… you’re either diabetic or not! and you’re not!” Afterwards, I used to celebrate by stopping by *$$$ for a 500-calorie fancy drink and a 500-calorie slice of poundcake (or gingerbread, scone or cooky). Then one day I read the calorie card they keep behind the counter and now I only go there once in awhile instead of constantly.

Smoking? I quit 26 years ago this coming June. I had smoked for 10 years. I’ll be 50 in two years. You do all that math.

We eat better now, we don’t eat out that often, and I’m trying (trying) to reach for a piece of fruit instead of a cooky.

Finally ripening
(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Oh yeah, and I’m hooked on those “House Hunters” shows now more than the food shows.

I’ve lost almost 20 pounds, and would be happy to ditch 5, 10, or 15 more. Grateful that it’s not a bigger number than that, but if it was? I’d deal with it. Look, I’m not telling you all this personal information to be all nyah-nyah — I’ve worked hard, and I’ve faced some pretty tough challenges with all of this health crap. You know when I reach for more snacks? At night, when I’m watching TV and mmmmm big steak mmmmmmm onion rings mmmmmmm ice cream sundaes.

As a society, we’re bombarded with this. I want to feel good, not crummy. That’s what motivates me. I want the same for Steve and the kids.

So Deens… I don’t think you’ve ever set a good example, foodwise, and I don’t think you’re helping much, now. Give some credit to those of us who are trying. C’mon… step right up.

dang.

January 20th, 2012

what a difference two years makes.

Baby sez, I’ll bite ya! (photo by Steve Rawley)

Hello, Kitty

gratitude day 22

November 22nd, 2011

grateful for everything today: the rain, salmon leaping across the roads, my health being way better than it was two years ago at this time. grateful that my wildass tomcat is feeling better, grateful that Steve has a week off for vacation (? what???), grateful for the apple pie I just assembled and threw in the freezer, to bake on Thursday morning, and grateful that it’s almost December, cuz I like December. not cuz of Christmas, necessary, but because it just seems like such a cheerful month.

also grateful for brussels sprouts, which i hated so much as a child (ask my mother: “God, no, I’m not making brussels sprouts, calm down”), but which now i adore. especially roasted with a lot of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

the end.

– wm

hope

September 18th, 2011

A.A. Thoughts For The Day:

Restraint

“Our first objective will be the development of self-restraint.
This carries a top priority rating.
When we speak or act hastily or rashly, the ability to be fair-minded and tolerant evaporates on the spot.
One unkind tirade or one willful snap judgment can ruin or relation with another person for a whole day, or maybe a whole year.
Nothing pays off like restraint of tongue and pen.”

c. 1952AAWS, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 91

i don’t have to get my leg amputated

June 3rd, 2011

isn’t that great news? yeah.

did i mention, that in addition to bronchitis, the worst allergies I’ve ever had in my life, a growing sense of “can we please be done with this now please, already?” about my novel (man am i sick of looking for typos, continuity blah blah and misc. plot debris)…

where was I going with this? yes. I had some tumor/growth/alien life force removed from my leg.

that’s why you stop by, right? for the gnarly health news? this wasn’t even gnarly, as these things go. This very beautiful girl doctor and her sweet and also beautiful assistant shoved me backwards on the table, shot up my leg with local anesthetic, and then I don’t even want to know what they did next. But it’s a week later and it’s still sore. Not bad sore — it’s healing up and all, but damn. You just never know what they’re going to do to you, once you step into that strange vortex known as The Doctor’s.

This is me at the doctor’s office. (Thank you, Tom Petty, for the visuals.)

it was just something I didn’t want to deal with and I finally did, yay me. Then I cried because it hurt and the doctor said, If it is malignant, we would need to… and then we’d… and general anesthetic and you’re strong and healthy and would do just fine with that, yes?

my response to that was: “No.” (See? See? Proof on my own blog.)

seriously, Internets. Unlike the rest of my deranged, high-strung extended family, I have extremely low blood pressure. I mean, it’s 90/60 on a good day. When I get sick/stressed/have just had surgery/am losing blood/haven’t had enough milkshakes or sweet potato pie/you name it, it dips to like, 70/47. Then the buzzers and bells start going off, whoop-whoop-aoooooooga! and they all get really excited and things get lively and I think, I am so glad I’m lying down for all this.

Then Steve says, “Even when it’s normal, it’s like, 90/60. She’s a freak, she’s fine.” And then they all simmer down. I can say the same thing, but they don’t listen to Almost-Dead Girl. But they will listen to Steve. Whatever.

Also my lungs have a hard time remembering to breathe. They just… don’t cooperate sometimes.

So I would prefer to never go under general anesthetic for the rest of my life. Also? Veins are collapsing due to Having Too Much Blood Taken for Thyroid Issues and Whatever Else the Vampires Wanted It For.

Hmm.

GOOD NEWS. I called for the test results and the very nice man gave me my favorite letter and my favorite number: B9. Benign!!! Get it? Which is just great, because you know what my favorite movie was when I was a young girl? Sunshine. You know what my favorite book was? (Next to “Wifey,” “Princess Daisy” and any other good smutty trash I could find)… that’s right. Norma Klein’s “Sunshine.” What happens in that book? That’s right. A beautiful teenage mom finds out she has Leg Cancer and her only options are 1) have it cut off or 2) have it cut off or 3) take meds and puke her guts out and then die, anyway.

When you are a teenage girl, this is the sort of book you want to re-read 200 times. So I did. Oh, and “Go Ask Alice.” Yes. So I think this has sort of been a lifelong fear, perhaps. That I will get leg cancer and have to choose between puking/then dying or having my leg amputated. I would choose… neither. I just wouldn’t go to the doctor, that’s how I would solve that one. But I did go to the doc, and all is well. And I’m done with antibiotics for bronchitis and seem to be on the mend. Good! Right on!

Beautiful, happy Friday to you.

– wm

ps in unrelated news, I just filed my first book review for my girls at BlogHer. It’s on “Getting to Happy,” Terry McMillan’s sequel to “Waiting to Exhale.” The review will run sometime this month — I’ll link when it does. (Link!) Will you go check out their site, pretty please? Good stuff on there, and lots of interesting women writing about things that won’t make you wince like I do. Ta-ta for now!

gah gah gah gah gah

May 30th, 2011

Yeah. That’s right.

I stayed up late watching stupid-ass TV two nights in a row. First it was the Judds and their insane reality show. Then it was the end of season five (final season, and to that I say, Fucking amen) of Big Love. Really, they should call that show Sick Love. But I am nuts for the three actresses who play the wives — Jeanne Tripplehorn, Ginnifer Goodwin and Chloe Sevigny. Also I liked how they spun out the (also sick love) storyline of Bill’s parents, played so skillfully and scarily (???) by Grace Zabriskie and Bruce Dern.

Zabriskie I have adored and followed like a little puppy dog ever since “Drugstore Cowboy.” (She played Matt Dillon’s mom. Gus Van Sant did it up when he cast that movie, man.)

“Lord, it’s my dope fiend thief of a son and his crazy little nymphomaniac wife.” (then she hides her purse.) If you haven’t seen that one, check it out.

I cannot give that kind of ringing endorsement to Sick Love and the Judds, though. I say, run for the hills instead of watching those shows.

My point (and I do have one, as Ellen DeGeneres would say) is that even though I slept in, after staying up way too late, and even though I have been eating and drinking all right… I have been fighting off this frickin’ virus for two weeks now. And yesterday I woke up with low blood pressure, low blood sugar, wheezing from asthma and bronchitis, total crash, and ended up in urgent care. (Steve drove, don’t worry.) Bronchitis, allergies, and blah blah blah blah antibiotics and more sleep and etc. The kids were worried and gave me lots of attention and brought me sorbet and there you have it.

Me, resting. I’m dying at some point, but it’s not going to be today. Whew.

However. Now I’m awake at 6 a.m., on our day off (Memorial Day here in the States, or Decoration Day, as my Granny used to call it) so I can go have some delicious breakfast, take an antibiotic and not crash again. Then I will nap and avoid all responsibility. We visited the graves on Saturday. They’re all resting peacefully, fyi, my grandparents, two uncles, my one uncle’s mom, my two aunties and my dear Dad. I left them notes. Wacky Girl was a sweetie, as always, and respectful. Wacky Boy paid his respects in his own way, namely, he raced around the graves, then told me, Try not to step on them! Then he threw rocks in some big mud puddles and eventually couldn’t resist the urge to jump in. So he did.

My dad, grandpa and uncles would have been thrilled, especially since where he was playing was where the baseball diamond used to be. (Now it’s all cemetery.) I hope they noticed, y’know? All of them would have said, She looks just like Nancy when she was little! about my daughter, because that’s what everyone says. Makes me beam every time. At my grandma’s funeral, my uncle’s friend drove down from Seattle — I hadn’t seen him since Grandma’s 80th birthday party. When my daughter walked by, he just said, Little Nancy, under his breath and smiled at her. She didn’t notice, of course, but it made me happy.

Next time I go I’ll take food and flowers and do the whole Day of the Dead thing. The kids are getting older now, they think it’s a little weird, but they’re OK with me doing whatever I need to do, for my little rituals. But I thought I’d spare them this time, since the weather was nice on Saturday and there were a ton of people decorating the graves, leaving flowers, trimming back the grass, all that.

Not everyone understands my need to leave cookies, fruit and notes at the graves of my dead relatives. But I do, so that’s that.

Also? This was amazing and a little Six Feet Under weird. I had twin aunts — they were just adorable. They cheated at cards and were yin/yang funny and no-bullshit about everything. (“Now you’re just reminiscing, Nancy” as one of them used to tell me.) Well, someone in the family needed to look at the world through rose-colored glasses, and it sure wasn’t them or my Grandma, God love ‘em. Prairie girls from northern North Dakota who would walk over to Canada when they wanted to play with their friends. Seriously, how cool is that? Six years old or whatever, you’re just going to walk to another country to go play :)

I went over to see them one time — they were both wearing sweatsuits and white headbands — very Olivia Newton-John, “Let’s Get Physical.” They said, in unison as always, “You like these?” (about the headbands.) “The little lady who does our hair gave us these!” omg, too cute and funny.

My point (again) — we were at my Dad’s grave, saying goodbye and getting ready to leave, and I saw two big crows fighting and flipping out (just like my aunties used to do) and sure enough, they sent them.

It was right on their grave.

the end.

– wm

Wednesday Book Review: “A Visit From the Goon Squad,” “Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill” and… “Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America”

May 25th, 2011

I wanted to like Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit From the Goon Squad.” I really did. But it had too many characters, too many switch-ups, too much name dropping (hip bands, hip clubs, hip people at hip restaurants) and… I just wasn’t into it. I realize that it won the Pulitzer. And the National Book Critics Circle Award. Just not for me. The End.

Robert Whitaker is a genius, and I appreciate the work he is doing to expose all of messed-up stuff that the mentally ill have to face and deal with in our country. It’s too painful for me to write about this topic, especially because today is my late father’s birthday. (I love you, Dad. So very much. Happy birthday.) But I really recommend that everyone read the information that Whitaker has painstakingly gathered. Such a wake-up call.

Peace,

me

ps don’t forget… the door to hell is in your living room. (under the carpet.)

coo-coo

May 20th, 2011

We have mourning doves up on our roof – they look just like this. No that’s not my picture, you know all I do is write, I don’t take pix, too. Unlike some of you overachievers out there. hahaha. They’re just chilling. They seem to like it here.

I’m fighting off bronchitis, my lungs are a mess. Fever (never a good sign) and the general feeling that if I just break on through (to the other side, break on through, break, break) (key word: break) that this time, I will not get bronchial pneumonia. I’m fine, see! Fine! (Then I collapse. Drama queen.)

Pam: “Would you like some aspirin? You seem kind of fussy…”
Michael: “No, I don’t want any aspirin! Aspirin’s not gonna do a dang thing, Pam. Of course I’m fussy! I’m sitting here with a bloody stump of a foot!”

I haven’t slept much in a week — for two nights I barely slept at all.

I, like many of you, get stupid as hell and confused when I don’t sleep. Also not safe behind the wheel of a car, fyi.

Last night, I knew I was going to sleep okay. (powerofpositivethinking.) Willed myself to. Curled up in a ball, made little kitten noises, and when I woke up, the sun was up (sleep! i love you, my friend sleep) and I could hear the mourning doves, right outside my window.

nice.

ps yes we’ve been watching American Idol. This is all you need, though.

updated on Saturday: ppss WAIT the RAPTURE is today? Thank God for my father-in-law and Bossy, otherwise I would never have known. Eh, I’m not sweating anything now, especially not this frickin’ fever. Wait, doesn’t a fever come right before the Rapture? I think it does.

What did that cabbie in New York say to me, that one time? “When the end of the world comes, there won’t be any more worrying about the trillion dollar debt, or AIDS, or the drugs, and you, princess, you will never have to work again.” I was all, “Good by me.” Then he gave me one of the best smiles I’ve ever seen in my life, and off he went.

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