Friday, September 30, 2011
Conversation while walking out of the movie theater:
Nick: Gah! Another Beatles poster!
("A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!")
Laura: Yeah. Because the Beatles are the alpha and the omega. And you're STUPID because you don't know that.
Nick: Are you calling me stupid!?
Laura: About the Beatles, yes I am.
Nick: Well YOU married me. So I guess that makes you MRS. Stupid.
Well played, my dear, well played.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Several weeks ago, I went to a Pampered Chef party hosted by my friend Becky. Becky lives just shy of a mile away from me, and she is a hosting fiend. She seems to enjoy entertaining people…having them in her space…plying them with alcohol…I love Becky.
Anyway, whenever she has a party, I go. At first it was just for moral support…then it was for fun…and now it's because the threat of me spending money makes my husband froth at the mouth. After all, it was through her that I got hooked on Wildtree, after which I stopped using almost all other oil but grapeseed and proceeded to replace our spices with their blends. Now, we both enjoy Wildtree, but it wasn't exactly wallet-friendly to up and revamp the pantry like that.
You can just imagine what raced through his little penny-pinching head when I wrote in my party plans on the calendar.
Two of the goodies I bought were a slicer and microwave-crisper. Now, I could take or leave regular old potato chips—I don't garner the same enjoyment from them as some of my associates…cough-NICK-cough. Now, a bag of sweet potato chips: I could do some damage there. To be fair, you could probably do just about anything with a sweet potato and I would eat it and love it. I abstain most of the time because (in case you didn't know), deep frying anything that is naturally nutritious actually makes it unhealthy.
I wanted an easy way to make homemade, healthy snacks for both me and Nick (but especially for Nick because chips aren't one of my main food groups). I thought he would be tickled if I made him homemade potato chips—he was tickled when I made him homemade scones, so why shouldn't he have the same reaction to chips? Well, my goodies came yesterday, and my first order of business was slicing up a potato.
I lovingly sliced that potato, painstakingly blotting out the excess moisture and seasoning the slices just so. The crispness was ideal, and they just tasted so perfect and fresh (I had to try one). I carried the trays out to him where he was sprawled on the couch watching sports. I expected a reaction, something. His eyes never left the television as he shoveled them into his mouth with his cocky, "I can eat whatever I want and not gain an ounce—and dammit, I'm hungry!" mentality.
I swear those chips were demolished inside of 30 seconds.
My jaw dropped. He noticed my look and at least had the decency to look ashamed.
I guess I should be happy that he can mindlessly eat my chips with the same vigor as the greasy stuff. But still. I'm downright deflated.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
It's been just about three months now since my hysterectomy, and for the most part I feel great. I mean great. As in, I can't remember the last time I felt this good. Because of this monumental accomplishment, I don't dwell on some of the less desirable aftershocks of my surgery—but I don't have to be happy about 'em, either.
I've got a couple of decades left before I head into menopause. My surgeon had assured me that I would still feel like me after surgery, but a me without the pain. And yet, I started experiencing oddities shortly after coming home.
Suddenly, there are moments of unbearable heat that I am not equipped to handle—I've been cold all my life. (I like cold a whole lot better, by the way.) But I am most concerned with my face—I feel like I don't know myself anymore. My skin seems to change from day to day, and I don't know how to care for it . At a checkup with my regular physician, I mentioned my concerns when she asked how my recovery was going.
She nodded with a furrow in her brow and chose her words carefully. "Scientifically, you should not be experiencing any of this," she said. "But, I personally know several women who have had the same surgery, and they all experience menopausal symptoms after surgery. The good news is that they shouldn't last. It's just a shock to your system right now."
I am pretty sure that none of the many papers I had to sign before they put me under mentioned that I would come out of surgery as an adolescent…though admittedly, I was skimming a bit there by the last few pages.
So my doctor prescribed a topical antibiotic, and I think it's doing a really good job. It also is very drying: I never know what mood my skin is going to be in…like walking on eggshells, I tell you! Since there is no scientific reason for any of this, I have been scouring discussion boards looking for women who have been down this road and have shared the directions to the end.
A recurring suggestion was using petroleum jelly in conjunction with the medication. All said to lather up some of it with a mild soap like Cetaphil, get in the shower, and wash it off last. I did a little more research. Apparently petroleum jelly is a terrific facial moisturizer that does not clog pores. Worth a try.
I was completely unprepared to deal with the stubbornness of goop.
When the time came, I washed my face with more gentle soap to get the layer of stuff off my face. Strike one. I used a foam cleanser next. Strike two. I finally moved on to an exfoliating facial cleanser (thinking it was the strongest cleanser I had). Not only was that strike three, but all of the little exfoliating beads became embedded in the mesh of the jelly. What can you do at that point but laugh?
I desperately wished that we kept a squeegee in the shower.
Finally, I found a harsher body soap that at least broke up the bulk of the thick layer on my face (still leaving a faint water-repelling coat), but I pretty much wrote this idea off as a nice thought and nothing more. I know now that I will go through all of this again: the jelly made my skin so soft and downright friendly! I can't believe I am willing to repeat this scene…
Now, I just need to refine my process and figure out how to wash this stuff off my face without looking tarred and feathered by the end. I'm thinking industrial degreaser—they make a noncomedogenic version for sensitive skin, right?
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Sometimes, I am so disgusted by her. She has nasty habits…she buries her poop, rolls around in ecstasy on Nick's pile of sweaty running clothes, and plays with bugs. Why does she have to be such a…a…such an animal!?
It's my fault, really. In my imagination, Sophie is mostly human—I wouldn't have entire one-sided conversations with a cat, after all. She has a handful of ironic expressions that she cycles through depending on her level of disdain for my chatter, a moody glare that erupts when I have the audacity to put something of mine in her way, and a wide-eyed profession of total adoration for all the times in between.
She's two steps away from being my closest confident.
I've just taken the anthropomorphism too far. (I know this surprises you immensely.) As such, I am a little turned off when she starts behaving like a cat. One of our wedding presents was a pretty hanging plant. The day after our party, Nick brought it into the living room while we prepared a place for it. Meanwhile, a stowaway deposited himself on the floor. Sophie got her bully on and started pushing him around—trying for intimidation so that she could overpower him, obviously.
Meanwhile, I could only see the scene from Lion King when Timon picks up a squishy bug and talks about it being cream-filled. I started to gag, squeaking for Nick to get rid of him before Sophie could finish him off! He could tell that it wasn't a time to torment me because I was horrified that she might actually put that nasty thing in her mouth.
To distract Sophie while he took care of business, I topped off the water in her mug and we settled in to gossip about the family who just moved in down the road.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
I am feeling marvelous sitting here in my bicycling gear, enthused about today's ride. I don't question the source of my great mood: I know exactly what it is. I have a shuddering flashback to a darker time when padded shorts did not live in my closet. Let me go back…
A couple years ago, I spent what seemed like an embarrassing amount of money on a pair of padded bike shorts. We were at Trek waiting for our bikes to be serviced before our first ride of the season. (It's one of the perks of buying a Trek bike: free annual maintenance.)
Nick already had a pair of padded bike shorts for our bicycling adventures. He was very diligent about wearing them, and I thought it was the silliest thing I had ever heard of. You see, I didn't bike much before dating Nick; I'm still learning how to be one of the cool kids. When I spotted the display of pricey shorts that day, a war waged in me.
All of my medical issues, procedures, and whatnot involve my very low back. Due to the proximity of this boo-boo, Nick and I refer these as my "butt" problems. Not entirely accurate, but it injects a bit of gaiety into the situation. Anyway, I'll be honest that one of my most persuasive arguments FOR buying the most expensive pair of padded bike shorts on the rack was this: if my HMO was willing (or forced) to put six figures into my butt, I should be able to justify three.
After signing my name on the dotted line, I changed in one of the the store's dressing rooms. After I came out, we continued to wait for the bikes to be ready. I did not sit until we were in the car on the way to the trail head…and I think I actually moaned in unbridled pleasure. I felt like I was sitting on a cloud, and it was luxurious. I wasn't even on my bike yet and I was wondering how I could fit these shorts into my everyday wardrobe.
Once my backside was happy, all kinds of doors opened for me. I smiled easier. I was more outgoing. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed all the time. I had no idea what kind of pull my posterior had on my perspective…but now that I know, I feel the need to give this knowledge to the world (you know, for the good of mankind).
In retrospect, it was one of the best three-figures I've ever spent. Life-changing. Epic.
My only regret is that I still haven't found a way to work them under a pencil skirt.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
It's that time again!
Not to be predictable or anything, but I think Nick and I can ink in plans for the last weekend of the rest of our Septembers. We first went to Minocqua, Wisconsin together in 2007. We were going solely for the purpose of hitting the bike trails…but the weekend we scheduled just happened to be this local festival: Beef-A-Rama.
The festival weekend kicks off with a Rump Roast Run. The top three finishers actually win a rump roast. This is funny to me on a lot of levels, but mainly because I'm not fond of beef…so it's as good of a reason as any why I won't ever place in the run. That's right, folks: I throw the run because I don't know what the heck I would do with an 18 pound roast.
Anyway, that first trip during Beef-A-Rama was a fluke, but it started a tradition.
Don't get me wrong: we would still have a nice time without the festival. I think Bearskin must be my favorite biking trail…and Wisconsin's north woods in autumn are breathtaking:
But somehow the weekend feels much more special with all the merrymaking. People are in the streets…happy, friendly, and in the mood to celebrate with perfect strangers. It's a beef festival and all, but they're really not celebrating beef (perish the thought). They're celebrating a day of lightness, a day to feel good for no reason at all.
I can't wait!
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Today I did something monumental: I deleted the series recording for The Biggest Loser. Nick couldn't believe his eyes, chiding, "I never thought this day would come!"
I was completely disgusted with the show the first time I saw it. I was bothered by the large quantities of weight that the contestants lost every week when I knew that one to two pounds was healthiest. However, as the season progressed, more of the human struggle came through.
Each season since has been a catharsis. I revisited my own journey and relived the struggles year after year. It was a weird, addicting self-flagellation. This year, I just didn't care to go through it again. At what point does a change become the new status quo? Sometimes you just need to let the past rest in peace.
I have now lived a third of my life (and nearly all of my adulthood) with fitness and nutrition as weapons in my arsenal. About a year ago, I touched on the shadows in my past…it's one of the only posts on the subject. I was lucky with weight loss: the first time I ever tried, it worked, and it worked big. I only had to be smart, realistic, and focused: easy, right?
My life changed very quickly, and I didn't want to talk about the transformation I had gone through. I was uncomfortable with the comments and questions. I felt like it was the first goal that I ever truly wanted to make, and then I won the whole game. I was terrified that it was a fluke. I feared celebrating my success because what if it was the only thing I ever succeeded at?
Well, things change. Uncertainty fades as the years shuffle along. My success wasn't a fluke…and I think I'm finally done feeling like an interloper in a healthy lifestyle. I am where I am supposed to be.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Sophie has this one trait which makes her the most loveable cat in the world: she automatically purrs when we touch her. She is instantly happy at any show of affection.
As an aside, I am amazed that she is the most people-loving cat I have ever known: the animal we rescued was completely feral. Can you even imagine how this situation would be for a human being? It's like being taught all your life that grizzly bears will only hurt you and to stay away from them if you value your life…and then being forced to live in their den.
Anyway, Sophie has been with us for almost all of my surgeries, and she has been my faithful nurse through many recoveries. I always feel better when she snuggles up to me and seems to know exactly what hurts…and how to make me forget pain. I think we've all seen or at least heard of studies that find people live longer when they have a cat. A lot of the theories center around the relaxation that humans experience as the result of their purr—and relaxed humans live much longer than stressed humans.
But the healing qualities of a cat's purr are more than emotional. Cats purr at a frequency that is known to be a catalyst for bone and muscle regeneration. The frequency is also suspected to have anesthetizing qualities. This is part of the reason that cats are fabled to have nine lives: they can heal themselves from serious injury.
At my last post-op from my hysterectomy, a pattern finally occurred to me. All of my surgeons have always commented with a tinge of surprise how well my tissues heal—this has been true for all of my various procedures except for the first two when we were a catless household. (In fact, I healed so poorly from my first surgery that I needed the second for medical intervention.)
I am willing to give Sophie credit for helping me fight these battles at home. Maybe this is her way of saying, "You saved me…now I save you."
Friday, September 16, 2011
I started writing this post in July, so the dates are a little off. My brother's birthday is June 10th.
My brother's birthday was last month, and I always stress over which card to get him. Inevitably, I pick the funny one because it's easier to say something to him on a laugh. We've been through a lot of difficult years together…and today we are each other's main link back to Mom. No one understands what her being gone feels like to me—no one except Charlie.
There is absolutely no one in my life as close to my heart as my little brother…but I've never told him. I know that he feels the same way about me…but he's never told me.
On the surface, this admission of closeness might surprise a lot of people: we don't talk often. We see each other only a few times a year. The only line of communication we maintain somewhat regularly is the occasional text message.
I was watching a movie years ago, and one of the characters said something that has continued to ricochet in my mind all this time. The thought was so simple, real, and…somehow…relevant to my relationships.
Rather, it was relevant to one of my relationships.
"Sometimes we love people so much that we have to be numb to it. Because if we actually felt how much we love them, it would kill us."
The relevancy was a curious thought. I've never considered myself numb to anything—actually, the opposite is usually true, and I feel too much. I've learned over the years to process most of this internally before reacting—giving the appearance of numbness, I suppose.
But actually numb? Nah.
Yet, there was a personal truth there.
I was very close to my brother when we were young. We were best friends before the problems started. I was eight. His temper was violent and completely uncontrollable by the adults. The situation made me grow up very early in life. I was dealing with mature struggles, automatically accepting that I needed to defend and protect the little monster who tormented my family…because somewhere inside that monster was my brother.
It didn't matter that the doctors said there was a reason for the outbursts. Reasons rarely matter in the moment. I learned the art of walking on egg shells and tried to make myself invisible. I blamed him for a long time for stealing my childhood from me, never allowing myself to imagine what life looked like from his shoes.
I wasn't only protecting him; I was protecting me.
When he turned 18, he began distancing himself. He became aloof and taciturn, a stranger who wanted nothing to do with his family. At the time, I was very angry with my brother. He had broken my heart countless times, but we all stuck around. Now he was turning his back on us. I returned the behavior in kind. He wouldn't even look at me the last time I saw him before moving to North Carolina. He was sealing himself off from everything that had ever caused him to feel.
It occurred to me while I was away that he wasn't only protecting himself; he was protecting us.
The reason we always got the brunt of his temper was because he loved us, he felt safe to let it out with us, and he knew at the end of the day that we would still love him. And also at the end of the day, he hated himself for hurting us. The farther away we were from him, the less likely that we would be around when all of those bottled emotions became too big to contain.
In adulthood, he has full control over his reactions—a hard-won battle, I am sure. I am proud of him—there isn't a word in the dictionary that adequately expresses how much I celebrate his accomplishment. He grew to be such a good and decent man…unfailingly kind.
…and I get to be his sister.
I remember being bickering children and Mom telling us that one day we would be each other's best friend. I didn't believe it. I remember thinking that it was one of those canned phrases that parents say to their kids when they are sick of saying everything else.
I was wrong
Try to find that on a birthday card.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
So, I believe myself to be the traffic light whisperer.
I get a thrill when I approach the red light facing me and see the green light in the corner of my eye change to yellow. That was all me, baby. I made that light change! Yeah!
This awesome, amazing, astonishing, and astounding talent extends to left arrow lights, and we happen to have such a light in one of our last turns on the evening commute.
When I am the first car in the left turn lane, I know where the sweet spot is on the pavement. If you stop too early or too late, the lights will cycle through without ever giving you the arrow…EVER. Throughout most of the day, that's not a big deal because the intersection isn't that busy. But at rush hour, well, that's a different story. Left-turners are screwed if the front car doesn't know the sweet spot. Most of the time, I hate that first car.
Some of the time, that first car is my husband. For years, he denied my talent. He could not believe that a human could in any way tame such a wild thing. I think he is starting to believe…stopped first at the aforementioned left turn lane several weeks ago, he asked ME if he was going to get the arrow. (I patted his hand and told him that he overshot the spot…again.)
I started coming down with a head cold today. By the time I left work, I could no longer hear out of my left ear or breathe out of my nose. My head throbbed. I was in an understandably lousy mood as I slid behind the wheel. When I reached my left turn lane as the first car, I didn't immediately feel the power that was building beneath my hands. I didn't even register that I got the left turn arrow because I always get it: old hat.
But, as I made my turn, I looked at my rear view mirror. A parade of happy little cars and trucks turned behind me, all excited to have the fortune of the arrow to end their day. With my painful head congestion, I nodded at the mirror and mumbled, "You're welcob."
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