Friday, October 24, 2014

eddie

Mama woke me up early, whisperin' in my ear to be real quiet. When I went to the bathroom to pee, I seen Uncle Max layin' in the bed snorin'. His feet was stickin' out from under the sheet and he had one sock on and one sock off. He had one arm thrown over his shoulder and he was clutchin' his willie with the other. It embarrassed me.

I went in the kitchen. Mama was pourin' me a bowl of cereal. "I want bacon and eggs," I said. "Shhhhhhh," she said, "You get cereal this mornin'. Did you wash your hands?"

I looked up at her. "Yes ma'am." She scowled at me and whispered, "GO wash your HANDS."

When I got back, one of the little dogs was standin' on my chair lickin' milk out my bowl. I scooted him away and sat down to eat my cereal. Mama came over chewin' on a piece of toast. "Ain't you havin' no coffee?" I asked. She just shook her head.

After I finished, she took me in the bathroom and scrubbed me with a washcloth in the sink. Then she slicked my hair down. "Now put on some clean drawers and socks and get your Sunday suit on. We're goin' someplace special." I didn't like the sound of that, but I did what she said. Maybe there'd be candy in it.

Mama weared a flowered dress and some pretty shoes I ain't seen before. She had her face painted, like when she goes to parties. We walked down to the bus stop. She looked at me when we was standin' and waitin' for the bus. "Try to stay clean, Eddie," but her face said she didn't think I could do it. I made up my mind to prove her wrong.

The bus came and the doors opened. On the bus, men looked at Mama like she was their favorite flavor of ice cream. Uncle Max wouldn't like that, but he wasn't with us. Sometimes he got mad when men looked at Mama like that. One time he punched a man cause he whistled at Mama. I glared at the men who was smilin' at Mama. Maybe I would punch one, I thought. But I didn't. The bus smelled of gasoline and turnip greens. That's not good.

Then the bus was movin'. "Where we goin', Mama?" I asked. She said we was goin' to pay our respects. I wondered why we had to dress up to go get a bill paid, but before I could ask, I seen Frankie on his bike and I banged on the bus window to try to get his attention. He didn't see me.

The bus stopped in town and we got off. Then we waited a while for another bus to come. Another lady come walkin' down the road towards us holdin' the hand of a little girl in a yellow dress. I watched 'em sideways and the girl was skippin' a little. When they got close, I could hear the girl singin' a little song. Then she seen me and she stopped her skippin' and singin'. She hid behind her mother, then peeked and stuck out her tongue. Mama was lookin' at me so I couldn't do it back.

When the next bus came, the lady and the girl got on. Then we got on. When we passed by their seats, I fake sneezed real loud. Mama gave me the look that means business. We sat down a few rows back. The bus started up. This bus smelled like the inside of Mr. Jessup's new car. I tried to stay awake by lookin' out the window, but I couldn't. I slept with my head in Mama's lap, don't know how long.

Mama woke me up and spit on her hand to slick my hair down. I hate when she does that. The lady and the little girl was gone. We walked down the street until we got to a church, but it wasn't our church. People was goin' in, all dressed nice, but it wasn't anybody I knew. "Is it Sunday?" I asked. "No," Mama said, "It's a funeral." When we walked up the steps into the church, people looked at us real funny, like we was movie stars or somethin'. Men was smilin' at Mama, but not in the bad way that makes Uncle Max mad. It was nice. The women that looked our way had their eyebrows up, but they was smilin' too. We sat towards the back.

People in front kept lookin' around at us. Mama would smile at folks. Then the preacher came out and talked some. I needed to use the bathroom and I whispered to Mama. She shushed me. I didn't need to pee. I needed to take a dump. But Mama was firm on makin' me stay. I felt a right good gopher tryin' to get out. I squeezed my bottom to try to pull it back in. It almost worked. I asked Mama again. She shushed me again. Then another man was talkin' and it was so quiet you could touch the air. I forgot about needin' the bathroom and watched and listened. Then we sang a song about a submarine. Mama looked real happy right then. I laughed. She squeezed my shoulder.

Then everything was over and we walked to the back of the church. Mama asked a man where the bathroom was and he pointed us down a hall. I went in and let the gopher go and came back out. Mama pointed to the sink. I looked in the mirror while I washed my hands. My red hair was stickin' up in the back like the tail of a woodpecker. I was embarrassed and tried to put some water on my head. Mama hissed at me and took out her comb and went to work on my head. When she was done, it was time to go home. I never did get no candy.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

aunt z

Aunt Zeusifina won't eat chicken and she's happy to tell you why. She grew up with chickens and swears she has seen them eating things that she does not want in her body. Like what, I asked her and she listed some of the things she had personally witnessed a chicken consume.

Spiders
Crickets
Worms
Baby birds
Yarn
Bees
Shredded paper
Pickles
Marshmallows
Dried beans
Elm tree leaves
Doritos
Paint chips
Cigarette butts

What amazes me about the list and about Aunt Zeusifina's objections is that she happily eats a half pound of bacon any morning it's made available to her at the Shady Maple assisted living facility. A pig will probably eat everything on that list, but that doesn't seem to bother Aunt Z. Maybe the power of bacon is just so big that it drowns out objections of any kind.

I asked Aunt Z if she would eat chicken if it was wrapped in bacon. That reminded her of a trip to Paris she took back in the 1950's when Uncle Morrow was still alive. She said that the city was beautiful and that the food was fancy. But Uncle Morrow took to speaking English with a French accent and shouting "Zut!" whenever something was frustrating him. Aunt Z said she was embarrassed when French people looked at them as if they were tiny, amusing insects - the type that a chicken might eat.

Uncle Morrow died in a car accident out on Route 49. He was driving slow, like always, and a pick-up truck tried to pass him in a no-pass zone, only to find itself facing an oncoming 18 wheeler. Uncle Morrow steered off the road, the pick-up driver swerved back into his lane and the 18 wheeler passed, probably without ever knowing what happened. Uncle Morrow, unfortunately, crashed right into a tree and was killed instantly. At his funeral, the preacher made a big deal about his sacrifice. Aunt Z said he was probably just trying to avoid getting a dent in his brand new Buick. He was not, she said, the sacrificial type. But she left it alone because she thought it would be rude to argue with the preacher at her own husband's funeral.

The details of Uncle Morrow's funeral were still etched in the minds of all who attended. Sitting on the back row was a woman with platinum blonde hair. Nobody knew who she was. She had a small child with her who fidgeted through the entire service. The woman kept shushing the little boy, who was very cute with copper colored hair. Since Uncle Morrow had copper colored hair, the rumors started right up and continued long after the casket was in the ground and the last of the casseroles had been thawed, baked and consumed.

I asked Aunt Z if she wondered who that woman was. Aunt Z said she didn't wonder because she knew. I asked her who it was and Aunt Z said that some things were best left mysterious, that to bring them out into the light made them look ugly. It was best to let people exercise their creativity in conjuring all of the possible explanations for the blonde woman and the copper-haired boy. Later, I tried to approach it again by casually asking Aunt Z if she thought I had relatives out there I had never met. From the look she gave me, I could tell I hadn't fooled her one bit. "Most of us do," she said and that was the end of that.

At Uncle Morrow's funeral, we sang "Nothing But The Blood" and "Wayfarin' Stranger" and "I'd Rather Have Jesus" and "Blessed Assurance." Then we sang a song you don't typically hear at funerals, especially in the rural South. We sang "We All Live in a Yellow Submarine." Everybody in that church could easily be divided into one of two groups during the singing of that song. You could tell who was who by the looks on their faces. One group had their eyebrows knitted together and were looking around in either confusion or outrage. They sang softly or not at all. The other half had big shit-eating grins on their faces and were belting out the song loud enough to be heard all the way to Atlanta.

I asked Aunt Z why we sang that song. She said Uncle Morrow had always said he wanted that sung at his funeral. He never said why. But she figured she owed him that since he had served his country in Vietnam and had supported her through all their years together. And sometimes, she said, you just go along with something your spouse wants because you know sooner or later you'll want something a little crazy and you'll want your spouse to humor you. "It's a two way street," Aunt Z said, "and the road twists and turns right much."

One other thing happened at the funeral that everybody talked about. When it came time for the eulogy, it was given by none other than Rufus "Snap" Baumgardner, Uncle Morrow's sworn enemy. After being the best of buddies all the way from infancy through high school, they fell out just after they both came home from Vietnam. And it was all because of some girl they both loved, but neither one ended up with.  Her name was Edna Grisham and she had been the beauty of our small town in their day. She was dating Uncle Morrow when he and Snap left for boot camp. They traded letters all through his time overseas. But Snap had been injured and came home early. Edna's letters got few and far between during the next 6 months and by the time Uncle Morrow got home, Edna and Snap were engaged. They gave Uncle Morrow the news the same day he came home. Uncle Morrow never spoke to Snap again, even after his engagement to Edna ended, even after Edna left Mapleton, even after Edna married a real estate tycoon in New York City.

So why was Snap giving the eulogy? Uncle Morrow asked him to in a sealed letter that Aunt Z delivered to him shortly after the car accident. And Snap talked about him as if they'd been friends for all of those years. It was as if nothing had ever happened. Snap even talked about each of Uncle Morrow's children and grandchildren, with details that only a close friend of the family would have known. Everyone was speechless after that eulogy.

I asked Aunt Z how Snap had known all that stuff about our family. She said it was a small town and everybody probably knew that stuff. But Snap said things that even I didn't know. Like he said my cousin Jeff was learning how to make pottery and had made a special pot for Uncle Morrow's ashes, if Aunt Z decided to cremate Uncle Morrow. (She didn't.) I didn't know that until Snap said it. People whispered about it in the church meeting hall after the funeral. I know because I heard them as I went through the buffet line. I had a fried chicken leg, some potato salad, green beans, half of a pimiento cheese sandwich, three olives, some boiled potatoes with parsley (which I scraped off), two slices of ham and a cupcake. Jeff asked me if I wanted a slice of Devil's Food Cake. I said no. There's some things I just won't eat. Anything with the devil's name in it can not be a good thing.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

staying

Oh, light of early morning, chasing fear away and bringing with you a promise, and permission to believe that all things are possible, that nothing is decided just yet. You let me envision joy and the utter relaxation of knowing I did the right thing - that the staying was my best and boldest act. Because running has often been my greatest skill. But staying has been hard, particularly when surrounded by voices that hissed or screamed or whispered - "GO!"

I may yet find that the many voices were right and that the staying was my most ridiculous act - repeated a multitude of times over many, many years. But just in this moment, as the hint of a sun creates hazy pinks and melting oranges across the purple Arizona mountains, I allow myself to imagine the joy that will accompany the sweet knowledge that he was worth it. I stayed and we were worth it. I stayed and we are better for it, a faith rewarded by the sigh of a shared slow release of breath and the sweet smiles as we look into each other's eyes.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

susan

Susan was two weeks overdue for her monthly trip to the Hair Castle. Her short cut was looking a little shaggy and her mustache was making its presence known. One of the cruel ironies of aging is that your eyesight begins to go just as your body decides to sprout little black hairs in places you would never have dreamed they would grow. Susan had still not recovered from the view in the 5X magnification pocket mirror she had purchased. So many dark hairs on her face!!! Horrible. How did Charlie find her attractive? Well, his eyesight was going too, she supposed.

Looking in the mirror in her giant "spa" bathroom, she worked with some hair wax to shape her unruly hair into something a little less mad-scientist and a little more just-in-from-the-beach. She wasn't satisfied but it would have to do. Lunch with the Optimist Club was not exactly a major social event, but she would see many people who played a role in her business life, so she didn't want to look disheveled. She wore her red suit, which she always felt confident in, and black pumps. Her daughter had recently convinced her to forego the panty hose, so her legs were bare. That felt quite peculiar, but she supposed she would get used to it eventually. Gold earrings, Tiffany necklace and Coach purse. She was ready.

As she made her way down the stairs, she fantasized about quitting the Optimist Club. She wasn't an optimist and she had no desire to participate in any of the activities or fundraisers. In fact, she hated everything except the lunches at Rita's. She was very fond of Rita's pies. But one could not live in a small, Southern town and not belong to a civic organization. Susan wondered how many people in the Optimist Club felt the way she did. And which was the greater virtue? Being the kind of person who DID want to be there? Or being the kind of person who DIDN'T want to be there, but who attended faithfully anyway?

In the car now, she pressed the button for the garage door. She adjusted the mirror and applied her lipstick as the door rolled up. She put the car in gear and started forward, but jammed the brake pedal when she saw two boys with Halloween masks on, standing in her driveway with their peckers hanging out. They were wiggling their hips around so their small penises danced around in the air. Before she could react, they ran off. Honestly, why did boys and men always think the world revolved around their private parts? Even Charlie unveiled his as if she should be newly astonished and impressed every time she saw that thing. And she played her part, oohing and aahing over it and everything he did with it. To be honest though, she could have easily lived without ever seeing it again. But she'd never tell HIM that! Oh, no!

Driving down the hill towards town, she passed by other large houses with immaculate lawns. Is this my life? Is this all there is ever going to be? Susan felt like rolling down her window and screaming out, "Lord, give me some magic and excitement!" She would give anything to find herself transported to another life, one in which she had a daily dose of fun. Maybe she could become an artist and live on a commune. She waved at her neighbor Jimmy, out walking Aristotle, the little frou-frou dog that he shared with his roommate, Howard. Everyone knew they were a couple, but since they never talked about it, nobody ever said anything - not to their faces, anyway.

Crap. She had forgotten her list. She didn't have time to go back, so she'd just have to try to remember what was on it. She knew she needed to grab some crafting supplies. The grandchildren were coming home with her after church on Sunday so Mike & Shelly Ann could have some "alone time," as they called it. Susan planned to make Christmas ornaments with the two older kids during nap time for the youngest. It would be an ungodly mess, but they would have fun and Shelly Ann would be forced to hang the tacky things on her precious tree. Susan smiled to think of it. She didn't care for her daughter-in-law who had a permanent case of one-upmanship that mainly ran towards comparing her things to Susan's things. If Shelly Ann actually found herself liking something that Susan had, she would drop hints about it, hoping that Susan would give it to her. Susan sometimes packed an item and put it away, just so she could lie to Shelly Ann and tell her she had sent it to her daughter in Seattle. She loved seeing the mixture of astonishment and frustration on Shelly Ann's face. She knew it was not nice, but it was the only revenge she could think of for the theft of her only son. Mike would not stand up to Shelly Ann, which was smart, Susan supposed. He wanted peace and he got peace as long as Shelly Ann had her way.

What else did she need? Oh, a new journal. Hers was almost full. She had long ago realized that Charlie read her journal. He often read it while she was out showing houses on Saturday. She could always tell because he had sticky fingers from his Crackerjack addiction. She had even found popcorn residue. So she had stopped writing her deepest secrets and now used the journal to communicate wishes to Charlie about gifts, vacations and restaurant picks. She pretended that she believed he was coming up with these ideas on her own. Maybe he had figured it out. Maybe he hadn't. But it worked for them, so she kept doing it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

amendment 1 is dead

Amendment 1 is dead in North Carolina. Of all of the efforts of the hateful among us, amendment 1 cut me to the quick more than any other. North Carolina is my birth state. And although we moved away before I turned one, we returned in time for my high school years. I also attended college there. And almost every summer of my life, I have returned to a small mountain community where my extended family has summered since 1906. My heart is always in North Carolina and the hate that was there codified into law hurt me deeply.

As a heterosexual woman, how do I explain the ignorance and hatred that leads to such an action by other human beings? It is un-explainable. It boggles the mind that otherwise loving people, many who profess to follow the teachings of Christ, could commit such a heinous act. I wept frustrated and angry tears when it happened. Today, I weep tears of joy that the almost 900 days of legal discrimination are now behind us.

Tomorrow and forever, love wins in North Carolina. With 30+ states now celebrating love, the rest of the country will follow. The idiot states are always last when it comes to doing the right thing and that pattern appears to be holding true. But even they will come around eventually. So, today I cheer!!! Love wins!

Friday, August 1, 2014

jimmy

The morning light filters through the beige vertical shades, which shiver from the movement of the ceiling fan, casting ever-changing geometrical patterns of shade on the dingy carpet. There is the slight smell of dog, as if someone has made a Herculean effort to clean up an accidental puddle, but hasn't quite conquered the odor. The air shifts and the smell is gone. Then it's back, causing me to wrinkle my nose.

Everything is almost in its place, but there is just enough out of place that I know I'm in the house of someone who simply isn't that committed to a regular cleaning routine. The Arizona dust lightly covers the television stand and the shelves in the cubby whose door stands open, as if my arrival interrupted a search for an item. A blue exercise ball sits in one corner, an empty ceramic plant pot in another. A few scattered leaves are in the pot, suggesting the presence of a large plant that didn't make it.

From where I'm sitting, I can see tracks on the carpet where people have walked through the room. One track travels from the front door to the hallway, another from the front door to the sliding glass door and a trough just in front of the sofa. Besides the dirt, there are small pieces of debris here and there - a thread, a small, torn piece of blue paper and assorted unidentifiable pieces of dark stuff, all small enough to just barely be noticeable.

"Here we are," Jimmy carols, bringing in a tray. His magnificent orange and blue caftan flows around him as he moves towards me. I am so thirsty and am thrilled to see glasses of iced something. Is it tea? And a plate of cookies. They look like Pepperidge Farm. Things are looking up.

"Please look over my mess," Jimmy begs, "I have not given this place a thorough cleaning since I got back from the cruise. I haven't even done laundry!"

"You should see my place," I lie. "It's a complete disaster area. Stuff everywhere!"

"Oh, I'm sure your place is gorgeous." Jimmy hands me a glass. I take a sip. It's tea and it's sweet - but not TOO sweet. "I fixed it Southern style, just for you."

"Delicious." I say, because it is!

Jimmy hands me a paper napkin, then offers the plate of cookies. I take one - a Pirouette, my favorite. Jimmy lets out a trill of laughter. "One cookie? Don't make me look bad!" I take two more - a Bordeaux and a Brussels.

"Thanks," I say. "These are my favorite cookies." Jimmy nods.

I wonder how long it will take for the subject to come up. I'm not bringing it up. If Jimmy wants to talk about it, he'll have to be the one. I study his face. He is munching on a Chessman and studying the carpet. I bet he's thinking about how to start. Finally, he looks up at me and smiles. I smile too.

"Do you know why I invited you over?" Jimmy asks. Okay - here we go.

I take another sip of my tea. "I have an idea, but I was going to wait for you to bring it up."

Jimmy gets up and walks back into the kitchen. He comes right back, carrying coasters, which he places on the table between us. I put my glass down. It makes a click sound when the glass meets the coaster, which has a colorful sun face on it.

"I heard that you sometimes look into things for people." Jimmy says. I nod my head, waiting. "I need to know where Rico went." There it is. It was exactly what I was expecting. Ahead of me, I see hours and hours of crazy travel, including Brazil and all points between. I'm happy to take it on, but I'm not sure if Jimmy has the money.

"Jimmy, sometimes people don't want to be found. And finding a person who doesn't want to be found can be extremely expensive."

"I just inherited a lot of money from my grandmother. I can afford to send you around the world several times over." His hands flutter as he talks, like birds trying to get out of an aviary. He picks up a cookie, then puts it back down. "I just need to know. He doesn't even need to know that I was looking."

"Rico knows me. If he sees me, he'll know it's you that's looking."

Then Jimmy is crying, but just barely. Tears flow from his eyes and he carefully blots under each eye, trying not to smear his make-up. "I'm an idiot," he says. "But the heart wants what the heart wants." Emily Dickinson, no less. He's in deep.

Not a stranger to unrequited love, I nod. I know I'm going to do it, so I might as well get to it. "You know I'll help you in any way I can. Tell me anything you do know that might help me find him. Then we can calculate what the first few weeks will cost you. I can't travel right away because I have some other commitments, but I can do some work from here to get started. If you want to go forward, I'm committed."

Jimmy swoops me up into a bear hug. His caftan smells of L'eau D'issey and the material is silky against my face. He lets me go. "I knew you would." We both sit back down. He holds out the cookie plate. What the hell, I think. I take two more.

Monday, July 28, 2014

fitbit II

Well, here we are a month later. I am easily getting my 10,000 steps per day. In the Arizona heat, some planning was absolutely vital to my success. Luckily, Priscilla, my recently adopted chiweenie, is an early bird. She starts her energetic rousting process between 4 and 5 each morning. She usually succeeds in getting me out the door by 5. We walk the entire circumference of the complex, which is just under 1500 steps. Sometimes we go a bit further in order to achieve the REAL goal of our walk. (Dog owners will know what this is. People who don't like dogs will NOT want to read about it.)

If I am working that day, I can count on 4000-5000 steps at work. At the library, I spend a good deal of time sitting at the front desk. But I often walk with customers to various sections of the library to help them look for something or to help with a computer. (I find it comical that I am helping anyone with a computer.) When I'm in the book drop, there are many, many walks from the book drop slot to the check-in computer. When I look back at my daily steps, I can see that my total number is really determined by my time in the book drop. I also volunteer to carry donations to the back room. Heck, I volunteer for anything that involves adding steps to my daily count! (And I still absolutely LOVE working at the library! It's the perfect post-retirement job for me.)

The rest of my steps I can easily add in with remaining walks with Priscilla and normal walking within my home. The real challenge is on days that I'm NOT working. On those days, I resort to walking inside my small apartment, which feels absolutely ridiculous, but works! I've counted during a walk through my space and it adds up to 180 steps. This means that I just need to calculate how many trips are needed to get to my goal and pace myself to get there. It is boring. But my other option is to go over to the little workout room on the property and walk on the treadmill. At least at home I can walk during TV commercials. Or I can turn on some great music and walk through three songs (or whatever.) I'm rather fond of John Phillips Sousa for marching about my house.

The best news over the last month is that I've lost 32 pounds since I started working on it in early May. I didn't get my Fitbit until June 26th, but I'm glad I got it when I did, because my weight loss had definitely plateaued. Walking those steps has allowed me to add more carbs to my daily calorie intake. I also do some beginner Yoga stretches and some other specific exercises to help my muscle growth.

Fatty McPhatty (introduced to you two posts ago) was very helpful in pointing out that I certainly deserved a pig out day when I hit 175 pounds (down from 203.) For once, I let Fatty have her way. My sweetheart and I went downtown to the Phoenix Market and enjoyed some delicious food off the various food trucks that gather there on Wednesday nights. Music was good. Food was good. Company was good. Although I'm blessed to have a partner who loves me and my body no matter its size, I feel better each day and he can't argue with that.

I'm now at 171. My goal is 140. Feeling confident and healthier than in years! I even pulled some pants out of my closet that I haven't worn since 2008. I originally bought them for my trip to Tahiti and I have pictures of myself wearing them. I wondered, how much further do I have to go before I can wear these? I tried them on. They fit!!! They're even a little loose in the hips. Amazing.

So far I've avoided spending money on new clothes. If I can shop my own closet, why buy clothes that I might be too small for in another month? But at some point, I will run out of old things. I remember donating things I thought I would never fit in to again. Oh well! Forward march!!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

fitbit

I blame David Sedaris. His recent post about his Fitbit, combined with the recent start of my determination to be healthier as I age, catapulted me into purchasing my own Fitbit. The box arrived yesterday just as I was leaving for work. I didn't have time to go back to my computer and set up my account, but I still strapped that puppy on, just to get used to wearing it.

This morning, when I took my walk, I was dismayed to find that I had walked less than a mile and logged only a little over 1500 steps. The goal is 10,000 steps per day. With the summer heat here in Arizona, this is going to take some thought. I can't just pace within the confines of my small home. I know because I tried. No, I'm going to have to walk further in the morning. And I'm going to have to ... no, I can't face it yet!

I'll think about it tomorrow.

Friday, June 20, 2014

ms. cat

For the last five years, I've been picturing a slightly older, much fitter version of myself. In my mind, I see her as trim and energetic. She has all natural (gray) hair, usually in a short but feminine cut. Her eyes are bright and full of life. She is warm and loving. I call her Ms. Cat. I've often thought about what I needed to do to become that woman. It is simple, really. Exercise and eat a healthier diet. Simple?

About six weeks ago, something clicked in me and I just decided to do it. I started walking most mornings and doing some beginner Yoga in the afternoons/evenings. I've dropped over 20 pounds. This morning, at the conclusion of my morning walk, I SPRINTED up four flights of stairs to my front door. What??? Who is this? Well, she resembles that woman in my imagination! I look more like Ms. Cat every day.

While I've been going through this process, I've noticed a very angry voice in my head. I'm going to call her Fatty McPhatty. She is in a constant struggle to try to assert herself over the will of Ms. Cat. On my twenty minute ride home from work, she calls out in a loud sing-song voice EVERY fast food establishment I pass. "BURGER KING!", she shouts and sends a few pictures of menu items through my brain. With each one I pass, she sounds more desperate. "ARBY'S", Fatty McPhatty sings out and sends me a visual of some curly fries. I keep driving. "TACO BELL", she shrieks, and I picture the perfect combination of items. As I drive past, Fatty lets out a mournful howl, "Nooooooo!!!"

This morning, as I walked the long way around the entire complex, Fatty McPhatty helpfully pointed out each shortcut that would get me back home without walking quite as far. "If you turn here," she would suggest, "you can skip the back part and get straight to your door." When I walked past the turn, she crossed her arms in front of her chest and slumped to the ground in a raging pout. I picked her up and carried her! Ms. Cat doesn't mind carrying a little extra weight when she's burning her way through something physical.

I wrote out an affirmation and taped it to my bathroom mirror. When I see it, it spurs me to do something good for myself, whether it is choosing nutritious meals or doing something physical. I chose it because it is the opposite of how I have ever thought of myself. Never once, in all my years, did I ever describe myself this way. But Ms. Cat knew better. (She is older and wiser than I am today.) My affirmation says:

I AM AN ATHLETE


It's interesting how powerful words can be. I'm actually starting to believe it! I suspect this process is different for every person who makes up their mind to change a bad habit. But any time I feel weak, I remind myself that I successfully quit smoking almost 30 years ago. If I can do that, I can do anything! Well, at least Ms. Cat can!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

cherry pie

Fate is a beast. The world seems to separate everyone into categories that, at first glance, reek of the stink of unfairness. Losers feel that everything goes wrong, no matter what they do. Champions feel that nothing can ever go wrong and even bad situations morph into wins for them. Losers wait for the other shoe to drop. Champions know that victory is just around the corner. Fate maintains a Mona Lisa smile and continues to direct traffic, often without paying careful attention, but usually managing to do the job with few operational errors.

But if you're a Loser, take heart. Because every now and then, Fate takes a break, perhaps to sample that cherry pie that's been cooling on the window sill. Fate is a sucker for cherry pie. And in that moment, when Fate is distracted, Losers can become Champions. But don't just wait for it to happen, passively accepting Fate's assignment of your category. No, go bake a cherry pie instead. For there is nothing quite as tempting as a cherry pie. Make sure you have a can of whipped cream standing by, just to make the temptation that much stronger. Can you control Fate? Maybe you can. It never hurts to try. And Champions always try.