My Crock Pot Tried To Kill Me.

I love to cook. It’s one of my simple pleasures in life– finding ingredients that will work together and make some yummy deliciousness. And as much as I’d like to say I’m a gourmet, I’m not. I have a couple of gourmet tricks and meals up my sleeves, and if I can find the ingredients, I can follow any recipe. But most of the time I’m a simple food girl or a comfort food girl.

That means the Crock Pot is sometimes my best friend. So you can imagine my surprise the day it tried to kill me.

The Crock Pot lives on top of my kitchen cabinets. There’s nowhere else to put it, so it adorns the upper realm of the kitchen alongside vases, serving trays, a few baskets and a terra cotta wine bottle chiller. If I want to use it, I have to climb up on my little step ladder and haul it down. It’s a full-sized thing, hefty enough to be a slight, but not daunting, challenge for a girl like me to pull down from over her head.

That’s where things went terribly awry.

One day a few months ago, as I was pulling it down from its perch, the glass lid, rimmed in chrome, slid off the top. Before I even saw it, it had struck a hard blow right at my face. The rim slammed with all the lid’s weight behind it at a diagonal, hitting me in a line that ran from the bridge of my nose under my left eye and down across my cheekbone.

Okay, OW.

Ow ow ow ow ow.

*Shake head*


Dazed and waiting for my vision to clear, I put the rest of the Pot down on the counter and carefully climbed down from the step ladder. You know that smell that you smell sometimes when you get bopped in the kisser? It’s a funny, fleeting smell…. I can’t describe it. It’s like your nose goes haywire trying to figure out what it ever did to earn such a beating. Anyway, I smelled that, and my sinuses cleared out, presumably running for cover. The little birdies that were circling my head (between stars) pointed and laughed at me in their high-pitched voices.  I looked around to figure out where the lid had gone, and whether it had shattered into sharp and deadly pieces.

I could feel the flesh under my eye puffing up already.

Oh, well, this is fantastic. I’m going to have a black eye. From the Crock Pot.

I checked in the mirror on the freezer door – a leftover from my college years when my roommate Beth had put it on the freezer in our campus apartment. She left the mirror (which she had decorated back in high school with painted-on hearts and her completely inappropriate nickname for a guy she had a crush on) to me when she graduated, and I’ve always kept it on the freezer. I guess it’s supposed to make me confront myself if I reach for ice cream. Now I think it’s weird when other people don’t have mirrors on their freezer doors.

Mirror, mirror on the fridge... how is my suborbital ridge?

Anyway, I looked in the mirror. Sure enough, the bruise was already forming, swelling up a bit just under my left eye socket.

I reached into the freezer and grabbed a chicken cutlet.

What? I didn’t have any ice.

And no, this is not the first time I’ve used a frozen chicken cutlet to tend to medical needs.

Walking around with meat on my face and little tweety birds still circling above me, I tried to reason out exactly how to explain my injury to concerned co-workers and others. I had visions of strangers passing me and glancing worriedly… of co-workers whispering to each other in their cubicles or sending each other computer messages as they cast furtive looks in my direction.

And me, smiling awkwardly, flustered and redfaced: “Oh, no. It wasn’t what you think. It was my Crock Pot.”

Yeah. That’ll fly.

Fortunately, the bruise somehow skipped the black-and-blue stage and went right to the yellow-and-green stage. That’s much easier to cover with makeup, so I didn’t need to offer what was sure to be considered a lame explanation for what was clearly a case of domestic violence.

And wasn’t it?

Today, I have once again climbed up the step ladder to fetch the Crock Pot from its perch. It’s too hot to turn the oven on, so this is the best option. But every time I use it now, I’m very careful to make sure I keep a check on that rogue lid. It’s one thing to die alone and not be found for days. It’s another thing when the cause of death was a Crock Pot.

I mean that’s just dumb.

Though I am thinking about getting a Salad Shooter. For self-defense. In case I’m ever attacked by a vegetable.

Look at all those attachments. They must be silencers.


Question: Is it bad that I want my co-worker’s new business venture to fail miserably?

Like, I would probably be secretly excited if it burned down.

That’s bad, right?

I try to be a good person. I really do. Usually I think it’s horrible to wish something bad on someone, no matter what they’ve done. But I cannot escape the amazingly satisfying sense of schadenfreude when something bad happens to this guy. Even retroactively. And it’s a problem, because, were it not for his lovely wife and beautiful children, who I’m sure love him and whom I’m sure he loves, I…

…well, I hate that I’m saying this, but…


I wouldn’t care if he got-hit-by-a-bus-tomorrow thereIsaidit.

One of my friends told me that someone beat this guy up in a bar for being a jerk, years before I ever met him. I love that.

Here’s the thing: this guy tried to get me fired, and very nearly succeeded. He spends fully 3/4 of his day at work with his feet up on his desk and earbuds in his ears, surfing the internet.

I’m not kidding.

Then he complains about what other people have done.

He sits in meetings, with between one and four managers present, and spends the whole time screwing around on his iPhone. Never looks up.

One time, he must have left his phone somewhere, so he spent most of the meeting cleaning out his wallet, and the rest of it trying to determine whether he could maneuver a plastic fork to hit himself in the nose using only his mouth.


We used to work with each other directly on projects every day, and he spent every single day treating me like crap. By the time I’d worked with him for about six months, I cried at least two nights a week on the way home. Two times, for a grand total of 14 seconds and using exactly no bad words, I stood up for myself, and that’s how I almost got fired. In actual fact, the choice my managers gave me was:

Choice 1: take a huge demotion and 23% pay cut and change from a normal shift to a crappy life-sacrificing one, by which you also lose benefits and vacation/holiday time…


Choice 2: lose your job.

…Despite the fact that our own bosses had told me several times that they think he’s an ass.  (I will supply the caveat here that one of my bosses doesn’t like me and that contributed as well. And I will grant you that when you have two co-workers who don’t like you, it usually means you’re the problem, but after months and months of self-flagellation and struggle, I decided that’s not true. There are lots of other co-workers – past and present – who have problems with these two.)

Sometimes when this guy walks by, I have a really powerful urge to smack him in the back of the head. Or trip him.

So he and his wife have this new business. It opened Saturday, when it was quite literally eleventy-two degrees.

The air conditioner died.

Mwahahahahahahahahahaha! I did a little dance in my head when I overheard that. I might have accidentally smiled a little bit.

But a bunch of people at work  asked him all day on Monday, “Oh, how did it go? Was it great? Oh, that’s so great!” And I know for a fact that some of these people hate his breathing guts. And he keeps talking about it, all excited-but-too-cool-for-school. And people keep saying they’re going to stop by and check out the place.

We don’t speak, so I didn’t have to fake any enthusiasm. When you work with a grown man who goes out of his way to give a wide berth on the rare occasion you both populate the same hallway, and who absolutely will not make eye contact or speak if you find yourselves in the break room at the same time, there’s a tacit understanding that you won’t give a flying fig about each other in any other regard.

It’s a shame, because I’veI known his wife since before they got married and I held his oldest child when he was a tiny baby. And then there’s the other reason the whole thing makes me sad – besides my casual friendship with his wife and the complete derailing of my professional life, which was accompanied by a tremendous and sometimes crippling anxiety:

It makes me a lesser person to hate him so much.

Why am I so worried about my karma? This guy is the biggest a-hole I’ve ever known, but I’m worried about being a bad person because I can’t stand him. Stupid conscience. What’s the use of good schadenfreude if my Catholic guilt is constantly getting in the way? I’m not allowed to have one sworn enemy? Just one? I fought it for a long time. The whole time we were working on projects together, I fought the hate. I gave him every bit of credit due to him for being good at his job. I thought I was falling short because he wasn’t happy with my end of things.

And then, at some point, after the near-firing, after all the crying, after a little devilish encouragement from other people who also hate him, I gave in.

But of course, every time I have one of these evil little thoughts, I have to start evaluating myself and asking myself why I’m so hellbent on vengeance. Passive vengeance, mind you; I’d never actually do something to cause harm.

But the fantasies are so powerful…

Is there anybody you hate? Please tell me about them so I don’t feel so bad.
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Enough Is Enough

I would respectfully like for everyone on Capitol Hill to shut the $%&! up already.

If you’re a regular reader, you know I actually really like politics. That said, this whole debt ceiling debate has driven me to the brink of showing up on the steps of the Capitol and throwing shoes at the doors. Really hard.

Let’s establish something right away: none of you people in Congress have any idea how to fix the economy. You don’t. Nobody does. It’s an indescribably huge and complex beast that nobody can decode. It’s an animal of its own creation, and none of you knows what to do to get it back where you want it. So stop acting like you know, and stop acting like it’s as simple as doing what you want, if only the other side wasn’t so petulant. Just stop it.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me say this to you: you are annoying the crap out of me, and I’m one of the few people who isn’t continually disgusted by everything you do. If you’re losing me, you’re losing everybody. I know you don’t know who I am, but I should matter to you for a few reasons:

  • As previously mentioned, I actually like politics.
  • I’m old enough to know a substantial amount of history and young enough to still have lots of elections left in me.
  • I’m a woman.
  • I’m a registered independent.
  • I’m well-informed.
  • I give a damn.
  • I’ve got chutzpah (pronounced recently by Rep. Michele Bachmann with every bit of the C… oy vey). Which means I am completely capable of calling you on your BS. Not because I’m smarter than other people, but because, as my parents can tell you, I have zero problem speaking truth to power. Zero.

I was away from these shenanigans for ten days – four of them on the Mickey Boat and the rest by self-imposed news exile – and when I came back, I swear to Buddha, not a single thing had changed in this debate. Not a thing.

You’re all a bunch of feckless punks.

Alright, maybe not all of you. Maybe just the ones who keep showing up on television.

My job requires me to be well-informed (except when I’m on vacation). So I’ll grant that I might be more up on what’s been going on than the average American. It’s not that I’m better or smarter; it’s just that I have to be informed. So I realize, Mr. President and Mr. Speaker, that you probably weren’t talking to me when you carved out 30 minutes of time on every network Monday night. But let me talk to you for a minute, ‘kay?


This is crap. You go on television in prime time, which was a time during which people used to have metaphorical or actual coronaries if the president broke in because clearly it meant lives were at stake in some immediate fashion… and you spend that time, essentially, spouting absolutely not one new piece of information. Not. ONE. These prime time, East Room appearances used to be for announcements. Major announcements. Wars. Resignations. Deaths of global significance. That’s what they’re supposed to be for.

Instead, Monday night, you gave the American people, who are already sick of seeing your faces and hearing your voices, what amounts to 30 minutes of campaign ads.

This makes me furious. I’m not kidding; I’m angry, and that rarely happens when it comes to politics. Usually I’m bemused at worst, because I find the machinations so eye-rollingly predictable, and I tend to make a poli-sci wonkish game out of predicting what you’ll do. But frankly, even with my incredibly high level of cynicism, I never thought you people would push it this far.

You’re all idiots, you know that? Are you trying to piss everybody off?

And yes, Mr. President, I’m talking to you right now just as much as I’m talking to anybody on the Republican side that irritates me far more often. Because you took Monday night as an opportunity to condescend to the American people. It was the first time I’ve seen you behave in a manner not above the fray. I have no problem, sir, with you holding meetings with the leadership and trying to get people to do what you want them to do; you’re the president- that’s how it works. I have no problem with you acting like you’re above them, because by virtue of your office, you are, and those who don’t respect it should go home. I respect that your position is always a difficult one, even on the easiest jobs. I understand that you are the leader of your party and sometimes that means you have to poke everybody and get them in line. But do not, sir, talk down to me. The debt ceiling is not that simple. I know it. You know it.

As for you, Mr. Speaker: most of the time I try to give you the benefit of the doubt. Despite the ridiculous rancor that permeates every freaking thing that comes up on the Hill these days, and the fact that I blame the Republicans for about 80% of it, I think you’re probably a good guy and you want to get things done, but you’re held hostage to some degree by some wackaloons who don’t understand how the world works. And I admire that you are respectful enough of them that you don’t call them out. However, I am not seeing much respect from you, in a public forum, for the Office of the President. You don’t have to like the man holding that office right now. But you are not a patriot, sir, if you do not respect the Office, and neither are your colleagues. You come across as arrogant and difficult and immovable, and sir, that will not get you re-elected at this point, and having several members of your party declare that their mission is to make Mr. Obama a one-term president will not get you re-elected, either, because it misses the point and looks to all the world like you’re just schoolyard bullies. And I will tell you right now, Mr. Speaker, that your party is the one that has not given an inch. And the American people do not take kindly to suits who walk out of meetings.

There is a point at which digging in your heels and insisting that you, and you alone, are standing up for what the American people want becomes less heroic and more arbitrarily, unproductively contrarian.

So I would like to propose this to you, sirs:

Stop talking.

Do not go on television or the radio, do not give quotes to newspapers or magazines or blogs, until you get. This. Done.

Stop inflaming the rhetoric and stop, for God’s sake, using the phrase “kicking the can down the road.” I honestly don’t even care if it’s an accurate metaphor at this point – it’s tired. Get over the talking points and get the job done. And listen well to this point: I’m not some cute, quaint girl who acts on emotion and doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I love this country and I respect your offices and the work you do. I do not in any way respect the way you’re doing it.

As for my fellow Americans, I have a few messages for you as well.

You know how we got into this mess? You’re not innocent. Stop believing that you are entitled to more than what you need. That goes for houses, cars, income levels, new-every-two smartphones, material goods, food, fuel, energy, designer coffee and everything else you’re hogging. You’re shameless, greedy gluttons. You always want more, or better, or bigger, and you expect your government to make it easy to get it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting something rewarding or reflective of how hard you’ve worked. That’s the American Dream, and it should stay. But the American Dream that was once about owning one’s own home is now about owning one’s own home that’s at least 50% larger than what one needs, with a three-car garage and at least one luxury SUV, financed 103% and oh, by the way, brand new. So much of what you do now is about status and impressions. Get over yourselves. Your selfishness contributed mightily to this. Maybe somebody sold you a false bill of goods, but baby, you bought it, and it’s time to come to Jesus.

Now. This next message might be difficult to hear, but I’m going to say it because I believe it’s true: You need to get informed and stay that way. I know you’re sick of hearing stuff, but trust me, I’d wager dollars to doughnuts that I hear far more of it than you do, so there’s room for you to max out a little. It’s not that hard.  You have more information at your fingertips than any of your ancestors ever did. You do not get to live your life oblivious to the decisions that are being made and expect there to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You do not get to use the excuse that you need to focus on your children and don’t have time for the things you deem unessential to your livelihood and theirs. Wake up. Teach your children well by knowing that there are 537 people in Washington, DC (I’m counting the president and vice-president, and not counting the cabinet) who are making decisions that will affect their lives. Taxes, tuition, interest rates, international affairs, education policies. It’s all related. It matters. Get on it.

Next: vote. No excuses. Get informed, and get to the voting booth. Do it. This country asks nothing from you. Pay your taxes and be a decent human being and you get to live here without going to jail. Everything else is up to you. Most of my readers had mothers or grandmothers born in a time when women were not allowed to vote. We all have an immediate connection to a time when African-Americans were not allowed to vote. They had to fight for the right you throw away. We’ve got thousands of kids fighting three conflicts on the other side of the world right now, and exactly what effect has it had on your life? Unless you’re related to one of them: not a single thing. Step up.

Now: when you’re informed, and you vote, do not vote for any person who represents you if he or she has spent any time trying to blame the other side for something he or she should just shut up and fix. The only way politicians learn lessons is through elections. Congressional representatives are elected every two years. Senators every six. (Yes, six.) Presidents every four. They work for you, but if you’re a lazy, bad boss, you can’t expect them to do anything.

It’s everyone’s fault, and it’s everyone’s job. Shut up and get to work.

Not By the Hair On My Chinny-Chin-Chin

Do you think it’s possible that a hag hair could be trying to control my life?

My sisters and I share this habit of feeling up our necks and jawlines while we drive. We do it because we’re trying to seek and destroy any stubbly little hairs – or shockingly long ones – that may have cropped up unnoticed.

Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about, ladies. Everything seems clear and then all of a sudden you find a two-inch black thing sticking straight out of the middle of your neck. How does that happen? Nobody knows. It’s not an old lady thing. I’m too young for that, and my sisters are younger than me. It just happens.

Since I have an hour-long drive each way for work, I do a fair amount of mining for these suckers. I was doing it when I got a text from Jack.

“Out of the basement?” (aka my workplace… which is, in fact, a basement)

Jack and I had touched base earlier in the evening, when he told me he was meeting up with another friend of ours and invited me to join them if I got done with work early enough. But at 10pm, I knew their meet-up had ended, so these four little words carried a fair amount of weight. In most cases, I would readily respond (yes, while driving – deal with it). But since I’m apparently in the A Girl’s Gotta Find A Way To Move On Phase (for maybe the fourth time in nine years), I knew what that message probably meant. I haven’t seen Jack in three weeks, and I was only away for less than one week of that. He was going to invite me over.

Let me say this flat-out right now: Jack and I are not sleeping together. I don’t sleep with men I’m not dating. But we do have a deep and powerful relationship and there have been occasions on which that has manifested itself in some physical ways. For the overwhelming majority of our acquaintance, we have fought it like hell, but once in a while we give in. And several of those occasions have happened in the last couple of months. And I just wasn’t sure I was mentally up for it tonight.

I had a hag hair, you see. And I couldn’t get a hold of it.

Jack once recounted a tale, years ago, as we sat outside with other friends on a summer night, about a girl he knew years before that, and his extreme discomfort when he discovered that she had a rather long black hair in what he believed to have been an inappropriate place.

Ever since then, I’ve made grooming before I see him a very serious priority.

Don’t ask the question you’re thinking of. I’m not answering it. The hair I’m talking about right now was right in the middle of my neck, about two inches below my chin. It was short and prickly, and I found myself cursing the fact that I’d forgotten my “Always carry tweezers” rule. Apparently, my feeling was that if I could get a hold of that damned hair and yank it, I’d respond to Jack’s message and accept an invitation if it was extended. If not… nope.

Yes, I was aware of how ludicrous that deciding factor was.

So I drove on through the night, picking and angling and trying to get at that hair. All of my efforts for naught. And I was okay with not answering Jack’s message right then. I’d answer him when I got home… but I wanted a reason not to go to his place. I was happy enough knowing he might want to see me. I debated whether I should go; I do miss him, and it’s been too long since we saw each other; I hate it when it’s that long, regardless of the reason. We’re extraordinary friends. But I couldn’t really navigate our waters right then.

Plus I was wearing kind of crappy clothes. (Sunday at work after vacation? Yeah, I’m not trying to impress anybody.)

So the message went unanswered while I thought about what any outsider would have to say about our relationship. And as I pulled up to my place, son of a gun, I swear to whatever higher power you want me to swear to, that’s when I finally got that damned hair.

You gotta be kiddin’ me.

I didn’t ignore Jack all night, by the way. I did answer him. Shortly after I walked in the door and discovered my piano keyboard turned on and playing a sample all by itself.

Maybe a ghost was trying to tell me something, too.

Legends In Their Falling

Remember when Janis Joplin died?

I don’t, but take my larger point as I set it up for you, please:

Today the world learned that singer Amy Winehouse had been found dead in her London flat. She was 27. And almost instantly, the cyber-verse was alight with cynical commentary about it. So far, Scotland Yard has not ruled on a cause (one can only assume that, had it not been shuttered, News of the World would have immediately begun hacking into her cell phone to find out what she last said and to whom she last spoke). But the conventional wisdom is that she died of a drug overdose, or drank herself literally to death.

I’ll go along with the theory.

A lot of who we have come to regard as amazing talents died at 27 from drug and alcohol problems. Hendrix. Joplin. Belushi. I wonder… if there had been Facebook and Twitter then, would everyone have been so cynical?

You can argue with me that Winehouse is not a name that belongs in the above group. You might be right. Frankly, I don’t know her stuff well enough to say for sure, although I do know she did have a great deal of talent, and a tortured soul: two things required for admission to that club. And I would remind you that Joplin’s biggest hit, “Me and Bobby McGee,” wasn’t released until after she died, at 27, with the whiskey-and-smoke voice of a woman who had lived far beyond her years. In “Just Kids,” Patti Smith waxes both plain and nostalgic about seeing Joplin in the lobby of the Chelsea Hotel, a relative unknown but for the artists’ circles in which they both traveled. She was nobody then. A rebellious girl with attitude and a gift not everyone cared to hear.

Like Amy Winehouse.

I wasn’t around when Joplin and Hendrix died (I was for Belushi). But if the collective consciousness of cultural memory serves, they were regarded more as up-and-comers than entrenched legends then. Hendrix might have been a little more established; he’d already done the National Anthem on his guitar. But we tend to sanctify the dead after they’ve gone. We don’t know what legends they would have become if they had lived beyond their late 20s. They could have flamed out and been forgotten. It’s the romantic tragedy of their deaths that catapulted them to their culturally contributory fame, really. Though their talents and heft of legacies varied, the same could be argued for all who have died too soon: Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Patsy Cline, Robert Mapplethorpe, even John Lennon. They were sainted in death. In life, they might have wound up merely played out.

We live in different times now, certainly. In the convictional chaos of the 60s and the experimentation that lived through the 70s, it was easy to find depth and poignancy in the gone-too-soon nature of an artist’s death. Did those not belonging to the chaos – those standing outside that particular cultural fire – not regard those artists’ deaths in the same way? At the time, I’d venture the answer is that they didn’t. But now, they probably see it differently, with the glow of history surrounding it and the knowledge that they were part of that revered and reviled generation, whether they were at Woodstock or not. Now, in the digital age, news travels even more quickly than it did then, and universally– to those who don’t share the convictions of the ones who bring them word. Our reactions, now, seem to skew farther toward the wry than toward the gut-wrenched. Amy Winehouse probably won’t be a legend in death. But it would be nice if we valued her life a little more.

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Exes, Sex and the Single Woman

You know what’s awesome? Coming back from a vacation and running into the somewhat crazy ex-boyfriend you have deliberately not seen nor spoken to in four years, and then having dinner with a different former flame on purpose, even though you haven’t seen him in a year and a half.

Oh, wait. That’s not awesome. That’s sort of madness-inducing. I got confused.

Can I please go back to the middle of the ocean?

The funny thing about being single in one’s mid-30s is that one tends to get tired of one’s own relationship stories. Regular readers may have gleaned by now that Jack is a complicated story, which, if we’re being totally honest, is probably pretty cut and dried to any outsider. But it’s also valuable, meaningful and beautiful, and impossible to completely understand. And also sort of exasperating.

Most of my love life has been complicated, impossible to completely understand and sort of exasperating. And when you’re at this point in your life, that just makes you roll your eyes and slouch. You’ve done analysis to death. You’ve tried to figure it all out. You’ve figured it must be you who’s the problem, since you’re the common denominator in the relationship stories. But you can’t figure out what the problem is, exactly, and nobody ever tells you that you’re the problem. Even your shrink thought you were fabulous. Or at least he said he did.

You’ve had about 20 years of “It’s not you, it’s me.” Paired with a pretty hefty dose of very frustrating paralysis by analysis. (The internal kind. Not the kind you pay people for. At least, not anymore.) You’re surrounded by people who found it not at all difficult to meet their mate, fall in love and get married. They don’t understand your deal at all.

So in those moments when you’re tempted to try to figure it all out once again, you wind up getting halfway through a thought, and then you suddenly feel overcome with exhaustion and the need to sit down.

Wednesday at 3:30pm, I decided I really needed to get to the post office to pick up my mail, and go to the grocery store to get food, since I didn’t have any. I hadn’t had a shower in about 18 hours, but since it’s been 100 degrees for the last four weeks straight, I figured I could get away with some deodorant, a sundress and a ponytail to run these errands. Who was I going to see? It was the middle of the day in the middle of the week. Everyone’s sweating anyway. On the way to the post office, I stopped at a convenience store to get a bottle of water and a nosh so I wouldn’t be hungry at the grocery store. I was hunting around for a peanut butter Twix when suddenly there came a voice behind me:

“Hey there, stranger.”

I whirled around, got hit in the face with my greasy ponytail, and found my ex-boyfriend Mitch standing there.

Aw, hell.

We broke up about four years ago in a very ugly way after about a year together. I hated that it was ugly, but since it was finally over, I’ve always been sure that ending it was the right decision. Long story short (because telling the story will make me roll my eyes and slouch): he did a Jekyll/Hyde thing literally overnight and I stuck around way too long, trying to figure out what happened. He cheated, he lied about cheating, he turned arguments around, he didn’t care if I was hurt and he didn’t generally care about anything or anyone but himself and what he wanted. He said horrible things that I knew he didn’t mean, and that meant he was the kind of person who said things just to be hurtful, which I can’t abide. Two years after it ended, he tried to get in contact several times via email. He even left an unsigned Christmas card outside my place. (Which I thought was actually from someone else: Bob, who had disappeared inexplicably just a couple of weeks before. I mean, how dare Mitch think he was the only jackass in my life?)

Then, a short time later, he was IMing Jack’s co-worker on Jack’s business’s Facebook page, of which Mitch had become a “fan.” He knows Jack from years before I met either of them. When Mitch and I were together, he always felt threatened by Jack. He had never met Jack’s co-worker, but still, he was telling her via IM about how Jack’s best friend (a label that’s never been used, even if it may be true) was his ex-girlfriend, so Jack probably hates him, but he got a bad rap on that. The co-worker told Jack, Jack told me.

Mitch, what are you doing?!

But since I moved last summer, I’ve known I was bound to run into him sooner or later. I live in the same relatively small zip code now. I figured I’d see him at the post office, or Starbucks. But no. It was the convenience store. Hair greasy, Lunchable in hand, craving a peanut butter Twix and still fighting the floating sensation that comes with having been on a boat.

In typical fashion, he complimented how I was “keeping my figure” and then immediately followed that comment by telling me I shouldn’t eat that Lunchable. He started telling me all the things he’s doing these days, and how he has a roommate now so he can keep his house since the income wasn’t guaranteed when he started his business two years ago, but how she’s almost never there and she helps out by feeding the cat and watering the flowers (he has a beautiful backyard), but she’s really almost never there. He asked if I ever got the Christmas card.

I played dumb, made him squirm a little, and then said, “Oh, that was you? You didn’t sign the card. I thought it was from someone else.”

“Oh, so some other guy got the credit for that, huh?”

Credit? This is the thing about relationships and their endings: there’s a fine line between romance and horror. Mitch’s card veered pretty far toward the latter.

After a bit more small talk, he said what I feared he would say. “Well, I’ll ask… would you like to get together some time? Coffee or something?”

Sure! Can you run me over in the parking lot first?

There’s no good way to navigate this with Mitch, because he doesn’t take hints. The normal person would say, “Oh, yeah, we should!” and then just never seem to be able to find the time. The other person would get the hint. Mitch doesn’t work that way. If I had said, “Oh, yeah, we should!” he would have hunted me down, and if I then performed evasive action or otherwise declined, he would have gotten nasty. So I had to say something definitive, right there in the middle of the little store.

“Umm…” I stalled, scrunching up my face and feeling really awkward. “… let’s skip it.”

“Let’s skip it?” I said “Let’s skip it?” Who says that?

“Really?” he said, kind of scrunching up his own face.

“Yeah,” I said, attempting to be apologetic.

And then we parted ways.

Alright, well, that’s done. Bound to happen eventually. There it was. Roll my eyes. Slouch.

And bollocks, he’s still as handsome as ever. Too bad he’s an ass.

Then, just a few hours later, I was chatting on Facebook with Bob – who eventually did reappear, although our relationship, we agreed, was probably done. During our chat, he mentioned that he and his girlfriend had broken up about six weeks ago.

Oh dear.

Oh dear dear dear.

When I had found out he was seeing her, I was truly happy for him because he seemed so happy, finally. And I found myself wondering if he is a happier person now than he was when we were together. I was a little jealous, maybe. And I have wondered about him from time to time. And we have stayed in touch on a very friendly and casual basis, which I like, but then suddenly we were chatting and he asked if I wanted to get together for dinner. The next day.

Oh, dear dear dear dear dear.

But you know what? I’ve wondered about him, and I haven’t seen Jack in two and a half weeks and haven’t really heard from him much since I got back from the trip. I’m not actually seeing anyone– what would be the harm? So I went. I had spent all day looking forward to it, not because I wanted to date Bob again (I don’t know what I want in that regard, honestly), but because it would be nice to see him and get a new sense of how he is and who he is these days.

Sitting across from him, though, I found myself uncomfortable.

It wasn’t him. It was me.

I have some very lovely memories of us, if you know what I mean, and I do think of that sometimes (fine, including all day before dinner), and now here I’m sitting across from him and I don’t actually want to relive the memories and I’m not at all sure what I’m doing or why I’m doing it.

That’s crap. Yes, I do. I just don’t know if it’s the right thing. Because it was good to see him, but when I left, all I wanted was Jack. The trick is, I can’t have Jack. Not really. So a girl’s gotta find a way to move on. I just don’t know if rewinding is the right way to do it. And the idea of… ugh, dating… makes me feel the need to sit down.

Roll eyes. Slouch.

Featured image is not of me. It only feels like it. It’s actually someone from

“Righteous! Righteous!” Thoughts On a Disney Cruise

Disney cruises are magical.

They have to be. How else do you explain why 1500 crew members working 12-15 hours a day for months at a stretch are so damned pleasant all the time? Pixie dust. They gotta be hittin’ the pixie dust.

I have returned from my Amazing Race trip. As you have been able to tell if you’re a subscriber, I didn’t get to post while I was away. I’m sure you’ve survived that particular horror relatively unscathed. To be honest, I did occasionally wonder about how I could write a post about the trip when really, nothing funny or worthy of snark happened.

What? Nothing worthy of snark? In my world?!

Let me see if I can work something up.

I’ll spare you the day-by-day synopsis of what we did on this trip, because you don’t know me in person and therefore you don’t care. So I’ll just say we set sail Friday evening from Port Canaveral and arrived Saturday morning in Nassau, where only my Parents and I got off the ship because Sisters 1 & 2, Brothers-In-Law 1 & 2 and the Nephs were all trying to get a handle on their respective life schedules at the time. (When you put twin 3-year-olds and a 16-month-old on a cruise ship full of pools, water slides they’re an inch too short to ride, larger-than-life Disney characters and food, after a flight and shuttle or a long drive, you get combustible conditions. They were astonishingly good on the trip, with meltdowns associated only with lamenting their height and the 8:15pm dinner seating, which was decidedly past all of their bedtimes, but regrettably could not be changed for a party of 11. I did have to chase Neph 1 halfway down the length of the ship on the pool deck because he has a tendency to take off, but that was it.)

About 1/3 of the pool deck on the Disney Dream, empty because of a tropical storm at sea.

In Nassau, Parents and I promptly looked for and found ways to part ourselves from our money. I’m sure it’s a beautiful and interesting city, but we barely got more than three blocks in from the shore. We were in port until 2am but Parents are not particularly adventurous, and therefore no excursions were scheduled. No big deal. I set foot on land and can therefore say I’ve been to Nassau.

Nassau from the upper deck

Here’s the kind of awesome thing about cruising to that town: there are tons of jewelry stores within spitting distance of the ship, and they lure you in to look at their sparkly shiny things with promises of free sparkly shiny things. And then… they actually give you the free sparkly shiny things. Fine, so I bought some other stuff to go with the free thing at the first store (because what can one do with a loose one-carat midnight sapphire other than set it in something?). So I have a new pendant. And then we went to another store offering free 1/2 carat gemstone pendants… and they actually gave them to us. A free pink topaz on a silver chain, and eh, ten bucks for the matching earrings. Then, the saleswoman said if we went to their other location, two blocks away, we could get a free smoky topaz, too. And so we did.

It was like trick-or-treating for jewels.

Sure, they’re probably not that valuable, and sure, they generally look better set in yellow gold, and sure, I don’t wear silver, but that’s immaterial. I didn’t pay for them.

The next day was Castaway Cay, which is a Bahamian island owned (nay, leased for 99 years from the Bahamian government) by the charming giant rodent and his pals. Although it’s a little contrived and you’re stacked on top of each other like cans of sardines in a grocery store, you’re still sitting on a Bahamian island with a cocktail in your hand, splashing around in the blue-green water, so shut up.

All complainers, walk the plank!

That brings me to a larger point with which I did battle several times over the course of the trip: there can be, really, no complaining on a voyage like this. You are entertained at every moment you so choose, by live shows, first-run (Disney) movies, swimming, sunning, drinking, eating, dancing and lounging. The presence of vermin is assumed (this is how Disney gets around rodent complaints – “What did you expect? Our most popular characters are mice!”), you have literally everything you could possibly want or need at your beck and call (for a small fee if you want it delivered to your room)… and if you want to complain about the fee to deliver something to your room, you can’t, really, because it’s being schlepped there by some poor 20-something from an Eastern Bloc country who’s working, have I mentioned, 12 – 15 hours a day with a smile on his face all the freaking time, listening to songs from Bedknobs and Broomsticks and The Little Mermaid all day, every day, just to make your spoiled ass Feel the Magic. And the service is unbelievable.

I suppose you could complain, but you’d look like a jerk.

I had a little trouble navigating this dichotomy with Parents. Mother is not much of a complainer, but Father tends to randomly spout thoughts that come out as though they’re complaints, and when I try to counteract them with possible explanations, he gets irritated. My point, which I don’t make aloud in so many words, is that you apparently had thousands of dollars to burn by giving it to the Disney people and making them cart you around on a ship and feed you unlimited amounts of food prepared by relatively top-notch culinary artists, and cater to your every need, taking you to poor locations where you soothe your conscience by telling yourself that tourism is their greatest economic contributor and therefore the people there need you to give your money to the Disney people and make them cart you to their island, so you can spend more of your money.

Which is actually true. But still makes you out to be a d-bag, doesn’t it?

Now how do you say that to your father? You can’t.

And you do spend money. Not everything on the ship is included in your cruise package; you do have to spend extra on gratuities, particularly at the end of the trip, when you give to the stateroom host, the head server (which Father complained about, since you don’t see him much more than once a night – but you give him literally a dollar a day per person in your stateroom, so deal with it), your main server and your assistant server, who, by the way, is busting his ass to make your indecisive, mixed-message-sending self happy as an animated clam under the sea). You pay extra for merch and you pay extra for alcohol.

Bahama Mamas, served up by Dorian of St. Vincent. Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.

Oh, yes. The alcohol.

That’s where roughly $150 of my end-of-voyage billing statement came from. Plus $100 for the above-mentioned gratuities (I handled Sister 3’s end as well, since she was my stateroommate and she’s only 21), and $150 for a massage, which I got easily, despite the Disney Commies telling me everything was booked when I tried several times before departure.

Oh, and $40 for professionally-done photos.


But they make it so easy, you see, because they give you a little card with Donald Duck on it, and it has your name and some code numbers on it, and you use it for everything, from getting into your room to turning on the lights to accessing a foreign country to buying stuff. You use it so much in four nights that, when you get back on American soil, you’ve forgotten that you need keys and funny-looking paper and metal cash and, like, a thought in your head to get around in life.

But this card, my friends, this card is further evidence of the communism at work. They use it to track your every move. They scan it and your picture pops up. It tells them what room you’re in. It lets them charge you for stuff. It might as well be a microchip implanted in your flesh. It’s so fabulously convenient that you lose sight of the fact that you are basically under their control with that one little card.

Ahhhhhh, villainy disguised as charm. Gets you every time. Hell, that’s what Disney movies are about.

A bunch of Disney Bad Guys (and Gals) on stage in one of the Dream's onboard theaters. No flash photography; my camera picked up the ambient light just fine.

Still, I have exactly zero complaints about this trip. I even got to spend a little quiet time in the Quiet Cove pool area, sans children (people actually obey signs on Disney cruise ships!), watching the watery world go by for two hours as I sipped a cocktail and dozed on a cushy cabana seat as we shipped out from the Bahamas to head back to the States… slowly.

Does not suck.

I’m glad I grabbed that time, because the next day we were at-sea the whole day, which meant all 4,000 passengers on board were on the pool deck, and Quiet Cove was overrun by Worn Out Adults. I took 365 pictures with my camera (hooray for digital). I saw the Nephs’ faces light up with happiness and made my family laugh with my quips. I saw sunsets and super-impressive lightning storms (we sailed around a tropical storm) and laughed in the rain. I rode a giant twisty turny on-board water slide in a raft.

And I got my picture taken with Minnie Mouse. For whom I have newfound respect, because the people on these ships work so incredibly hard, away from their own families for months, just to make you happy and make some cash that they can send home to their families in Indonesia and Bulgaria and Slovenia and Peru.

It’s a small world, after all.

Featured image of Crush from “Finding Nemo” NOT swiped from Disney film, but taken by me onboard during a little dinner entertainment. Don’t sue me, Mickey.

Cat and Mousecapades

Me, to the cat, exasperatedly: “You really must grow opposable thumbs.”

Cat, nonplussed: “Meow.”

I’m going on vacation. This vacation has Amazing Race-like qualities, in that it will take several legs and modes of transport to arrive at the eventual destinations… but it is not at all like the show, in that it requires positively no energy other than schlepping to said modes of transport. With thousands of my human kin, I am embarking on a four-night Disney cruise.

Which is somewhat odd, as I have no children.

I do have nephews. They’re going. That’s how we justified the reservations.

This trip will involve my Parents, Sister 1, Bro-in-law 1, Twin Nephs, Sister 2, Bro-in-law 2, Youngest Neph, Sister 3 and myself. It’s actually pretty great that we still do the group vacation thing, though it doesn’t usually involve the wide-open sea and a giant, luxurious cruise ship full of larger-than-life rodents and princesses. We’re trying to extend the life of that group vacation effort indefinitely, even though some of us have bred, and I moved away from everyone 16 years ago and never got closer than two hours away since, and then my parents moved away even farther than I ever was (thus giving me the privilege to rebuff all passive-aggressive forms of scorn for having moved away at all).

But, as you know if you’ve ever gone on a vacation as an adult, it involves a great deal of planning and chore-doing before you actually depart. And combined with the joys of full-time employment, long commutes and other obligations, that means you get to do a load of Whatever Colors There Are, To Hell With It laundry at midnight the night before you leave, while you alternately stuff things into luggage and wander around your home muttering to yourself incessantly about what needs to be done before you go.

And, in my case, have a dirty martini.

I’ve been on one other cruise, and it was 12 years ago. That time, though, my parents had taken care of everything. Which means I had no idea how laborious a task it is to get it together to get on a big boat and go somewhere. The communists at Disney want to know everything about me, including the name of my firstborn, and if no such child yet exists, the potential name of my firstborn, and if the potential doesn’t exist, the reason for the lack of said potential. I’m signing contracts, I’m filling stuff out online, I’m being urged by Goofy to make sure all my passport information is entered, I’m triple-checking baggage tags, I’m making a list of the lists I need to make and checking that stuff off, I’m communing with the Department of State… it’s overwhelming.

Leave it to Mickey Mouse to turn grown women into whirling dervishes.

Rat bastard.

But seriously, I’m looking forward to it… now. Because I figure everything’s done, and what isn’t… well, it’s not going to get done at this point. Once I leave work, I’m driving straight to Sister 2’s house (2.5 hours), going to bed, getting up a short time later and heading out with her, her hubby, their tot and Sister 3 to the airport, from which we will fly to Orlando, and then take a shuttle to their hotel, and then get picked up from there by Parents, who will take Sister 3 and myself to our hotel, where Parents are also staying. At some point, Sister 1 and BIL 1 join up with us, with Twin Nephs in tow, having gone to Orlando early to visit BIL 1’s brother and his family.

They drove all night (cue Cyndi Lauper) last night, and I understand Twin Nephs did not want to sleep in the van, because they thought they had to sleep on the “Mickey Boat.”

We stay tomorrow night at the hotels, and around noonish on Friday, we board the Disney Dream for four nights of seafaring adventure. Ports of call: Nassau and Disney’s Castaway Cay. They own the joint.

It’s an island.

And they own it.


(I actually love Disney, for the record. But come on. You know they’ve got a plan for world domination.)

But I digress. What’s done is done and what isn’t, isn’t. And in point of fact, what almost wasn’t… was getting someone to feed the cat. The cat, having been acquired as an allegedly low-maintenance pet, developed transient diabetes a few years ago, throwing in a UTI and pancreatitis for extra fun, and now cannot eat dry food. She has to have wet food, and wet food cannot be left in a great heap on the floor for days and days and days. So I need a cat-feeder if I go away for more than two or three.

My Budd-ish neighbor, Shanti-Mayi/Toni, has my spare apartment key. She has two cats, Agape and Tres-Siete (three legs, seven lives left), and she’s very kind about feeding my cat if I go anywhere. Alas, Shanti-Mayi/Toni appears to be out of town.

Would that I had realized this prior to 11pm last night.

Okay, this is fine. I have two other neighbors, and they’re both super nice and love animals. They’ll help.

Notes went up on doors. The night passed. The notes were still on the doors come morning.

Oh. They’re not here either.

(What the hell, people? Am I the only one in the building? Okay, new rule: if ever there is only one person in the building for an extended period of time, said person should be notified of their status as the solo resident so that they don’t go trying to save the rest of the group in the event of a fire, for naught.)

So… everyone’s gone. And I’m going to be gone for six, and possibly seven, nights.

Me, to the cat, somewhat desperately: “You really can’t open cans by yourself?”

Cat, still nonplussed: “Meow.”


I was coming down to the wire. The carriage was about to turn into a pumpkin. This morning, while I was madly cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, washing dishes and calculating time constraints, I had to email my former neighbor, Ali. “Ack! HELP!” was the subject line. I begged her to either come dump a supply of the cat’s food every two or three days, or come get her and take her to Ali’s place, whatever works. Ali now lives 20-25 minutes from me and she’s a single mom, so this isn’t an easy drill. I sweetened the pot with an offer to have her and her son stay at my place at least for the weekend, using such luxuries as cable, internet access and pool passes, and granting free and unfettered access to my bookshelves and DVDs.

I think she bought it. In any case, she’s feeding the cat. Phew. That was close.

Her agreement to help, and possibly stay at my place for the weekend, then necessitated a flurry of new and unplanned mandatory activities, like putting fresh sheets on the beds (requiring another load of laundry), vacuuming the whole place instead of just the part a casual feeder would see, cleaning the bathroom, and figuring out where to hide two separate keys: the one to the building and the one to my apartment. I think that was fairly well accomplished, unless someone finds the one I hid outside before Ali does on Friday. Then we could have a problem. The management won’t let her in because they don’t know her. I’m not reachable at that point, and even if I were, I couldn’t come home. I’m with a giant mouse, on his boat.

And as we know from a previous post, the cat isn’t so great about catching up with mice, or knowing what to do if she did.

Bon voyage, readers. I wasn’t able to write any posts ahead of my departure. I’m told Mickey does offer wi-fi at sea… but he charges for it, of course.


Cat. Nonplussed.

Featured image from

Whoa Nelly!

What is it about sports that turns some people into irrational, angry freaks? And I’m not talking about violence at ball games. I’m not touching that. It’s stupid. It’s wrong. The end. I’m talking about people who get all fired up and mad at other people, or other teams, over something as silly and relatively meaningless to life as a ball game.

I’m a big sports fan. I’ve always loved sports. If there’s no NFL football this season, I will be beside myself. I’ll watch college games, though; I’ve been a Penn State fan all my life, and by invoking a woman’s prerogative, I’ve allowed myself to also be an Ohio State fan even though they’re both Big Ten teams, because Penn State was an independent school until 1990 and I went to a tiny college in Ohio which had great academics, but craptastic sports teams, and therefore I had to adopt OSU if I wanted to maintain my sanity.

That is the only thing in sports for which I’ve invoked a woman’s prerogative, by the way.

I’ve been well-versed on IndyCar racing since 1985. I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I watch the World Series and maybe a random game here and there before that. I don’t generally watch the NBA because I don’t care for that particular brand of showboating, but I’ll watch college hoops, and I do all the same grunting and shouting and throwing my arms up in the air that everyone else does during March Madness. I’ll even put a hockey game on, even though I really don’t understand hockey very well and can’t figure out why its season seems to be approximately 13 months long, nine months of which most people in the Lower 48 are unaware that the game is even being played, and the other four months of which appear to be playoffs.

On any given weekend afternoon, if the television is on, there will be a sport displayed on it. It’s part of the fabric of my life; I’d rather see a golf match on a Sunday afternoon than a bad Lifetime movie. And I don’t really like golf. I suppose, for me, it’s the shared experience and the fact that it’s a measure of actual skills, abilities and talents. It’s also that I grew up with a father who watched sports on the weekends, and that’s how I connected with him sometimes.

But there are a lot of things about sports fans that I just can’t abide. Irrational anger being one of them. How many of us know someone who we like just fine except when they’re watching their favorite team play? My college roommate’s boyfriend (now husband) threw plates at the television during Cavs games when we were in school. My plates. And my television.

I don’t understand people who want pitchers to bean batters with baseballs just to get even. Try winning, instead. I can’t be near someone who spends his or her time trying to shout someone else down or using completely irrelevant arguments roughly akin to “Oh yeah?! Well you’re ugly!” to try to make a point. Why do the successes or failings of a team of people you don’t know have such a profound effect on your feelings of self-worth that you have to pick a fight over them? I’m a loyal fan of Philadelphia teams, and I cannot tell you how often someone’s feelings of inadequacy over their own team results in them yelling at me because, in 1968, some Eagles fans booed Santa. “You booed SANTA!” they yell at me.

Well, actually, no, I didn’t. I wasn’t born until 1977. I don’t even know anybody who was there when that happened.

See, I don’t associate myself with entire throngs of people and/or entire teams of athletes who compete in a sport I don’t play. And you probably shouldn’t associate me with them, either. I’m an Eagles fan, a Phillies supporter, a backer of the Sixers and the Flyers (despite previous declarations of relative ambivalence toward their sports; I get the hometown pride thing, and I’ll never fault anyone for theirs). I’m pretty vocal. I’ll yell at the television. I’ll cheer. I’ll bang on the table or the couch (that’s pretty much just for Eagles games). But I do not play for the team, nor do I behave the exact same way as what in all reality is a very limited number of their fans.

And I don’t think you’re a loser if your favorite team loses. So stop trying to prove something to me with your fury. It’s juvenile.

Also, it makes your face look funny. There’s a vein in your forehead that sticks out when they screw up, and it scares me.

Don’t get me wrong. You’re allowed to have fun and be a goof when you want to lighten up and cheer on the team. Wear a foam finger. A hat that appears to be made out of cheese. A pig nose and a dress (though we’re already going to be at odds if you wear that, because it means you’re a Redskins fan, and I, as an Eagles fan, cannot possibly be your friend.)

But if you ever – and I mean ever – paint your chest and stand shirtless at a game where the temperature is somewhere in the vicinity of non-existent on a thermometer, we’re done.

But that’s sort of extreme, and most of the people in my life are at least old enough to know better at this point.

So those are the really freaky fans. Most people, I’ll admit, aren’t like that. When it comes to what is arguably the average sports fan, here’s what cracks me up, or makes me want to tear my hair out, depending on my mood:

-People who call in to radio sports talk shows and rant about one person – an owner, a manager, a coach, a player – being the entire reason for a whole team’s consistent failure. You’re delusional. Find a new point to make.

-People who don’t call in to radio sports talk shows, but still rant about one person – an owner, a manager, a coach, a player – being the entire reason for a whole team’s consistent failure. You’re delusional, too. But I’ll give you some credit for not being narcissistic enough to think an entire listening area should hear your ignorant opinion.

-People whose allegiance to a team extends only so far as when the team wins. I’ll give you a pass if your team’s suckitude forces you to endure more than ten losing seasons in a row.

-People who start altercations in bars over games (and, by association, people for whom alcohol is a catalyst for argumentativeness).

-People who seem to believe they actually play on the team. These folks turn up on those sports radio talk shows fairly often. “We need to improve the right outside linebacker position.” “We need more depth at center.” “We need better pitching.” Who is “we?” Are you on the roster and nobody knows? Are you 117th in the depth chart?

-People who feel the need to dress head-to-toe in their favorite team’s gear on game day.

-People who feel the need to dress head-to-toe in their favorite team’s gear on a day on which a game is not being played (that’s worse than the game day one).

These last two points have become particularly interesting to me. Jack, who works around sports types, finds it demeaning to wear a jersey with another man’s name on his back. He thinks that people who do so are insecure to some degree, and feel better about themselves via the association to some random person who happens to be talented enough to go pro. He thinks that’s kind of pathetic.

Jack’s kind of a deep thinker sometimes.

But he has a point, and frankly, not only have I come to see it; I’ve come to agree with it. Don’t be offended if you own a jersey with some player’s name on the back. I wouldn’t refuse to associate with you or anything, unless you’re a freak fan, but I think it’s an interesting topic for sociological study. Why do we think that professional athletes or celebrities are better than us? That their signatures mean more than ours? That they have outpaced us in accomplishments or live better lives?

Other than the fact that they’re rich. That’s a given.

My theory is that whatever it is that makes some fans think that those athletes are better people is the same thing that makes those fans irate at the smallest error in a game, or makes them lash out at a fan from an opposing team. Insecurity and immaturity. Napoleon Syndrome, in a metaphysical way.

Enjoy the game. But I’m going to sit waaaay over here, ‘kay?

Featured image from

A Farewell To Arms

I was standing in the bathroom the other day, doing my hair, and when I turned around to look at the back with the handheld mirror, I noticed that the arm that was down at my side was suddenly a lot chunkier in the area just above my elbow. I say “a lot”… I really can’t tell you what it looked like before this. Just… not like this.

Then, on another day, I caught sight of the other elbow in the mirror and thought, “Why does my elbow look swollen?” Upon closer inspection, I realized it wasn’t swollen at all. It was surrounded by a soft cushion of blub.

I’m sorry, what?

No. No no. I will not have this problem this early in life. Preferably I will not have it ever, but definitely not now.

I’ve never had the slimmest arms in the family – sisters 2 and 3 do. But I used to have pretty rockin’ arms. The weight lifting I used to do at the gym had them toned and relatively, sort of average level sexy looking. Then I was told by an orthopedic surgeon that if I didn’t want to be in nine kinds of pain from the bad disc in my neck, I couldn’t lift weights anymore.

And now I’ve got this situation going on.

I was thinking about this today while I was standing in the kitchen, eating the leftover half of the 10″ pizza I got for dinner last night (and the remains of the sizeable salad I didn’t finish – so that makes it okay). I’ve never been super-lean. I’ve also never really been clinically overweight. At my heaviest, I was about 20 pounds heavier than I am now, and that was in college, because I dated Ben and Jerry and Colonel Sanders more than any other guy. I lost the college weight my junior year when I joined a gym and I’ve never put it back on (thank God), though maybe a couple pounds here and there have shown up. And then I get rid of those.

I know, I sound obnoxious to anybody who has had a real struggle with weight. But don’t get me wrong. I come from a family of overweight people. Only one person is obese, but the rest could definitely stand to lose 30 pounds. And it happens not at my age, but in about 10 years. I’m aware of the problem. And just because I’m not overweight doesn’t mean I don’t have body image issues. I have a butt, and I have hips. I’m a very healthy weight for my height, but it doesn’t matter; for about 15 years I was unquestionably a size 10 and sometimes a 12. Now I’m an 8, and I feel pretty good and generally fairly confident, and I don’t want to go back.

My most reliable indicator of weight gain has always been my stomach. I am fortunate that I don’t carry much extra around my middle; what extra I have is all in the trunk. But if my stomach started to get a little gutty, I knew I had to pay attention and knock off whatever stupid eating I’d been doing recently. Then, when I turned 30, I was terrified of what my metabolism would do. But in a bizarro twist, it actually got better. (I know. Please don’t throw things or cancel your subscription. I was shocked. I totally expected it to go completely straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200.) But I think the real kicker was that I was singing all the time in rehearsals and concerts – two nights a week for rehearsals and then some runs of concerts that were a week long, every night. So I would eat something like a PB&J on wheat, or even just a few handfuls of trail mix, at around 6:30 before I left work, and then I would go sing and never eat for the rest of the night. That, combined with going to the gym most days (alright, some days) and eating about every four hours during the day made the difference. I lost a few pounds.

Lately, though, I have paid zero attention to my metabolism. It’s fine if I don’t eat late (now I don’t get home from work until 11 or midnight). But for some reason, I’ve started noshing at night.

And I haven’t been to the gym in a Time Period That Shall Not Be Named. To say it’s been since at least the fifth Harry Potter book release is probably fair.

And apparently, it’s going straight to my arms. It’s been sort of hiding somewhere and then, like, Tuesday it decided to show up.


You suck. (image from, which I'm pretty sure is a scam site)



I have been thinking for a while that I should go back to working out. I really have no excuse not to. I can’t do upper body weights anymore. Lat pulls, seated rows, deltoid lifts and pectoral fly – the “I must! I must! I must increase my bust!” motion – have all been ruled out by the ortho; I can do bicep curls and triceps extensions if I keep my shoulders down and level, but even that can cause problems. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still do cardio, lower body weights and abs.

Truthfully, my excuse for not going anymore was that there was never any parking.

Yes, you read that correctly.

I hate working out. Over the last ten years or so, I have come to know many marathon runners and regular workers-out. Three of the men I’ve dated have run multiple marathons and triathalons – one is a repeat Ironman. I don’t understand them. I used to be a regular worker-out, but I never liked it. These people love it.

What is wrong with them?

And why were they dating me? Shouldn’t they be with other exercise freaks?

Every time I went to the gym, I had to gut out the workout. I hate sweating, I hate being out of breath and I hate feeling like an under-achiever. I always had to cover the cardio machine displays with my towel so I wouldn’t look at the clock every 47 seconds thinking, “Am I done yet? Am I done? How ’bout now? Am I done yet?” while sweat dripped off my elbows and rolled down my back into the waistband of my clothes. I can’t listen to music while I do cardio because I find myself timing the workout according to song lengths. “Okay, that was three songs, so like ten minutes.” And then I’d look and find that those songs were apparently shorter than I thought, and I’d be all, “UGH!”

As soon as I’d walk into the place, the stench of body odor would smack me in the face and I’d want to turn back.  The women in the locker room were astonishingly free with their bodies, treating me to a precise knowledge of who colored their hair and who didn’t. So when I’d drive all the way there and then find that there was nowhere to park, well, forget it. I’d huff and mentally cross my arms and stomp my foot and say, “Well then I’m not going!”

And the supposed “endorphin high” apparently never happened to me, even after ten years of decently regular exercise. As soon as I was done working out, I wanted to A) eat, and 2) take a nap.

In short, I am an uninspiring model of fitness.

But I was in much, much better shape than I am now, and that’s another reason I dread going back. I’ll be on a treadmill or a crosstrainer for like three minutes and think I’m going to die and soil my pants and vomit. Since I joined a gym at the age of 20, I have never been away for this long. It’s going to be like starting all over again.


Maybe I can just walk around with my arms over my head all the time. That still looks good.