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Archive for September, 2004

Get Arrested

Arrested Development” won and Emmy! Three of them, actually. My faith in network television has been renewed! I was having serious doubts and was ready to swear off T.V. entirely (ok, maybe not entirely) when “Arrested Development” was threatened with cancellation. But sanity prevailed somewhere amongst network executives preoccupied with bottom lines and target demographics. Sunday evening is my “T.V. night” and I can’t imagine it without G.O.B. and Buster. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, the complete first season of “Arrested…” comes out on DVD October 19th and the second season starts November 2nd on Fox.

So what’s so special about this show? The writing for one. The creators have gifted us with the likes of Lindsay Bluth-Funke, whose involvement in such wayward social causes as H.O.O. P. (Hands Off Our Penises) has gotten her into trouble with the Jewish Defense League. Her ex-doctor husband Tobias is a “nevernude” whose aversion to undressing threatened to jeopardize his budding acting career when he was faced with shooting a group shower scene for a prison movie. And then there’s Buster, easily my favorite one of the bunch. Poor Buster. Over-educated and unemployable. Completely lacking in social skills and forced to live with his caustic mother.

So the writing earned a much-deserved Emmy, but you’ve really got to wonder who the hell would want to write for television these days anyway. You may as well go straight to the unemployment line and cut out the middleman. Reality shows have taken the creativity out of T.V. so that all we’re left with is Trista and Ryan getting married to the chop-chop-chop of helicopters hovering overhead. “Arrested Development” is witty and fresh. It’s like the best of British TV but easier to understand. Check it out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

On a personal note, the depression of last week seems to have passed. Yes, I’m still sad that Sarah is leaving and still peeved that no one seems to realize how great I am, but I’m dealing. I’ll continue to be great and am planning to take over Sarah’s desk as soon as she leaves.

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Parka

I joined Weight Watchers for the first time when I was 17-years-old. Back then I had maybe 40 pounds to lose. I lost some if it, but not all, and eventually gained back what I had lost in spades. Fast forward thirteen years. I had joined and quit WW a total of 17 times (no joke). I just couldn’t get it together enough to lose the weight and was disgusted at the 300-plus pound self I saw in the mirror. I joined WW again and this time I saw success.

At least until this summer.

Nathan and I bought our first house this summer. I thought buying a house would be fun. I’m a born snoop and loved the thought walking through other peoples’ homes while they’re gone and getting to open up cabinets, closets and drawers. I had no idea I’d walk into every house and see flaws everywhere. Flaws I couldn’t possibly live with and didn’t want to have to fix. During one Saturday our realtor took us to 14 different homes. We just weren’t finding a house that fit. My mother likened the process to searching for the perfect wedding dress and I agreed. We would know the house when we saw it.

That being said, the entire process was stressful and I dealt with that stress by eating. I gained 10 pounds over the summer and haven’t quite gotten back into the “program” as WW puts it. As of last March I had successfully lost 81 pounds and had faithfully attended every Saturday meeting. I proudly displayed my 25, 50 and 75-pounds-lost magnets on my refrigerator.

Lately I’ve been skipping meetings left and right. One night last week I came home and microwaved 20 Bagel Bites for dinner. I’ve been trying to medicate myself with food and it’s not working. I’m skipping my exercise, opting to stay in bed an hour longer in the morning. I don’t want to worry about planning my meals because I’ve got to worry about getting my homework done.

But I have a Columbia parka in my closet.

Columbia does not make extended size parkas for women. They do for men, but not women. I guess the folks at Columbia are too busy putting money into their clever print ads and not enough into research that shows there are women out there who are large and would like to be able to wear one of their coats. I’ve always wanted a Columbia parka but was always too big to get into one.

This past spring I found one on clearance at Younkers. It was an XL and didn’t quite fit but I was convinced it would by the time I’d need to wear it. I was so convinced I would lose the weight that I gave away the winter coat I had. So now that parka, all bright yellow and navy blue, taunts me every time I open the hall closet. I’m proud of the weight I’ve lost so far and am thankful that I haven’t gained more than 10 pounds back, but I want to get into that coat. I don’t know if that’s going to happen this year. It’s the middle of September. We might be lucky and not get much snow before Christmas, but I’m going to need something soon. Nathan’s so cute. He’s convinced I can lose the weight I need to get into the coat by winter. Gotta love that optimism.

So the struggle now is to not let the stress and depression get to me. The stress is only going to increase the further I get into the semester and the closer it gets to the holidays. We’re having Thanksgiving at our house this year, which means we’ll have to keep the patio furniture out on the deck well into November. My dad’s allergic to cats.

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Regret

I visited Miss Daisy last night at my parents’ house, and all was well until my dad mentioned where he was supposed to be last night; Butte, Montana. Though he is fond of the new pup, my dad is mourning his lost trip. “At my age, it’s pretty much all I have to look forward to,” he said. He resents my mother and me for “destroying” his vacation. I don’t regret doing what I did, but I do regret that my father feels the way he feels. In hindsight, I should have waited to tell him about the dog and let him discover her when he got home.

Though he would never admit it, I think my father regrets acting the way he did. He made the decision to come home. Perhaps he now thinks the decision rash. Maybe I’m just trying to ease my feelings of guilt. Who knows? Dad mentioned that my grandmother (the other grandma that did not go with my mom and me to pick up Daisy) said my mom needed more time to mourn Betsy. “That’s stupid,” I said. “How can grandma know what Mom needs better than Mom?”

So that incident set the tone for the rest of the evening. I’ve been feeling really depressed these past few days, mostly about work-related issues. My best friend at work, Sarah (the creative stamping whiz), is leaving the office for a job at the university’s campus downtown. Sarah’s been with us for two years and has touched us in ways we never even realized until she told us she was leaving. We’re all in mourning. We talk about her as if she’s dead instead of just moving to another campus. Sarah sits across the aisle from me and has been my confidant and “cube buddy” since her first day. She brought me out of myself and made me believe I could have friends at work.

There are other issues-stupid office bullshit that makes women who are grandmothers act like five-year-olds. Sometimes it is a chore to work with other human beings. I try to let it all wash over me by telling myself that I do not work to make friends, just money. Friends make working so much easier, though. I don’t think I would have survived in this office without them.

I cried a lot last night. I cried about Sarah and about my dad’s lost trip. I cried because I don’t want to be my parents. My mom was so wrapped up in her dog that she was lost without a pet. She couldn’t face the thought of being in the room with my father yet still be so alone. My father said a lot when he said his vacations are all he has to look forward to. His life is otherwise empty. I don’t want to be like that when I’m his age. I don’t want to look forward only to what I can give myself and not get joy out of what I already have.

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Voyeur

Nathan has been reading my blog. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I originally gave my husband the link to my blog so that he could read the first couple of posts. I had no idea he would continue reading.

The other day, I caught him reading my last post and the one before that. Actually I didn’t “catch” him so much as turn my head as he was sitting right next to me. “I can’t believe you’re still reading that,” I said.

“I like to keep up on what’s going on with you and what you’re thinking. You’re not exactly an open book.”

Excuse me, but if the two of us were books, I would be the book with the dog-eared pages and the frayed cover. I would be the book you wouldn’t get squat for if you tried to sell it back at the end of the semester. Nathan would be the book with the shiny cover and crisp pages; the book that cracked at the spine as if every time it was opened up was the first time ever.

I was intrigued by his curiosity but also a little insulted. “Whenever I try to talk to you about stuff like this you just zone out.”

“Well this is different,” he said. “I get to read at my leisure and then think about what you wrote. This is good! We’re communicating.”

“No we’re not,” I countered, “I’m communicating. This is a one way street! Why don’t you start a blog so I can read what you’re thinking?”

Nathan scoffed at the thought of starting his own blog. What would he have to say, anyway? I teased him with a verbal satire of what his blog would entail. “Monday: ‘I’m horny.’ Tuesday: ‘Still horny.’ Wednesday: ‘I need sex.’” We had a good laugh about that one.

That’s the good thing about our relationship. We can laugh at ourselves and each other. I know I was selling Nathan short by implying that he would have nothing to contribute to a blog other than lamenting his neglected libido. Just as I am a complex woman, my husband is a complex man. He’s a big goofball but also a sensitive, compassionate man who shares my love of cartoons and sushi.

But once in awhile I’d like him to tell me what he’s thinking.

So, Nathan, tell me what you’re thinking. The comments section is at the bottom of this post.

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Bite, Chew, Swallow

When we were kids, my brother and I loved going out to eat with my parents. Both of us would order a plate of food or combo meal, depending on where we were eating, but Sean always had trouble finishing his. He was a skinny kid up until his teen years, but his appetite was always big. No matter how many times our mother warned him not to order too much food, Sean always ordered too much food. Wrapped halves of burgers and soggy French fries were a staple of our dog’s diet in those days.

I had a big appetite as well, but as my brother never knew when he ordered too much, I never knew when I had eaten enough. I ate everything on the plate. I ate past the point of being full and would inevitably spend the rest of the evening immobilized in a food-induced stupor. Of course this failure to recognize my limits translated into a weight problem that plagues me to this day and affects other parts of my life, because somewhere along the line I evolved into a control freak.

I need to be in charge of every part of my life. I like to plan and prepare. I’m impatient and twitchy about the things I want to do and a severe procrastinator when it comes to the things I don’t. I’m a complex woman, you see, but I’m also a little lost. I haven’t quite figured out where I belong. I want to write. I love to write, but how does one make a living writing? How do I figure this out?

One of the perks of working for the university is free tuition. Free tuition to help me figure out how to make a living as a writer, work on my grammar and punctuation (because, let’s face it, Strunk & White would have a field day with me), and learn how to market myself in such a way that I continue to work as a writer. I’m allowed to take as many classes per semester as I can reasonably handle. I thought I could handle three. I had the rest of my education planned out. Finish a second major over the course of the next three semesters, take time out to have a child, then on to my master’s.

Right.

I haven’t taken more than one class per semester since I graduated. I never attempted more than two classes at a time while also working full time. I thought I could handle three. I was sure of it. They were undergrad classes for crying out loud! But I had to admit defeat after only the first week. There was no way I was going to take on that much work and still do my best. Corners would have to be cut, sacrifices made. I could already tell what part of my life was going to suffer when Nathan asked, “What about me? Where do I fit in?”

“You’re not due tomorrow,” I said.

“I’d say I’m over due,“ he replied.

Hmm….

I know there are women who can do it. I work with one. She has two kids, one just over a year-old. She’s pursuing her master’s and gave birth to her son at the same time she was taking a summer class. I think she only missed one session of that class, even though she suffered from a horrible spinal headache from the epidural.

Why can’t I be this woman?

Because I’m me. I’m the me who likes to goof around with her husband. I’m the one who likes to be lazy once in awhile and who likes to have the feeling that things are under control. So I dropped a class and won’t be finishing up that second major next year. It’s all up in the air right now. The control freak in me is a little freaked.

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Acquiesce

Mom called me earlier to provide a pupdate. Daisy slept through the night and actually scratched at the door to go out. I have to say I’m quite impressed.

When I asked if Dad was still upset about the whole thing, Mom said, “Nope. I think he’s warming up.” Apparently he told Daisy, “I hated you when I came home but you’ve won me over.”

Now I know I did the right thing.

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Daisy

Daisy gives Sean a hug. Posted by Hello

My mom’s 15-year old Cocker Spaniel, Betsy, died a week ago Sunday. My mom was completely devastated, even more so because my father had told her she could not get another dog until her bills were paid off. Mom called me in tears a couple of days later. “But I’m never going to get my bills paid off!” she cried.

I had never heard my mother so distraught. Betsy had been her companion for years. Betsy was there after I left to live with my husband and when my brother, Sean, left to go his own way. Betsy shared a part of every meal with my mother and was quite possibly the most spoiled dog on the face of this earth. She was bottle fed as a puppy, and this, my mom claims, is the reason Betsy never quite believed she was anything other than human. She could show you your place with just one look. “Excuse me, but this is my couch. Didn’t you know that?” She hated baths and haircuts and loved food and furniture. She was a piece of work.

My heart broke every time I talked to my mother on the phone the week after Betsy died. She told me how she woke up from a dream in which she was feeding Betsy dog biscuits and cried. Betsy, though completely deaf towards the end, was always there to greet my parents at the door. My mom used to bring plastic baggies to every restaurant and always ordered chicken because she knew it was Betsy’s favorite. Friday night was the first time she had eaten out and not had a baggie to fill. She broke down and cried again when she got home.

So I bought her a dog. In hindsight, I’m sure there could have been a better way to go about getting the dog, but I was desperate. I couldn’t stand to hear my mother in so much pain. My mother is the most caring and selfless being I have ever known. Since my grandfather died two years ago, my mother has devoted all of her time to the care of my grandmother. Grandma, though spunky and independent, suffers from Macular Degeneration and can no longer see well. Mom drives her everywhere, takes her shopping, helps her pay her bills and calls her three times a day. I’ve never heard my mother complain, though I know she would like to have some of that time to herself. She does what she has to do and is happy to do it.

Of course buying the dog meant that I was defying my father. Though I love my father, he has and always will be an extremely selfish man. He and my mother are polar opposites, which is why I suppose their marriage has lasted 35 years. They balance each other out. My mother’s grief, as intense as it was, had no effect on my father. It was as though he wore a suit of armor meant to keep him insulated in his own insensitivity. On Saturday, the day after my mother cried after coming home from the restaurant, my father left for a 2 1/2 week road trip out west. And that’s the day we went to get the dog.

We drove to Birch Run to get her. She was nine weeks old and her father’s name was Noah, a sign she was meant to be ours as that is my last name as well. It was a great trip; me, Mom and Grandma, who is always up for adventure (especially when it involves animals). We couldn’t wait to see the pup and bring her home. Unfortunately my mother also couldn’t wait to tell my father. She decided we should fess up right away and called him at the motel he was staying at in Missouri. I was charged with breaking the news to him. I was told we had two weeks to get rid of the dog and the call ended abruptly with Dad hanging up on me. “I don’t think I’m going to get much sleep tonight,” said Mom.

Late the next afternoon I called my parents’ house to talk to my mother only to be greeted by my father’s voice. I immediately panicked and hung up the phone which was stupid as my parents have Caller ID. My dad had come home. He had cancelled the remainder of his trip and drove home from Missouri. I prepared Nathan for the inevitable. We were going to get a new dog. I was a bundle of nervous energy the entire evening, not able to concentrate on much until my mother called me later and said, “I get to keep my dog.”

I don’t really know why my dad felt he had to come home, but at this point I don’t really care. My mother is a little happier. There are still tears and a hitch in her voice when she talks about Betsy, but there is also joy and happiness when she talks about the puppy she has named after her favorite flower, the Daisy.

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