Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sometimes You Just Need to Shut It

Sometime in early fall, after E and I had broken up for the second or third time, Leslie called to share her thoughts.  She questioned us spending so much time together when we were broken up.  She expressed frustration that I was okay with half of a relationship.  And she just wouldn't relent.

"I get it.  You don't like what's going on," I said, my voice firm and my fist clenched.

She pushed a little more, so intent on what she needed to say that she had no ability to hear me speak.

"Seriously, I get it.  Now stop.  I don't know what the hell pissed you off today but I'm not in a mood to be on the receiving end of this.  I'll think about it.  Now shut the fuck up!"

After my dad fell, double brain trauma landing him a cozy corner room at a rehab hospital, my mom and I sorted through how to let him know he would never be driving again.  This, we thought, this would be the perfect time to break the news.  We discussed the best approach and I won the coin toss on delivering the decision.

"Mom and I think it would be best that you focus on walking again and shelve the driving thing until you're all healed." I left out the part about us asking his neurologist to reinforce this idea.

"Oh, I'll be fine," he said as he took a sip of some Cherry Coke.  "Pass me a Peep!"

The other day, E caught me online.  He said hello and I responded.  He noted he didn't treat me well on a few ocassions, my reply being a simple, I agree. The rest is a little bit of a blur.  I know at one point he said he cared about me, emphasizing 'a lot' at the close by repeating it.  There may or may not have been mention of the woman he has been dating, the woman he met around two or so weeks after I instituted a 90-day break, something to help provide clarity.  And then there were a slew of dating suggestions.

"Never ever let a man treat you like that again."

"Some things, parts of your past, should never ever be shared, not even with your boyfriend."

Caught up in the moment, I responded.  I noted the irony of a man who moments early acknowledged mistreating me giving me advice to never tolerate being mistreated.  I pointed out that when you love someone, truly love them, you embrace them and their random bad decisions littering their past.  I engaged, often times laughing as I typed, until he said something about why I am single or maybe never married.  To be honest, I couldn't quite wrap my head around the statement.

"It's about supply and demand."

It isn't a complex sentence but it does carry various messages, none of which are supportive, thoughtful or caring.  They are words that lack heart, empathy, warmth.  And they are words spoken by a man who just prior noted caring about me, wanting the best for me.  I had been reduced to a business plan and a rather insulting one at that.  Worse yet, it was unsolicited advice, his need to speak far outweighing any concern about what I needed to hear.

A few hours after I snapped at Leslie back in the fall, she sent a three-part text message apologizing for taking some personal frustration out on me.  My father, we've let him continue on with his life, a life filled with tennis lessons and line dancing extravaganzas, realizing that he can't take a driving test without hitching a ride from one of us.  And as for E, the following day he saw me online and apologized for being blunt.

"Okay," I replied.

He accused me of being vague.  He wanted me to clarify the tone, good or bad, attached to a four letter word on his monitor.  I didn't have it in me to explain or go deeper.  It would require too much energy to organize my thoughts and deliver them in a clear manner, energy better spent on a work crisis amongst other things.  More importantly, I wasn't all that confident he'd hear what I had to say. So alas, I chose to say nothing.

Monday, February 18, 2013

How You Get From Here to There

Glance in the rear-view mirror, but don't linger for a long stare. Catch a glimpse of what's behind you, knowing with every mile-marker it gets further and further away.  Don't get so distracted by what you see that you lose your way.  Turning back to the present, focusing your eyes on the future, should never be jarring.

Keep your hands on the wheel.  A pothole could rattle the tire, tug you off course.  That small slick of water could be deeper than you ever expected and leave you gliding above the ground.  Don't white knuckle it but don't get cocky and think you always have it all under control.  You don't.

Move at a comfortable speed, fast enough to enjoy the journey but not so fast that everything whirs by in a blur.  Crack the window to smell the snow pelting your windshield.  Soak in the full moon so low it almost sits on the horizon.  Smile at the tired trucker on his tenth straight hour moving oranges to Walmart, desk chairs to Ikea, pens to Staples.

Be patient.  There will be obstacles like heavy rainstorms that will erase the lines.  Worse yet, there will be times you're at a complete standstill, a sea of brake lights before you.  Remain calm.  Exhale that you are safe.  Turn up the volume and sing louder to My Dear, Sweet NothingFunky Kingston.  Shrug at the drivers behind you who grumpily slam their fists against the steering wheel.

Listen, leaning on the horn never made a traffic jam untangle itself.  Just as the person on the phone, the one dangerously drifting between lanes, is perhaps receiving tragic news.  And anyway, it wasn't my fault the coin machine at the toll plaza ate two of my quarters but only registered one, leaving me to dig through my purse at the last minute in an attempt to scrape together two dimes and one last nickel.  Be empathetic.  It makes us all better human beings.

But for as useless as rage can be, as selfish and unproductive the results, I'll admit that sometimes it feels good to raise your right hand and flip off the person who is riding your ass from behind, high-beams blinding you as they bounce off the rear-view mirror. You glance through a squint, raise your hand and extend your middle finger, the glare curving around your gesture.

"Asshole," you mutter.

As traffic clears, as you inch your way forward, first by lifting your foot off the brake and next by slowly stepping on the gas, glance one last time in your rear-view mirror.  See the assholes that wronged you, the experiences that shaped you, and the love that surrounded you.  Be reminded of the moments you hope to live again.  Laugh at the ones that you hope to never experience more than once.

Then turn your attention back to the open road before you, a stretch of macadam destined to contain everything you aspire to experience and many things you could have never dreamed for yourself. Turn up the radio. Accelerate through turns. Enjoy the moment.  Be excited for what is just around the bend.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Bahbah Wants A Binky

"Mmmm," I moaned as I chomped into a crispy celery stick.  "It tastes just like a hot fudge sundae!"

"I know, right?" Leslie said as she plucked another piece out of the Ziploc on my lap and pulled off the highway.

We were officially a few days into Weight Watchers, signing up together with the hopes that, as a united front, we could kick some pounds to the curb once and for all.

"I want a sundae!" Anders excitedly said from the backseat, the boy completely confused and speechless when I passed back some celery. 

I'm not going to lie, the first week of any lifestyle change can be rocky. Suddenly power foods like quinoa, edamame and avocado are the work of the devil.  Gone are Sunday morning trips to Goldberg's for toasted bagels topped with a shmear and nova.  Don't even get me started on the paralysis that sets in when you have to find sustenance in an airport.

After a week of egg-white breakfasts, carrot stick snacks and fat-free cheese that curiously does melt at high heats, I stepped on the scale.  I was nervous and anxious and just about exploded when the woman told me I was down 6.8lb.  There was no turning back now.

The weeks that followed presented losses only fractions of a pound, something that would have previously led me to a fit of tears and the fetal position. But with Leslie repeatedly praising me for moving the scale in the right direction, I decided to cheer myself on instead of beat myself up.

"That's really good," I whispered to the woman eyeing the low-fat brownie mix in aisle two of my local Trader Joe's.

"Oh, yeah? I'm on Weight Watchers," the woman replied.

"Me too! Those are three points a piece and freeze well. But this applesauce is zero points because it doesn't have anything but fruit," I said as I piled a few boxes into my hand-basket.

Those applesauce packets, the ones where you can twist off a cap and suck out the contents, have saved me from epic failure.  I eat them while running errands on a Saturday, the sweetness tying me over without having to test temptation at Starbucks.  I eat them as I run over to the gym , the caloric content just enough to get me going.

"I saw these blended fruit packets at Publix and grabbed some for you," Leslie said when she stopped by my place yesterday.  "They have really cool flavors like peas/kale/apple."

That three-ingredient description totally sounds like one of the flavors you can order at the Wholefoods juice counter.  But when I spotted an illustration of Peter Rabbit on the packaging, I sensed something was not quite right.

"I think that's baby food....."

"No, no.  It was by the applesauce.  Those blended fruits and veggie things are really popular.  And Kale is so good for you!"

I picked up the peaches/mango/banana packet and turned it over.  Quietly to myself, I read the back.  Then aloud.

"Great for growing babies."

"It was by the applesauce, I swear!" Leslie insisted as she laughed.  "Here, I'll take it back," she added with outstretched hands.

"Oh what the heck," I said as I gathered the packages and tossed them in my fruit basket alongside bananas, clementines and Trader Joe's applesauce.  Then I went to my refrigerator.

"I was going to make kale chips.  Want some?" I asked as I pulled two bunches of organic Kale from the veggie drawer and shredded Parmesan from the shelf.  "It's just like cotton candy!"