Aug 29, 2008

Weigh down . . .

"Step on the scale."

The last time I visited the doctor's office I did not step on the scale immediately, instead I asked the nurse to "guess" my weight. She was not amused. I was.

For years I have dreaded the scale at the doctor's office. It is the first hurdle you must cross in what I like to call, "The Ultimate Humiliation Obstacle Course".

On prior visits I have worn the lightest clothing I owned, short of a swimsuit, or something equally less appropriate, in hopes that my weight on the doctor's scale matches the same weight on my scale at home. I have worn slip on shoes so I can kick them off before stepping on the scale. I have tossed my purse on the floor, contents falling every which way just to lose another ounce or two. I have blamed my bra and underwear for the extra pounds I see on the scale. I tell the nurse that my underwire bra is made from reinforced steel and weighs a ton so would she please deduct at least 10 pounds from the actual weight. I tell her my underwear is reinforced too. I tell her that it has some kind of titanium components woven into the fiber to keep it from riding up my rear end but the downside is that even though it feels light as a feather against my skin it weighs the same as a baby elephant. The nurse writes something on my chart. She raises her eyebrows at me. She says nothing. I try and peek over her clipboard. She flips it over.

I hop up and down on the scale. The weight on the digital readout fluctuates wildly. I laugh. The nurse does not. I stand on one foot, then the other. I touch my finger to my nose. I ask if this can be the balance portion of the humiliation chronicles. She flips the clipboard over and starts writing something on the bottom of my chart. I realize she left her sense of humor at home that day.

As she writes something down which - for all I know - could be another item on her grocery list I contemplate what it means to stand in the middle of the hallway on a scale feeling embarrassed whether I weigh as little as a super model or as much as a whale. It means nothing. This scale is not the true indicator of how much I actually weigh. The scale at home is. The scale I stand stark naked on in the privacy of my own bathroom with not a soul peering over my shoulder waiting to write a number on a chart. I am free. The weight has lifted. I smile. I reach down and grab my purse. I slip my shoes back on. I ask the nurse if she wants to join me on the scale just to see how high of a weight it can register. I no longer care what the scale says.

That day I left the office with one less thing weighing me down. And the next time I go to the doctor's I'm wearing my lead boots, my winter coat, my heaviest sweater, and ten pairs of pants. It doesn't really matter. *

*Note: I am aware that weight is an important factor in determining prescription dosage and other important medical issues. That is why I am fully prepared to hand over my driver's license in case the doctor cares to know my true weight. Everyone puts their true weight down on their driver's license right?

Aug 28, 2008

Foto Friday Fiesta . . .

"This is torture, at its most bizarre and terrible." - Batman

I'm almost positive Batman was talking about Walmart.

Where my son and I went last night.

We are brave and adventurous like that.

Another favorite foto . . . join in the fun at Candid Carrie's Foto Friday Fiesta.

Aug 25, 2008

When life was simple . . .

My mother kept all the important stuff from when I was a kid. Like this letter I wrote to her. She knew I would have a need for it. Like now. She was smart that way.

From the looks of it, I hadn't learned the correct form of letter writing yet. I also hadn't learned how to be very diplomatic either. Well, maybe a little. I started out thanking my mom for some gifts I apparently received. I remember the "Shoop-Shoop Hula Hoop". I don't remember the "hair like Beth". We had a neighbor named Beth. She had long flowing locks. I had a cropped pixie cut. Maybe I asked for hair like her. I don't remember what I got. Maybe a little kid's wig? I don't know.

Legend has it that my hair was unmanageable - so much so - that my nickname was, "Barb Wire Head". I have no idea why. I was bald as a billiard ball for quite some time and then when I did grow hair it was fairly normal looking as far as I can tell from old photos. It's just another tall tale and half truth from my childhood that I live with daily.

It appears that I was grasping at straws with this letter. I thanked my mom for "the bow on a lamb". We never owned a lamb. We lived in the suburbs. Owning farm animals was illegal. Maybe it was a cutlet frill from a rack of lamb. I do thank her for dinner so maybe that's what it was. Or maybe I was just making stuff up to confuse her.

I can look back in time and see myself sitting at my desk in my room, chewing on the end of a pencil, playing with my hair like Beth, admiring the bow on the lamb and twirling my hula hoop as my mind works furiously, trying to drum up any little thing I can be grateful for so I can get to the point. Reaching into the depths of my soul and pulling out my last desperate measure and writing down my last compliment before I requested that she remain nice to me until the day she dies.

I'd say that was a reasonable request. She had three other kids she could take her frustrations out on. She could bestow all her niceness on me. I was the third kid. The third girl. The last one in a line of girls before my brother was born. The one who made her laugh. The one who wrote letters asking her to do the impossible and believing she would. That was when life was simple . . .

Aug 18, 2008

I'll have Nun of that . . .

My parents had high hopes for me.

In most Catholic families one kid is singled out to become the one in the family who becomes a Priest or Nun. Catholics usually have a lot of kids. They can afford to sacrifice one and offer them up to God. They pinned their hopes on me. They wanted me to join the convent and become a cloistered Nun, but the Nun's kept telling them they didn't want me. Under any circumstances. Even if they ran out of Nun's.

My parents wouldn't listen. I had a Mary in my name and that meant I was the human sacrifice in our family. Most Catholic families have at least one child named Mary in the bunch. I used to argue with my parents that it didn't make any sense when Nun's ended up with boy names like, Herbert, Martin, and John.

I used to point my finger at my oldest sister. She thought she had a calling when she was 10. She thought she saw Virgin Mary on the baseball field, behind home plate. I'm pretty sure it was the glare off the bald umpire's head that created the angelic glow. Never-the-less, she came home, grabbed a box of tin foil and some string from the kitchen and started making rosaries in her room. Then she tried to sell them to us. I didn't think that was very charitable. Or very Nun-like.

The same sister recruited me to be an altar boy in her room where she religiously conducted Sunday Mass on Saturday's behind closed doors. We used Necco wafers for the hosts, a clothes hamper turned upside down as the altar, and prune juice instead of wine. My other sister was a parishioner and I was the altar boy who rang the bell and sat by the bedroom door keeping watch in case our mom came down the hall and found us being sacrilegious. I wasn't too thrilled with this set-up. It meant that I had to attend Mass twice on weekends. I quit the Church of My Holy Sister and became a heathen in my own home when she decided to hold daily confessions in her closet. I had too much to lose and couldn't risk her finding out that I read her diary on a daily basis. My parents had other plans for her anyway. She was going to be a doctor. Or so they thought.

My other sister never had a calling. She was too busy doing nothing. I think she slept through most of her childhood and my parents forgot she existed. They never bothered her.

They focused their attention on me. I was their hope. I was their dream. I was not having any of it. I tried for a while to please them. I asked them to take me to Lourdes. I figured if I was supposed to be a Nun then Lourdes was the place to go. They refused. They took me to church instead and pointed at the statue of Mary. I stared at Mary for a long time. I stared so long I swear she moved her hands. It freaked me out. I told my parents that Mary spoke to me. I told them she said go home and do something else. Don't be a Nun. I told them she wanted me to go to Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm and San Francisco to Fisherman's Wharf to eat sourdough bread. I told them she wanted me to have a bike of my own, skates and a big wheel. I told them that she said I was put on earth to be their favorite and to deny me nothing. They gave up and concentrated on my brother. I thought he stood a much better chance. He already had a boy name.

the end. . .

Aug 15, 2008

Candid Carrie's Foto Friday Fiesta . . .

My kids had professional portraits taken as a birthday gift to me.

My son insisted on this one.

The photographer asked him how old he was.

His response, "Old enough to drive!"

Join in the fun at Candid Carrie's foto Friday fiesta!

Aug 13, 2008

Mrs. Miller . . .

Mrs. Miller was my 6th grade teacher.

Mrs. Miller was an old, old, lady.

She had a metal plate in her head.

At least that's what she told us the first day of school.

She was reading off the typical list of class rules when she abruptly stopped and paused for a long moment. We all sat watching with our hands folded politely. It was the first thirty minutes of the first day of school and we were still interested and paying attention.

Mrs. Miller pointed to her forehead with a shaky arthritic finger and said, "The most important rule I have for this class is the one that will save my life, and it's all up to you children." She said this as she walked to the blackboard and wrote in chalk, " I will not throw anything at Mrs. Miller's head that might kill her dead." It was hard to read at first. Her writing looked like an EKG.

Our homework assignment for that day was to write that sentence 25 times and have our parents sign it when we were finished and bring it back the next day.

I remember my dad looking at me as I sat at the kitchen table writing this sentence over and over again and saying to my mother, "I hope the teacher isn't missing part of her brain too."

The next day we all gathered in a group on the playground and wondered aloud just what Mrs. Miller meant when she wrote "anything" on the board could kill her dead. Could an errant spitball kill her? A flying eraser? A flicked pencil?

We were all curious, but too afraid to ask.

Our imaginations ran wild.

The bell rang and we lined up single file and marched into class. We put our books away, placed our homework in the homework folder on the teacher's desk and sat down waiting for Mrs. Miller's instruction. Mrs. Miller hobbled into class and sat down at her desk.

Sammy, the bravest kid in class, blurted out, "Mrs. Miller, my dad wants to know if we're talkin' cotton balls killin' you or baseballs?"

Mrs. Miller was also hard of hearing.

Mrs. Miller squinted in Sammy's direction and said, "The state of your father's balls are none of my business."

The boys burst out laughing.

The girls looked confused.

Mrs. Miller left midway through the year. Sammy's dad probably had something to do with that.

the end. . .

Aug 11, 2008

Are you sure about that? . . .

My mother likes to tell some stories about me that always make me shake my head and say the same thing every time.

"Are you sure about that?"

According to my mother, I was extremely ill and near death when I was born. Apparently I had a feeding problem. I couldn't keep any baby formula down.

Legend has it that I projectile vomited across the room better than Linda Blair in "The Exorcist" and could hit the opposite wall from my crib if fed anything. My mom tells me that they lined my room in layers of plastic because of that.

My response.

"Are you sure about that?"

Take a moment and look at the picture of me and my two older sister's above. I'm the one who looks like she's in a food coma.

Do I look the least bit unhealthy to you?

I think I look more like I'm about to explode.

Whenever I point to the evidence in this picture - - evidence that I look like Uncle Fester's twin - - my mom quickly tells me that this picture was taken after my father found the cure for what ailed me.

Legend has it that my father discovered the one thing that I could keep down. It was something like, virgin Yak's milk, combined with the pinkie toe of a pygmy shrew, stewed in a vat of moonshine with an old baseball bat. It was created by a genius hobo living on the railroad tracks. Apparently it was readily available at the local grocery store, right next to homogenized milk and sour cream.

My dad bought cases of the stuff and fed it to me.

The picture is proof of that.

That's the end of that story.

Another story my mom likes to tell is the story of her 30th birthday.

Legend has it that I fashioned a picket sign out of a large sheet of cardboard that was attached to a long wooden stick. On that sign I wrote, "Today is my mom's birthday. She is 30 years old." According to her, I marched in the nude throughout our neighborhood while hoisting this sign, like an angry union member, for all the neighbors to see, while I chanted and yelled her age like the town crier.

My response.

"Are you sure about that?"

I was only 1 when my mom turned 30.

I'm pretty sure I couldn't write, or make a sign, or carry it, or speak, or leave the house through the front door and march through the neighborhood without someone noticing that I wasn't in my usual spot - my baby crib .

The tables have turned.

I tell my mom stories about herself these days.

She had a stroke last year and her memory was affected.

Stories about what she used to be like.

Her response.

She smiles and says, "Are you sure about that?"

Aug 9, 2008

Happy Birthday to My Mom and Me. . .

It's been a busy weekend.

That's my father-in-law. He turned 80 in May. He wore that big hat so everyone would know he was the birthday boy at his party. He flew in from Florida yesterday and is staying with us for a few weeks. He didn't bring that hat with him. It wouldn't fit on the airplane.

It was my mother's birthday on Friday, and she turned 76. It was my birthday on Saturday and I turned, ageless.

That's my mom. She had a stroke last October and is doing well. Her memory is a little off, so I have tried to convince her that I was the child that never gave her a moment of trouble or worry. It's not working. She says my crazy childhood antics were not one of the things she lost in her memory bank. Darn.

That's her telling my sister that she's on to me.

That's my sister-in-law on the left, my mom, and my favorite sister on the right.

Someone cut me out of the picture.

I was the one laying across their laps.

That's my sister and Smokey, the fireman.

They begged me to take this picture after they shared a schooner of beer.

My birthday was today and those are my birthday feet.

There are a hundred more pictures just like that one and not one of my face.

Next time, I'm in charge of the camera.

Aug 8, 2008

My Sister's House . . .

Welcome to my sister's house.

If you are not a solicitor come on in and take a look around.

If you are a solicitor keep knocking and ringing the doorbell until someone answers.

This bowling ball is in her garden.

It is too heavy to carry three more feet to the front door.

That's my sister.

That's her front door.

She likes it when I pull one of those sticks out of the pot and bang on her front door instead of ringing the doorbell when I visit.

She really likes it when I poke her with it when she opens the door.

She likes it even better when I throw it across the street like a javelin.

She thinks it's hilarious when I use one of those sticks to pole vault over her house and let myself in through the back door.

This is the inside of my sister's fireplace.

A fire has never burned here.

Her husband is a Fireman.

We call him Smokey.

There are no fires on his watch.

This is a corner of my sister's dressing room.

Those angel wings on the chandelier are real.

They come from her days as a Victoria's Secret model.

She wears them everywhere.

This is her troll collection.

She says they remind her of me.

This is her laundry room.

It is for decorative purposes only and is too pretty to use.

It shows her sweet side.

This is her downstairs guest bathroom.

It shows her naughty side.

Those framed pictures are covers of Playboy magazines.

Men go in there and stay forever.

I prefer to use the bathroom upstairs with the framed covers of Playgirl magazines.

Men never go in there.

It's my favorite bathroom and it's not because of the framed man candy.

It's because the toilet seat is always down.

The end.

Aug 5, 2008

On The Road Again . . .

We did some more sightseeing today on our vacation in Arizona.

That's a rock formation. In case you weren't sure.

That's a "Pickle Farm".

It wasn't kosher, so we kept on driving.

This is my sister-in-law.

She hid her "Big Earl Burger" in her big hair right before I took this picture.

She's posing at a roadside hamburger stand.

I told her those shoes would scream tourist, but she wouldn't listen.

This is the Spider-Man Stagecoach.

It's not half as cool today, as it was yesterday, when I was sitting at the bar staring at it for a couple of hours.

I sang the Spider-Man song just loud enough for the entire bar to hear.

I wanted to see if anyone else noticed what I noticed, without seeming like I was being too obvious.

The bartender cut me off.

I think the artist is a relative of his.

Darn those root beer floats.

They get me in trouble every time.

Come back tomorrow and see the cast of characters who joined me on vacation.

Aug 4, 2008

Road Trip . . .

We rounded up the family and hit the open road for a trip to Arizona.
I was the co-pilot.

This is what we saw for the entire drive.
Except when we saw this.

We drove for so long and so far - we ended up in Mecca.

I prefer Nirvana myself . . . Mecca is a little overrated if you ask me.

This is what we drove 6 hours to see. It's "The World's Biggest Pickle", with an alien force field next to it.

It looks like an English Cucumber to me.

What do I know?

I'm not from these parts.

I was ready to come home, but my family says there are more pickles to see.

I don't even like pickles.

Come back tomorrow and see the only Spider-Man Stagecoach in existence.

I won't even charge admission.

Aug 1, 2008

Foto Friday Fiesta . . .

Another random photo favorite.

Kids are always losing stuff when they come to my house.

Can you tell what's missing here?

He came with two.

Join in at Candid Carrie's Foto Friday Fiesta.