Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Boy, the Way Glenn Miller Played...

Recently a friend received a surprise discount. Delight turned to horror as she read the code on the receipt -- she had been awarded a senior discount. Another friend piped in that it had happened to her, too. Then another. It's happened to me. Couldn't they call it something nicer? Like a 'you are so damn good-looking' discount or something? But, no. Senior. Yuck.

A couple evenings ago, Tom and I were channel surfing. We don't have cable -- we have rabbit ears -- so channel surfing for us is more like letting the waves lap around our ankles with our pants rolled up than actual surfing. 

I'm saying our choices are rather limited. 

We chanced upon a rerun of All in the Family (as opposed, I suppose, to a current episode of All in the Family). We enjoyed it. It was still funny. During a commercial break, I turned to Tom and said, "I bet Archie and Edith are about our age." He pulled out his phone and before the commercial was over he had confirmed that Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton were indeed right around our age when the show was being filmed -- just a smidge younger than us, actually, in the first season.


Well, that didn't quite seem right...

I mean, Archie and Edith were old! 

I don't look like Edith! Tom doesn't look like Archie! For a nano-second, I entertained the notion that I was being vain. Maybe we DO look like that and I just can't see it. But that passed quickly, because nobody I know who's my age-ish is anything like them. And that's not only because of the narrow-minded racism thing.

When we were younger, that's what middle-age looked like. That's what 50 looked like. That is no longer the case. Not even, if I may say so myself, close.

I've always sort of scorned all of the 50 is the new 30 -- or anything is the new anything, for that matter -- platitudes. (Orange is the New Black is the exception. I don't scorn that even a little tiny bit. Quite the opposite. But thats not really relevant.) 50 is 50 and 30 is 30 and neither is inherently superior to the other. But watching that show -- trying to find a way to relate to those characters -- made me a little more sympathetic. I don't want to be middle-aged if THAT'S what middle-aged looks like! But guess what? That's NOT what 50 looks like anymore. 50 has not become 30. It is still 50. But it doesn't look like the Bunkers. I can't name a TV couple that it DOES look like, but that's another issue for another day. 

That actually helped me a lot.

Now bring me a beer, huh?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Summer's (Almost) Here, and the Time is Right...

...for racing in the streets.

Ok -- I'm a suburban mom with an SUV. I don't really do much racing in the streets. I left the Johnstown com-pan-y years ago. I don't even have a screen door to slam. But I have been known to relive the glory days. And today -- today I just can't seem to stop the lyric, "There's a sadness in her pretty face -- a sadness all her own..." from running all around in my brain. 

So many of the women I love are facing a sadness all their own. They can hide 'neath the covers and study their pain, but, ultimately they are still -- well -- lonely for words that ain't been spoken.  

I feel like the lyric-speak needs to stop -- but honestly, all morning my brain has been playing snippets of Springsteen songs that meld into each other seamlessly. It sounds great, if only in my mind. But it is a melancholy soundtrack for such a beautiful day. 

I can't tell you the stories that are hurting my friends, because they are theirs. The same as and different from the stories that might be hurting you and the stories that are hurting me. A sadness all their own. I can't tell you the stories that are hurting me because -- like most painful stories -- although the sadness may be all my own, the story is not only mine.

I guess I would just ask -- for compassion. Because we don't know each others trials. We can sympathize -- we can empathize with the parts that feel familiar -- but we can never actually know. That strikes me simultaneously as very sad and very wonderful. We are all so unique in our joys and triumphs as well as in our trials. 

I know I have fallen into the trap of thinking that my problems are worse than anyone else's. You think YOU have it bad...  Try living MY life for JUST ONE DAY and then we'll talk... I would be willing to bet a couple hard earned nickels that you've entertained the same notion, at least once or twice.

We can't really walk a mile in someone else's moccasins.

But I guess we (I) can acknowledge that ours (mine) isn't the only road that's rocky and treacherous and potentially inhabited by rodents of unusual size.

Maybe, though, as we intersect each other's roads, we can remind each other to roll down the windows and let the wind blow back our hair. Maybe instead of judging each other, we can help each other out when it feels hard to move on. 'Cause tramps like us, aw, you know what tramps like us were born to do.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Don't Let the Past Remind Us of What We Are Not Now (Throwback Thursday)

Ok, First things first.

I love Throwback Thursdays.

I love looking at your old pictures and I love looking through mine.

Some of you post songs or antiquated ads or movie clips and I love it all.

Trips down Memory Lane can be a blast. Groovy. Dy-no-mite. The bomb-diggity. Awesome. Sweet.

They can also be a little treacherous. Most non-non-non-triumphant.

Tom and I have discussed this at length.

We have both been known to assault people we've barely met with pictures of what we looked like 20 or 30 years ago. Wanting, I suppose, to assure them not to be fooled by the middle-aged camouflage we're wearing. They are, indeed meeting cool, relevant people who look good in bikinis and/or spandex. It's important to us that they know that.

So I have learned to approach Thursdays with caution.

I always go through old pictures on Throwback Thursday, whether I post them or not. Today I came across this photo:

I remember this weekend well. It was the weekend my beloved niece was christened. That's her -- crying in my sister's arms. My grandma is in the chair -- the only one looking at the camera. Hi, grandma. Miss you. My beautiful cousin is in white. Her eldest is looking over her shoulder at something outside the frame. If I had to guess, I'd say that something was probably a barely toddling Liv. Her youngest -- my Goddaughter -- seems to be looking at Lea. That's the back of her sweet head in the foreground. It's not a beautifully composed picture, but it is making me very happy today. 

I remember this weekend well.

I have a souvenir.

Two, really.

They are two pairs of completely threadbare mens basketball shorts. 

Now this was a time when there wasn't much money. The kids were little and I wasn't working -- any extra money we DID have went to buying clothes for them -- Liv still needed a new wardrobe about every three months; Lea about every six. I didn't get new clothes. I didn't get manicures. I didn't even get haircuts. I remember that about that day, too. My dress was very outdated -- and when I took the bandana off of my hair and faced the prospect of actually styling it for the christening, I was at a loss. I had no idea what to do with it. We all went shopping and I saw these shorts at a sidewalk sale. My mom felt bad for me, I think -- unable to afford anything and only wanting these stupid shorts -- and she bought them for me.

She had no idea what a big deal that was.

I hadn't had anything new for quite a while.

The elastic was shot long ago. There is a paint stain on the back of one of them that is a color we don't have anywhere in this house. I don't remember what I was painting, but whatever it was, I definitely backed into it. There used to be six pairs of shorts, but four of them were deemed unwearable years ago. 

I wear these shorts EVERY week.

Since that picture was taken.

To give you some perspective, that crying baby is finishing up her freshman year in high school. That preschooler with her back to the camera is preparing for high school graduation. The young lady in the gray dress has been a teacher for a couple few years now and the one with the big white bow is a college graduate.

So -- yeah.

I've been wearing those shorts every week for a pretty long time.

If it will ease your horror any, I don't wear them as outerwear. I wear them under skirts. But still.

I have hung onto them, despite the fact that I probably shouldn't have, because I have never found a pair I like as much. 

Not even nearly. 

And believe me, I've tried.

When I bought these shorts, I weighed -- a number. I lost 50 pounds and continued to wear those shorts all the way down. I gained 80 pounds and wore those shorts all the way up. I lost 70, then gained 65. Never missed a week of wearing those shorts. All of that yo-yo-ing probably put more stress on my body than I put on those shorts.

They are awesome shorts.

And their days are numbered.

But we do this, no?

This isn't just me.

We find something we love and we cling to it. 

When I was gearing up for that 50 pound weight loss mentioned above, I bought 5 pairs of yoga pants to work out in. 

They were -- are -- perfect.

They come up high enough to cover my ass no matter how much I stretch or bend, yet they sit low enough that they aren't automatically dismissed as mom pants. They flare just enough at the bottom and are just the right length. They do not -- and some of you will appreciate how magical this is -- pill. Anywhere. And they are so soft... 

As it takes a little time to go -50+80-70+65, you can rest assured that I've had these a long time. Not quite as long as the shorts, but -- you know -- long. Three pairs have not passed the test of time, but two have. Until yesterday. When bleach landed on one of them. I was horrified. 

And then there was one.

Now these are not -- like -- Lululemon yoga pants or anything. Mostly because Lululemon doesn't think women who are built like me need to exercise -- or deserve to -- or something -- I don't really know, the conversation revolving around that particular fiasco became too offensive for me to keep up with really quickly. No -- these were Kohl's house brand. So they were not only perfect, they were pretty cheap. I mean, inexpensive. Because if they were cheap they probably wouldn't have lasted quite as long.


They don't make that particular cut anymore. 

I have never found a pair I like as much. 

Not even nearly. 

And believe me, I've tried.

Like Tom and I clinging to the visual of our former selves, I am clinging to the comfort of these shorts and these yoga pants. It's just as stupid. It's time to step out of the comfort (literally, in this case) zone of nostalgia and step into the present.

I can't find yoga pants like that anymore. Bummer. But I like compression pants. And if I can find long enough T-shirts (hello mens department and Pinterest!) I can put together a new gym look that will probably actually suit me better. As for the shorts -- since they are only worn as underwear -- maybe instead of looking for comparable mens gym shorts to replace them I should be looking at satiny, lacy tap pants.

The past is good.

But maybe the future can be better.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Quinoa, Diet Coke and Humble Pie

One thing I cannot abide is people who will not admit it when they are wrong.

I am stubborn and bull-headed and opinionated, but when I realize I've been wrong, I'll tuck my tail between my legs and apologize. 

It's really just to soothe my own delicate ego. I think people who are cocky and sure of themselves to the point where they will not even entertain the notion that there is a remote possibility that they are wrong -- or even that there might be another way to be right -- are among the most unattractive people I know. It's an obnoxious trait. 

A little humility can be uncomfortable, but it's almost always the high road. 

The first thing I need to confess that I was wrong about is quinoa. I avoided it (pretty vocally) when I started watching carbs because I thought it was a grain. It looks like a grain, it cooks like a grain and it's used like a grain, so it was a pretty honest misconception. I thought it was just one of those trendy miracle foods that make their flash in the pan and are forgotten when the next hot thing comes along. You probably already knew this -- because you're probably not as bull-headed as I am -- but it is indeed not a grain. It's a seed and a member of the same food family that contains spinach, Swiss chard, and beets. Perfectly legit for a low-carb diet, as well as versatile and delicious.

If I ever argued with you about quinoa, I was wr. I was wr--wr--. I was wrong, ok? I will eat it in a boat and I will eat it with a goat -- I would eat it here or there, I would eat it anywhere. I admit! This stuff is not a scam! It's true! I like it, Tam I am.

I'm pretty sure that's quinoa on the plate. I told you it was versatile.

The next one is bigger and harder.

Not so terribly long ago, I posted a status about having a cup of coffee in one hand and a Diet Coke in the other and still being exhausted. It was meant as a light little slice of life observation and I was completely caught off guard when more than one person jumped all over me about the evils of diet soda. I defended my choice and was confused and a little angry at the people who had taken my innocent little statement and turned it into an opportunity for a lecture. Like many other humans, I don't respond well to being told what to do. I bucked it a little bit publicly and a lot privately. How dare they? What the fuck? There were a lot worse habits I could be -- and wasn't, for Pete's sake! -- indulging in.

photo credit:
Overly dramatic? Maybe... 

Fast forward to 6 weeks ago. I decided that it was time to give up carbs again because I was tired of feeling crummy all the time, but every attempt I made had been a miserable failure. I'd done it before -- and very successfully -- but I just couldn't find my way back. So I decided to go slow -- first eliminating sugars, sugar substitutes and all manner of sweeteners, then, after a few weeks, flour -- bread and pasta and such, then starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn and eventually fruit.  I set a start date, enjoyed a last hurrah, and eliminated everything sweet (with the exception of fruit) from my diet. I was still eating bread and pasta and pizza -- those things would be next -- but for that week or so, just sweeteners.

It went well.

I craved nothing.

Except Diet Coke. 

I swear, I woke up wanting one, felt the urge to grab one several times each day, and went to sleep wanting one.

Every day.

In two weeks I cut out the bread, pasta and pizza. 

I craved nothing.

Except Diet Coke.

Dammit, did all of those people who jumped down my throat have a point? I mean, I was clearly dealing with an addiction. I love sweets and sandwiches and pasta and most especially pizza, but I had walked away from all of those things in their turn without a backward glance. But Diet Coke? I'll tell you -- even writing about it now I'm starting to salivate and shake a little bit.

It's been 6 weeks since I've had one. 

And I still want one ALL the time. 

So to those of you who attacked me -- I'm sorry I responded in anger instead of in earnest interest in what you had to say. Because you were right and I was wr. I was wr--wr--.  I was wrong, ok?

So there. I've eaten a little humble pie. Without the crust, of course. And it went down ok.

If you are one of the folks I wronged, I hope you'll accept this apology.

But a word to the wise: wisdom imparted is usually better received when it is given with respect than when it is given in judgment. Just for future reference. Because I'm sure I'll be wrong again.

Me and the Fonz. Ayyyy.