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Monday, January 28, 2008

Do I have to be practical?

What I'm asking is this.....IS being practical a prerequisite for living an honorable, meaningful and revered life? If so, someone better tell me right now. You see, I'm not really into practical. Well, sometimes I may do something practical. But, that's out of sheer necessity. The necessity being that I'm expected to be practical. But, even when I am practical---my ways to a practical means probably have some not-so-practical twists to them. I totally get impracticality. Take for instance----shoes. I work with a woman who always finds the spunkiest shoes. One particularly busy day as she stood in the doorway of my office discussing very important work stuff, I noticed her shoes---camel colored shoes with a leopard print platform and chunky super high heel! I mean, were these shoes to die for or what? This woman gets it. Shoes are a major distraction for me. Impractical to change the subject from important work stuff to shoes? I suppose. In the world of practical folks, that is. So, anyway, after I oohed and aahed and got the info on where she found them (she's very practical when it comes to shoes---she buys them at great prices!), I said "are they comfortable?" It's just one of those questions that begged to be asked. She waved her hand and tossed back her head as if not to care. Then, she gave a little laugh. I totally got it---who in the hell cares, they are just the cutest, damn it. It's the same thing when my very favorite shopping partner (Toni) and I are one of our retail benders. Like last week (yes, we said we were going grocery shopping but it wasn't our fault that between our house and the grocery store, there stood a T.J. Max). I could hear her half way across the store squealing with delight after spying a pair of yellow-and-white-polka-dot peep toe patent leather heels with the darlingest little bow. "OOOOH!" we cooed as she strutted around in those shoes. (As an aside--God blessed me with a daughter who has feet that were made for heels. I love to watch her model them! She has an amazingly high arch.) "Are they comfortable?" I asked. It was the mom question---not the not-so-practical Judi thing to ask. She gave me that look.... "have you lost your mind? look at these shoes!" Exactly. No, we didn't buy them. We were being entirely too practical---it's January. Who buys yellow shoes in January? Not us. We'll wait until everyone wants yellow shoes and then drive ourselves mad trying to find them. Impractical? Whatever. We found some to-die-for boots on sale.

So, I wonder---is being practical a trait that you develop? Is it a gender thing? Maybe an astrological thing? Carmen seems to be a practical person. He's a male Capricorn engineer. Wow, if that doesn't shout Practical with a capital-P, I don't know what does! Yes, he's practical----at least when it comes to shoes. Not when it comes to knowing what questions to ask his wife. Several years ago, when we were visiting colleges with Vince, I happened to be wearing a cute pair of well-heeled black boots on a campus tour. Yes, I know, they were probably not the best shoes to be wearing to visit every multi-stepped building of a fairly large campus and hike up hills aptly named "heart attack hill" and "roller coaster". But, here's the thing--it was unsettling enough that I reached the age that I'd be sending my son off to college. I would not be wearing studda-bubba shoes. If I had to deal with was best to deal with it in cute shoes. Makes all the difference. Anyway---midway through the tour, as I was lagging behind the brood of thunder-struck parents and overwhelmed high school seniors we were touring with, Carmen turned around and said "why did you have to wear those shoes?" There he was, in his Air Nikes, looking like the 40 something dad who was sending the son off to college that he was--- asking that question. Practical shoes. Impractical question.

So, what got me to thinking about all this practical versus impractical stuff? Well, being in flu exile as we were at our house, we found ourselves watching TV together--the 3 of us. A 16 year old fashion-crazy, celebrity-loving diva. Her 50 year old NFL-is-life, the-remote-is-mine father. And me. After many wranglings with what to watch, Toni won a coin toss at one point and we settled into a "reality show" called "The Real Housewives of Orange County". Have you ever seen this show? (Okay, they call it a docu-drama...not a show) I'm embarrassed to admit that I was completely drawn into the lives of these botoxed, busty babes. As impractical as I can be---these women put me to shame! I became captivated by their seemingly perfect world---their homes, their clothes, their encounters, their parties, their shoes, their hair, their make up, their love lives....their impractical everything. I oohed and aahed over every detail and found myself wanting to jump right into my TV (wouldn't that have been a sight?). How did THEY get a TV show? They are very high maintanence, impractical women with big boobs, small waists and multi-million dollar homes who seem to spend most of their time dealing with decoraters and party planners or going to the spa. What about me? I'm impractical. I like spas. I should have a show. How about "The Real Life of a Lapbanded Wife"? Yes! I could see with my little waist and my oh so wonderful shoes doing fun things---getting manicures, shopping for push up bras....... Carmen soon nudged me out of my fantasy stupor. "These women are disgusting..... impractical and worthless" he hissed. Like I said.....he is very impractical when it comes to what to say to his wife. So, anyway......they have a reunion show tonight....9 pm on Bravo. My disgusting, impractical, worthless friends. Can't wait to very impractical and watch it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The F Word.........

Yes, friends, it happened......THE FLU. And, no, I cannot even suffer alone. Yes, I was blessed with company in my misery. Just in case there was any chance that I was going to wallow away in self-pity or woe-is-me behavior or even damn my bad luck---I was sent an in-your-face reminder that I could feel worse----Carmen came down with a much more intense case. I have a headache. He has a monster headache. My back hurts. His back is killing him. I am cold. He is chilled to the bone. I have a fever. He is on fire. In fact, his strain is so bad, he has lost all sense of direction---he has no idea where the kitchen sink, the refrigerator or the medicine cabinet are located. Plus, his flu is so terrible, he cannot even walk from place to place, bend over to pick something up or even pull the covers over his flu-infested body. The only bodily functions he seems to be able to employ are moans from his mouth and tapping his fingers on the remote. Unfortunately, for the me, the only thing the flu has seemed to do is make me horribly cranky. It stripped away my gentile and loving Florence Nightingale qualities---replacing them with ones more closely resembling those of Leona Helmsley. A sad state of affairs. Yes indeed. Not only am I now less than 1 year from the 1/2 century mark, I'm also a super bitch with a headache who is married to the undisputed Flu Champion of the Universe.

And, it doesn't stop there. No, it appears that Toni has managed to be infected guessed it folks--THE FLU. This horrible illness has taken my house and my life by storm. There's no laying on the couch watching soap operas and old movies for me. There's super shrink wrapped pills to be wrestled with and doled out. There's glasses of water and pots of tea to be made. There's throws and blankets to be dug out of closets and out from under beds. There is suffering to be tended to. And, yes, there's my silent misery to reckon with. But, most importantly, I have to find a way to stay in the race. Carmen may be the Flu Champion of the Universe and Toni may have a strong hold on the American Flu Idol title. But, I......yes.....I am.....


Did I mention the F word?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

At the Intersection........

 - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Yes, friends......I'm at the intersection.
I'm getting ready to make the bend.
I've got my rose colored glasses on as I zoom into my NEW YEAR.
Hop on!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Baby, it's COLD outside! - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

I lost a 50 lb blanket. So, a girl has got to find other ways to get warm!
In the interest of keeping things G-rated (I have a sneaky suspicion my sweet, innocent daughter, my impressionable nieces, perhaps even my angelic sisters and a few of my tamer freinds may read this.....), I'm going to share my newest winter warm-up......Fat Free, Sugar Free, Protein Packed Chai Latte! It's the perfect indulgence for us LapBanded girls and boys as well as all you other shivering folks!


-1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder

-1 scoop General Foods International Sugar Free Chai Latte (powder)

-1/2 cup Fat Free Skim Milk
-A touch of Cinnamon, ground cardamone & nutmeg (1, 2 or all 3)--I've also used Pumpkin Pie spice

Place all ingredients in a large shaker with a lid and dance around the kitchen shaking it up

(this method burns a few extra calories)


Place all ingrdients in a MAGIC BULLET and give a nice whirl

Put the shaker or the BULLET in the microwave and heat for 1.5-2 minutes. Pour into you latte cup, give it a little extra shake of cinnamon. You can put a dollop of light Cool Whip if you want! Stir a little. Cuddle up with one of those faux fur throws (red or leopard print) and enjoy........

Hey if you are feeling a tad bit racey......throw in a shot of a creme liquer. Or, maybe Frangelica for a little nutty flavor. Or, what do you think about Bailey's Irish Creme? OOOH, maybe some Captain Morgan. Or, one of those Godiva Liquers? What about Casis? Vanilla Vodka? Hey.....I even saw something called Voyant Chai Cream. And, while we are at about asking a favorite someone to join you under that faux fur throw?

Okay then......looks like I have quite a bit of recipe tweaking and warm up experimentation to do.........................

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Still GOT IT............even better.......

Menopause the Musical. Little downtown bar. Smokes. Drinks. Taxi. All night diner. Omlettes. Girl talk. Coffee. Tea. Home at 3 am.
Could have danced all night.
Another Girls' Night Out.
My spirited friends and me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lipstick Lessons Learned........

Sometimes I think I've spent my life just waiting. Waiting to get older and wiser. But, I've come to the conclusion that is not God's plan for me. God has bigger plans for me. I'm waiting to find out what they are. So, until I get the word, I am going to assume that I'm going to make mistakes. And, there will be times when I'm not going to be able to fix those mistakes. It's a freeing feeling really. Now I don't feel like I have to act my age or pretend to know how to fix all of life's woes. Makes me feel much younger knowing that I haven't lived long enough to be mistake proof. Take for instance my lipstick-through-the-washer-and-the-dyer episode this week. When I was growing up, no adult woman would ever put laundry into the washer without going through every pocket. I assumed I'd develop that quality too. I didn't. There I was---early Monday morning--doing my least favorite chore--laundry. I gathered together a bunch of my finer whites---a few sweaters, a sweat suit, two of my favorite turtlenecks and some wear-with-everything long sleeved cotton shirts. I threw them in the washer. When they were done, I pulled them out and threw them in the dryer. A while later, I opened the dryer to find all of my clothing smattered with copper spots. As I frantically pulled the clothing out, an empty lipstick tube fell to the ground. Yes, my Estee Lauder All Day Lipstick---Spiced Cider. The only pocket that it could have came from would have been my sweat suit. (Now you know---yes, I wear lipstick even when I'm wearing sweats. )It's whites are still soaking. I'm on remedy #6. The spots remain. One mistake I did not make was buying that lipstick. It definitely stays on. God gave me wisdom beyond my years when it comes to lipstick.

As a great philosopher once said......“Beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass lipstick.” Wise words from someone who must be older and wiser.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Love Thy Neighbor.......

Earlier today, as I was racing out the door, my next door neighbor stopped for a chat. She was heading out to jog in the frigid, blustery weather. She is the Queen of Fitness. And, I'm not kidding. She heads up some fitness-health program at a local hospital. She has a PhD in some kind of fitness-health thing. I should know--I went to her PhD party. I remember it was the ONLY party I ever went to that had a menu where the calories, fat content and every other imaginable ingredient were listed. It was one of those parties where you go out to eat afterwards. But, you have to hand it to her...she practices what she preaches. She exercises consistently. Rain or shine, she runs. From my dining room window, I can watch her lift weights and ride her stationery bike. And, if I happen to be standing at just the right angle in my bathroom, I can watch her do yoga. I am not sure when she does laundry but she is in spectacular shape. She's a 46 year old woman who had 3 children yet her body shows no sign of them. And, she can wear the tiniest of bikinis (and she does!). Definitely NOT someone who you want to live next door to if you have body issues. THIS is a woman who screams "SHAPE UP" as she jogs past my house while I sit on my porch. She makes me want to light up a cigarette, down a margarita and eat nachos. But, honestly, I like her in spite of her military style, little waist, washboard abs and lean thighs. She means well. Case in point......she has been encouraging---"looks like that lapband might be working!" she yelled over to me one day as I was cleaning up the garden and she was warming up for a run. "Thanks!" I called back to her. "Come on, Judi, join me! Your lapband can't do everything!" she called out as she zoomed by in her body hugging running ensemble. I just waved her on--- "next time I promise!" After that---I stayed in the house during her peak jogging hours. So, as I was saying--- we chatted about this and that. "So, how's your new year going? Any big plans or resolutions?" she asked. Considering the fact that she is who she is, I figured I should tell her what she wanted to hear---"Oh yeah, I'm tackling some new projects. Exercise. Get in shape. Organize things. Maybe take up jogging....." I told her with great conviction. She wrinkled up her nose and sort of tilted her head--probably wondering what the hell got into me. "Not a good time. Research has proven that January is the least optimal time to do that. Starting anything like that in January is doomed for failure, " she began. "It's a very bad idea" she lectured. "I can give you some reading material on that...." she offered. "Hmmm....." I said, trying to come up with a good way to tell her that I did not need to read anything to convince me that it was a bad idea. I've been failing at those things for years. In fact, I am probably who the research is based on! "That's interesting....." was the only thing I managed to say. "Oh yes, it's time to cocoon. Listen to your body. You are craving fats," she explained, as if she were reading my horoscope. "It's the whole hibernation thing. We are mammals, you know," she continued. "Cocoon, hibernate and eat fats," I repeated back to her for confirmation. "Exactly, " she answered with pride in her voice---as if she had just converted me. "So where are you going?" she asked. "Have to get my lapband filled," I told her. "Well, you just go and do that!" she said with a big smile. And, then she ran off. For a moment, I wondered what she was thinking. Had she given up on trying to get me in shape? Why didn't she give me a lecture? What did she mean by...."well you just go and do that"? But, soon I realized that something really wonderful had just happened-----I could, without any guilt whatsoever, sit on my porch---in January--without worrying that she would try to recruit me for a 5 mile power walk. Wonderful! I was off the January.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

And so that was Christmas..........

The Christmas tree is's now resting in the garage. The ornaments are safely tucked inside bags and boxes and containers. Later this week, I'll make my pilgrimage down to the Christmas Storage Room to put everything away. (Yes, I have a special room just for storing my Christmas clutter. It's the room next to my Fall Storage Room, directly across from my Spring-Summer Storage Room). Like I told you when I began my decorating----Christmas Judi-style is not for wimps! As I officially say farewell to another Christmas season---my first Lapbanded one---I wanted share this picture of Toni and I at our Christmas morning brunch. I'm leaving it here to document what I look like 5 months post Lapband. Plus, I think it's a lovely picture of my favorite shopping partner. Yes, I'm showing off........

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Praise the SHOES!

Forgive me, friends, because I have sinned. It has been 5 months since my Lapband. I ate Coconut Cream Pie. On Thursday night. I scooped it right out the plate. With the refrigerator open. It was good. I felt sick. Give me my penance, please.

I'm Catholic. I confess my sins. I do my penance. After that, things are back to normal. So, the day after my coconut cream pie episode, I felt a need to confess my transgression. Although I knew it was absurd, I was hoping that maybe if I confessed, the calories would vanish. The confessional diet is one that I had never tried before. So, I made it up as I went along. The rule was that I couldn't confess to just anyone. It had to be a Lapbanded person. A Lapbanded priest would be the best choice. But, the next best choice would be a Lapbanded school nurse. My newly Lapbanded friend Sandy fit the bill perfectly. She would hear my confession. In addition to the fact that I could trust her, I knew she would go soft on me in the penalty phase. So, in the course of an email conversation, I confessed. I poured my heart out. I told her exactly what happened. Every detail. A little while later----she emailed me back with my penance. Buy new shoes.

As it turns out, buying a new pair of shoes is the perfect penance for a coconut pie episode like I had. Pointy toe shoes with at least a 2.5 inch kitten heel. Research proves that pointy toe shoes with at least a 2.5 inch kitten heel are slimming. So, essentially, pointy toe shoes with at least a 2.5 inch kitten heel will virtually do away with the coconut creme pie. Thank God I believe in confession and penance and shoe shopping.

Toni and I headed over to the Galleria for a chai latte and a little exercise. On our way from Starbuck's, we were sidelined by a sidewalk sale at our favorite "wish" shoe store....a place where we love to window shop and dream. Piled high on the tables were designer shoe after designer shoe...on sale! Shoes that were typically out of our price range were now a little closer to what we would consider spending. Yes, it was a religious experience. Send in the alleluia chorus! Nestled right there between a black patent baby doll wedge with a red button clasp and a pair of pink sparkle rubber tipped canvas shoes sat my penance. On sale (originally $210!). Pearly-grey-silver slides. Pointy toe. 2.5 inch kitten heel. Amazing grace. Amen. Alleluia. I slipped them on. Choirs of angels sang. And, then, as if one miracle was not enough---Toni found her dream shoes. Gold clogs. Juicey Coutour. On sale (originally $175).

Pass the basket!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Character Development........

This morning, I woke up to find an email from a dear friend---she asked "why haven't you talked about me in your blog? I want to be a character in your blog!" While I was in the shower, I contemplated her question. I got to thinking about all of the escapades she and I had over the years---fun, fun times. Side-splitting, are you crazy?, don't tell a soul about this times. Yes, lots of stories to write about. Whoa. Yes. Lots of stories.

What a wonderful way to start the morning....laughing to the point of tears as water rained down on my head. Dancing with sheer delight as I washed my hair. Stomping my foot giggling "oh myyyyy God!" as I washed my ....well, you know. Coming clean as I reminisced about a special character.

So, my stardom-seeking friend---which one of those stories should I start with? Give it some thought, some deep, deep thought. I'll wait.

It's interesting how random things just come into my mind. And, then, I sit down and write about it. Now, I am not one to have an outline before I start tapping on these keys. And, I don't have an exact sense of purpose or particular anecdote in mind. It just sort of happens. That's just the kind of writer I am. I go places when I write. And, I let "my pen" guide me. The blog writes itself. I don't start out planning on mentioning a particular person. But, somehow, somewhere in my mental musings, it happens. I think that's what I like best about writing---the places it takes me. Revisiting a moment. Seeing a loved one's face. Spending time with a friend. All of that--and more---happens when I write.

As a young girl, I spent many happy hours just writing---going places--the places my stories took me. At that time, I actually did write---putting pen to paper. It was a cheap hobby. I just needed something to write with and something to write on. And, I needed alone time. No matter where I was---my bedroom, my porch, the dining room table or sitting in the backyard--- the magic would happen. At that time, I hadn't done a lot of living. So, I did not have a treasure trove of stories and people to write about. So, everything came from the treasure trove of my imagination. But, now, after 48 years, 11 months and 15 days of living, I have a truck load of experiences and people to write about. So, trust me, I am by no means finished telling my stories or talking about the many people in my life. I just never know who or what will pop up in my blog. But, each time they do......I smile. I hope my characters do too.

It's early my Lapband journey. I've got lots more to tell......

Note to my frolicking friend---- Now that you've thought about it......perhaps this posting will suffice. After all, you were mentioned. Email me and let me know......!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Clockwork Judi........

The high winds that we had late last night, overnight and this morning knocked out my power---not once--but several times. Try blow-drying your hair, putting on make up and climbing through a very messy closet looking for a black suit---- at intervals. I was running late because my alarm did not go off and then spent the better part of 2 hours playing "guess when the electricity will go off again?"/"guess how long it will be off?" So, that's how my day started out. No wonder my mind never fully recovered.

This evening, after I made my way home through particularly vexing traffic, I spent the next hour resetting all of our blinking clocks. How many clocks can a person have? Well, quite a few......take it from me.

Blinking clocks. They are funny. After making some random jokes to myself about the absurdity of time and clocks and how they are at the core of our existence--24 hours a day, it got me to thinking more abstractly about clocks and their relationship to life. (see what I meant about my mind not fully recovering?) I thought about--the ever popular "biological clock" that ticks in the bodies of women, the internal human alarm clock that some people claim to have and of course, that much researched "ticking clock" inside all humans. And, of course, I thought about food. You know--- the whole idea of people who eat on schedule---much like babies. If it's noon, they eat lunch. If it's 5pm, they eat dinner. My body never demanded to eat at any particular time. It just demanded to eat---with no regard for what the clock said. I guess my body was one of those "it's 5 0'clock somewhere" bodies. My precious Lapband helps with that problem now. Thank God for my Lapband. And, thank God for clocks.

In any case, as my mania continued, I convinced myself that I am like a digital clock. And, January resets me. Yes, you heard me right---January resets me. It might sound a little far-fetched but somehow it all made sense to me as I further contemplated the notion. Here's my rational..... digital clocks blink until you reset them. Right? But, the regular plug-in clocks with the "hands" just loose time. And, the battery clocks keep perfect time no matter what---until they can't go anymore, that is. So, why does that make me a digital clock? And, how do I figure that January resets me? Here goes----in late-November---I "go out".....the end of the year is approaching, things at work have been a mad roller coaster and Thanksgiving is coming.....I'm tired and ready for a peaceful holiday. In early December---I am "back on". And, I am blinking--the entire month. Blinking. Who cares what time it is. There's not enough time. Time looses all meaning. Blinking. Blinking. No time to reset. So, I spend the entire month of December just blinking. Come January, there's a lull in the action, I have to get back to business and wa-la--- I reset. It's a new year. It's the month when I turn another year older. It's January. I'm reset. Yes, I am a digital clock. A digital clock with a Lapband, of course.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Je ne sais quoi

I don't speak French. And, I don't like it when someone uses those flippy, borrish, intimidating French phrases. In fact, I don't like it at all when someone speaks another language that I don't understand. But, somehow, I'm feeling very personal about this phrase. ne sais quoi.
It makes me feel okay knowing that there's a fancy word that describes my journey of late. It's much better than---" confused, searching for the meaning of life and just plain wondering what the hell it's all about". In plain English---yes, that's what I am doing. A mid life crisis? No. It's my Je ne sais quoi. It's what I am seeking. (That, a good gin martini and an all night nail salon.) It means.....something unknown but yet it's something. It's that thing. So, I'm searching for something but I'm not sure what it is. But, I'm sure when I find it, I'll know. Just hope it happens fast because I am not do you say patient in French?

Je ne sais quoi. That should explain all of my whining lately.

Oh, and, in Lapband news......I sort of gained a few pounds over the holidays. Okay, so maybe that's why I am whining. That might be part of it. But, still, I did not gain as many of as I would if I did not have my darling lapband. But, yes, I have a few visiting pounds. I'm sure they are a direct result of those cookies, that wine, those martinis, that coconut creme pie, the pumpkin cheesecake, the meatballs, that other wine, that cheese, those nuts, those other martinis and last but not least---NO EXERCISE. Yes, I've sinned. I've slipped. I've misbehaved. I've been a bad, bad girl. I've been downright naughty. Oh, yes, I've been evil. But, I'm not changing my ticker. No, I lost those 50 lbs. Even if I gained a few back---I still lost those. So, I am not moving my ticker. So, yes, you heard it here---I gained a few pounds. Trois, to be exact. Definitely not as painful in French.
So, let's try this again.......
Oui, j'ai péché. J'ai glissé. J'ai mal agi. J'ai été, le méchant fille. J'ai été franchement vilains. Oh, oui, j'ai été mal.

Go ahead, dahling, speak to me in French......

Sunday, January 6, 2008

On the side of the road.......

Inspiration is one of those things that we find in unexpected places. At least I hope so. Because when I go looking for it, I'm either heading in the wrong direction or so blinded by my quest that I miss it. So, the other day, I happened to be the bathroom.....well, you know what I mean. Now, a bathroom, you an unexpected be inspired. Speak for your own bathroom. Mine---an inspirational place. Anyway, as I was there in my inspirational bathroom, my eyes happened upon some framed black and white photos----one of them being a car on the side of a an intersection of some unknown street and Dream Road, another being a vintage picture of The Racer--one of my all time favorite roller coasters and another--a shot of what looked like a rainy work day in 1950-era Downtown Pittsburgh in front of a looming Mellon Bank building. Even though I can find enjoyment in each one of these pictures, it was the car on the side of the road picture caught my eye that day. Yes, it's been there for quite some time---probably going on 4 years. One of my stand-out friends---THE supremely talented, immensely darling, incredibly dear, highly inspirational, Nike-wearing, drum playing, rock-and-rolling, award winning Professor H---gave it to me. Now, it's one of those things that Professor H does---she gives me things like that. She is most noted for giving me pictures of shoes. Some pretty darn great shoes. Some border-line bizarre shoes. Some freaky I'd-never-wear-those shoes. And, of course, a few shoes that just scream her name. And, then there was the shoe picture that she actually had commissioned for me. Yeah, the girl is one shoe maniac. Well, one time she gave me a picture of tomatoes. She may have a thing for tomatoes too, not sure. Anyway, I put that picture in my kitchen---it inspires my sauce making. So....back to this other picture......the one with the car on the side of the road. It's one of those pictures that, from first glance, looks sad. It's a car on the side of a dark, lonely road. It's actually sort of teetering there---you know, lopsided. It's stopped behind a street sign post with a dim light sort of coming through the trees to illuminate the sign. It's a street sign at an intersection. One street name is visible....Dream Road. The other street name is facing the other way. Now, if you stop and think about it, if the driver is sitting in the car, the driver can only see the street sign that we can't see---not the Dream Road sign. So, if you're in the bathroom like I was, you get the chance to think about it little more. It eventually comes to you that here's this driver---teetering on the side of a dark, lonely stretch of road with no idea that the Dream Road is at the next turn. Of course, we're not sure why this driver is there---did the car break down? lost? eating a snack? having a fight with someone else in the car? are the kids acting up? just needed to have some quiet time? drunk? putting on make up? lost a contact? contemplating going to meet that blind date or not? ran out of gas? blinded by tears? making out in the backseat? I mean, if we knew the answer, it might make a difference. Not sure. What we do know is that this driver cannot see the Dream Road.....but, I can....right there in my bathroom. Now, you might think that here is where I am going to interject some Aesop Fable type of thing or ramble on about dreams and such. But, no. You get it.

I am just going to continue my story.

So, anyway, being that this day that I was in the bathroom was Christmas time and all, I have this little book in there called "Have A Swinging Christmas". (doesn't everyone have seasonal reading in their bathrooms?) Anyway, never read the book, never even opened the thing. No, it's not from the Queen of balanced compassion, the lovely and rhythmic Professor H. She's more of a "Have a Swinging Hanukkah/Chanukah" kind of gal. Got it at T.J. Maxx or Marshall's or some such place. Anyway, that day in the bathroom, I picked up the book. Leafing through it, I realized that it was a pretty fun book---perfect bathroom Christmas reading. Light, quick, fun. Lots of pictures.....well, mostly pictures. My kind of pictures---a bunch of women in various vintage outfits, drinking martinis, smoking cigs, being a bit smarmy, cheap and sarcastic but still making a valid point. On the back cover, I found the author's it turns out, she's a photographer. So, I made note of her website---thinking that maybe I could lift some of her photos for my blog. Yes, I was inspired to commit copyright infringement. ...right there in my bathroom.

Well, anyway....fortunately, I didn't spend the entire day in my bathroom. No, I did manage to get out of there.....inspired and yes.....if truth be told....very relieved. Later that day, when there was a break in the action of my holiday cooking, cleaning and merry making, I decided to look up this photographer's website. Yes, yes, there were a thousand other things I could have been doing. But, being true to my "A Clean Kitchen is the Sign of a Boring Woman" mantra, I put down my dish towel, yanked off my apron and gave the dirty dishes in the sink the finger. A boring woman, I am not.

Okay, so, I go to her around a bit looking for pictures and happen upon this. No, no, I'm not trying to sell you her stuff. (But, it is fun....isn't it?) I was, no.....I was hit over the head, with my eyes sort of bleary and the title of her photo series......Roadsides. Inspired? Yes. Only it was a few levels up from inspired with a few other emotions thrown in with it. It was like this experience that can by described as:
motivaionally-deeply-afewtears-wtf?-omg!- inspired-realization-resolution-whatthehellhaveIbeendoing?

What about THE Stories from the side of the road?

It's not always Further On Up the Road.

Or what about Thunder Road?

Or Backstreets?

Maybe even........

The journey is not just what's up ahead. Learned that in my bathroom.

But, yes, it's always about Bruce......(well, not really....but, sort of.....)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

It's called PERSPECTIVE.........

My incredibly beautiful, talented, smart, curly haired niece---with a history of being cranky at times--- turned 22 yesterday. From the moment she was born---with her cone shaped head that eventually held a mass of wild, crazy locks---she was one of us. The piercing blue eyes, the ball-tipped nose, the smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks and the eyebrows that formed a soft little point to the beauty mark that graced her foot---there was no denying that this child belonged to our clan. A perfect young woman---despite her penchant for smirks and frustrating shopping habits. All the more reasons to love her. She never wanted to go to kindergarten (she made my sister crazy with all of her 5 year old antics) and then when she finally relented and did go---she somehow got lost in the school bus maze---not once, but several times. Yet, she persevered. She excelled in high school--running cross country in the mud while maintaining her dainty femininity, going to formals and proms in stylish yet reasonably priced dresses with knock out young suitors who she didn't let wow her, worked in a neighborhood pizza shop and ran a religious education program for special needs kids in her parish. When one of her more GQ-looking dates came to pick her up---she requested that her darling yet quite outspoken little brother take a bath---she wanted him naked--rendering him unable to meet her date. Yes, she is creative like that. She likes shoes and angels and has this thing for bad boys and baby doll dresses and rock and roll. She is---all at the same time---a princess, a rebel, a rascal, a champion of the less fortunate, a beauty in a bikini and a perfectly coiffed diva. Despite her distaste for kindergarten, she went on to college---where she will enter her final semester---on Monday. She just finished her GRE's and she is completing her graduate school applications. All of that and a birthday too. But, she is not celebrating. She can't. You see, as she celebrated the New Year with her beloved soldier, Adam, and his family......3 Armed Forces personnel knocked at his mother's door. The world changed. For Adam. For his family. And, for my niece. Moments like this is when I realize that the world needs to change.........

Happy Birthday my lovely niece, Alexa......

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Freeze Frame!

Every Christmas Eve, my brother-in-law takes a family picture. I would share it here but I don't have a digital form of it. My brother-in-law--being a long time photographer in the purest form--uses his fancy camera with a timer (so he can run into the picture himself!) with the big flash thing. Anyway, even if I could post it, I'd have to receive written consent from everyone else in the picture to post it on the internet! So, no picture.

Of course, the whole picture thing on Christmas Eve is a lovely idea. I wouldn't have it any other way. We get to see how much the kids have grown, how fashions have changed, and it reminds us how fortunate we have been to have so many years with all of us together. But, you know, as wonderful as that tradition sparked an entirely different and not quite as wonderful tradition for me---it's become a barometer of how I feel about the way I look. Yes, yes, I know how awful that sounds. It's vain and it's self centered and just plain wrong---especially during such a joyous and meaningful season. There I am, celebrating with my family, supposedly honoring the true meaning of Christmas and yet I'm completely absorbed by what I look like. Okay, okay....I know that scenario makes me sound like...well....a...hmmm........shallow bitch. Just hear me out....please. It's just that Christmas Eve is sort of a "dress-up" night. So, I give a great deal of thought to my outfit, I spend extra time on my hair and make-up and I check myself in the mirror from every angle. I do not leave my bedroom until I am convinced that I look pretty good. After all, it's Christmas Eve and I have to look my Christmas Eve best---to celebrate with my family and honor the true meaning of Christmas. I can't do THAT looking less than wonderful (you see, I get it). And, I have to consider the picture. Because--the picture will make or break my vision of my Christmas Eve. Many New Year diets have started as a result of that picture! There was one year in particular that sticks out in my mind. I was wearing my much loved red wool blazer with gold-threaded Christmas trees embroidered on it, a pair of black velvet pants and a gold glittery turtleneck. My hair was a bit longer so I had it pulled back into a sparkely gold ribbon clasp and I had on some very festive, rather showy Christmas tree earrings. Just the height of Christmas fashion! When I finished getting ready, I recall thinking that I looked pretty good---even though I had gained a good deal of weight that year. My mirror told me that I had hid the weight rather well. When we were posing for the picture, it never occurred to me that a side view of me at the end of the group was not the most flattering. You know----turned to the side with a view of my stomach and ass cloaked in bright red. Why it never occurred to me, I'll never know. Although my brother-in-law typically delivers the picture to us on New Year's Day, for some reason, he gave it to Carmen a few days earlier while they were visiting with their mother. When Carmen came home, he handed me the envelope with a bit of an odd look. "What's this?" I asked. "Some pictures...." he answered. He watched me as I opened the envelope.....he already knew the problem. I flipped through some very nice shots of the kids opening gifts, the kids by the tree and a few of them with their grandmother. And, then, I came upon THE PICTURE. "Yeah, well, it was just the angle...." Carmen comforted me, knowing what I was thinking. I stood silent, gazing at this woman who I hardly recognized.....was that the very same woman who, just days ago, looked pretty good? I mean, why would this woman wear a bright red blazer that clearly does not fit? Look how it pulls across her ass! And, why would she wear those pants that make her stomach look like she is pregnant? And, why on earth would she put on a clingy turtleneck? Look at the rolls above her big stomach and oh my gosh..... it looks like her chubby face is popping out of a gold tube! And, who told her that her hairstyle was flattering to her chubby face? And, what the hell are those huge things hanging from her ears---clearly fat-lady jewelry!!!! This woman needs help. So, I gave my beloved blazer to a dear friend who always admired it, I threw away the pants and the sweater, tossed the earrings and vowed never to wear my hair like that again. And, of course, I planned to loose a lot of weight. Fast forward to the following year. Christmas Eve. Black pants, black sweater, hair down, the only remnants of Christmas adornment--a pair of tasteful Christmas tree earrings and a pin. I stood in the back of the group--safely tucked behind my children with Carmen covering at least part of me. Picture gets delivered on New Year's Day. I see it. Have to get rid of that black sweater, those black pants, need a new hair style, the earrings don't work, need to loose weight....a lot of it. Fast forward to the next year..........well, you get the picture here.......

As most years, my brother-in-law delivered the picture to us on New Year's Day. I hesitated to open the envelope and peer inside. Because.....this is the year when I am supposed to look good. Well, better, at least. There I was---in the back row, flanked by Vince and Carmen with my mother-in-law, Toni, my niece and nephew in front of me. Why in the hell did I wear that necklace?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2008--Strutting my way shoe at a time.....

Ending a year, beginning another---both situations deserve prolific thoughts and words. Yet, all I can think about are shoes. There's so much tangled up with the whole New Year thing. But, shoes are simple. There is a right shoe and a left shoe. And, if you have good taste---you have great shoes. And, they can make you feel happy and sexy and smart....and even taller! Not the same with a New Year. A New Year can make you feel......well.....not so new.

Ending a year---a time for reflection. Beginning another---a time for planning. Or, so it goes. Yet, all I am is tired. And, a little blue. Neither of which are very helpful when trying to reflect or plan. And, if truth be told---I'm not really good at either. Not sure why that is. I suspect it has something to do with fear. Oh, sure I'd love to think that I don't reflect or plan because I'm just a spontaneous, fun-loving gal who is so in tune with the universe and my own being that there's simply no need for it. But, I suspect that's not the case. It's fear. I'm pretty sure of it.

Many years ago, we socialized with a group of guys Carmen worked with and their wives. One of the couples---Eddie and Margaret----were quite a bit older than us. When we got engaged, Eddie arranged for Carmen to wear a ball and chain at the office. When Vince was born, he and Margaret showed up with a Penn State sweatshirt wrapped in Penn State paper and tied with a Penn State ribbon---just to agitate Carmen (he graduated from Pitt---enough said). To this day, one of my favorite and most popular dip recipes is one that Margaret made for every party. They were fun and funny and fun-loving. Except for when it came to New Year's Eve. Margaret always hated New Year's Eve. I mean, she simply despised it. When the subject came up about what everyone was doing on New Year's Eve, Margaret would say "I hate New Year's Eve." I was young. I didn't get it. In my 20-something, happy, simple world, the thought of hating a night that was meant for partying seemed rather strange. So, one time, I asked Margaret what she hated about New Year's Eve---thinking she would say that she hated party hats or noise makers or drunk people. But, she didn't. She said she hated beginnings and endings. Still, I didn't get it.
Now, I get it. I'm not at the point where I hate New Year's Eve (especially if I get a new pair of shoes for the occasion). But, I understand not liking the beginning and ending stuff. I've decided that I'm much better at the in-between stuff...the living day-to-day and dealing with each new thing--whether it's good or bad---on it's own. Reflecting on something as big as a whole year feels daunting. Because, let's face it, there were probably some things I'd like to forget. And, no thank you---I don't want to revisit it, reflect on it, analyze it or figure out why it happened or how to stop it from happening again. It might make sense in the world of heavy duty self aware people but not in my let's just forget it and move on world. And, holy geez, planning for a whole year feels so massive. We can't plan for everything! There's bound to be fun surprises and tough times. And, quite truthfully, I don't really want to think about what MIGHT happen in a New Year....because no matter how optimistic I typically am, I know that bad things can and will happen. What I'm saying is that I like the little things---like a moment, or a day or maybe a week or at the most--a month. I can deal with them and I can make the most of them. Like accessories---you know how they MAKE the outfit? Same type of thinking. It's the moments that make the year. If I can make a not so great outfit work by focusing on the smaller parts of it, I can definitely do the same for a year that may look too big at first glance. I can slim it down. Did you know that a higher heel can make you look slimmer? And, the right shoe can change your life? Look at Cinderella. It comes back to shoes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Stay Tuned for my resolutions.........

In the meantime..........

Happy New Year!!!!!!!