Missy’s Low-carb Way

Jerimiah and I have been eating low carb for about twelve weeks now. I’ve lost twelve pounds in twelve weeks, which is exactly what the doctor wants (even though it seems painfully slow) and Jerimiah has lost, well, a lot more than me. Because life is unfair. But, we lost weight over the holidays and on vacation, so I’m calling that a win. But I’m struggling daily to find low-carb dinner ideas and when I Google, “Quick, low-carb meals” I get recipes that are 25 ingredients long and have 18-syllable names, like:

  • Jamaican Jerk Chicken Lettuce Wraps on Garlic Zoodles
  • Pesto Chicken Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
  • Italian Tuna Green Bean Cauliflower Rice Fish Taco Bowls
  • Seared Salmon Watercress Potato Salad With Olive Dressing
  • Triple Cheese Cauliflower Crust Pizza w/ Blueberries & Fresh Greens

When all I really want is a recipe named, “Chicken and Broccoli” cause no one has time for this other shit. Well, I’m sure people have time for this other shit, but I don’t. And what I really lack is the patience for this other shit. I lack patience, y’all. Lack it a lot.

I also loathe grocery shopping. And gathering ingredients. And cooking the ingredients together to make a dinner. I loathe making dinner. I loathe cooking. I need a personal chef! Is that too much to ask?! According to my husband, yes. We don’t own a yacht with a private chef, so I’m screwed.

Now Jerimiah does enjoy cooking. More specifically, he enjoys finding the recipes, making the grocery list, doing the shopping, then coming home to the meals he picked out and created, fully cooked and assembled on his plate in a pleasing manner. It’s sort of like how he “doesn’t mind to do laundry” so on Saturday morning he will pile all the laundry into the laundry room, start a load, then on Monday morning I’ll walk in and be all, “What’s that smell?” Hint: It’s wet clothes that have been in the washer all weekend.

The point here is, he tries. He does. And I know he gets sick of the same old thing. I get sick of it too. Chicken and broccoli. Chicken and green beans. Chicken Caesar salad. Grilled chicken. Baked Chicken. You get my drift. We are stuck in a rut so I’ve been trying to find “Simple” or “Easy” or “Quick” low-carb meals for a while now, and have resorted to coming up with my own recipes and I’m sharing some now. No need to thank me, just use what you can, and leave what you aren’t willing to commit to.

  • Grilled Chicken, Just There, On a Plate: When your family looks at you with disgust turn the tables on them. Tell them this was your pet chicken that had been living in the backyard for several months. You’d kept her hidden so the dog wouldn’t eat her, and her name was Oprah Henfrey, and they should have a bit more respect for her because she was your best friend and actually once saved your life from a hawk attack. And now here she is, sacrificing her life so they may eat dinner. Now who’s disgusted?
  • Zucchini Pizza Bites: First you order a pizza from a really good, local pizza joint. Then you eat it yourself while everyone is gone that day. If you’re really trying to be good here, then give it to a neighbor, or just leave it out for the hawks that circle your backyard. But keep the box, that’s important. Then slice zucchini into bite-size pieces, put a blob of pizza sauce on it, add some small pepperoni, then a bit of cheese. Bake them at 325 for about however long it takes for you to be able to bite through the zucchini. Put them in the pizza box you wrestled away from the hawk. Put the pizza box on the table and when your family comes into the dining room for dinner yell, “Surpise! It’s pizza night!” They will be so excited! They will all rush over, sit down, flip the lid open and then sit in silence while they try to figure out what is happening. That’s when you remind those assholes you’re eating low carb and there’s no such thing as low-carb pizza. Then relay the hawk story to illustrate how you sacrificed for them. If you can work the ghost of Oprah Henfrey into the story, do it.
  • Stuffed Philly Cheesesteak Peppers: This one takes a bit of planning, but it’s cool cause you’re not busy on account of all the time you’ve saved cooking “Missy’s Low-carb Way.” First you buy tickets to a baseball game. Doesn’t have to be a major league game. We live in Atlanta so we can always snag some Braves tickets, but if you’re in say, Charlotte, going to a Knights’ game is just as fun. Secure the tickets. Tell the family. They will be stoked, they love baseball. The day of the game cook up skirt steak in Italian seasoning with onions and mushrooms. Jam the mixture into the peppers that you’ve already cut in half and lined on a pan. Is there music on? Say, “Hey Siri!” Say, “Hey Siri, play my Mumford and Such Playlist.” Make sure you have a “Mumford and Such” playlist. If not, 80s country music will work. Now cover each pepper with provolone, mozzarella, whatever white cheese you like. Bake the peppers at 325, for however long it takes you to bite through a pepper. When they are done let them cool, then wrap them in wax paper, then wrap that in that leftover Christmas-themed plastic wrap, then wrap that in tape. Stick them in the fridge. Now right before you head to the game, take all the peppers out and tape them to your body like you’re a cocaine mule crossing the border from Mexico. This is both as a means to get them into the stadium, and to warm them up for eating. Then head on over to the ball park. If your family asks why you’re walking funny, or why you smell like Italian seasoning, tell them there was a “hawk incident,” they won’t push. Really hype them up for the game! Be all like, “Oh man! I can’t wait for this game! You guys wanna eat some Philly Cheesesteak for dinner?!” They’ll be all, “Oh my goodness, yes! Great idea, Mommy!” You’re golden. A couple hours later into the game, the home team is winning, your husband is a couple beers in, your kid caught a fly ball, all is so cool, go ahead and tell them you’re gonna go grab those Philly Cheesesteaks. They are pumped! Go into the bathroom, rip those sumbitches off your body, oh man, they’re warm now, then grab a tray someone left sitting on top of a trash can and march those peppers back down to your family. You know what? Buy a Diet Coke for everyone to share. It’s a fun day! When you get back to the seats hand them the peppers, but don’t say a word. Don’t worry, they won’t either. Woooo, go team!

M.

Inoculated

About six months ago I started checking out MFA programs. I know, I know, Missy you’ve already been to grad school, what the hell woman? Here’s the thing. I have always secretly wanted to earn my MFA in Creative Writing. Even years ago when I went into grad school at UNC Charlotte for a totally different concentration, I assumed I’d leave there and one day attempt to get into an MFA program. I wanted to do a full-residency program and sort of always assumed I would, one day. Then life changed, as it sometimes does. I earned my MA in Creative Writing and thought for a few months that was enough, but I was lying to myself.

So when we moved to Georgia I started scouting local programs, but didn’t find any that fit my life. Georgia State University has a solid, high-res program, and it’s right down the street. But, they didn’t offer Creative Non-fiction which is sorta my jam. Georgia College also offers a great program and it’s Flannery O’Conner’s old stomping grounds. But it is a full-res program and it’s a little over two hours away. Which means I would not get the experience I wanted. That’s when I started looking at low-res programs, and I stumbled on some really good ones. “Good” for me, anyway. But that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about how the rules have changed at colleges and universities since I was last in school and now they require all students to show proof of immunizations, and the school I am applying to quite specifically wants my proof of MMR vaccinations. This would appear to be no big deal. That’s how it appeared to me, anyway. Even when the director of the program was all, “This might be hard to track down, there are options if you can’t find your records.” I was all, “Thanks for the advice, but I should be fine.” Y’all. I was not fine.

First I called my mom who swore to me two things: 1. I had all my vaccines. She remembers because I cried each time and it broke her heart. And she had to show that little piece of paper to each school I went to in the 80s and 90s. 2. She gave that little piece of paper to me over a decade ago upon my request. Sweet.

Over the next two days I ravaged my house looking for a piece of paper that I have no recollection of, and no idea where it would be. I found my baby book. I found multiple photo albums that had survived since 1981. I even found a rattle of mine, and what I think might be a lock of my hair, or the leftovers of some sort of rodent. But I did not find a small piece of paper that said I was fully vaccinated. So I called Mom back and asked her again. This is when she went into a tirade about how the school just needs to call her and she will verify. I explained that it doesn’t work like that, and I started to get a little suspicious.

That’s when I called Missouri State and UNC Charlotte to make sure they didn’t have anything on file for me. If I had the paper at some point, maybe it was because one of my previous schools needed it? They were both like, “Nah, dawg.” MSU didn’t require them when I went and UNC Charlotte didn’t require them for grad students taking evening classes the year I enrolled. They suggested I call my high school. That’s when shit got interesting.

I called Leavenworth High School and talked to the nurse. He was a friendly dude, who told me he would have no problem pulling up my records. He put me on a brief hold and came back on to tell me this: “I’m having problems pulling up your records.” . . .

It wasn’t my academic records that were the problem. In fact, he could tell me all about my time at LHS. He knew for instance that “Math is not your best subject,” but he couldn’t find proof of my immunization. But he was friendly and helpful, as I stated, so he told me that he would just look in the Kansas Database and I should pop right up. So I waited while he logged in. We chatted about Leavenworth, about where I was, and what I was doing. Good guy, really. Then he said, “Well that’s weird…”

The weird thing is that I am not in the Kansas Database. Not as Melissa Goodnight, not with my maiden name, not anywhere. There is no “Melissa” who graduated from LHS, who was born on my birthdate in the system. I simply don’t exist. I asked him how that could be. He told me that it’s possible that my doctor never submitted the paperwork when I was younger. He said it was all done on microfilm back then and sometimes the doctor’s office didn’t want to mess with it, so they were just like, “Ehh, it’ll work itself out.” Cool. Cool. Cool.

I called Mom. Mom screeched, “Did you tell him to call me?!” This was not registering. She did tell me that my doctor, who had done all my shots as a child, was now an 84-years-old retiree living in relative isolation. BUT she knew someone who knew someone who could get me his phone number and I could call him. Le sigh. She then suggested I call the hospital I was born at. Then she said, “Ope, you know what? They closed that place down a few months back. It was pretty bad.”

Detour.

That’s when I started doing research into all the things that could be done. And I came across a blood test that they give all pregnant women. They test all pregnant women for Rubella antibodies. I felt a twinge of excitement and I contacted the hospital that I gave birth in and requested me records of vaccination and blood work. They obliged, and two days later I had a test that verified I tested positive for Rubella antibodies, but that was it. If I had given that small piece of paper to that hospital it never made it into my records. But this did mean that ten years ago I had enough antibodies in my system to fight Rubella, which had to mean I had my MMR when I was a kid. Then I contacted my insurance for any and all medical records they had and they said it would “take some time,” so I threw my head back, ate all the words I had said to the director of the program, and emailed him in despair.

He was quite comical in his response and we had it worked out pretty quickly that all I needed to do was either have an MMR titer done to show that I had antibodies to all three diseases, or get another vaccination. No big deal. Until the day I tried to do it.

Are you guys even still with me here? I mean I know. This is redunk. At this point I have no idea if I will even be admitted into the program, and I’m driving myself nuts trying to figure out what the hell an MMR titer is, whether my insurance will pay for it, who to see, etc. My insurance told me to just go to a lab place (they suggested one) show up, tell them what I need, and whamo. I’d be good to go. My insurance would pay 80% of whatever and that’s that.

So I showed up to the lab place (after the first two I Googled had been shut down) and told them I needed an MMR titer and they were all cool beans. We just need the order from your doctor. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

So a couple days ago I went to my doctor and told her all this. My lovely doctor was all, “Dude, you should have just called me.” Then she explained that because of the recent measles outbreaks she has been doing a lot of these MMR titers and people my age and older are coming back positive, yes, but with low numbers. So she suggested I get a dose of the vaccine regardless, then if we want to do a titer okay, but it wouldn’t hurt to be extra sure. So here I am, at my Target CVS about to get my MMR vaccine, which is probably my third or fourth dose of it but who fucking knows.

Turns out my insurance pays 100% for all vaccines, and my FAVORITE Pharmacist Rahul (whom I promised I would only ever write good things about) shot me up after telling me how this shot hurts, but not nearly as much as the Cholera one and I should be lucky I don’t live in India and have to get the Cholera one and can I please do him a solid and not look at the side effects because I’ll probably just think I’m dying. Geez. Rahul just gets me, you guys.

And here I am today. The day after. Tired as shit and with a fever. Which Rahul said would probably happen since it’s a live vaccine and my body is trying to attack it. Cool. Cool. Cool.

So there you have it. I was inoculated. Again. And when I shared this on FB today, my mom was the first one to comment…

M.

PS… Someone please call my Mom.

Hey Siri, Play Adele

You guys know me enough by now to know I love two things: Dunkin’ coffee and Adele. The Dunkin’ coffee feels stronger than my regular coffee at home, and it gives me a reason to change out of pajamas because I have to physically go and buy it. Adele, even when she is singing a happy song (which is rare) sounds really sad, which helps me, in some weird way, feel better on my blue days. Like Adele gets me, you know? Yeah, Adele gets me. This post is not about Adele.

This post is about Dunkin, and about how coffee in general has been playing mad tricks on my stomach and about how I’m not sure I can actually live without Dunkin in my life. Can I y’all? Can I live without Dunkin? Can I live without coffee?

I don’t want you to think I’m doing some “Caffeine is bad” sort of cleanse or something. I’m not saying I’m 86-ing coffee. But it is giving me trouble. I’m legit getting indigestion and heartburn after I drink coffee these days. At first I thought it was just Dunkin coffee, but the truth is, it’s all coffee. (Gasp!)

I posted my problem to Facebook the other day (still only allowing myself 15 minutes a day on there, and it’s been wonderful) and FB answered. They suggested organically-grown dark roast. They offered information about pH levels in coffee, and they suggested doing nitro brews and cold brews instead of regular coffee. Someone even mentioned Papaya something or other. I took their suggestions to heart and I bought an organically-grown dark roast with low pH levels. I brewed it. I poured myself a cup. I drank half the cup and the indigestion came.

Then today I said “Fuck it!” I say that, that’s a thing I say with regularity. I said, “Fuck it! I’m drinking Dunkin.” And I drank regular Dunkin cold coffee and I didn’t get the upset tummies and what not. Maybe it was the cursing?

So I dunno, yous guys. Maybe I’m just getting old? I’m pushing 40, and I hear stuff starts to fall apart. Or maybe I just got some bad Dunkin batches? But I’m not giving up on coffee. Nay, nay. Quite the opposite, I’m going to open myself up to different kinds. Expand my coffee horizons, and hope for the best.

As for Dunkin, well, I know Dunkin will always be there for me when I need them. And while I may have to miss them for a little while, it might be worth it. I’ll be sad, sure, but at least I won’t be alone. Now excuse me while I go brew some coffee and listen to Adele.

Cheers!

M.

Do You Smell Toast?

Yesterday I was walking around trying to figure out why I smelled burning plastic, thinking that I was probably having a stroke, when I happened by the dishwasher and realized that no, it was actually burning plastic that I was smelling because someone loaded a plastic container at the bottom of the dishwasher and it was burning. So no stroke, that’s the point here, no stroke. Then I was telling my husband and he was all, “It’s toast. They say you smell burnt toast when you’re having a stroke.” And I was all, “Bitch, you don’t know everything!” Then I huffed upstairs and Googled, “What do people smell when they are having a stroke?” and the answer is a resounding, “Toast.” But it doesn’t matter for two reasons. One, the toast thing is a myth and two, none of this has anything to do with this post.

This post is about how stressed-the-fuck-out I am, and how I have no real reason to be. So maybe there is a connection because stress causes heart problems and if I’m going out, listen, I’m probably going out that way. Just based off the amount of stored fat around my heart, and an extensive family history of heart disease. Still, what is up with all this stress? Things are actually going okay. Wasn’t it just three weeks ago where I was all, “How lucky am I to have this life?!” And now I’m all, “What the hell is wrong with my life?!”

I’ve narrowed it down to three things:

  1. The world is a dumpster fire, upside-down, pile of steaming dog shit right now. If you ask me, it has been since 2016.
  2. People are rude as shit to each other.
  3. I’ve cut back on my carb intake.

That’s it. That’s all I can come up with. The problem is the first two things I can’t control, and if you’re like Patsy, my awesome therapist, then right now you’re saying to yourself, “Missy, you can’t change people.” And you’re right, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to, or desperately wanting to. I’ve read “Adult Children of Alcoholics” I know my strengths are my weaknesses. Shit, Patsy.

And honestly that’s really what I want. I want people to be nicer to people. Kids to be nicer to kids. I want all kids to be as nice as my kid, is that too much to ask?! I suppose so, my kid’s pretty fucking nice. I want all people to look at strangers and think, “Hmm, how can I connect with this person on a spiritual or human level?” Not, “I bet he’s a Republican.” Or, “I bet he doesn’t have a job.” But it seems that most people, MOST people not ALL people, are incapable of that nowadays. We’ve taken up our side of the fence post and we are not budging. But that’s not the part I’m struggling with. I’m good with my side. I know my side is the “right side of history” side and I know that I am squarely in the “Humane Middle” part.

What I’m so fucking tired of is walking this tightrope of trying to figure out which side of the fence someone else is on. Like will this person like me if I say I don’t go to church and I’m married to an Atheist? Or will this person think I’m a loser if I say, “I’m voting for anyone who isn’t Trump in 2020.” Will this person invite me to coffee if I say that I don’t work, because my husband makes enough money for me to stay at home and work on my writing? Will that person not want my kid to play with theirs if I tell them that we live far away from our families, and it’s on purpose? What if I tell people I am just meeting that I think every child should have an opportunity to experience preschool for free? Or if I leave a room when someone brings up abortion because I just so tired of having that discussion with people? I literally just want to say read my story about abortion, and shut the hell up. I’m out of steam, y’all.

So now what?

Yes, you’re right, I can control number three. So I’m going to go to Sam’s Club today, order an entire sheet cake that says, “People Mostly Suck” and I’m going to eat it alone in my car in the parking lot of Planet Fitness. Good plan.

I’m just complaining. I’ll feel better soon. Probably.

Be nice to people today, just for me.

M.

On Being Extra

I struggle with my weight. I always have. The first time I can remember thinking that I was fat was when I was nearly four years old. I was at K-Mart with my mom and she was thumbing though the sales rack of the children’s section, and I was hiding in between the circular display. I did this a lot as a kid. In fact, most of the memories I have of shopping with my mother involve her frantically looking for me, after I had wedged myself inside a self-made shelter of some kind. Clothing display racks, toilet paper piles, I even once hid for an entire shopping trip in the bottom of the cart under an empty box. I’m sure my therapist has some stuff to say about that, but let’s save that for another day.

So there I was, inside the actual rack of clothes, standing completely still, watching my mother’s feet go around and around the rack, when I heard a familiar voice approach. It was a woman who my mother knew. Not so much a friend, more like a friend of a friend. I knew her enough to recognize her voice, but still couldn’t remember her name. They exchanged pleasantries, then my mom remarked that she was looking for some new summer clothes for me. The woman offered to help and started thumbing through the rack too. A couple moments passed and she held up an outfit. This was the 80s, mind you, and outfits at K-Mart in the 80s came in two pieces. Shirts with matching shorts. How about this one, the woman asked my mother. My mother told the woman that it was too small. She went on to tell the woman that I was a size 6X. This was the first time that I heard a letter associated with a size of clothing. The woman gasped. She’s not even in preschool yet, right? The woman wondered aloud. Right, my mom said. She’s four this September. Then my mother politely excused herself and called for me. I emerged from my cocoon of clothes and the woman looked very surprised, but she smiled and waved us goodbye. That night I asked my much older, much cooler sister what the X meant in 6X. She said it meant “extra large,” and thus began my journey into being extra.

The thing is, I wasn’t always an extra large, but even when I wasn’t I still felt like it. In elementary school, for example, fifth grade, I was well into adult sizes, but not anywhere near extra large. Middle school, I was still clocking in at a medium or large. But compared to the other girls I was always Extra. Always. Even in high school, on the track team, working out five to seven days a week, limiting my calories, I was still an extra large compared to the other girls. Everything about me was just bigger. Except of course, my confidence.

By college, however, I was definitely into extra. A few years later, double extra. And now, here at this moment, the absolute most extra I have ever been, having just come off whacked-out hormones from a hysterectomy, pills that made me pack on the pounds, and a killer case of the blues. Extra, extra, extra.

I’m fat. I don’t try to hide it, how can I? It’s not like a mental illness that you can cover up with alcohol or self-sabotage. It’s a physical condition. I don’t need to tell people I’m fat, they meet me and can see it for themselves. What really chaps my ass though, is when people assume I like being fat, or that I am not actively trying. I’m trying. I’m always trying. And please don’t mistake me for one of those fat girls who feels good in her skin, because I am not. I LOVE Lizzo, I think she’s incredible and beautiful, but I don’t have her confidence. I don’t have her ability to feel comfortable at the weight I am at. I don’t have other talents that take the pressure off my appearence. I’m just a normal girl, in a normal fat-shaming world, trying to get by. (But I’m super grateful for the big girls out there shaping the way we talk about ourselves and see ourselves as women, because some days I really need it!) It’s just that I have always been extra large, and well, you do get used to it.

This isn’t a diatribe. This isn’t a “feel sorry for me post,” I don’t write those. Nor is this a “light a fire under my ass and start eating healthy” post. I eat healthy. That’s the thing. I have a kid, a kid who is genetically predisposed to being extra, so I work really hard to make sure he is not, and that includes leading by example. But something isn’t right in my body, it hasn’t been for many moons now, particularly after pregnancy, and trauma, and I’m working to get that worked out. It’s just a process, a really long, daunting process.

And the thing is, this isn’t a “fewer calories in, more calories out” fix. Believe me, I’ve tried that. This is deeper than “Keto” or a “30-day cleanse”, as it is for most of us who were always extra. It’s a process. You don’t got from the little girl who hides in clothing racks because she is afraid of people, to suddenly grown up one day and not having any issues. That’s not a thing. My mental health affects my physical health. That is true for all of us. And it can take decades to rectify.

I’m just here to say, don’t quit trying. That’s all. I see you. You are not lazy. You are educated on what you are putting into your body. You are trying to get your mental health under control. You are trying to figure out what makes you tic. How your hormones work. What insulin resistance looks like. How past trauma is holding you back. I see you, and I think you are doing a great job.

As for the little three year old who wore a 6X, she’s okay. She will be okay. One foot in front of the other.

❤️

M.

Bump in the Night

Two nights ago we had one of those nights where we just couldn’t get it together. Firstly, I’m sick. Like coughing up things, blowing my nose constantly, NyQuil advertisement sick. (Yes, I had my flu shot two months ago, no it’s not the flu. But while we’re on the topic, please get a flu shot. No it doesn’t give you autism. No it doesn’t give you the flu.) Ahem, so I’m sick. Jackson’s been a little funky too, but no fever, so he’s been hitting school hard, and so far no signs from Jerimiah of sickness, which is good. Regardless, we were all a little off two nights ago.

First, my NyQuil dose wore off prematurely. Which (Jerimiah likes to remind me) probably wouldn’t happen if I took the correct dosage and didn’t just chug the bottle until it “felt right.” Okay, I’ll give him that. But that wasn’t helpful advice at 3:00 am, when I was wide awake and hearing things. The “things” I was hearing turned out to be wind. Some crazy, cold wind (the temp was in the twenties). Sir Duke Barkingotn heard them too, which meant that he jumped up at 3:00 am and started doing his “I’m the damn dog in this house, and I shall protect you all from the murderous noises!” He was barking and sniffing and being generally annoying.

Of course Jerimiah was fast asleep, so I woke him up to go check the house. He groggily walked around, in pajama pants and a grimace, until both Sir Duke and he both agreed all was fine. Then right as he was about to get back into bed, I implored him to check on Jackson. When he walked into Jackson’s room, Jackson thought it was time for school and freaked out. I suppose the barking had woken him up. A conversation ensued, in which I strained to hear, then Jerimiah got back into bed. All the moving around gave my tummy the rumbles, and I had to run to the bathroom for what felt like an hour.

So at this point it’s 4:30 am, let’s say. I’m back in bed, and almost asleep, you know that moment where it could go one of two ways: You could either go over the edge into sleepy land or violently wake yourself up. I woke up. But only because I “felt” someone standing in the hallway. I was right. It was Jackson. He was standing upright in the hallway, I could see his shadow. I called to him. He said he had to go to the bathroom. Then he went into the bathroom and closed the door.

At 4:45 I went to check on him. He said he was fine, but that his belly was upset. I started worrying about food poisoning.

At 5:00 am Jackson was back in bed and I was going over the edge to sleepy land again and boom, he’s back in the bathroom like a shot. Now I’m convinced I’ve killed us all with my rice, taco bowls. Jesus, have we ate at Chipotle lately? I wondered to myself, feeling Jerimiah twitch, it’s only a matter of time before he hops up to use the bathroom.

By 5:30 am I’d convinced myself I was up for the day, sort of. I was almost asleep again when Sir Duke heard more of that murderous wind.

By 5:45 I was asleep. Fast asleep. So asleep that I didn’t hear anyone up for school, didn’t hear the murderous wind anymore, didn’t even hear Sir Duke on morning patrol. In fact, I slept until 11:00 am. Unfortunately, Jerimiah and Jackson did not get to sleep in, but Duke and I were cool.

What’s the point of all this? There isn’t one. Except to say maybe my dog is annoying, or a really good watchdog. My kid seems fine. I’ve resigned to using the little cup for my NyQuil dosage, and Jerimiah can literally sleep through anything.

M.

Happy Veterans Day*

Riddle me this. Have you ever been so pumped up after you read an article, or a book, or watched a documentary about humans doing awesome human stuff that you were all, shit yeah, I could do that too! So you get really pumped about doing said thing, and you Google everything you can about it, then right when you’re about to drop $1200 on a pilot class, or $300 for the Marine Corps Marathon entry, you’re like whoa, whoa, whoa, I’m afraid to fly in a plane.

But then, three nights later, after a fairly shitty day, you’re sitting in your shower, eating pizza rolls, and drinking wine while you watch Downton Abbey on your phone, and you’re like, you know what?! Nah, screw the MCM. I can run that bitch if I want to. And, yeah, I am gonna learn how to fly a plane, right after I watch this second season. Then you keep watching Downton Abbey, until you fall asleep, and your partner wakes you up the next morning when he is trying to take a shower before work and he’s all, “What happened?!” And you’re fully clothed, asleep in the shower, with a dead phone, and pieces of pizza rolls around you like you had some sort of witchcraft seance and the coven left your ass because you drank all the wine. So your partner helps you up, and you sleep off the wine and pizza rolls.

Next day, you wake up feeling refreshed and better about your life choices, when you open your email box and BAM! There’s the receipt for signing up for the Marine Corps Marathon. And you didn’t just sign one person up, you signed two people. Why did you do that? Then you finally remember calling your best friend for moral support the night before and, oh Christ on the cross you’ve signed both of you up to run this.

So then you have to call the Marine Corps Marathon people and explain that you are not in the best shape to participate, and that your friend is, uh, pissed that you gave her address, so can you please un-register, and they are like, “Well ma’am, you have enough time to train for the Marine Corps Marathon. It’s not for another eight months.” And you’re like holy shit, it’s a sign. You SHOULD run the Marine Corps Marathon, and you have eight months to train to do it. And you feel pumped, and so ready to do this, this is exactly what you needed and the universe in all her infinite wisdom has guided you to this exact moment.

And then eight months later, while you are eating frozen waffles on the couch, watching Downton Abbey, your friend calls to see if you ever got a refund and you’re all, “Nah, the Marine Corps probably needs that money more than I do. It was meant to be a gift, anyway.” Then she calls you a liar, and asks what you are eating. You tell her that she doesn’t even know your life and that you happen to be eating broccoli, so she can shove it somewhere the sun don’t shine, and also you are glad you will get to see her over Christmas break.

The end.

Happy Veterans Day to the Marines, and all the other Armed Forces.

M.

*Loosely based on a true story

I Want to Ride it Where I Like

Jackson and I have been riding bikes to school and back home the past few days. Prior to this Jerimiah was dropping him off every morning, and I was walking to get him every afternoon. That meant that Jackson was walking one mile a day, and I was walking two. But this week Jackson wanted to ride his bike to school. But a mile is far, and you have to cross a five lane road to get to his school, and let’s be real—I am too anxious to let him ride alone—which means I have to ride with him. So how is that going?! Great. Fine. Awesome. No, but really.

It would seem weird for someone like me to go from no activity to bike riding two miles a day, but really, it wasn’t a bad transition from the walking. I already had the bike, I bought us all new bikes last year after we rented beach cruisers at the beach and I was all, Oh my gosh, this is awesome, why did we ever stop biking when we grew up?! Quick answer: It’s hard. And people judge you.

People really do judge you. I mean, the people in the cars don’t want you on the road, and the people on the sidewalks don’t want you on the sidewalk. People don’t want you going past their driveway, they give looks, and people don’t want you riding on the shoulder of the road or in a lane like a car. In the state of Georgia, if you are over the age of 16 and on a bike, you are supposed to treat it like a “vehicle.” They understand it is not a “motor vehicle,” but they still consider it a “vehicle,” which means you are supposed to ride it on the street. Why do I know this? I Googled it, after I realized that I only see real bike riders (you know who I mean the people on teams who compete and have racing bikes with those funny little suits and make motions with their hands) I see them on the streets all the time, not the sidewalks, because well, sidewalks are for walking. I get that. But, if you are under 16, you are supposed to ride your bike on the sidewalk. This is all new information to me because I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a kid!

So do you see my dilemma? Probably not, because I haven’t laid it out very well. I want to make sure I am on the sidewalk with my son when he rides his bike, but riding my bike on the sidewalk is technically “illegal.” So I ride behind him on the sidewalk, we get off our bikes at the crosswalk and walk them across, and when I am riding alone on the way home after I drop him off, I ride in the street like I am supposed to. Well, I did. Once.

The cars were not nice. Like, not nice at all. Most of them just zipped past me like I wasn’t even there, with no thought to how close they were to me or how fast they were going. They split lanes, they didn’t get over when they clearly could have. I don’t know what the rules are, but when I see a bike rider on the street I get over if I can, and/or give them plenty of room and slow down. Not these people. I am seriously surprised I didn’t cause an accident, and the whole time I just kept thinking, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do! Maybe it’s because this is Atlanta, but riding my bike on the road did not feel safe.

So I ride on the sidewalk now, but I get mad looks from people in the cars and on the sidewalk, even though I know I am not supposed to be on the sidewalk with wheels, so I stop when a walker or runner is coming and I get off my bike and wait for them to pass. Do I want to do that? No, I lose my momentum and believe me, my fat-ass needs my momentum, but I think it is the right thing to do. Ahhhhh! I just want to ride my bicycle where I want. Thanks, Queen.

Anyway, I have no real reason to be writing this but to complain. Maybe you have suggestions. I’m just going to keep on keeping on as long as Jackson wants to ride, and I guess the cops can pull me over on my bike. Lord knows they can catch me.

As a reward for reading my rant here are some pics of a new pair of bikers. I asked him if we could get leather vests made with our nicknames on them, and he said, “We aren’t those kind of bikers, Mommy.” And I told him we were, in our souls we were… #SonsOfAnarchy4Lyfe

M.

Student “Athlete”

I was a student athlete back in the day. Don’t make that shocked face, assholes. I didn’t say I was an AWESOME student athlete back in the day. Not everyone can be great, it takes all kinda to make up a team, and although I was usually the slowest on the team, what I lacked in speed I often made up for in dedication and steadfast play (except for that one time in ninth grade when we lost the championship game because of a bad play I made at shortstop, but hand to God that will be another post, I am still working through that with my therapist). Anyhoo, I played several sports: Softball, volleyball, basketball, and track and field. I was a distance runner in track and field. Now you can laugh. I was a thrower. Shot put, discuss, and javelin. I once ran the hog relay though, and we won, so there’s that.

I’m not sure how it happened. One day I was just a chubby girl with no direction in life, and the next day I was a chubby girl who could smack the ball down the first base line, just inside the foul line, just fast enough to sneak by the first baseman. In softball, I could always make contact with the ball, that you could count on. But after that, well who knows what would happen then. Maybe I would sling the bat around so fast that it would hit the ump in the shins and I would be sent to the dugout. Maybe I would trip on the way to first base, and my slowness in getting back up would allow the right fielder to run me down. Maybe all would line up perfectly, I’d drop my bat (after my coach made me hit a shoe on a stick 100 times and drop the bat at practice), run to first, run to second, maybe even make it to third if the ball rolled ever so fast down to the fence line. I once hit an in-field home run, but to be fair, it was wicked hot outside, we were the best in the league and the other team the worst. But still. I did that. Ahhh, those were the days.

Volleyball I was better at, or maybe just as good, though that was the only team I ever tried out for and didn’t make. It was 11th grade. And to be fair I hadn’t wanted to try out that year. My high school had a state championship team, and the girls played year-round ball. They were like, uhh, good. And I was like, uhhh, noncommittal to the sport. By that time I had lettered in varsity track and field with that state championship team, so I just didn’t need the pressure. Also, the summer before my junior year I discovered weed, so there’s that. Yeah, volleyball was short-lived, only 7th-10th grade, but basketball was even shorter.

Remember when I said I was slow? Basketball is not really the game for slowness. I mean, I am wicked on the D (hehehe) but you have to be sorta “all-around athletic” in basketball. My ninth grade basketball coach would often remind us, “You’re only as good as your weakest player…or slowest,” she would add while she glanced in my direction. But that didn’t stop me from playing, I loved basketball! Still do. I love to play street ball, one-on-one, three-on-three, doesn’t matter. I love to watch college ball (Go Jayhawks!) and I love to go to NBA games (Go Hornets! Go Hawks!). I played organized basketball for the first time in fourth grade, and we were quite the rag-tag team of kids from Anthony Elementary. We practiced a couple nights a week in the gym after school. For a lot of us it was our first foray into a team sport, and it was fun and exciting. In fifth grade we got to name ourselves, and after much deliberation we landed on “The Dream Girls.” Seriously. But in fourth grade we didn’t have that option, we were sponsored by a local business called “Dix Office Supply” which meant our shirts said, “Dix’s”. No joke.

Basketball, good times. I played my last year of it in 10th grade, and honestly I wish I had stuck with it longer, but we all make our decisions. Puff, puff, pass.

Then there was track and field. I sorta got sucked into this one in middle school because I had an overprotective mom. Allow me to explain. My mom would be outside my middle school, in her 1972 Dodge Coronet (this was the early 1990s), promptly 30 minutes before school was out everyday. It was slightly embarrassing. We lived close to the school. Close enough to walk, but she wouldn’t let me. You know the drill, it wasn’t that she didn’t trust me, she didn’t trust other people, if I had friends to walk home with then maybe. Then one glorious day I found out that the track team got to walk from the school every afternoon, all the way down Fourth Street (the main artery in our small city) to Ables Field. Ables Field was were the high school football team played, but in the spring it was where my middle school did track practice. I begged my mom to do track and field. At first she was against it. Why would they let the kids walk? Coaches walked too, I assured her, even though I didn’t know if that was true. Besides, my two best friends were going to do it too. That was all it took and boom, I was on the track team.

It only took one day of “try-outs” for the coaches to figure out that I was not a runner, rather a thrower, and I was placed with Coach Cormack (the shop teacher) on the “field” side of things. I was pissed off at first, because my skinny friends were all on running teams, meanwhile we had to hike down into the woods behind the stadium to get to the “pit” everyday. But, I made new friend’s, and once I got the techniques down, I ended up being pretty good at shot put and discus throwing. So good in fact, that by my freshman year the high school coach already knew about me, and tried to talk me into joining her state championship team. I freaked out though. At this point I remember my mom trying to get me to be on the team, and me fighting it. In hindsight, I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough to add value to the team, so I drug my feet a year. My sophomore year I threw, and made the varsity team, and racked up enough points to letter my first year out. Then my senior year I quit, never to be seen or heard from again. Wanted to go out on top, I guess. What a wanker I was.

So that’s it, I was a student athlete, all but my senior year, which was pretty blurry on account of all the parties and the weed, but I mean, not at all worth it. That’s what you asked wasn’t it?

M.

PS… Don’t do drugs kids.

Monadnock in the Sky

We finally made it to the most visited place in Georgia, and no, it’s not Ludacris’ house. Well, I guess it could be Luda’s house, but according to the official Georgia Tourism Center it’s Stone Mountain. So… they are probably wrong, but we went to Stone Mountain. Like any tourist-y type of thing I knew something about Stone Mountain before I went. I knew some things from what you hear by those who have visited, and I know some things from the locals, and well like any good attraction, those two things don’t mesh up very well.

I knew before we moved to Georgia, for instance, that Stone Mountain was a giant mountain made of stone. I had also heard most of the property surrounding the mountains itself (which is owned by the State of Georgia) is owned or operated by the same family who owns Silver Dollar City is in Branson, Missouri. That’s where we used to live. We lived there for ten years in fact, another fun, little tourist-y place that just doesn’t add up to the hype you hear about it. But I digress. Somewhere along the line that crazy family from Missouri bought property at Stone Mountain and turned it into a mini-amusement park, because Capitalism? Don’t ask me why the rich do what the rich do.

I’m digressing. We did Stone Mountain yesterday, but not the “fun” overpriced, tchotchke Stone Mountain, nay, we walked the face of the monadnock, all the way up to the summit nearly 1,700 feet above sea level, and we were rewarded with amazing views of Atlanta and the surrounding areas. We didn’t stay for the laser light show. We didn’t look at the the large rock-relif etched into the side (the largest bas-relief in the world), and we didn’t ask what they think happened to the latest of the missing hikers, or the woman who plummeted to her death a couple of years ago. We sorta just, you know, pretended to be tourists. (I even wore my LSU tank top which garnered many a “Geaux Tigers” from fellow hikers. Le sigh.)

The rock-relief on it’s north face, if you’re wondering, is of three Confederate generals: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. Maybe Stonewall’s name is what gave them the idea to carve it in 1916 (it wasn’t actually completed until 1972, because we do things slow in Georgia, okaaaaay). But like most things southern, it soon became hallowed ground for the KKK and other racist pieces-of-shit about town. (Ironically, the part of town that Stone Mountain is in is predominantly black. Which makes a lot of the ahem, more white of the tourists, a bit nervous.) I wish I were making this shit up.

So Jerimiah, Jackson, and I hiked the 1.3 miles up the mountain and the 1.3 miles back down yesterday morning. (In my opinion, the walk down was worse. It worked my thighs, which are not strong. Meanwhile, Jerimiah did not like the hike up which was a lot of cardio and worked the calves. To each their own.) This was after a fifteen minute walk to the park because we parked at the visitor center and walked over. Hiking the mountain is free of course, so long as you pay the $20 to park in the parking lot. So a lot of locals either pay $40 for a yearly parking pass, or park somewhere nearby and walk in. We went with the “free” parking yesterday because we weren’t sure what to expect.

We didn’t take Duke because we checked ahead and it said that dogs can’t climb the mountain. But that didn’t stop people from taking their dogs (because people are horrible) and one pot-bellied pig, of which we passed on the way up and Jackson legit stopped in his tracks and said, “What the…?” while pointing to the pig, whose tiny legs were working hard behind his mom and dad. He was also not on a leash, though he had on a little fashion collar, it was, well, exactly what you would expect to see on a giant rock mountain, on Labor Day Weekend, in the middle of Georgia. Honestly, if I hadn’t seen a pot-bellied pig hiking the mountain, or at least three drunk grandpas, I would have worried.

Anyhoo, the walk up was more rough than we anticipated. In fact, we had to make several stops. Jerimiah thought he might throw-up, and Jackson said on multiple occasions that we were probably all gonna die. The worst part was the “handrail” action, about 3/4 the way up. It gets very steep for a small section and they have mounted a handrail into the mountain to help you along. For awhile I was moving, but like, not really going anywhere, if that makes sense. Yeah. It was rough for us, meanwhile, my son ran up to the top. Other people were like, uh, how do I say this, jogging up the face of the mountain? So, maybe just get yourself into a bit of shape before attempting this. Of course, if you want to get to the summit you can take the gondola, but just know that I will make mad fun of you when you do.

Buuuut, remember when I said we were rewarded at the top?

Awesome views, cool breezes, the feeling of being in the clouds, and the Summit Snackbar, which has bathrooms, free water fountains, and in Jackson’s case, frozen chocolate bananas to get you back to optimal health.

One of the coolest features about the summit are these ponds that form throughout the year. In the winter and spring the rain catches in these holes (not the scientific term, I’m sure) and by the start of summer there are fish in them. You can see Jackson on the stones of one of the bigger ponds in the picture. Jackson asked how the fish got in there and Jerimiah started to explain evolution to him, and that’s when it hit me that it might be hard to visit Stone Mountain if you are one of those “Earth is only 6,000 years old” and “evolution is not real” people. #EekFace But at least you will be rewarded at the bottom with a rock-relief of some of your heroes. I assume.

So the long and the short of it is this: If you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods (we live about ten minutes from Stone Mountain, GA) and you like a fun adventure that involves scaling rocks, possibly breaking one or both of your legs, and feeling like you are in the clouds, then please go and hike Stone Mountain! We will even go with you! But not too late in the day, or too early in the morning, that’s when people die and get robbed. (Shhh, they don’t like to tell tourists that!) And if you want us to stay for the laser light show we will, but please know that I have trained my son to scream, “Wicked d-bag, assholes!” (in a Boston accent) at any depiction of Confederate generals. So, there’s that.

Love you guys, and I really did love my hike up the giant monadnock in the sky, but next time, Luda’s house.

M.

My New Doctor

I had my annual exam this morning with my new doctor in Atlanta. There wouldn’t normally be much to report, it’s usually the same old song and dance. I need to lose weight. Get my medication right. But today I met my new NP, and things were different. She’s sweet, and young, and resourceful. She’s an immigrant, who left Iran ten years ago with her brother to escape religious persecution. She was raised in the Bahá’í Faith. It’s a more progressive sect of Islam. Women are viewed as equals in her religion, but still not in Iran. In Iran she was treated poorly because of her religion. She was not allowed to go to college. Her parents could not own a business, or work for the government, schools, etc. they can only work for private companies. The ones that will hire them. Her life was hard growing up, and if it weren’t for her opportunity to come here, she isn’t sure where she would be.

She didn’t just offer up this information about herself, of course. She just asked a normal “doctor” question.

NP: How many pregnancies?

Me: Two.

NP: How many children?

Me: One.

This is when the doctor usually says she’s sorry for my loss. She may ask what happened, depending on what I’m there for, she may not. Today my sweet, young, Farsi-speaking NP simply said, “Tell me about your baby.”

What came next was a ten-minute conversation about how abortion, especially ones like mine, where the baby isn’t viable, are totally okay in Iran. In most of that part of the world. That this stigma here in the US, we did that to ourselves, and she thinks it’s nuts. “No one,” she told me, “No one in Iran would have expected you to carry your daughter to full-term. You’d seem crazy to them if you did that.” She went on to tell me a bit about her life and religion. She told me she thinks the powers that be in her new country, our country, use the issue of abortion to hide what they are actually doing. It’s all a game with them. They don’t see the women.

It’s weird, and a little funny how things happen. I forget that sometimes. I’ve been torturing myself all week. A wreck with guilt, as I am every year around this time, for something that I just shouldn’t have guilt about.

I was reminded of this today. I was reminded by someone who didn’t need to know my why, or my how, or my when. She just needed to see the struggle in my eyes. She put her hand on my shoulder as I struggled to sit upright, my open gown covering nothing of my upper body, my breasts hanging out all over the place, and she said, “Look at me.” I looked at her. “I would have done the same thing you did. You’re strong. Strong to know the toll that would take on you. Strong mentally to know what was best for you and to do it.” Then she took my hand and helped me sit straight up. Helped me close up the front of my gown. Helped me straighten my crown.

There’s good out there, y’all. Everyday, everywhere. And it comes to you when you need it.

❤️

M.

Butt Stuff

Hey, y’all, let’s talk about butt stuff. I was listening to a new book the other day by a writer who I think is funny, and witty, and thought-provoking. I was just about to inch up in the car line at Jackson’s school when she started describing a sexual encounter that she had recently had that involved, you guessed it, butt stuff. So I did what any respectable mommy would do, I turned it up so the people in front of me could hear too, because people want to hear about butt stuff, they just don’t want to admit it. Now she was not so polite as to call it that, she had some other choice phrases for it, maybe “butthole licking” and what not, but I’m gonna stick with “butt stuff” as a general topic and I am going to go ahead and say now, I ain’t into butt stuff.

Now I know what you are thinking. This is one of those Doth Protest too Much instances. Like how Mike Pence “hates” homosexuals, or when I get drunk and tell everyone that women need to stop wearing low-cut shirts. Read: Pence enjoys being tea-bagged and I love a good low-cut shirt on a voluptuous lady. But I really don’t like butt stuff. However, I am not shaming those of you who do. You do you, BooBoo! You’re not alone. In fact, there are a million articles about how men and women both secretly like butt stuff, and of course my generation is to blame for it. Like we are all walking around tapping people not he shoulder and saying, “Psst, hey, let me stick this vibrator up your butt.” And then promising a trip to Applebee’s afterward.

There probably isn’t a trip to any once-popular dining establishment that would get me to do butt stuff, which is saying a lot as I once said, “There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for a waffle-dog from that place in Hell’s Kitchen.” But there is something I wouldn’t do, and I’m pretty sure it’s the same thing Meatloaf wouldn’t do, but maybe our reasoning is different. Here is mine: Poop comes from that place.

I know you know this. Or at least I hope you know this, but do you know that poop is there even when you don’t know poop is there? Follow me.

About 12 years ago I went to the doctor because I had some weird stuff happening in my butthole area. (Side-note: Jerimiah HATES when I say “butthole” as in talking about my ACTUAL FUCKING ANUS, but he’s totes fine if I am talking about the Butthole Surfers or calling our 10-year-old son a “butthole-io”. He just hates when I use the word to describe the actual place that poop comes from. Which is hella weird to me and so I do it whenever I can.)

So I set up an appointment with my doctor and her student that followed her around. This student was becoming a Physicians Assistant, and had been placed with my doctor for a year to shadow her. They were both lovely and sweet, until the day the student stuck her finger in my butthole.

It started with them asking about my symptoms. They nodded their heads and listened intently, then my doctor typed some stuff into the computer. She wasn’t one of those doctors who doesn’t make eye contact with you while you’re talking, she was always genuienly concerned while she listened, and she would wait until you were finished speaking to make her notes. But it was a little nerve-wracking to have two sets of eyes on you as you describe the various things that are coming from you.

As I finish up, the doctor decides that it was probably hemorrhoids and I’m like cool, what pill do I take for that? And she’s like, first we have to make sure. And I’m all cool, how do we make sure and she’s all, “Pull your pants down and roll over.” Hmmm. Maybe she said it in a nicer way, but that’s what I heard. Maybe, probably, there was a gown, and probably I had to get undressed in the quiet of the room while thoughts raced through my head like butt cancer and I should have just WebMd’d myself and does that window open?

But here is what I remember with clarity. I was on my side, profusely sweating, the white paper on the bed was sticking to me, I couldn’t move least I expose myself, and the doctor looked over at the student and asked her if she wanted to do it and the student said, “For sure!”

For Sure!

Right as I was about to ask, “Do what?” the student walked behind me, lifted up the gown onto my hips, spread my cheeks apart, and stuck her finger in my butthole.

Let me stop for a moment. In hindsight, I should have known what was about to happen. I mean, I went to the doctor complaining about butt pain. But I was young, 25-ish, and this was my first rodeo. And honestly I thought maybe the doc was going to wheel in an ultrasound machine and look into my stomach, or schedule me for some kind of procedure wherein I was put to sleep while they rooted around. This is to say, I was zero percent prepared for an actual exam to take place that day, at that moment. Even with these two fairly nice women who, thankfully, had small hands.

After the initial surprise, I wasn’t really sure where to look. I mean, I had visited this doctor countless times, she even did my annual exams, but I wasn’t used to looking her dead in the eye whilst someone had their finger in my butthole. When she had her fingers in my vagina, I usually looked up to the ceiling, but I couldn’t do that this time, because I was on my side. So I just closed my eyes. Then I worried that closing my eyes would somehow signify that this was a relaxing pose for me, which made me afraid that they would think I usually have a finger in my butthole.

Luckily the exam didn’t last very long. It was only a matter of seconds, less than a minute for sure, then she pulled her finger out and said, in a very excited tone may I add, “Ohh! Fecal matter!” I looked over my shoulder, along with the doctor, and there on the student’s finger was a bit of, well, fecal matter. She was very excited about this and I was very confused as I did not feel like I should have any fecal matter on deck at that time. In fact, I felt oddly cleaned out.

Then they explained that this was a happy moment, because they could send the fecal matter to the lab and run some tests on it. Then I remembered that time I had to chase my dog around with a ziplock bag to collect some of her fecal matter to have sent to a lab and I was like, holy actual shit, they are testing me for worms! Again, hindsight. They probably weren’t testing me for worms, but you know, I was distressed.

So I got dressed, the doctor and student came back in, and they explained that the student had felt nothing which means it probably wasn’t hemorrhoids and that they would send off my sample, and get back to me. A couple days later she called to tell me that there was nothing unusual and sometimes that just happens and to keep an eye on my BMs, but not to worry. I didn’t have butt cancer.

What did I learn? There is ALWAYS fecal matter in your butthole. Like, always. Even when you don’t think there is, someone, somewhere, can find some if they go deep enough. I know, I know I don’t have to connect the dots for you, well most of you, so let me just say this: The next time you and your consenting partner are fooling around and one of you is all, hmm, butt stuff sounds kinda fun. Please take the image of me, on my side, with a gloved finger in my butthole and a woman screaming, “Fecal matter!” into consideration.

Remember to be safe!

M.

If I Were Forced into a Court-Ordered OA Group

It is six o’clock in the evening on a Wednesday. I am sitting in a semi-circle staring blankly ahead, trying not to make eye contact with the man directly across from me who has an oxygen tank next to him and keeps talking about how he wishes he could step outside for a smoke. There are only five of us so far. I know this because every fourteen seconds or so I look around the room as if I am searching for a clock on the wall, but in reality I am using my peripheral vision to count heads. Is that meaty woman by the door lingering there because she is afraid to commit, or is the success story for the night. I do not count her just yet.

We are all sitting on hard plastic chairs that are intended for children. That are so small my thighs are spilling over the sides. I shift uncomfortably in the seat, and I just know this will give me a rash, or deep lines in my softness, at the least. We are in the dank, dim basement of church that, five days a week, doubles as a pre-k for tired Methodist mommies who just need a fucking break for three hours in the morning so they can Zumba, then hit Publix alone.

My foot is asleep.

The woman beside me is breathing so heavy that with each intake I brace myself for the warm, garlicky steam to waft toward me. I close my eyes to pretend that I am in one of those funny sitcoms where I look over at her and we make eye contact and I say something funny and she laughs. The laughter breaks the awkward silence in the room and then we all become super best friends, bound together by our inability to control our emotional eating and our desperate desire to hide behind jokes, because that is the only way we think people will love us.

We start to meet outside of our designated meeting times. We start to have potlucks with things like kale salad (because we are trying) and Diet Coke (because we are not trying that hard) and we only refer to each other by the nicknames that we created (my best friend is Wynonna because of her red hair, and I am Momma Naomi because I like to tell everyone what to do). We start referring to ourselves simply as group.

I open my eyes to see a skinny, pale blond woman lowering herself onto a large, comfy rolling chair. Why does the skinny bitch get the rolling chair? Ah, she’s the mentor.

Twenty minutes later I say the first words I have said all night, after the blond says, Missy, tell us about yourself.

I’m quiet for an actual minute because I have learned that if you are fat, and no one knows what you are capable of, you can be quiet for so long that the silence gets awkward and the conversation goes on without you in it. This doesn’t work with the blond, because as much as I want her to be just one of the other fat people’s caring sisters who has volunteered to come tell us about Weight Watchers, she is actually a real, goddamn therapist who has been hired to try to reach us. To get us. To help us with our self worth. She continues to silently smile at me, her piercing blue eyes locking onto mine. Because this isn’t my first rodeo with a therapist, and because this is not the first time I have tried desperately to get a skinny, pale, blond woman to like me, I cave.

Hi! (I sort of wave to the group that I have actively been avoiding for the last half hour). I’m Missy and I’m a bread-aholic.

I laugh trying to ease into it. A few chuckles come from around the room and I am hoping I can figure out, by the end of the allotted time, who it was that laughed, because those my people. Meanwhile, the blond loses her smile. She ain’t playin’.

Uh, I am married and have one son and a poodle who is kinda, sorta, well he’s a shithead, but I love him. The poodle, not the husband or son. But I mean, they are sort of all shitheads sometimes, you know?

More laughter. Her smile comes back. Okay, keep going Missy.

I am 37 and have always been overweight. I was the kid who was picked on in second grade for having a big round belly, and also because sometimes I would toot when I sneezed, but never owned up to it.

More laughter. She doesn’t laugh, but her smile broadens. She is starting to like me now. I feel safe for no reason whatsoever, except that probably these other fatties get what I am going through and I assure myself that I am not the saddest sack this blond therapist has ever seen, so I decide to go all in.

Obviously, I hide behind humor. My biggest problem really is bread. Carbs. Sugar. I eat when I am sad. When I am angry. When I am happy. I enjoy over-processed foods, but could tell you what I am supposed to be eating, what I should never allow into my body, and how important portion control is. I know how sugar releases dopamine in my brain. I know that too many carbs can cause inflammation in my joints. I know that people like me, who eat a lot of added sugar, are twice as likely to die of heart disease. I know I should not drink Diet Coke, but when I’ve had a shit day, that’s all I want to do. I exercise five days a week, but I know that you can’t exercise away a bad diet. I do not jump on fad bandwagons. I don’t Keto, or South Beach, or Slim Fast. I know those are not healthy, and unrealistic for the long run. I know, but I do not adhere to most of it.

The group sits with their mouths agape. Oxygen man turns up the dial on his machine. Heavy-breather coughs. Blond woman’s smile fades away. I decide this is probably a bad time to ask if there is a snack table somewhere.

By the end of the night I haven’t realized anything that I didn’t already know. I grew up on TV dinners and pre-packaged lunch meats because we were poor and those went a long way. I never learned to read the ingredients on the box. When I was a kid they didn’t even have to tell you what the hell was in the food you were eating. This aided in a whole generation of new fatties cropping up. McDonalds became a thing in the generation before mine. By the time I was born we had so many different fast food choices it would make your head spin. It does make your head spin, because mental confusion is a symptom of bad eating. I know. But like most things, slowly but surely food and the elevated importance of it in our emotional well-being took over and no one, no one stood up to say we have to stop.

But, I also know that at this point in my life it is no one’s fault by my own for still being overweight. I have been given all of the tools that I need to succeed. Anyone can now Google how to rid yourself of sugar, how to restart your cravings. I know people who do the Whole 30 every other damn month. And they do it because it is freaking hard to stick to it. It is freaking hard to retrain your brain. Hard to live everyday in a mental fog, wishing and hoping for just a little suckle off the old fructose bottle. Because we all want to be happy, right?

I’ve never been to an Overeaters Anonymous group, and court-ordered would be the only way I would go. Though I am having a hard time figuring out what would make a court order you to a place like that. Do I need to stab someone over a lack of cheese at Taco Bell? What if I lifted a case of Little Debbie Snack cakes from the Kroger down the street? But I suspect if I did go to one of those meetings, it would end up being a lot like the scenario above, because although I do not know yet how to get a handle my emotional cravings, I do know myself.

For now I will continue to dream of the day I can pick up a stalk of celery and it can emotionally fulfill me like that bag of pretzels. I will keep refusing Diet Coke for La Croix, keep buying that damn Halo Top instead of the Ben and Jerry’s that I really want. I will keep buying the damn caesar dressing made from yogurt, because even if all that is bad for me too, it is still a hell of a lot better than I used to do, even I though I will still eat chicken wings whenever I get the damn chance.

For those of you who are struggling with the weight. Struggling with the cravings and the bad choices and the lack of exercise and all of the things, remember that you are not alone. There is help out there if you need it or want it. There really are Overeaters Anonymous groups, and if group therapy works for you, DO IT! There are nutritionists (that your insurance will indeed pay for, you may just have to ask), and there are good, honest gyms, or workout groups, or just people to walk the block with a few times a week. There is therapy to deal with the real root of your overeating, because regardless of what you think, you are probably not just a lazy, slob who doesn’t have the time. There are things, mental and emotional things, that are stacked against you. You just have to be committed to finding what works for you. And remember, one step at a time. Sometimes, quite literally.

I’m always here to lend an ear or a smack on the hand if you need me.

M.