Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina

I am so sorry for all of those who have been devastated by Katrina. I hope your levee is fixed and the toxic lake is soon pumped away. That you find fresh water, food and safe haven. And when it's all fixed up, I promise to visit and spend a lot of tourist money to help recover your economy. In the interim, my thoughts are with you. Be safe.

Just in Case

Just in case anyone from high school actually looks up my blog (because I advertised it in the memory book - shameless attempt at self-promotion, huh?), I need to add a few things to my previous post.

I did have friends in high school. Only I had a very difficult time maintaining friendships. A character defect that I still struggle with today. Things usually go along swell for awhile and then I go mental and isolate and get paranoid that people don't like me and are really just laughing at me or manipulating me or something. It's not clinical, or so I think. But that's been the story of my life. I even do this occasionally with my siblings. But thankfully they are related and will eventually push me out of it. For whatever reason, I've never done this with my husband. Perhaps because things are different because I have regular sex with the man. Although I do occasionally get paranoid that he's having sex with other women. That paranoia doesn't last because he's such a terrible liar that I'm sure I would have found out. Or, he's such an excellent liar and I'm better off not knowing.

I digress. I need to really find that yearbook and mention the people that were really cool, but for unknown reasons, I never kept up with them.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Hopkins - Class of 1985


Following is a bio that I've submitted for my 20 year highschool reunion memory book. I probably won't go to the reunion. Not because I'm overweight, but because I hated highschool and had no friendships from then to maintain over the years. I went to my ten year reunion because I had just met George and he talked me into going (after buying me a very expensive Tahari gown). Then, I looked like a model - or had the figure of one. So it was fun to show off what happened to the class geek. After arriving, I felt it was just a huge waste of money. I enjoyed seeing my brother who shows up for highschool reunions, but not for family events. Everything else seemed so out of time. The same people still organized in the same cliques.

The best part, really, was seeing Reed Herman (I hope he Google's himself). He was another odd duck in school, but managed to gain some nice friendships. He survived a fair amount of brutal abuse in school. He then showed up at the reunion in a tuxedo and looked HOT. His friends joyfully surrounded him and most people couldn't take their eyes off him. (I'm afraid I didn't create that much of a stir. 5'10" as a size 10 may seem like a major accomplishment for me - but for the rest of the world, there are a lot of skinny people out there.) Really, the most memorable thing about it was the "deep" conversations with George about what kind of family I want and having sex with him for the first time in my Dad's guest room.

Well, here goes...

This is me today – well last year (see photo in blog profile). The lines are getting more defined and what was processed highlights last year, has now become natural gray (it catches the light better – who says gray is bad?). I no longer have my yearbooks as they’re tucked away in my sister’s attic in Staten Island, so I can’t show a comparison. Frankly, I think I look better now than I did as an awkward, pimply, terribly self-conscious teenager although unfortunately, I still have the occasional zit.

This is my family. (see photo above) If any of you recall me at the last reunion, I married that foolish man who talked me into going there in the first place. He’s not really foolish. In fact he’s brilliant. And being married to George, I’m guessing, is like being married to Richard Feinman.

By no easy means, we managed to produce offspring. Chloe is my reason to gratefully leave the frenetic pace of life sucking, corporate slavery just in time before all hell broke loose in NY and for MCI. Today she is my occupation and my love along with writing, photography and whatever creative obsession that’ll grip me.

I used to live in a terribly cool loft right on NY harbor in Brooklyn complete with a view of downtown Manhattan and the Trade Center. With my high-powered telescope I could even see what kind of soda was setting on my husbands desk on the 103rd floor (that's right, where the first plane hit). About five years ago, my husband so cleverly tricked me into moving back to the Midwest. We now reside in Chicago in another terribly cool loft with a great view of my neighbor’s (and friend’s) loft. I cannot imagine what it would be like to live in a home where the floors are level, the windows actually keep the winds out, and the heating system doesn’t sound like “Stomp”. Instead of moving the suburbs for the sake of my child, we instead bought a farmhouse in Indiana that we frequent. I grow organic vegetables, make my own fruit leather with produce from nearby farms, and enjoy long bike rides through the countryside that typically end at the beach. I doubt I could ever return to the gray conformity of the suburbs.

It is hard for me to think of a favorite high school memory. Not that there weren’t good moments, because there were. But most of it was sheer pain. It’s terrible being the outcast, the geek or the nerd. I bet I speak for many. For whatever reason I never found my niche and my best friends were my step-siblings, Beth and Bill. I am forever grateful that they always stuck by my side, no matter how socially inept I was. I hope to think that this terrible experience formed my strong character today. Thank God we can never go back.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Oil Conservation


This is what a 195 pound mama looks like pulling her kid. Not terribly sophisticated; however, after discussing gas prices and comparing vehicle models with a local radio personality at a nearby (5.5 miles) hotdog stand, I felt pretty good that George had dragged me out on the bike to run my errands this morning. I rode 10.5 miles. Plus I walked at least 1-2 miles with George's bike after his 2nd flat tire to meet him at the bike shop. He has one of those super fast, expensive bikes that gets a flat whenever taking it on the road. I don't see the wisdom in that. Then on the way home, he braked with the front brake and flipped the bike when his wheel got caught in a hole in the road. A few bruises, but he's okay. I just don't think he ever looks down.

I'm rethinking replacing the pumpkin patch with a hot tub. Hmmm, that would feel so good on my heel spur right now. And the pumpkins are a no show after powdery mildew has killed all the leaves. Maybe it's still too early in the season.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Through the Eyes of a Four Year Old


I turned my friend's son loose with my camera and this is what he took (Chloe took the photo of him), Fyodor's photos. I love the array of simple, mundane objects - yet to him, this was life at his level. This reminds me of "One Hour Photo" where Sy Parrish develops a roll of film taken by the son of the woman he's obsessed with. The images were gorgeous and I thought, no way could a child take stuff like that. Well, with a little better lighting, Fyodor's done it. Hat's off to you, kid.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Waning Summer


I had to catch this one last time before summer ends. School has already begun here in Indiana. We still have a week at a half left, but I'm already mourning the end and try to think of all the things I'd wanted to do. Like visit some great national parks with my kayak, tile my walkway with homemade cement bricks, finish the rag rug for Chloe's bedroom, hang blockout shades in my bedroom so I can sleep past 6am, haul out a dresser and wardrobe for the guest room, sew a few sundresses and loose (fat) pants, buy and move into a new house, and lose 40 pounds. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Get Out of Jail Free Card

Well, not jail, motherhood, I mean. Today was half of that - an almost freebie. There was a kid at the farm. A real, live, fun to play with kid with a really cool mom who let Chloe follow them around everywhere. My excuse to stay indoors on this incredibly lovely day was that I finally got all the people out of my house so I can clean. But, instead, I ran across this blog while copying my entire music collection on my laptop so I could then copy it onto my new IPod. Check this out, only if you dare and only if you have a lot of time to spare. 63 days Hey, I ended up letting total strangers feed my daughter lunch, and then pawned her off on near strangers for dinner while I read the entire archives, so really, beware. (Is there a reason that all these words rhyme? Dare. Spare. Beware. Surely I didn't intend this.)

During this blood-chilling read, I consumed 3 separate lunches. As though being totally sedentary for a day actually increases the appetite. Arghh - will I ever diet? And my house is still a mess. Damn you, Internet. Damn.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Angel


My housekeeper/babysitter spent a night at the farm with me. She's an angel, I know it. She showed up with a basket brimming with food and alcohol that included a pot of some amazing Polish dish, French bread, and a bottle of Malibu with pineapple juice. After sunning on the beach all day and her totally entertaining my daughter without being paid, we put the kid to bed and stayed up telling on our husbands while getting very drunk and eating cookies (so much for my diet blog). As she told her story of growing up in Poland, getting her education, then immigrating to the US where now she's back to square one again, she said, "now look at how unlikely this is, one of my best friends is 15 years older than me and I work for her." In my drunken haze, this took a minute to sink in. She was talking about me. I felt so grateful I almost cried.

About two years ago I had a very bad miscarriage that brought me to the brink of my life and left me in the hospital for a week. Following this I sunk into a dull depression and the highlight of my weeks was when Ewelina came to clean. She cried with me, hugged me a lot, and gave me many words of encouragement. A few months later, the women that were more formally my friends gradually disappeared. I'd overhear playdate arrangements that were never extended to me and Chloe. I'd stopped getting phone calls, and suddenly the loft that at one time the neighborhood kids would so gleefully trash, became an empty and lonely place.

There was one other person who was a light to me, my guitar instructor, Alejandro. He was just a sweet guy from Columbia that played really good classical guitar and was a great listener. He didn't know my tragedy, but he knew something had suddenly made me sad, all the time.

In my isolation from "the group" and my despair, I remember thinking - how is it that the people (besides my family) with whom I have the most meaningful friendships with, I have to pay for the services they provide? I thought that was a cursed position to be in. Today, I realize what a privilege it has been for me to have made these friendships.

Ewa's still with me. We attended her wedding this year as a family - as part of her family. Alejandro - well, I quit the lessons for awhile. It's always been hard for me to have friendships with men. We see each other occasionally at jazz clubs, have a drink, and enjoy catching up. And the mother's group - some have scattered. We still keep up and get the kiddies together occasionally. They're good women, and I'm glad to know them. Nothing seems right for a long time when your uterus has been torn asunder. It's all all right, now.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Bad Mom Bad Mom Bad Mom



We all say that we have the cutest kid in the world, right? Well, I do, of course. Tonight, I'm really damn lucky to have her and probably don't deserve her. I sent her upstairs to take a bath while lounging around with my husband. I thought, hmmm, she's awfully quiet up there, what could she be getting into. I dragged my feet for a few minutes more, and then went up to check on her. There she was, floating dead still in the tub, gratefully face up. I shouted at her, and her eyes popped open. She started to cry, I started to cry. She had fallen asleep in the tub. "Mommy, you scared me," she cried. Oh honey, you have no idea.

If I wasn't so emotional, I would have realized there wasn't enough water in the tub to cover her face. If she breathed it, she'd wake up right away. (Would she? God I hope so.) The real test of severity was that George came upstairs to see what all the hubbub was about. Poked his head in to see me sobbing with Chloe, and then turned around and went back downstairs.

So that's it, she's not old enough for private bathtime, yet. God, when will we be able to stop watching every move? I'm so shook up.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Butter, Oil and Okra


Dear Mom,

I realized that you have truly made yourself at home when assessing the new items found in my kitchen.

Walnut Oil
Hazelnut Oil
Safflower Oil
Avocado Oil
Sesame Oil
Olive Oil (mine)
Almond Butter
Sesame Tahini
Sunflower Butter
Peanut Butter (the kind that separates)
Several pounds of frozen okra (in lieu of the several pounds of frozen artichoke hearts left behind last summer).

I'm glad you are here. I love you.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

It isn't for everyone.


My husband awoke at 4:30 this morning by the Chicago Police Department. Somebody had stolen our car. Not just our car, several cars from our parking lot across the street. Pretty easy, it was, some guy just broke in the valet shack and grabbed 4 rings of keys. He was caught in a nearby parking lot in the act of moving his things from a stolen Saab into my car. Apparently, he was going to keep mine for himself. I'm flattered.

George asked how they even knew the car was stolen. "Well," stammered the police officer, "he just didn't look like the kind of guy who would be driving a Lexus." To be more frank, he didn't think the African American male (clean shaven and decently dressed, by the way) should be climbing into a new Lexus at 2:00 in the morning. It turns out guy has a rap sheet a mile long, in fact he is currently on probation from his last auto theft.

On any other day, I'd be all over this. I live in a somewhat diverse neighborhood - well that's not accurate. This is Chicago and there are very few diverse neighborhoods. I live in an area where two neighborhoods come together and are beginning to blend. They are both middle class with some affluence on both ends. So, I know several African-American folk who drive cars way nicer than mine. Except I just received my first, truly beautiful, luxurious car (thank you, thank you, thank you George), so their cars are now only somewhat nicer than mine. Anyway, it shouldn't be unusual for a black guy to get into a Lexus or Saab or Mercedes or BMW or whatever at any time of the night. But, well, I guess if you're black, the Chicago Police Department thinks that it is unusual.

Is this an example of racial profiling? Or was the officer moved by the Holy Spirit?

I shouldn't complain. Thanks guys for getting my car back, whatever it was.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Skinny Folk Know Nothing

Yesterday, in well contemplated act of desperation, I asked my Doctor if there were any decent diet pills on the market. She wouldn’t even close the door to have the conversation. “They’ll help you to lose about 5% of your weight and the weight comes back as soon as you stop. If you want to talk further, you’ll have to schedule an appointment, like for next week because I have other patients waiting for me.”

Yea, like me, you skinny $*^#!. I’m the one with the scheduled appointment, and you couldn’t even close the door to talk with me. She came back a moment later, calmly apologizing because she assumed that I’m a walk-in – like there is some kind of stigma with being a walk-in. No, this time I really thought about it – I made the appointment. I don’t want to get a legal high, I just want to lose weight. And she brushed me off like I was homeless without insurance trying to get a fix.

She feigned compassion and concern as she discussed portion control, group diet centers (like Weight Watchers) and Slim Fast. On one hand she trashed the Atkins movement – the reason people lost weight was that there was nothing for them to eat. Until everyone started making low carb food, dieters could eat then they could eat again, and no one could lose weight. The Atkins’ empire is now bankrupt. On the other, she recommended grabbing a Slim Fast for a meal. Hmmm – really? That's sensible. She described the new American plate to visualize portion control. Really, I’m a professional dieter, not like I ever stuck to anything. But I’ve read everything and of course, I know everything. She talked about walking everyday (dismissing my knee, hip and heel spur issues) and then picking up a sport that I’ll really enjoy, like tennis (continuing to dismiss my knee, hip and heel spur issues). At the end, just like a good sales person, she asked, “well, Dominique, how does this sound to you?” Great. “Good, what can you work into your life today?” Gee, Doc, that part about tennis just sounded swell. I think I’m going out to buy my skirt and sneakers today.

Honestly, within the first few sentences of her discussion, I pleaded that whenever I attempt a sensible diet, like Weight Watchers, I become so obsessed with food, that I tend to gain weight. She took out a card from her breast pocket, “then you need to talk with this shrink so you can get that worked out.” I think that was about the most sound advice she could offer. I was so choked up with the realization that this is what I really need, that I had to tighten my throat and stiffen my lip to make it through her remaining trite lecture.

Damn these enlightened doctors. What happened to the day when they wisked out their prescription pad and doled out the narcotics on demand? I was really hoping to keep my issues at bay and let a little speed melt the pounds off.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Going Nowhere - Back to 195

Today I have that hint of desperation (oh wait, I'm always desperate). It is the second day of my period so I am not surprised that I am a pound up. However, it is no secret that my attempt at dieting is more accurately an act of self-sabotage. I've promised to make a clean start today and actually write out a food plan, rather than simply recording my consumption.

About a year and a half ago, I was working out twice a week with a personal trainer. I also attended her Pilates class on Saturdays and still made it to the gym another two times to get a good run in. Then something happened. I noticed my knees were grinding during certain Pilates moves. I went on a decadent weekend vacation to Vegas and returned with crippled knees. What happened? I'm still not certain. I remember sitting in a very cramped waiting area in the airport for over two hours - crossing and uncrossing my uncomfortable legs (why I didn't just get up and walk around, I don't know). Once there, I wore 4-inch heels whenever we went out, standing in long lines just to get into overpacked clubs with no seating. I stuck religiously to my Pilates routine, regardless of that annoying grinding sound.

Later, at my orthopedist's office, I listened as he tried explaining that I have arthritus in my knees. What the hell? I'm in my thirties, and that's impossible. Arthritus doesn't come on like an injury. Several months later, and a different orthopedist office, I learned that yeah - he's probably wrong, but what I do have is preliminary to arthritus, and you can forget all that jogging you fat cow. (I added the fat cow part). Physical therapy helps, but has not replaced the only regular excercise that can actually get my heart rate up, that I love and even makes me feel good.

I was floating between 180 and 185 then and really feeling desperately fat. Much of my weight had come on during dissappointing IVF attempts. Three at the time. Five pounds per miscarraige or failed cycle. My orthopedist suggested that I put that on hold until I lose weight and strengthen my knees. Then I could forget about ever getting pregnant, if it depended on my weight. Besides, fat chicks get pregnant all the time. So I tried one more time, and, well, nothing - but more poundage.

After almost a year of physical therapy - knees and hip (that's another story), I can finally feel good about walking and even taking the stairs, and now my heel spur kicks in. Boy, I haven't even reached forty, yet, and I'm a mess. I was so grateful when my husband who plays basketball and/or raquetball at least three times a week threw out his back last week. An ambulance had to come because he couldn't get out of bed even to pee. (George - I'm not really glad you were hurt.) Even healthy, strong, thin people have their problems, right?

I want to nip that heel spur thing in the bud and forget about insoles, taping and stretching and just get the damn thing removed. And while I'm under anethesia, why not get a little lipo and tummy tuck while I'm at it. Just kidding, sort'of. The lipo thing sucks - it really hurts, for months, even. Remember the Pilates instructor/personal trainer? Gorgeous woman in her early thirties. She finally got her settlement check from her ex-boyfriend-abusive-professional-basketball-player-father-of-her-child and the first thing she did was have liposuction, tummy tuck and a boob job. She walked around like a 90-year-old for nearly the entire summer, she was in so much pain. And the bigger boobs really just made her look fat. This was really disheartening for me. If a gorgeous, perfectly in shape, athletic guru couldn't accept her body, what chance do I?

Now I'm at 195 - not even floating. 195 with the real potential of going higher. I have a solid fifty pounds to lose. At my height, 5'10", 145 lbs is right in the middle of a healthy weight range. Considering my bone struction isn't particularily large, and my muscle density is light (even when religious about weight training, couldn't even see a bulge - I'm just soft), 145 should be a reasonable goal.