Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Never-Changing Scale

So there I am, eagerly anticipating the scale readout. This does not happen often and I am relishing the moment because I’m about to see the payoff from my past month of exercising every day, giving up all alcohol, and carefully monitoring what I eat.

The analog gives me the three dashes and then . . . the same number as a month ago.

At first I am dumbfounded. I try again and . . . the same number as a month ago.

Let us leave this sad, deflating snippet of my life for a moment for a little background information.

As I approach my 50th birthday in June, this is, by my rough calculations, the 35th diet attempt, not counting the countless three-day false starts. I am what nutritionists, dieticians and doctors call a “yo-yo dieter.”

My dieting pathology follows a predictable course and one time I thought I had actually mastered it until I realized I was living on next to nothing but still gaining weight. By way of throwing a temper tantrum, I went back to eating everything in sight. It wasn’t until I’d regained all 50 pounds I’d lost, and then some, that I found out it was a medical condition, which would have been diagnosed and taken care of easily if only I’d overcome my opinion that “only sick people go to the doctor and I am not a sick person.”

As an aside, once medication took hold, I had that blissful – albeit brief – experience that dieters pray for: fat “melting” away. Unfortunately, only 20 of the total poundage melted and the rest kind sat back and got comfortable where it was, which was mostly on my bottom half, making me look like those toy punching clowns, though I doubt if you deck me one I’d pop back up quite so happily.

Normally my dieting goes like this: I carefully watch what I eat all week, lighten up a little on weekends. For exercise, I grab whatever dog is closest to the door and we keep walking for 15 to 20 minutes, turn around and walk back.

The first week I lose 5 pounds. This is water weight. I know this because when I went on my first diet at age six, my mother told me so. She repeated this when I started my diet at ages 10 and 13. Same diet every time, a diet she got out of a paperback with a lady in a bathing suit in a pear on the cover. It was 500 calories a day, all boiled vegetables. And what kid doesn’t love boiled vegetables?

Though at 13, she found a doctor who agreed to add to my daily allowance a special pill that not only would curb my appetite, but made me shake so much my braces sparked. I ended up pretending to take it, then flushing it down the toilet, at least until it floated back up once and my mother found it. There aren’t many teenagers who get yelled at for not taking their speed.

When I was in charge of my diets, though, I was vastly more sensible. After the initial 5 pounds, I know I’m in for real weight loss which, while not as dramatic, is much more visible. Every seven or eight pounds drops me a clothing size. I thought this was torture.

The point is, I thought I knew what to expect of my body and now it’s turned on me. We had an agreement: I eat totally unpalatable food and work it till it hurts to sneeze and it gets smaller and, by way of a bonus, sleeker. It’s not supposed to ignore my efforts and it certainly isn’t supposed to start sagging.

Okay, I will admit I had one moment of indiscretion. But I feel completely justified in my decision to ignore all dietary restriction: Dirtman went to Little Italy in Baltimore and brought me home cannoli from Vaccaro’s Bakery. Vaccaro’s cannoli cream is a gift from God Himself and I would be an ungrateful believer indeed should I pass up this opportunity which does not come often in one’s lifetime (not that it can’t, since they do mail order. And, no, I am in no way related to the Vaccaro family, though I’m sure previous purchases have put not a few of their grandkids through college).

So I’m rethinking my goals. Yes, I feel a lot better after exercising every day and have more energy. My clothes fit better and I think – I think – I can tie my shoes tighter.

For now, I suppose, I’ll have to be happy with that – an energetic 50-year-old with skinny feet.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Until further notice, the following words are being taken out of the rotation:

Hot (when used to describe anything other than temperature)

Amazing (especially "just amazing." If it is only "just," how "amazing" can it be?)


Yummy and all its forms such as yummo, yum, or yum-yum (dispensation given to anyone performing in The Mikado.)


Carry on.

Editor's Note: We are fully aware there is an element among our readers that will now post comments including all of the above words used as many times as comprehension will allow. To them we say, "Don't make me come down there with my wooden spoon!"

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What, Me Worry?

It is the opinion of those around me that I truly need some sort of tragedy in my life to make me realize how often I obsess over stupid things. I say I worry over what everyone else worries over, only I’m more vocal.

For instance, when Dirtman and I were booked to fly to San Antonio, for the entire month of February I’d wake up in the middle of the night with cold sweats of fear over the flight.

No, I’m not afraid of flying and, while seasoned travelers may tire of the ritual of homeland security, I solve the problem by carrying nothing on the plane but a book, my ID around my neck and money and a credit card in my pocket. I check my suitcase, which yields little more than some sad-looking underwear, a change of jeans and shirt probably identical to the one I’m already wearing.

Oh, and The Official Travel Dress is in there, just in case by some strange twist in the trajectory of my life, Dirtman decides to take me somewhere requiring a dress. It goes without saying that I’m never flying anywhere there isn’t a Rite Aid and a Macy’s.

The reason I dread an airplane flight is that fat people are the pariahs of air travel. Just look how commercials depict passengers: there is always some tiny emaciated soul sitting next to a huge Sasquatch of a guy, who is usually loud and annoying.

Now, really, I easily fit in airline seats. But I am very aware that, when sitting next to someone who looks like they actually swallow what they eat, people are extra diligent about protecting their perimeter. So I consolidate myself as much as possible and do not even approach the border, even if it means sustaining black and blue marks on my hips.

And so far, no one has ever complained or even looked annoyed when Dirtman and I board a plane. But one of these days we’re going to run into someone like my Aunt Angelina, who would not hesitate to complain loudly to all and sundry her outrage that she should be forced to endure what will most assuredly be an uncomfortable flight.

It ended up being a moot point in the end when a tooth ache and subsequent surgery forced up to cancel our trip.

Not to worry. I’ve since found something else stupid to worry about.

Next week my friend Karen and I are traveling to New Jersey for a dog show and we are sharing a room.

I’m worried because apparently I snore.

I’ve only learned of this recently, but it comes as no surprise. I come from a long line of lusty, symphonic snorers. I remember vacations where my brothers, cousins and I would lie on our cots in hysterics at the crescendos of nasal orchestrations coming from our aunts and uncles. Our fate was sealed. We were destined for snoredom.

I don’t know if I reach the volume and tone that has made my family legendary along the Jersey shore. Dirtman usually tells me I snore to counter when I take him to task for his own nocturnal antics that run the gamut from snoring – which really doesn’t bother me – to poking me in the eye with his elbow – which does – to emitting huge water buffalo yawns – which truly makes me cranky because you really don’t have to bellow while you yawn, particularly at 2 o’clock in the morning.

Since the acquisition of this unfortunate breathing method, I’ve only once slept in the same room with someone other than Dirtman. The woman never said anything, but was rather cranky and snippy for the rest of the next day. Okay, maybe she's a cranky, snippey person. But I worry.

Karen assures me that I won’t bother her. She is a veteran at dealing with my obsessions, having had to sit through lunches where I do little more than whine about my kids, not to mention my never-ending anxiety about how silly I looked running my Aussie around the confirmation ring (she reminds me that the judges aren’t even giving me a glance since their entire focus is on the dog – so now I worry I’m becoming self-centered).

I worry that the price won’t be keyed in for the tampons I’m buying. I worry when I have to get change for the tip at a restaurant that the waitress will think I stiffed her. I worry that my hair will turn gray. I worry that people will think I dye my hair because it’s hasn’t turned gray.

But right now, most of all, I’m worried that as you are reading this, instead of nodding in recognition of a normal, human foible, you will be e-mailing me names and numbers of reputable therapists.

Monday, March 12, 2007

'Dad Doo

Ya gotta wonder -- who was the first person who thought it was a good idea* to eat one of these?

Okay, maybe there was a famine and someone was desparate enough to start eating this and, maybe, large beetles.

To be honest, if you google "crawfish" or "crayfish" or "crawdads" on the internet, there will be people encouraging you to eat these. They will claim they are a delicacy around which to plan an ENTIRE WEEKEND. There will be recipes hinting that this is not so much a meal as an event.

The one common thread is that a whole lot of beer must be consumed during the process. So you follow instructions and act like, "Woo-hoo! We're having such a good time and eating this great Louisianna delicacy we paid way too much for even if they did include the Mardi Gras beads!"
And then the following suddenly occurs to you as enthusiasm around the table begins to wane:

1. You've been working at this for a really long time and you are still hungry;
2. You still don't know what a crawfish tastes like because all you can taste is Old Bay Seasoning; and

most importantly:

3. THIS is what you've been pulling out of every crawdad you've encountered:

Which results in around-the-table expressions like these:

Then this sick feeling crawls over your scalp and creeps down further and further into your stomach as your brain screams: "WHAT THE HELL DID HAVE I BEEN EATING?!"

Only you've ordered so freakin' much and they've now infested your entire house and there is no getting away from them.

Which has driven some of us over the edge.

*It was Dark Garden's idea. He'd been obsessing over it for weeks. It is only right that the next morning just the sight of these pictures made him wretch.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Gag a maggot...

There are two commercials on the air lately that are really bugging me.

By way of disclaimer, these commercials may be old news, but I don’t often sit down and watch television for any length of time to absorb the ads. Sometimes, especially during long bouts of inclement weather, your criteria for interesting programming becomes more loose and you find yourself not so much watching whatever is vaguely interesting so much as watching whatever isn’t totally offensive.

And so this past weekend I found myself watching for the sake of watching which also involves experiencing the same commercials ad nauseum.

Is it me, or is anyone else grossed out by the commercial featuring the M&Ms with hair?

I know the M&Ms are supposed to look like the people whose picture you just saw enjoying a bag of M&Ms but, then, THERE ARE M&MS WITH HAIR! Doesn’t that make you want to gag?

Maybe, maybe, I could get over the M&Ms with a hairdo, but the ones with beards and mustaches give me that thick feeling in the back of my throat. I must be what a cat feels like when it wants to cough up a hairball.

Then there is that KFC commercial where the teenager is on the phone with his mother asking if he can stay for dinner at his friend’s house. He hands the phone to his friend’s mother whining, “She doesn’t believe me,” and the friend’s mother takes the phone as says into it, “Yes, we’re having dinner. Together.” Then she looks incredulously at the kid like he’s being raised by apes.

Now this ad is rather special because I talked to a teenager who also found it offensive, though for a different reason than mine. He wanted to know what this kid had done in the past that made his mother so suspicious of a dinner invitation. Or, perhaps, what had gone down with that particular family in the past that made her so disbelieving?

I can’t believe that KFC chicken is being passed off as real food that someone would brag about being a “meal.” I realize that this is the whole point of the commercial, but who do they think they’re kidding? This is KFC chicken, basically hunks of lard with bones.

The Heirs point out that I’m showing my age. When Hamburger Helper came out (yes, I am older than Hamburger Helper…) it was marketed as something to use when you’re in a time crunch. No one would have deigned to call it “cooking.” Now it’s not only “cooking,” but I expect to see it show up on Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade show any day now. (Spot-On’s Kevin Weeks has a great article on this. I’m so glad I’m not the only one annoyed by Sandra Lee.)

Of course most commercials are just plain annoying anyway, home equity loan ads in particular. And don’t get me started on commercials for weight loss systems.

At least, though, they don’t make me gag.

JAG: Honest to God, I wrote this last night.

Friday, March 02, 2007

'Pode! GET DOWN!

Get down off that chair, 'Pode! You're not supposed to be on that chair!


Oh, never mind, stay. STAY 'Pode.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Heir guitar

Okay. Now I’m going to be a typical mother. So bear with me.

Some of you may recall (with fondness, of course) this post. I was pretty hard on the Heirs and their friends. So, when they actually pull things together I feel and obligation to write about that too.

The Heirs’ high school each year runs a talent show. I’ve always had the sense this is done rather grudgingly, mostly because their school is so focused on athletics it seems to consume all other goals, including academics. And forget the arts. If they had as many art, music and drama teachers as they had football coaches and aides, they’d be Julliard.

But I digress. At least they’ve continued with the talent show, where all those kids who are adept at all those wonderful forms of expression not covered by the school, finally have their moment.

And so last night featured an interpretive dance, Irish step dance, several vocals (one stand out vocal, in particular: a friend of Heir 2’s who was in a children’s choir I directed awhile back who I’d love to take credit for, but who is talented through the grace of God and a very musically talented mother), a duo, a trio and the Heirs and their friends. (I don’t show anyone’s kids clearly or mention their names online without parental permission, but you can get a sense of what went on.)

I have to admit they were very good.

Of course I knew they’d be very good because I’ve heard their performance over and over and over and over coming from my basement over the last week. In spite of it not being anywhere near the type of music I listen to, there was no denying they sounded good.

The crowd loved them. They performed an encore. They knew they had reason to be proud of themselves. There will be no living with them.

This is Heir 1, who you really couldn’t hear, but who had incredible stage presence.

Heir 2 suddenly gets shy in front of a crowd.

I did wish the crowd could have heard how really well the guys’ lead guitarist could play, but the sound system wasn’t up to it. Fortunately, their drummer, who organized the band, won a well-deserved scholarship as top musician.

So, great job, guys! I’ll stock up on soda for the next round of practices!

Editor's Note: Sisiggy will now return to her regularly scheduled kvetching about aforementioned Heirs and how ungrateful they are for the multitude of sacrifices their mother makes for them, one of which is probably hearing loss.