Thursday, December 27, 2012

And the Muffin-Top Takes the Lead

How is it possible that I can wake in the morning with an unwavering resolve to eat better and workout, only to slither my spineless self to the drive-thru for some calorie-fest of a breakfast just 2 hours later?  Seriously, the speed at which I can justify downing a McGriddle mere minutes after vowing to eat clean, almost qualifies as a superpower.

I don’t mean I do this once in a while.  I do it all. the. time.

Today is the day.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said these words to myself or written them on the foggy mirror while getting ready in the morning.  I hesitate in calling these words my mantra, as I think of a mantra as something you live your life by.  Something you say over and over that not only encourages, but produces results.
I’ve seen no results from repeating today is the day.  Well, I shouldn’t say I’ve seen no results – I’ve seen results that are the inverse of what today is the day is supposed to represent; a lower number on the scale and the staving off of any upper arm cellulite.  Yeah, you read that right.  Cellulite on my upper arms.  That’s new, by the way.  Caught a glimpse of it this weekend as the sun was hitting my arm at just the right angle.  I gotta be honest, I didn’t even know cellulite in that region of the body was possible.

Given this new-found discovery, I decided to see what else might be evading me in my daily, full-mirror once-overs.

Sidebar – my mom gets very uncomfortable when things start getting too….shall we say, “real.”  So, in an effort to protect her from any ridicule at next week’s bridge game, I will swap the word “naked” for “in a bikini" in this next portion.

You know how you stand in a bikini in the mirror and look at yourself?  I mean really look at yourself. (uh, yes you do.)
You know, you’re standing there in your bikini, sucking in your stomach.  You do the half-turn to check out every angle and think to yourself, Huh, it’s not quite as bad as I thought.  Well, this past weekend, I tried something a little different.  I stood in front of the mirror - in my bikini - without sucking in my stomach or tightening any muscle groups…

***************I'll give you the moment you need to let that sink in.************

No.  Words.
And then, as if what I was looking at wasn't terrifying enough, I started to bounce up and down.  That's right, just bouncing up and down, still not forcibly tightening any muscle groups.  The bouncing exercise was initially to see what my legs looked like when I ran.  But then I couldn’t stop looking at the rest of me.  I was morbidly fascinated.  I was like a deer in the headlights. (a sad, jiggly, pasty-white deer)  I couldn’t look away.

When did this happen?  Yesterday?  Because I don’t remember the ramp-up process.    
And, look, this has nothing to do with comparing how out of shape I am with someone else.  This has to do with comparing the “me” of today, with the “me” of yesterday. (so to speak)

Let me explain a little something about myself; I think a lot of things are a good idea.  Getting back in shape?  Good idea.  Being a millionaire?  Good idea.  The trick is finding that beautiful balance between what I want and being okay with the work and commitment it will take to get me there. 
And there it is – work and commitment; my sometime nemesis.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t run from all commitment.  I was fully committed to consuming my daily allotment of Weight Watchers Points by 10 am most days.  And I used to embrace the work and commitment of fitness.  Oh, how I long to find that place again - that glorious place that drove my running shoes and me to the pavement each night after work.  That place that was sated by steamed broccoli, fish and green tea.  Not a beer, quesadillas and my comfy-cozy jammie pants.

Yet, even with that horrifyingly vivid, mega-slow mo’ replay of my ill-advised bikini experiment begging me otherwise, I can scarcely think of anything better than a fire, my jammie pants and couchin’ it for the night.

Tomorrow.  Tomorrow’s definitely gonna be the day!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Male Noodles and Halloween Angst

What’s the Halloween equivalent of Scrooge?  Well, whatever it is, that’s me.  Why?  Because Halloween speaks to the creative.  And I, well, I’m the antithesis of creative.  I don’t sew, I can’t draw and my imagination yanks the emergency brake when it feels such intense pressure to perform – like Halloween impotence, if you will.  I’m just not that mom.
Every year my son asks, “What should I be for Halloween?”   And every year, my heart rate increases and my hands get clammy as I struggle to think of something unique and creative.  I can actually feel the right side of my brain cramp as it shuts down in defiance.  It’s not like I don’t have any imagination.  In fact, just recently I realized that my imagination is actually alive and well. (Well, maybe not well - but alive, anyway.)

For example:
Yesterday, I was driving down the highway with my window down, enjoying the beautiful fall weather.  Then, as if I was enjoying life too much or getting cocky in my contentedness, this thought popped into my head - What if a lug nut flies off of the truck’s wheel next to me and strikes me in the head?  Then I answer myself, That wouldn’t happen.  I’m 42 years old and have never heard of that happening.  But then I think, It’s had to have happened somewhere at some time in this world we live in.  And the fact that it hasn’t happened to anyone that I know actually increases the odds of it happening to me.  Then I’m certain it’s going to happen, so I speed up to get ahead of the truck and thank God for the foresight necessary to avoid that catastrophic scenario.

Still not convinced?
How about a little something I like to call Lonely Noodle Syndrome or LNS?  This occurs when I’m making Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  If one of the noodles is stuck to the bottom of the box, I really have to think about what that noodle wants.  After all, it’s been in that box with the rest of its noodle family all its life.  My thoughts go something like this, I have to release that noodle from the bottom of the box so he can join the rest of his pasta family in the pot of boiling water.  But then I argue, What if his noodle parents sought out that glue for their little noodle, ensuring he would stick to the bottom of the box, thereby evading an untimely noodle death?  

By the bye, I do a similar thing with toilet paper when the squares don’t tear evenly, but that’s more of a romantic tale, so not fitting for this blog entry at all.

Sidebar - I’m aware that writing this down for all to see might start a grass roots (or not-so grass roots) movement to have me heavily medicated.  But I have to believe I’m not alone in having these ridiculous introspective battles.   I’m not, right?  (focus on the punctuation)

As you can see, my imagination’s got chops.  I just need to learn how to harness its power and use it for my Supermom good.
I don’t even know why I care.  I mean, throw a sheet over my son’s head and call it a day.  But then I think of that mom and the guilt sets in.  You know the mom.  The one with 5 children who does Krav Maga on her lunch break, volunteers at the soup kitchen on Sundays after church, doesn’t even own a pair of sweat pants, remembers every birthday, and always makes the cutest (and most creative) gifts for teacher appreciation week.  (What would I do without gift cards?)  I bet her kids’ favorite food is broccoli, too.  What a hooker….

She’s like the MacGyver of Halloween costumes.  Give her a stick of gum, a paperclip, 5 marbles and a purple magic marker and *BAM!* The Temptations.  It’s unbelievable. 
How do I compete with that?  Why do I feel the need to compete with that?  Because that’s what moms do.  We don't ever want to feel like we're not giving our all or under-performing when it comes to motherhood.  We don’t all compete with Halloween costumes, granted – that’s just my shallow attempt at attaining motherhood greatness.  Sad, really. 

I’ve come to realize that there are two types of moms in this world: moms who populate Pinterest and moms who scream, Dammit! Why didn’t I think of that!?
And I’m cool with being the latter.  I'm just not the girl who looks at a raisin and thinks, “This would make the most precious reindeer poop for my edible Christmas centerpiece, like, EVER!” 

That is so that mom. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes

My morning routine consists of waking up at 5:00, making my coffee and walking entirely too many dogs (3) on a mile and a half trek, praying we don’t run across an errant squirrel or rabbit.  (There’s not enough Cesar Milan in the world to keep my 3 dogs from taking me out for critter in our path.  Pack Leader, my ass.)  To reward myself for participating in such a Fear Factor-esque stunt each morning, I take refuge on my couch and enjoy the commercial-less shows I DVR’d the night before.  On my lineup this morning - The Voice. 

The show started off like any other; entirely too much build up for 2 minutes of singing - albeit very good singing – and because it’s the “Battle Rounds” each song completion resulted in one of the coaches selecting a winner from the competing duo.
So there I sat, in the dark, sipping my coffee and watching these amazingly talented people sing for their lives when all of a sudden, I’m bawling like a baby.  I don’t mean I got teary.  I mean doubled over, head in hands, mouth open, drool descending, audible gasps, ugly crying.  I even did the breath thing your 3 year old does when he’s worked himself into a tantrum frenzy.  You know, the one that when they attempt to speak it comes out like they’re being punched in the stomach with each syllable – why-y a-am I-I cry-y, i-ing (yes, I actually said these words aloud with only me in the room.)  What the hell, drama?  Even my dogs were profoundly confused. 
I mean, sure, I get teary when I witness an amazing voice or hear a song sung better than the original - especially when it comes out of an unsuspecting subject - but this was just a run-of-the-mill duo singing a song, doing what they were born to do.  And that’s when it hit me.  They were BORN to do this.  They have their childhood idols extolling their greatness on national TV, validating their very existence on this earth, confirming everything they had been working for and sacrificing for all their lives.  The coaches utter phrases such as, “You were born to do this,”  “You belong on my team,” and my very favorite line from the smokin’ hot Adam Levine, “You are very, very special.”  

Just once…  But I digress.

So why get all weepy about some strangers on TV receiving validation for something they were born to do?  Because they knew what they were born to do.  They knew what they wanted to be when they grew up.  They had it figured out and had people who saw the potential in them to grow them into accomplished "whatevers" – to help them achieve their dreams.
What was I born to do?  Who is extolling my greatness?  Who is validating me?

On some level I’ve always known that I didn’t have the drive to do any one thing.  And I think that’s because I realized I’m not particularly good at anything.  That’s a harsh reality and one I’ve never really taken the time to say out loud.  Karen, you are not exceptional - you have no discernible talent.  There, I said it, and it sucks.  I guess I will never know what it feels like to be the best at something or hear Adam Levine say to me, “You are very, very special.”

And that’s when my son came out from his bedroom with his bed-head hair, rubbed his sleepy eyes and, without even asking me why I was crying (or talking to myself), he slowly turned to the TV and said, “Oh, The Voice is on!  Mom, I wish you were famous.  That would be so cool.” 

What a little bastard.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guilt...It's Not Just a River in Egypt...

Guilt.  I have a ton of it.  My therapist actually asked me once if I was Catholic, because I was so good at guilt.  Is guilt a Catholic trait?  I'm Presbyterian.  You know, more of a cafeteria type of religion where you sort of pick and choose your sins and beliefs.  But I don't think guilt was instilled in me at church.  

I tend to feel guilty over stupid things, like not getting enough vegetables on a trip to the grocery store, or walking during part of my "run", for not getting my Christmas cards out by the 1st of December, or for telling someone who likes me that, I'm just not feelin' it.   

Okay, so that last one isn't so ridiculous.  I mean, no one likes to hear that their feelings aren't reciprocated.  And being the one delivering the crushing news?  Ugh!  I think I can feel guilty about that last one without feeling guilty for feeling guilty (therapy, anyone?)

So why is guilt such a driving force in some people's lives and not in others?  I envy those who walk around without the heavy burden of guilt.  They seem to live their lives and not care about what other people think.  I truly wish I could be more like that.  To the woman in the grocery last night who proudly loaded her Totino's Pizza Rolls, Hostess Ding Dongs, two bottles of wine and Tylenol PM (I am not kidding) onto the checkout counter, I say, "Carry on my guilt-free and, obviously self-medicating, crusader!"

Hey, just because I admire her guilt-free attitude doesn't mean I'm not going to judge her...good grief, lady.  Show some self-control! (What?  Thou shalt not judge? Not on the menu today)

I'm sorry, what was I talking about?  Oh yes, guilt.  It's funny, when I find I'm feeling guilty about a recent interaction with another person, I typically discover that I was feeling guilty for something the other person didn't even think twice about.

You know I'm going to have an example, right?

Reintroducing Brad.  Remember Brad?  Brad was the strapping young buck who asked me to come back to his hotel room and when I wouldn't stay the night, never called me again...well, not for another 7 months, anyway.  If you need a refresher, read, "But Who's Keeping Score?"

Brad texted me again a few months ago (he clearly doesn't read my blog) and asked how I'd been.  We exchanged a few pleasantries and then he sent me a "would you consider giving me another chance?" text.  Now, the right thing to do would've been to be an adult and say, "No, I'm still not interested."  But I took the low road that day, my friends - I simply ignored the text.

I can't tell you how much guilt I felt for not responding.

Was he weeping quietly in his room over me?  Did he have to take a leave of absence from work to sift through his feelings and sense of loss?  Had he lost his will to live?  What if he takes his aggression out on his dog?

So I contacted him (via text, of course) just after Thanksgiving.  This was our conversation:

Karen -  Hey Brad!  I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving and got to be with your kids.  I'm sending you this random text because I wanted to apologize for not responding to your last text.  That was rude of me.  I guess not responding was easier than telling you I'm just not sure we're in the same place in life right now and I didn't want to waste either of our time.  I'm sorry.

I wasn't sure he would even respond, and it would've been fine had he not.  But he did...

Brad -  I sent you those texts only because of what happened.  Had things gone normal I would have acted normal.  I was so freaked out.  I wanted to be with you again just to show you it works normal.  It was like a Seinfeld episode.

I was sort of confused at this point because I wasn't sure what he meant by "what happened" and "works normal" but I assumed he was talking about a "normal" relationship and not calling after our last date.  So I continued.

Karen -  That makes sense.  My life is kind of like a sitcom...;)  For the record, why were you freaked out? 

Brad - You kinda remind me of Elaine :)  When I woke in the morning it hit me you went through all this effort to be with me, woke up at 5am to drive back and I wasn't even able to please you.  I freaked out.  Hence the texts.

Now I KNOW he's confusing me with someone else!  I truly considered responding with, "Come again?" but I thought that would just be salt in the wound at this point.

Karen -  Do you even know who this is?  Drove back from where?

Brad -  F*ck, who is this?  I got a new phone and lost my contacts.

Karen - Unbelievable

Brad - Is this Karen?

Karen - Yes

Brad - Holy Sh*t

Karen - You're an idiot

Brad - What text did you not respond to?  What are you talking about different places in life?  What place in life are you in?

Karen - I'm at the place in life where I'm not sleeping with people I'm not in relationships with.

Brad - Did we sleep together?

Karen - Just. Wow.

Ummm...I don't think anymore commentary is necessary.  You?

Don't think for one second that I didn't have tremendous guilt while writing the first part of this blog entry.  But as I was reading my texts to type our conversation, my guilt lifted at a rapid pace.