Wednesday, December 26, 2012


In the early evening of December 13th I was trying to balance a retirement party for a dear acquaintance and former colleague, and dinner with my future mother-in-law. A meeting at work ran late and I decided to skip the retirement party, rationalizing to myself, "I'm terrible at big parties (which is true) and I can make a date to see my friend later."

The person whose retirement party I missed had a heart attack the following day, on Friday, December 14th. He was hospitalized, and died eleven days later, on Christmas morning. His name was Peter Lee.

I never sent Peter a card.

I'll never have the opportunity to catch up with Peter one-on-one afterwards.

He wasn't a close friend. But I'm pissed that I didn't stand up for myself and leave that work meeting when I said I would leave the work meeting. Instead, I let the slow-talking consultant take an extra 25 minutes of my time, when I had made it clear I didn't have the time, to reiterate points to the assembled group that I already knew. I did this because I had been arguing with the consultant about the soundness of his practice and his inability to define his deliverables and his timelines ahead of time. Because I felt bad about being firm with him on the phone, I politely acquiesced when he took extra time at the meeting on December 13th.

And now I've missed the opportunity to tell Peter Lee how much I appreciated working with and learning alongside him.

I'm pissed at myself for once again letting my work relationships get in the way of my life relationships.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Phone and I

The worst time to reach me by phone is weekdays from 4:00-6:00 PM
Dear loved ones,

The best time to reach me by phone is weekdays between 6:45 AM and 7:30 AM. This is a true story.

This is when I am most awake, with the most uncluttered brain, and the most energy to be present with you. I'm an introvert and need to be prepared to engage on the phone. And to be prepared I need to be awake and decompressed. I get up nearly every weekday morning at 5:00 AM. By 6:45 I've read the paper, had at least one cup of coffee, showered, and am on my way to work. 

The worst time to reach me by phone? Weekdays between 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM. This is when I'm commuting home (often in the middle of Boston Harbor), and trying to decompress from my awesome but intense job. I might be hustling to catch the boat, making dinner, running errands, napping, or exercising. Also, I suck at the phone. Seriously suck at the phone. 

I KNOW I was once notorious for calling between 4:00-6:00 PM, during my car commute, to chat with my family. There is something about being in the car that goes together with talking on the phone. So I get why you persist in calling me during this window. I really get it. But please realize, dear loved one, that it is likely I'll never answer the phone. I'm sorry.

Don't want to call me at 6:45 in the morning? Maybe because you aren't a morning person? Try me on weekends in the afternoon 2:00-5:00 PM could work. 

I WANT to connect with you. I love you. But I'd rather see you than talk by phone. If I can't see you, I'd rather communicate via IM, email, FB messaging, or Twitter than talk by phone. If you insist on talking by phone please know I will be tough to reach. It doesn't mean I don't want to talk with you. Its just that I suck at the phone. I'll keep trying. 


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Socks Created a Blood Clot, Because I'm Fat

I haven't exercised in nearly a month. I was sick, then my mom came to visit, then I got sick again, and now it feels like all of my spare hours are joyfully spent on holiday prep.

So the fat girl inside of me is feeling REALLY fat.

I have a pair of trouser socks that have ALWAYS squished my legs. I've had them for two years, they have always hurt me, and I persist in wearing them. Why? Because to concede that the socks hurt must be an admission that I'm too fat to wear socks.

So, yesterday, while my fat self is feeling particularly fat I accidentally pull the tight socks from my drawer. And I wear them, because I have to wear them, otherwise I'm admitting I'm fat. By the end of the day my fat socks made my fat right leg physically hurt.

And today there is a mild bruise around the top of my right calf and I feel as if I have a blood clot behind my knee. My leg hurts and I'm afraid to say or do anything about it. Because I'm too fat to wear socks.

Spinach Balls

For at least 30 years I've enjoyed my mom's recipe for Spinach Balls, a "back of the box"-style appetizer that combines frozen chopped spinach with cheese and packaged stuffing mix into a delicious cocktail party snack.

While my mom was visiting over Thanksgiving, we made a triple batch of spinach balls, which I promptly froze. Every time I'm invited to a party where I'm due to bring a food to pass, I defrost a ball of spinach balls for the appetizer table. And every time I bring spinach balls to a party, I am assaulted by guests with chopped spinach dangling from their teeth mumbling, "These are delicious! Can I get the recipe?"

So, here's the recipe.

1. Heat the oven to 375-400 degrees.

2. Mix together:

  • 2, 10 oz packages of chopped frozen spinach, cooked & drained well
  • 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup of stick margerine, softened
  • 1 box of cornbread stuffing.

3. Form into bite sized balls.

4. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

5. Enjoy!

They can be baked and frozen in advance. Consider vaguely undercooking them if you plan to do this (so they don't dry out when you reheat them).

There is nothing healthy about spinach balls. Except maybe for the fact that they'd be even less healthy if made with meat. Which is why I'm thinking about adding chopped, cooked bacon the next time I make them.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Liz Lemon Effect

Did you see "30 Rock" last week? Liz Lemon and her true love, Criss Cros, get married because they want to speed up an adoption process ostensibly stalled because Liz is technically single. After deciding to get married for bureaucratic reasons, Liz rails against the "wedding-industrial complex" for causing women to lose all sense of reason in their pursuit of their "special day."

Liz shows up for her city hall nuptials wearing sweats and carrying a Duane Reade bag filled with toilet paper (hey, she needed toilet paper and the Duane Reade was on the way). Experiencing all the other couples enjoying their modest weddings causes Liz to, ironically, lose all sense of reason. Why? Because deep down inside a special part of her wants to be a princess and have a special day. She never thought anyone would want to marry her, so she sublimated this desire and chose to deride weddings as a coping mechanism. I call this the Liz Lemon Effect.


Jeff asked me to marry him today. I'm wearing a platinum and diamond ring he had specially designed to look like the fake engagement ring he gave me six years ago.

I've been shaking for nearly an hour.

Because I suffer from the Liz Lemon Effect.

I'm 42 years-old. I'm of average build and looks. I bite my nails, come from a wacky family, and work way too hard. There is a tiny and yet enormous part of me who identifies as an unlovable fat girl.

And yet I'm wearing this beautiful ring on my finger. Which proves that someone loves me. And wants to marry me.

Maybe when I stop shaking I'll start crying. And when I stop crying I'll start grinning from ear to ear. And then we'll plan a wedding.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fat Girl is Afraid to Go to the Doctor

This Fat Girl is afraid to go to the doctor.

My body is getting older. As my body gets older I find myself with aches and pains. I can't process foods like French fries or alcohol as seamlessly as I was once able. I'm sure I have an ulcer, or, worse, gall bladder cancer (that's a thing, right?). I occasionally feel tightness in my chest, which seriously could be heart disease. My feet ache nearly all the time, which is probably arthritis.

But I won't be honest with my doctor.

Because I'm afraid. Afraid that my doctor will tell me the reason my feet hurt is because I'm so fat that I've created undue stress in them. Or the reason my heart aches is because I'm so fat that every one of my arteries is clogged and I'll likely have a heart attack and it is my own fault so there is nothing they will do about it. And the problems with fatty food? "Well," I imagine her saying, "you shouldn't be eating fatty food anyway, because, in case you hadn't noticed, you're FAT."

Getting bifocals after I turned 40 was not a problem. Nor was the semi-annual schedule of mammograms because of irregularities on my baseline films. There is no way my brain can make the case that poor vision or calcifications in my mammary glands are the result of being overweight (maybe there is hope for me yet).

But these other issues, I can't be honest with my doctor about them.

Because I'm afraid they're my fault, which will cause me shame, which could result in anxious overeating, which will only reinforce those feelings that I'm a Fat Girl.

If you need me, I'll be in the corner quietly googling my health concerns, keeping your health insurance premiums low through my underuse, and wishing I could eat a cookie.

Fat Girl

I'm the miserable looking one in the plaid shirt on the right.
I'm a 42 year-old woman who grew up thinking of herself as a fat girl. Correct that. I'm a 42 year-old woman who often still thinks of herself as a fat girl.

I've had nearly 20 years of therapy through which I've come to understand my relationship to myself, my childhood understanding of my parents' divorce, and the class struggles that affected my confidence and sense of place. Through therapy I've coped with my irrational personal organization that bordered on OCD, explored why and how I became bulimic, made the transition to four different jobs over a period of 17 years, and ended one and started another long term relationship.

And still I think of myself as a fat girl.

To be fair, I'm on the heavy size of average. After losing 65 pounds back in 2000, I've lost and gained the same 15 pounds over the last six years, and my clothing size has bounced between 10 and 14 over the same period.

My point? I'm not actually fat.

But I sure do think I am.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Every Day is Turkey Day

There are many things I love about the sleepy hamlet in which I live. Fifteen miles south of Boston, I have the benefits of being near a major city, but also live within five miles of three beaches.

My house is at the end of an unpaved road, considered a "private way" by the town so they won't have to claim responsibility for paving and plowing. We have a wooded area to the right of the house, separating us from a neighbor. A small pond in the woods to the left of the house is used by neighborhood kids in the winter for outdoor ice hockey games. This helps to make the neighborhood feel idyllic.

What I love best about my neighborhood, however, are the two enormous rafters of wild turkeys that roam the streets. Few things are more delightful to me than espying movement outdoors, poking my nose outside, and seeing fifteen hens, toms and poults grazing under the birdfeeder.