Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Clean-Up on Aisle 8

After you've been let down (in a rather big way) you tend to put a barrier around yourself that only a few people are allowed to try to get through to communicate with you. Your parents are one of them because they'll file a missing person's report if you don't talk to them for 24 hours. Your closest friends who are willing to deal with the snot you've left on their shoulder and the 2am phone calls. And the pizza delivery person because they're working for a higher power obviously. That goes for the woman in the drive-thru who hands you your morning coffee. She's ok to push that barrier as well.  

But then, out of nowhere, something just clicks inside of you. It could be while you're driving on a long, winding country road with the windows down. It could be when your taking a walk along a beach with the salty breeze sweetly kissing your face. Or it could be in a packed Kroger on a Sunday night as you curse the shopping carts that are stuck together and your T-Rex arms can't pry them apart. Naturally, you can pin the third scenario on me. Then someone comes up to you, pulls a cart from the line next to you and says, "Here you go" in a thick southern accent. You also notice he's wearing a Yankees hat. (Well, if that's not a deadly combination you might as well just put a cupcake in his hand that says "for you" and put a fork in me.) With red cheeks I thanked him and walked into the store realizing I have a cart but one with squeaky wheels and the inability to turn. And a cute boy in the store... 

Now one: please keep in mind that I am not a "girly-girl." If I'm going to buy groceries an hour before Sunday Night Baseball starts you can most likely bet I have no make-up on, I'm wearing a team shirt and my hair resembles Mulan. What you see is what you get. I don't think my cheese sticks are judging my appearance as I throw them into the cart. One does not go to Kroger to pick up men. Apparently though, my logic is flawed because I was advised by my best friend, as we ran into each other in the protein bar aisle, that "Sunday night is a great night to meet boys!!" Thanks for the memo friend. Really. Perhaps I would have put a hat on at least? 

I caught her up on my run-in with Yankees-Cart guy and she insisted that I find him and talk to him. I think I physically turned the color of whipped vanilla frosting. I couldn't believe what she had suggested. I told her I didn't see a ring so perhaps he was single. We tried to come up with some lines to "break the ice" like... "So, you come here often?" "Did you know that the Downy Dryer Sheets are on sale this week?" "So, how 'bout them double coupons?" It was her husband that suggested, "Why don't you give him your number and tell him to call you if he ever wants to watch a Yankees game?" Bingo. If there is anything I can talk about with anyone... it's baseball. 

I walked up each and every aisle. My hands shook and my stomach had butterflies. I creatively hid the cat food in the bottom portion of the cart (the less he knows the better). I finally found him in the canned meat aisle. Great. Put the uncomfortable vegetarian next to a whole bunch of SPAM and have her start yapping to the guy in the Yankees hat. I took a deep breath... pulled my cart up next to his... and said: "So, big game tonight against the Red Sox huh? I think it will be a good one." To which he replied, "Yeah, the season's over for the team. I haven't seen a lot of games but they don't seem to be doing that well. I might watch it."

*** ATTENTION: Do not wear a Yankees hat unless you are a Yankees fan. And by fan I mean you know, love, adore, care about and have faith in the team. If you're not sitting at home flapping your damn arm wings for angels to come into the outfield and give a helping hand, then please remove the hat. Now. ***

I took the insulting comment about my boys in stride and made my move. I handed him my card (that's what grown-ups do I hear) and said, "Well, if you ever do think you want to watch a Yankees game and want company let me know." Smooooth. Like buttah. And then I attempted to, as quickly as possible because the color of my face was changing at a rapid pace, leave the aisle with my squeaky, non-steerable cart. But the cart had other plans. It swerved itself into the row of tuna cans on the shelf and knocked them off onto the floor. Without even looking back I booked it out of the aisle and headed straight to the checkout line. 

Needless to say, the season is over for my boys. And I never got that phone call from the Kroger guy to watch a game. But as I try to rationalize it I come up with a few "good things" that came out of that horrifyingly embarrassing experience: 1) He is a poser in a Yankees hat and I don't need to spend my time with those who don't believe in baseball miracles. 2) He eats canned meat. 3) I actually talked to a guy with the thought of asking him out. I let that barrier down a bit. I stepped up to the plate, took a swing and struck out. Well, actually I hit a ton of tuna cans and ran home. But in the end it was technically a homerun because I realized that maybe I'm ready to play the game again.

And there are plenty of fish in the sea.

(You see what I did there?!? Tuna cans on the floor? Guy not calling probably because of said tuna cans on the floor... get it? Fish? Sea? Guys? My attempt at wit. Take it or leave it.) 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

One Tooth Brush...

In the aftermath of a breakup your friends, family, and random people at Kroger will tell you that you're strong. You'll get over this and move onto something better. They warn you of the "song" that will come on the radio that will make you think of him. They caution you about how lonely the bed will feel without him next to you. And they say you'll have to change your perfume because that smell will always be him.

So you prepare yourself for all of this. You do as they say and then some (quickly changing photos in picture frames, clearing out his side of the closet, you know- normal protocol). But no one tells you of the one thing that will stop you dead in your tracks and remind you of the two words you're not ready to utter. The toothbrush. The solo toothbrush that sits in the holder shouts out loudly "I'm single" (again). My toothbrush always had a roommate in the slot next to it. Now it just sits there all by itself. A reminder that you can change the pictures in the frames and hide his football shirt but you can't ignore the damn toothbrush.

For a couple, the first thing that moves in with the guy is the toothbrush. Maybe they'll bring an extra shirt or two when they spend the night but the defining "hey, this is going somewhere" moment is when he brings his toothbrush. Soft, medium, hard, with the tongue cleaner or extra bristles- it doesn't matter. It takes up residency in the little holder slot next to yours. It's a clear indication that he will be there when you go to sleep and when you wake up (because you're supposed to brush twice a day obviously).

When the excitement of "ah! the toothbrush has moved in" is eclipsed with "how the hell does he get toothpaste on the mirror... and faucet... and counter... and floor?" the appreciation for the toothbrush residency starts to wear off. You forget what it really meant to have that little minty fresh stick on the sink in the first place.

That is... until it's gone. So in reality one could say that a toothbrush is just like a relationship itself. When you see it there for the first time, you know that things are getting serious. Then it's novelty wears off and it becomes an annoyance because you start to have an affair with Clorox wipes and Windex after the toothbrush makes a mess. And when it's gone, it's absence is more prominent than the key you took back sitting on the counter. Or his coffee cup still in the dishwasher.

Unless you're completely disgusting and have no hygiene priorities whatsoever, you will have to use your toothbrush every day (twice if you are as diligent as you should be). That means, two times every day, you will walk up to that silver holder and see your solo brush just sitting there. Hanging out all alone but still standing up. It's partner has up and left. But it stays where it's supposed to and does what it's supposed to. It's alone but it still has meaning. Just because there was another toothbrush next to it doesn't mean that it lost it's purpose or it's importance. It's still standing without it's partner by it's side.

And the way I look at it like this: Every time I walk up to that mirror and see my reflection as I take the toothbrush out and start to brush my teeth I am getting a little piece of myself back. Like that brush, I'm alone too. But I have a purpose and I still have meaning. I'm lonely but I'm needed. And while I could easily buy another toothbrush to put next to mine in the holder so it won't feel so awkward... there's no point in bringing in something that has no meaning other than to fill a void. You have got to learn to stand on your own for a while.

So when I see my toothbrush there... by itself after all this time... I'm reminded that, while I may be personifying a piece of dental equipment, I'm really trying to explain my own situation. And this time, I don't have to clean up after someone else's mess that was left behind for me to deal with.

There should be some kind of warning label on Crest. I'm just saying. And next time I will be a little more cautious before I allow my toothbrush a new "holder-mate." I need to make sure that the new toothbrush isn't the kind that leaves behind a mess for another to clean up.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Step Away From the Potion... And Onto a Dreadmill. Now.

If you have gone your entire day without hearing one of the most obvious phrases ever uttered, let me help you: "Losing weight is hard." There. Now I've filled your quota. You're welcome.

No one likes to do hard work. Except for those ironman people and frankly, I don't trust people who put their bodies through that. You can run, yes. You can bike, I see. You can swim, sure. Put all three together in one event? Now you're just showing off. Since the rest of America finds walking to the mailbox excellent cardio we will focus on that particular group and leave the oval bumper sticker people out of this discussion. They need their own form of help anyway.

Here's what's getting at me lately: Deliberately throwing hard work out the window and going for the quick solution to a long term problem. Particularly, when it comes to losing weight. Newsflash kids--- it doesn't happen over night. If it did, everyone would have the perfect BMI, there would be a hell of a lot less reality tv shows about fat people and Layne Bryant would be bankrupt. But the job is HARD and there is no easy remedy to it. Or at least I think I'm right...

People have come to believe that there are easy solutions though. Powders, potions, shakes, tablets, chewables, pills, and liquid drops have dominated the world of weight loss lately among people I know. They have put their trust into scary science solutions that promote losing upwards of 30 pounds in one month just by consuming these products. Warning number one- Ain't no one gonna lose 30 pounds in a month and not deal with severe consequences because of it. And yes, I snapped my finger with that comment to accentuate my point.

I did some research into these products and found that what really happens is this: The products you consume basically make you want to throw up and therefore you really don't ingest any real food. Therefore, you supplement your diet with the program's dietary pills and shakes which give you that epic weight loss. Well, that is until Easter comes, you pop a peep in your mouth and you gain 5 pounds automatically because your body thanks the Gods above for some kind of food in your system. Even if it is a marshmallow sugar speckled chicken. You know, throwing up your meals is not all that new to the weight loss scene. Who doesn't love a good stomach flu to help you get into your skinny jeans? And while I find bulimia to be something strictly dabbled with in high school, you know that you really don't need to spend money on potions that will make you yammy, right? Just eat your food and watch "Hoarders" at the same time on TLC. You'll have the same effect and it's cost effective.

People. People. People. Kids, listen to me. You don't want to play with these quick fixes. Believe me- I have done it. The Lord knows I have spent more money on diet pills and special shakes than my wallet ever could afford. But what it boils down to is this simple fact: "If losing weight could be done by just putting drops of chemicals on your food, there would be no Jillian Michaels." None. The Biggest Loser would cease to exist. The contestants who work out for 2 hours, three times a day, six days a week would simply drink a shake or chew a pill and essentially win the show without lifting a muscle. Or hearing one scream from Jillian. But that's not how it works. And how do I know? Because I tried losing weight without the lotions and potions and surprisingly, it has worked. A picture of Jillian in the fridge and pantry helped too.

1) Magic powders do not get at the core as to why you need to lose the weight. What is that core you might ask. Well, it's this: WHY ARE YOU FAT TO BEGIN WITH? Tough question huh? Not tough because I bluntly asked it because you should expect that from me but tough because it's something that truly can't be answered without really thinking about it. If you were prom queen and cheer leading captain in high school how did you gain 90 pounds after school? If you were heavy starting in the fourth grade and never lost the weight- why did you gain it in the first place? And why can't you get rid of it? And if you are one of those people who can lose a ton of weight but gains it right back- and then some- why? Go look in the mirror and have a come to Jesus meeting. I will be waiting here when you get back...

.... .... ... ... .. .

Ok, you're done. How's your reflection? Not your friend, huh? Well, what did you figure out? Are you fat because you are president of the "Clean Plate Club"? Are you fat because you had 2 kids and just think, "well, I popped out 2 little rugrats that I chase around all day so I have a free pass." Are you fat because you were made fun of in school and the more added layers you put on the easier it was to take people's criticism inside that protective suit you made? Are you fat because you need that protective suit of armor because you're in an abusive relationship? Are you fat because you don't know the difference between an apple and a carnival candy apple? Are you fat because you've been content with being fat all your life and you just don't know what to do to change it? Are you fat because, like my cat, you eat your emotions as well as the emotions of all of those people around you? Did I miss your particular reason? I'm positive I did because we are all fat for different reasons. And no matter how many shakes we drink or pills we take... the reason WHY we are fat will not change. Those potions may change our outward appearance but they won't change us on the inside. (Sorry, this is NOT mentioned in the fine print).

Weight loss is more than just the pounds. It's losing the ties that bind you to whatever it is that you are using food as a weapon for. Going to the gym is more than just judging people on the dreadmill next to you or annoying the grunting body builders through imitation  It's about learning to push yourself to the limit. Then finding that limit and pushing it just a little bit further. Why? Because you are trying to lose weight... and your comfort zone. It is inside that comfort zone that you got fat in the first place. You can't overcome what made you the way you are unless you fight it. And you can only fight it through blood, sweat, tears and the occasional trip to the Emergency Room for x-rays.

So I looked in the mirror (while I was waiting for you)... And I saw a girl who had built up a wall of fat around her to protect her from all of those who have made fun of her her entire life. I saw a girl who lost a lot of weight in high school- the wrong way. I saw a girl who gained it all back as a means of protection from an abusive relationship. And I saw a girl who got tired of standing around watching life go past her and wondering when she would again have the courage to shed that suit of armor she made out of funfetti cakes and bagels with cream cheese and finally show the vulnerable, exposed... KRISTEN. I couldn't do that by drinking a shake. I couldn't do that by yammying my food thanks to a liquid drop of "what the hell is going in my body??". I had to hit the gym and sweat it out. Cry it out. With every mile I ran I had to think about all of those people that I wish were somehow under the belt of the dreadmill getting run over. I had to come face to face with Kristen. Not face to face with a shake.

Do I eat perfectly? No. God made sugar and I refuse to turn my back on God. Do I drink too much beer? Yes, yes I do. Do I skip my workouts because I am tired or there is a Yankees game I don't want to miss? Absolutely. I'm not perfect. I've never claimed to be and I never will be. I will fall off that wagon again and again but I know that after all the ice packs I've gone through, the tears, the injuries, the bruises, the i-pod playlists, the verbal arguments with inanimate objects and the sweat left on the gym floor- I'm doing this the RIGHT way. I will never be a size 0. I will never have an hourglass shape. I will never be on the cover of a Sports Illustrated magazine. I will never be featured in a Fitness expose as a trainer. But I promise myself I will never "phone it in." Because that means I'm quitting on myself and I'm quitting on the person inside of me who has been hidden under 100 pounds of extra Kristen. I need to pull her out and I'm not going to do that with the help of some yammy droplets and sickening shakes. I need to do it the real way because the inner Kristen deserves that.

The inner Kristen also deserves a piece of cake now and then because, well, I say so. But if you want to half-ass it and make yourself sick to lose weight well then you can't have cake can you? Because you can't eat anything that's not on your special program. The minute you put that sweet piece of cake to your lips, it is going to your hips. Forever. And you all know how to say it... "Ain't No Body Got Time For That." Or the 100 pounds you'll gain after your magic potion fails you in the end.