When your doctor is a yute

And he’s fun to talk to, but I feel guilty wasting his time

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Part of my long-term health plan involves Fabulous Shoes. With Fabulous Shoes like these, a person is motivated to engage with The World. It’s a reason to take a shower, to leave the house, to stay fit. Shoes are the key.

So I had to have a physical, even though there is nothing wrong with me except I am cheap and I am willing to go to the doctor and even be poked if it means I save a couple hundred dollars.

So now we know my price.

Being poked, dreading having blood taken, risking passing out – all for a couple hundred dollars.

Related story: I interviewed Byron Reese, a futurist, for work. We talked about the Industrial Revolution and the digital revolution and what it All Means and he asked me how much money someone would have to pay me for me never to use the internet again and I said you will take my smart phone out of my cold, dead hands.

So I guess I have a high price and a low price. Or something.

Anyhow. My doctor from before retired. My vet retired. My hairdresser is about to retire, which is the hardest one of all.

So this new doc is in his mid-30s and I really like him but I feel like I am just wasting his time because I am not sick and I do not need to be at the doctor.

Although our conversation two years ago, when he first became my doctor, was useful:

Doc: Why are you still taking birth control pills? You are 53.

Me: Because I stopped taking them last spring and I got really bad acne.

Doc: You are a migraineur. The pill at your age plus migraines puts you at risk for stroke. Stop. Right. Now.

Me: But my skin…

Doc: You. Could. Die.

Me: OK.

So that one was worth it.

But now, this is what it sounds like when you are a Woman of A Certain Age Who Has Nothing Wrong With Her:

Doc: How are things?

Me: Well, I am still not menopausing. I mean, I had a bunch of hot flashes, which are not pleasant, but then they stopped, but then I got a period again, so now I am worried that I will get more hot flashes and they don’t even make me warm in the winter, they just make me miserable.

Doc: Yeah, that could happen as your body adjusts to the changes.

Me: And I STILL HAVE THE ACNE.

Doc: Yes. That happens.

Me: And everything hurts all the time. My muscles are always sore.

Doc: Oh?

Me: Yes. I exercise! I’m reasonably fit! But when I wake up, everything is sore.

Doc: Yes, that happens.

Me: AND MY ARMS! WHAT HAPPENED?

Doc: What do you mean?

Me: Here. Feel my biceps. Feel them. I’m strong! I have been working out with weights for years! But MY ARMS! THEY ARE FLABBY!

Doc: Yes, that happens.

Me: And I hate coming for stupid physicals and tests when I am perfectly healthy.

Doc: Sometimes we do find things. But you’ll be glad to know that as you get older, we do fewer screenings.

Me: ??

Doc: Less time to live.

Me: Oh yeah. Makes sense.

And then we talked about Spain, where he spent a semester in college.

And I left and got my stupid blood draw, but only after Planning The Revolution with the fabulous receptionist, T, who is going to be in charge of reforming health care once we take over.

I didn’t pass out and that’s enough to make me proud

Plus I probably messed up Blue Cross’ (pah I spit on them) database, which is just gravy

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Don’t laugh, but I pass out when I have blood taken.

Even a tiny drop, for blood typing, because I guess I don’t know my own blood type?

It all started when I stupidly gave blood for the first time. I was in college and the signs advised that it was a good idea to eat first but, as one does, I thought, “Well, those signs certainly don’t apply to me! I am stronger than mere mortals!”

It was the blood-giving equivalent of, “Hey! Hold my beer!” and it ended about as well as you might imagine, which was with me passed out and my head swirling and with psychedelic visions, purple and bizarre, in my mind so now I never have to take LSD because I think I know and then I came to, and, even as the words were coming out of my mouth, I knew they were a cliché, but I said them anyhow because apparently, that is the Human Condition: “Where am I? What happened?”

And then, they made me finish giving blood, even though I could feel it pulsing in the tube against my arm and I felt like I was going to pass out again and ever since then, I have had A Thing about blood being removed from my body, although really, isn’t that the proper biological response to blood leaving the body? Shock? Panic? It’s not a good thing to happen! It’s BAD! It’s a BAD SIGN!

I have since passed out many a time after bloodletting and even, indeed, merely being punctured. The time that Ilene, Leigh, and I went to get my belly button pierced did not end well. Not only did I pass out 15 minutes later on the drive home – that’s why I now take a doctor on all piercing excursions and why I was so happy to have Dr Ilene there, but Leigh passed out in sympathy (I have the best friends in the world), which would not have been so bad except she was the one driving.

Leigh: I think I’m getting television!

Me, bossy and pedantic to the end and totally missing the point: Tunnel vision. You’re getting tunnel vision.

Ilene: STOP THE CAR!

Leigh: No, I think I can make it to Texan’s house.

Ilene: STOP. THE. CAR. NOW!

(She stopped. We all survived. I removed the belly button ring with a needle-nosed pliers seven months later because it just wouldn’t heal and it wasn’t making me thin.)

So yeah, I pass out.

But my stupid insurance company – I will name names – it’s Blue Cross of Michigan and they are the worst insurance company in the world – makes you pay higher premiums unless you get a physical and that physical includes a blood draw.

Mr T keeps all kinds of crap and he found an old box that has his employee benefits package from 1988 in it. At first, I just wanted to criticize him for keeping old crap like that, but then I looked at his health insurance and I wanted to cry as I remembered the days when employers actually offered good benefits to their employees. Mr T didn’t have to pay any of the premium and he had a $100 deductible with an 80/20 plan, $2,500 max.

Lord have mercy I miss that part of 1988. And my skin. And my hair. And my arms, which had not yet turned flabby, even though my biceps and triceps are strong.

So to get the Good Premium, I have to have a physical and get a blood draw, so it’s always the Worst Day of the Year (yes, I know this is a very First World Problem) as I dread dread dread the Poking of the Elbow and the Removal of the Blood which is not what Nature intended.

And they say it’s supposed to be a fasting draw – that I’m not supposed to eat or drink.

Screw. That.

If you are going to take my blood and I am going to pass out or, at the least, be in dread for days, I am not going to do any of that on an empty stomach.

So I eat.

That’s right.

I eat. I eat before the draw AND I LIE ABOUT IT.

Screw you, Blue Cross of Michigan, and your evil tricks of saying a visit to a specialist whose office happens to be in a hospital counts as a hospital visit, with a $500 deductible, instead of as a specialist in-network visit for a $45 co-pay.

Screw you.

I eat.

And I didn’t pass out. So I am proud.

When does gray hair make sense?

I am not Christine Legard or Ann Richards or Barbara Bush so – can gray help me? Or does it hurt the likes of middle-management me with a new VP who is only 42 years old?

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Is that gray? Or silver? Or just brown? Whatever it is, there is a color in that palette that will show against whatever I might be wearing.

I told you guys about the book I read about going gray, right? Going gray : what I learned about beauty, sex, work, motherhood, authenticity, and everything else that really matters, by Anne Kreamer?

One of the things I like is she doesn’t capitalize every word of the title. That bugs me. I don’t know why. I am on a mission at work to stop Capitalizing Everything. I don’t even know why people do it. Maybe it’s because the parent company is Germany?

Or because it’s an engineering company? Mr T and I went to a presentation at the Milwaukee School of Engineering where Thomas Fehring talked about his new book, The Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee and the engineers who created them, (also not in capitals!). He mentioned that one business owner was able to recruit engineers who were inventing cool stuff by telling them they could name their products, which is something we are trying to get away from where I work because I love engineers and their great minds and what they do but their product names are not On Brand.

Where was I?

Oh. Going gray. I guess if I could patent something every year or so, it wouldn’t matter what I looked like. And I can assure you that my career has not been built on my looks. Not at all. Unless you count that I think that I look trustworthy and non-threatening? Maybe looks matter that way. I don’t have the shifty eyes my grandfather was always warning me about.

In her book, Kreamer talks about whether gray hair helps or hurts women professionally. She posited that perhaps gray would give women in politics credibility, but – nope. Gray is OK for men, but not for women.

It’s not OK for women or for men in tech.

It’s probably OK for men in the corporate world, although it seems that my company has been overtaken by yutes – it used to be that you needed to have a good 30 years behind you to be a VP at my company, but new owners and new CEO have a bunch of 30- and 40-something VPs, which is something I have never experienced before. On verra.

So gray hair might be OK for men in the corporate world. But it is not OK for women.

I am not sure what it is like at my company, as there are almost no senior women. I mean, there are a few women who are older, but they are not in executive positions. I think there are about 17 women in my local office. There is one woman on the board and two new women VPs from the new CEO. There were no women VPs before that.

So I don’t even know if it matters at my company. That is, I don’t think gray hair is the limiting factor here.

Which makes me wonder why I am bothering to color my hair. It’s not like I would ever be a VP even if I didn’t have gray hair. Why am I wasting my money?

I mean, besides being vain.

PS There is one profession where gray hair is valued for sure. My uncle just retired as a commercial airline pilot. He started going gray in his 30s, but it didn’t bother him. “When people get on the plane, they like to see a pilot with gray hair,” he said.

Flashes and not the good kind

You would think this would mean the acne would be gone but you would be wrong

 

Making Strudel

When I start to feel cranky about my life, I think about my lovely grandmother, who, despite being very smart and having an avid curiosity about Life and Art, who wanted to study art in Paris, had to leave school after eighth grade to work to help her family.

She worked on the farm in the summer and in the winter, was a maid in Milwaukee and Chicago, where, on her days off, she would walk rather than spend a nickel on the bus so she could treat herself to a candy bar.

I think about my great-great-grandmother, who lost her seven children to diphtheria in five days. All of her children died in less than a week of a disease nobody has to get today because THANK YOU VACCINES THANK YOU SCIENCE.

Other ancestors – I am looking at the amazing book my mom wrote about them:

  • GGGrandmother Maria Anna widowed at 31 with two little children
  • Some level of GG Anna widowed at 48, yet moved her children from Prussia to the US
  • Great-aunt Echo widowed at 38 with eight children
  • Great-aunt Madge widowed at 21 with two little girls – she watched her husband’s plane crash into the ground and burst into flame
  • My father’s mother, widowed AT MY AGE

I think of that to remind myself NOT TO BE A WHINER. That every single one of my ancestors would look at my cushy, easy, electrified, automated, very comfortable life and say, “REALLY? THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT? WOULD YOU LIKE TO TALK ABOUT REAL HARDSHIP?”

And yet.

And yet.

I think if I could have all of my ancestor women together over coffee and strudel or perhaps Bailey’s and flourless chocolate cake and we started talking, I think we would find common ground over hot flashes.

Who invented this system and why? What did women ever do to be punished like this? And I say this as someone who has had only mild hot flashes compared to my friends. Is there any biological purpose to hot flashes other than reminding us that hahahahaha you are now middle aged and high heels hurt and everything hurts after you exercise, even when you exercise daily?

*googles “what is biological purpose of hot flashes”*

*shockingly nobody really knows*

*thank God we have viagra at least we have our research priorities straight*

What is the point of suddenly being cooked alive from the inside? I used to smile at the jokes about women having hot flashes.

I am so sorry, My Sisters. I am so sorry to have discounted and mocked your discomfort. I was wrong. I didn’t understand, but you know what? That doesn’t even matter. I should have believed that you understand your own experience.

For a few months earlier this year, I had to ask my co-workers if it had suddenly gotten hot in the office or if I was having a hot flash.

In almost every case, it was that it had suddenly gotten too hot in the office. (I work in an office that used to be a factory. It’s not one of those cool factory to office conversions – it’s a cheap one where nobody wanted to spend the money on adjusting the HVAC properly or on installing windows or ceilings high enough that I can’t touch them or decent lighting.)

But then in May, I realized I didn’t have to ask. The sensation of getting hot from the inside out is very different from the sensation of getting hot from the outside in. I mean, it’s unmistakable and it’s unfixable. If it’s too hot on the outside, you can remove clothing! You can use a fan! You can open a window! You can open the freezer and stick your face in it! You can hold a can of cold diet Coke against your neck!

Note these are things I almost never have to do because I live in Wisconsin, where the concept, “Too hot” does not exist. It’s next to “chili without macaroni” and “Frito Pie,” which everyone here thinks is called a “walking taco.” I don’t even know where “walking taco” came from. Every right-thinking person knows it’s a Frito Pie. Honestly.

Anyhow.

I started getting hot from the inside out and yep, there is no mistaking it.

You feel as if you are being cooked. You start to feel sympathy for those poor live lobsters dropped into boiling water. So THIS is what their last minutes are like.

No matter how many layers you remove – and in some cases, I was constrained because I was at work and around other people and although we have a very casual dress code, I bet they would frown on nudity, you cannot get cool enough. I would be awakened in the middle of the night, too hot to sleep. I would throw off the covers and tear off my nightgown. And I was still too hot.

This went on through May and June and slowed down in July. I think it’s over. I’m not sure. Does it come back? I feel like I am in one of those weird random reinforcement experiments where they discover the best way to get the rats to do what they want is not to reward them every single time they press the lever but only to reward them at random intervals. The rats know they have to press the lever but they don’t know how many times or what will happen. I don’t even have a lever to press – I just know that something bad is going to happen to me at random intervals and I don’t even know how to control it.

Does this end?

 

 

 

Smoking hot and I am not talking about my body

I totally plan to start smoking when I am 70

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Practicing with my sister and our friends when I was a kid. This was in Spain, which is maybe a little more progressive in these matters. I joke. These were candy cigarettes.

The only reason I don’t smoke now is because I am vain.

And cheap.

Vain and cheap.

Health? Not so much. Social censure? Eh.

You get used to not being one of the cool kids when you change schools every couple of years as a kid, when you aren’t asked to any high-school dances (except the ROTC ball by that guy in your chemistry class and Mike N., I am sorry I was not kinder to you and of course when I said I wasn’t really into military stuff – that was a total lie. My father was in the air force. We lived on an air force base. It was kind of my life), when you are the weird violin-playing, double-knit polyester elastic-waisted pants wearing, bike-riding to school (sorry I don’t know how to make that parallel), ugly-glasses wearing chubby smart 7th grader in a school that wasn’t on a military base and consisted of students who had known each other since kindergarten.

Where was I?

Oh right. The reasons I don’t smoke. I know it is very Not Done, but I am telling you, People Are Doing It. People you might not think are smokers? They smoke. Oh yes they do. I know them. I know them at work and I know them socially and you think they are not smokers but when they feel safe and know I will not criticize them for smoking, they live their truth.

And yeah. It doesn’t make financial sense to buy a product, set it on fire, and inhale the smoke as it burns. It’s not good for the lungs. It’s stinky.

But – when done properly, it seems to be divine.

I love the way fresh cigarette smoke smells outdoors. I will stop while I am out running if I catch a whiff of cigarette smoke. I will stop and inhale deeply because it smells good.

I want to smoke.

I do not want to destroy my health. So I don’t do it now.

And, even more than not wanting to destroy my health, I do not want to destroy my skin.

You know those awful mouth wrinkles heavy smokers get? Where it looks like their faces have been tanned? Not sitting in the sun tanned, but skin processed with chemicals to turn it into leather? That kind of tanning?

That is the main reason I do not smoke.

Because I do not want those wrinkles. I do not want that nasty, dry, dead skin.

But once I am 70? Maybe 80 – we’ll see how it goes – I will already have wrinkles.

And it won’t matter. Smoking a ciggie or two a day won’t matter. It won’t make my skin bad.

And I might also start heroin and gambling and hanging out with people who are Bad Influences. Because I intend to have fun.

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My grandma Sylvia, who, like my other grandmother, lived to 97. Sylvia and my uncle Hank, who just died at 89, would sneak out behind her assisted living place a few times a week for a ciggie. Yes. She smoked yet she lived until 97 and she was on her own, relatively healthy, until she was 95. I am lucky with my genes.

 

What on earth is wrong with QUIET?

Would everyone and everything in my life please shut up?

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You know what I want? Not world peace. Not an end to hunger. Not – whatever else that is Big and Important.

I want a microwave that does not beep.

I want appliances that do not beep.

More specifically, I want a microwave that does not been at 6:44 a.m. on a Sunday when my houseguest, who, until now, has been sleeping quietly in the upstairs guestroom, whence I cannot hear a single thing, warms something.

I want a microwave that does not beep at 6:44 a.m. on a Sunday when my houseguest warms something even though I. Was. Still. Asleep.

And now I am not. I am no longer asleep.

And not only am I no longer asleep, neither are the cats, who know what the microwave sound means – a human is at the microwave.

And if a human is at the microwave, a human is available to feed them.

Now.

They want to eat now.

They are Siamese and they are loud (well, one of them is loud, but she is loud enough for two or for a thousand) and they want to eat now.

This?

This is why I hate beeping appliances.

I hate appliance beeps and I hate appliance lights and I hate everything about them except the function they perform.

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This? This is when a beeper would be useful. This is when I need to be alerted.

I don’t need my dryer to remind me every 17 seconds that HEY HEY HEY STUFF IS DRY! Because you know why?

Because if the dryer beeps every 17 seconds once the load is complete, that means I cannot throw clothes in the dryer before I go to bed and sleep. It means I have to hear the beeping, which penetrates wood and space and time to reach my trying to sleep ears.

I don’t need a beeping microwave. I am not multitasking that much that I have to be reminded that two minutes and 45 seconds ago, I put a cup of coffee in the microwave and NOW IT’S READY IT’S READY IT’S READY.

I don’t need the lights on everything. I spend 15 minutes every first night in a hotel finding and covering all the stupid appliance lights. There’s a light on the TV, even though the TV is off. There are unwanted night lights in the bathroom. There’s a light on my computer cord. There’s a light on the coffee machine.

DESIGNERS! I AM NOT MAKING COFFEE IN THE DARK! IF I WANT TO TURN THE TV ON, I CAN TURN ON A LAMP! AND YOU DO NOT NEED TO POKE POKE POKE ME EVERY TIME A LOAD OF LAUNDRY IS DONE OR THE OATMEAL IS WARM!

Would everything please just shut the heck up?

To gray or not to gray or perhaps to purple?

Does sexual assault mean I am not invisible? Or does it just mean this was one messed-up kid?

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I have been reading Anne Kreamer’s funny and relatable and timely book, Going Gray: What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters.

She is making me think and making me wonder if I should even be coloring my hair anymore. It’s not like anything looks at me and thinks, “Huh. Because of those blonde highlights, there is no way this woman can be any older than 25.”

I am older than 25. I am 55. And I’m not even that vain – I was never noticed for my looks when I was younger and never thought I would have any kind of vanity about them as I aged, but – guess what? There is a lot of attractiveness to be found in nothing more than youth and you take that for granted, even when you have never been the Pretty Girl or the Beautiful Woman. You take your nice clear skin and your glossy, lush hair and your teeth and gums and the ability to exercise without being stiff and sore later for granted. You don’t think it will ever end. It never even occurs to you.

Yet end it does.

And that’s when you notice the droopy eyelids and the dry skin from too much sun (wear sunscreen! EVERY DAY!) and the wrinkles. You know it’s better than the alternative, but then you notice the dull, drab hair and think, “That. That I can fix.”

And so you do.

It’s not even like I am trying to attract attention. I adore Mr T, aka Mr Texan in Exile (I have decided to change from “Marido”), but once he’s dead, I am done. I don’t want to get married again. I’m not even sure if I would want to date. What almost 11 years of marriage and living in the same house has taught me is that I was very, very used to living by myself and doing things my own way before I got married. And I got used to not having to argue about the Proper Function of A Dish Cloth, which, for the record, is not to remain perfectly clean while paper towels are used for cleaning spills on the counter. (Floor spills are cleaned with rags. I am not a savage.)

Anyhow. I am re-thinking coloring my hair and then this item popped up in my facebook feed:

Me: Remember how I had that hip problem last week? I could hardly walk and had to wear flats?

Boss: Yes.

Me: It’s gone! I thought it would take weeks to heal, but – it just disappeared! It’s a miracle!

Boss: That kid laid his hand on your butt and healed you.

Wait! you ask. “What is this ‘kid laid his hand on your butt…’ part?”

Yes. That.

I was minding my own business walking home from the state fair. It’s only three miles up a main-ish road with a decent amount of traffic through safe neighborhoods. I was at an intersection of the main-ish road with a major road and saw a kid waiting to cross the street with me. I made eye contact and smiled because it’s kind of rude to ignore someone else sharing a situation with you. Then I continued to walk.

When I finally thought I was out of sight of other walkers and there were no cars around me, I reached behind me to tug my underwear back into their proper position, as one does.

I felt a hand on my butt.

A hand that was not mine.

And a voice that asked, “Would you like some help with that?”

“Stop that!” I said. “Stop that right now!”

I shooed him away.

He did not move.

“Go away,” I said.

He did not move.

“Go AWAY! Oh for pete’s sake I am old enough to be your grandmother.”

Which, technically, I am. I am old enough to be his grandmother.

But I really missed the point on that because – grabbing someone’s butt isn’t necessarily about sex. It’s not like my butt is soooo compelling that young men overlook the other signs of age and think, “I don’t care that she’s in her mid 50s! I must have me some of that!”

Anyhow, I had to call the police and knock on the door of the stranger to wait in their house while the police came and the whole thing made me very very cranky because this is not the order of the universe and although I am glad not to be invisible, this is not exactly what I had in mind when I started coloring my hair and maybe – maybe – it’s time just to be who I am, which is a mid-50s woman who is probably going gray.

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Does wearing comfy shoes mean I have Given Up?

I don’t like pain. I do like cute shoes. What’s a woman to do?

 

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Do these count as Ugly Shoes? Because I no longer want to suffer but I also don’t want to wear Hideous Shoes, which is often the only way to have Feet Without Pain.

I always swore I would not Cross the Rubicon of Shoes.

I swore that even though fashion has never been my life – not that I am not interested, but apparently, I am incapable. My sister got all the hair, makeup, and accessory genes. She is as cute as a button and always knows what to wear and how to wear it and I? I am kind of frumpy and dowdy.

Except for my shoes.

Shoes are the place I. Will. Not. Compromise.

I heart the shoes.

I especially heart the expensive nice Italian shoes. Only I have a secret.

I get them on eBay.

Oh don’t act all shocked. Like you wouldn’t take shoes from your best friend?

Pretend the little old lady who died and left a closet of Ferragamos was your best friend’s grandmother.

Indeed, something like that happened to me once. My best friend from high school, Julie, was volunteering at the Junior League thrift shop in Atlanta – btw, the JL thrift shop is an excellent place to look for quality used clothes – and nabbed several pairs of Ferragamos when another Junior Leaguer, who happened to be the Ferragamo rep, dropped off a bunch of samples that had not sold.

I think Julie wears a ten, so the nine narrows that the rep left did not fit her. But she thought they might fit me, so in an act of generosity that only a high school best friend could offer, she sent them to me.

I wore them one day.

One.

And spent most of the day sitting at my desk and trying not to have to hobble to the ladies’. I called Julie. “They don’t fit! They HURT!”

“Then dangle them off your toe!” she ordered. “THEY ARE ITALIAN!”

And she was right.

Anyhow. You can get some really nice Ferragamos on eBay for under $50. And once you own them, do not wear them outside! Leave them at work and use them only to walk indoors on the carpet. They should not be taken on icy, snowy, salty sidewalks or driveways or parking lots. Mostly because the ice and salt will ruin them but also because Italian shoes are not designed for walking well in winter conditions.

I also found a pair of Ferragamos at a Milwaukee thrift shop for only $12.

“Is this price right?” I asked the clerk. “These are Ferragamos!”

She sighed. “Yeah, I know. But nobody here knows what they are.”

I did.

I wear high heels at work, even though we are now a jeans every day office. I like high heels. I wear my leopard print heels every time I can. Did you know leopard is a neutral? It is. Theresa May inspired me. As soon as I saw her leopard shoes, I had to have some.

But – high heels are starting to hurt.

Did you know that the places you lose fat as you age are not your butt, your thighs, or your belly but your face and the bottom of your feet, which is probably the one place I ever wanted to have fat. Nobody has ever said to me, “Wow. You sure have chubby bottoms of your feet.” I was not vain about the bottom of my feet. But I sure liked having fat there because guess what? THE FAT IS WHAT KEEPS YOUR FEET FROM HURTING.

So. I had to have the shoes. But I don’t want the pain.

Back to eBay I went.

And guess what I found?

Ugly shoe brand in a cute shoe!

Yes! I found leopard print CLARK’S!

So reader, I bought them. And I wear them.

And they do not hurt. Amen.

PS Like my facebook page, please?

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The Great Upstairs Bathroom Panic of ’18

Or, as Marido says, “I wasn’t panicking. I was concerned

Or, How I grew to love bats instead of fear them

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It’s Sunday morning. (Not right now. In the story I am telling.)

It’s Sunday morning and Marido and I are following our usual Sunday morning routine: Coffee, newspaper, reading advice columnist questions out loud and answering them for ourselves (who are these mothers in law who write about their evil daughters in law? have they ever thought that perhaps they and not the DILs are the problem?), and listening to a re-run of Casey Kasem and American Top 40 from the ’70s (which are great) and the ’80s (which are not so great).

Marido is capable of identifying the year of the episode solely by hearing one song. It’s his superpower: That he has to hear only the opening bars of a pop song to know not only what song it is but when it was released.

My superpower is I can find typos in any document except one I have written.

He goes upstairs and very soon thereafter, I hear a scream.

He would say that he yelled.

I ignore it because Marido is Dramatic. He grew up in a High-Drama Home, where people yelled at each other.

I grew up in a Low-Drama Home (Norwegians) so yelling is a Big Deal in my life, but I have become somewhat conditioned to his yells and have learned to ignore them.

He runs down the stairs.

Marido: There’s a BAT in the upstairs bathroom!

Well. That’s not what I was expecting to hear.

I have to see for myself.

I go upstairs.

And yes, there is a bat in the bathroom. It has fallen into the toilet.

Me: We have to get it out! It could drown!

Marido: Don’t touch it! It could have rabies!

Me: I know! I’m the one who had the rabies shots, remember!

[Yes. This is a childhood memory that will never leave me. I told my mom there was a mouse in the basement window well. She told me to leave it alone. I did not. It bit me. I got a kleenex from my friend’s house, wrapped it around my bloody finger, and returned home. Shockingly, my mom noticed and took me straight to the hospital, where they gave me the first of 14 shots to my stomach. In case you didn’t know? Shots to your stomach hurt a lot.]

I reach for the toilet brush.

Marido: You can’t use that! It will get dirty!

[Imagine the withering look I give him.]

Me: Then what’s your idea?

Marido talks and tries to think of the perfect engineering solution while I try to think of the fast save an endangered species from dying one.

I go to the garage for some gardening hand tools – one of those little pronged thingies you use for prepping the soil for planting and a weed digger. I bring them to the bathroom and start to use them to carefully lift the bat out of the water without touching it with my hands.

Marido: No! You’ll get water on the floor!

Me: Water can be cleaned off the floor, you know.

We had this argument in 2009, when our basement flooded shortly after we moved into our house. The sewer drain backed up with rainwater (not sewage, thank goodness) and was soaking the new carpet. That carpet was new because the basement had flooded the year before right after we bought the house but before we moved in. Carpet left wet for three days in hot weather is not salvageable.

I wanted to save the carpet this time. (I didn’t care the first time – that carpet was really ugly.) I grabbed a bunch of bath towels to absorb the water on the carpet. Marido disagreed strongly with my approach, but I argued back that 1. bath towels can be washed and bleached and 2. it is easier to replace towels than carpet.

Marido: Wait! Let me get something.

He runs outside for a corrugated box, sets it on the floor next to the toilet, and gently lifts the bat out of the toilet and places it in the box. The bat squeaks desperately and pathetically. I am relieved that it was not dead.

Then we put a paper shopping bag over the bat and invert it so the box is over the bat and put the bag in the garage so Marido can take it to the wildlife rehab center near us.

He calls me from the center: I took the bag into the center. We lifted the box off. The bat was gone!

It had flown out of the slit in the bottom of the box. It was healthy enough to escape. It didn’t need wildlife rehab after all! Whew.

(If you want to know more about how cool bats are, go to Merlin Tuttle’s  site. Bats are maligned unfairly.)