Saturday, February 20, 2010

... able to leap tall buildings.

I woke up in a hyper-sensitive mood today and just cried all day. I'm not pregnant (thank God), it's not even PMS --I checked the calendar-- so I can't blame it on more hormones, less brain cells. It's just too much on my plate from the Buffet of Bad Luck. Sometimes I think I should just go stay on a desert island until all my personalities integrate into one normal, psycho mama. A thin, normal, psycho mama. A rich, thin, normal, psycho mama.

Today was tough. Really, there is no sugar coating it, no Disney twist, no reason to trivialize it. It was a tough day for me and I make no apology. These feelings are mine and mine alone, this baggage is mine and mine alone... well, unless you really want it and then I will be HAPPY to let you have it ALL. Yup. I am not only THAT generous, I am willing to negotiate.

I went through the motions and went to a baby shower this morning where I had to bring my own Diet Coke and I was surrounded by beautiful women with perfect makeup, gorgeous nails and hair. I couldn't even complain because they were all soooo sweet and nice. (I think I was there to balance out the cosmos.) The food was fantastic, the salad amazing, the ceviche was so FABULOUS it eased the pain... I even won a game and got a cool prize, not some stupid, smelly lotion. Then in the evening I went to ANOTHER baby shower (WHAT is in the water here?) at the California Pizza Kitchen in Riverside where they have Pepsi and not Diet Coke. 10 women, again all beautiful and sweet and kind with perfect make up and nails. And me. Diet Coke-less.

I cried all the way home... I know it's stupid which made me cry more. I turned on the radio and listened to it play songs of heartbreak. I put a CD in. Tom Petty should be safe. Nope. High school, lost youth, lost waistline, regrets... and flashes of all those wonderful, perfect women today. More crying. I exit the freeway on Nason and as I round the corner my gauge light goes on and I think, oh crap. More money..... gotta get an oil change @ WalMart ASAP before I have a dry stick.

I cry more.

I get to the light and I think what the Hell, I am going to check Best Buy and see if Fringe is on sale. I want it, I NEED it, I'll put it on my mom's credit card and pay her back... oh, wait. Can't. With what money? My EBT card?

More crying.

I turn at the light anyway and head for Best Buy where I park far enough away that I can stall and hopefully regain my good judgment. As I am walking into Best Buy, I think that this is truly the STUPIDEST thing I have ever done but I want Fringe so badly I am determined to check it out anyway. Like Dead Man Walking, I nod to the guy who has to wear a uniform but at least he has a job that he obviously doesn't appreciate because it shows in his lackluster hello to me. I look up, stop DEAD in my tracks and the biggest smile lights up my face, so big that minimum wage guy looks to see what I am staring at.

It's Chantal. OMG, it's Chantal. I am gonna be OK.
I stand there until she looks up from the customer service line and notices me. She grins. I grin. The Best Buy employees grin.
We do the girl thing and hug. I smile. I hug her again. She smiles. She hugs me again. The employees smile but they don't hug.

We chat for a moment which is code for I spill my guts and try not to cry in the middle of Best Buy. Her eyes well up, my eyes well up, the employees eyes just close because they are tired and want to go home. No sympathy on my part since they have a paying job even if they have to wear a lame uniform.

I go to the restroom while she finishes her exchange. When I return she tells me she looked for Fringe and found it for $49.99. Damn. That's more expensive than Target or WalMart. We stand in the aisle and talk some more which, again, is code for I ramble like a crazed woman, trying not to cry and she nods encouragingly to me trying not to cry herself. I wander the aisles and look for Fringe, Season 1. Why do I want this so bad, Chantal? Because you want to escape reality for as long as you can, she tells me. I can accept that, I tell her. Works for me.

And there it is. Fringe. Season 1. $9.99. No way. Not possible.

Chantal double checks the price for me. Oh, she says, I looked at the wrong one. The Blue Ray. It's all good, Chantal. The clouds part, angels sing and I smile. Big. I have $8 cold, hard cash in my pocket.... ummm, is the Bank of Chantal open? She smiles. Sure is. Lucky me.

We grab two ice cold Diet Cokes w/great expiration dates and go to the register FAST before someone changes the price. We pay and two minutes later, I not only have a cold Diet Coke, I have Fringe and Chantal, the greatest therapist on the planet. I hear a chorus of angels singing Hallelujah again.

Chantal and I go outside and talk FOREVER in the dark parking lot, freezing our butts off but she is such a good friend that she continues to listen as she turns into a Popsicle. I don't even notice she is blue because I am so busy crying and spilling my guts then laughing while acting out the story of Mr. Silver Lexus. I tell the only-woman-in-the-world-I-would-leave-my-husband-for who makes all my ramblings into something intelligent, who validates my feelings, who has the guts to tell me BS, I am only kidding myself... I tell her EVERYTHING until I feel sane, until my planets line up back in their order, until I am OK. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Chantal in their life. And no, I don't share.

We cry. We smile. We hug. Best Buy closes. There is a reason for everything. I head home feeling THAT much lighter, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, fueled by the wisdom and faith of Chantal. I am gonna be OK.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


"Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." (Stephen King)

I was browsing through Target-- my favorite store in the entire world besides Trader Joe's -- and I was feeling pretty good. I was able to pretend the extra 20 pounds weren't there around my belly and my crows feet were actually laugh lines (this term is supposed to make over-40 women feel better about aging. Riiiggghhhttt...). I had recently lost 50 lbs and had walked 6 miles that day, I was wearing my favorite size 9 butt jeans and my good bra that almost made me look like I had, well, definitely NOT 20 yr old breasts but I was hoping for maybe 30 or 35... well, you get the idea. I was feeling good, and kinda hot for an old lady and all the planets in my world were lined up JUST RIGHT. Ahhhh... for just a moment in time, the cosmos loved me for meeeeeeee...

I pushed my red Target shopping cart, doing the whole girl thing looking at pillows and towels and sheets and admiring bright, happy colors, just dreaming and getting in touch with my inner designer that I had buried years and years ago... and I round the corner, carrying every inch of my 5'3" tall and proud, smiling naively with NO IDEA what was lying in wait for me.

There she was. Bombshell Betty pushing her cart with two adorable babies. Blonde with long hair and the big bump of hair high on the back of her head, makeup perfectly done so she had the mommy and the naughty look, tight jeans slung low on her hips, her midriff showing from her form fitting baby doll T shirt, all upright and perky... and TALL. Why are they always tall and blonde?

Damn her.

Bombshell Betty was on her cell phone (of course... an ear piece... I DON'T have an earpiece!), pushing her cart with two of the most gorgeous toddlers, perfectly dressed with clean faces... well behaved, quiet and lovely children. She was on a Mission and walked purposely right past me as if I wasn't there. It was high school all over again.

Damn her.

Quicker than you can say Botox or plastic surgeon, I delflated like a balloon after the party is over, like a bald tire that finally gave in to age... my inner Weeble wobbled over and fell down. And stayed down. I wanted to run out and buy her a donut. Maybe two. Hell, let's make it a dozen... and then jump up, kick her in the knee and make her eat EVERY LAST ONE.

Yes, I know she puts on her very small, hip hugging jeans one leg at a time and I am sure --- if there is a God in Heaven and he likes me, please let it be true-- that she has bad days and maybe even, if at all possible, got her heart broken once. ((heavy sigh)) Reality bites.

But, unfortunately, we are our own worst enemies... especially at night when our regrets and mistakes rear their ugly head and whisper harsh words of defeat and failure. We see ourselves as not-quite-good-enough, glass-half-empty and brush aside compliments and praise from others, feeling we don't quite deserve it because we don't measure up to our idea of success.

I know that realistically, I have talents and gifts that Bombshell Betty doesn't have. I am sarcastic like nobodies business, I am quick with my wit and as loyal to my friends as a Saint Bernard. I am a fabulous cook who can also play a great -- from my mouth to God's ears -- game of golf. I can drive a car like a man and volunteer like SuperMom. I am just as wonderful as she is but in different ways.... yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear you, I see your mouth moving but all I can see is Bombshell Betty and the shreds of my self esteem on the floor of Target.

Anyone got a donut? Two?

'Nuff said. Let's play golf.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dear John and The Road

It's official. I have no estrogen. I should be kicked out of the All Girls Club and banished to the cold, dark, outer reaches where real girls are too scared to go. We saw 'Dear John' tonight and I didn't cry, didn't swoon, definitely didn't ooh or ahh and only clapped cuz the movie thankfully came to an merciful end... The only thing that saved it was rockin' smokin' hot honey Channing Tatum... LOL

Seriously, it really wasn't ALL bad... for the first half it even had promise. Up to a point it was a fairly decent chick flick and, yes, Channing Tatum is HOT. Thank the Good Lord he is over 18 and legal because I can handle being a Cougar but not someone who needs a parole officer... LOL

'Dear John' lost me once she tells John that "she had no choice" but to marry a cancer-stricken man 20 years her senior with an autistic son... sob, sob, sniff, sniff... but then she goes and makes a play for John. ummm... NO. Sweetheart, you made your bed, so pull up your big girl panties and deal with it. Life isn't fair and you can't have both worlds....

I understand the movie deviates from the book, which I didn't read, so my opinion is based on what I saw, and what I saw sends a message I don't like to our girls. How can a 20-something-year-old be responsible for a grown man and his disabled son? Please. Just creepy.

Nicholas Sparks writes for sad, lovelorn women and impressionable young girls who think that love is fireworks and happy, happy, joy, joy everyday. Ummm... again. NO. Nope. Not true. He paints a Romeo and Juliet version of falling in love with a Disney twist... Obviously he is not on my ever-on-a-cold-day-in-Hell list of books to read...

I am presently reading two books. 'Eclipse' by Stephanie Myers which I can't get through (duh!) but my daughter is into Twilight therefore I struggle and trudge on to read the series. My grown-up book is 'The Road' by
Cormac McCarthy who wrote 'No Country for Old Men'.

WOW. It's... well... wow.

The Road is a post-apocalyptic tale of a father and his son, raw in it's emotion and vivid in the visual it brings to the mind's eye. An amazing book that I can't put down and yet, I don't want to read because of the heartbreak it brings. I HIGHLY recomend it but only for those who don't belong to the All Girls Club and definitely NOT for the faint of heart. Or soul.

'Nuff said. Let's go play golf.

CAP, Bishops Storehouse, Life

I went to the Moreno Valley Community Assistance Program (CAP) today to drop off 5 bags of canned food from our Ward's Activity and, yes, I admit it, I wanted to look around, check it out and see if they needed anything else. You know how I am always looking for a good Service project for Scouts and YW...

As I waited for my turn, I looked around and couldn't help but feel the hopelessness and defeat shown on everyone's face, and the longer I stood there, the more my heart broke. CAP is in a strip mall facing the freeway and the room was small, dark and dirty with no ventilation. The seats were filled with waiting women who were just shells of fading humanity without hope or promise of a better life. Awww, man.... can you say depressing?
But, since I am a Serial Volunteer who Is President of the Stop-Me-Before-I-Volunteer
-Again-YES!-Fine!-I-Willl-Do-It Club, as I made small talk to the receptionist I asked if they could use another volunteer. You are NOT going to believe this, but they turned me down. NO? REALLY? A FREE volunteer willing to work in this depressing place? Hellloooooo? Are you serious? Dude.

The CAP volunteer introduced herself and took me to the back where we put down the bags. Now I could really see their setup. Two words: Hell. NO. Smashed boxes, no organization, piles and piles of filthy, dented, old cans that I'm sure were past their expiration dates... my OCD flew into overdrive and I had to concentrate on her kind face and what she was saying because not breathing in my pre-panic attack was NOT an option. Deanna very proudly told me that the clients can get ONE bag of groceries every OTHER month. That's it. ONE BAG EVERY OTHER MONTH. And, get this: they are serving 80-90 families A DAY in Moreno Valley. Of course, they are only open T/Th 10-1...
By the way, they need peanut butter. And canned beans. Tuna, too.

In the afternoon I was in Colton so I swung by the Bishops Storehouse to see if they needed a volunteer for an hour. The difference between the two defies logic. How can they serve the same purpose but are night and day?

I had only a limited amount of time that I could volunteer but hey, the Great and Wise Jenny Eyestone says asking is free... so I did. One of the Brethren in charge realized my awesome potential and put me in charge of opening cases of toilet paper, inserting 5 rolls in each grocery bag, tying the bag in a knot and placing them on the shelf. Hey, works for me... just my speed and I can count to 5 ALL by myself!

The bonus about this job was I had a front row seat to EVERYTHING. I saw the Church members come in to a clean and spacious building with their sealed food orders and the lovely Sister at the desk greet them with a friendly smile and ask them to wait for just a moment until someone could help them. The volunteer would come forward w/a clipboard and the opened order form, the client pushed a shopping cart and off they went shopping... Cereal, flour, sugar, diapers, formula, canned goods, produce, toothbrushes, toilet paper (perfectly placed in bags I might add), meat, milk, eggs, cheese, deodorant... the list is endless and is tailored for the family for a two week period. Hundreds of dollars of FREE groceries later, the client left smiling and grateful. The Church's generosity to it's members may have been humbling but there was HOPE and a true, gentle Spirit that touched your heart. I spent my hour chatting with an elderly Sister Missionary who was hard of hearing but we made a great team as we polished off more than 10 cases. I whipped out a box cutter and tote that barge, lift that bale, we got into a rhythm quickly.

Now, before you start thinking about how wonderful I am and what an Angel I am... ummm... I probably should confess that I had my fake IPOD on, one earbud in and I was DEFINITELY NOT listening to Church appropriate music. Unless Theory of a Deadman is on President Monson's IPOD, I am pretty sure I am still going to Hell. And have a personalized parking space waiting.

Sooooo... after two major melt downs and one pre-panic attack and many, many cold Diet Cokes (all w/GREAT expiration dates) to calm my nerves today, the contrast between the charities made me recognize how lucky I am to not only be part of the greatest Church in the world, but also for the greatest friends anyone could wish for. My family and I could not have made it these last 6 months without my friends who know me, and well... for some reason, still love me! I know they pray for my soul everyday and there are probably 10,000 bonus points if someone can point me in the right direction to Good and Light. Yeah, right. Good luck, baby.

Pride goeth before the fall soooo... my friends won't take no for an answer and give me cans and bottles for recycling, slip me cash at church... Bishop always asks me how I am doing and won't settle for a vague answer. I wigged out at Church on Sunday and Kathleen Clark walked me into a room and listened to me cry and ramble like a crazed woman and didn't once point out how medication and a straight jacket might be next on the agenda...

Craig Rogers was ahead of me in line @ Sam's Club and gave the cashier $40 on the sly to give to me after he left. The look on her face was PRICELESS. She was astonished and asked if I knew him... My reply? Dude. I am CHARMING. It's a GREAT story-- ask and I will tell ALL.

Cindi and Bryan Grover gave me cash @ Christmas to go see my terminal Dad. I started to cry right there in the mall and still tear up at the generosity of a family I have known for 15 years and who has touched my life and made me feel worthwhile in so many ways. I feel lucky to know THEM.

Tracey Hudgens got a call from me pretending I wasn't crying in the parking lot of her work asking to have --not borrow-- $20 to take Samuel to the doctor because I had no money and the school wouldn't let him back in with his cough. (Stupid MVUSD sends out a truant officer to my house but THEY are the ones sending him home every day.... for 10 days... good grief.) She came out w/money and no questions asked, hugged me and as I told her I would never be able to pay her back but I would always feel grateful and guilty, Tracey just shook her head and gave me THAT LOOK. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I got it.

Cindy Martin buys dog food (for 6 months now) for Jack, Rex and Rocky and once gave me a whole cup of pennies ($9.70!) for gas, and made me popcorn every day when all I could keep down was Popsicles, her popcorn and Diet Coke. (The bright side of depression and the total annihilation of my spirit is I stopped eating and lost 50 pounds. Yup. Not a diet I would recommend but I LOVE my size 9 jeans...)

Chantal... awww, man... Chantal... who should be called the Bank of Chantal, fills my gas tank, buys me detergent, and talks me off the-cliff-that-calls-my-name EVERY time and always knows the right thing to say no matter how angry, rambling or pathetic I am, no matter what time of day or night.

Then there is my golfing buddy and partner in crime, straight man to my irreverent comedy, Jennifer who supports my Diet Coke habit, checks the expiration date faithfully and picks up the pieces of my broken and battered soul EVERY time... and somehow still loves me even though we both know I desperately want to be the better golfer. Oh. Wait. I am.

The love of my life (wink, wink) who recognized my defeated, broken spirit and text me for hours as I stood in the never-ending Welfare line for the first time EVER in my life to keep me sane and functioning. The same friend who text me over and over to make me feel anything BUT a failure, let me take out my frustration and anger, who recognized my reluctance to go home... How can you ever thank someone who still loves you even though you are certifiable? I will never be able to repay you, and I will always feel grateful and guilty, but I can honestly say that I love you the most, you are my favorite.

So many stories...

It's been a long six months that included the shock of my Dad's diagnosis of terminal cancer and his death 4 months later on Dec. 27, 2009... begging, borrowing, cajoling, promising ANYTHING to get the money/time/abilbity to finance 3 trips to Hawaii to try and cram a lifetime of memories with my favorite Dad into weeks... Alan's continued unemployment... repossession of his car... church assistance... denial of Welfare and then the mistake corrected (good thing I called!)... getting through my semester with the help of the most wonderful teachers (2 A's and 1 B)... 8 weeks of Hickory Farms w/the most AMAZING women on the planet who took care of me as I fell apart and where the phrase "Medic! Man down!" meant fill me with Diet Coke until numb, the same women who had the guts to scold me for chasing two 3-strike felons who stole from us. (Hey. I wanted my $6 back and they needed to know who they were dealing with)... my HF boss who bought two bags of food for Thanksgiving for my family (shhh... don't tell her about the felons... it's our secret!)... on the lighter side, I now know that I can buy Slurpees at 7-11 with my EBT card. Thanks, Rhonda... I needed that.

Sniff, sniff... I need Kleenex... Medic... man down... where's my Diet Coke?

But for all my ridiculously AMAZING, unbelievable amount of bad luck, the last six months have shown me I am truly the luckiest woman on the planet to have so many loyal, 5 minute friends. Because, for how little I have, I have sooooo much more than those broken, defeated, lifeless women @ CAP.

'Nuff said. Let's go play golf.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My love/hate relationship with WalMart

I hate WalMart. I can't say it enough! I hate them, hate them, hate them and yet tomorrow, I would be shopping there again muttering "I hate WalMart" under my breath all the way out the door.

Last week I went to WalMart to make some returns. Nothing was used, all were in the correct packages, all recently bought and all well within the return time range...did I mention that I had the receipts for each item? Well, one of the items was a book. The Friday Night Knitting Club, actually. My book group chose this book for March and I ran out to buy it at Costco with my milk, eggs and toilet paper but Costco was sold out. Then I went to Sam's Club and they were out. Now it was late and all the good stores were closed but I was determined to buy it. I went to the Moreno Beach 24 hr.WalMart and had to look through messy shelves and trashed merchandise but I found two copies. Hurrah! One copy was really icky so I bought the other ($11.83) and ran home so I could read it right away.

I was so excited! I get home, get comfortable, open the book...and...the pages inside are trashed. They look like they were cut with a knife! ARGHHH! I give up. Obviously, this was not meant to be. The next day I go to Target and buy a copy ($11.23--saved some money!) and start my book. (It's really good--I recommend it.)

A few days later, I am at the same WalMart returning a few things. Nothing exciting...the luggage tag
for Alana that I thought was a softball, turned out to be a baseball ($4) and some clips for the softball banner ($1.96). Big whoops. Then, I give them the book. Good grief! It was like Fort Knox shutting down! Oh no, they can't take returns on books due to copyright laws. Wait. I have the receipt, I didn't read it, I brought it back as soon as I could and WalMart won't give me my money back? I tell the lady that I can return books at Costco, at Waldenbooks...why can't WalMart take it back? I go over it again; I have the receipt, I didn't read it, the book is trashed! It's like talking to a wall. I am so calm but my eyebrows are receding back into my hairline because I am so incredulous. She calls over another woman because this monumental decision is over her capability as a supervisor and that one tells me no also. (How do you get hired at WalMart? Do you have your parole officer vouch for you?) They want to give me another copy, I tell them I all ready bought one at Target (cheaper too!) so why do I need two copies? Now they are both snotty and I am uncharacteristically quiet as I try to figure out how much of a big deal I want to make of this. The more they tell me no, the more I want my money back!

Finally, after we go back and forth, the supervisor gives up and gives me store credit. (It's didn't really matter if it was cash or credit--I was going in to buy dish soap, paper towels, etc)
It goes with out saying that I will never buy another book from WalMart. Ever.
How frustrating!

Of course, not as frustrating as the time the customer service guy told the 20+ people in line behind me that the fabric return I had (with receipt!) I had stolen...

I hate WalMart.