The Diet Diaries. Entry #4.

May 25, 2016

‘Twas seven months before takeoff 

And all through the house 

just one creature was stirring

and she felt like a louse.

The cookies were stowed in the jar with great care,

with fear that my hand would soon be in there. 

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

while visions of cookies danced in my head. 

And I in my t-shirt with herbal tea nightcap,

was trying to watch GoT and not crack. 

When out in the kitchen there arose such a clatter,

chocolate chips crying out, “Kathy, what’s the matter?” 

Away to the kitchen I flew like a flash,

Tore open the jar and grabbed at the stash!

Took a bite with great gusto while they screamed, “You shall eat me!”

But I threw them out because 17 inches will never defeat me.

Just a little levity, faithful followers! Still working toward my goal, 10 seconds at a time. Thanks for helping me stay accountable and my deepest apologies to Clement Clarke Moore.

The Diet Diaries. Entry #3. 

May 4, 2016
“The Kimmy Schmidt Edition” 

I’ve been known to binge. On cookies, on straightening out the row of brownies until it is just right and then just a little more right and now that side is crooked so just one more piece to make it neat and tidy, on Doritos (nacho cheese, please), and Netflix. I exhausted the supply of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black as well as Transparent, Gilmore Girls, and Derek. And then a new show grabbed me, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She is buoyant, positive, flawed, struggling, lovable and pretty f’ed up. Wow! Kimmy, you are my Netflix emotional doppelgänger!

For the uninitiated, Kimmy was abducted and held for fifteen years in a bunker by a crazy preacher. (He’s a total nut job, but my heart still belongs to you Don Draper, I mean John Hamm. <3) She emerges with an indomitable spirit and faces New York City and most of her problems head on. In one episode she gives the most sage advice. From the Book of Kimmy, I quote, “I learned a long time ago that a person can stand just about anything for 10 seconds, then you just start on a new 10 seconds. All you’ve got to do is take it 10 seconds at a time.” She states this while turning a crank for days on end, a crank that has no clear purpose. But she cranks on. Crank on, Kimmy!

As I enter the fourth week of dieting without my emotional lifeboat made of sugar in all of its glorious forms, all of the food issues that I normally submerge under waves of frosting come burbling up to the surface. The most unlikely personal flotation device that has kept me from drowning has been Kimmy’s good advice. I can do this for ten more seconds. Just. Ten. More. Seconds. And then ten more. I’m with you, Kimmy. I’m turning the crank. Now if only I weren’t so cranky… (Someone give poor Kumar a pat on the back because he’s been a saint.) 

Now to lighten the mood and your daily load here’s the theme from the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I dare you to get the tune out of your head. It’s gonna be a fascinatin’ transition, indeed.

Kimmy’s Theme

The Diet Diaries. Entry #2.

April 20, 2016

It has been nine days. Nine long, barren days in the wasteland. I am in full blown carbohydrate withdrawal, including moodiness and anxiety. No, wait. I can’t blame that on the diet. But, I am dreaming of Boston Cream donuts, something I never eat but feel like I cannot live without when I “cut the carbs, cut the fun”. All of this begs two questions: Why am I disclosing this to the world? And why the hell am I doing this in the first place because donuts are damn delicious? 

I disclose my own personal detox, denial, diet and donut issues because going public keeps me accountable. It’s like a weight watchers weigh-in with everyone I have ever met. (Suddenly these entries are losing their appeal for me…) And I am dieting because of 17 inches times 20+ hours. I am no math wizard, but I know that twenty hours in a 17 inch coach airline seat is torture for anyone and a living hell if you are any larger than that guy on Game of Thrones. (And I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have to fly coach anymore.) Yes, the Das Guptas are going to India in December and this diet has a definite 17 inch deadline. A good bout of Delhi Belly caused by brushing my teeth with tap water will make for an even more comfortable seat on the return flights, I am sure. In the meantime, bear with me. (Bear claws are so good, too, right?) The journey has really just begun. I won’t bore you with pounds lost, but rather inches of extra seatbelt acquired. Namaste, bitches.

The Diet Diaries. Entry #1.

April 11, 2016

I am now four hours into giving up carbs (again). Yes, we’ve been down this road before and we know its steep hills and sharp curves oh so very well. A wayward jellybean that skittered under the refrigerator during Easter has been taunting me with its sweet, artificially berry flavored sassiness. Damn you and your jelly belly! We have so much in common, but I shall resist your siren call. Coffee will fortify me, and I shall prevail.

Facebook is my media, my medium and my muse

If you peruse Facebook posts, flip open your iPad, or read a news aggregator’s website, you will likely happen upon the observation that the sky is falling and we are no longer able to look each other in the eye because of the great evil of social media.  Ironically, it is often social media that delivers this message to me, because I am an avid and grateful user of Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook. (I have an Instagram account, but I really don’t use it. I prefer that my purposefully unflattering pictures sent to my daughter disappear forever, even though I think the NSA is probably getting a good laugh at them, too. Your welcome, government bureaucrats! And enjoy my DubSmash hits!) I don’t know about the degredation of social skills and the collapse of society due to social media; perhaps we really are heading toward floating around in recliners with screens in our faces as depicted in Wall-E. 

(Uh oh. I fear I am growing ever more like these animated folks who are not too animated. Note to self: take a walk.)

But, large societal and evolutionary forces aside, I have to take a stance on social media. I love Facebook. There, I said it. It’s almost like admitting you sneak Nutella out of the jar by the spoonful. We all do it, and we have collectively agreed not to discuss it. But, I’m saying it loud and proud: I LOVE FACEBOOK. But, why? I am sure there is some very scientific and accurate study that discusses the rewards delivered to my brain by engaging in Facebook activity and that this creates a cycle of addiction. Still, I think there are more significant reasons why it has become important to me.

1) Family – Through the magic of Facebook, I am now in touch with family both near and far. The tangled web keeps growing and now includes cousins from a generation once removed, the grown children of scattered and various family members, and a smattering of family folk who have remained in ye olde hometown. Social media has not pushed my family members away (except when I sometimes ignore my kids, but I ignore them with my nose in a book, too, so what’s the difference?). It has brought my family near, right to my eyes and my fingertips. When my father passed away, I posted a photo and message on Facebook. The condolences were a real and actual comfort – they were not virtual. People who may not have known about his passing until weeks later found out that very day and they reached out to us. It was a great solace. And the quick communication allowed several relatives who live in other parts of the country to arrange travel plans and attend services. For this, I am ever grateful to Facebook. On a lighter note, pictures of babies, new puppies, graduations, and risque someecards that reflect the humor of my extended family brighten my every day. One of the most surprising types of connection has been with my mother’s family in Germany and Hungary. These are people that we have had little to no contact with for many years (my mother left Europe in 1959), and now they are part of our daily lives. Amazing. You cannot put a price tag on the connectivity fostered by my real Facebook family and it’s all for free (thanks, Mark Zuckerberg!).

2) Friends – I moved away from my hometown, then we moved away from our adopted home state of NJ, and I have changed jobs many times. But, due to Facebook, I have reconnected with high school friends and acquaintances, former coworkers, old neighbors and friends of various sorts. It has been a wonderful surprise to find out how some of these high school friends of yesteryear have turned out, and though we do not see each other, there is a kinship. I hated high school (feelings that are strong enough for a blog post but far too whiny for anyone to read. Ugh.). But, yowza, I love how some of these people have turned out.  One friend is a writer, one teaches at a university in Singapore, another teaches at Harvard (yes, THAT Harvard), many have gone on to have beautiful and accomplished children and some have great, quirky senses of humor. What a gift they are! My new Charlotte friends have also been a great addition to my Facebook feed. Through their photos, posts, jokes and check-ins, I have learned more about these new friends and their interests, which has enhanced our burgeoning friendships. 

3) Former Students – My favorite category of Facebook friends is my former students. How very proud I am to have played a role in just 5 minutes of their lives. They give me hope. This generation that is decried and derided for being so entitled may have expectations of reaching financial goals years ahead of reality. But, so many of them are active volunteers in their communities and committed to their families (as evidenced by wishing their parents a Happy Anniversary and posting photos of nieces, nephews and their own newborn babes). Some are dedicated to military service or ministry. A few have bravely come out of the closet, and it feels great to let them know that some long ago religion teacher loves them just as they are. There are some doctors in the making. And, last but not least, they still teach me something and make me laugh every day. I know that as the years pass, they will drop off my newsfeed. But, for now, they are still a part of my life and I am so grateful for them. 

4) Politics – Just kidding! No one in the history of the Internet has ever changed someone else’s mind about political and social issues via a Facebook post. I do my best to avoid these squabbles completely because I think it is all too easy to lose our compassion for others when we hide behind a keyboard. When face-to-face with a political or social opponent, you see the eyes of a real human being who lives, breathes, loves and is worthy of respect. We forget about all of that when we angrily type away at a screen. My policy is to keep Facebook light and positive. It may make me kind of a coward, but I rarely get unfriended. 

5) Recipes – Chicken and dumplings inspired by Facebook are simmering away right now. Thanks for dinner, Mark Zuckerberg! 

6) Humans of New York – My favorite Facebook page brings us daily doses of regular lives. HONY proves that every person has a story, many of us secretly carry deep pain, there are moments of pure joy out there,  and what we perceive as a mundane scene might be anything but. HONY makes me laugh and cry and as a middle-aged woman, those are two of my favorite things. 

Facebook is a great time suck, it draws me in, it calls my name like the aforementioned jar of Nutella, and it sometimes makes my thumb hurt because I am scrolling down my phone for too long. It will surely morph into something else and technological innovation will continue to change how we stay connected. But, thanks to Facebook, now we are connected. After all, I know you somehow, from somewhere and you are reading this.  

Mother’s Day Presence

Every year for the past 18 years, since becoming a mother, my family wants to know what I want for Mother’s Day. Do I want to go out to dinner? How about a new kitchen gadget? Brunch? Maybe some perfume? I am always hard pressed to come up with an answer because there is nothing that I really need and very little that I want. I try to think of something that will make me happy, but will also make them feel as though they have pleased me. We often go out to eat because that is definitely something that pleases us all!

Last Mother’s Day we went to brunch at “the Club”. We have never belonged to a club before and I certainly didn’t know any “clubby” people growing up. Incidentally, I thought it would be kind of like Caddyshack, but it’s not. Not a Baby Ruth to be found. It’s a pretty casual place and we don’t participate in many of the Club activities other than my husband playing golf and my son cleaning out the pool snack bar during the summer. Brunch seemed like an easy solution for last year’s Mother’s Day present. We all got dressed up, sat at a table with real linens, ate a bit too much, and then came home. The meal was very nice and the kids behaved impeccably. They both looked exceptionally well turned out and my then 11-year old boy kept his napkin in his lap. His sister smiled at him benevolently and helped him navigate the buffet. What more could a mother ask for? It turns out I do want something a little more, something a little less “napkin in the lap”.

My dear family, this year I ask for your presence instead of presents*. With our daughter leaving for college in August, I feel more acutely than ever that our days and dynamics as a foursome are going to change. This year for Mother’s Day, I have very specific instructions. I want: 

  • Coffee brought to me on the patio, and the bringer to sit and have a chat with me.
  • Laughter.
  • Forced Family Fun (more commonly known as a game of Uno, Scrabble or Bananagrams).
  • A bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and a piece of Champignon cheese to share with Dad (I told you this was specific).
  • A simple dinner that I don’t have to prepare or clean up (it is Mother’s Day, after all).
  • A hug. In fact, let’s make it three. 
  • A walk after dinner with whomever would like to join me.

I want what every other mother wants. I want to enjoy my children, mark this moment in time before it slips away, admire how beautiful and good you both are, share laughter with the man who helped me make this unique family possible, thank God for each of our many blessings, and not do any laundry. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there, and I hope you all receive the presence you want, too. 

*I have a very kind and generous husband who has better taste than I do. Something shiny in a big or little box would be okay, too, I guess. 



It’s My Blog and I’ll Rant if I Want To

I saw a NutriSystem ad today and realized that I look like the “before” pictures. That doesn’t really bother me too much. I feel good and my health is great. Netflix binges aside, I live a pretty active lifestyle. I have a husband and two kids, I exercise regularly at the gym, I’m learning how to play golf, I walk the dog, I do all kinds of things. However, the retail industry thinks I and other women like me (meaning fat women; let’s dispense with euphemisms, shall we?) should just sit around all day. Okay, I know the retail clothing industry doesn’t really think that. In fact, they don’t think about me at all. And that is what has me incensed today.

It is no secret that I am not a clothes horse nor am I a slave to fashion. But, I really, really would like some attractive active clothing. I want a cute golf skort. I want a collared shirt that fits me and does not look like it was made for a man. And, here’s the real kick in the ample ass…. I want to buy it at a regular store where regular people shop. I am tired of paying the exorbitant prices charged by  “specialty” websites dedicated to other freaks like me: fat women who have actual lives.

Buying clothes when you live large is something that average sized women just don’t understand. Look for the “Women’s Sizes” at a retailer, and you will note that the clothes are tucked away in a corner in a very small department. The selection is meager and the styles are often designed by the famed Omar, Tent Maker and Mumu Purveyor. I have grown accustomed to the typical humiliation of a fat woman shopper and usually only frequent the few stores where I know I can find something that will work for me. It is just too disheartening to visit new stores and clothes shopping is never fun. It is often an exercise in ferreting out the best of the worst. But sport specific or even generic active clothes are my undoing. Don’t bother looking in a golf store for women’s sized golf clothes because there is never anything larger than a size 14 (and there’s only one of those, and it’s ugly). Don’t go to the sports superstores, because the pickings are ironically slim. There are a few websites catering to “plus sizes” (I hate that phrase), but I have to hope I ordered the right size, can’t get what I need on short notice, don’t get to enjoy the process of browsing and trying things on to find something I like because the only concern is “will it fit?!”, and invariably have to deal with returns and trips to the post office. And, of course, it is all far more expensive than anything purchased in a regular store. I get it; it will take some extra material to cover my expanse. But, really, it cannot possibly be twice the cost. 

So where does this leave a woman who actually moves and grooves, who lives and loves, who tries new things and enjoys being outside? It leaves me with one ugly khaki skort, a “man shirt”, and even fiercer determination to give golf another go, because I’ll be damned if clothing or the lack thereof stands in my way. But it also leaves me in tears sometimes. So, the next time you see a woman who likely wears a size 14 or larger out there doing her thing, shaking her money maker, swinging a club, strutting her stuff or just walking her pup, please give her a smile. Her spirit and flesh are both willing, but her closet is weak.