Hang Me In The Closet

(That’s what my dad always said he’d do for me when I wondered what I’d look like as an old woman: “We’ll just hang you up in the closet and get you out in the morning.”) 

Well, I can honestly say, I never imagined this day would ever come. Or rather, tomorrow would ever come.

Two weeks ago, I found out my rod is broken in two places. It’s been bothering me for a little over a year. No idea what I did/how it happened.

Friday, I had two CT scans. Tomorrow, I will find out if my rod is coming out, or if I have to have a new spinal fusion.

I’m really hoping that, after 25 years, my spine is completely fused and that I’ll be able to live the rest of my life without it (and without looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame in my 80s). If my spine is not fused, I’ll have to have this rod removed and a new one will be placed.

The silver lining is (and, yes, there is one), my pediatric orthopedic surgeon retired from Children’s and is going to be doing the surgery, with his fellows, at UC Hospital. I’m a very lucky girl. I recently read an interview with him where he said, “I discovered if you help a child, you’ve made a friend for life.” If the man needed a new lung, I’d strap mine on him.

So, if you’re the praying kind…please, pray for the removal of this thing that has become such a part of me whole months go by that I don’t even think about it. It’s sticking pretty far out of my back at this point, which wasn’t what was actually bothering me. And it didn’t bother me until Dr. Crawford said, “My main concern is how long your skin can withstand the pressure from inside.” That kept me up one night, the thought of sitting at a restaurant and someone coming up and saying, “Um…you’re bleeding profusely from your back.”

I’ll let you know what I learn tomorrow.

Thanks friends.

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Rehab

My child would have pasta every day. When I ask her what she wants for dinner, she says, “PASTA” every. time. 

I find this to be a huge coup, considering we’re gluten free. 

The other night at the grocery, I purchased Barilla gluten free pasta. I did not want to buy it. I had a coupon that for some reason outweighed their views on homosexuality. I can’t overlook it. *sad face* 

Even sadder face that I must tell you, after five years of eating gluten free pasta, Barilla is hands down the best I’ve ever tasted. 

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I cooked the pasta, and with about 2 minutes left, I added broken bits of asparagus. 

In a separate bowl, I whisked together 1 egg and 1/6 cup of Parmesan cheese. 

I tossed the hot pasta in the egg mixture. 

Eh. Mah. Gawd. 

It was Ah. Maze. Zing. 

You could easily cook some bacon and reduce the grease with white wine. 

It is not going to break my child of her pasta habit. And, now…I’ve got one myself. 

Highly recommend. 

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A Beautiful Mind

My sweet child and I were at a stoplight tonight next to a restaurant that is going out of business.

“Mom, how old is this street?”

Very old.

“How do you know?”

Well, that restaurant sign says ‘Family owned since 1939.”

“Is that old?”

Yes. That is old.

“At least the sign doesn’t say ‘Whites Only’.”

And, that’s how it goes sometimes.

I heard her explaining Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to our four-year-old neighbor.

“She doesn’t like children and they take them away and hide them in the castle. Who could do that to children? That is not a nice lady.”

Everything is just as it sounds. It must be incredible to be six years old. I don’t remember much about it, honestly. My parents had just divorced. I think all I cared about was Grizzly Adams, MASH, and Andy Gibb.

I have to remind myself to just let her be. I was very good at it when she was a baby. But after a while I realized I needed to be a little bit more strict or she would, one day, walk all over me. I wish I had a picture of the moment she realized I had changed my parenting skills. You could see from the look on her face that shet was about to get real. She was wide-eyed and her jaw dropped. It was as if her mother had disappeared and had been replaced with a crazy lady.

Luckily, we’ve figured it out. She tells me every day how much she loves me, and that I am the best mommy ever. I tell her how lucky I am, and that she is the best kid ever.

Tonight, I rewarded her with roasted asparagus. I cook it for 35 minutes at 375 degrees. I drizzle olive oil on the asparagus, after breaking off the ends, and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.

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I love that if there is a vegetable tray within a mile, my daughter will stand in front of it and eat all the raw broccoli and cauliflower. She loves Brussels sprouts. And asparagus; one of her favorites.

So, I cooked rice and chicken and cut the asparagus into bite size pieces while she made her Valentines for her class party on Friday. The Ziploc bags have red and pink kisses all over them.

“Mom. I cannot give these to the boys!”

So the boys get plain. And one day…they won’t.

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Just Another Saturday

I have always cleaned on Saturdays. My ex-H hated it. “You’re wasting the whole day inside.” Didn’t matter if was raining or sunny, he couldn’t deal. I had never really thought of it before, but he was right. I guess when you’re single and working and socializing, not a lot gets done on a Saturday day, so I cleaned and did laundry. It’s a horrible habit. Especially now that I have a child. She certainly does not enjoy sitting around and watching me clean. 

Today was no different. (I’ll learn…eventually.) I did laundry and dishes (always with the dishes). Straightened up a bit here and there. Wrote out the grocery list. Plopped her down in front of Enchanted. 

At the grocery, I restrained myself from most things, and then heard myself saying aloud, “Let the child have some damned hot chocolate.” I should be making it from scratch (as my dear friend of Candy Coated Reality pointed out), but sometimes you just have to let go. Today was one of those times. 

When I got home, I couldn’t get the chips and salsa out of the bag fast enough. Then, I had gluten free Udi’s cinnamon raisin toast with Nutella. It was $1 off, and it’s quite delicious. Then…I had rice with gluten free chicken tenders and sriracha. I found the tenders at Target, and I have to admit…they are quite tasty. 

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I may be the only person with sriracha left in the whole world. There is not expiration date on this thing, so who knows if I’m eating poison or not. Mmm. Delicious poison. 

I previously mentioned my crazy dry eye issue I’ve been having. I got to wondering about the eye liner/mascara/eye shadow I was using. I would look at myself in the mirror and almost see the red veins popping out on my eyeballs. There wasn’t a mention on the packaging of anything derived from gluten, but you never know. 

I went to sephora.com last week and typed “gluten free” into the search bar. A bunch of stuff showed up; a few of them being these: 

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I am liking them very much. I think the eyeliner has made a big difference. The texture is quite nice. The liner goes on very easily, and is easy to wipe off when you make a mistake which I often do. The lipstick is very lovely. I should have taken a picture of it opened at either end. It has two colors, a light-ish pink and a darker rose color. I only use gluten free lip products since you basically eat lipstick. And, I know people say that no one should be affected by topical products that contain gluten. I find that to be a real piece of malarky, considering skin is the largest organ in the body. Hello? Transdermal patches, anyone? 

The mascara is also quite lovely. Except for the fact that I am a freaking idiot and could not figure out how to get the freaking thing open. That gold contraption stays. I was trying to pull it off and ripped off the cap. When I put it back on, it was misaligned and ain’t nobody got time for that. I remove my eye makeup with olive oil, and after smearing that on (and on…and on…and on…) I looked like I’d just gone five rounds with Mike Tyson. It has some staying power. But, it’s gluten free. And it didn’t bother my eyes at all. I’m going to go with it. 

Tomorrow, I will end the evening making a chocolate cake with chocolate icing. I have serious issues. I’d rather have a piece of cake than crappy chocolate. Wait. That’s not true. I’m not picky about chocolate. It’s a sickness, okay. Leave me alone.

 

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FAIL

I haven’t had a complete failure in the kitchen in a very long time. Last night…was epic.

The child has been requesting lasagna for a few weeks. We were expecting a huge ice storm by early evening. I stopped at the grocery and picked up sauce and three different cheeses. At the checkout, I saw that someone had neglected to take a significant amount of change from the machine. I tried to find the guy who had been in front of me outside, but the parking lot had eight hundred and fortyleven people in it. I took the money to customer service. My payment for bringing good karma on myself was this disgusting dish:

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I don’t even know what to say about that hideous mess. The sauce tasted like your fork when you would accidentally rub it on your TV dinner.

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Do not buy this. It is foul. But you probably won’t listen to me, and you’ll buy it anyway, and then I’ll say, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” because I am not one of those “Told ya” kind of people, so if you want to waste yo’ monies…feel free. Here’s my shoulder.

Sweet daughter had a hot dog and pickles for dinner, and I grabbed the bag of corn chips and some salsa. Emptied the jar into my favorite salsa bowl. Opened the chips. And they were FREAKING NO SALT ADDED. WHO DOES THE FAHKING SHOPPING AROUND HERE?

Then today, I worked from home and every. single. thing. I ate was some form of chocolate. I made my frittata for breakfast. My daughter was still hungry, so I chopped an apple for her and gave her some caramel. She didn’t finish all the caramel, so I threw it away. Then I got it out of the garbage and put it on some chocolate coconut milk Trader Joe’s ice cream. That was a low point. And it wasn’t great on it, either.

At dinner, I burned my child’s pizza, and the snicker doodles.

So much for karma.

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Blue Plate Special

I used to have fun. I used to have LOTS of fun. Srsly. Like, any place I went ended up bringing a ridiculous amount of fun. Especially if it involved dancing, friends, and good food.

Now…I’m old. There is no fun to be had. Oh, it’s there if you’re 21 years old (or younger and have a fake ID) and a constitution of steel.

My friend and I made plans to have dinner. She will usually text me to see what I’m wearing, mostly because (it never fails) we will end up wearing the exact. same. outfit. I picked out an oxford and my favorite jeans. The oxford is so incredibly soft, light blue, and from Gap. The jeans are also Gap and I found them at a consignment shop. Much too long for me, but not when I wear my giant wedge boots. So, with the outfit on I felt it was missing something. I proceeded to try on a blazer. And then another blazer. And then every blazer I own. Nothing was working. I tried a sweater. No. I put on a belt. It was all bad. I decided to go with it because it was late. As I was about to walk out the door, I realized I felt like a 60-year-old professor; a man.

I went back in and changed into a black sequined skirt. Left on the boots. Added a black tee shirt. A black sweater. And my camoflague coat (black and grey with a hot pink liner). A complete 180 degree turn from what I’d started to wear. I walked out the door thinking Who am I, even?

Poor friend had been waiting for me forever at a new restaurant downtown. The owner has a second restaurant that I thoroughly enjoy. Sadly, this restaurant had nothing that they could adapt into a gluten free dish for me. After many questions, and my urging my friend to go ahead and eat, we left. The Shet Celiacs Say is no more annoying to anyone than myself. There are a handful of restaurants where I can eat and not pray for a swift death over the next few days.

As we were crossing the street, two girls came toward my friend and me. They were wearing the shortest dresses and the highest heels. No coats. Lots of hair and makeup. I looked down at my outfit and wondered if what I was wearing was age appropriate. It is a fact that I have never dressed like anyone I know, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten dressed asking, “What can I wear that will accentuate my lady garden.”

It was then I realized…I’m old. O-L-D. There is no denying it. After dinner, we went to a bar where there is a deejay and dancing.  This “club” possesses, hands-down, the worst deejay ever. Another sign that I am old is the amount of joy I felt when I discovered there was no cover. It seems there are no covers anywhere anymore. It almost makes me a little angry that these young people are so free to come and go as they please; no coats, barely dressed, drunk as hell. They should feel the punishment we felt 20 years ago trying to look in the window of clubs to see who was inside and was it worth it to pay the five/seven/ten dollar cover.

My friend and I suffered through a playlist of AC/DC followed by The Beach Boys followed by 69 Boyz and then The Isley Brothers “Shout.” I mean…really? Are we at a freaking wedding reception? What a HORRIBLE song! I have never in my life seen the appeal of this song. And especially do not when all the girls are wearing skirts that would make better belts as they’re getting a little bit softer now.

My friend looked over at a girl dancing and said, “Oh yeah. She’s gonna vomit later.” And I have to admit, it didn’t take me long to empathize with her. What a horrible feeling, but she was powering through. She could barely hold her head up, let alone focus, but her grip on her mixed drink wasn’t wavering. Several people started to walk up the two stairs past us and would then change their mind and go a different way. My friend even made the comment, “Ooh. Can’t do the stairs. Nope. No stairs for me. Too drunk.” After the fifth or sixth person opted to walk another way, I realized oh. mah. gawd. they. think. we’re. cops. We look old. The worst part is, we don’t feel like we look as old as they think we look. I knew I was old when I immediately recognized the deejay’s offering of duh duh duh duh duh dum dum as the beginning of a Queen tune. The whole place erupted in cheers and arms were flung in the air. I leaned over to my friend and said, “There is going to be a lot of embarrassment when all these kids realize this is not Ice Ice Baby.” And, thirty seconds later, there was a veil disappointment.

We went to another bar I used to frequent years ago with a friend. You had to be 24 years old to get in (if I recall). I was and would always get carded. My friend, who wasn’t even 21 years old would never get carded. They let her right in. The crowd is much younger now, and they are packed in the place like sardines. Those who try to squeeze through just end up stopping and standing in the way. I told a guy to think like a 20-year-old girl and push through. It was all coming back to me.

We left immediately and my friend asked the doorman where the “adults hang out.” He listed a few places prefacing it with “you might like,” and “this might be good for you.” Translation: old people hang out at these joints.

I’ve never been crazy about places where all you can do is stand around and drink. I need to be entertained. I prefer to dance with no drink. Nothing in my hands. Not a coat, not a purse. Twenty-somethings are a smart bunch, to leave their coat in the car, even though they would freeze when they left. And, where did the girls keep their IDs, money, and lipstick? In their pockets? Those dresses don’t look like they have pockets. How did I used to do this?

At the doorman’s urging, we drove to another bar where they had live music and little else. We could see from the warm interior of my car, through the bar window, that this was not going to be much better. I said, “There is no one there. I can see a drummer and a keyboard player, but there isn’t a soul in there.” My friend said, “I can’t see anything.” I said, “There’s the bartender, on the right, doing nothing with his back to no one.” She said, “This is so disappointing. We might as well call it a night. All this ‘looking around’ has sobered me up.”

And that was it. I drove her back to her car and we went our separate ways.

Is this really what it’s all about now? Do I have to wait for someone to invite me to their wedding reception before I can go out dancing with a group of people my own age? Am I relegated to eating dinner at 5.30 p.m. on a Friday night? What do people my age do for fun? I am officially my parents. Square. Remembering how sorry I felt for them, sitting at home on a Friday night, in their recliners, watching TV and…talking to each other. My mother would ask, “Why are you just now going out when the everyone else is getting ready for bed.” She didn’t understand.

Or did she?

The next evening, I made dinner for my girlfriends (as I do at least twice a month). And it was so lovely. Sitting at home eating food I knew wouldn’t make me sick, drinking cheap drinks, listening to good music, and the laughter of our children.

I tried a new dish: Hearty Vegetable Soup (serves 4)

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2T olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 medium carrots, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced (I used the frozen Trader Joe’s portioned cubes)

2 C peeled butternut squash in 1/2″ cubes (I will not get married just so I can have someone with upper body strength to cut this sucker up for me)

1/4 tsp. allspice

pinch of cayenne pepper

4 sprigs of thyme

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable)

1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes

2 C lightly packed kale, ribs removed, coarsely chopped (I shredded by hand)

1 C chickpeas

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the butternut squash, allspice, salt and cayenne; stir to combine. Add the thyme, broth and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the kale and the chickpeas, and cook 10 minutes more until the squash is tender and the kale has wilted. Pick out the thyme sprigs and discard before serving. (Adapted during cooking from Ellie Krieger recipe.)

Ah. Maze. Ing.

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Buying Affection

I like to buy my way into the hearts of people I love by cooking for them (and writing really good cards where my goal is always to make someone cry and remember me always). At my funeral, I would like someone to say, “She could make a mean chicken, bring people together, and write a damned good letter.”

Last year, our staff meetings at work were first thing in the morning. This year, they’re last thing in the day. Last year, I would bring in elaborate breakfasts for my coworkers. We have new employees this year who haven’t had the pleasure of eating some of the lovely things I like to make before work. I do recall one meeting last year where everything I made was shaped like a muffin.

This was one of those items:

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I only made six today, instead of the normal twelve because…well, because I only had three eggs.

  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked crisp
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/4 peppers (I used red and yellow organic peppers today that I had previously chopped and were frozen)
  • 1/4 cup scallions
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese

Spray the tin with non-stick spray. Break one strip of bacon into three pieces and layer in the tin. Beat the eggs with the remaining ingredients. Add 1/4 cup of the mixture to each tin, or eye it. I did spoons full until it came out even. Bake on 350 for 25 mins., or until set.

And wouldn’t you know it? No one is here this morning at work.

Must. Not. Eat. All.

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