Staying at my 87 year old grandfathers house this Christmas was a little like Vegas. I approached the entire event with enthusiasm but I left broke, disoriented and with the newfound knowledge that I had developed OCD over the holiday. I didn’t know you could catch OCD like a virus (or a Vegas STD), but I’m now convinced it is possible. Pre-children Reesie wasn’t much for any real structure or routine. I could take it or leave it and sudden changes in my life, work, home, entertainment or even sleep schedule was approached as either a non event or with enthusiasm. I’ll take different and new over structure and routine any day. Post-children Reesie clings to routine and structure like teenagers cling to their smartphones. If i’m not staring at it with blazing intensity and focus, the world as I know it might end. I still don’t need it personally, but if I don’t provide some rigid structure for our household, everyone loses their damn minds. The wheels fall off the bus and chaos reigns. The irony is rich as me providing structure for our family is like asking a gas station attendant to provide technical advice to the NASA space team. I’m really not qualified for this particular aspect of being a mother. When I was younger I read a horrible and depressing book about a family that went to great lengths to convince the teenager in their home that she was insane. I don’t remember anything else about the plot line, but they would convince her she was living the same day over and over and then jump to months away and then convince her it was months in the past. She would cling to any scrap of her life that was familiar. I’m pretty sure the book was one of those horrible Flowers in the Attic series by V.C. Andrews. I’m not a fan. DementiaAt 87 years old, my grandfather is doing the same thing. He clings to his OCD tendencies like they are a lifeline to his sanity. It’s worrisome as his OCD is not a trait he had as a young man or even an older adult. It developed in his late 70s. At this point Granddad’s OCD has gone from quaint and adorable to rabid and vicious if too many things are changed at once. Each time we come to visit, more routines and items are added to his list of things that have to happen in the exact order he needs them to happen. I was talking to a man over Thanksgiving about books he liked to read in his spare time. He said he would only read or even watch non-fiction. He said he needed to keep all the facts straight. He didn’t say want, he said needed. I’m not sure he realized how much terror he reveled in that one sentence. His mother had Alzheimers for the last portion of her life. It was pretty clear he was determined to do anything possible not to be sucked down into that same abyss. I understand ugly endings. Anything I’ve ever loved and lost has claw marks on it. I’m not really a fan of going gently into the good night. How do you hold on to yourself though? What makes a man a man? Exactly where into that long slow slide into the abyss are you really lost? Is it the routine and structure that is a real lifeline or are you already lost at that point? The world is a dangerous place. If it doesn’t work the way we believe it does, the danger becomes unmanageable. Maybe late in life OCD is just focusing on the little things so the war with yourself is a little more manageable. A thin, threadbare lifeline to help you hover over the abyss. Hold on Granddad.
Thanksgiving is safely past, more turkey eaten this year than the last, more stuffing stuffed, more yams jammed down, using both hands, coleslaw in slews, biscuits by twos, all of us too fat to fit into our shoes. Let’s look ahead to the big holiday that’s coming, coming, coming our way. I’m sure you know just the day. It’s not Easter Sunday, not Halloween. It’s not a day to be sad and listless. I ask you, young ladies, what is it…? It’s Christmas. Someday soon, we’ll put up a tree. Why only one? Maybe two this year, maybe three! We’ll deck it with tinsel and baubles bright. It’ll be an amazing and glorious sight. String colored lights out on the roof. Pray none are broken by a stomping stray hoof. Salt down the shingles to melt all the ice. If Santa fell, it just wouldn’t be nice. He might fracture a leg or get a cut, perhaps even break his big jolly butt. Oh, wait! I just heard terrible news. I hope it won’t give you the Christmas blues. Santa was drugged, tied up and gagged. Blindfolded, ears plugged, and bagged. His sleigh was abandoned out in the yard, and someone has stolen Santa’s bank card. Soon his accounts will be picked clean by the use of automatic-teller machines. Hark, the sound of silver sleigh bells echoes over the hills and the dells. Look at the reindeer high up in the sky! Some silly goose has taught them to fly. The driver giggles quite like a loon. A madman, a goofball, a thug, a big goon. Something is wrong, any fool could tell. If this is Santa, then Santa is not well. He hoots, gibbers, chortles and spits and he seems to be having some sort of fits. His mean little eyes spin just like tops. I hope someone soon thinks to call upon the cops! A closer look confirms his psychosis, and (oh my dear) really bad halitosis. Beware when Christmas comes this year because there is something new to fear. Santa’s twin, who is evil and mean, stole the sleigh and plans to make this Christmas look like a crime scene. Pretending to be his good, angelic brother…Guard your beloved children, mother! Down the chimney, into your home, here comes that vile psychotic gnome. Reindeer sweep down out of the night, if you look close you can see they are each brimming with fright. They toss their heads while rolling their eyes, these gentle animals are so very wise. They know this Santa isn’t their friend but an imposter and far ‘round the bend. They would stampede for all they are worth and dump this nut off the edge of the Earth. But Santa’s evil brother carries a whip, a club, a harpoon, a gun at his hip. A blackjack, an Uzi, you’d better run. Lest he pull out his terrible, horrible, wicked ray gun. They land on the roof, quiet and sneaky. This Evil Santa is fearfully freaky. He whispers a warning to each reindeer. He leans in closer to make sure they hear. “You have relatives back at the Pole. Antlered, gentle, quite innocent souls. So if you fly away while I’m inside, back to the Pole on a plane I will ride. I’ll have a picnic in the cresting sun, reindeer pie, pate reindeer on a bun. Reindeer salad and hot reindeer soup. Oh, all sorts of reindeer goop!” At the chimney he looks down the bricks, but that entrance is strictly for hicks. With all his tools, another way in can be found for a fat bearded burglar out on the town. From roof to yard to kitchen door, he chuckles about what he has in store. This house has a lovely family sleeping within and he grins one of his most nasty grins. Oh what a creep, a scum, a looser a louse. He’s breaking into the Edmondson house!! With picks, loids, gwizzles, and zocks, he quickly and silently opens all the locks. He enters the kitchen without a sound, his chances for devilment truly abound. He opens the fridge and eats all the cake; pondering what sort of mess he can make. He pours the milk all over the floor, pickles, pudding, ketchup, and more. He scatters the bread (white and rye), and finally he spits right in the pie! At the corkboard by the phone and the stool, he sees drawings the kids did at school. Lainey has painted a kind, smiling face. Lily has drawn elephants in space. Landry’s drawing was not lacking in heart, all three children painted lovely art. The dastardly villain takes out a red felt-tip pen, taps it, uncaps it, chuckles and then…on all three pictures scrawls the word POO! He always knows the worst things to do. Mad giggles from him continue to bubble while he gets into far greater trouble. He’s hugely more evil than he is brave. After he loads up the microwave with ten pounds of popping corn (Oh, we should rue the day he was made), he turns and runs right out of the room, because that microwave oven is about to go BOOM! He prowls the downstairs, so wicked and mean, looking to cause yet one more bad scene. He spies the presents under the tree and he thinks to himself, “I’ll go on a gift-swapping spree! I’ll take out all of the really good stuff, then box up dead fish, cat poop, and fluff. In the morning, the Edmondson’s will find coffee grinds, peach pits, orange rinds! Instead of nice sweaters, games and toys; they’ll get slimy, stinky, stuff that annoys.” Lainey, Lily, Landry are all still tucked into their beds. Dreams of Christmas filling their sweet little heads. Suddenly a sound startles these sleepers. They sit up in bed and open their peepers. Nothing should be stirring, not even one little mouse; the three wise girls conclude a villain must be in the house! You can call it psychic, a hunch, osmosis…or maybe they just smell this dude’s halitosis. Down in the living room, under the tree, Santa’s evil twin is chortling with glee. He’s got a collection of gift replacements taken from dumps, sewers and abandoned basements. He replaces a nice watch meant for Lainey with a nasty gift for a girl that’s quite naughty. In place of the watch he wraps up a clot of horrid, glistening, greenish toad snot! From a package for Lily, he steals a sweet doll and gives her a new gift sure to appall. It’s oozing, rancid, and starting to fizz. Not even this nasty villain knows what it is. In their cozy holiday jammies, the girls are now on the prowl, they have gone looking for a smell that is really quite foul. Right to the top of the stairs they zoom, making much less noise than moths in a tomb. All three are quite resourceful, crafty and they work well as a team. How dare someone intrude upon their Christmas dreams. How can these small girls hope to fight an Evil Santa that’s liable to kick and to bite? Are they trained in karate or tae kwon do, can they fight? No. No. No. The answer is no. These girls just refuse to be defeated by their foe. Do they have army grenades tucked in their pockets? Lasers implanted inside their eye sockets? The sisters had not one weapon betwixt them. Just the knowledge that Santa doesn’t normally cause mayhem. Down, down the shadowy stairs they all go. The danger below, they can’t comprehend. This Santa has gone far ‘round the bend. He’s meaner than the flu, toothaches, and blisters. But these girls are tough too…they are a team of loving sisters! The Edmondson Christmas was about to come down with a crash, as the Evil Santa was just reaching for the last sisters stash. On Lainey, On Lily, On Landry they cry; as they move together to take down this stupid guy. Evil Santa you are such a big fool. You forget that sisters operate on an unbreakable rule. Sisters may argue with each other, they can fuss and they fight. But if you think you are going to make one of them cry, you are going home with a big, big black eye. Evil Santa stood frozen for one terrified moment, and he saw his maniacal plan go down the toilet. Lainey was biting for all she was worth, her braces latched on to his massive arm girth. Lily was kicking his big beefy legs. He started stumbling around like he was on stilts or wooden pegs. Landry was shrieking out loud for all to hear. Let’s bust his eardrums and get mom and dad down here. That’s how Evil Santa was vanquished. The Edmondson sisters took him down like a bug to be squished. Dash away, dash away, dash away scum. Don’t come to this house to ruin the holiday fun. Santa was rescued, cleaned up and un-gagged. They brushed off his suit and let him out of that bag. No time for therapy, group hugs, or strong whiskey. The nights almost over, get out and get busy. The kids are all waiting. Waiting for you. To fix the big mess your evil brother construed. Isn’t that always the case, the hard truth, the life. No matter your job, your hard work, your good life. You can’t run from family; you just have to endure. All you can do is hope your siblings heart is pure. Don’t be the evil twin, the bitter, the nasty. Don’t make your sweet sibling a pasty. Love your dear siblings, they will be all that you have, in the dark nights when a villain tries to take all you have. Bond together will all of your might, the love of a sibling is worth the fight. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
My Night Before Christmas Every year on the night before Christmas, kids run screaming through the house, everyone is cranky -especially my spouse. No hope to stay home for the holidays, it’s true. Responsibility and family force us to create our holiday memories slightly askew. We spend holidays stuffed tightly into Granddads house with no room to spare. I always have high hopes that the liquor will help me not to care. The children will be running through the house acting crazy. Pumped full of sugar, bed time will be far in the future and I have no dreams of being lazy. I’ll be in the kitchen for hours that night. “Helping” my kids make cookies for the fat man’s delight. How the heck is Santa going to eat this spread? I was already eating tums, looking towards the night with dread. Little hands in the dough, on the floor, on their bum: These cookies have flavor, pizazz – Where’s my rum? Granddad in the recliner telling the kids awful stories. Of ailments, pains, medications – it’s quite the inventory. My husband is doing what he can to relax. In his head he is already piling the luggage into neat stacks. As the kids finally wind down, and I settle them down for some sleep. New family arrives and I say BLEEP, BLEEP! I start drinking in earnest, the night will never end. Oh No – let’s all visit. People without small children just can’t comprehend. So up jump the children to investigate the clatter. Springing from their pallets like gunshot splatter. Away from the beds they flew like flash, tearing away my dreams of sleep in one small dash. The glare from the lights blinking a bright red and green, start a twitch in my eye and add a maniacal glean. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear my mom’s voice of reason still mixed with holiday cheer. Dear family, it was time to depart. Keeping the children up this late is just not smart. Less rapid than turtles, but still they departed. So off to bed, my children I carted. Goodbye family, Good night children. Tuck in tight it’s time for the business of the night. Visiting hours in this nut house are over. Red Rover, Red Rover it was time for Santa to come over. Children listening and hoping, I’m just happy to sleep and Blake is already snoring. Christmas is the time of year for family, drinking and stress. But I’m so very happy because I’m so very blessed. Merry Christmas to all and to all a (stressed) blessed night.
When you are obese you lose your legitimacy, you lose your voice. Obese is not the same thing as being over weight and needing to lose a few pounds. Obesity is being completely out of the doctors range of acceptable weight for your height. The stage after obesity is morbid obesity. At the peak of my weight I was considered morbidly obese according to the BMI calculator. www.BMI-Calculator.net I went from fit and social to fat and invisible. My personal experience didn’t include anyone being mean, it just consisted of my involvement being pushed to the fringe of life instead of right in the big mix. Situations that used to consist of people listening attentively to my stories and thoughts became an awkward and distinct lack of eye contact or dismissal of my viewpoint. For someone that has always thrived being the center of attention, it was a death knell. It wasn’t just that I hadn’t found my inner fat girl social mojo. It wasn’t. I had lost my legitimacy. I was no longer valid. I had no voice. I don’t have any proof of why you become invisible once you become obese. I just know that you do. I have a theory that disagrees slightly with the articles I’ve read. Most of the articles I’ve read like to paint the person that is obese as the victim and others as a cruel and discriminatory. Everyone is a victim these days. I’m nobody’s victim. I’m sure people can be hateful, but I think the cause is something else. I think that being obese is an outward symbol to others that you have no control over yourself. How can you possibly contribute to the conversation, the group, the job when you are obviously out of control and can’t even help yourself. I don’t think these thoughts are spiteful and mean, I think they are subconscious conclusions. I see a picture of fire, it means hot. I see a picture of an ice cube, it means cold. You get where I’m going with this. No one has the time or inclination to dig under the surface to your medical, mental, and physical health issues. No one has the time to dig deep into your soul. You have seconds to make that fist impression and you just made a bad one. You are invalid. You are dismissed. As recent as three months ago, I was in a discussion with a very slender health care professional. She has a medical degree. She casually dismissed weight loss as a simple math equation and people that can’t lose weight are stupid, lazy or truly don’t want to lose weight. I could have slapped her upside the head. Lady, you have no idea. Everyone is in a struggle. It is just that the obese person’s struggle is on display for everyone to judge. I don’t regret my weight gain. I don’t regret being obese. I don’t even regret losing my voice and validation. I certainly don’t regret my journey with Weight Watchers or my current journey being a gym rat. I don’t regret it because I found a new voice. A voice that is deeper and rich with experience. I am ripe with knowledge and empathy. I found my fat girl social mojo and married her to my healthy girl social mojo. I am legitimate. I have a voice.
I have always stated that people are mentally deficient in their thinking and problem solving skills until they are at least 24 years old. I stand by that statement. I also think it’s cruel and unjust that you have to decide your entire life course and career before you hit that age. I certainly didn’t have enough information to accurately chart my path. I was making bad decisions planning out my weekend at that age and you want me to plan my life? My net was too small. Life isn’t linear. We are all dragging about this big net of information behind us. It’s all about the connections and how you pull it together. Your net contains your life experiences and all the information you spend a life absorbing. Your net starts out small and grows as you grow. The people that are interested in life and spend that life learning and growing have nets bigger than those who see learning as a chore to be avoided. You’ve got to stay interested in life. Working GirlIn the end of the movie Working Girl, the businessman they are trying to impress asks Melanie Griffith how she came up with her ideas. She spends the next little bit describing how she heard a radio segment, remembered an article she read, added it with information from her job, mixed it up in her head a little bit and was able to see a bigger picture. I remember being a little dismayed with that as a big climatic movie ending as that is how everything works, right? You take a little bit of this, little bit of that, mix it all up and you shake it all about. That’s what it’s all about. The mental hokey pokey. The bigger your net, the bigger your hokey pokey. curiousI’m not here to judge your net or your hokey pokey. Some things slip through, some of us lean more towards certain topics so our nets are specialized. The people that go down in history are the ones that have so much information in their nets that their hokey pokey changes the world. I wonder what it would feel like to have a hokey pokey that big. My net started out small and my hokey pokey was non existent. I’m a reader not a writer. I didn’t grow up writing stories. I don’t have closets full of short story attempts. I didn’t have any thoughts about writing a book. I didn’t squash my dream of writing with anguish and heartbreak so I could pay my bills. My net wasn’t big enough for me to write. I’ve had a book in my hand almost every day since I was 4 years old. I’ve now read so much, experienced so much, learned so much that the words are now forcing themselves out of my fingers. I don’t even have a choice anymore. It has become a part of my identity. For better or worse, the words are blowing out of my net like water out of a busted fire hydrant on a hot summer day.