One Million Reasons

One reason is all I needed to love you.

One simple reason to give my heart to you

And you gave it when you smiled,

Your blue eyes sparkling and a smile

Slowly expanding.

I fell for you like a rock off a cliff,

With no turning back.

 

One hundred reasons for staying in love,

One hundred reasons given over days, months, years

Without constraint, without conditions,

Never failing, never withheld.

Impossible to list, to quantify

But there nonetheless.

 

One thousand reasons to love you,

One thousand reasons reinforced daily, hourly,

By your kindness, your generosity,

Always encouraging me to move forward

Your unspoken but felt support,

Tangible when I need it most.

 

One million reasons to stand by you.

One million reasons to fall into your arms,

To cuddle against your chest,

To hear your words of love,

Never stales.

One million reasons.

 

 

 

 

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Simple Musings

What’s the matter with the world today?

The weather is changing. It was 106 in San Francisco a few days ago. The hurricane in the south dropped 51 inches of rain in just a few days while other parts of the world are suffering from drought.

The environment is being challenged. While some fight to preserve resources, others dream of the resources hidden beneath the earth’s surface. Who will win? Can science beat destruction for greed? Or will leaders succumb to the pressures of those seeking wealth?

There is no longer any compromise in politics. Polite discourse is overruled by party line. Viscous name calling, lie spreading and image destruction are used to cower opponents.

It all makes me wonder where we are headed. Is it possible to reverse the effects of climate change when so many deniers control the decisions that eventually lead to policy?

Could there be enough rational people who are willing to cross the aisle and work together on policy?

I sure hope so, otherwise how do we survive?

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The Story of Our Love

 

You appeared when I needed you most.

I was searching for someone to love me,

And there you were!

Standing in the office with a smile on your face,

Welcoming me, encouraging me, helping me

Transition to a new office, new rules, new expectations.

 

Your friendship turned into a workplace romance.

When I looked into your baby-blue eyes

I saw a kind heart, a caring individual

Looking back at me with love in his eyes.

Someone who would care for me like no one had ever done before.

 

Our engagement was a whirlwind, a time in which we loved

Deeper and deeper, no holds barred.

When you proposed, my world spun into crazy love

An incredible happiness beyond definition.

When the day finally came, I saw only you

As I walked down the aisle.

 

Since that day, 43 years ago, we have shared everything.

We raised three wonderfully talented children

Who have grown into amazing adults.

We stood as family through tough times

And laughed together when things were going great.

You were there for me when work disappointed

And I stood by you when work made you miserable.

We didn’t always agree, but we promised to never let anger simmer,

And we didn’t.

 

As time passed, our love morphed into a deeper relationship.

You are my best friend, my confidant, my encourager

Who props me up and keeps me going.

You give me freedom to explore my talents,

Even if it means straying far from home.

And are sad for me when my hopes are dashed.

 

Our story has had many climaxes, many challenges,

Many periods of joy and trouble,

But those bumps only served to enrich

What we have.

Our love is never-ending.

And for that, I am grateful.

 

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A Never-ending Battle

There are days when I feel like giving up.

Why do I have to sit and watch friends devour delicious looking food while I nurture my cup of low calorie soup and a bland garden salad? I so badly wanted the Thai curry that I read and reread the description so many times that I could taste the savory sauce, but, no, when you’re fat you don’t get to eat things like that. At least not in public.

Why do I feel guilty when I buy a bag of candy to bring home to share with my husband? When the clerk scans the bag, I feel like she stares at me wondering why a fatso would buy candy in the first place. I want to rip open the bag and unwrap a piece, stick it in my mouth and chew, all the while daring her to say something because people like me aren’t supposed to eat candy. At least not in public.

Why are public toilet stalls so narrow and the seats so low? Do the architects only envision skinny people using them? To be comfortable, truly comfortable, I like to use the handicapped stall, and I would, except for the evil-eye looks that you get when you emerge. And then I feel guilty because “normal” people fit in “normal” stalls, so there is obviously something wrong with me.

There is an assumption that all fat people eat themselves to death. That fat individuals sit in front of the television stuffing their mouths with bonbons while they feast on soap operas. That fat people don’t even bother with paper plates but eat right out of the bag, devouring everything inside. That fat people choose to be fat and refuse to do anything to change their status.

If only the scoffers knew the hours I put in at the gym. All the laps I’ve swum and the miles I’ve done on the elliptical and bike. All the weights I’ve lifted and the trainers I’ve hired and the steps I’ve climbed, all in an attempt to control my body.

If only they sat with me day in and day out and saw what I put in my mouth. All the fruits and veggies. The limited amounts of carbs and “bad” sugars. If they looked at my plate and saw all the white space in between each item and realized that I only take one helping and often don’t finish that.

Let’s talk about clothes. Designers don’t cater to fat people. Beautiful fabrics and styles are only for the emaciated. Fat people get frumpy looking old-lady sacks in cotton that pull and bunch in all the wrong places. Don’t they realize that fat people want to look nice? That they want to wear clothes that feel good, that hang just right and sport fabulous colors? The selection is so limited and the styles repetitions of what fat people have been wearing for generations.

Dressing rooms are not designed to make fat people look half-way decent. Often they are so poorly designed that fat people have to turn sideways in order to open and close the door. Often there is no chair or bench so that you have to stand to undress. Almost always there are mirrors on three sides so that a fat person can see their naked body from all angles, in glorious detail, a reminder that they don’t belong in a dressing room pretending that they’re going to find something that fits.

Cars and airplanes and theaters and restaurants are designed to let fat people know that they aren’t welcome there. Try squeezing a fat body between arm rests and sitting there for hours. Imagine holding your arms across your body for the entire voyage so as not to encroach on your neighbor’s space. Imagine what it feels like when you enter and see the expressions on people’s faces, hoping, praying that you aren’t going to sit next to them.

Even doorways and hallways conspire against fat people. Some doorways are so tight that a fat person feels like turning sideways in order to squeeze through. The same is true for walking down aisles, as in an airplane. Imagine what it feels like to look down the aisle and see arms and legs and bags sticking into the narrow space and wondering how you’re going to get through the obstacle course without annoying too many people!

Sometimes homeowners place furniture along walls that have to be passed through in order to get to the bathroom. Or furniture is arranged in such a way as to create a maze which requires turning this way and that in order to get through. Imagine how it feels to know that people will be watching, with mouths hanging open, waiting to see if the fat person will successfully navigate the path.

More than anything I hate the repeated failure.

I’ve know I was fat since I was three and saw a picture of myself standing next to my ninety pound mother. I was so puffed up that I had folds of fat at my wrists, ankles and elbows. My tummy stuck out like a barrel. I didn’t know the word fat then, but I learned it in Kindergarten when my classmates teased me and called me fatty. When the neighbor kids invited me to play games in which, no matter what they called it, the rules required that I stick my butt high in the air in order for them to laugh about the size of it.

From 1st through 7th grades I attended Catholic schools that required uniforms. Because we were poor, I never had a brand new one, but instead wore the hand-me-downs from give-away day. There was never any choice for someone my size. My mom would walk to the end of the table, sort through the three or four in my size, and pick out two that weren’t too badly stained or faded. Now hear the teasing about being too big for new clothes, about being so fat that nothing fits and picture tears running down my face.

About this time a new cigarette came on the market, Tareyton. My brother loved the name. He turned it into Terry weighs a ton and would follow it with pretending that his finger was a needle that could puncture my thigh, followed by a whistle that indicated excess air spewing forth.

In fifth grade, sitting next to a classmate at church, I heard laughing. I looked toward the sound, only to discover that every girl sharing the pew with me had tucked their skirts under their thighs which were thinner than just one of my leg. From then on I hated church.

I attended two different high schools and was the fattest kid in each. This was when I learned the torture of PE. Imagine undressing in front of dozens of thin girls, day after day. Imagine lining up, buck naked, to go into the shower, where the only salvation came at the end when a teacher handed you a postage-stamp sized towel. Hear the snickers. Hear the derision.

It made no difference that I was one of the best athletes. Give me a sport, any sport, and I could play better than most of my peers. Did I earn respect? No.

Make me run laps around a field and I come in dead last, every time. My sophomore year I decided to train on my own. Weekends and nights I’d run the track, around and around, stopping when it hurt too much to continue. Did I lose weight? No. Get any faster? No.

Over the years I have dieted. I have lost weight. Lost more weight. Lost even more, but then would get stuck, still at fat. Then I’d put on weight. Lose some. Gain back even more. Lose a bit. Gain back lots more. Up and down, over and over, until now, at my age, I’m stuck in a cycle of miniscule changes.

I’d like to be thinner. I’ve never wanted to be skinny like a model, but thinner, yes. I’d like to go to a meeting and not be the fattest person in the room. To sit with my church choir and not be the fattest person there. When I’m a reader at church, to believe that the congregation is listening to the words I’m proclaiming and not looking at the size of my butt as I climb the steps up to the ambo.

I’d like to go into a department store, a regular store that sells stylish clothes to beautiful people, and know that I can find a variety of things to buy. I’d like to have racks and racks of clothes to pick through. I’d love to be able to go shopping with a friend and know that I can shop in the same part of the store where she can shop.

But at my age I find that I’m giving up.  I’m tired of the fight. I lack the energy to keep pretending that someday my body will look like other people’s. I’m tired of weighing in every Saturday only to discover that sometimes I’ve lost a fraction of a pound or that I’ve gained three pounds in two days. I’m tired of walking through life with my eyes locked on a distant target, imaging that if I can’t see people looking at me, then it isn’t happening.

I also know that I cannot succumb to my frustrations. That I will not give up, because if I do, then I am admitting to myself that I am a failure. Have been for over 66 years. And as my birthday approaches this week, I understand that my health is being compromised in ways that I have yet to discover.

I don’t want to die young. I don’t want my body to give up on my and cut my life short. I have too much to live for. A husband who loves me. Wonderful children and their significant others of whom I’m proud. Grandchildren that I love spending time with and whom I want to remember me as a kind, loving person, not as a fat lady. (Unfortunately they have been old enough for some time now to ask why I’m so fat!)

I am angry at myself for failing at losing weight. I am angry at the world for having no room for people like me. I am angry at the many industries that cater only to skinny people when the vast majority of people are no longer skinny.

I don’t want to give up, but I am tired of the fight.

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Heritage Story

My mom was not a great storyteller. She didn’t read books or magazines or even the daily newspaper. She did watch television news, but only those stories that weren’t about war or killing.

There was one death that intrigued her, that of Princess Diana. For some reason, the tragedy of her death touched my mom.

I think she saw in Diana heritage lost. A genetic pool which would not be carried on. And that was important to my mom.

From the time I was a little girl, my mom bragged about her Native American roots, although she did not use that term. According to my mom, almost everything she did could be attributed to her being “Indian.”

She loved bread because she was Indian. She tanned easily because she was Indian. Her hair did not turn gray and she did not wrinkle because of….

The foods she fixed were, according to her, based on her Indian roots. Her rhubarb pie was a good example, as well as her apple dumplings and fried chicken.

When pressured, she could not name the relative from whom her heritage came. She believed it was from her great-great-great grandmother on her mother’s side, but that person had no name or place of birth.

No matter the lack of concrete evidence, I believed her. I loved the idea of being part Native American, no matter how tiny that part was in reality.

When I was in fourth grade I discovered that the nonfiction part of the library held a treasure trove of information on Native American tribes from all over the country. One by one I devoured the books, looking for any similarities between my mother and a specific tribe.

When I read about the Shawnee, a tribe that lived in the same Ohio region where I did, I was elated. Here was my connection to the past. My heritage that I could pass on to my children and grandchildren.

I drew out a map of their homeland, memorized Shawnee terms, dreamt about their foods, and romanticized their lifestyle.

When looking at old black and white photos of the Shawnee people, I saw a clear resemblance in my mother’s face. Satisfied, I grew up believing that I was part Shawnee.

Well into my twenties I attended my first pow-wow, something in the keening of the songs and the pounding of the drums resonated deep within me. I felt a kinship that I had never felt before, and I really wanted to join in the dance.  Until I realized how very white I was compared to all the other dancers.

I continued to be intrigued by all things Native American. Several years ago I began collecting artifacts. None of them have any historical value, but I love the dolls, the vases, the baskets and the jewelry. I have enough stuff that it fills an entire cabinet and enough black and white prints of old photos that my walls are covered.

My daughter began researching our genealogy several years ago. As she delved into the past, she was unable to locate a single relative that appeared to be Native American. This was disappointing in so many ways!

Over a year ago she asked me to submit a DNA sample for study. Because I was still interested in finding the familial link, I did so.

A few weeks later the results came in. I have zero percent  Native American heritage! This was a disappointing discovery.

It destroyed my beliefs about who I was. It meant that all those years of reading and dreaming were wasted. It also meant that there was no truth behind my mother’s stories, which was devastating.

I hated losing that part of me because it was ingrained by sixty years of believing.

Sometimes I wish that I had not done the DNA test. If I hadn’t, I could continue to naively believe that I was Native American. However, even though I lost a huge part of what I saw as my link to distant peoples, I am glad that I did the test.

It is better to know the truth than to be spreading falsities.

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Dapper Doesn’t Do

Wolfgang Von Schmidt, thinking himself the cat’s meow, combs out his wiry whiskers and brushes his bright, white teeth.  Taking his favorite top hat from his closet shelf, he places it between his lupine-like ears, taps the brim with one hand, and smiles.  Pulling on the lapels of his tuxedo jacket, he examines himself in his full-length mirror, thinking himself quite dapper.

He saunters through his penthouse apartment with practiced grace.  He picks up a mahogany cane, taps his right dress shoe three times and leaves.  While he waits for the elevator, Wolfgang hums a happy tune, a seductive tune, a winsome tune.

He walks jauntily through the front doors, waving good-bye to the doorman.

“Out for the evening, sir?’

“Of course,” he replies with a wink and a grin.  “If I’m lucky, I’ll return with a beautiful woman on my arm.”

“Good hunting,” The doorman bows goodbye.

Wolfgang strolls over to a sleek black limo. Wolfgang taps the brim of his hat at the driver before he slithers inside, smiling a wolfish grin.

“Where to, sir?” the driver asks.

“The usual.”

“Your woman’s waiting?”

“Of course.”

They head to the street of lights running through downtown Las Vegas.

Wolfgang knows that Rosa, his current girlfriend, is waiting at Jayto’s, the hottest nightclub in town.  He told her to be there no later than ten, knowing that he’d intentionally arrive thirty minutes later because he loves the grand entrance, smirking as all heads turn and stare while he struts his sexy body across the floor.  Wolf laughs as he imagines the men glowering while women squirm, unable to resist his animal attraction.

Wolf had told Rosa to order champagne and an appetizer to tide her over. But what Wolf had not counted on was that Rosa had little patience for sitting alone, a spectacle, a laughingstock of epic proportions.

Before they started dating, Rosa warned him, “I know your reputation. You should know that I have a rule: You have three chances to impress me and if you don’t meet my expectations, I’ll dump you.”

“No worries, my dear,” he said with a tip of his hat. “I”ll never disappoint you.”

“You’d better not,” she said as she inhaled her cigarette. “I’m not kidding.”

Wolf intentionally made her wait two previous times just to test her resolve, and now he’s on his third. But he knows that Rose is so entranced by his charm, so enthralled by his wolfish good looks, that she’d never walk away.

Tonight, wanting to control every detail, no matter how small, he even went so far as to tell her what to wear, demanding her sexiest red dress, her matching stiletto heels and her mink stole.

What Wolf hadn’t counted on was that sitting has made Rosa angry and the champagne she guzzled in annoyance has given her a massive headache. When he finally arrives with an exaggerated flourish, she watched him tip his hat to the left and right, stopping to whisper in every woman’s ear who smiled his way.

Jealous at the attention that she felt should have been focused on her, her temper rises to a boil.  By the time he arrives at the table, steam is pouring from her ears and her cheeks are crimson with rage.

“Hello, my lovely,” Wolf says as he runs his ungloved hand down her arm and leans down for a kiss.

Rosa shrugs off his clammy paw.  “So, what’s your excuse this time?”

“These big teeth take a long time to brush.” He flashes his sexiest smile and slithers into his chair.

“And I suppose it takes an hour to comb that hair of yours.”

“I have to look my best,” he says.  “My huge eyes are only for you, you know.” He leans forward and bats his eyelids in suggestion of thrills to come.

She snickers.  “I’m not a fairy tale woman that falls for your wily ways.”

“Come on, sweetheart,” he pleads. “Let me hold you in my arms and kiss your soft cheek.  I’m your man, remember?  The one who fills your every need.”

“Not tonight, you jerk.” Rosa picks up her purse, slinging her stole over her pale shoulders, stands. “You can’t expect forgiveness this time. It’s not going to happen.”

“Sit down,” he says while looking around the club to see how much attention she’s garnering.

Wolf’s appalled when he sees people staring with open mouths.  He’s fully aware that his reputation, his suaveness are the talk of the town. His haunting darkness speaks of a wild and uninhibited energy.

He reaches for Rosa’s arm. “Hey, I’ve got a fabulous evening planned.”

“You blew it,” she says as she pulls away. “I’m not the kind of girl who’ll take being embarrassed lying down.”

Wolf wraps his arms around her waist and pulls her into his lap. “Kiss me. I promise it will be worth it.” He pulls her close, puckering his lips, expecting her to melt into his arms.

When Rosa realizes the power of the drama she’s creating, she says in a loud voice, “Get your slimy hands off me.”

“Stay, my lovely maiden,” Wolf pleads.  “Enjoy a nice dinner.  Talk awhile.  I promise to be charming,” he says as he blinks his large brown eyes.

“Look, Wolfgang,” Rosa says, “you love yourself too much and live only to satisfy your own ego.  Well, I won’t stand for it.  I have my needs, you know, and you don’t fit in the picture.”  Rosa stomps out, her gown rustling like the leaves on a forest tree.  Every eye follows her, wide open, for not every day does a gorgeous woman leave her date behind in a flutter of napkins and a chorus of muffled coughs.

As she saunters away, Wolf shrugs and signals the waiter. “Bring me a highball. And a bowl of nuts.”

By the time Rosa exits, he’s simmering. No woman has ever walked out on him. He is the one who dumps them after he tires of their winsome ways.  But this relationship was different and tonight, of all nights, the anniversary of his move to the city, was to be a celebration of a beginning of a new chapter in his life.

Since leaving his home deep in the forest, Wolfgang has never looked back on the family he left behind, the rustic cabin hidden in a waterfall-created cove, his “litter-mates,” as he teasingly calls his siblings, nor even his mother, whom he detests for being primitive in her ways. He loves city life; the adventure of the chase, the game-playing and risk-taking and especially the ladies.  Oh, how he loves the women!

Especially Rosa, who was supposed to be an important part of his future plans.

Because she is the most spectacular woman he’s ever been with, he intended to seal the deal with a visit to his penthouse suite and an aperitif of wolfish delight.

After Rose exits without so much as a glance back, Wolf picks up his napkin and casually drops it on the table as if these things happened every day.  No big deal.

Pushing back his shoulders he rises with elegance.  He winds his way through the tables, ignoring the smirks and guffaws.  He salutes the doorman with a tap to his brim.  Not wanting to wait for his limo, Wolf hails a cab, climbs inside, and gives directions.

He sulks home, dragging his not-to-be fairy-tale tail behind him.  For the first time in his life, a girl has bested him. What is he to do for desert?

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Without You

 

You are my everything:

Husband, friend, strongest supporter.

You smile when I walk by,

Cheer me on when I sing

Encourage me to write

Without ever reading a word

I’ve written.

 

Without you I would be just a shell

A woman adrift amidst a sea of faces

Just one of many invisible people

Scrambling for recognition.

 

Without you I would be lonely,

Not just at night,

But throughout each and every day.

I’d have to relearn how to stand on my own,

To negotiate the world of shopping, cooking,

Tending things about the house.

But more importantly, how to move on.

 

Without you

My life would change in so many ways.

Although we spend hours simply being together,

I’d miss knowing that you were sitting in the chair,

Reading or watching television.

I’d miss our evening walks, lunches out,

Going to the movies and the theater.

All the things we do together.

 

Without you

I’d be a different person,

Someone I once knew, but lost years ago.

I don’t want to go back to her.

I love the person who is loved by you.

Without you…

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