Home

Post op day 8. Dad’s hip replacement recovery is going fairly well, but he doesn’t understand why he isn’t 100% already. If you know Dad, this is no surprise. I am here with my parents mostly to provide comic relief and a respite from the boredom of convalescence, to prevent Dad from torturing Mom, to reassure Mom that Dad wasn’t going to fall or die, and to make the 11th hour Wawa run in the snow.

A few weeks ago, as we were enjoying a kid-free lunch after Church, Bernie voiced the inevitable: you should be there after your Dad’s surgery. Most moms—even those with young, independent teens—assume we’re absolutely essential. Bernie assured me I wasn’t. In, like, the best, I’ve-got-this way. So we booked a one-way, not knowing how Dad would fare surgery, and I told the boys I was going home for a few days, maybe a week.

Brodie was confused.

“Wait. You said you’re going ‘home’ instead of ‘to Philly.’”

And I had. Home is where your parents live, I told him. I guess that never changes. I’m home: here in the Over-55-on-a-Golf-Course condo complex where I didn’t grow up and where the only vestige of my youth is this trio of high school graduation pictures.

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Paige and I rocked the ’80s scrunch and mousse ‘do.

Home is where I spend the first hours of the day working the crossword with Dad and making him an egg sandwich while Action News announces anticipated weather that mom will fret over for the entire day, even if we have no plans to go outside. Home is also where Wawa is on the corner, the accent is hilariously homey, and I can order a hoagie.

After marriage and kids, it’s rare to spend this much quality downtime alone with your own mom and dad… rarer still when everyone is pretty much healthy. This is lucky, stolen time. On Sunday night, two Proseccos into a Feast Day cocktail hour, Dad and I predicted with stunning accuracy the scores of flipping snowboarders, marveling at the “big” mistakes that cost Olympians a hundredth of a second and a medal. We’ve also logged 6 hours of golf tournament napping, entire mornings of talk show programming, 60 Minutes, and naturally, a lot of Fox News. We haven’t missed an episode of Jeopardy and dammit if that Vanna White isn’t still stunning.

This is 75. I’m writing the screenplay.

Surgery is no fun and being on the other side of it for the second time (albeit, a bit removed since it wasn’t me getting the new hip), I’m ever more aware of how ill prepared patients are for what comes next. Dad only heard that the pain of recovery would never match the agony of an arthritic joint. Well, not so fast, amnesic advice-givers. This was, and continues to be, plenty painful. Dad needed every single pain pill… and they only gave him a handful of days to wean himself, never once preparing him that weaning would be necessary, or that we might feel like dope peddling criminals to want more in the house, just in case. I snort-laughed at the 20 year old secretary who handed me a ‘script for a measly, additional day-and-a-half of pain relief for my dad who was dutifully doing his laps around the condo, icing and elevating, and choking down an entire fruit basket to ward off the inevitably awful effects of Percocet. I stopped short of demanding more. I’m here as The Daughter, not The Doctor.

Because he’s not 100% yet, Dad doesn’t feel like he’s turned a corner. But yesterday, his pedometer counted a good amount of steps taken with little more than Tylenol on board. So I’m going back to my boys in the morning—back to the house where I’m the one who birddogs the laundry and dishwasher, plans the meals, and knows the status of the pantry’s snack reserves. My boys spent the past week in an extended culinary celebration of Chinese New Year, eating an insane amount of noodles and dim sum and fish jerky, and getting taller without me. Their stories will hint at how independent they have become, but their hugs will betray them. As we’ve all witnessed in the past week, teenagers are awesome, and I miss mine.

But until I know my own Dad is feeling like his return to 100% is somewhere on the horizon, my heart will still be… home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I get it… by Dan Hines

Danny walks. An update from Dan, who is kind of miraculously, and certainly inspirationally, recovering from Guillain-Barré syndrome. He posted this video a few days ago, which prompted our exchange:

ME: You. Are. Walking

Dan: Sort of. The video you saw was the third try. The first two I fell.

ME: You know I want five paragraphs about that.

And here they are:

 

There’s a scene, a few actually, in the movie ‘What About Bob’ where a young boy stands on a dock. He’s staring at the water and all he wants to do is learn to dive. He wants it, doesn’t know how to do it, and is scared of it. Despite encouragement from Dad, Mom, Sister he continuously backs away, making excuses, and goes back to the house.

I get it.

Some of you know my story so I won’t go through it all, but it was 16 months ago when I last took any real steps on my own without some form of help. Whether it was a wheelchair, a walker, a cane, a therapist’s arm, or even a kitchen counter or wall. A few times in therapy, I was able to do it for, like, 5-6 feet– my therapist waiting in front of me, open-armed, like a mom teaching her baby how to walk. “Come on, I’ve got you’” ‘Cause I am, in fact, a giant baby.

When you go through something, anything really, you go through “the stages.” You know ’em. But there’s one they rarely mention, the one that really matters. It’s the, “Fuck it, I’ve had enough of this” stage.

December was a bit sad for me, personally, which made Christmas a bit tough. New Year’s Eve hit and I made the same declarations as everyone else, “This year will be different!’ I woke up January 1st, and I played the daily game:

“Am I wearing socks?’”

With peripheral neuropathy, you gotta check. I look down…I guessed wrong. Shit. This year is the same.

So January 23rd was a big day. I was growing frustrated. The wheels in my head were spinning. I was missing the things I once had: life, love, ability, purpose. I know my value, but was obsessing over my weakness. About 8:30pm, I reached the unspoken last stage.

“Fuck it. I’ve had enough of this.”

I get up, turn on the lights and set up my phone at the end of the hall. I head back into the kitchen, and turn around. I let go of the cane and the counter. And I start. I get 5 feet and BOOM, I’m on the ground. Now, since I can’t stand on my own, I crawl into the kitchen so I can use a chair to get back on my feet.

2nd try. This time, ten feet and… BOOM. Crawl to the kitchen, grab my cane, and head towards the phone. Like a coach at halftime, I need to review this. I think I see my mistake. I re-set the phone, press record, and start again. Third try’s more than a charm. It’s history.

 

So there the boy stands, on that same dock, with that same view, and those same fears. He knows what he has to do; it’s run through his mind a thousand times. Just dive, just dive, just dive. And from somewhere courage builds. He bends his knees, puts his hands in front him, takes a deep breath. And dives. That dock (the hallway), the unwitting stage.

“Fuck it. I’ve had enough of this.”

And I get it.

Lil Yachty, Aziz Ansari, and Tide Pods

My boys listen to a variety of rap music, the breadth of which I am only recently learning. Last night, Brodie magically connected his phone to the car stereo and DJ’d the ride home. As he and Teddy giggled and guffawed over particularly embarrassing lyrics to endure in front of Mom, I started earnestly listening to them.

Ick. Now my children were literally SUV-trapped in a parenting moment that I couldn’t let go.

“You guys realize how BAD this is, right? You understand misogyny? These lyrics are dismissive and demeaning and maybe a little violent and otherwise terrible. YOU KNOW THIS, right? You cannot possibly SING ALONG to this… right???”

“Yeah yeah yeah… we know. We would never. We just like this beat. It’s sampled by everyone. And mom, the next song is seriously only about it being cold in Minnesota.”

And it was. But between the sophomorically raunchy lyrics (that they totally know), Aziz Ansari (who they love), and Tide pods (WTF), I feel like our kids are being bombarded with troubling examples of intimacy and flagrant stupidity. If teenagers are eating detergent, what other things must we remind them not to do? And though my boys aren’t dating yet, I kind of need them to know that what they’re reading isn’t the norm, except that it is, only it shouldn’t be, and then beleaguer them with definitions of consent and power differentials… ultimately encouraging them to lean on their faith, or at least rely on how they see Bernie treat me. The mortified eye rolling and protestations to please stop ensued.

But I won’t stop. I have no idea how the fuck-the-insecure-girl rap message is playing on their pliant brains. They are also reading an un-nuanced defense of a grown ass man who is so awful at sex, it seems like he’s using these very wretched lyrics as some sort of primer. And when my otherwise lovely, kind child actually uttered, “but she could have left any time,” well, I died a little. And then another trapped-in-the-SUV parenting moment began.

It’s frequently exhausting being the only girl in the house. I mean, even aside from the fact that I’m the only one who ever knows where anything is. Though it is up to both of us to make sure our boys know what it means to be a man, they spend most of their time with me. Dammit if they’re not going to learn what it means to be a feminist, an ally, a chivalrous friend, and whatever the opposite of Aziz Ansari is, dating-wise.

I explained how it happens, how a woman could feel so gross after a date, she’d publish a play-by-play, effectively shaming him and attempting, I guess, to exonerate her participation in it or even alleviate the ick feelings of being duped. Every woman I know has had an Ansari date—hopefully few of ours involved someone with that much fame, or with all of the fingers in mouths. What do you think we’re talking about when we drink Chardonnay and make horrible paintings together? Why don’t mommy book clubs ever read anything? Bad sex stories can be hilarious.

Except this one wasn’t because of the power, fame, and even age differential between a woman hardly sprung from girlhood and a man acting like a teenage boy with a porn problem. Though few 22 year olds on a date with an actual, award-winning person would be savvy enough to memory bank his fumbling, creepy advances to make fun of them later, I think all of us wish she had had the wherewithal to high tail it outta there. But I know why she didn’t, and every woman I know gets that. But how do I explain that to teenage boys?

Teddy and I were driving home from the orthodontist. The campy fabulous REO Speedwagon just couldn’t fight the feeling anymore. Immediately I was transported back to the roller rink at the mall, where this song was usually designated for the couples skate. Preteens with sweaty hands and back pocket combs would hold hands and make awkward circles and conversation. It was a sweet memory that my children will never know. Teddy is 13 and I’m trying to explain what constitutes sexual assault and why firm lines around consent get blurred when people drink wine and get naked. Apropos of this conversation:

“Did you know Wilt Chamberlain said he had sex with, like, twenty thousand women?”

“I remember that! That was a popular sound bite in the ‘80s. I remember boys trying to figure out if that was even mathematically possible.”

“Yeah. Three times a day for 24 years.”

So, maybe kids really aren’t all that different.

I thought I had a few more years before I was teaching them that casual sex can be super lame, occasionally dangerous, and ironically requires an even higher level of communication than when you’re with someone you know well and love deeply. Thanks, Aziz. And just to be safe, I keep reminding them not to eat Tide pods.

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A more nuanced commentary… 

Fifty and Fine with It… by Steve Safran

I’m 50.

This will mean very little to you. Your Facebook feed is full of people who can’t believe how old they are, how old their kids are, and how time flies. You can’t believe you’re older? He can’t believe his daughter’s starting kindergarten. Apparently, none of us get how time works.

But believe me, it has happened. I’m 50.

Here’s a summary of my forties: Divorced, cancer, failing eyesight, impaired hearing, relentless back and nerve pain, job losses, and I shut down my own company.

But here’s another summary of my forties: Two kids in college, employed, healthy family, great summers, travel, and… I’m engaged.

A friend emailed and asked me “What have you learned?” Well, plenty. I’m comfortable telling you: the older I get, the less I know. Honestly, that’s a great feeling.

When you’re a teenager, you have an answer for everything. At least, that’s what the adults told me. “You have an answer for everything!” they yelled. I thought that was a good thing. Shouldn’t you have an answer? But as I’ve gotten older, I realize I don’t have the answers. My previous answers were, in fact, bullshit. I was bullshitting people and was damn good at it. I am quick enough to hold court on any topic for about 30 seconds, and simultaneously afraid people will find out I have no idea what I’m talking about. Dad still thinks I should have gone into law, but history has proven this quality was perfect for many years spent working in TV.

Now, at the ripe age of 50, I don’t bullshit. If I don’t know the answer, I say, “I don’t know.” It’s liberating. I also don’t care that I don’t know. Scratch that– I love when I don’t know, especially if it’s an interesting question. It gives me the opportunity to do a little Google research and learn something new. We live in a time I’m calling “The Great Overconfidence.” Everyone has an answer for everything. But they’re bullshitting, too. When the Supreme Court lays out its decision, suddenly everyone is a legal scholar. When scientists make a discovery, everyone with a Twitter account has a Ph.D. in Science-y Things. Too many people are sure they have the hot take on everything from broth diets to Oprah’s Presidential fitness. Me? I’m happy to learn from experts.

At 50, I’m confident and comfortable enough to say “no.” That peer pressure thing? We’re done. Guilt trips for no-shows or last-minute cancellations are for your 30s and 40s. If I don’t want to do something, I don’t do it. And I love that my friends are all of the same mind. Can’t make it to the party? Fine. Just don’t feel like coming? You don’t need an excuse. We’ll catch you at the next one.

It’s not all “I don’t know” and “no,” though. I’m a (slightly) less cynical middle-ager; I just know what I like. But these days, I’m more inclined to try new experiences. Fiancée Kim will come up with a “pop-up vacation” idea, and we just go. The kids are older now, so we have that flexibility—another perk of this aging thing. Seeing my three kids mature into young adults is an absolute joy. I raised them all the same, but they’re three distinctly different personalities. I love that about them. At 50, I appreciate them even more for being the unique beings they’ve become.

Perhaps the biggest secret is that I’m a squishy sentimentalist. As I age, I get squishier. The truth is, I really hated being a kid. I wasn’t good at it. I was one of those “old for his years” kids. I’ve been 50 for a long time. It’s just that the calendar finally caught up with me.

Funny to think now that I dreaded turning 40, when I’m really looking forward to my fifties. I’m getting married in July. The next few years are filled with graduations and other great milestones. Eventually, because time insists upon marching on, even Britt will turn 50 and that will be fantastic. (For her friends, I mean, because there will be a Prosecco party, for sure.)  I may even become a grandparent in the next 10 years. (No pressure, kids.) By 2028, I fully expect to look back on my fifties with pride.

Not that I’m rushing to get there. Those things are really far away, and also right around the corner. Seriously, I can’t believe I’ll be turning 60 in 10 years…

STEVIE KID

Stevie, in his “old for his years” suit.

 

Applications

My boys are applying to schools. Even though the local public school is award winningly awesome, and even though they are currently thriving at a competitive, wonderful, traditional private school that goes through high school… we’re applying to schools. Sometimes (most times) I think this is bonkers. However, it’s also the only conversation I keep having because everyone else also has kids applying to schools—mostly colleges, but still, it’s all very similar. We’ve bought into the expensive, privileged idea that the “right school” will coax our children into becoming contributing members of society rather than boomeranging back to our basements. And it won’t. Deep down we know this. Yet still… we’re applying to schools.

My first pass at the applications was to make fun of them. You know, just a little. It’s so ridiculous to ask teenagers to write essays about a life changing experience when they really only have a handful of sentient years to draw from. Or asking parents what our short- and long-range academic goals are for our kids. HOW DO YOU NOT MAKE FUN OF THAT PROMPT? Any parent a generation ago would have snort-laughed and groused that the goal was to get the kids outta the house and paying their own way. But I refrained, and Bernie and I gave the usual reasons for applying to their school: reputation, academic vigor, something about “good fit,” and a nod to whatever they bragged about during the tours. To date, I’ve seen 6 art rooms with pottery wheels. The pricier and more exclusive the education, the more likely a kid is to make urns.

Every school is desperate to be the most inclusive and diversity is a religion. Brodie wondered aloud how the white kids were answering all of these We Are the World prompts when he can just bring his mixed DNA into the conversation. And me and Bernie? We can play that up. That is, when they recognize that I’m the mom. Although DIVERSITY gets an entire page in all of the brochures, I was assumed to be the “handler” for Brodie at one school, and at another the interviewer looked right past my outstretched hand for the more likely mom. This happens lots anyway, and it’s fine… but when it happens right alongside a framed mission statement about how inclusive and safe and wonderful and kind and diverse everything is… just calm down, diversity cheerleaders.

I am sure my own college essay stunk worse than a hockey bag, but Brodie devoted three painful days to revising a statement of how he became a better person when something bad happened… to get into high school. And he didn’t even throw down the Cancer card. Tackling these prompts with Teddy was much more fun. He has quick, witty answers for everything. And when he wrote about going to Taiwan, meeting a now favorite uncle, and writing, “the saddest day was when Ah-Bei went back to Shanghai” with actual tears in his eyes… I fell in love with my own kid all over again and preemptively hate anyone who plans to reject him. Asked to provide any additional information, Teddy wrote only one sentence: “I am a skilled dancer and I love musicals.” Love that kid.

We’re nearing the end of this process and probably the most useful aspect is now we’re a bit more prepared for the hellish torture college applications will be. Hats off to you, parents who have suffered through Early Action stress. Because there are always smarter, more athletic, ability-to-build-a-new-library, legacy, politics, and other factors that go into curating a class at these incredible schools, we have no idea what outcome to expect. I keep returning to the only thing that is true: it doesn’t matter. Home schooled, public schooled, boarding schooled, or frankly left to their own devices, Brodie will still be this old soul with an impossibly gorgeous face spouting factoids (did you know there are more chickens in the US than people on the planet?) and Teddy will always know he’s the smartest kid and best dancer in any room (mostly true). Where they go to school and what they do will never be who they are. Never. I can only hope these (stupid) applications captured their zany differences, their deliciously voracious intellects, their uniqueness, their lovable Lee-ness.

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These boys. Lee boys.

 

 

Christmas is Cardio

Are you chastising yourself for avoiding the gym during the 12 days of Christmas (and beyond)? For me, it’s the first thing I’ll drop. Happily. But I’ve been so much better at the barre, and have really loved what sustained plies are doing to my bits, but there’s just no time. Then, eureka (!), today I realized something grand:

CHRISTMAS IS CARDIO.

Seriously, friends. I have never made this many trips to and from the car, doing a shivering half-run that totally counts as jogging. This morning I broke down 114 boxes because recycle dudes who don’t appreciate my more-Jenga-than-Tetris assemblage of Amazon Prime containers will leave a nasty note. You know how long it took to break down all of those boxes? Like, half a spin class. And though I wasn’t sweating, afterwards there were foam peanut pieces and cardboard dust particles everywhere, so I had to bust out the Dyson. MORE CARDIO.

The boys are enjoying their first week of school vacation, which all parents know means… EXERCISE. My nerdy children spend untold hours in front of screens and almost never leave the house. But dammit if they won’t stop making laundry (of the multi-layered/inside-out variety) and expecting proper meals instead of baked goods and gift cheeses. The laundress and short order cook gigs are definitely burning calories, especially because in between loads and meals, I’m wrapping presents. This is total ab work.

Anyone who was ever a gymnast or dancer or bendy kind of girl probably wraps gifts the way I do: straddled on the floor, using my knees to support a package to get that perfect, hospital corner effect on the ends. Maybe other, former twirly girls aren’t as insane as I am about having perfectly wrapped gifts. Their loss. But seriously, try it: AB WORK. It’s also the only time of the year I use my former surgeon skills, whipping out one-handed ties with double-faced satin ribbon and probably burning more calories than using the stick-on bows.

Have a series of rotating guests over the holidays? Well then, you can extend that hold on actual gym classes because the slightly shrunk fitted sheet will really blast your core. Making and remaking beds is the new (or at least seasonal) planking. Moving all of the junk piles from one place to another to fake a tidy house, then repeated closet-spelunking to find missing items? Holiday burpees. A well-rounded exercise regimen should include weight-bearing exercises, and frequent trips to Gary’s Liquors are keeping my arms toned and bones strong. Probably.

We think we’re exhausted because there is so much to do. But we’re actually tired because this constant cardio is us getting it all done. In heels. I mean, with all of this actual exercise happening, it’s no wonder our bodies are craving carbs (cookies) and good fats (“good” meaning yummy and also meaning cheese). We’re all bound to be bikini bodied by brunch on New Years!

Merry Christmas, friends. I see you out there getting it all done. And I’m raising a glass (or three) to you… because wine is good for circulation. There are studies.

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Look at these svelte gals: they’ve been holiday prepping for months!

The Dude at the Door

Dear WBGH door-to-door fundraiser guy,

I was going to leave a short, “it’s not you, it’s me” note on the door. But I won’t. Because it’s not me. It’s you.

It does appear that you’ve been trained to identify yourself and point to your WBGH badge, even if it is one I could reproduce with a 2 second Google search and my laminator. It’s a nice touch to thank me for being a loyal supporter. However, I’m pretty sure I’ve never given money to any public radio station, and it makes me uneasy that you’re pretending to check my name on your clipboard. So as quickly and politely as I could, I asked you to leave information in my mailbox. I have to go, I said. Good luck, I said.

Anyone walking door to door in cold weather to raise a few dollars for the local station probably spends his free time finding homes for stray dogs and never balking about tampons on the grocery list. Your hand-knitted wooly hat and ice-grippy boots belie a dangerous dude at the door. But there was something that made me want you off of my stoop, and your response only reinforced why:

“I’m going to the other houses, so I’ll just circle back and check with you again later.”

No, don’t do that. Just… no. Is not taking “no” for an answer in the training? Is a woman’s first refusal always a springboard for negotiation? Is this me reacting to too many #MeToo stories?

Perhaps.

But now I’m hiding at my dining table away from the front windows hoping a stranger doesn’t think I’m being rude. It’s a well-known situation for many of us, this worry about hurting the feelings of others, even if said “others” are making us feel pressured, unsafe, badgered, or beholden. Well, no more, WBGH dude. I don’t believe you when you say you “need to sign people up today” or that you cannot accept donations via mail. It’s cold outside and I want the door closed. I didn’t invite you to my home or ask you to return. And frankly, I hate you a little for not reading (or worse, ignoring) my body language that is screaming, “Get off of my stoop!”

My boys just got home and I told them about you: how you leaned in a little too close, how you insisted on returning, how I was home alone and didn’t want you lingering around my door. Teddy ran upstairs and grabbed his nun chucks. Brodie found his wooden “practice sword.” They’re only too happy to defend the hearth and home in a playful, mom-is-being-nutso way. But I made sure they understood where I was coming from: always listen to a girl when she is telling you “no.” Respect and honor that “no.” Don’t be the clueless, close-talking dude at the door.

“Duh, mom. We know. He’s probably just SUPER awkward. I mean, he’s raising money for WBGH.”

But the weapons are still on hand. Just in case. The little dears.

Sincerely,

The Mom Not Answering the Door

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Go. Away.

 

 

Day 26

I’ve never been on any sort of “diet” for this length of time. I’ve almost stopped missing food, but I miss meals something fierce. Humans are designed to break bread with each other, share sliced meats, divvy up the vegetables, refill the wine glasses, and make yummy noises together. I’m ruining the meal aesthetic with my liquid substitute in an oversize plastic cup. Drinking your dinner—unless that means wine accompanied by bits of cheese and crackers and sausages—just isn’t social. Frankly, it makes me feel like a jerk.

About 219 people have asked me why I’m doing this/torturing myself/dieting at all. At first, it was to slide the scale back for an upcoming oncology appointment. Now, it’s really about willpower. Can I eat only one meal a day for 30 days? Will I be able to navigate cocktail parties and (let’s be honest) chilly, dark school nights without a glass of Cabernet? Is a shameful, furtive, late night potato chip binge inevitable? This diet feels like a hair shirt, and the old Catholic sensibilities have kicked in. I’m starving and I’m offering it up. No lie.

I have cheated. A little. Teddy requested teeny, spiced cupcakes for his birthday (cream cheese frosting), there’s a HUGE candy bowl (Almond Joys and 3Musketeers!), and I’ve been to six different cocktail parties (an occasional glass of Prosecco). But my restraint has been LEGENDARY. I’m wildly hungry, headache-y, and occasionally dizzy. Brodie wants to know the difference between this powdery meal plan and an actual eating disorder. I have no good answer.

And now it’s Day 26. I’m lithe and slim and fabulous—that is, if those adjective also mean “look exactly like I did in October,” which is what my kids tell me. Either they are doltishly unobservant, or they’re right: I was actually fabulous then, and remain unchanged. However, my skinniest jeans fit right outta the dryer, which is how all women gauge their weight no matter what the scale says.

Happily, as I enter my fourth week as an ascetic, the scale has budged. But it’s probably not because these liquid meals are magic. It’s because I’m not drinking them. After the first few attempts, I just couldn’t gag down powdered milk mixed with water. I cannot. I will not. I refuse. I’d honestly rather starve, and have chosen this option. How anyone incorporates a whey protein “shake” into her daily life eludes me. Had I known I’d have to drink all of this reconstituted milk, I would never have signed up. First of all, I really do love food. But more importantly, I really really really hate milk.

Remember when President Bush declared, “I’m the leader of the free world and will never eat broccoli again,” or something like that, and then banned it from the White House kitchens? That’s me with milk. I can’t even watch you drink milk. The very idea of someone tipping the bowl to lap up, sweet, chunky, stagnant cereal milk makes me dry heave. And Teddy does it all of the time. I have to look away. It’s my bugaboo. And as Tony used to say when challenged about his limited palate and inability to eat food anyone else had touched, “I reserve the right to be irrational.”

To be honest, what feels really irrational right now is any sort of maintenance on this “system.” I did appreciate the two cleanse days avoiding all food and just drinking an ersatz Gatorade, effectively hydrating my cells and shrinking my stomach. An occasional fast? Redemptive suffering comes naturally (though never easily) for those of us who were raised in the Catholic tradition. But I’ll never swap a fake shake for a real meal ever, ever again.

Four more days, friends. Sauvignon blanc is chilling.

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The fasting and near Lenten devotion to restraint and sober reflection on this “diet” has felt decidedly Catholic. When you learn this a small child, you never forget it. It’s also quite a soothing practice when you’re trying really really really hard to forget there are potato chips in the house.

Day Nine

Everyone hates a gal on a diet. It’s irritating to eat with someone who has “food issues.” We all have at least one sanctimoniously vegan, gluten-free, on-a-cleanse, allergic-to-everything, or even a I’ll-have-it-on-the-side sort of friend. We Lees are even impatient with picky eaters. We love to eat. The boys know that their fiscally responsibly father will eschew all frugality for food. We swoon for real, Japanese ramen, salivate over sushi, order the big steaks, and devour giant bowls of pasta covered with winy seafood broths. I’m a quick cook with some talent and dinnertime is peppered with yummy noises. But now, I’m not really… eating.

My forays into experimental attempts at healthfulness have been many: spin cycling, pro-biotics, Pure Barre, lap-swimming, and one post-baby, ill-advised Hot Pocket diet. Looking back through those entries, one theme prevails. I have no willpower. Also, I love Prosecco and I’m reluctant to give it up. When I posted my Day One essay wherein I poke fun at horrible powder cleanse diets (and myself for following one), I received responses ranging from “that’s stupid” to “why?” to “you don’t need to do this” to “it won’t work.” So, not really a wide range. The only, “You go, girl!” sentiments are from the ladies selling this stuff. Naturally.

But even those gals are critical of this gal on a diet. There’s a Facebook support page for hundreds enrolled in a 30-day challenge. When one member posted her bluntly honest opinion of the taste of these products, instead of commenting “Same,” I linked to my essay. Because, you know, same. They asked me to remove it.

I get that. But me, I’d rather sidle up to the gal who’s wisecracking one-liners– or the boy. Steve and I got through CANCER making fun of everything. Surely a diet can survive a bit of fun-poking. Though I’d be lying to say I didn’t sign up for this to get skinnier, I also have an oncology appointment looming on the calendar and if I keep dropping weight the way I have the past 9 days, we’ll get to skip the discussion of how I’m addicted to potato chips and drink on school nights.

Today is Day 9, friends. Yesterday I “cheated” with a hard-boiled egg white because I was seeing stars. Today, I’m housebound with crampy abdominal pain occasionally so severe, I wonder if I’m in labor with an Isogenix baby. But for whatever reason (probably the cancer appt), I’m resolved to see this through. Also, hungry. 21 days to go…

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This makes me giggle. Also, if I told you how much the scale moved in the past 9 days, you might start considering this awful, awful regimen.

The Diet

DAY ONE:

6:30am. The alarm buzzes. A schedule indicates it’s time to drink some sort of boosting flushing ionizing nonsense. Blurry eyed and reluctant, I pad over to the ‘fridge to pour a shot of this magic elixir that elicits emoji-gasms from a thousand Facebook moms. It’s still dark. I plow my foot directly into a dining chair with full-stride force. THE DIET begins with sleepy reluctance and a broken toe.

I pour greenish orange-y slop into a shot glass and prepare for my stomach to flatten and aging to reverse. But it’s just Tang. Well, Tang that’s mixed with maybe spinach and algae. I wonder if it’s gone a bit off. But I am RESOLVED. It’s 7am and I’m on an OFFICIAL DIET.

Dad gets up and has sole dibs on the coffee pot. Bravely, I’m going to do this thing without caffeine. I’m waiting for the magic potion to imbue me with ineffable exclamation point energy. Dad watches me assemble my first of 30 sad breakfasts. I scoop a rather large amount of powder into a sippy cup for fat moms and shake up a meal that is supposed to taste like French Vanilla.

But it doesn’t.

It tastes like disappointment, chalky milk, possibly vegetables, and is infused with a vanilla essence intended to trick dieters into thinking “sweet.” I gag through three gulps. Dad is giggling at me. I put it on ice, get a straw, and dry heave through 3 additional, timid sips. The rest gets poured behind the rhododendron, as I have no idea what havoc this might wreck on my delicate kitchen plumbing.

It’s 8am. I’m hungry. I take the horse pill that promises to curb my appetite until TWO ENTIRE ALMONDS are allowed at 9am. It’s going to be a long day. My children wake up and tell me I don’t need to lose weight. I love them. I drink more water.

Lunch allows a near free for all (except for gluten, sugar, alcohol, and other normal and delicious things) and I eat half a roasted chicken and extra vegetable side dishes. I really wanted the other half of the chicken, and I’m still thinking about it. Mmmm, chicken. It was fun to chew for the 7 whole minutes it took me to clear the plate. Tina, our regular waitress, is wondering why I didn’t order my usual mimosa or Sancerre. I tell her. Tina doesn’t mince words: “That sounds stupid.” I agree with her. Mmmm, chicken.

I take another horse pill and begin dreading “dinner.” Uncaffeinated, kind of hungry, and yet STILL RESOLVED, I make this fucking scrumptious dinner for Bernie and the boys that is like penance. I pour more water, elevate my broken toe, and watch Blade Runner. Somehow I’ve never seen the original one– the one where Harrison Ford is gorgeous and manly and kills robots (that don’t seem all that evil) save one that he keeps as a sex slave. In 35 years of listening to boys argue the bold genius that is Blade Runner, no one mentions the sex robot part. Poor Rachel is another #MeToo. Ugh. Bedtime.

I realize I skipped the liquid dinner meal. Honestly, I’m too coffee-deprived, toe-broken, and let’s face it #MeToo world-weary to stomach another sad, shaken meal that makes me gag. I go to bed like a punished child, but STILL RESOLVED. I’m doing this again tomorrow. Tomorrow will be easier.

RIGHT?

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To be fair, I’m the only Facebook mom who is saying these are sad and impossible to drink and, well, gross, and probably improved 1000% with tequila.