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Posts Tagged ‘Personal essay’

Dear Friends and Family,

It’s Day 12 of captivity. I’ve gained two pounds. I have to resist the urge to eat cheese all day. It’s bad enough I take my vitamins with wine.

I’m still going to work for a few hours each day for a change of scenery. I’m not a dress-down-for-work kind of gal. Yesterday, I wore a skirt and heels. Just for me.

I rarely see anyone when I’m there. Yesterday, though, I saw the CFO at the water cooler on the second floor and the woman in charge of special projects down the hall. We all paused in our tracks, giggling nervously. The CFO went back into his office, and Special Projects let me go into the bathroom before she continued down the hall. Six feet of space, people.

Later in the day, I crossed paths with the CFO again. Same situation.

Him: Stay on your floor!
Me: I don’t have a bathroom up there. Unless you want to spring for a Porta Potty, I’m coming down!

When I was at my university the first time around as an English major, I won a major award for writing. The prize package included “Love in the Time of Cholera.”

In our house, it’s “Love in the Time of Corona.”

Gideon broke up with his girl Peyton. He informed me last night:

I don’t want to be in a relationship anymore. It takes up too much of my time. My precious time.

Incidentally, I won the award for a short story I wrote called “The Pot Roast.” It was about my weird grandmother wanting raw meat as a Christmas gift.

Last night, I made the dish.

Gideon, girlfriend-free with precious time on his hands, roamed into the kitchen.

Him (peering into the pot): What’s this?
Me: Pot roast.
Him: We haven’t had that in a while.
Me: Yep. I’m bringing out all the hits.
Him: Top 20?
Me: Top 20 from the 2000s.

After dinner, the family decided to play Twister. Yes, Twister. I’ve still got it! I managed to keep myself up plus Dominic. I bowed out when a spin for me would have required me to sit on his head. Let’s not get crazy in confinement.

Nighttime also is TV time. Even “sheltering in place” cannot help me get through the treacly “This Is Us.” I deleted all episodes in my queue, and instantly feel better. (Honestly. It takes itself SO SERIOUSLY. It’s like a DC Comics movie.)

I’m still taking CORVID-19 seriously. Perhaps too much. I got a little worried earlier this week because I had a sore throat and a headache. Insert panic. Then I realized it’s springtime in the South — an inch of pollen everywhere.

Maybe that explains the guy restocking at the gas station. He emitted a small cough. The cashier and I whipped around on him.

Me: How long have you had that cough?
Him: (Scurries quickly away from the loud lady)

Stay safe, and don’t get Corona-ed,
Beth

 

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Dear Santa,

I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you in person this year. I tried. The line was just too long at Santaland. I had other places to go, and people to see.

(It occurs to me that I’m actually lamenting the fact that I didn’t get to sit on some some old dude’s lap. Holiday traditions are weird.)

As I’ve been (mostly) good, I’m hoping that you can still help me out with my wish list. Items are a little tricky this year, I’m afraid. Not sure the elves can handle these things.

Anyway, here goes:

    1. Some kind of cream that will make the itchy spot on my right eye go away. The dermatologist is stumped. I use the same products on BOTH EYES, but my left eye is fine. Please help. I look like Hitch.
    2. Guests in our Airbnb condo who will actually read and abide by the house rules. It’s not like we are asking for much. Just take the trash out of the place, and send it down the rubbish chute right outside the door. We aren’t asking for gold doubloons as tips or anything. Although …
    3. A money tree would be nice. Have you seen how much Dominic eats? Or how leggy Gideon is getting? At least they can’t wear my shoes anymore, so that means mine stay clean. I promise I will share the harvest with friends and family. Well, most of them.
    4. Expansion of Marta. Or at the very least, a change of heart for the car-focused people of Atlanta who keep voting against it.
    5. People who are driving at or below the speed limit to STAY THE F out of the passing lane. You have a reindeer-powered sleigh. You do not know the horror of I-16.
    6. Another season of “Schitt’s Creek.” Season 6 is supposed to be the last one. But you can make Daniel Levy change his mind, right? RIGHT?!
    7. The ability to speak Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Japanese fluently. I dream big, but you’re Santa. It’s not like you are starting from scratch. I’m at toddler levels for the first two. And I know key phrases for the others. Look, you never know when you need to tell a Japanese person that he’s taken the last Band-Aid.
    8. A stop to the entire country of India requesting to add me as a contact on Linked In. I really don’t know anyone in India.
    9. More followers for this blog. It’s not an ego thing (although an audience is great). It’s an expanding-my-circle thing.  I’ve met some of the most interesting people via this blog — folks I never would have met otherwise.
    10. Guest posts. I’m still waiting for posts from Julia, Royce, Kerstin, Nick, TJ, etc. I’m not holding my breath, though.
    11. Patience. Lord knows Dominic regularly uses up my limited supply.
    12. Someone to make these for me. I’m a great cook, but kind of a crappy baker.
    13. The cute blue cheetah-print jeans I gave away when I thought I’d be fat forever.
    14. More early-morning water boot camp classes at the Y so that I won’t ever be fat again.
    15. For Origins to bring back the Spring Fever scent. Please! I can’t be the only one who has asked you for this.

I know it’s a tall order. Just do what you can. Thanks, Santa! I appreciate you.

Love,
Beth

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I’m about to do something I’ve never done. See below. (And I’m not sure why my hair looks gray on top. It’s not.)

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen on the Weight Struggle Bus:

I know your pain. I was with you in more than spirit a year ago. As a reminder, here’s a photo from Trish the Human’s wedding on Sept. 9 last year:

I cringe when I see that photo. I’m clearly trying — and failing — to hide behind Dominic.

Here’s a photo from a year earlier:

Notice the body language. (I’d say to notice the dark, slimming colors, but I wear black despite how much of me there is.)

I was MISERABLE. How to hide in photos was the least of my worries.

Bigger worries:

  • High cholesterol
  • Inability to give campus tours without getting out of breath (especially up one particular hill)
  • Ridiculous amount of self consciousness
  • Negative self talk
  • Wardrobe reduced by 80 percent
  • Snoring
  • Sleeping even less than I do now
  • Hot all the damn time

I’ve shared with you my turning point. It’s different for everyone, but let me say this about that:

It is NEVER going to get easier.

There is no magic pill.

Surgery can be a fix for some but still requires changes in eating habits.

You have to decide you are going to do something about your health. Then DO IT.

The program I chose worked for me*, but may not work for you.

Despite the fact that I’m married to someone in the CrossFit Cult (or maybe, actually, BECAUSE of that), I hate exercising. I lost almost 50 pounds by controlling what went in my piehole.

Now that I’ve lost the weight, I go to the gym three times a week for my Biddy Boot Camp.

I hit my goal weight in April, and I have maintained it with very little effort.

I FEEL GREAT!

That’s what I say to anyone who will listen. People not even living with me notice the difference.

To that end, I’m going to do something I’ve never, ever done — and never would have done if I hadn’t lost the weight: Publicly post a bikini pic. No filter. No cropping. No Photoshop.

Here we go.

I know I still have some work to do, but I feel more confident than I have in more than 15 years. I’m brave enough to take and share this photo, anyway.

And if this move inspires even ONE of you to make a change for your sake and for the sake of your family, then my nervousness at doing it will have been worth it.

If I can do it, you can too. I believe in you.

Love and all my best wishes for a healthier you,
Beth

 

* Eddie is now a coach in the program. Send me a message if you want me to hook you up.

 

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STOP: If you haven’t read “Sentenced to Church, Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V and Part VI,” do that now.

The final church visit was made to a Lutheran church on Palm Sunday. I chose this church for a specific reason: I thought it might actually be one I could attend regularly.

After going to five churches and reaffirming the things I don’t believe and don’t like about church, I thought it might be good to do some research. Thanks to religion.net, I was able to research a variety of world religions. I looked at the site’s chart listing all the various categories for belief (the Bible, communion, heaven, hell, etc.) and followed across to see where my personal convictions matched up with an organized religion.

The top contender appeared to be the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Voila! I had my sixth and final entry of my study.

When I walked up that Sunday, the congregation was preparing for the special Palm Sunday processional. The greeter asked me to sign the guest book, which I did. As in the other church visits, I did not fill out the address because I didn’t really want to be stalked by various church representatives. The greeter, a kind-looking elderly lady was persistent.

“Where are you from?,” she asked. “Bloomingdale,” I replied, naming the nearest city. “Which part?” she probed. “Just up the road,” I said evasively. “Yes, but which part?” she demanded. Luckily, I was saved by another neighbor, Robert, from four doors down, who steered me away to meet his wife Phyllis. Phyllis was sitting alone during the service because Robert had a part as Judas in the Palm Sunday presentation.

Even with the service modified to celebrate Palm Sunday, it felt comfortable – like slipping on an old bathrobe. I was raised Presbyterian, and many aspects of this service were similar to what I remember from services at Highlands Presbyterian Church. I could recite the Nicene Creed without assistance, for example.

One hour later, I was back in my car and ready to go home, mission fulfilled.

One week later, I headed to the courthouse to turn in my bulletins. The clerk shuffled through a basket of papers (what, no computer files?) and pulled out my citation. She stapled the bulletins to it and said I was finished. “That’s it?” I asked. “No receipt?” “That’s it,” she said, looking a little disturbed that I had questioned the system.

Though my husband still gets a kick out of calling me a criminal, I’m pleased with my sentence, and how much I learned. My theory of life is that if something wonderful happens, then that is great in itself. But if something not-so-wonderful happens, then that is OK because it makes a great story.

In other words, bad decisions make good stories.

I guess sometimes crime does pay.

THE END

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STOP: If you haven’t read “Sentenced to Church, Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V,” do that now.

Next up was a visit I had been both anticipating and dreading. One block away from my house is a Revivalist church. I ambled over there at 7:30 p.m. on a Friday night and was met with what sounded like the worst “American Idol” audition ever. A guy was playing the keyboard and warbling hymns with all of his heart and energy. Too bad he was completely tone deaf.

According to the literature foisted upon me when I walked in the door, the church was founded by a married couple when “God began to use them to change the spiritual atmosphere of Savannah and the surrounding areas.” The brochure also said that “speaking with tongues” was not only to be expected but encouraged. Yikes.

I was “sister” here too, and greeted by everyone who came in the sanctuary (I use that term loosely as the building is a one-story concrete structure that looks like it may have been a storage unit at one time). Each person explained that I really should come on a Sunday when there are more people (70 as opposed to 17). After the fourth person made that comment, I finally said, “Well, the important thing is the message, not the number of people, right?” The lady blanched and fled to the other side of the room.

Like most standard services, this one began with a few hymns. Instead of hymnbooks, the church employs technology: an overhead projector and screen. The words were there but, because of the accompanist’s limitations, it was kind of hard to get the melody.

The sermon was not so much a sermon as a collection of anecdotes. One was about a science class and a jar of rocks filled with sand and water. The teacher apparently put in the various items in that order, asking each time if the jar was full. The jar was not full until he poured in the water, which is akin to how God’s love is able to fill in all the cracks in our nasty little human hearts. The pastor was not much of a storyteller, though. He was interrupted about three times by the person who first told him the story (the student) to correct parts he was butchering. And the poor pastor also had an odd habit of adding “Amen” in unexpected places. As in, “The teacher poured in the water, Amen” and “You may be seated, Amen.”

The pastor also offered his thoughts on mental health. According to him, “Depression is not a disease; it is a spiritual problem. It results from turmoil.” Maybe he and Tom Cruise should compare notes and join together to save all of us from unnecessary medication and doctor visits.

After the service, I ran home as fast as I could go. I avoided the road and any lights that could illuminate me and my path. I didn’t want any of the revivalists to see where I live.

Up next: “Yes, but what part?”

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STOP: If you haven’t read “Sentenced to Church, Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV,” do that now.

In the Lowcountry, churches are plentiful. There are four within a one-mile radius from my house. One of those is a historic church that keeps a strange schedule: Services are only held on the first Sunday of each month.

Folks at this Baptist church were very welcoming, without being overbearing. As it turns out (and this is how far removed I am from the church culture in my area), the pastor is my next-door neighbor.

We sang a few well-known hymns and then neighbor man delivered a sermon, which also was about the path to heaven. According to him, all you have to do is say out loud:

“I accept Jesus Christ as my personal lord and savior.”

I guess saying it in your head or to the dog won’t work.

Up next: “You may be seated, Amen.”

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STOP: If you haven’t read “Sentenced to Church, Part I, Part II and Part III,” do that now.

/\ Me

My coworker invited me to her Christian church where I felt like produce at the grocery store. Each “Welcome, sister” was accompanied by a handshake, hug, shoulder rub, full-body squeeze or some such contact. I needed to be hosed down with antibacterial gel after the two-hour service, during which the minister asked me to stand and say something to the congregation. “Uh … thanks for welcoming me” was my impromptu speech.

The day’s sermon concerned the way to heaven. According to the minister, the only way is to be baptized and join this particular church. That’s it. No other way. I wondered if you could still go one living a wicked life, but yet belong to the church and be OK.

This kind of information is important, because I think I’m pretty wicked in general. Plus, one of the tenets adhered to by the good folks at this church is that “Women are to learn in silence” and “They are not to teach in any capacity over a man.” I’m serious. It was in their bulletin. As I am rather a chatty sort, and I am employed as a college professor teaching both women and men, I think this church is not for me.

Up next: “What a friend we have in Jesus”

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