Sunday, February 27, 2011

7 pounds in 14 days...

On my return from Europe at the weekend I took the trepid step and climbed on my scales. At first I wasn’t sure if my waning old eyes were failing me further, or whether my scales had broken whilst I was away, but what was before me was worse than a national disaster. I had gained 7 pounds, yes 7 pounds. Apart from nearly fainting, the only other sign I was alive was the whimper coming from my lips. How on earth could this have happened? I mean, seriously, 7 pounds in 14 days, that’s a half a pound a day, or if you want it in real throw-up terms, seeing as 3,500 calories is equal to 1 pound fat means I ate 24,500 calories more than I normally do!!! So all the pasta, olive oil, pastry products, oh and don’t forget the wine, I consumed have now taken home in my fat store.
But the dilemma is what to do about it. Should I diet or should I not? Usually, I would immediately go on a crash diet, and as you know I am the GABY self-confessed diet freak. However, this time I am going to refrain from such drastic action and try to be rational about this. So, as one reader from our first issue and blog had inspired me to read the “Eat This Not That” book (I reviewed it this month), I am going to use this as my guru and see if my new wobbly lodgers can be shifted! I wonder, though, how come I never used to have this problem in my 20s and 30s--why could I eat and drink what I wanted without problems. I know you will all immediately say METABOLISM, but truly can it get that bad? If so, I am afraid to think what will happen next. Will I eventually put on weight as soon as I look at a pizza or take that second glass of wine? Will I be relegated to eating salads every vacation, or is there a more civilized way to overcome this little issue? Please help, any ideas and tips would be greatly received.
Flabbier than usual,
Dawn (the GABY Diet Freak)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And the Beat Goes On by Mary Alford-Carman

So my thirteen-year-old daughter and I were tripping the light fantastic down the highway, and she had been given control of the music for the drive. Can you say time for an awkward moment? A new song comes on, you can’t read the display, the beat is great, and then the lyrics come slamming in at full speed before you can think to act. Let’s just say that while the language was not explicit, the innuendo wasn’t lacking, so much so that you might as well have stuck our faces into a preview of “Girls Gone Wild.” I wish I could remember the lyrics, but the gist was that a party was going on in the nether regions and company was wanted. The situation was in sync with my music review “Invisible Words” in February’s issue of

My daughter looked over and just changed the station. “Well, that was random,” was all she said as she looked over grinning at me. We talked about the song for a moment or two and I felt good that she really didn’t care about it but was comfortable talking with me about the song. I couldn’t help but remember lowering the volume on my stereo at home when I was sixteen and my parents where close by because the lyrics were less than stellar. The beat goes on, the cycle continues, but at least my daughter talks to me about the music she likes and dislikes…for now.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Another F Word...

Lately I've been struck by an F word that I never really considered before the F word of fifty. My new F word is a single word mantra that I keep repeating - Freedom! If you read our guest column this month, "The F Word", by Maria Pramaggiore, then you got a glimpse of the realities of being 50 in today's universe. It's not always pretty to watch others dismiss you even more quickly than they will walk away from broccoli. Now all of us have been dismissed by others. But as we age, it seems to take on a new dimension. It is just expected that we aren't up on new music or technology or anything remotely cool. Add in the mix teenagers and now you know that you're stupid, too. But I'm slowly starting to realize that at fifty, maybe I don't care so much anymore. Hey, I'm 50. Like me, don't like me, whatevah. Hey, I'm 50. I don't need the world's validation so much anymore. My momma turns 80 in a few days. She flat doesn't care what you think of her (it's a Southern saying - "flat don't care"). She doesn't like it if you say something bad about her children and grandchildren, but if you say something about her - knock yourself out. She said that as you get older, you realize that the people who care about you show up at your funeral. The others, well, if you can't say something nice, just don't say anything, and walk away. Freedom! What do you think? Are you comfortable with aging? Are you starting to feel relaxed over the whole thing?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Good Neighbor May be Hard to Find, But the Bad One Rings Your Bell All the Time

In my February essay, “A Good Neighbor is Hard to Find,” I skewered some of the neighbors I’ve met over the years, and I’ve met a lot of them, having moved so often. So I’m an introvert, a homebody, a writer. I do not join social clubs. But I realize the importance of neighbors, of working with them, of compromise. A long marriage has taught me how to get along. I do play well with others, am a loyal friend, a good employee. I get along. I’m just picky about who I befriend.

Right now I’m listening to my stuck-in-the-80s neighbor blaring her music “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough.” If I knew her phone number, I’d call in a different request. She razed all the trees in her backyard which faces our court, opposite our front yard, so her dogs bark if anyone rears his head out the door. My son is outside all the time, hence barking is constant. She cares not, and I’ve never said anything to her about it. However she did call me out for my dog who once took himself on a run the length of her fence taunting her barking dogs. It would be cool if the neighbor up the street who punched the other neighbor over his barking dog lived here. I’d love to unleash them on each other.

My carpool friend down the street moved because her neighbor punched out her husband over another barking dogs’ issue. $30,000 worth of surgery. We’re pretty sure he dognapped one of the dogs too. I stand on the other side of the street from him at the bus stop. I just can’t make myself make nice with him.

It sounds like we’re in a real redneck place, but we’re in an old neighborhood on the lake, where modest older homes mingle with million-dollar listings. It’s a strange diverse mix, with no homeowner’s dues or association, which I love. I know we aren’t going to like everyone, but can’t we all just take a chill pill?

Laws were created to save us from our unjust impulses, our desire to knock each other’s lights out, our overwhelming compulsion to tell each other what we really think. Some of us just write it out, which I like to think is taking the higher ground. I don’t talk to most of my neighbors because I can’t think of a nice thing to say. I was raised right.

How do you get along with the neighbors?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Getting Through by Mary Alford-Carman

I got a call from an acquaintance who read “Inside An Empty Womb,” the essay I wrote for our online magazine and I was touched beyond belief. We had worked together during the summer for the U.S. Census and had briefly connected, sharing our thoughts on motherhood, working and juggling schedules. She didn’t know that I had gone through the infertility process, and she was going through it for the second time around. Her first attempts were similar to mine, but she did have a child who is now a five-year-old son. They want to have another baby, and the process, while still daunting, has them excited for the future.

What caught her attention in my essay was the mention of mood swings and of the loss of a baby so dreamed about and wanted. She told me that reading the words left her feeling validated. She still mourned a loss that no one ever saw, but felt that given the opportunity she wouldn’t have changed a thing. In the day-to-day of parenting, the loss of a baby before term had made her more grateful for the child she hugs today. She, too, had those who made comments that were less than compassionate after her loss. I asked her how she handled it and she told me most of the time she just walked away. There were times when she really had to bite her tongue, because she just couldn’t deal with their lack of kindness along with her loss.

We all go through horrific hard times in life, and many times we find the support we need around us. When we don’t, it shocks and causes hurt. Have you ever been in a situation where the support you hoped for wasn’t there, or worse still, was insensitive? How did you handle it? Who helped you through it?  Sometimes, when the chips are really down, who can you rely on to “get it” and help you get through?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Friendships Can Sing...or Hum

When I wrote the essay, "A Mockingbird Can Sing", I thought the main theme was prejudice and bigotry. But now I'm not so sure. Maybe the real theme to the essay is friendship. Friendship should be easy. It should not be based on the color of your skin or your religion or affluence. Friendship should come about because you are willing to take the time to get to know someone, and false barriers like skin color or someone else's opinion as to who is an appropriate friend, should not play into the construction of a friendship. Unfortunately we all often use external indicators as a road map to friendship. When I look at the people I am closest to, I actually have very little in common with most of them. I have friends who are married women with kids, living in the suburbs just as I am, but I have just as many who are single, divorced, no kids, grown kids, grandkids, older, younger, city, farm, no college, Northern, Canadian, British, atheist, Muslim, African-American, Asian, and on it goes. I even have several (dare I say it) men who are my dear friends. On paper, these are not my counterparts. In life, I would not trade anything for a true friendship. One of the beautiful women I reference at the end of the essay, once asked me, "Why do you let them say that to you? Walk away." She was talking about some bullying that was regularly occurring. Until she said that to me, it never occurred to me that I had a choice. She gave me a choice and also made me realize that just as prejudice knows no borders, kindness is not held hostage to one group of people. So sing, baby...unless you sound like I which case you better just you can keep all those friendships. Share your stories of unexpected friendships with us. What do you look for in a friend?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

So Much Multitasking Requires a Holiday

By Dawn Tolson
As you read this I will finally be on my way for a family trip to Italy and England. My feet have not touched the ground for the past week, trying to juggle the normal demands of my life with the extra work that is involved with preparing not only myself, but my two children and husband for a trip.
In my essay “Ode to a Housewife,” I described how we women are the queens of multitasking, but last night I got to thinking about women around the world--for instance years and years ago I had the pleasure of visiting Kenya. I don’t like staying in large tourist areas so we were residing in an out-of-the-way place; interestingly enough it was Ernest Hemingway’s retreat, but I digress. One day our driver decided it would be nice to show us his village. Like being taken back in time, we were driven along a dirt road for what seemed miles and finally we arrived at the houses. The village consisted of about 10 traditional mud huts that were their homes. Inside they were basic and relatively clean considering the conditions. We sat and drank (very reluctantly) the hot drink offered us by the lady of the house, even though it was about 95 degrees outside. Her husband and children were all present and seemed so carefree; he was just sitting quietly and the kids were laughing and playing.
I wonder if her life was as hectic as mine seems to be today as a wife and mother. Did she have to multitask in her own way, maybe whilst preparing the grain or taking the washing to some unknown place to me or sewing the rags they wore which were their clothes? Could it be that this simple way of living is somehow the answer to my dilemma? I can’t help feeling that our stresses today are related to our Western ideal of life. It seems that everywhere we look there are pictures or depictions of what a perfect wife, husband, family, and house should be and operate like. Has the modernization of our world led us into a lifestyle that is finally going to leave us worn out and regretful? I don’t know the answer, but I do know I am worn out and need to go on a vacation, so Ciao, Adios, Arrivaderci. I’ll see you when I get back!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Please Don’t Offer Me a Job—I Can’t Afford It

In my February column, “I Want a New Job, but First I Need New Clothes, Hair and Makeup,” I list the many things that I felt I had to buy for a big job interview. (I’ll detail the interview results in March—quite laughable). I shocked myself by the tally: over $450 spent to try to put my best foot/face/body forward.

Does it really cost money to make money? Does it really cost that much to look good? Is that what’s meant by putting your money to work for you? No, I think not.

What I like about my current job is the lack of dress code—I get to wear jeans every day. That’s the perk for working off hours in a place where clients do not visit. I call it the coal mines, but I relish that part. No one to impress with your overpriced dress. You get to feel just yourself.

In thinking of a job change, that’s the one part I’d hate to give up. I hated walking into an office building for the interview where everyone had on business casual, heels, and looked so put together. I am never put together, and I’m comfortable that way. My hair won’t behave, so I let it be. My jeans fringe and have paint on them, my makeup disappears before the day does, and my back rejects heels. I am comfortable in my own skin, but not in $450 worth of newness. I tug and pull and walk weirdly and check my makeup. For some, that’s their natural state; they feel more themselves all pulled together. For me, not so much. I guess I’m a coal mine kind of girl, and it probably shows.

What have you done for a job interview?