Wine Country

Image from AARP.

Since Saturday, I’ve watched this movie 1.5 times; the first time from beginning to end and the second from right around when Jenny (Emily Spivey) tells Naomi (Maya Rudolph) that she’s her Apollonia until the end.

Pals, I love this movie! I’d read some tepid reviews about it which was disappointing because there are so many great people in this movie. To that end, I’d put it off for a while; never really finding the perfect time to sit down and be disappointed by it.

Image from Vulture.

HOW-FUCKING-EVER…I have to say that I really enjoyed this movie. The 1.0 time I watched it, I have to admit that it took a little while to get the hang of it’s whole deal. I was a little confused by the pace of it which seemed a lil’ “wander-y” to me. But then I, like, rilly got into it.

Follow me down a rabbit hole for a sec. A thing you need to know about me is that I’m a Prairie Head aka a Little House on the Prairie fan. (Recently I was legit on a bus with Alison Arngrim but that’s a story for another time.) The reason this is relevant on any level is because when I got back into Lil’ House a few years back, I was shockedSHOCKED at how slow-paced ’twas. At first, it ratcheted up my anxiety. Pingponging between Arrest Development and the prairie had me reeling. But as I relaxed into watching Pa raking hay or Ma sweeping the kitchen floor or Laura a’wandrin’ down a dirt road or Mary blowing out the candle to go to sleep, I realized that the slowness of the show was it’s finest feature for me, a stressed out lunatic.

Image from Country Living.

Squeezing (ass-first) out of the rabbit hole, I’ve learned to cherish a milder pace. I enjoyed being in the hot tub with May and Emily. I reveled in Abby’s/Amy Poehler’s weird bossy energy. I found comfort in Val’s / Paula Pell’s specific brand of over-nice lesbian optimism. I am always a fan of Rachel Dratch. I don’t really know Ana Gasteyer (Catherine) but I loved her friendship with Tina Fey’s character. Also, it was really weird how off-to-the-side and butch Tina’s character, Tammy, was but I read that she had a filming conflict and needed to take a smaller role.

LOOK, to be honest, I keep getting distracted by Schitt’s Creek right now so all I really want to say is that I have been on that trip: the LOLs, the hangover, the simmering tension, getting in trouble at a winery, etc. I feel like overall, they captured that specific feeling in an hour and 20 min movie.

I cannot stop watching this clip.

During the “.5” watching of this cinematic masterpiece (because Kristyn fell asleep to it the first time), I slid into it like an LA Fitness hot tub (aka excited to try it, then worried that it would stress me out, but ultimately warm and bubbly).

Image sourced from this LA Fitness YouTube clip taken in 2010 in Easton, PA by Lynn.

Pals, I recommend. It was a pleasant time all-around. 10/10. Would do it again. Like Lynn says “Great Place to exercise and then unwind.

P.Fng.S. I’m back because I want to take umbrage. When the tarot reader was doing the reading, I appreciated that they showed each card. Even though it was annoying that she’d read only ONE card per person, I was like “Fine, whatever. We don’t have time to read more than one card per person.” But then when they faffed on that weird detail about the snake card?! What kind of fuckery was that? Maybe it was just a different deck or a Lenormand deck? I don’t know anything about Lenormand but that detail was weird especially since it ties back to Naomi getting bitten. Still, apart from that, perfect movie.

I’m making some big decisions

In 2015, I graduated from Rutgers with a BA in Women’s and Gender Studies. This was after going to school on and off for seventeen years while working full-time and living my life. I’d always had “finish school” as the big project that I was driving towards, even when I was taking time off. Once I did it, I was like “WHAT NOW?!” In the past four years (how did that happen), I’ve feverishly researched going to grad school, moving far away (again), working on my career, trying to have kids, etc, etc, etc. I’ve also worked on my health on and off. Basically, when you spend 17 years working all day and going to school all night, you develop some sedentary habits which are so difficult to break. In short, ma dudes, I’m a couch pa-tater.

This bitch with the Scarlet Knight and her cap on backwards.

Ya gurl has gained a LOT OF WEIGHT (50 pounds in 7 years) since she moved back from LA. In fact, after my brother died, I gained about 20 more pounds even though I swore that I was going to CHANGE ALL THE THINGS and GET INTO EXCELLENT SHAPE after he died. So far, it’s been a nonstarter. Grief’ll do that to ya. So that’s like 10 pounds per year which isn’t exactly insane but it’s also not not insane.

One thing about me is that I’m a Fitbit lover and a David Sedaris groupie. The second he published this essay, I dialed up my interwebs and purchased one immediately. Since then, I’ve not gotten to his level (#bless) but I HAVE bought (or have been gifted) six of them for myself. I’ve gifted at least the same to my wife. I’ve bought one for my Father-in-Law and my Mother. I’ve forced my used ones on loved ones. I have interchangeable rubber bracelets popping out of all my junk drawers. I’m not a brand ambassador but something about tracking my steps for the day and uploading it to an app makes me feel productive. I like setting a daily goal and meeting or exceeding it. I’m a to do list person. I like checking off successes. A combination of therapy, Fitbit, and Trintellix has gotten me through this past year.

Image courtesy of The New Yorker.

You’d think that becoming a Fitbit aficionado would translate to a loss of 70 pounds in 7 years but then, you’d be a fool. Alas, even though I’m feverishly tracking my steps daily, I’m not doing any type of exercise that’s sweating off the pounds. Mostly what I’m doing is listlessly dancing every morning in front of my television to sitcoms. I realized that this “exercise routine” will never get me on the Olympic team but it DOES get my heart pumping, stretches me out better than any morning stretching routine ever has, helps my back, and gives me a slight endorphin rush. This morning’s dancing elevated my anxiety a bit because I’m on the last three episodes of Maude and I hate it when a sitcom ends (even though it truly ended 40 years ago and I have it on DVD and can watch it whenever the funk I want). I’m sentimental like that.

Photo courtesy of Bitch Magazine.

So all of this blather above is to say that I’ve made the decision to do Bariatric surgery. Here’s the thing; I haven’t come to this decision lightly. The first time my doctor suggested I do it was about two years ago. I felt reactive and a little “Fuck you” about it. I asked him if he was suggesting this to me because he didn’t have faith in me to do it on my own. He said “Coleen, I don’t have faith in ANYONE to lose weight. It’s just too hard to do.” He also said that some of the creeping health issues that have been popping up would be solved. (FYI, I have always had great health but in the past few years I’ve been diagnosed with Severe Sleep Apnea, cholesterol that’s on the high side of normal, and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver.) I mean, all of these are because of my weight, being sedentary, and my food choices. Also, I’m going to be 40 in September. Basically, my body idles at “good health” but I’ve been working HARD to overcome that and I’m succeeding.

The second time a doctor suggested Bariatric Surgery to me, it was a Perinatal Doctor that I’d been referred to as a part of an IVF checklist. This was also about two years ago. There too, I felt like “Fuck you.” My fertility doc sent me to her for essentially being “fat and old” (my words not hers but you dig). I said “So, in order to get pregnant, you want me to FIRST do a major abdominal surgery?” She was like “Sure.” I walked out of her office muttering about feminism, size-ism, age-ism, etc, etc, etc.

Image from here.

So two years passed and I saw two nutritionists and none of their advice stuck. I Fitbit-danced to 10+ sitcoms. I gained 20 pounds. I lost my brother due to “natural causes” aka “obesity” and an “enlarged heart”. (I had an EKG which showed that I do NOT have an enlarged heart. Obesity, however, yes.)

Last fall, I had a thought, “What if instead of being all fuck you, I was like this is exactly what I want and I’m so excited to do it?” I decided to research Bariatric Surgery with a completely open (and unenlarged) heart. I researched benefits, risks, people who’ve had it done, surgeons, recovery times, long-term effects, what is and isn’t covered by insurance, etc, etc, etc. Once I was done researching it, I talked it over with my wife who was VERY skeptical (aka afraid for me). I found myself working to convince her and kind of realized that I really DID want to do it. I took even more time and tried to then talk myself OUT of it. I finally settled on booking a consultation with a surgeon in NJ who came highly recommended from a bunch of sources. I made the appointment and went to it. She and I had a great discussion going through all the various types of Bariatric Surgeries and the one she ended up recommending was exactly what I’d already been leaning towards through my research; Gastric Sleeve.

Image courtesy of here.

Essentially, they take your healthy (albeit stretched out) stomach and staple a section of it off; removing the rest. This leaves a wee pouch. The purpose of this is threefold: 1) You literally cannot fit a lot of food in there, 2) there’s less surface area of your stomach so nutrients are more easily absorbed, and 3) your body produces less of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. There are basically three different types of Bariatric surgery: the lap band (which is where they literally put a rubber band around your stomach to the same effect), the gastric sleeve (above), and the gastric bypass (which is a whole crazy thing where they sort of attach your pipes directly to your intestines bypassing the stomach entirely – leaving your stomach just listlessly floating in your body). The most research they have (20 years) is about the bypass. It’s the A+ gold standard of bariatric surgery (more on that later). They are really not recommending the lap band anymore because it’s not really effective AND you have to do a minimum of two surgeries: 1) to put it in and 2) to remove it when it inevitably malfunctions (and then you gain ALL of the weight back). The gastric sleeve is the most popular bariatric surgery people are doing now although there is only about 10 years of research on it. Essentially, the reason she recommended gastric sleeve is that if you do the gastric sleeve and have an issue, you can go to a bypass but if you opt for the bypass out of the gate, there’s nowhere really to go. The surgeon said I’d have to fight her if I wanted to do the lap band. I liked the cut of her gib.

So the reality is that insurance WILL cover this surgery but I have to do the following things before they (and the surgeon) will allow it:

  1. Surgical consult – DONE
  2. Six monthly “supervised” visits at the surgeon’s office (and if I miss a month, I have to start all over again)
    1. First visit in March 2019 – DONE
    2. Second visit in April 2019 – DONE
    3. Third visit in May 2019 – DONE
    4. Fourth visit in June 2019 – DONE
    5. Fifth visit in July 2019 – Scheduled
    6. Sixth visit in August 2019 – Scheduled
  3. A visit with their on-staff dietician – Scheduled for July 2019
  4. Bloodwork – Working on it
  5. A note from my therapist – Working on it
  6. A note of medical necessity from my GP – DONE
  7. An endoscopy – Working on scheduling it after some rigamarole from insurance
  8. Losing a bit of weight – Not going well

I know I’m forgetting some things but point being, I’m WERKING on it. I’m hoping that I can get it done by the end of August; which would have been my brother’s 29th birthday. If not, maybe I’ll get it done in September which will be my 40th birthday. For my 30th, I moved to LA. For my 40th, I’m going to get a section of a major bodily organ removed.

Anyway, I really gotta GTFO right this second. I wanted to write this out so I can focus on it because my focus has been all over the place lately. I hope this helps someone to read and if it doesn’t, well, it helped me to write.

Queen of the Neighborhood

Also also also also also also also also also also…we went to see Bikini Kill last night! It was at the King’s Theater in Brooklyn which is such a pretty and convenient venue. Bikini Kill was as awesome as you’d want them to be. Here are some pics:

This is before the show. We were just kids, then.
We didn’t get to sit with Amanda. She was on the upper tier but we found her and waved frantically haha.
I asked security if I could go up a little closer to take a photo and this is sort of the best I could do. Not probably the most flattering photo of them but exciting nonetheless!
Just a quick photo of the sign outside. Such an awesome night.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table drinking my coffee. I’m a little tired but that was fun. Have to hop to it and get to work now!

Success!

Yesterday, I completely forgot to mention at least two major things that also happened recently:

Kristyn got published for the first time in this issue of The Public Historian!
We got to vote for Kristyn in a public election! She ran unopposed so it’s looking like she’ll win!
Here she is outside the polling booth after we got to vote for her!
And here we are, self-satisfied and on our way to take me to work.

We’ve been having a lot of good times lately! *Knock Wood*

It’s not all bad

Okay, this has been a grim-fest around here. I’ve committed sort of a hit and run where I’m all “Momma’s got open heart surgery and Charles died. Bye for a year.” Objectively though, I’ve been having a pretty good time with myself. Here are some awesome things that have happened in the past year with photo evidence:

  1. In 2018, we went to Scotland with our family. I mentioned that but here’s some additional evidence:
This is me, Kristyn, and some of our cousins in front of Greyfriar’s Bobby in Edinburgh last June 2018.

2. Here we are, later that same trip, getting tattoos of our dog, Shirley, in Glasgow:

It was semi-on a whim and started out with a family plan to get a thistle tattoo. Oh, there’s a thistle in there but the dog is kind of the main attraction.
We both got the same tattoo; Kristyn’s is on her forearm and mine is on my thigh. It’s a drawing that one of our favorite cartoonists, Nicole Georges, did with thistles added. This, btw, is my left thigh.

3. On that same trip, we stayed a few days extra to do a small hopover to Ireland. We stayed in Dublin and here we are Dublin’ it up:

We’re in the Trinity College Library here which is gorge, natch.

4. Then from Dublin, we took a bus to Northern Ireland.

We got to see a lot but here we are in the Crown Bar in Belfast.

5. Then we spent the summer and fall at our camper Upstate:

Here’s Shirley by the campfire last fall.

6. This winter, we did a lot of fun things such as:

Going to see Michelle Obama at the Barclay Center. That’s Michelle Obama being interviewed by Sarah Jessica Parker. That was when Michelle wore THOSE BOOTS.

7. And then we went to see Maria Bamford in Newark for her birthday.

8. AND THEN we went to Paris for few days!

Here we are drinking champagne and eating the free chips that came with the champagne under the Eiffel Tower. That was a trip.

9. We went to LA and visited our old stomping grounds and also saw a lot of cool things that we couldn’t do when we lived there (for grievous lack of money).

We were heading into a Harry Potter event.

10. Oh shit, we also met Nellie Oleson!

This was us on a tour that Alison Arngrim lead. We were legit in a van with her for like three hours while she told us stories about her lift in Hollywood. She’s a pip and I love her forever.

11. My sister had another baby!:

Here we are, making him crazy already.

12. For some reason, my company let us knuckleheads launch an LGBTQ initiative.

Making it werk.

13. We’re back up to our old tricks Upstate.

Here’s Shirley tolerating us by the river.

14. We bought a car!

It’s a VW Beetle Convertible and we just cannot with it.

So, I mention all of this not to brag to you, dear reader. I’m mentioning it all to brag to me. I’ve been really anxious and a little sad lately. I think it’s because I’m stressed. This year and a half since Charles died has actually been one of the best of my life; despite losing him. I think his death shook loose some cobwebs and gave me a more “fuck it” stance which ended up making me take life less seriously and have more fun. In all of the positives above, I didn’t mention how many funerals of other loved ones we attended. I didn’t mention the fact that I finally started taking an anti-depressant (which I think maybe helped me immeasurably). I didn’t mention my constant fears about failure at work. I didn’t mention that I twisted my stupid ankle in Salem, Massachusetts. In fact, I forgot to mention that we also went to Salem AND WE DID. More on that later because it’s worth mentioning.

And so, I’m posting all of the above, not only to bring up the tone around here but also to bring up the tone for me. I’ve been stressing lately but the reality is that we’re having a really good time in our lives and I need to just cool it with the anxiety. Life is really good and I’m choosing to make it be that way.

BTW, I’m going to write more in depth about some of the above because the point of this blog is really so that I can remember and if anyone else enjoys the ride; awesome.

One Year

Today marks one year since we lost Charles. I decided to stay home from work and be alone with my thoughts. I actually ended up having a nice day. I sewed a patch onto something, crocheted part of a scarf, watched Factory Girl, and decorated the Christmas Tree with Kristyn. I also ate Thanksgiving leftovers twice. I definitely cried also. I think today was better than I thought it would be. We all miss him so much.

Oh hullo there!

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Okay, I’m ridiculous because I haven’t posted here all summer and so many crazy things have happened. Well, first, my Mom is doing better. See above. We went Upstate and I think the fresh air did her good.

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We also went to Scotland but Mom couldn’t go because it was way too close to her surgery which was sad.  More on all of this later! I wanted to post something to show that we’re still here and all is (relatively) well. In 2 days, it would’ve been Charles’ 28th birthday.

Wild Week

Lately, my life and everyone around me’s life has been completely out of control wild. We are all jumping from one insane event to the next. My Mom has been in and out of the hospital lately having problems with her heart resulting in a triple bypass. I fell and hit my head on the tub, went to the ER, and got a concussion. Work’s been nuts. That’s not even mentioning the fact that we went to Las Vegas, Kristyn finished her first year of her PhD, and we opened up the trailer last weekend. This isn’t even all of it. Oh AND?! Our car got stolen, then found, and we had to pay around $300 to get it out of impound. Point being that Momma is BUSY and TIRED. (I’m the “Momma” in this scenario.) Here are a few pictures recent pictures of these events:

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The above is me at the ER after I fell. The entire day before, we’d spent in the ER with my Mom and the nurse had told me that she’s had people fall and not report it and die. Then the next day I fell and hit my head HARD. I felt kind of fine / kind of suspicious so of course I had to go. Ugh.

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Here we are after getting our car out of hock. We’re smiling because we got it back and also because it’s the SECOND time that this exact same car has been stolen and returned to us.

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The above and below pictures are on Mother’s Day. My family took a spur-of-the-moment trip to Michael’s Craft Store after eating brunch and realized we hadn’t taken any nice pictures together. We had to leave to go to Kristyn’s family’s house so we took this one in the aisle, LOL. Gorgeous family portrait.

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Also, we forgot to take a photo with everyone in Kristyn’s family together before some people left so as we were walking out the door, we took this quick use. Another beautiful family portrait!

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Last weekend we went Upstate for the first time in 2018. It rained and we slept all weekend except for literally this minute just before we left.

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This is just Shirley sleeping on me and being a lunatic.

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This is me and Kristyn in the ER again with my Mother. She was there to be admitted and we were goofing around. We took more goofy pictures too. Don’t let the fact that we were selfie-ing fool you into thinking it wasn’t a serious situation. It was but we handle serious situations with goofiness and this beautiful background was the partition curtain in my Mom’s room, ha.

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the above picture we took after we found out that Mom’s surgery went well. We were jolly because of the weight lifted and all leaving for the day after being at the hospital since the morning. This bag that my Dad is holding up has my Mom’s initial “D” on it. She kept calling it “the D bag” as in “Can you hand me my D bag?” and it kept making us laugh. So here we all are the D bag.

We do find a way to enjoy ourselves but man I could sleep for a thousand years haha.

We live on this plane now

We are on a plane to Las Vegas and have been on it for approximately 24 full hours. We’re finally landing and it looks like this below:

We have been in a feeding frenzy out of boredom. Kristyn got a lot of her presentation done and I alternately napped and listened to Comey dish.

We ate and drank weird things too. We had soylent (above) and Primal strips vegan jerky (below):

I wouldn’t say that either were great.

I think one of the flight attendants was consoling a woman who was afraid that it would take too long to get from the airport to a casino to gamble. The flight attendant was really nice to the weird lady. I wonder if I tell her that I’m afraid of developing deep vein thrombosis if she’ll also talk me off a ledge.

The woman behind me has been talking endlessly to the people next to her and I’m not sure she knows them at all. I wanted to shush her for a little while because I literally couldn’t hear Comey speaking even though the volume on my audiobook was completely turned way up. No she doesn’t know this guy because she’s telling him she has a grandson.

We’s landing!

A Higher Loyalty

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Cover art via Audible.

YOU GUYS. First, I did not mean to sign on here and blog about anything. I sat down to pull up the Stephen Colbert interview with him to watch while we eat breakfast. I’m going to do that but first, I wanted to say “YOU GUYS.” I started listening to the audiobook last night and it’s a humdinger. Really interesting. I’m about an hour and a half-is in and he’s talked about a home invasion that happened when he was a teen, which is why he got into law enforcement, his experiences with the Mob, the nature of truth and lies, and has outlined various leaders he’s been proud to work under or suffered working under. It’s dishy and suspenseful so far. Gurl should write mystery novels or tell-all celeb biographies for a second act. I’d read’m.

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From Pete Souza’s Instagram. The caption is, “Every person in this photograph is a patriot.” GURL.

Oh, ALSO? He’s a lot more profane and silly than you’d think. I mean, that makes sense because he’s a human person and a grown adult but every time we’ve ever seen him or heard him, he’s been sort of straight-faced so that was a pleasant surprise ALTHOUGH, that “Lordy” thing makes me LOL a lot. Okay, I gotta GTFO. I’m, like, supposed to be doing a lot of things other than this!

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Image from here.