Taking The Lumps

“You should probably wear a girdle with that,” my mother said, poking at my lumpy bits. 

I was maybe twelve or thirteen. I had no idea what a girdle was. 

She explained.

When I had put the dress on, a hand me down from some unknown person, I had felt beautiful. Now? Not so much. I hid in my room and took it off, never to wear it again.

My mother did not mean to be mean, I suspect. She had her own her serious body image issues, but it still stung something fierce and those words stuck with me for many, many years. 

Food in my house was torture. My father was obsessed with feeding us as cheaply as possible. For breakfast we ate slimy gruel every morning that he would concoct and which made me gag. My siblings and I would choke down bites, watching with extreme envy as my mother chowed down on a bowl of Cheerios.  To this day even oatmeal is hard for me to eat. He would bring home cans of salmon and forbade my mother to take the spine bones out. A salmon patty, which might have otherwise been tasty, was punctuated by chalky bits of vertebrae. I could go on, but I won’t. It was driven by a certain degree of poverty at one point but even as that improved, the food torture did not.

When I could get good food, edible food, I over ate. 

After my mother’s comment, I stopped eating much of anything, skipping meals whenever I could get away with it, even the things I liked to eat. As I saw it, I did not deserve to eat tasty things if I could not control my weight.

Thus began my issues with food and weight.

I have been blessed to have love in my life that does not see me for my weight, whatever it happens to be at the time, but that does not stop me from being hard on myself. For decades I have struggled with the fact that I have a curvy butt and fuller thighs. I still struggle but it is a losing battle. My body shape is in my genes. I cannot change that without plastic surgery. Even when I lose weight, even when I exercise like crazy, my butt and thighs are always “disproportionately” larger than the rest of me.

Who determines correct proportions?

You know what has helped the most? Finding jeans and pants that fit ME right. It seems so silly. It would appear obvious that women are not made the same. It was not until these past several years, though, that the clothing industry really began to embrace this fact. Thank God, because I feel less shame when my pants fit right. 

Go figure. 

Now, I am starting to like me better. I don’t feel like I have to punish myself by withholding food or exercising. I don’t have to squeeze myself into clothes that don’t fit. Exercising is fun. So is food. And the weight is fixing itself.

Is this going to be the end of my issues? 

Maybe not. 

But it is a very good start.

Checking Out

Thorns of a Mesquite tree

“How is your day?” the cashier asked as he scanned the items one by one in slow motion. He looked to be in his late 20’s. The middle aged woman ahead of me wore a dark pants suit and looked to be in a hurry. It appeared there would be pasta for dinner in her house tonight.

My kids would love spaghetti and meatballs…

“Just fine. You?” She murmured politely as she pulled out her wallet. 

“Terrible! It has been a terrible day. I woke up this morning to a text from my parents saying they are raising my rent. How can they do that? Raising the rent?!?!!!?! I live in their house! How DARE they?”

He went on to rant for several minutes about how he was just going to have to find somewhere else else to live and it was not fair. What were they trying to get him to leave?

The woman stood awkwardly waiting on the receipt. He waved it around for emphasis as he told his story, effectively holding her hostage. Eventually she cleared her throat and held out her hand, offering no sympathy. Finally he handed the paper over. She grabbed the plastic sack and practically ran out of the store.

“How’s your day going?” he asked me as the scanner bleeped my few items.

“Just fine,” I said, stopping there.

Shaving cream.

Toothpaste.

Socks.

Awkward silence.

“I guess they do want me to move out, huh?” He looked crestfallen.

“Yeah. Probably.”

Love Is….

Heart shaped hole in a tree trunk

… someone who makes you a cup of coffee the way YOU like it instead of the way THEY want you to like it.

It sounds so simple but the truth of that statement evaded me for longer than I care to admit. There is peace in the knowledge, though…. peace and love.

So, to that man in my life, thank you for being my hero and saving us from the house fire… both literally and figuratively. I love you!

Hanging Out

Old Ferris wheel in black and white

I find that I am more and more conscious of my own nose hair. What is interesting about this is that I never, ever notice the nose hair of other people and if I did happen to see some bits poking out of a nostril it would not gross me out. So WHY on Earth do I care about my own nostril hair? 

Is this because my nose hair is getting longer? 

Perhaps I am growing more and more sensitive about the change of appearance that comes with aging and I am finding myself more interested in controlling the things that I can have some influence over? 

And then I wonder if there are people who do care about other people’s nose hair and if so, why do they care? What else do they do in their free time?

These are the thoughts I have on a Sunday morning after yet again having one of those pesky hairs ripped from my poor tender nostril by the stupid nose hair trimmer that is supposed to CUT the stupid things. I swear, next time I may as well just tweeze them out….

The Light At The End Of Your Tunnel

Torpedo tube on a submarine.
The floodgates open

Murky waters flow

In preparation 

For an invasion 

Down below

*********************************

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Katrina

Calm waters
“He needs a letter saying he’s disabled so he can get his check. All of his medical records were destroyed.”

His mother handed me a newspaper article clipping with a man of similar height and build pictured. It told of all of his physical disabilities and how he was working to conquer them. A journalistic fluff piece but now they presented it as proof of his condition and identity. 

“He can’t talk and he has to use the cane.”

“Why?”

“He had a stroke.”

“Which side did it affect?” 

“What do you mean?”

“Which side of the brain did it affect?”

“Both sides.”

Odd thing to say but it was not impossible and then sometimes people don’t really understand their medical conditions. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt but a nagging in my gut told me there was something not right. Was I being too judgemental? After all so many people had suffered so much.

Even stranger was that while there was some resemblance to the man in the article photo, they actually appeared to be two different people. I checked the date on the article. Five years. People age, they change with time. This man, though, appeared to be younger than the fellow in the photograph. Furthermore, when I did my exam, he was very clearly faking weakness.

“I am sorry. I cannot write that letter.”

“What? So what is he supposed to do without his check?” Hostility crept into her voice then progressed to outright indignation. “We lost our house, our money, everything we owned. We waded down the street past dead bodies. You have no idea what we have been through.” 

She was right. I had no idea what anyone in New Orleans had been through. Had they actually been there, though? I had no way of knowing for sure. I wanted to give everyone the benfit of the doubt but after several of these, I found myself becoming bitter and jaded.

“Let me send you to a neurologist who has also volunteered to see evacuees for free. Maybe he will have a different opinion….” 

“Forget it!” she yelled back at me.

They both stood and exited the room. I stared after them. He didn’t even bother to maintain the pretense of using the cane at this point.

This is what I remember about Hurricane Katrina… all of the people using the disaster and the very real suffering of hundreds of thousands to further their own interests and the feeling that nothing I did ended up helping a single soul.

Impact: Chater Eight

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*Adult content warning…*

I knew what I needed to do next and it did not make me happy.

Not one bit.

Whipping out the phone, I tapped at it fiercely only to remember that it no longer functioned. It had been years since I had seen an actual payphone anywhere and good luck getting someone to let me “borrow” their phone, especially when I started to explain to him what I needed.

A groan of frustration escaped my lips. I was going to have to go to his office. Or apartment. But no. I needed to keep things professional. It would have to be his office.

I groaned again and chucked the useless thing into the trash can. It made a satisfying crunch against the metal canister as it made impact. I could imagine the spider web of cracks that must now stretch across the screen.

Good.

The sharply dressed middle aged woman walking past me at that very moment paused slightly, looking hard at my contorted face, while clearly debating internally whether or not she should check to see if I was OK. She ended up talking herself out of it, going on her way instead. That was good. I didn’t want to have to deal with a do-gooding stranger’s concern.

What time was it anyway? I glanced around for a clock somewhere, anywhere, and found none. He was a few blocks away. I could get there quickly, certainly before five, if I left now.

I started to walk down Jackson Blvd.

Everett Haydar

My buttocks burned at the thought of his name, feeling the echo of the stinging slap of his hand followed by a lingering caress before the burn of the next strike.

Why does memory have to be so physical?

He was protective but he was also controlling. I was not the naive, docile, sweet woman he wanted from me but he was physically attracted. Very strongly so. As was I. So much so that I was willing to play the role. Those neurochemicals are incredibly hard to resist once you get a taste of them. As such, we pushed and pulled each scrabbling for the upper hand, for control of the relationship, never quite getting what we desired from the other but trying harder and harder still to get it, working up to a fevered pitch that could only culminate in intense lovemaking.

The fact of the matter was that if he started undressing me even now, I would not stop him. I would gladly offer my body up to him. Even now I wanted him to posses me physically. I just could not allow him to possess my soul. I remembered the delicious wetness of him on my thighs afterwards, the heady feeling of power that came from knowing that even while tied up, I could make him do things….

Powerful things.

We were on a dangerous path, he and I. It had to end. We each wanted to believe we pulled the plug but in truth, it was mutual and it hurt in a way I was not prepared to accept. The sting of the memory even now was worse than that of his hand on my backside.

In the end I found that I could not stomach making love to anyone else.

So there had been no one else.

People didn’t like him, people that I knew at least. They did not like how he spoke to me, how he hovered and yet seemed to look through me rather than at me.

What do you like about him, anyway? 

liked having my nipples crushed between his thumb and forefinger but that was not the answer anyone wanted to hear. It was not the kind of relationship I could explain to friends, so they drifted off and away. Here I was in the giant city of Chicago, a place full of people of every type, and I had no one else I could turn to for help.

No one but him.

Maybe he had won our battle of wills, after all?

I stood at the foot of his building, at Wacker Street, squinting to block out the glare of the sun as I looked up to the 62nd floor. Right there at the corner was his office. He had pointed it out to me from the outside one day. A strange mingling of dread and desire rose up from within, making my heart pound and my fingertips tingle as I strode into the lobby working hard to maintain a facade of confidence that I did not feel.

The speed of the elevator always surprised me. 62 floors in as many seconds. The force pressing down on my shoulders always made me feel heavier than I really was.

A trim dark haired woman in a black dress glanced up as I entered the reception area through the thick glass doors. I recognized her.

“Do you have an appointment?”

“No, Laura. No, I don’t have an appointment.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes. “You know he won’t see you.”

The sentence was not even completely out of her mouth before I was down the hall, turning the handle on his office door.

My breath caught.

Him.

There he was, standing at the window looking out over the city, hands clasped behind his back.

He chuckled a bit then turned around.

“I’ve been waiting for you.”

And then I knew.

———————————-

Want to know how we got to this point? Check out the other chapters of Impact:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Sharpies

Interior dome at the Vatican
What is it about Sharpies, those black permanent marker, that makes them so attractive to kids?!?!!??!

We have dozens and dozens of regular (washable) markers in every shape, size, and color you could imagine…. including black. But what marker do they just *have* to use? 

The dang Sharpies, for crying out loud.

Is it the smell? That pungent chemical smell that you can get high off of? The satisfyingly wide, dark line it draws? The squeak you get when dragging the tip across some surfaces? Maybe it’s the permanence. The danger.

Well, I sure wish I knew.

Soft Scrub with bleach will take it off of countertops. But old hardwood floors? Bathroom tile grout? Matte finish walls? FABRIC? 

It isn’t that they are going around marking up everything simply to mark it up. It’s just that when you are excitedly drawing a race car onto a giant cardboard box from Amazon, things happen…. And apparently, it is far more fun to be drawing such things on boxes camped out in the bathroom while mom is distracted addressing oncall patient concerns.

I probably don’t beat them enough.

Elongated Shadows

Carved wood totem

Suddenly, the exam room was plunged into darkness.

Thinking that the energy saving motion sensor had somehow felt the room was empty, I was placing the sutures with my back to the door and the patient was lying very still since I was stitching up his face, I raised my hand and waved.

Nothing.

“Well, that’s a first…”

The patient made a nervous laugh. 

I stood and using the glow of the light visible from the battery powered laptop that was perched on the countertop, I made my way to the door. Sticking my head out, it was clear the entire clinic was without power. Other patients and staff stood in the hallway, waiting expectantly. 

But the power never came back on.

For the next hour we saw the remaining patients by the light of our cell phones, doing the best we could. I was not able to look inside ears or do EKGs. I could not order any tests or X-rays. Our clinic phones did not work. We had to *gasp* handwrite our prescriptions. The centrifuge could not spin our blood vials before transport to the lab.

In fact, almost the entire city was without power thanks to an accidental severed line somewhere… according to reports from the power company.

Tens of thousands of dollars worth of vaccines in our fridge/freezer could potentially go bad as the ETA on the power coming back on was maybe 12 hours away. Some of the staff graciously packed up the vials boxes and drove them to another clinic with power for safe keeping.

The movie theater cleared out next door. None of the traffic lights worked and the backed up intersections were utter mayhem. My kids’ school was pitch black and they had runners bringing to the front kids for pick up since the intercom system did not work.

You know what, though? It was fun! A dry run for the zombie apocalypse… We’ve got this! 

It was a glorious feeling.

And then? 

I spent the entire evening when I got home trying to catch up on the charting and patient calls that I could not get to from the office. Why is it that ONE hour without power turns into THREE frickin’ hours of work? How is that even possible?

Grrrrrrrr…..

What’s On Your Shelf, Victo Dolore?

I am hanging out over at Every Day’s A Mystery sharing what’s on my shelf. Come check it out!

It’s time for  ‘What’s On Your Shelf?’ and today, ladies and gentlemen, we have the doctor in the house! Yes, I know what a coup, please give a very warm welcome to Victo Dolore from ‘Behind The White Coat’. Victo can be found blogging about the daily rollercoaster that  is working in the health service, interspersed with dark, witty and frankly therapeutic, fiction and poetry. If you haven’t already, you can check out Victo’s blog here and more wonderful fiction here. So, without further ado, let’s see what’s on the doc’s shelf!

‘I love books. I have spent my entire life surrounded by them. They taught, provided escape, and empowered me. Much of who I am is because of those words.

My house has hundreds of books spread out all over the place spanning hundreds of years and covering just about any genre. The oldest ones date from the 1600’s but my favorite is the Victorian period. People said and wrote crazy…

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