Wednesday, February 28, 2007

High Anxiety

First things first. This town is a scream. A friend referred to it as a "Northern Exposure" type town. Exactamundo. Mark saw an old guy in court yesterday about a fist fight at the Senior Center. The ring leader pleaded guilty, proudly. The Judge fined him, gave him a lecture about dignity, and then asked if he had a comment. Rambo senior grinned and allowed the fight was "stupid" but the "old SOB had it coming." I forgot to say the courtroom was packed with Senior Center attendees. Rambo got a standing ovation. This not being a usual occurrence in Circuit Court the Judge did not have his gavel to hand. He had to shout and bang his water glass to restore order. He of course sloshed water over everything at the Bench. A good time was had by all. I never did hear what started the fight.

The first time one of my aunts told me I was "nervous just like your mother" I almost slapped her. I knew this was not a compliment. My poor mother was "just a little over anxious at times" according to my aunts. As near as I can piece together she was schizophrenic. She was institutionalized for much of my childhood. You can see how the appellation "nervous" would rankle. But I am indeed nervous just like my mother. I am not nuts although it has been has been a close thing in times past. My high anxiety level has been the seat of a good many of my troubles. Obesity being the most noticeable.

I eat to calm myself. Hands up all those who can testify. Amen Jesus. Is the anxiety biological or psychological? Was I born with it or did I learn it? I have investigated this for years and frankly Scarlett I just don't give a damn anymore. After years of therapy and numerous meds and diets I am still anxious, and fat. I don't care what is causing it, I just want it to stop.

But it is not going to. It is me. I am indeed nervous just like my mother. Did I also mention she wrote poetry, painted, sang and was the valedictorian of her high school class. I am not broken, or malfunctioning or incapable, I am just very sensitive. I want armor to face the noisy, smelly, dangerous world. Food, drink, drugs and sex are initial good shields but have lousy consequences. The "Full Armor of God" comes to mind, but I have yet figured out how to put and keep it on. So what is my answer, do I hole-up in the house hating my isolation but afraid of being overwhelmed by public life?

No. I have courage. I keep forgetting about it. I need to rely on God's strength in my courage. I also need to rename anxiety. I will call it excitement. I need to admit my fears and hang the judgement. I am nervous just like my mother. Idiot aunts. I need to take "Baby Steps" until I come into full stride. I need to lighten up. I need to give my gifts, like my mother I am well blessed. I need to love others as myself.

I need to go back to the Senior Center and check on the yoga class. There might not be a fist fight going on this time.

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Whomper Dinky

Mark believes Whomper Dinky is a Papist. Could be. I wouldn't be at all surprised.

We found WD at the post office seven years ago. She was attempting to climb into peoples' cars, meowing her little heart out looking for a home. It was love at first sight for me. I identified completely with this cat. I wanted to give her a home but Mark insisted he hated cats and would not have "that runt" on a bet. We took the cat to a friend's house. She agreed to try to find it a good home. All was said and done I thought, but God meant for us to have that cat.

We seldom visited Sue. However after dropping off WD I seemed to end up over there every other day for some reason or other. WD is small. Full grown she weighs only five pounds. As a young cat she was all ears. She is a tortoise shell or brindle cat. My God-mother calls her a summer cat referring to her color. Anyway she is black and brown and yellow all over. Each foot is a different color and her muzzle is a checkerboard. I was and am bats over this cat. Late one night Sue called. Would we go over to her house and check and see if the dryer had shut off. She would be late at work and was worried the ancient dryer had not shut off and would burn the house down. Over we went. WD met us at the door. This was strange as Sue's dog Muffin usually greeted us. I went downstairs to the laundry room. The dryer was off but Muffin was sitting on top of it. Very odd. Mark came down the stairs accompanied by a chorus of kitty protest. "Damn this is a loud cat," he said. When Mark and the feline fire siren entered the room Muffin began to whine. In trying to comfort her I noticed scratches on her nose. Apparently the fluffy interloper was fierce as well as loud. I called Mark's attention to the scratches. He down looked at the small cat, "A dinky whomper," he said with approval. We went back up stairs and prepared to leave. WD promptly ran over and sat on Mark's foot. When he attempted to dislodge her, she meowed but held on. "Tenacious," he said. He finally managed to shake her off and we left.

"Wasn't that a cute cat," I pleaded on the way home. Not a word did he utter. We drove on in dejected silence, at least on my part. It was ten pm and I was tired and sad and mad. And he did not seem to be heading home."Why the heck are we going to Wal-Mart?" Not a word did he utter. "Fine, go in an get your crap. I am staying in the car." He left. I was steaming when he came out thirty minutes later, and with an entire cart full of stuff. "What the hell is all of that," I yelled? Not a word did he utter. We again started for home, only again in the wrong direction. "Now where are we going? Couldn't you have done all this earlier in the evening?" Not a word did he utter. We eventually arrived back at Sue's. I had had it. "Is this some sort of idiot joke. Why did we come back here?"

There was a long pause, "I needed a cat to go with the cat box and litter."

I'll tell you later why he thinks his cat is a Papist.

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea

Monday, February 26, 2007

Fudge and Self Loathing

Goes together sort of like bacon and eggs, huh?

We have the nicest neighbor. I met her when she hooked up to our water because hers was frozen. All the houses on the block are hooked up to each other and us by hose. I run the water 24/7. For some reason we did not freeze so we are the source of water for the neighborhood.

Anyway, she has taken to bringing me fudge. This is not your quickie marshmallow fudge. This is real old fashioned cooked fudge. Like your grandmother made. It is marvelous. I am a happy child again eating it, or should be. Our neighbor is a Private Eye. It says so on her door and business card. "Cowpoke Detection Services, On Call 24/hr We Come To You." My husband is a prosecutor so I know there is crime here, but in a town of 1800 people gossip seems to be as effective as a private investigator. But she is in business. She is on the far side of fifty- five, has light red hair and too tight clothes. She also has a cat named Sassy, a little beagle to whom I have yet to be introduced, a horse and the newest nameless member of the family. He is a little beat up tom kitten she found freezing to death on the roadside. He follows Sassy around who follows the beagle around who follows Carol around as she feeds her horse. The horse is in a corral across the street. (About half of the houses in the town have corrals and horses. Some one also has a goat because I can hear it.) The horse just lost her foal. Carol cried when she told me. Every early morning she shovels her way across the street and feeds the horse. She then gets in her old pick-up and presumably spends the day detecting. She sometimes comes home late at night and looks dog tired. She is a single lady. Detecting does not pay very well by the looks of her clothes, house and car. She builds a snowman in her yard with each new snowstorm. And she brings me fudge.

I am crying as I write this. Such fudge as this lady gives should bless me for days. But I won't let it. Instead of savoring the love and flavor I gobble it all down immediately and then feel selfish and sick. I then go on a hate fest. This last one was so bad I even forced myself to do penance for the fudge. I shoveled snow for five hours off and on. My right shoulder still hurts.

Morals of this sad tale. Eat and enjoy the fudge one piece a day. Share fudge with husband. Learn to receive. Give as I have been given to. Amen.

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Come Back Bill Hormone

They have started again. The hot flashes. I thought I was done with them. I woke up at 3AM in a pool of perspiration a week ago and it has been the same every morning since. Fitful sleep, blebs instead of eyelids, depression, irritation, no ankles at all, oily skin and acne. A complete hormonal insurrection.

My nearest and dearest noticed "some thing was wrong" on Sunday as I was swearing about my eyelids and three pound weight gain. (Why oh why are all my faults magnified on Sunday mornings?) "What is a bleb," he ventured? It is the fluid in my eyelids which is at this moment obstructing my vision I hollered. "Oh" he says and vanishes. Can't really blame him.

Alright we are in the car on the way to church. It is fifteen miles so we have some time to kill. Husband, who is unflappable and unfailingly cheerful begins to whistle. Why the heck are you whistling I snarl? I've written a song for you he says. It's called "Come Back Bill Hormone." He then begins to sing. Four verses there were, with a chorus. All my hormonal troubles laid bare to the tune of "Come Back Bill Bailey." I laughed so hard tears ran out from under my blebs. He then pulls to the side of the road and stops the car. "I am now going to pray for you," he says. Whereupon he clamps his hands on my still hysterical head and begins to intone. At this point I have to stop and say I was raised in a very fundamentalist Christian tradition. A tradition which Mark and I occasionally make gentle sport of. As a frozen Presbyterian Mark seldom got to pray in what he has dubbed the Apocalyptic style. This mode of prayer so common to hell fire and brimstone churches seems to fascinate him. He longs to stand in a pulpit and with thunderous phrasing call down God's wrath on puny mankind. (I think this is why he became a prosecutor.) Anyway he has me pinioned to the seat and begins to pray, "Oh God of all power and might we ask you this day to look down on this weak and hormonally challenged woman. Help her in this her time of trial. God we ask that she be awash in the glory of hormonal balance. Give her back her estrogen. Lord fill her with hormonal rhapsody. In your great and glorious name, Amen. "

I wet my pants. Another challenge of the menopause. We drove back home and I changed clothes. We made it back in time for the last half of the sermon. I believe in miracles. I am not yet awash in hormonal rhapsody, but I am ever hopeful.

Take care of yourself,

Love Bea.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Was reading a blog which talked about moderation and appetite and black and white thinking.
Reminded me of an analyst's attempt to cure me. After several expensive years it finally dawned on me what she was attempting to cure was my personality!

I am immoderate. I have huge appetites. I am a black and white thinker. And I am not alone.

I am not valued in western society. I am wise as an owl, gentle as a kitten, but not harmless as a dove.

I live to the end of my fingertips. I am prescient. I am easily wounded by noise and confusion an chaos. I will call a spade a spade. And I am not alone.

I want what I want when I want it, but can put off this desire forever for another's good. I feel the world's weight of sorrow and crushing pain. I am organized. And I am not alone.

I can council kings and children. I can endure. I am scary and enthralling to the under stimulated, and they desire/use me to enliven themselves.

I am the unsociable life of the party. And I am not alone.

I want to live with gusto. It offends allot of people. I am an aesthete. It also offends allot of people. They are also very, very confused.

I love sex, drugs, rock and roll...and God. I long to howl at the moon. I then listen quietly to echos from other hill tops. And I am not alone.

Unrefined passion pours our of me if not stopped up with refined sugar and/or Prozac.

I am angry at the clods, dolts, dunderheads for whom enough really is enough and I will finally say all of this OUT LOUD. And I am not alone.

thanks guys

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Body of Evidence, Nailed

Okay so we get home from the hot springs late Sunday eve. I have scheduled nails at 9AM on Monday. I am tired and irritated from the get go. I usually do laundry on Mondays. Not that I am wedded to this day but it seems to work, and after the spa adventure we are out of clothes. The darn appointment will cut into my laundry time. It is also another expense to feel guilty about. Moving cross country is expensive business and I have been watching the pennies fairly closely. The ancient hotel was $100 per night, plus food. I should not be spending more of Mark's hard earned money on me. So I go.

The salon is manned (womaned) by the owner. She is wearing a blue tooth and is the only one there. She couldn't have been friendlier. The place was old and clean but messy. I felt instantly at ease. She introduces herself and directs me to this salmon colored vinyl throne in the corner of the room. It in fact dominates this area of the shop. Sort of like a padded Barbie version of an old shoe shine chair. It is up on a dias and has a whirlpool sink in front of it. I gamely climb up take off my shoes and socks and stick my feet into the prefilled tub. She turns the jets on. Did I mention my feet hurt a good portion of the time? This is heaven. And then she turned on the vibrating salmon colored Barca lounger. She needs a seat belt on the darn thing. I melted and almost slid out on to the floor. All this keep in mind is before she even touches me. She leaves me to simmer in my own juices for ten minutes while she answers the phone and schedules appointments. She then arrives and sits at my feet. I immediately tense up. I am embarrassed. I am unworthy to have this obviously efficient, kind, intelligent woman sitting at my feet and cutting my toenails for God's sake. In my career I have done all that it is possible for one human being to do for another. I did not feel demeaned. I felt empowered. I gave comfort, care and if I was lucky cure. Why was I unwilling to receive same?

I am pondering this question when she begins to massage my feet and legs. Good grief. Was this part of a pedicure? You must be on your feet a lot she says. Not any more I say, but I was a nurse. Ahh she says. What the heck does that mean I wonder? Is RN tattooed on my soles, soul? Varicose veins it turns out. Nurses and beauticians have them more than other women. Makes sense to me. The massage continues with Reflexology thrown in. She pushes a point behind my big toe. It hurts, a lot. The sack around your heart is swollen she says. I am dubious. I am almost sure I do not have pericarditis. Are you sad about anything? You are holding tears there she says. Damn, damn, damn. Yes I was very sad about moving I say. You need to release those tears she says. This sort of thing goes on for half an hour. I then get to pick the polish. I pick light pink. Oh Honey not for your toes she says. She comes over with metallic cherry red polish. This is for the toes of a fifty year old women she says. She was right. I love, love, love my toenails! (So for the record does Mark. I showed him my toenails when he came home for lunch and he said he would call in sick for the afternoon! Who knew?)

The fingernails were not quite as interesting. Other customers began to arrive and she did not do the reflexology. She did fix my one split nail and showed me how to do it at home. My fingernails are a frosted champagne pinkish color. Makes my fingers look longer. I also love looking at the finger nails. I even went out and bought a pair of rubber gloves to keep them from getting chipped.

Alright nails are done and I am paying, GLADLY. She says I also do massages would you be interested? I say yes let's schedule one, thinking a month from now. She says how about tomorrow? I am staggered and stammering. At this point Mark shows up for a haircut! He says she"ll have one. I go home in thongs in the snow happy as a clam. Amazes me still a week later.

I will write about the dentist and the second massage in next letter. My nails look wonderful on the keyboard in spite of the fingerless gloves.

Take care of yourself.

Love Bea

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My Valentine

I found my card and gift in the toaster this year. Last year they were in my walking shoes. The year before under my pillow. This surprise gift giving just delights me. Beula the ever vigilant is very hard to surprise. Mark has given me gifts in this fashion from the first. How did he know I would relish this style of gifting? He didn't. It's just him.

He cracks me up. This morning at breakfast while watching me struggle with a bowl of millet he said, "Ah yes, the Kay Sheppard food plan, no more flavor than a nice glass of hard water." "Hard" water. It was the addition of that one word that sent me into spasms of hysteria. We have a cookoo clock. I love this family heirloom. Mark hates it. Say it goes, "snick, snick, snick" and is slicing off moments of his life with each snick. The clock runs fast. This morning it cookooed five minutes early before the actual 8AM time. Mark stopped dead in this tracks, pointed at the innocent bird, and said in his sonorous Old Testament voice, "Wicked bird, my life is in the hands of God." I fell down laughing. My life up to the near past present has not been funny. How did Mark know I loved the juxtaposition of words to create humor? He didn't. It's just him.

Our first date was in the midst of a blizzard. I almost cancelled. I thought Mark was cute and smart but way to normal for me. As a result of abuse as a kid I had come to believe only angst, obsession filled relationships could contain "real" love. Straight as an arrow Mark was a tad bit boring I felt and the relationship would go no where. I went anyway. We ate and it snowed and snowed. As a liberated women I took my own car. No need for him to come clear out in the country to get me I said. Comes dinner's end. I insist on paying. He looked like I had pole-axed him but gave in with good grace. I went to pay and then to make a stop in the ladies' room. He agreed to wait. I eventually emerged to Mark. Not in the lobby, not in the dining room, not anywhere. Made me mad. Idiot SOB has left me I thought. Right. I'm going home. I couldn't find my car keys. I checked purse, pockets, under the table, under napkins and in the bathroom. Great I thought, it's snowing, date has left in a huff and now I can't find my keys. Decided to check outside to see if I had dropped them beside the car. I opened the door and the frigid wind almost blew me over. And there was Mark. He took my arm and walked me through the drifts. Where the hell have you been I wanted to holler but the snow was too much. We got to my car...which was running. He'd also scraped off all the ice and snow! I was dumbfounded. No one and I mean no one had ever done anything like that for me before. I had been taking care of myself since I was small. He helped me into the warm car and yelled good night. I was still so thunderstruck I don't think I even thanked him. Gathering together what was left of my wits I pulled out of the parking lot and started the long, blind drive home. I had navigated slowly through town and out into the darkness before I noticed the car behind me. It was following fairly close. "Tailgater," I muttered but was secretly relieved not to be out in the blizzard alone. We, the tailgater and I, crept through the opaque night toward my house. I was glad for the extra lights of the tailgater but did not give him/her much other thought until he/she/it turned in behind me into my driveway. Then I saw the driver. I exploded, "D%^m f-ing man. One d&*m date and you assume I am going to screw you. What balls. I'll give you a piece alright, of my mind." I wrenched the door open and rocketed out of the car. Only to to see Mark pulling out of the driveway to drive the five miles back to town in a blizzard. I stood there in the snow waving and crying. How did he know above all else I needed someone to cherish me? He didn't. It's just him.

Some where I read marriages are made in Heaven. I believe it. I would never have chosen Mark without Divine intervention. How did I know Mark would be the half to make my life whole? I didn't. It was just Him. Amen

Take care of yourself.

Love Bea.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Body of Evidence

Since last Friday I have had two massages, a manicure, a pedicure and two trips to the dentist. Oh, Mark and I also held hands. This is more attention than my body has had in years. It did not respond well.

For my 50th birthday I decided to do something for myself. I scheduled a manicure and a pedicure. I do not paint my nails, any of them. I was taught painted nails were sinful. And at 245 painted nails seemed too little too late. I also worked with my hands and the polish always got chipped. Well, as I am now less worried about going to hell over finger nails, I thought why not?
Mark then comes home and says lets go to the hot springs for a couple of days to celebrate our birthdays. I am willing to "take the waters" because hot springs are usually full of people in worse shape than me. Okay so we go. We check into a hundred year old hotel which has not seen regular maintenance since WWII. No phone, no clock, no T.V. , no coffee maker, no little shampoos, no heat. The bed was bowl shaped and the sink was falling off the wall. The bureau had tickets in it from a concert in 1964. We had a wonderful time. We wrapped up in blankets and sat in the sun porch, drank hot chocolate and read. Bliss.

This strange establishment had been a sanitarium in a former life. There were little stretcher sized hot pools in the basement. Out of curiosity we went to check them out and ended up in the domain of the massage therapist. My back hurts continually from long years of excess weight and poor body mechanics. In a moment of nagging pain and hot chocolate induced euphoria I signed up for a massage.

The outdoor hot pools were an eye opener for me. I had not been since losing the last twenty pounds. My swimming suit did not fit. I ended up wearing my bra and a belt. This aside the water was heavenly. I sat in all the pools. In the final pool, in the back, next to the wall, was a woman in a black tee shirt. She was fat. She was up to her neck in the water. She was also hot and sweating. She was alone. Every now and then she stood up very fast and then sat back down. I stopped to visit with her. She was dizzy from being so hot. Why don't you get out I said. Oh I'm fine she said. I knew then. She would not get out of that damn pool until most of the people had cleared out. I am crying as I write this. It makes me so mad. Physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional pain of being judged a fat woman in a swimsuit. I hope she eventually got out. She was still there when we left.

The massage. Nude in front of someone other than Mark is new for me. How fat was I? How fat would she (massage therapist) think I was? Would she be disgusted at the remaining fat and baggy skin? Would I break the table? Why had I done this? The massage was a God send. The therapist pushed and pulled on all the right spots and asked all the right questions. For instance,"Did you know your burden mantle is almost six inches thick?" Burden mantel, the fat pad over my upper back and shoulders. Not all fat I was told, mostly bunched up muscles caused by bearing too many burdens. Yes I cried. "Did you know your right leg was shorter than your left leg?" Yes since those scoliosis checks in first grade. "Do you wear a lift in your right shoe?" No. "Why not? Your pelvis is rotated and your muscles are shortened on this side trying to cope with difference in length. Doesn't your back hurt?" Well yes, for years. A shoe lift. Why had I not thought of that? Because farm girls turned nurses do not complain, they just keep going, without shoe lifts. "Now this knot behind your scapula, do you have gallbladder problems?" Not anymore they took it out years ago. "Without your gallbladder bile collects in this area" (I am a nurse and I know bile does not collect behind my right scapula), "is anyone or anything galling you?" She pushed on the knot and a face immediately popped into my mind. This sort of thing went on for an hour.

I eventually stumbled out of her room and went upstairs. Per her instructions we went to the hot pools and soaked for an hour and then showered. I felt like a sleek cat. Nothing popped or cracked or hurt anywhere. I was in my body, and happy to be there. Turns out my nearest and dearest was also very happy to be near this newly relaxed self. A good time was had by all.

We drove home the next day in a snowstorm and most of the good body work was undone, but not what I had learned. I for the most part do not own my body, I just flog if from spot to spot. I live in my head. I have chronic neck and shoulder pain and tightness, "my burden mantle." I do not want to live anymore like this. I am ready to shed my burden mantle.

There is more to this "body of evidence." I will write the rest in the next letter. I have not yet covered the nails, second massage and the dentist. Gad what a week it has been. Take care of yourself.

Love Bea