Category Archives: Fantasy

Sweaty Betty, an Update

It took less than an hour after I posted my Fretty Betty Disorder story to develop a new obsession:

What if the memoir-writing class doesn’t get its minimum of five students? They’d have to cancel. So I’m in, but what if? I’ve had other writing classes cancel at another place.

Now I have a lemony-fresh thought to worry about. What a relief. I must be a stress junkie.

I do fight this. Really. I tell my brain about how popular this class is. It’s always full. There’s always a wait list. It’ll happen.

My brain thinks I’m a chump.

(Paul is Rachel, and I am both Monica and Phoebe – mostly Phoebe)

Fretty Betty Disorder

I have no off switch for worry. If there’s any way to chill and let things flow, I can’t find it.

Then there’s Paul, my vanilla-flavored glacier. He can’t envision a reason to push events forward at top speed or sweat about anything.

I don’t get it. Why doesn’t he recognize the value in unnecessary stress? It could be that he sees when I freak out, I’m no less uptight, but it’s more likely that there’s something wrong with him.

Like when I recently submitted a project description to apply for a ten-month memoir-writing class.

I said, “Oh, my God. I’ve waited a year to register for this. I thought I could just sign up. I have to wait for approval. The instructor’s going to scratch her head and wonder how such a moron could belong in her class.”

Paul’s response was as disturbingly calm and predictable as always: “Don’t worry, Sweetie. You’ll get in.”

How naïve.

So I spent sixteen years between August 8 and August 14 waiting to see if I would be accepted. I hit the refresh button on the submissions website seventy times an hour, and it stubbornly said, “Submitted” every time. No “Accepted,” or more sensibly, “Rejected.”

Then came August 14, and the site conceded that indeed I was “Accepted.” This bewildered me, but I was happy. For five minutes.

Then I realized there were probably 40,000 people applying for fifteen seats in the class, and they would all get into the class ten seconds after registration opened the next day.

Starting at 7:00 in the morning on August 15, I began checking the institution’s site, only to find that the “Register” button was available for every class but the one I wanted.

Trying to get any work done while hitting the refresh button every five minutes isn’t easy. Plus after three hours, I imagined that the class’s fifteen seats were full, with a wait list of 39,985 people ahead of me.

So I emailed the school, and they said, “Well, for this class, you have to register by phone. We sent you an email about it.” There was no email in my inbox.

Now my mind was whispering, “This is a special, secret society, and you don’t belong.” Made sense to me.

When I called and told the nice lady that I didn’t receive an email, she said, “The message is in the submissions site, which is a separate program from regular email.”

Of course the site has a separate email system. It’s a secret society. Why hadn’t I thought of that? But maybe I could still get in. I took a deep breath and asked if I could register, and she said, “Sure.” That was easy. Too easy.

Now I’m in the class, but part of me expects to be the accidentally registered sixteenth person, and I’ll be turned away on the first day. Still, that insane part of my mind hopes to be surprised in a pleasant way.

But I think my paranoia may not be a disorder after all. If I hadn’t fretted and sprained my finger hitting the refresh button and then finally asked, “What’s up?” I wouldn’t be in the class. So everything’s fine now.

But what if it’s not? What if my printed confirmation is the product of a random punking scheme? Thank goodness I have thirty-four days to worry about this. Otherwise I’d just have to invent another obsession.

Paul doesn’t know what he’s missing.

Neeners from Beyond

I’m trying to decide if it’s weird that I enjoy planning what will happen after I die, especially because so much of my pleasure is rooted in vengeance.

The last time I updated my estate documents was four years ago, just two weeks before I was scheduled to have a bit of cancer removed from my right kidney (or, as one of my bosses speculated, it was just a wine cork. My surgeon declined to confirm). So that go-round wasn’t as much fun as this time.

I recently reconnected with my cousin Lesli, who has an only daughter, Megan, so now I have blood relatives I actually speak to again. And unlike when I communicate with a couple other members of the family, when I talk to Lesli and Megan, I don’t want to kill myself, which is cool.

Plus this reconnection got me thinking about my will’s provisions if Paul dies before me (which is fairly moot-ish because he’s ten years younger than I am and takes way better care of himself than I do; although we Valleleys have a tendency to just keep living in spite of logic, so things are a tad mentally swirly).

Lesli and I grew up like sisters, which was handy because we’re only children, and Megan is like a niece to me even though we haven’t met yet.

Such is the power of the Internet to render the in-person meeting unnecessary to form relationships. Paul and I put our estate-planning and tax return preparation in the hands of an attorney and an accountant we couldn’t pick out of a line-up, and neither of us thinks it’s all that strange.

The control freak in me likes the idea of dictating my last wishes, and it tries really hard not to imagine anyone not following them. I mean, how would I do anything about it? I hope haunting and poltergeisting are real, just in case.

As for stuff and money, I get to decide who gets what and how much of it. There isn’t a vast empire to begin with, but even if I only had five beans, I’d enjoy the thought that I get to withhold all of them from certain people (and yes, to those two or three people who may have read all of my posts, I’m talking about Paul’s middle and younger brothers, MB and YB).

Maybe I sound petty, but I know those two boys will see everything I own as belonging to them just because I was married to their brother.

I know that because two hours after their father passed, as we were driving YB over to console their stepmother (because, as YB put it, “I’m too much of a delicate flower to drive myself anywhere at this awful time because this shock is affecting me more than anyone else, including Dad’s wife”—I paraphrase), out of nowhere, YB said, “We’d better get over there and divvy up Dad’s stuff.”

No need to offer an anecdote about MB to support my theory. Two peas. One pod. As YB’s girlfriend once described the group (both boys and their girlfriends), “We’re as thick as thieves!” Surgically precise writing.

So yeah, despite how heartbroken they’d be to see me go, I have good reason to believe my death will trigger a plundering that would make the Vikings look like a bunch of pantywaists.

So in addition to denying them a single penny, here’s the part of estate planning that has me cackling and rubbing my hands together like a B-movie villain:

Lesli and Megan are sweet, but they’re also tough people who can—and will, for me—body-block MB and YB from even crossing the threshold after I’m gone.

And I’ve got news from beyond for those two loving, caring lads: Megan is a total martial arts badass, and if they try to get in with their empty boxes and sticky fingers, she will have signed, notarized authorization from me to kick them into the next century.

Now it’s time for spreadsheets and office supply shopping. This is intoxicating. I hope reincarnation’s a real thing. I’d like to believe that I’ll be able to do this again and again throughout eternity.

I’ve decided. If it’s weird, I don’t care.

Mwah-hah-hah, etc.

 

Who’s Wearing the Smarty-Pants in this House?

For years, I’ve assumed I’m smarter than Paul. There’s no proof. It’s just nice to believe that. In fact, he has a master’s degree, and I have two associate degrees (which adds up to a bachelor’s degree, right?). So he’s a bit farther along in education.

At the very least, though, I’ve assumed I’m cleverer than he is, but I’m beginning to wonder.

Trying to get my handyman to do something (that doesn’t involve food) can be difficult. For twenty-two years, I’ve tried asking, sweet-talking, nagging, begging, and bribing, but if he’s not interested, the project will remain a theory. Possibly forever.

So recently when I decided to order parts, with permanent adhesive, to take care of something, I told him, “I got this stuff, and I’ll go ahead and take care of it.”

After two decades of watching me park the car at an angle between straight lines and put clothes on inside-out, Paul seemed a little worried, but I could see his look of amusement, and I could read his mind:

“She’ll never do it. She’s too scared she’ll get it wrong. And she will. She’s going to bug me to do it, but I’ll get around to it sometime. Maybe.” I paraphrase.

So he didn’t seem too worried as he said, “Great!

Game on.

Every couple of weeks, I announced, “I’m gonna take care of that today.”

Paul smiled, all patient and wise, and said—with a homicide-inspiring amount of patronizing in his tone—“Okay. Sounds good.”

The other night I’d had it with both of us. I grabbed the stuff I needed—including the permanent adhesive—and I asked, “Do you have something called ‘mineral spirits,’ Sweetie?” (Mineral spirits, it seems, are something that help clean up what those in the construction trade call “boo-boos.”)

I said this as I clipped the tip of the adhesive tube and grabbed the item to be glued—to the wall and the bathtub simultaneously.

I noticed an entire lack of smirk on his face. He said, “Sure. Let me get it for you” as he trotted to a closet while frequently looking over his shoulder to see how the glue application was going.

He set the mineral spirits on the counter and stood frozen, watching me actually do this thing.

Suddenly it dawned on him all the times I’d said during the last few months, “I’m so nervous to do this. You know I’m not handy. I’m so afraid I’m going to mess it up.”

Then the would-be hero of the story asked—with lots of helpfulness in his tone—“Would you like me to do that?”

I handed over the items so quickly I think I knocked the wind out of him.

My only question is: Why did it take so many years for me to figure this out?

Paul’s had it sorted for years: “If I prove that I can’t do something the way she wants me to, I don’t ever have to do it.”

His equation for working around me:

1 + 1 = 2

(Can’t argue with elegance.)

 

My equation for working around him:

 

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I’m confused, and I think Paul might be asking me for a threesome in this scenario.

I get who’s really the smart one.

 

That Time I Knocked over a Casino

Or at least sincerely offered support for the endeavor.

One of the fun things about mining my life for memoir material is that I thought it would be about dishing up dirt on those who’ve wronged me or I was sure intended to wrong me or at the very least would wrong me if they thought of doing it and had the chance.

But I’ve gotten some advice about including more than just revenge-based tales: “Allow yourself to be vulnerable. This lets the reader empathize and feel connected with you.”

I took this to mean that there will be sections in my memoir where the reader will become misty-eyed in wonder at my courage through such trying times.

This was going to be fantastic. As emotionally walled off as I can be in person—despite how much I blab about myself—this memoir stuff would let people see the softer side of Cindy. I’m a bit uncomfortable about it, but I’ll try.

At least I felt like being a sport until I realized, just this last weekend, that an honest memoir lets people see the shitty side of Cindy too. It’s as though someone’s thrown a bucket of cold water on my burning cross.

Despite this shock, I’m going to try the honesty thing about an incident I’ve been telling myself “really isn’t relevant or potentially interesting to readers, but I don’t feel this way because I’m ashamed. I respect people’s time, and why bore them with”—you understand the kind of horseshit I’ve been shoveling.

Here goes:

When I left my second husband, the air force officer, in 1988 and moved back to Seattle, I naturally moved in with an ex-con. It made sense to me because Brad the Felon had done his time, so that would make him honest. He was charming, skilled at reading people, and manipulative. I was so desperate for someone to love and care about me, I’d do anything. It was a great match.

Shortly after he moved in with me, Brad got into an argument with my landlord. I was a loyal girlfriend and stood up for him. So everything worked out great for the landlord when he evicted us and I went bankrupt from attorney’s fees that Brad didn’t help pay—because he was busy relaxing at the end of a workday while I took a second job as a stripper—and my credit rating went from triple-A to in-the-crapper.

If you’re at all under the impression that I’ve just confessed the shameful part of this story…

Even after this episode, plus his late-night gambling-and-whoring escapades while coming home and calling me his “plain Jane” in a tone that nearly approximated affection, I was still so craven in my need to be loved, there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do to impress him.

One day Brad told me he and a buddy from prison were working on the details for robbing a casino. I raised my hand like Hermione in class and begged to be included in the caper. And there’s my shame.

It made me nauseous to even imagine committing a crime, let alone having to pee in front of someone in prison. But in those moments, I had an overwhelming fantasy of sitting in separate prisons but mutually in love at last because he’d finally realized what I would do for him. Sort of Bonnie and Clyde with hopefully way less murder.

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So badass. In my mind.

I don’t know if Brad ever hit the casino, and he’s dead now, so I can’t ask him. I don’t really care either way anymore about either of those things.

I do know that he saved me from myself. He declined my offer of assistance—which hurt like hell at the time, but seriously reduced the nausea—because I’m a world-class oversharer. Great for blogging. Bad for crime.

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Given my fear of horses, I wouldn’t have managed the getaway anyway.

Confessions of a Stat Slut

There. I’ve revealed my sin in the title, and I feel reborn. Life is new again!

Or I’m just sleepy and grumpy because I haven’t finished my morning coffee, and I should work instead of blog.

I do write for my own gratification, but as you’re reading this (she says with uncharacteristic confidence that anyone is interested), you know that’s not completely true. Otherwise why would I inflict share my thoughts with the universe?

On that first day of blogging, lo those many weeks ago, I announced with deceptive confidence, “I’m writing for me!”

“Good for you, Sweetie,” Paul said, checking the horizon for shark fins.

“I don’t care if I ever become popular. Or publish my memoirs. Or Oprah interviews me because she’s fascinated by my life.”

Paul tossed “That’s the spirit!” over his shoulder as he checked his watch and bolted from the house.

And ever since that day, I’ve written and posted without worrying about whether or not anyone’s reading my stuff.

Or I’ve checked my blog stats every. single. day. How many views? How many visitors? How many views per visitor? I’ve had visitors from Ireland, Australia, and the United Kingdom today! There’s been drool.

I stunned Paul out of his office chair by blurting “I got another visitor from India again! It’s probably the same person, right?!”

As he ponders the laws of probability coupled with the population of India, he’s still kind enough not to cast doubt on my hopes.

Paul does try to find this as thrilling as I do, and I appreciate that. Although I would like my popularity to rise with him just a bit.

Yesterday I chirped, “Did you see I posted a haiku today?”

He smiled through his exhaustion and whimpered, “I sure did.”

“What did you think?” Big eyes, wagging tail, piddle on the floor.

“I don’t know yet. I haven’t had time to read it.”

Maybe I need to get into pornographic limericks. Or politics. Wait. Maybe I can combine the general concepts:

Clinton’s Cottontails

Got your attention now, Paul? How about the rest of you? May I go viral now, please?

 

Writing a Great Hook, or Hooking

I think I would’ve made a good copywriter for ads. Not that my writing’s so great (I mean, come on), but if I could use my sense of humor however I wanted, I’d go for it.

Recently there was a news article about a notorious madam near Seattle, self-named Rainbow Love. When I read that name, I feel as though I’ve been wearing a ball gag for three days. Not that I know what a ball gag feels like. In fact, I don’t know where I got that term. I don’t think I’m going to find my way out of this paragraph except to start a new one.

In the middle of the piece about Madam Rainbow, there was an ad banner I wish I could link you to, but I can’t find it now. Trust me, it was there:

Work from Home! $97 an hour!

Notwithstanding the cut-rate pricing, if I can do whatever I want, I should check into Craigslist for a position. A copywriter position, you filthy creature. I’m worth more than $97 an hour at home. $98.50 at least. Maybe with a $50 rebate. And I’ll buy dinner.

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My search for images relating to “prostitute” just got depressing, so I decided to use this one. I call it Fancy Floozies and Dandy Dudes.

Virtue Smirchoo

I’m angry at my ass. It isn’t downsizing on its own. At least not anymore. After I gave up sugar last August, I lost eleven pounds and even kept them off for a long time.

It seemed true what no-sugar guru David Gillespie says. The pounds will just fall off if you avoid that evil, sweet, delicious poison. Plus he says that being off sugar doesn’t mean I have to totally give up wine or spirits. Just no sweet wine or mixers. This made my brain swoon.

Check out this site. Great message. Love the Sweet Poison Quit Plan Cookbook. (No endorsement paid here. You probably assume that. I mean, how successful and famous could I be at this point where people would pay to advertise here? God, what an ego.)

We’re eating whole fat everything now because—and you probably know this—“low fat” is synonymous with “We’ve dumped a shit-ton of sugar in this in order to make you feel great about avoiding fat. It’s going to turn you into a dirigible. Enjoy!”

I’m loving the butter, whole milk, and fatty-mcfat-fat sour cream. Plus the good-Lord-you’re-full-so-for-the-love-of-all-that’s-holy-stop-eating-now mechanism works again, so I don’t overeat. Well, I didn’t at first.

My translation of this new-to-me information is: Have all you want, as often as you want. It’s a party! Crush that baked potato under a brick of butter and wash it down with a half-liter of chardonnay. Every day. What could go wrong?

Then the weight loss stalled, and I even gained a few pounds back. Still. Off. Sugar. Except for that cake I ate last week, but it was for my birthday. So wisdom can just fuck off.

After a few months on my latest plan of action—Wait and See if Anything Changes, Part 654—I realize I might be missing a point in all this, but my hope remains: Magic will handle everything. I’m frustrated that this isn’t easy. And a little angry.

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My ancient ancestor, just as pissed about the weight-loss struggle. Evidently there’s a long family history of flipping people off. And floppy-gut.

 

All these months later, I see that my enjoyment of gallons of chardonnay, truckloads of butter, and nearly zero exercise have not transformed me into a super model. Now I realize effort is required in order to feel healthier and look better. Was that always a thing?

cleopatra_public-domain
I have to work for this?

Doing something good for myself just because it’s the right thing to do is in direct conflict with my assumption that I deserve nothing good. Paul goes rowing because it makes him feel good and keeps his weight down. It’s as though he believes he should be treated well, even by himself. I don’t get it.

I guess I’ll walk the whole block to the gym and do something. Tomorrow. For sure. My brain just hissed, “Liar,” which is fair enough.

Chicken Soup, Family Trees & Murder

The other day, Paul was browsing some ancestry sites online. I told him I’d been thinking about doing that too. I asked him, “Wouldn’t it be cool if at least one of my ancestors were a murderer?” Paul went back to his computer as though he were alone, which is sensible.

I had a cold yesterday, so I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself. When I’m sick, I’m a big fat baby about it, and I offer no remorse. (If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ve been warned about segues that may cause hernias.)

My cousin Lesli offered some comforting thoughts, mostly to drown out the whining. (Lesli is known in Italian as a cugina fantastica – fantastic cousin, female persuasion*) Some people offer fatuous well wishes and soup, but she knew that wasn’t going to cut it. So she told me a couple of stories about our family history.

The first story was about why a pack of Valleleys emigrated from Italy in 1903 and ended up Protestants. I mean, we’re talking Italy here, a country in which, by law, you must be Catholic or be crucified. Maybe burned at the stake. I might be confusing this with the Salem Witch Trials.

Seems the Valleleys were happily attending a Catholic parish in some US state when an Irish priest walked in the door.** He tried his best to bring the Lord to his parishioners as he struggled to hide his contempt for Italians.

Every service he mustered all of his compassion, but his sermons always started the same way:

Priest: “O, Lord, how we hate the fuckin’ dagos.”

Most of the people: “Let us show them the door.”

Priest: “Damn skippy, dudes.”

Or something like that. I paraphrase.

So about ten families joined the Protestant church down the street. This guy was so abusive that they left an entire religion, not just the building. Impressive. I love this story because it helps explain why my Irish/Italian blood is on a constant raging boil. Perhaps also why I don’t go to church.

Lesli’s second story makes me so happy that I probably should go back into therapy.

Our great-grandfather (whose name we don’t know, but let’s call him “Grandpa Badass”) was a caretaker for some guy in Italy about a hundred years ago. Someone was stealing from Grandpa B’s boss, and when Grandpa couldn’t get the guy to stop, he shot and killed him.

That’s so fucking great.

Then GB had to move to America because the freakin’ mafia started hunting him.

mafiosi
Actual picture of Grandpa Badass’s would-be killers. Or I just wish it were. This. Is. Awesome.

Then Grandpa had to keep moving from state to state ‘cause these maniacally dedicated goombahs followed him here. They were that pissed off.

At this point, I’ve wet my pants and forgotten my cold.

Love can be expressed in many forms – chicken soup, comforting words, a warm blanket. But the best way to show you care is to tell me I’m the descendant of an easily annoyed murderer.

Thanks, Lesli.

 

* If you know Italian and I’m incorrect, don’t be a smartass. Who asked you?

** I swear there’s a “So this Irish priest walks into a bar” joke here somewhere.

Egomania and Beef Broth

I’ve got the bread in the oven. I’m getting the beef bones and veggies ready for roasting. Then I’ll simmer them for eight hours. I love doing this stuff, but now I’m getting flashbacks to the last time I did more than one thing in the kitchen at a time.

Ever since I cut out sugar five months ago and (most) alcohol somewhat more recently, I’ve got more energy and clarity than I’ve had in years. I hate it. I feel like I’m supposed to achieve amazing things now. I imagine blogging about my amazingness, but in a humble way, and my followers can’t get enough of me. I’m so inspiring.

I work at home, and time is flexible. It seems like everything is possible. But I’m haunted by my history of starting projects, especially buying all the gadgetry that goes with them, while finishing nothing. In a sense, I’m being true to my life motto: “If it can’t be overdone, it’s not worth doing.”

But I’m fifty-seven now, and I want to be more mature, or at least appear that way. So I figured I’d be sensible and start with just one or two goals. I feel in charge, mature, balanced.

Now the couple of goals have grown into:

Make bread, salad dressings, and broths to avoid processed crap with all the sugar and chemicals, while feeling smug about the poor saps stuck with store-bought junk. Check out my awesomeness:

Crossword my ass off in a book so large that the editor, Will Shortz the authentically amazing, questions the sanity of anyone buying so many puzzles at once.

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Crochet snuggle blankets for animals in shelters. Current status of Blanket #1:

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Start a cross-stitch project I’ve owned for ten years and just broke out of the packaging. What it should look like:

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Current status:

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Learn to knit:

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Tidy and decorate the house:

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Write my memoirs:

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Exercise regularly:

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I suppose this is all just a different kind of obsession, but I seem to be kicking domestic ass today. And there’s the red flag I always miss. Just in case I forget about it when the broth is ready to strain tonight, I posted this above the kitchen sink:

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Maybe I’ll do okay. Today.