Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Last Tuesday night I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting. I always swore I would never set foot in the place. My old roommate Sarah joined Weight Watchers 3 years ago and we affectionately called it Dub Dub. Sarah and I had lived together for about 5 years when she started Dub Dub. I had seen her try many diets in the course of our friendship but she insisted this was not a diet. She has been heavy her whole life and even she would tell you that she was, cute-in-the-face-Sarah. That is what everyone used to tell her. She is gorgeous in the face but she is also a beautiful person on the inside. I have talked before about our discovery of totally different eating styles and how we both learned a lot from each other in that regard. After Sarah started Dub Dub we would watch The Biggest Loser and cry together over other people’s stories of success and failure in weight loss. I saw the determination in her eyes and there was no doubt that she would do it, she would be a success at weight loss.

The changes were small at first. Sarah started making breakfast for herself. No matter how much time she had, she ate every morning. It was usually an english muffin with peanut butter or an egg. Starting her day off with that extra kick of energy made a difference right away. Then she started planning lunch and dinner ahead of time. She was preparing so she would not splurge. In her previous life she had a long love affair with fast-food and I know that was a hard habit for her to break. She attended meetings weekly and stuck to Dub Dub’s plan. She dropped 40 pounds pretty quickly. There were plateaus and weeks where she would gain but she kept going. She portioned her food, counted her points and made a lifestyle change for herself. She learned not to treat herself with food but with other loves. For her first 25 pound milestone she bought shoes. It became a theme for her and it encouraged her fellow Dub girls to consider ways to reward themselves.

When I moved from Sarah’s house last year she was probably at 50 pounds lost, which was a weight I had seen her at before. She looked great but she was also still forging ahead in her weight loss. She had taken a job at Petsmart and was stocking shelves of 20 and 40 pound bags of dog food and cat litter. I didn’t see Sarah for a few months after I moved. When I did see her again, I hardly recognized her. She was absolutely stunning. She was confident. She was sassy. She was thinner than I had ever seen her. She was wearing clothes that fit! I was amazed by her transformation. She has a hard time with strong reactions to her weight loss because she is still the same person inside. While she sees the change, she is amazed every time at how others react to her. I think a part of one’s mind always sees themselves in a certain way. Time will show Sarah that she can let go of that old mind set.

Last Tuesday night Dub Dub asked Sarah to speak at success night. I wanted to surprise her and just show up and it worked out perfectly. Sarah’s mom also came to support her. There were about 8 speakers, all with heartbreaking and uplifting stories of their own. I always thought I would invoke daggers by walking into a weight watchers but I soon realized that there are no assumptions. One of the women who spoke was a size 6 with the greatest set of legs I have ever seen. When she pulled out her size 22 pants I could not believe my eyes. She has lost over 100 pounds and just recently rewarded herself with a tummy tuck. She was my proof that people of all sizes seek out support in weight loss. Maybe karma brought me here because of my fat people rant????

There were many more inspiring stories that night but none that brought out my waterworks like watching my former roommate tell her story. I feel almost like it is our story. She talked about what she learned. They were staples in her vocabulary for the past 3 years but hearing them out loud to the crowd was awe inspiring. She always says, “There are no bad foods, just bad decisions”. She basically spoke about everyone making mistakes and how you have to forgive yourself and let each day be new. She made a joke about losing her Dub Dub pass in an Entenmanns’s donut box, which was verified by her fellow meeting attendees. She showed off her 75 pound shoes and talked about rewards and staying the course. She was funny, she captured the audience and she inspired many. Her mom leaned over when she had finished and said, “Look how skinny her legs are” in my ear. I was bawling like a baby. I don’t think I could be more proud if I were her mother. I dare say I was more proud than her mother. I was with her during the bad times and I was so proud to be with her during the good.

Sarah has lost and maintained a total of 80 pounds in the past 3 years. She says there was no bigger moment than one night by herself at the Pmart, as she calls it; she was carrying two 40 pound bags of dog food. She was huffing and puffing along and then she stopped dead in her tracks. With this added 80 pounds she was carrying the weight that she used to be. That moment showed her how hard weight is on your body. She was now bending under the strain of what she used to carry with her daily. I firmly believe that Dub Dub is not a diet but a total change of life. Once you meet, and as long as you maintain your goal, you are a lifetime member. Many of those people continue to attend meetings for the support and understanding. They also serve as a great inspiration. I don’t know what Sarah’s ‘number’ is but I know she is getting closer and it gets harder at the end. I also know she is forging ahead. Once at goal I think she should become a Dub Dub rep. They already know how lucky they would be. I am not going to lie, Dub Dub impressed me but my friend Sarah impressed me more.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Another Fairwell

I walked thru the doors the first time with my sister and her real estate agent the day she took possession back in 2004. I was working for Wells Fargo and I actually did her loan. The Bo-man and I moved in shortly after. We had 2 gay boys and 2 dogs in the basement at some point during that year, probably from March to September. I moved to Colorado from August to October of 2004. When I came back from Colorado , I lived with Rachel for 1 year. In late August of 2005 I returned home to 2048 Westbrook for the final time.

In November of 2005, my sister was accepted to Law School in Michigan . This was her dream and she considered passing it up because of her responsibility to the house. I told her to go and we would work it out. Sarah and I lived together from 2002 until my first run at 2048 Westbrook in 2004. Our parting was not fantastic but we salvaged our friendship and moved on. Sarah was living with a friend and needed a place. I was in my sister’s house by myself after she left for school. Sarah moved in around early 2006. In April of 2006, Sarah bought 2048 Westbrook from my sister. I also did her loan.

Sarah lost her job shortly after purchasing the house. It needed major work when she bought it and without a job, she had no means to fix it up. Sarah and I lived together at 2048 Westbrook from early 2006 until April of last year (2009) when I moved in with CL. There were many memories in the house before Sarah moved in. My sister, her ex Jamie and I had a great time living there. It was my first time living with lesbians and I still plan to write a book on that. We were the gay after party hot spot for many years. We had family Christmas and many friendly bbq’s. The memories continued after Sarah moved in. My friend Kari was forced to seek shelter one summer when her power was out for days in 100 degree heat. She affectionately renamed 2048 Westbrook, The Overland Westin. Sarah and I had a huge joint birthday/housewarming party in 2006. All of our friends were there and I fondly remember it as one of our best times in that house.

For the better part of the last 6 years I have lived in that house with either my sister or Sarah. There are memories there that will last a lifetime. We befriended the neighbors when my sister lived there and continued our connection after she was gone. Our favorite, Brad, is a drunken idiot who would randomly wake up at 3pm and ask if you could drive him to the corner bar to get his car. He had many a drunken and rowdy bbq’s but we still loved him. About 3 years ago Brad put a huge stuffed bunny in the back of Sarah’s truck. She just looked in her rear view one day and there was a huge bunny. Only Brad would do that. This thing is almost 4 feet tall and bigger around than me. We kept it to someday prank him back.

Last night was curtain call at 2048 Westbrook. Sarah is moving out. It feels like the end of an era. As we packed up the last of her stuff and took it to storage, Brad heckled us from his driveway. He was drunk and belligerent but that is how he shows his love. We smoked a final bowl in the living room, as a toast to 2048 Westbrook. We even tried to call my sister on speaker phone so she could share in the moment but she did not answer. We hid the giant bunny in Brad’s front bush, facing Brown Road so all of the neighbors can have a laugh. We loaded up the dogs, shut down the lights and I closed the door 1 final time. It was perfect and just as it should have been. Sarah, the kids and me for one final call.

It would be a lie to say that I did not shed a tear. This is a huge part of my past, my history and my relationships with both my sister and Sarah. There were bad things that happened there, many, but all I can seem to remember right now is the good. There were a lot of laughs, a lot of love and a family that we all needed so desperately. I feel very lucky to have had the experiences that I did at 2048 Westbrook. I am grateful for that time with my sister. I am glad that Sarah and I have now mended our fences twice after living together. Our friendship is stronger than ever and I am so proud of her. Of course we both got a good laugh at the massive bunny in our rear view mirrors as we drove away.

“Laugher thru tears is my favorite emotion”~ Miss Truvy.

So long 2048 Westbrook, shout out to the 114 and the comfort of the Overland Westin. Thanks for the memories, they will live on in my heart and mind forever.

P.S. The 114 is the last 3 digets of the zip code. It was our shout out to our hood back in the day!

P.P. S. Today when Sarah went to do the final walk thru and Brad was leaving his house. He pulled out of the driveway, put the car in park in the street and got out screaming “God damn it, Sarah” as his fiancĂ© laughed her face off. I wonder who old Peter Rabbit will end up with next?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Resort Style Living...

You have all heard about my best friend, Manda, who lives in the mountains with her husband, their baby and her brother. I wrote this post last year about her trekking buckets of water up the mountain so she could flush her toilet and boil it to drink. This story actually rivals that one, if you can believe it.

So Manda calls me Monday morning on my way into work. I was concerned because she never calls me in the morning. (I am not really what you would call a “morning person”) She tells me she has another exciting chapter to add to “Resort Style Living”, which is what we call her humble abode tucked high on that mountain. She goes on to explain that her, her husband and baby were watching a movie Sunday night and the boys fell asleep. Manda saw the motion sensor in the backyard (mountain side) and thought that one of their cats was back there wanting in. She went to the door and almost swung it open when she saw a massive black butt. There was a black BEAR on her patio!!!! She ran to wake David and by the time they came back to the door, the bear was gone. David cursed himself for leaving the trash can outside (in the mountains you have to bring your trash in) and knew that was the reason the bear was drawn to them. ("Stupid human", David said. LMAO!)

After about 5 minutes of Manda and David continuing to watch outside, the bear returned to pillage the trash for food. This is the time that bears are coming out of winter hibernation and they are hungry. The previous owners told them that around this time each year a bear would come down and eat the fruit from their trees that had fallen on the ground. They told them he had never tried to harm them or anyone that they knew of but to be careful. Manda says neither she nor David got a bad vibe from the bear. (?????) He seemed satisfied with the trash and retreated up the mountain.

Manda’s little brother has a cabin on their land as well. He has no bathroom in his cabin so he usually comes up each night to the main house to take out his contacts and brush his teeth. Manda did not want him coming up and being surprised by a huge black bear. Their phone line is set up at their house and Justin’s cabin so incoming calls ring at both. Because they are using the same phone line, Manda could not call Justin to warn him. Their phone system does, however, allow them to transfer calls to the cabin. It was 1am mountain time at this point, so it was 2am in St. Louis . Manda called her other brother who lives here in the Lou and is always out partying late. She then transferred him to the cabin to tell Justin about the bear. Of course, after all of that trouble, he was not home. She called the local bar, which is the only other option of where he could be and they did not answer. She worried all night that Justin would try to come up and get accosted by a bear.

Monday morning Justin did come up. He said the moonlight was shining on the mountain when he got home and he saw all kinds of trash so he assumed there was a bear (clever mountain folks!) so he just went to his cabin. They are in the process now of discussing building a wooden, lockable trash can to avoid this issue in the future. In the meantime, Manda and baby Oliver will be playing inside for a good little while. I asked her as we were hanging up what she thinks of “resort style living” now. She said they are fine and will get used to their new massive friend. I told her not to go making friend with him. She’s like that. I bet he has a name by week’s end.

P.S. After writing this post, I spoke to Manda. The bear has been back, even when the dogs were outside and there have been no issues. Baby Oliver has slept through both appearances so he has yet to feast his eyes on his new beastly friend. She already seems to be softening to the idea of a friendly bear!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Random Dozen

1. Have you ever been so lost that you were really afraid?

Not that I can recall. I usually purposely get lost in a new place so I am forced to find my way back. Somehow that helps me remember the way a bit better. The first time I missed the last downtown St. Louis exit and ended up in East St. Louis, Illinois I did freak out, cry and call my dad but I was in high school.

2. Have you ever been to an island?

When I was in the first grade we went to California and took a bottomless boat to Catalina Island. It stormed, causing high seas, and I will certainly never forget it. There was an island at Trout Lodge where we used to camp when I was a kid. Manda and I used to love going over there by ourselves.

3. Are you more of a thinker or feeler?

I think I am equal parts of both. I analyze everything thoroughly but my heart rules most of the time because I do feel very deeply.

4. Do you tend to see issues or situations in life as black and white or shades of gray?

Almost always grey. I can see both sides of most things. I am very passionate about certain causes though and sometimes the only explaination for some peoples opinions is stupidity. Seeing grey is really helping in my debate class!

5. If you were stuck on an island, what book would you hope to have with you (Let's pretend the Bible is already there, so you can't say that.)

Roots. It is a long book and there is much to miss on your first few reads. I would have never even considered the Bible, honestly.

6. What are you most afraid of?

A painful death, rape and not fulfilling my potential. Being alone forever.

7. Would you rather lose all of your old memories or never be able to make new ones?

I would rather die than do either of these. My past made me into who I am and my future will overcome it all.

8. Pretend I'm looking at a scrapbook page about you. There are three spaces for you to drop in individual pictures. What are those pictures of, and why did you select them?

My dog because he is my main man.
All of my friends because they are my best memories
My family because they are a huge part of me

9. If you were re-doing your wedding, what would you do differently? (If you're single, tell me one thing you would do if you were planning a wedding OR huge party.)

I will run away to get married. I hate the idea of a big hoopla. I think you waste so much time planning for 1 night. You have to invite people you never see which takes time away from those that you want to see. I am not that girl who dreamed of her wedding day. I don’t need a dress, I don’t need a church, all I need is a loving partner and an exotic beach location.

10. Tell me one thing you know/believe about forgiveness.

Forgiveness releases the person who is doing the forgiving from the one who has wronged them. To forgive is to save yourself. The other person more than likely could care less.

11. You're waiting in a doctor's office. What is your favorite way to pass that time?

I try to bring a book but I usually forget.

12. If there were a clone of you in a parallel universe what is one way you hope she/he would be the same as you and one way you hope she/he would be better?

I would hope she has my passion and fire for life. Perhaps the “other” me could not take things so personally all of the time and has a better idea of knowing when to say enough is enough and walk away.