Living the dream

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Kansas City, Missouri, United States
I retired from teaching in 2011 because I wanted to become a famous author, widely published. This has not happened. However, I do get to hang out in libraries and bookstores whenever the mood strikes. I try to write something every day, even if it's just a snarky haiku or a rage-filled essay. When I feel like whipping up a pie, I tie on the apron. And know what's really great? I can drink coffee whenever I want, and use the bathroom when I need to. I don't have to wait for the bell to ring.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hot yoga

Tonight I am going to my first yoga class. Ever.
I am having some anxiety.
1) I might be too fat for yoga.
2) I am not very flexible. There may be only one yoga pose I can do.
3) What if that one yoga pose causes me to fart loudly?
4) Are people barefoot when they do yoga?
5) Is that the correct phrasing: do yoga?
6) If people are barefoot doing yoga, are they also neatly pedicured?
7) Am I going to have a hot flash while doing yoga?
8) Will I have a sneezing attack while doing yoga and pee myself a little?
9) Am I too fat to do yoga?

My first class is taught by a 30-something petite blond named Kat. She is a college-educated
stay-at-home mom of a toddler, a little boy with sky-blue eyes. Kat is smart and down-to-earth and obviously flexible. I mean, she's the teacher, right? She also has started her own business: designer landscaping.
Just this morning I sent her pics of my barren backyard. What do I plant here? I asked. And what about over there, in front of that huge expanse of siding?
She knows. Kat is a master gardener.
Tonight I'll find out if she's also a master yoga instructor.
She's certainly got her work cut out with me.

Friday, April 18, 2014

No meat, no music, and the Gospel According to Mark

Today is Good Friday. Despite careful planning, I have already messed up what I consider a Good Catholic Woman's Good Friday Observance.
First, I slept in past 9 a.m. Specifically, I got out of bed at 10:42, which is one hour and forty-two minutes past the time Jesus was nailed to the cross. My plan was to be wide awake, sitting in my comfy chair, sans barking dogs and the Rachael Ray show. The plan was already to have read the Gospel According to Mark, so that I would be ready for prayerful meditation by nine clock chimes.
Nope.
Instead, I lazily got out of bed late, sneezing and befuddled as to why I had six random maroon spots on my forehead. I took a Zyrtec and my morning Prilosec and swiftly brewed a cup of hot coffee. I thought briefly that my itching throat and spotted forehead was a Significant Sign of Doom (i.e. impending death), but then I realized that Death by Hives was nothing compared to what our dear Lord and Savior endured in the hours leading up to his crucifixion. So I sucked up my anxiety and planted my butt in the comfy chair. First, I grabbed two of Estee's delicious gluten-free sugar cookies, which I realized, after immense enjoyment, were foodstuffs not on the list of Good Friday edibles. Also not on the list of Important Things to do on Good Friday was tending to my virtual bakery, Kay's Place, but I did, in fact, spend sixty seconds preparing pretend cinnamon rolls, all the while justifying my behavior by saying silently, It is only sixty seconds. Then I felt more than sixty seconds of guilt and got back on track.
Finally, I set my iPhone down and opened my Bible to the Gospel According to Mark and set to reading. After re-reading multiple times multiple verses, I remembered that I needed to pray for understanding of The Word. Which I did: Dear Lord, help me focus on your words; help me understand what you're saying; help me help myself. Amen.
Then God gave me the understanding of His word, because He knows my ADD is out-of-control and I am a deeply flawed (virtual slave to virtual games) and sinful woman (yes, I have thought of other men, lots of times) AND my memory sucks and even passages I've read before present themselves as brand-new sentences.
And yet. The Gospel According to Mark made sense to me, because I had prayed for it to be so. Well, all except the part about the widow Herodias who wanted John the Baptist to marry her and when he refused, she got extraordinarily angry and that anger flowed into her daughter and after that daughter had danced for Herod at his birthday banquet, he said he'd give her anything in his kingdom and she said she wanted John the Baptist's head on a platter. (Mark 6: 1-29)
It was my daughter Estee, who sat at her computer in another room who heard me muttering, I don't get this. I'm missing something --words which I thought were silent but ended up not silent at all. Like I said, she was in a completely different room in the house and still heard me. She explained easily and my confusion disappeared, and I am here to tell you now, that for a person who says she detests religion, she sure knows her Bible.
Also, there was the part about the woman telling Jesus even the dogs ate the children's scraps under the table (Mark 7:24-30). I had to reread that part no fewer than five times AND consult an online explanation (It is, yet again, a parable. The children represent the prior claim of the Jews to the ministry of Jesus: let them eat first.) I had remembered this parable causing confusion the first time I heard Father Jeff at St. Ann's talk of it in his homily.  I had finally gotten the message. But then I had forgotten it. Like I said, my memory is one big fat marshmallow: sweet but little substance.
I am a child of God, however. I am learning.

Mark 15:33-41: At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Some of the bystanders who heard it said, "Look, he is calling Elijah." One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down." Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!" There were also women looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary of Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome. These women had followed him when he was in Galilee and ministered to him. There were also many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Scheduling my schedule

It has occurred to me AGAIN that my attention deficit disorder needs disciplining. What happens when I let my ADD run wild is this: nothing gets accomplished. I don't get work on my book done; I don't get my toilets scrubbed (like that's a big loss); I don't get my office organized; I don't get my butt to the gym. What does get finished is a whole lot of nothingness: I troll the internet too much, I walk around my house in going-nowhere circles, I start a load of laundry but forget to put it in the dryer, I spend too much time looking through the newest Pottery Barn Catalog, wishing I could buy the entire Office Look and that terrific red-and-white toile comforter set.
Also, when I ignore my ADD tendencies, I quit reading with any sense of completion. I start with one book, and tell myself, You may only read this book, the one book, and no other book until you are through, Kathleen, but then a slim poetry volume sneaks in, or I get the new New Yorker in the mail, or a friend tells me You Have Got to Read This Book: It Will Change Your Life.
So I'm currently reading four books simultaneously, which means, for me, that none is nearing  completion.

                                        Thus, a schedule:
Weekday: 

5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. -- Morning nanny job
9:15 to 10:15 -- Morning paper + breakfast + coffee (necessary to survive ... the coffee, I mean)
10:15 -- Throw in load of laundry
10:17 to 10:30 -- Email tending/omitting
10:30 to 11 -- Blog ... blog SOMETHING, even if it's a favorite poem or a grocery list
    Mom Sequitur is my writing warm-up, akin to the pitcher out in the bullpen, warming up his
    arm
11 to 11:10 -- Laundry into dryer; new load in; make bed if haven't already done it
11:10 to 1:10 -- Go into office. Sit down in front of the laptop. Do not move. Write 
   for two hours. DO NOT GET OUT OF THE CHAIR.
1:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. -- Lunch + some form of light exercise = hanging/folding the
      laundry that is in the dryer, wrinkling
1:45 to 2 p.m. -- General office work (bill paying/praying for a bag of money to fall on my head)
2 p.m. to 2:45 -- Researching writing markets/submitting short stories + poetry
2:45 to 6:15 p.m. -- Afternoon nanny job
6:15 to 6:45 p.m. -- Dinner
6:45 to 7:15 p.m. -- Housecleaning (concentrating on dusting, because a dusty house makes me
      momentarily insane; also, I sneeze a lot when I am in the vicinity of dust)
7:15 to 8:15 p.m. -- Butt back into writing chair
8:15 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. -- Pick ONE book and read it until it's finished.
9:15. --Go to bed. Pray for a full night's sleep.

I can see already some flaws with this schedule. One, there's no built-in gym time. Two, there's no built-in snack time (standing in front of the open fridge, noshing). You will also notice there's no time set aside for Facebook, Bakery Story, HOARDERS, or any HGTV programming, all of which are IMMENSE time sucks for the ADD-afflicted gal.
Adhering to this schedule may be next to impossible. Still, I'm going to try.
I have GOT to get Bologna With the Red String finished. Just my luck, I'll get the long-awaited call from Andrews McMeel and they'll want the REST OF THE BOOK within a week's time.
Plan, Kathleen, PLAN.
Follow the freakin' schedule.
See where it takes you.



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Meatloaf You Can't Mess Up

Monday was my last day nannying for the Amor family. Sadness and a little bit of despair (now what?!), but also simple jubilation because the mom presented me with a ginormous basket stuffed with foodstuff goodies AND a six-pack of RedBridge gluten-free beer, which I plan on drinking tonight, 'cause I'm a bit miffed at the hubby, and what better to feel better than a front-porch icy-cold beer, right? Would smoke a smoky stick, too, only I gave that up a long time ago.
Mom Amor did, however, ask that I send her my meatloaf recipe, because it is her family's favorite, and even her picky little nine year old asks for second helpings.
I am going to give you, dear blog reader, my secret You-Can't-Believe-How-Good-This-Meatloaf-Is recipe, too. Super easy; super dependable - this meatloaf comes out perfectly each and every time, and is, truly, very hard to screw up.

Kathleen's Famous-Ass Meatloaf

What you need:
2-lbs ground beef (I use 93/7)
1-sleeve Saltine crackers, crushed
2-eggs
1-bottle Heinz Chili Sauce (or, generic brand) *Reserve a bit - 2 tablespoons - for your glaze ~

What you do:
Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Mold into a nice loaf shape and place into a baking dish (I have never used a meatloaf pan in my life and nothing tragic has happened.). Bake in a 350 oven for 45 minutes. Take out, cover with remainder of chili sauce, and return to oven for fifteen minutes.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Live Strong and Sew Hard

I need to learn how to sew.
I just spent thirty (frustrating) minutes drooling over an NYC designer's GORGEOUS Victorian-styled creations. Ever heard of Ivey Abitz?
No one I know has. My girlfriends (and I) all shop at Kohl's, Penney's, and sometimes Dillard's or Macy's. We're teachers and administrative assistants and cannot afford designer clothing.
My half hour drool-a-thon was frustrating not only because a "simple" Ivey Abitz frock costs $950, but because I would need a 27-inch waist to wear an X-Large.
Please. (I was so annoyed at her "commonsensical" pricing and sizing that I sent a strongly worded email.) Seriously: Who buys a thousand-dollar "everyday" skirt? And since when is a 27-inch waist considered an XL?
Like I said, I need to know how to sew. Then I could outfit myself in Ivey Abitz-styled clothing, with enough waist space for ease and comfort. Wouldn't even feel the least bit guilty copying Abitz-inspired jackets, vests, and dresses. Pretty sure she lifted her designs from old catalogs and 19th-century photographs and postcards.
For realz. Check out the designs: www.iveyabitz.com. Let me know what you think.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Damn you, gluten

I need a ten-step program to help me stay away from gluten.
I know it hurts me: skin rashes, gastrointestinal distress, brain fog, fatigue.
When you know better, you do better. (Oprah, quoting Maya Angelou ~)
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. (Dr. Phil ~)
Stop being such a dumbass. (My friend Jennifer ~)

Look. I am (reasonably) intelligent. I understand that I am highly gluten intolerant: there's blood test confirmation. More significant, however, is this: 100 percent of the time, when I consume gluten (aka wheat) -- spaghetti, crackers, that Panera bagel, a soothing bowl of Cream of Wheat -- I end up in the bathroom, sick. Attic or basement, my body revolts. I also end up with a MOST-itchy skin rash that causes hives, welts, and sometimes bleeding sores. Gross, right?

So why do I still eat that plate of ravioli? Drink that Rolling Rock?

I might know better, but I'm certainly not doing better.
Wait. That statement is not entirely correct. Since my Stay-Away-From-Gluten diagnosis last summer, I have made sweeping changes in how I grocery shop, stock my fridge and pantry, and prepare meals.
It has helped that my most wonderful daughter (now age 28) has completely eliminated gluten from her diet. She lives with her dad and me, and so it is not unusual for her to (microscopically) police food products and (loudly) denounce their presence in our home. She is a flaming Gluten Nazi and, let's be honest, there have been some arguments: Don't throw away that bag of pita chips! That's a perfectly good can of Progresso tomato soup ... why are you pouring it out? Did you buy that? Oh, no, you didn't buy that, did you? So hands off! What, these? These malted milk balls? They're an early Easter treat ... .
I am her mother; I am twenty years older; I am college-degreed. Doesn't matter. When this daughter snatches the Cadbury bag away from me and starts bobbing her head in a disapproving way, she makes me feel childish and ashamed, like I've pooped my pants at a social function and other people have begun to notice.
***
It has helped that the family I nanny for has a sweet child who is gluten-intolerant. I prepare after-school snacks and dinners for her, one sibling, and their parents -- all nut-free-gluten-free, and so I'm used to wheat-less (and now nut-less) meal prep. This little girl, nine, has severe nut allergies and could die should peanuts or macadamias enter her body. We are hyper-vigilant. We have to be. We carry an EpiPen with us at all times.
So, yes, I know how to live gluten-free.
I just don't.
Like Jennifer says, I need to stop being a dumbass.
***
Epiphany.
Epiphany!
EPIPHANY!!
I just this second figured out a way to stay away from gluten: I need to tell myself that gluten is my macadamia, that if I ate a Fried Chicken Dinner at Cracker Barrel the breading would send me into anaphylactic shock. A Culver's Butterburger would incite hasty respiratory distress.
Past behavior has shown that I do not stay away from all that harms me.
I might, however, stay away from all that kills me.
Perhaps my future behavior is going to be different behavior after all.







Wednesday, March 19, 2014

And the Award for Worst Sick Person in the World Goes To ...

Me.
I win that horrible award.
I am the worst sick person in the world, not because what ails me is terminal, but because what
ails me makes everyone around me miserable. If I am coughing or sneezing or feverish or headache-y or toothache-y, you're going to hear about it.
My poor husband. He is out of town now, on business.
Or is he?
Maybe he just needed to get away.

***
Hoarse Haiku:

My poor sweet husband
Is sick of my complaining
Is divorce coming?

I must be dying
Didn't read patient info
Just swallowed the pills.

What fresh hell is this?
How much snot can one nose make?
Can a cold kill me?

***