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What I’ve lost in 2009

December 25, 2009

I imagine most of us go through some sort of inevitable exercise as we approach the end of each year; we review the best and the worst of our few hundred days each year, as if that chunk of good or bad (or indifferent, for those lucky few) existence has a definitive ending or beginning. It is perhaps unavoidable to look back on each year as we get older–a time of quiet reflection and yes, for some, regret; for others, hope.

This making of lists is a seemingly unavoidable compulsion in today’s society as we approach this nebulous “end” and are assaulted with every form of”Top 10″ this and that. I appreciate our instinct to name our top anything; say, to share our favorite books or music with others–there’s no greater joy than to have others embrace a great artist that you yourself have enjoyed and loved for years. Yet aren’t we all kind of over all these lists? Hasn’t it been played?

In lieu of a Top Ten Happy Happy Joy Joy My Favorite of Everything List!!, I decided to spare you (and me) that cliche and just keep to my theme of subversion, sarcasm and well, while not necessarily negativity–more just looking at the reality of life. I’m not really a “silver-lining” kind of gal, in case you haven’t yet figured that out–yet I do believe in taking full advantage of the joy you can find in everyday things–as long as it’s not, ya know, too much.

So, on that note, here is my

Random Top Whatever List of What I’ve Lost in 2009:

1) Lots of lint. Yea, I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for some reason, our dry cleaner decided to give us not one, but two lint roller thingys. One for normal lint, and one for pets. I don’t have any pets–that is, unless you count my four-year-old son Lukas, who I frequently refer to as “my puppy” given that well, he’s a boy and well, he’s four.

Plus, I learned that my blow dryer has a lint screen. Did you know that your blow dryer has a lint screen? And if you remove that screen, and clean it with a toothbrush (obviously not the one you brush your teeth with–ick), it will heat up better and dry your hair a hell of a whole lot better? Amazing, these modern appliances.

2) Diapers. Speaking of puppies, thank God (I would have said “Thank fucking God” but then the religious fanatics would probably be all “OMG she said ‘fucking’ with God!” and we don’t want that, now do we?) my son is now housebroken–oops, I mean, toilet-trained. My daughter had already turned six by the time we had the little guy, so it was huge for us to go back to the diaper phase. If you don’t have children/don’t want children/have no experience with children then you cannot possibly understand and goody for you. (Yes, mom, their little tushies are so cute; and having them on the changing table is wonderful bonding time. No argument there.) Yet the whole packing the bag/carrying the bag/oh shit I forgot to pack the wipes in the bag/yadayadayada is not something I miss–at all.

3) Our house. Yes, along with millions of other Americans, we lost our house. Because of those fucking Bushie Republicans (sorry niece, sister, and cool brother-in-law even though you’re all card-carrying members of the GOP) and their goddamn banking policies and the economy, stupid–my husband and I ended up with WAY less money from his corporate clients–which meant we could no longer pay our stupidly outrageous mortgage here in CA where housing is stupidly outrageous. Which meant we had to put our home, which we had lived in for fourteen years, on the market–here in a lovely beach community in the OC–where no one, apparently, wants to buy it. We are short-selling it in hopes that someone will make an offer before the bank forecloses on us. Meanwhile, we have moved into a much smaller home that we are leasing.

The good news? (I know, I know, a silver-lining. Just shut the fuck up.) We love our new home. Yes, it’s smaller, but we got rid of a lot of crap we didn’t need. We live close to the ocean (less than 1/4 mile) so we go to the beach all the time, have a park down the street, and a yard for the kids. Plus if anything goes wrong with the house, I just call Fred The Handyman and I don’t have to pay for it. Yes! Husband is happy–no more HoneyDo list. And while we can’t go to cool places and can’t afford to buy lots of things we don’t need, it’s okay–we have consolidated our debts, we don’t argue about money we don’t have and we still love each other. (Gag, I know.)

4) PWT neighbors: If you’ve followed my blog for any period of time, you’d know that we had more than a little trouble with my poor white trash neighbors, Barbie and Skipper, a.k.a. bleached-blonde divorcee and her skanky daughter who was (is?) SOOOO skanky, she got pregnant at sixteen and is now mommy to the world’s ugliest baby, Ken Jr. (It’s okay, you can call me a bitch. I can take it.) I know, all babies are beautiful, etc. but I’m sorry, that is one ugly baby.

Not only did Daughterpants and her idiotic friends blow cigarette smoke and ash at my son, they also cursed at my kids, and at one point tried to run over my sitter (that I no longer have) who was out playing with my son in the street–because, ya know, we didn’t have a yard and where else were they supposed to play? (Hmmm….let me think. I can’t remember if this was before of after they vandalized her car.) Then bitch mom got skank daughter a pitbull puppy because she left her alone all the time (she was only sixteen after all, poor thing) while Mommypants went on lavish vacas with her sugar daddy boyfriend–we’re talking three weeks at a pop. When we had the nerve to complain to Mommypants that the unleashed pup nipped at my daughter’s boots and shat all over the surrounding street without Daughterpants cleaning it up–well, the fallout was as you see above. Oh, and don’t even get me started on us having to change the color of our front door.

So, let’s see if I have this right: daughter is now a mother; mother is now a grandmother (tee-hee). Oh, and both of them got dumped.

Needless to say, girls, karma is a bitch.

5) Discretionary funds: Husband has his own successful sales consulting business and while we’ve been (barely) able to weather this economic storm, the toll has been fairly frightful. He’s taken a sixty percent hit in income this year–yea, no shit. His clients (big pharma for the most part) are still around, and he’s been hustling new and repeat business–in many cases they’ve chosen him as the sole vendor for their field sales forces, reinforcing their faith in him as a (oh God, I’m really going to say it) “value-added” commodity.

That said, those pharma companies have taken their own sweet time paying this year. I suppose it’s the economy and how they want their budgets and books to appear, but most went from a 30-day pay to a 90 or 120-day pay. English? That totally sucks for us. We still have bills to pay every month. I no longer work outside the home, with the exception of my writing–and so far, that has produced exactly nada dollars.

So what, you ask? Isn’t that the case for everyone? Yea, probably. I just thought I’d add it to the list to make my next point.

6) Brother-in-law: (not you Chris, or you either, Bryce)You see, with the Bank of JP (that’s my husband) closed, we’ve seen neither hide nor hair of my husband’s brother this year, a struggling screenwriter in L.A. We’ve supported him in different ways over the years and have been happy to help; when things were good, he was always conspicuously around. When times got serious, like this year, well, let’s just say it’s been dispiriting and disappointing. “Money makes people do funny things,” my guy always says. Tis true, darling, tis true. Which leads me to my next point.

7) My old love: When I was nineteen (God, was I ever nineteen?), I fell fast and hard for a blonde-haired, blue-eyed tall boy and I didn’t find my way out for many years. When I finally clawed my tattered heart away from his grasp and told him he didn’t deserve to be in my life, that was the last we saw of each other–well, for the rest of our lives, now.

I mean “now” because he apparently couldn’t face life anymore and ended his, this past October. Never has JP’s above idiom been truer than how it applies to my old love. Just as the prodigal son returned, broken and spent, so did Duke return to the sister he had largely ignored in the best of times–asking for food, shelter, yet clearly not the emotional rescue he needed. Years of hard times and financial crises affected him far more than any of us could have imagined. He had recently told me he was a broken man–that will always haunt me.

Goodbye, dear cowboy. And thank you for loving me.

8) Twenty Pounds: Don’t hate me because I’m a skinny bitch. Ha! I just went to the doc this past week where they did the dreaded weigh-in and guess what? The nurse did a total double-take. Could that be right? Do you really only weigh 130? Yea, that’s right. I’ve lost more than twenty pounds this year. (More importantly, my BMI is in the healthy range and my cholesterol is down.) I have more to go, but clearly I’m on my way.

How, you ask? Simple. Got me my fine self to a nutritionist after I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, where they told me I could control becoming officially Type 2 through diet and exercise. So, no big diet secret other than this: stop eating sugar. It sounds so easy–like stop eating candy. I don’t mean that (though that counts, of course); I mean anything white–refined sugar, bread, corn, pasta, cereal (carbs are fine as long as they are complex, unrefined, no sugar added). Fruit is okay as long as you mix it with a protein. And stop the self-sabotaging “it’s okay if” talk, like:

Myth: it’s okay to have sugar if you mix it with a fat. Wrong! Sugar is still sugar. Just skip it. If you must eat it, like if you’re having a major craving, take one sip or bite, and be done.

Myth: diet drinks (or sweeteners) are fine if you’re on a diet. Wrong! Your pancreas still releases insulin in response to artificial sweeteners, so you’re not doing yourself any favors. “Besides affecting insulin, serotonin and your body’s hunger response, chemical sweeteners also increase cravings in yet another way by further altering your blood sugar. This can be dangerous to people with diabetes or epilepsy and can cause fluid retention, giving the body a puffy and bloated appearance, and it increases cellulite, too.” (from Dr. Janet Hull’s website http://www.janethull.com/newsletter/0405/juvenile-obesity-and-artificial-sweeteners.php) but any endocrinologist or nutritionist will tell you the same thing.

Stick with water or plain tea. Use lemon or mint to enhance the flavor. If you must have sweet (like in your coffee), use real, regular sugar, preferably raw.

Myth: fresh corn has got to be good for you because it’s fresh. Sadly, wrong. For prediabetics (like me) or those with Type 2, corn –be it fresh on the cob or any products containing corn (that includes corn syrup–hello? do you know how many products in this country contain corn syrup? Check your bread label folks) is bad for your pancreas and insulin levels. Popcorn, however, is okay. Huh, who knew?

The same concept goes for high fructose corn syrup–bad bad bad. You can check the studies and see for yourself–I’m not gonna preach (though hey, I still haven’t given up my Coffeemate in the morning–sorry–I’m not claiming to be Susie Perfect). Basically, eat your fruits and veges, fish, cheese, lean meats and whole grains. And alcohol is fine (thank God–though skip the sweet drinks–do you know how much sugar is in tonic water? that was a bummer); so is dark chocolate.

I love what my doc told me–if you really have to have that Coke, have it! Just don’t drink the whole thing. Sit, enjoy it. Really taste it. Then toss the rest. (I remember reading Dr. Dean Ornish who said the same thing like, 25 years ago, right? I thought, that hippie quack. He’s nuts. Who’s gonna eat ONE bite of chocolate ice cream and be satisfied? But I totally get it now. Though I still think he’s a little nuts.)

9) Interest in most TV shows: maybe it’s because I’m writing so much more now, as well as on the computer doing research, but I just don’t have as much time or interest in TV like I used to. Not that I had much to begin with, given the puppy situation and all. Beyond the fabulous “Nurse Jackie,” “glee,” and watching “Top Chef” with my honey (where really, ugh, enough with the brothers already, oy vey–the biggest star was the food, no?), I can’t really think of anything much that interested me. (Sorry, “Grey’s” fans…I gave up. “Lost?” Even the creators say they are throwing in the towel. “Project Runway?” Major snoozer–even Tim Gunn was bored. And the only thing interesting about “America’s Next Top Model?” Tyra’s new hair–can we have a Hallelujah sista!–and counting how many times she’d say “sm-eyes.”)

10) Respect for Publisher’s Weekly, National Book Awards, et all this year: I’ve always been naturally drawn to reading fiction–I’m fascinated by a great story and the ability a person has to weave that story and all its characters and elements into a cohesive, interesting and once in a while, breathtaking, thrill ride. I hope to be able to do the same one day. It just so happens that the majority of my favorite books tend to be written by women (though I always keep John Irving in my back pocket for good measure).

There were so many fabulous books released by women this year–too many to name here. (See my blog for a book post and recs.) So it was quite disappointing to see that many esteemed literary publications and awards committees decided to bestow their major annual awards to men. Not just to men, in general; to men in all categories (in the case of PW, women were relegated to less than 30% of their Top 100, and none in their Top 10). This is truly inexplicable and incredibly short-sighted.

This sad state of affairs is particularly discouraging to aspiring female writers and for that I feel these institutions have done a disservice to women as a whole.

11) Migraines: At one point, I was getting migraines practically every day; for sure, at least a few per week. Over the past fifteen or so years, I’ve seen internists, neurologists, endocrinologists, pain specialists, blah blah blah. So this year it all came down to this (for me): slapping an estrogen patch on my ass. Sexy, isn’t it?

Apparently, it really did take a brain surgeon to figure out that der, I didn’t have any headaches when I was pregnant with both of my kids so my headaches must be–ta da!–hormonal. I guess my estrogen levels were dipping really low during the month, especially right before and during my period. Now, most docs don’t like to put migrainers on the pill (if you get migraines, you are nodding your head knowingly) because we are at higher risk for clots, i.e., strokes. So, when I finally got put on this estrogen patch, I was a little shocked, because, ya know–it’s a hormone, right? Turns out, it’s the same low dose patch they give menopausal women (a team of which I am not a member yet, TYVM) so the level is about 1/50th of what is in the pill; and it mimics the natural estrogen your body makes (i.e., not derived from animals–just ick).

So, I put that patch on weekly without fail and those pesky migraines have gone away, buh-bye, see ya. Red wine can still bring one on–but is so totally worth it.

12) My Sitter, therefore my free time: with no disposable income comes no sitter for my kids. This means no time for myself, which has been, uh, shall we say, a wee bit of an adjustment. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not like she worked full time or anything. But at least I could take a shower, go to the grocery store or go get a blow out once in a while by myself. For a mom of a very cute, sweet, though strong-willed little boy, a break once in a while is OMG necessary. Husband travels and when he is home, gets up at an ungodly hour–so he has a hard time keeping up with the puppy, I mean boy. Hell, we all have a hard time keeping up–even the boy himself.

So now the little feller is in preschool a few mornings a week–spreading his wings a bit and giving mama a break (and do I get a wee bit excited to see him at pick up? Der. The amount of “I love you’s” and hugs is overwhelming and beyond even my words.) Coming up with the tuition is a struggle, no doubt. But it’s worth my sanity, so somehow we make it happen.

So that’s my “list.” I’ve lost a lot this year, and I’ve come to realize that losing isn’t always bad, is it? It all depends on how you look at it. Given that I’m still here to look and review, well, I consider that a good thing. In fact, any year above ground is good. With my 46th birthday one week away, that’s how I choose to look at it.

Happy fucking New Year.

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One Comment
  1. Very interesting post, and yes I read every word of it- it was that entertaining. Too many comments to make…but I laughed at the Barbie story, like your quote about not having anything nice to say and to come sit by you, the only thing that separates us from animals, and the puppy… good read.
    Though if I might add, Giltfree, I was thinking of borrowing your idea and writing about what I won in 2009, just to force myself to look back positively.
    **Thanks for commenting on my post, and yes, I see how you are blatantly honest as a writer.

    Happy New Year :]
    !MiA

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