Me Time

I take it when I get it – and I get precious little of it these days – but when I do get it, I enjoy it!

Me time. A time when I can do something that no one is waiting for, expecting, directing me to do, or needs. No one but me, that is.

In the same way that babies raised in large families can sleep through lots of noise and chatter, I’m learning to grab this time whenever I can – even in the midsts of some non personal event. I can now sit in a car with my husband and daughter and spend 15 minutes tweezing my way to a groomed state, oblivious to their presence.

This skill will either save my sanity, or I am just one step closer to changing my underwear in the middle of a traffic island.

This has been a week of driving – a week of sitting behind the wheel, usually in traffic, trying to find a bit of peace at each stop light and seeking new routes from St. Paul to Lake Calhoun.

Adventure is a fine thing, but I’m glad that next week we’ll return to our more calming and healthier routine of me walking Max a mile to his day camp in the morning, walking home (with Atticus), then repeating the exercise in reverse later in the afternoon.

I miss these daily walks – but I don’t think I could have taken them this week anyway, what with the humidity and heat and my wacky breathing. So it worked out that the week I needed to be in air conditioning for my breathing, I was able to spend HOURS in my PT Cruiser. Yay.

Thank heaven for the downpour Thursday – blessed relief!

Well, except for the poor men who were in the St. Paul sewer during the storm. Still missing – just terrible.

And – no matter HOW much I walk, or how careful I try to be with the eating – I feel that my body shape is sort of frozen in time right now. It seems that there are times when weight just falls off, and there are times when it won’t come off with a hammer and chisel. This current period of heat and stress is one of the latter – and it will pass – but it’s rough now.

I’m not too concerned with it. Aside from the breathing I feel very healthy right now. I’m walking a lot, getting a lot done, doing a nice amount of physical work and I feel good. But I don’t feel thin.

Every year in August I feel so lodgy, then in the Fall I slim down without really trying very hard, so I know this will pass. But it bothers me. And it bothers me that it bothers me.

I think it’s due to many factors – the societal pressure to be thin, my own desire to wear pretty clothes, wanting folks to think well of me when they first meet me. And, perhaps most troubling, the fact that my husband has “shrunk” – he’s shorter now than he was.

I feel so very exposed when we’re together. I find myself explaining to folks I’ve just met why I’m so much taller than Gerry. Not good for either of our egos. I know that this makes him feel handicapped – lesser in some way – and I need to stop it. It’s ridiculous to allow my vanity to cause Gerry pain.

But it’s hard to be a bit of a sight gag. I’ve often said that in our society the worst thing a woman can do is take up too much space; the worst thing a man can do is take up too little.

I don’t mean that seriously, of course – and things have changed a lot (for the better) since I was a teenager. But there’s that feeling that it’s just not quite feminine to be too big.

Or, to follow the panty hose corollary, the taller a woman is, the less she is allowed to weigh.

I break that rule. I’m simultaneously happy, proud, ashamed and irritated by my looks – I think we all are. I’m upset that a bias against fat is still strong – and accepted. The last acceptible bias. But on the other hand, I feel that there’s a growing movement of pride in our bodies, no matter what their shape and size. I see this wherever I teach – and I do love those Dove ads.

In the shower, soon after I delivered Max, I remember thinking, “How can I hate a body that has given me two such wonderful babies?”

This is on my mind because we went as a family to see Hairspray – and I absolutely loved it! I want to see it again – SOON!

I loved every moment of it – it was the best movie I’ve seen in a long time! The message was so empowering, if a little shiny-happy-starry eyed.

And yet – the role of the fat woman who overcomes her self loathing to come out of her shell and enjoy life with her daughter was played by a man.

I thought John Travolta did a fine job – he’s been dissed in some reviews, but I thought he worked his butt off, and did as well as any guy could do. When John Waters made the original movie, Divine was a magnificent Edna – a force unto herself. And there was a poetic balance when Harvey Fierstein was cast on Broadway.

But as I watched the musical film version of this bubbly, period morality play, I felt – I imagined that I felt – as though I were seeing a black-face performance. Why was it necessary to have a guy play Edna, really? Would a middle-aged, fat woman be so terrible to see? Are there no actresses who could have done the part? Queen Latifah was magnificent, Nikki Blonsky was an utter delight, but where was my own personal role model to cheer for?

I wanted to cheer when Edna danced in the street, or sashayed with her husband. But I kept thinking, “He’s playing a cartoon character – am I a cartoon character?”

Do I have no right to see myself represented by a “real” actress?

I thought it was especially ironic given the subject matter of the movie – integration and the desire of black folks in Baltimore to see themselves represented on local TV.

And yet, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie – I loved it – and when it comes out on DVD I’ll buy it. Hannah’s already memorized many of the songs, and Max was dancing in his seat.

I just wish they could have seen a real woman playing Edna.

Hannah said later, “Mom, you would have been really good in that part. Well, if you had a fat-suit on…” Which was very sweet and unexpected. So now I have two dream parts to play someday; Edna Turnblad and Mrs. Lovett.

The vanity continues – it’s grouted and the edging is in place.

I’ve run a bead of silicone around the inside of the mosaic area to act as a dam when I pour the poly on tomorrow, then I’ll let it sit for a few days.

It’s truly been a labor of love, it has made me so happy to make this for the bathroom. I hope it turns out that we really CAN use the vanity top!

Hannah leaves on Sunday morning for Girl Scout camp. We had signed the kids up for these various camps (canoe camp, invention camp, girl scout camp) in March, before Gerry’s diagnosis. Back then we thought it was a back problem for which the doctor would find a solution (like vertibroplasty)

I felt it was necessary to round out the kids’ summers as much as possible. As things turned out, giving them such a rich and full summer has been quite a blessing – and has kept both their minds and our minds off of the seriousness of our situation. We’ll take the joy wherever we can get it!

When it became clear how serious Gerry’s illness was, and what this would mean for us financially, I contacted the different camps to see about getting a refund. With only one exception, they each offered us partial scholarships so the kids could stay in their various programs. I was so grateful – we are
all so grateful.

I’d never imagined there was as much kindness as we’ve been shown since Gerry’s diagnosis, and it’s difficult to know exactly how to feel (besides grateful!)

I continue to drag my feet about writing to thank folks – partly due to busy-ness, and partly just not knowing how I can express these very deep – and sharp – feelings.

Thank you, everyone, who has been so kind, and please know how much I appreciate your patience in waiting for a decent thank you from me!

Especially these gorgeous chocolates (Thank You Marnie!!) with the little doggie (which I’ll send with Hannah to camp)

… And – especially – the Nordic Ice Pack that came WITH the chocolates… Now THAT was an unexpected joy!

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!