Category Archives: Battle of the Butt

My favorite Valentine’s day tradition

Hey y’all!

I recently posted an informal poll for my followers on my Facebook fan page asking readers to vote on which blog topic they wanted me to write about this week. The winning topic was “My favorite Valentine’s day tradition”.

You’re probably not going to like my answer. I usually get all schmoopy around holidays, but Valentine’s day is another story. It’s a retail holiday, you guys. There’s no spiritual meaning to it. No patriotic meaning. No meaning at all except that we’re all made to feel that we have to observe it or it means we don’t love our husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends…whatever.

If I’m being honest, the last time I had fun on Valentine’s day was when I was a little girl. Remember what it was like to be a kid and go to the store and see all those red and pink little boxes with differently themed Valentine cards? How exciting!

At my school, we were given a brown paper lunch sack to decorate with red and pink tissue and glue and glitter and crayons. Any blank piece of paper, even a bag, was an inspiration to me. I was always so excited for Valentine’s day…and I loved picking out just the perfect box of Valentines to give to my friends and classmates.

By the time I was a teenager, Valentine’s Day was already losing its appeal. I was a cute enough girl, but I was beyond shy around boys and I didn’t wear all the cute, fashionable clothes or flirt or go to dances. I didn’t know what to do around boys. So every Valentine’s Day the girls would get all giggly and the boys would give out valentines to the girls who caught their eye…but it was never me. So by the time I graduated high school, it was already just another reminder that I wasn’t enough of something. Not pretty enough. Not skinny enough. Not…enough.

As a single woman in my twenties and thirties, it just got worse. If I was dating someone, everything was rainbows and kittens. If I wasn’t, I was just made to feel more alone by the endless sappy jewelry commercials and news stories about romantic proposals. It was everywhere. And work is the worst on Valentine’s Day. An endless parade of florists delivering huge expensive bouquets to my female co-workers who were either married or dating Mr. Right.


Royal Albert New Country Roses Formal Vintage Teacup and Saucer Boxed Set, White

And then I met HMH. Well, we were friends for five years on the phone (via work) before we ever met in person – but once we met in person, we were inseparable. We moved in together on Valentine’s Day weekend. The following year, he made the world’s worst marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day (it’s a long story and he’s damn lucky I said yes). After that, we just settled into normal life and that was that.

So my favorite Valentine’s Day tradition is…paying no attention whatsoever to Valentine’s Day. And I invite you to do the same.

It made me feel shitty for years as a single girl. It puts seriously awful pressure on a lot of men, honestly. Just yesterday I saw a commercial for jewelry where a guy gives his wife or girlfriend a gift box over dinner, she opens it with excitement…and then her smile fades and she looks up at him and says something like “Where’s the real one?”

What the actual fuck, people!

Other ads prey on men by guilt tripping them into paying five times more for a bouquet of flowers that they’d pay much less for on any other damn day. Jewelry store ads attempt to pull at our heartstrings with step-dads giving little step-daughters diamond pendants that match the one he just gave mommy. Restaurants woo guys with special dinner prices and heart shaped desserts.

As women, we’re pressured with ads for lingerie and magazine articles telling us how to get that hot body before the big day. Or, my favorite, top ten tips for pleasing your man in bed. Wow. You’re with someone who wants to boink you. Know how to find out how to please him? ASK. Holy shit. Just talk about what you like and don’t like.

The Valentine thing is all bullshit. Seriously.

HMH and I both work hard for our money and the things we have – but HMH has a very physically demanding job. He works his ass off. How loving is it of me to throw a bunch of bullshit expectations on him about a made-up holiday? When I see those commercials, I don’t want HMH to buy me jewelry or roses…I want to smack the shit out of the advertising jerks who insinuate that my darling hubby is some sort of failure if he doesn’t buy me their crap.

When you’re in a healthy, loving relationship every day is Valentine’s Day…and that should be the same whether your relationship is with yourself OR a significant other. Just because you’re not dating anyone doesn’t mean you’re lacking in some way. Don’t buy into the bullshit.

Valentine’s Day is a giant guilt trip.

It’s as simple as this: if you’re single and Valentine’s Day smacks of loneliness I want you to stand up, square your shoulders and yell BULLSHIT at the top of your damn lungs. DO IT!!! Because that’s what it is. BULLSHIT.

If you have a significant other, take it easy on them. Give them a break. If you both enjoy schmooping out on Valentine’s Day, then I say go for it…but if you’re both spending tons of time wondering what the hell to buy the other one, then why? What’s the purpose really?

When HMH wants a new vinyl record or I want a new needlework pattern, we get it. That’s how we are. If I’m at the antique mall with the girls and I see some vinyl he’d like…I pick it up. And yes, HMH actually bought me a needlework pattern for my Christmas stocking one year. Occasionally, we buy each other our favorite candy…or some other trinket we see around. But we don’t need to be bought stuff in order to feel that we’re loved.

The only people I’m inclined to buy Valentine’s gifts for are my co-workers sometimes…or my fur persons. Those things are still fun for me when they’re in the budget. Otherwise, it’s just another day…as it should be. Except the day after. Candy is 50% off, bitches.

Let’s all go buy ourselves a treat.

Maybe we should start a new Valentine’s Day tradition. Instead of being pressured to spend money on others in the name of love, maybe we could just look in the mirror and smile at the person smiling back at us. Let’s accept that we’re all beautifully flawed, amazing humans worthy of love.

And maybe go back to decorating paper sacks…because that shit’s always fun.

So what’s YOUR favorite Valentine’s Day tradition?


Jusalpha Vintage Rose Bone China Teacup Spoon and Saucer Set TCS03

2016, here I come!

Yeah, I suck.

I keep thinking “Wow, it’s been a couple weeks since my last blog post…I need to get moving.” And then I think it again. And again. And again. Meanwhile, it’s nearly 2016 and the last thing I wrote was fucking Halloween? Really???

I’m sorry, guys. I need to do a better job at organizing myself.

I used to hate new years resolutions. A lot. It seemed to me that the best way to guarantee that I wouldn’t accomplish something was to make it a new years resolution so I could procrastinate the shit out of it. Something about losing 116 pounds has changed my perspective, though, and I now look at them like fun little challenges. I never get them all done, but I do get some of them done…and it gives me a little twinge of pride to check one off my list.

For example, two years ago I one of my resolutions was to get my Concealed Handgun License (CHL). It took me a few months to realize that I wasn’t ready for it yet. A traumatic experience I had when I was 15 years old was still hanging on and I couldn’t shake it yet, so I put it off for the year. This year, thanks to a women’s shooting group I found, I gradually felt ready to take it on – so, even though it wasn’t a resolution this year, I did it anyway. Kick ass!

I never know what I’m going to put on the list, and I try not to make most of them about weight loss or physical appearance. I try to make them things that are either fun or interesting or challenging…or all three. So here we go. Here’s my 2016 new years resolutions:

  1. Visit another country. Do y’all know how long I’ve wanted to go to Europe? And I have no excuse. I work in the travel industry, for goodness’ sake! What am I waiting for? Well, I don’t have a passport yet. I know, I know, I know. You can see why this is a goal.
  2. Buy a dining room table. It pains me to admit it, but I haven’t had a dining table and chairs for three years. My dining room looks like a staging area for the old tv show “Clean House”. I have boxes of crap in there that have no home. It’s the holidays, so that means there are four large rubber bins in there as well. I took all the ornaments and decorations out but I never put the bins back in the closet. They’re guarded by the two white wire deer that I always mean to put out on the lawn for Christmas, but I can never find the damn prongs that secure them into the ground…so they end up sprawled on the dining room floor like they’re napping. Or drunk. After the holidays are over, I’ll get everything back in the closet…but the pile of Crap That Has No Home will still remain. We need to stop eating around the coffee table like savages, yo.
  3. Have 18 inch calves. No, I’m not kidding. You may be wondering why this is a goal. Let me just say…I need to make exercise a consistent habit, but if I say that then I’ll psych myself out. I feel myself shrinking away from it and I’m tired of that shit. Meanwhile, I love boots in the fall and winter but my calves are still too big – even for the wide calf boots. If I make 18 inch calves my goal, I still have to make exercise a consistent habit but I don’t heap unwanted expectations on my hot mess head. This way, I’m just tantalized by the idea of wearing sexy boots. It’s a win-win.
  4. Decorate the damn bedroom. Seriously. My bedroom is so damn ugly. The walls are still an ugly chalky white. The curtains are left over from the devil condo in California. Our furniture is old and has Kirby tooth marks on part of it (when she was a hell raising puppy). It’s hideous and ugly, not restful and serene. And the worst part? Sometimes when HMH starts putting the moves on me, I look up and think “My God this is the ugliest room ever!” So now you know how ugly it is, because if it can distract me from sexy time it’s gotta be pretty hideous…am I right?
  5. Have my picture professionally taken. This one makes me cringe, but it’s necessary. I need some pics taken…for my “about me” page here and for the blog I never write about my fiction endeavors. Maybe if I get new pictures I’ll be inspired to finish that book, right? Seems legit.
  6. Publish something. Anything, damn it. My God!
  7. This one is scary and that’s why I picked it: learn to sing. Way back in my days at the dance studio, the King would require us to sing show tunes while we danced to them. For example, every year at the county fair we were required to perform an entire show of songs from Oklahoma – which is funny when I think about it now because Orange County, California is about as country as New York City…but with more Republicans. Anyway, I never felt like I measured up and I love to sing. I mean, I looooove to sing. So I don’t want to start a new career or anything, but it would be nice to be able to carry a tune and not be embarrassed. That’s all I’m after: non-embarrassed singing.
  8. Ride a rollercoaster. I think I’m going to need to head to the Queen Mother of all amusement parks for this one, peeps. Yes, I’m talking about my first ever place of employment: Disneyland, California. It’s a goal.
  9. Be able to do 100 crunches all at once. Yeah, I couldn’t get out of this without setting at least one exercise goal. That’s it. 100. Just reading that feels like I just signed up for an Ironman competition. Shit.

2016 resolutions

So that’s it, peeps. Those are my 2016 new years resolutions. Are you setting resolutions this year? If so, feel free to share in the comments below!


Tools4Wisdom Planner 2016 Calendar 4-in-1: Daily Weekly Monthly Yearly Organizer – Purpose Driven Goals Planning Book – Personal Life Progress Journal Notebook (8.5 x 11 / 200 Pages / Spiral)

Clear and Loud

About a week ago, I put on a pair of shoes I haven’t worn in quite some time. They’ve been sitting in my closet forever, waiting for me to find courage. I gather my courage a little every day, not all at once like a badass heroine in an epic summer movie. Mine is more a quiet gathering. In so many other parts of my life I can be loud and proud, but this part of me is quiet as a mouse…and just as meek. The ghosts of much of the pain and anguish I’ve felt in years passed have come from this time in my life. The voices that tell me I’m not good enough…that I can’t do it…that I’m not deserving of it…all of those voices come from this. Yet still, for some reason, I walked into my closet last week and put these shoes on my feet.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know my story. If you haven’t, where the fuck have you been all my life? Let me try and bring you up to date quickly. I’ve known some major assholes in my life. When I was nine years old, I started dance lessons at a place run by the biggest asshole in the universe. On our first meeting, he stood me in front of a huge mirror and pointed out all the parts of my body that were “fat” as my mother watched. I still remember my nine year old heart feeling crushed when I was told that my legs and face were fat and my belly stuck out too much. Yeah, I know…it just got worse from there. This man was the significant male role model in my life from age nine to age nineteen-ish. I’m a little fuzzy on when I left exactly because, well, I had a shitload of negative crap going on in my life back then. But I did leave.

I got up one morning and realized that dancing brought me more pain than joy…and I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I walked into the studio and I quit. Then I walked out determined to find another life away from all of the negativity and hurt.

Quitting dance was what I needed at the time, although it didn’t come off as I’d imagined a million times in my head. When I finally had the courage to tell “The King” that I quit, he didn’t have the reaction I expected or wanted. I wanted freedom, but I ended up handing him one last opportunity to hurt me.

I went from dancing for hours a day to no activity at all. I retreated into food in order to self-medicate. I spent all my money at the book store, scouring the self help section for answers to all my problems in titles like “Adult Children of Alcoholics”, “Women Who Love Too Much” and “It’s Not What You’re Eating, It’s What’s Eating You”. I was obsessed with finding the solution to my problems, all the while firmly curled up on the couch with a box of snack cakes and a glass of milk by my side.

I read (and ate) my way toward answers for years. I never danced again. The pounds I was rapidly adding to my body made it difficult, but I also found that I couldn’t even pull my shoes out of my dance bag without a million flashbacks slapping me in the face. The smell of the shoe leather made fresh all the memories I was trying to eat away. What I didn’t realize back then is that there wasn’t enough pizza in the world to eat away the horrible things The King made me feel all those years ago.

Four therapists, countless bad relationships, a truckload of junk food and thirty some-odd years later I’ve finally mellowed. And I moved 1,300 miles away from my hometown. That definitely helped. A few weeks ago when I was cleaning the closet, my eyes fell on that pair of shoes. My tap shoes. And before I could go on auto-pilot, look away and force any other thought into my head, I felt myself say you have those shoes for a reason.

I don’t just have those shoes. I saved those shoes. In the thirty-ish years since I walked away from that part of my life, I’ve written half a dozen letters I never sent (telling The King what a fucktard he is). I’ve thrown away memorabilia. I even had a bonfire at the beach once when I burned a shitload of mementos that came from that time in my life. But in thirty years, I’ve never parted with those shoes. I can’t. And now I realize it’s okay that I don’t want to.

These shoes are mine. The knowledge I have of dance, from warm-up routines to ballet positions to tap steps…is mine. The joyful feeling I get when I bang a set of steps out on the floor is mine. The sound of the taps hitting their mark with precision is clear…and loud…and fabulously mine. And nothing The King has ever done or will ever do will ever…ever…EVER take that away from me.

I took a quick break at work today to make a list of things I needed to get done when I got home. This is what I ended up with:

  • Clean kitchen
  • Outline chapter two
  • Tap practice

Without even thinking, I’d written “tap practice”. It really made me smile. I don’t even know why I wrote it. I don’t remember even thinking about it. It just happened. It’s just another bit of joy returning to my life. Another grain of courage that I’ve gathered in the journey.

Speaking of the journey, I’ll leave you with this: over the years, I’ve walked my way through dozens of pairs of walking shoes. I’ve taken Jazzercise. I’ve joined gyms. I’ve done my time on treadmills and elliptical trainers. I’ve found a way to like most of it. There’s usually a silver lining I can find if I look at it from the right angle. But tonight, as I forced these too-tight shoes onto my still-chubby feet, I realized that when I dance I don’t have to try. I don’t have to sell it to myself as something that’s good for me. I don’t have to look at it from a certain angle or constantly reaffirm why I’m doing it. It is just who I am. And it has nothing to do with an asshole tyrant who terrorized me as a child.

It’s mine. It’s me. And it’s fabulous. ♥


Singin’ in the Rain

Taming Ghosts

Hey, y’all…

This post is going to have precious little to do with my usual weight loss and a hell of a lot to do with making peace with the ghosts of your past. It is also insanely long and has only one picture, which is at the end. Not scared yet? Please continue.

This particular ghost in question has nothing to do with my food demons, but I’ve been battling this monster since I was 15 years old. In order to explain, we have to go back to that time…

I should warn you that this story might be upsetting for some. It certainly is to me, even 35 years later. Time to get it out, though, so here it goes.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone’s teenage years are awkward. Mine were no exception. When I was 15 years old, I had a problem with my knee and had to take a year of adaptive physical education. That’s where I met a boy who eventually became a good friend. We’ll call him Randy. That’s not his real name.

Randy and I became good friends and hung out together a lot that summer. His family was kind of a mess like mine, so we had that in common. My family, like many alcoholic families, loved to focus on other less fortunate people to steal attention away from the fact that we didn’t have our shit together either. They felt sorry for Randy’s situation and welcomed him into our family with open arms. He loved it because, frankly, there wasn’t much love in his house. Everything was just dandy. For awhile.

At the end of the summer, Randy pulled me aside and confessed his undying love for me. Uh…

Maybe I should’ve been flattered, but he was my friend. I felt only friendship for him and my 15 year old brain didn’t know how to handle this turn of events. My mother and sisters were no help. I was basically told it was all very sweet and adorable, interlaced with my mother reminding me that I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16 anyway. And that was fine with me because I didn’t want to date him.

He started buying me gifts. I absolutely adored Snoopy and he bought me everything with a Snoopy on it that he could find. I accepted them because I thought it was mean not to. I was a teenager, for fucks sake. No adult was giving me any guidance. I had no idea that I was just encouraging him.

School went back in session and that’s when things started to take a turn for the worse. See, I wasn’t popular. I wasn’t UNpopular, but I stayed to myself and my little group of four girlfriends. I had no time for school activities because I was in dance all the time. My life was outside of school as far as I was concerned…so no one really knew me. Now hold onto your asses because this is going to shock the hell out of those of you who’ve been reading this blog for awhile: I was shy. Shut up, I really was shy around people I didn’t know. I was a total nut around my girlfriends, but around other kids at school…not so much. It wasn’t easy for me to trust people.

Anyway, Randy had lost a bunch of weight at the end of summer and went out and bought all new clothes to impress me. He showed up at school and all the girls went NUTS. He did look amazing. I was really happy for him. The cheerleaders were especially ga-ga over him. I thought to myself “Good! Go find a girlfriend and I’m happy for you!!”

That’s not what happened.

Girls started flirting and asking him to dances. Did he like it? No. Did he turn them down graciously? No, he didn’t. His standard reply (and I shit you not) was “I’m sorry, but when it comes to beauty you just don’t hold a candle to Dianne.”

What..the..actual FUCK?

You can imagine how that went over. Not only were these girls understandably hurt, they turned their anger on ME. Because who was I to compare to them, right? They were gorgeous and popular cheerleaders ‘n shit. Or at least one of them was. All the girls in question were prettier than me. Their clothes were perfect, their make-up was flawless. These girls had it together. And then there was 15 year old me wearing nothing but t-shirts and jeans and lugging around a tote bag with Morris the cat on it. A fashion plate if ever there was one.

The entire school year was hell. Randy didn’t budge in his “love” for me. He doodled my name all over his notebooks. He brought me up in conversations with everyone. He was clearly obsessed.

Family life started to get extra hellish as well. He already had everyone’s sympathy in my family and he started playing it to his advantage. Poor Randy. Dianne doesn’t love him. Why, God, why? My sisters started pressuring me to be nicer to him. My mother too. Still so much conflicting information. Be nice…but not TOO nice. Not like THAT, understand?

There wasn’t one moment when anyone in my family considered that they were pushing me out and bringing Randy in. I was already dealing with the asshole dance teacher (you remember him, right? Told me I was fat at nine years old? Yeah, him). My parents were separated, so my barely-there father was non-existent. My girlfriends were all involved in school activities. I don’t remember even trying to talk to any of them about it. I was just trying to handle it as best I could, but I was quickly feeling like I didn’t matter – even to my own family.

It went on and on like this for months. He would pressure me to go to a school dance with him, I’d say no. He’d mope around in front of my family, they’d chastise me for being mean. Over and over and over again. And just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, he started showing up at the dance studio to watch me dance. He made friends with my friends. He met “the King”. He knew everyone. To them, he was this sweet teddy bear of a guy who had an adorable crush on Dianne.

To me, he was a close friend that I didn’t trust as much as before for some reason…who caused me a ton of pain and had wedged himself between me and my family. And now he was infiltrating the dance studio.

I started refusing the gifts. Mom (and quite a few others) came down on me swiftly. It was mean and ungracious to refuse to accept them. He’s such a sweet boy. What’s my problem? Why can’t I just be nice?

Towards the end of the school year, I started sliding into a pretty sad place…emotionally speaking. I felt there was no place where I was welcome. No one thought I was nice. No one was on my side in this crazy shit. I felt trapped and I didn’t know what to do. Then the King, my dance teacher, asked to see me. Shit.

He pulled me aside with the expression of a concerned, loving father, which always set me on edge. He was not a loving or concerned person. He was a despicable person who took every opportunity to hurt and manipulate me. Even back then I felt it was true, thought it would be years before I had the courage to break away from him. He sat me down and asked me how things were going. Fine. That was always my standard answer. My family had long instilled that standard reply in my head. We didn’t need to burden others with our troubles. We’re always fine.

Of course, he brought Randy into the conversation. And there it was. With all the fake concern he could muster, he proceeded to tell me that I needed to give Randy a chance.

Go ahead and ask me why he said that. Go ahead. Why?

Because a girl like me with ten extra pounds on her should feel lucky to have ANY boy’s attention.

Not even kidding. He said that shit.

I let him say what he had to say. I listened to it. When I look back at times like these I wish to God someone, some adult somewhere, had taught me to have some balls and stand up for myself. I just listened. And I left feeling like there was truly something wrong with me because I didn’t have romantic feelings for Randy.

I started shutting everyone out. It hurt too much to be told all the damn time how mean and horrible I was because poor Randy was hurt. Everyone obviously had more love for him than me. So fine, I’ll back out. I hope you’re all happy with each other. By the time the school year was ending, I was making plans to leave home and never come back. I didn’t know where I would go, but it was better than putting up with this hell.

I remember walking home from school alone one day when Randy’s brother came walking up beside me. He wanted to tell me that he was sorry for what I was going through. He told me he didn’t think it was right that his brother was turning everyone against me so much. We talked all the way home and I remember feeling happy for the first time in a long time just because someone understood that my life was hell.

Then something really horrible happened.

My mom had to leave for an hour and I didn’t want to go with her, so she left and told me to lock the door behind her. We had just been fighting…over Randy. What a shocker. In my teenage anger, I decided not to listen to her and left the front door unlocked – but the screen door was locked. Sure, it was only locked with a thin strip of metal, but I was a teenager…so I was invincible. About ten minutes later, there was a knock at the door.

Randy.

He was crying. I rolled my eyes as soon as I saw the tears. What the hell did I do now?

He told me that he’d seen me talking to his brother and that he was so hurt because he finally understood what was going on. Obviously, I’d been secretly dating his brother the entire time and THAT is why I wouldn’t go out with him.

What???

I was so angry. I started yelling and I couldn’t stop. I let it all out: how I felt about him manipulating everyone, shutting me out, being so obsessed with me. I emphatically denied dating his brother (for the 500th time, I wasn’t even allowed to date).

The whole time he stood there, he was holding something behind his back. I didn’t know what it was. I assumed it was flowers or another Snoopy. Whatever it was, I told him I didn’t want it. I told him to go home and come back in an hour when my mom would be home so that she could punish me AGAIN and he could get sympathy AGAIN. I slammed the door in his face.

I stepped back and watched to make sure that he left. I couldn’t see him through the window in our front door because it had a sheer curtain over it, but I could see his shadow. I saw him pull something out from behind his back. It was long and sort of bulky. He was pointing it in the air for some reason…and, just when I started realizing what it was, the loudest boom I’d ever heard in my life made me jump right out of my skin.

A gun. He was firing a gun.

As long as I live, I’ll never forget that moment in my life. After a second of absolute terror, I bolted down the hall and locked myself in the bathroom. Hysterical and crying, I waited for another shot. He hadn’t hit me, thank God. It didn’t take me too long to realize I’d just done the dumbest thing I could do: I barricaded myself in a room with no exit. What was I going to do…wait until he found me and then let him kill me?

I don’t know how I found the courage to do it, but I opened the bathroom door and stuck my head out to see what I could see. I had an open bottle of rubbing alcohol in my hand in case he was right there. Logic, huh? I was going to try and throw it in his eyes if he caught me coming out into the hallway.

All clear…but I could see his shadow on the living room carpet. I didn’t know if he was inside or outside. He fired again and started screaming my name. I ran into my parents’ bedroom and shut the door, but the lock on the damn door had been broken for years. No way to be safe in here, but the phone was here.

I grabbed the phone and called the police. We didn’t have sub-stations back then and they were a good 30 minutes from me, but I had to try. I told the dispatcher what was going on and she desperately tried to get me to calm down.

Another shot rang out.

She asked if I could get out of the house safely. I told her I didn’t know where he was. She told me to get out if I could and run to a neighbor’s house, so that’s what I did. I kicked the screen out of my parent’s window and climbed out. I ran straight into my neighbor’s house, no knocking, and hid behind one of their living room chairs. Mrs. Smith (surprise, also not her real name) was scared to death. She was like a second mother to me. She had no idea what was going on.

Randy wrapped the rifle up in a towel and walked home to wait for the police. He’d been crouched outside my parent’s bedroom window and heard everything. The fact that he went from crazy to calmly walking home was one of the first times in my life that I remember knowing that there’s a God. He could have killed me and the Smith family for sheltering me, but he calmed down and walked home. No rhyme or reason.

My mother arrived home to find four police cars in her driveway and her daughter missing.

Mrs. Smith went over to tell them where I was. I remember a police officer standing over me and trying to talk me out from behind the chair. I could see his lips moving, but I couldn’t hear a sound. It was like I was underwater or something. To this day, I don’t remember the sound of his voice. I simply didn’t hear it. When I heard my mom crying and I saw her, I came out.

It took about 30 minutes before I could find the words to talk. I remember being freezing cold, even though it was a warm California day. I couldn’t stop shivering. A few officers stayed with us and the rest headed to Randy’s house.

All of this happened before there were anti-stalking laws, so basically this meant that he had to actually shoot me in order for the cops to do anything about it. He hadn’t. I was unharmed, physically anyway.

The cops took him into custody and confiscated the rifle he’d fired. They left the other 17 guns in the house. Randy was locked up for observation for 48 hours. That’s the best they could do. No charges were filed because I didn’t have a mark on me.

Suddenly my family went from telling me how horrible I was to being concerned about me. I was scared to death, but I was relieved to at least have my family back. I saw Randy when he wasn’t there. Any loud noise put me into instant hysterics. I was constantly afraid of strangers around me, afraid that they would hurt me. I was afraid to be alone, but when I was with people I was still afraid. I was always afraid. I’m sure I had either post traumatic stress or something like it.

It was the last week of school. The police told Randy he couldn’t go back because he had to stay away from me, so his teachers let him finish from home. My friends walked me from class to class because I was afraid. And, even though I thought things couldn’t get any worse, a rumor went around the school that I was raped.

I wasn’t raped. He never touched me.

Trying to help, my sisters called the school and told the principal that they weren’t convinced I wasn’t raped. LOL. Seriously, you can’t make this shit up. It’s like a really horrible reality show. I was called to the principal’s office to talk. A social worker, a police officer, the school nurse and my school counselor were all waiting for me. I sat with them for an hour, repeating the story and telling them again that I was not raped. They finally believed me, but the damage was done. Again.

So that’s the story of the ghost I’ve been carrying with me for years. I was probably in my 30’s before car backfires didn’t leave me in tears. It took me a long time to get over this.

By the way, Randy stayed away from me after that. A year later, he was coming home from a camping trip when he was killed in a car wreck. I was sad about it…and I still am. He was a good person before this whole episode, and I had faith that he would be again.

Back to the ghost…

Hot Mess Hubby is a country boy who grew up in Texas. He also served in the Marine Corps for six years. That means he likes guns. It wasn’t a problem in California because you need 37 permits to even think about owning a gun there. We weren’t living in Texas for very long when he brought the first one home.

I cleaned around the thing. I was afraid to pick it up. And I can’t even adequately describe how much I freaked out when he would clean it and the barrel would even come close to pointing at me.  (And let me just say here, HMH would NEVER point a gun at me. He is the safest person I know. So if you’re not a gun person, please don’t think we’re one of those families who accidentally shoots grandpa on Christmas because we’re just playing with our guns in the house.)

I don’t like being afraid of things. It sucks. I’m actually pretty afraid of bridges. What did I do about it? I walked the Golden Gate Bridge, bitches. I like the feeling I get when I don’t let my fears win. So when we moved to Texas, I was determined to make my peace with guns. I don’t think anyone should live in a home where there are firearms if they don’t know how to handle them safely.

In 2014, one of my new year’s resolutions was to get my concealed handgun license (CHL). I had done so many fabulous things in my life that I was sure it was time to get over the gun thing. I went to the gun range with HMH, which I’d done a few times when pressed to do so. It didn’t go well. Even with double ear protection, the sound of gunfire had me in tears within minutes. I was okay with HMH and I was even sort of okay firing a gun, but not with other people firing near me. I was terrified.

I didn’t get my CHL last year. It was too much for me. It felt like what trying to run a marathon when I weighed 383 pounds would have felt like. Too much, too soon. I gave up.

Now it’s 2015 and I’ve conquered even MORE badass shit. I’ve lost 116 pounds and 8 sizes in clothes…there’s no limit to what I can do, right? So I’ve been to the range a few more times. Still pretty terrified. But about a month ago, something pretty awesome happened: I found a group of badass chicks called A Girl & A Gun. They’re into competition shooting and educating women about gun safety. And a friend of mine made me realize that, as much as I love him, HMH is really not a very good teacher when it comes to guns. So I went to a meeting. At the gun range. By myself.

It was really weird walking into the gun range without HMH, carrying our crappy little .22 and a box of ammo in a Kate Spade tote bag (hey, just because I’ve got a gun doesn’t mean I have to carry it in a backpack, peeps. Handbag ho forever!)

But I did it. And it was awesome.

It was so great to get to hear about the whole gun thing from a woman’s perspective. Most of the women in the group are competition shooters. The ladies who run the group are patient teachers and all the ladies in the group are welcoming and just plain badass. I stuck with our crappy .22 for the first meeting. At the second meeting, I had the courage to fire a few higher caliber guns. I was afraid of most of them, but the sheer sense of comraderie made me feel safer than I’ve ever felt at a gun range. These women were my sisters and they were going to make sure I knew what I was doing when I was ready. They let me set my own pace, but they offered help and let me decide what I wanted to do. They graciously showed me their guns and explained what they were. They offered me to try them all. They created a safe place for me to explore something that used to terrify me.

Not long after, I started shopping for my own gun. I was just curious at first, but it got to be fun looking for something of my own. Last week I found a gun that doesn’t freak me out…and I started learning how to handle myself when a gun jams.

Today I went to the gun range with HMH again…and even he’s noticed how much more relaxed I am. I still jump when a stranger is firing a high caliber weapon anywhere near me, but I’m much more confident than I was. I’m slowly squeezing the 15 year old victim out of my head. It feels pretty good, peeps. It feels pretty damn good.

hot mess gun goddess

If you want to learn more about gun safety and shooting, I highly recommend connecting with a women’s only group. As much as the men in our lives may love us, there are some things women can teach us better…and that includes how to shoot around the hooters. 🙂 Go find A Girl and A Gun chapter near you.

I’ll keep you posted…


Radians Remington Womens Eye and Ear Protection Combo Pack

I have seen the light!!!! No, really. I have.

So do you remember the episode of Friends when Rachel FINALLY realized Ross had feelings for her? They’d known each other since high school and he’d had a crush on her forever, but he could never get her attention. Yeah, I just had a moment like that…but not with Ross Geller.

Ross and Rachel…perfect for each other

 

The past several weeks have been a struggle for me. Things are crazy stupid busy at work right now, and not likely to lighten up until the holidays. My 12 year old craptastic Hyundai has been breaking down, viciously dipping into my handbag fund and putting household repair projects on the back burner. We’re in a bit of a financial bind at the moment.

On the happy side of things (I think) I’ve landed an opportunity to do some ghost writing for a decent sum…but where do I find the time for that? It’s rare that I can find time to write a blog post of my own. Am I to work a full day and then come home and work several hours more, then struggle to relax enough to get a few hours of sleep? For a Hot Mess like me, that’s not much quality of life…and honestly, one of the main things that keeps the food demons in check is me maintaining my quality of life.

To top it off, HMH has changed his work schedule and we’re all in the middle of adjusting to a new way of life because of it. So I’ve got a mountain of things to get through and the new schedule is jacking me up…and I’m constantly running around to compensate for it. Honestly…I’m quite stressed out. Things are a mess.

As y’all know, I’ve been trying to make exercise a real habit – and for a few weeks there, I was actually doing it. My alarm goes off at 4 am so that I can get up in time to get on the elliptical trainer and get on with my day. I was really kicking ass at getting it done every morning. And you know what? It felt great! I loved getting to work in the morning feeling wide awake and ready to go, even though I’d gotten up at an ungodly hour. I loved the energy I had and the powerful feeling in my legs and the downright badass feeling I had because I was actually effing DOING IT!!!

And then things got busy. Then they got crazy. The ghost writing job came…and the car problems…and the family members visiting and all the little busy work in between. And what did I do? What I always do: I started shutting down and eliminating things that I deemed an inconvenience. So…what have I always looked at as an inconvenience?

Exercise.

Working out has always been a mundane task that I stubbornly chose to do because of what it can do for me. Even then, I don’t stick with it long enough to really see what it can do for me. Except for those few weeks that I truly enjoyed last month.

Yesterday, I was sharing all this with a friend while lamenting my own stubbornness and inability to juggle all this crap that’s going on…and BAM! It hit me like a truck load of Little Debbies: as things have gotten crazier, I’ve not had time for exercise and the stress is piling up.

No exercise.

Stress piling up.

Not exercising…and stress is getting worse…

Wait a minute…I may have something here…

DUH!

I know, I know, I know…most of you are reading this and thinking “HMP, you’re a dipshit!” The older I get, the more I realize it takes me five times longer than the average person to really learn the big lessons in life.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read articles and books on exercise and have been told that it’s a great stress reliever…and every time I’ve read it, I’ve said “yeah, yeah, yeah…blah, blah, blah” in response. For me, I’ve always thought it meant exercise that people find enjoyable…and I can’t honestly say that about any cardio.

Sorry, fitness freaks of the world…it’s not fucking enjoyable to me. So I wrote it off as fitness guru rhetoric. It never occurred to me that ANY exercise, when done regularly, relieves stress. Even if you don’t like doing it.

Until now.

Suddenly I was Rachel Green realizing she had feelings for Ross. But I’m not Rachel, I’m me. And I don’t have feelings for a lovable paleontologist…I have feelings for my elliptical trainer. Feelings that, for once, don’t involve anger and revulsion. Holy shitballs, Batman!

Actually, this has happened to me before. In 1986. Yep. I had just broken up with my first love and I was absolutely a mess. Even though I’d graduated high school four years earlier, I was flipping through my high school yearbook one day for some reason and saw something I hadn’t seen before. My sweet, lovable pal Dougie had written this in my yearbook:

“I never had the guts to tell you, but I think you’re the most beautiful girl in the whole world.”

WHAT????

I didn’t see it for four years because I never read it till then. What a superficial bitch, right? LOL. Poor Doug was probably waiting by the phone for a few days, wondering if I’d call and say I felt the same way. But no…I was too busy being happy that I was finally out of high school. I never knew he had feelings for me until it was too late. He probably led a horrible life after he realized he couldn’t have me. Poor Doug.

Actually, I’m still a little embarrassed that I never read what he wrote in my yearbook. He was the sweetest guy. How rude of me not to read it until it was too late. And then when I read it, I cried like crazy because I was all “OMG, the love of my life doesn’t want me…and poor Dougie might have really been the one but I was too blind to see it!”

We were just two ships that passed in the night. Actually no. He was like a really sweet ship that probably would have been really nice to me. He would’ve treated me with respect and wouldn’t have tried to show me his anchor till I was ready. But I was a total bitch ship. Like a big shiny cruise ship with too much shit on her deck who thought she was all Royal Caribbean when he was just some local tour boat. Oh, for fuck’s sake, I don’t really know where I’m going with this. Let’s get back to my point…if I can find it.

All this time I’ve been angry and pissy about exercise, never realizing what it was doing for me. Thank God I had the fortitude to stick with it for a few weeks. I wouldn’t have noticed the difference otherwise. I stuck with it long enough to miss the benefits when they were gone.

Anthony and Cleopatra. Peanut butter and jelly. Ross and Rachel. HMP and exercise. Matches made in heaven, peeps.

(By the way, I reconnected with Dougie a few years ago. It turns out that not being able to date me didn’t ruin his life after all! He’s happily married with children and everything. I’m so glad he was able to rebuild his shattered life after losing out on a hot mess. *smirk*)

I haven’t exercised in a few weeks. I’ve been letting the stress monster get to me. My elliptical trainer is dusty and sad looking. It fills me with guilt every morning when I grumble and stagger past it on my way to the bathroom. So today, while I was housecleaning, I went into the bedroom and gave it a good cleaning. I wanted to talk to it, but I wasn’t sure what to say.

I’m sorry I’ve been a cold hearted bitch?

I can’t believe I never realized what you do for me?

I’m really looking forward to our date tomorrow?

No. I just sprayed cleaner and wiped it down with paper towels. I think it realized that I’d had this epiphany, though. I pushed one of the giant pedals too hard as I was cleaning and got a pretty good gut punch when it came swinging back at me. Probably my elliptical’s way of telling me never to ignore it again. We hugged it out, though. We’re good. Now it’s sparkly clean and waiting for me.

Another crazy work week is ahead of me…and I’m slightly more okay with it than I was last week. Because I know, even if I’m sleepy and grumbly at 4 am, I’m going to get up and get on my elliptical trainer. Because even though I might not like pumping away like a sweaty monkey at zero-dark-thirty, I love what it does for me. And that’s enough.

It took me a while, but I think I finally got the point. Elliptical trainer, you’re my lobster.

Do you have a dusty unloved friend sitting in your house right now? Maybe it’s time to pull the laundry off of it and put it back into use. What do you say?


Workout Journal (Diary, Notebook, Fitness)