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Saturday, July 18, 2015

"I am NOT Caitlyn Jenner..."

but I could be! 

Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner was awarded the Arthur Ashe ESPY the other night, and people are (vocally) divided about the honor--with those against complaining that undergoing transgender surgery in a very public forum doesn't require courage.

When I had my surgery nearly four years ago, I was terrified.  Of failing.  I was afraid that the fat Rhonda would "win" and that the surgery wouldn't be successful.  I had SO many naysayers in my life: those who told me that "so-and-so had the surgery and gained back all of his/her lost weight" and "so-and-so had the surgery and now thinks that she's 'all that'" and other negative statements.  Of course, I've had a lot of support along the way (I almost spelled it "weigh"!), but there was a lot of doubt--self-doubt and otherwise.

Today, as I recover from yet another step of taking back my life (total knee replacement), I realize that Caitlyn and I have a great deal in common.  We are both finally...FINALLY...really truly living.  Living life on OUR terms.  Caitlyn Jenner, at 62, is finally living the life she's been denied.  So am I.  We both have grown out our hair, are "styling" when it comes to fashion, are comfortable with who we ARE and are finally really, truly happy.

Fat Rhonda, like Bruce and Caitlyn, was the real me living a lie.  How could anyone deny Ms. Jenner the chance to live the truth?  Should ANYONE have that much power over another human being? Of course not.  And as I wiggle my toes as part of my recovery from surgery, I know that having this knee replacement was just another stop on the road to LIFE on MY terms.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I'm BACK...with a case of the IDGAFs.

My dear friend, Jeanie, convinced me to start writing again, so here I am.  When I started this blog nearly four years ago, I did so to document my journey through bariatric surgery, better known as gastric bypass.

It's been four years on August 5, and I've kept most of the 145 pounds off.  I have gained three pounds, but I'm totally comfortable with that.  I wear between a medium and a large top, a small in some knit pants, and a 12 or 14 in dresses and jeans.  My hair is longer than it's ever been; I have a new tattoo on my wrist; I shop at Rue 21 (where I find great bargains--$2 tops?!) and two weeks ago, I pierced my nose!

So...this blog is no longer about losing weight. I'll be glad to answer any questions about weight loss surgery, of course, but my new focus is on the IDGAFs and how YOU can get a case of them, too.

For those of you who aren't sure what "IDGAF" means, it means "I don't give a F**K."  I think calling it the IDGAFs is a little more polite, but truth be told, no matter what you call it, it's the ONLY way to live your life.

We spend SO much of our lives worrying about what other people think.  Why?  Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  She also said, “You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”

Brilliant woman, that Eleanor.  She was said to be "less than attractive" but that didn't keep her from being the powerful, articulate, inspiring woman she was.

And whatever YOUR perceived flaw(s), it/they shouldn't stop you either!  I truly have stopped worrying about what other people think.  I'm living life for the first time, I think.  I go to amusement parks and ride the most ridiculously scary roller coasters.  I wear knee-length skirts after hiding my "fat" for years.  I smile at strangers.  I've always wanted to pierce my nose--I bought little magnetic fakes and even the type of stones that one glues on.  Finally, I did it.  And I LOVE it.  I've bought jewelry to switch out when it's time, and I can't wait.

Stop waiting for others' consent--real or perceived.  Life is short.  LIVE it.  One of my friends said of a Facebook photo that I keep "getting cuter."  I told her it's because I'm living--perhaps for the first time in my life.  And I am.

I want to hear that YOU are, too.  I'm back, people...I hope you're glad to have me here, but of course, I write this for myself (and maybe Jeanie...) so if you don't like it, well...IDGAF.  :-)  But then you knew that, right?

Have a great day!  AND LIVE.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Love and Loss

Last Saturday, I lost someone who was at one time very important to me.  He died very unexpectedly from a heart attack.  Phil was THE guy in high school.  I was sure I loved him.  I bought him Brut cologne for his birthday (December 4), and he came to see me in the hospital when I had knee surgery our senior year of high school.  He was cute and funny.  He played basketball for CYO (Catholic Youth Organization), and I saw him play often.  (He wore #33.)  We often stood at our lockers and talked until we were late for class, but when it came time for prom, he took someone else.  (A someone else who turned out to be his ex-wife...)

I hadn't seen him in years--although I saw him and his son at Red Lobster last summer before I moved back to NC.  I didn't say anything to him that day because I wasn't entirely sure it was him-- he and I made eye contact, but inasmuch as I look much different than the last time he saw me, I don't think he was sure it was me, either.  But by the photograph that accompanied his obituary, I know now it definitely WAS him.  I wish I had spoken to him that day.  Sigh...

I learned of his sudden passing on a page on Facebook for my (can you believe it?) 40th high school reunion. Ironically, his son is married to a former student, and he and she had their first child (and Phil's first grandchild) on the day he died.  I was so shocked to learn of his death that I felt it had to be a mistake...until I confirmed it by reading the obit.  It just doesn't seem possible.  Even now, more than a week later, I'm still stunned and so very sad.

Phil is the third man from my past to have died.  Bill died several years ago--he was someone I had dated in my 20s who revisited me in my 40s. He had cancer, and his passing was a blessing as he suffered greatly. William passed away unexpectedly from a blood clot following spinal surgery.  I truly loved all these men but William was the only one with whom I had current contact.  I met William on AOL in 1998.  He and I had a complicated relationship--but I loved him, and I know he loved me.  He and I spoke every couple weeks; the attraction between us was still strong; in fact, the weekend before his surgery, he propositioned me, and laughing, I turned him down.  I wish I hadn't.  I wish we had met once last time...I wish we had made love one last time...I miss him so much.  I discovered on my iPhone that deleted phone messages are never truly deleted--and I was able to restore them.  I listen to them now and then when I'm missing him the most.

I'm hurting so much tonight...not just for Phil--we hadn't seen each other in years and probably had nothing in common--but for Bill and for William and for all the possibilities that just aren't anymore.  I know that people quote Tennyson, "It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all", but as I sit here alone and heartbroken, I'm not so sure...

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day.  I often have a hard time with this holiday--not because I don't have my own mother--but because I wanted children and didn't get to have them. My ex-husband didn't want them, and he and I didn't have sex often enough to worry about getting pregnant, so...

It's hard to have a void like this in my's a void that cannot be filled.  Before my surgery, I would try to fill it with food.  Now, since that isn't possible--and since I cannot afford to fill it with earrings or shoes (not that I wouldn't like to try!)--I've accepted that I have to FEEL the void.  It's a tough thing to do, but I'm trying.

This year, I had quite the surprise.  Two of my 11th grade students gave me Mother's Day presents!  Seriously!  One girl painted me a picture; the other gave me a gift bag with silk flowers, a stuffed animal and Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies.  (I told you--I eat everything--just not a LOT of anything!)

The gifts made me cry; I couldn't get over the kindness of these young women, who have shown me love in THE most special way.  I'm touched beyond measure.

So to everyone who has a mother, who has lost a mother, whose biological mother was a disappointment or who is or is NOT a mother, I say this:  How we know and recognize a mother figure is by her LOVE.  All of us are mothers of one sort or another--biology has nothing to do with it--it's all about LOVE.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Chemistry 101

As an English teacher, most other subjects baffle me.  (Although I'm doing really well in Trivia Crack except in the Sports category, but that's another story for another time...)  Math has NEVER been an area of strength, and chemistry?  Well, let's just say I got an "A" in Prep Chem because I met with the prof every day for extra help--and ultimately, I think he felt sorry for me!  But I'm not talking about THAT kind of chemistry--I'm talking about the chemical reaction between people.  What causes that "spark"?  And why does it exist between some people and not others?

I ended things with Dee.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  You must think I'm as fickle as Romeo.  But the truth is, there was no spark.  He was nice.  He was good looking.  He was even a good kisser. But conversations with him were dull--it was like watching golf on television.  Ugh. I know you've had the same experience--you have met someone, whether of the same or opposite gender--and you've either immediately LIKED that person or "meh".  There are some connections that cannot be explained.  You just "click".  When you meet these people, you know they are going to be in your life for a while--for whatever the reason.

I have female friends like this.  We have clicked, and because of that click, we can go weeks, months, years without actually being in each other's presence and still pick things up like it was yesterday that we last sat together.  I have male friends like this as well.  These people are comfortable.  They relax us yet stimulate us.  They make us think.  They challenge us and support us and make us feel that, at least on SOME level, we are loved and valued.

The oddest aspect of these relationships is that we may appear to have NOTHING in common.  I'm divorced.  Some of my best friends have been married forever.  I'm a cat and dog person; my friends are usually not cat people.  I have an advanced college education; it doesn't matter if my friends do or do not.  I don't have children; nearly ALL of my friends do.  I'm in my 50s; some of my friends are in their 20s!

I cannot explain chemistry.  I won't pretend that I can.  I WILL tell you, however, that chemistry has me seeing a man who is TOTALLY not my type.  He works in a blue-collar job, has a limited education and cannot spell his way out of a paper bag.  Yet it works.  He makes me laugh.  He makes me think.  He makes me giggle and feel young and silly.  He PICKED ME UP.  (Keep in mind, as someone who weighed over 200 lbs for nearly ALL of her adult life, this is MONUMENTAL.)  I really, really like this man.  I may be falling in love with him...time will tell.  All I know is that he's in my life...for a while.  Yeah, chemistry! Go figure!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

So Far to Go...

I spent my Saturday in my absolute FAVORITE way--at the movies.  I saw two films today: Selma and The Imitation Game.  Both were wonderful--heartbreaking, well acted, so terribly sad and so terribly important.

We have come so very far from the days of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but we have so very far to go.  I sat in the theatre watching the events from 1965 unfold and sobbed.  I was alive in 1965, of course, but I was too young to have fully absorbed and understood what was going on in this country at the time.  When the bomb exploded in the church in Birmingham in the first few minutes of the movie, I sobbed.  It was not the last time I cried.  As a person who prides herself on not seeing color, I was truly ashamed to be white as I watched how African-Americans fought to win the right to vote.  The hate, the violence, the killing--we have come so far in this country but we have SO very far to go. 

I know that my words don't capture the power of the film--and in a way, I'm glad they don't.  See it.  Cry through it.  Feel it.  And then talk about it.  Talk about where we were.  Talk about where we are.  And once you've talked about it, look at what YOU can do to help us move further.

The Imitation Game, like Selma, is also a true story.  And while African-Americans' mistreatment was the focus of the latter, the treatment of homosexuality in England was one of the focal points of the former.  Alan Turing was probably the world's first computer genius--a genius whose invention helped end World War II two years early and saved hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of lives.  And yet, because he was gay--which was ILLEGAL in England until 1967--he was treated in a horrific manner.

I won't spoil the end of the movies for you, although if you know your history, you know how each movie ends.  They were both wonderful, and I recommend them both.  We have come such a long way, and we should be encouraged by that.  Still, we have so very far to go...and I, for one, hope to see us make progress, however slow that progress may be, every day.

Oh, and yes...I did have popcorn at the movies.  (I always do!) But a small popcorn lasted over two movies, and I still only ate half of it!  I'm a cheap date!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Say 'Cheese'!

I thought that it was time to update my panel photo.  I HATE "selfies" taken in a mirror, but I'm home alone tonight, so...

I went back to work/school on Monday and it's been a pretty good week.  Hard to believe it's Wednesday already!  People around me at school are sick--and it seems that ALL kinds of things are going around!  Stomach bugs, flu, sore throats, bronchitis, laryngitis and so on...all things I don't want right now!!!

Truth is, I think I'm healthier now.  That sounds stupid.  Of COURSE I'm healthier now as far as my weight goes--my blood pressure is normal, my heart is healthy, etc.  But I think that my general health is better now, too.  (Knock on wood!)

The only problem I've been having is sleeping all night--and it sucks.  I wake up almost EVERY morning at 3:30...almost like clockwork.  Last night was the first night that I woke up and went RIGHT back to sleep--and I didn't expect to because I had had a little iced tea before hand!  I drink so very little caffeine, I thought that it would really bother me.  The tea I had yesterday was the first in about a month; I drink spring water almost exclusively.

So...what do you think of the new pic?  Between the pounds (145 gone) and the new 'do, I hardly recognize myself some days!  But it's a really GOOD change!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

What's In a Name?

No, I'm not quoting Shakespeare.  (At least not now--those who know me know I do so regularly, though...)  Today's topic has to do with another aspect of dating we say "seasoned" daters.

Dee and I had dinner last night, but it was not the dinner I had planned.  Shannon's great-grandmother called me shortly before we were to leave to head to our "half-way" meeting place, which is about an hour and fifteen minutes from home.  She was having car trouble, so I had to take Shannon all the way home.  A five-hour car trip was definitely cutting into the dinner plans I had made!  However, I think it was John Lennon who said, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans"!  So, I sent Dee a quick text that we might have to change our plans and took Shannon to Chik-fil-A for lunch before we got on the road.

After we got our food, I called Dee.  It was pretty apparent that he didn't want to cancel completely so I asked if he minded picking up a pizza and joining me later than originally planned.  This man's mantra is "no problem".  It's SO nice to be with someone like that! Shannon's great-grandmother was able to borrow a different car to meet me at the edge of their city, which saved me about an hour, and I was able to get home by 5:30. It was really foggy, and because I knew that he would be traveling to my house by a similar route, I sent him a quick text to warn him to be careful.  When I'm driving, I ALWAYS dictate texts, although Siri sometimes gets things wrong.  In this case, she REALLY messed up.  First text said it was "5 D" out.  5 D instead of foggy?  I also discovered, when he was called me at 7:15, late and lost, that she had completely messed up the address I had voice-texted to him!  Poor guy!  He remembered that I don't live far from the school where I work, so he found his way there and called me!  I managed to talk him here--I live out a bit, but he finally got here, and we had a lovely evening.

So...four dates and I think we're on a roll.  His schedule is different from mine, so I'm not sure when I'll see him again, but I know I will.  Which brings me to the title question.

What do you call the person you're dating when you're no longer fifteen?  When we go to a basketball game at school next week, how do I introduce him?  My friend?  Too platonic.  My boyfriend? Again, not 15 anymore.  My lover? Too laughable--and it reminds me of Carrie Bradshaw telling everyone about Aleksandr Petrovsky in Sex and the City when Sarah Jessica Parker's character first gets involved with Mikhail Baryshnikov's character.  Nope.   My gentleman friend? Sure.  Hand me a fan in case I get the vapors.  Nope.  Next!  My companion? Sure, if he was a cocker spaniel.  It seems young adults use terms like "bae" (which I understand means "shit" in Denmark although it's SUPPOSED to be a term of endearment here), "hubby" (which is wrong, presumptuous and ridiculous) and "MCM" (for Man-crush Monday--an Instagram trend).  Sigh.  None of these work.

So, I guess I'll just name!  "Hi, this is Dee."  I don't need to describe him as "my" anything!  I'm just happy to have such a problem!

It's Sunday--and I'm back to work tomorrow, so I need to go do all the school work I didn't do the past two weeks!  Have a great day, and thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Dating Dilemma

People often misuse the word "dilemma".  The prefix "di" indicates "two", so a dilemma is, in the very truest meaning of the word, a "situation requiring a choice between TWO equally undesirable alternatives."  The keywords in that definition, I think are "equally undesirable."  As a divorced woman, I have to choose between staying home alone (or hanging out with my few female friends) or putting myself (and my heart) out there in the dating world.  If you've dated at ALL in the last 20 years, you'll know what I mean. It's brutal!  Married men on the prowl, guys looking for casual sex, foreign would not believe how rough it is out there.  So why would an intelligent woman even try?  Good question!

Tonight, I'm making dinner for "D".  (I really don't want to reveal his name now, so I think I'll make that initial a word and will start calling him 'Dee' for ease.)  Dee and I have been out three times now.  We met online and had our first date a couple of weeks ago--lunch at Applebee's.  (If you haven't tried their politically incorrectly named "Oriental Chicken Salad", you really need to! Delicious, but I digress...)  Our second date was dinner at Chili's and a Netflix movie at my house.  He was a perfect gentleman (or so you're going to think because I'm not giving away any details.  And don't think my lack of details is an admission of guilt or acknowledgement of ANYTHING!)  Our third date was a movie--he actually took me to Into the Woods.  I had given him a choice of either Unbroken or Top Five, thinking both movies were "guy-friendly" films.  In passing, I mentioned that I wanted to see Into the Woods. (For those of you who may not know, the movie is a Stephen Sondheim musical based on the Broadway plan of the same name.  A musical!)  Imagine my surprise when he texted me the times for Into the Woods!  When it was over, (and it's wonderful, by the way), I told him, "Oh, I owe you big for this one!" and he said, in his quiet, calm way, "It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be."

That blew me away.  He went to see this movie because I wanted to.  He figured it was going to be bad, but he was willing to see it to make me happy! I honestly don't think I've ever been with a man, including my ex-husband, who agreed to see something I wanted to see. 

So tonight I'm cooking dinner for him.  I'm roasting a chicken, making mashed potatoes, corn (because he's "not big on vegetables" which is not a big deal as neither am I) and a dessert I haven't quite figured out yet.  I have a busy day ahead of me because I have some cleaning to do, shopping to do,  and I have to take Shannon back to her great-grandmother.  And I'm nervous.  Four dates!  This could be a make-it or break-it date.  This could be the start of something.  This man seems to be a very nice, but am I a good judge of character?  I don't know.  I really don't.  All I do know is that I could really like this man.  I mean really like him.

So...the dilemma.  Do I continue to risk heartbreak?  Or do I get used to being alone?  I don't want to get used to being alone, because while I love my "me" time, I don't want to spend all of my days alone.  I asked Dee pointblank what he wants out of life and out of love.  His response?  "I want to be loved and someone that wants me and to have fun." 

Simple and to the point, right?  That's what I want, too.  So of course, I'm going to risk heartbreak.  After all, (to quote an old commercial), I'm worth it!  So maybe, in its truest meaning, dating isn't a dilemma for me.  So stay tuned.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Just don't expect any details...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015!

Today is January 1, 2015.  Where does the time go?  It has been three years and nearly five months since I had my gastric bypass surgery.  It's also been nearly three months since I last blogged here. I'm going to try to improve on that! 

I don't know about you, but I'm glad to see 2014 leave.  It was a year of ups and downs--the most notable "up" being my return to North Carolina and teaching; the most notable "down" the death of my dear friend, William.  (I'm not going to post about him today--I'm still too raw.  Perhaps in the weeks to come...)

Do you make New Year's resolutions, only to find you've broken them a week or two or three (if you're good!) later?   My ONLY New Year's resolution is to try to blog more often.  It helps me--and I've had feedback that it helps others, so why wouldn't I?  I know that life gets in the way sometimes, but I am truly going to make an effort to write at least once a week!

It's 6:15 in the morning; I've been awake since before 5:30.  My body has become used to "school hours", and even on the weekends (let alone vacation), it wakes me.  On this first day of a new year, I'm reminded of a New Year's Day six years ago...

My cat Emily, who has since passed away, bit James on New Year's Eve.  He had kept her for me while I went to New York (I needed a cat sitter because I was having new tile floors put in my bathroom.)  Although I had warned James to be careful with her, (She was VERY temperamental), he cornered her and she bit him.  As a result, he and I spent ALL of New Year's Day at a walk-in clinic in Raleigh.  And when I say all day, I mean hours and hours and hours.  It took more than six hours of sitting and waiting to see the physician on duty.  When we finally did, James had the wound cleaned and was given an injection of an antibiotic; then the wound was wrapped and we were on our way. 

I thought we were going to get some lunch/dinner.  It was after 4pm, and I hadn't eaten all day.  Instead, James drove directly onto the highway instead of going to the TGI Friday's which was literally up the road from the walk-in.  When I asked him about it, he became ANGRY.  VERY angry.  And his anger was no joke.  He started speeding on the highway--doing at least 90.  I was terrified.  I mean terrified.  I was crying and begging him to slow down or to stop and let me out.  i have never been so afraid of another human being in my life.  I tried to break up with him once we got home, but he cried and begged for another chance.  I a fool. And while that was my FIRST meeting with James' evil temper, it was not the last.

You may be asking yourself WHY I'm telling this story today.  After all, it happened six years ago--it's history.  Yeah, it IS history, but history is doomed to repeat itself unless YOU learn from it.  And fortunately, I HAVE learned.  Recently, a man I've been dating KICKED one of my cats.  The cat jumped out of nowhere, as cats are wont to do.  Tony's reaction?  He KICKED my cat, and then, after my horror-filled reaction, he had the audacity to suggest I get "rid" of the cats.  So what did I do, dear reader?  Of course I did!  I got rid of Tony.  There is no room in MY life--NOR in YOURS--for a person who would be cruel to an innocent animal.  EVER.

I had been seeing Tony and another guy, D.  D is nothing like Tony (or James, for that matter).  He is quiet and laid back, tall, handsome and just a gentle soul.  He's also patient, which is unfamiliar and wonderful for me.  He is very attracted to me--he's made no secret of that--but he's willing to wait until I'm ready for the relationship to progress further.  We've had three very nice dates, and I'm making him dinner on Saturday night.  We'll see what, if anything, is to come of this.  The good news is that he likes me and is attracted to me, which I find both intriguing and sexy as hell.

And if he's the "right" one?  Only time will tell.  But I do know that he won't be tearing up a highway or kicking my cat--and for now, that's enough.

Happy New Year!  May 2015 bring you all kinds of happiness! May you live, laugh and love EVERY day!
(WHO is this woman??)