Fortune Cookie Fate

You know when you get Chinese takeout or sushi, and it comes with a couple fortune cookies? I love those things, but one is more than plenty for me. I like that they’re crunchy and not overly sweet, and like most folks, I like to read the little snippets inside. With friends and family, sometimes I’ll play the game of prefacing the fortune with, ‘In the garbage can,’ or ‘In bed.’ (I’m easily entertained.)

Most of the fortunes in those cookies are pretty generic and boring: You will receive a visit from a long lost friend.  You will find something you have been looking for.  Prepare for an important journey.  I picture the author — some solitary soul surrounded by small slips of paper with scribbles of wisdom, staring out a window as he distills his thoughts to a line or two.

Every once in a while, though, you get a wise guy: Help! I’m being held captive in a Chinese bakery! 

Or a philosopher: Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything.

Or a cheerleader: Your talents will be recognized by those who matter.

You can tell that some would rather be elsewhere: You will accomplish more later if you have a little fun this weekend.

And the Pollyanna: Share your happiness with others today.

The irreverent: That wasn’t chicken.

And the Psychic Network wannabe: Your question will be answered soon.

Sometimes, the fortunes seem keenly appropriate. Sometimes, they’re hilariously inaccurate or badly timed. For the most part, though, they’re harmless fun with a little inspiration mixed in.

I like to be inspired.

A few nights ago, I spied a small slip of paper under an envelope on my desk. You will become an accomplished writer. Cool!

Tonight, after sushi, my cookie assured me, Your leadership qualities will shine soon.

Well, you know what I say:



photo credits: Sadie HernandezTama Leaver, SkyFireXII

Give and Take.

A little give and take for the new year…

Give thanks.  What if you woke up tomorrow with only those things you gave thanks for today?

Give it a rest.  Are you still worrying, resisting, or struggling?  Time to lay those burdens down.

Give back.  Life goes so much better when you share the blessings you have.  Consider the many different ways you can pay it back or pay it forward.

Give a damn.  Put your enthusiasm to work.  Have a stake in what you do.

Take your time.  What was it that our dads always said?  If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

Take heart.  Don’t be discouraged. Finding the right person, the right career, or the right opportunity all takes time.

Take heed.  Good advice can save you, so pay attention.  However, not all advice is good advice, so be careful in weighing its import.

Take care.  Be good to yourself and others.

Take a break.  Don’t burn yourself out.  We live in an “I want it now!” society, but you don’t have to live at that pace.  Relax.



photo credit symphony of love


Twenty-one is the ‘let your hair down’ birthday. It’s a good time; some of us even remember it.
I think it’s safe to say that many of these celebrations feature similar outcomes and somebody, somewhere, has pictures. In this day and age, those pictures will live forever, all over the world. So, In the spirit of love, lessons learned, and damage control, I’d like to offer a few words of advice to the initiate:

  • Drink as much water as you do alcohol.  You’ll thank me later.
  • Stay far away from tequila and anything featuring a creature at the bottom of the bottle.
  • In my experience, whiskey liqueurs, often used in sweet, syrupy drinks, never seem to end well.  Same for the ready-made cocktails — they were far better in theory than practice for me.
  • Water- or juice-based mixers are better than sodas. The carbonation in soda speeds up the alcohol absorption rate.
  • People can (and do) die from drinking too much alcohol. That’s a stupid way to die.  Don’t be that person.
  • Most importantly — MOST IMPORTANTLY — Don’t drink and drive. Don’t ride with someone who’s been drinking. We already know how that ends.

How about you? I think most all of us have a well-learned lesson in this arena: stupidity is universal and eternal.






photo credit Droid Gingerbread

No Apologies.

Is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me.
– J.K. Rowling

So, as an important part of building the new, healthier us, Mr. Stuck and I go to a  monthly weight loss surgery (WLS) support group.  Normally there are 15-20 people there for the two-hour meeting; they range from those who are learning about WLS options to pre-op and post-op patients.  We’ve been going for over a year, and we really enjoy it.  It is run by a bariatrics R.N., Connie, who is also a couple of years post-op.  (I highly recommend to anyone considering WLS that they find a group and go.  You learn so much.)

We arrived a few minutes into the meeting, while people were introducing themselves around the circle.  We took our seats and listened until our turn came.  We gave our names and a brief update (surgery type, surgery date, how we were doing).  I noticed there were a few new faces tonight, but I didn’t see Cindy, my “surgery sister.”  (She and I had realized just before our surgeries that we were scheduled for the same day, so we connected in that way, dubbing ourselves “surgery sisters” for fun.)  She is a lovely, vibrant woman who seems to lead a busy, stressful life.  I liked her from the start.

A few minutes later, Cindy arrived.  She made her way to a chair, and I noticed how refreshed she looked.  Even though she was dressed casually, in a yoga-style jacket and pants, she was made up and looked very nice.  She had a smile on her face and a light in her eyes.  I was glad to see her.

When it was Cindy’s time to talk, she took a deep breath.  She apologized for being late, but said she was doing well, 6 weeks post-op like me.  She said she had discovered something, and she wanted to ask the rest of us about it: self-esteem.

She said she had been thinking about how heartbreakingly sad it is to, as she put it, “apologize yourself out of life.”  She said, “I spent all these years apologizing — for everything — and smoothing things over.  I swallowed it all; food, shame, anger, hurt.  I pushed it down.  I made it go away.  But I’m done.  I’m not apologizing anymore.  I’m not sorry, and I’m not rude, but I’m done.  Now, it’s about me.  It feels crazy as I adjust to this new body and new life.  Am I hungry or not?  What do I want to do?  I feel powerful!  I feel joyful!  I feel blessed.  And I want everyone to feel that way.”

She asked around.  “Did you feel it, too?  Did you find it?”  She continued, choking back emotion.  “I thought I was a good person.  I am a good person.  I thought I had it good — I thought my self-esteem was fine.  I’d get up, clean — but I didn’t know.  I didn’t know!  I can’t tell you how different it feels from thinking you have self-esteem to really having it.  You can tell people about self-esteem and self-image all day, but the reality is, you can’t.  They won’t know.  They have to live it.”

I listened to Cindy as the words rushed out of her mouth unbridled.  Everyone was understanding and respectful, even as she talked much longer.  “Why don’t we think we are worthy?  Why don’t we see ourselves as equal to everyone else?  Why do we have to apologize for being who we are, living our lives, and taking up space?  Why do we convince ourselves we don’t deserve to be happy?  We have just as much right to be happy as anyone else.  We DO deserve to be happy.  We are worth it!”

With that, she sat back, still very emotional.  One of the ladies got up, walked over to Cindy and gave her a hug.  Connie pointed to one of the new faces and asked him to introduce himself to the group.  He told us he was a couple years post gastric band surgery.  As he told his story, another regular, Merele, arrived.  She looked a bit flustered.  When it was her turn to speak, she said, “I am so thankful for you all.  You have no idea how much it helps me to be here.  You are all family.”

Merele went on to say that she was several months post-op; the ‘honeymoon period’ of having no appetite was over and it was difficult for her.  She said she was really struggling with that.  Merele, like Cindy, was very emotional as she shared how she is finally giving herself permission to be happy.  She said, “I have stopped worrying about other people.  It’s okay for them to have their meals, but I can’t pay attention to that.  This is my new life.  This is ME!  I had to make this huge change, and it’s for the better, but it’s scary.  I have to make my own choices, and I choose to live.  I don’t want to die inside as well as outside.”  Merele also got a hug.

As I listened to these ladies, I took notes.  No apologies.  Choosing happiness.  Change can be scary.  Struggles.  Joy.  Self-worth.  Cindy  said, “I’m 60 years old, and I should have known this when I was 40.  My daughter is 30.  I want her to be happy, too.”


So many lessons in life.  I am no more of an expert than anyone else is.  Do I have self-esteem?  Not really, but I can feel a spark of change in how I view myself.  But I also feel that I have wasted a lot of time, and I feel guilty about that.

I wasted my sons’ youth as their obese mother who was unable to wrestle on the floor with them or run footraces across the yard.  Subsequent injuries and illness made everything worse physically, and my self-image sank, as well.  Pretty soon, I was referring to myself as dowdy and dumpy, and all the negative voices in my head became reality.  I was a slob. I was tired and lazy.  I felt helpless.  I was unable to change my situation.  I was unhappy.  I was depressed.  I felt guilty because I wasn’t better, thinner, prettier, more fun, younger, in better shape, smarter, whatever.  And as we all know, that cycle of negative self-fulfillment just rolls along.  Overeating>Guilt>Depression>Overeating>Guilt>Depression.

I have been slender for short periods of time after stringent dieting and self-denial. Each time I felt a rush of confidence in my new look, enjoying the compliments and approval.  But each time that confidence was hollow, and fear hid in its shadow.  I was always afraid — that I would gain the weight back (I always did), and that I was a failure.  I saw that people who had never looked at me twice were now friendly to me, and that just underscored it.  No matter what kind of a person I was inside, whether I was smart or funny or kind, it meant nothing if I wasn’t worth looking at.  That is what they taught me.

So then I would feel phony.  And angry.  The fat that had always been my armor, my permission to be a mouthy smart-ass, was gone, and I’d wish it back.  ‘Life was easier fat,’  I’d tell myself.  I didn’t have unwanted attention from random men.  I didn’t get the catty looks and competition from women.  I wasn’t viewed as a threat, I guess.  I didn’t have to care about my looks, because nobody was looking, anyway.  And then it became easier to tell myself I wasn’t worth it.  I couldn’t do it — it was too hard.  I had failed again.  You see, I pretended to have confidence, but I didn’t really have it, and as soon as the doubt crept in, it was easy to cave.

Getting your head straight after weight loss is tough, and it’s a constant struggle.  The old you vs. the new you.  The negative vs. the positive.  Excuses vs. reason.  Old habits vs. new choices.  Apologies vs. confidence.  It’s a daily fight, because surgery doesn’t change your head or your heart.  As you adjust to the new reality and the possibilities surgery has given you, you still fight the hurtful words in your head when you look in the mirror.

But you’ve got to remember you’re winning this time.  No apologies.

photo credit cod_gabriel


A friend and I had the following (not exactly PC) exchange today…

—Original Message—–
From: Friend of Stuck
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
To: Stuck

I saw those new Lay’s cheesy garlic baked potato chips down in the machine downstairs.  I had already bought something but knew right away I HAD to have some of those.  The machine ate my money and didn’t give me the chips.  I fought off the urge to break the glass with a huge frickin’ hammer but it was very hard.

It’s 20 frickin’ 13 fir chrisesakes!   We got IPad’s, spaceships, robots, and 30-34 freeze dried pork chops in a can but we STILL can’t make a frickin’ vending machine that works!

They should be delivered to my mouth every time I think of them and charged to my cloud based food account.  Do I have to think of EVERYTHING?

Is that the way this day is gonna be?

—-Original Message—–
From: Stuck
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
To: Friend of Stuck
Subject: RE:

Oh man!
I haven’t tried those, but my friend’s kid thinks they’re amazing.
What they didn’t tell you is that those chips are sealed in a glass-fronted, apocalypse-proof vending machine; nothing short of a Bunker Buster will get ’em outta there.  Either that, or your wife got there before you did. 😉

Song lyrics for today?

—–Original Message—–
From: Friend of Stuck
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
To: Stuck
Subject: RE:

Listening to ’70’s country this morning.  This music makes me holler better, spit better, drank better, and eat BBQ chicken better!  Yee haw…

“Take this job and shove it”

—–Original Message—–
From: Stuck
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
To: Friend of Stuck
Subject: RE:

Sweet!  That’s what I need to do — a country playlist…

—–Original Message—–
From: Friend of Stuck
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
To: Stuck
Subject: RE:

I just noted that AccuRadio has a channel called “Blonde Country”.


Is that for people that hate the singing of brunettes and redheads?

I have always had a hard time deciphering the hair color of various singers upon first listen…….

—-Original Message—–
From: Stuck
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
To: Friend of Stuck
Subject: RE:

Easier than you think.
If she’s singing about getting drunk in a honky-tonk bar and going home with the Marlboro Man, she’s blonde.
If she’s singing about getting drunk in a honky-tonk bar and giving a beat down to the other girls, she’s a brunette.
If she’s singing about getting drunk in a honky-tonk bar and burning the place down because they ran out of beer, she’s a redhead.

Just a guideline for ya.

——Original Message—–
From: Friend of Stuck
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
To: Stuck
Subject: RE:

LMFAO! Hahahaha

Perfect analysis!

—–Original Message—–
From: Stuck
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
To: Friend of Stuck
Subject: RE:

I am a professional.

I may make this a short blog post.  I found it amusing, too.  😉

—–Original Message—–
From: Friend of Stuck
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
To: Stuck
Subject: RE:

You should!

I want my “Redhead Country Channel”

—–Original Message—–
From: Stuck
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
To: Friend of Stuck
Subject: RE:

I bet we could come up with some great songs for it, too.

—–Original Message—–
From: Friend of Stuck
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
To: Stuck
Subject: RE:

Burning Ring
Kiss the Devil Good Mornin’
He is Buried in Our Yard
Fire in the trailer
Our not so happy home
Don’t Look my Way
Rodeo Men I’ve Rode

—–Original Message—–
From: Stuck
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
To: Friend of Stuck
Subject: RE:

Oooh…I like it already!


photo credits Scott Cyrus, alainnblog

No Politics, Please – I Just Want Music!

photo credit vtdainfo

While we’re waiting for things to settle down in Washington, D.C., I think a Furlough Playlist is in order:

  1. Why Can’t We Be Friends? by War
  2. We Can Work it Out by The Beatles
  3. Get Along by Guy Sebastian
  4. Break Up to Make Up by The Stylistics
  5. That’s All by Genesis
  6. We Just Disagree by Dave Mason
  7. Right and Wrong by Joe Jackson
  8. Us and Them by Pink Floyd

And last, but not least…

9. Dueling Banjos from Deliverance

I’m not going to comment on the situation in D.C. except to say that being on furlough is a little like vacation and a little like punishment.

Yknow, when my sister and I used to fight when we were kids, Dad would say, ‘take off your glasses and take it outside.’  We’d go outside, take off our glasses and ‘rassle’ awhile until I pulled her long hair and she’d push my face into the ground and make me eat dirt.

Those were the days.

Around Here.

tree lined
After a week of being sick, I’m ready to get back on track.  What better way than to put up a new post? 

Driving home a few weeks ago, Mr. Stuck and I laughed about a particularly amusing incident that happened four or five years back on the same stretch of county road we were on.  I thought I’d share the story.  First, some background:

We live in a mostly rural area (“the boonies”) where horses share the road with logging trucks, bicycles, Volvo wagons and Harleys.  In the summer we have a farmers’ market in the center of town, near the liquor store, medical marijuana clinic, and post office.  The civic center houses tennis and tae kwon do lessons as well as a museum, Friday night skate nights and crab feed fundraisers.  Historically, the people who live in our community have prided themselves on their independence and resourcefulness; mini farms dot the landscape, and the ‘old ways’ of homesteading are alive and well.  The area itself has a very interesting history of radicalism, alternate philosophies, and anarchists.  It is for these reasons, aside from the beauty here, that I love where we live and where we chose to raise our family.

It is also for these reasons that not a lot of things surprise me out here anymore…except for this one night, several years ago.  Mr. Stuck and I had been out and about, running errands, I suppose, with Numbers One and Young at home.  It was dark, probably 10:00 at night, and the night was cool, but dry.  I was driving toward home on a two-lane road that proceeds downhill past the power lines and wends its way back up to meet the state highway.  Posted speed limit is 40 mph, but it’s really easy to go faster as you gain momentum, so you have to be careful.

There was nobody on the road that night but us.  I was just past the crest of the hill and heading down when my headlights caught something up ahead in the road.  It was big and light-colored; I slowed way down as we tried to figure out what it was.  Just my luck — as we approached, we realized it was a man, standing in the middle of my lane.

In a squirrel costume, head to toe.  Smiling.

I gave him wide berth, moving into the other lane to avoid him.  He didn’t move; he merely stood there, facing me, as I slowed to barely a crawl.  It rather freaked me out, because it wasn’t Halloween, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why a man would be dressed in a squirrel costume and standing in the middle of the road in front of an oncoming car, unless he had some dastardly plan.  (What the plan was, I had no idea, but I knew it had to be dastardly.)  When we were merely feet from him, he waved genially with his squirrel paw, turned, and sauntered away.

After we exchanged puzzled looks and said, did we really just see that? Mr. Stuck and I laughed and talked about it all the way home, and for long afterward.  We were glad that we had been together that night, because had we been alone and seen it, nobody would have believed the story, and we might have doubted our own eyes.  However, since we could each corroborate the other, we could assure one another that no, we weren’t crazy — or, at least, we weren’t delusional.

There really was a man-squirrel in the road that night.

This, friends, is my life.


6/6 Daily Prompt: Four Stars
Write a review of your life — or the life of someone close to you — as if it were a movie or a book.

Finding myself Stuck in the Middle, I give this movie four stars – ★★★★ by Dink Winkerson

For all of the rattle-bang of the previews of this highly-anticipated second chapter in the I’m Stuck saga, the feature doesn’t quite measure up.  More drama than action, more comedy than tragedy, part 2 seems to have leveled off somewhat.

The first installment, I’m Stuck in the Past, though a wee bit slow and meandering at the outset (she had a pleasant, but boring, childhood), picked up speed in the middle (Stuck didn’t settle down until she was in her late 20’s) and toward the end, presented her as a sympathetic figure overall.  The understated, but dramatic, retelling of the family’s shocking loss left nary a dry eye, but by the end, her triumphant victory over tragedy turned tears into cheers and brought the audience to their feet.  The strong cast of characters (including Joe the Local Boy in a humorous turn as Mr. Stuck) made this a film worth watching again and again.  The chemistry between Stuck and her Mister is obvious and well-played.

Such excitement is not the case with I’m Stuck in the Middle, the second part of this story.  We rejoin Stuck (now with two titanium hips) later in her daily life, as she struggles to balance career and family.  Her hair is graying and the kids are growing up, leaving her wondering what’s next.  The ‘midlife crisis’ theme narrowly avoids cliche, saved by a job change and a few new faces, and thankfully, we are spared the melodramatic soliloquies so common in character studies.  Whew.

Nearing retirement, Stuck decides to act upon the urging of a friend to start a blog.  You see her caught between her dream and her doubts; she fears that she will fail, and her lack of confidence exhibits itself in procrastination and worry.  Blah, blah — that part is a bit long; it would have been better as a brief mention.  Happily, though, the film picks back up as she makes a name for herself, but it never quite achieves the same level of ‘ooh and aah’ as part 1.  Frankly, I don’t mind.

At this point, Stuck’s life is pretty well laid out, and, barring any strange or startling revelations, it promises to continue on the same trajectory.  All in all, a decent story; it’s not Gone With the Wind or Citizen Kane, but it is a tale that stays with you.  Kudos to the production team for bringing this slice of reality to the big screen — it helps us remember that reality can indeed be pleasantly dull.

Stay tuned for the final act in the trilogy, I’m Stuck in the Future, which is set to begin filming in September.

I’m Stuck in the Middle – rated R for language, prescription drug and alcohol use, and snark.


 photo credit: Princess Theater

Dave’s Diabolical Den – an Introduction

This is a poem I wrote in honor of my most diabolically masterful massage therapist, Dave.  It is only half in jest.  He said I could post it.  However, DJ has not said I could post the business card.  Actually, I haven’t asked, yet.

Disclaimer: this is not Dave’s card. This is DJ’s card.

Dave’s Diabolical Den

Welcome, all souls, to the Dungeon!
Please abandon your hope at the door!
And surrender yourself in the interest of Health
Maybe once, maybe twice, maybe more.

When you come, you know David will greet you
With a soft-spoken, “Go right on in.”
What you see is a freshly made table
What you don’t see is Dave’s wicked grin.

It’s deceptive, his comforting manner
He’s a calming and spiritual guy.
You’ve now willingly entered the mystical center
Of the spider web, Bold little Fly.

You admire the room’s decoration
And although you might not comprehend,
In no time at all, you will hear the strange call
Of Dave’s Diabolical Den.

For the devil is in all the details
From the music to soft leather mocs
This warmly lit room’s an enveloping womb;
And when you are settled, he knocks.

The warmth of the heat pad relaxes
You hear the most soothing of sounds
He happily hums as he presses his thumbs through your body
Right down to the ground.

You marvel where he finds your muscles –
You don’t really give it much thought.
Then you are reminded – and instantly blinded –
When his elbow discovers that spot.

He twists and he tweaks and he presses
He rubs and he shakes, and he pokes.
He gives one last push to the bones in your tush
While cheerfully telling you jokes.

As soon as it starts, then it’s over.
Once again, you’ve been saved by the bell.
You’re stiff and you’re sore, but you’ll come back for more
To the therapy version of Hell.

“Oh, surely you jest!” you are thinking.
Brave Reader, allow me to speak.
I’d never regale you with falsehoods, or fail you
By lodging my tongue in my cheek.

Dear Client, don’t let me dissuade you
From seeking the care that you need
I’m not here to scare you, or double-dog dare you
Just hear what I say, and pay heed.

I’ve rested my bones on this table
I’ve hollered and groaned with the best
I’ve had pain with no bruises! – The technique he uses
Would put the Marquis to the test.

I admit that it’s quite masochistic
To submit to the pain like I do.
I find it quite freeing to torment my being –
The question is – what about you?

I leave you with one final message:
Forget everything you’ve been taught.
For once you have braved through the torture of Dave
“Relaxation massage” is just rot!


photo credit dj