Burning Bridge

I’m stuck. I have been avoiding writing. This part has deep feelings, as they all do, but it’s not just nostalgia. It’s a story of bravery, growth, trust, and survival. For all of us. And deep blue pain, a shade different from the rest.

We are at the point of my story when high school begins. That’s where my childhood ends. If it lasted that long, that is. So much chaos and so much running in place and so much letting go and so much hanging on. For dear life.

I wanted to go to Sac High, with Sara D. and most everyone else from Sutter Middle School. But my mom forced me to go to McClatchy for the Humanities and International Studies Program. That was 1986, 9th grade. You had to apply. I got in. HISP was and still is an intense academic program at a public school, where even the smart kids have to study to do well. You can’t skate by. Cliff’s Notes are not enough. Proven in Mr. Darling’s class.

Are Cliff’s Notes even a thing anymore?

Academics were never my priority. No one was molding me for college.

So I was forced to attend a high school I didn’t want to go to, where I knew very few people. Nothing I wasn’t used to, I suppose. Lots of people have to start fresh in high school. I know I’m not special.

No, really. Not special enough anyway.

This was the 15th school. Yes, I went to 15 different schools. The 15th school became my home. My safe space. Can you imagine if your high school was the safest space you knew? There is nothing safe about high school, not really. I said it before, it’s as safe as quicksand.

The best thing about CKM HISP was meeting Nadia. She’s my BSF. Remember, that’s 2020’s teenspeak for Best Sister Friend. My bestie for 35 years. We sat next to each other in Ms. Wilcox’s class. Sara S. sat next to us, too. And Seren. We became the four Musketeers for a season or two. My safety net in a sea of new faces. We had rotating sleepovers every weekend. There was something attractive about each of our homes. In one there was what seemed, on the surface, the picture of perfection. Stay at home mom, hard-working dad, three kids and a station wagon. A cabin in Tahoe. A swimming pool and a fancy liquor cabinet, always stocked. A boat and so much fun. Nothing to be ashamed of. Like the families on TV. Mr. And Mrs. Not first names. I wanted that life.

Then there was the cool house. The educated but not rich divorced parents that worked for non-profits and/or helped other people get divorced. The ones that lived in SF in the 70’s and protested and burned bras and were hippies. Unfinished hardwood floors and original tiled bathrooms. Character. And a mom that loved to cook. Carolyn. She made us Hoisin Chicken and Challah, fresh from the oven. Chocolate chip cookies and sit down at the table for dinner. Every night. Always with her wine glass. Present but dependent. Real. She had a huge dangly earring collection, all on display in her bedroom. And hats. So many hats and necklaces and flowy dresses and scarves like Stevie Nicks. Artsy accessories. And Harold the cat. The only cat I ever loved. He would climb onto your chest and “knead” us with his paws. He was a snuggler of strangers. Her house was decorated like Tower Cafe. Like Cost Plus World Market or Zanzibar. Interesting. Bohemian. I wanted that life, too.

And Jacker’s house. That’s Nadia’s dad. All of the above but with shorty short corduroy OP shorts or Dove running shorts and knee-high tube socks. Everyday in all weather. Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring. In the winter he wore a sweater with his shorts and maybe a scarf. He worked from home before it was cool. If I stayed there on a school night, he made both of us sack lunches. Bagels and cream cheese, an orange, and a frozen Capri Sun to keep the cream cheese cold, wrapped in paper towels so the condensation wouldn’t soak through the paper sack. He was a man of ritual. On Monday it was potstickers from The Mandarin, and wide squishy noodles and BBQ pork with spicy mustard. On Tuesday it was Maudie Burgers, homemade on the grill, fat like hockey pucks on an English Muffin. Maudie was Jacker’s mom. Wednesday was Zelda’s, a combo with extra garlic. Thursday was BBQ teriyaki chicken, marinated for at least 24 hours in soy sauce, fresh ginger, so much garlic, and orange slices. Friday was carnitas, the meat bought by the pound from El Nov and fresh Michaela’s flour tortillas. The real thick homemade kind. Rotated in was stir-fry. And always wine. And sit at the table, let’s talk and be real like adults. Present and dependable. And not just for Nadia. I wanted that life, too.

I should add Carolyn and Jacker’s recipes to my cookbook, Recipes of a Neglected Childhood.

And my house. The rental on the corner by the bike shop. My mom was never home. Rare supervision. Left to our own devices. Champagne in the basement. One night we were sitting on someone’s front lawn by the railroad tracks leading into Curtis Park, watching our boyfriends steal street signs when the popo rolled up. One car took the boys home and one took us to my house, two blocks away. My mom wasn’t home and they got a call, so they just left us there, no harm no foul. That’s the only time I have been in the back of a police car. Whew.

We joined Lion’s Roar, the freshman cheerleaders. We wore hand sewn maroon colored skirts and white sweatshirts with a lion on the chest and white Keds. We went to all the football games. We walked all over Curtis Park and Land Park at all hours of the day and night. Marie’s at midnight when the donut holes were still warm. We poached vodka from Sara S.’s parents fancy liquor cabinet and poured it into New York Seltzer bottles. My mom had bought several cases of Korbel Brut sparkling wine for a NYE party she had, but they didn’t drink it all, so we had cases of it in the basement of our rental house on 21st Street. I couldn’t tell you how many bottles of that stuff we went through. At a certain point, I was like we might as well take more and maybe she will think she only had 2 cases left instead of 3 or 4. Really. It was the house on the corner next to the bike shop. When I drive by now, the front yard looks like depression to me. The trees and bushes are all overgrown like no one cares at all. I guess it’s a vibe.

So we would get drunk and roller skate to CKM late at night. We would skate on the blacktop and on the tennis courts. I think the tennis courts backed up to the DeNec’s house and Matt’s house. Close enough anyway. So the boys thought CKM was their playground, too. Sometimes we ran into them. That was the start of some beautiful friendships. Passed out and puking on the tennis courts, or hopping the concrete wall into the swimming pool. Always under the radar.

I thank the Goddess that social media and cell phones didn’t exist back then.

We were on the Swimming and Diving team together. I was the swimmer. We used to be able to leave campus for lunch everyday. We could walk to each other’s houses, believe it or not. I don’t know how we had enough time to get there and back, all in what, 40 minutes? One day, we went to my house for lunch and drank from our NY Seltzer bottles. It was a swim meet day. I don’t advise 14 year olds to participate in a swim/dive meet after drinking vodka at lunch. I’m pretty sure one of them has a scar on her shin to drive that point home. In the end, we all lived to tell. But only one of us is writing about it. Sorry, gals.

But tell me, are you surprised?

One of the sign-stealer boys, me, and Sara S. at a CKM swim and dive meet, 1987.

None of us drove yet. and I still lived with my mom. Partway through the year we moved back to the condo in Natomas from the rental that looks like depression. I had to ride the city bus for 45 minutes to and from school each day. Or I had to sit and wait to be picked up after my mom got off work. Or to try and get one of the older boys to drive me all the way home. No gas money.

There wasn’t much we didn’t do together, that first year of high school. We even got beat up together after the CKM vs Burbank Basketball game. We were sitting in front of the school after the game, waiting for Mrs. S to pick us up. We were just chillin’ and waiting when a group of girls from Burbank High School walked up to us and said “are you talking about Black people?” We weren’t. I said “No.” Then they jumped Sara S., and when she fell to the ground they started kicking her as she curled into a fetal position. They had Nadia backed up against a fence, but I can’t remember if she was hit. While Sara was being attacked, two of the girls circled behind me and one punched me in the back of the head. Probably hurt her hand more than it hurt me. I whipped around and stood up to them. They didn’t expect that. I didn’t get hit again and we got the other girls off of Sara just as the station wagon pulled up. Just in time. I’m sorry, Sara. I’m sorry I couldn’t stop them. What I learned that day was to always stand up to the bullies and bad guys. Don’t back down. Fight for your life.

And I guess I just broke the first rule of Fight Club.

So we lived that life the first year of high school. I flunked out of HISP. Then we moved to another rental house on Sutteville Road, next door to Ford’s Real Good Burgers and Niccole’s house. I got a job at Ford’s and I used to make out with the cook. I don’t remember his name. It made Robbie jealous, so that was a win. That’s 4 moves in 18 months. At least I got to stay at the same school. My mom met a married man named George. They fell in love, he left his wife, and they wanted to leave California. They left me home alone for 3 weeks in the summer before 11th grade. Ingrid drove me to summer school at Burbank High everyday in her white Mustang and we slept on our desks for 3 hours each day while they played movies and we earned the credits we needed. Ha. Good job SCUSD. Good ‘ol Ameri-can education. I felt like a badass with her as my friend, riding in the passenger seat of her car. The car all the boys wished they had. I was cooler cuz I was with her, and nobody fucks with Ingrid. I bet that’s still true.

So for 3 weeks that summer I had ultimate freedom. I had parties and went to parties and drank heavily. They went on a road trip, I think to visit George’s family in Washington. In that 3 weeks, they decided they were moving up north while I decided l could survive on my own. At age 15.

And then,

She left.

They got me set up in my little apartment on 16th Avenue and they bailed.

I think I will save the next part for another day.

It’s exhausting to describe it all, especially while my eyes burn from unshed tears and smashed down traumas.

It’s fun to have your own apartment when you are 15.

Right?

There is so much more to this story than what I write here. So much that I choose to not tell or memories I have buried deeper than the rest. So much water under this burning bridge. And yes, I know I’m the one that set it on fire. Finally.

Sink or swim, right?

Nadia, me, and Sara S. after we walked the runway for Benetton for a charity fashion show in 1986 or 87.
Nadia on the Benetton runway.
I think this was my 15th birthday dinner. Me, Tanya, Sara S., and Niccole at the rental house on Sutterville Road.
Happy 15th to me. Right before everything changed.

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Community: Would You Get Plastic Surgery?

A friend got her muffin tops sucked out of her body and is recovering in bed for two weeks. I really had no idea that there such a huge recovery time…

Community: Would You Get Plastic Surgery?

Hell yes! Do what makes you fall in love with yourself. Some of us have tried everything. Some of us have PCOS and have extreme difficulty maintaining any significant weight loss. Some of us don’t want a gastric bypass. I am way more active after having my Extended Tummy Tuck with Muscle Repair to the Diastasis Recti and Liposuction to the flanks, followed by a Breast Reduction with Liposuction to the bra line. I don’t hate myself anymore and I like looking in the mirror for once in my life. I’m dancing again, but in my bikini! At age 49! I’m real and I’m me.

It took plastic surgery to get me there.

If you haven’t read my post titled Go Easy on Me, please do. It’s my “why.”

Click here:

If you want to see my “Before and Afters,” click here:

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No Ouija Boards Allowed

Found at the Rosewood Room on Freeport Blvd. in Sacramento.

In middle school, I had a real best friend. One I chose for myself, and one that chose me right back. I don’t even remember the first day I met Sara. I hope she does. We were always together. Package deal for two whole years. We had RT bus passes and we rode that damn bus all over this town. We walked up and down J Street a bajillion times. All the way from River Park to Old Sac, as far as American River Drive. One time, we were walking across the bridge and there was a naked man swinging his junk around like a helicopter, shouting at us, 12/13 year old girls. I can’t remember what he said to us, but I’m pretty sure we ran away and laughed all the way to my apartment complex. So offensive. Young girls. Damn.

Sara and I were coming of age in the mid 80’s, the era of boom boxes and neon, skater boys and punk, and whatever the opposite of helicopter parenting is. I will have to google that. We even had sleepovers on school nights, sometimes. We rotated between her dad’s house, her mom’s house, and my house or apartment or condo or my mom’s boyfriend’s house, etc. Yes, I really lived in all of those different places in that two years. I’m not exaggerating. At least it was in the same city. Only 3 different schools in middle school. Natomas Union, Sutter Middle, Country Day (on scholarship), and back to Sutter after a trimester cuz I hated being the outsider scholarship kid at a small private school where all of them had been together since kindergarten. And mostly, I missed Sara.

One time, when Sara was at Sutter and I was at Country Day, she had pink eye and got to stay home from school for a week. So I took my finger and rubbed it in her eye and then in my eye so that I would get it, too. I did, and I got to stay home from school for a whole week, too. That was awesome.

I think my favorite place to be was her mom’s house. I loved her mom. She always got us Bel Air chow mein. We ate it cold. I don’t remember a microwave, then. I felt the safest there, and I can’t pinpoint why. It just felt like the kind of home you could take a deep breath and let it out and just be. No yelling. No lofty expectations. No punishment, but no reason to be punished, either. No need to rebel, that I can remember. A place where you could figure out who you are. It was a safe space. I was welcomed and taken care of, there. I stayed with them when my mom was in the hospital after her car accident. I didn’t know the weight of that time period, then. But I know it now. How different life is when you feel safe. I hope Sara always felt that way and felt as safe with me as I did with her.

One time we were visiting Sara’s grandparents. They lived in a small white house with a cute backyard. Sara and I were into ouija boards. We tried to talk to spirits and thought it was real. We even made our own ouija boards. That day, we used a white gift box lid and wrote all the letters and numbers, yes, no, and goodbye. We just used a piece of paper as a planchette, I think. We sat in the backyard so her grandparents wouldn’t know what we were doing. I know I didn’t move that thing, not ever. I don’t think Sara did, either. That day, we were talking to a spirit and this time it was threatening. It said it was going to hurt one of us. When we asked how, it replied “kut.” We asked who it was, and it replied “Lucifer.” We freaked the fuck out, tore up that ouija board into tiny pieces and ran back inside the house. While running, Sara’s shoulder hit the corner of the swamp cooler hanging out the window and she was bleeding. It was a small cut/gouge, but I’m sure it hurt and to us it was all the evidence we needed to never ever use a ouija board again. I am 49 years old and still remember how scared I was. No ouija boards allowed at my house. 0/10, do not recommend.

We also tried to hypnotize each other and we swear it worked. We would have the person being hypnotized lay down with their head in our lap and rub their temples while counting down from 100 with a soft, hypnotic voice. We said they were falling down a hole and the bottom was infinite. I don’t even remember what we were trying to do with the hypnosis. I only remember the counting down and temple rubbing and falling down into an infinite hole. We thought we were magic. And even now I think maybe we were.

We wore all the swatch watches and Gotcha t-shirts, and I swear I wore the same shorts all summer and K-Swiss with no socks that stunk to high hell. We laid out in the sun and used baby oil or Bain de Soleil, the orange tanning gel. We put lemon juice and Sun-In in our hair cuz we wanted to be blonde, but instead we were just orange, peroxide. We spent so much time in River Park, either at some cute boy’s house or at Paradise Beach. The same beach my mom hung out at with her friends and where I swam back and forth across the river as a child, no life vest.

Sara and I did a whole lot of coming of age together in those two years before high school. She went on to Sac High and my mom made me go to CKM. We went our separate ways, new friends, new life. But there was no explosive or dramatic end to our friendship, it just faded in to the background. Friends for a reason, friends for a season. That was an important season and I am thankful.

So no ouija boards. Ever. But burn all the sage. That shit works.

🖤

Me and Sara at our 8th grade graduation ceremony from Sutter Middle School, 1986.

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Not Yet Goodbye

Today was a long day. I set my alarm for 0700 so we could leave by 0730, which is the time Cassidy thought would be best to get us to Cal Poly SLO in time, considering move-in traffic, for her 0830 time slot. She is the orchestrator. We follow her lead. She got herself here, afterall.

Robbie dropped us and her stuff off and then had to go park the car in BFE. She was the first of three roommates to move in, so she got to choose her bed. Lucky girl. She picked the single. She was on a cross-country road trip delivering Alexa to TN and managed to log-in at just the right time to get the first slot. Shoulda bought a lottery ticket. Oops, she wasn’t 18 then. She is now…adult. Ish.

She put all her clothes away while I made her bed. Making her bed was important to me. I make a good bed. Nurse corners. A good bed with good pillows makes all the difference. Then I will know she is all tucked in. Angels on your pillow. And I hung her posters and her lights and the Tibetan prayer flags that Robbie got her from that cool import store on Broadway. They mean Success.

You don’t have to be perfect to be a good Dad. You just have to be lovingly present. And sometimes you just have to be quietly there. Standing by. There is nothing that man wouldn’t do for our children.

So we got her all moved-in and then had lunch at Firestone, where the tri-tip is good good and the salads are huge. Get a small Firestone salad with tri-tip and you will be happy happy. Then we drove to like 5 different stores looking for a damn shower caddy that wasn’t too big for the locker in the co-ed showers. (Don’t worry, the stalls have locking doors that are from floor to ceiling.) They were either too big or sold out. I remembered the bookstore had some household stuff, so last resort checked when we got back to campus and bingo, they had two of them, in the way back of the store where no one goes. Score! Momming so good! Do you know how many times she told me she didn’t need exactly what we were searching for anytime we had been shopping for dorm stuff over the last couple months? She literally had them in her hand on two separate occasions and put them back on the shelf. But I was following her lead. It wasn’t the end of the world and listening to her laughter all day, perhaps at my expense, was worth it. Robbie is Mr. Funny Guy and those two think I’m a shitty driver. Ha, ha, ha. We all survived. Laughing all the way. It was fun and it was time well spent and maybe it was a reminder that it’s always about the journey and not the destination. Laughing all the way to the beach.

She seemed so happy today. The sound of her laughter is everything. And she was nice to us and tolerated us. And she allowed me to make her bed and hang her posters and her lights and the Tibetan prayer flags and I am so very grateful to be here. In this moment, under these circumstances, with these people.

Just missing our Dylie-Dyl. 🖤

While Cassidy waited in line to check-in for WOW, Cal Poly SLO’s Week of Wonder for freshman, Robbie and I went to a parent reception. We met this cool family that brought their son all the way from Chicago on a full ride academic scholarship. We accidentally crashed their table, but they were welcoming and friendly and we shared some stories and some laughs. I only got their first names, I hope Cassidy finds Dwight Jr. and that they become friends. He’s an introvert, too.

Then we walked her back to her room and said see you tomorrow. Not yet goodbye.

I made Robbie take me to Shell Beach, down the long and winding stairs, where we took the kids when they were small. At low tide, there is a cave and you can dig for clams and collect Sandollars. Only take the white or gray ones. Leave the purple ones. They are still living their best life. And like a purple sandollar, I know she is going to be fine if I leave her. She is my girl! She is strong like Mulan! She’s Purplicious!

We are leaving her to live her best life.

Go, Cass, go!

But you must always come home.

🖤

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Puerto Backyarda

I guess I’m predictable. Sometimes, anyway. I’m all in my feelings about taking my baby girl to college at Cal Poly SLO in two days. Two more sleeps with us. One more sleep in her own bed in her own room. Then one night in a hotel in Pismo Beach, with us. We took the kids to Pismo a couple of times when they were little. We collected a bucket-full of sand dollars, in the early morning at Shell Beach. Cass has been my little surfer girl since birth. We rented wetsuits and boogie boards for all four of us and we wore our Speedo goggles like it was a swim meet. We rode the waves, even big mama. It was mortifying trying on wetsuits, by the way. I had to get a men’s XXL so my boobs would fit. They didn’t carry anything larger than that.

Way Pre-op breast reduction, squished into a men’s XXL wet suit. Hang Loose. 🤙🏼
Little Surfer Girl.

We went to the souvenir shop near the beach and bought mermaid necklaces. I’m partial to mermaids. I think Dylan got a silver whale tail.

We ate fish and chips from the cafe near the water and we had a beach picnic and we tried to keep the sand out of it, but the wind didn’t help. Me and the kids didn’t mind, though. Robbie was annoyed. He tried to cover his head with a newspaper to keep the wind from blowing on him while he ate. It didn’t work. You have never lived if you haven’t felt the grit of beach sand in your teeth from the squooshed homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a fold-over plastic baggie, found next to the can of Tab in the ice chest. Those were the good days, remember?

I don’t know if you have recognized yet how my brain works. All these thoughts and storylines cross-cross in my mind, one sliding door triggered by the last. Each memory is a fork in the road, a choose your own adventure to my life. Of course, there really was only ever one choice made, but those other paths were always there. The road less traveled, perhaps. Definitely not a straight line, A to B.

So one thought triggers a memory of my own. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I don’t get to choose what comes to mind. It just does. I’m all twisted up like a pretzel. A contortionist. But,

Don’t get it twisted.

My baby is leaving me. I am already practically an empty nester. I have already started skinny dipping at night in my backyard and walking around naked more often than necessary. That probably has more to do with my surgeries, to be real. Yes, I am scarred, in more ways than what you see on the surface. But I’m not ashamed to be alive anymore. And, I have found I don’t need anyone’s approval but my own. Learning.

This count down to blast-off is exciting and awful. We are busy with packing and washing and buying and breathing, just keeping the tears at bay. I only cried twice today. One was when we were on the way home from Costco, when I thought I should tell her that I’m trying to hold it together and that if I cry it’s not because I don’t want her to leave, even though I say that. I am so excited for her to go and design her own life, to make it just the way she wants it. I want her to go. I’m just sad to my core that childhood is over. I’m sad that I don’t have a reason to buy the big bucket of sidewalk chalk or replace the dried out playdoh. I’m sad no one will be playing dress-up while dancing to Dorothy the Dinosaur. A rump-bump-a-chump. I’m sad there’s no more soccer or little league games, or tacos in a bag from Dooley. I’m sad I don’t have a reason to get up at 05:30am on a Saturday, every weekend of the summer. Go, Stingrays. I’m really sad I don’t get to watch the badass chicks of CKM Waterpolo win the Championship ever again in my entire life. Like ever. Go, Lions.

2021-22 CKM Varsity Women’s Waterpolo, Metro League Champions.

Before I became a nurse, I did daycare. I had a licensed childcare in my home. It allowed me to stay home with my own children and still have money coming in to help to support our family. We had the perfect backyard and playroom set-up. I drove a Suburban so we could all go on field trips. We went somewhere everyday. To the park: Belle Coolege, Reichmuth, Land Park, Bertha Henshel, McKinley, Southside, and even that tiny one next to the cemetery in East Sac. I had an annual pass for the Zoo and Fairy Tale Town. My kids have a brick with their names on it on the yellow brick road, in the spiral in front of it. Their childhood set in stone, with Humpty Dumpty sitting watch. The Train Museum was just a little more special because we didn’t go there as often. I would take them to Capitol Aquarium to look at all the fishies, let Oscar chase them, and to feed the Koi. We would go to the amphitheater in Land Park and they would put on shows for me. We fed bread to the ducks, way back when it was still allowed. Those were the good ‘ol days. Days spent in my backyard, pre-swimming pool. We had a swing set that was shaped like a ship. My daycare parents pitched in to help pay for it, so I could get the bigger, better, fun one. I built that thing mostly by my myself, calling Robbie out to help only when it was something that took two of us, like attaching the monkey bars. It took two days of manual labor. A labor of love. I’m the MacGuyver around here, not him. Up at the top of the slide there was a telescope and a mast. A place for the Captain to steer the ship. Sail away on the S.S. Imagination, to where the wild things are. I’ll eat you up I love you so. Climb the ropes and walk the plank. That meant slide down. I had so many bright colors left over from when I painted Dylan’s Buzz Lightyear bedroom (that took me 3 weeks, BTW!) so I let the kids paint the swing set, all crazy colors, hand prints, foot prints, any way they wanted and we called it the S.S. Imagination. That swingset is long gone, but I saved the wooden board that I painted “S.S. Imagination” in orange. It hangs on my back fence, next to the metal railroad crossing sign.

We had a green plastic turtle sandbox and a metal Tonka dump truck. We had slip-n-slides and blow up swimming pools. We had a play kitchen under the shady trees where they played Top Chef and made mud pies with the metal IKEA pots and pans. We played hide and go seek and ring around the rosy. All fall down. Grant lost his tiny mousy sword somewhere and his mom came back with a metal detector to try and find it. It stayed lost. Forever.

We raised caterpillars into butterflies and Cass named one of them Golden Lemon Pucker Trucky Ducky. She cried out “goodbye, Golden Lemon Pucker Trucky Ducky,” as the yellow butterfly flew off beyond our trees. I think she was 3. That is a name I will never forget. Oh, and there was Cassidy’s imaginary friend named Cabbia Morrow that lived in the pink house around the corner from us. There was always a story about Cabbia Morrow, every time we drove past her house. She was a cool chick.

These are the things I think of when I’m sitting in the hot tub in my backyard, late at night all alone. In its latest form, this backyard saved me through the pandemic. Puerto Backyarda. Mi Casa es Mi Casa. And I will never regret putting the pool and hot tub in. But in its purest form, this backyard holds some of the best memories of my life. Time spent with not only my babies, but I was paid to sit on the grass and play with other peoples kids. The cool ones. The no drama, fun to be around, kind-hearted kids. The ones that laugh and sing. The ones whose parents were there to pick them up no later than 5:30. Dropped them no earlier than 07:30. Paid me generously on time and sometimes gave me bonuses. I was loved and treated with respect and I got to stay home. It was an excellent tax write-off. It was my privilege. And I am so grateful.

So you see, that’s why I’m sad it’s all over. It was so much fun to be that mama. To do it that way. I would do it all over again, like Groundhog Day.

The days are long, but the years are short.

Don’t get it twisted.

🖤

Big mama rides the waves.

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Riding the Rapids

My friend, Jen, gave me an icy cold Squirt in a can, yesterday. I haven’t had a Squirt in years. Like I can’t remember when. It was so good, especially in this 111 degree heat. Squirt reminds me of my childhood, which I seem to have been avoiding. My dad used to call me Squirt. If we went to a restaurant, that’s what I would order. And Tab. Remember Tab in the pink can? My mom used to buy that. If we were fancy, we put a lemon wedge in it and had it on ice. We had those glasses that were like mason jars but they had a glass handle. I remember drinking Tab in the pink can on a raft, floating down the American River. Rafting used to be one of my mom’s favorite things to do in the summer. We would get up early, pack our lunches and ice chest full of Tab and maybe box of white Zinfandel, Franzia? The pinkish one? Or California Coolers. Maybe beer? Was it Budweiser? It was a party on the river. Usually someone would rent a big raft and then we would have to carry it to the river. Those things are heavier than you think. I remember the hot sand on my bare feet cuz I hated the feel of sand in my shoes. I remember the muscles in my arms and shoulders burning…just a little bit farther. We would meet various people, all my mom’s friends. I was usually the only kid. Or at least the oldest. I don’t remember other kids that regularly went rafting. I do think I remember when my mom took my Girl Scout troop down the river. See, mama tried. I remember hanging onto the raft while getting into the water to pee, in between our raft and her friends’. The ice chest had its own inner tube, tied to the raft. I was the Go-fer. They played music and drank and got wild on the river. In teeny tiny string bikinis. They were in their 20’s and early thirties, single, and beautiful and fun. They were doing what they were supposed to be doing, at that age, in that time. Most of them didn’t have kids in tow.

I liked those rafting trips. I loved the water. I was a fish. Part mermaid. When your head is underwater, you can’t hear anything. The noise stops. Try it, you will see what I mean. I would swim back and forth against the current, no life vest. Sink or swim. All by myself. Quiet. In my head. I was strong. But when we got to the rapids, I hated it. I hated the turmoil. I still do. I’m a run into the fire kind of person, but I don’t like it. Adrenaline feels like anxiety to me. We would put our life jackets on just before the rapids and my mom would make me paddle at the front. First into the rapids. She would shout directions at me from the back. “Paddle hard! Harder! Now on the left! Paddle! Paddle! Now right!” It felt so stressful to me, and I was afraid.

Nothing bad ever happened to us on those summer days. But, like the life we were living, the adrenaline catches up to you. Always feeling that fight or flight takes a toll. Just because someone can handle the weight of the world, slay their own dragons, and ride the rapids and survive to tell the story doesn’t mean they are unaffected. It doesn’t mean the turmoil didn’t happen. But it does mean you were taught how to steer a raft through the goddamn rapids and if you were ever on Naked and Afraid you just might survive because of that. Badass Bitch Club. Pros and Cons to being the daughter of a single mother. We are quite self-sufficient.

We don’t need anybody.

But that one 80% good day in the water gets drowned by the repeated bouts of turmoil. It’s like the whole Disneyland Dad thing. In my case, the Scandia Dad. Just because a trip to Disneyland or a day at Scandia is so much fun you forget all the bullshit for that beautiful day, for that moment with your face in the sun, waiting for your turn on the race cars, holding your daddy’s hand while he looks down on you and smiles and you know he loves you and you only have a couple more hours with him before he takes you home and oops, down the rabbit hole I go…

I remember a day at Scandia exactly like that. I remember how you got that black stuff in the corners of your eyes after you drove the cars, with the wind in your face. And my dad always smiled at me. Always. Even when he knew I was ashamed of him.

Where was I? Yeah. Disneyland Dad. That one day at Disneyland doesn’t make up for all the other days they weren’t there. Even when they love you. One 80% happy day on the river doesn’t make up for all the other days when shit didn’t go right. When the damage was done. Some damage can get swept under the rug and walked over and everyone moves on. Most families do this everyday. Everyone has dysfunction. Everyone. I’m not special. But some damage cannot be repaired. It can be set aside. You can let go of it. Give it to the wind. Close the door. Or leave it open so the air can move freely, in and out of your mind and it doesn’t hurt to keep it in anymore.

That’s what I’m trying to do.

Blathering my guts out. So I don’t have to carry the weight of it anymore.

Back to what brought me here. Beverages. So far you have learned, if you are following along that is, that I have a special spot for Tab, and Diet Dr. Pepper. And California Coolers. And Budweiser. But the real real bestest beverage of all time is the Shirley Temple. Sometimes a Roy Rogers. But with at least two cherries and made with the maraschino juice instead of grenadine and a tiny cocktail straw and a twist of lemon, just the peel, not the juice, just to make it pretty, while sitting up high on a barstool at your grandfather’s bar, playing dice with the old men.

And a pile of maraschino cherries on a cocktail napkin as a sidecar. And yes, I can tie the stem in a knot with my tongue.

Those were my childhood happy days. Partying on the river with my mom and her friends, swimming without a life vest, and sitting at the bar with the regulars.

Wonder what my kids’ would say their childhood happy days are.

I bet they are the same days as the happiest days of my life.

🖤

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Let’s Talk About Sex

We are all adults here, right? I know you all want to know. The truth is, I walk around naked all the time now. And in 8 days I will be an Empty Nester. Then it’s on like Donkey Kong, lol.

With the tummy tuck, everything gets pulled up. And I do mean everything. I have seen that some people think a “mons lift” is something extra you have to ask for from your surgeon. I didn’t ask for it, but I sure got it. Dr. Yamahata includes a little lipo to the mons with his Extended Tummy Tucks, and then pulls it all up when he closes. Like EVERYTHING gets pulled up. Easy access. Plus, no more huge belly in the way. Plus, feelin myself. Loving the skin I’m in.

My core muscles are still healing from the diastasis recti repair, still tight and they get fatigued and it feels weird getting into certain positions. But overall, tummy tucks and liposuction are good for your sex life. Real good. For both of us. Ask My husband.

I lived in shame for all these years. Lights out. Don’t touch my belly. Parts in the way and out of reach. I hated myself, remember? Well, not anymore. Now I am acutely aware of how much we were missing. It was me. In my head. Couldn’t let go.

Now I don’t care if the lights are off or not.

Now I like it when he touches my belly. And my hips. And everything.

I almost forgot about the nips. At first, after surgery, my nipples were hypersensitive. Like DO NOT touch them sensitive. Now, at 5 months after my breast reduction, they are just normal sensitive. Go ahead, husband. You can touch them now.

I’m ready.

Sex sells, right? Who knew that Extended Abdominoplasty also meant Extended Sex Life.

I’m pretty sure Dr. Yamahata did!

🖤

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1994, at the Pink Palace, Corfu, Greece. When in Greece…
Aarggh!

8 Months Post-Op for Plus Size Tummy Tuck

Today I am 8 months post-op for my extended tummy tuck, and that’s more than half-way to where I want to be. I have been having so much fun with this TikTok stuff! And they are writing another article about me and my tummy tuck, so…I might pee my pants this time if it goes viral again, lol. So far, I have made a total of $26 from my Amazon Storefront, lol. I don’t yet know what I will make from the boob cast article. Maybe like $5, lol. Passive income!

Oh! And if you use my amazon storefront to get to your regular Amazon account, even if you don’t buy anything from my lists I get a tiny percentage for the referral if you click away and buy whatever it is you were already going to order from Amazon anyway. So help a sista out, y’all, lol! They don’t tell me who made purchases, but they do list whatever item was ordered. So, I dare someone to order a butt plug, cuz that would make a hilarious 15 second video, lol

And please follow me on TikTok! I only have like 1700 followers…I need to get to 10K to compete with the algorithm, lol.

https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTRPgjaGj/

8 months post-op for Extended Tummy Tuck with repair of my diastasis recti and liposuction to the flanks.

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High BMI Plastic Surgeons, a Nationwide List

I have been following @thecurvyamanda on Instagram and TikTok for over a year. She has an amazing curvaceous body, and she also happens to be plus-sized. She shared her plus-size plastic surgery journey and inspired me to embark on my own path to self-love. One of the things I found extremely helpful was her nationwide list of plastic surgeons that don’t automatically exclude patients solely based on their high BMI.

@anniemd007 sharing with permission from @thecurvyamanda

My own plastic surgeon, Dr. Wayne Yamahata, in Sacramento, CA is not on Amanda’s list. I am sure there are many other surgeons that look at a patient as a whole person, and not just the number of their BMI. In my case, my obesity and my age are my only surgical risk factors. My BMI was 41 on the day of my Extended Tummy Tuck with liposuction to the flanks and repair of my diastasis recti. At 8 months post-op, my BMI is 38. 10 years ago, when I first met with a plastic surgeon to discuss my options, I was told to lose 50 lbs. and then he would do the tummy tuck. Well, I lost 50 lbs. and gained it back multiple times over the next 10 years. After watching so many TikToks made by people like Amanda and especially one plastic surgeon in Australia that worked with high BMIs, I saw that fixing my hanging belly was a possibility. Last year, I made three consultation appointments. One appointment was with Dr. Deb Johnson. She automatically denied me based on my BMI, said to come back when I lost a significant amount of weight. I met with Dr. Yamahata and he didn’t mention my weight or my BMI. He asked me questions about my health history and used some sort of points system to determine if I was a candidate for surgery. We did discuss if I had been at a stable weight and for how long, but that’s it. I don’t have any other problems (no heart disease, no diabetes, no high blood pressure, etc) He looked at me as a whole person, more than just a fat person. I had scheduled a consult with Dr. Cristina Clark, after finding her name on Amanda’s list. I knew several people that had surgery done by Dr. Yamahata and he made me feel safe, so I decided to go with him. I cancelled the consult with Dr. Clark. More and more plastic surgeons are safely operating on people with high BMIs, all risk factors considered. These doctors are improving the lives of their patients, one tummy tuck at a time.

Before BMI=41
The before photo was taken after they had already done liposuction on my flanks and took skin from the “love handles,” but before the tummy tuck.

My advice is this: if you hate the shape of your body and have exhausted other weight loss options and have the means to consider plastic surgery, then do it! You deserve to be comfortable in your own skin, even as a plus-sized person. I suggest reading my blog post “Go Easy on Me” if you want to understand more of my “whys.”

*I am working on adding more names to Amanda’s list, so please DM me or comment if you don’t see your board certified plastic surgeon listed here, as long as they do not exclude patients solely based on their BMI.

Pre-op @thecurvyamanda
Post-op @thecurvyamanda

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