Life in the Judy Lane

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Lotto Gods

Posted on December 16, 2012 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Twice a week I go to bed with visions of mega millions dancing in my pretty head. On most Tuesdays and Fridays I buy a chance or two in a bazillion to win the top prize. I know full well that I am more likely to be struck by lightning while dancing on the head of a pin with Prince on New Year’s Eve in Dubai than to win. But, hey it’s a certainty that I won’t win if I don’t play. And, more importantly, I’d like to believe in a miracle even for just a few minutes while I drift off to sleep.

When I was a little girl studying my Catechism and working my way through the holy sacraments as my Irish Catholic mother orchestrated, I was certain there was a God. And, that he knew everything I was doing day and night—kinda like a thinner, less jovial Santa, only you got your rewards for being nice on Christmas Day, whereas the Chief would be meeting you at the pearly gates hopefully many, many years down the line to make you pay.

“If you do something bad with your hands, your hands will burn in Hell,” Sister Mary Nevercrackedasmile chided us in religious instruction class. “If you read something bad, your eyes will burn in hell...” and so on ad infinitum, ipso facto, mea culpa, bella canto and Bella Lugosi.

As my seven-year old brain processed this prospect, I was certain I was going to simply instantaneously combust in a ball of flames with just ashes in my saddle shoes where a lively, curious little girl once stood.

An older brother or two dispelled the myths of Santa and God long before I wanted or was ready to decide one way or the other for myself. Pretending to believe in the old fat guy got me an extra present for a few more years. The other was a bit more challenging.

I went from believing, to doubting, to questioning to finding it all a bit hard to swallow. Much like the Holy Host that I instinctively threw up at the altar to the dismay of my family and rage and utter disgust of the aforementioned nun. Like ghosts, of which I have actually had personal experiences, the whole God/son of God theory was in the category one of life’s unanswered questions. Like how is it possible that the Kardashians are so popular for doing absolutely nothing? It is what it is--whether I believe or not.

But, unlike the Kardashian conundrum, people feel the need to make you pick a side. Either you believe or you don’t. Republican or Democrat. Straight or Gay. One Direction or NSync. What if you’re right in the middle? You don’t really believe but you’re not ready to throw it all out with little Moses’ bath water.

Back in the 80s, when I lost my mother, younger brother and father within a few years, I prayed. Prayed to believe. To attain that comfort that believing in God or Jesus or something seemed to bring to other people who did have faith. But, I could no more believe in one man creating and overseeing all this wonder than in Santa Claus. It just was what it was. And so I carried my grief, powering through each day until it didn’t sting as much.

When 911 happened, I was horrified and sad and shocked by what I saw--just like every other American. Once again I prayed. To believe. To get some of that comfort people talk about. At the same time, I was struck by how much overwhelming fear there was considering that 90% of Americans believe in God. I was heartbroken but I wasn’t afraid. I couldn’t understand why people didn’t feel safe in the knowledge that when it’s your time, it’s your time? That God will gather you up in his loving arms and take you into the afterlife. Etcetera, etcetera, veni, vidi, vici, semper fi!

Now with the recent horrifying tragedy in Connecticut, if you have to wonder--why is God so pissed off?!

“God works in mysterious ways,” a friend reminded me.

Mysterious, indeed! Maniacal is more the word that comes to mind. What kind of cruel joke is this guy/gal pulling on all of these faithful worshipers, particularly young, innocent children?

In 1968, when we first moved to California, my father would read the Bible to us in the evenings since we did not have a TV to entertain us. He would always close the book with the same comment.

“Dis is all just a wery good story. Det’s all. A good story.”

Some story. Makes Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy look like Sesame Street.

When I lost my sister a couple of years ago, I was again struck with what to do with all the pain and grief. Couldn’t I just give it up to somebody? Something?

Then it dawned on me that as much as I don’t believe, I really don’t know. So, in the interest of drifting off happily—if only for a couple of nights a week--now I lay me down to sleep with stacks of green bouncing around my brain. And the prospect that maybe, just maybe, I will see my parents, sister and brother again and we can all dance on the head of pin with Prince…

August 2012: Survival of the Fattest

Posted on August 18, 2012 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The next time somebody tells me that they have lost serious poundage in record time by “just giving up soda!” I’m going to crack them over the head with said soda bottle.

The only thing I’ve ever lost by giving up one simple item was my mind. It’s like pyramid schemes. They only work for other people, not me.

Back in the day, I used creamer in my coffee. One morning, as I slurped my morning brew and licked my chops, a co-worker stopped me.

“You know how many calories are in those? You figure you drink 2-3 cups a day…you’re adding 200-300 calories just in your coffee!”

I wiped the donut crumbs from my double chin and made a commitment to drink black coffee from that day forward. Days went by, weeks, months without my beloved creamer. I lost the taste for creamer, but nary an ounce. Fifteen years later, I still drink my coffee naked and can serve up a cup or two on my well-rounded, ever expanding rear-end.

Apparently, I’m not alone in this phenomenon. There was a segment on Oprah about a husband and wife who were serving as missionaries in a third-world country. They were captured by rebels and held prisoner for months. Tragically, the husband didn’t survive due to an infection from injuries suffered in the incident.

“We were given a cup of water and one bowl of rice a day,” the wife tearfully explained. “He was so weak. He lost 30 pounds in a month.”

“And you?” Oprah asked softly.

“I didn’t lose an ounce!” she exclaimed.

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. She lived! Her body went into survival mode. But, is that really what’s happening to me in my cushy middle-class, suburban life with a nice job and all the comforts of home? I turn on the morning news and my brain sends out an alert to my body?

“What?! Traffic is tied up on the freeway?! Batten down the hatches! Store up the fat! We’re all gonna die!”

A friend of mine “just started walking” a month ago and apparently she’s lost 30 pounds. She’s somewhere in Texas now, but apparently very thin.

I walk, too. I don’t lose weight. But, I suppose I would be Gilbert Grape’s mother if I didn’t.

“Atkins Diet!” said another friend. “That’s the way to go. Give up the carbs and watch the pounds drop.”

Thirty days ago, I gave up bread, pasta and cereal and the only things dropping are my chins and breasts. My bra size is a 40 long now.

All right, I admit, I’m down six pounds, but I know I could easily put that back with a visit to the movie theatre. What to do?

Perhaps I can incorporate the walking—round trip—and just easing up a little on my beloved carbs and see how that goes. And, maybe I’ll give up the ice cream. And the cookies. Oh, yeah and the extra glass of wine, and the…

July 2012: Funny or Not, Here I Come

Posted on July 6, 2012 at 12:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Grief works in mysterious ways. One minute you’re sobbing into your soup and the next you’re laughing wickedly—almost maniacally at something that is not necessarily all that funny. I guess it’s nature’s way of releasing those crushing emotions.

My mother-in-law lay dying in a nursing facility just blocks from our home. She had been there for about two years, first unable to walk, eventually unable to speak and finally to swallow. We got the call on Saturday afternoon in the middle of Shea’s softball game. “You’d better come soon.”

Pepper, her sister Patsy, and I rushed to her bedside. We spent the rest of that day and night with her. Pepper resumed in the morning. I went to the grocery store to get some supplies not knowing how long the bedside vigil might last.

I pulled out a cart from the line stacked neatly at the entrance and wondered,

“Have I grown considerably in the last few months or did these carts shrink?”

They were the size of a kiddie cart. The only thing missing was a little yellow flag. I hunched over and pushed the cart through the doorway.

When I entered, I notice a big sign, “Tell us what we can do better!” You can buy life size shopping carts instead of these rejects from Toon Town. How about that?

I was about half way through my shopping when I noticed a sale I couldn’t resist. Two cases of water for $5. Even if I didn’t need water, I couldn’t pass that up. I don’t need water, I don't like water, and still and I couldn’t pass it up. I looked down at my Barbie cart and realized I couldn’t even fit two bottles of water, much less two cases. I begrudgingly decided to get just one and stuff it in there if necessary. I bent over, huffing and puffing and grumbling about the other $2.50 I could have scored, sliding the case on the bottom of the cart, when I heard it. Amplified. As though the Musak was replaced with this echoing sound.


I split my pants entirely up the back. Not just split,—or just a little rip----shredded. Shredded like wheat. Like Watergate files. Shredded. As though I backed into a whirring fan.

Now what?

I began laughing…hysterically. The irony of the past few days…the past couple of years of sadness and difficulty and here I am with my shorts shredded on my arse. I looked up to see one of those giant mirrors which made me laugh harder. I could just see the “loss prevention” monitor watching me on the spycam to make sure I wasn’t eating any of those Craisins out of the plastic bag.

I still had Pepper’s comfort food to buy—chili, soft cheese, grapes, Coke Zero. What to do?

Unfortunately this was not one of those superstores where you can buy tires, bananas and a pregnancy test all in one place. There were no pants to change in to, just some beach towels, which would be weird even for me. Then I saw it from the corner of my eye. A Padres t-shirt stuffed into the bottom shelf. Right where they are in the MLB--last place. But, right now they were my heroes. I wrapped it around my waist; the sleeves stuck into my pockets on either side and resumed my shopping

People were probably thinking I'm trying to shoplift that valuable shirt.

At checkout, the young girl drones,

"How's your day so far?"

"Well," I say laughing, "I split my pants so far! So, I just borrowed this t-shirt,” handing it to her.

No response. No smile. Nothing. I'm laughing. Alone. The bag boy didn't even look up. Finally, she turns to look at me.

"At least you were wearing—”then pausing for what seemed like an eternity.

"Underwear? Yes--at least I think I am,” I quip.

No smile. Nothing. When the boy is done putting my plums in with the detergent, he looks up and asks routinely,

"Do you need help out today?"

"Yes. Can you walk behind me very closely?"

I thought he was going to pass out.

"Just kidding," I say as if he could ever get that lucky with the likes of me.

Kids have no sense of humor; so uncomfortable in their skin. I never want to be young again.

“Go Padres!” I called out as I left the store.

My mother-in-law would have been in stiches.. Especially the part about the Padres t-shirt since she was an avid Braves fan. She had a wicked sense of humor. I remember once she looked at me very seriously and asked, “What do you think about Red China?”

“I’m not sure,” I said, taken aback a bit since she was not very political.

“Well, I think it looks great on a white table cloth,” she said.

We laughed. Out loud.

The day after my shopping experience, she passed peacefully in her sleep. Good night, sweet Mary. I’ll miss you.

January 2012: Shape Up or, Well, Shape Up!

Posted on January 7, 2012 at 12:35 PM Comments comments (0)

It’s January and they are all over the place.  Running in traffic in the middle of theday.  In big picture windows on variousmedieval contraptions with legs sprawled questionably and wires stuck in theirears.  They are fresh and determined intheir spanking new duds, resolved to actually do it this time.


No, it’s not the Republican candidates.  It’s all those people determined to loseweight/get in shape/exercise more/give up liquor/candy/crack/fill-in-the-blankand/or any variation on the theme of a new year filled with a new you.  And they will do it—at least through earlyFebruary.  Then Valentine’s Day comeswith all those cute little red and white candies and chocolate coveredstrawberries and oh, just one glass of champagne and the next thing you knowthe elliptical is a coat rack and who cares if the puppy chews up your NewBalance, there’s Cinnabons warming in the oven.


My dear friend Patti is one of those people.  She has goals and she has dreams and she hasa brand new treadmill. 


“I feel like Scooby Doo!” she screamed breathlessly over thephone to me.  “I didn’t realize I had tolearn to walk, much less run on this thing!”


Naturally, her college-age children, Tyler and TJ have takento it like frats boys to a keg.  In oneday, they have not only mastered walking and jogging at various mphs, they’vedeveloped a brother-sister Cirque de Soleil routine with the floor racingbeneath them at break-neck speed as Tyler floats high above TJ’s head while hespins her like a baton to the theme of “Ice Castles.”


Things are not much different at my house.  Uncle Daniel gave Cory and Shea a DanceCentral video game for Christmas.   As Iwatched my kids dancing to tunes new and old—many of which even I knew—I madethat fatal mistake.  Like when I watchedCory step on a balance board.  He made itlook so easy.  Before I could say, “I cando tha—” I was on the ground nursing a mild concussion, scraped elbow andbruised ego.  But, hey, this game hassongs from the Jackson Five and the Commodores—I know those moves!


About two minutes into my turn, Pepper comes running in thefamily room.


“They have a clogging on that?”


“NO!” I screamed breathlessly indignant.  “I didn’t realize the Pointer Sisters were soserious about that “jump!” for my love.”


When my daughter Shea was doing it, she was light as feathermoving arms and feet rhythmically to the beat, nary a bead of sweat on herhead.  I, on the other hand, looked likethe pilot in the movie Airplane!--drenched in sweat, wheezing and coughing as Iflung my arms in direct opposition to every move on screen.  Certainly if this was back in my day, myfootwork would have made the record skip repeatedly.  As it was, I noticed the big screen was jigglingalmost as much as my rear end.


If that’s not enough, the game rates you while you attemptthese impossible moves--“Perfect!” “Good” “OK” and “Did you log off?”

But, I’m not giving up--yet. My fantasy of my abilities is matched only by my determination to proveI’m still hip.   So, watch out CeleryGreen and Lady Goo-Goo, here comes Big Mama!




December 2011: Would You Like a Shoehorn with Those Slacks?

Posted on December 8, 2011 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

So it’s not a secret that I’m no fan of the fashion industry.  Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I eat on a regular basis and have weighed over 99 pounds since grade school.   

I lost yet again at Ro! Cham! Beau! Ro! Cham! Beau! with Pepper and ended up the one to taking Shea jeans shopping the other day.

She received a couple of pairs of what I consider “cool” jeans for her 12th birthday, which she promptly pointed out were “Cool, yes, back when you and Mommie were riding dinosaurs  through the quarry.”

Back in the La Brea Tar Pits, we had one option—bell-bottom jeans that you bought and promptly washed over and over till they got that worn look.  Now, we have straight cut, skinny jeans, wide leg, boot cut, and flare.  Pre-washed, stone-wash, ripped and torn.  Yes, somebody actually shreds parts of the jeans for you and charges you double. I’m pretty sure I dated this creator in high school.

It was like being in the garment district in the 1900s with stacks and stacks of of alternate types of jeans from which to choose.  I was getting queasy as she picked up pair after pair to examine and see if it passed the middle-school test.

My daughter is an athletic, healthy little girl. She has an actual figure and doesn’t look like she was rescued at Auschwitz.  Regrettably, she is not in the trendy jeans demographics and soon became stuck in one pair.

“Those are the sleeves,honey,” I said thinking she inadvertently tried slipping into a top instead of pants.

“No, Mama,” she said. “It’s the pant leg.”

“Whose leg?!” I screamed, as I examined the jeans to see if we somehow picked mixed up Barbie clothes form the toy department with our garments.  “You couldn’t fit a candy cane through this opening!”

In the long list of things I love about Shea, instead of getting pouty and embarrassed by my tirade, she began laughing hysterically. This, of course, made it that much more difficult to extricate her from the lock that these she’s alleged pants had on her.  Now, she was on the dressing room floor, in a semi-shoulder stand, as I proceeded to peel off the pants.  Now, I began laughing and as I gave a final yank, ended up in a heap on the floor myself, which was not a pretty sight from the security camera view, I’m sure.

Today, I was updating my avatar on Yahoo IM for the winter.    It’s much like playing with paper dolls when I was a kid—you know, with playmates Wilma and Betty.   I love to pick out backgrounds that represent the time of year with wild outfits that I get to wear because…well, I can.  As I was scrolling through the literally hundreds of selections in the “apparel” section, I noticed an option for “plus sizes.”  Curious, I clicked on it to reveal about six choices.  The classic, shapeless tunic, the cotton, short-sleeved farmer’s blouse, and that special  nautical look that is says, “I’m a big girl and I like ships!”  

Really? Really?!  Now, even in my fantasy world, I’m relegated to the pretty and plump line?  I’ve always said, if they can just take those hip clothes that the thin girls wear and hit enlarge179% on the copier--voila!--they’ve have a nice big girl outfit.  You know, like they do for the guys.  Khakis in size 32, same khakis in 48.   Tommy Bahama shirt in size M, twin shirt in XXXL.  I’m sure even Congress would agree on this formula.

I found a beautiful snowy scene in Central Park for my background and a slinky, all-black Catwoman suit for me. Perfect.  This is one time when “one-size fits all” actually works. Now, where’s that Saber-toothed tiger?