Monthly Archives: January 2017

And Just Like That…

grandma1

My grandmother passed away yesterday.

She was 86, she had congestive heart failure, a weakened valve, and her kidneys were failing…it was not a “surprise” in the strictest sense of the word.

And yet we’re stunned.

My parents were teenagers when I was born, and they needed help. My grandparents were part of my guardian team from the beginning, and by age 12 I was living with them full time.

Some of my earliest memories are of my grandmother; she was a stay at home mom and then a stay at home grandma, so her main “job” after I came along was…me.

I went most places with her before I was school age. The bank, the bowling alley (her favorite place), the grocery store. She took me to the library religiously and let me wander the aisles at my own pace (a testament to her patience–I did very few things quickly as a child)…she read to me, she told me stories about her childhood, she let me into the details of her friends’ lives (we never used the word “gossip”)…I helped her make dinner.

I desperately needed stability as a child, and my grandparents were the source of it.

And as a thank you, I gave her and my grandfather some merry hell as a teenager. I scared the shit out of her on a few occasions–one memorable event entailed me listening to her cry and rant (while wrapped up in a blanket, because she got cold when her nerves were taxed–I inherited at least some of my dramatic flair from her) after it was discovered that I’d snuck out of my bedroom window. (My grandfather nailed my window shut after that, and only told me recently that it had been my grandmother’s idea.)

After reading a story I wrote as a child, and asking me MULTIPLE times if I was sure I’d written it, and not copied it….she became my biggest fan. She made a point of subscribing to magazines when I joined the staff (even if it was something she had no interest in) and she’s the only person who has ever said that she could “hear” my voice when she read what I wrote.

She’s also the only person that has ever told me, “I love you too much.”

It’s funny, as a parent, to see the things in your children that they get from you. I have five kids, and I can see elements of myself in them, and I can also see flickers of other family members–their dad, my dad–sparks of kindred mannerisms, attitudes, dispositions…either inherited or transmuted by some kind of tribal osmosis.

When I think about that phrase of my grandmother’s, I love you too much, I realize that she is probably the person I should blame for my gaping wound of a heart.

I love people too much sometimes.

I’ve spent the better part of a year plodding away from a heartbreak that was probably barely a blip on the other person’s radar.

I felt like I was teetering on the brink of madness during several extended periods when my kids were little, I was so terrified that something would happen to me and leave them motherless, or even worse, that something would happen to one of them and I’d have to go on living, because the others would need me even more.

My first experience with existential dread was realizing, as a child, that someday my grandparents would die. I’ve spent decades trying to prepare myself for that fact.

It hurts, to love people deeply.

And my grandmother did hurt. She did get betrayed. She did feel it when her loved ones were in pain, sometimes to the point where I would not tell her things, just because she would become SO HYSTERICALLY EMPATHETIC (see “dramatic flair” above) that it was concerning. (And also annoying, if you just wanted some advice or a pat on the back).

But she would insist that she wanted to know. Even though it would seem as if she was going to have a stroke, she would insist on me telling her details of what I was going through.

“You’re my heart,’ She told me, on more than one occasion.

I can call all of these things up in my mind’s eye, I can hear her laugh and I can hear her say my grandfather’s name in an extremely irritated tone as if she’s right here.

But it’s over.

When I told my grandfather I needed a picture of her for the obituary, he didn’t hesitate for a second; he went to his bedroom and got my grandmother’s senior photo.

“This is Jerrye,” he said. “This is how I see her.”

They were married for 68 years. To be honest, we all thought they couldn’t stand each other. From my earliest memory, they’ve never slept in the same room and I never saw them kiss or exchange a tender word (although I heard several other types of words traded back and forth).

But my grandmother’s final hours were spent saying, “Don’t leave me,” to him, and now that she’s gone, my grandfather, the stoic to end all stoics, is the definition of bereft.

“When you’re with someone for that long,” he told me, “They become part of you.”

He could still see her as a young girl. He could remember vividly the first time he saw her, at a skating rink in their small town.

Life goes quickly.

Time is precious and people are not here long enough. It’s worth it to love them too much.

Food Prep for the Uninspired

foodprep

I got you, didn’t I?

You thought this was going to be a post about how to make food prep fun, but…it isn’t.

Because it is not. (If you’re a freak who enjoys it and allows yourself plenty of time to get it done without it being something that makes you want to pull your eyebrows out, then…good for you. Go read something else.)

What I am going to do is blog (I know what you’re thinking–”It’s about time, you’ve been MIA for almost four months”) about how it makes eating healthy easier. And how I TRY to ensure that I will actually eat what I make.

Because that’s another dirty little secret, isn’t it? It’s okay, you can confess it here with me…::whispers::…Sometimes we get to Wednesday and don’t want to eat this sh*t that we’ve busted our ass making.

I often have a little dialogue with myself on Sunday night, about 11 p.m. (no, this is not the ideal time to end your meal prep, but whatever).

Me: “Self,”

Self: “What?”

Me: “Do you see all this healthy delicious food that we have prepared, that will help us “hit our macros” this week?” (Yes, I said, “Hit our macros” in a sarcastic, mocking tone with finger quotes while at the same time being completely in earnest. This is how most of my conversations usually are. With myself and others.)

Self: “Um, yes. I’m right here. I’ve been with you the whole time, doing this, even though *I* wanted to watch old episodes of The Good Wife.” (Self always wants to do that instead of what we need to be doing, by the way.)

Me: “Well, I’m just letting you know…we’re eating this for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner this week.” (Looks meaningfully at Self in the reflection of the pot being washed, so Self knows it’s serious.)

Self: “I’m not sure what you’re insinuating.”

Me: “I’m insin–no, I’m telling you straight up that we are stone cold eating this sh*t and this sh*t only this week, except for the carefully chosen meals that we are INTENTIONALLY planning to consume outside of the plan.” (Pauses).

Self (also pauses): “Or what?”

Me: “You don’t want to know what.” (Another pause). “Maybe there’s an a** whipping involved.”

Self (laughing): “Oh, really? Who are you going to hire to do that? I’ve seen your budget–you can’t afford someone who could–”

Me: “I think you’re forgetting how this works…”

I’ll spare you the rest of the conversation (it got ugly, but eventually resolved with Me, my Self, and I acknowledging that we were all noble and worthy opponents). Let’s talk details…

Your reasons for meal prepping are going to dictate what you use. I feel a certain way when I eat a certain way, and I get certain fitness results when I eat a certain way. I also need to be careful about how much I spend, and the more conscious I am about planning, the more likely it will be that I spend less.

The above picture shows what I put together for four days (I plan on eating at least one day’s worth of meals that aren’t planned out–my workplace provides lunch on Wednesdays and I will do something I really feel like doing for a breakfast and dinner on another day). I do not like to eat all of the unplanned meals on one day because it increases the likelihood that it will make me feel crappy. (It still happens occasionally though). I do not call these “Cheat Meals” because I’m not in a relationship with this plan, and it’s not the f*cking SAT.

Not pictured: An 8lb turkey breast (if you read this right after the holidays, that’s a great time to find good deals on turkey), a can of tuna, green tea, a bag of romaine hearts, the Greek yogurt, frozen berries and bananas that I use for smoothies, a jar of almonds, and a bag each of rice and beans (week before payday–I’d like to eat out for those meals where I will want a break from all this, but the reality is it will probably be much lower rent than that).

You may be wondering, “So little food for you and three kids?”

Don’t be silly…my kids will not eat this.

They’ll eat the fruits and vegetables I force upon them (versions of what you see I made for myself in the jars, or steamed frozen broccoli), and the 8lb turkey will produce 32 4 oz servings (that you can either douse with soy or bbq sauce or salsa), and even if I’m not eating rice or potatoes, it’s easily made for them.

But there are frozen pizzas and boxes of macaroni and cheese that are not pictured, either. Does that make you feel better? That I will confess to you that there are onerous helpers that I leave out of the orchestrated meal prep pics? Like despised but necessary relatives that I don’t want to acknowledge are in the family? Are you happy now?

The nuts and bolts are this:

I wait until approximately 7 p.m. on Sunday night, at which time I spring up from the living room floor where I’ve been watching old episodes of Matthew Goode–I mean The Good Wife–and think, “*&^%! I haven’t done any meal prep!”

Then I speed to the grocery store–not the one that has the best prices but the one that’s closest–and get 7/8ths of what I need.

Halfway home I realize that I forgot one or two crucial things and divert to yet another grocery store, that is even more expensive than the one I was just at. I get my two key ingredients and go home.

I cook whatever animal protein I’ve acquired (I do like a little animal protein, but I hate “as I hate the doorways of death”, touching raw meat, so cooking it all at once makes life less trying) and roast a pan of vegetables–zucchini, carrots, broccoli, sweet potato–while boiling a dozen eggs. I chop the raw veggies for the week and a grapefruit (I can’t eat more than a fourth of a grapefruit at a time because it’s like eating a battery).

The veggies cool, I put them into glass jars and the raw veggies into plastic bags (because the tiny glass jars have a habit of disappearing and I’d rather put veggies that need to cool into glass, and if you’re going to tell me that it’s useless to do that you can go suck an egg and if you’re going to tell me I’m going to hell for using plastic bags AT ALL EVER you can also suck an egg).

I wipe things down and prepare to relax and do my going to bed routine (which consists of telling myself for two or three hours that I need to go to bed), only to remember that it was 9 p.m. before I put the turkey breast in, so I’m going to be waiting another two hours for it to be done. (And yes, I realize that that correlates well with the fact that my actual bedtime routine will take that long, but you’re forgetting that I have to carve the son of a b*tch when it comes out of the oven. It’s okay…I forgot that, too. It’s like brand new, every week.)

Anyway, I hope this was helpful! Happy meal prepping!