Marcia Fine's Blog
March 27, 2012
Is What You're Eating Giving You Stress?
One of the problems of having a mother who reads the newspaper is that she calls you to give you a distilled report of current events. Since she's in her later years (she still will not allow me to tell anyone her age), most of her concerns focus on food and the elimination thereof.
"Jean, did you see the report about the pink slime? That's a meat product that looks like worms. The manufacturing plants who make it are shutting down. It's disgusting. If I had known they were putting ammonia in my meat, I never would have eaten all those baloney sandwiches."
"Mom, they are not serving pink slime at Friendly Arms. I agree it's gross, but stick to fish and chicken and you'll be safe." I am in a huge hurry because I have a client who's worried the health plan coverage he has for his facility will require him to ask women what they're using birth control for. It's a crazy state.
"No, I don't even want to go to the dining room anymore.. It can be disguised as anything. It's worse than Spam."
"Mom, you gave me Spam sandwiches as a kid. I lived."
"Yes, and look how you turned out."
"Mom, stop stressing about it and eat some chocolate. It'll relax you. a new study was released that says a dark chocolate square that's rich in antioxidants can fight inflammation, lower blood pressure and improve your artery flow."
"I'll get fat if I do that. Your father always loved my girlish figure."
"Mom, eat a small amount. It'll improve your attitude. You won't even think about pink slime anymore. Plus, research says chocolate can help you lose weight."
"That's impressive. I always need to lose a few pounds. You're right. When can you take me chocolate shopping?"
"As soon as I help Glee research how to get herself declared indigent in Brazil so she can get free plastic surgery."
December 9, 2011
Besides the fact that Glee is insisting on wearing unrelieved black all the time–"Jean, I've gained weight so if I wear all black no one will notice I've gained a few pounds. I'm going on Kirtsie Alley's natural organic amazing herbs after the holidays. John Travolta's wife is on them, too, and lost all her baby weight at 39! They'll peel right off me when I'm finished with a season of eggnog and foie gras."
Glee loads up on all her jewelery to accessorize which is low in caloric count– six rings, chokers with necklaces and lots of bangles. I, on the other hand, am dealing with my outrageous mother.
My news-hound mother loves anything strange that emanates from Florida, her original residence. Either it makes her longs for the other bubbes she could commiserate with or it reminds her she's glad she left. In this case it's both.
It seems a number of denizens in the Miami area have come forward as victims of a buttocks-enhancing scam that involved injecting toxic household items,cement and automotive products like "Fix-A-Flat" into tushies. There's an unmet demand to look like Kim Kardashian from the back. I cannot make this up. The perpetrator, Oneal Morris, sealed her work with Super Glue! Why didn't I think of this?!
After my mother breathlessly shares this urgent information, she unloads, "And the fake 81-year-old breast doctor has been sentenced to 13 months in jail. He went door-to-door in my friend's condo to do free exams!"
"Mom, who would disrobe for an octogenarian that appeared with a black bag? Very few doctors make house calls anymore let alone carry a bag! Especially since it was unsolicited. "
"Jean, a lot of older people are vulnerable. They even let him do exams down there." My mother stops to point to the lower half of her body. "Personally, I won't remove my size 14 flesh-colored underwear for anyone. Even your father fought for permission. What if someone like him shows up here at Friendly Arms?"
"Mom, all the weird people are in Florida. We have desert perverts here who have better things to do like use false identities to get botox injections. No one's looking for you to be naked except in your own shower."
September 6, 2011
Cheesecake is delicious. It's a known fact in case you were wondering. The taste, the smell, the texture, the…calories? Okay, scratch that last one out.[image error]
As I was enjoying my fantasy of dessert at The Cheesecake Factory, Glee called with some unpleasant news. It seems with all these health and diet crazes, The Cheesecake Factory is going to be listing the calorie amounts of certain dishes on its menu.On the menu? Where everyone can see it? Honestly, that's mean.
"Jean, every morsel of guilty pleasure of their Godiva Cheesecake adds an inch to your thighs and makes your belly jelly," says Glee in her dogmatic fashion.
"I don't care. Sometimes I need comfort food. Didn't you read what Gail Sheehy said about middle-aged women? The majority are under high stress and 40 to 70 percent are in a depression.. "This midlife turnaround inspires hope or the study itself.")
"And a piece of cheesecake will solve that?" [image error]
"Listen, they did a 3 year study and we're over the edge with taking care of everyone–kids, aging parents, ADHD husbands, jobs, menopause. My lists have lists." As I tell her this my mother is calling me on my cell phone even though I've asked her to use my land line and leave a message. It buzzes incessantly in my shorts pocket.
"The menu is going to be called "SkinnyLicious."
Is that supposed to be cute? Apparently it will offer dishes that are half the portion size. You can order your (NAME HER FAV–has to have choc!) and save calories!
I don't like this idea at all! When treat myself I want to relax, not worry about how many calories I consume with every bite. I watch my weight, but a girl's gotta have some fun once in a while! My mother calls again on my cell.
"Glee, middle-aged women are struggling with the recession, no time to exercise, chronic health problems and depression. They're gaining weight and you're telling me to eat cheesecake?!"
"And you think cheesecake will make them feel better?"
"Hold on. Have to listen to my mother's message."
"Hello Jean? This is your mother. I have a coupon for the Cheesecake Factory, When can you take me?"
I repeat her message to Glee. "You'd better hurry. The menu's only until Septenber."
"Jean I'm going to get taller."
Oh, not again. My mother has been having a hard time dealing with the fact that she's getting old and shrinking. She doesn't understand how it's possible. [image error]
"Okay Mom, whatever you say."
"Jean, we can get taller together. I saw it on that morning show. This very nice looking young man took a class and did a bunch of those weird stretch exercises. What are those called?"
"No, that's not it! Hmm…Anyways, he grew over an inch after 1 hour! Can you believe it?"
"Well, I'm going to exercise like that and get taller."
My mother proudly marches into the TV room where Maury's watching the best of both worlds – a History Channel documentary on the history of golf.
My mother, exercising? I don't see it. The only form of physical movement she gets is walking from one side of the room to the next. I overhear her chattering away to Maury about how this guy endured Anti-Gravity Yoga where he was hung upside down from the ceiling and did several poses.
Soon I begin to hear the narrator of the golf documentary more than my mother's voice as Maury slowly turns the volume up higher and higher.
Yoga that makes you taller? You're kidding. Well, I wouldn't have to wear high heels anymore. And aren't tall people skinnier than short people? That just might be worth the pain from doing the one-legged king pigeon pose for an hour.
September 2, 2011
"What is all of this?"[image error]
These are the first words out of my mouth when I walk into what was once my clean kitchen. Newspapers are scattered all over the counter and chairs and pieces of cut up papers are on the floor.
I hear a rustle and turn to see my daughter, Lara, sifting through a pile with a pair of scissors. She's examining an advertisement for that organic grocery store she insists on shopping at.
"Lara what are you doing?"
Before she answers, Lara attacks the ad with her sharp scissors, cutting precisely along the black dotted line so all information is kept in tact.
"Lara, I have more!"
I turn to see a giant stack of newspapers hurry into the kitchen. I look down to see my mother's walking shoes. I'd recognize those orthopedic sneakers anywhere!
She plops the pile on the counter. Papers fly everywhere!
"Will someone please explain to me what is going on?"
"We're clipping coupons, Mother. You should do it. It's a great way to save money. I went shopping last week and saved more than half of what my order would have been. You can even get them online"
"Jean, everyone's doing it! Oh look, buy one get one half off ! Cut this one out Lara."
[image error] I've heard about those women who carry binders filled with coupons on every product imagined. I know they help save money, but I'm not convinced enough to buy in bulk just to save a few cents. Last week I got stuck behind a woman who had coupons for almost every item in her cart. Or should I say carts – she had 3 of them.
There have even been reports of women digging through people's trash and stealing newspapers for coupons. Can you believe that? Come to think of it…
"Mom, where did you get all these papers?"
August 19, 2011
"Jean, I'm a hoarder!"
That's what my mother hit me with when she came for her typical visit.
"I can't get rid of anything! And did you know 1 in 50; maybe even 1 in 20 people are hoarders? People in senior centers are hoarding like crazy!"
"Mom just because you're living in an assisted living center doesn't mean you're a hoarder."
"Hoarding is all we have to do at Friendly Arms!"
Hoarding seems to be the newest reality show obsession. There are real people who become so attached to their stuff that they can't[image error] throw anything away, even if it's garbage. These people often suffer from psychological problems. Come to think of it, my mother fits the description.
"Jean, Maury is a hoarder!"
"Mom what are you talking about?"
"All those gadget things he has. He has so many! Oh and what about your friends! The ones with all those fancy purses and shoes and clothes?"
I roll my eyes as my mother wanders around the house mumbling to her self about how having cluttered living areas, non-discarded items, and a lot of stuff are the characteristics of hoarders. She's counting my things, probably trying to figure out whether or not I'm a hoarder.
"Can you live with out this?" My mom calls from the other room.
No, probably not.
August 5, 2011
"Oh hi Mom! Listen I can't stay on the phone long, I am on my way out the door!"
[image error]"I saw on the news about an elderly woman getting mugged. She was just out on her afternoon walk, minding her own business when some guy came and grabbed her purse. He dragged her before taking off, purse in hand! Why did you make me move to such a dangerous place?"
"Mom, Scottsdale is not dangerous!"
"She was 76 years old! And it was during the day! When I think about muggings I think Central Park when all the creeps come out. Does this mean I can't go out without a bodyguard or a can of pepper spray?"
"Mom, I've got to go, don't go out by yourself until I call you later!"
I think about this unfortunate incident while heading to lunch with April and Glee. I can't help but be on my guard.
What kind of a person steals from old ladies anyway? I know times are tough, but that's no excuse. If someone tried to take my mother's bag, they would be in for a surprise. She doesn't have anything in it except for her reading glasses from Walgreens, her moisturizer and her hemorrhoid cream!
I can imagine if someone tried to take one of April's designer bags – those cost more than anything she has in them! She'd have such a tight grasp on it, her knuckles would turn white from the grip she has on the strap. That purse won't be going anywhere unless April's with it. The one's she is carrying now is wait-listed. Recognize it?[image error]
I think the only reason April works out every day with Pilates is so she can protect her handbags!
Is there a handbag you would sacrifice your savings and/or life for? Share with me your most coveted handbag!
July 28, 2011
Scottsdale is usually known for luxurious golf resorts, Botox Babes, and perfect weather—nine months out of the year. The summers are hot and the city is often a ghost town between June and September. Scottsdalians often complain of the heat as if they don't know that they live in a desert and act surprised when the weatherman says it's going to be triple digits.
Lately we have been experiencing more than the occasional monsoon. My mother is at my house for a couple of days while they fix the air conditioning at Friendly Arms which means my house is at a standstill of 65 degrees. She lectures me on my outfit.
"Jean, since when do you wear heels with shorts?"
"Mom, these aren't shorts. They're capris."
"That's your excuse?"
I'm searching for my purse to go out to dinner at Roka Akor with April. She's taking me out because her husband is out of town on a golfing trip. She picked that restaurant because she eats small portions and bites slowly in order not to mess her lipstick.
I check the living room for my purse to find Maury napping in his chair, TV left on, and the remote clutched in his hand. To my surprise it wasn't the Golf Channel but the 6:00 news. My favorite news anchors in matching outfits and deep tans announce,
"A giant dust storm, known as a haboob, is rollling into the East Valley. Residents are advised to stay indoors. The massive dust cloud recorded with 50 mph winds and as tall as 8,000 feet is heading for Scottsdale."
"That's right, folks. If you don't want to be covered in dirt, wrap yourself in a plastic bag."
What? "Maury, wake up! The haboob is coming!"
The doorbell rings and I rush to answer it. April doesn't look like April. The gorgeous woman in designer clothes looks like she's been in a dirt hurricane. Wild, tangled hair, a schmutzy face, dirty clothes and muddy feet are not recognizable.
"April! What happened?"
"Jean, I don't know. I was shopping at the Borgata and out of nowhere the wind starts to pick up. Blew my dress up for everyone to see. I was mortified so I ran to my car then I broke my heel. These were my favorite pair of Manolo Blahniks!" She is sobbing.
Oh, dear. I give April a hug to comfort her. "Why are you all wet?"
"It gets worse. On my way over I ran out of gas. Steve always fills up my car for me. As I was filling up the tank it rained long enough for me to get drenched. It's awful out there, Jean. It's dusty, windy and muggy from the rain. I can't let anyone see me like this!"
"It's okay. Go clean up. I'll get the wine." I guess I now know what a haboob is.
I hear my mother shouting from the living room. "Jean, why are they telling people to stay indoors because of women's breasts?" Maybe I should grab the big glasses for the wine.
July 22, 2011
I adore Maury but sometimes I think my husband with the heartbeat of a snail gets too absorbed with technology. I'm overwhelmed with life so I don't need any more distractions. After Rivka drops the little ones off for me to babysit this afternoon because Pucci Salon, a prestigious hair salon, has a sudden cancellation and a one year waiting list, I get another surprise. Just as I finally have the sibling bickering under control, Amber has been mildly tortured and we've destroyed the kitchen making snacks for the indoor picnic (Any idea how to get peanut butter off the blender motor?), Maury comes home with a self-satisfied look on his face.
After squeals of delight for "Poppy," Maury announces, "Jean, look what I bought for you." He pulls out something from behind his back.
"Oh no. Is this one of those iPads? What am I supposed to do with this? I'm still trying to figure out the iPhone you got me a few months ago." I look at him with suspicion. "You wanted one of these, didn't you?" I can tell when he says he's bought a present for me but it's really for him.
"You can do so much more with an iPad. Look." He enters into an electronic trance, which is similar to the golf-History Channel-baseball scores one–as his fingers move quickly all over the screen. "Here, let me invite you to Google +."
"What's Google +?" I ask, humoring him like I'm somewhat interested.
"It's like Facebook but for Google. It's the big new thing but you can only be a part of it if you are invited. The little ones will love playing Angry Birds and Farmville and you will be great at Words with Friends since you like to write. We can even Face Time!"
So far Maury has dragged me into the 21st century with a collection of phones, blue tooths, GPS, a 50" HD television, digital cameras, etc. This list can go on. I don't really need any more technology.
"Slow down, slow down. First of all, the grandkids aren't allowed to touch any expensive electronic equipment. Why would I need Google +? I can barely figure out Facebook and Twitter. I don't have time to be playing silly games. Face Time? Why would I want you to see me looking like you see me in the morning?"
Maury demonstrates it for me. My nostrils look humongous. Very unattractive. Little Jacob goes berserk. "I wanna do that. My friend has one. We can look funny." He grabs it from Maury and in moments shows us a picture of himself stretched to the size of a 300 pound pumpkin.
"Okay, that's enough. This is for Grandma. Face Time is good when we aren't together. Like if you go out-of-town without me." Is he reading my mind?
Maybe Maury and I can live in different cities and use Face Time to communicate. I saw the new trend on ABC about Baby Boomer couples who can't decide where to retire and visit each other, living in different cities. Like dating when I still lived at home only with two mortgages. Great idea for independent women and the perfect excuse to get a break from the family. I'm thinking this as the baby is chewing on one of Amber's toys. Maybe then I wouldn't be Stressed in Scottsdale anymore. I'll be Relaxed in Paris, strolling the Left Bank, visiting the Louvre.
Jacob begins a five minute whine. "I want the new toy."
"Maury, thank you for the gift. I'm sure I'll be proficient with it in the next six months. In the meantime, would you mind consulting me before complicating my life and adding to my stress?" I don't think he hears me.
"Jean, look at this. I can check my email and watch the Open at the same time."
As Jacob falls on the floor banging his head and kicking his feet in a major melt down, I muster up my best commanding-officer-in-the-Army voice. It is time for my last resort BIT method of child rearing–Bribery, Intimidation and Threats. After all, it's my survival.
"Okay, kiddos, everyone at attention. You, stop drooling. You, no sniveling. It's almost pool time."
July 17, 2011
My parting news gift from CNN is the report about women and stress. They ranked women in 29 countries and guess who's #1? The women in India. Why? Because they're an emerging nation creating jobs. The women are going to work and coming home to men who lift their feet so they can vacuum under them. And where do my American sisters rank? Number 11! Come on, ladies, get the complaints louder. I can't hear you. Where are those career moms with gluten-free kids driving car pool and applying mascara?!
In case you're wondering–Sweden came in #29. Those babes are totally relaxed, skoaling and chilling out with an IKEA catalog.
But not me. It's been a long week on a dilapidated houseboat with my entire family. I'm not sure if it's relief that it's over or I'm just thrilled to clean off in a tiled shower instead of a plastic cubicle, but life in Scottsdale looks welcoming. I do appreciate the kids efforts for our anniversary; however, cooking on two burners, watching kids in the water and listening to my mother kvetch is not my idea of a wild celebration.
To summarize: We arrived at a dock where I expected a luxurious houseboat. Wrong!
"It may not be pretty on the outside but Gus and I got a really good deal," says Lara, her face stricken with fear.
"It looks like a floating mobile home. If your grandfather were here, he would make sure we had the upgrade," my mother says, wiping sunscreen on her face.
"Let's just make the most of it," I say, keeping the word 'cozy' in the back of my mind.
"Look Jean, there's a patio rooftop. I should've brought my golf clubs," says Maury giving me 'the look.'
We go inside and I feel like we walked into a 1982 time machine. Avocado appliances and brown plaid in rough polyester are very attractive. Be positive, I tell myself. Who knows? This could actually be fun. Who am I kidding? I notice the two sets of bunk beds.
"The little ones can use their sleeping bags. We'll take a bunk bed and Michael and Rivka can have the other."
"What about your father, grandmother and me?" I ask.
"The couch folds out and looks like the kitchen table can be broken down into a bed. It's all right here," says Laura as she hands me a two page fold-out of the boat with driving instructions. I'm still puzzled as to how my Phi Beta Kappa daughter thought one floating raft boat with 11 people ever sounded like a good idea.
"What about Grandma?" I ask.
"We thought she might like sleeping in the cool evening breezes on the deck."
Uh-oh. Looks like snoring grandma gets the kitchen table/bed and we're sleeping upstairs. Now I know why I needed the sleeping bag.
Michael, Gus and Maury argue about who gets to drive the boat. It surprises me Maury is even interested. Maybe because it's a boat and not a car. Three days into the trip and my mother is still asking when we find the floating casino. I don't have the heart to tell her we're not off the coast of Florida.
"Jean, I'm miserable. You should have left me at the casino and picked me up on your way back. I'm hot, sunburned and the boys still won't let me drive."
"Mom, I know it's hot but there's water all around to cool off. And you're sunburned because you refuse to wear a hat and cover up your arms. We won't let you drive a boat 'cause you can't even drive a car."
"Well, the ladies in my building aren't going to know my children took me on a paid vacation if I don't have a tan."
By the last night of the trip we are exhausted. Everyone is sound asleep so Maury and I climb up to the roof patio with a bottle of wine. "Where did this come from?" I ask.
"I smuggled it in as contraband. Thought you might need a respite from beer, sandwiches, kids' screaming and your mother." So we sip our wine looking at the stars, enjoying the strange rock formations and some quiet talk. Maybe this trip isn't so stressful after all.