Friday, August 29, 2008

Mind Your Own Business

Here's the FIRST THING that came up when I Googled Sarah Palin, McCain's running mate: "I am pro-life and I believe that marriage should only be between and man and a woman."

Just wondering . . . Are the choices people make with regards to their own bodies and homes any of her business?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I was Hungry Til she Said Amputation of the Foot

The smell of fake doggy peanut butter Cheez Whiz smothering the bag full of $73 in doggy bones we had just purchased (see $73 in Dog Bones Later) must have awakened our appetites because suddenly my son and I are very hungry. We decide to eat at The Sawmill Cafe - a mix between Denny's and Applebee's. (Every time I would think, "I'd better not order the fish here!" I would see something, like the cozy stone fireplace, and change my mind - thus my combined Denny's/Applebee's official rating.)

Lucky for us we managed to hit The Early Bird Hour. Our presence forcefully plummeted the average mean age down about 60 years. "This is just like the dining room at Great-Grandma's retirement home!" my son exclaimed. Oh yes, lots and lots of walkers, oxygen tanks and hearing aids were out on display. No surprise though that said hearing aids weren't turned on. They never are. Just like walkers are usually carried rather than, well, walked with.

Neither of us mind dinner with the elderly. We are actually quite familiar with it due to, as my son pointed out, dinner at my grandma's. But the conversation at The Summit is usually fairly dignified whereas out at Mill Creek's Sawmill it seemed nothing but.

As I helped my son find hidden words in the word search puzzle provided by our adorable waitress, I started getting a headache listening to the woman at the table closest to us converse with her husband in the most grating, loud voice ever. And I use converse loosely because she was fully in charge of the discussion and he was allowed only a few grunts here and there.

You know that statistic everyone quotes these days about how women speak 20,000 words a day while men only speak 7,000? Turns out that statistic isn't true (See for yourself at http// but whomever came up with it must have been friends with or counseled this couple.

Anyway . . . Yes, she was bugging me. No, not to the point where I needed to complain. I wouldn't have turned down some Advil to dull the pain in my temples though. I couldn't help but listen to her drone on about Sally's "loser" son who really is "such a loser." Apparently he is living in Sally's basement because he lost his job, is getting divorced and he really has no choice ever since they AMPUTATED HIS FOOT.

Come on! It is a restaurant. Talking loudly about foot amputation is NOT ACCEPTABLE. I can handle a lot (Have you ever heard the story of how I met my tapeworm, Fettucini, face-to-face?) but that pushed even my limit.

Thankfully, after arguing over the check with the aforementioned adorable waitress (The issue was simple: She'd brought them the wrong check and they were insisting she void the erroneous charges from their card. "Gladly," she kept telling them. "But there's nothing to void as you haven't given me a credit card yet."
Did you read that clearly? She had had yet to see their credit card so what charges did they want her to remove?

Thankfully, they slowly but surely carried their walkers out to their Buick, threw them in the trunk and drove off - on the wrong side of the road for as far as my eye could see.

My food was really good - when I re-heated it the next day for lunch.

$73 in Dog Bones Later

After getting my "Artichoke" (see "How Far Would You Go?") my son and I wandered into one of those new, chic pet boutiques. (That rhymes.) We have a puppy who prefers to chew on our hands over ANYTHING else, so we thought we'd see if we could find him some more appetizing options because our hands just can't take it anymore.

We bring our enormous selection of bones, chew toys and other nonsense up to the register. My son, trying to help, set a can of peanut butter flavored doggy Cheez Whiz on its side and it rolled off the counter and fell to the ground. Not a big deal, just a broken cap.

The clerk and I make eye contact. Its a draw. But being a polite person who takes responsiblity for her (or her son's) actions I say, "Sorry! We'll buy it anyway." I expect her (because polite business people take responsibility to make their customers - especially those about to spend a large sum of money on dog bones - feel comfortable) to say, "No problem. There's a new one sitting right here." Instead she says, "OK," and proceeds to put a stinky liquid item with a broken cap into my bag.

For any business owners out there, this was not a good response. And I told her so as I signed my $73 receipt.

I know what you're thinking: "Dummy! Why'd you still buy something?"

I know, I know. I could have easily exacted revenge by immediately returning my dog's chewable items, but that would have punished him and my family's hands. I chose to write a blog about their bad service and attitude instead.

So don't buy your pet any luxury supplies at the Mill Creek Town Center.

How Far Would You Go?

How far would you go to get the Perfect Haircut? I, apparently, would go pretty far. And during peak traffic, no less.

My quest for the perfect haircut started the summer of 1992 after my freshman year at Scripps College. I was lucky enough to have a car on the Claremont, CA campus but I wanted to get it back to Seattle so I'd have something to drive over the summer. My dad wasn't crazy about us driving so far on our own but I worked him with, "Dad, I need a car if you want me to work.")

My best friend at the time, Beth, offered to fly down and drive back up the coast with me. We decided to make a pit stop at my parents' Rancho Mirage house (wait, isn't that the wrong direction?) before setting off. Due to temperatures over 100 degrees, we essentially spent ten days straight in the chlorinated pool on comfy little rafts, sipping iced tea and working on our tans.

After one brutal day of relaxation, I was in the bathroom drying my lovely locks. (I'm not saying my hair was ever really long. Certainly never thick. But for years upon years it had sat above my shoulders in a basic, good enough, bob.) I'd finished styling one side of my head and was trying to work on the other, but I couldn't seem to get a good grasp of hair in my hands. It was just stuck somewhere, right? I wasn't sure where. But it had to be stuck somewhere. Right? Right? Right?

I looked in the mirror for guidance, but (ha!) it looked as though a big clump was simply missing. I joked to Beth, "Look, some of my hair fell out!" then tried to unstick it by flipping it over. But nothing came unstuck.

Um, why wasn't it unsticking? Um, was it really gone? Um, yeah, it was.

Cut to my first short haircut. (Called The Artichoke.) And 16 years later I am on my 555th version of the very same cut. Oh sure, certain stylists have made modern touches to my hair. Color and highlights have also made a difference. But I'm not going to lie. My 19 year old hair compared to my 35 year old haircut is basically the same. And that's exactly why I would drive almost any length for the promise of a varied approach to styling it. That's also why I found myself schlepping my son into an entirely DIFFERENT COUNTY last night to get my hair cut!

Here's how it all came down: Last Saturday Jim and I went on a date night to Seattle's Edgewater Inn. We brought books and blankets and sat in front a cozy fire in their beautiful lobby reading and snuggling the night away. (Sounds like a typical August night, right?) Before we went home I stopped off at the bathroom where I saw a gal with a haircut and color so very similar to mine, but about 10 times more chic, hip and youthful.

Me: Do you live in the Seattle area?

Cute Hair: Yeah.

Me: Where do you get your hair done?

Cute Hair kinda smiles coyly. I catch on.

Me: You're in the business, huh? You do it yourself, right?

Cute Hair: Yeah.

Me: Well you have a new client! Where do you work? What's your name?

Cute Hair: I'm Genevieve and I work at Split Ends in Mill Creek.

Me: My Cabbage Patch's name was Genevieve!

Cute Hair: Oh.

Me: Anyway, where's Mill Creek?

Cute Hair: Not too far from here.

Me: Cool! Here's my card. Email me your information, OK?

Split Ends: Sure!

Jim: Did you make a new friend?

Me: Uh huh! Where's Mill Creek?

Jim: Oh no.

First thing Sunday I look up Split Ends' website. It looks like a chain - not such a great sign, although it doesn't mean Genevieve isn't a company stand-out. My friend Margaret gets her hair done by a sensational stylist who just happens to be a manager at SuperCuts, so you never know. And, hmmm . . . speaking of Genevieve, why can't I find her information under the "Staff Bios" link?

Oh well. I'll just give them a call.

Split Ends: Split Ends!

Me: Hi, I'd like to book a haircut with Genevieve.

Split Ends: Genevieve's a receptionist here. (Crap. My mood darkens.)

Me: Oh, then who does her hair?

Split Ends: Holly.

Me: OK. Can I get an appointment with Holly?

Split Ends: She's really busy and books out way in advance. (Hooray. Other people trusting her is a really good sign. Mood lightens.) I can get you in next week at 4:20 pm. (Next week? Good mood holding somewhere between dark and light.)

Me: I'll take it, but I'm driving over from Mercer Island so . . .

Split Ends: Woah! That's far.

Me: Yeah, I know. So if she gets any cancellations earlier in the day can you let me know? I don't want to get stuck in traffic.

Split Ends: Sure.

Me: Just how far is it?

Split Ends: Let's just say you should give yourself ample time.


I go back on the website to read Holly's bio. It goes like this:

I love doing all hair types. It's fun making people feel and look good about themselves and make new changes. I really enjoy color, foils, and perms. I have done advanced training with Joico and Paul Mitchell.

I have been licensed for 16 years.
I have been at THE SPLIT END SALONS for 1 years.

I like to spend time with my family, walk Greenlake or Alki, shop with friends and my Mom and to the movies.

I almost cancel.

But a week later, after a bowling playdate my son and I head out to meet this Holly. I can't complain because we didn't hit a lick of traffic and it really didn't take all that long to get there - maybe 40 or so minutes.

The salon was located in a shopping center larger than a strip mall but smaller than a mall mall and looked more Hair Masters than Gene Juarez. Clearly the owner was counting on a big portion retail sales income because products were displayed and stacked everywhere.

I almost cancel.

But once I saw Holly I relaxed. She had the cutest haircut (kind of a modern day Dorothy Hamill) and a warm, beautiful smile. She took a lot of time to listen to my hair angst and play with my hair - pushing it this way and that. And you know what? When she pushed it over my ears I magically lost about 10 pounds! So guess how she cut it. Exactly! And with tip it only cost me $40. That totally beats Fancy Salon's $60 rate.

And my son and I made the most of being in Mill Creek. We did a little shopping (See "$73 in Dog Bones Later"), had a nice dinner (See "I was Hungry Til she Said Amputation of the Foot") and got home by 7 pm.

So will I go back? Probably. Because even though it was yet another variation on the artichoke, I am really happy with it.

As for Miss Pass Herself Off as a Stylist, I'm still awaiting her email. I'll cut her some slack because she shares the same name as my Cabbage Patch Doll, but that can only get her so far.

You're Invited to a (Dog) Party!

You're Invited!

Join 5 to 15 dogs as they chase each other, smell each other in naughty/icky places, growl, nip, run and smile

Every Night Around 8 pm
Mercerdale Park

Bring: Your Dog. (The gathering is really something to see, so you don't have to bring your dog. But you might have a little more fun if you do.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Missing! White Mailbox ! Reward for Return!

Missing! White mailbox. (No distinct markings.) Answers to 3418.

Missing since July, 2008. Likely being used as some sort of trophy in a local teen's bedroom.

Reward for Return! Well, actually probably not. Owner's have already moved on to a PO Box. 139, by the way.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Did you know that a 97% isn't good enough?

Last year my son's school held a talent show and my sweet, shy child decided he just had to be a part of it. I'll admit I was surprised by how adamant he was about participating, but you better believe he had my full support.

He's a drummer so I figured he'd drum. But no, he decided he wanted to do a magic trick. He went online and found a trick he liked and left it at that.

Meanwhile, I was getting emails from the talent show coordinators asking about costumes, props, specifics with regards to the timing of each act.

"Performances can be no longer than two minutes," they wrote. Two minutes! Are you kidding? I didn't think my son's act would go longer than fifteen seconds.

As the rehearsal approached I encouraged him to come up with some sort of act or script. He resisted me at first, but finally came around. It went something like this:

Hi! I might look like a regular 2nd grader to you, but I actually have very magical powers. In fact, I have the ability to make cup floats in mid-air. Want to see? (At this point we're hoping the audience starts clapping in desire.) OK. Here goes. And then he does the trick.

We come up with a costume (jeans and a dress shirt, just like the magician online) and props (sparkles that will shoot out of the floating cup upon its magical take-off) and then practice the hell out of the act.

On the day of the rehearsal I can tell he's nervous, but he's also pumped up. When we get there they have him go backstage to wait his turn. I ask if he wants me to go with him but he says no, so I take a seat in the audience.

First up is one of my son's classmates. I actually know her pretty well because I had been reading with her once a week since the start of the schoolyear. Hmmm. I wonder what her talent is. (Probably not reading.)

Oh wow. I had no idea that she could hula-hoop while playing the violin.

OK. Start it off with a bang, right? Not everyone can be so, well . . . talented.

But the next kid (a third grader) sings opera . . . in SPANISH! ("We spent the summer in Barcelona," she explains.) Her younger brother (a kindergartner) comes out next and sings an ENTIRE European pop song. (Truth be told it got a little long. Plus, I watched their parents as this brother and sister act performed, mouthing the words and praying for a no mistake kinda night. Their angst was a little disgusting and I can't say I wasn't slightly nauseated by the sight. Yet their wee ones did not disappoint.)

At this point I'd started to see a pattern . . . it was a REAL TALENT show. Crap!

How was my son going to get up there with his rinky dink magic trick? But I couldn't stop him from trying - from taking this huge step to break out of his introverted shell.

They called his name and he came out on stage. His face was really, really red and I noticed he was literally shaking. He walked up to the microphone and said, "I'm in Mrs. Calvo's class." And then he just stood there. That's it! I swear to you!

I don't know why, but when things like this happen I start laughing. Uncontrollably. I heard the coordinator saying with panic, "Is his parent here? Where's his parent?" And I felt myself heading up to the stage to grab him, but tears of laughter are streaming down my face.

By this time his dad and my fiance had arrived so the three of us took our crying, shamed son out in the hall and tried to soothe him. My fiance asked, "How many kids tried out today?"

My son replied, "11."

"And how many kids are in your school?"


"So you were one of the 11 kids out of 600 brave enough to even try?"

(See why I'm marrying him?)

"I guess so," my son acquiesed.

The thing is, here on this fair island on which I chose to park my family, this kind of situation is not unusual. Kids here are talented. In fact, a 97% is not considered high enough for a child to be considered gifted. No, a Mercer Island child must score 98% or higher on whatever goofy gifted standardized test they are given (in 2nd grade!) in order to determine whether they are smart enough to qualify for the gifted program. That's a lot of performance pressure for 7-year olds! And I'm pretty sure that in other cities around the world those who only scored a measly 97% would still be considered gifted.

As the test date approached I worried about having my son tested. He is a July birthday so he's one of the youngest in his class so I wasn't sure if it'd be fair for him. Plus, for some reason the whole idea of the gifted program was leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. I called my mom to hash it out.

"All my friends were in the gifted classes in high school but I didn't get in. It was crushing," I whine.

"You did too get in," my mom counters.

"No I didn't. Mrs. Newman and Mrs. Kiaer didn't think I was good enough."

"That is so untrue! You were accepted and were taking the classes. But one day you came home from school and told me you'd quit! I called Mrs. Newman to get you back in but she wouldn't allow it."

"Really?" I'm totally shocked at this revelation. "I don't remember that at all. All these years I thought I just wasn't as smart as my friends."

"Jen, you were President of Eta Pi Epsilon (Syracuse's Women's Honor Society) and graduated Magna Cum Laude."

Good points.

I hang up with her and wonder why I quit. I know I gotta figure it out before it is time for my son to test.

There's a real focus on learning
You're teamed with kids that are serious about school
You're encouraged to challenge yourself
It is cool to be smart
Kids in the program might also choose Lego building over a baseball game
(I'm sure there's lots of parents that could tell me lots of other pros but this is my list, dammit, and that's all I'm willing to name)

You're with the same kids year after year
There's a lot of pressure to be "gifted" and not just a kid
There's also pressure to do more and learn more than is expected of the "regular population"
Homework is piled on - more work for my son = more work for ME
There's a lot of competition amongst classmates - this competitive spirit becomes habit and can stick with you until the day you die. And let's face it, it can be really unbecoming.

Clearly I wasn't excited about the whole deal, but I didn't want to shortchange my son. In an effort to keep my own prejudices from getting in my child's way I decided to leave the decision up to his teacher. She said, "Yes, he should absolutely take the test."

So I signed him up figuring the test was just a test - it certainly didn't mean we'd need to make a decision on the program.

Then I forgot to send him. (Oops. I was in skincare school at the time and more than a few balls got dropped.)

So on the "My Parents Flaked Out the First Time Day" he finally went in and took the test.

"How did it go?" I asked in the afternoon.

"It was fine, but the kid next to me kept spitting."



"What do you mean."

"He was spitting everywhere."

"Did you complain to a teacher?"

"No. I asked him to stop but he kept doing it."

"Why was he spitting?"

"I think he had a cold and it was making him spit."

"Did it bother you? Were you able to concentrate?"

"Not really. Can I play Wii when I get home?"


I just want my kid to be happy. To have fun. To fit in. To feel good about himself. To be able to relax when he gets home at the end of the day and not be a stressed out THIRD GRADER!

Good thing he only scored a 76%.

And no, he didn't perform in the talent show either.

Have You Lost?

Following is a transcript from a recent phone call with my grandma:

"Grandma! Hi! I'm calling from London and wanted to tell you that Jim just proposed!"

"Have you lost?"

(Would you believe I actually know what she's getting at? But I'm shocked - especially given the news I've called to share and the fact that I'm calling from LONDON - that this is her out-the-door, first-thing-she-can-think-of-to-say, knee-jerk response. But even though I know what she's getting at I'm bothered by her passive-agressively beating around the bush so I decide to make her work a little harder. What'd you expect? I'm a feisty girl filled with hot Spanish blood.)

With the sweetest voice, "Lost what, Grandma?"

"You know, lost."

"No, I don't know. What are you asking, Grandma?"

"You know, how's your health?" Nice tactic, but she was unsuccessful at averting my focus. I'm still not giving in.

"My health's fine, Grandma. Did you hear what I said? Jim proposed."

"Have you seen a doctor lately?" She's working so darn hard to avoid directly asking what she wants to know, isn't she? It is making me mad. Or sad? Defeated? I guess all three. Mostly I'm fed up.

"Um, no. I'm on vacation in London and Jim just proposed. No need for a doctor."

"That's nice." She pauses, frustrated, I'm sure, that I'm as good at manipulating a conversation as she is. (She trained me well over the years.) Her only play left is to go for it.

"I was just wondering if you'd lost any weight." Ooh. There it is. I glance at my brother's Blackberry I'm borrowing to shout out the glorious engagement news to friends and family in America. Let's see, it took her one minute and thirty-three seconds to rain down on my love parade. Not quite a record, but yo grandma, even in your eighties you still got mad skillz, playah.

Alas, times have changed, Grandma. I have graduated from tolerating comments such as these.

"You know what, Grandma, you don't get to ask me that question ever again. My weight is none of your business and it is inappropriate to ask."

She knows she's wrong but she can't say she's sorry. "How's Eli?"

"Eli's fine. I will talk to you when I get back to Seattle."

She's desperate to keep me on the line. "How's your mom?"

"I've gotta go, Grandma."

Good for me, right? Just two problems. The first is that I may have stood up for myself, but I still let her words bother me . . . for the rest of the day. And night. Not OK. I gotta work on that.

The second is that Grandma won't answer any of my phone calls. Well, let me rephrase that. She doesn't have caller ID so she actually does answers my calls in hopes that it is anyone except for me. But when she realizes it is me she comes up with excuses to immediately get off the phone.

Want an example? OK.

Ring. Ring.

"Hi Grandma!"

"Oh, hi."

"How are you?"

"I just got out of the shower. Can I call you back?"


"OK. Bye."

No call back. For days. So I keep tryin.

Ring. Ring.

"Hi Grandma!"

"Oh, hi."

"I have been trying to reach you but it is a lot harder ever since Aunt L removed your answering machine."

"I was down at the nurse's station getting my medication."

"I don't just mean today, I've been trying to get you for a few days."

"The nurse is here, I have to go." (Hmmm. She used the nurse as an excuse twice in one call and I'm not buying it.)

"OK, then. Call me back."

No call back. Why do I care? She was mean to me for years, I took it lyin down, I finally stood up for myself and now she doesn't want to talk to me. It reminds me of the jerky men I dated before meeting Jim. Maybe I should re-read, "He's Just Not That Into You."

Change is A-Brewin Ms. Geneen Roth

Hi Geneen,

No, we've never met. But yes, I love you! I'm guessing this isn't the first time a stranger has told you that!

About a month ago my therapist recommended I purchase your book, When Food is Love, and journal whatever came to mind as I read it. She said there was no hurry to read it, that it might take me weeks to get through depending on how much journaling was triggered. It worked out well because my son was in Brazil with my ex-husband at the time and my work schedule was light, so I hunkered down in my bed and read, wrote, got mad, got sad and cried until I started to feel some relief from it all. Since then I've picked up, Feeding the Hungry Heart, When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair, and Why Weight? and these days seem to go everywhere with one of your books and my journal.

Only once before have I kept a journal. My mom bought it for me when I was 12 and encouraged me to use it. So I did. But only when I was mad at my parents or when I liked a boy. And then she read it. And cried. So I never kept one again, just in case. But I have found that I love having this new, adult journal because painful feelings no longer have to grow in me, I can just let them out on paper as soon as they bug me and then they lose their power.

Funny Side-note: One day I was writing in said journal while reading your book and going potty. (As I mentioned, I go everywhere with the two.) When I was done I set them down on the side of the vanity and went on my merry way. Awhile later my fiance came in to shower and accidentally dropped the journal in the toilet. He brought the wet book to me, his face filled with guilt and fear was enough of a confession. "Was there anything in the toilet?" I accusingly questioned. Thankfully he answered, "No." I didn't see the humor in it at the time and declared, "I need a nap!" then huffed off to bed. But later on, the thought of how scared of me he probably was when it dropped in made me giggle uncontrollably! And as my therapist pointed out, "It is fitting because that journal is full of all the shit you're trying to get rid of. It belongs in the toilet!"

In any case, I am writing for two reasons. The first is to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your experiences with such an open heart. The second is to tell you a funny experience I had while trying to incorporate the guidelines you suggest in your books.

So, for the first order of business: THANK YOU! Until I was introduced to you I always said the only eating disorder from which I suffered was from knowing way too much about food. My parents put my skinny butt on my first official diet (Diet Center) when I was about 8. (I look at my 8-year old son and think, "I couldn't have made him suck down hot water with lemon if I tried.) Ever since it has been one diet to the next. Whatever it was (counting fat and calories, eliminating sugar & gluten, focusing on green leafy vegetables, eating carbs and protein separately, etc) I knew all the rules and would follow them with perfection until I couldn't anymore. (Sound familiar?!)

I remember going to a celebrity nutritionist when I lived in Los Angeles in hopes of maintaining my post Phen/Fen body since the FDA had recently banned it from the marketplace. (What's a hole in the heart matter when you're thin!?) Plus, I'd gained about 10 pounds and my parents went nuts and were, once again, willing to pay any price for me to "fix" me. (Mind you I was 26 and already married at this point.) In any case, I religiously followed his crazy rules for six months. Then one day in December when I went in for my weekly check-up (where he'd look into my eyes and analyze my saliva in order to determine progress - huh?) I mentioned how hard it was not to cheat during the holiday season because there were treats everywhere I looked. He said, "You can cheat."

I replied with shock, "I can?"

"Sure, Cameron Diaz cheats all the time. She loves beer and pizza."

I left his office thinking, "Then hell yeah I'm gonna cheat!" Images of all the goodies I'd been missing came into my head. The idea of a day free of air popped popcorn - that at one point felt like decadence - seemed so enticing. The next thing I knew I was filling myself with green and red holiday wrapped Hershey Kisses. I'm not even sure if I liked them at the time, but I know I don't now. And that was that. I got pregnant a few months later, gained close to 100 pounds and really have never lost the weight. I just couldn't go on a diet again.

Which leads right back to my self-diagnosed eating disorder of Knowing Too Much. I'd open the cupboard or fridge and stare, literally not being able to choose something to eat due to all the conflicting philosophies I'd learned over the years banging up against one another in my head. I got in a habit of not eating until 3 and then, because I'd been so "disciplined" all day I'd splurge on whatever was easy, carb-loaded and close by. Obviously that didn't work out well for me.

Last year a wonderful nutritionist, Jennifer Adler of Realize Health, started to get me on the right track with regards to this dilemma. She explained that if I ate SOMETHING! ANYTHING! throughout the day (aka known as Avoid Starving Self) my blood sugar wouldn't drop so drastically and I wouldn't feel the need to binge in the afternoon. Around the same time my sweet endocrinologist, Matthew Davies, in an attempt to balance my glycemic index, said I don't care what you choose, just make sure to eat a carb and a protein for every meal. He then asked me to name a carb and a protein. You should have seen my twisted face as I tried to answer his EASY question. "Well, rice is a carb, but I know I shouldn't eat white rice because it turns to sugar in my body so I guess Kashi rice is . . . "

"Did I tell you to choose a fancy rice?" he bellowed. Well, maybe he didn't bellow, but he was kinda shocked and frustrated with how hard I was making it. "If you want white rice, then eat white rice."

Yet, my story still plows through some more sugar and gluten free days, a fast here and there, confusion, guilt and feelings of failure and even MORE WEIGHT GAIN until my therapist introduced me to you.

It takes some faith to trust in your process, but what you suggest and explain make so much sense. Especially when I watch my son's eating patterns. Guess what! He only eats when he's hungry! Huh? What? Why would he do that? And when he has a tantrum (some bigger, some smaller) he simply lets the anger, frustration or sadness out. Interesting approach!

With my November wedding approaching I admit I get a little anxious about suddenly experimenting with donuts, Pringles, Doritos, cookies, CHEESE, chocolate milk, etc! But more often than not I'm drawn to meals like arugula with tomatoes and olive oil or my famous roasted chicken and broccoli so I'm sure it'll all work out. Take yesterday as an example. For lunch we ate grilled steak, fresh corn, baked potatoes and a yummy salad. For dinner, on the flip side, my son and I sorted out a brand-new box of Lucky Charms into piles of "yum-yums" (marshmallows) and "yuck-yucks" (regular cereal) and ate only the yum-yums with no milk. We had so much fun analyzing the cereal situation and it was such a luxury to eat a handful of those delectable marshmallows at one time! (By the way, if you're ever in contact with General Mills please tell them we suggest a Pot of Charms which consists of only yum-yums, because no one really wants the yuck-yucks, right? Except maybe my nephew. Apparently he's just a yuck-yuck kinda guy.)

So, again, thank you from the bottom of my calmer, less conflicted heart. In just one month, because of your books, I am such a happier person.

Now, onto the funny story.

Last week after getting my haircut in downtown Seattle I was walking to pick up my car at the valet where I'd parked. I had only a few minutes to get over to another appointment but I was starving! I tell myself that you'd want me to eat just exactly what I want, but what to choose? It needed to be quick because I didn't have much time so I opted for an apple fritter (!) from the Nordstrom coffee cart. (I made a conscious choice not to get a latte though because I wasn't in the mood. Cool!) I can't say apple fritter choices come easily, but I'm getting better at it. I continued on my way to my car, holding the fritter in the little white baggy the barrista'd put it in, thinking about how hungry I was and how good the fritt would taste when I finally ate it ALONE. IN MY CAR. Ooh. I hadn't even realized I was a closet eater until this moment. Suddenly it occurred to me that I really only eat comfortably in front of my son and fiance but otherwise edit. (Maybe because so many of my friends and family have a habit of saying some variation of, "Did anyone notice that I chose not to order the bagel with my breakfast?" when we go out to eat. Even though I've always answered, "No, but I did take notice of what I ordered," I learned that many assume that others watch what they eat, leading me to believe they also watch what I eat. This makes the fat girl in me feel judged and uncomfortable.)

"OK, Jen," I tell myself as I wait for my car to be brought around. "I know it is a challenge but you've got to try to eat this fritter in public." I'm grossly aware of the strangers around me (4 valet clustered together, immersed in conversation. Two guys and a girl, smoking cigarettes ((Oops, look at me judging them!)) while waiting for their car. People walking in and out of the mall.) and amazingly, for some self-absorbed reason, I figure they actually care about me and my fritter. Still, I timidly pull the fritter out of the bag and pull off a sweet piece of crispy, fried goodness and take a bite. I tuck the fritter back into its baggy while I chew. "OK. Good girl. You did it! That wasn't so bad, right?"

And then thud. All eyes, including mine, turn to see what the loud noise was. And on the ground, surrounding my adorably clad feet, lay frosty bits of apple fritter because the little white baggy the flippin barrista had chosen to package my momentous meal had NO BOTTOM! Seriously?! Couldn't my first Eating Out in Public Party have gone off a little more discreetly? Are you wondering what I did? Can you guess?

With faked calm and indifference, I picked up the biggest chunk of the damn fritter still in tact, stuck it into the trick baggy, got into my car, drove off and ate it (in private, dammit) anyway. I was HUNGRY!

My fiance and I rolled with laughter as I told him the story. "Atta girl!" he shouted! Then he continuously re-enacted the scene with my character reaching guiltily down each time for the fritter while saying, "5 second rule! 5 second rule!"

Well, I will stop now! I wish you all the very, very best. You are an angel right here on earth, helping more people everyday than you probably even realize.

Best Wishes,