Monthly Archives: August 2015

When Cruise Came To Town

I’m from Memphis. I’ve lived here my entire life. I was born here, my parents were born here. Memphis is known for a lot of things… It’s the birthplace of rock-n-roll, thanks to Elvis. We’re known for our barbecue, blues, Beale Street, FedEx, Elvis, and Justin Timberlake. Yes we have crime, but the good outweighs the bad. And did I mention, Elvis and Justin Timberlake?

We love our Memphis Grizzlies basketball, University of Memphis Tigers, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Peabody Ducks, the Mississippi River, our zoo, our local food (namely barbecue), our music, nightlife, Jerry’s Sno Cones and our pyramid that recently became a Bass Pro Shop.

 

There have been many tv shows and movies filmed in Memphis, but none as eventful as the time that The Firm was filmed here. In case you live under a rock, The Firm was a John Grisham novel set in Memphis. In the early 90s, it was made into a movie, also set in Memphis, and starred Tom Cruise.

 

Ok, I want you to put aside your personal feelings about Tom Cruise just for a moment. This was over 20 years ago, long before you didn’t like him. He was 30 years old then. Unlike now, when he’s actually 53 but still looks 30!

There were plenty of other celebrities in the movie, including Holly Hunter, Gene Hackman, Gary Busey and Wilford Brimley (the old guy with diahbetus). But our local media only had eyes for Tom. Every morning, local radio stations announced where he’d be filming. More importantly, they’d tell us where he’d been and what he’d done the night before. We knew where he ate, what he ate and who’s tab was “anonymously” paid by Tom Cruise. He was a gracious and generous visitor to our city. Eventually they wrapped up filming and moved on to film on location in the Cayman Islands.

Then, something curious happened. I don’t know if it was an additional scene or a reshoot, but Tom came back to film one last scene. If you’ve seen the movie, it’s the part where he jumps out of a window and lands on a cotton truck in the alley below.

 

As luck would have it, my aunt Liz worked in a dry cleaner on the corner of Monroe Avenue and that very alley. She had a front row seat to the whole thing. She decided to call her sister (my mother) to see if she wanted to come down and watch with her. Of course she wanted to!

Mama quickly showed up to the dry cleaner to watch, along with her sister, as Tom Cruise shot one last scene of The Firm. Eventually a news crew, as well as a small crowd of fans, showed up to do the same. Well, obviously not from the dry cleaner, but from the same general area. My mother stepped out onto the curb as Tom walked toward the news crew to grant them one last interview. He waved at the crowd and Mama said something like… “Tom, can we get an autograph?” He waved them on over and my mother led the group of fans toward the movie star.

Now, let’s review who I am. In my blog post called Let’s Make Up, I revealed my personal issues with make up and that I don’t leave home without it. I’m quite sure that if I thought there’d be a chance encounter with a celebrity, I’d put a little extra effort in to my makeup. My mother does not share my hang ups about cosmetics. That being said…

Throughout this entire interview, which aired repeatedly on the noon, 5:00, 10:00 and any other time news comes on; there’s my mother with not a stitch of makeup on, hasn’t seen her hairbrush, wearing a shirt that each one of her daughters had politely asked her to stop wearing… shoved all up in Tom Cruise’s personal space by the crowd behind her. He politely answered all of the reporter’s questions while practically cheek-to-cheek with my mother. And, of course, he was wearing make up.

Much to my dismay, I don’t have a picture of this to share with you. Technology wasn’t nearly as advanced as it is now and we thought our VHS tape of the event would last forever. I called the news station to see if they could help, but I wasn’t important enough to get that kind of service. So let me just leave you with this really cool shot of Tom Cruise and Hal Holbrook on the roof of our beloved Peabody Hotel.

Fat and Happy

For the last several months, I’ve been losing weight after more than a decade of being fat. Let me just go ahead and say this… if you are offended by the word “fat,” stop reading this now! I don’t sugarcoat it. I was fat. I didn’t gain 100+ pounds of “fluffy” or “juicy.” I gained over a hundred pounds of fat. So far, I’ve lost 60 of those hundred pounds. The number on the scale starts with a one for the first time in 12 years.

There are many misconceptions about overweight people…we’re lazy, we don’t exercise, we eat garbage, we have low self-esteem or we’re depressed. WRONG! I have always had a healthy dose of self-confidence and self-esteem. They have never been attached to the numbers on a scale or measuring tape or clothing size. When I read articles about successful weight loss, they almost always mention gaining self-confidence or getting it back. Where did it go? Your weight doesn’t change who you are! Fat or thin, I’m still the same person. No one comes and takes away your college degree when you gain weight. And they don’t show up with trophies, confetti and self-esteem when you lose weight.

As far as eating goes, I grew up on sweet tea, fried food, frozen dinners, fast food and Coke (Coca-Cola, not drugs). I wasn’t a fat kid. No one was. Fat kids were rare. As an adult, I gave up the sweet in the tea, and learned a lot more about food and fat. By the time I started gaining, I was eating real food, whole food, and less processed food. But I got fat anyway. Once you reach a certain weight, you get this “what-the-hell-I-may-as-well-eat” attitude. At least I did. I could eat a 30 oz. bone-in ribeye by myself in one sitting. All-You-Can-Eat Buffets became my friends. I became an expert on which cupcake shop was the best.

 

I recently watched a video on YouTube made by a newly thin woman listing 10 things she would not miss about being fat. I wondered what my own list would be since none of her issues applied to me. I honestly don’t think I could come up with 10 bad things about being fat. There is one though… I won’t miss the clothes, or the lack of them. No one makes clothes for big women. Making a bigger version of what thin people wear, is not the same as making clothes for bigger bodies.

I could easily come up with 10 things that I WILL miss about being fat.  Number one, without question, is french fries! These little bits of heaven are my absolute weakness. I have often said that I would love to grow french fries in a garden and dab a little of their divine scent behind my ears.

The truth is, my life as a fat girl, has been fantastic! I met my husband during my weight gain. After years of not being able to find one, men were suddenly coming out of the woodwork when I gained weight. It’s not a myth, there are men who prefer bigger women (it’s not just Bill Clinton). If I’d met my husband a year earlier, he may not have asked for my phone number. Who knows?

There’s an old saying about being “Fat and Happy” and it’s a real thing. I have been very happy during my fat years. I was never bullied or ridiculed. Being fat never kept me from getting a job. My weight didn’t prevent me from traveling. As a matter fact, most of the traveling I’ve done in my lifetime has been while fat. I went to Hawaii three times (including the one where we got married), New York City once, and multiple trips to Florida. My change in size didn’t change me. I still had a sense of humor. I was still smart. I can’t run, but I couldn’t run when I was young and thin either. I’m just not a runner.

As I lose more weight, I find that I’m running (no pun intended) into a little bit of self-sabotage. It’s not purposeful, but somewhere deep in my psyche I must not want to go back to a “normal” weight. I wasn’t happy then. The bad days outnumbered the good exponentially. My normal, accepted-by-society size had nothing to do with my sucky life, just as my hundred pound gain isn’t the reason I’m happy now (although it may be a reason). However, my subconscious may be associating Fat and Happy as a set that shouldn’t be separated.

Assuming I break through my self-sabotage issues, what else will I miss about being fat? Eating what I want, as much as I want without having to think about it, count it, journal it, or enter it into an app. Eating fast food, because it’s convenient and cheap. Cupcakes, ice cream, chocolate. Oh, and having big boobs. Definitely the best part of being a big girl was the boobs!

Click here: If this link works, it will take you to a great article about being Fat and Happy

Buddy: The Best Dog Ever

We said goodbye to our black lab, Buddy. He was the best dog ever. On paper, he was my daughter’s dog, but in his heart, and in ours, he belonged to us all. When my daughter got Buddy on her 15th birthday, graduation was just a few years away and we knew that he would probably stay home with us old folks when she left for college. Then, when he was a year old, we decided that the puppy needed a puppy to play with. That’s where Jenny, his lifelong companion, came in. After that, my daughter knew that she could never take Buddy away and separate those two.

Buddy and puppy Jenny
Buddy and Jenny

The thing about Buddy is that he was such a textbook lab that he couldn’t NOT fetch. If you threw something, anything, he had to retrieve it. We learned, the hard way, to make sure something floats BEFORE throwing it in the water. We threw something once that sank and he was determined to dive until he found it.

His only fault was that he was so passive. He let the other dogs walk all over him, sometimes literally. They took his toys, his bed and ate his food, and he let them. You may recall from a previous post (Guest Blogger: Eddie) that he ran away with Eddie, our jack russell terrier. I’m certain that Eddie coerced him.

If one of us got sick, Buddy would bring toys and stay at our side until we were all better. If one of the other dogs was outside wanting in, Buddy would go in search of a human to let them know to come open the door. His internal alarm clock was legendary. Our dogs are fed at 5am and 5pm. If there was no food in his bowl at 5:00 sharp, he always reminded us in his sweet, polite way. When my mother came to visit, Buddy couldn’t decide whom to protect through the night. He had to sleep in the hallway between the bedrooms to make sure that all of us were safe.

One day, when Jenny was much too young, she and Buddy “eloped” in the backyard. This resulted in two adorable boy puppies. One black, one brown, just like their parents. We loved those puppies and often wish we’d kept them. But they’re very happy in their forever homes and we get updates on them frequently. Giving them away, even to good, loving families, was difficult. We realized we’re not cut out for dog breeding so everybody got “fixed” after that.

 

Buddy’s 11th birthday was a few weeks ago. We bought him a retrieving toy (that floats, of course) and took him to the lake to try it out. This was before we knew that anything was wrong. After fetching the toy two or three times, he took it into the woods and hid it. I searched, found it and threw it again. Once again, he swam out to retrieve it, then hid it in the woods. I finally realized that he wanted me to stop throwing it, since he didn’t have the option to stop retrieving it.

 

That was the first sign that something was wrong and the decline was rapid after that. Once we realized and accepted what was inevitable, we took him to the lake one last time without the other dogs. I honestly don’t know if he liked being the only dog there or if he missed his friends, but there were several humans there. Buddy swam one last time, got a lot of attention and some people food.

 

I don’t think anyone will ever love us as much as Buddy did.

 

A Little Negativity Is A Good Thing

I see a lot of memes and quotes on social media about negative people and, not ironically, they’re all negative. Things like, “Life is too short to spend with negative people,” and quotes about cutting negative people out of your life. If you substituted the word “negative” with any other adjective, you’d be too polite to post it. Life is too short to spend with… fat people, shy people, ugly people? Personally, I think life is too short to spend with boring people.

Recently, I read a quote that said “Nothing good ever comes from negativity.” Oh really? Tell that to Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Alanis Morrissette, and Chris Isaak. These singer/songwriters have transformed their negatives into big moneymaking hit songs. If you read my blog post “The Long and Winding Road” then you know how my own negatives led me to a positive.
I’d like to clear up some common misconceptions about negativity, although I’m not authorized to speak on behalf of all negative people. We don’t have clubs where we elect a spokesperson. There is an Optimist Club but no Pessimist Club. However, for the sake of this blog post, I’m going to speak on behalf of negative people.
First of all, we don’t see ourselves as negative, we see ourselves as realistic. Sometimes we see your positivity as denial. When presented with a new situation, negative people (aka realists) see the problem with it first. If it weren’t for us, positive people would be out there implementing new policies and trying new things without ever considering the downside.

 

You say that like it’s a bad thing!

Two, don’t confuse negativity with unhappiness. It’s possible to see a problem in a situation and still be a happy person. I’m very happy. I’m insanely happy (emphasis on the insane), but I’m still a realist.

Three, negativity isn’t our only outlook. It’s not attached to every situation in life. I don’t expect gloom and doom at every turn. I’m very positive about my marriage, my future, my children’s ability to live happy, successful lives, and many other things.

Four, negativity is not a mood, it’s a personality trait. Just ONE personality trait of many. There’s more to us than just that one thing. You can describe me as negative, but I’m also smart, funny, honest, outgoing, confident and dependable. We don’t ask positive people to tone down the positivity – no matter how annoying it is. I don’t know if we were born this way or became this way, but it’s who we are. Stop trying to change us! If we were all the same, life would be boring (refer back to the first paragraph).

There’s this idea that positivity is right and negativity is wrong. Again, we find this unrealistic.  If every cloud has a silver lining, the positive person will see the silver lining, while the negative person sees the cloud. Neither of us is wrong, but the realist won’t be surprised when it rains.

Let’s discuss the proverbial half full/half empty glass. This tool is often used to determine whether a person sees things in a positive or negative light. Here’s the problem with that… not enough information. If someone poured it halfway, then the glass is half-full. If it was full and someone drank half of it, it’s half empty.  So the question isn’t how do I see the glass, the question is why? Why did you pour the glass only half-full? Or why are you giving me a glass that is only half full? Did someone else already drink from it?

I wonder what kind of conversations go on between positive people at the water cooler. “Isn’t it great that the boss has so much faith in us that he’s willing to double our workload?” “Yes Pollyanna, I was thinking the same thing.”  Over at the realist table, we’re venting to each other about our doubled workload, and bonding with each other. Then we’ll get back to work and do what is required of us as the team players that we are. We consider it to be team building!

I have a few friends who have probably been labeled as negative and I love being around them! Especially if their negativity (realism) is coupled with a great sense of humor. When they describe their job, coworkers, neighbors, and family with their own brand of hilarity, it makes my own negative situations more bearable. They see things the way I do. They are Finding Funny in their lives.

I love irony as much as the next person, but isn’t it considered negative to complain about negative people? All the quotes about ignoring negative people and cutting them out of your life don’t sound very positive to me. Maybe, just maybe, part of the problem is the negative attitude toward negativity. Perhaps it should be seen as the other side of the story, the flip-side of the coin, or just another perspective.