M.C. Hammerpants, Esq.

I’m kind of hesitant to talk about this week’s menu. Because there isn’t one. The menu I meticulously planned out for February went well for three weeks. But likely due to the fact that I accidentally cooked too many portions of some things and left an entire pot of beans to rot in the fridge, I’ve run out of key ingredients for this week. I won’t be seeing any cash until Friday, so I’m having to be creative.

Sunday: My mom went to a barbecue and brought me and my daughter a plate to share. Cost: $0.00

Monday: Chicken enchiladas w/white sauce. Half a pound of chicken: $.54. Four ounces plain yogurt: $.75. Four ounces French onion dip: $.25. Half a cup shredded cheese: $1.25. 6 corn tortillas: I don’t actually know because the ones I used have been sitting in the freezer since the dawn of tortillas. Two tablespoons of green chili sauce: idk, like $.15? Total cost for six enchiladas, $2.94, plus whatever 6 corn tortillas are going for these days. (For being made of odds and ends these enchiladas were delicious.)

Tuesday: Chicken fideo. Half a pound of chicken ($.54) and one pack of fideo ($.33). Can’t beat dinner for eighty-seven cents! I may throw in a flour tortilla, but these have also been in the freezer a good while, so I don’t remember the cost.

I’ll stop there as I haven’t thought up Wednesdays dinner yet. Now that I have menus on my mind, I’m realizing I need to start budgeting and planning March’s menu. I’m hoping, as I’m armed with information from the nutritionist, that I can make March a better month.

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MeLANka-lee

Every week in third grade, we were assigned ten words to define. I was a smart girl but this in-class assignment took me longer than everybody else. We had big tan hardcover dictionaries, one per student, and the definitions were occasionally illustrated. I don’t remember what the pictures were anymore, but I remember that I was always drawn to the words melancholy and serendipity. I paid no attention to the correct pronunciation and for years, in my head, pronounced melancholy as I wrote the title of this blog and the other word as seRENda-pity. Confession: I still do.

I don’t know why, but my grandmother is heavy on my mind this morning, which could be the cause of my melancholy. She was my best friend when I was a child. Other kids ran down the street, screaming, laughing, shouting to each other. I cowered inside, hoping they wouldn’t notice me. Their presence was frightening and threatening. I spent every day after school with her and every weekend as well. I never questioned this, simply took it as my right. I belonged there.

I read quietly for hours. I’d read the newspaper, my books, my grandparent’s encyclopedias, and anything I could get my hands on. When I overheard my aunt say that a particular pop song referenced masturbation, I consulted with their medical dictionary. Same thing when I heard about homosexuality on a television program. I puzzled over the fact that homosexuality was considered a mental illness. I opened up their encyclopedias and read about computers taking up rooms and rooms when my parents presented me with my first computer, a Tandy. When I was in fifth grade and the Challenger exploded, I went straight to their encyclopedia to read that man aspired to one day land on the moon. The living room was a time machine.

My happiest moments were spent reading C.S. Lewis and listening to my grandmother bustling in the kitchen, the smell of dinner growing stronger and more tempting until she’d yell for us to come eat.

Things changed, quickly. I stopped spending weekends and after school with my grandparents. I was a teenager, I had a boyfriend, I got a job, I graduated high school and I moved across the United States. Years passed, I came back to Texas, fell in and out of love, and suddenly found myself pregnant and gravely ill. I stopped working and was eventually admitted to the hospital, where 29 weeks into my pregnancy, I heard the dreaded words,

“There’s no more amniotic fluid. You’ll be having a c-section. Now.”

My daughter survived and I brought her home shortly before her due date. Home was my mother’s house, as I had no money and couldn’t go get a job. My child was too delicate to be left in daycare.

My grandparents came to visit every day. My grandma was delighted with my daughter. Unfortunately, my grandmother had Alzheimer’s by this point. As my daughter grew strong and healthy, my grandma grew ever more forgetful. My family strongly hinted that I should take care of her and I flatly refused. Until the day I realized I was being a selfish twat. I got myself in order and went to work.

It was just as difficult as I’d imagined. One particularly bad day, I was at my grandmother’s cooking and the house seemed too quiet. I checked my toddler and found her happily eating glass Christmas ornaments. I scraped her mouth out with my fingers and rushed to the kitchen with her in my arms to turn off the stove. I was met with the horror of my grandmother, head back, taking a long satisfying chug of dish soap from the bottle. I took it away and explained what it was.

“But it has an apple on the bottle,” she protested.

I rinsed their mouths quickly and made a dash for the door to get my little one to the emergency room, grandma in tow. Luckily, my grandfather walked in. I filled him in on the previous two minutes and left with my daughter. To this day I’m not sure if I turned off the stove. The house is intact, so someone did. My daughter ended up fine, by the way.

Not every day was this horrifying. One day the three of us sat in the living room, now equipped with a television. My daughter was cranky and bored, my grandmother was unhappily asking the same question about every ninety seconds, and I felt like I was on the edge of a nervous breakdown. I got angry. The room was stale and oppressive, the walls were closing in, Alzheimer’s is a piece of shit disease. No.

I stood up and announced we were going for a ride. My daughter and grandmother looked up with interest. We never went for rides. We never did anything, it was too risky. My daughter actively sought out danger and danger actively sought out my grandma. But that day I didn’t give a fuck. Without so much as checking if anyone needed to go to the bathroom, we left.

I didn’t know where to go, so I drove aimlessly. Then, disregarding common sense, I bought us all enormous ice cream cones. I rolled down the windows a little and drove to the park.

This particular park is rather large. We drove through slowly, meandering along, until I noticed horses. I’m not sure if there was a livestock show or a rodeo that day, but there they were, tied up. I pulled up so that my grandma’s window was directly in front of one horse’s face, a couple of feet away. I wish I had the words to describe my grandmother’s expression. Her eyes lit up like a child’s and she quietly said she hadn’t seen horses in a very long time. She watched the horse and she was silent for once. She didn’t ask me the same question, over and over. She just watched with a smile on her face. The car was silent. I came out of a daydream to realize that both my child and grandmother had fallen asleep. I raised a hand of gratitude to the older man tending the horses and he solemnly waved back. Serendipity.

I cooked for my grandmother, then eventually had to feed her. I bathed and dressed her, changed her diapers. She looked up at me one day as I towel dried her hair and in a spell of lucidity said,

“I feel like a baby. I can’t dress myself.”

“You used to dress me when I was a baby. Now I’m doing it for you,” I replied.

She looked relieved and then smiled up at me. A smile so full of love and the brightest rays of light that even the memory blinds me and pulls tears from my eyes.

Alzheimer’s is cruel. The last words she ever said to me were, “Me duele.” (“It hurts.”) She was talking about her hands. They had begun to curl up and she could no longer move them. Thankfully she passed away, my mother holding her hand, days later.

She was my best childhood friend and the sweetest person I’ve ever known. I like to think she’s cooking somewhere, firm in the knowledge of how loved she is, calling happy little faces to the table.

Dirtbag Confessional

I’m still figuring out this whole blogging thing. Trying to find my groove. There’s been a bit of a difference as to what I thought/said I would write about and what my blogging finger has decided to Swype. Yesterday’s post reflected the confusion I feel. I tried to blog both what I felt like writing about and what I felt obligated to post. Couple that with the fact that no amount of editing would allow me to break the last bit into paragraphs, and we get the appearance of severe half-assery.

I originally planned to do one post for weighing in, one post for my weekly menu and goals, and one for the results of the previous week. I may combine two or even all of these into one weekly post. I’m feeling unsure and I haven’t made up my mind.

I notice I get more readers when I write about my weight issues. But I get more enjoyment over writing about whatever the hell I want. Do I want readers or do I want enjoyment? Well, I want both. The problem is, I love writing daily but my weight doesn’t warrant a daily post.

My biggest insecurity lies with my weekly menu. I’m not really sure why I publish it. If I were cooking up something exotic, I could see how that would be of interest. I cook simple things, on a budget, so maybe I will continue to blog my menu but include how much the dinner cost, as that is the most interesting thing about it.

I started this blog with a particular reason in mind. I’m undertaking a personal transformation. I’ll try to be mindful of this as I write. I’m sure I’ll stray sometimes, but I really want to document that journey. More to come later today, in menu form.

Do Not Use For the Other Use

19 was not my best year, in terms of social grace. The memories of two incidents rear their ugly heads from time to time and make me all cringe-y inside.

I was living in a city that had a ratio of something like one millionaire for every twenty citizens. I don’t remember the figure exactly, but it was some outlandish number. Lots of retirees and inherited money floating around. That doesn’t have much to do with the incidents, but I was completely out of place. I remember a hostess at a restaurant angrily hissing at me, practically spitting in fury, because I asked her to bring me a salad to go after the meal. Apparently, you’re supposed to know to ask the wait staff, before you’ve paid. Having an afterthought to bring a Cesar salad to your boss, who was having a hectic day, and not being able to differentiate between a waitress and a hostess are big fucking NO-NOs. The hostess recognized me for the country bumpkin I was and showed no mercy. The sad thing is, even if I’d not been in a town crawling with rich people, I’m sure the following would still have disgraced me.

I was at a bookstore, about to pay, when I noticed a canister of plastic book markers. The top of the bookmarks featured different animals, turtles and birds and such. The animals were one dimensional and decorated in muted browns and greens. I found them unusual and delightful and I was going through the canister, studying them one by one. I was so into them that I didn’t realize the person paying before me had left. I gradually looked up and saw two pairs of eyes on me, bemused. The female worker remarked that the bookmarks were neat and I struggled to find a word to describe how unique I found them.

“They’re so…QUEER!”

I smiled broadly and turned to look at the male cashier and the smile dropped from my face. His cheeks were aflame, and his face at first sad, hardened in anger. I didn’t understand what was happening. I felt faint. Then his face crumpled and I thought he might cry. I had a sudden flash of insight and realized this young man, straight or gay, was being harassed for being effeminate.

“NO! I didn’t mean…I mean I’m…”

The female cashier looked at me hatefully, shook her head, and rang me up with a stone face.

That was an accident. Whatever issues that young man had were not my fault. My choice of words was questionable, though, and it seems this is my legacy. I once told my African-American supervisor that she was a slave driver. She sternly told me to shut the hell up.

This next incident was another honest mistake and really showcases how naive I was. Except replace naive with idiotic.

I was chatting it up with a fifty-something year old woman at a department store. She worked there and it was a slow night. We had spent about thirty minutes hitting it off when she decided to show me where I could find my size in jeans. She came out from behind the counter and I noticed she had an unusual gait. My nineteen year old brain processed this in the only way it knew how.

“Did you take off one of your shoes? I don’t blame you, I get blisters and I do the same thing,” I said, cheerfully oblivious.

She gave me the side-eye and said in a careful tone, “No, I did not take off one of my shoes.”

And then (god forgive me) I blurted, “Then why are you walking like that?”

She stopped walking and faced me. “Because one of my legs is shorter than the other. Usually people don’t say anything.”

You’d think I would’ve taken her words and tone as the stern reproach they were. But no, not I! I took it as a compliment for being so observant!

“They probably don’t notice,” I replied smugly.

I didn’t understand where our friendly rapport went. She was suddenly all business. I went home, bewildered, until it hit me that I was an ass.

Twenty years later I’m still haunted by the discomfort I caused these two individuals. Unfortunately, I actually caused worse damage at this age, damage that I’m unable to bring myself to write about yet. I didn’t kill anyone but my idiocy caused hurt feelings and probably the ruin of at least two marriages.

I look back and wonder what the hell my problem was. I wonder if I have some sort of delayed development and I was functioning at the level of an eleven year old. Or perhaps I have an autism spectrum disorder. That thought has occurred to me many times.

I’m far off the beaten path of what I said this blog would be about. It’s Saturday, results day, but I’ve already written a novel so I’ll keep it short. Regarding the dinner menu, I didn’t follow the order. I was running low on certain ingredients, so I skipped around to accommodate what I had. I’m going shopping today, so next week should be more stable. As far as breakfast and lunch went, I screwed that up nicely. Instead of the tuna and salad, I’ve been eating leftovers from dinner. And I’ve been skipping breakfast nearly every day.

I

 dread addressing my goals. I only had one goal and that was to follow a schedule I made for myself. A familial issue threw my schedule off. I used that as an excuse to completely disregard it. I’m not proud, but there’s no point blogging about the struggles of changing my life if I’m not going to be honest. I need Aaliyah right now, singing in my ear with a megaphone.

“You can dust it off and try again.”

My Blogging Finger

Not bad for $23.69.

Not bad for $23.69.

All of my entries are done by my index finger. It’s true. My only internet access is on my phone. My preferred input method is Swype. This has led to some frustration, a little gnashing of teeth. A bit of cursing, even.

To begin with, my phone disagrees with WordPress about how much of the website I should be allowed to see. I chose this theme because out of the many themes offered (hundreds? billions? I have no way of knowing), this one loaded the fastest. I live in a rural area where WiFi isn’t offered. Also, whether I’m in portrait or landscape mode, I can’t fully see the options available to me. I know they’re there, I can see hints of them, but I can’t actually click them. I’d love to be able to upload some pictures, as I went shopping* today with a gift card, but that would require a new entry for each item. I’d like to do a step by step of recipes with photos once in a while, but I don’t have the option.

Another joy of phone blogging is editing. If I change my mind about what I’ve written and I attempt to move my cursor, the entire wall of text shifts to somewhere I didn’t ask it to go. Why? Why would you do that? So I have to scroll back to where I can see my cursor or blindly type and hope for the best. God forbid I should edit my post after I’ve actually published it. Half the time the visual option will not load and the other option (I forget what it’s called but I’ll be damned if I’m going to check) is, while not impossible, a total drag to figure out.

I thought I was clever one day and downloaded an app for writing. I wrote an entire blog, peacefully and simply, and cut it with the intention of pasting it into WordPress. DENIED! Though I’m not sure if that’s a phone thing or a WordPress policy to discourage plagiarism.

*And now for the shopping. I’m perpetually broke but I remembered I had a gift card for $25 from my birthday and a Christmas gift from the same store that I wanted to return. With the return of the gift, I got my kid a pair of pink Converse high-tops, on super sale. I really wanted a purse in a bright Spring color but the only ones I found desirable ranged from $85 to $100. I have no business having expensive taste, but I figure it’s better to buy no purse than to buy one I hate. I decided to attack the clearance sections and after an hour of digging I walked out with:

  • A pretty coral blouse that’s very flattering, 40% off
  • Matching coral earrings, 40% off also
  • Sally Hansen Triple Shine nail polish in a summery orange color called Play Koi, regular price
  • An earring tree to hang my earrings, 40% off
  • And the sweetest weekly desk calendar. It looks like a hardcover journal and I paid a grand total of $1.18 for it (you guessed it, 40% off).

If I can manage to edit this post to include ONE picture of all my  items, I will. For now I’m going to bask in the glow of my retail therapy.

Edit: I did it! I think.

Lesbian Mix Tape on Repeat

Forlorn. That’s a word that doesn’t get enough love these days. I’m pleased to say the worst of the depression has lifted off of me like the dank fog it is, but it’s left me raw and exhausted. There are so many things I’m behind on and I can’t seem to catch up. I keep thinking that I need to stop being a bad friend and reach out to the people that, for life’s strange  reasons, have gravitated towards me. I’ll forget until I’m restless at midnight and then think of something amusing I want to share, only to remember that we’re no longer young and careless, and that we have early morning responsibilities and WHY AM I AWAKE I AM OLD. So instead I sit in the kitchen and play a game on my phone, ignoring the massive pile of unwashed dishes, and the temptation to eat, and the fact that my drink is watered down and disgusting. And without fail, I think of her. You know, HER. I think of the could’ve-beens, the what-ifs, and all the steps to lead me so many miles away to this kitchen chair. Barring a couple of minor stupidities, I would not do anything differently. The path I’m on gave me my daughter, my degree, and friendships I never expected. But still…her. I think mostly about the present. The things that aren’t happening, conversations that only exist in my mind. I don’t ask for explanations because I have no right to ask for anything. The more I reach out to her, the farther she pulls back. So I sit, forlorn, in my shroud of hope, and try not to move, try not to disrupt space and time. Insert weird fraught metaphor here about prey and predator. Metaphor too much of a stretch, ABORT METAPHOR. 

In happier news, the visit with the nutritionist went exceptionally well. I learned about the appropriate amount of calories for a child my daughter’s age and size. I have a breakdown of the amount of servings and serving sizes of the different types of food. And unexpectedly, the nutritionist gave specific diet recommendations for a child with ADHD. I’m very pleased about this. Also unexpectedly, my daughter revealed that many times she won’t eat what’s served at school. I didn’t realize that her issues with food texture have gotten worse over time. I’ll be packing her lunch from now on. I’m interested to see if she’ll eat less after school and if her concentration improves. 

Writing about the visit with the nutritionist has left me in a good mood. Maybe because even when I feel like a stinking pile of dead bats, I still manage to find the strength to take good care of my little one. Hooray for not being totally useless!

How to be Fat

Step one: Never, ever exercise. Never even do anything that might be considered exercise-like. If you drop something, under no circumstances are you to bend over and pick it up. Instead, kick it out of sight. But don’t expend too much energy! If you can’t reach something without stretching, consider it non-existent. If possible, eat laying down. Which brings me to…

Step two: Always overeat. Remember to add empty calories to your meals, preferably in sugar form. Don’t forget dessert because this is where you can really go for it by adding things like caramel syrup, marshmallow cream, toffee bits, etc. 

Step three: Stay far away from mirrors and scales. These evil creations were designed to discourage you from your true destiny.

Step four: Subscribe to big and tall or plus size clothing catalogs. Keep a sharp eye out for elastic waist pants. You’re going to need them.

This post has been brought to you by the fact that I GAINED a pound this week. I’m obviously not serious about the, “advice,” I’ve given. Just using sarcasm to vent.