Tuesday, July 19, 2011

All You Can Eat? Really?

I've always had a problem with my weight.  As in, I have too much of it.

Oh, sure, I lost about 50 lbs. six years ago, and since then I've kept most of it off, but just because I dropped a few sizes doesn't mean I've gotten rid of the Chubby Girl mentality.  I still struggle every day with the voices I hear coming out of the pantry and the refrigerator: "In here! In here! I'm delicious! You need me, even though I have 30 grams of fat per serving, more sodium than an entire bottle of soy sauce, and have been known to cause cancer in lab rats." (No, I'm not on medication.  I've been assured that this sometimes happens to food-obsessed people.  I was told to eat a carrot or an apple when it happens.  This hasn't quieted the voices, but I am getting more fiber in my diet.)

Oh, and I hate to exercise, even though I'm usually in the gym locker room right around the same time the over-70s aquasize babes are gathering for their MWF sessions, and I've learned tons about the goings-on at the nearby retirement community. Even though these ladies are older, there's still lots of, shall we say, interpersonal relationship drama happening.  As in, "That Silvie's a slut."  Silvie's about 85, I'm not even kidding.

Anyway, I tell you all that to set the stage for the nightmare I encountered last Friday, when Mark took his whole department to the Diamondbacks-Dodgers game and we sat in the All You Can Eat section.

No, really, they have that.

And not only do they have that, but you have to ride a special elevator to get there, and once you're in, you have access to this nice area with unlimited hot dogs, chips, peanuts, popcorn, soda, and really pleasant helpful people who take really good care of you.  As they like to point out, it says right on your ticket "All You Can Eat."  It's above the doors in the corridor when you get off the elevator.  Plus (and this was my favorite part) right above our heads as we watched the game was the big sign, advertising to the entire stadium that yes, the spectators with mustard stains on their cheeks and peanut shell dust on their black shirts were indeed able to consume unlimited mass quantities, all for the price of their ticket to the ballpark.

The last time I checked the Diamondbacks were only 3.5  games out of first place in their division, and they're playing some pretty solid baseball.  But this is Phoenix in the summer, so attendance at the games is pretty spotty, and the people responsible for putting butts in the seats at these games offer good deals to fill up the stadium.  Not that I expected a classy group of my fellow citizens in the All You Can Eat section, but, just to give you a picture, this is what I overheard in the bathroom:

"My husband was two hours late for our first date.  And he showed up hammered."

"That's nothing.  Mine was an hour and a half late for our wedding.  But I cut him some slack because he had to pick up the keg."

I wanted to offer some relationship advice to Woman 1--you know, about how maybe after 30 minutes you should've found something else to do, maybe that's not a good sign for a first date--but my daughter tells me I'm too chatty in public places.  So I just washed my hands and got out of there.  When I got back to our seats, there was W1, taking her husband a plateful of (free) hot dogs and three boxes of popcorn.  Her very large spousal unit was wearing a Dodger's shirt (traitor! enjoying our All You Can Eat section!) that was so large and so blue that for a second I got all disoriented when he stood up because I thought I was looking at the sky.

But back to the food.

Now, I love hot dogs.  I know, I know, they aren't real meat, they have tons of bad stuff in them, they're all fat, etc., etc.  I walked into the AYCE section that evening telling myself I could have one hot dog.  Just one. (I ended up having two, but they were small.  And spaced at least four innings apart.) And I'd go easy on the other stuff, like chips and popcorn. But peanuts, well, that's a whole different story.  Peanuts in the shell, you have to work to get those bad boys out, so that's exercise, right?  By the time the rest of Mark's crew showed up, right before the National Anthem, I'd laid down a pretty good carpet of shells around my seat, even throwing some over towards Catharine's so it didn't look like I was having all the fun.  After we were introduced, Liam, who's 6, took a look around my feet, checked out the whitish debris on my shirt and shorts, and said, in a monotone, "You like peanuts, huh?"

Chubby Girl gets busted.

All in all, it was a really fun night.  Well, except the Diamondbacks lost (their 7th inning rally fell short).  But I got to meet a bunch of Mark's nice coworkers and their families, and it was fun to watch W1's husband tip over when cheering for a Dodger home run.  (serves him right)  But the All You Can Eat section?  It's too much for a girl like me to handle.  Girls like me need $6 hot dogs and $5 bags of peanuts, if only to make us think twice about what we're consuming. Having all that there for the taking?  It's just not healthy.

At least I wasn't that high-heeled, platinum blonde woman, who, after mincing her way around the buffet table three times, whined, "You'd think they'd put out some fruit or something."  Really?  You'd think that?  It's a BASEBALL GAME, you moron.  You come to watch the game and eat hot dogs and peanuts and yell at the umps.  Geesh.  After that, I kept an eye on her.  Not that I was keeping close track, but on my watch she ate three hot dogs, two boxes of popcorn, and had as much or more peanut dust on her sparkly t-shirt when she was leaving as I did.

I went home well fed and happy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On (Horrible) Bosses

Catharine (the daughter) and I went to go see Horrible Bosses yesterday.  Funny movie, kind of raunchy, I love Jason Bateman and Jason Sudekis, and I've almost gotten over getting all freaked out sitting next to my daughter during sex scenes and f-word-riddled dialogue.  My review: go see it.

You know the premise of the movie, right?  Three guys have these absolutely horrible bosses (hence the title) and the movie is all about how they try (ineptly) to kill off these bad bosses.  Naturally, after it was over, I started thinking about the bosses I've had during my career, and was stopped short by one thing: Every single job I've had since I got out of college has been with some sort of Catholic church-related institution.

In other words, I've only worked for priests.

My first boss out of college was a priest, and since then even if my immediate boss wasn't a priest, his or her boss was a priest.  Priests. Seriously.  Priests. Isn't that nuts?  I got a job out of college working as an associate editor for a magazine in Chicago, a dream job for any journalism major graduating in 1985, when jobs were scarce and lots of my fellow grads ended up waiting tables, working as secretaries in offices, or relegated to places like North Platte, Nebraska, where they were stuck writing obituaries and covering the collapse of the family farm.  Me, I'm single, living in Chicago surrounded by a whole crew of my buddies, learning everything there is to know about magazine production--but here's the problem: because the magazine I'm working for is put out by the Jesuits, I'm surrounded by celibate men. Men who, if I'm to believe anything about the faith I grew up with, all have a direct line to God.

So much for dating opportunities at the office.

While my friends would regale me with stories about flirting with cute co-workers, I spent my days with a boss who collected mannequin heads, typed memos and manuscripts all in lowercase on scrap paper with an epileptic typewriter, and, at one point, turned the bathtub in his room into a duck pond. He lived in a primo house at Loyola University, right on the Chicago lakefront, and he'd invite me to dinner there occasionally, where I'd get to eat a good meal surrounded by a bunch of incredibly intelligent, interesting men.  Awesome, right?  Except because he was a Jesuit, he lived with a bunch of other Jesuits, and, well...let's just say it wasn't exactly Single Girl's Heaven.

My single friends and I would go out to the bars in Lincoln Park, striking up conversations with other singles and inevitably it would come up.

"What do you do?"

"I'm a magazine editor."

"What magazine?"

"It's called Company. You've probably never heard of it.  It's put out by the Jesuits, they're an order of priests."

"Priests?  Are you a nun?  A religious fanatic?"

...and we're off.

The editor job morphed into another Jesuit-related job, and then...well, you get the general idea.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for anyone who's ever been dim enough to give me a job, and I can truly say that the majority of priests I've met have been wonderful, grace-filled men who have enriched my life and the life of my family. The direct line to God thing?  As one of my best Jesuit buddies said, "Just because I'm a priest doesn't mean I'm not an a**hole. I just spend more time in church than the average guy." That's an understatement, to say the least, but as I started thinking about my work history in light of the movie we saw yesterday, I started to get a bit panicky.  What if I am destined for eternal damnation, just because of the bad thoughts I've had about my former bosses and/or their bosses?

A quick phone call to my favorite Jesuit calmed my fears.  He patiently explained, "Um, did you not take philosophy?  Theology?  Don't you go to church?  Weren't you paying attention?  You're not supposed to wish anyone dead, you idiot. Just because they're priests doesn't make it any worse.  What's wrong with you? What kind of a person has a big moral quandary after seeing a cheesy R-rated movie?  It's what, noon there?  Have you been drinking?"

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm an idiot. But at least I'm an idiot who's made some good friends during the past 25+ years.

Thank God for that.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Brigid Goes to Her High School Reunion

First off, let's get this straight--I was not popular in high school.  I had friends, I participated in extracurricular activities, I was generally happy, but I was, quite simply, not one of the cool kids.  And that's all fine and good, really, especially since I left immediately after graduation and continued my streak of un-coolness in college.  I only state this so you get right off that I wasn't returning to beautiful Iowa (insert livestock or corn joke here) to prove anything or to relive old glories. So why did I go back for my 30th high school reunion?

Story value.

Our flight going to Iowa was over seven hours late, so we didn't even show up at the bar where everyone was gathering on Friday night until around midnight.  Bad thing about this: everyone had been drinking since 8 p.m. and there was catching up to do.  Good thing about this: everyone had been drinking since 8 p.m. and let's face it, I look much better (particularly after 30 years) when everyone's got four hours worth of serious drinking under their belts.

During the two hours at the bar that Friday night, here's what I learned:

  • You really, really don't want to hear, "You look exactly the same!" when you're shown your senior picture in the yearbook and in it you bear a very strong resemblance to David Cassidy. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful that I inherited decent skin and I never got into the sun worshipping thing, but I think I would've rather heard, "You look a little better than you did in high school."  (I did have the refrain of "I Think I Love You" in my head for most of the next day.)
  • It's never, never a good idea to load up on mood-enhancing pharmaceuticals and then mix them with liquor before showing up for a reunion, although it does provide cheap entertainment for the others in the class.
  • If you're at your reunion and you see someone at the bar you think is someone's dad, it's not.  It's the guy from your class and yes, he has actually morphed into his father during the past 30 years.
  • Remember that one bully, the guy who would torture the nerdy kids and who did all those terrible things but never got caught?  Yeah, he's pretty much the same 30 years later, but now he drinks too much and you almost (almost!) have to feel sorry for him because, after all, a liver can only take so much abuse before it gives up completely.
  • It's good to bring a Trophy Husband to stuff like this.  One idiot said to me, "I can't believe you married someone good-looking!"  Yes, indeed, we're all stunned.
  • You don't need to ask someone you went to high school with how old they are, since last time I checked everyone ages at the same rate, and we were all roughly the same age when we graduated.
  • Although it may sound harmless at the time, it's never ever a good idea to plan a breakfast with old friends of your parents' for the morning after you've been up drinking beer until 2 a.m.  Just trust me on this one.
There's more, but I think that'll do for now.  Let's call this Part I.  Still to come: Touring the Old High School, Going to Mass at the Old Parish, and Getting Arrested on Saturday Night.  (I made that last one up. No one got arrested, not because they didn't deserve it, but mostly because we have classmates who grew up and became law enforcement professionals and they kept a lid on things.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Just Getting Started

Well, here we are.  My first attempt at blogging.  So far I haven't gotten a rash or anything.  That's a good sign, right?

In case you're wondering about the title, I arrived at it through a painstaking series of focus groups (I asked my friends on facebook), opinion surveys (I texted my clever friend Wendy), and reading thousands (okay, 15) of newspapers, magazines, and other blogs.  After all that, the title came when I went whining to The Current Husband (Mark) that I couldn't think of anything and he looked up from his computer and announced: "What about Brain Surgery on a Budget?" Then he went back to whatever it was he was doing, maybe forecasting for Q4, checking the stock portfolio, or catching up on Chicago Bears Daily (he's in total denial about the lockout).  Who knew I was married to such a genius?

Confession: I'm not really all savvy about the blogsphere.  Here's what I do know, just from the small amount of noodling I've done.

  • There are a lot of folks out there who think they're writers but who seem to have skipped the whole Grammar 101 stuff in school.  Someday we'll go over all my pet peeves about the Common Mistakes of Bad Writing, but not today.  (My friends know what I'm talking about, because I'm pretty annoying about pointing it out.)
  • I'm also alarmed at the plethora of periods outside of quotation marks.  STOP IT.  NOW!
  • I love the people who use lots of photos to illustrate their point.  I fear I'll not have the time or talent to do this, and that makes me a bit sad.
  • There are bloggers who can mine the rich depths of their family life for material.  I, however, may be a bit handcuffed by my dear children (Catharine and Joe, particularly Catharine) who are both more than a little embarrassed by me.  However, if I can't use this blog to help people Avoid The Mistakes I've Made in Parenting, then why, I ask, was I put here in the first place?
  • I have no particular talent or interest I'm trying to write about or sell.  Well, unless someone wants to hire me as a writer--I do actually do that for fun and profit occasionally.  But I feel a little inadequate when I see my friend Cathy Wall's blog (Room RX) and Maria Andrew's babyKAMP blog, because they're actually adding some value to the world.  I fear I'm just white noise.
Well, kids, here we go.  I blame every one of you knuckleheads who came up to me at a Mothers' Guild meeting or a football game or a cocktail party and said, "You should write a blog."  Now, I'm sorry to say, you'll have to read it.

That'll show you.