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The Gift Horse

July 26, 2014

Gift-HorseMy oracle, that wisest of the wise, otherwise known as Mom, always warned me in hushed tones to “Never look a gift horse in the mouth”. She never did elaborate, as if it was all self-evident and no further advice was required.

Heck yeah I’ll look it in the mouth; I work for a dentist! First words out of my mouth, after that initial “How do you do?” are usually “Open wide”. Just kind of goes with the territory, n’est pas?

But now, after 50+ years of her dire warning ringing in my ears, I can say with surety that I totally understand it all, two years after Cupid wheeling that Gift Horse right into my friend’s kitchen.

Although Gift Horse and I had been passing acquaintances through mutual friends for over ten years, I doubt we would have recognized one another on the street. Yet one holiday weekend, at our friends’ home, suddenly Cupid and his meddling band of cousins were circling that kitchen, pouring wine and clapping tiny little hands and shooting arrows. The Gift Horse was long divorced and I was up to my armpits in the midst of my own divorce from the Monster.

For almost two years I became the most spoiled, pampered woman on the planet. Armloads of flowers every week, love letters, emails, notes left in my purse and on my gas tank, signed “From the Last Man You’ll Ever Love”. My car was detailed every Sunday, inside and out. I couldn’t lift a finger to do housework. The Gift Horse was an amazingly skilled cook and I was never allowed to open any door in his presence. This man walks through life with the grace and confidence of a panther. He made everything he touched look effortless.

So why, you might reasonably ask, would any woman in her right mind begin to feel restless and in need of a sea change so vast it still takes my breathe away?

The move from the Carolina coast to a city hours away from a beach was probably not my finest idea, but it was an idea that had been hatched six months prior to Cupid shooting his arrows towards me. Moving near the Gift Horse was a fluke and a coincidence. After one year, though, the novelty of city life began to wear thin and I became antsy and unhappy. It began to dawn on me that a land-locked, inland life in a cold and grey climate was not the future I had envisioned for myself. The joy was ebbing out of my life.

Almost overnight I decided to revisit a 30-year-old dream of living in the tropics. In a nano-second, possessions were sold or packed and my paradise was found. Here I am, in a brand spanking new life. I have coffee every morning with the ibis, cranes, and flamingos, under the monkey pod tree, overlooking azure blue water. I am fit, tanned, and happier than I’ve been in many years.

For the first time in my life, at age 61, I put MY desires and dreams before a man or relationship. I realized that if I didn’t create my utopia now it would probably never happen.

I will also tell you that my Mama was dead wrong. You CAN look a Gift Horse in the mouth, and even kiss it, and nothing tragic will befall you. I realize my Gift Horse was a lovely distraction sent by a benevolent Universe. A soothing salve to ease me through the final chapter of the Monster. My Gift Horse was a lovely break from my Monster madness, an interlude filled with love and laughter. And I believe that love, once created, is never wasted. It doesn’t dissipate when a relationship ends. It may morph and shape shift, but it can never die. Love once created, always lives on somewhere.

I just pray that Cupid isn’t super pissed at me for foiling his best laid plans and doesn’t hold it against me in the future!

Feature image courtesy of http://www.parklandsgolfclub.co.uk

THE MONSTER IN MY CLOSET PART 2

June 26, 2014
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I suppose what started the Monster’s rage really isn’t important; it could have been any tiny detail. You never knew what would set off his murderous rampages. But on this particular night, and in his staggering state of drunkenness, it was the fact that I had transferred my wedding and engagement rings from my left hand to my right that drew his rage. Why would this catch him off guard, as we had decided months before to end this sham of a marriage and were scheduled to see a mediator in two days time?

Suddenly the Monster was behind me, picking up my left hand and demanding to know why I wasn’t wearing “his” rings. When I opened my mouth to speak, he began raving that I was “a Godless nigger whore. You don’t wear MY rings, that means we are no longer married as of right now, and since we’re no longer married I can do whatever the hell I want to you, and what I want to do is kill you”. 

With that he stormed into the bedroom and came out brandishing his favorite handgun for threatening me and my son. He made great ceremony out of removing and reloading the clip, while gleefully announcing that I was as good as dead, and that he was looking forward to being the beneficiary of my $500,000 life insurance policy. When he stepped into the kitchen to reload his wine glass, I quietly crept into the master bedroom and locked the door. Heart racing wildly, I realized I had nothing to use to defend myself and that my cell phone was in my writing room upstairs. I silently removed a screen from a bedroom window and opened it wide, despite the icy February air; it would be my escape route if it came to that. I wasn’t going to sit still and let the bastard shoot me. Sure enough, minutes later, he found the door key and came barreling into the room, shouting that he was going to destroy all my framed modeling photos that were hanging on the walls in the hallway outside our bedroom, and that then he would come back to destroy me. I cowered in my chair by the open window, unable to move; my legs had turned to jelly. I was watching this tableau unfold before me and I could not will myself to move. I sank deeper into my chair, trying to make myself invisible as I resigned myself to my fate. Tears slid down my face as I thought of my 18-year-old son, and how this would destroy him, after already losing his dad to suicide. Odd sounds came from outside the door, then smashing glass for long minutes. Then…silence, nothing. After 15 agonizing minutes I could not control my curiosity and crept to the door, which was slightly ajar. There stood the Monster, holding a long board, surrounded by acres of broken glass and shattered picture frames. He seemed stunned by the destruction and looked quite bewildered. He stumbled back toward the kitchen, no doubt to refuel the wine glass yet again.

Moments later he barged back into the bedroom, again unloading and reloading the gun’s clip. “Stay where you are and don’t make a move and I may let you live til morning.” He laid the gun on the nightstand beside his head, fell facedown on the bed, and was soon snoring. I can’t explain why I didn’t bolt through the open window at that moment, or in the hours that followed. I had been ground down through fear and intimidation for so many months, and my muscles seemed incapable of obeying my brain. I remained awake and watchful and pressed into that chair until the Monster woke around 5am, dressed and left the house, while I feigned sleep. As soon as I saw the lights of the Monster’s car turn the corner, I grabbed my purse, cell phone, and laptop and hightailed it out of Dodge. I drove aimlessly for several hours, unsure of where to go for the help I so desperately needed. I had already approached the police and the legal system and met with no success. I finally decided to confide in one of my closest friends, from whom I’d kept all this horror, out of humiliation and wanting to keep a stiff upper lip. In short order, she had me in front of the Chief of Police of our tiny town, where I reluctantly sobbed out my story. Turns out, several of our neighbors had called the police due to threats they heard the Monster make towards my son, and fights they heard coming from our house. The Chief said he was powerless to act on these calls until I came in for help. He also was astounded by the bad information I’d received from the attorney and assured me threats alone certainly DID constitute domestic violence.

It is not an easy feat to be accepted into a domestic violence women’s shelter, but with the Chief’s help I was processed in a few hours later. This is not a place anyone would choose to go if they had any other viable options. I had numerous friends who would have taken me in, but I was afraid for their safety and that of their families. These shelters do the best they can with very limited resources. There was one tiny bathroom for a facility that housed 33 women, sleeping 3-4 to a room, with peeling paint and cockroaches running over the beds. Yet, that night, I slept as I hadn’t in almost a year. The bars on the windows, armed guards, and elaborate security procedures insured my safety.

You immediately begin lessons in safeguarding what precious few assets you might have left, how to evade detection, and self-defense. Group counseling is mandatory and you soon learn it is the fault of the Monsters that you are in this place, and not because of anything you have done wrong, other than trusting the wrong person.

I learned that my Monster was nothing special; all abusers follow the same pattern of wooing, violence, and then contrition, until the cycle repeats all over again a week or two later. It was the movie “Groundhog Day”, deja vu all over again. The same day I entered the shelter, the Monster was arrested. The arresting officer confiscated all his guns and found a handgun, complete with silencer, that the Monster had purchased that very morning; the receipt had a time and date stamp on it. It was clear that he had no intention of keeping the appointment with the divorce mediator and that February 21 should have been my last day on earth.

I have not scratched the surface of the days of hell and horror I lived though for ten months; this has been a mere summary to let you know what became of me for the eighteen months my two attorneys had a gag order placed on me restraining me from publishing my blog, for fear I might inadvertently reveal my whereabouts to the Monster. I have made three major moves in under two years, living the life of a nomadic gypsy. This will be the last mention ever made in this blog of that horrific chapter in my life and the Monster I allowed into my closet. Today, when I press publish, the nails are being hammered into his coffin. Good riddance.

I am currently researching and writing a book “The Broken Slipper, True Tales of Fractured Cinderellas”. It details interviews I’ve conducted with countless victims of domestic violence, law enforcement officers, and ER staff who have treated these women. Many lost their battle to live; some, like me, were the lucky survivors. If you have a story you would like to tell, please write me through the comments section below. All victims’ names and identifying circumstances will be changed or obscured prior to publication.

A DAY WITHOUT A MONSTER IN YOUR CLOSET IS THE BEST F*#KING DAY OF YOUR LIFE!

June 20, 2014
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imagesVDWK7ADXSince I was a little girl I have feared the dark, especially in my bedroom at night. I  knew with certainty that a monster of untold evil and viciousness was under my bed, or hiding in the deep corners of the room, where light could not seep. Or worse, hiding behind the dresses in my closet. I knew that as soon as I drifted off to sleep he would reach up his scabby, blood-encrusted hand and jerk me under the bed, where I would be swept down into a hell full of fiery brimstone. The nuns in my Catholic school excelled at planting such images in our tiny heads. It took fifty years, but finally, in July 2007, that monster I had dreaded for so long finally arrived, through the portal of Match.con (not a typo).

I have touched briefly on this previously, but I cannot state strongly enough my cautions against using Match.com. Of course, we all know someone or  sometwo or somethree for whom this matching service has worked out wonderfully. The flip side is the wormy underbelly of the con artists who prey on divorcees and widows on this site. Just about every daily talk show from Oprah to Ricki Lake has featured this topic, so at least I have the comfort of knowing I wasn’t the only unsuspecting female blindsided. We’ve all heard the expression “Suspend Disbelief”. If you insist on trawling Match.con I suggest you do so with the attitude of “Suspending Belief”. Trust nothing you are told, not a single word or gesture, because these men shape shift and gladly become whatever you wish for. My mom’s words, “Careful what you wish for honey, cause you might just get it” flipped through my head countless times over the past 3 years.

Do you want a man who spends hours listening to your every word, wish, and want? This will be your guy. They are clever at morphing into whatever you desire. They must; their entire financial future rides on how much bullshit they get you to believe. Want romance, candles, flowers, and the whole gangbang? This will be your guy.

This will be the most agreeable gentleman who has ever crossed your rose-strewn path. You will spend many hours smugly congratulating yourself on your amazing romantic luck. You will travel, laugh, and generally have a blast, until the day when the last vestiges of doubt have been wiped from your mind and heart and you begin to cautiously allow him access to your finances, possibly even get tricked into adding his name to the deed on your house.

That’s the moment when the charming façade drops and you see the pond scum for what he truly is, a con artist and an opportunist, who slides through life profiting from what others have earned. In my case he turned into a raging alcoholic who loved to threaten and browbeat women and children. My pond scum’s favorite instruments of torture were his guns, numbering over two dozen. His favorite pastime was to drink until he was barely standing and brandish them about while threatening to shoot me and my son.

I’m a spunky woman and not one to take crap, so the first time this happened, Easter Sunday 2011, I immediately went to the police, who advised me to stay elsewhere that evening and consult an attorney the next morning, which I did. For some strange karmic reason I have yet to understand this lawyer’s advice was to return to the marital residence post-haste, otherwise it could be construed as abandonment of homestead, and I could conceivably lose everything I possessed… money, inheritance, and my home, in a divorce action. He also wrongly told me that I had no case against this piece of shit unless he actually stabbed, shot at, strangled, smothered, or beat me until I required medical treatment; mere threats did not constitute abuse. At the advice of this inept counsel I lived the next ten months in a dark world of fear and intimidation, my will and personality slowing slipping away. This blog was the only thing that kept me sane; I tried to find humor in the tiniest things in an effort to scramble up to the sun for the briefest moment. When I re-read posts from those months, it’s difficult to believe what my life was like and that I was able to conjure up a smile from anywhere.

After seven months of living in this hell of suspended animation, I finally decided that no amount of money was worth the price of continuing this charade and scheduled an appointment with a divorce mediator for February 22, 2012. That appointment was never destined to occur, and what followed opened the door to my freedom and regaining my life.

I’d survived those last weeks by laying low and doing everything in my power to keep the monster I’d allowed into my closet from noticing my presence. I managed nicely until the evening of February 20. Seemingly that was the day my luck ran out. The glimmer of fear I felt grew as he became drunker and drunker and did not fall into his customary nap to sleep it off. I was on full alert, because this was when the monster was at his most dangerous.

to be continued…

Skirting the Issue #109

January 8, 2013
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Ten weeks since my last post? For reals? Amazing how life jumps up and bites you in the butt, while a tornado whips those calendar pages into a frenzy.

Been uber busy. Life on a Texas ranch, crazy red-neck relatives with four names (endearing as they were!), blind dates with large animal vets, and all that squire dancing and frog giggin’ just weren’t for yours truly. While it was good fun to try on a completely different life for a minute, I realized with stunning clarity one evening that this was not to be. Walking into the TV room and seeing a dozen pairs of glazed-over eyes staring raptly at one episode of Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty after another, I knew it was time to end this Hee Haw experiment and hoist myself back over the border to civilization.

I moved to a sprawling metropolitan area that is arguably one of the most beautifully designed cities in the nation and am coming round to some degree of normalcy. In the span of eight short weeks, my dance card holds Eric Clapton, Bryan Adams, and Willie Nelson. Oh yeah, that’s more better! Acquired a job working for yet another female dentist, and yes, they are ALL nuts, but in slightly different ways, which really keeps a girl on her toes. Think I’ll be dusting off the resume again soon, though. My boss is Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”, except in scrubs. I guess I should have been suspicious when all my interviews were conducted in an empty office over a weekend, thus preventing me from observing the sad, dead, joyless eyes of my soon-to-be coworkers. This is a place where fun and exuberance come to die, a place where paranoia slow dances with dread. I guarantee you a giggle has never crossed the threshold of this dental practice. My folly for choosing employment based solely on not having to get on a freeway, when most folks I know have to commute 45 minutes to an hour one way.

The upside is that I live in a beautiful green belt on a lake, very tranquil and zen-like, completely opposite of the hell I was enduring one year ago. I go out of my way to create serenity and avoid cacophony and turmoil.  My goal is quality of life, safety, and NEVER, EVER again encountering a monster in my closet.

One of my amazing girlfriends put the past two years of my life in perspective. “Very few of us get a do-over at age 60; this is a gift, relish it; gobble it up with a Texas-sized tablespoon.” Wise words that I fully intend to embrace.

A newish friend took me to two events with folks from their very social neighborhood shortly after I moved here. Both occasions went quite well. The third invitation with this group was for a Christmas party. Initial nervousness over, I was quite looking forward to it. Thirty pounds lost and rocking a knit black mini-skirt, I was having a blast. Time came to bid adieu. Now this particular skirt had given me some trepidation earlier, as it seemed quite loose and wiggly-jiggly. As we were bidding these good folks Happy Holidays and goodnight, I suddenly felt a disconcerting blast of arctic air. Wine-infused and full of holiday cheer, I looked down to see my adorable little size 8 skirt puddled at my feet.  Thank you Lord for opaque black tights and a tunic top! With all the dignity I could muster in front of these virtual strangers, I bent down and resettled said enemy skirt around my waist. In the dead silence that followed my wardrobe malfunction, a sparkly twenty-something proclaimed, “Damn, that’s the most fun we’ve had all night. You rock girl!”

My renegade skirt and I will see you again shortly!

Holy Cows #108

October 29, 2012
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Day Two of BRAND NEW LIFE, first scene that greets my bleary eyes out of my bedroom window. Stumbled into the kitchen in frantic search for java, which will reassure me that what I just beheld was part of a demonic nightmare. Horns four feet across? For Reals?

Bed head askew and both eyes tightly shut against the physic assault of the long horns seemingly grazing in the front yard, I blindly feel for coffee mugs and realized there are 15 bodies seated around the table, one of whom is Father Ray, the family priest. 7AM and they are engaged in earnest conversation about yours truly. Good to know that they are taking such an interest in my recent marriage fiasco and working on constructing my brilliant new future. As I tentatively sip the scalding coffee and scan the table, I wonder again about all my second cousins and their bizarre system of naming babies. There were, in no particular order, Laredo Porter Wagoner T————–, known to all as Big Red. Then there’s Austin Johnny Cash T—————, fondly called Cap Tee. Next comes Beaumont George Jones T———-, nicknamed Gator. Then, Laramie Loretta Lynn T————–, called by all Maria.

Aunt Aggie,” (note Aunt is universally pronounced Aint in this neck of the woods), “If you wanted to call Laramie Maria, why didn’t you just name her that, instead of wasting three unused names on her?”

Well, Daaaaaabbbiiiieee,” (thereby ignoring my middle name of Renee, which I’d gone by for 39 years and  turning my usually two-syllable first name of Debbi into approximately 8) “my mama Maria warn’t deadt yet, so we couldn’t use that. Warn’t of been right, what with her still being alive and all.” Conversations with my great Aint Aggie and her husband Frankie generally cause me more confusion than enlightenment, and this one was no different. She did enjoy relating how all her kids came to be named after Texas towns. Each of the ten times they discovered she was with child, they would throw a dart at a map of Texas and wherever it landed would become the future bambino’s new moniker, along with names of all their favorite country and western singers from the 1950’s and 60’s. While I will probably NEVER truly understand these Texican relatives, you can’t fault their creative, if cumbersome, naming system.

Hot Joe working its magic through my veins, and starting to join the world of the awake and functioning, I realized they were all in a deep conversation about finding me a “beau”! Several widowed or divorced ranchers on nearby farms were proffered, and eventually all discounted. “Well, it’s not going to be easy. She’s so darned tall, and headstrong, and she lived in New York City all those years. She’s not as young as she used to be, either.”

I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs, “Guys, I’m right here, 6 feet away…I can hear every word you’re saying!”  Curious and strangely fascinated, I decided to keep quiet and see where this might be headed. I also made up my mind in a split second that this itty bitty blog thing would stay my little secret from the kinfolk; why waste potentially delicious material that the good Lord had just gifted me with?!? If any of them got wind of the fact that I was writing about them, it would become a blog by committee; all ideas, phrasing, and story lines would have to be approved by the majority. All verbs and nouns chewed over as tantalizingly slowly as tender beef brisket.

Father Ray’s voice cut through the chatter. “What about Doc Speed; his wife up and made off with that vet tech, what, going on two years now? I’d say he’s probably about ripe for some home cooking and fed up with going home alone to that big ol ranch every night“. A chorus of approval rose from the table. Houston, we have a potential winner for the hand of our stubborn, oft-married, aging female cousin.

Turns out “Doc Speed” is the local large animal vet, whose given name is Lane Street. I’m not altogether sure about a man whose names consist of two map components, but I soon find myself being hurried up to my room to check my closet for one of my calico Laura Ingalls “squire” dancing frocks. Let me guess…soon, very soon, the ranch will put out an SOS to the good Doc Speed for a bovine housecall. If I find out that Dr. Street’s middle names are Marty Robbins or Buck Owens, I will know fer sure it’s a sign from God!! Welcome to the family Doc!

The Homecoming…Let There Be Squire Dancing #107

October 15, 2012
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What is it about air travel that is so exhausting? You spend most of the day sitting on your butt, so you think you’d be one big ball of fire upon arrival wherever, but alas no. This is why the first day of my brand new life was such a shock to my system.

Also, why do all flights seem to leave every airport at 5AM? Requiring, of course, your sleepy self to be there at 4:30. Just sets the tone for the remainder of the day. After a 4-hour flight, naturally, there is no such thing as a city anywhere near Nowhere Texas, so I had to catch a teensy weensy little piece of a plane into Austin, and then sit sandwiched in between waaaayyy too many eager relatives, all talking at once, in that inimitable Texas drawl, y’all, in a pick up truck, the entire three hours back to Nowhere.

For any of you uninitiated, let me assure you 225,000 acres of cattle ranch is GInormous. There are eight full-time ranch hands who live on and work this place, in addition to every family member who draws breath. There are cattle, longhorn steers, Barbado sheep, peacocks, and enough laying hens to produce eggs to feed all the menfolk, say about seven dozen eggs per day, and that’s not counting the four or five cakes they require for dessert every day. I don’t remember such a huge operation growing up, but that was 50 years ago, and this place has now become BIG BUSINESS. Just setting the scene, now back to my first day.

First stop on the way from the airport, a western store to procure a pair of Tony Lama cowboy boots. “Sugar britches, you sure don’t want to be stepping in any cow patties with them flimsy flip flops on, now do you? And we got to get you some proper cowgal jeans. What’s up with those damn bell bottomer thangs you got on dragging the ground? That some kinda high falutin New York fashion thang? Damn, child, where’s your common sense?” Oh yeah, first day going real well so far.

Back at the ranch, I’m surprised to see about forty vehicles around the main house. Oh God, it’s a Welcome Home party, complete with 107 pounds of smoked beef and pork and all the fixins. Did these people not  know I just lost three sizes? Did I mention this supper takes place at 4PM, as in the afternoon? “Well, usually we sit down to supper at 5:30 on the dot, but we got big plans for you tonight, young un.” OH NO! After ingesting approximately eight pounds of cloven hoof and numerous slices of pie (strangely, there is a huge similarity between these Texas relatives and Jewish mothers. “Eat already; show me you love me and then eat even more!”), I learned we were off to a rodeo. That’s right, with a belly stuffed full, it was now time to go sit amongst the tantalizing aroma of cow and horse poop. YIPPEE!

Turns out, the rodeo was just a ruse to introduce me to some rodeo roper’s widowed dad. Things are NOT looking good at this point. He’s about 90 years old and has his britches hitched up to the armpits of his plaid western shirt, but he was kind enough to remove the piece of hay he was chewing on to his pocket upon our introduction. True sign of a Southern gentleman. After me yawning and apologizing profusely about 1200 times, my uncle announced at 10:30 that the real fun was yet to come. “Squire dancing”, that’s right, darlin. We’re goin squire dancing right now!” You truly have not lived until your jet lagged, exhausted self, stuffed full of BBQ and cow poopy aromatherapy, is subjected to being twirled around at high speed on a slippery dance floor in an 88 degree barn, while having Dough SEE Dough shouted in your disbelieving ears. On the trip back to the ranch, in another overstuffed Ford F150, I felt the sting of impending tears as I contemplated a future with no subscriptions to “Vogue” or “In Style”, and frocks like this one, by that famous fashion designer Laura Ingalls, hanging in my closet. 

Yep, good times on my first day “Home”. That was a walk in the corral compared to what was to follow.

Stay tuned, pardners!

The Disappearance of Weighty Katie #106

September 26, 2012
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Kiss my grits 30 lbs! Not sure where they disappeared to, but I celebrate bidding them adieu.

I was always scrawny as a stick until my mom became terminally ill in 2009. Getting up at 3AM to get to my office to work four hours, grabbing a breakfast sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit to wolf down on the hour and a half drive to her hospital to be there for doctor rounds, swallowing whatever garbage the hospital cafeteria offered up (why aren’t these institutions paragons of whole and healthy food?), and coming home so beat that wise food choices weren’t even an option…guaranteed recipe for disaster. Bring on the bacon nachos and devil dogs, with wine chasers please. Then one day I woke up, looked in the mirror and stared into the unfamiliar face of Weighty Katie.

Weight Watchers started me on the road to recovery, but they pushed too many packaged, processed products for my liking, so I ditched them and went it alone.
Walking four miles a day, usually on the beach, hitting the gym four times a week for weight training, yoga twice a week, and a bit of Zumba for good measure; these were my tickets out of Tubbyville. I stopped eating anything that was prepackaged or processed. If it comes in a box or plastic, it does not enter my mouth. I have become an organic whole foods advocate, and boy, have the results been worth it. Every week I walk into my huge closet and pull out beautiful dresses, blouses, or jeans I couldn’t even zip up two years ago. And they fit, easily ! Free shopping and a brand new wardrobe. Bye bye three sizes! You are gone for good unless I have another terminally ill loved one.

For anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight, where exactly does it go? Did I lose part of an upper arm somewhere on Interstate 95? Did a chunk of thigh leap off into the sand one day while I was walking on the beach? Where does this mess disappear to? Is there a special resting place for discarded bodily molecules, and if so, do they all need therapy due to their perpetual state of rejection? Deep thoughts to ponder.

I will be disappearing in another way as well, at least temporarily.  I have decided to move back to Nowhere Texas to live near family. Things always come full circle. Who would have thunk it? I will be safe there, amidst my gun-totin, ammunition-laden, militia-joining, highly protective male relatives. They just love to shoot weasels and other vermin.

I will be busier than a one-legged dog with fleas for the forseeable future. Locating a new casa in the beautiful Texas hill country, finding the perfect job, and reconnecting with my past life are going to be consuming my universe. I will be absent from this blog for a bit of time, though I will be keeping up with all of yours; I will need the giggles.

My lifeboat has finally reached that distant shore. I can’t wait to disembark and discover the exciting future that I know is waiting. A special thanks to Donna T. and all the wonderful workers at Caroline’s House who took me into their shelter and gave me courage and hope when I felt I had neither. Ladies, you were all right; fractured Cinderellas CAN be put back together again, just like Humpty Dumpty. God bless your generous hearts. Keep up your good work.

Now I’m off to return to my past and channel my inner Twiggy. Bring on those size 8’s!

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