Here's Your Sign

Lots of construction going on around our house. Not inside my house mind you, remember I am the cobbler's barefoot child. Rather BY our house.

You know, road work. Sewage work. Our tax dollars hard at work.


I can say "not" because it seems every time we drive by the area the road crew is either standing around looking at a hole in the mud or sitting under a tree watching the mud dry. Seems more like my tax dollars on vacation. Not that my vacations are spent watching mud dry.

Another thing we see everywhere are signs. Lots and lots of signs. Big neon yellow signs. Big orange and black signs.

Making sure we are aware that there is actually something going on besides men in hard hats on extended lunch breaks discussing important official city stuff like if that really was a hole they were staring at for the past four hours.

Signs like this one:

And this one:

Which made my daughter ask (in all sincerity, I might add) "What does that sign mean? 'homeless man crossing'?"

Yes, baby, and his cardboard says "Will work for your tax dollars (maybe)"

Good Question

My husband, being the gifted handyman that he is, is often asked by friends and co-workers to repair some thing or another in their home.

(Meanwhile, my honey-do list sits home by the phone waiting for a booty call. You know the old saying, "The handyman's children need their house painted." Oh, wait, that's a cobbler's children don't have shoes...sorry, just a little snarkiness leaking from the unfixed roof there.)

Where was I? Oh yes...this past Saturday for instance he got the bat signal just as we were sitting down to lunch and he informed the commissioner he would be by to fix the woes of Gotham that evening. So around that time Vicky Vale here is feeling the need for caffeine and since Batman wanted me to tag-along and hang out with him I jumped in the Batmobile excited for the java, uh, the company...Hey, I may need my house painted, but I do have my priorities in order.

This person's home is on the market and they no longer live there, but they did have friends of theirs staying in the home over the weekend since they were in town for a wedding. And their firends had the cutest stinking kids. Seriously.

Their little boy was probably six months old and was all dressed up for the shindig. He was teething and drooling and quite the serious little man. I kept exchanging my dignity in hopes of a giggle, a smile, anything toothless and baby-like, but he remained indifferent to my blathering.

The little girl was fashionably adorable, of course. All of 3 years old, she spoke as precise as an ivy league English professor. She informed me she was going to be a ballerina and firmly requested my full attention as she spun in a circle showing me her ballerina skills.

Arms out, eyes closed she spun and spun in dizzying circles and her dress flared out around her like the perfect ballerina's dress should. I told her I thought that was the best thing about a dress. She heartily concurred.

She finished her ballet recital with a grand flop (that is french for "to throw oneself with passion") on to the couch and emphasized it by sticking her legs straight up in the air. I applauded and politely turned away giving her a moment to recover and cover. However, she remained positioned thusly. After a moment or two of awkward silence, her mother, (in that very motherly voice that asks a question in a tone that implies it is in no way an easy question but something you should pay strict attention to or else) inquired "Mikaela, do ballerinas show their panties?"

At this, my dainty little professor slash ballerina sat up, furrowed her brow in thought and replied...


And promptly began the second act of her recital.

Applause, applause. Roses are thrown. Bows are taken. Curtains close. Good night.

The Right to Bare Arms

Just because my arms could fit a tattoo of one of them there naked lady outlines you see on 18 wheeler mud-flaps. Life-sized. With room to spare. Doesn't mean I should be ashamed. (Ok. Just disregard my last post and momentarily put aside all my insecurities.)

You see, I don't care that they flap in the breeze, jiggle when I brush, hang like a hammock with a sumo-wrestler napping in it.

Or that I've been likened to a flying bat.

Or that I could be a circus side show phenomenon, The Incredible Stretchy Woman! (as well as The Bearded & Mustached Lady!)

Or that I could get some serious lift (about 1 to 2 inches off the ground) if I flap hard enough.

Or that I should register them as weapons. No kidding. Honey, I can slap the silly off of a clown from two feet away with these arm flaps of mine!

Never mind any of that...I've worked so very hard. And these flappy babies are a symbol, a memorial banner (hung low) if you will, to where and who I once was. A beautiful tribute to WLS success stories and 40+ women all over the world.

And I want them removed as soon as I can get insurance approval. Or a large sum of money falls from the heavens with no strings or taxes attached...whichever comes first.

But until then, I will wear short sleeves. Go sleeveless. Wear spaghetti straps. Wave and flap as much as Grandma Moses with an American flag on 4th of July. Without shame or shawl to hide behind.

Take that you inbred, banjo playing goons!

If the Shoe Fits Size Two

I had the rare pleasure of buying myself some new shoes a couple of weeks ago. I say "pleasure" rather tongue-in-cheekish because (if you know anything about me) you know I hate (read loathe) to shop. (Which explaineth the rarity of said "pleasure"). Any well, I went straight for the size that I've worn for all adulthood and found several not so high-heeled, not so pricey, not too limited color-wise and sat down to try on my selections.

And to my delight, not a single one of them fit.

I returned to the shelves and picked up smaller size, slipped it on before I got comfy and nope...still too big. Wow. Cool. My feet have really shrunk.

Now, somewhere in the area otherwise known as my brain...where the knowledge dwells and thinking is (in theory) supposed to happen...the realization has already occurred. I've lost 175 pounds so, yeah, my old shoes have become looser and I connected that to shrinkage happening all over and not just to my butt. However, the reality of it, or rather the proof of it is far sweeter. Seriously, my feet lost a size or two depending on the shoe. Like I said, sweet!

That brain to body connection gets broken down in lots of areas. It's like there's this highway from self-image to reality and this highway has detours in to necks of the wood where reality is not at all welcome. Your hurtful past and your distorted self-image are there sitting on the porch of a post-Katrina-esque shack all gussied up in tattered overalls, scratching their bloated bellies and swigging moonshine. Reality has a not-so-firm grip on your arm and is tapping you on the shoulder for all its worth, begging you to get out of there NOW because reality hears the banjos playing. All the while those inbred goons are waving a shotgun in your face and telling you white lies through 3 black teeth and a wicked smile. And for reasons known only to your heart you continue to walk right in to their disinuring web of deception.

I’ve said it before, what I see in the mirror and what I am in reality are often uncharted miles apart.
And more often how others see me and how I view myself are as different as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Yes, I am the cynical sort. Not the glass is half-empty kind. No, I see the positive in life, I just don't think I'm really the recipient of the positive. Or that the positive is what it appears to be. So, even if the glass is half-full doesn't mean I get to drink from it. And I'm going to doubt the actual fullness of said glass until the water is poured out, measured, weighed and the glass is refilled and handed back to me. Then maybe I will believe that I get to have the glass and drink the water too. But, I tarry on the wrong rabbit trail...

You would think the more time that passes in this new body of mine, the more I would grow used to the new view. But words that are now ascribed to me are as unfitting and unfamiliar to me as those size 9 1/2 shoes. Words like: skinny, tiny, little and phrases such as you are an inspiration to me, you look amazing, I hate you, I want to look like you, cause me to turn to see just who the heck they are talking to because, surely, it’s not me. This isn’t me pretending to be humble and this isn’t me fishing for compliments, this is out and out disbelief because I just don’t see it that way at all. Nor do I believe it. (Remember the half-full glass? Of course you do...)

No matter that it has been nearly 16 months since my surgery. Or that I'm now a size 4 and have been for 3 or 4 months. Size FOUR I said. Something I never, ever, ever, ever dreamed possible. No matter that I am physically capable of doing anything and everything that I want to do, whereas before even thinking of attempting any level of activity would have rendered me breathless, immobile from pain or dead of cardiac arrest. No matter. The words are foreign and I don’t speak the language.

This is due to the fact that the weight loss surgery didn't occur in my brain. That operation does not happen once and its over with, whew I'm cured. Nope, this is a medicine I have to take daily like a good girl. Sometimes I refuse the treatment and suffer the consequences.

And for those who think weight loss surgery is the easy route, you should know that there are no easy routes in life. You may start down that seemingly easy road, but the banjos will catch up to you my friend. And if you want to escape the outcome you and reality will have to paddle faster.

And frankly my dears, it’s all just a bit scary. Not the banjos. Well, yes the banjos are scary but I am going somewhere else...Scary because seriously, you want to look like ME? I inspire YOU? You HATE me because I’m skinny? Inconceivable. Oh people, if you only knew.

There is within me a fierce insecurity with regards to how I look now, more so than when I weighed 315 lbs. I was far more comfortable cloaked in my layers of fat, protected and cushioned from the world’s eyes along with its expectations and ideas. And while I’d like to believe that I do not and will not cater to the world, truth is I find that I very much do. And while I long to be free of the desire for man’s approval, that desire sits there along with my self-image and my past, both daunting and taunting me. Quite a motley crew, those three are.

So now I am learning to make peace with both the reflection and the reality. Connecting who it is I think I am with who I want to be. I think, basically, that is life daily for all on planet Earth.

Go figure.

Oh, and yes I found shoes. Not these though...

(not my foot)

Those beauties - according to my bff - are for all the anime hookers out there...

Empty Nexter

I'm standing in the middle of my favorite grocery store and I've been shopping for quite some time now. My basket is, for all intents and purposes, more than full. I stand, looking over my selections, watching the other shoppers. They appear enraptured with their selections, their carts, their choices...just their being there. Yawn.

Some are genuinely happy and I envy them. In my heart there is a longing to feel that happiness, that sense of contentment they seem to get from just being there. I don't understand it anymore. I used to, but now I am so very bored with it all. I've seen everything, over and over. I've snacked on the samples. I've gone home with and gorged on probably every item available to me in hopes that I will finally feel that proverbial illusive happiness only to realize I'm not content at all. I am still so very, very empty.

I walk up and down each aisle looking for what it is I feel I am missing. There is a clue here somewhere. Something they have in their cart that I don't have. Surely.

Some offer a specific item they are sure will answer my dilemma. I used to toss those into my cart with hopeful eagerness. But at this point in my journey I no longer think another item in my cart will make a difference to the balance, one way or the other. My appetite waned, my interest unmotivated.

I feel like walking away. No, scratch that. I feel like running away. Screaming. The urge to flee is so very strong. I want to leave the basket there and never return. What's the use? What purpose does this or that item serve. I no longer care about the contents or what happens to me if I don't purchase them. I no longer care to be here. I am empty. My heart screams NEXT!!??!!??

This is how it's been for some time now. It's not the store; I've been to many different stores. And it's not the contents of the basket; it's all healthy choices, no Twinkies or chips - not that an occasional Twinkie or bag of chips is bad mind you - but I don't even crave those things. I am empty. And I want next.

This is my walk in the Christian life of late. I am bored. Bored with Christianity, bored with church, bored with the reasons I am bored and bored with the answers to my boredom.

I am empty and I am screaming NEXT!?!?!?!

Yes, I work at a church. Yes, I attend this church and love this church. I love the God I worship and serve. I have no question of who He is or if He is or where He is. I've no question of my faith, the validity of my religion or the truth of Christ. All that is very solid, very real.

I know His word. I've read His word over and over. I've sat at His feet and desperately clung to His cross pleading for more of Him. He knows all of this because I talk to Him in very real terms on a daily basis.

And yet, I am empty. Next?

I'm not sure where this post is going or what my point is other than to put it out there. I know others feel the same because I've had this conversation with quite a few people. Christians bored with Christianity.

There is no answer you can give me. I am not asking for a solution or even your solution. No need to invite me to visit your grocery store. No sense in me envying or borrowing what you have in your cart. No need to figure out what snack, ingredient or even recipe I should try now. Nope. Been there. Done that. Next?

If the Shoe Fits

Buy it in 3 colors and work it girl! I know, I doesn't end that way. But again, I remind you, this is my blog neglected or not.

I had other titles in mind. "That Witch We Call, Arose" Or how about, "The Lovely Miss Gnomer" and for our Spanish speaking friends "¡Eso sí que es, s.o.c.k.s.!" And these all are, indeed, a bit more apropos to the subject at hand, but oh well.

On the way to work the car radio was squawking as usual. I truly hate morning radio, just play some music and be quiet already. It is too early to think, I don't want to hear crude humor and I'm far to sleepy to care. And I'm a morning person. So, I reach over to turn it down/off when this line from a commercial got my attention.

"Come stay at the Lock n' Terror Resort"

I turned, quizzically to Speed Racer, also known as my husband and said "would you want to stay at a hotel named "Lock 'n Terror"?" He chuckled. Then realized I was serious. Then he laughed. Out loud. In my face.


"La Cantera. hon. It's La Can-ter-a."

Oh. Well, that clears that up. The gentleman from the commercial was, clearly, from the south of east Texas and was, clearly, (how shall I say this?) NOT of the Hispanic persuasion because it, clearly, was not heard as anything recognizable as, close to or resembling Spanish or a Spanish pronunciation. So there.

Of course there was not a goofy white-guy to excuse the time I asked my beloved why anyone in their right mind would name a company "Tit-least"? He responded so graciously and mercifully - laughing till he cried and then gently correcting me, at the top of his lungs, so as to protect me from the embarrassment of anyone nearby hearing "that's title-IST"...and to keep from furthering my embarrassment, he refuses to tell anyone this story. More than once or twice. While laughing.

I take it in stride. Only hitting him once or twice. While laughing.

Apparently the tree keeps its fruit really close because the youngest tends to ask the same questions. While examining a bag of cough drops during her recent brush with death she asked me "what's four-moo-lah?"

"I'm sorry, what?"

"What's four-moo-lah?" saying it slow for me, because that helps the blond lead the blind.

"In context?"

"On the cough drops bag it says: soothing four-moo-lah."

One Post Will Not Do

How can you sum up someone's life in a post, an obituary, or even a biography of epic proportions? You cannot. There are too many moments, uncountable elements, layers shifting constantly and many varied roles and characters. So much so that one's life is never, ever completely captured in any form.

To try seems almost offensive. Tasteless even. As if you are somehow detracting from all that a person was by attempting to convey only the significant details, meanwhile all the perfect little moments slip by unnoticed and forgotten. The Reader's Digest abridged version of a life, if you will.

Which details do you decide are significant? Which part of the whole defines one's essence? Where do you begin, follow and end? What do you leave out? What do you leave with?

I guess for some this task might be an easy one. Not me. I've struggled with the words, the title, the manner in which I attempt tell you about the woman who was/is my mother since her passing.

There is no way I could impart to you the strength with which she faced each day and the tenacious grip she held on life. You would perhaps miss the fact that she lived life with a quiet dignity and tremendous courage. You might not see the depth of her beauty and possibly never grasp the dynamics of her wisdom and humor.

In my grief I am not forgetting her less than shiny qualities. Her razor sharp tongue that could put you in your place and let you know how she felt in no uncertain terms. Then there's her more than quick temper (that some might say I inherited) her love for an off-colored joke and so on. No, those things are part of the whole as well. They must remain in tact with the rest of the memories otherwise it is a dishonor to her. And I cherish the rough facets of her life as much as I do the polished ones.

I especially cherish the last two weeks I had with her. I sat by her bed from early morning to late night as she lay dying. I keep a notebook in my purse and would take it out to journal the last days with her, lest I forget. Lest anyone forget.

Some of my notes are far too personal, some too sad or cruel to share because death is not a Hollywood moment. As I look them over now, I hesitate to put them here, to hand them over to anyone. For up until now they have been my memories alone.

My purpose it not to make you cry, my mother would not have that, merely to give you a glimpse. An unedited glimpse, I do not apologize for the grammar/spelling or language.

She wants to go in to hospice. Basta is basta she says. Huh, didn't know she knew those words in Spanish. Oh God help me, this is for real. I am torn, selfishly torn.

Can I remember everything I need to remember about my mom? Where was she born? Who were her parents? Do those things matter? (here I try to jot down details, dates, names...)

She removes the oxygen mask from her face, I stand and start to tell her she has to leave it on. She tells me, I heart you. I laugh and cry at the same time. I heart you too mom.

She lays there staring at the ceiling. I ask what she's thinking. (I'm expecting some end of journey deep thought) She informs me she is playing mental games and counting the ceiling tiles. I ask how many are there? She replies, there is 1/2 an inning left and the batter strikes out. That's some mental game mom.

Next door the family has just learned their husband/father/brother has suffered a debilitating stroke. My heart is filled with sadness for the journey they have ahead. The nurses are yelling his name "Mr Rosie-lest?" He isn't answering. I want to tell them "You idiots! Of course he won't respond, it's ROSALES! (rose-ah-less)." But I stay quiet.

Each day there's a song stuck in my head. A playlist if you will. Today's song is Lifehouse's song You And Me And All of the People...nothing to do, nothing to lose...I think what is her absolute favorite song? I know she likes Sinatra, Helen Reddy...I want to sing to her and cannot remember the stinking words to any songs she likes. I keep singing Lifehouse. The next day it was "American Pie" by Don McLean. Then "Leaving on a Jet Plane" by Peter, Paul & Mary. Then "Up, Up & Away" by Fifth Dimension. Strange what songs the mind dregs up.We liked those songs when I was little. I remembered there was one song she sang to me over and over. She said it was our song. I cannot remember this song either. This makes me cry.

CC has come again today. She comes everyday and stays for hours. I so enjoy her company. What person can do this without it being their relative or friend? With the power of God's love and mercy. Perhaps mom has brought me a friend. Sometimes visitors come and I almost feel resentful of their intrusion. I don't resent her. I am grateful for her presence, it is comforting.

The nursing home called. They want to box up her stuff and release her bed. I am confused. I know she is dying but am hesitant to make that step. I resent their implications. The rudeness, the callousness and the reality of what their call means. Is this the denial phase of grief? Isn't that supposed to happen after death?

Her first nurse's name was Blessing. Then there was Nazarene. This nurse's name is Tommy. So young, just a baby really. How does he deal with this every day? I think I like him best. He is the kindest to her.

Man I've had way too much coffee. Hospital coffee sucks. All they have are these little packets of powder creamer and I add way too many in hopes it will taste a bit better. I hope someone will bring me a gallon of Starbuck's...I'd settle for a Venti.

She asks me to lower the head of her bed. She sighs "heaven, here I come." I burst into tears. She doesn't notice, she is back asleep.

Her breathing see-saws between labored and shallow with long silences between each. I find myself watching closely and holding my breath with her.

She has been unresponsive now for days. I miss her already. I tell her this. I talk to her while I watch "Cash Cab". I ask her the questions from the show and then remark on the answers. I cry and I laugh. She lays there, not knowing. Damnit, is this even still her? I wonder. This seems to be an empty shell, the body functioning, the spirit gone.

I went home last night to find 3 boxes of her things in my living room from the nursing home. How sad. 76 years of a life dumped into 3 boxes. Those sons of bitches could have waited. There is someone already in her bed, Jesse tells me.

I've told her I love her a thousand times today alone. Does she hear me? Does she remember that? I wash her, brush her teeth, change her. Tell her I love her again.

Each night I leave there is a sense of this is it finality. Panic sets in the moment I step foot outside her room. What if she leaves now and I'm not there to say goodbye? People encourage me to go eat, go something normal. It feels good to get out of there, but not for long. fear sets in quickly and I fear I must get back to her.

She passed away on Mother's Day. What a gift to her to be released from that body of death. That broken shell is no longer her home.This is the same day I remember the song she called ours. You and Me Against the World by Helen Reddy. I sing it over and over and cry myself to sleep.

Cory Ann Snowdon 1932-2009