Saturday, March 31, 2012

Rice, noodles, tomato paste and soup

I believe in the phrase, "Demographics are destiny." With that in mind, let me tell you a little something about my neighborhood.
• Our average HHI is nearly 30% higher than the rest of the state
• Our homes are worth, on average, 40% more than those across the rest of the state
• Requests for aid from our local food pantry were up a staggering 22% in 2011. Last year 50,000 people were served by the food pantry that is open 2 days/week in the basement of our Methodist church.

My neighbors are still suffering. And, statistically speaking, yours probably are, too. This Recession and the sluggish recovery have been brutal on middle class families. A lot of folks are under-employed, working at part-time jobs that help them make ends meet but leave them without benefits, and so they are paying more than ever for prescriptions and trips to the doctor and dentist. Add in escalating gas prices, and you can see why they are turning to food banks for help.

History tells us that in November and December, when people are filled with the holiday spirit, food pantry shelves are full. After the new year, contributions wane and then spike in time for Easter (now). Then, over the summer, the need becomes more critical. Especially because classes are over and kids won't be getting their free school lunches.

So while I'm glad that I visited our local food pantry and dropped off a bag of Rice-a-Roni, Kraft Macroni and Cheese, Campbell's soup and generic tomato paste, I have to remember to keep at it throughout the summer. (And maybe remember to add some vegetables!)

And, if helping the hungry in your hometown is something that interests you, here's a link that will lead you to the food pantry nearest you.

Saturday 9: Stuck in the Middle With You

1. In romance, have you ever been stuck in the middle with someone? I've been listening to this song for decades and it's never put me in the romantic mind set. "Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you." So I always assumed "stuck in the middle" meant surrounded by people we just don't get. And yes, when my late uncle was alive, I got the idea that he and I were "stuck in the middle" together at every family gathering. We were somehow the family "outlaws," yet we understood one another easily enough. I miss him enormously.

2. Which current commercial is the currently most annoying to you on TV or radio? The Amy Sedaris/Mean Joe Greene Downy commercial. She's self-consciously cute and it annoys me. And yes, I get it. I saw the original Mean Joe Green Coke commercial when it first ran and as an adult I have heard how it was a breakthrough in celebrity endorsements. I just don't like Amy Sedaris. Leave me alone.

3. What do you think is the most difficult task when it comes to Spring cleaning? Getting started and staying with it.

4. What area is your expertise in? I write.

5. Have you ever bumped into a former lover and found out they were now gay or straight depending on your relationship with them? No.

6. When was the last time that you got stabbed in the back? Nothing springs to mind. Which is kinda nice, actually.

7. For a few years in a row, you receive a nice tax refund: do you make an adjustment with your payroll deduction so they’ll take less, or do you leave it that way so that you can continue to receive the big check every spring? I keep getting the big check in spring. It's kind of my enforced savings, and it goes paying for my mom's Medicare supplemental insurance and snow removal. (And if there's any left over, I buy purses.)

8. Do you remember the most naughty night of your life? (And do tell a bit, if comfortable) Yes. A coworker/boyfriend and I were supposed to be at a company function at a hotel and we got bored and crashed the dental convention down the hall. We were dressed nice, we had name tags, no one ever knew. Mad Men aside, the dentists had a far nicer open bar than our advertising agency did. And we got plowed. And carried away. In a secluded corner of a hallway near the maid's closet. Somehow when he kept saying, "So what if anyone catches us? We'll never see these people again!" it was very convincing. BTW, I think of him often because he was born and raised in Sanford, FL, the town that has been in the news lately of their ridiculously awful police department. He said he couldn't wait to grow up and leave that town.

9. How would you handle yourself if you were regularly in the press and tabloids? Badly. That's one of the things I admire so about my all-time idol, JBKO. After leaving the White House she rarely gave interviews (two or three in more than 30 years) and never responded to anything that was written about her. What self control that must have taken! I'd have a regular seat on The View, every damn day, saying, "Listen, Whoopi, here's what really happened."

Again in March!

I reached my goal of 13 workouts for the third -- yes, third! -- month in a row. I still feel like the real me is trapped inside a fat moo-cow's body, which is bad. But this evening's accomplishment means fitness is becoming a part of my life, which is good.

This evening I worked until about 8:00 and then, sure that everyone had gone home (even the janitors), went and did my 25 minutes on the treadmill that's tucked away on the 40th floor. Did a few floor exercises, too.

There was a time, not that long ago, when I would have looked at my watch, seen that it read 8:00, said "fuck it" and come straight home. So while I don't think I'm exerting myself enough, and I'm still eating too many carbs, and I can still answer to "Fatty McFatterson" or "Peppermint Fatty," I am still giving myself this round of applause because I am making progress.

Everybody should have one

A Joey like mine, that is.

His heart is as big as his massive old gut. He loves to curl up beside me and make curly paws. And there is nothing more comforting than the sound of his purr. Which is loud, as befits a gentleman of his considerable size.