What’s your number?

sleeping-on-cloud

Back in March 2015, I wrote about the trauma of Hubs and AGMA buying a new mattress in “My last __________ (fill in the blank)”

Hubs thought this was going to be our “last” mattress.

Not even close.

After 3 1/2 years, we went mattress shopping again.

Turns out the “high quality” POSM (piece o’ sh*t mattress) that the salesperson assured us would last for 20 years (hence Hub’s “last” comment) was…a piece of sh*t.

There’s a special place in Hell for dishonest mattress salespersons.  Right next to dishonest used car salespersons.  And dishonest Federal Appeals Court judges who like beer. And reality stars turned treasonous politicians who think Nazi’s and white supremacists are “good people”.

Did AGMA say that out loud?

After 3 1/2 years, we each had a huge divot in our respective sides of the mattress.  It was so bad that, if either one of our cats tried to lie in the middle while we were in bed, they would roll into whatever black hole divot sucked them in.

We always found them, but AGMA couldn’t escape the nagging suspicion that they had journeyed to an alternate universe briefly though our mattress wormhole.

My side was approaching National Park status in terms of depth and width.  Okay, realistically maybe only Georgia State Park designation.

AGMA Canyon Recreational Area.

The mattress death knell sounded when  I went to an Orthopedist.  After an X-ray of my spine, I found out that it could be used as the letter “C” on a Sesame Street episode.

Perhaps this is why AGMA has been having chronic hip & leg pain after every run since February?

My doc referred me to a spinal physical therapist.  AGMA recently chronicled the subsequent encounters with dry needling in the rear from said physical therapist in “A day in the life…”

The first thing my great PT suggested was that AGMA change the way I sit in the evening when watching TV and working on my laptop.  Instead of slouching on the couch which is sooooo very comfy,  I was to sit in a straight backed chair with a bolster at my lower back.  This would help put the natural curve back in my back and relieve a bit of the pressure on the spinal discs that have been smooshed by my wonky vertebrae.

Noooooooo!!

But AGMA was a good patient and did as instructed, although I initially pined for my uber-comfy spot on the couch.  Pined AND whined.  But, happily now, 2 months later, I love sitting on my straight backed chair and NEVER sit on the couch anymore.  It’s too uncomfortable.

This is good.

The second thing my saintly PT suggested was to get a new mattress.

This was not a tough sell to AGMA.  I hated the POS mattress. But I was a bit worried how Hubs would take it.  I mean, this was going to be his “last” mattress right?

Thankfully, he also recognized that our POSM was a POSM.

We talked about trying to get a prorated refund from the POS mattress salesperson, but ultimately decided that the return probably wouldn’t be worth the effort.  AGMA felt confident that he wouldn’t give up without a fight.  And he’d probably want us to buy another mattress from him.

NEVER!

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on AGMA!

In 2015, I thought there was a seemly unlimited number of mattress choices.

In 2018, there really is an unlimited number of mattress choices.

Beside traditional mattresses that you can buy in department stores, or POS and non-POS mattress stores, there is now a plethora of foam mattresses!  Memory foam, cooling foam, therapeutic pressure relief foam, countering support foam, firm foam, smooshy foam, and more!

You can order the foam ones on the internet.  Your mattress is delivered to your door in a box.  You “simply” unroll it, give it some time to “plump up” and put it on your bed.

Voila!

But who wants to do all that work?  Do you have any clue how heavy a foam king sized mattress is?  And what are we supposed to do with our POSM?

And what firmness foam do you get?  They are rated soft, medium-soft, medium, medium-firm, firm, extra firm.  WTF??  And layers…how many layers of foam do you get?

They all come with a trial period so if you totally get the firmness level wrong or you just don’t like it, they send somebody to pick it up and you get a refund (sometimes minus delivery fees – gotcha!)  Then what, since you’ve already gotten rid of your old POS mattress?  And, if you order another one of a different firmness, how do you know you’re going to like that one?

Too many unanswerable questions for AGMA…

So we ended up buying the most expensive air mattress in the world…a Sleep Number bed!  But it was on sale…

No worries about delivery – they deliver it (for $199 that is…) And they cart away your old POSM.  And they have a 20 year guarantee (pro-rated after the first 2 years that is…)

And you get a 100 trial period.  If you don’t like it, they will pick it up and give you a full refund (minus the $199 pick up fee that is…)

But what sold AGMA was the ability for Hubs and I to adjust the firmness to our individual preferences.  Insane!

This might be TMI, but I’m a 40 and Hubs is a 45.  Yeah – I said it…

And guess what?

AGMA’s back and hip have been feeling a whole hell of a lot better…

So between the dry needling and sitting differently and sleeping on a better, more supportive mattress and doing some exercises, AGMA just might be ready to run that marathon on Sunday.

Sunday????

Holy sh*t!

So if you’re in Chicago on Sunday and want to catch a glimpse of AGMA in the flesh, come down and watch the marathon.

I’ll be the one in the white hat, blue shirt and running shoes.

Aging gracefully my ass!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#Ibelieveyou

don'tcare

While AGMA has never been sexually assaulted or raped, I grieve along with the tens of thousands of women who have had that horrific, life altering experience.

I grieve that so many of them have felt too terrified to tell their stories and their attackers have gone unpunished.

I grieve for the women who have summoned the strength to tell their stories at great personal risk, but have been summarily dismissed as ‘troublemakers’.  Like Dr. Ford.  And their attackers have gone unpunished.

I grieve for the women whose rape kits are sitting in law enforcement labs gathering dust.

I grieve for the women who have been so damaged by sexual assault/rape that they could not function after their assault/rape.  Some have not been able to finish their education, hold down a job, have a healthy physical/emotional relationship with a partner and and and…

I grieve that the unaddressed, unacknowleded, unresolved pain becomes a generational pain.

I grieve for the women who felt they had not other choice to escape the pain but suicide.

I grieve for my cousin’s daughter who was raped at 16 by her 23 year cousin.  And who died in her sleep at 26 due to her alcoholism that started after her rape.

I grieve for my cousin who lost her precious daughter.

I grieve that I didn’t do more to support/help my college roommate when she told me her sister’s husband (her brother-in-law) came into her bedroom when she was visiting and sexually assaulted her.  I am so very, very sorry Joy…

I grieve that people entrusted with enforcing laws for the well being of their constituents just don’t care.

I grieve that the GOP is sending the message to young women through their refusal of an FBI investigation, that, for the sake of the entitlement of the rich and powerful, the claim of an assault on their bodies is of no consequence and not worthy of being taken seriously.

I grieve for a country that would appoint a possible sexual predator with a history of alcohol abuse who demonstrates vicious, unhinged and mentally unstable behavior to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

I grieve for the women who think that it’s no big deal for men to sexually assault/rape women saying “Boys will be boys.”

I grieve that more good men aren’t more involved in changing a culture that marginalizes women who have been sexually assaulted/raped.

I grieve.

 

Nec-ked and unafraid

 

Part-PAR-Par8140055-1-1-0

CAUTION:  This may be a TMI post to some.  Especially some of you gentle testosterone laden souls.  You’ve been warned… 

A friend I hadn’t talked to for a while called me the other day.  Her husband was out of town and she had just finished up a very busy month of travel and obligations at home. 

She was in bed planning to take a nap after our call.

But during the conversation, her brother decided to pop in for a visit and just strolled unannounced into her bedroom.  AGMA’s pretty sure he has boundary issues…

She whispered, “I gotta go.  I’m naked under the covers and need to shoo him out so I can get dressed.”

She took all her clothes off for a nap?  And her husband was 100’s of miles away?   She was naked just for the fun of it?  WTF?

AGMA was taken aback.

I’ve never been very fond of prancing in my birthday suit and it kind of surprises me when people are.

When I was young – 5 maybe – my mother, sister and I went on vacation with my aunt, uncle and cousin.  We shared a rented cottage on…wait for it…

Lake Erie!

And this was back in the day when it was spontaneously combusting because there was so much industrial waste/toxic chemicals in it.  Okay, maybe the fire was a little bit later – 1969 – but you know that sh*t had to have been building up for years!

But hey, the cottage rental was probably cheap and we could drive there. And we weren’t going to spend that much time submerged in the sludge so it was all good.

I remember getting ready to go to the beach and running out of the cottage without my bathing suit on because I was so excited.  

AGMA was evidently fine going commando back in the day.

I don’t remember anything else about that vacation other than running out of the cottage naked, and getting yelled at by everybody to go back in and put some clothes on.

And the body shaming begins… 

Like most young women, when I hit puberty, things started changing and looking “different”.

My step-mother took me to the lingerie section of the local department store to get fitted for my first bra.  I remember lots and lots of wooden drawers with bras and panties in them, and the whole place smelled like my grandmothers parlor.

It was the shopping trip from hell

It was bad enough that I had to take my shirt off, but then this “old” lady (probably the age I am now…) had to actually touch me when she measured me in various places. While my step-mother and the rest of the store staff looked on.

Okay, maybe not the whole staff, but it felt like a lot of folks were staring at my “buds”.

Once the measuring was done, the torture was to continue…

After rifling through multiple wooden drawers, the sales lady came back to the fitting room with several bras in my size (probably 26AAAAA).

The trying on process involved pulling and pushing and strap adjusting and lots of clinical touching trying to make everything fit the way it should.

AGMA understands that this was normal protocol for the Are You Being Served crew, but to a 12 year old, it was totally humiliating.  

As I got older and the “girls” blossomed, it became evident to AGMA that something wasn’t quite right.

I’d seen my older sister without her bra and her girls were happy, perky and at attention.  She could totally get away without wearing a bra underneath her shirts and look great. 

I mean, this was the 60’s and bra burning was a thing right? 

My girls, on the other hand, appeared as if they’d just run a half-marathon without carb loading the night before.  They looked exhausted, sad, and were definitely unperky-ish.   

AGMA realized it was a bad case of saggy boobs.

No bra burning in my future.  I needed all the help I could get.

As a matter of fact, as I got older, I started having to buy steel reinforced bras (underwires) with wide straps and backs to help winch the ladies up to at least appear to act like they were trying to pay attention.

Sometimes it works.

But once the bra is off, they’re off to the barcalounger to watch Oprah reruns.

AGMA’s pretty sure that my lazy ladies are a big part of the reason I never liked going commando as an adult.  

All that flipping and flopping just isn’t comfortable. 

But one of my best friend is YUGELY BIG up top.  I mean so big she has to custom order her bras.  Massive, to the point where she gets backaches at times.  

And she prances around her house naked all the time.

WTF?

Maybe AGMA has other issues besides the flipping and flopping?

The times I tried to sleep naked, I’d have the “cafeteria” bad dream.  You know, the one where you are either behind the counter serving or you are in line getting food, and you’re naked.  But nobody else seems to notice or care but you.

It’s quite unsettling.

So yeah, maybe something else is going on.  But at this stage of my life, AGMA thinks it’s probably a moot point.

Although I’ve often thought that maybe a trip to a nudist beach or resort might help.  

I’m pretty sure that, years ago, I bought into that perfect body image lie that our culture promotes with such vigor.  The unspoken notion that we should be ashamed of our bodies and need to “fix” them if they aren’t happy, perky and attentive.

Maybe seeing other imperfect people might help.

Doubtful.

But if I do go, anybody else interested?  It could be a vacation of a lifetime.  One you’ll never forget.

No matter how many pharmaceuticals you take.

Let a smile be your umbrella blah blah blah

hedghog

Source: hedgehog_azuki Source:Instagram

It’s time to lighten this joint up!

AGMA’s last three posts have been of a somewhat somber nature.  My apologies for the barrage of Debbie Downer posts.

To be totally honest, life still seems to be a bit more on the old, dirty shoe leather side than the rainbows and unicorns side.  And it’s so easy to settle into a comfy seat and start chewing away at it.

Like I’ve been doing for the last 3 weeks.

It’s really hard to write a light, funny, fluffy post when you’re just not feeling it.  At least for AGMA it is.

I was never a very good liar.

So my go to in the ‘I need to write something that will make folks smile, but have no clue what to write’ department is my AGMA spam folder in WP.  It’s usually full of potential for humor.  Here’s one of my spam themed posts… Love is Love

But it was not to be.  I guess WP automatically purges spam folders on a regular basis.  The last time I looked at it there were 12 spammies in it.  Today, there are 2.

And one was in Russian:

“Добрый день. Предлагаем Вам наши услуги в области международных перевозок грузов.
Работаем международных грузоперевозок по основным направлениям: Россия (Челябинск, Екатеринбург, Пермь, Новосибирск, Красноярск, Омск, Тюмень, Томск) – Беларусь – Казахстан.
Но можем выполнить перевозку грузов по любым иным маршрутам.
Более подробно можете почитать на сайте компании “МиТур” ”

According to Google translate, it says:

“Good day.  We offer you our services in the field of international cargo transportation.  We work international cargo transportation in key areas.  Russia (Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg, Perm, Novosibirst, Krasnoyarsk, Omsk, Tyumen, Tomsk – Belarus – Kazakhstan, but we can carry out the transportation of cargoes on any other routes,  You can read more on the website of the company “MiTour”. ”

ZZZZZzzzzz…

So AGMA might have to consider the nuclear option.

I might have to go all Julie Andrews on everybody.   “Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens…”

Noooooooo!!!

Yup.

So here’s a partial list (in no particular order) of what makes AGMA smile:

  • Hedgehogs in lawn chairs
  • Minions (the yellow, cartoon kind, not the tRump kind)
  • Champagne bubbles in Epernay
  • The name of the country Djibouti
  • The thought of a Blue Tsunami in November
  • The Tour de France
  • The Crones of Anarchy Facebook page
  • The idea that there is really a pee tape
  • Hearing my grandkids call me Nana
  • Memories of “Hulking out” for my kids when they were young
  • German chocolate cake
  • Robert Downey Jr.
  • Hearing an Al Green song.  Any Al Green song.
  • Cappuccinos in Rome
  • The opening number of Hamilton
  • The Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs, Australia
  • The possibility of a US Senator Beto O’Rourke
  • Meerkats
  • Reading your blogs (some of you make me LOL!)
  • Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars and Happy by Pharrell Williams
  • Hubs and 1 year old granddaughter watching the Five Little Ducks video
  • Any trip requiring a passport
  • Grandson and DIL dancing to We Know The Way from Moana
  • Any meme with Cadet Bonespurs and family/friends in orange jumpsuits
  • Hugs from either one of my sons
  • Roadrunner cartoons
  • Wonder Woman
  • Hitting that Publish button!

Whew.

So…I feel better.

What about you?

What makes you smile?  Laugh?  A funny story that made you belly laugh (so much so that maybe a little pee pee leaked out?)

Tell all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

September Yin and Yang revisited

bookbag

Plaid seemed to be the design of choice for a bookbag back in the day!

September.

AGMA wants to write about September.  But I did that in a post in 2014.  And I pretty much think that it said what I want to say about September.

But this current September begged me to write about it again.  And I can’t say no.  I’m a sucker for September. So I’m ‘refreshing’ the 2014 post to a 2018 AGMA sensiblity.

“AGMA sensibility” seems like an oxymoron, right?

So here’s AGMA’s post from September 17th, 2014.  With a little tweaking and word ‘massaging’ that is…

Yeah, yeah – I know I’m a little late since it’s already past mid-September (back in 2014 it was.)  This is a post that really wanted to be written at the beginning of the month.  It begged me to be written.  But because it’s not my normal “wry humor” (and AGMA says that wryly…), I said no.

It’s been nagging me ever since.  It would not relent.

I gave up.

September’s a very special month to AGMA.  I always feels big changes in the air.  Aside from the changing leaves and temps, I can hear and smell the changes.

September is chance to start over. Brand new beginnings.  Most good and welcomed.

But not all.

September always means back to school.

As a child growing up in Pittsburgh in the late 50‘s/early 60’s, school didn’t start until after Labor Day.   AGMA was always excited to go back to school.  Not because I liked school, but because I couldn’t wait to see my friends again.

And back to school meant a new dress and a new pair of shoes for the fist day.

Getting a new dress was a big deal for me.  Due to divorce, AGMA lived in a single parent household – unusual for that time – and my mother was a nurse in a VA hospital.  There was never much money for new clothes.

Or new anything else.

But for the first day of school, not only would I get a new dress and shoes, but a new notebook, new pencils and a new bookbag.  For you young’uns, bookbags were the old school version of the modern backpack.  And ever so stylish…

It was a huge treat to go shopping with my mother.  She was always so busy all the time.  Between work and house maintenance and doing laundry and grocery shopping and cooking, we never had time just to hang out together. But for back to school shopping, we would ride a trolley to downtown Pittsburgh.   We’d shop at one of the big department stores – Hornes or Gimbels or Kaufmanns.  And then we’d eat lunch in a restaurant.  It was probably a Woolworth lunch counter, but to a little AGMA, it was fine dining!

Many years later, when my sons started school, I felt the same excitement going back to school shopping. We’d head out to the mall with the list of “suggested supplies” and shopped ’til we dropped!  The kids had fun, but I’m pretty sure that AGMA enjoyed it the most…

And September was always the beginning of another busy year of volunteering.  Because I only worked part-time in my IT job, I could volunteer at the kid’s school.  And volunteer I did!

Yeah – AGMA was one of ‘those’ moms.

All through their grade school, middle school and high school years, I volunteered.  AGMA was in PTA (president twice), helped out in their classrooms/computer labs, worked in the school bookstore and on after-prom, baked 1000’s of cookies, worked the school carnival, was a football, soccer and homeroom mom.  I even was the advisor of the Junior High Student Council for 2 years when it was in danger of being eliminated because no teacher wanted to be the advisor.

One of ‘those’ moms…

And AGMA loved every minute of it.

Now, every September, my heart and soul flood with the memories of those happy new beginnings as soon as I feel the chill starting in the air and hear the unique early morning sounds of September insects and see the leaves starting to strut their colors, .

But September also reminds AGMA that every season, of neccessity, comes to an end so a new one can begin.

And that very happy season in my life has ended.

My children have long been out of school.  Some of the children I used to read to in 1st grade in the late 1980’s are now PTA presidents, and homeroom & soccer parents.  And our high school PTA and after-prom committee and football boosters are now run by people whose children were just a twinkle in their eyes back when AGMA was involved.

I’ve more than adjusted to the empty nest over these past 18 years and have reinvented myself several times over.  Ya’ll know that I  stay pretty busy.  I became a massage therapist.  I travel. I run a little Ebay business. I’m a political activist. I run marathons.

I even started a blog.

But so far nothing has equaled the sheer joy and delight I had in parenting my kids when they were growing up.

September reminds me, sometimes cruelly, that time marches on.

Relentlessly.

Also, on a September day in 1965, my dear, sweet mother who worked so very hard to support my sister and I, died suddenly from undiagnosed pancreatic cancer.  She was two weeks shy of her 47th birthday.

AGMA had just started 7th grade.  After the funeral, I was shipped off to a new city in a new state to live with my father who I had barely seen since he moved away when I was six, and his new wife, who I’d never met.  I would never see the house I grew up in or any of my grade school or neighborhood friends again.

The smells and sounds and feelings of September remind me of new beginnings. And sometimes that new beginnings aren’t always welcome.

But they come anyway.

Then I sigh.  And remember.

And mostly smile.

One angry Catholic (really angry…) – Part 2

CRM_broken

So AGMA joined the Catholic Church in 1999. 

And please don’t use the term “convert”. 

I didn’t convert to anything.  I was already a Christian who made the decision to express her faith through the Catholic tradition.

Not being a cradle Catholic, I:

  1. don’t live with the ‘guilt’.  Any of it.
  2. don’t buy in to the infallibility thing.  
  3. don’t always abstain from eating meat on Friday during Lent.
  4. don’t think I really have to go to church on “Holy Days of Obligation”.
  5. don’t know or say the Rosary.
  6. don’t genuflect before I sit in the pews on Sunday.
  7. And. And. And.

But the priests in my church are amazing men with Spirit filled hearts and prophetic voices who ‘get it’.  They get that an authentic relationship with the Living God doesn’t depend on any of this man-created, extraneous ‘stuff’.  

That some of the ‘stuff’ can enhance a faith journey is without a doubt.  As long as it doesn’t start becoming an end rather than a means.

The Old Testament prophet Samuel had it right when he said, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart…” (1 Samuel 16:7)

And oh boy, were/are there a whole lot of Catholic priests and Church officials who had all the right outward appearances, but whose hearts were/are totally black.

Evil might be a better word.

The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report released on August 14th is incredibly painful to read.  

AGMA started to read the 1300+ page report but got so upset that I had to stop.

I thought the 2002 Boston revelations were one offs, and that these perps were rogue priests.  And the inaction of the Boston Archdiocese in removing the offenders from their positions and having them prosecuted was a ‘Boston problem’. 

Yeah, and Rudy Guilianai is a honest lawyer…

While reading that small portion of the report, I just kept asking “How?”

So many hows.

How could these supposed men of God in positions of power do these heinous things to children?

How could these priests be so evil as to collude with one another in order victimize the same children over and over?

How could the Church hierarchy enable these priests to continue abusing children by ‘reassigning’ them?  Over and over.  And not having them prosecuted.

How could those enablers be elevated in the Church hierarchy after covering up these crimes against the most vulnerable?

How many children in other states/worldwide were/are victimized by predator priests to this day?

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.

AGMA doesn’t think this is just a ‘Pennsylvania problem’ anymore.

And I’m one angry Catholic.

With so many people coming forward calling for similar investigations in their own states, AGMA believes this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Catholic faithful are confused and overwhelmed.  Many are asking, “We don’t know what to say to people.  How do we defend the Church?”  

My answer is, “There is absolutely no defense.”

Apologies have been issued from all levels of the Church.  But at this point, the apologies ring hollow.  There have been apologies, and some compensation to the victims in the past, but little else.

The new guidelines for handling abuse allegations issued by the USA Church in 2002 following the Boston revelations appear to be working according the the PA report.

Now what about the other 70 million Catholics in the rest of the world?

This scandal could bring down the Catholic Church.  Or at least bankrupt it if every victim, worldwide, sued for damages.  And people stopped donating money as a form of protest.  Or just stopped going to church.

The Church needs to do something seismic.  The leaders need to turn the Church inside out in penance and humble themselves before the victims who’s lives have been destroyed .

Maybe it’s time for a Vatican III.

Vatican II was an massive shift in how the Church operated.

Vatican III should be a massive shift in how the Church is organized.

I’m not a Catholic Church expert, but I know that ‘business as usual’ can’t be the modis operandi as the Church moves forward.

Accountability for the enablers, allowing married/female priests, appointing lay persons to positions of authority & leadership, reorganizing the Church at all levels up to the College of Cardinals… 

It all needs to happen.   And happen sooner rather than later.

But AGMA isn’t holding her breath.

POST SCRIPT:  When I wrote all of the above last week, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t go back to my church no matter how wonderful the priests are.  Which they are.

I just couldn’t get past the lies, secrets and cover-ups of the leadership.

However, something changed during the week for AGMA.

I found out that our wonderful senior pastor is being scapegoated by the right wing, conservative faction of the Church.

WTF??

In response to his appointment to a Sexual Abuse Survivors counseling team by our Archishop, the alt righters are going ballistic.  They have started a petition to have my priest removed.  They claim that because he’s the priest of a “gay-friendly” church now,  he is somehow responsible for the atrocities committed against children in the late 20th century.

Again, WTF? 

I bet they all have MAGA hats stashed in their closets.

So I will respond to this attack on one of the most Godly and holy individuals I have ever know in typical AGMA fashion…. 

I’m going to thumb my nose (figuratively…maybe) at those who seek to distort the image of our all loving God.  And, in defiance of their hate, continue to attend my church in support of our pastors.

And if the day comes that either one of our priests gets the boot because of this deplorable mob of Pharisees, AGMA will be a gone girl and will never set foot in another Catholic Church.

Ever.

I’ve always thought it would be interesting to check out the Quakers. 

AGMA always liked their oats.

One angry Catholic – Part 1

 

 

broken2

Picture from an article by Jim Lewis dated August 19, 2018 in the publication Reading Eagle

The Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s 1300+ page report released last week on the the sexual abuse of 1000 minors by 300 predator Catholic priests over 7 decades has sent seismic waves through the Catholic Church.

AGMA should know.  I’m a Catholic. 

Or at least I was.

A regular at the 8:30 AM Sunday Mass, I skipped church the weekend and went to breakfast with Hubs.  I don’t know if  I can go back. 

And AGMA goes to probably the most un-Catholic Catholic Church possible.  We have a welcoming and diverse church with a large GLBTQ membership.  We have people of all colors & nationalities from all over the city.  Our wonderful priests preach the true gospel of Christ – one of love, forgiveness, welcome, and unity with our brothers and sisters of other faiths and in other lands.

Probably no surprise to anyone that AGMA goes to that kind of church.

I’m not a cradle Catholic.  That’s my fatal flaw.

Or maybe my salvation.

AGMA was raised Lutheran.  Which honestly is really close to Catholicism although I know both sides would vehemently disagree.

AGMA was disillusioned with the church when I saw my dad attend every Sunday, but then be a mysoginistic, hateful bigot the rest of the week.  He would loved the MAGA crowd!

But looking back, it really wasn’t the church’s fault that my dad was a jerk.

After AGMA went away to college, I didn’t attend church again for 17 years.  It’s not that I didn’t believe in God in those ensuing 17 years – it was just that felt that I didn’t need to go to church to have an authentic faith.   Plus I liked sleeping in on Sunday mornings.

Yeah she did!

When my sons were young, AGMA decided it was time to haul their rears into church for some God learnin’.  Not a big fan of the Lutheran Church, I wanted my kids to experience a looser, more open form of Christian worship.  We ended up attending a Disciples of Christ church and it was great.

Hubs in the meantime, wasn’t interested.  A self proclaimed agnostic, he was now the one sleeping in on Sunday mornings.  My kids were jealous.

In 1992, a friend sponsored me on a retreat called The Walk to Emmaus.  I will be forever grateful to her for that.

Administered by the Methodist Church, it’s an non-demonimational 3 day Christian retreat that’s intended to deepen a person’s walk with the Triune God.   It’s a Protestant off-shoot of Cursillo which is a Catholic 3 day intensive spiritual retreat that originated in Spain in 1944 

Every person on a Walk to Emmaus responds differently to the invitation God offers to go deeper with their Christian spirituality.

It rocked AGMA’s world.

And I’ve never been the same since.  In a good way.

To make a very, way too long, story short, my Walk started me on a life spiritual journey that I could have never imagined.

AGMA went from the Disciples of Christ Church to a Christ of Christ church to an Assemblies of God church.  Some folks spoke in tongues in the AoG church.  Just like in the New Testament.  Cool!

God was expanding my spiritual world and opening me up to the many ways that exist to experience a life in Christ.

But while I was going to the Assemblies of God church, I felt a pull towards the Catholic Church.  

Huh?  I know – interesting dichotomy…

AGMA liked that, unlike other denominations, the Catholic Church seemed to be a huge umbrella that all kinds of Christians fit underneath.  Somehow it managed to hold the tension between conservative Catholic beliefs, progressive Catholic beliefs and everything in between. 

A strong sense of social justice is one of the pillars of the Catholic Church.  I liked that.  In modern times, the Church has been leader in social justice movements and ministries.  

And AGMA loved the idea of the Saints!  Most were ordinary, flawed (some very flawed) individuals – both men and women – who allowed God to change their lives, and went on to do amazing things.

The writings of people like Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, Dorthy Day, Henry Nouwen opened me up to a new understanding of Christianity expressed through the Catholic tradition. 

The Catholic mystics.  Amazing.  People like Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Brother Lawrence and many others, both ancient and modern, who demonstrated that a life of contemplation and prayer can lead to direct encounters with the Divine.

I made some retreats to monasteries and convents, and came in contact with some of the most amazing people I’d ever met.  Far from being ‘holier than thou’ retreatants from the secular world, they were funny, engaging, involved and some of the most intelligent people AGMA has ever come across.  

The Nuns on a Bus rock!

I also acknowledged the ‘dark side’ of the Catholic Church.  The violent past – The Crusades being just one example.  The opulent wealth that has been a corrupting influence.  The amoral selling of indulgences that lead Martin Luther to post the “95 Theses”. The whispers of sex scandals. The mysoginistic nature of priesthood and, yes, of the entire Church.  The secretive hierarchy of the Church that is controlled by older white men obsessed with in staying in power.

Given the political nature of the Church hierarchy it’s a bit of a miracle that somebody like Francis got elected Pope.  He’s the un-pope Pope.  Sort of.  We’ll see…

But in truth, every church has it’s dark side.  No church or denomination is perfect.  

With age & wisdom comes the realization that every coin has a light and a dark side.  

So I became a member of the Catholic Church in 1999.

I’m surprised I’ve lasted nearly 10 years.  It’s kind of a miracle I haven’t been kicked out.

Yet.

But AGMA thinks I may be leaving before I’m served my walking papers.

(to be continued…)

A day in the life…

clock

I know that ya’ll have been wondering what my ‘typical’ day might look like.  “How does AGMA pass the time?” is a question you probably ask yourself on a daily basis.

Understandable.

Let’s use today as an example of a typical, dysfunctional day in my life.

While my day usually starts around 6:30 AM or 7:00 AM, I slept in a bit.  What??  But I had good reason.  Last night Hubs and I went to see….

…wait for it…

Jon Stewart and Dave Chappelle!  Yeah – THAT Jon Stewart and THAT Dave Chappelle.

With special guests Michelle Wolfe of the 2018 White House Correspondence Dinner fame and Chris Tucker of the Rush Hour movie franchise fame.

AGMA stayed up way too late gaffawing the night away.  But it was epic!

At 7:20 this morning, our cats, Gux and Max, made it known that they were over this sleeping nonsense, and that I needed to get up chop chop and feed them.  I went back to bed after depositing kibble in their bowls.

I got up again at 8:00 to clean up some food that Max puked up.  On our bedspread.

Delightful.

Hubs and I discovered about 20 minutes later that the REST of the food expelled by Max was in a huge pile on our bed sheet in between our pillows.  Glad I didn’t try to shimmy over to snuggle Hubs.

Double delightful.

With the washing machine now swishing in the background, AGMA got ready for the day.  This required I look in the mirror which is always a shocking proposition in the morning.

Washed, brushed, curled and flossed, it was time to take care of some work stuff.

My little Ebay business is picking up again so I needed to get a package ready to ship.  4 English china teacups and saucers.  Scary.  I know I used too much bubble wrap.  AGMA’s  anal in that way.

With the package sealed and labeled, now I needed to figure out if I had enough time to go to the USPO before my physical therapy appointment.

My appointment was in 40 minutes.  I still hadn’t had breakfast, the post office is 15 minutes away, then another 25 to my PT appt.

Just enough time if I grab a banana, put in a mobile order at Starbucks for a mocha, and get all green lights.

Unknown…how long of a line there would be at the Post Office.

AGMA’s always willing to roll the dice.

All green lights?  Not nearly, but there was no line in the USPO and I managed to avoid some accident brouhaha near Starbucks.

I got to my 11:00 AM appointment at precisely 10:59 AM.

It’s a charmed life!

My PT specializes in spine issues.  This is good since I recently found out I have a nasty case of scoliosis in my lumbar spine.  Really nasty.

Bummer.

But it explains a lot.  Since February, running has caused me a lot of hip pain and, later at night, radiating pain down my entire right leg.  Really ouchy stuff.  Difficult to get comfortable.  And I was limping like Chester on Gunsmoke (not everybody’s going to get that reference…)

This has been cause for concern.  I’m supposed to run 26.2 miles in early October as a charity runner.  Friends and family have donated over $2100 to the cause.

AGMA. Must. Run.

Exercises over the course of several weeks proved unsuccessful, so last week my PT tried “dry needling”.  Yeah – it’s just like it sounds…

He exposed my cellulite infested right buttock and proceeded to poke needles into my hindquarters.  It’s sort of like acupuncture, but the needles go deeper and into muscle tissue.

AGMA only yelped twice.

THEN he hooked some of the needles up to an electrical current.  He let my rear end pulsate for 15 minutes.  It felt like simmering butt stew.

But it helped immensely.  There are still some sensations down my leg, but no hip pain during my runs.  And my limp is still there, but it’s much reduced.

So AGMA showed up to my PT appointment today and said, “Bring it on!”

Because there’s been a bit of numbness in my right foot the past few days, he put even MORE needles in this week.  And he turned the current up so that, every now and then, one of my lateral rotator muscles in my rear would start to jiggle.  Like jello.  Cellulite jello.

AGMA kinda wanted a cigarette afterwards.

I’d love to have a picture of the whole set-up, but couldn’t figure out how to ask him without him thinking I was a bit of a freak.

Maybe next week I’ll try a selfie.  Of my butt with needles sticking out and little electrodes hooked up to them.

I am a freak.

And now I’m at Dancing Goats reading blogs, making comments, answering comments and writing this post.

Cats puking on the bed, speeding to the Post Office, shoving a banana down at a stoplight for sustenance, getting electrified needles stuck in my rear, blogging….

Pretty much a typical day for AGMA.

Aging Gracefully My Ass (literally…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Control freak

 

ControlFreakMeme

Source:  RotteneCards

Okay, I know this is going to sound morbid, but AGMA’s started gathering the pictures I want displayed at my funeral/memorial/celebration of life service.

Ewwww…  Who does that?

Note of disclosure:  There is no imminent threat of my departing this life anytime time soon that I am aware.  No new medical diagnosis or forebodings. Nothing (other than the normal ‘I could step out on a street and get hit by a car’ notion) that would lead me to believe I need to hurry up and get my affairs in order.

AGMA’s just a bit of a control freak.

I was trying to sort out the junk we have in our 4th floor closets.  Since we live in a townhouse with no basement, but a finished top level, the 4th floor has become what our basements used to be…  The place of collection of our precious belongs.

You know, the junk.

Found…a Lladro figurine collection.  They’ve been in a box since 2010.  Also found….the chachkies/pictures we had on our built-in bookcases two houses ago.  They’ve been in a box since 2010 too.

AGMA can’t say that I’ve missed them.

We have two walk-in closets on the 4th floor.  The wire shelving in both have collapsed and ripped out of the wall from the weight of the myriad of boxes I stacked on them.

Oops…

I haven’t told Hubs yet.

So in trying to bring order out of chaos before informing Hubs, I started digging into some of the boxes that fell.  There was one with shoeboxes – soooo many shoeboxes – of pictures from 1963 to the early 2000’s in them.

Of course, AGMA couldn’t resist a stumble down memory lane.

Fresh on my mind was my old friend Scott.  Scott had been a friend of Hubs and I since college.  He was younger than us by a few years and full of energy, life, fun and mischief.

In the days before social media, for all of you young whippersnappers out there, the annual Christmas/holiday letter via snail mail was our version of a timeline.  Far flung friends got brought up to date with our lives over the preceding year through this annual ritual.

And so it was with Scott after we graduated.  For 30+ years, we communicated once a year with him.

Then, in 2011, we started making annual trips back to Tucson to visit my MIL and old friends still living there.  Like Scott.

We were delighted to discover that he was much the same – full of energy, life, fun and mischief.  30+ years older, yes, but with a positive outlook on life that was contagious.  He was like Peter Pan – the boy who never really grew up.  We always looked forward to visiting Scott, and hearing about his latest adventures and plans for the future.

Our last visit to Tucson was this past October.  We a lovely evening with Scott and his new wife.  I felt like he’d finally found his soul mate.  We had a great time with them.

Last week, we heard through a friend that Scott was in hospice.  WTF?  Two days later his wife let us know that Scott had passed away.

He was only 62.

So while AGMA was looking through those old pictures on the 4th floor, my heart was heavy at the sudden loss of our friend.  And I started wondering what his memorial service would be like.

I hope that it will be fun and uplifting just like Scott was.  And full of images from his life which was a wonderful mix of adventure, service to the less fortunate and family.  Hubs is going and will give me a full report when he gets back.

But then I started wondering what AGMA’s ‘celebration of life’ might be like.  Not in a morbid sense; more curious than anything else.   And what kind of images there will be to show the highlights/lowlights (gotta keep it real) of AGMA’s time on earth to those who come to party.  Because it WILL be a party.

Oh no – this is just too important to leave up to Hubs and sons…  They’re guys and wouldn’t have a clue.

So I started putting ‘AGMA approved’ pictures aside for that final hoorah.

I can hear the announcement at the memorial now, “AGMA selected all of the pictures in this montage of her life many years ago because she was such a freaking CONTROL FREAK!”

That’s cool…

At least I know I’ll look cute.

RIP sweet Peter Pan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Latern Rouge

laternrouge

This is a story about bloodied bodies, broken bones, man tears, epic battles of the spirit, redemption and altruism.

Not AGMA’s normal fare.

It’s is a story within the bigger story of this year’s Tour de France.

No, no, no…PLEASE don’t close this window.  I know most of you aren’t interested in cycling but PLEASE keep reading.  Trust me – this is an incredible story.  You might even want to bring out a hankie…

Rather than go on and on about how amazing it was (it was) and how it’s the most grueling athletic event in the world (it is), AGMA wants to tell you the story of one unforgettable, brave rider.

Meet Lawson Craddock.  The 26 year old Texan was one of the 5 Americans in the TdF this year.  This was his 2nd TdF and he rides for the EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale team.

Can you imagine how much room that name takes up on their jerseys?

Men’s Elite Cycling 101 Primer (a bit of a snoozer but bear with me)…  The professional teams start training for the “Grand Tours” in January as well as the Spring Classics (1 day races) and the week long races (Tour of Switzerland and Tour of California for example.)  The Grand Tours are 3 bike races that are 21 days long – the Tour of Italy (Giro d’Italia), the Tour de France, and the Tour of Spain (Vuelta a Espana.)

Each professional team has around 26 riders on it.  For the Grand Tours, each team’s director is allowed to only select 8 riders on their team to participate in each one.  Sometimes a rider gets chosen to ride in two of the Grand Tours. Not too often though because they are grueling races (over 2000 mile each) that take place only a month or two apart from each other.

Some riders never get chosen to ride in a Grand Tour.  Sad face…  😦

But they ALL, without exception, want to ride in the Tour de France because it’s the most prestigious bike race in the world.  Yeah it is!

The professional teams announce their TdF teams about a week before the race starts.  Some riders know they are going to be on the team far in advance if they are considered a team leader.  Other are on the bubble and don’t know until a few days before the teams are announced that they’ve made the team.

Lawson was one of those riders on the bubble. He didn’t know until the last minute that he’d made the team.  His job, as the others on the EF Drapac TdF team, would be to ride in support of their team leader, Rigoberto Uran.  Rigoberto finished a surprising 2nd in the 2017 Tour, and they had high hopes that he could win the TdF in 2018.

Lawson’s rider number in the Tour was 13.  Ahh oh…  In an attempt to fend off bad luck, he wore the number upside down.  It didn’t work.

About 60 miles into Stage 1 of this year’s TdF, Lawson’s bike hit a water bottle in the Feed Zone (the area that the riders get snack bags full of treats) and crashed hard.  Really hard.  Only 60 miles into this 21 day, 2082 mile race.

Battered, bruised and with blood pouring out of a gash above his left eyebrow, he got back onto his bike and continued riding.  It’s just what cyclists do…

craddock

Lawson as he finished Stage 1

Like other injured riders who press on after an accident, Lawson was treated by the Tour doctor.  While he was riding his bike.  While the doctor is hanging out of a convertible going 30 mph.  Crazy stuff!

Lawson finished the stage.  In last place.  During a post race interview, he broke down into tears.  He knew he had a potentially race ending injury.  All that training.  All that sacrifice.  Only to crash on the first day.  Of THE Tour.

He needed stitches to close the gash above his eyebrow.  And X-rays showed he fractured his scapula.  Plus he hurt all over.

“That’s it,” I told Hubs, “he’s out of the race.”

But we are taking about cyclists here, not soccer players.  Ouch…

That night, Lawson tweeted that he was going to start Stage 2 and ride as far as possible on the stage.  And not only was he going to start, but he pledged a $100 donation for each stage he finished to a fund to restore the Alkek Velodrome in Houston, TX that was decimated by Hurricane Harvey last year.  He challenged all of his fans to do likewise.   The Alkek Velodrome is where scores of hopeful kids in Houston get their start in bike racing.  It’s where Lawson got his start.

He started and finished Stage 2.  And Stage 3, and Stage 4, and Stage 5, and, and, and….

Stage 9 had 13.5 miles of France’s infamously rough and bumpy cobblestones.  He said he would double his donation to $200 if he finished that stage.  AGMA didn’t think he’d do it.  He did.

Through the Alps and the Pyrenees, there were 26 climbs up mountains.  Really, really big mountains.  And lots of twists and turns in the roads descending the mountains.

And as every day passed, the donations to the Alkek Velodrome kept coming in.

Stage 20 was an individual time trial.  Each cyclist rides the route by themselves as fast as they can.  The rider with the best time after all the rider have ridden the route is the stage winner.

Lawson was interviewed again after he finished his time trial on Stage 20.  There were more tears.  This time though, they were tears of unabashed relief and joy.  He was going to make it to Paris the next day for Stage 21 and finish the Tour.

Oh, did I mention there are time limits on each stage? If a rider finishes outside of that time limit, he is out of the Tour.  Poof.  Goodbye.  Five riders left the Tour because they were outside the time limit on some of the mountain stages.

Not Lawson.

One rider was DQed for being a bad boy and punching another rider.  Some riders had to abandon the race because of illness.  Other riders were injured too badly to continue.  A broken collarbone here, a fractured vertebra there, and throw in a fractured patella. Some riders just abandon because the mountains were too hard.  31 riders in all left the race before it reached Paris.

Not Lawson.

He rode across the finish line in Paris on Sunday with his EF Drapac teammates who gave him unwavering support throughout the entire 21 days of racing.

efdrapac

Lawson and teammate American Taylor Phinney after they crossed the finish line in Paris on Sunday.  Taylor broke his nose when he crashed on a descent on Stage 19 and face planted on a tree.   And he rode two more stages.  With a broke nose.  And a fractured orbital plate underneath his right eye.  Only in the Tour…

Lawson rode across the finish line as the Latern Rouge of the 2018 Tour de France.

The Lantern Rouge is designation given the rider to who finishes in last place.  It’s named after the red lantern that was on the back of the caboose of a train back in the day.  Bringing up the rear – get it?

And he made a little bit of TdF history…he was the first rider to be in the Latern Rouge position at the end of each stage for the entire race.

But he finished the race.

He admitted that he was in intense pain for most of the Tour and that he wanted to quit more than once.  But the donations coming in for his beloved Velodrome keep him peddling forward.  One kilometer at a time.

Lawson was hoping to raise $2000.  As of July 30th, his campaign has raised over $225,000.

And now you know why AGMA loves her cycling so much!