Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The sad, sad truth presents itself once more...

After 3 weeks of being Zoloft-free I think it's time to face the cold hard reality that my poor little brain just has not learned how to deal with serotonin on its own. I was so hoping it had. Dammit. I wanted to just ease off it, avoid the nasties that come with going off, (which I did btw) but it turns out that now that it's all out of my system I'm, well, let's be clear: I'm fucked.

I am Sooooooo disappointed. No, seriously. I was absolutely certain that this was something that I could do. That I really didn't need to be on anti-depressants any more. Hahhahahahahaha on me. Too many bad thoughts, too many weepy days and with my current health situation being what it might be, I am in no position to attempt to brave it through. My brain simply can't seem to have a 'bad day' like normal people do. My brain - all about the drama - decides to go to the deepest darkest, murkiest well of despair it can find in which to wallow, design horrible scenarios of my desolute future and sip a frosty margarita. This is not cool brain. Reallly not cool. Okay the margarita is kinda delicious, but.. NO, stop it with your seductively dark thoughts! bad brain, bad, bad brain. tsk.

So much for my experimentation with living drug-free. Guess I'm the "just say YES!" poster child.

Of course I'm devastated. Um... that might be because I'm NOT taking my meds. Helllllooooo. But while I have my pride, such as it is, I have decided that being on meds for the rest of my life and maybe not quite 'feeling' everything to the nth degree ain't the worst that could happen. So this morning out came the remaining 'happy pills' (which is such a cavalier euphemism, but hey gotta laugh to keep from crying, right?) and now I'm reversing the process I've spent the past few months doing. Now I'm building up the amount of those kooky blue pills that I take every day until I get back to my old dosage and feel more often happy than despairing. Luckily that process goes much faster than the weaning off process and I should be back to my regular dose in 2 weeks.

It's a sucky lesson to have to learn. For me, these pills are the thing that keep me from going down dark roads that lead to thoughts of sharp implements, lots of alcohol, and a warm tub of water. Given the fact that I have an appointment with a Gynecological Oncologist in a couple of weeks, it might save the hassle to just stay off the pills. Gotta go one way or t'other, right? But despite feeling really, REALLY low at the moment, I'm not quite low enough to want to give up.

I know what the worst feels like: I'm not there, but I could get there mighty damned fast. I'm like one piece of bad news and a mean look away from getting there. I also know what the best is, and that's what I want back. So until these pills start kicking in again, I'm trying (none too successfully) to keep the good thoughts on my own. But it'll be okay. Lesson learned. Take your pills. And remember:

Actual health-care reform — wow!

HR 676 is sponsored by Congressman John Conyers, Dennis Kucinich and several others. The bill would provide for a single payer medical system. Introduced in 2003, the bill now has 91 cosponsors. It is currently in the House Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Health.

read more | digg story

Friday, August 15, 2008

You Get Me!

I can count on more fingers than I have on both hands (and maybe a few extra) how many times I have heard this phrase from men. Always stated with a level of excitement normally reserved for the discovery of a new country. "Holy mackeral, a woman who understands me!" When I was young and foolish (as opposed to now where I'm just plain foolish) I took it as a great compliment. More than a compliment it was a sign from the heavens that we were a match made in . . . something less than hell. OF COURSE no one else 'got' them. They were sooooo complex and mere mortal women were far too mundane to understand their varied hues. Their incredible depth. Except guess what? Not so much.

Frankly, I didn't 'get' them. Not in the end. Because they were always off to women who didn't understand them at all. (and they made this quite clear! "she doesn't get me" so... wha... Huh????) SO much for that 'getting'. It pissed me off. But not nearly so much as the fact that of all these charmers that I was so "undertanding" of not a single one of them ever 'got' ME.

Now I'm sure they thought they did because let's face it, I had a habit of getting involved with complete losers who thought they were geniuses. They weren't, well okay one was but we were kids so that probably doesn't count. What they were was selfish immature guys with limited scope who saw only their tiny version of the world and they belonged with women who were truly like them. Despite the fact that they 'didn't get them'. Their ambitions were small. Their minds were smaller. We will not discuss anatomy.

All these guys that I 'understood' and really 'got' would think they 'got' me because they saw what they wanted, heard what they wanted and believed what they wanted to about me. All evidence to the contrary. What I really am was never something they 'got'. Like the ones who knew I wanted to get married and bless the world with the fruit of their loins. Yeah. Uh... Right. Cause that's me: mommy material. Yeah. IN HELL I'm mommy material! Move over Satan, Big Mama's in town. Oy vey. Or (one of my all time favorites) "Joy's not the kind of girl you just fuck, you'd want to marry her." WHAT?????????? Are ya kidding me? Talk about projecting, pal.

The truth is I'm pretty good at picking up on things about people. Early training in a violently dysfunctional household will teach you lots of things, among them: low self-esteem, anxiety and an uncanny talent for noticing things that not everyone notices. The twitch of an eye, the tensing of a breath that mean more than what the other person wants you to know. Possibly more than they are aware of themselves. I used to think everyone did this sort of reconnaissance, the careful watching of people and what they say and do to determine their next move (and if you needed to duck) but I found that is not the case. Truth is most people never see the subliminal cues other people give off. Dogs do, but people? Not so much. So I guess I've got a minor talent. Is it a money maker? Yeah, again: not so much.

I bitch and moan on this blog quite a bit but the truth is I'm pretty damned tolerant. At least I used to be. I used to put up with the crappiest behavior - or just the most incompatible behavior - for far longer than any less tolerant (read stupid) person might have because of that easy-going nature and because of my early training which taught me that I deserved the most abundant crappy treatment I could find. Of course I told myself that I had broken that cycle because I would never EVER tolerate someone hitting me the way my mother had. And they never have. But I let them 'hit' me in other ways... I was too 'tolerant' to see it for what it was.

Happily I've learned not to tolerate quite so much any more and have learned that people do in fact show you their real selves very quickly, very early. Which can cut down on the amount of toleratin' you might need to do and if you're not inclined for putting up with bullshit in your life any more; you can nip that nonsense in the bud and move on! Because, amusingly enough, people will often show you exactly who they are right away. They say it outright "I'm lazy" (followed by a cover-up laugh) or slightly more subtle, they actually show you (if you're watching closely). Of course the beauty of the reveal is that we almost NEVER BELIEVE it when it first comes up! Nahhhh, couldn't be. That's just a self-deprecating joke, etc. After some time we see it, but not at first. "Oh yeah, wait a minute.... he did say 'sex isn't the most important thing'" (FYI: that phrase coming from a guy is an impotence/sexual dysfunction tip-off. Remember it ladies and run for the hills. Unless that's the type of thing you're looking for, in which case mazel tov!)

I'm teaching myself not to be quite so tolerant any more. It goes against my grain, because being 'nice' is a big part of who I am (or who I'd like to think I am. . . maybe I'm not really so nice. THAT is entirely possible.) But right now? I just don't care any more.

Get me?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Farewell, A New Start

Friday, August 15 marks a bittersweet occasion for me. For others as well I'm sure but I feel a particular pang about this and so naturally I'm going to whine about it. My blog: my whining.

Oh hush, you love when I whine. Don't you? No really, don't you? Hmmm. Any way. . .

There are two things I have been seriously consistent about in the time since I decided not to kill myself in October of 2004. Everything else has been variable, sometimes stickin' - sometimes passing. But two things that I have been consistent with as I have been consistent with few other things in my life are: 1) my daily dose of Zoloft and 2) my attendance at every Niagaras show I could physically make it to.

Both of those things are ending this month.

August is going to be tough on Miss Joy lemme tell ya.

As I've mentioned, I decided to wean off the Zoloft and while I did have a couple of days in July where I thought maybe it wasn't the wisest decision, overall I think I'm actually fine. I'm just adjusting to life without the support system of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. It's cool: I'm relearning what it feels like to FEEL big time. Not saying it's a breeze, but it's going to be fine. Feeling is good. Sometimes hard, but still good. I'm much stronger now. I can handle it now. I couldn't before, but now I can. I think it has a lot to do with finally learning what 'happy' actually feels like and hanging onto it. And hey, if I find I can't deal and sharp objects start looking pretty again, I have my reminder tattoo and I can run to the doctor begging for scripts. I'm REALLY hyper-vigilant about suicidal idealizations, don't worry.

The second one is . . . tougher. That one I have no control over - WHAT?! Don't I control EVERYTHING? Guess not.

On August 15, 2008 The Niagaras are ending a run of many, many years which I was fortunate - in the extreme - to have fallen into at exactly the right time for me. My regret is not having known of them longer so that I could have seen them play more, but things happen when they will. Such is life. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to see and hear such an amazingly talented group perform as often as I did. Possibly more often than is strictly on the sane side, but still.... just under three years of seeing them play an average of twice a month (sometimes more! yay! ... sometimes less. boo!) seems like not nearly enough. But when it's time to make a change in life it's time and no amount of whining from outside, or inside, sources can keep it from happening.

Some people tell me I should stay on the Zoloft, but I know it's time to come off it. I'm sure some people tell the Niagaras not to stop performing together, but they know it's time.

I've become very attached to Niagaras songs - there are always a minimum of 3 on my iPod at any given time. They come running with me because an awful lot of Niagaras' songs have just the right beats per minute for running. (Yeah. That's why. Sure.) There are songs I've never heard live because they just don't play 'em any more. So now I guess I never will hear them live - Charitable, For Some Reason Leah or Train of Thought anyone? No? FINE. Be that way.

There are Niagaras' songs that piss me off, simply because they contain lines that I find heart-clutchingly perfect not only in terms of capturing themes of the human condition but also in terms of clever and evocative poetry and I'm envious, jealous, and a little angry at myself because I would never have thought to have written such things - and I wish like hell I could.

So I'm sad that there will be an end to this band which I have come to feel so proprietary about while at the same time magnanimous (and a little pushy) about sharing with everyone I know. I'm sure some of my friends will be happy not to have my 'come with me - c'mon, c'mon, c'mon The Niagaras 10pm (sharp)' emails because of my not so subtle and tenacious digs about the fact that they should be able to stay up past midnight on a FRIDAY night once in a while and come with me to see this band that makes me so happy. Of course, when they could or when they were in town they did come - but nothing's ever enough for me. I'm greedy and impatient like that.

You know that part in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy first begins her walk along the yellow brick road? You know that part in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy first begins her walk along the yellow brick road? It always irked me that she started from the absolute center of the spiral and followed that damned thing when she could have simply stepped off and gone directly to the part that went straight and just gotten on with it! It seemed so pointless and time consuming to walk that little spiral of yellow bricks, singing with the Munchkins and that kooky Glinda, and yet... the truth I've come to learn at this stage in my life is that you really can't skip over the spiral. You've got to start at the beginning and follow along, follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road, as it were. There aren't short-cuts, everything is a process and sometimes you get to the Emerald City and things change. A lot. I have always maintained that change is good. To remain the same is to become stagnant. And so, though it makes me nervous (the Zoloft) and a bit sad (the Niagaras) I know in my heart that change is good - and only good will come of it. It's time.

I know I'm greedy in that I wish, WISH, WISH The Niagaras would always be. Would always be playing someplace I could get to within a reasonable amount of time so that I wouldn't have to wait and pine for too long for my 'happy' fix. Selfish, I know. And patience is NOT one of my many, many virtues. A-hem. But we all have to do the things we have to do, when we have to do them. These Niagaras boys are no different. It's a gut feeling. It's a knowing that this is the path. To fight against it is to fight the tides. You'll lose.

People leave, new people come, the world turns and we go on. If we are brave enough and wise enough to flow with that change, what wonders might we find?
The Niagaras final show will be at The National Underground 158 East Houston, between Allan and Houston, NYC 10PM (sharp) More info here

After that the always wonderful Robert Whaley will be performing with his new band Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak. Of course I've seen them - what a silly question. Of course they're fabulous - don't be dense. It's a different sort of vibe, more soulful abd deeo but still warm and welcoming and yes, funny too. And yes, I'm still envious of the lyrics here too. I'm just green with it. Oh well. More info here

Monday, August 11, 2008


Take a little look around this blog if you're a new-comer. You might notice I love the doggies. Dogs, dogs, dogs. Love me some doggies. Puppies, older dogs, dogs, dogs, dogs.

So it might not be terribly shocking that I decided to try a little stint of dog walking to pull in a little cash. Dog walking: cash, exercise, autonomy AND best of all: DOGS! Seems like an awfully good job for Miss Joy. Custom-made you might say.

So I went on craigslitst because I keep hearing about it. I mean people I know use it for all sorts of things. I have never used it, but I went browsing the other day and there were several dog walking agencies looking for people. Well.... it was sort of an impulse thing but I answered several. (I even answered a casting call... for the acting. Me? Act? Gosh... I could never... Yeah. Right. Somebody put me on a stage already.) There are two 'jobs' I'm good at: 1) acting, 2) um.... okay nevermind) But I figured dog walking? Hell, I'm golden. How could I not be great at that?

Welllllll. It seems that I AM great at it!

One of the craigslist ads I answered emailed me back and we set up an 'interview'. The interview was pretty much me tagging along for a couple of walks. Easy-peasy kids. Dogs love me. Men, I have some troubles, Dogs? DOGS love me. So the 'interview' went well. Although there were a couple of little tingles in my Spidey sense that were saying, Warning - Warning: this is NOT the job for you. Walk away now!" But when someone tells you 'you're hired' it's not a sucky feeling. So I thought I would take the job and write my misgivings and twitchy vibes off to the fact that I have been out of the job loop for a little over a year and a half and maybe I was just a little nervous about the whole 'commitment' thing.

So I said 'yes' and today was sent on a "training". Um, I don't know that I was actually 'trained' so much as shown where some dogs live. Which is cool, I can see it. Showing the newbie the ropes and all. That makes sense. What didn't make so much sense to me was how this operation was run.

Far as I can see walking dogs is pretty much a no-brainer. (Not that dog walkers are stupid, quite the contrary!) But I mean if you love dogs and have had a lifetime of experience with them, it's not brain surgery. If you haven't, then sure, you might need some basics. Such as: make sure they don't mess with aggressive dogs, don't let them eat stuff they find on the sidewalk, clean up after them when they poop, make sure they don't run into traffic (pretty easy to do that if you have them on a leash which, hello NYC your dogs should be on leashes!) So 'training' me did seem a little odd. But hey, again, I can see it - you know, an introduction.

The thing I was not too cool with was the rules. Because they didn't make an awful lot of sense to me and aside from the arbitrariness of them was the fact that they didn't seem to be adhered to all that much. And even more so, what bothered me was the non-walking of dogs you're being paid to WALK. The deal with this little company was to have several humans, each with one dog, bring the dogs to the park and then sit with them. Now this is not a gated dog run sort of park, just a 'sit on a bench sort of park'. SO the dogs are not actually getting much exercise - which helllllo that's what their owners are paying for - especially puppies who need to get that energy out so they don't eat your sofa! The woman who ran the thing kept harping on the fact that their clients like the fact that each dog gets personal attention, but I gotta say I didn't see that all so much. Maybe my idea of personal attention is not the same as the average persons? I dunno.... call me crazy but when there are several people, each with a dog and yet talking to each other and not much interacting with the dogs I don't see how that's actually 'personal attention'.

When we went to the park for the great doggie sit-in, I took the dog I was attached to (and yes, attached to by a leash tied to a fanny pack around my waist.) Let me stop here momentarily to state for the record that I have never once in my life before today worn a fanny pack. I do not EVER intend to wear one again. I was also advised to bring a backpack. Again, I do NOT wear backpacks. I spent 3 weeks traveling Europe after college with a huge, heavy backpack and swore at the end of that trip - over 20 years ago - that I would never wear a backpack again. Much as Robert Shaw's character in Jaws swears he will never don a lifejacket again. Because yes, it was THAT awful. Fanny backs do not have the same memories of pain and aches as backpacks, but those suckers are butt-ugly! And it goes against my sense of good taste to wear one. I did so today because of the 'rules' and because they handed it to me. So okay, I'm a good sport. Honestly, I'm terrifically easy going and more than willing to give people the benefit of the doubt so I put on the fugly pack and hooked the dog's leash to it.

But because I could not in good conscience just sit down with the dog I was being paid to WALK I ran the little guy up and down the length of the park a few times so he could get some cardio going. And not for nothing, but may I note that I also had done a 5K run earlier in the morning. So there.

Getting the dogs out of their apartments and bringing them home I would imagine that one of the more important aspects of the drop off and pick up would be to make sure that the apartment door is locked after leaving. There were a couple of times that the newbie (granted I'm a little OCD but still), the one without the keys, was the one to ask "did we want to lock this?" And yes that's just how I asked so as not to be obnoxious and say "YOU FORGOT TO LOCK THE DOOR". Because a little politeness never killed anyone.

Well.. okay long story short(er) at the end of my training stint I discovered that the walking schedules were given out on a daily basis - but not until quite late in the evening (11pm) for the next day. I dunno... the whole idea of a part-time gig was to continue to have a LIFE. Hard to do that when you don't know what your tomorrow will look like until 11pm. That was one thing BUT I was willing to give it a shot any way. Because I really wanted to be with the doggies! The other thing that appealed to me about dog walking was being with DOGS not with people. Look I'm not entirely antisocial, but there are almost always issues when you deal with people. Dogs, not so much. So I really just wanted to be given a schedule, go walk the doggies every day and be done with it. Yeah. Dream on. Dream on.

I was told to call the owner of the company (who had interviewed me yesterday) when my 'shift' was over. (There was an awful lot of checking in during and before and after walks... a little too much checking in for my tastes actually). But after the shift was done and I got home I did call. As we were discussing how many hours I wanted to do a week (20) because I wanted part time, she told me that anything less than 9-6 was part time (yeah, not so much), that everyone else wanted LOTs of work (I'm not everyone else). But okay, we're dealing with that - you want me, you'll take me for 4 hours a day and you'll LIKE it. But then... then the real deal showed itself.

Welcome to passive aggressive control-freak 101.

After praising me like I was the female Cesar Milan - everyone loved you, the dogs loved you, you're a natural, etc., etc. ad nauseam - This is what she said to me. "I don't think I can legally say this to you, but I'm going to any way. You would have to dress more appropriately. The top you had on today was far too revealing. It's really not appropriate to dress like that."

I would like you now to take a look at what I was wearing. I took this as soon as I got off the phone - right after I quit.

Yes, this is Joy wearing her Sluts Walk Puppies shirt - or as my friend Josh suggested "I'll walk your dogs AND you'll get an eyefull!" Or maybe a good slogan would be: "Let MY puppies walk YOUR puppies!"

Yeah. That's me as the slutty dog walker. Jeans, sneakers (easy spirit old lady sneakers no less), a windbreaker/raincoat and that hold back your menfolk I'm so hot v-neck tee shirt.

I know. Why would I think such ho-wear would be appropriate for walking dogs. I am such a dimwit.

Seriously, if this is inappropriate and THAT is the one complaint about this otherwise godsend to the dog-walking field, imagine what would be next. Wrong hair color? Didn't smile enough?

See I've worked in a LOT of offices and one thing about office work is that there is always ONE person with huge control issues. Always. It's like a law. These people more often than not end up in office manager positions. They love, love, love to bully people. They love people to kiss their asses and they hate anyone who is not afraid of them. Usually, as with most bullies, they are actually the most inept and insecure people you can find. But they always seem to rise to positions of 'power'. The Peter Principle in all its glory. So this personality type is one that I know well, and one that I avoid like the plague because I am the type of person they just despise - often for the most wacked-out reasons you can imagine. And I despise them: because they are bullies who pick on the people who can least defend themselves. People who NEED to keep their jobs because they are single mothers with children, or they just got a mortgage, or any number of reasons. People who the bully cannot threaten are the people the bullies hate. I guess that's why I've been hated by them. Tee-Hee! I could tell you stories about the last one. Oy. If you know me in real life, then you have heard those stories already. For the rest of you, let's wait until another time.

For now I'm going head over to the library (wheee!) and yes, I am going to wear my slut-tastic fashions. Gonna give that librarian an eyeful. maybe he has a dog I can walk? Hmmmm.


(p.s. I wore the exact same t-shirt in brown to my interview yesterday. Hmmm. Maybe blue is more slutilicious than brown?)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

He's at it again

I've been told it's not just my pets (and not just me) that have a serious weakness for potato chips. That's reassuring. Nice to share your addictions, right?

Somehow, can't imagine how, a big ol' bag of Lays appeared in my apartment. I swear some guy broke in through the window... he left this HUGE bag of chips, messed up the apartment (though he did vacuum) and then disappeared. No honest, it's all true!

Since Basil got his paws on the chip bag again, and I had fresh batteries in the camera, I thought I'd get a little video of him doing his thing with the bag. Just in case anyone thought for even a minute that I put that bag on his head against his will. As if I could or would do anything to this pooch against his will.. good luck with THAT!

So here's my boy and his bag.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Would you be mine, Could you be mine, Won't you be

Just typing those words I hear the song in my head and I can see the kindest man in the world smiling RIGHT at ME and telling me that I was loved and wanted and special.

There's no one quite like you.

Goddamn. There was not a soul in my real life that ever said anything even close to words like that to me. Mr. Rogers was the closest thing to someone loving me on a daily basis that I knew. I know that sounds unbelievably pathetic and it wasn't that there weren't kind people in my life. But who actually had the time for me? My stay at home mother? Um. Yeah. My father? Ohhhhh yeah. Or even more than having the time for me, was TELLING ME that I was worthwhile - let alone important, special, someone they were proud of? Please.

The one human being who was there for me on a daily basis and who was actually giving me the sort of ego building I needed when so many other real-life people were hell bent on either ignoring me entirely or making me feel like an idiot because I did not 'fit the mold' was Fred Rogers. A man on a television show on PBS. And as pathetic and poor, poor me as that sounds it's true.

Fred Rogers was SPECIAL. Not just to me. But it felt like it was just about me and for this 'spoiled' only child ('excuse me while I laugh a little bit about the 'spoiled' part... LOL) that was huge. I needed so badly to BE special somewhere, to someone even if it was a television fantasy. Since that wasn't happening in the real world my fantasy world was exceedingly rich and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was a touchstone.

People do poke fun at Mr. Rogers style and the style of the show. It used to bother me, but I realize that if you had some sort of trust, support, feeling of safety and emotional caring in your real world then yes, the world of Mr. Rogers might appear slow and sort of too-good-to-be-true, maybe even a little saccharine. But me, I know the impact that this show had on me as a child. It's conceivable that the messages I picked up here sank deep enough into my psyche to help fight the self-loathing I learned in the real world. God knows where I would have been without it.

I'm Pavlovian as far as the sounds of the Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood show are concerned. Just the 'clang-clang' of "Trolley" as it came into the room to ride us all to visit King Friday the Thirteenth in the Neighborhood of Make Believe can grab my attention from another room. I have actually accidentally caught an episode while channel surfing and stuck with it, cursing having missed the opening - as recently as a year ago. Because to this day hearing the sound of Mr. Rogers' voice, speaking or singing one of those simple but enduringly uplifting songs, can bring a tear of happiness to my cynical old eyes and remind me that I am, in fact, special.

Save Mr. Roger's Neighborhood

Monday, August 04, 2008

Mirror Mirror in the Store

Mirrors. Gotta hate 'em. Well I do any way. I've been averse to looking in mirrors in public for as long as I can remember. In private I will stare for adequate lengths of time that allow me to pick apart my many perceived imperfections or if I am looking from the shoulders up (I LOVE my bathroom mirror) I can look for longer periods and sometimes think I look okay. But in public? Ouch. Nothing is worse than that unexpected glimpse of oneself (with other people around) to take the wind out of any self-confidence your sails may have been billowing you around town with. Geez. Someone cover those things!

But the other day I was in a shoe store with a friend because people let's face it, two women passing a shoe store equals a genetic imperative to stop in and take a quick look.

One of the wonderful things about shoe stores is that their mirrors are low to the ground and show me just what I can handle - my feet. Feet shod in wacky inexpensive shoes that I can buy, feel frivolous and yet not break the bank... not even the piggy bank.

As we wandered around the store my friend suddenly stood stock still in front of the end part of an aisle. I couldn't imagine what was wrong - she gasped and exclaimed, "I look like a size TWO in this mirror!!! Look at this!!!" Seems this particular shoe store *cough* Payless * cough* had installed full-length mirrors at the ends of all their aisles. Why a shoe store would do this is beyond me - but wait! She was absolutely shocked and delighted. Now she has recently lost a little bit of weight - not that she needed to do so. (GGG-rrrrr-crunch. that's the sound of fat-girl jealously rearing its ugly head and reaching for another potato chip.) So I naturally assumed she was actually 'seeing' that weight loss for the first time and appreciating it. Sometimes you don't see it until it hits you accidentally, same with weight gain. So it seemed clear to me that was the case. But she was insistent that I look at myself in the mirror.

"It's not 'me'," she said, "it's the mirror - look!"

So I peeked at her reflection and sure enough it was like a fun-house mirror, she was quite a bit smaller in the mirror - like "eat a sandwich already, Mary-Kate" smaller. It was kind of, dare I say it, cool.

So despite my mirror fears when she stepped away and insisted again that I look at myself (in public people!) I stood in front of that fabulous fun house mirror and saw myself.... 15 years ago. Holy HELL people it was amazing! This nutty mirror actually made me look thinner and not in a 'well now I look 17 feet tall so I could gain a few' way but like some sort of computer-generated 'this is how you look 20 lbs thinner' way. IT was awe-inspiring. (I know, I'm easy).

The people in the store were at first a little taken aback by the two women in the back of the store screeching with delight, but then they actually came to see what the fuss was about and they seemed to get a kick out of it. They were quite familiar with the effects of the mirror but I don't think they'd seen anyone get such a charge out of it as we did.

I don't believe seeing myself in a public mirror and being happy, even giddy, about it is something that will happen with any great regularity but having that experience was a good exercise in visualization. I know that what I see in a mirror is not always what is really there, just like this distorted mirror, and maybe what I really need to focus on is not what I see in a mirror but what I project without self-consciousness - even if I do catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror that doesn't make me as happy as the shoe store mirror.

Or maybe I need to go back to that store and buy one of those mirrors. Mine, Mine, Mine!!!