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Nov. 26th, 2010

It's been a long time

I've composed so many entries in my head, and yet they never make it into pixels. Since I'm not really in the proper mind space right now to write something thoughtful here, I'll just leave these few sentences until I can return. Until then...

Sep. 10th, 2009


She was one of those fat people who was beyond hope; not the kind who always had an extra 20 pounds to lose, or even the one of the ones who could stand to lose 50 lbs. Those kind could lose 20 or 30 and look decent--pass for normal, at least. But she was the kind of fat person that needed some serious work to pass. She was the fat camp or surgery sort. In the young adult books that taught girls lessons about being themselves, accepting themselves, being strong, having esteem, she would have been the fat friend who did nothing but whine, cry and then eat. They were always eating in those books. They couldn't seem to be around their friends in school without cramming food in. They only went to their friend's homes for the snacks their parents wouldn't buy. She didn't think this was very realistic. She was always trying not to eat in front of friends. She would never ask for food, she was fat, she knew what the score was. Even if she was passing out from hunger, no one would think she had the right to eat. Or at least that as how she felt as a child.

Her mother gave her a book like that to read once, when she was about 6 or 7. It was from the church library. The girl in the story was going out with other kids from the youth group, to a swim party. But this main girl was fat, and her bathing suit looked bad on her. It made her sad that she looked this bad, so, of course, she ate. She bought candy bars from the vending machine and got chocolate all over herself because she was so disgusting. She couldn't hide the fact that she had been eating. The little girl who was reading the story was confused and felt bad. She knew she was the fat girl in the story. She didn't really understand the social setting of teens/preteens at this point in her life, and the idea that she would have money to go out and buy candy bars out of a vending machine was about as likely as being able to buy a pack of cigarettes from a vending machine.

Her mom probably gave her this book to read because she saw how her daughter was a little chubby. At that point, she really wasn't the girl in the story, but the course was set. Her mom had her on diet pills by 10, bought Ayds diet candy, was constantly exhorting her and trying to shame her into losing weight. Weight Watchers just after her 14th birthday, then a meals in a pouch system. None of the weight loss lasted for long, and she was beyond hope. Her mother had tried everything, even bribing her with a trampoline if she could get under the 100 lb weight limit for the one she was willing to buy.

When other girls talked about toning and pinching an inch or even dieting, she couldn't join in. Dieting was for thinner people, the girls who could be even more beautiful with a little weight loss; what would a fat girl know about a diet? The knowing looks and sarcasm were palpable. To her a diet felt a lot more serious, a do or die situation, not an acknowledgement that she could improve herself with a little effort. She couldn't ever publicly admit to being on a diet, because that was embarrassing to her. On some level, she resented admitting she was fatally flawed like that, she wanted to pretend that she was a real person. She couldn't really share dieting with people because of what it meant in her life. She wanted just to quietly lose weight with no one noticing, and then the pretending would somehow be actual and she'd be a real girl. She didn't want people to notice her. Sometimes they did, and that could be bad. Sometimes teachers made fun of her and sometimes other kids hit her and said they'd stop picking on her if she wasn't so fat. She wasn't the only one, she knew.

But she was one of those fat people who was beyond hope. She got older, got married, had kids, came into your world for one reason or another. You'd be interested in talking about the benefits of exercise and whole foods eating and combatting this rampant obesity crisis that was responsible for so many of the worlds ills. But when you happened to turn and catch her eye, you quickly looked elsewhere, to those more amenable to the message. There were always going to be those problem fatties, the ones who never lost weight, who just didn't get it. You'd try and tell them about how they just needed to lose weight for their health, and you were nice about it. You smiled when you asked them if they had thought about going on a diet or taking a walk, or parking their car farther away from the door, or not eating a whole pie every night. They were surly and rude in response, or non responsive. There was no help for people like that, those disgusting people who had no self control. She was one of those fat people beyond hope, the one for which a juice fast or 6 week toning program would not show much of a result, if it showed any at all.

When she got stronger and exercised more and ate vegetables and lived her life and got married and had kids and worked and volunteereed and grew older and started feeling tired and cold and gaining weight, she went to the doctor. The doctor asked her if she had tried going on a diet. It's just middle age spread, he said.

So she knew she was beyond help. She looked pregnant, but even if she had a 30 lb tumor in her uterus, no one would ever know, because she was fat and should lose weight. She knew there were people out there disgusted by her, who dreamed about punching her in the face and breaking her bones. She had even met a few of those people in her life. She was a non person to them, a person so disgusting they set up websites designed to hunting her, where they could engage in their violent fantasies about how they could take her apart. She knew that some people felt that she was so disgusting, she might as well be a person walking around with open weeping wounds full of maggots. That was what she felt like on the inside, some days.

Her friends, maybe, were used to her. They knew she was a fat person. They didn't want to be a fat person, but they had no problem if she was fat. There but for the grace of God go I, some of them may have thought. Some of them probably didn't think much about her fat at all, but deep down they were relieved that they were legitimate--legal citizens with jobs, homes, cars and marriages and the ability to look normal. They didn't have a disfiguring illness, they didn't have to use a wheelchair or a walker, they weren't gay, they weren't felons, they weren't refugees with barely a shirt on their back, they weren't mentally ill--at least other than taking a few anti-depressants perhaps--they weren't ill with some disease that must have been caused by poor lifestyle choices, they didn't have life threatening allergies or other health issues that kept them at home, they weren't neurologically divergent and they weren't morbidly obese. Maybe they didn't want to be any of those things, maybe they were some of those things and felt it. Maybe they wouldn't have minded being some of those things as long as they were well regarded in society. But morbid obesity would not be their first choice. They wanted to be legitimate.

She did too, of course, it was her biggest struggle to smile and act normally, like she belonged in the world, like she was just another person. But she knew, of course, that anything could be turned into a moral issue, and she was white, physically and mentally whole, mostly, and financially well off. She wasn't homeless and she could get married. Some people may not think she should reproduce, or have access to healthcare, but some people thought that about everybody. She knew she was lucky. She just didn't know how to live like she was.

Jun. 11th, 2009


It rained all last week, and might rain again. Does that mean it's time for me to make another post here?

Oct. 10th, 2007

What Do You Have To Say? - Entertainment: Paparazzi

Have you ever taken a photo of a celebrity?
No, unless B J Thomas counts. He was playing at King's Dominion once, and I took some photos of him.

Nov. 11th, 2006

Oh nuts!

I've been playing on Vox and completely neglecting LJ. I'm so sorry!

Oct. 20th, 2006

If the shoe fits

Originally uploaded by Jocular One.
These are the shoes I bought last week, the first pair of Danskos I've owned. The salesperson told me that she can wear these all day. I liked the aggressive way the arch of the shoe took charge of my foot, and I felt so much taller! The heels slip a little, as you might surmise if you can see the way my heel is situated. That is a feature, not a bug, and I got used to it right away. She told me that I could use the oils from my hands to buff out scuff marks, or I could buy an actual product. I opted to go the natural way. I think I have product anyway. I don't ever throw that stuff away.

I've been having knee problems just this past week, and I haven't exercised since Tuesday. Yesterday I took my youngest to the park, hoping to meet some moms from the homeschooling group. The park was deserted, so I walked laps around the playground while I attempted to read a biography of Mao. I estimated that the distance was about 1/16 of a mile. Then I counted my steps as I walked my laps, and based on what I know from my hardcore pedometer step counting days, I was pretty much spot on. I only got 8 laps in, though. Once other people came to the park I was afraid of looking too...well, too much like a lazy exerciser. Like the type of person who walks from the car to the house and says, "boy, I'm pooped." Purposeful lap walking while reading a biography just seemed a little too much like calling attention to myself.

I thought my knee was getting better, but last night my ankle started hurting and I finally traced the pain to the outside part of my upper front calf, where the muscle attaches to the bone. It feels almost strained, and my numb left foot is hurting more. My foot has been numb ever since a disk ruptured in my back, so I think that is causing all the problems. Today, though, I wondered if my new shoes weren't exacerbating the problem. I wore my Birkenstocks today, just to see.

But my back and leg issues are not the point of this entry. No, the point is to bore you with photos of my feet in shoes and to prattle on about the most comfortable shoes, and my ankle insecurities.

I had never heard the term cankle until very recently. The next day I was in the bathroom, trying to take photos of my ankles. My husband just rolled his eyes and told me I was practicing some sort of reverse narcissism. Nothing reverse about it, it's vanity through and through. You may not be able to tell from this photo, but I don't have cankles. I do have the feet and ankles and, well, every other body part that you might expect in a 260+ lb woman, though. So maybe for that reason, it's taken me a little longer to get visually used to these shoes.

When I was first wearing them, I saw them peeking out from the flared legs of my jeans and I flashed back to childhood. I felt like I should have been wearing a peasant top and my poncho with the fringes and the pom-poms. I briefly tried clogs when I was 8, but I kept falling off them and I sprained my ankle. I never wore them again.

Yesterday, at the park, I fell. At this point there were a lot of mothers and children there for the playground games. None of them were the women I knew from my group, but I saw one that I remembered from my time at K4J. K4J=Kids for Jesus. My oldest, Molly, has been doing the K4J Bible School since my friend started it at her church. I firmly believe in lighting a candle and cursing the glare, so I end up taking a job with the bible school just so I can complain and feel put upon. I had to take a Protecting God's Children class in order to be the snack preparer, and it happened that I was in the same class as the woman now before me in the park. She had a copy of Ann Coulter's Godless: the Church of Liberalism, so I knew it was the same woman.

She annoyed me in the class, and I was at the park as part of the liberal homeschooling group and yet...I felt this need to talk to her. I walked past her once to see if she would say something to me. Before I was leaving, I decided to go up and talk to her. As I was walking back her way, my foot somehow slipped off the curb and I fell smack down on the sidewalk right in front of her. And then we had a lovely conversation. Turns out she grew up in the Bay Area. Who'd a thunk it!

Now my leg hurts in a new way, but I don't know if it's the shoe or the fall or the back or a combination. Remembering what the salesperson said about the skin oils, I decided to work on the big scuff on my shoe on my drive home. I walked past the conservative mom's vehicle, easily recognized by the 2 pro-life bumperstickers, and got in my own. I took my shoe off and put it on the seat next to me. Occasionally I would rub the scuffed part on my face trying to convey those oils to the shoe. I'm not as gifted anymore, with the dry, middle-aged mug I now possess. At one stoplight, I took the shoe and rubbed it right down the side of my nose. I avoided the possibility of eye contact after I realized how this must appear.

So the shoes, yes, the shoes. I have a number of photos of my ankles and feet in shoes. Am I going to somehow tie in my daily anecdotes with my ankle and foot obssession? Goodness no. But I'll be happy to add more photos of my feet in shoes.

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So this is the photo that begs the question--do my feet look fat in these shoes? I think what's going on here is that these shoes don't cut across the narrowest part of my foot. I love the lines of feet, how they flare out from the narrow point near the heel. But the eyes are drawn to the middle of the foot making my whole foot seem about the same width.

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Now these Birkenstocks, between the way the end of the foot widens and the fact that the top comes further back makes my feet look a little wider--which in turn enhances my ankles. These Birkenstocks are pretty comfortable, probably the third most comfortable shoe I own. The first is either my Adidas or my Wolky sandals.

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Ah, the Wolkys. I went into a little store in Encinitas to buy some Birkenstock sandals, and I chose these instead. They are so comfortable I can wear them for long walks outside or on the treadmill. I love the closed heel, and the way the bed has completely cradled my foot. They have wonderful arch support. Unfortunately, these shoes are really breaking down after the years of wear I've put on them. I would love to get a new pair. Plus the strap across my ankle with the middle part of my foot exposed is more attractive, I think.

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The last pair of sandals I bought were these Merrills. They were pretty comfy, but you can see how my toe hangs over the edge. I got them for half price, which was a good thing considering the upper has ripped away from the lower on the left shoe. Molly told me they look like boy shoes and I told her it's because they are. I like the look of bigger, heavier shoes on my feet. I think fat people with tiny feet--like my sister with her size 6 little dogies--look a little overbalanced. I like the grounding look of big feet.

Oct. 12th, 2006

Happy Birthday, October babies!

Today is my husband's 45th anniversary of the day he was born. Ever since I've had children, i.e. something else in my life that demands serious attention, I've been bad about birthdays and anniversaries and all that. I wasn't even that good about it before since: 1) my husband is the type who doesn't care about the sentiment, and 2) who is the type who buys what he wants when he wants it. He loves books and I know he is picky about them and won't read just anything, so I put a lot of thought into them before I buy them. Yet he hasn't read a book I've bought him yet, no matter how good I thought it was. I made a really cool score one year and got him something he had been looking for for years. He was so excited and enthusiastic and appreciative. Then he asked for the website so he could then go and buy himself two more of the same thing, just to make sure he'd always have one. I tried not to let that diminish my joy.

My 7 year old is an irascible little thing who takes my cavalier attitude towards her father's birthday very seriously. In previous years, she's practically demanded that I go out and get him something really cool and expensive, dismissing the gift I've chosen with the scornful, "That's not a good present for a BIRTHDAY!" I wish she were as protective of my own day as her fathers. You would think she would harangue him until he got me a cake just so she could have a piece, but she seems remarkably quiet on that front. Today I mentioned the birthday to her since I figured I'd get off my cheap, lazy ass and go out to buy him a gift while she was in school. She didn't like the idea of a dvd and agreed to the wallet when I explained that he was thinking he'd get one for Father's Day but didn't and actually needs one. My wallet is about 15 years old, but I guess men run through wallets more quickly with that whole shove in the back pocket and sit on it all day long thing. So a wallet, good, but the dutiful daughter felt like something more was called for, and she thought that something else should be a book. Agh! I explained that I don't buy him books because he gets rid of them without reading them, but she thought he would like Elfquest. Sure, but he has the whole set of Elfquest. She's convinced he doesn't, so I told her I'd run by the bookstore and check it out.

I had to go to Toys R Us anyway, to return a birthday gift for my younger daughter who turned 3 exactly a week ago. My sister's and a niece's birthdays are both exactly a week after my husbands--maybe you get why I feel a little burned out with it all. Anyway, I happened to buy the same gift for Jessie that my housecleaner did. Who knew she'd spend as much on my kid as I did??? Twenty-five smackaroos!!! Oh yeah, and Vivian got her a stuffed toy pumpkin too, because Jessie told her she wanted a pumpkin. I got her a tiny real pumpkin and some balloons, so I guess I came out slightly ahead, especially with the cake I baked. Yeah, so we had to go to Toys R Us anyway to return the duplicate gift, and I decided to stop at one of the malls on the way there; the mall that has a library and a grocery store as two of its anchors, as well as a Birkenstock store. I needed to return a book, and the Birkenstock store had promise. I had this idea I could find a cool wallet there and maybe some nice socks. Instead I found the perfect gift for John; a new pair of shoes for his lovely wife. Danksos with a back, $114. After such a huge expenditure on that gift, I really felt like I had to do the rest of the gifts on the cheap. I did buy 2 pairs of socks at the Birkie store, but they had no wallets, so I headed to Burlington, the other anchor store. They had some wallets and some socks. I let Jessie have her way on the socks and I chose the wallet. Then we hit the shopping center with Toys R Us and Trader Joe's so I could get a trans-fat free cheesecake and some fruit to go on it.

So four pairs of socks, a wallet and a cheesecake, plus a wife with new shoes. Doesn't that sound just perfect? A book would be overkill, right? If not, I'll just wrap the biography of Mao I picked up at the library today, and offer to take it back to the library for him when it's due. Happy 45th birthday, sweetheart!

Jan. 20th, 2006

Mary Cosgrove

In the 6th grade, I had a friend named Mary Cosgrove. I had her school photo for awhile, but lost it long ago. I find myself periodically recalling that photo and trying to see her face again, but it's been so many years that the details are provided are probably more what my memory fills in the blank. Even at the time I received the photo, the girl in the image did not seem that much like the real person; she looked so serious in the picture. I remember her being a good student, funny in an almost wry way, as much as a 6th grade girl could be, I suppose. She played the violin and was pretty good at it, one of the better kids in the strings class. I always appreciated those with good intonation. I think of her as sort of no nonsense, but kind. She was nice to me, and I felt she was my friend. I basically have two memories of her. One was on a day when cheerleader announcements were posted. A girl in the class named Carla came in excitedly and said, "I made it! I made it!" It was a quiet excitement--Carla wasn't a particularly loud or outgoing person either, not at all like the mental image I get today hearing about cheerleaders. But at the time she definitely seemed like the type who would make the cheerleading team as she was pretty and seemed well-liked by much of the class.

Mary showed up a little while later, rushing into the classroom and then setting her stuff down at her desk in obvious relief. "I made it!" she said triumphantly. Someone asked, "You made the cheerleading team???" It was a friend of hers, asking in a tone of both wonderment and excitement, and I remember feeling an odd sense of disappointment that that might be what Mary had meant. I had thought she was simply happy to make it to class on time, but the idea that she might have harbored notions of being a cheerleader enough to know when the tryouts were and to actually audition suddenly left me feeling bereft. Mary just gave a sort of snort of laughter and said, "Noooo, I made it to school on time. The bus was running late and I didn't think I would." It's probably shallow of me, but I've always loved her for that. She seemed so darn sensible and humorous at the same time.

My other specific memory of her is being in home-ec class together. It was our last period of the day, and in 6th grade cooking we made some things like fudge, which didn't turn out and had to be taken home and refrigerated, and pudding. The pudding turned out fine, and we were sitting together and eating it, three of us, and chatting about our families. Mary, another girl named Jennifer, and I all had a younger sister or brother who had pesty moments, and we were relating these stories. I don't remember any specifics, other than finding out that Mary had younger brothers, and Jennifer had a little sister. I just remember the tone being one of comraderie where we shared the tribulations of having these annoying little people in our lives, but clearly we loved them on some level. It was a good natured conversation, actually the kind I could hear my older daughter having about her little sister.

Those are basically the only two things that specifically stand out in my mind about Mary Cosgrove. I was looking forward to seeing her in school again in 7th grade. On Labor Day, I was at my mom's real estate office, and I picked up the local newspaper. There was a story about a collision that killed a father and daughter, and I gravitated to that one right away, since it dealt with death. The girl that was killed was Mary Cosgrove, along with her father. They were hit head on while driving home. I later found out they were hit by a drunk driver, but I honestly don't remember the story mentioning that detail at the time. Although I'm not sure how well I read it. It was shocking, you know, to realize a story with a headline about a collision, a man and girl being killed on Highway 55 was a story about someone in my life. It was that first sense of, "Wow, those stories don't happen to other people, it's always someone that someone else knows and loves."

I'm not even sure what I was thinking, honestly. I think my grief was a lot like my niece Lauren's grief, when my own father died. A very self-centered sort of grief that had more to do with how I was supposed to be feeling. I remember crying, and I remember being upset enough to where I went out and climbed atop the jungle gym thing we had in our yard. I sat on the top at sunset just thinking about the nature of life and death, and feeling sad. I went to her funeral, where I her saw the mother, strong and beautiful, holding onto her sons with both hands as the three of them made their way down the aisle, to the front, near where the two closed coffins stood. One had my friend in it, the other had her father. That picture is etched in my mind. I wrote down what I could remember of Mary, probably the two stories above, and I sent her mother a card telling her how sorry I was. She sent me the photo. I looked at that photo frequently at first, looking for some hint that she would not be the happy, vibrant girl she was. And interestingly enough, she looked so serious in the photo, not like I remembered her. It seemed uncanny. I tucked the photo into my Bible, along with a sprig of baby's breath that I found on the floor at the church on the day of the funeral.

At some point when we were moving, my mother took my Bible and packed it in a box with her books which she stuck in the crawl space of our home. They were promptly ruined and she threw them out. I still find that hard to believe, as I had learned to hold onto things and protect them from my throw everything away mother by that age. I am sad that I wasn't able to save that Bible, a Bible I had asked for as a young girl of about 5 or so. My parents made a special trip to buy it, and wrote an inscription in the front. I had thought it was in my room on my bookshelf, but it disappeared.

I went to the 7th grade and life went on. I remember sitting in strings class, half hoping they would call her name for that first rolltaking. I didn't want her to be that easily forgotten; a young girl, a girl our age, had just died and yet life went on as ever. It wasn't until many years later when my father died that I lived through that odd juxtaposition of going on with life while dealing with death in a real way. The strings teacher, a new one that year, did call Mary's name several times. There was a quiet reply in the violin section, but I played the viola and was a little too far away to hear what was said. And that was the last mention of her in school, at least that I heard. Although I ended up having a physics class with her brother, Brian, and I mentioned that I knew here. He nodded solemnly and kindly. He was active in Students Against Drunk Driving. I joined too.

Through the years I've thought about Mary. I haven't kept in touch with any of the kids I knew then, and many of them could have passed on by now through one way or another. I wouldn't know. I think about the ones who were my friends who I lost in one way or another, but I specifically think of Mary because she had such a short life and it ended when I knew her. I think of her at my age now, she having grown up along with me, having gone to college, with a job, with children of her own. She seems older and wiser now, maybe in retrospect because my memories are colored by who I am now. Or maybe I can see her as an adult more easily because I remember myself at that age and I see how I've grown and how I haven't. I like to remember her because it was so long ago that she died, 1978; another lifetime ago, and I want to believe that people really do make a difference in our lives. I want her to live on in memories because that is the only life she has now, so I remember her with the few memories I have.

Jan. 11th, 2006


She was thinking about the parrot in The Awakening saying if only you knew. Ah! si tu savais, or something like that. She read that story when she was younger, in her twenties, and at the time it seemed artistic. There was suicide at the end, that weird inexplicable thing that seems to happen in all these stories of ennui; the artistry is in the juxtaposition of beauty and death, the incongruency. The horror at the method, the meaning of it, or what is beautiful about life isn't a part of the story. Maybe it's meant to be artistic, but more likely it's just a recounting of fact. Virginia Woolf walking into a river, the Chopin character swimming out to sea, Anna Karenina and the train; no pathology, just the end. "I'm tired of this now, it bores me, I think I'm done here." It's not really artistic, it's just realistic.

She is driving down the road in a car, a large, expensive conglomeration of many resource consuming parts on a large expanse of material. A street, blacktop surrounded by concrete, metal poles, wires, building with countless tons of around her. One huge long street that represents who knows how many tons of rock, tar, and labor hours. All for the sake of moving big metal, plastic and glass things around with one or two people in them. Some days she just can't bear the sight of the waste. There's nothing to do, nothing that can be done, no matter how she might feel or thinks she should feel about it all. She can't really feel. All that is left is that mind numbing boredom that acts as a blackhole, sucking in all feeling, the despair, the joy, the sadness, the anger. There's nothing but a sense of futility at it all. Maybe she is done too. Is there really any point to it all, she wonders. Maybe you can just decide you are done and give up. Maybe the people who experience the longest lives are the ones who don't want to.

Some days she is filled with awe at the joy and beauty in life, but not right now. Right now she is just driving down a city street on a gray December day to go to Toys R Us to buy a Christmas present that she doesn't have to pay for, but that she doesn't really want to buy even though it was her idea in the first place. What is the point of it all. She is feeling like every stereotyped middle aged female character ever written about. All the Anne Tyler novels make perfect sense now; she is the yellow wall paper. This is how you feel middle-aged, she decides. One minute you feel as young as you ever were laughing at 20 year olds who just don't get that. The next minute you see the edge of something. Something shiny and hopeful, bright and meaningful is fleeing away and you realize you have to decide to keep on going, or you decide you've had enough. Life really isn't going to be what you thought or hoped it could be. It might be even better than the youthful life you led. In point of fact, you know it is. And that is what is so damn wrong about it all. This may well be the pinnacle, and that is downright depressing.

So she drives to the Toys R Us to push a big blue plastic and metal cart around a huge space filled with toys, so she can buy yet one more. One toy to take home and stick in her house so we can put those mines and oil derricks to good use, getting more metal and petroleum to make more crap that may eventually end up back in the ground, just not quite in the same way. And she is doing this because, really, she doesn't have any choice. She can't decide what else to do. Even if there was a clear cut of right and wrong, she feels like she is predetermined to walk down this path. She doesn't have it in her to say no.

But when she gets to the store and takes her toddler out of the carseat, things start to make a bit more sense. Her toddler is laughing, wanting to walk on her own. "Mommy's cute, Mommy's big." Her toddler makes comments about things that seem to need responses, so she smiles and acknowledges that. They get into the store and her toddler is happy at the sight of all the toys, which depresses her. Surely, she thinks, we will all burn in hell or suffer some sort of karmic retribution for living this kind of life. Even that gruesome thought does not deter her from her errand, and once she is at the place where the spring horses are kept, she is able to get back into her normal mode of thinking. She has to decide between a Radio Flyer spring horse, or a Flexible Flyer brand.

She takes her chore seriously at this point, moving the boxes around and climbing on a pallet to pull forward the Cinnamon horse. There are a lot more Radio Flyer Liberty models, but she can't decide between that and the largest Flexible Flyer horse. She reads the information on the boxes and considers the photos carefully while her toddler gleefully climbs into every Power Wheels vehicle on the shelf. The Radio Flyer Liberty model seems a little nicer, and is more expensive. The Flexible Flyer Cinnamon model, however, is the tallest. She contemplates whether this extra height will give the spring horse more utility in the long run, and whether she is leaning towards the Liberty only because of the price. She's not paying for it, so why not have her father-in-law pay the extra $40? In the end she checks the manufacturing labels. Cinnamon declares it is made in the USA in large letters, while the Fabrique in Chine tag is small on the Liberty box. Deciding to save her husband's father some money and give the workers in Mississippi a chance, she takes the Chestnut.

As she walks around, barely able to see past the big box in the cart, she notices signs above her head. One features a little girl playing with a doll, and the other is a little girl in makeup. The made up girl looks horrible, like a 50 year old woman with the fake eyelashes and lipstick she is wearing. The picture is downright ugly to see, so she can't keep her eyes away from it. It annoys her to the core to see the girl in make up. Why in the world would a store actually wanting to sell this stuff think that people would find it cute? She can't figure this. But she walks over to the Bratz aisle and buys a Bratz doll nonetheless, because she doesn't feel like she can escape the immorality of her life anyway, and she doesn't want to do a half-assed job of it. Bratz, no Bratz, who cares? Does it matter? Pick up the stuff from the shelves, wheel it to the cashier and slide the card through.

Her toddler has been happily looking at toy after toy, and she feels badly about exposing her so non-chalantly to something as horrible as a Toys R Us. She's already normalizing it. She clears that thought from her head and buys her girl some candy before heading out the door. Her toddler wants to walk, but she's not quite keeping up, so finally she decides to carry the little girl to the car. The cart starts to roll away, and an older woman grabs it and insists on pushing it to her car for her. She thanks the woman, who smiles and continues on to her own car.

Getting the box into the car proves to be a big task, and she wonders at the wisdom of this purchase. The sales clerk just let her go out the door, too. He didn't seem to think there was anything odd about it. He probably assumed that she has an SUV like most people, but she doesn't. Her husband wanted her to keep the SUV instead of the sedan, but she balked at that, insisting on the better gas mileage car. So she shoves her big bulk into the side of the carton, crushing it enough to get it in the back seat. She's done with boredom, just concentrating on fulfilling one task after another. The Toys R Us is in the same shopping center as the Trader Joe's, so she decides to go and do some shopping. She's put off shopping for food as long as possible. No matter how she tries not to spend money, it feels like they are always hemmorhaging cash. Her husband got a flat tire on the way to work just that day.

She digs around in the trunk for her cloth grocery sacks, carries her toddler over to a cart and heads in.