Leslie Jones, Nobaday and the Olympics

Feb. 13

Dear Diary,

Leslie Jones commentating on the Olympics is giving me life right now. I am watching it on NBC of course, but following her on Twitter makes me laugh. I spit coffee on my computer the other day. It’s been a long time since I’ve laughed like that.

I am a little bothered because under USA’s snowboards it says “NOBADAY.” I guess they’re a sponsor or something. What would I know from tropical, hurricane-ridden Houston? I get that it’s supposed to mean No Bad Day, but instead it reads to me like “Nobody” but with an “A” where the second “O” is. Nobaday. Nobady. Or then it also reads Nobaddy, as in No Baddy. It’s disturbing.

Nothing much to report. My therapist asked me how A New Me! is coming, and I didn’t have much to say. I haven’t weighed and, let me tell you, that is life changing. I quit weighing regularly about five years ago. Clearly, it hasn’t helped me lose weight, but it has taken away some of the anxiety. Think about it, Dear Diary, my weight going either direction leads me to want to eat. Gained weight? I’m going to eat because I’m sad. Lost weight? Let’s celebrate! And by “let’s celebrate,” I mean I’m walking to the pantry by myself to see if I have any Doritos.

I know normal people don’t think that way, but I’m not anywhere near normal when it comes to food. Now I judge it by the way my clothes feel. They are looser. I’m excited about that but not thinking about it too much. I will want to celebrate by eating, and that’s not the point.

I wonder if all my focus on food is what drove Jack away. All I could think about was how much I weighed. He’s a normal eater. He makes decent food choices and stops eating when he’s hungry. That baffles me. At McDonald’s, he orders the Happy Meal. Who does that over the age of ten? I get out my food tracking app, see if hope beyond hope I could fit in a Quarter Pounder and medium fries and still have a decent meal at dinner. I never could, but one can always try. AND he wouldn’t eat the fries. I would stare at them as they remained untouched, amazed. I was too ashamed to ask him if I could have them.

That’s all I have. All this talk about food has depressed me now so I’m going to get in bed and dream about what I can’t eat. Maybe A New Me! will have more next week. I signed up to help with hair and makeup for Lucy’s high school musical. I had no idea when I signed up that I would basically have to be there all week, but it’ll be okay I guess. I need to get out of the house. Jack is helping with Jack Jr. I guess it’ll be good for them to hang out with each other. Lucy’s a bit mortified that I’m going to be backstage but isn’t it my job to embarrass her a little? Maybe we can have some No Bay Days together.

Good night.

Letter in the Principal’s Office

Feb. 5

Dear Dr. McClain,

As the only female board member at Oaks Christian High School, I take to heart our mission, A Building with Four Walls and Tomorrow Inside. Even though our school has more than four walls, I do look to the mission of “tomorrow inside” as guidance, a beacon, if you will, as I weigh carefully the future of our beloved high school. I know the other board members carry this burden as well.

Further, as you said in your recent State of the School address, the reputation of OCHS rests upon the shoulders of our elite students and parents, making this a wholesome community that attracts the highest echelon of applicants and faculty.

However, after recent developments, I’m not sure what our tomorrow or our reputation will look like. Both are being sullied as I type.

There is something lurking out there, a threat to the fine work you have done as principal and we as board members. This threat could bring a hammer down on the lofty ideals we have worked so diligently towards.

It has painfully been brought to my attention that Sheila Trainer has been sharing pictures of her breasts on social media. First, this is ghastly unto itself. Why a young girl with a bright future would feel the need to do this is beyond the pale, but there we have it. Moreover, what further demands discussion is the passing along of the pictures. Apparently, they went from student to student to student. The horror of it all. I cannot imagine the PTA meeting when this comes to light. We will be the talk of the town.

I am fairly certain Sheila’s parents do not know about this. I’m sure if they did, they would have already acted. I do not think I am the one to tell them. They will be devastated.

I am terribly sad to relay this news to you, as Sheila has been, until this sad juncture, a stand-up student. Her family has been a pillar of success and determination in our community. Why, at our small, Christian middle school, she won every award at least once. I know at OCHS she has performed exceedingly well but we simply cannot afford to lose our good reputation over Miss Trainer’s whims and poor judgment.

Please act quickly. We cannot waste any time, as re-enrollment begins shortly. This needs to be quashed. I trust my good name will be kept out of this nasty situation. I do not want to be part of the insidious Houston gossip mill.

Thank you for all you hard work in furthering our mission – A Building with Four Walls and Tomorrow Inside.

Very Sincerely Yours,

Helen Smithson

Secretary of the Board

Oaks Christian High School

Dear Diary, don’t ask how I found this letter. Okay, fine, I’ll tell you. It was sitting on McClain’s desk when I was called in to talk about Jack Jr and this cheating thing, which I’m thankful to say he’s been cleared of, after a bit of arguing and much gnashing of teeth.

Anyways, years of teaching kindergarten gave me the ability to read upside down. And so my nosy self was glancing over his desk, as one tends to do when left alone for a moment. The words “Sheila Trainer” caught my eye under some papers. I discreetly moved said papers, got out my phone and took a picture. HORRIBLE I know.

Let me get this out of the way before you judge me for being an uncaring person. I am heartbroken for Shelia. She’s always been a nice kid. As Helen said, she won every award at our middle school, which was a tad annoying, but there were only fifteen in the grade and how could she not be in the top of the class with a mother like Smother Mother Claudia herself?

There are four Trainer children with Sheila being the oldest, and all of them are the epitome of perfection. Clothes ironed, matching bows expertly chosen, report cards to die for and enviable behavior. I marveled at how Claudia did it, when I couldn’t wait to get back in bed after drop off. Did the woman ever sleep? Are the children truly happy, or are they living out their mother’s need for something? Control? Popularity? Clearly there is more to it.

And Claudia. CLAUDIA. Always happy, always smiling. Every now and then I see a flicker of something, maybe unhappiness, maybe concern, maybe dismay, but it certainly never makes its way down to her smile. It’s momentarily in her eyes. There and gone, just like that.

Back when I was thinner and more involved in the social scene, Claudia laughingly told me she had a secret goal of getting a statue of Sheila erected in the school’s courtyard because she did so much good for the school. I was mortified because A) It wasn’t a secret at that point if you’re telling little ol’ me. B) Who in their right mind thinks that? Even if you’re supposedly joking, who thinks as far as erecting a statue for your own CHILD? And even if you thought it, who would say it OUT LOUD?

So, out of all this, how could Sheila possibly end up normal?

And, Dear Diary, having been out of the loop for so long trying to keep my marriage together, it’s kinda nice to know something before Claudia Trainer knows it. I know, I know, I’m a tad bit embarrassed at my joy. But it’s one of those moments where you’re just honest-to-goodness, bless their hearts, truly thankful it isn’t your kid. And I say that knowing full well it could be my kid, if not now, then possibly one day.

So let me have my smug moment. It’ll morph shortly into compassion and concern, but, for now, let me revel in life’s karma for just a bit.

I’m off to walk. I know, I’m EXERCISING. But the stupid new me! guide said to do it, so here I am in my workout clothes I bought years ago, lacing up my old shoes I dug through my closet to find. I’ll be happy if I can make it a mile.


No-Good Day

Jan. 17

Horrible morning. I want to stay in bed all day. I can’t because my kids will be home because the stupid schools are closed. It’s a hard freeze in Houston, and the city is shut down. I don’t want to be a complete craphole of a mother. I have to get out of bed and maybe clean out a closet or something. You know, Dear Diary, fill our free day with something constructive.

But first, here’s how my morning went. Lucy came in, covered in blankets. “I know I’m not supposed to talk to you before you’ve had your coffee, but I think you should know. Dad’s texted me this morning that he’s getting remarried.”

I lay there for a moment. It was either shock or lack of coffee, or both. I could feel tears coming, and I was nauseous.

“I’m pissed, thanks for asking,” she said. I could hardly breathe. “He’s already fucked her, as we all know. Can’t that be enough? Why does he have to go and marry her?”

I had no answer. I hated it when she cursed but that was the least of my worries right now. She looked at her phone and mumbled something about how the power was out in parts of Houston. “I’m going back to bed. I can’t handle this.”

I looked at her and nodded. I still had nothing to say. She turned around in a huff and walked out the door.

I wanted to tell her how sorry I was that all of this happened, but the words wouldn’t come. Now it was final. Our fate was sealed as a family and me as a single mother by a man who walked out on us for another woman. Tears were flowing, and they were bigger than any I had ever shed. Jack was gone, for real. I felt foolish for holding out hope that he would realize his mistake and come home. I fantasized about he would call me one day, ask to talk and beg for forgiveness for all of it, Slutty-slut-slut, the divorce, the pain. In my fantasy, I would have said yes, of course, you’re forgiven, but you will have to sleep on the sofa for a night or two, for at least a sliver of my pride to remain intact. And he agreed, knowing all was back to the way it should be. In every scenario he came home, because we were a family.

Then there’s Claudia Trainer, with her 2,000 Instagram followers and photoshopped selfies, reminding me that my self-esteem was in the toilet. Why, oh why, did I have to run into her at Target? And what she said about Slutty-slut-slut? About how attractive she was? To my face? Thanks, you Smother Mother. How is that constant helicoptering working out for you? Lucy told me your snowflake of a daughter Sheila’s been sending nude pictures of herself to all the boys at school. How has that tidbit escaped your tendrils? And enough with the meal train. If I haven’t asked for one since the divorce over six months ago, I think I’m good. Dinner is the last thing on my mind. Stop bringing it up. Just stop.

Then, Dear Diary, peace came over me as something touched the sides of my memory. Was it true? My eyes lit up. Did I really forget to do that? Or was I saving it for a truly horrifying day, like today? Did I accidentally on purpose forget to throw away those leftover M&Ms from Halloween that are stashed under my bed? Obviously why they were there didn’t matter as much as the fact that they were there, waiting to console me, as if a gift from the universe saying, “There, there, it will be okay.”

I know enough about this charade to know these M&Ms will ultimately cause more pain than joy, but, for a moment, they are so delicious, so filling, so comforting. Damn cleaning my closet on this day off. Damn my food plan. These taste so good, and everything, just for this moment, is okay. The reckoning that loneliness was my new reality is overwhelming, and I keep eating more, hoping against hope that they will take away some of the pain, knowing they will just make me fatter, which is probably why Jack left in the first place. And now, sad that the M&Ms are gone, but comfortably happy that the sugar rush is setting in, I feel warm and cozy. I think I’m going to go to sleep. Good night, Dear Diary. Hopefully when I wake up the world will be a better place, even though I know it probably won’t be.


No French Fries Here

Jan. 15

Dear Dairy,

The new me! guide suggested another goal for the new year should be to keep it positive, a phrase I get but keep tripping over. It just sounds so new. Do you think the cavemen worried about keeping it positive? I think their biggest concern was finding meat and not having to eat grass for the rest of their lives.

Did Ma and Pa Ingalls go through their day telling themselves to be positive? And I’m referring to the real Ma and Pa Ingalls, not Michael Landon, with the feathered hairstyle of the ‘70s, shirtless as he chopped wood for the freezing winters. No doubt Mr. Landon kept it positive with the bourbon he drank on set, but the nineteenth-century Ma and Pa Ingalls? No, survival was first and foremost. Maybe they had time to worry about Nellie and Mrs. Oleson up the way in Walnut Grove, but only between working at the mill and on the farm, making bread, washing clothes, feeding the animals, sewing clothes and cooking meals, at least before the restaurant opened later in the series. And tending to the family. And they had a blind daughter. That to-do list makes me want to take a nap. Then again, anything makes me want to take a nap.

In other news, I have to say I’m proud of myself. I did not go through the McDonald’s drive-thru yesterday to get large fries, preferably right out of the fryer. That’s the best way to have them. They get soggy if they’ve been sitting under the heating lamp for too long. I’ve been known to wait until a new batch was cooked to order. Obviously it’s still a vision in my head, but I didn’t go then and I’m not going to go now.

I had reason to, though. I had just been to the plus-size section at Target and spoke to someone I’m not fond of. Two doozies. I went to Target to get a few things and decided, against all reason and sanity, to go look for clothes. First, there is nothing worse than the plus-size section at Target. It’s not like Lane Bryant, where everyone is there for the same reason. At Target, anyone you know can be wandering through the decorating section, happen to look up and there I am standing with plus-size pants. Sheer horror. And I don’t try anything on, at Target or anywhere else for that matter. That’s a deeper section of hell. Two reasons: mirrors and fit. The first one is obvious. Who besides toddlers likes mirrors?

And here’s the deal on the whole fit thing. Gather round and listen closely, dear fashion designers of plus-size clothing, let me let you in on something we chunky women have known for years. WE ARE NOT PROPORTIONAL. Let me repeat for all those kind, regular-size people sitting in swanky NYC offices designing clothes for us – a big waist does not equal long legs, long arms or even big shoulders. Again, we are not proportional. It is aggravating trying on a shirt that looks good, until you get to the shoulders that are at my elbows, making the sleeves down to my knees. That designer was hopeful – I get it – that maybe, just maybe the woman who fit that in the bust will also have long arms. But we heavy women know the truth, don’t we? It’s not going to work. We know that whatever we buy, we have to get altered. So Dear Diary, a pair of pants from Target is now costing me a lot of money.

Did you catch that? From Target. More money. The whole thing is shameful and horrible.

Through all of this, however, I tried so hard and was succeeding at keeping it positive. I’m thankful I know all of this at my wise age of forty-five. I can throw clothes in my cart, hoping they will fit but knowing they probably won’t. It’s okay. Knowledge goes a long way for us older, chunky women. Now I know not to overthink it. Confidently I headed out of the plus-size section and almost made it to the shiny white tile of the aisle, and who do I see? The queen of the smother mothers herself, Claudia Trainer, in all her glory. I had managed to avoid her for so long, but here she was, with her perfectly dyed blonde hair and expertly applied make-up. We are in Target. In the middle of the day. Not Nordstrom. Not going to the school gala. Yet here she was looking gorgeous. You should see her social media posts. She has around 2,000 Instagram followers. Not that I would know.

“Hi, Gail,” she said, looking up at the plus-size sign. “How are you? I’ve been thinking about you and your divorce. So sad.”

“I’m fine,” I replied, all of the sudden not feeling fine at all. “I’m out getting some things done today.”

“Buying new clothes?” Claudia asked, as if I wasn’t standing with a cart full of clothes.

“Yep, getting things done,” I repeat, my confidence slipping.

“Good for you, Gail. I don’t know how you’re doing it, after walking in on Jack with that woman.”

I cut her off. “Actually it was Jack Jr.”

She shook her head head quickly, as if she had a tick. I knew it was shock. “Jack Jr. with that woman? I heard it was Jack.

I explained. “Oh no, it was Jack with the woman, but it was Jack Jr. who walked in on them.”

“Oh, okay. That’s good. I mean, n…no.” She stammered as it became clear to her that my son walked in on my husband having sex with another woman. I wondered how she had missed that juicy piece of gossip.

“That’s not good,” she said. “How horrid. I’m so sorry, Gail. And, don’t take this the wrong way, but she’s so attractive. I mean, she’s still a whore,” She said as she put her hand on my arm. “But what that must have done to your self-” Her phone blessedly dinged, and she read what was coming in. “Must scurry, but my offer for setting up the mail train still stands. I’d love to help if I can. Everyone wants to help. Food is so easy to do and really the last thing you should be thinking about.” She raced off before I could decline.

Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about food – until Claudia reminded me of my dangerously low self-esteem. Until that moment, I wasn’t thinking about how good McDonald’s newly-fried French fries would be. Once the fries popped into my head, however, there was no turning back. No one would know except me and the McDonalds worker who handed over that pot of gold, and it would make me feel so much better. I left the cart in the plus-size section and hot-footed it to my car. Then in the parking lot I found myself hesitating, wondering what would happen if I went home instead and hopped in bed? What would happen then? I wasn’t sure but I knew I wouldn’t spontaneously combust. I knew I had to go home. I’m still not sure how I changed course, but I can be sure of this – I went home, hopped in bed and remained fry-less, and that may seem like small potatoes (ha!) to you, Dear Diary, but to me, that is hands-down, without a doubt, the most positive thing that has happened to me in a while.




Week #2

Jan. 8

A New Me! But First My Daughter

A new me! is making strides. I’m rocking along, doing my meditation in the morning, which is at a whopping seven minutes, journaling like Oprah, sticking more or less to my food plan, and then THIS fun thing I read in my 15-year-old daughter’s journal. Hush, don’t judge. When you go through a divorce and your best friend is your pillow in your dark bedroom, I am at a loss as to how to connect with her. So reading her journal it is. Her journal is an assignment from her therapist. Her therapist gives her certain subjects to cover but she doesn’t have to share. Brilliant, I think.

Dear Diary,

Dr. Montgomery wants me to write about last semester. She pretty much knows everything about it, but whatevs. She wants me to do it, so here goes.

I failed biology. I knew it was going to happen, but it suh-ucks. I don’t know if it means summer school or not. My mom knows. She’s upset, like always. Not mad, but sad. Dad doesn’t know yet. The old Dad would flip. The newly divorced Dad probably will be okay about it. I don’t know if he’s being nice because he cheated on Mom and broke up the family, or he is being nice because he just doesn’t care. I don’t know and frankly I don’t care at this point. This school is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. A lot harder than middle school. It’s a fancy, private Christian school. Everyone was nice for the first couple of weeks. Then the mean girl stuff started brewing under the surface. I could feel it. Sigh. I had hoped since it was a Christian school that the mean girl stuff would go away. But deep down I knew I wouldn’t be so lucky. Christians can be just as mean as everyone else.

What.The.Hell. My mother just came back from one of those parties at your friend’s house where you buy stuff. You know, those parties that all moms get invited to. She bought a set of essential oils and a fancy diffuser. She says it will help with our anxiety, and I know she really means Jack Jr.’s anxiety. It has hit an all-time high since Dad left. He’s not sleeping. He’s convinced someone is going to break into the house. He’s getting panic attacks.

A couple of weeks ago she went to one of those parties and came back with a whole sleeping set for Jack Jr. that must have cost a fafillion dollars. It’s a mattress, blanket and pillow. She’s all excited because it has magnets and the magnets are supposed to help him calm down. I can’t go to Sephora to get my favorite contour, but Jack Jr. can get a whole new sleeping set. Like any of this is going to help. Really. Doesn’t she realize that nothing’s going to help him sleep or take away our anxiety, except maybe Dad coming back, and that’s not going to happen. I overheard her yelling at my dad over the phone that she thinks Jack Jr. is suicidal. I wanted to join in and yell right back that we all are, but only Jack Jr. is saying it. And she thinks throwing essential oils and magnets at it will help. Yah right.

Mom says the drive to school is harder than she thought it would be, but it’s not like she never knew it was thirty minutes away. It’s not a surprise. She said she and Dad made the decision for me to go here before Slutty-slut-slut showed up, and Mom didn’t want to rock the boat. I think that’s her nice way of saying she just didn’t want to deal with it, which is fine with me. I like the school. Jack Jr. comes with us every morning, even though that means waking up before dawn. He drags his blanket and pillow with him and curls up in the back seat. What’s he going to do when the stupid Houston heat hits and he’s under this huge blanket? I guess he’s too scared to stay at home, even though he’s in the sixth grade. He’s still not sleeping, even with the blanket and stuff. My mom and dad bought all these things for him to help him with his issues. Things like vitamins and a chair that spins super fast and a small trampoline for his room. I know I shouldn’t complain, but I don’t think any of them have worked, and I bet it cost a lot. With them always complaining about money, it didn’t make much sense to me why they spent all this money on stuff that doesn’t work. And they end up divorcing anyway. Well, that was mainly because of Slutty-slut-slut but they were arguing about money a long time before she showed up.

I’m not surprised that Jack Jr. is scared all the time. I guess I am too. Our dad left. No one should expect us to be all happy all the time. I’m not happy even some of the time.

I know I sound totally depressing, and I’m not meaning to. It’s just that things are harder since Dad left.




Oh, my heart. It doesn’t get easier no matter how many times I read it. The one thing that is giving me life is Sheryl’s nickname – Slutty-slut-slut. THAT IS GENIUS! Thank you, Lord, for making me smile! I shall call her SSS for short. She doesn’t deserve to have her name used anyways.

As for the rest of it, clearly no one is happy here. I don’t know what to do about that. I’m totally depressed and don’t know what to do. Lucy’s right about Jack Jr.’s issues. We don’t know what to do. We are throwing stuff on the wall to see what sticks. So far, not much has. And she’s right about the money. Jack and I were arguing about that for a long time before SSS showed up.

I’m under the covers now. It is my favorite place. So quiet and comfy and safe. I am working so hard on the new me! but stuff like this comes up and BAM – I feel like I’m back at ground zero. There is another good thing here (besides SSS, which I can’t get enough of) and that is the fact that I’ve not eaten over this, mainly because I threw out the rest of the cookies, but also because I know it won’t help. More food never makes things better, despite what I’ve told myself for years. More food won’t cure my son’s anxiety. It won’t make my kids happy. It won’t bring Jack back.  It would ruin me, and then where would the new me! be?




Dear Diary

Dec. 31

Woohoo! New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday! Said no one ever. It’s worse than Valentine’s Day, and I should know having faced my first one as a single mom this year. Yes, that was horrible, but NYE is harder by far. You are coming down from this delightful holiday, filled with family and friends, with all the grandeur of the décor and the delicious food and the magical thinking. It is all so wonderful, and then BOOM, NYE comes in with all its resolutions and goals you know you can’t attain, complete with memories of failed attempts and reminds you that you suck.

I haven’t made resolutions in a while because I am 45, and I know better. I’m not sure I’ve ever stuck to a resolution, even when I purposely chose something easy, like taking the trash out regularly. And I’m not sure I should start now, with an already bruised and battered self-esteem, but here I am. I found a guide on social media that promises to make 2018 my best year yet, which makes me chuckle because good luck with that, but what have I got to lose? I’m sixty pounds overweight, which is probably closer to seventy by now because who gets on a scale during the holidays? Not me, especially while I have these red and green cookies in my hand.

This guide to a new me says to journal. YAY ME! One down. Because what am I doing right now? YOU GOT IT. I’m journaling, just like Oprah. (Who should run for president for sure but that’s another entry. I would also like to see Kathie Lee as president but not sure that would catch as much traction.)

I’ve got one thing down, right? I’m feeling good. So good, in fact, I should treat myself to another cookie.

It also says to meditate for fifteen minutes. Just writing that brings up tons of anxiety. I think I’m going to die. Who does this guide think I am, Ghandi? Nelson Mandela? I may have to go back to that one. The app says to start slow. I may have to start with a minute. I don’t know if I can sit still with my own thoughts for more than that. In silence. Not moving. I’ll start with a minute. Maybe 30 seconds. Tomorrow.

The stupid guide says to write down my goals and record my progress, which of course makes me laugh again, because based on past experience there will be no progress, but, hey, I’m winning because I AM JOURNALING and that should count for something.

Here are my goals for 2018.

  1. Lose 60 (maybe 70) pounds. I’m too scared to weigh. Which diet should I do? I know the answer to this one. None of them. No paleo, no Atkins, no low-carb this or that. When I have been successful at losing weight, it’s been by cooking most of my food and weighing and measuring every meal at home, with a larger portion of protein, fruits and veggies, and a smaller measurement of carbs and fat. Three meals a day, a piece of fruit or a small serving of protein if I get hungry. And also going to a support group. (Love how I throw this in. It is the most helpful thing though. More on that later.)

And, that’s it. That is all. I know what you’re asking, my dear diary. What? Shouldn’t you aim for more? Shouldn’t you try something spiritual, like improving your iffy church attendance? How selfish can you be? A weight goal seems awfully self-centered. Weight is all about you. What about community service or something? At least maybe try to read more novels.

My answer to you, dear diary, is thanks but I’m good. Journaling plus meditation,

which will lead me to church because I’ll need Jesus to sit still, plus working on my weight is all this girl can handle right now. Besides that, I am barely a year into my divorce, and I am raising my teenage children, who choose spending time with a device over me. And my hormones are all goofy from menopause. I’m nauseous and feel like I’m pregnant. At 45.

And I will have to find a way to deal with all of this. It will not be easy. In the past, when I successfully lost weight, it brought up an emotional trove which I had to mine. It can be painful and scary, but it was worth it for the growth I experienced and the peace I felt. And not giving in to the food all the dang time. And I will journal all of this, no matter how hard. So there – I will still be winning, even if the scale isn’t going in the right direction.

So, 2018, what will you bring? According to the guide, a new me! The life I’ve always wanted! Because it’s time for my dreams to come true! I don’t know if all of this will happen, but I’m ready to take you on, 2018. I’m hopeful.