Diary of a Former Chubby Trainer/Nutrition Coach – another entry

Diary of a Former Chubby Trainer/Nutrition Coach

My story starts in grade school. My story is a long one and it’s not a pretty one. It’s full of winding roads and uphill climbs and some straight roads. I feel like I have been aware of my body image and aware of food my whole life. It became evident to me that my body wasn’t ideal. It became evident when a coach, someone I looked up to, would be the one to tell me my body wasn’t ideal. This started a snowball effect of dieting and bingeing and purging. The snowball got bigger and bigger and bigger. 

I was told to lose ten pounds when I was in gymnastics. I was a sophomore in high school. I weighed 116 at the time. Not 115, not 120, but 116. I remember that detail like it was yesterday. On my 5 feet 4 inch frame that is pretty much considered “ideal.” I have never considered myself ideal. 

There was a time previous though that it was also evident. I was in 6th grade and the school lunch program came out with weight watchers meals. Not the business Weight Watchers, just weight watchers as in watching our weight and what we were eating. In other words they were letting us chubby girls know that we should change. Our school lunch program gave us that option, in 6th grade, a billion years ago. Why? I remember eating tuna, with nothing on it. It came in a styrofoam cup container with carrots and celery. As I type this right now, I wonder if I was even chubby then. I mean, I must have been, right? The indecision runs deep. The trap runs deep. The emotions run deep. 

I take responsibility for my own actions and while I am not very damn happy about my gymnastics coach having a hand in really pushing me over the edge into an eating disorder, I know I made the choices. I did. It was me. I tried every diet. I really did. I couldn’t stick to anything. My after school-before practice-snack was a Reese’s double peanut butter cup and some kind of diet pop. Tab was a favorite. Because the diet pop canceled out all those extra calories, right? Interesting, the ignorance, the irony. 

I always wanted to be skinny. I was always muscular. I was always strong. I thought that was good. I thought it was what it took to succeed in gymnastics. It did take strength and muscles, but at that age, how was I to know I could be strong and muscular and not overweight. That train of thought carried me for years. Strong and muscular became my motto.

I struggled with my weight for what seemed like forever. Years and years. If I tried a diet I would lose some weight, never over ten pounds, but then would just eat what I wanted again. I could never maintain a weight loss. This yo-yo dieting was ridiculous. Bulimia became my eating disorder. It owned me. I couldn’t control it. I finally overcame the eating disorder after a few years. I was very fortunate I didn’t damage my body. 

The way we perceive ourselves is real. The negative self-talk is real. Have you ever looked in the mirror and called yourself a fat ass? I have. Have you ever looked in the mirror and told yourself you were a fucking pig or a lard ass? I have. 

Fast forward to about 2010. That sounds weird to fast forward to the past, but you know that I mean. I became a trainer and a coach. A personal trainer and nutrition coach, something I had always wanted to do. I am not sure what held me back. As I unpack things in my life and am growing in figuring my shit out, I actually think it may have been because I felt like I couldn’t be a trainer because I wasn’t skinny. I didn’t really look the part. I was muscular and strong. One would think that is what a trainer should look like, but in reality that was an excuse. It was an excuse for being overweight. I steadily gained every year. Up by 5s. 

I used strong and muscular as my excuse, my go to excuse. I used it all the time. I TOLD myself this all the time. I told myself I looked good. I was getting really good at lying to myself. 

I got fed up with it though. Every time I weighed myself, which wasn’t that often, because hey, you go by how your clothes fit, or hey, you go by how you feel, so why should I need a scale. Well, when your biggest pair of jeans become tight, it’s fucking time to pull out the scale and take a peek. I was shocked. How could this happen? I told myself again, I was muscular and strong. I let this go on for months. I kept gaining and gaining some more. Here I was a personal trainer AND a nutrition coach. What the hell? 

I was done. Bottom line is I didn’t have a slow metabolism. I didn’t have any thyroid problems (I got tested). It wasn’t my hormones. I didn’t have any kind of disease that would cause the weight gain. I was eating like an asshole, plain and simple. This was not rocket science, not at all. This was called eating way too much. No calorie deficit for this girl, no fucking way. I was eating way tooooo much. That was the problem, not that I was strong and muscular. 

I told myself to wake the fuck up. It was time to take responsibility. I was the only one who could change this. I had to. I was feeling like crap. I was tired all the damn time and I didn’t even care if I worked out. My skin looked like crap and my sleep was miserable. I had hit rock bottom. It was time to change.

I hired a coach. Shocker, right? It shouldn’t be. Even though I am a trainer and nutrition coach, I needed the accountability. I really needed it. You would be surprised how many trainers have coaches. Everybody needs a coach. 

I could feel this time was going to be different though. There was something different about this way of eating, whatever you want to call it, flexible dieting or if it fits your macros or macro budgeting. There was no magic pill. There were no magic powders or wraps. It was hard work. It was changing what I normally did. It was holding myself accountable. It was not eating whatever the hell I wanted when I wanted. It was portion control, which is really what I needed.

My excuses were done. 

I am still in a losing phase and so far am down 38 pounds and about 11 inches off my waist. I made myself a promise that I would never go back to that ridiculous number on the scale. Who cares if I am strong and muscular. That was an excuse and a big whopper of an excuse. 

No more. Losing weight is easy. The hard part is keeping it off. I plan to show up for the hard part. I plan to do the hard part. I plan to make myself a priority and to respect myself enough to stay on track. 

I am doing it. I have finally connected the daisy chain into healthy habits, into learning, into being accountable, into not eating like an asshole anymore. I feel like I am the healthiest I have probably ever been. At 55, I’ll take it. 

The pic is in black and white. Why? Because in color it seems so much worse. I still struggle a little bit seeing the before pics. I know I have come a long, long way, but there is still that inner voice, who sometimes has to pop in and just give you that tiny bit of doubt. I can squash it most of the time and I really, really do. It’s just once in a while…

I can say I finally have my shit together. It only took 55 years. If you need help getting yours together, get a hold of me. I would love to help you!

Minutes To Memories

I had been waiting since November. I purchased the tickets then. The concert wasn’t until April 18th, 2019. A Thursday. I dragged Tayler with me. Even if she wouldn’t have been able to come with me, I still would have gone. By myself. I would not have felt one bit awkward going by myself, sitting by myself and tapping my foot by myself. 

The concert was at the Civic Center, in the Fine Arts Theater. A small venue. A more intimate venue. Up close. People shuffled in, drinks in hand, merch bags in hand, and excited. Most of the people were in their 40s and 50s. Some other lucky kids had been dragged along by their mothers too. I saw a few. Lucky kids. 

People were getting restless, waiting. It took a while. There was about a 20 minute documentary-type film that was shown before the actual singing started. It was interesting listening to him in that voice. A young kid voice. A punk voice. He had such a baby face. He fought authority back then and he still does today. 

The set list was amazing. The sound was amazing. The band was amazing. He was amazing. I felt so lucky to be able to see him again. I loved him all through high school and always fantasized that he would be my person. I mean, he was only 12 years older. Big deal. That’s nothing. He is 67 now and he is still rocking it. 

I caught Tayler tapping her foot to a lot of the songs, even though she thought we were going to the Tom Petty concert. GAH!!! Rest In Peace Tom Petty. I set her straight.

Here was the set list:

1. Lawless Times

2.Troubled Land

3.Minutes to Memories (one of my all time favorites)

4.Small Town

Here he took a little break to interact with the crowd with the long gone song.

5. Long Gone (from Bowlin’ Green) – so fun!!

6. Stones In My Passway

7. We Are The People

8. Lonley Ol’ Night (another favorite)

9. Check It Out

10. Longest Days

11. Jack & Diane

12. Easy Target

13. Overture – in other words cigarette break I told Tayler that when this happened it meant it was a cigarette break for him. He came walking back in, strutting in really, while playing his guitar and blowing out a mouthful of smoke. I love him!!

14. Rain On The Scarecrow

15. Paper In Fire

16. Crumblin’ Down (the crowd went wild with this one, everyone was singing) 

17. Authority Song/Land of 1000 Dances

18. Pink Houses

19. Cherry Bomb

20. Long Gone reprise. 

He really is an amazing artist. I feel fortunate to have been able to see him. I feel fortunate that Tayler was with me. I love spending time with her. I love watching her enjoy things. I glanced at her a lot. She reminds me a lot of myself. I want her to do well. I want her to be happy. I want her to have a great life. Life is fragile and we just never know what is going to happen, so enjoy every single moment you can. As Mellencamp says in Minutes to Memories, “you are young and you are the future so suck it up and tough it out and be the best you can”. Be silly. Be fun. Be present. And most of all, be yourself. 

And whenever he tours again, I told John, the hubby whose name is John, that he is coming with me. 

Evaluating

I looked at the clock. I looked again. Back to work. The click seemed audible. Maybe it was. Not too much longer. Friday afternoon. Almost done. I checked the clock again. Soon. Very soon.

I thought about it. I anticipated it. The mouth feel. The slight bite and then the belly burn.

Relaxation came at the first swallow, red, not white. I needed that. It was a long week. That’s what I told myself. So many things. So many stressors. I was convinced I deserved it. Because that’s what we tell ourselves. 

My rule was that I could only drink on weekends. If I drank during the week, I found myself drinking more and more caffeine to burn off the fog of the alcohol. I told myself it was no big deal. I really felt fine. Why should I feel that way though? Why should I do that to myself?

Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sunday. Telling myself two glasses was the limit. Many times two turned to three. I had to get more because I needed at least two glasses for the next night. If I didn’t, there wouldn’t be enough. I pondered that. Why not just have one glass. Because.  Whatever excuse I could use. Whatever reason to get more. It’s good for you, right? And shit I deserved it. 

I got stuffed up as soon as I had a glass. My cheeks flushed and my whole body got hot. Hot flashes triggered by alcohol. Slight reactions, nothing big. But still, reactions.

I drank in spurts. Sometimes only weekends and then sometimes a period of a month or six weeks when I would drink every day. When I felt like the weekdays were getting away from me again, my rule came back, only weekends. 

During those longer periods, I would drink every day. Waiting for the time to start. The click was real. I had a glass to work on Studio work. I had a glass to relax in front of the TV. And then another.  But sometimes it wasn’t quite enough. It was wearing off. I was constantly chasing the buzz but then going slightly too far. Going to bed and feeling drunk. I told myself I slept well. I didn’t. I told myself I was healthy enough. I wasn’t. I told myself I didn’t really need it. I didn’t. I just wanted it. And then I didn’t want it anymore.

A switch clicked. This click was not drinking. This click was taking responsibility for my health. This click was looking in the mirror and calling bullshit. This click was taking responsibility for what I was doing. This click was not doing whatever everyone else was doing, because it was the norm. I’m not someone who does something just because everyone else does. I’m pretty good at doing my own thing.

It was time to evaluate. It was time to see what happened without it. I had to see. I had to see if I could do it.

It’s been 136 days since I’ve had an alcoholic beverage and I don’t miss it. I sleep better. I feel better. My health is better and I’m happy. How long will I go? Until I’m done. 

Tayler’s Cupboards

First grade, second grade, third grade, fourth.

The memories packed in the cupboard. 

Pencils and glue and hair ties too. 

Tape and markers and super balls to bounce. 

Barbies and papers and trinkets and a bell. 

Two cupboards filled to the brim. 

Full of memories from the life of a kid. 

Standing, nightgown on. 

Tinkering and playing and thinking out loud. 

Far off places and toys that talked. 

Books of angels and animals and even rocks. 

Stickers and lip gloss and dice.

Standing there for hours playing until she knelt. 

Imagining and singing and laughing to herself.

When she was done she shut the cupboard and said goodnight.

Just because she got older didn’t mean she discarded her belongings as junk. Far from it. 

She stored more memories.

The cupboards are full. 

It’s been over 16 years. 

I can’t clean them out.

It makes me miss her being little still.

The life she made. The memories she made. 

A huge part of her childhood is buried in there. 

She won’t let them go. 

It’s something I can’t bear.

The child who is now an adult. 

The child who entertained herself for hours. 

The child, self-sufficient in everything she did. 

The child who grew up. 

And the mom who did too.

The child who still peeks into those cupboards and laughs out loud. 

Memories of more simple times. 

Memories of fun and laughter. 

Memories of a lifetime. 

Always there. 

Jump Rope Contest

Remember last week when I told you about learning how to do double jumps and how hard I worked to perfect them? Well, every year there was a jump rope contest. Each school was represented. There was the girls and the boys contests. The PE teacher, who was Mr. Bucklin at the time, chose who from each class would represent their school at the contest. 

We practiced and practiced and then practiced some more. I was in 4th grade at the time at Lincoln Elementary School. The house was the Prospect House.

Every recess a bunch of us girls jumped rope. A lot of times I played football with the boys, but it was jump rope season now and that meant practicing every chance I got. There were several good jump ropers in our grade and we all wanted to go to the competition. 

Mr. Bucklin was super tall. He had blond hair and glasses. He was really nice and we all liked him as a PE teacher. He had a hard job. He had to choose who was going to go to the contest. It was narrowed down between me and Marianne Bassett. Marianne was a really good jump roper. This was going to be a tough decision for him. 

It was the day. The day of decision. The day to see who would represent the Lincoln Elementary School 4th grade class. Would it be me or would it be Marianne? 

I can still picture us on the playground, jump ropes in hand. We were on the west side of the building, near the double doors. That was the flattest spot on the playground. It was good cement, like sidewalk cement, not the other rough stuff the rest of the playground was made of. Mr. Bucklin had us start with plain old jumps, then we moved into criss cross and backwards jumps, criss cross backwards, fancy foot work and double jumps. We got to show off a little bit. I remember doing criss cross double jumps backwards and frontwards. Marianne could do them too. I don’t know how he was going to pick. Why couldn’t we both go? Well, it doesn’t work that way, obviously. He finally picked. He picked me!! I was elated. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to go to the contest. I felt bad for Marianne though. She worked just as hard as I had. 

The contest was a few weeks later. It was at the Junior High school in the gym. It seemed like there were a ton of people there watching. It also seemed like there were a ton of competitors. It is kind of a blur what happened next. I can’t remember if girls went first or if boys went first and if each grade went in order. That part is a blur. I do remember the jump roping part. I remember there was a line of judges and we were facing them. They would call out the jumps that we were supposed to do. I specifically remember doing double jumps during the contest, and jumping fancy footwork style too. I also remember making sure not to miss. I don’t know if points were deducted for missing, but it would only make sense. 

It was hot and it seemed like the contest took forever. When all was said and done, I won!!! I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my parents. At the same time I wondered why they hadn’t come to the contest and watched. I always wondered that. Always. 

Our house was about three or four blocks from the school. I ran all the way home. I always took the shortcut home. Up the alley. That’s the shortcut.  Up the alley from the Zesto. I slowed down when I was almost to the house. I could see dad out watering the grass. I walked up to him with my hands behind my back and was pretending to be sad. He asked me how I did. Instantly the giant smile appeared and the hand came flying from behind my back holding the first place ribbon. 

He was happy for me. I was happy for me. I won the jump rope contest. 

Frugal February – Money-Saving March

Frugal February anyone? Money-Saving March anyone? I’m doing it. I am imposing a shopping ban on myself for the months of February and March. Have you ever done that–imposed a shopping ban on yourself? I really never have. I don’t go overboard with spending, but I want to change a few things and form some better habits when it comes to money.

If there was one positive that came out of the most recent government shut down, it taught me how to get by with less, way less. I’m still in less mode. I’m still in the basics of basics mode. Why not continue? 

There are many unanswered questions. Can I go that long? What can I buy? What can’t I buy? Can I really do this? Do I really want to do this?

I have made myself some rules. If you are on my email list, you might remember a book I read about a shopping ban. It was called The Year of Less by Cait Flanders. The timing of that could not have been more perfect and really, maybe it was a sign. A sign to get my shit together and just quit spending money. A sign to start saving more. A sign. 

Like I said, I don’t go overboard but there are definitely some places I can cut back and not feel like I am being deprived. 

So, here are my rules, if you will, or my I can buy this, but not that list:

  1. No new clothes
  2. No new shoes
  3. No new workout clothes
  4. Can only buy things as they run out, for example deodorant or shampoo. How many of you have a shit ton of shampoos and conditioners? I bet a lot of you. Same with makeup.
  5. Can buy groceries of course. A girl’s gotta eat.
  6. No new notebooks, notecards, pens, etc. I am a notebook whore. Not even kidding. I love journals and notebooks and notecards. Any size, all sizes. I want them all. This one will be tough for me.
  7. No new books, except for my business and then I will limit that to one per month! I have enough. I really do. I love books. I love reading them, I love listening to them, but I have enough!
  8. I will unsubscribe to emails that are trying to persuade me to buy their stuff. Believe me, that is a lot of subscriptions. 
  9. I can buy gifts, if needed.
  10. This is the last rule, but the most important rule. When I buy something, I will be asking myself if I really need it or if I just want it. This goes for everything I will be buying. THIS, is the most important rule. 

I think this is a great place to start. I also plan on opening a separate savings account and stashing as much money as I can in there every month. 

I have decluttered my closet and bathroom already and I have a few more things to declutter. I am ready to just get rid of crap.

If anyone wants to join, I would love the company and the accountability. 

I will be checking in and updating at least once a week, and possibly more. I will let you know when it gets hard. I will let you know when it feels easy. I will let you know. 

…off to unsubscribe to a crap ton of email lists. Later. 

Wedding Vows

It’s our anniversary tomorrow (January 10th). It is 21 years. It feels like two. I feel like we have known each other our whole lives, not just 21 years of our lives. 

The promise:

I Peggie, take thee John, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.

I, John, take thee, Peggie, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part. 

Love, respect, life, living. Happy, connected, forever, love. True love, soul mate, the one, unconditional love.

Man of my dreams

Life is not guaranteed

Wedded bliss

In sickness and in health

A picture. I was at work today and the picture fell out from some papers I have. It is one of my favorites, if not favorite, picture of John and Tayler. Tayler is about 10 months old in it. John is about 44, a few months shy of 45. John has a giant horseshoe full of staples on his head. Tayler has burned fingers on her hand. It shows the fragility that life is. It shows that nothing is guaranteed, no matter what we may think. It shows.

Life was good. Life was beautiful. Then on June 3, 2000, dad died and life was very, very sad. John got me through it. Every night he held me while I cried the ugly cry. 

A week or so after dad died, John started acting weird. I know, hard to believe right? LOL. We would be sitting there talking and all of a sudden he would just be silent and it was like he was looking right through me. After dad’s funeral, John and I and my sisters and their husbands sat up drinking White Russians, reminiscing and telling dad stories. We knew he was there, because he broke the tree. The tree actually split. No storm, no lightning, just dad. 

John thought maybe he just had a wicked, wicked hangover. He said his head felt like there was an axe in it. This went on for a while and he continued to act weird and to look straight through me. He said he was going to go the chiropractor the next day because he thought maybe his neck was out of place. At the time, I didn’t realize he was having seizures. I actually thought he may be having a stroke when he had a really bad seizure. 

I should have taken him. I don’t know why I didn’t. At that time we lived on the river, right past the Pizza Ranch and down from AmericInn (which was not there then). I watched. I was scared and really, really nervous. I could see his pickup on the bridge. He was going extremely slow. He definitely had a guardian angel that day because he was having a seizure as he was driving over to Pierre to the chiropractor’s office. 

I received a telephone call. John was being taken to the hospital by ambulance. I immediately called his brother, Roy, and he met me at the hospital. We knew nothing at that point. He was being monitored and all kinds of tests were being conducted. 

Ironically, my dad’s physician, Dr. Hoffsten, figured out what was going on. After testing and more testing, it turned out John had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which is an abnormal tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins, which disrupts normal blood flow and oxygen circulation. They are typically found in the brain and if it ruptures can cause bleeding in the brain, stroke or brain damage. 

We were referred to Rapid City, to a neurosurgeon. We liked him. Seljeskog. Ed. He reminded me of dad. He made us feel comfortable. Next up, brain surgery. June 30, 2000.

John had to have surgery to remove the AVM. It seemed like the surgery took forever. It was a very long day. The AVM was removed and everything was going to be okay. More angels looking over us and God for sure. 

It seems so long ago that this happened. It seems so long ago that Tayler was little. It seems so long ago that our life was completely turned upside down, yet it feels like it was yesterday. The emotions are there, on the surface, just waiting to spring to life. It can’t be helped. I can’t stop them. I see that picture and the lump in my throat is right there. The tears are waiting to fall. 

I don’t take anything for granted. Things can change in a second. You hear that all the time. It really is true. None of us know how much time we have. None of us. 

So with my time, I choose to live life. I choose to live life with my true love.

Man of my dreams

Life is not guaranteed

Wedded bliss

In sickness and in health

…till death do us part

Tops for 2018

I’ve been reflecting a little bit on 2018. Overall, it was not a bad year. I’m grateful. I feel lucky. I love my life. I love what I do. Some people don’t get to say that.

In 2018, I wrote more than I ever have before. I put out a blog post just about every single week of 2018. I may have missed a few, but that’s okay. Nobody is perfect and perfect is nobody.

I went through the stats on my site and picked out the top 5 most read blog posts of 2018. I always like to add one or two that are my favorites as well. Before i get to those though, I wanted to say how happy I am that you come here every week and read these posts. It means the world to me.

In 2019, I hope to continue with the kid blog post memories. I’m going to have to dig in and remember some more. I already have one planned for next week, so at least the memories are still flowing. Anyway, here are the top 5 of 2018, along with the link.

  1. https://peggielarsen.com/2018/04/11/rest-in-peace-mike/ This post is about a pretty much life-long friend. He was one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. His life was cut way too short. I love him and I miss him.
  2. https://peggielarsen.com/2018/05/16/tayler/ Of course, this is about Tayler, the last kid. She is definitely a good one. Bittersweet.
  3.  https://peggielarsen.com/2018/06/05/buddy/ The day we lost our Buddy boy. Such a sad day. We gave him a spectacular life.
  4.  https://peggielarsen.com/2018/10/24/the-pretty-people/ This is about my husband and Tayler. They are definitely pretty people. My sense of humor definitely shows in this one.
  5.  https://peggielarsen.com/2018/03/07/kid-friends-branch-and-peggie/ This is about my friend, Branch. We grew up playing together all the time. He was a great friend. I will never forget how much fun we had.

The next two are a few of my favorites from this past year. The first one is called Butterflies and Freedom. It’s about the carefree life of a kid. The beauty seen in nature. It’s about being a kid and getting to be a kid without a care in the world. The other one is the flip side of that coin. It’s about how fragile life can be. It’s about giving the ultimate sacrifice. It’s about signing that blank check, giving your life for your country. I struggle with this,  a lot. My son is a Marine Vet and I thank God every day that he survived two stints overseas. It could have turned out so differently. But, this sacrifice, this sacrifice of these young men, happened on home soil. This sacrifice is called suicide. It’s a huge problem and it needs to stop.

  1.  https://peggielarsen.com/2018/10/17/butterflies-and-freedom/
  2.  https://peggielarsen.com/2018/05/28/rainy-days-and-mondays/

As I was going through the posts on New Year’s Day and trying to pick out my favorites, I came across the one about my Dad. I know I write about him a lot. It just helps. I was sitting at the kitchen counter and heard the familiar tap on the window. Tap, tap, tap. I knew it was the cardinal bringing me the message. Telling me he was here. I got up and went to the window and looked out. I saw the flash of red, flying away.

 

  https://peggielarsen.com/2018/06/02/june-3-2000/

 

I’m ready for 2019. I’m excited to bring you more stories.

Watermelons and station wagons

I think I was around 10 or 11, which means we lived in the Prospect House. It was summer. We went on a vacation. A family vacation. I’m not sure what spurred this vacation. I have no idea why. We never went on vacations. We never did family outings. We never did family pictures. We never did family stuff. Not that that is bad, we just never did. 

The destination was Arkansas. Why? I don’t know why. I don’t think we knew anyone in Arkansas. The trip was taken in a station wagon. You know, the colored panel ones with a crap ton of room. We could spread out in the way back and not have to worry about being seat belted in. It was not a law then. We could sleep way in the back and be comfortable. The humming of the engine, the sound of the tires rolling down the interstate made it easy to relax and fall asleep. That gentle noise always put me to sleep. 

It seemed like we drove forever. Forever in kid time. It had to have been a couple of days at least. I remember when we got “there,” we stopped at a grocery store. We bought a watermelon and some other items. I only remember the watermelon. It had to be solid dark green though. That’s what dad wanted. Those were the best kind of watermelons. Why that is significant to me, I’m not sure. We went to the place where we were staying. It wasn’t a hotel or anything like that. It was a house. It was a cabin/house in the woods with lots and lots of trees. There were no other houses close by. It was strange. It was like a scary movie. I wouldn’t realize that then, but now, that’s what I feel. 

This house was big. It had lots of room and a big deck on the back. We played outside. I don’t remember doing any other kinds of activities while we were on vacation. One of the days I went out back and was playing in the “yard,” if you could call it that. There really wasn’t a yard, just trees. The deck was sloped, so there must have been a walk out basement in the house. 

The details are vague. It’s weird, I remember the watermelon clearly and the next incident clearly. That’s it. I remember nothing else about the trip. I remember nothing about why we were there. I remember nothing of what the inside of the house looked like, just the outside yard and the deck.

I went out to play in the back. I noticed that I could hang on to part of the deck and swing under it, like gymnastics bars. I wondered if I would get slivers from the wood. I thought I would try it. I was bored. There really wasn’t anything to do. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, my typical summer attire. I don’t think I was wearing shoes. I grabbed the deck. It was good. No slivers. I started swinging by hanging on to the boards with my hands and swinging my legs up underneath the deck. I felt something. It felt like fire. It was stinging. I wanted to let go, but I couldn’t. If I did I would fall on my back or my head. I had to wait until my legs came back down and then out from underneath the deck. My leg was burning like crazy. Once I could let go, I looked at my leg. The pattern was a circle, then another circle in that circle and finally the center. My skin was red and puffy. Huge bubbles of skin. Red bubbles of skin. Skin on fire. Stinging skin. I was screaming and jumping up and down. 

Unbeknownst to me, up underneath the deck was a flying ant nest. I never even knew there was such a thing. After I had run back in the house and told mom and dad what had happened they went out and looked. I wasn’t going anywhere near there again. My leg was on fire. It hurt for days after that. I think mom put something on it to help with the sting and the swelling, but it didn’t seem like it helped much. 

So that was the extent of the family vacation. I can’t remember anything else about it. I used to envy my friends who went on vacations every summer. After that vacation, I didn’t care if I ever went on another one again. 

Angela

Angela Schweigert

My workout buddy

My work buddy

My drinking buddy

My recipe trying buddy

Her laugh

Her sincerity

Her

Her laugh was contagious. Kind of a snort but kind of not. You couldn’t help but laugh right along with her. 

She always named her cars.  At that time she had Cosmo. Her dad knew what the hell was up and he had that car running like a top.

We were in high school. She was at that time the best friend I had. It’s funny how people come and go, out and in, stay and play, and make their mark on your life. They touch your heart and they touch your life. They make your life better. You never forget them or the fun you had. They are special people. Truly. Life rolls on and you see things about them once in a while on Facebook. Or you see a parent passed. Sometimes you see the out of state plate parked at the parents house and you wonder how she is doing and wonder why you didn’t stop. But it’s okay, you just know. Because it goes without saying. It’s not necessary. Those are the best kinds of friends. That’s the kind of friend Angela is. Everyone needs those kinds of friends. They are the best. Always true. Always sincere. Always.

She was tall and lanky. She had long arms and long legs. She had a ton of long, wavy hair and a face full of freckles. She was a great listener and a great friend. 

We liked to work out. We wanted to be in shape. We used to ride our bikes out to Twin Bridges at least three times a week during the summer. It’s a jaunt. We used to laugh about the road kill we would see, unless it was a snake. That was disgusting. Other days we would go for runs or slap on some ankle weights and see how far we could walk, uphill, of course. On one of our runs, we stopped the Schwan’s truck and asked for ice cream. He obliged. We were happy. It was hot out that day. 

At that time the drinking age was 18. Not the hard alcohol drinking age, but the beer drinking age. It was winter and it was cold. It sucked. Angela’s parents were out of town, so we decided to make daiquiris. Yummy flavors. All the fruits. We had strawberry and peach and a couple other flavors. We decided to pretend it was warm out and we wore Hawaiian shirts and leis. Because that’s how we rolled. Why not make the best out of a bad situation. Winters in South Dakota, called for desperate measures. 

I remember another time we tried to make pita bread. The oven had to be extremely hot, like 500 degrees hot. I thought for sure we were going to burn down her house. It seemed like the oven was malfunctioning and the kitchen filled with smoke. I think maybe one of the 12 or so we made turned out. Obviously we weren’t bakers. 

We worked together at Sooper Dooper. We always had the dreaded 3-10 shift and 3-9 shift. It was terrible. It dragged on forever. We laughed though. We did stupid things so the time would pass. One time we put flower pots on our heads and customers thought we were crazy. Angela said we were pot heads. We got a good laugh out of that one.

We had a lot of good times. A lot of good friend times. Thanks for the friendship Angela. I will always, always remember how much fun we had and next time I see your car, I will stop and catch up.