Books Health

Book Review: The Miles Levin Story

I was sent an advance copy of The Miles Levin Story for reviewing, so I lit a fire last night and sat on the couch to look through some reading matter, and I started to read the book. I didn’t stop until I finished it early this morning.

Miles Levin got cancer when he was sixteen and died when he was eighteen. While his friends were going off to college and starting the next phase of their lives, Miles was ending his and trying to find a way to do it without malice toward the thing that was taking his future away. And he did it. Look, it’s not an easy read. At least it wasn’t for me. As I read, I was looking for symptoms that someone I love might have. I was disquieted to know that he dies in the end, and that cancer is a part of each of our lives in some way or other. If you are the least bit human, you hope you are in the percentage that doesn’t get it, even though doctors now say that if you live long enough, you will at some point.

But I digress.

Miles has some powerful messages for those of us who search for true meaning, for something that just might mean there is a point to being here.

“What you will one day realize is that death is not something to fear, it is only something which one must come to understand… On a personal level, it doesn’t look to be an unpleasant experience. It’s pretty neutral as far as I’m concerned. There is a primordial terror of The Great Unknown, all instincts pitted against it, but these primitive feelings can be transcended. See, things only matter in context… In the silent contextlessness, everything is alright. Because there is never going to be enough time to do everything you want to do, but the time I’ve had  has been time enough – time enough to make the world a better place for having been here, I like to think, if only in limited circles.”

His theme throughout is that he was sort of a guy just getting through, always late to life’s events and duties, and not really doing much of anything. Then cancer delivered its blows, one by one, and each day mattered more and more. By writing his blog, he was able to accomplish something, to be somebody. He felt that if he hadn’t had it, he might have just lived for decades always ten minutes late, leaving nothing behind that mattered. It sounds so fake when I write it, so insincere (could anyone be that good?), but as you labor through the book and his pain and pleasure, you can see that he really did have the epiphany of life that we all search within our souls to find. He found his purpose in being here. He was okay with leaving.

Look, I don’t mean to imply that Miles was a saint—he wasn’t, and he didn’t want to die. “I am doing fine because I refvse to do otherwise. That much is mine. Attempts to extinguish my fire thus far have only intensified it.” Fight. Fight. Fight.

My mother died of cancer this year. I’m still facing it. This book really helped me come to a peaceful terms with the insidious disease that took her. I urge you to get it, read it, and pass it on. It’s more than a journey of death; it’s a celebration of life, and it’s guidebook that teaches you not to fear the end that comes to us all.

Before cancer, I was a nobody. A nice guy, perhaps, but I didn’t have my act together at all, and perhaps never would. Then my hour came, and you have assured me with your words, tears, and prayers that I have delivered. In showing me that I have changed many of you profoundly, you have done for me all that I could ever want or need.”


I Hate Yoga

I hate Yoga. No, I really mean I hate it. I hate the holier-than-thou attitude of those who practice it, and the way they insinuate that they are better inside because they do it. I hate the soft way people talk while they’re doing it. I hate that the teachers walk around the room and talk about breathing all the time, as if that is going to rid me of the results of the pints and pints of coffee ice cream I’ve eaten over the course of my lifetime. Everyone knows that if your breathing isn’t labored, you are not feeling the burn, which means you will not see results. Yoga people are thin, not because Yoga burns calories, but because they only eat things they have just pulled out of the ground.

I hate the names of Yoga poses. Downward Facing Dog. What does that mean? Why would I want to face downward and be a dog? Dogs are bad boys that treat you poorly. Everyone knows that. Half Boat Posture. Really? Any idiot knows that boats have no posture. Cobra. I hate snakes. Need I continue?

Inhale whilst you do this, exhale whilst you do that. The anxiety that overtakes me when my breathing is out of step with everyone else’s is enough to send me running out of class. And I have done just that.

At a writer’s group dinner last night, one of the bloggers was talking about Bikram Yoga.

“It changed my life. I go to bed at 11:00 pm now and I get up at 5:45. Every day. I sleep through the night and am out when my head hits the pillow. The first few times I did it I was sure I was going to die, but then I liked it.”

“Well, I did it once,” I chimed in. “And, I passed out cold on the floor.”

“You should have stuck with it!”

“Why would I do that?  I passed out! I was so hot I couldn’t breathe. Why would I possibly want to do that?”

She looked at my disdainfully, so I picked up my iPhone friend and Googled “Bikram Yoga Deaths.” She really left me no alternative.

“Let me share with you the stories of some others,” I said, recognizing the power of the Internet and opinions other than my own. “Here’s one that may be of interest: As I lay on the ground, bathed in sweat, I could just make out the approaching sound of the ambulance. As exhausted as I felt, though, the ambulance was not coming for me. It was coming for a gray-haired lady who’d collapsed a few yards away and had to be carried off by a volunteer brigade because she was too weak to stand and too confused to remember what year it was.

I waited for a response. The younger blogger, Emily, ignored me and said to Linda, “Only $20 for ten day sessions? Wow. I should try it.”

“Are you not listening to me?” I said a little louder. “People die doing Bikram Yoga!”

And so it went.

I was once at the fabulous Canyon Ranch Spa, which I used to frequent more when I was a rich person. A friend who was there with me said, “Try it with me one more time. I heard this instructor is amazing!” We arrived and the lights were dim, which always irritates me. I am not a five-year-old lying down for a nap at pre-school. The instructor was starting to walk the room (note they never do the poses). I always go to the back row corner in hopes of disappearing. I saw her hone in on me from the front of the room and make her way back. I sighed. She touched my shoulders in that kindly, personal way I don’t allow strangers to do.

“You need to relax,” she whispered, just loudly enough for the silent roomful of people to hear.

“You need to go touch somebody who wants you to,” I said, in a voice that clearly stated I had bigger issues than a bowing dog.

“Oh.” She backed away from me, stunned, as if I were one of those Cobra poses come to life.

I stood up and flounced out. With dignity and certainty, I left the room. Then I realized I would have to go back in if I wanted to get my Canyon Ranch bag. They give you these bags when you arrive to check in. You are always so grateful for the gift even though you know that for the $1,000-plus they charge per night it really should be made out of alligator. Seriously. Well, I left the bag there and didn’t go back. No way was I showing her she shook me. Nope.

So, I don’t like Yoga, and I generally find Yoga people irritating, no offense intended. I hope I haven’t put you off if you like it. But next time you’re at your Yoga class, look around the room and ask yourself where the creative minds are. They aren’t lying on the floor, breathing in while their backs are on the floor and breathing out while their backs are arched with their bellies in the air. You will find us doing things like pole dancing to Barry Manilow, or doing Pilates on machines that originated in the S&M clubs we call home.


Health Science Women

Women and Stem Cells

So, as it turns out— surprise, surprise—women’s stem cells nurture regrowth twice as much as men’s stem cells. Now, I recognize that this may mean nothing more than that our stem cells are ‘richer’ than men’s. But it may also be God’s message about what we offer in the bigger scheme of life. Think about it. If it had been Lehman Brothers & Sisters, that company’s story might have had a different ending.

I’m just saying.

Seriously, the stem cell thing is an enigma to me. So, I took to the Net to do some homework. Here is what I learned.

1. Stem cells are uncommitted cells that have the potential to turn into any cell in the human body. Scientists are able to isolate stem cells and to keep them indefinitely.

Wow. Uncommitted cells. I know about trouble with commitment, but what exactly does that mean? Then I decided it doesn’t matter why they are uncommitted, just that they are and can be anything you want them to be. Talk about the mysteries of life. Wow.

2. We may be able to direct stem cells to become any type of human cell (nerves, heart etc.) that can’t normally be replaced once damaged.

The key word is may. But whether it works or it doesn’t, where is the question? I have never really paid much attention to the debate on stem cell research, but who wouldn’t want to take cells that might save your life, change a friend’s life, or enable someone battling a terrible disease to cure it easily? How is it possible that you wouldn’t want to do that? And if we are going to discuss this in the context of the abortion debate, I can live with the fact that some consider it murder, no problem. But since it’s legal and they are doing it whether you like it or not, it seems ridiculous to me that you would expect them to throw away the stem cell matter just because.

3. Stem cells can be found in: embryos; umbilical cord blood and adults (bone marrow and brain);

So it’s in the umbilical cord, which makes sense. A mother ‘sends’ those cells to nurture the growth of a child. I get that they would be uncommitted until they reach their target destination. I get that. But bone marrow and brain? First, what’s the connection between the two? Brain. Bone Marrow. I want to know the connection between umbilical cords, bone marrow, and brain matter. I need to know. I’m working on it and will get back to you when someone answers that question.

Back to the beginning: Female stem cells are more productive than male stem cells. Might I point out that the more enlightened we become, the better my gender looks in the scheme of things. Turns out we are great at building businesses. Turns out we are great at raising children. And now we’ve discovered our stem cells beat out the competition easily.

I’m just saying.

Food Health

Food Groups

I’ve figured out the obesity problem. It’s the food group thing.

It’s not about what you eat, necessarily, but about with whom you eat, where you eat, and your emotional state when the food goes into your mouth. Trying to tell me to eat three veggies and two fruits each day has no soul, and it ain’t working. Give me the rules on the who, what, where, and when theory of eating, and I think we can lick this thing.

Thanksgiving at Your Mother’s House with the Family.

No restrictions. Walk in the door and go for the food rather than speaking. You all know what I’m talking about. Eat it, don’t say it. No exceptions. This is not the food group with which to change your eating habits and lose a pound or so. Those who don’t get this need professional help.


When the lights go down, and you are all by yourself, it’s you, the people on the screen, and your popcorn and soda. Make it a small popcorn, no matter how many times the ill-intentioned person behind the counter points out that it’s only 25 cents more for 1,500 additional popcorn calories and extra guilt when the lights go up. Your response to that person should be, “Please tell me you are not making a commission on that extra 25 cents meant to hurt me.” Gently but firmly let them know you are on to the truth. Eat one kernel at a time, and only allow yourself to eat 1/3 of the popcorn container before the lights go down.

Mornings in the Car Alone.

Start your day with your morning joe from wherever. If you must stop at Mac’s, get the Egg McMuffin, pull over, and take the egg out and just eat the muffin and one slice of that fabulous American cheese that has a shelf life of three years. Eating in the car is a no-no, as is eating at your desk. You must eat  your morning whatever either in the parking lot of the place where it was purchased or in your home. Never make breakfast meetings.

The Boardroom at Work

Beg the office manager to stop ordering those tubs of candy when she places the Staples order. Remind her that you helped her get that raise, and that it’s only the women who are eating it while the guys sit there on their blackberries. Never bake anything for the office.

Dinner with Friends

Be a share-bear and order things to share. Make sure you speak at least one sentence between bites. Order one dessert for your table and two tables around you. Make new friends and save the calories. All sauces on the side. No drink before the food arrives.

See what I mean? It could work. There are other things you need to do as well.

Rank your friends on a Friends Who Eat Scale. That thing about safety in numbers is true, and you need to limit your exposure both to those who eat too much with you and those who only push their ridiculous salads (no dressing) around on their plates. Neither is a good food group. Trust me on this. I have been both those people, and I was never on your side in the food group.

Look, I really think I’m on to something here. Are you with me?


Plug Pulling

In a meeting at work yesterday, a laptop was plugged in under the board room table. The guy whose computer it was asked a co-worker to “unplug me.” Because we are all curious minds at work, that led to a conversation about whether or not you would want the plug pulled if you were a vegetable.

Everyone said they absolutely would.

I, on the other hand, being of sound mind and body sometimes, and honest in my approach to those I work amidst, said I would absolutely not want it pulled.

“First of all, my family would pull the plug before they plugged it in, so I want to go on record right now as telling anyone whose interested that I do not want the plug pulled. What if I’m in there listening to everyone saying good-bye as they get ready to pull it, screaming, No! No! I’m here, I’m here!! Can’t you hear me?!”

They all just stared at me.

The debate went on and then someone said, “I want it pulled because I would never want those I care about to have to deal with me as a vegetable for any length of time.”

OK Mr. Perfect Family Member. I get it. It’s selfish to want to live when those around you are suffering because of it.

So, for those of you out there in the know about my wishes and desires, I take it all back. Pull that sucker as soon as two doctors from different divisions tell you there is little or no hope. Yank that thing out of the wall faster than a speeding bullet. In fact, I was right, don’t bother letting them plug it in at all.

Ok, now I’m back to being a good, narcissistic-free family member. Satisfied? And, I apologize for the error of my ways.

Thank God there’s Maya Angelou with her, “I did the best I could, and when I knew better, I did better.”

Health Personal Essays

Ode to Smoking

I smoked on and off for twenty years. I loved my cigarettes. “Merit Ultra Lite please. One carton.” I smoked a lot. Two to four packs a day. I really didn’t like those people who could join you for a cigarette when you were having drinks, and then they went home and didn’t smoke another cigarette for a week. It’s in the genes or not, and I hate that about my genes. Give me one cigarette and I’m hooked. One chocolate chip cookie and I’m hooked. And so on.

I quit smoking twice. The first time was through Smokenders. My sister Leslie told me about it. Leslie is very special and never does things the way others do.

“You have to go. I’m sure it’s going to work. I’m only in week two, but it’s great.”

“What’s it like there? Who is in your group?”

“Well, I don’t actually know. I sent my secretary and she takes notes and brings them back to me.”

“What?! Does Haley smoke?”

“Well no she doesn’t, but don’t start with me. She really loves going.”

Having gone through it, I can tell you the room is like a major fire whose smoke hasn’t had anywhere to go and just sits in the room. The thought of that poor girl in there for two hours a week for eight weeks is really beyond me. I had trouble sitting in it, and I was a smoker. For sure Haley did not love going. She’s probably getting a lung x ray right now. The long and the short of it is that I quit and Leslie did not.

Smokenders is pretty easy. The only thing that was disgusting was the butt jar. You put your last two weeks of cigarette butts in a jar, add a little water, and if ever the urge should attack, you were supposed to open the jar and smell it. Not so much. I think I threw my butt jar away after week three of post quit date. It was in the back of my closet and I felt about the jar the way someone must feel about keeping their loved ones ashes in the back of their closet when the loved one’s last wish was to be spread across the Pacific where his boat went down in World War II, and you just haven’t had the time to go there. It weighed on me heavily.

I don’t remember why I started again, but I remember my aunt was visiting and her cigarette looked so fabulous dangling from her red-nailed hand that I picked one up and smoked it. My aunt is very exotic. She wears about 100 bangles on her arm, and has long expressive fingers that were extended even further with the cig at the end of them. Fabulous. Anyway, that was it. Hooked in three minutes and back to four packs a day.

Then a few years later I got pregnant. Yes, I smoked when I was pregnant. Sue me. Sarah might sue me later in life, but frankly, she doesn’t seem worse for wear from it, and she has never smoked – a cigarette anyway – and was the reason I quit the second time. She wouldn’t quit nagging me. And being the perfect role model mother with a cigarette dangling from your mouth is difficult.

The second and final quit was done through the patch. It was pretty easy I think. I can’t really remember. It was about fifteen years ago, and I haven’t thought about it in a long, long time. Last night, I met a new friend for dinner and we were finding out about each other and he mentioned he had been a smoker. We both lamented the loss, the friend for all seasons that is not longer at the end of our fingers during the good times, the bad times and just before heading to bed.

I told him that if someone is smoking (so rare to find one these days), I always stand down wind from them and take in that second hand smoke like it was a serum to stop aging forever. If the smoke trail moves, I move with it. I follow it around the person and I’m sure they have looked at me in wonderment asking themselves why I am swaying and shuffling to and fro as they gesture magnificently with their cigarette perched at the end of their hand. Sigh. Just writing it makes me yearn to head to the streets to find a smoking personage to follow.

If they told me I had a month left, the first thing I would do is buy a carton of cigarettes. Sad but true. At least I’m honest.

Health Politics

Health Care

Hmmm. “Why would she ever go here?”

Dear Whomever (is it the Pres, a Senator, or Congressperson?),

Look, Canada’s health care bill is ten pages long. Literally, it’s ten pages. I have googled our new health care bill and alas, it’s thousands of pages long. And,  I can’t get a straight answer to the following three simple, straight forward questions.

What would it cost me to get my own health care should I choose to leave my company?

Will I be able to choose my own doctors and how much will my co-pay be?

At what age do I now qualify for you, my government, to pay for my care?

That’s all I want to know. These are simple dial one-eight-hundred health care help questions. Please tell me why you make everything so complicated. I know the answer to that question. I get that everyone needs to say something and put something in the bill. I work at a company that is the same way. Everyone needs to weigh in, even if it’s something that has been said a zillion times before. I am probably one of those people. But how come Canada can make it simple and we can’t? Can’t you take what Canada did and just change the names to protect the innocent and make it ours? It seems to work well for them.

I’m sick and tired of you stupid people. I’m sick and tired of the word ‘party’ in Washington, because it ain’t no party anymore. None of this is working for me and to be honest, it’s making me sick, which if I’m not mistaken is exactly the point of what the new plan is supposed to do; make it easier to be sick. No wonder we are so sick here in the USA and eat ourselves to oblivion. You guys (and girls) make us nuts.

Nancy, let your hair blow in the wind. Stop the botox (and while you are at it, please disclose if that fabulous health care plan you people have reimbursed you for it). Put the top down in a car and drive around and let the power go. It’s gone to your head. Literally.

John McCain, retire. Now. You stayed long past the time the party ended. And, the party is over. All the parties should be over. It’s time.

In fact, all of you retire or resign. Let’s do a do over. Build a new team.

But before you go, please, someone out there answer my simple three questions so I can see what the status of my personal health care options are.

Love, Christine


My Traveling Friend Val & Me

I hate to fly. For awhile I didn’t fly. I pretended I flew, but I really didn’t. Then I moved to LA, and after taking the train here and back, I realized I was going to have to be an air traveler again. So I commandeered my friend Val to accompany me each time I fly.

I need to take a moment here to explain. In my defense, I have reasons not to like to fly. My father, back in the day, had a number of airplanes; a DC3 (an old prop cargo plane), a Duke (fast prop plane) and a Lear Jet. Actually they were all part of his company, but we flew in all of them. Let’s review. The DC3 ran out of gas and landed in the ocean between St. Maarten and San Juan. The pilots floated in a blow up boat saving laundry from the hotel (that’s what they were flying to Puerto Rico) instead of getting out the equipment that was worth something.

Then there was the Lear Jet. I used to kneel between the two pilots during takeoff and they would do a roll as we were going up. My father was flying once to Chicago O’Hare and they called the tower to say they spilled coffee on the maps and needed to be talked in. They didn’t spill anything on the maps. Either they couldn’t figure them out – or maybe they didn’t bring them, I don’t really remember. I am so lucky to be alive.

Then there was the time that my father – who pretended to have a license, but didn’t – was flying from St. Maarten to Florida in the Duke. We stopped halfway to refuel, took off again and then I hear this “F*&^&k” from the cockpit. He had gone the wrong way and we were back in St. Maarten. Don’t you think it’s odd that when a private plane lands there is no one there asking to see their license?

As I aged, I think the enormity of the danger of these types of things made me afraid to fly. I prefer to think it’s my experience rather than my need for control. Can we leave that issue aside? Call it your act of kindness today. And, then after seeing the planes go into the towers in person on 9/11, I got much worse. In 2004 I stopped flying altogether.

Interestingly enough, my sister is afraid of flying too. She is more vocal on planes than I am. She was flying back from Japan or somewhere into Kennedy airport and the pilot came on. “Ladies and Gentlemen, it looks like we have some bad weather into Kennedy, and I may divert to Philadelphia. I will let you know in the next half hour what the plan is, but I wanted to give you a head’s up.” She was in first class. She stood up from the front row, turned around to address her fellow passengers and said, “Hi, my name is Susie (not her real name). I vote to divert rather than risk landing in bad weather. All those in favor, raise your hands?” She then turned to the stewardess (that’s what they were called then) and said, “The ayes have it. Please let the pilot know we will be landing in Philadelphia.” The pilot got on a few minutes later and said, “Despite the vote in first class, we will be landing at Kennedy where the weather has lifted.”

I often interview the pilots when I board. “How was your day?” “Did you guys go out last night?” “Need any help with the flight plan?” I’m sure they roll their eyes and know that there is yet another control freak nut case on the flight but I don’t care. I want eye contact. I want to know he hasn’t been drinking, and I want to know he looks like Sully and not Tom Cruise in Top Gun.

My ex and I flew a lot. I mean a lot. All over Europe especially. I would sit and shake through the flights. Once flying from Geneva to NYC, he looked at me, put all his papers away, turned and said, “OK, we are going to fix this now. Tell me just what you are afraid of and we will figure it out.” I looked at him, grabbed his arm and said, “I’m sure we are all going to die!” He looked back at me and said, “I can’t help you,” took out his papers again and left me sitting there listening for whatever I thought would tell me something was wrong. I can’t blame him for that one; there was nothing he could do.

Anyway, back to me flying with my friend Val who has gotten me past this stupid fear that has blocked a lot of my living life to its fullest. Val is short for Valium, and she is my flying partner. Before I can even get anxious now, I take Val and voila I’m flying! I fly a lot now. Back and forth between NY and LA, and then again to different cities for business.

While Val is an important part of it all, there is something else that moved me past it as well. I happened to be in a hotel near LAX last summer and my room overlooked the runway. I watched plane after plane land time after time every time I was in my room. I envisioned that happening all over the country over and over again, and then I realized that hundreds of thousands (if I’m wrong and it’s less, please do NOT email and tell me) planes do this every day. And only once or twice a year is there the kind of problem that would end my days here. What are the odds?

So, I fly now. Fly. Fly. Fly. And, I’m so happy I do. Yesterday I flew from NYC to LA and actually worked the entire time on my computer. Communicating through email made it even better. If you are in touch with the ground, doesn’t that sort of mean you are on the ground? Look, don’t judge me. If you don’t have this fear, you don’t get it. If you do, I hope this helps. Hook up that WiFi and start emailing.

So if you are afraid of flying, Val is around. Go to a busy airport and watch the flights taking off for several hours and then multiply it in your head. WiFi through the flight. But never forget to bring Val with you. She is the best.

Food Health

Zicam Weight Loss Idea

You know how you get those emails telling you that if you don’t throw away all your toilet paper, you will get a rash that will never leave you? Then it turns out it is a scam from the Net and has taken off in that viral way that the Net nurtures.

I got the following such email from my sister. She was forwarding it from someone who had forwarded it to her. I googled it and it does appear that a number of consumers have reported the symptoms described.

I want my friends and loved ones to know what has happened to me in hopes that it will never happen to  
you or anybody you care about.  About 10 days ago, I felt a cold coming on; so before I went to bed I   
used Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel.  It’s supposed to help you “get over your cold faster.”   Immediately 
after I sprayed it into each nostril I felt the most horrific burning sensation imaginable.  It         
literally felt like I had sprayed pepper spray directly into my brain.  It burned all the way to the    
top of my skull.  My nasal passages swelled, my eyes watered – the burning lasted all night long into   
the next day.

After about a day, I realized I couldn’t taste anything and I thought, “Wow – I must really have a bad  
cold..”  Then I noticed that I couldn’t smell coffee brewing, couldn’t smell my perfume when I put it   
on, couldn’t smell the popcorn I burned, couldn’t smell my favorite candle.  I panicked and starting    
smelling everything that I could find that had really strong odors – ammonia, finger nail polish        
remover, bleach, etc.  I couldn’t smell ANYTHING!  I started tasting everything that had really strong  
tastes such as HOT salsa, raw red onions, Doritos, coffee.  I couldn’t taste ANYTHING!

I told my mother about this and she said, “Oh, I’ve heard Zicam can affect your Olfactory nerve.”  I    
went online, typed in “Zicam side effects” and bam – up popped all sorts of web sites with people       
reporting the same thing I experienced.  It seems that this past June, Zicam pulled the swabs for       
adults and children off the shelf but not the nasal gel.

I went to my ENT and he said the Zicam had basically “FRIED” my Olfactory nerve and the results are     
most likely permanent.  He put me on a strong dose of a steroid called Prednisone in hopes of           
recovering ANY bit of the nerve damage but he told me to “take this and pray.”  He said he had read     
about the side effects of Zicam and couldn’t believe it is still on the shelf.  It isn’t FDA approved.  
I am taking the Prednisone and praying but nothing is happening..  I LITERALLY CANNOT SMELL OR TASTE    
ANYTHING!  I can tell if foods are hot or cold, I can tell the consistency and I can faintly detect if  
it is salty but that is it.                                                                             

At first I thought, “How awful!” But then I started to think that if you can’t taste or smell, then you could eat salads and salmon all the time and never know that it’s not ice cream and chocolate. I immediately called my sister.

“Look, if this Zicam thing is true, this could be the largest breakthrough in weight loss ever! Do you know how much weight we would lose if we couldn’t tell the difference between a radish and an M&M? Yikes, this is fabulous! I can’t believe no one has thought about this! Quick, we need to buy the stock before they figure it out! It will be the biggest thing since the birth control pill. What do you think?”

“I think you are a sick person, and this just confirms it along with all your other hair-brained thoughts. I love food. Food taste is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and I would never give it up permanently. What is wrong with you? I am hanging up now.” And, she did. I hate when she does that.

I called her back.

“Look, are you telling me that if you could be thin for the rest of your life by merely spraying Zicam up your nose until it burned, you wouldn’t do it?”

She hung up on me again without a reply. I am sure this is why my family has trouble communicating, but let’s set that aside for now.



My friend and I went to the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego for the weekend. Our room was on the third floor. The Del (as they call it) was built in 1888, and it has a lovely courtyard and elevators with stairs that wrap around them. My friend and I were standing at the elevator waiting for it to come, when two twenty-something bitches came trotting down the stairs from the floor above and passed us by heading down the flight next to us.

She looked at me, and I looked at her, and she said, “Thin girls take the stairs you know.”

The elevator door opened, we got in, and I asked, “Both ways?”

“Yes,” she said sadly, “up and down.”

I remember a doctor talking to me at a dinner party years ago about StairMasters. He said that our knees were not meant to climb the Twin Towers every day and that it was not a good thing to do. Better to walk. I tried to summon his comments up for her in the ensuing conversation about skinny girls, and she just looked at me like “don’t even go there.” And, of course, she is right. He wasn’t talking about two flights at the Hotel del Coronado. He was talking about climbing thousands of stairs on a StairMaster.

I looked down at my feet that night and had a conversation. “You have been really good to me feet. You have carried me virtually without complaining. The longer it’s been, the more I’ve asked. And narry a word. I want you to know that I appreciate your kindness over the years and I’m going to notice you more, treat you better and lighten your load. I’m glad we had this little chat.” I then went and took the stairs down to the beach for awhile. My feet and I had a swell time at the Del.