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Archive for October, 2011

Today, my friends, you will have to suffer through a raging case of my nerdiness! Over the summer, I had the chance to take a boat ride down the Miles River here in Talbot County, Maryland. This is an extraordinarily wealthy area of the world and you can witness that firsthand by viewing the waterfront properties. Some of these fascinating places have very interesting pasts and it got me to thinking about some of the other really interesting homes and buildings that are located right near my adopted home area. I am a total geek about architecture and buildings – and ghostly hauntings. With Halloween arriving soon, I thought I’d share some of these historical and spooky spots….

Cape Centaur
Built in 1922 on 275 acres by Glenn and Jacqueline Archer Stewart, a wealthy and eccentric Foreign Service agent and his equally wealthy Irish heiress bride. They had visited Alhambra in Spain and decided to move to Wye Island and build a giant replica of that glorious palace fortress – only in pink. The “Pink Palace,” formally named Centaur Castle on Cape Centaur after Jacqueline’s family coat-of-arms, a centaur shooting an arrow. Descriptions of the interior decorating included tales of 18K goldleaf wallpaper, imported Tunisian tiles, Cortez-inspired murals of conquistador savagery, massive paintings of Spanish senoritas and other such oddities. The Stewarts’ were apparently also remarkably paranoid about their security and became obsessed with making Centaur Castle impenetrable, including an escape tunnel to a waiting boat on the river, employing a variety of carpenters so nobody would know the full blueprint of the finished building, and installing doors that were half-inch steel plates sandwiched between slabs of solid oak. Every cabinet and door had a unique lock and the windows were narrow slits, suitable as gun positions. The stone walls were three feet thick and there was a lookout tower and a huge portcullis adjoining the main hall. They installed a truly absurd amount of fencing and hired armed sentries to patrol at all hours of the day and night. After they had evicted most of the tenant farmers from the island, the land was used by the Stewarts as an agricultural experimentation area, first for Percheron horses, then sheep and finally, with some success, Hereford cattle. Jacqueline hired western cowboys to live on Wye and run the herd; as properties on Wye Island were bought, hedgerows would be stripped and fences put up for the cattle. Glenn spent more and more time away from the cape and Jacqueline was left to run the estate as well as her obsessive Irish Wolfhound breeding program. By the late 1930s, Glenn had fled to the Bahamas in his yacht, never to be heard from again and Jacqueline Stewart died in 1964, leaving the estate to the estate manager, Adolph Pretzler, and his wife. The so-called “Pink Castle” has been the subject of endless gossip – oft-told tales of German submarine sightings at its shore, of gold and silver coins stored in secret chambers, secret passages running under the entire property, boxwood hedges shaped like Nazi swastikas, scandalous inheritances by the Austrian servants, and a variety of other salacious tales. And tales of hauntings near and around the famed Pink Castle abound, including mysterious lights, sightings of Mrs. Stewart’s large wolfhounds, and numerous other spooky stories. How much can be believed? Who knows – Cape Centaur still heavily guards its secrets and shrouds itself in a mantle of mystery.
For more information on Cape Centaur, check out:
Hope House
Hope House, built in the grand Federal style around 1800, it was the home of illustrious members of the Tilghman and Lloyd families (names which, if you don’t live in Maryland mean very little but around here are BIG names).
The house passed out of its original family in 1863 and fell into disrepair until rescued by William J. Starr, a wealthy Midwest lumberman, in 1907, who bought the house and 250 acres for $15,000. The Starr family worked hard to restore Hope to its former glory. Internationally reknowned painter, lithographer, and silk screen artist  Ruth Starr Rose (1887-1965) began her career there, sketching scenes of daily life around her in Copperville and St. Michaels. Rose was born in Wisconsin and moved to Maryland with her family when she was fifteen. It was after the move that she developed an interest in the day-to-day lives of the Eastern Shore’s other residents. “She was always taken by the difference in lifestyles and the more down-trodden quality of African Americans on the Eastern Shore,” said Brenda Rose, granddaughter of the late artist. According to Rose, what her grandmother found most appealing about blacks at that time was the inner-strength they gained through their music and spirituals.  “I believe it was religion that brought Black Americans through their suffering,” said Rose. “If I could only convey to white people this sense that the power of God is really present here for us, people of all colors, then I’ll feel my mission is accomplished.” Rose may have been born to a life of privilege and gracious living but she also had a strong social conscience, chronicling life in the poorer areas of Talbot County and giving voice to her concern over racial discrimination – quite an outstanding and admirable task for a women in her time! Of course, Rose’s interests were not simply artistic; she was an accomplished equestrienne and sailor. As an adult, living at Pickbourne Farm adjacent to Hope, she owned the famous log racing canoe ‘Belle M. Crane’ and actively raced it. The Library of Congress has permanent exhibits of her work and the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Art Museum, among many others, house her lithographs, sketches, and paintings. Interestingly, this site is also known for its haunted boxwood gardens, which run all the way to the waters edge.  Supposedly a young girl that once lived at Hope fell inlove with a Spanish naval officer but he could not take her aboard his ship; she pined away for her lost love once he left and now wanders the boxwood garden down to the water’s edge, waiting for her lover to come back.
For more information on Hope House and Ruth Starr Rose, check out:
Foxley Hall
One of my favorite (and most imposing) houses in Easton is the three-story brick dwelling on the corner of Aurora and Goldsborough Streets.  Built in 1794 by Henry and Deborah Perry Dickinson, legend has it that Charles Dickinson, killed in a duel with Andrew Jackson, was born there. It also the former home of Oswald Tilghman, great-grandson of Lt. Col. Tench Tilghman, Civil War veteran, lawyer, Maryland State Senator, and local historian. And, ever since I have moved here, I have heard stories of mysterious candles lit and moving about in the house, secret slave chambers, and insane relatives that had been locked in the attic in years gone by who now haunt that space for eternity. I don’t know if any of it is true but it is a gorgeous and unique building, legends notwithstanding.
For more information on Foxley Hall and her famous residents, check out:
Inn at 202 Dover
My other favorite building is Captain’s Watch, currently housing the Inn at 202 Dover. Built in 1874, this wonderful building features elements of classic Beaux Arts design. For years the building was known as the Wrightson House, thanks to its early 20th century owner, Charles T. Wrightson, one of the founders of the S. & W. canned food empire and Shannahan-Wrightson Hardware. Locally, the building is still often referred to as Captain’s Watch due to its prominent balustraded widow’s walk.
After years of neglect and commercial restructuring of the house, restoration began in 2005 under the watchful eyes of the owners, Shelby and Ron Mitchell, Historic Easton, Easton’s Historic Commission, the State of Maryland and the Department of Interior, giving this glorious mansion a second life. This truly is just one of the most beautiful buildings in town and is now a grand and elegant bed and breakfast – I just wish I could afford to eat there at least once!
For more information on this wonderful place, check out:
John S. McDaniel House
The McDaniel House is a gorgeous Queen Anne-style Victorian home in the historic district of Easton. Although it currently serves as a bed and breakfast, it has served previously as a doctor’s office and a private residence, built in 1865 by Thomas Robson, owner of the Union Hotel and editor of the Eastern Star (ancestor of the current major newspaper, the Star-Democrat). Because of his Confederate sympathies (and investments) during the Civil War, Robson lost the house and it passed into the hands of a variety of prominent Eastern Shore families, including some Tilghmans, Nickersons, and Wooters. Even the first Bishop of Easton, Rev. Henry Lay, called this home for 14 years. It was purchased by John McDaniel and his wife Florence in 1923. This wonderful old home, in the area of town once known as Silk Stocking Row, is  not my usual favorite architecture style (I am an ordered, symmetrical kind of girl and this Queen Anne style building is anything but ordered and symmetrical) but I have a personal attachment to the building. It was heavily damaged by fire in 2006 when workers restoring the roof accidentally set some of the original 1865-era tar paper on fire. This 5-alarm blaze was one of the more memorable fires in my volunteer career and I am proud to say that our department saved this historic building for future generations.
For more information on the John S. McDaniel House, check out:
The Villa
The Villa, on the outskirts of Easton on the Miles River, sat on a tract of land originally granted by Lord Baltimore to devout Quaker Wenlock Christison in 1664. The original family gradually died off and the estate was purchased by Richard France, the “lottery king of Maryland, because the state recognized and legalized the lottery business due to his lobbying, and from that work he emerged rich and prosperous.  He built a large mansion on the Mount Vernon Square in Baltimore and bought an estate on the Eastern Shore. Here he built The Villa, with its red tower overtopping the trees. Italian gardens, winding walks and fountains, rich vases and marble statuary, glass houses and “everything else that money could buy to complete a gentleman’s county seat.”  After Maryland retracted his lottery license and he failed at a similar scheme in Delaware, Richard France found himself destitute. The Villa was sold to Henry May, of Baltimore, and under his care, the estate flourished and was said to be one of the finest places for miles around.  Then the Civil War erupted and Henry May immediately invested his fortune in gold. All went well until the surrender of General Lee, when gold declined, and swept Henry May along with the declining tide. Henry May returned to Baltimore, but his old friends turned their faces. An isolated, ostracized man, he returned to “The Villa,” and in a few months he died, it is said, out of pure chagrin. “The Villa” was then bought by a young man named Randall, who, with his young wife, more than revived its old reputation for luxurious hospitality but sent the Randalls into ruin and forced them to sell it to a Mr. Brady, of New York, “a strange man, untidy and shock-headed, pottered about in the weedy, seedy garden, a grim and churlish recluse.” After a time there came a rumor, spread faithfully by the locals, of a boat flitting about the river, and of a strange man, bearded and old, seen by chance, but furtively keeping out of the way. The Villa, on its isolated stretch of land, was the perfect location for concealment. Then came the news of “Boss” Tweed’s escape from New York and some people remembered that Mr. Brady had been heard to say he knew or had met “Boss” Tweed. The rumor grew, and was confirmed in the belief of the people of the neighborhood. To complete the tale, a party of officers descended upon the place, but whatever might have been going on there, nobody was found by them. This story set The Villa on the history books, both for its mysterious reputation and its less-than-positive luck afforded to its owners.  The Villa passed into the hands of the Lockwood family and eventually to Anne Lockhart, who razed the mansion in 1950. The fountain from the ornate Italian gardens is all that remains, having been donated by the Talbot Garden Club, is sadly all that remains of that mysterious home.
For more information on The Villa, check out:
Webley (Mary’s Delight)
 Built circa 1805, this was one of the first homes I heard tales about when I moved here 10 years ago. The original builder, John Kersey, sold the home to his son-in-law, the reputable and slightly famous surgeon Dr. Absolom Thompson in the 1836 Dr. Thompson established a hospital in 1840, reportedly the first of its kind in Maryland. According to one source, Dr. Thompson “made his professional rounds riding bareback and barefoot on a mule. His kit was limited to a jar of calomel, a lancet, and a syringe with a nozzle like a twelvebore shotgun. Nevertheless, his practice became so great that he had to establish a hospital in his home.” Interestingly, in 1838, the same Dr. Thompson purchased Tilghman’s Island containing 1,869 acres of land except for the 1/2 acre “Graveyard” on the northern part of the island. Dr. Thompson bought the island as an investment and when he died in October 1842 his two sons sold Tilghman’s island to Tench Tilghman of Oxford for $24,000.00. With his death, Dr. Thompson manumitted most of his slaves in his last will and testament and gifted a number of them with houses, money, and various other material goods – a VERY unusual legal maneuver for that time! Dr. Isaac Dickson took over his practice and the house was eventually sold. What’s interesting about this house is that the rumors persist that it served as a Civil War hospital and that the ghosts of soldiers haunt the place, looking for their amputated limbs and their final resting places. This is a very common local belief but one that, for all I can find, is sadly just a good story – the doctor died before the War was even thought of and no significant battles occurred in this area of Maryland.
For more information on Webley, check out:
The Rest & The Anchorage
Two sites on the picturesque Miles River, both linked to the same powerful family, paint a quaint picture of early colonial life in Maryland.  The Anchorage was originally a modest two-story brick structure on the banks of the Miles, home of the ferry to cross from the Miles River Neck onto what is now Unionville Road. Built in 1732, this basic house, so similar to all others near it, underwent a massive renovation nearly a century after its construction when it was purchased by Governor Edward Lloyd of the massively prominent and influential Lloyd family. He purchased the home in 1831 and added several wings and the prominent portico – and then gave it as a present to his daughter, Sarah “Sally” Scott Lloyd, and her husband Commodore Charles Lowndes (USN). Their children and grandchildren would go on to shape Maryland and American history.
Just across the river, The Rest was the home of Admiral Franklin Buchanan (1800–1874) who was the first Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy in 1845 and later served aboard the Confederate ironclads Virginia (USS Merrimac) and Tennessee as a senior officer in the Confederate Navy. He married Ann Catherine Lloyd in 1837 and The Rest was given to them by Governor Lloyd and the family in 1847.  The two Lloyd sisters could boat across to see each other daily! It is said that, prior to a destructive fire in 1868, a beautiful brick house sat on the property, resembling Doncaster which is situated nearby. Franklin Buchanan died at The Rest and Ann died in 1892, leaving the house to her children. Unfortunately, the house has been demolished and all that remains is a historic marker in the subdivision that now sits on the property.
For more information on The Rest & The Anchorage, check out:
There about a thousand other fascinating (and much more widely known) historically-interesting and ghostly-infested places in and around Talbot County, including Wye House, Big Liz, the hanging tree, the Old Whitemarsh Cemetery, and many MANY others! Check them out if you dare!

It’s sad, isn’t it, how often we miss the history right under our noses! I encourage all of you, my gentle readers, to go out and discover some of your own areas – there are some great stories to be discovered! With Halloween upon us, can you find your own haunted houses?

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I found out today that yet another of my friends is living her “happily ever after” – storybook romance, beautiful wedding, gorgeous house, and now a baby soon to be delivered. She has all of the things that she always dreamed of and I hate to admit that I am so jealous of her I could spit nails. It was heartbreaking for me to read that she has yet another jewel in the crown of a happy life – and I hate myself for the envy I feel.

People talk about how women have Penis Envy and Baby Envy. Well, I have an acute case of Happy Envy. I am jealous of people who have succeeded in whatever dreams they have had for themselves – careers, families, spouses, vacations, homes, whatever. I cringe every time I hear of a friend who is happy and content with their successes – and I hate myself for it!

My 10-year college reunion was this year and, while I would really have loved to go and see all the places I loved and friends I’ve missed, I just couldn’t bring myself to face people and admit that I have nothing about which to brag, no significant improvements in my life in the last decade. I am physically sick to stomach to think about finding that all of my friends and classmates have made their dreams come true – and here I am, divorced, broke, childless, jaded, bitter, angry and depressed.

And I don’t want to expose my Happy Envy to anyone other than you, my gentle readers. I don’t want to admit that I have become that woman. I don’t want anyone to know that I am petty enough and jealous enough to begrudge my friends (not to mention total strangers or vague acquaintances) their happiness. I am embarassed that I have failed in so many aspects of my life and thus I look around me with a shameful envy for the things that I want.

I wonder, though, am I the only one who has ever felt this way? I’m guessing not, since Envy is one of the seven deadly sins. I’m betting that there are a lot of us in this particular boat, wanting the happiness that others have found….

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In looking up some statistics and photos for my September 11th musings, I stumbled upon the biographies of a man that I have come to develop a very strong admiration for. I don’t know how, in the massive media coverage following the attacks, I managed to miss hearing the buzz about this now-iconic figure: Father Mychal Judge, chaplain of the Fire Department of New York. I

Father Mychal Judge

want to share with you a little more about what I have discovered of this man in the last few weeks; I think this extraordinary human being needs a small extra bit of eulogizing.

Father Judge, ordained as a Catholic priest and Franciscan monk in 1961, grew up in Brooklyn the son of two Irish immigrants. Serving in various parishes around the northeast, Father Judge took special interested in the plight of the homeless in the larger cities. Having become an alcoholic in the 1970s and admitting his addiction in

1978, Father Judge knew the struggles that the homeless and addicted faced every day. He also spent quite a bit of time ministering to the gay/lesbian population and those suffering from AIDS; following his death a few of his friends and associates revealed that he identified himself as gay, as a matter of orientation and identity and not as a matter of practice since he was a celibate priest. Very wisely (in my opinion), he asked of Rome’s anti-gay teachings, ” “Is there so much love in the world that we can afford to discriminate against any kind of love?!”.  Ever the champion of the underdog, Father Judge specifically reached out to those that most needed his love and kindness!

In 1992, Father Judge was appointed chaplain of the FDNY. As chaplain, he offered encouragement, prayers, and spiritual interventions at fires, rescues, and hospitals. He counseled firemen and their families, performed weddings, funerals, baptisms, and hospital visits for ‘his’ firefighters. He truly was accepted as one of the FDNY’s own; his Irish roots (and work to bring peace to Ireland) and his loving, jovial charisma made him a natural fit in the firehouses around the city. As biographer Mychal McNichols noted, “His whole ministry was about love. Mychal loved the fire department and they loved him.” To say that the most stalwart and macho group of firemen in the world loved him and accepted him, with all of his liberal social teachings, is surely a remarkable testament to the kind soul that he was! As Father Judge once said, “The firefighters ask me to bless them. But the truth is I feel blessed by them.”

Father Judge was a dyed-in-the-wool first responder. In his eulogy of Father Judge, Father Michael Duffy, OFM remembered that  “…he loved to be where the action was. If he heard a fire engine or a police car, any  news, he’d be off. He loved to be where there was a crisis, so he could insert  God in what was going on. That was his way of doing things.”  At his last official mass at FDNY Engine 73/ Ladder 42 (Bronx) on September 10, 2001, Father Judge gave the following homily:

You do what God has called you to do. You get on that rig, you go out and do the job. No
matter how big the call, no matter how small, you have no idea of what God is
calling you to, but God needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us.
God needs us to keep supporting each other, to be kind to each other, to love each other…

We love this job, we all do. What a blessing it is! It’s a difficult, difficult job, but God calls you to do
it
, and indeed, He gives you a love for it so that a difficult job will be well done.

In an interview in 1992, Father Judge rhetorically asked “I wonder what my last hour will be. Will it be trying to help someone, trying to save a life?” Little did he know the thousands of lives he would touch in the final moments of his life. Early on that bright morning of September 11, 2001, he rushed from the friary at Saint Francis of Assisi Church to the scene of the World Trade Center attacks. He was among many pastors, priests, and rabbis that had run to the aid of the people pouring into the streets – but he knew that his first priorities were his firefighters. Video of some his last moments (purpotedly shot by documentary filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet) show him praying fervently before he headed inside the building to minister to injured firemen and administering the Sacrament of the Sick and Last  Rites.

As Father Judge rushed into the North Tower with firefighters, Mayor Rudy Giuliani has stated that he called out, “Father Mike, pray for us!” and that Father Mychal responded, “I always do! I always pray for you!” Because of his official status with the fire department, he was the only clergy allowed inside the building and was surrounded by people needing help as death rained down around them. According to biographers Ford & Daly, when commanders gave orders to evacuate the building, he refused to abandon the hundreds of firefighters still trapped inside saying, “My work here is not finished.” Between 9:50 and 9:55 am, Father Judge climbed up to the mezzanine attempting to reach some injured firefighters. Seeing dozens of jumpers crashing onto the plaza outside, he is reported to have cried out fervently and repeatedly, Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!”

Father Mychal Judge was struck and killed at 9:59 AM when the South Tower collapsed and sent concrete flying through the North Tower lobby at speeds of over 100mph. He is officially listed as Victim 0001 of the September 11th attacks – #1 only because his was the first body recovered and autopsied (the first victims, in reality, were the passengers and crews of the airplanes and the occupants of the buildings).

What happened next was truly an amazing human moment on that day of horror. A NYPD lieutenant, digging himself out of the rubble, found Judge’s body and assisted by two firemen and two civilian bystanders carried it out of the North Tower lobby to nearby St. Peter’s Church. This remarkable and touching event was captured in the documentary film 9/11 (author’s note: truly one of the best documentaries ever made, everyone should see it in order to truly grasp that historic day)  and on film by Reuters photographer Shannon Stapleton. This photo is one of the most disturbing and iconic images to come out of the tragedies of 9/11. Father Judge’s ashen lifeless face stands in stark contrast to the lieutenant, firefighters, and bystanders who are steadfast in their mission to carry his body to safety.

As Father Duffy said in his eulogy, “The firemen took his body and because they respected and loved him so much, they  didn’t want to leave it in the street. They quickly carried it into a church and  not just left it in the vestibule, they went up the center aisle. They put the  body in front of the altar. They covered it with a sheet. And on the sheet, they  placed his stole and his fire badge. And then they knelt down and they thanked  God. And then they rushed back to continue their work.”

Father Judge’s funeral was held on September 15, 2001 and was attended by over 3,000 mourners. Former President Clinton, in attendance at the funeral, said that Judge’s death was “a special loss. We should lift his life up as an example of what has to prevail … We have to be more like Father Mike than the people who killed him.”

This amazing human being is now being considered for sainthood and I must say that, even though I’m not Catholic, I would support this wholeheartedly.  And while he may never pass the various tests to enter the Catholic canon of saints, I believe that wonderful man is looking down from Heaven to continue protecting his firefighters and his congregants. He has, in my Protestant mind, already fulfilled his obligations. I cannot think of more saintly acts than to spend your life in servitude to the human race and to lay down your life in order to help them find spiritual peace in the last moments. Rest in peace, Father Judge, and thank you for teaching us about true love and absolute service for others!

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My regular readers will have noticed that I have been absent from my keyboard for an unforgivable lapse in time. I have been busily preparing for what (I hope) has become a turning point in my journey on this planet. After 30+ years of being an overweight American, I made the very difficult decision (and even more difficult process) to have a roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery. It has taken me a long time to work up the courage to publicly admit that I had chosen this path – so please be gentle in the cyber commenting. I had the surgery done last Thursday and am now waiting anxiously for the pounds to come off…

Where do I begin in my story of being fat? I was born at 10 pounds – a big girl from the start – and have just kept going from there! As part of the psychological process of preparing for my surgery, I had to sit down and create a timeline of all the different diets, weight loss medications, fads, programs, and support groups that I have used on my journey to become thin. This was an amazingly enlightening experience, as I realized that this truly has been a lifelong struggle – my list was over 4 pages long and my first diet was when I was in 3rd GRADE!  And, I am sorry to say, the world around me wasn’t prepared to accept my size. High schoolers are not known for their kindness or compassion – and being the fat kid all the way through school was rough. Hence, I have major self-esteem and self-confidence issues and some pretty heavy body image baggage to carry. I don’t blame anyone else for those emotional issues but myself – if I were a stronger person I would have learned to deal with things differently and I wouldn’t let my physical appearance effect how I think of myself. It is a struggle daily for me, to this day, to be a fat person in a thin world.

When I did mention to some of those nearest, dearest, and most important to me what I was doing with the surgery, I actually heard two different people tell me that I was taking the “easy way out” and that I could lose the weight if I just tried harder.  Obviously, with that list I created, I think I can prove I have tried as hard as humanly possible and just couldn’t do it!

This was the perfect time in my life to move forward with this. My husband left me almost 2 years ago for another woman and I had spent the last 10 years of my life with him, feeling pretty bad about myself. I hit my birthday with a vengeance this past summer and began to get very scared that I was going to grow old and fat and totally alone. The “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up” commercials began to give me nightmares as I visualized myself living like that, alone with my cats and growing ever-fatter. I didn’t want to become Gilbert Grape’s mother! And I realized that I have been playing a pretty scary game of Russian roulette with my health – morbid obesity leads to massive strokes, heart problems, joint issues, liver and kidney breakdown, etc. And the final straw was when I realized that I couldn’t do some things that I really wanted to  because I was too damn fat. I want to get out and be active and live a long life (hey Talbot Fair Plays, are you paying attention?!)!  I also don’t want to be The Fat Chick anymore – I want to have a positive body image and the self-confidence of knowing that I am beautiful and healthy.

So that’s how I got here. And I can tell you right here and right now that this is NOT an easy decision!! Nothing about this journey has been EASY! You have to go through 6 months of nutritional counseling and dieting before the insurance companies will even consider you. Then you have to have a battery of tests to make sure you’re healthy enough – cardiologists, gynecologists, internists, nutritionists, psychologists and on and on and on. THEN, once you’ve done all that, you have to do all the preop testing – 37 different blood tests, EKGs, pregnancy tests, upper GIs, xrays, CT scans (I think, by the time this is over and done with, I will have tried every imaginable piece of equipment available at Shore Health). It is only then that you get to actually go have the surgery done – and I encourage every one of you to click on the link and see exactly what it is they have done to my guts. It will force you to respect the millions of people like me who have put their bodies through this! And now, 7 days out from surgery, I can tell you it STILL isn’t easy. I can only eat 2-3 mouthfuls of food at a time, I have to drink my weight in water and protein supplements, and I have a pill chest for daily meds that you could pack a Buick into. I will have to take supplements and vitamins for the rest of my life and live forever on a small-portion, protein-forward, sweets-forbidden diet.

So, to those of you who might think I’ve taken the “easy way” to becoming skinny, I can assure you I haven’t. I’ve chosen the only option I had available to give me a longer, healthier life. I’m very excited about this exciting new path in my journey and I can’t wait for what lies ahead!

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I admit to an incurable love of chick flicks. I know that it is so awfully female of me but I have always loved those sappy, female-oriented stories. Steel Magnolias, Beaches, You’ve Got Mail, Pretty Woman – you name it, I’ve seen it, loved it, probably own it on DVD and can recite the lines to you. I just can’t help getting all gooshy about the love stories and the sisterhoods, the female bonding and bitching, the romantic swoons and the happy endings.

Lately, though, I have found myself unable to watch them very easily. In the final days of my marriage, love stories on television or in the movies would piss me off so bad that I would have to turn it off. Sex scenes, romance, and wedding scenes specifically made me want to throw the remote through the screen. I was so angry at that point that I just couldn’t stomach the idea of romance, love, commitment, faithfulness or happy endings.

Now, though, it’s a little bit of a different story. Nowadays, I have trouble watching  them because I am so darn lonely. I want so badly to be loved by someone, anyone, that I get edgy if a love scene of any degree comes on. Those intense looks between the couple, the heartbreakingly handsome leading man and the relatably familiar leading lady, that just make your heart go pitter-pat. Those breathtaking moments as they lean in for that long-awaited kiss. The longing as they reach out to one another.

I miss kissing. I miss that intimate connection to another human being. I miss that sense of melting from 2 separate individuals into 1 soul. I miss that breathless anticipation, that bump-bump of the heart, as you lean into each other. I miss the feeling of being in someone’s arms, someone that loves you and accepts you for who you are. The hungry nibbles, the tender touching of lips, that sweet sharing of breath. Good heavens, do I miss kissing!

So, for now, when those moments come on tv, I’ll turn the channel. I’ll try not to pick any movies to see that might include one of those soul-shaking kissing scenes. It will help my mental health tremendously, I think, to forego the romance for a while. But if anyone out there finds a decent man for me to kiss, can you please send him my way?

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