Monday, January 24, 2011

All Is Not Wonderful In The Land Of Mehmet Oz

                                                                                          Julie Pick                         
We spent a romantic evening snuggled up in front of the TV watching the 9:00 news on Fox, when Dr. Oz was featured in a segment about how to avoid a heart attack during the Bears-Packers playoff game. I almost dropped my hot fudge sundae, when he pulled out replicas of two human hearts. The healthy heart looked like a fillet mignon, while the diseased heart looked like a fatty porterhouse steak after dogs had been battling over it. The latter enlarged heart was a result of years of gluttonous eating and lack of exercise. My husband almost slammed the door on the pizza delivery man, but he decided to invite him to come in from the cold and watch the rest with us. I was a little embarrassed that he saw me in my chocolate stained nightgown, but he was too busy digging the change out of our couch for his tip.

After we got over the initial shock of onions touching my side of the pizza, Dr. Oz pointed out that baseball fans have lower blood pressure rates than football fans. The way he described it baseball was more relaxing with the 7th inning stretch etc. and football fans were more likely to receive injuries resulting in death than the players themselves. The good doctor then proceeded to prescribe how to stay alive during the game.

Dr. Oz didn't mention anything about preventing frostbite for the fans at Soldier Field. He also didn't touch on cutting down on heavy drinking. Instead he had 3 suggestions for surviving a playoff party: (1) make sure to take any heart medications before the start of the game  (2) stand up and touch your toes for circulation during commercials and (3) for the big feast indulge in a small salad with vinegar & water dressing. I don't know many women who could resist picking at a sumptuous spread, let alone men. Has he not heard of buttocks flexes an exercise that can be performed while sitting, so you don't lose your place on the couch? And why should adults need to be reminded to take their meds? I took mine with breakfast; wait a minute I skipped breakfast because I was looking forward to that vinegar & water salad for lunch. Mmm...maybe I could have a Tums for dessert.

Although Dr. Oz does strike a stunning pose in his scrubs, I was hoping that I would walk away more enlightened from his segment. It was almost like he was a last minute filler on the late newscast and wanted to save his best work for his own show. Maybe all this time in the spotlight has dimmed his brain and hardened his heart. Perhaps Dr. Oz should be off to see the wizard.        

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Do Couples Talk About After 23 Years?


The British dating site wrote that a couple married for 50 years will talk to each other for only three minutes during an entire dinner hour. The Sunday section of The Chicago Tribune featured a cover story by Nara Schoenberg detailing the importance of having quality conversations everyday for ten minutes. This entails "sharing your private feelings, fears, doubts and perceptions with your partner." Since we've been married for over twenty three years, I thought this would be a piece of cake, but after reflecting on our years together, I realized ten minutes could be an eternity.

When the kids are away at school we normally discuss if either one of us has heard from them. If I say "yes" then my husband's next response is "at what time?" For some reason that particular question sets me off into a tirade and the discussion ends quickly. While most husbands fantasize about their wives greeting them in a sexy strapless gown; mine would be perfectly happy if I held out a rib roast and strapped on a Timex. The next time I spoke to one of the boys I wore my watch and told him every detail of the conversation. This lasted about four and a half minutes. Maybe we needed to go deeper.

The article talks about research scientist Terri Orbuch's theory of "affective affirmation" to show your partner how much you love them. This could mean anything as simple as offering a hug to show your appreciation. After my husband washed my car, I threw my arms around him to show him my gratitude.This worked well for about twelve seconds until my husband turned me around at the right angle so he could face the TV. Later when I called him on it he apologized and offered up an even bigger hug. It took me a few minutes before I realized he was also reading the sports section while I was backed up against the kitchen counter.

The truth of the matter is we're both perfectly happy talking about everyday inconsequential things. My husband is more than willing to talk about almost anything with me as long as it doesn't involve screaming, whining or spending money. Tonight we even hit the 10 minute mark at dinner with topics ranging from the weather to what's on TV. For all of the other stuff, that's what girlfriends are for.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Confessions Of A TV Addict

                                                                                                             Julie Pick

Some of my best memories growing up were eating dinner on our TV trays, watching our favorite shows as a family. When my brother and I were little, we were able to share the same Lazy Boy chair, while my parents spread out over the couch. Friday was pizza night and when my parents kissed, we knew that was the signal to start the meal. Though the TV line-up changed, the ritual remained until long after I had my very own folding chair, while my brother had the comfortable big chair all to himself.

I always looked forward to snuggling up and watching shows like The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery. We'd even turn the lights out when Creature Features was on. The old B/W movies were just frightening enough to be scary for kids and amusing for adults. They still show Twilight Zone reruns on the Sci-Fi channel and even fifty years later, the episodes are still timeless.

As I got older I fell in love with Freddie Prinz on Chico & The Man, and wanted to be Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Burnett. When Saturday Night Live began in 1975, I was thrilled to have a regular Saturday night date. I was in 8th grade and my social life was practically non-existent. I still watch SNL with my husband, and even though it is not as consistently funny as it was back then, it's still worth it to see Tina Fey as Sarah Palin or Jim Carrey as The Black Swan.

The lessons from sitcoms like Andy Griffith and Leave It To Beaver are still relevant today. I enjoy watching  reruns of  Wally and the Beaver with my boys, and a few of their friends over the years have reminded me of Eddie Haskell.  It didn't bother me that Wally stayed in high school for six years, because he always looked after The Beaver, was polite to his parents, and never kept his elbows on the table.

Modern Family and The Middle are among the best recent family comedies. The daughter Sue Heck from The Middle reminds me of my awkward teenage years. She worked hard to be a part of every school team until she finally made the one team that didn't have try-outs, cross country. I auditioned for every high school play before I had a part in the chorus in the spring of my junior year. How I wish I could've known the lyrics to every song and been able to sing on key at a moments notice like the stars of Glee.

There are so many shows that I've grown to rely on from Curb Your Enthusiasm to Mad Men. DVR's make it even easier for me to get my fix 24/7. Fortunately, I know there are other addicts out there. When my friend was having issues with her boyfriend who wanted to meet in person to discuss their relationship, she told me that she didn't want to lose him, but she'd rather watch The Bachelor.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tears & Jeers: When The Kids Go Back To College

                                                                                                            Julie Pick

On Friday December 17, I went through my checklist before I left the house: kitchen clean, bathroom spotless, sunroom sparkling and out the door. Several hours later, I returned to a completely different home. After I made my way through the fog of  dirty laundry, shoes and wrappers, I was almost lassoed by the lap top and phone chargers laying in the middle of the floor, but fortunately the open refrigerator door broke my fall. When I thought no one could hear my screams over the blasting T.V., my 19 year old son said " Hi mom I'm home."

When we first became empty nesters last fall, I went through the 5 stages of grief. 1) DENIAL:  No my kids weren't really going to be away for so long. They'll come back to visit almost every weekend. 2) ANGER:  How could they leave me! I sat through football games and wrestling tournaments and even had to wash their smelly uniforms and this is how they repay me? 3) BARGAINING: Okay if I don't nag them  maybe they'll call once in a while. 4) DEPRESSION: Why do I need to get dressed it's only 4 P.M. I need to rest up in case they decide to call me. 5) ACCEPTANCE: Did you hear that? Nobody's arguing with me about anything! I can have my car whenever I want it! I don't have to walk around the house with a dust buster attached to my hip!

On December 19th, my older son returned from law school and the family was together again. I was back to cooking, cleaning and lots of laundry, not to mention all the late nights waiting up for them. While my younger son and I still had our share of disagreements, I noticed a quiet elegance about my firstborn. He genuinely missed his little brother and took him under his wing during his short break.

As I was driving my older son to the airport to begin his next semester, I reflected on what a positive experience law school and college have been for both of my boys. It's taught them to be more  independent and outgoing and to even have a deeper appreciation for each other. I couldn't help but cry when I kissed my heir goodbye.  Then my young silver-tongued son turned to me and said "Come on mom, I'm taking you and Nana out to lunch." I had to smile as I remembered I still had my spare at home with me for 2 more weeks.  After that it would be back to the empty nest and the remote control would be all mine.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Facebook Fever

Julie Pick

It all began when a friend asked me to vote for her in a recipe contest on Facebook. I couldn't access the site without a password, so I decided to join the social network. After I placed my vote, I started getting the word out! Searching through my friends' lists, I couldn’t believe how many contacts they had. Some lists had close to 1000 names on them! At this point I would’ve been happy with double digits! Then I broadened my field by contacting old friends and acquaintances. This process moved at a painfully slow pace to where I was receiving notice of “friendship request pending” from people’s pets!

I couldn’t even ask my sons to “friend” me, because they were aghast at the thought of our two worlds colliding. My husband had no interest, and would just peek in on me and utter “addict” under his breath. I just had to reach a respectable number, but what was respectable?  Suddenly, I was thrust back into the halls of my high school experiencing deep feelings of insecurity.

Why wasn’t so and so getting back to me right away? It must be my picture or was I too nice when I invited her to be my friend? Maybe I shouldn’t have sent a message. That’s right, I’ll just act like I could care less. I’m not the tall, klutzy girl who stood in the back row in the school plays. I’m the cool, confident woman who carries herself with grace and style. Okay, maybe some of the old druggies will buy the last part.

I decided to leave little clues to let people know that I was still around by commenting on others’ news feed information. For example, someone would mention they had a bad case of the hiccups and twenty people would offer remedies and I would press the like (thumbs up) sign to show that (A) I was still alive and (B) I cared deeply for their suffering. Surely, this scheming would alert the masses and everyone I ever said hello to would be tripping over each other to be my “friend.” Instead, I was rewarded with silence.   

In the midst of all this, I was developing a side business—Facebook Police. The nice thing about having a small, virtually, non-existent list of friends, is that they were easily monitored. One of my friends said that I would watch over my list, like a mother cares for her baby chicks. As leader of the imaginary FBP (Facebook police) I would try to prevent potentially uncomfortable situations. For example, I would alert girlfriends if old boyfriends or ‘crushes” might be contacting them, if they were discovered on my list. Many people were flooded with friendship requests and I wanted to make sure no one accidentally got in on my watch.  I’m an empty nester, I could be drowning myself in booze or milkshakes every night. 

When I was finally ready to pull the plug on the social network, something amazing happened. People responded to my requests and some people actually requested me! I’ve even had real conversations with friends I haven’t spoken to in years! Sure it’s a numbers game and that’s all I am to some who have contacted me, and I’ve been guilty of that too. But there is something to be said about reconnecting with people you truly care about. There is a quote that I didn’t have the guts to post on my wall for fear that no one would see it, but it rings true on so many levels. Though Facebook wasn’t originally intended with this thought in mind, all the parents who have joined in should adopt this as their mantra: “ People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed: never throw out anyone.”—Audrey Hepburn