Arkie Mama: Hot doctors vs. the grandpa variety

So several weeks ago, I found a tick in the crease of my inner thigh.

Due to the rather intimate location, I had to ask Hubs to remove it for me. Nothing says romance like having to ask your spouse to pull out a parasite that’s taken up residence dangerously close to the ladybits.

It’s been three weeks, and the bite still itches, prompting me to ask Hubs nightly if he’s sure he got the whole tick out.

My greatest fear? That it’s either infected or I’m coming down with a raging case of Lyme’s, thereby requiring me to visit my family practitioner — who is male and YOUNGER than me — for an inspection of said bite.

In days of old, I never cared much about the age or gender of my doctors. Now, however, I’ve become a bit obsessive, Googling each new physician to see how old he is.

Ladies, I have been the not-so-proud, much-older patient of countless doctors in recent years.

Back in July 2007, I wrote this post on my old blog. It still very much applies.

Chunky matron seeks …

… older, wrinkled, grandfatherly sort of doctor — must be at least 65 or look it — to serve the many health needs of a nearsighted, allergy-prone, mole-checking, still-of-reproductive-age hypochondriac.

Hot or even mildly cute young doctors need not bother to apply.

I’m on a hot-doctor roll these days, and I say now: “ENOUGH ALREADY! My ego is fragile. My body isn’t what it used to be. I’m not in any condition, mentally or physically, to disrobe in front of men MY AGE. Or … *sob* … younger.”

In recent years, I have —

— been to an ER inhabited by the most beautiful medical staff ever. Granted, I was very drugged, but I swear I must have accidentally landed on the set of Grey’s Anatomy.

— gone to a dermatologist to report all suspicious moles, only to be passed off to Hot Doctor No. 1. One of the moles in question was ON MY REAR.

— been referred to an orthopedic surgeon — yes, another hottie — with whom the following dialogue took place:

Cathy: Yeah, the shoulder is improving, but I still can’t … you know … reach my arm all the way behind my back.

Hot Doctor: (Looks puzzled.)

Cathy: You know — (*reaches behind back with good arm and mimes fastening a bra*)
(oh for pete’s sake, Cathyyouidiot, entire crowds have gathered around your hoo-ha during childbirth. Just say it. Bra. B-R-A. arrghhh…)

Doctor: Yes, well, just — (*doctor mimes fastening a bra in the front and then sliding it around the chest*)

Cathy: That’s a pain in the ass. (did i just say that?)

Doctor: OK, well, just buy one that fastens in the front.

Cathy: Um … yeah.

(Oh, great. I haven’t even hit 40, but I’m reduced to buying the Arthritis Bra? I mean, look at it:

The grandma bra

The grandma bra

I am SO not ready for that. Still, I wasn’t about to argue this point with Hot Doctor when I couldn’t even say “bra.” Because then what if I actually had to say “breasts?” Ack!)

I was still blushing when I reached the car.

Have age and childbearing really turned me into such a prudish, stammering moron?


I mean, clearly I have no problem talking about any number of very personal issues right here in cyber-public.

And countless male co-workers who’ve had the misfortune to sit next to me during my pregnancies probably know waaaay more about my girly bits than Hubs ever will.

(Wanna see a male reporter haul ass across the newsroom? Just say, “Mucous plug.” Works every time.)

And I have no problem discussing any number of health issues with older, ordinary-looking doctors — like whether certain acts of marital bliss … *cough* … during pregnancy really do shoot air into the va jay jay, which, as we all know from the Devil Pregnancy Book, is a bad thing because it can lead to one getting an air embolism. Down there. And you could like, die.

It’s just that the young doctors make me feel so self-conscious. A lot of them don’t yet have kids, so you just know they’re totally unfamiliar with a woman’s postpartum pooch or nipples that no pasty could cover.

Where is my senior citizen crowd of medical professionals? We must banish all these McDreamy and McSteamy types who make me blush and babble. Bring the gray-hairs out of retirement. Please. Now.

Because if I ever decide I want a tummy tuck, or maybe to have the girls hoisted back up to ye old place of glory, well, I’d rather my doctor be so ancient that he sees my 37-year-old body as positively youthful. (“Oh, my dear. You certainly don’t need any work done yet. These are the breasts of a 30-year-old. Truly. But if you insist…”)

Arkie Mama: My impossible hair

So the last time I had a haircut was *cough* July 2008. That would also be the last time I had highlights done.

Part of the reason I haven’t made it back to the salon is the lack of time. The other is due to the newsroom paycuts implemented last March.

The situation now is quite dire. My ends are scraggly and I have a significant stripe halfway down my head where the highlights have grown out.

In short, I need some suggestions? First, how to cut the hair this time? I like it longish, or at least shoulder-length, but my hair is really fine and straight. Second, where can I get a cut and highlights without breaking the very strained bank account?

Behold the horror:

On a good day - Oct. 8

On a good day - Oct. 8

On a bad day - Oct. 3

On a bad day - Oct. 3

In my defense, the second photo was taken during our camping trip last week, which is why I so closely resemble Kim Carnes. As for the first — can you see that stripe?!


Arkie Mama: Butt chronicles, part 3

Another post from my old blog.  This incident happened in the spring of 2008.
“Let’s take the kids to the movies!” my dad proposed in that enthusiastic dad sort of way. “How about Horton Hears a Who?”

“Uh, well, I’m sure Tootie would love it, but the E-man — well, there’s a good reason he hasn’t been to a movie yet (ever) and that’s my devout belief that he will never sit through one.”

But they convinced me, yes they did, those conniving grandparents who never miss a chance to make me pay for my own childhood misdeeds.

So Horton it was.

Little son sat contentedly through the previews. When Horton finally began, however, he piped up. “Mommy, is it over? Can we go home?”

Pick him up and run now.

“No, sweetie, it’s just starting. Isn’t this FUN?! We’re watching a MOVIE!”

“Mommy, can I get down?”

“No, we sit here all through the movie.”

Please, just once, let the filmmakers have realized that small children do not have the attention span required for a 2 1/2-hour feature. Plus ads. Plus trailers.

Thirty minutes passed. Then little son developed a sudden and severe aversion to the sound of Jim Carrey’s voice and Horton’s ear gymnastics and demanded to leave.

“Hey, how about if I take you out to buy some candy?” his granddad inquired.

“No,” the E-man replied. His brow furrowed.

What do you mean, “no?” Look kid, the Easter bunny is long gone. You’d better take the bribe because Mommy polished off the last of the jellybeans yesterday.

“YES! How about some CANDY?” I chirped, prompting the row in front of us to turn around. For the eighth time.


“OK, well, how about we go out to the lobby for a little while?” Granddad persisted.

The E-man decided this was a much better proposal, but was adamant that Mommy would be the only acceptable companion.

“All right,” I said. “Let’s go.”

The E-man started down the row, easily squeezing by three sets of knees.

I was slower, however, since I was facing my parents and Tootie (impolite to subject people in your row to your butt as you slither by, right?) as I followed my little boy.

The E-man paused to make sure I was following and promptly bonked his head on a fold-up seat.


“Shh!” I shout-whispered. “It’s OK.”


“I know. Keep walking.”

But the E-man refused to budge, and in my haste to prod him forward I somehow became wedged between my mother’s knees and the seat behind of me.


I waggled my butt, hoping to free myself without catapulting the man behind me from his seat.

I was stuck. And I was also laughing. And blocking the view of the half-dozen or so rows behind us. Worse, I was facing all these people, who did not seem to be amused by my predicament.

“E-man!” I hissed. “Move!”


I wiggled some more.

“You have to go so that Mommy can get out.”


I swore right then that I would never again sneak candy from the children’s Easter baskets if only I could free myself.

Finally, after one last wag, I made it down the row and slunk out of the theater.

And then, two hours later, I helped myself to the E-man’s robin’s eggs and pastel M&Ms.

I figure I earned them.

Arkie Mama: My shirt, wedding & Big Bend

Those of you who read my Forces of Nurture column today know what’s in store:

Pictures of the ugly shirt I wore to grab Hubs attention before we started dating.

Pictures of our wedding at Big Bend National Park.

And pictures from our many other trips there.

(If you haven’t read the column, go to the Little Rock Mamas homepage, look to the top right, and you’ll see Forces of Nurture. In my column, I describe how Hubs and I met, our wedding, etc… If that’s not enticement enough, you also can read about my shameless behavior that preceded our courtship.)

Back already?

All right, then, let’s proceed:

The rat-ugly shirt. But hey, it worked!

The rat-ugly shirt. But hey, it worked!

(That pic was taken three years ago, hence the bangs, shorter hair and belly.)

OK, moving on.

Here we are at the Window View Trail, where a kick-ass trippy-hippie justice of the peace married us. My lovely stepdaughter Cece helped me pick out that dress.

Behind us is the "window." It's a v-shaped notch.

Behind us is the "window." It's a v-shaped notch.

This was taken after the wedding, outside our hotel.

This was taken after the wedding, outside our hotel.

We return to Big Bend each year. It’s my favoritest national park, and believe me, I have been to many.

Usually, we spend the first night of each trip at the Gage Hotel in Marathon. This is where we stayed on our wedding night.

The Gage Hotel

The Gage Hotel

The lobby

The lobby

Outside the Gage in 2004. My locket holds a photo of a baby Tootie.

Outside the Gage in 2004. My locket holds a photo of a baby Tootie.

After stopping at the Gage, we leave Marathon and drive down to the park, where we camp for several nights.

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

Hiking the Lost Mine Trail

Hiking the Lost Mine Trail

At the end of rugged trails, you often find surprises.

At the end of many rugged trails, you often find surprises.

Pretty, no?

Pretty, no?

The Chisos Basin gets chilly in the evening.

The Chisos Basin gets chilly in the evening.

Watching the moonrise from our campsite.

Watching the moonrise from our campsite.

Big Bend is so still, so silent, and at night, so dark, you see and hear things that the “real world” blocks out.

Here's where the Rio Grande cuts through Santa Elena canyon.

Here's where the Rio Grande cuts through Santa Elena canyon.

Cemetary at Terlingua Ghost Town

Cemetary at Terlingua Ghost Town

After camping in the park, we always head back to Marathon for a night or two at the Gage. Then we settle cozily into the White Buffalo Bar.

Each trip, Hubs takes a picture of my with the White Buffalo.

Each trip, Hubs takes a picture of me underneath the White Buffalo.

Arkie Mama: The sponge

No, not that one.

I refer to the kitchen variety — that which I contend harbors a billion bits of bacteria, just waiting for my sponge-happy husband to spread them all over our dishes and counters.

Hubs loves sponges. He buys them, three at a time, and then hoards the ones not in use more lovingly (read: rabidly) than Elaine.

Problem is, when deciding what is truly sponge-worthy, Hubs is somewhat less … discerning … ?

Everything, he believes, warrants a sponge. I beg to differ.

I hate the sponge, so much so that I can’t bear to watch him do the dishes.

Oh my God, he just swiped the bowl in which the raw chicken was marinating and now he’s using THE SAME SPONGE to clean our table. The table on which we eat. Salmonella will ravage our household.

Which is why I throw away any sponge I encounter.

“Hey, where’s my sponge?” Hubs will inquire indignantly.

I point to the trash can.

“Why?” he asks plaintively. “Why?”

Because I can’t stand the texture — slimey, squishy. Because I can’t stand the way they collect food particles and then turn green. Because EVERBODY knows that sponges harbor more bacteria and icky, horrible plague-worthy particles than anything else in the kitchen. Why don’t you just grab that piece of raw chicken and rub it all over our utensils while you’re at it?

But I just stick with, “It was gross. So I pitched it.”

And then I buy cannister after cannister of those glorious anti-bacterial wipes, hoping that one day, he will be wooed away from the sponge. I love the wipes. You scrub the counter and then you throw the grimy things away.

But he continues to stock up on sponges.

And I continue to wonder, how can he not see the disgustingness of the sponge? Because in my mind, you might as well just start re-using toilet paper.

Which brings me to a disturbing revelation.
A few weeks ago, I walked in while the E-man was going potty. When he finished, he picked up an entire roll of toilet paper, blotted himself dry with THE WHOLE ROLL, and then put the toilet paper back on the toilet tank.
If only I had waited a few more seconds before opening that door.

Arkie Mama: My butt, part 2

I’m thinking about requesting a pair of Zumba pants for Christmas, so last night I asked the instructor what size she thought I would wear.

“Turn around, so I can see you from the side,” she said.

I complied.

“Well, you’re a lot like me. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you don’t really have a butt either.”

She swiveled, showing me the rest of a body that I would so love to have.

“If I were you, I’d go with a medium,” she added.

I smiled and thanked her.

But really, inside my head, there was a total fiesta going on. We’re talking confetti eggs, pinatas, streamers, the works.

She said I have no butt! She said I have NO BUTT!!!

I wanted to hug her.

My rear has long been the bane of my existence. During both of my pregnancies, I looked as though I was carrying twins — one located in the front, the other in the back. I mean, my butt EXPLODED, people.


See, I look pregnant on both ends

See, I look pregnant on both ends

When I was pregnant with the E-man, I was embarrassed twice by comments about the size of my derierre.

One day, when I was walking into work, a female security guard hollered, “Girl, I know you must be having a boy! I can tell just by looking at your backside!”

Another day, I walked into a restaurant, where I was meeting a group of Child Protective Services for lunch. I had been following two of them around for weeks while working on a story. Their secretary, an older woman, also was there.

“Oh my,” she said. “Look at that rear. Are you having a boy?”

A dozen heads swiveled to check out my butt. I prayed for a remark in my defense, but no one uttered a word. How could they, when the evidence was so plainly in front of them.

Thing is, my butt was huge during my first pregnancy as well. And at that time, I was having a girl.

Arkie Mama: Lovin’ the anti-crazy

So this morning I’m pretty certain I accidentally took two anti-depressants.

You know how it is — you’re popping the anti-crazy pill, the birth control pill and a handful of vitamins and, well … sometimes you just lose track.

Or is it just me?

The anti-depressant I take is akin to revving up on a tad bit of speed, so you can imagine the effects of a double dose. Uh, yeah. Scary. Which wouldn’t have been so bad except that today I was a speaker on a blog conference panel, and while I think I handled that part OK, I did a bit of stalker-gushing afterward when I introduced myself to local blogger Kyran Pittman, who is like this adorable little thing attired in cool clothes that I could never carry off and a totally cool attitude and I was all, “HI! I READ YOUR BLOG! I LOVE YOUR BLOG! DID I MENTION THAT I READ YOUR BLOG?!”

Evidence that I OD’d? That would be the never-ending sentence above.


The anti-crazy pill, when taken in moderation, is fab, fab, fab. It is the reason I feel equipped to face my nemesis: Winter.

A few years ago, I decided that I really didn’t need that helpful little pill. Which led to this rather melodramatic post:

When she calls

My depression is like an old lover who refuses to fade into the past.

Years go by. And then she calls.

“I’ll be in town,” she says. A pause. Her voice drops to a silky whisper. “I’ve missed you. Let’s get together.”

I demur.

“It’s really not a good time,” I tell her.

Or, “My husband wouldn’t understand.”

But at some point I must agree to meet her. Why else would I find her ensconced in my favorite spot on the couch, curled up cozily, waiting to resume our relationship?

She stays up late, too late. Sometimes, she invites Anxiety to spend the night, and we three huddle on the bed together, fretting and worrying and indulging ourselves in niggling doubts.

Through it all, my husband sleeps, unaware that she is intruding, yet again.


The therapist leans forward, eyebrows raised.

“I don’t understand,” she says. “Why did you quit taking your medication?”

I laugh nervously, make a few jokes about the side effects.

“Why do you laugh when we’re talking about your sadness?” she asks. “Why must everything be a funny story?”

I stammer, try to explain that it’s how I cope, that by turning events into amusing anecdotes, I can sometimes fend off my depression’s ardent advances.

Although, admittedly, never for long.

“It’s OK to be sad,” the therapist says. “It’s OK to realize this isn’t something you can control.”

And tears slide down my cheeks.


“I don’t understand,” my husband says.

“Why are you so unhappy? Is it me? Is it our life?”

I try to reassure him.

“She’s always been a part of me, long before I met you.”

My husband sighs. Really, there’s nothing else to say.


On a gray, rainy February day, I get up, put the coffee on.

I open a cabinet and pull out a mug. I also pull out the bottle of pills.

Will I ever not need these? Will I ever know a life uninterrupted by her long visits?

The coffeemaker hisses and gurgles.

I pour a glass of water and look out the window at the dead, brown grass, at the trash cans waiting to be hauled down the driveway.

And I swallow the pill.

These days, I’m medicated and enjoying life. I just talk. A lot.

Arkie Mama: Help me redo a bathroom

Should my employers ever decide to do away with the paycuts implemented last March, Hubs and I need to start overhauling our 1955 house.

We need a new roof. A remodeled kitchen. Rewiring in the master bedroom. And then there’s this:

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

No, we are not looking to revamp that cute little boy.

My problem is with the bathroom’s atrocious color scheme. The floor is pink. The wall tile is salmon. And the border (top and bottom) is BURGUNDY.

Can I fix this by painting the currently white walls? Do I need to go so far as to address the wall or floor tile? Is there a way to make this a cute retro bathroom without spending too much money?


Arkie Mama: I have no shame

The glorious thing about hurtling toward 40 is the near-total loss of inhibition.

In the past seven years, I’ve birthed two babies, which means a whole army of people have seen way more of the  ladybits than I ever have or will. I’ve nursed in malls, on planes and in front of fellow reporters. I’ve pumped in parking lots, bathrooms and, on one occasion, in the backseat of a car driven by a male photographer who was trying to navigate the streets of post-Katrina New Orleans.

Even better, my new carefree attitude has carried over to the gym. Nothing embarrasses me anymore. Which is why I eagerly bounced a few weeks ago into a Zumba class.

Zumba, for those of you who haven’t heard of it, is basically a class in which you dance to Latin music. I love it!

Bear in mind, I am not a coordinated person. I’m the woman who once gouged her eye with her OWN FINGER during a step aerobics class. (I had to go to the doctor for that one.) I can pick up a rhythm just fine, but until I get the moves or steps down, there’s usually quite a bit of  … well, flailing.

I present Exhibit A, taken at a wedding reception:

I'm the one with the arms flung back.

I'm the one with the arms flung back.

In my 20s, I refused to try a lot of things for fear of possible humiliation.

Now? It takes a lot to embarrass me. I didn’t even blush when, while writing a check at a restaurant, I opened my wallet to show my ID only to find a tampon stuck inside. (The young male clerk, on the other hand, became quite flustered.)

Really, the only humiliating moments I can think of in recent years involve my children doing something either horribly inappropriate (4-year-old son mooning his older sister’s after-school class) or disgusting (sticking noses and grubby fingers into candy jars at the hoity-toity grocery store).

But that’s OK. Because the older I get, the less inhibited I’ll become. And by the time they’re teenagers, I figure I’ll be going through a second adolescence.

Which will totally embarrass them. Especially when I volunteer to be a prom chaperone and hit the dance floor. I’ll use my Zumba experience to wow the senior class.

Just play me a salsa, baby!

Arkie Mama: Who’s afraid of the PTA?

So in recent years, I’ve finally stopped hiding in the corner at birthday parties. (For reasons I can’t explain, I just never felt as “mommish” as the other moms and rather than bluff my way through these festive events, I instead chose to exhibit a rabid interest in whatever my little darlings were doing, be that leaping in a bouncy castle or stuffing themselves full of cake. Stupid, I know.)


I remain terrified of PTA moms.

It’s ridiculous, I realize that. I’ve been a stepmother for longer than many of them have been mothers. I’ve also got a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old. I can multi-task and juggle with the best of anyone. But for some reason, PTA moms just seem more … together. And some of them are rather militant hardcore devoted to the cause. I feel kind of flaky by comparison.

I blame my job in part. Because of what I do, it’s hard for me to commit to things. Like committees. Just as everyone’s gearing up for the fall festival, I’m begging my editors to send me to cover the next hurricane predicted to hit the Gulf.

I thought about hitting a few meetings this year, but then I remembered a former co-worker’s long-ago warning: “If you go, they will expect you to sign up for committees. And once you do that … ”

She shook her head ominously.

I, still a new mom at the time, looked skeptical.

She continued: “I’m just saying. If you ever end up accidentally at one of those meetings, wait for a distraction and RUN!”

I’m all for being involved in my kid’s school. But I just don’t have that … confidence … PTA moms seem to possess.

For a newspaper story, I can interview a pissed-off ATF agent and listen to his threats to pack me off to jail without flinching.

But last year, when a PTA mom walked up — with no introduction whatsoever — and barked, “Will you be able to man a booth at the fall festival?” I nearly peed my pants in terror.

I suck at fundraising too. I hate asking people to buy things. Last year, the only person I approached was my mother. This year, I hit up two close friends. (Thank you Amy Upshaw and Mom on a Wire!) Oh, and my mom. And then I ordered some stuff too, just so my daughter would be eligible for the promised ice cream reward.

I feel stupid admitting all this. I’m actually a pretty outgoing and competent person.

But when it comes to the PTA … well, I sure admire the bravery of that Harper Valley mom.