Thursday, November 30, 2006

Breakfast serial

My younger son and I share a favorite cereal at the moment: Special K with red berries.

I know that sounds like a strange cereal choice for a 12 year old boy, but he likes it. Unlike his older brother, he does not devour an entire box of cereal in two sittings, so I tolerate his healthy eating choice and do something we all try to teach our kids: SHARE.

This morning offered a rare collusion of events. One of those ooooh, kharma-fate-spooky-weird-destiny moments, otherwise known as coincidence. While my younger son and I were simultaneously enjoying bowls of Special K with red berries (that in itself a rarity as we hardly ever eat breakfast at the same time), a commercial came on TV with a blonde bombshell joining her women friends for breakfast at a swank restaurant.

The gist of the commercial was that this fit and gorgeous woman looked so great (and so blond, too, I am sure) because she ate… yes, you guessed it!... Special K with red berries. As soon as all her women friends found out her “secret,” they changed their orders to Special K with red berries, too. How heartwarming.

Sort of like those Diet Pepsi ads where the slim, sexy model in the bikini looks the way she does simply because she drinks Diet Pepsi, and if only you drank Diet Pepsi, you would look that way, too.


“See, honey,” I ruffled my son’s hair, “you’ll look just like HER if you keep on eating your Special K.”

He grunted, and my older son, who was working on his second overflowing bowl of Fruit Loops, guffawed.

My younger son was not amused.

I kissed him lightly on the forehead and sang, “Every kiss begins with K!” (A reference to the Kay’s Jeweler’s jingle, but, in my own smart ass way, still referring to the Special K.)

Without missing a beat, my younger son said, “So, if you were mentally challenged, would it be ‘Every kiss begins with Special K?’”


The problem with being a smart ass with your children is that they start dishing it right back at you. In spades.

I intentionally model good behavior – like putting my dishes in the dishwasher, hanging up my coat, and making my bed – but do my kids ever mimic those behaviors, which mothers across America seem to adore? No, of course not. But they sure seem to pick up on the smart ass comments rather effortlessly. Maybe it’s just in the genes.

That reminds me. I need to remember to stock up on Special K with red berries the next time I go grocery shopping. I think I caught a glimpse of a blond hair in the mirror this morning.

Or maybe it was gray….

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A walk in the woods

I do not walk like an Indian.

In fact, I rather enjoy crackling and crunching through the dried brown leaves that carpet the forest floor. It is hard to distinguish the trail at times. You have to look hard; the leaves on the trail tend to be a slightly lighter shade of brown, perhaps because they have been mussed up by other people’s feet.

I realize that my leaf cacophony will probably chase away any deer that might be in the area – or any other wildlife, for that matter – but since it is deer season, that is probably a good thing. I am not wearing bright orange.

I breathe in deeply. Sometimes the mind needs the body to make a lot of noise. It is invigorating, refreshing, almost naughty to clump through the woods.

This is an unusually warm afternoon. The sunlight has a golden quality to it that you only see late in autumn. The smell of decaying leaves is luscious, but it makes my nose run. (Thank god I am a mom because all moms have a clump of Kleenex hidden somewhere on them at all times.) The bright colors of early fall are gone, the trees mostly bare. Everything is brown. Except for the green ferns which persistently poke through the brown carpet of leaves and say, “Boo!”

If I stop, I can hear dried leaves rustling in the breeze. If I listen, I can hear a variety of birds. Don’t ask me what kinds. I can block out the distant sound of traffic, I can “unhear” it. It is more difficult, however, to ignore the airplanes on their approach path to the nearby airport.

As I walk along, content in my purposeful rustling, enjoying the forest all to myself, I am bombarded by images of all of the different forests I have walked through over the years. It reminds me how often the boys and I went for long walks in the woods when they were little, both in Germany and Alaska. We had favorite forests and favorite trails, and we would often go on adventures for hours and hours, equipped with water or juice pouches and high energy snacks, like goldfish crackers. Small children need LOTS of exercise and fresh air to wear them out, and we went on many a long walk, I can tell you.

I am not sure why we don’t do that anymore. We go on walks sometimes, but not often long treks through the forest. Lack of time, lack of interest, busy schedules, some combination of the above. I am not really sure.

I think how I will bring the boys here to walk the trails. But then I imagine them protesting, complaining, dragging their feet, thinking up excuses, and the whole endeavor kind of loses its appeal.

Maybe I will just bring them here one day and tell them we are going for a walk. Period.

Or not.

Maybe I will just come here by myself.

And make lots of noise.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


There is a poster of Ingrid Bergman on the back of my closet door.

That may sound strange, and perhaps it is. But there is a story behind this poster.

You see, I am currently living in the house where I grew up, an old house that my mother still owns and lives in, too. I moved back here with my two children soon after my divorce. I had nowhere to go, and I wanted to move somewhere that felt “safe,” both for my children and for me. Plus, I had just applied and gotten accepted to graduate school. In early middle age, I was starting all over, and after a period of excruciating trial and tribulation, I wanted to be somewhere safe.

The boys moved into my sister’s old room. It was large and had two twin beds in it. This was the room they had slept in whenever we visited my mother, so it was not strange to them. Plus, after years of living in military housing, they were used to sharing a bedroom.

I, meanwhile, moved back into my old room. I had lived in this same house growing up, and this had been my room from age zero to age eighteen when I left for West Point. It was small and comfortable and… mine.

It also now looked like my shrine as it was still filled with the trophies, knick-knacks, and books from my childhood, not to mention all of this atrocious West Point memorabilia which my well-intentioned mother had added over the years. All of this STUFF had to go if I was going to live here again as a middle-aged woman downsizing from her previous married life to her suddenly single mother life. There was not a lot of room, but I needed the room to be “mine.” It needed to contain all of my books, or all of my books that would fit rather, as well as prints and pictures and knick-knacks which had meaning to me as the adult me and not as the old kid me. Pretty much everything except for the bed and the furniture and the bookcases had to go. And the poster of Ingrid Bergman in my closet. I had forgotten all about that photo until I saw it again, but as soon as I saw it, I decided it would stay.

Upon closer examination, I saw that it was not a poster per se but rather a yellowed, full-page newspaper photo of Ingrid Bergman which the young me had decided would make a great poster. At the very top of the page, I could make out that the photo was from page C16 of the Monday, September 15, 1980, New York Times.

I do not remember tacking the photo up in my closet, but the date indicates it was fall of my senior year in high school. I do not remember why exactly I put the poster up inside my closet door, where I could only see it when I opened my closet. I just remember that I really liked the photo. It spoke to me, and I wanted to hang it up in my room, somewhere private, just for me. My mother, of course, knew it was there as she used to hang up clothes in my closet, but she never saw fit to take it down over the years even as it turned yellow and brittle and faded. Maybe she saw in it what I did, too, and taking it down would have just been plain wrong.

I love that photo.

In it Ingrid Bergman is posing with her head tilted slightly, her arms crossed across her chest. She has short, curly hair and little to no makeup. She is smiling… sort of. The clincher, though, is that she is wearing this fabulous denim buttoned-down shirt. She just looks so incredibly, naturally beautiful. And real.

As I started to write this, I was not sure why this full-page photo might have been in the New York Times in 1980. The photo was of a young, or early middle-aged, Ingrid Bergman, and a quick Google search told me that Bergman had died from breast cancer at age 67 in 1982. So, it was not a current photo by any means. Further Internet research revealed it to be the cover photo from her autobiographical memoir My Story, which was first published in 1980. Undoubtedly, then, this photo must have been from a full page ad for that very same book.

No matter. (An insatiable reference librarian’s curiosity satisfied with a modicum of effort.)

But WHY had I put the photo up on the back of my door?

And, more importantly, WHY had I decided, over twenty years later, that the photo should stay?

Yes, Ingrid Bergman in this photo is drop dead gorgeous. As I am sure she was in any photo taken of her. She was a gorgeous woman. What struck me about this photo, though, was that she looked so natural, so real, so… genuine. I realize it was a posed photo, that it was used on the cover of her book, and that she may well have posed a long time to get this photo to come out in just this particular way. But, of all the glamorous movie headshots out there, THIS was the one that she – or someone! – chose as the cover photo for her life story. Why? Perhaps because it exuded natural beauty and genuineness as opposed to the glitzy, artificial glamour of Hollywood, and this was what made the real Ingrid Bergman?

Who knows? I don’t surely. But I do know that the photo, whether realistic or not, does exude naturalness and genuineness and truth and spirit. And it was these qualities – regardless of how physically beautiful Ingrid Bergman might be – that truly made her beautiful. And I admired that.

I did not want to be Ingrid Bergman. I did not want to look like Ingrid Bergman. (Lord knows I never looked anything even remotely like Ingrid Bergman!) But I did want to exude that same naturalness and genuineness and truth and spirit in my life.

And I still do.

Somewhere in my life, though, something went wrong. I went astray. I got detoured, side-tracked, waylaid, brainwashed, confused, deluded… take your pick. I allowed myself, for a variety of reasons that I still do not truly understand, to become someone who tried to be all things to everyone else and nothing to herself. That, in three words, is recipe for disaster.

It took me a long time to get to the point where I realized that my deep unhappiness in life was due to a series of poor choices I had made over the years, some of which were cumulative and some of which were well-intentioned, albeit naïve. It is stunning really how many key life choices I made as an extremely young, naïve, inexperienced young woman and the ramifications that those choices had on my life and the lives of those around me.

As a young high school student who had promise and talent and ambition and spirit, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that what really mattered in life was being myself. Being real and genuine and following a path for which I felt undying passion. Yet, I lost that knowledge, that surety, somewhere along the way, and I am not sure why.

Twenty-some years later, having just ended a marriage of eighteen years and demanding that I be allowed to be myself (no matter how selfish the rest of the world said that was), I still saw this original message, this original desire, this original life path in the faded photo of Ingrid Bergman which still hung, determined and defiant in its faded yellowness, on the back of my closet door.

I find it interesting that I hung the photo up inside my closet. While my younger sister had no problem whatsoever plastering a huge poster of a gyrating Mick Jagger right in the center of her bedroom wall, for one and all to see, I, on the other hand, chose the inside of my closet. Where no one else could see it, or even knew it existed.

Yes, I am sure there is something to the fact that I did not hang up a poster of some gorgeous, young male stud. But I saw nothing in the photos of gorgeous, young male studs. Those photos did nothing for me. If I was going to hang up a photo of anyone, it needed to be someone whose photo inspired me to become the kind of person I wanted to be – real, genuine, natural, and true to herself.

It is not so easy to go through life being true to yourself. Well, maybe it is for some people, but I personally have not found it to be so.

Shakespeare via Hamlet can admonish us: “Above all, to thine own self be true.”

Mufasa via James Earl Jones can advise the young Simba: “Remember who you are.”

And Joseph Campbell can create sayings which end up on motivational posters in high school guidance counselors’ offices across the nation: “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

We all know that we are supposed to be who we are. But how many of us actually end up doing it?

I struggle, I strive each and every day to be the person I am, the person I am meant to be, the person I can be. It is not easy. And I often fail. I have a vision, an image of what the real me should be. At the same time, I understand that every grain of sand that slips through that imaginary Days of Our Lives hourglass in my head,

every breath I take, in and out,

every word I say,

every action I take or do not take,

every moment in the here and now is… IT.

This is life. This is my life.

And I am thankful for it. And for all of the special people in it. My two sons. My family. My friends. My chance to be who I am and to try to make a difference in this world, as tiny and eency-weency as that difference might be.

So, Ingrid, as faded and yellowed as you might be, here’s looking at you, kid…….

Saturday, November 18, 2006

What's in a name?

“Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful…”

So begins Margaret Mitchell’s tour de force novel Gone with the Wind.

Well, while Scarlett O’Hara may not have been “beautiful,” Vivien Leigh, the actress who played her in arguably the best motion picture ever made, most decidedly was. In fact, “beautiful” would be a gross understatement. Vivien Leigh was drop dead gorgeous and incredibly photogenic, especially in black and white, in case you have never seen her heart-stopping close ups in Waterloo Bridge.

It is the character of Scarlett O’Hara, I think, which is the most captivating, however. When the novel starts out, in the glib, extravagant pre-Civil War South, Scarlett O’Hara is a young (only 16!), spoiled, manipulative brat. Yet, it is the incredibly bloody civil war and its complete devastation to her family’s (and the plantation South’s) way of life which brings out her true colors. Yes, she may be manipulative and self-centered, but she is also an incredibly brave, strong, and assertive woman who rises to the occasion. She is resourceful, resilient in ways she never imagined, and a leader. Her traits of being stubborn, strong-willed, and feisty end up being pluses instead of minuses. Life bites her in the butt multiple times over, but she perseveres. In the end she loses Rhett, who by then quite frankly doesn’t give a damn, but she still emerges as a survivor. You know in the end, that no matter what, Katie Scarlett O’Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler is going to push on through to the other side, the theme song of “Tara” playing virulently in the background.

Margaret Mitchell’s Scarlett O’Hara was far more complex than the one in the movie version. She had children with every marriage, for one thing, these all lost to the time and plot constraints of an already four hour long movie. Yet, to her credit, Vivien Leigh could convey complex character development merely by raising an eyebrow. Something she did at several key points in the movie. Leaving me weak-kneed and confused.

It is almost unfathomable to me that at one point Mitchell was seriously considering naming her heroine “Pansy O’Hara.” (There are rough drafts of the novel that begin: “Pansy O’Hara was not beautiful…”) I am not sure if the word “pansy” had the same connotation in the 1930s as it does retrospectively now. But Scarlett O’Hara was NO Pansy. In fact, I can think of no other name besides Scarlett that does this woman justice!

Scarlett. Not just RED, but scarlet. The Scarlet Letter. A color that implied scandal, intrigue, and a fallen woman in two short syllables. Red conveys strength, power. Red means STOP! Red is decisive. When we look at a human face, red implies anger, heat, intense feeling, even shame. The “scarlet” variation merely gives red an edge, a more complex depth.

Miss Scarlett in Clue. As kids we used to fight over who got to be Miss Scarlett. No one ever fought over being Mrs. Peacock, Colonel Mustard, or Professor Plum. Puhleeze! Miss Scarlett had mystery, allure, savoir faire, an undeniable sexiness. As children, we had no idea what any of these meant, but we knew that Miss Scarlett was IT.

I really have no idea what the point of this posting is supposed to be. Ramblings about beauty and characters and names and strength and character, I guess. I had a few minutes in my day to sit down and write and make a blog posting, and this is what came out.

The end.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Church chat

While I have not graced the inside of a church in quite some time – well, OK, I did attend mass on Christmas Eve to appease my mother – I found myself inside two different churches just this past week.

The first occasion was on Tuesday, inside a well-endowed Episcopalian church that is run by obviously well-endowed people. My presence there was in no way religious, however. This church happened to be my designated polling place, and I was merely casting my votes for the mid-term elections.

The second occasion was on Friday. I was attending a memorial mass on the campus of the Catholic university where I work; a co-worker had recently lost her nephew, and I wanted to show my support. I had never been inside this chapel before, and my unease at entering was tremendous. It had nothing to do with the chapel per se. It had more to do with the Catholic Church in general. A Church which has pretty much excommunicated me and said loud and clear: “We don’t want you.”

I was nervous, ill at ease. I actually whispered to a few colleagues that if the church were to suddenly explode, it would be my fault. I was kidding, yes, but my feelings were genuine.

I feel incredibly unwelcome in Christian churches these days. It has nothing to do with God or my belief in God. In fact, God and I communicate and interact on a rather daily basis. Which is not to say that I hear a deep, booming male voice with a Brooklyn accent inside my head. I am speaking… metaphorically.

What I felt most inside that beautiful little Catholic chapel was a sense of loss. Of emptiness. I MISS being an integral part of a church community. I MISS ritual and song and communion and community. I MISS tradition.

I miss songs and prayers and even rote responses. Just tonight, as I was parking my car for the evening and walking into the house, I could hear one of the village churches’ bells chiming. It was impossible for me not to sing along silently in my head: “Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

The small University chapel where the memorial mass was held was aesthetically beautiful, with ornate stained glass windows, paintings, and religious sculptures. Jesus, even though he was hanging on the cross, did not look at all displeased or angry with me. I think he may even have winked at me. But probably not.

The chapel reminded me of all the churches I had been inside in Germany. We lived in Germany for four years and traveled extensively. It is impossible to escape churches in Germany; they are everywhere. And most of the ones that were bombed into smithereens during World War II have been rebuilt. The huge churches of Nürnberg (Nuremberg) are a prime example; photos of the flattened churches are posted within the carefully recreated and restored churches and sold as black and white postcards to tourists from the countries that bombed them. Bamberg, although not really all that far away from Nürnberg, was a rare city pretty much unscathed by the bombings; its old-style architecture, 11th century cathedral, and two episcopal palaces are arrayed along the Regnitz River in a rare pocket of Bavaria left unharmed by the ravages of the Second World War.

München (Munich), my favorite German city – partly because it mixes old and new so well and is located in the true heart of Bavaria and partly because I spent five weeks there as an exchange student in high school – is filled with famous churches of its own, the Gothic dual-towered Frauenkirche probably the most famous of all.

It is not just large cities, though, which sport incredibly massive and ornate churches and cathedrals. Many smaller towns, which at one time were market hubs or centers of the Holy Roman Empire, sport amazing cathedrals. Speyer is a prime example with its four-towered Romanesque basilica, originally built in the early 11th century and then destroyed and rebuilt several times over. It takes your breath away to see such amazing feats of art and architecture in such small, out of the way places.

The churches in tiny villages, like Heilsbronn between Ansbach and Nürnberg, where we lived for two years, had an amazing Lutheran church. My younger son had the privilege of going to a Lutheran Kindergarten in Heilsbronn, and periodically they had ceremonies and special church services in the local Lutheran church. Originally a Catholic church and part of a famous monastery, the church is another Romanesque basilica and purportedly houses paintings by Albrecht Dürer, a native of nearby Nürnberg. To have such amazing architecture and art and history and tradition in your small, provincial village – and to have it still in active use as a place of worship! -- leaves me stunned.

The city that stands out the most in my mind as a crossroad of places of worship is the town of Worms. While visiting Worms for a day, we were able to see its magnificent Cathedral; the site of the Diet of Worms where the famous Edict of Worms declared Martin Luther, subsequent hero of the Protestant Reformation, an “outlaw”; and the oldest Jewish cemetery in Germany.

The Romanesque Worms Cathedral is one of the Kaiserdome, like in Speyer, a relic of the Holy Roman Empire. Some bits of it date from the 10th century, while most of it was built during the 11th and 12th centuries.

Aside from its Catholic background, Worms is also a landmark of Protestant history. This was the place where in 1521 Martin Luther was branded a heretic, an “outlaw,” worthy of arrest because he refused to recant his religious beliefs, some of which had been nailed to a church door in Wittenberg the year before.

At one point Worms was also a center of Judaism in Europe, its first synagogue built in the early 11th century. The Jewish Cemetery, which also dates from the 11th century, is one of the oldest – if not the oldest -- Jewish cemeteries left in Europe. Called the “Holy Sands,” this well-preserved sanctuary of sandstone tombstones is an eerie reminder of a time when Christians and Jews co-existed in peace in Germany. The fact that the cemetery survived the Nazis at all is amazing. While most of the Jewish Quarter of Worms was destroyed during Kristallnacht, the cemetery itself was left intact. Legend has it that the town archivist convinced the Nazis to leave the cemetery alone because of its historical importance. There is not a Jewish community in Worms today.

It is impossible for me to convey the impact of seeing all of these historically, religiously, and aesthetically significant places and structures in a mere blog posting.

I have been inside a lot of churches, some of them almost a thousand years old, some of them utterly destroyed and painstakingly rebuilt. The history of the Catholic Church and the Protestant church and empires and governments and wars and disagreements over faith are represented by these structures. The structures alone, however, cannot convey the history. That is left to the modern caretakers, and who knows how good of a job they do conveying the past to today’s now ME computer and technology generations. Whether people today care or are even interested is another matter.

One of my colleagues teased me on Friday that my presence in the University chapel almost made him choke on his communion wafer. He said that I sat there, arms crossed, with this look on my face that said: “My God! How can these people believe all of this crap?”

I hope that was NOT the impression I conveyed. It was most certainly NOT the thought that was going through my head. I sat there as an outsider in a place where I had once been an insider, and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the chapel and by memories of all of the amazing churches and cathedrals and buildings I had seen while living in Germany. I thought of all of the years and toil that had gone into creating all of those churches and their artwork and their beauty. I thought of all of the war and strife that had criss-crossed Europe and destroyed and burned and pillaged many of those places. I thought of the evil of the Nazis that tried to wipe out an entire religion and the Allied bombs that destroyed historical places of worship in a matter of hours, if not minutes. True, many of these structures have been rebuilt, and many are still used as places of worship today.

The tiny chapel where I sat on Friday is considered “old;” it might be a hundred years old -- and renovated several times over. There is a sense of history and tradition there, as far as the University goes, but there is very little in the New World that can ever truly be considered “old.” I was not sitting where people had sat since the 10th or 11th or 12 century to worship a God that I, in my woefully human, human existence, try to understand and embrace today.

Yet, that did not keep me from trying to understand or embrace the Divine. And, in the end, four walls and an altar and some stained glass are not really necessary for me to continue that painful and lonely search.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ooey, gooey conundrum

Why would I be craving melted cheese?

The possibilities -- and permutations of possibilities -- are almost dizzying….

First of all, it could mean that I need more fat in my diet. The likelihood of that, however, is rather slim. How many middle-aged women need more fat in their diets? I always think of this lost-in-the-wilderness survival novel I read as a teenager that stressed the need for fat in one’s diet. Even if you ate a lot of food in the wilderness, which I presume would mean your fill of acorns, berries, and watercress, you would still starve to death if you did not consume any fat. My memory of this book tells me that survival had something to do with rabbits. I am not sure if rabbits would not provide enough fat – hence, if you snared beaucoup bunnies and roasted them on your fire, you would still starve to death because wild bunnies are too lean – OR if rabbits were the wilderness panacea to survival. Chow down on the acorns and (non-poisonous!) berries to your heart’s content, as long as you manage to throw in a bunny now and again to get the FDA prerequisite of fat. Whatever! It was the fat part that stuck in my mind. I was a rail thin teen who lived on caramel creams (fat free) and would never be able to catch a bunny even if I wanted to. I think it was around this time that I started trying to bulk up with ice cream and milkshakes, not to much avail as I was playing so many sports and trying to get in shape for West Point. Sigh! That this would be a problem today….

Secondly, it could mean I need more dairy or calcium or protein in my diet. Maybe I am on the cusp of osteoporosis! I do not drink milk – except on cereal, when I happen to eat cereal. I do not “hate” milk exactly, I just do not care to drink it. It may have something to do with my misunderstanding as a young child growing up in a 1960s suburb that milk was cow pee. We went on a family field trip to “Old MacDonald’s Farm” when I was about four or five, and they had a ceramic cow you could “milk.” I couldn’t get ANYTHING to come out of the cow, so my father, the former Nebraska farm boy, had to help me. When liquid finally came out of the ceramic cow’s rubber teet, it was water, not milk. Hence (although I am not exactly sure how the logic is working here), for years, I assumed milk was actually cow pee. I certainly had absolutely no concept of lactation or mammary glands. All the babies I ever saw drank milk (err, cow pee) out of bottles.

I live in fear of getting osteoporosis. My grandmother had it, and I know the tendency to get it is probably inherited. Plus, I don’t drink milk. I DO take Viactiv every morning – or whenever I remember to. There is something devil-may-care about eating milk chocolate chews first thing in the morning, and they go rather well with my first cup of coffee, I have to say. You are supposed to eat two Viactiv chews every day, but I NEVER remember to do that. You can’t take them at the same time, or I would do that in a heartbeat. But I am never in the mood to eat one at night or before bedtime. Thus, I guess I am only getting half my calcium supplement. I do eat quite a bit of cheese and yogurt and other dairy products, so I always just kind of hope I make up for it that way. It has only been recently, however, that I have had intense cravings for melted cheese.

Sally Field was just telling me last night how she takes Boniva once a month for her osteoporosis. You know, she was sitting in her kitchen sipping a cup of tea while I was finishing up the dinner dishes. A little woman-to-woman chat, a heart-to-heart. Never mind that it was a TV commercial. It was just like Sally Field and I were big buds swapping coffee cake recipes over a cup of International Brands Chai Latte, and she mentioned how much Boniva has changed her life. And maybe it would be right for me, too. But I should probably ask my doctor about it first. Oh, and if I wanted a free sample, I could call this toll free number and they would be more than happy to ship one out to me.

Thirdly, it could be my body’s ancient survival mechanism kicking in – the weather is getting colder, I need more body fat to survive the frigid months of winter. Hence, the biological cry imbedded in human brain cells from Neanderthal time to devour gobs of melted cheese -- pronto! There being no abundance of wild bunnies in the neighborhood and all. But then that kind of goes back to Reason #1.

Fourthly, melted cheese in its ooey, gooey rich and chewy flavorful goodness is just so WONDERFUL! It is comforting, good, warm, and yummy yum yum in my tummy tum tum! God, I may have to take a break and go get some now….

I digress.

Perhaps it is the old comfort food argument. I am under tons o’ stress, and my body is craving comfort foods to raise my endorphins, calm my nerves, and lower my blood pressure. There is too much adrenalin pumping through my body caused by daily life with two teenaged boys, and this is causing my cortisol levels to elevate and give me hypertension, stroke, diabetes, anger management problems, and all sorts of neuroses. Thus, if I clog my arteries with ooey gooey melted cheese, all that cortisol won’t be able to flow through my blood stream and I will just die of a heart attack instead. But I will be comforted before that happens.

Something like that.

Or… it could just be that I really LIKE melted cheese. Cheddar, white cheddar, mozzarella, brie, Monterey jack, Swiss, provolone… they are ALL good.

And even better melted.

I mean, it is not like I just melt a bowl full of cheese in the microwave and go to town. I make elaborate grilled cheese sandwiches or homemade pizza or add some shredded cheese to my piping hot soup. But I definitely am craving melted cheese. And it is not just the cheese that I want. The melted part is trés importante!

I don’t crave things very often. But when I do, it usually means something. As a teenager I craved raisins and liver with onions and spinach. It ended up that I was anemic, and my body was searching for iron. When I was pregnant, I craved pancakes, turkey sandwiches from Schlotzke’s, and Oreo Blizzards from Dairy Queen. I am not sure exactly what that meant, except that I was eating for two and I ended up producing two eight pound baby boys out of the deal. Not quite the same as craving chalk or clay admittedly, but to me all three of those food items were not things I normally ate and thus, were pretty much the equivalent of chalk or clay.

So, in the end, I am not sure why I crave melted cheese so much. I love the texture, I love the taste, I love the warmth. I enjoy the actual eating of it. Stretching the cheese out, the ooey gooeyness of it all, just drives me wild with gastronomic glee.

And on that note, I think there are several different cheeses hiding out in my fridge right now that are calling out -- no, crying out: “Melt me! Eat me!”

How can I not obey…?