I should have known when I opened my eyes in the morning. Just get right back into bed and stay there.
I woke up feeling as bad physically as I had had felt yesterday emotionally. Cranky, aching back, shooting pain in my hip, knee issues and tired. Really, really tired. Last night I had tucked myself into bed early and looked forward to watching Big Little Lies from the beginning. After two episodes I switched off the television and turned over to go to sleep. Nada. Took me another couple of hours, including a game or two of Sudoku before I finally drifted off.
The last two months had taken their toll on me. I had an intern spending her summer with me and it was hard instead of helpful, stressful instead of peaceful (never mind, that’s another story). She had left the day before and my emotions were all over the place. I was feeling sad, even missing her, but mostly like I had been taken advantage of.
I knew this was not going to be a great day. I prepared myself for it.
My insurance company called yesterday and reminded me that I needed a routine mammogram. They were able to schedule one for today. The kibbutz laundry texted and said my laundry was ready – 40 kilos to pick up, schlep home and sort. And my maid had phoned saying she didn’t feel well and wouldn’t be in. That’s how it started.
I got to the kibbutz and a truck blocked my way in. I got the usual hand signal from the driver, a uniquely Israeli system of gathering all one’s fingers together, pointing them upward and moving them up and down. The message is hold your horses, I’ll move when I’m ready. When he was finally ready to move the truck he motioned again – this time for me to get my car out of the way so that he could take the easy way out instead of turning right which was also an option for him.
I picked up my laundry and was treated to a general discussion among the workers – there was a problem with one of the sheets. They dug through several bags until they found it – a freshly washed fitted sheet that was stained with oil splotches and smelled like a gas station. I had a new masseuse working for me recently who must have used her own oil – obviously her oil was not the disappearing, leave no marks type. Another custom-made sheet to be thrown out.
A quick drive home to drop off the laundry (drop off is a rather quaint way of describing me with my aching back hauling bulging sacks of linens and towels out of my trunk and into my house). That mission accomplished I allowed myself two minutes on the computer to see if I had missed any exciting developments. My office was boiling hot, it was 31-degrees outside (make that 90 Fahrenheit) and the sun was blasting into the room. Turn on the air conditioning for only two minutes? I’m paying the bill these days – its expensive! I settled on turning on the fan and wiped the sweat that was dripping off my face and onto my beautiful Donna Karan bought-on-sale white cotton blouse.
I got a little carried away at the computer and when I looked at the time I realized I had better hustle. The clinic was less than 15 minutes away but unreliable traffic situations could turn that into 30.
Made sure that the dogs were in, the doors were locked, the hose was out of the pool (more than once I had left the pool filling up while running my errands) and all systems go.
The car’s GPS system passed where the clinic should have been and instructed me to make a right turn and then a U-turn. Great, another screw-up by my trusty navigation system and I would be late for the appointment. Alas, the system was not wrong. The clinic was on the other side of the road but U-turns were not allowed on the main street. I figured that out, found a parking spot near by and walked the two blocks to my appointment.
A guy was spray cleaning the elevator door and I asked if I could use the elevator.
“Sure, why not?”
He got in with me, him, his spray can and his stinking cloth reeking of ammonia and whose toxins were already working their way into my brain and causing me to feel the twinges of a headache coming on. The elevator doors opened to my floor just in time.
The waiting room was large, dingy and smelly. Not so much of metal polishing chemicals, more of… well, actually I don’t even know how to describe it. The receptionists looked bored and irritated. They also gave me that famous finger waving movement and I understood I better shut up and wait.
I apologized for being late (by three minutes) and the receptionist looked at my card, looked at her computer and told me I didn’t have an appointment.
“But I do. They told me to come at 11:20.”
“Well, according to my screen you’re not here. And we had an 11:20 already. You’re not on the list. When did you make this appointment?”
Why? She needed me to tell her why?
“I got a call reminding me that I was overdue for a mammo and I could come in as early as today.”
She went off to another room and came back scowling. “Nope, you’re not listed anywhere.”
I opened my phone, found the message sent to me by the insurance company and showed it to her – Monday, today’s date, 11:20, same address.
“Can you give me that? I want to show it to my superior.”
She went off with my phone and disappeared. After a few minutes I decided to go after her but was yelled at by the other receptionist.
“You’re not allowed in there. It’s for staff only! Come back here!”
My girl came back, returned my phone, took my information (which has been in the system’s computer for at least 20 years) and told me to wait. Ten minutes later the tech came out of the room and called my name. She also felt the need to tell me that she already had an 11:20 appointment and I wasn’t scheduled and to take off my top and come out of the booth.
Why do they bother with booths? They don’t give you anything to cover up your chest with – you’re expecting to walk into the room breasts hanging free. A sessions of squeezing, flattening, pushing, flopping etc. finally ended and I was instructed to put on my clothes and wait outside for the disc. The results would be sent to my physician. Got the disc relatively quickly and happily left the place.
Next mission IKEA. I caved to temptation during their recent sale and had bought several gorgeous midnight blue pillows and two terribly expensive light bulbs for my kitchen. When I got home I discovered I already had a spare light bulb and the pillows looked awful on the sofa I had assigned them to. It was return time.
Somehow on the drive from the radiology clinic to the parking lot of IKEA my mood changed. I became engaged with life, happy. A call from a friend who had recently gotten fired sparked something inside. In spite of her upsetting situation she was hopeful, even a bit excited. I felt the same. My current business situation was shaky and for various reasons my life could change dramatically in the immediate future. Although I was living with a constant cloud over my head, I somehow maintained the belief that all would be well; the universe would not let me down in my hour of need. I gave her a pep talk and it flowed over onto me.
I didn’t even try to enter the returns and pick-up parking lot. They always hassle me and I wasn’t in the mood to deal. I parked miles away from the entrance and sort of paid attention to where I was. One of my pet peeves about the IKEA parking lot in Israel is that they don’t number the sections. They have a few large letters scattered around and its up to you to figure out which out of the scores of spots in that letter section is where you left your car. Good luck with that.
Still, my positive mood remained. I was hauling my blue polypropylene IKEA tote stuffed with the pillows and light bulb and I took a number inside. I was next! Of course there was only one clerk working so being next meant nothing but still, hope prevailed.
The episode went smoothly. She accepted my receipt, asked if I wanted a refund or store credit and in two minutes I was done. I was hungry.
In my mind I was wondering what to do about lunch. Driving home to eat was out of the question. It was already near one, way past my lunchtime. My attempts at convincing a friend to join me failed when her line was constantly busy. I toyed with the idea of driving over to a nearby café where they used to have really tasty chicken sandwiches, but what if they no longer had those sandwiches available? Was it worth driving over there for a goat cheese and pesto focaccia? I don’t think so.
I headed up the stairs at IKEA and entered their small dairy café (yes, in Israel the restaurants are divided into dairy and non-dairy, following the laws of kashrut). Salads, sandwiches, pizza, croissants, cakes, drinks. Wait! What? Did I say pizza?
Hadn’t even crossed my mind but it did look awfully good – with a topping of green olives (my favorite) and corn for a whopping nine shekels. That’s a major bargain! No Diet Coke (Coke Zero sucks, in my humble opinion) so a cappuccino it would be. The whole bill came to 14 shekels (less than $4). I was in hunger heaven.
Finished the pizza and most of my coffee when I realized that I wanted something sweet. Something about eating all those carbs, or maybe just having cappuccino but my heart cried out for dessert. Yes, I know I was being an idiot. I’m overweight as it is, with every physical problem I have attributable to my weight. And a dessert would be in direct contrast to the diet I was trying to stick to as of yesterday. But the sweet tooth needs what the sweet tooth needs. As I balanced the remainder of the coffee in one hand (the same hand that had my purse slung over it) I grabbed the tray with the empty pizza plate to return it to the cleanup area. (I’m a good citizen). CRASH! The plate dropped and smashed into many little pieces.
Before I could even move, while I was just staring at the mess I had just made, the guy eating at the next table called out “Don’t worry sweetie, just tell them you dropped your plate, they’ll give you a new meal.” I told him I had finished, and tried to bring the chards together with my feet. I was rescued by a worker who assured me she would clean it up.
Do you think this little misadventure might have discouraged me from having that sweet? Might it have been a warning sign that I should exit the store and drive myself home? Perhaps, but I paid it no mind. Still juggling the almost finished cup of coffee in my hand, I made my way over to the counter and looked at the dessert options.
There was a sign advertising cheese or apple strudel. Yes! But alas, the worker informed me they were all out. I pointed to the croissant and asked if it was chocolate or poppy seed (I hate poppy seed). Chocolate it was! I was hoping it might be expensive which would discourage me. I asked. He answered. Seven shekels. Huh? Seven shekels for a delicious, really large chocolate croissant? The same croissant that sells for 27 everywhere else? Hey, I’m no fool, a bargain is a bargain. I’ll take it!
I figured as long as I was doing the croissant dance I might as well fill up on the cappuccino again (I think it’s unlimited refill there, if not they now know I cheated them). I pushed the button for one cappuccino (having made the mistake earlier of pushing the button for two and watching it overflow and burn my fingers when I went to take it). So off I went with my newly refilled cappuccino and a croissant on its own big plate. I sat myself down in the very same spot – not even embarrassed that those who had witnessed my dish breaking moment would see me coming back with yet more food.
I ate that damn croissant, all of it. And drank all the cappuccino. Waste not, want not. Oh man, what a mistake. In spite of being overweight, I have a small stomach, or shall we say a stomach with a small capacity. But that capacity never reaches its limit in time – it always lets me know just as I finish the last bite – then it tells me that I totally overreached and was going to regret my culinary decisions.
I headed back to my car filling way too full, a really unpleasant sensation that came with a whole litany of mental phrases. Are ya stupid? Didn’t ya know you’d be too full after that gargantuan fressing fest? Did you really really have to eat that croissant? Do you feel happy now?
I laughed at myself. I had to have that croissant and it didn’t even make me feel good. Oh sure, the momentary immediate gratification and all that. But after those initial seconds? When I was way into the second half of the croissant? Wasn’t even enjoying it anymore. I came home and had to lie down. I was so exhausted from eating that thing! Couldn’t do anything.
So there you have it, my croissant confession. I’m not proud of myself. Not even sure why I’m telling you this. Just felt I should fess up. If you happen to run into me, and there’s a chocolate croissant around, please don’t let me have it!