Authors: Tracy Krimmer
A Pastime Pursuits Novel
Copyright 2015 by Tracy Krimmer
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
I have so many people I want to thank and acknowledge for their help in making this book possible. First and foremost, my husband and family. I truly believe it was them who helped rekindle my writing flame.
The writing communities I surround myself with are awesome and the best support system ever. Chick Lit Chat HQ and Romance Authors Unite have been critical to the completion of this book. I'm grateful for their advice. If not for Jayne Denker, Kathryn Biel, Karen Booth, Brea Brown, and my partner in crime, Stephanie Pajonas, I may have lost my mind during this process. Many thanks to Melissa Amster of
Chick Lit Central
for distracting me with numerous television shows (The Mindy Project, Jane the Virgin, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, specifically) when I should have been writing. Of course, they made for great chats with her and Tracie Banister.
I must thank Brittainy Cherry for her positive spirit and guidance. During a time I wanted to give up, she kept me going with her insights and smile. We'll do coffee again soon.
My beta readers Stephanie Pajonas, Tiffany Williams from
I'm A Book Shark
, and Becky Monson. Thank you for all your notes!
Kory Pilkington, thanks for sharing one of your experiences with me and allowing me to loosely base a scene on it.
Last but not least, I need to thank my favorite fitness gurus and leaders, Tony Horton (Beachbody), Briana Christine (Bikini Body Mommy), Sharon Mann, Jillian Michaels, Weight Watchers, FitBit, and C25K. Through these workout programs and devices, working out is now fun (though I do grunt about it sometimes!), and I've learned to indulge without going overboard. Fitness has become an important aspect of my life, and I love sharing it with people. Half the battle is deciding to do it. In the words of Tony Horton, "Do your best and forget the rest."
Thanks for reading JAY WALKING, and I hope you love it, and maybe it inspires you as well.
For all the moms out there.
Your stripes are beautiful.
There aren't many things I consider genius, but cookies disguised as breakfast rank right up on top with one of my favorite things ever. I pour the Cookie Crunch into a bowl and splash a mountain of milk on top. The first bite is the best, and I suck the cookie trying to taste the chocolate chips before biting through. I savor every spoonful and allow myself a second bowl.
"Nana me cacas," my son, James, says proudly as he slams his hand on his high chair tray.
I love how he says crackers. Or anything at all. Hearing him learn to speak makes me smile, though I already miss when he would only coo and caw and sleep in my arms. The past two years as a single mom have been difficult but rewarding. Every mom says that, but it's true.
My mom enters the kitchen and pulls open the refrigerator door. "Mom, please don't give James juice. I don't want him associating his sippy cup with only juice. Try some milk, okay?"
She closes the door with the bottle of apple juice in her hand. "Don't worry about it, Chelsea. I give him milk when you're at work."
I can't argue with her. After I had James, she and my dad let me move into the empty place downstairs in their duplex. I'm damn lucky my dad owns this building along with several others around Milwaukee. I can't afford to live on my own and support James, and I'll be forever grateful to my parents for letting me stay downstairs rent free. Not to mention the fact my mom retired early from her city job, thus allowing her to stay home full time with James while I work. My plan is to save enough money to get a house of my own before James starts school. We live in separate spaces with their own entries, but, still, a place of our own will be nice.
"Fine, Mom." I give in as I shove another spoonful of cereal into my mouth, catching a string of my flat, brown hair. "Make sure he gets some today, though, please," I mumble the words through my chewing.
"How can you eat that stuff?" She gives James his juice. "It's pure sugar."
good. We all can't live on egg whites and fancy bottled water."
My mom is the healthiest person I know. She's always kept herself active to the point she didn't need an actual exercise regimen. Her food choices are always top notch, and she taught me well. However, after I had James, I allowed myself the luxury of eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Taking care of a baby didn't afford me the opportunity to be picky with what I ate. When James wasn't crying or in need of something, I shoved the closest thing I could into my mouth (usually chocolate or chips).
"I'm not saying you should, sweetie." She pulls out a chair and sits next to me. "I think you can make healthier choices, though. I can make you breakfast. You eat here every day. Let me help you."
She's darting her hazel eyes between my bowl of sugar and my midsection. She thinks I don't notice her stealing glances at my flabby stomach. Years ago if someone told me I'd have a weight issue, I would have laughed in their face. Now when I look in the mirror, my breasts sag and faded lines are struck across my kangaroo pouch. I don't like the reflection staring back at me. I haven't for years. "You're right. I shouldn't be eating this crap." I shove the bowl away. "I'm disgusting."
"I didn't say that."
"You didn't have to." Those tiny peeks at my stomach say enough. "How though, Mom? I don't have time to exercise. I go to work, come home and take care of James, go to sleep, and repeat." The luxurious life of a mom.
"Mama!" James calls out to me. "Nummy cacas!"
It's not his fault. I don't blame him for my weight gain. I love that boy. When I became a mom, I got so caught up in him, I never thought about me. When I get dressed, I fix my clothes in a way it masks the ten (okay, fifteen) pounds I gained, but you can't miss it in my face. When I step out of the shower and look in the mirror, my stretched belly hangs low, so I press my hands against the flab and pull on it and push it down to make myself appear thinner. That's how I
to look. Well, minus the stretch marks. I miss my old body. I wore skirts all the time, but now I want to spare the world my cottage cheese legs.
"I need to do something before I really lose control."
"You're far from losing control."
"What do I do all weekend, Mom? When James is asleep, I sit on the couch and watch reruns of
How I Met Your Mother
while shoving potato chips in my mouth."
She brushes her finger across her eyebrow. "You work on your scrapbooking pages."
My scrapbooking pages. I started working on those after James was born. I crafted many pages devoted to him, and when I showed them to my friend Amber, she urged me to make up some pages to sell online. I created an online store - nothing big - and I sell a few kits every month. "I work on those in front of the TV while I eat." I don't even want the Cookie Crunch near me anymore. I grab the bowl and place it in the sink. "I need more movement."
My mom finds a rag and cleans up James, and then picks him up and holds him against her hip. "I think today I'll take James to the playground. He loves it there."
"Sounds good," I say, not sure when our conversation about my weight gain ended and this new one began.
"Is today going to be busy for you?"
I lean against the sink. "I don't know. I never know what kind of a day I'll have. I could be swamped or sitting around twirling a pen between my fingers all day." I
done that before.
My mom gives James a big kiss on the cheek, and he blows bubbles at her. "We're going play super hard at the playground today, aren't we, James?"
I unlock my phone and open the App store. I'm not sure what I'm looking for. The featured items never catch my attention, usually consisting of mindless games or useless lifestyle apps I'll never understand. I touch the search button and type in "Exercise." As I scroll through, I'm intimidated by the intense programs listed. There's no way I'm joining a gym because I barely want to workout on my own, much less with other people. My finger stops when I come across the word "Walk." I never considered walking as a fitness plan.
"Hey, Mom, do you think I can lose weight by walking?"
She puts James down and he wobbles into the living room where she keeps some toys for him. "You don't need to lose weight, honey."
"Yes, I do. I gained weight when I had James. It should go the other way around." My clock on the phone shows I still have thirty minutes until work. "That's it. I'm walking to work. It's only like a mile."
I head for the living room. "James, sweetie, mommy's going to work now. Have fun with NaNa today, okay?" I crouch down beside him.
James reaches for my cheeks and plants a kiss on my lips. I love this boy, and I want to be healthy for him. This momma is going to lose weight, get fit, and look spectacular.
I stroll into the office, almost heaving from the hike. Okay, a hike may be a little drastic, but I'm still dragging myself into the building. I managed the entire mile, but my legs might as well be jelly. I didn't realize how many tiny inclines I drive up on the way to work. The hills made the walk horrendous. And, like an idiot, I didn't bother to bring any water. I gravitate toward the water fountain between the women and men's bathroom. Once I press the button and the water splashes into my mouth, I can breathe again. My legs, though, well, thank God for a desk job.
My back hurts a bit since I tossed my lunch in a backpack along with a hardcover book (I never quite got into the whole e-book thing), and the extra weight for the entire walk did a number on me. I toss my backpack on the table in the kitchen and put my reusable lunch bag in the refrigerator. Amber sticks her head in the room.
"Chelsea, punch in - now."
I glance at the clock. Crap! Eight on the dot. I don't want to give my manager, Barb, any reason to write me up. If I punch in late, she'll rub her hands together like an evil villain and jump at the opportunity for me sign the little slip of paper. Write-ups are like detention, and I finished school years ago, but I may as well still be confined to the same rules and regulations. I don't even log into my phone until everything is up on my screen because I don't want to chance someone calls in with a question or pre-approval request and I'm waiting for my programs to load.
I swipe my key card, only for the word "Error" to blink across the display. Ugh! I swipe the badge again, and as the device beeps in acceptance, the clock changes to 8:01. Lucky, damn lucky. I sprint down my cubicle aisle, bypassing our table in front where my boss puts donuts every morning, to my little box. At least I have a window. Sometimes I'm bored between calls and meetings with clients. Barb likes me to help make calls asking for updates on escrow payments, but I hate doing those. Asking people for money isn't something I like to do. I know I wouldn't like bill collectors calling me. Living in a place my parents own doesn't leave me with many bills, and I'm thankful for that. My few credit cards have only small balances, and I pay them off at the end of each month.
Amber sits in the cube across from me. We try to chat throughout the day, but Debbie, who occupies the space next to her, often complains to Barb if we so much as say hello to each other. She's a piece of work. She tried to get a promotion multiple times, but her know-it-all attitude gets her denied every time. She keeps her inbox cluttered with every email received the eight years she's worked here, hoping to use it against someone. Lucky for me and Amber, Barb sent an email letting every know Debbie called in sick today. Awesome sauce.