Wednesday, October 21, 2015

#how many more reps??

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Life,

This workout gig is sometimes way challenging. I mean, I know that it's SOOOO good for me and helpful. I can admit those great benefits NOW while I'm cozy in my bed and hammering out this story, but at the time of forced exertion, I really just want to swear spitefully and spit or something. Usually, I just end up dripping alligator-tear-sized sweat globules all over everything. And it's pretty gross. I hear that some women "glisten". That's not me. I sweat hard. And sometimes it gets in my eyeballs. And it uber annoys (uber as in a lot, not uber like the ride). And I just want to scowl...but I don't. I actually smile through it. And I tell myself (in my head) that it sucks...but I say out loud that I LOOOOOVE it. Even the exercises/sets/reps that I would rather kick in the teeth (if they had them). And I cheer on my fellow paying-for-torture victims, I mean, friends...and then, YES (fine), I leave and I'm all glad that I did it (and that it's over) and the other satisfying junk. But I KNOW you know what I'm talking about.

So, this is the story of a girl who was once very athletic and mesomorphic, who is now the mother of three, who went through some SERIOUS post-partum and stuff, who also had attachment/rejection/abandonment issues, who consequently had issues with food, who then had weird disassociation issues with food, who then faced other life things, who then AGAIN turned to said weird food issues, who then realized on her own that she could be/do better, who tried (seemingly) a billion things and wished for better, who, then, felt defeated, who then started training, who then flopped, who then was insane and out the gate trained for a flippin' half marathon, and then did it, who, then, proved to herself that this flabby body had some strong stuff underneath and decided to cultivate that slowly, but steadily...because it's hard. Way hard. Because if anyone is going to fix THIS (motioning to all of myself), it's going to be me. My way. My terms.

#it helps to see the potential
Once upon a time, my ex-man and I decided that we were going to join a big fat gym and the spiffy membership included a Hot Jock trainer (he really was both Hot and a Jock). My then-man was the type that was super dynamic and athletic-like, and could easily build muscle and so, the Hot Jock focused most of his energy with him. I think he pretty much wrote me off. It was awkward for me to be in that environment when my "official" training experience in a gym was directly relational to building stamina and strength to be a better competing athlete. It was weird and awkwardly intimidating to be in a room with men and women...many of whom were there to meet-market in workout clothes...I just kinda went covert-shy and tried/prayed to be invisible. When Hot Jock actually got around to working with me one-on-one, he realized that I had an unusual flexibility (thank you, years of dancing), and was ironically strong (thank you, Hawaiian genes). Oh, and that my style wasn't to swear at him and be a witch with a B. I remember seeing his handwritten notes after a couple of sessions that said I was in poor physical shape...but it had been scratched out and written beneath it was "great potential - great range of motion and endurance. Easy to work with." So there was something to me...even if he didn't see it at first.

#totally NOT one size fits all
Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. There's not one perfect type/kind. It's funny, because I guess looking at me, there are often assumptions that I can't do...whatever. But, given the opportunity, one will discover that there's a LOT I can do. For instance, carry my side of the couch up two flights of stairs one handed. Or, still do a back flip on a trampoline. Or, still carry ALL of my mother's groceries in from the car up the stairs in one trip. I can still pick up my 15 year old...and can fireman hold my man...just for fun. I could probably also rip a car off of my kid if the adrenaline was sufficient...or detach someone's face if my off was pissed enough. But that doesn't happen too often, so I can just talk about that, not actually show my Hulk. Not today, at least. My previous point is that in a world of skinny, I have come to realize that my inclination or propensity is not ever going to be twiggy. When I get there, it will be hella strong, but not thin-like...and I would rather be the former than the latter. I would rather do 5 pull ups than be 95 pounds. Just sayin'.

#David Lopez @ VCF3
When I met David (name NOT changed, because, well, he's rad and has been a huge supporter) (Except, I'm going to call him Super David...and initialize his name for the rest of the story (SD)), it was at a baseball field years ago. His wife and I had been friends during our high school years and I LOOOOVE HER which also made me easily befriend him. Our (then little) boys were on the same youth league baseball team, which meant we would have at least two days a week gettin' together and chattin' it up. During that time, I learned that SD had been a trainer for 8ish years at a large gym in the area and had decided to go it on his own. My past-experience with Hot Jock had admittedly left kind of a bad taste in my mouth for trainers. But I sincerely trusted SD, because contrary to my externally-based former exposure, I knew what would be different is that HE wouldn't judge me or write me off for not being in elite-fit shape. I knew he would be tough on me and push me to places that would work me out of my comfort zones, but he wouldn't break me in the process for his own amusement. I also watched him work with his children, which gave me a perspective of the kind of responsible, deliberate, but with a sense of humor person that he was. I made a choice and I gave him a shot.

For the sake of my story, I have to air my flaws, one of which is that I fall straight on my face at being consistent in fitness. I'm REALLY good with things that I'm good at. But this is not one of those things. I admit that I will go all-in HARD...and then my life interferes and distracts me...and then it becomes super easy to justify not going, or not doing, or getting stressed out and not eating rabbit food, but instead, being content to eat almost a whole bag (fine, A WHOLE BAG) of something deliciously salty...or delectably chocolatey...or perfectly cake-like...or cinnamon-roll-like...or something irresistible like know, hypothetically. Part of the experience of fitness is purely mental. It's a LOT work, a greater part nutrition, and an even more epic part mental. It's a butt kicker...I mean, brain? kicker? Whatever, you know what I'm trying to say. The challenge is more expansive than JUST limited to the physical. So, falling back into known habits, it's common. Justifying the quit is typical. And my reasons WERE good: I was finishing my first master's, I was dealing with some hell-ey things at work, I was getting sick, my kids needed me...I couldn't keep things together, so I cut out the workout part of my life. Because I could. And while a part of me wallowed in guilt, another part of me was happy not to have to get up at 4:30am to drive to a workout...but rather, happier to wrap the duvet over my head to have an extra few minutes of morning nap time before I went to work. It would only be for a little while. I thought I would pause for a month or so until things calmed down. So, yeah...I paused...

For, like, a YEAR. Seriously, don't judge me.

What I appreciate most about SD is that when I reached out to him, hesitantly, humbly, he was cool. He wasn't an elbow-face because I had been gone for so long. He didn't ask me how many boxes of peanut butter crunch cereal I had eaten for dinner in the last month. He didn't try to break my face on the first day. And he didn't make me run around the adjacent building pulling a sled with a 45 pound weight on it straight out the, he waited a few months for that one specifically (and it was brutal, but I did it - and he totally knew I could, even when I didn't know I could). He flat-out accepted that I was at a completely sub-level compared to everyone else and he gladly worked with that. I don't think everyone is that patient...or that understanding. Again, Hot Jock blew me off initially...and what was (gratefully) obtuse in this moment with SD was that I was inclined to try harder because I knew I could trust his judgment and his expertise.

So, another flaw is that I am guilty of sometimes letting myself off the hook. My excuses play into that. They're my mechanisms. I recognized that, and planned accordingly. To prevent my own sabotage, I recruited a personal support fail-safe: my little brother. The valedictorian. The track sprinter and hurdler. The 18 year old with, like, 7.4% body's way mis-matched. We can't complain to each other the way I could with someone my own age, or whatever, but this has been surprisingly better. It wasn't about being physically similar, rather being present for this torture, I mean, experience together. I would HAVE to go if he was there, right? Right. Even if he kicks my tush in everything. Even if he can do 100 pull ups (jerk). Doesn't matter. Going. Doing.

I have to throw in that SD is a bad ass. I mean, he's this ex-marine guy...he's the kind of guy that is waaaay nice, but you don't want to cross this guy or give him reason to be mad...EVER. The outcome for you would be painful and just very bad. You would end up being the one peeling yourself off of the wall. When he means business, HE MEANS BUSINESS. It's funny, because when my brother first started, on the way home from his first workout, he was a little scared. He asked questions like, "Has he ever yelled at you??" And my answer was simple: No, I've never given him reason to.

So, SD does super early (5am) classes. He does the night class (6pm) on Monday and Friday (which ended up being more friendly with my schedule). On Tuesday and Thursday, it's another trainer...and this is where my story begins...I mean, like, with a point, begins.

I've already established that the fitness/training relationship is initially very awkward. For good reason. You're putting EV-RYYY-THING out there...and trusting that they 1) won't roll on the ground and laugh at you while pointing, 2) won't break you for their own sick and twisted amusement, and 3) will know how to modify moves in the event that your legs, knees, back, shoulders, coccyx, gallbladder, or your face, are/is broken. And interfacing with a substitute...(while great because you don't miss a workout) presents some challenges for one like me. I mean, it's fine, but it is "interesting".

SD was doing something one particular day when I had started coming to the evening classes. I didn't realize it until it was too late. When I walked in with my brother, I looked at her, NOT SD, then I looked at my brother like, 'who is this lady?' And then, I made the unforgivable mistake - I made eye contact. UGH!!!

It was a Tuesday. Not SD is a sickeningly super cute lady. It's difficult not to describe her in a not-nice way, because the truth is that she's way nice. And her workouts are good stuff...but to add to the drama of my story...and to clearly articulate my unreasonable (meh) annoyance, I must go back to the beginning where I didn't care that she was nice. In my mind, she was only about trying to kill me.

There I was, one of a group of many struggling workout persons (ahem-victims) just trying to get through the reps properly without being killed. Remember when I wrote about Hot Jock? And the good stuff that I got out of the SD workouts?? I HAVE a really good functional and form foundation (more from SD than anyone else). I KNOW how to properly squat (even with a torturously heavy kettle bell). I KNOOW how to lunge (even though I would rather stick needles in my eyeballs than lunge...especially so when its also with an absurdly heavy kettle bell). I KNOOOW how to do freaking high-knees (even though I feel like an elephant doing high-knees with or without a kettle bell). I KNOOOOW how to do burpees (even thought I would rather lick my feet than do any likeness of a burpee). And even though I have complete malignity toward said exercises, I still DO them...willingly, fully, correctly...because I know why I'm there. It's like being a kid and having to eat your spinach (even though I love spinach - I get it, it's a bad example, but it's the only one I could drum up to illustrate my point!), they may not like it, but they'll eat it. So, here I am, doing my thing...minding my form, not doing it crazy fast (because I ALWAYS worry about giving it 100% at first and then being the limp noodle on the floor after the first rep...oh, and then not being able to use my arms or legs for at least 3 days thereafter...). From a self-preservation standpoint, I always push myself, but usually not toward immediate fatal fallout. Again, don't judge me.

When I got to the place where I was BURNING and taking it a little slower (to get through the whole session), she was all over me. And I nodded politely. Then, when I was burpeeing until my arms were shaky, she was all over me. And I smiled through a slimy, sweaty my laundry lady who doesn't know/care what the love I'm talking about. And she wasn't, like, being a hole all over me, just giving me pointers and trying to make it better for me. Did she not get it??? I WAS TRYING TO BE INVISIBLE!!! But no, this lady was trying to be helpful! And FRIENDLY!! And TALKATIVE!!! DON'T TALK TO ME!!! Don't walk by modeling your well-sculpted shoulders!! Or your perfect bubble butt!! Or your, like, SIZE 00 waist!! Just let me be elephant-like by myself!!! STOP with your PERKY encouragement!! Do I LOOK like I want to hear your happy, ring-like voice telling me I can do it?!? So, I nick-named her (shamefully). PITA: Pain In The Abs.

So, talk points: 1) PITA, CLEARLY, based on the shape she's in, knows her stuff. You don't get shoulders like that from throwin' back Dr. Pepper's and toaster pastries. And I get that. SD also would NOT have asked her to sub for a class if HE hadn't have trusted her. I knew all of this. I just didn't care. 2) I am an outwardly happy participant, but inwardly? It's a war: I'm a complaining, insecure, grouchy worker-outer. These are my flaws. I'm just making you privvy to my honest madness. 3) MY attitude totally barred me from accepting her help - LEARN FROM ME, PEOPLE, PLEASE. And it's not because her advice and instruction wasn't true or valid or's just that I was prideful and prejudiced and biased because (simply) she wasn't SD...and she wasn't what I wanted...and didn't know me...and there was no acceptable SD substitutions...and I didn't care. Pbthtt. In this instance, I didn't want or like there. 4) I just wanted to complain because she was more better than me...I'm admitting it.

I sent SD a facebook message that night. To whine. Politely. And he patiently put me back on track. Because sometimes I'm a weenie. And I know it. The honest truth is that I would feel the same distrust and harsh suspicion for a different hairdresser, or a different dentist...even though I CHOSE to do it. I'm just stupid-lame that way.

I poked holes in my over-inflated ego. I did what SD said, and I stuck with it. I still prefer SD more than anyone else, but I've come to embrace everything that PITA has to offer, because, like I said, she's REALLY, REALLY nice. And trying to help me/us get better. And even though I was a jerk in my head and was secretly scowley, she let me be. But I know better. Just because it's a different style or approach or personal doesn't make it a bad thing. I get great stuff out of both trainers. Just in different methods and through different theories. Neither of them let me off of the hook, it's just one (SD) knows better what I'm capable of because of time and testing, and places emphasis on that potential. I've given him a chance and that flavor totally works for me. Also, the very thing that irritated me about being pre-judged by trainers is exactly what I was doing in reverse to PITA. My training issues have NOTHING to do with her...and making her the scape goat for my hissy-fit was just a launch pad to another justification. Only this time, it wasn't. Because I WANT to get better...and I need every ounce of help I can get. Including her's.

#break it down
I totally, publicly, sincerely repent of being mean...and calling her a nick-name...even though it was a really true and appropriate moniker. There was some SERIOUS pain in my abs, and an overabundance of burpees and lunges. It's the spirit behind it that was unnecessary...and unkind. I just got over myself because I knew if someone would have done that to me, it would have hurt my feelers. See??!? I'm not totally without a heart...and I know better.

The moral of the story is that my dumpy attitude contributes to my means of success. Sowing good things, brings good things in every way, shape, thought and action. Applying that mental piece in a positive way is vital. If I think it's a drag, it will become even moreso as a manifestation of my mental state. Mental is a powerful key to personal adaptation and achievement. Feeding positive thoughts into that machine is what will bring positive results. Anything negative becomes amplified. We become what we cultivate.

Love who you are. Be mindful of how you face personal adversity. Sow kindness. Give what you can to all things. Accept that some days, your best will be failure, but that will be a catalyst for growth, change and self-evolution.

Whatever your journey, you can do it...even if it means you have a few reps of burpees. You'll get through it. You may surprise yourself.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

#bald because of work

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Life,

In my line of work, with people, there are all kinds of quirky things that are manifested. For instance, the other day, a guy that was going to start work (like, his first day), called to tell us that he couldn't start THAT day because his niece had been kidnapped and he needed to do what he could to collect the ransom and that he was sure it would be fine tomorrow...really? Remind me to put him in my address book in the event that I need a quick resolver to my kidnapping issues. And I say this totally tongue in cheek. I would wish that situation upon no one, but we have photographic evidence and clear knowledge that he wasn't collecting a ransom. Rather, resting from a long party weekend. Advice: if you have cousins or friends or family members that work in the same company, chances are those pics of you all strung out with your lady friends, will make it's rounds...potentially all the way to HR. And REALLY? KIDNAPPING is the ONLY excuse you could scrape from the bottom of the barrel? Not just that you were sick? Or something?

I'm also astounded by the frequency of blatant disregard of FED-ER-AL regulations. Common things, like Harassment law. And these examples are not coming from things I've seen in the organizations I've worked for (I'm totally relieved for that), but, things other professionals have talked over, things that have been brought up at State conferences, etc. For instance:

Any time you call an Asian woman a "chow mein", or if you ask her if she has problems seeing through her slanted eyes, you're begging for a kick in the teeth...or a bite out of your wallet by means of hard core litigation. And please, don't be blind by thinking that only your company will take heat for your lack of professionalism. New laws allow personal liability as well.

Any time you try to intimidate someone out of a position, by being a hole, or by pressing your people unnecessarily because you don't want to term them (to avoid paying unemployment), you're violating the law. This, friends, is called HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT. Did you know that bullying is now included as harassment? All disparaging, false, malicious, obnoxious, intent to harm comments are putting yourself in a position that creates personal and organizational liability, AKA law suit. All to avoid paying unemployment. If you have a person who cannot adequately perform, do the right thing, properly document, use every opportunity to show that you've trained, provided tools, and then progressively disciplined. There's a correct way to terminate...that doesn't make you look like a jerk and doesn't open your doors for scrutiny or fines.

Any time you move someone (who came forward to make a harassment complaint) out of a department because you just think it'll be easier on them, you risk (highly) a retaliation claim. Unless THEY have asked for it. Sometimes, your petty efforts to make nice, really create shoe-in for retaliation cases.

At any time, as a manager, if you listen to an 'off-the-record' claim, and do nothing about it, you risk a harassment claim. As a ward of the organization, you have a DUTY to bring claims forward and protect the company. The law is applied to organizations who are aware of harassment as well as organizations who SHOULD HAVE KNOWN about those issues.

Any time you demand a standard of your people that you're not applying yourself as a manager, you risk losing the trust and respect of your team. Double standards will prove only one thing: you're a poor manager.

Yes, Life, I'm griping. Because so many of these things lack common sense!! Why is it so difficult to treat people like people? Why do we become less humane with one group of people than another? And I know there's a lame amount of law and regulation that applies to nit-picky situations, but it's because there have been circumstances that have CAUSED THESE PROTECTIONS TO BE PUT INTO PLACE.

That's all. Play nice. Know your rights and obligations.

And for heaven's sakes, TELL THE TRUTH!

The end.

Monday, October 5, 2015

#gettin' over it

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Life,

I had a stark realization this weekend about the extent of my weirdness. And, of course, as a public service, I thought I would share it with you purely for your enjoyment. Because I'm nice like that. Kinda. Sometimes. Maybe.

Did I tell you, Life, that I'm a photographer on the side? I have my "real" job where I Resource the Humans, and then the mothering gig (my favorite for reals), and then some (intimidating and simultaneously soothing) music stuff, and then photography...not ever necessarily in that order. I've omitted some of the other things because they don't pertain, and also because I can't remember right now...lots of other less/more attention-grabbing stuff crowding my ability to accurately recall and succinctly articulate.

This weekend, I half-dragged my brother with me to be the second camera for a corporate picnic at a (relatively) local theme park in Valencia. It was lovely. The day was perfect. The kids were actively engaged in games. Employees were with their families. The atmosphere was very relaxed. I got some great candids of people talking and laughing (those are the best). The host was kind enough to throw in tickets to the park for me and the brother for the rest of the afternoon and we decided to hit up a couple little (yeah, right) rolley-coasters before we headed home.

#look, mom, no hands
First, let me say that there was a time when roller coasters were the only things I was really afraid of. Not the dark, not spiders, roller coasters. I was truly (like, paralyzed) terrified of the small dip on Pirates of the Caribbean. I would seriously hyperventilate at the thought of doing twisty-turnies...and there was no way, no possible bribe lucrative or persuasive enough that could coax me to set foot on anything that looped. Because I thought if I tried it, or thought about trying it, I was going to die. Rather, I was going to be twisted, spiraled, and basically hurdled (or dropped) toward my death. The vision was vivid. And I imagined being the one rider in the history of the park whose seat belt sadly, unfortunately, mistakenly opened during the highest point of the man-breaking loop...and then, further imagined myself laying there, broken on the dirty, overpriced soda-caked, candy licked and dropped, popcorn-littered, chili corn dog stick-littered, roach fodder floor for an eternity while the ambulance was summoned, and then struggled patiently to get through all of the rubber-necking crowdlings. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Couldn't risk my life like that. To be safe, I just stayed away. And watched from afar. Like, 10 miles afar.

#hydro-trajectory aerobalistics
Well, I say that I had no other fears or phobias, but I admit that I had a fear of heights for a long time. I was the kid in 5th grade at the last day swim party that hiked up to the high dive, only to stand up there on the edge looking down pitifully scared for 20 minutes, freaking out, crying and eventually climbing back down. Of course everyone at the bottom of the ladder was yelling at me to jump. No way, Jose. It was terrifying. And even when I was in high school and picked up springboard diving it was always limited, happily, to the 1 meter board..until I carried it on to college and my coach told me that the number of state competitors in the high dive was minimal...which meant that if I decided to compete, even if I stunk, which I might have a little, I would have a legitimate chance at pursuing the diving thing, possibly all the way up to State Championships...which meant that I got over the heights thing really quick-like. Dangling a potential State Championship in front of my face was a sufficient incentive for me to (quasi) ignore the nudging fear as I launched and propelled myself even higher into the air (without a harness or a wetsuit) and glanced over my shoulder. It didn't matter that I could see almost ALL of the city...or the ocean...or the islands in the distance (yikes). Well, SOMETIMES it didn't matter. Sometimes it still freaked the Love & Rockets out of me.

The experience as a whole was actually a really great thing...that is, until I broke 3 ribs by landing an attempted dive wrong. Failed dives off of the 3 meter board or higher platforms make landing on water, like landing on a concrete sidewalk. In fact, that day, I thought it would have hurt LESS to have just thrown myself on the ground from that height instead of basically belly, or rather, side-flopping because of an over-rotation. I thought of all of this while floating just under the surface of the water that had betrayed pain...not wanting to move...or acknowledge tears of both sharp, burning pain and equally (or more) of agonizing frustration...knowing full well, I would HAVE TO do the dive over again despite the injury, so that I wouldn't, then, be afraid to keep trying...and to get over all of the mental blocks that come from pain. Only later, after my lungs locked up, would an x-ray show the full extent of the damage. And when I asked the doc what I could do about the pain I felt when I would simply breathe, he told me to breathe deeply...and to do it often. Ribs can't really be casted. And restricting the range of motion of the rib cage can cause all kinds of other issues. He told me, eventually, I would become immune to the pain. Rough advice added to a rough day.

#burned to overcome
Second, let me say that I also had a deep-rooted personal fear of abandonment and rejection. This one, I won't pour into. Too many details. Too much of a bummer. Long story short, the embodiment and fruition of that fear came in full, unavoidable force...more than once...and I was put in a position where I had to deal with this fear. While I will not air out the details, I can fully divulge that after all THAT went down, things like rolley-coasters were a snap. And, to prove it to myself, I try adrenaline tracks as often as I can. Except for the vertical drop ones...those still make me feel like my brain is being slammed up against my skull. But at least I know that because I tried...and didn't fake that I had tried.

#bringing the big stick
The brother and I were with a small group of friends in line for a ride I had never experienced. It was huge and had fire and all kinds of crazy gimmick things. It was built to be intimidating...but I took a quick personal inventory while we were standing just underneath it, listening to the strapped-in riders say their Hail Mary's and screaming at the plummet, and it hit me that I felt nothing. There was no usual anxiety, no creative thoughts and advanced acting necessary to bow out gracefully. Even getting strapped in myself, when I should have been freaking out, there was excitement in place of terror. The dragging up the ramp (because instead of facing the climb, the riders were reversed, facing the sky, unable to see how much higher we still had to go...) was nothing but calm...and the drop was pure fun. As well as the rest of the loops with rotations thrown in. Way fun. Again! Again! Again!

I did have laughy-fear on the second ride, only because instead of being vertical to the track, we were horizontal. As we climbed higher...and climbed higher...and climbed higher...and (holy cow, STILL?!?) climbed higher over the dark ground and trees, where only the quiet lights and poles that supported this monstrosity...I will be honest, that the thought of me cascading to my broken death crossed my mind. For a second. But it was then that my momentary fear was utterly dismissed as I squealed in excitement in a barrel roll.

But this isn't the only part of my post, Life. What I should also mention was the part that was directly designed to scare my socks off...but didn't.

#immune to the scare factory
Given that it's October, the park (and every other theme park everywhere) was set up for scary/fright/haunt Halloween mazes. We had to walk through a scare zone to get to the second coaster and back through it to get out. It was dark. Lots of neon. Actors were then menacing, with their prosthetics masks glowing like a nightmare. They would swarm those who clung to friends, or tried to hide their faces from the dark goblins. If people weren't willing to look at the scary characters, they would still scream in a way that would trigger shaking, crying, screams in reply, running in terror, and jumping of fright.

Usually, I'm a super scaredy cat. I will NOT go to horror movies because I can't handle them. I can't handle the anxiety. I can't handle the Psycho-like chords they play to get your scary buy-in. And you know, thinking about it, it's probably because of the music that I'm always eeby-geebied-out. Huh...I just put that one together.

While we were waiting for a funnel cake on our way out, there were maybe 5 actors that were aggressively roaming the entryway, back and forth, to scare the tar out of the new people coming in. Everyone in line was standing to face the spectacle...because it was obvious that when ones back was turned, a gargoyle-looking guy wearing metal on his shoes and fingers would come up and scrape that stuff on the ground (like a nail on chalkboard effect) and shout loudly at the same time to startle the holy hello kitty out of you. Maybe I should have been terrified...but I wasn't. I was actually more fascinated by their make up. I kept wishing that I could stop one of them for a second to get a closer look at what the artists had done. And I had questions!! Was the makeup airbrushed? Or was it some other technique? Were they using prosthetic latex? Or some other kind of tool for the ears? Did they use the same prosthetics every night? Or did they have a week cycle before using something else (like in theater)? How long to do they roam? Do they do retouching during the night? Was the mask itchy when they got sweaty? Did it smell like new tires? Was that annoying? Did it interfere with the smells of the park? Did it make it like, rubber popcorn smell? How were they casted? Did they audition? How many people tried to swing at them each night? How long did the makeup application process take? But they wouldn't stop to talk to me. They were too busy startling the poodle out of young girls, or teenage boys who acted like no one could crack them...

I should have been scared. Every NORMAL person was scared. I wasn't scared. Even when the guy with make up that looked like he was an Orc that had been bludgeoned in the left eye stealthily came up closely behind me and started breathing down my's a twisted sign when, instead of being rightfully chilled to the bone, it's oddly ticklish. Here he is, trying to do his best serial killer with asthma impression, and I'm giggling like a two year-old. He actually said "meh" before he walked on to a more appropriately responsive victim. And I didn't act that way because I was trying NOT to be scared. I just WASN'T scared. Not there. Now, maybe if he had a chainsaw thing, I would have flipped-the-love out, but there was no audio ambiance to add to my chills...and so it was just room temperature scares for this girl. Who was much more entertained by the terror of others. Now, I will credit all of the actors because for those with weaker constitutions, I don't know if they slept that night...or will...for the rest of the week. I'm just weird.


Friday, October 2, 2015


Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Life,

You've been super crazy this week, but I still wanted to take a few moments to comment on the world as I see it.

I fully recognize that writing almost makes me a traitor. I see things, hear things, and then I'm sharing it in print. If I was nicer, more afraid of karma, or not utterly thrown into fits of laughter over many of these things, I probably would keep them to myself, but you see, I really think it's more of a public service to learn vicariously and discuss these things openly. Actually, a few days ago, I was talking to a lady at my workout class and the whole bloggy blog blog thing came up. We talked about some of the features and stories. I watched this look of terror come over her loverly face..."aren't you nervous about writing like that?" Honestly? No. When I write for you, Life and friends, it's like I'm talking to you. Which is cheaper than therapy. Now, if you needed me to format my thoughts, and articulate this content much like a graduate mid-term paper with APA citation, etc...I think I would be significantly LESS successful in keeping you interested. My rambling is much more fun (you're totally right, i should let other people tell me it's more fun).

So, peeps, here's the deal; I don't know why/how/what/where/yoo hoo it happened, but I've managed to come to the point where ALL THREE of my children (bless those of you with more) need ALL of their appointments (physical, dental) at the same time. Usually, I try to orchestrate them close to their dates of birth (so that I can actually keep up and not be buried by appointments, leaving early from work, taking them out of school and running around), but not this year...which makes it interesting because I have to get mine done, too. I think it was because of an insurance change...but it doesn't matter.

First, with all of this appointment circus talk, may I preface this post by saying that I'm so glad that I had the foresight to enroll in an FSA. If you don't know what that is, but you have kids and you use your (medical/dental/prescription/vision) insurance, I would HIGHLY recommend seeking it out, talking to your HR professional, etc. It'll save you money and come in handy during those moments when your kid needs, oh, I don't know...a broken arm casted, or something super fun like that, which you're probably never REALLY prepared for. If you do it right, you won't have to deal with waiting for your next check to donate entirely (though not without tears) to the Emergency Room. Swipe your FSA and worry less.

Second, it's interesting that it always seems when I need a breast patty-cake or a fun-pap, it appears like many in my circle of friends are also prepping for this mild form of (willingly (kinda) endured) torture. It's nice, because afterward, we can commiserate, and make snarky comments, but really inside feel truly grateful for prevention and that everything is good thus far.

Third, I am a question asker. I know you couldn't tell, but I'm admitting - questions are my thing. I meet new people, I like to ask questions. Not like, probing questions all the time, and NO, I'm not that annoying passenger on a plane that interrogates you. I usually will engage if someone starts a conversation. OR, I admit that if I'm REALLY curious, I will initiate a conversation. Knowingly. Respectfully. Because I want to take a nap, too, when I'm on a flight. But there have been MANY an instance where a single question has opened a flood gate of that time, when my man and I went to a concert and he went to grab a drink. I don't know why I stayed in my seat, but I did. I think it was a crazy cramped venue and having an extra person in the line was like an exercise in clown-car contortion. So, yeah, I stayed. The guy sitting next to me was with a woman and he struck up a conversation - wasn't Lisa Lisa amazing? She looks SO good...and off we went. By the time my guy got back (10 minutes MAX), I knew a few things, like the fact that this guy was from Lancaster, and worked in the defense field, and had two children (ages 11 and 7), and had just finalized his divorce, and was there with his sister because he's been kinda depressed about the whole thing, I mean, they had been high school sweethearts and they built their dream home together and then after that was done and their kids weren't little little they realized that they weren't really connected any longer, and he thought the right thing to do was to give her the house so that the kids would have a home, but wondered if they would ever forgive him for making a decision like this, because he would never make it out to be about her. I learned only a few things. Nothing deep. But my man came back and looked at them, looked at me, and knowing that this kind of thing happens to me more than a little, rolls his eyes and says, "AGAIN?!?" hee hee...sorry, babe.

Anyway, returning to the context of my post, I like to ask my doctors lots of questions...not always about MY things, and not always about applicable scenarios, but rather, random (who me?) things like "so, what is this really-long-named-diagnosis, what does it meeeeean? what is the medical term for fear of red, fuzzy, blue lipped worm dogs? have you ever seen this particularly gnarly situation before?? What is the ABSOLUTE WORST infection you've ever seen? When you were in med school, what was the hardest part?" My doctor will indulge me with a short "i don't know", "yes" or "no" or "i don't remember, i've blocked those memories" which then flow charts into a different series of medical war story inquisitions. Now, I know my privacy laws, so I would never ask for grusome specifics (just inflate them in my mind and imaging screaming), but I know how to ask in a way that is broad and vague enough to get me to just grossed out or morbidly fascinated.

Oh, fourth, I admit to being sick and twisted.

BUT, there have been times during my life when people have divulged that they have done things or thought ailments were medically related, but found out later that they really weren't. This, Life and friends, is the purpose of my message today. I'm just going to tell you the stories. I'm not going to comment judgingly...well, not a whole lot. I don't think you're going to need me to. You're welcome.

#fake heart attack
Once upon a time, one of my friends and I were at a concert with a larger group of acquaintances. We had fully anticipated this gig. Everyone was happy and excited. Many had gone to lengths to dress to the nines, including my girl, Marci (hereafter, referred to as M). She was wearing a way cute outfit that didn't leave much room for silly things like keys or money or the imagination, let alone a phone. So, she decided to be resourceful and stick it (phone) right down under the front clasp of her brassier. The night went on. The band was uh-mazing. We laughed, we danced, it was incredible. I did notice, however, there were moments during the night when M would stop a little mid-dance, mid-jump, mid-laugh. Then, she would kinda go on like nothing was wrong. Hours later, on our way back to the car, she kinda freaked out. "I don't know what's wrong with me!! I swear I'm having palpitations! I don't know, they just kinda come and go off and on. I think I need to go to the hospital."

She wasn't in any pain, at all, but when someone talks about potential heart issues, you err on the side of caution and go, quickly. So, it's late. It's me, another friend and M in the way-fun-wish-I-could-stay-here-forever-but-not-really Emergency Room. She had told them about the palpitations and they admitted her right away. They had allowed us to go with her wherever she wanted us to go. They asked her the series of questions: how old are you? 24. Do you have a history of heart complications? No. Does anyone in your family have a history of cardiovascular issues? No. Were you taking any recreational drugs this evening? No. Anything to drink? No. And the doctor offered to take some tests as a precaution. That's when she kinda sat up straight, and her eyes got big, and that's also when she put her hand to her chest...and could feel the rounded corner of something...and suddenly realized that her phone had traversed the divide and had kinda wedged itself under her left...and in that instant it occurred to her that the whole palpitation issue was really her phone ringing and text alerting her randomly throughout the evening...that she couldn't hear...because her phone was on vibrate.

And the doctor looked at her wearily and seriously told her: next time, you should probably just take a bag.

#non-related ailments
Sometimes children (teenagers, in this case) get the wrong impression about things they learn in health class or biology. They talk about learned subjects, and may not understand what's really what. In this example, my young brother (then 14) had a friend who was CERTAIN that hemorrhoids and HIV were directly related. One ailment FOR SURE meant the other. To this day, (now 18, and a freshman at an ivy league) said friend stands by this association. No pun intended.

#varicose veins
I have a super fit darling of a friend. She's always been about physical manifestations of health and being really mindful about what the body is saying. When your nails have white irregularities, it may mean a mineral deficiency in your eyeball, or when your skin is too dry/too splotchy/too, I don't know, pore-ey (whatever) it always meant something that your spleen was shedding, or something like that. She was usually very instructive in these comments. You know, she was in a much better position to advise as a Super Fit. The rest of us were, as I said before, more pregnant-like...even after our children had been 5 years ago. It was really annoying, actually, but you love your friends. And then karma strikes.

One day, I could see that she was visibly shaken. She didn't want to talk about it initially. Then later that day, she asked me if I had experience with (whisper) varicose veins. Huh? I was like 26 years old. No, I didn't have any experience. I think some women in my family had started seeing them, but we weren't freaking out over them. I think they just used that leg foundation stuff. No harm, no foul. She had ONE. (Carmina Burana plays loudly in the background as model-like women sob and wail, pull their hair, and gnash their teeth in agony.) She was sure that it meant something heinous. That her blood vessels were trying to make their way to the surface as some clear indication of a potentially early, but perhaps slowly painful death. It was bad over-dramatization. Korean soap operas could not compare to the level of showmanship embodied in this display. I didn't know how to advise her. I mean, one was small. It was like the size of a finger nail. It was red. It was low on her leg. It wasn't a big deal to me. I could only patiently empathize with her. But she did some truly remarkable freaking out...

It turns out her small child had found a red ball point pen and drew on mommy while she napped on the couch. (Carmina Burana abruptly halts with a records scratch as model-like women look around at each other and trying to regain their composure.) Wow. Get a grip. And maybe take the loofah to your 'varicose vein'. It's called EXFOLIATION. And a SHOWER. Try it. You might like it. It may also help you relax a little. Maybe.

Be well, peeps.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Life,

I used to work in the theater world. I was trained how to do my own face and then became pretty good at doing so for others. To keep up, I freelanced for a make up line and did plenty of weddings, proms, senior pictures. What that means is that I had to learn to be fashion forward, it also usually meant a full face of make up every day. That was the norm. It wasn't until recently that my perspective changed.

#the first step is admitting you ave a problem
First of all, I admit I was all about covering up all of my imperfections. Did you know that I have freckles, Life? I do! And for the longest time, they just wouldn't do. So, me and my foundation became besties. When the foundation wasn't enough, I used concealer. When the concealer and the foundation wasn't enough, I used whatever I needed for contouring. When the concealer and the foundation and the contouring shadows (and the partridge in a pear tree) weren't enough, there was always a highlighter or a serum to add to whatever I was going for. I admit it. I am a recovering makeupaholic. Don't get me wrong, I still LOVE a good smokey eye...and I've not gone completely buck naturalist...just more minimalist...and when I do a full face, it's just not every day. I was using make up to hide...and I don't want to hide any more.

#natural beauty
I work with a group of primarily Latina women who handle the production element of our business. Every day they come through my hall, and I notice their distinctions. I notice how strikingly lovely they are, exposed skin sans makeup, and just gloss and mascara. This was a novel realization for me. They wear this beautiful skin...make up in this environment doesn't make sense. It gets hot. It's humid. All of that effort will melt off through the they do without. And they're gorgeous.

#tanned progression
You know when you go on vacation to a tropical place, and you spend a day warm on the sand, and then you realize you've been kissed by the sun? The truth is that your foundation is now two shades too light, and buying a full container of this new shade is ridiculous because you'll only be said shade for a few weeks, unless you get darker because you're a sun worshipper now, and then you have to start the whole process over again because the darker shade is now too light again (or not red enough to properly match your new-found hue), but also the salt water and sun have given you a golden glow that you don't want to spackle over. Everyone else is golden brown, so it's cool to do as the natives do, right? It's also a good thing to let it linger as long as holding on to the vacay for a week longer. (Or wish that you were in another tropical, please.)

#chem burn, I mean, peel
I found a groupon for a dermaplane that sounded interesting. I hadn't really ever done any kind of devoted esthetician services before. I love a good facial (it actually does more for me that a massage), it's just not something that I can always afford all the time (I would go every week if I could). When I went to the dermaplane, the lady told me about how much my skin would deeply benefit from a chem peel. I figured she knew what she was talking about...even if it was from a sales pitch angle. I totally took it for granted, didn't ask the right questions, didn't research other kinds of peels, didn't realize there are huge variances in products, in application, in skin kinda took it...and then didn't...and it created more of a mess for me than the flawless skin the gal had assured me would be the end result. Even almost a year after, I still have all kinds of fun pigmentation that surfaced a bit, but not enough to go away, that wasn't there now gentle freckles are more like undeniable sploches. In order for me to achieve a 'flawless' look, it takes ALOT of coverage...when then makes me feel like I could rake off my foundation. Yuck. The good news is that I found a skin healer of sorts who, over a number of months, and natural product, has vastly improved the condition of my skin. I may venture into the peel waters again...maybe, but this time, I'll know my stuff.

#can't I just be me?
I turned the big 4-1 this year. No matter what road I take, I keep coming back to this place where I question myself about where these practices/habits/choices will lead me. I feel like I want to reach a place where I can keep peeling things OFF (worries, hiding, blah blah blah).

Once upon a time, I was a missionary in Romania for a year and a half. I entered the country with two huge, stuffed, purple duffle bags. I was 23. I had traveled all over the US, but this was new. I hadn't really experienced the full extent of seasons (being both a Hawaiian and a Southern Californian native) and I knowingly overpacked because I was (unreasonably) terrified of literally freezing to death. (Once, it was so cold on a long winter night, that my eyelashes, and wisps of hair that were sticking out of my hat froze solid. It freaked me out!)

When a new missionary is in the missionary training center (MTC), there's always a new group coming in every week (as finishing groups head out to their respective cities and countries). The MTC president always used to remind us NOT to help incoming missionaries with their luggage. It would be the only way they would realize that they had too much stuff. Still, I NEEDED MY STUFF! BAD! So, I pridefully, stubbornly, exhaustedly, lugged (more like, dead lifted) those snazzy (non-roller bottomed) duffle bags through Bucuresti, and Sibiu, and Timisoara. I don't know...maybe it was a way for me to hold on to things back home...maybe it was because the reality was that I was far from home, speaking a language that made me sound like I was 2 years old. These THINGS were helpful in a way that it allowed me some familiarity as I eased into the work and the culture...and then, as time went by, I was ready to let things go little by little. By the time I was coming home, I came back with half a bag. I came home in June, so, I knew I would never need my FAT winter coat again. (I did, however, bring home my pea coat (which I still have).) Everything else, I pretty much let go of. I gave my running shoes to a lady I had become close to. She used to comment on them when she saw me wear them. I think I had bright pink accents on them and she was all about it. I also gave her daughter a number of dresses. They would use them...and that made me happy. As I become more comfortable with myself, with my purpose...I didn't need to cling (gripping, veins popping out) to all of this STUFF. The material became kind of irrelevant. And the things that were important weren't things at all - they were people. And it was beautiful.

#it's not a destination
I want to come to a place in my life today (despite all of the reasons why I've been hiding) where I can feel secure and lovely and totally in acceptance of self without any interference. I want to be able to feel lovely without a stitch of make up on...the reality is that in a workplace, it just makes me look tired, so I accept that I'm not QUITE there, but it's the direction I want to move toward. I think the exercise, though, is about becoming more self-real, no matter what the path that gets me there. The ultimate objective is about having a sincere, healthy self-relationship/image and becoming stronger. Look, how many beautiful men do you know that need concealer? Other than drag queens (they're not in this particular equation)? And not movie stars either that have been made up. I'm talking about that guy that you cross paths with every so often at the store or wherever. If men can be beautiful without makeup, why do we as women need it to "look our best"? Granted, there are days when we need a little help and those tools are available. I'm not talking about those instances. I'm talking about everyday putting on a thick facade in order to feel beautiful. I think it's the person that radiates through...and all of the external put-on is icing. Yeah, ok, sometimes the icing is the best this example, I'm telling you, it's the cake that is exceptional. Really, all that matters is that YOU think so. That's where I'm trying to go.

hang tough,

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Life,

Sometimes you are NOT fun, not planned, not reasonable, and not welcome. My friend is moving away. She's moving far. In, like, two weeks. There's no time to try to convince her to stay...and it's just a personal travesty. She's a singer. With her, my other friend and I can make a singing trio. Do you know how rare that is, Life? Do you? UGH!!!

Yesterday, we got together to practice for a song we were performing today...and I couldn't keep it together through her solo. Her voice broke me...and then we needed a good 10 minutes to get over it. I'm not one of those people who looks all pretty when they cry and can keep their timber. I look like my face is being stretched beyond possibility and I warble TERRIBLY. Me and crying...not a good thing. My voice gets all shrill and high pitched...ridiculous.

Also, the last few days at work have been stupid dumb. I tried to talk with a co-manager and it went to pot. I was so annoyed that I got up and left. I actually did the right thing before I left and apologized for getting angry. And in the middle of being rational and to the point, I got lame emotional and cried!!!?!?!?!? UGH!! My emotions BETRAYED ME!! The stretched face!! The warbly voice!!! Crush ALL emotions!! BAN them! DENY them!! Pfff...I can't. I wear them on my sleeve. It's terrible.

I feel like there's been a lot of loss in my life, family, etc. this year. I generally try not to think about it too much while I'm going through it, but when I stop this race for a second to catch my breath, it all catches up to me...and the world is quiet for a second...which is probably why I start running again.

It's not that I can't handle just that sometimes I don't want to. So, I thought it a perfect throw-in to include a list of things I don't want to do:

- make my bed today. no one is going to see it. and sometimes, I LIKE it all messed up...that is, until my legs get all twisted up in unruly sheets and then I feel like my bed (that is really my friend) is trying to strangle me...can' Nope. They MUST stick out of the covers. Or I will suffocate. And die. Well, fine, not really die. But I will get icky sweaty and sometimes it feels like the same thing.
- eat parsley. i know it will freshen my breath. i still don't like it.
- take off my make up. i'm too tired. i'm too grouchy. i'm going to take a nap with it on. wait, that's actually gross...FINE, I'll take it off. But I won't be happy when i'm doing it.
- eat my kid's roasted macadamia nut. he found a macadamia nut on the ground and beat the shell off of it with a mallet. Then he stuck it with a shish-ka-bob stick and roasted over the flame of the stove. so much effort. meh, i still don't want to eat it. (actually, because I want him to eat it. he worked so hard, he deserves it. but back to my whining.)
- put on socks
- take a happy selfie
- lay on a wet towel
- talk to anyone happy
- snuggle with my man (he gets too sweaty because it's been way hot...and then I get hot and sweaty and feel like I'm going to die...well, not really like I'm going to die, but like i'm going to drown and that's pretty much the same thing. do NOT wrap your sweaty armpit around me. don't. not even a little. because i'm groucy.)

I'd rather:
- kick a pillow
- scream at the top of my lungs in the back yard (wait, that will totally blow out my voice for the next three weeks...), k' fine, middle of my lungs.
- throw cotton balls around with all of my strength
- wear dark glasses so people can't see me glaring at them
- watch some annoying youtube videos so that I can judge people I don't know and feel better about myself (but I won't. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and feel bad for them probably.)
- chew on ice cubes. LOUD.
- do cartwheels like i don't give a care
- be in the glaciers
- or be in Paris
- even if it was swelteringly hot, i'd still rather be in Paris
- even though I've never been there before

I know you're saying that I should get a grip. And you're right...just not right now. I need to feel grouchy. And then I'll get over it. I don't need no sunshine and rainbows junk right now. I need to listen to Beastie Boys do their Superstition thing. I need to maybe do yoga at the same time. In front of fans so that I don't get sweaty and die (you know what I mean). And THEN be at a point where I can watch something funny and be happy.

I do this, you know? I get all of my angst out and then I'm fine. I will NOT pretend to be happy when I'm not. I will NOT pretend to be ok with my friend moving and losing our trio...I will be grateful, though, that I had the time to sing with her...even if it was too short. I will be grateful that I said what I needed to say to that co-manager dude...and rest in the fact that those emotions, though embarrassing, were true...and then some. I will give all of this noise the energy it needs and nothing more...and I will be cool with failing sometimes...or losing against my will...or being order to more fully be happy...eventually.

Unless we were in Paris. Then I would only be happy. Forever. Pretty much.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

#tech me back

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Life,

Remember way back when? When cell phones were 50 pounds, and huge, and you could always tell who was using them because they looked like that guy that was in 'Lady in the Water' who was buff only on one side of his body? I remember long summer days down in Huntington Beach. The beach cruiser was like the cool, new bike design and mine was a few inches too tall. I could ride, but I couldn't get started unless my bike was straddled over a speed bump so that I could climb on. I also couldn't stop, which was kind of important (meh, mildly). It wasn't uncommon for me to use the bumper of a Trans Am, or a Camaro, or a Porsche, to come to a complete stop. It was also pretty common for me to look around to make sure no one saw me...then I could move on to the next new car to cushion my lack of braking skills. Now, don't flip out. I never damaged anything. It was a huge blue cruiser bike tire. And every car back then had an ACTUAL bumper, none of this dumb bumper made of plastic junk. The only time that it was an issue was when Cole Davis saw me from his front window, but didn't say anything until he was with his gaggle of surfer friends. * wouldn't have mattered if I hadn't have had a galaxy-sized crush on him. But I digress (as per usual).

Technology wasn't really a part of every day life back then. I mean, we had the Apple2e, and we had the Atari game console, and every Halloween, we could get our 3D glasses (and a slurpee) from 7-Eleven to watch Elvira's special. But there was no texting...only actual note writing (that would still get you in trouble if a teacher found you out)...some with little boxes that said 'check yes or no'. It was charming.

Now, the use of tech is EV-RY-WARE. I can't go into a bathroom in a movie theater without some middle school girl primping and taking duck-lip selfies. Read it again. Bathroom. Duck lips. Selfies. I support/tolerate/admit to the taking of selfies in one's own bathroom, but in public-ish's like the pic has germs all over it. And seriously, are there not enough movie related, huge displays that you can stick your head through and laugh over? The potty was the ONLY place you could take your selfie gig? Ugh. So over it. I'm eye rolling hard. You should, too. Niiiice.

The phone epidemic isn't in emergency status ONLY in the bathrooms of public's rampant and my following examples will succinctly (well, kinda) demonstrate how:

#are you sure you want to do this?
A dear friend of mine (and inside reporter/contributor) attended her cousin's wedding last week. It was during a weekday, and really only the immediate family was in attendance (which, in all Mexican and Hawaiian families means that it's at least 100 people minimum). It was in a beautiful cathedral, with lovely flowers, and music, and romance...and her uncle sitting in his lavender tuxedo next to her using his phone. At first, she didn't think anything about it. The wedding hadn't yet begun. Maybe he was checking his snap chat or something. Everything was in line. The harpist was doing her thing. Weaving musical magic through the room. Guests were anticipating the start of the ceremony. But she was distracted by him suddenly. He would text a something and then know? That giggle...when someone is doing something they probably shouldn't be. It's a sinister low laugh, really. Then, he proceeded to show her his text feed...which was being sent to the groom..."are you sure you want to do this?" giggle giggle "it's not too late" ha ha "we can hop in my getaway car and head to Vegas." And it's not that the match was troubled or bad, he was trying to be funny. In a ghetto-fabulous manner. The best man had the phone...and each time, he'd look at it and then look around, confused. I think I would be, know, because the best man was the bride's brother.

#bizarre way to grieve
Years ago, my man had a close friend who passed. It came as quite a shock for everyone. The friend was young, full of vitality...this was a tragic and unexpected loss. The services were held in a really beautiful church, with his extensive family, and everything about it was lovely, hopeful, comforting and peaceful...rather, it WAS, until my man's buddy who was sitting next to us (granted, whom he hadn't seen in months) wanted to take this 'perfect' (not in the LEAST) opportunity to show him pics of his new, "very hot" girlfriend. I think it wouldn't have been a big deal had the guy received a message or something and shared his, then opened, screen pic. You know? If it had been there and it was a brief share because it was momentarily present. But it was nothing like that. It was him nudging my man, and scrolling through his (seriously) 400 photos of his shiny, new and improved girlfriend, With added narrative. Her in a blue dress. Her with her hair in a pony tail with curled ends (she's so hot). Her after she had worked out (I think she likes, like, some resistance training thing). Her in the pool (at my house, dude). Her sleeping (she kinda snores, kinda, it's not loud...she's just so hot. Even her snoring is hot, dude!). Her drinking coffee (it's super trendy, but I don't care, she's hot). Her eating (so glad she's not a veg, dude. she likes meat and everything. it's really hot). Oye. It was such a strange was like he hadn't grasped the PLAINLY OBVIOUS fact that we were sitting IN A CHURCH...for a FUNERAL..."dude, look at this one. she's so hot..."

#tick ti tick tick (whispering (more like airy shouting)) let me call you back
My family was hosting an out-of-town friend of theirs in their home for a special presentation. We had invited other family and friends to attend. Included was a long-time family friend who had come half-way through the demonstration, and sat in the back of the room on the couch. The room isn't that big, and there were MAYBE 10 people there in total, but still...I guess she forgot that someone was STANDING right in front of her talking and explaining. I assume this because 1) she forgot to turn off her phone, which meant that, 2) she was intermittently texting, and you could hear the touch point tones...that sound like ticks...tick ti tick tick tick ti tick tick tick...and THEN, 3) she actually got a call!!! and picked it up!!!!, but "whispered" (and by whispered, I mean the neighbors could have heard it through steel doors) "let me call you back..."and THEN, she fell asleep a little and snored...and THEN, 4) started texting again...tick ti tick tick tick...Are you kidding me??

Maybe I'm crazy (don't answer). Am I completely naive to think that ALL people would have a keen sense of appropriety when it comes to sensitive events? Like weddings...or FUNERALS??? I'm baffled. And, yes, kinda facetiously judgey. PLEASE, leave your flippin' phones in this box, out here, AWAY from everyone else...And to make the point: no, Uncle Manny, you're not even remotely funny. Please, go to Vegas on your own. And leave your fabulous sense of humor (and your fashion sense) there. Dude, your virtual wallet of photos is both wildly compelling and completely pathetic. And, through my tears (can you see them? i'm surprised you missed the hiccuping sobs of the lady in front of us), your girlfriend looks drippy, but whatever.

TURN OFF YOUR PHONE, pretty please. These are etiquette basics. There's no extensive protocol about this approach. It's a basic display of manners. Remember those? Manners? If YOU were getting married would you want some related, family nerd sending you (not) witty texts about having second thoughts?? Etc...common sense. I'm NOT hating on phones, just phones in places where they shouldn't be the center of attention, or even considered as a participant. Am I completely old fashioned for thinking there's a time and a place for all things? Am I totally off for being of the opinion that these situations were made difficult, awkward, and quirky-strange because of the random introduction of phone usage into the context of these stories?

Can I just go back? Please? To a being a girl riding a way oversized bike? Where phones weren't really a thought or a forefront distraction...and were used primarily after school, after chores, and after Bio homework was done, while laying on the floor of my room, by my dog, with my legs supported up against my bed, bare feet shooting straight up to the ceiling, talking on my Mickey Mouse phone with the cord all wrapped around my ankles and knees, while I'm talking to Jenny about her birthday party next week, and giggling uncontrollably while we shyly ask each other if Ryan (so cute) likes her? Duran Duran playing in the background, electric globe on the shelf, the spine broken on some Judy Bloom book, looking forward to the next episode of 'Knight Rider'? Uncle Manny FOR SURE couldn't have brought his Mickey Mouse phone with him to ANY social event. Although, he'd still probably be in the lavender tux. Just sayin'.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

#listening is overrated

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Life,

I've come to realize that this spazzy, overactive mind of mine is getting me into trouble. I'm not sure what, if anything, you could recommend to force me to take a breath and absorb everything before I open my very big mouth. I think I've done this all my life - In stories and movies, I usually can see things before they happen. My kid and I have a thing where when we are watching a movie, and we get an inkling about what's going to happen, we pause the film and call it. "That guy's totally going to be the killer." Usually before a killer is even introduced. "That lady totally did it." Before the it ever happens. This occurs in conversation, too. It's like I see the natural progression of the tale before it goes and I find the humor or agony in it before the punchline is ever delivered. It's not uncommon for me to be the only one in the theater laughing. Or the only one shrinking in anxiety. But this thing/curse manages to haunt me in unexpected places where I should just shut up and listen before I throw in my witty (I really should let other people tell me they're witty) comments...which then make me look, well...ridiculous. For instance:

#she works where?
I was talking to a couple of friends and one brought up a story about a lady she worked with. She was a temporary employee who left and then came back. I thought the lady had left to pursue her schooling or do something relative to elementary education, but my friend told me, to the contrary, that said lady had spent the last few months working in a, this is where I asked her if she was going to say 'brothel'. Don't ask me why I thought that. The phonics triggered the completion of the word in my head. And I nervously giggled. This is where my friend (bless her) looked at me like I was an idiot (deservedly) and sternly corrected me. Bra Factory. She had been working at a Bra Factory (which I didn't even know existed locally). The other friend interjected that there wasn't much of a difference. We ALL know that there really is. Still, 'brothel' should NOT have been the first word I thought should have been...well, I don't know another nice, conservative, non-implicative word that starts with bra...but, whatever. You know what I mean.

#first, let me take a selfie
Church is supposed to bring uplifting feelings. You're supposed to listen intently and become inspired. The key word is listen...and listen completely to, THEN, achieve a sense of inspiration. It's supposed to work that way. Sometimes, I get distracted. And I giggle. Profusely. I've got lots to work on. So, today, this darling lady comes to share a message she has diligently prepared. We had had some really beautiful music and she commented about how the music in and of itself presents a sermon (to which I whole-heartedly agree). It was almost like she was saying that she didn't need to give her talk because the music had given so much, but she knew/I knew/we all knew that her talk was happening...and she said, "but, let me take a moment." But that's not what I heard...what I heard was, "but, let me take a selfie." That's like your most pious and dear grandmother coming to you with some serious dialogue, only to throw in that catch phrase. It catches you unaware. And in that was dangerously funny...dangerous because I sit facing the crowd (because I handle the music)...and there was no way to hide my shaking shoulders or my (albeit attempted) muted snorting. It made me look like I was laughing at this sweet woman...and that, friends, is bad. I'm admitting now that I'm a terrible influence. My only sincere hope is that you'll learn from my moments of buffoonery and become more complete, learned members of society. Graceful. Delicate.

Listen. And be well.

Friday, September 18, 2015

#shuffling and the brake pedal, aka things that I'm afraid of

Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Grammar has been intermittently used to both annoy you and give that feel of rapid rambling that you would experience if we were having this discussion in person. It's more for your safety, really.

Dear Life,

You know how there are those facebook posts where it's a bra color, or a pirate name, or if you don't press like it means that you DON'T, in fact, love, but must SURELY (rather) HATE homeless children, or Jesus, or all things good (because you DIDN'T click the button)? (I love how my priorities and devotion are solely demonstrated/indicated in a 'like'...and if I ignore it, or pass it by, or just don't 'like' something that someone says I MUUUUUST, I'm an instant hater...guess I'll have to live with that one. Sorry, children. Sorry, Jesus. Sorry, all things good. Wait, I'm supposed to be a hater (maybe I'm really bad at hating??)...wait, can we do another take? I missed that cue...(clear my throat, find my ANGRY motivation, narrow my eyes...I'm ready!) I'm NOT sorry, children, et al!!! NOT SORRY!!! (throw some stuff around to emphasize my DISLIKE.)

Anyway, a few years ago, there was a trend where we would 'like' someone's post and they would give you a number and you would have to create a secondary post with that number of random's totally buried in my feed, so I can't write to the full extent of the original, but I can summarize: blah blah blah i trimmed/hacked my eyelashes when i was a little girl blah blah blah i found the loophole in becoming a legit musician by recording my practice sessions and replaying them so that my mom thought i was hard at it blah blah blah i'm terrified of high maintenance hair blah blah blah i'm random blah blah blah i love hard blah blah blah i'm insecure blah blah blah i wish i was in tahiti the end. So, I was taken back to the terror thing today on two occasions, and this, my loving, devoted (third post) friends, is the theme of my postity post post post today.


#every day I'm shuffling
When I was a girl, I wasn't a big fan of uppity. Which was probably a shame, because my mom was in the fashion industry and she was (is) a bad ass. She could rock leather (it was the 80's) pants, cashmere, stiletto heels, frosted tips, and tangerine gloss through JFK with a rolling rack full of samples to show her client at Saks in one hand, and her Louis Vuitton in the other while simultaneously hailing a cab, and radiating this vibe that you just didn't want to mess with her. I think that if I had had the same interest, I could have seriously capitalized upon that fine grooming and example. The standard was high, folks. I knew how to travel solo from coast to coast and back on my own by the time I was 12. I also knew how to clean a house, cook a decent, balanced meal, and shake hands properly at that young age. She showed me the ropes: be nice, don't ever settle for a dirty hotel room, tell the truth, try new things, when you feel like something is wrong, it IS (trust your instincts), when you're walking down Broadway and a guy is pissed and screaming at the world, DO NOT ENGAGE, I repeat, DO NOT ENGAGE.

Unfortunately, then I was (and still am to a degree) quite I ruined plenty of beautiful designer shirts/pants/dresses by spilling things down myself. She was (is) immaculate. I was more at home in keds and overalls. And, for the most part, she let me. But while I may not have gleaned the her excellent fashion sense, but rather a strong sense of self, there were certainly standards/things in that upbringing that could never be: all things slouching, any variety of bad table manners, every incantation of talking back, any reference to butts, AAAAAND shuffling.

In that world, shuffling = scuffs on the floor = no bueno. The picking up of feet was a requirement. This law retained order and cleanliness, not to mention peace and serenity. There was no clomping, no swishing, no dragging of shoes. (Nor the dragging of chairs across the floor - another no no.) This generally accepted lesson seems to be missing in others, I observe. And while I try to keep it together in public places, in my head, I DO find the posh, coiffed vision of my mother sternly commanding that these shuffling feet be immediately picked up.

To be in a public place, surrounded by strangers, is one thing, but to WORK with someone who wears platforms EVERY DAAAAAAY and then drags them around implies that either those kicks are too heavy or...i don't know, something else. I can tell you 100 quirky stories about all the different things I've seen in the work place. I'm sure you have your own, too. Workplace gigs like this are hard because we're adults and, let's get real, if some one came up to you and said "dude, you keep dragging your feet, BUY DIFFERENT SHOES OR LEARN HOW TO WALK PROPERLY," you'd probably buy a kewpie doll that strongly resembled them. And in as much as I've set up this tale with the precedent that shuffling annoys me, I find that, in this specific instance, it's not so much that the sound annoys me, as much as it kind of has a bizarre, stalker-like effect. My brother works with me, and on a few occasions while he's been with me in my office and this lady is on approach, we stop and listen with wide she coming? Is she walking by? Is she going next door? WHERE IS SHE??? AAAAHAHHHAHAHAHHH!!!!! So, this must be added to my list of random oddities (which is a LONG list), I'm freaked out by draggy shoes and chicks who can't properly walk in platforms. They're reminiscent of Freddy dragging his claws over pipes...he's coming. (Psycho strings play menacingly.) Perhaps, in another environment, I would be inclined to judge. In this case, it just freaks me out.

The second LEGITIMATE fear is new, but probably good in what it will prepare me for. New drivers. That are in my family. That are in the same car as brings out a whole new world of terror, anxiety and over-assertive behavior that I never considered possible. My brother is driving. It's great. I'm proud of him. It's also going to age First, he LOVES to hug the outside means that most of the time, I'm on the side that's hovering over this line...that's close to the parked cars...and bikers...and kids riding skateboards...that one day I'll end up scraping up against, or decapitating, or dismembering...all because he loves said lines. At first, I tried to be chill about it, but then when I'm shouting at him to move over, I guess that's not really so chill. Second, his gear and braking transitions are not smooth. That's not totally his fault, but when you're talking and then your speech is interrupted because the seatbelt has heimliched your throat because the car hops and jumps and bucks...oye. Third, because he's new, his judgment is developing. When you're an experienced driver (hopefully), you can gauge the speed and distance of oncoming traffic. When you have a tiny window, you drop it into gear and work it. Oncoming drivers are counting on you to be out of their way when they get to there. If one gets messy. Today, he meandered into the intersection to make a left turn and a classic impala was hauling toward us...and he was like...DECIDING whether he should go or not. YOU CAN'T WAIT, YOU'RE IN THE INTERSECTION AND IF YOU DON'T PUNCH IT RIGHT NOW, I'M GOING TO DIE IN THE GLORY OF AN IMPALA. Of course, I'm never that articulate. It comes out as snorts and grunts and partial vowel sounds...and then comes the desecration of my eyeliner and mascara because I'm dragging my hands down my face in anxiety. The only word that managed to make it's way out in it's entirety was COMMIT!!! Poor thing. I'm sure I'm going to give him a complex IF he doesn't murder me first by means of unintentionally wreckless sisterslaughter.

What's even more stressful is that my oldest son will be 16 next year...and this whole crazy driving madness will start again. Ugh...I mean, yaaaaaaaaay. Right? Until that day, I may need to up my medication, I mean, meditation...maybe listen to Enya to build up an arsenal of peaceful feelings prior to strapping myself in beside my kid. YIKES! I'm afraid!!

Wish me luck. Just don't shuffle while you're doing it.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

#privacy, please

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Life,

I think bathroom stalls are weird. I find it awkward to go into the bathroom while I'm at work and recognize people's shoes. I once worked at a place where people used the whole space, if you know what I mean. It didn't matter that there were 5 stalls, if they were busy, it was known. And revolting. So, my strategy has been to check the vacancy of the WC before committing. Even if it's to wash my hands. Even if it's to adjust my chonies. Even if it's to see if my eyeliner has melted and now is making it's way to my chin. Even THEN!! I prefer to use the facility in complete and utter privacy.

I like it when the big stall is open and I can use the safety handles like a big ballet bar. Take that, Madame Romanoskovichalinski! I still plie! Even if my quads and hamstrings are burning because my trainer is sick and twisted and loves to cause me pain!! Yes! Plie! Second position! I will! But only in the private, clean-like air environment. I know, it's weird. Plie in the loo? I won't even get into doing funky yoga in my office, in a dress, behind closed doors when I'm in between conference calls. Weird is my norm. I'm wired for weird. REGARDLESS! The point is that the space can be helpful to my peace of mind in other ways than merely evacuative. But hasn't there always been a thing with girls and bathrooms? I think there was a time when I would only visit the comfort station while in a posse, but back then I was still using aqua net and turquoise mascara. Now, I prefer to go solo. You know, big girl pants and everything.

Once upon a time, while I was in undergrad, the student union thought it was a brilliant idea to post wellness newletters on the inside of the stalls...but it was a strange (even for me) intrusion (probably because it was riddled with spelling and grammar errors). While I may use a stall as my own private Idaho and pretend I'm Mary Katherine Gallagher, it was a bizarre happening to guffaw in a stall and then proceed to have a conversation with a colleague in the next stall about the irony of posting a bomb like that in the toilet. I decided that I really don't like to carry on a discussion while I'm conducting THEN, there was a time when a co-worker decided to always use the SAME stall, but wouldn't check to make sure that all of the bits were entirely disposed of. Perhaps she was trying to get the love out of there so that she wouldn't be implicated by the evidence...too late. But that's a risky talk to have, "hey, so, ummm, you didn't flush everything down AGAIN, and it's, quite frankly, repellent. Sooo, yeah, do you think you could do the rest of us a favor by flushing 2 or 3 or 4 or however many times it takes? That would be greaaat." Instead, people started posting flyers inside the stall. "Please be courteous to others and flush thoroughly." It had a cute-like, friendly toilet graphic. The kind you would use as reward coupons for a potty-training toddler. I gather it wasn't effective, because weeks later ANOTHER flyer was posted underneath the original that provided further instructions: "Please flush 4 times if necessary! AND SPRAY!!" Wow. This is when I'm thinking the co-worker should perhaps see the on-site physician. And, we may need to get a super-uber-industrial-olympic-strength-grade-version-thing Toilet.

Once upon another time, while I was a student at college, I stumbled upon a bathroom in the Administrative building that had a separated lounge room. This powder room wasn't usually frequented by students unless they held a position that supported the president of the college or his cronies. I think if more students knew there was a mauve leather mid-century modern chaise in that room, it probably would have had J+B initials carved into it. It looked like a perfect fainting fact, given that the college was built in the 50's, it wouldn't at all surprise me to learn that the piece was an original. NEVERTHELESS, it was a monumental that I had to share by smuggling one of my friends in to see it. She didn't believe me that it existed and when she saw it we were both fascinated and grossed out. There's something about a piece of furniture in a bathroom. I dunno, it doesn't do it for me. It's like carpet in a potty, too. Gross.

Anyway, Life, the moral is that one must flush properly, never over decorate, pretend not to recognize shoes (even if they're super cute and you REALLY want to know where they got them, but shouldn't have that question asked in such a private place), and, when possible, dance shamelessly when making a scheduled or unscheduled visit to the lavatory (without hurting yourself or others).

The End.

#Prostitution...or something along those lines...

An actual email sent to my man. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Life,

So, my grad school drama isn't going away...I may have to take a class hiatus after this term because the university won't have my OFFICIAL undergrad transcript (that my undergrad institution (hereafter, known as MUI (My Undergrad Institution)) is ruthlessly holding hostage). SO, I'm trying to come up with some creative ways to make the required amount to pay the remaining balance due to MUI that is not currently in my bank account so that I can get them off my back and set me free to pursue my dream of graduate school. It's not a lot of money, but still.

Ideas to make like $1,300 real quick:
- Ummm, prostitution? (which may create some undue hardship on my marriage, maybe? I hear women who ONLY cuddle WITH clothes on can make some serious bank.)
- Kidney donation
- Collecting an advance on donated organs prior to my death
- Selling all of the tires on my car (which may create some undue hardship on my work relationship? i dunno)
- Hocking my wedding ring (oh, wait, I don't have one)
- Hocking my birthday watch (oh, wait, I don't have that either...I think you have it because it got water under the pretty crystal face...or something...where is that thing?)
- Do you think someone would want to buy my hair or my toes or something? You know, something I wouldn't miss...


i need to make more bucks. so do you. i wish you could take care of me and say "i love you so much, i will take care of all of this and magically buy you boobs, too, and erase all of your student loans so that you can actually have and income, and don't worry, i've taken care of your law school tuition, too, and by the way we're going to tahiti for a month because that would be fun, and i know you're lonely, so i got you two british bulldog puppies, and that cayenne that you keep googling, it's in the garage of your house, yep, i bought you a house that's not in the middle of nowhere because i know you like to actually be around people, and did i tell you? you're the most amazing perfect wife in the whole entire world? go get a facial, and a massage, and i brought you some flowers, and i got you a lifetime membership to that hot yoga place, and a cello teacher, and watercolor painting lessons like you always wanted, and i took care of your studio fees to cut your album and here's a more better camera with a bunch of crazy lenses that are fun...wanna go to paris for christmas? me to, let's go, did i tell you you're the bestest wife ever? yep...let's have some ice cream."

i hate not having enough money. :(


My man replied: YOU SAID IT. XO love you