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.