Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Man and His Mutt

This is my husband, Jackson. And that's his girlfriend - Maggie the Pug. (FYI - When she's in trouble - her name is Margaret - or Mutt, as I call her.) My husband is an ex-military guy. He's big, he's burly, he's more than a little intimidating. He doesn't have a lot of tolerance for frivolity, or silliness in general, and he definitely is strict and focused on many levels. For instance, when he and his burly pals do Strongman workouts, it's not a real workout till he's puked. Get it?

But little Maggie here has him all a twitter. Picture this manly man fixing Maggie's dress when it got a little rumpled. And yell at her?? Are you serious? All he has to do is wrinkle up his face and glare at her, and she rolls over on her back and looks up at him with liquid brown eyes. Add familiar Pug head tilt: "Please, daddy, I didn't mean to eat the 6 cupcakes left on the table," or "oh, daddy daddy, the cat poo is just so yummy I can't resist!" And he melts. Yah - it's just all wrong.

When he vacuums, she barks and barks. She wants her dinner? Bark. She wants scraps? Bark bark bark!! Add in the typical Pug antics: walking all over you with no regard for you privates, your boobs, your face, their butts. They lick everything. EVERYTHING. Legs, bald heads, other dogs' ears, butts, walls, windows, and sometimes nothing at all - just lick, lick lick into the air. It's a Pug thing.

And Jackson just adores her. And I admit, she's pretty darling most of the time. (But I draw the line at the incessant yipping, which apparently Jackson is immune from hearing.) Just look at the photo - like he is daring you to pick on her: "Come on, I dare ya! I'll break your neck with my pinky!" And Maggie clearly understands this. That's a Smug Pug if I ever saw one. She sees right through that macho exterior, and she seems him for what he really is: her pillow. And she's not givin' it up for anything.

Sent from my BlackBerry device from Cincinnati Bell Wireless

Friday, January 22, 2010

Simply Mom

I was in a mood today and really needed some alone time. So I decided to bypass our street on my way home, and I took a scenic detour so I could collect my thoughts and detox a bit.

About 10 miles from our house is one of the few historic covered bridges in Ohio. It sits along Stone Creek, and just up the creek from a beautiful old Catholic Church - St. Philumena. It's a historic landmark in the county, and it's said to be haunted.

The air was cool and damp this evening - matching my mood - but I decided to get out of the car and stroll over to the cemetery that sits on a steep hill next to the church. I expected the grave stones to be old and crumbling, but to my surprise, there were many modern stones mixed in among the well cared for historic markers. Some ornate - lavish even - but some I noticed were plain, with words noting only that person's role was in life: "Sister of Charlotte." "Brother of Barbara." But even these stones were larger - a foot high, 2 feet across. Then my foot slipped on what I thought was wet grass, and I looked down to see. I was standing on this tiny grave marker - maybe 8-9 inches across. And I quickly sucked in my breath.

My reaction was one of sadness. I wondered who would ever mark their mother's grave with this little and insignificant piece of rock? But then - when I bent down to look at it and take a quick snapshot, I thought it was beautiful. Simple. Peaceful. "Mom."

I've been struggling lately with my own role as a mom - a working mom - and feelings of inadequacy - am I doing everything I can to provide my son with the things he will need to be a sensitive and caring human being? A good man? A good father? I fear the worst - that I need to keep improving, get him a better education, better things, access to sports and gadgets. Even though I know these won't make him a better person, I fool myself into comparing myself to what others are doing. And I'll be honest - I want to measure up, and sometimes it hurts that I can't do what some other moms do - financially, emotionally - sometimes I feel like I am out of my league.

But maybe it's much simpler than I am making it. When I pass away, what will I want my grave stone to say about me? Do I want it to tout my achievements, my roles, my loves, my beliefs, or even the educational choices I made for my son?

I know that if I had to pick one word, unpretentious, yet filled with the greatest achievement I could ever dream, what better word could I choose than this: Mom. All those other things don't matter. When I die, the thing I would be most honored for my son to say about me is, "She was my Mom."

And let's be honest - there's a distinction between "Mom" and "Mother." Anyone can be a mother, but not everyone can be a Mom. Sure, nature says I'm made for birthin' babies. But nurture says - hey lady, you need to make some improvements! So I'm going to keep this little snapshot of the "Mom" grave stone; it's simple and beautiful, and it will remind me that there are things in life that I need to teach my son, not just give him. My son doesn't need "things" as much as he needs his Mom.

Sent from my BlackBerry device from Cincinnati Bell Wireless

Why Is This Man Smiling?

He's back and he's mean as ever! Yah - it's Nigel. I'd love to hear any thoughts about why you think he's this happy. Here are some hints: people are in pain; there might be some puke somewhere on the studio floor; someone's probably sitting on the floor crying for his mommy. Rest assured, that's not me though, because I'm taking the picture.

Look at him. Sick, isn't it? In his element, taking delight in other people's misery! But, I guess I can't fault him too much. We do actually pay him to torture us three times a week. And we keep coming back. That parts still a mystery to me. Though I will admit, I might be getting a tiny bit stronger. Today I managed to do "real" push-ups instead of doing them on my knees. Granted, I only did them like that for one and half sets out of the 4. But that's progress, right?

So if the price of progress is getting up at 4:30am just to see Nigel giggle with delight every time I writhe in pain, I guess I'll pay it. I'm 38, after all, and progress in this class is about all I have going right now. The only thing I have control over in my life is my health, and that's only until it decides to take revenge on me for letting Nigel beat me up in Boot(y) camp class. Geez - I can't win!

Sent from my BlackBerry device from Cincinnati Bell Wireless

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Torture Chamber

Hey! I discovered this handy little tool so I can now blog from my BlackBerry! This should be illegal, right? Just how many updates can I make from out and about in the world? Heh heh - don't tempt me!!

But I digress. Above - photo of the torture chamber. Just look at Nigel in all his glory, givin' Midge the what for on how to go over the top of the step board. Mmmm - don't tell Midge this - but I think she was at the end of the line when god was passing out the coordination gene. Now before you think I'm all mean and everything, blogging 'bout folks who can't defend themselves, let's get one thing straight: I would tell this to Midge right to her face. Because I love her to pieces and she's my BFF. Plus, it's about the ONLY thing I have on her. She can seriously kick my arse when it comes to strength, and she runs marathons. Eeeew. Yuck. Mentally unstable. But, me - I'm all about the coordination thing. Just sayin'.

But where was I?? Ah - torture chamber. Yes - I think Nigel maybe went a little easier on us today. But, I might have been high on my peppermint tea. It's hard to say.

Check back on Friday when I plan to post the best quotes of the 2010 Boot(y) Camp class. Preview quote: "I got a lot 'a booty to lift." Yup. It's just good stuff.

Sent from my BlackBerry device from Cincinnati Bell Wireless

Monday, January 18, 2010

Team Steam

My workout partner, Midge, and I have been going to the Y for years (give or take); we have a certain familiarity with almost everybody. We know who’s happy, who’s getting a divorce, who’s got grandkids and how many, past careers, retirement plans, who owns what business, who’s in therapy, who needs therapy, and who gets the wrong idea when you smack your workout partner on the bum. You get the idea – familiarity! Like one big happy family!

Midge and I are a great team. We’re fun, we’re silly, and sometimes less than lady-like. We sling mud at the boys and drop the occasional trashy joke. Boo-ya! All is great! But then one day, Midge suggests we check out the steam room. Ummm. Ok. Sure, I’m game – we’re a team, right?

And today is the day. Ready? Set? Read note on the door: STEAM ROOM AND SAUNA ARE CO-ED. PLEASE WEAR SOME CLOTHING AND/OR TOWEL. And/or? Co-WHAT? I throw up in my mouth a little. Anxiety and panic creep in. But Midge doesn’t think twice.

She throws open the door to the steam room while waving me in and looks back at me with these huge eyes that say, “Get ready – brace yourself!” I’m straggling about 7 steps behind her, whispering to myself, oh shit, oh shit… at the last second, I slink in. Gulp. Co-ed? Try NO-ed. Just guys. Jokes flying, old, practically see-through swim trunks, flabby, hairy bellies, sitting there like Romans in all their glory. I can’t even look up, though I am in a swimsuit with a towel completely wrapped around me. But there’s Midge, already yukking it up: “So – do you guys come here often?” This gets a big laugh. “Wow – I could sit here for hours…” She’s as chummy as can be!

Me? I’m totally mortified. Can’t get a word out. On top of which, I can’t breath. Then the steam pipe (or whatever it’s called) kicks in, and I am sure I am going to die, asphyxiate, writhing on the hot tile floor which surely must be covered in - eeew, gawd - I can’t even think about it! (Note to self: bring Crocs.) Some of the guys exit – see you ladies tomorrow! – leaving one old guy, who does some little magic number on the steam thingy, and it starts belching out more hot, stuffy stuff. Then – the unthinkable – he walks over and sits next to me, and he just starts talking. At this point I’m frozen, staring at my feet, heart rate about 210, and I’m positive this old fart is going to hit on me. I’m sure of it. It’s a steam room nightmare. But there’s Midge – just as relaxed as relaxed can be – like she’s sipping a Corona on the coast of Tahiti. She looks at me: “Isn’t this great?!”

Long story short, I made it out alive and un-hit-on by old man. Midge says I’m just glowing: “You look great! You know, we could work this right into our morning schedule.” I think I’ve slightly overestimated familiarity.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Send Message to Self

If any of you know me really well, you are probably painfully aware that my Blackberry is attached to me at the hip. I don’t go anywhere without it. Yup – even to Nigel’s Boot(y) Camp. It sits on top of my sweatshirt, taunting me to snap off a couple of photos and post them up on facebook. And you know I do just that: Oh, that’s hilarious! Let me take a photo…click…upload…chuckle…give myself positive self-stroke: aren’t I clever?!

So today I was doing just that: Oh, look how funny it is when Maggie (our girly Pug) licks the Cool Whip bowl and you can’t see her head! Funny to me? Hilarious! Funny to everyone else? Umm, probably not. But I have high hopes for all of you. But back to the story.

So I click a few shots of her with Cool Whip on her eyebrows, whiskers, ears (very cute, if you ask me), I click a couple of buttons on the Blackberry, and WHOA! What is that? I notice something in the menu that I have never seen before in my facebook app: Send Message to Self. I smile. Why didn’t I think of that? And this gives me an idea. Yah, baby!!

Now – if you have ever worked with me, you know that I am like a pit bull when it comes to email. Here’s a scenario: Write email, click send, get up, walk down the hall, dramatically poke head into someone else’s office, “Hey there! Did you get my email yet? What did you think?” Here’s another: receive funny email, laugh hysterically out loud till I have tears in my eyes, click forward, re-write clever subject line, send, run down the hall…well, you get it.

Scenario three. I sit down at my desk, log in, get back up, do the morning ritual: Diet Pepsi into the fridge, use the restroom, cheerfully walk around to say hello to everyone, sit back down, open Outlook. (Sound of skidding, braking car) What?! I have no email? This makes me panic a little. Is the email server down? Did all those people not get my messages? Does nobody like me?

So now, my little problem has been solved. I’ll just start sending messages to me! Think of all the fun I’ll have sending myself funny little messages, forwarding funny videos, clever photos that I’ve taken! And better yet – my Inbox will be stuffed! And I won’t have to worry about that ever again because I can reply as fast as I want – to myself! And I can relish in the fact that it doesn’t matter if anyone else likes me – because I like me, and I can make myself laugh. And in life, it really all comes down to that, doesn’t it?

If you agree, forward this blog entry to 10 of your bestest friends, but make sure to include me in the reply…

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Just a lil’ Bigger

I have to start this post with a joke because it reminds me of this picture. I’m not the best at telling them – something about the delivery that I don’t always get quite right. So, pretend that it’s about 11:43pm and you’re watching Letterman, and I have gap in my teeth and a quirky yet endearing look. Got the vision? Ready?? Excellent!

Who is bigger? Mrs. Bigger, or Mrs. Bigger’s baby?

Before I give the answer, (and do not scroll down because you know it’s at the end) I have to give you the story behind this shot. That’s Big Boy. At least I think it is. But this is not the Big Boy I have known and come to love – the icon of the Big Boy enterprise across the USA. There are a bazillion Big Boy’s in our town, and they are all graced with the Big Boy, impish grin, freakishly out of proportion, pompadour hair style, a-la Adam Lambert. In general, they are creepy. The stuff of nightmares, really. Worse then clowns. But, I can tolerate them in the name of nostalgia.

Now is it just me, or is this particular Big Boy a little bit “off?” Legs? Umm, no not really. Belly? Appears to be the third trimester. Chest? See Belly. Head? Excessive. Expression? Uber-creepy. Burger? Huh. Just what is that oozing out of the burger? Across the river here in Ohio (I hope that doesn't completely give away where I took this), there’s red ketchup and sometimes yellow mustard. In the newer, healthier versions of Big Boy, you might even see some oozing green, which I presume represents lettuce, or some other type of green, and therefore vitamin-packed, vegetable.

Somehow, I get the feeling this is no Big Boy. He’s supposed to look like a fun little kid with checkered pants and a slingshot in his back pocket. This guy? He’s no boy. Just look at that come hither expression and his poochy little body. That just ain’t right. There is something about him that screams Deliverance. “Mister, I sure love the way you wear that hat.” Heh heh heh. And that's all I have to say about that. 

Oh - the answer to the joke? Mrs. Bigger’s baby, cuz he’s just a lil’ Bigger. One of my all-time favorite jokes…

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Boot(y) Camp

Meet Nigel. He’s a boot camp trainer. Allow me to introduce you. Yah – he’s mean. He’s lean. He’s a training machine. So let me tell you how I met this guy, whom I like, but don’t particularly care for.

A few months ago, I got a crazy hankering to increase my workout intensity. I work out at the Blue Ash YMCA with the zaniest group of morning folks you’ll ever meet. I was yammering on, complaining that the current offerings for Boot Camp class were all for the moms who didn’t have to work – 9:00 class?? Seriously? I’m 63 emails into work by then! “Nigel, come on, offer the class to those of us who really work out! We’re crazy! We come in here at 5am (most of the time…)! We’re hardcore!”

Lesson learned? Be careful what you ask for. So I have been getting the crap kicked out of me for about a week now (Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6am sharp), asking, red-faced and pleading, “Bear crawls? What the…again? How many times?” I am not much the praying type by any stretch of the means, but I tell you what – I’ve prayed quite a bit between the hours of six and seven lately. Please God, don’t let me puke. Please God, don’t let me be humiliated (again). Please God, when I do the 435th squat, don’t let me fart.

Which brings me to booty. Nigel’s answer to our pleading? “Do you want a tight butt, or not?” Ugh – yah – I guess I do. And so I have dubbed this little adventure "Booty Camp," where working girls like me go in hopes of (painfully) gaining that tight little, J-Lo, you-can-bounce-a-ball-off-it buttocks. Now, let me get in a quick little prayer before tomorrow morning: “May the Lord bless us and keep us safe from the wrath of Nigel…and please God, don’t let me fart.”