Thursday, May 27, 2010

Breaking In My Butt

Success is all about how you define it.

I’ve been waiting for just the right time to bring my bike out of hiding and take it for its maiden, summer voyage around our local lake. It usually takes a while for me to do this each year because I am picky about the circumstances under which I will travel. It can’t be too cold. It also can’t be too hot. Slightly breezy is fine, but windy is a deal breaker. I also prefer to be in semi-good shape before the maiden voyage because otherwise it takes forever, and forever is too long for a bike ride no matter how good the weather.

Like I said. Picky.

When I woke up this morning it seemed like the perfect opportunity. After days of wondering if my home would withstand the tumultuous winds around here, it finally looked like I might be able to brave the outdoors without risking being pelted by an airborne Yorkshire terrier. Not too windy – CHECK. I glanced at the outdoor thermometer. 68 Degrees. Not too hot. Not too cold. Practically perfect. CHECK. As for being in fairly good shape I have been exercising diligently for weeks now, and while I’m not exactly prepared to do a swimsuit cover I was pretty sure I could handle a 16 mile ride. CHECK.

No excuses.

For the first part of my ride the lake was calm, and I think the ducks were relieved to glide seamlessly through the cattails and grasses rather than the white capped wakes of days previous. I secretly think they were throwing a party, but I didn’t see any cupcakes so I can’t be sure. As I bypassed the marina the smell of hot dogs and pizza wafted through my path and fishermen dotted the banks with their carts of fishing gear. Sound a little too ideal so far? Not to worry. After completing the path around the lake I started for home – the winds kicked up against me while attempting to scale a hill, and I got off to walk for a few paces. Getting off my bike sometimes makes me feel like a loser, but then I realized, “Okay, so maybe I didn’t scale the entire hill but I could hock a loogie for MILES.” Pros and cons. It’s also important to make sure in this scenario that you go WITH the wind and not against it. Just sayin’. Moments later a bug flew up my nose and set up camp. He never came out and is probably roasting s’mores by now. I can’t say I blame him – I have a really welcoming nasal cavity.

At the end of the day it was several peaceful miles, one bug up the nose, one grueling hill, a sore butt and lots of burned calories. Today, I’m calling that a success.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gone With The Wind

I don’t feel like blogging.

I’m sure it will pass because it’s not like I don’t have anything to write about. Just yesterday I was cleaning out the fridge when Drew walked in during a tomato situation and averted his eyes while yelling, “Whoa, tomatoes are NOT supposed to be hairy!” See what I mean? Riveting material, people. Then there’s the whole issue with Chuck jumping the shark, Modern Family bringing joy and salvation to my Wednesday nights, playing all my letters in a Scrabble game and finding a delinquent Mother’s Day note from Drew stating, “I love donuts. And my mom.” I understand his priorities.

Also on my list, I’ve been running out of ideas for what to write on the notes to the school explaining Samantha’s numerous tardies. (Not that our freakin' awesome new orthodontist in Colorado Springs isn't worth it.  Seriously, when is the last time YOUR orthodontist called you over the weekend to see how your daughter was doing after putting braces on her?  Or offered to make the next appointment on a Saturday so they could have you over for a BBQ afterward?)  (Granted, they probably only do this with their incredibly cool clients.)  (I mean, really.  Who wouldn't want to have US over for a barbecue?  Just because the President won't call us back doesn't mean we aren't totally awesome company.)  Anyway, when I suggested to Samantha that we start making a game out of it by writing stuff like, “Sorry Samantha was late, she was smoking marijuana in the basement with her Dad and we didn’t want to rush her,” she responded with, “Are you looking for material to blog about or something?” So I guess that’s a no go. I was also thinking about sharing my thoughts on wind. Aren’t you glad I reconsidered? Seriously though, when Samantha went outside and stood on a rock to see if she could keep her balance in the wind AND IT BLEW HER OFF, that’s when I knew it was time for Chicago to relinquish its “Windy City” title to Denver. My friend thinks I should take advantage of it and go fly kites. I think she should stop telling me what to do.

In other news, Samantha and I went to see “Last Song” together a few weeks ago and I can’t stop thinking about how much my nephew looks like Liam Hemsworth. What do you think?

How about now?

I don't think my nephew's girlfriend is going to be very happy about him making out with Miley Cyrus.  I also don't think my nephew's girlfriend is going to love me blogging about her.  Lucky for her, I don't feel like blogging.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Calling All Jewish Readers - UPDATED

Hi.  How are you?  Good.  How are my neighbors?  Not so good.  In fact, life has dealt them among the crappiest of crappy blows and yesterday while walking back from the bus stop with the Dad, I said I would bring them dinner tonight.  I have been baking all afternoon - fresh homemade bread and potato soup.  Delish, right?  I know.  So as I began putting things together I looked in my cupboard and discovered a brand new bag of bacon pieces from Costco and thought to myself, "Self?  Bacon would be so good in that potato soup."  So I dumped some in.  Self was right, because I took a little taste and determined that this was definitely worthy of delivering to a family in crisis.


I realized.

AFTER dropping it off.

My neighbors are Jewish.

So, I have a few questions.  One:  Why am I such an idiot?  Seriously, you can tell me.  Too much margarine in the 70's?  Not enough face time with intelligent conversation?  Snuck one too many handfuls of dog food as a kid?  What?  Two:  How bad is it to give a liberal serving of bacon to a Jew?  Is it kind of like giving Tiramisu to a Mormon?  You know, we play dumb and just go, "My, my.  That sure is good cake.  What's that rich, tangy flavor in there?" or is it more like, "Here you go Mormon, just have one little gulp of my vodka.  Just once won't hurt."  Three:  Are you Jewish by any chance?  If so, can you tell me how to fix this?  Because I feel a little stupid (and by a "little" I mean like Dolly Parton's rack, little) and I don't know what to do.  My intentions were good, but now I feel like a jerk. 


UPDATE:  I profusely apologized to my neighbor when I saw her at the bus stop and she said they don't keep kosher.  Phew!  We are still friends.  I'm thinking of having them over for an authentic Luau with a pig roast just to test the boundaries.  Too far?

Then Along Came Polly

Sooo…Kentucky. The primary purpose for my trip was to visit my sister – I had no other plans other than to share in her every day life, until I got there and suddenly I wanted to see everything. I wanted to buy a floppy hat with a big pink bow and head to the derby, I wanted to meander over the acres and acres of horse property and pose in front of dilapidated barns while listening to the babbling brooks. And I wanted to go to church. Despite previous efforts to experience a legit Baptist church, I still yearned for the real deal. In my head the “real deal” is a small, white chapel around the corner where most of the neighborhood attends, where the people wear their emotions on their sleeve, call me “honey” after knowing me for 8 seconds, and have a closet American Idol contestant in their choir. They serve barbecue and grits after the meeting and don’t make fun of me for clapping my hands during the music or look cross-eyed at me for wearing a hat. (I love hats, but wearing them in a Mormon church makes people turn their heads and go, “Who the heck does she think she is?” because even though we’re not supposed to be judgmental, the wearing of hats suggests that all bets are off.) I hardly did any of that, but I still had a great trip. Despite its rocky start.

Gate A-38 at the Denver International Airport is where I sat to wait for my plane to board. A couple of rows in front of me a young woman began raising her voice to a couple that sat a few seats away from her in the waiting area. She was accusing the guy of stealing her phone, and he was vehemently denying it. They yelled a few profanities back and forth, and it seemed as if they were finished but the young woman wouldn’t let it go and soon everyone became aware of the conflict. That’s when the woman sitting next to the accused got up, went over to the young woman and stood about 3 centimeters from her face, grabbed the back of her hair and yelled, “Whatcha gonna do about it, huh? WHATCHA GONNA DO?!!” The young woman showed her exactly what she was “gonna do” and smacked her across the face. And that’s when the chick fight broke out. “Security!” yelled the gate attendant and in the meantime another gentleman, a neutral party, stood up between the women and broke up the fight. I was also very helpful, because from 3 rows away I yelled, “Hey! Settle down!” but I don’t think they heard me over all the f-bombs that were being dropped. Security finally showed, and all parties were carted off and removed from our flight. It’s like they know I have a blog or something!

I thought the fun was over until I found my seat on the plane and discovered that I was surrounded by a group of senior citizens returning from a trip to Las Vegas. The gentleman across the aisle wore a hat that said, “2010 National Farm Machinery Show”. Boy oh boy, do those folks know how to party! At one point the woman next to me declared that she was “parched”. “I need a piece of gum or something!” she announced. “I have a pack in my purse, would you like a piece?” I offered. “Oh no,” she answered. “This one time? I was chewin’ on a piece of bubble gum and wouldn’t you know it but my partials got all jammed up and gave me lockjaw. The only gum I can chew now is Freedent.” I tried to stay quiet the rest of the flight, but it didn’t prevent me from taking notes. Upon our landing the flight attendant announced that it would be 5 minutes before we reached the gate, and that’s when National Farm Machinery Hat Man said, “Open the door! I gotta go wee wee!” and then all of his senior citizen friends laughed. I think he tried to distract himself from wetting his pants by asking questions like, “How come the Barenaked Ladies and the Goo Goo Dolls are all men?” I gotta hand it to him, he really made me think.

Here’s the main thing I learned about Kentucky – southern hospitality is for real! This whole time I thought Paula Deen was the only genuine article, but y’all, Paula Deens are everywhere! I couldn’t believe how welcoming people were. As someone who is not particularly friendly, I thought this might annoy me but it was quite the opposite – it was surprisingly refreshing. On a walk one day we met my sister’s new neighbor. Straight out of Steel Magnolias her blonde locks were perfectly coiffed like cotton candy framing her face, her heels elevated her a couple extra inches off the ground, the makeup appeared fresh and her earrings dangled loosely from her lobes reflecting the sun’s light. She was sparkly all over, and greeted us like long lost cousins. What was she doing in high heels and red, shimmering earrings? GARDENING. Naturally. Another afternoon found us at an antique show up the street. Browsing through one couple’s treasures the man gestured, “You be sure and let us know if you’d like to see anything out of the case. We’re just sittin’ here talkin’ about Dancing With The Stars.” We spent the next 5 minutes discussing Derek’s mad skills (“I just love anything he does”), Chad and Cheryl’s confusing relationship (“I think he just came on too strong at first and now she’s done with ‘im”), and who we think is going to win (“Well you know, Pussy Cat Doll girl will win 1st because she’s good AND pretty”). And in the end, I DID want to see something from their case. Later we met a girl named Polly who gave us a tour of the model home in my sister’s neighborhood. I think it had been a while since Polly had seen a grown up, but now at least I’m clear on the difference between coffered and tray ceilings.

In the end I scored a weekend with family, a night out with a long lost Colorado comrade at the Cheesecake Factory, a trip to Graeter's Ice Cream (of which I would like to bear my testimony), a stop at Churchill Downs, niece and nephew time (trust me guys, if we had played ALL 10 Phases of Phase 10 I totally would have won), an Antique Show (could have stayed there for hours), and we even had a last minute Blind Side moment where my sister took in a kid off the street to spend the night at their house. Hopefully there are several more trips to Kentucky in my future, only next time there WILL be hats!

Friday, May 14, 2010

I'm In Kentucky

Hey y'all, the Vernmaster has flown the coop for a few days to enjoy some R&R at my sister's house in Kentucky.  I'm confident I'll have much to say when I get back, like what I did when a chick fight broke out in the airline terminal, or what I said when the lady next to me on my flight relayed an experience she had with lockjaw, and certain theories regarding the Goo Goo Dolls and Bare Naked Ladies might also be explored.  For now, I'm staring out of beautiful living room windows framed with thick, crown molding and a few doses of toile onto lush horse property.  Many of the stereotypes are true, and not all of them are bad.

Not quite all of them.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Beast

When I was in college I drove a 1979 Suburban which became known to my friends and associates as "The Beast". (In the Winter months my friend Jon called "The Fridge" because the heater took about 20 minutes to warm up, and most of the places we went were accessible within ten minutes, so it was ALWAYS freezing.) The Beast was incredibly handy when traveling with groups, especially since I drove it before seatbelt laws were what they are today. It was particularly useful one night when my 6’7” friend felt the urge to channel his Inner Hood Ornament and posed himself on the hood of The Beast as we navigated a Taco Bell drive-thru. Awesome. Here I am with my roommates, one of which asked, “Shouldn’t there be a little bar that comes down in front?” when I was driving too fast once for her taste. (And I do mean “ONCE” because I was an excellent driver (hi Dad) who always changed the oil (remember Dad? When you called me on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to make sure I had added oil? Well, I did. On Friday.) and never ran into curbs. Except maybe that one time. No wait, TWO times. But that was it, I swear.)

And here I am again when we decided to kidnap a house full of boys in an ongoing prank war that I had engaged in to get my future husband’s attention. And for the record, in this picture I have a necklace of sorts around my head – I would further explain, but it’s the kind of thing that was only funny once, because when you are a 21-year-old non-drinking chaste co-ed at Brigham Young University, thrills come cheap.

Also, see that guy in the blue robe? Well, his wife reads this blog, and I want her to know that one time we were at the boys’ apartment when he was wearing that robe, and he took a split, blue racquetball and put it on his nose to be funny. I tell you this so you can appreciate how far he’s come, and so you can understand why we nicknamed him “Grover”.

BUT THAT IS NOT ALL. Because, you see, the BEST part about this car is not what you see on the outside (*gasp* Even the orange stripe?!) but what is hiding on the INSIDE. For my 20th birthday my Dad gave me a musical horn for that car.
“A musical horn?! That is so awesome Dad! How do we put it in?”
“Let’s see, I think if we just cut out a hole in this here dashboard….”
And that’s the day I got my musical horn. After that, with the push of a button I could play songs like “Happy Birthday”, “Yellow Rose of Texas”, and I could even program the Cougar fight song. It was loud – you could hear me coming from blocks away. Had I been in a family neighborhood and not surrounded by college students I fear children would have been lined up on street corners with dollar bills waving out from their hands hoping to score a Good Humor bar. I LOVED it! It was a sad day when that car was no longer a part of my life.

BUT. My life is not over yet, and a couple of weeks ago when my friend and I were discussing our soon-to-be future of our children needing vehicles, the topic of my love affair with The Beast and my musical horn came up. “I bet they still sell stuff like that on the internet,” was all my friend had to say before we were both online, talking back and forth about what we were finding. My friend found it first. “Check this out!” she exclaimed while reading the further advertising on the website and filled me in, “It says, ‘As featured on Pimp My Ride’!” That. Was the website. For me. Ten minutes later I called Cory at work to announce, “You’re off the hook for Mother’s Day – I just bought my present.” So if you’re driving around and you hear the sudden outburst to the tune of “La Cucaracha”, or “The Star Spangled Banner”, or the deep voice of a man saying, “Hey Baby”, it’s either me or the guy from Pimp My Ride. I hope it’s me, because then you could yell out your window, “Hey! I read your blog!” and then we could pull over and go to lunch.

Taco Bell drive-thru sound okay?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

And Then Tomorrow I'll Tell You What I Bought Myself

I don’t like it when mothers are referred to as “heroes”. I think one of the reasons it bugs me is because it’s never another mother who is calling you that. There’s basically only two people who call mothers heroes – men, and women who have chosen not to have children. When someone from one of those two groups uses the term “heroic” to describe the role of motherhood it feels patronizing, because I think what they’re really trying to say is, “I’m SO GLAD I’m not you.” When men say it, I don’t think they even know what it means. Of course, there are exceptions but most of the time I feel like men calling mothers heroes do so because they think it’s what they’re supposed to say, not because it’s what they actually think. On the other hand, women who have chosen not to bear children (as opposed to those who wish they could but have been unable to) drive me crazier when they try to pay homage to the role of motherhood. (Hi Oprah.) The worst thing someone like that could say to me is, “Oh, I could never do that,” because let’s face it, that’s a load of crap. Of course you could do it, you just don’t want to. Why can’t you just admit it? I remember working with a woman who had twins - it used to drive her crazy when other people would remark with the “I could never do that” line. Um, yes you could, you just haven’t HAD to! What choice does one have other than to play with the cards they have been dealt?

So, here’s what happened. I heard about a friend in need and made an unannounced visit to her home to check on her a while ago. I inquired about the well being of her family and she began to fill me in on the details of some recent stress. As we stood in her kitchen and visited for over an hour, I watched her meet numerous requests and fill various needs from her kids. At one point she was asked to help a child cut his fort out of a cardboard box; another wanted to paint, the other one wanted a cookie. I stood and watched as she fetched little bowls of water, paints, and coloring books. She cut images out of cardboard for the one, and broke sections of cookie into pieces for the other. She grabbed wipes for cleanup, refereed the sharing of paints and brushes, and made sure to acknowledge the one standing there with a finished product in hand, waiting for her to admire it when she responded appropriately with, “Wow! You did such a great job!” ALL while carrying on a conversation with me and speaking in (mostly) complete sentences. I admired from afar the work of this lovely and capable mother. I had done this job before, but I had never really observed it from this view.

And from one mother to another I dare say it was…


Happy Mother’s Day.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I’m In My 2nd Trimester

It’s been five weeks since I opened up about my seeming quest to rival Jabba the Hut in the category of “Most Likely To Require Two Coffins When They Die”, and the day after I wrote about my weight I hit the gym. My goal is to lose thirty pounds, which, if met, will not put me back at my wedding day weight but it will at least make me look like I’ve done something besides lick butter for the last 15 years.

I am happy to report that as of Saturday I am down eleven pounds, which means I am officially in my 2nd trimester of weight loss. Sometimes when really overweight people reach their goals they get to say things like, “I’ve lost a WHOLE PERSON!” Luckily, I don’t have that far to go so in comparison I suppose I could say I’ve lost a Chihuahua, or maybe a waffle iron; perhaps a few clock radios. Either way, I’m stoked.

Some of you are going to ask me what I’m doing – to go into detail would be the equivalent of Ferris Bueller’s teacher launching into a dissertation on the differences between white and ivory, so I will spare you. To sum up, I am eating less and moving more. I haven’t had a single soy burger and I’ve even had some chocolate cake and a spoonful of nutella. Shazam! It’s not so much about what I’m doing anyway, but what I’m learning in the process.

Most importantly, this goal of mine wasn’t solely based upon the numbers that appeared on the scale. Something was happening to me; to ME, not just my body. I was disappearing, and I was watching it happen – allowing it to happen, even. I was two different people trying to live the same life. One of Me wanted to wake up in the morning, throw open the blinds and seize the day with enthusiasm. The other Me thought that actually opening the blinds was asking way too much, and wouldn’t it just be easier to THINK about opening the blinds? With my eyes closed? From under the covers? The 2nd “Me” seemed to be winning out on most days, which was slowly but surely suffocating “Me” #1.

Until I gasped for air.

That’s really what this is about for me. I am coming up for air. I am fighting to feel alive, to be vibrant and brave and powerful. I feel it when I run to the beat of a good song, I embrace it when the days are warm enough to be outside and the sunlight bathes my soul. The two “Me’s” are striking a truce, and instead of competing for all of my attention we have linked pinky’s and agreed to work together to help create the best “Me” that there is.

I hear she likes Cher. Oh well, I’m looking forward to meeting her anyway.