Monthly Archives: July 2012

Spin Class, or How I Sweated My Actual Face Off


So I decided to grow a pair (I’m not sure what of, just an otherwise unspecified pair) and check out the cycle class at La Fitnesse.

I’m adding an “e” to “Fitness” and italicizing it to make it Frenchier.  Just go with it.

So today I put on my padded bike shorts and waddled on down to the place and talked to the lady.  And she was super nice, and not too perky, just perky enough.  And she set me up on my Super Spinnerator 9000 with the adjustable seat and the adjustable handlebar thingy.  I’m an H-2, if that means anything to you.

And then she started the music and off we rode, directly into the jaws of Hell.

I had had a hard enough time just showing up for the class so I figured if I just stayed in the room for the entire session that would demonstrate my dedication to phfffftness.  Not necessarily on the bike-thinger, just in the room.

Internets, I did so much better than that.

The guy next to me went through an elaborate pre-class ritual that involved putting on his special shoes and getting out his special towel and all that.  This seemed to be pretty standard for most people in the class, and truth be told I am well enough acquainted with my own personal sweat-threshhold that I brought a towel along.  I was miffed when I couldn’t find my Lance Armstrong Livestrong Ridetm towel, but I didn’t let this deter me from my goal of occupying a room in which a spin class was taking place.  I didn’t bring my scary shoes because I thought that seemed a bit ambitious for a Traditionally Built Woman such as myself who had not attended such a class in living memory, but next time (YES I SAID NEXT TIME) I will.

But then the guy next to me did something no one else did, which was to take about six feet of fitness-club paper towel off the communal roll and fold it over a couple of times and lay it across the front feet of the Bikerator SpinMaster Plus he was on.

This was to catch sweat.  That fell.  Off his hands and arms.  And saturated the paper towels.



After class we dismounted and did some stretching.  And I lost my balance.  And I grabbed the nearest thing to me.

Which was the SLIMY DISGUSTING BIKE SEAT that this sweaty, sweaty man had recently vacated.

It was visibly moist with sweat from his personal groin region.

I will be boiling my left hand for an hour and have already marked this keyboard for incineration.  I WILL NEVER FEEL CLEAN AGAIN.

…   Anyway, I didn’t just stay in the room.  I stayed on the wretched bike-thing.  I even rose up off my seat, more than once, when so directed.  I sweated freely and my own special towel was rather damp by the end.

I’m going back!   In a couple of days!  When I can walk again!

But I’m not riding next to the sweaty guy.


La Fitness (It’s French!)


So I took a lengthy hiatus from the gym because I broke my foot.  And then I got busy and lazy and you know how it goes.  Shut up.

But I’m back, and today I went for a lap swim.

The pool at my gym is smallish and warmish, also shallow, because it’s trying to be a jack-of-all trades.  It has to be long enough to swim laps in, warm enough for the fragile old people to do their water aerobics in, and shallow enough so most people aren’t in danger of drowning.  There is no lifeguard.  While I’m not worried about the drowning thing,  I kind of wish there was a lifeguard just so people would be more inclined to follow those little social rules that apparently they don’t feel inclined to follow when no gym employee is in attendance.  I am speaking of the following three violations:

1. Some lady left her flip-flops right in the center of the stairs that lead down into the water.  Really?  Because this is your private pool and no one else will need to descend those steps, Your Majesty.

2. The guy sharing my lane would stand up at the end of the pool, splash water toward the drains that run around the perimeter of the pool about a foot from the edge, and then spit into the drain while continuing to splash it.  He did this at least five times while I was in the pool.  Kudos to you for at least flushing away your bodily excreta, but seriously.  Nobody else feels the need to spit on the drains.  People walk there.  If you can’t swim without spitting maybe you should take up a different hobby.

3. There was a creepy looking guy in the hot tub who was probably just trying to put some hip muscle or another in the path of the water jet, but it looked rather sexual. I am in favor of maintaining a bare minimum standard of decorum in public places, and if what you’re doing looks a lot like having relations with a hot tub jet, maybe you should find some other way of addressing your problem.

Other than that it was a good swim.  I’m a lousy swimmer but it’s easy on the feets and you certainly get a workout.  Of course, Flip Flop Royalty Lady was getting dressed in the locker room when I got out of the shower and of course we both picked the same bay of lockers to put our stuff in so I had to be semi-unclothed in front of her.  This appeared to offend her tender sensibilities.  She looked at me like I was Jack the Ripper.  Apparently this is Her Majesty’s personal locker room as well.  She hurried out of there like she was on fire, which was fine with me.

Am I the only one who can’t make a rolled towel stay in place?  I feel incompetent in this regard.  Is this a skill mastered by teenaged girls the world over, and I’m just towel-impaired?  I always spend my time clutching desperately at my towel and hurriedly pulling on my clothes over my too-damp body.  Ugh.

Once I was dressed I pawed through my gym bag looking for vital necessities and did not find them.  The gym bag is a delight, a gift for Christmas from the children, and I love it, but it did not contain the three personal care items without which I cannot function: hairbrush, hair-taming product, and deodorant.  I have longish, curly hair that is prone to frizziness issues.  And although I am not usually smellier than most people (at least I hope so), it’s hot out.  I absolutely SWEAR that I saw these things in the bag when I was getting ready to leave.   What is wrong with me?

I had intended to stop at the grocery store on my way but I had no choice but to go straight home.  My finger-combed POW! hair would frighten people, and not having deodorant on is a guarantee that I will panic and generate a flop-sweat.  Whatever I thought I needed at the store will just have to wait until I am properly groomed.

But hey!  I went swimming!

On Toppling Over


So today as we drove down a fairly busy street near where we live, I saw a man sitting on a little grassy bank just off the sidewalk on the corner at a stoplight.  And as we passed he just sort of … toppled over.  I remarked on this to The Lovely Rhonda because sitting at a corner might be something explainable, like maybe the man was waiting for someone to come pick him up, but toppling over in slow motion and staying there wasn’t so easy to explain.

So we turned around and headed back — the only people to do so although there was a fair amount of traffic in both directions — and pulled off nearby, and TLR popped out to see what was up.  She’s the med/surg nurse, so I leave the heavy lifting to her in these situations.  I stayed in the van and minded the children who were all so heavily engrossed in their jeejas that they barely registered that we had stopped.  Nintendo has a firm grip on the minds of the young.  TLR was phoning 911 before her flip-flops hit the asphalt, and I watched her talk to the man while the cars just wandered past.  He tried to get up at one point but didn’t make it off the ground.  People goggled but no one stopped or slowed down to ask what was wrong or whether they could help.  Sometimes I hate everybody.

Pretty soon here came a fire truck and then an ambulance, and as they attended to the man, a woman came up and began gesturing and talking at what looked to be a high rate of speed.  From her excitement and distress I gathered that she either knew him or had seen something.  I was right.

Once the paramedics and firefighters had things in hand TLR trudged back to me.  Drunk, she said, and took a bunch of pills to try to kill himself.  The woman was his sister.  She was telling the assembled public servants what the man had ingested, which was evidently everything in her house that had a child-proof cap.

We drove on, headed for the swimming pool, and I got a look at him as we passed.  An older guy with a whitish goatee, clean and well groomed, carrying a guitar in a padded case.  He had an honored citizen bus pass around his neck.   I wonder if he’s okay, and I know that he isn’t.  I’m washing the towels from family swim and he’s probably under a 48-hour hold at the ER.  But a little golden chain of hope threads from me to him, whether he is aware of it or not.

Joy and suffering


So today the middle child had a birthday party.  Well, we had it for her.  She is turning 7 next week and I hesitate to allow children this young to throw parties.  It would be a lot of gummy bears and dancing to Kidz Bop videos and then they would go all Lord of the Flies on us.

Anyway, we had at least seven little girls in the house at all times from 2-8pm.  The party was 2-4pm and then it morphed into a barbecue.  Some people left and others arrived.  It was pleasant, if you could stand the screaming.

We took it easier on the games this time, really only had the fishing game wherein the youngsters throw a simulated fishing line over a table and someone under the table secures a small gimcrack to it via the attached clothespin.  My kid assisted with this game and unfortunately we neglected to set aside some of the gimcracks for her, so I’ll be taking her shopping tomorrow.  She’s already plotting how to turn this to her advantage.  I am informed that “one big thing is better than a lot of little things, Mama.”  We’ll see.

Since the weather could not have been finer we asked the guests to bring swim suits.  Good call on our part.  They acted like that damn sprinkler was Disneyland.  And the trampoline is always popular.  I’m considering converting our driveway to a parking lot and charging admission.  “That’ll be $47.50, and don’t forget you’re parked in Goofy.”

Then in the evening things took a darker turn.  The Lovely Rhonda was nearly blinded by baked potato shrapnel but her lightning-fast reflexes saved her.  The potato was a total loss, however.  Also, two of the children fell victim to stinging insects.  One of them was my kid.   And she’d already had a rough day.  Nothing big, just one of those days where little things went wrong all day.  We got her through it but there were tears.  Poor kiddo.

And the birthday girl?  Well, she’s very pleased.  She’s wanted a Nintendo DS for a year and a half, ever since Delia got one (from my ex), and they are so expensive that we weren’t really in a position to afford one.  But we found a decent used one and got her a couple of games.  We had her open it last and she did quite the victory dance around the living room.  It was very satisfying.

If there were any doubts before


So this morning The Lovely Rhonda assisted her youngest, age 5, with a bit of room cleaning.  This was after the 5-year-old was convinced that it was in her best interests to cooperate with said room cleaning since the alternative was that she would not enjoy the pool with the other kids this afternoon but would instead sit on the sidelines doing nothing.

TLR emerged with some toys that her kid no longer wanted.  “She’s definitely my kid,” says TLR, “she’s just ruthless with this kind of thing.”

Moments later I found myself at the sink assisting my own progeny with scrubbing her beloved Crocs which have become grimy with summer usage.  She then insisted that I leave her to scrub them herself.  It was evident that she gained tremendous satisfaction in getting them as clean as she could.  If Crocs could sparkle, these would.

She’s definitely my kid.

On the good ship Gingersnap


So my daughter has always loved me to tell her stories, and often these stories involve pirates and/or cats.

The other night she asked if we could write down some stories so she could make a book.  We’ve started on it.  Delia’s Pirate Stories.  She supplies ideas and illustrations and I flesh them out and type them into the computer.  Eventually we will print them up and maybe even bind them into a book.  There tends to be an entourage watching while we do this.  It’s a family affair.

The first chapters have to do with finding a treasure map (of course) and by the end of chapter two we ended up having pirates on opposing ships engaging in a word war.  They shout insults at one another over the railings.  One of them calls “opposites!”   I was typing this up and asked the middle spawn to help me think of a good opposite insult.  The first cabin boy had called the second cabin boy a “total genius.”  What should the reply be?  She thought for a moment and said, “Well… since it’s an opposite…”

Which is how the second cabin boy ended up yelling, “I LOVE YOU!” to the first.



So it’s been muggy all day and kinda cloudy.  Not my favorite.  And I’m suffering from some kind of mild ague wherein I crack a sweat about fifty times a day.

No, it’s not hormones.  Shut up.

Okay it might be.  Shut up again.  But it might be something else, so shut up some more.   And wipe that look off your face.  Jeez.

Tonight there is lightning, and thunder, and it’s raining.  We have a new window that opens out under the covered patio and now we can hear the soothing sounds of the rain pattering on the corrugated fiberglass roof, which is a good thing because The Lovely Rhonda does not care for this kind of thing.  Neither does the dog, so he’s huddled beneath the table we sit head-to-head at while we’re computing.  Earlier he met me in the kitchen, and by “met me” I mean that he bolted into the corner behind me and tried to look nonchalant.   “It’s cool, it’s cool,” he said, with his eyes. “Yeah, no, I’m not wild about thunder but it’s cool, I’m fine, just, you know, hanging out.  Hey, is that chicken?”  He doesn’t love thunder but he’s into poultry.  Can’t fault a dog for trying.

I used to hate storms when I was young because I associated them with The Worst Thing In The Whole Entire World, which was the power going out.  I hated the way the appliances sat all dull and lifeless, especially the TV.  I was worried the power would never come back on.  It was unnaturally quiet and dark.  It just wasn’t right.  I’m not sure what changed that but now I love a good storm.  Granted, we don’t get severe storms and I’m sure I’d feel a whole lot different if we did, but I live on a hill so there’s no fear of flooding, the power rarely goes out even with a big storm, and they’re rare enough here that it’s a novelty to have one.

So I say, “WOAH!” while TLR grits her teeth and whispers “Cheese and crackers!” and sighs heavily through her nostrils when a big thunderclap hits.  And I mentally review where the candles are (do we have any matches anymore?)  and I listen to the rain outside and I’m glad to be alive on a night like this.

Reverse Psychology


So last night The Lovely Rhonda and I attended “Jersey Boys,” a Tony-award-winning musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Okay, so that sounds like a total snorefest but it was super fun.  There was lots of Jersey language and music and stuff.  Shut up.

Normally when we leave our kids with a sitter, especially a new sitter, they act a fool and at least one of them refuses to go to bed.  It really puts a damper on the evening knowing that when you get home you’ll have to placate an astonished babysitter who had no idea that children as winsome as ours are capable of such acts of domestic terrorism.

The other day TLR and I were discussing how we handle bedtime routines when we allow the kids to stay up later than usual, like when we have barbecues.  Normally we read to them for fifteen or twenty minutes before tucking them in, and while it’s easy for us to skip that part, it turns out that it’s not so easy for them to skip it.  I suggested that we try just reading for less time than usual — five minutes spent reading might head off an hour of screaming fits because “WAAAAAH I WANT TO REAAAAAAAAD!”   Maybe we had been setting them up for failure because they just couldn’t tolerate quite this much interruption to their routines.

Something about that conversation stuck with her, so last night instead of trying to get the kids to adhere to the usual routines TLR instructed the babysitter and the children that they should be in bed with their jammies on but that they could stay up and read as long as they stayed in bed.  The children were practically cackling with glee and rubbing their little hands together.  They could stay up until we got home!  It was insanity!  Total chaos!

Why did it take us this long to figure this out?

We got home around 10:30pm and all the kids were passed out.  They’d been asleep for at least an hour.  Nobody had had any screaming fits.  Everybody was fine and the babysitter was calm and pleasant.

We had to look at them in their beds to be sure they were still OUR kids.  Were we in some kind of weird parallel universe?

Then one of them got up in the middle of the night and insisted that TLR give her “a hug and a kiss that I can feel.”   As opposed to the ones given her after she’d fallen asleep.  This kid is a stickler for the hugs and kisses.

Yep.  These are our kids.

On massages


So The Lovely Rhonda gifted me a massage under the condition that I actually schedule it.  I am not good at that sort of thing but bravely phoned up the place and, throwing all caution to the wind, made an appointment for this evening.

It should be noted that last time I got a massage I had just gotten some Very Unpleasant News that made me angry, hurt, and anxious.  I read this news as we drove to the massage place.  I’m not what you call a relaxed person under the best of conditions, so I’m pretty sure that this unfortunate circumstance, combined with my natural state of tension, meant that the poor massage therapist must have felt as if he was rubbing oil into a smoked ham for an hour.  So, I wasn’t all that eager to relive the whole thing.

But I did, on the steely, take-no-prisoners insistence gentle encouragements of TLR, and so this evening I found myself lying face down on one of those massage table things.  Don’t you love how they smoosh your face into a towel-draped doughnut of pillowy comfort? I know I do.

The room was darkened and some kind of Asian-inspired New Age mood music was playing.  It sounded like a group of rhythmically-inclined marmosets hesitantly gonging metal pipes together with a synthesizer going softly nuts in the background while a chorus of indeterminate-gender voices gently oohed and aahed.  I didn’t think I’d find it all that relaxing but it kinda grew on me, right up until Brunhilda started beating me with a shovel.

Okay, I jest.  She was named Allison or something and she was perfectly nice.  She didn’t even comment on how my back felt like a rack of baby back ribs, and she made at least a token effort to not slop oil in my hair.

I think it was the fastest hour in recorded history, and I can now turn my neck in both directions again, sort of.  But how do I look up New Age marmoset pipe music on Amazon?