Tag Archives: stress

If Lazy Were An Olympic Sport – My Time With Elite Runners

If Lazy Were An Olympic Sport – My Time With Elite Runners

The other day Jim happened to mention to me in passing that he had signed us up to crew for his sister for a 100-mile ultra-marathon.

“Really?” I asked.

“Yep. It’ll be fun!”

“Fun? Really?”

“Yes. Fun. We’ll hike into remote areas of the Sierra Mountains and bring her stuff she needs.”

“Stuff like a ride in a car to whatever her destination is? She knows there are cars, right?”

Then he just rolled his eyes at me and mumbled as he left the room.

Why would someone run 100 miles (yes, I said MILES, not pansy-ass KILOMETERS) in the wilderness unless you were being chased by an axe murderer?

Or you are part of the Donner Party….who were probably too weak to actually run the 100 miles. Unless one of the fatter ones was trying to get away.

I tried to get into the mindset of someone who would do this for the challenge and the fun of it. This is not an easy task for one such as me. I don’t push my endurance, I lay on a soft bed of Egyptian cotton with it.

These are the elite lunatics who do shit like climb Mt. Everest, helicopter ski and cliff dive. They, like James Bond, have a taste for danger.

By stark contrast, I’ll take my rape whistle with me to take the garbage out. And I live in a very nice neighborhood. I do not flirt with fear and danger.

I blow my rape whistle at it.

Jim’s not a ton tougher than I am. He once ran, panicked, in our front door and double locked it because he saw a raccoon in our front yard. He swears it charged him. But, since raccoons do not have opposable thumbs, I wasn’t sure what the purpose of the double lock was.

We are simply a cautious people.

But, I gamely went along, cuz’ no one is going to call me a pussy, however accurate it might be. Plus Jim double-dog-dared me and no one walks away from THAT!

At the orientation meeting with all the runners I found myself in a sea of the sinewy. I know I have more body fat in my left butt cheek than all of them combined. A few looked kind of like Dobby the house elf in really good gear.

Give me my race bib, bitch.

These are a steely-eyed group with laser-sharp focus. Like me at the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale. So, I totally get them.

As is my way, I was much more concerned about my performance in this run than I was about our runner. I considered this the Olympics of project management.

Jim and I were ready. We had our Ziploc baggies (a staple for any and all project management work) packed and marked appropriately. We were like a SWAT team of efficiency.

However, the weather sucked ass. Usually, this is a very hot run so I don’t think anyone was really prepared for the freezing temps and driving rain that hit us.

You may think that we would not complain about being cold and wet as we stood waiting at checkpoints but you’d be so wrong. Yes, you could say we had it pretty easy in comparison to the runners, and I could punch you in the head with my frozen hand. But none of this would deter us from bitching about it anyway!

Because, after all, this was all about us.

But, as the day went on we found ourselves talking to other race crews, watching runners come through checkpoints, and really getting into the spirit of camaraderie that this sport fosters.

After all, every one of these deranged individuals had family and friends cheering them on and I found myself cheering for all of them as well.

It’s kind of like the Special Olympics for super fit nutjobs.

While I am well aware that this is a race and someone has to win, it did seem like no one really loses. If you have the gigantic balls to even sign up for this thing, you’ve gone beyond the average out of the gate.

I, on the other hand, do not possess balls of a gigantic or any other nature either literally or figuratively.

But, in the sport of relaxation and self-indulgence, I am the ultra-marathon equivalent.

Can someone cheer for me now?

I Almost Killed a Small Thai Lady

I Almost Killed a Small Thai Lady

Here’s the question: Is it better to get a bad massage rather than no massage at all?

Up until my trip to Thailand, I would have said any massage was wonderful. However, I soundly retract this statement now that I have had a Thai massage.

Most people who know me would expect that if I were to end up in a Thai prison, it would be for being a drug mule rather than murdering a small Thai lady while in a psychopathic rage.

I hope no one actually put money on this but I suspect a few of you have.

I spent a month in Thailand years ago and it was a wonderful experience, overall. The Thai people not only made me feel happy and welcome, they made me feel like a giant. And I’m only 5’4”.

When reading up on all the awesome things to experience in Thailand, the very specialized form of Thai massage was brought up time and again. Being the total spa whore I am, I was all “sign me up!”

So roughly mid-way through my trip I found myself on the floor of a small room, dressed in loose fitting clothes and lying on an uncomfortable bamboo mat.

A miniscule, smiling Thai woman came into the room and said something I did not understand. At the time I gathered she was asking me if I’ve ever had a Thai massage before but I think she was actually asking me if I was prepared to meet my maker.

I laid face down so couldn’t see what she was up to back there but felt my fight or flight response begin to kick in.

She climbed on top of my butt with her knees and started to do a sort of dog walk up my body balancing on her knees and pointy little elbows.  OK, that’s uncomfortable but I’m here to experience this lovely culture so bring it.

Then, she sat and straddled my back, grabbed my ankles and started to bend my legs in all sorts of unnatural ways like I was Gumby…a very frightened and freaked out Gumby…psychologically curled into a fetal position…weeping.

We westerners are a tightly wound and stiff people and I’d like to keep it that way.

This went on for about an hour before she unceremoniously flipped me onto my back. For a person her size, she had freakish strength.

Figuring I was done, I began to get up but she pushed me back down, gazing at me with an angelic smile on her face. She was starting to look like The Joker. Heath Ledger joker, NOT friendly Cesar Romero joker.

I wish….

 

….what I got.

There was more to come.

She climbed onto my stomach, patted it and said “baby?”

Are you fucking kidding me?? I know that compared to you, I am the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man but now I’m feeling fairly vulnerable.

First you beat the shit out of me and now you call me fat? I can get this kind of treatment just by getting in my time machine and going back to Jr. High.

When I said No, she giggled. Really, bitch?

My rage mounted as she proceeded to continue the abuse on the front of me. She went through and cracked every one of my fingers and toes. Contorted my limbs and pulled my ears.

At one point I felt like I was in a Three Stooges movie. All I needed was a poke in the eye and a “nyuk, nyuk, nyuk”.

This woman weighed only slightly more than a kindergartener but I was using all my will to not punch her in the throat. I am a pacifist by nature but the surge of violence that went through me was startling.

I’m not sure, but I think this might be what it feels like to take bath salts…maybe I was more prepared for the zombie apocalypse than I thought.

Two hours later I limped from the room feeling like I had narrowly escaped death at the hands of a sadistic Thai Lilliputian masseuse.

My enlightened friends told me I just needed to do it on a more continual basis to really feel the great benefits and that I should add in some hot yoga as well.

I smiled at them (my Heath Ledger joker smile, not the friendly Cesar Romero) and soundly flipped them all off.

 

My Big Fat Greek Crisis

My Big Fat Greek Crisis

I don’t want to get all high and mighty, but I will. I predicted the whole Greek economic crisis years ago. That’s right, a liberal arts geek who went to an agricultural college in rural Oregon saw it the moment I stepped on an Olympic Air flight to Crete.

Before I launch into this I will let you know that my darling husband who goes by the name of “Jim” will most likely dispute some or all of my impressions and memories of these events. I, however, dispute his dispute so suck on that!

We were in Athens on our way to Crete to meet up with a bunch of very odd, ragtag people who also thought an REI Adventure Vacation sounded like a really cool thing to do. (More on those details and the idiosyncratic behaviors observed another time.)

We’d been travelling for about 15 hours by the time we lined up (and I use “lined up” in a totally sarcastic way) at the Athens airport to get on the last leg of our trip.

If any of you have been to a Greek airport you know that my entire argument about queuing up and zippering in crowds as being the very foundation of a civilized society simply does not apply here. Without it, it’s anarchy – which is exactly what the Athens airport is.

For being the supposed seat of civilization, its subjects are decidedly uncivilized in a crowd.

There was a literal sea of small, old, babushka-wearing grandmothers, who all bore an uncanny similarity to Larry Bud Melman. As good, order-loving Americans, we allowed these women to cut in front of us in line.

That’s what you do when you are polite and don’t want to be perceived as ugly Americans from Texas (sorry Texans but that’s how we feel about you….if you could just lower your volume a tish….).

These old ladies are an unstoppable force. They seem to work well in small groups, they ignore protocol, don’t take no for an answer and, in head-to-toe black, can go undetected at night like elderly, annoyed ninjas.

When we finally made it on the “plane” (again, sarcastically speaking) we took the first seats we saw. I really don’t think we had assigned seats – pretty sure this is like a metro bus that happens to fly. We sat for a few minutes observing the surrounding din of screaming Greeks, crying children and utter chaos erupt around us.

I SWEAR I heard chickens and saw some feathers come out of a crate a little grandmother was shoving violently in the overhead bin. “Jim” says I was hallucinating but again, I dispute that!

Someone came on with what looked like a bunch of band equipment that would not fit in the overhead. There was a loud argument between the band and the flight attendant until they all seemed to agree it was fine (and well within the Greek aviation safety limits) to just leave it in the aisle.

When it was time for takeoff, we started to buckle up only to find there were no real buckles – or, at least none that actually would secure you in a seat. Pretty sure this aircraft was some remnant from the Greco-Turkish war. I tied my two pieces of fabric around my middle and proceeded to break out in a sweat. This would be fear sweat on top of the temperature and humidity sweat already going on.

I feel I must state here that I seemed to be the only one concerned about any of this. It would appear that this was just another day on an Olympic Air flight for everyone else. This, combined with my lack of sleep, made for a very Twilight Zone vibe. The start of the plane engines sounded like the lawnmower we got off craigslist.

As the wheels lifted from the tarmac, the plane did a sharp bank to the left with literally inches of space between the wing and the asphalt. In fact, I will swear to this day that I not only could see specific pebbles on the runway as I looked out the window, but I saw some sparks come off the wing tip as it dragged along the ground.

Again, Jim disputes this but I say, who had the window seat, dude?

By some miracle of the gods, we ended up in Crete alive.

Listen, people, put the ouzo down and think about it. If you can’t queue up a simple line, you can’t balance a budget. Seat of civilization my ass.

Next time I’m going to Switzerland.

A Survivalist’s Guide to Talking to Kids (for people who are understandably creeped out by them)

A Survivalist’s Guide to Talking to Kids (for people who are understandably creeped out by them)

I’ve never been a “kid” person really. I have no doubt that this has been evident to my children at times and will be the root of many sessions with a licensed therapist.

Maybe I’ve seen too many Stephen King movies or read The Turn of the Screw too many times, but I’ve never quite trusted that they will not kill me and eat my brains the moment I turn my back on them. It doesn’t help that I have twins, which everyone knows can’t end well.

So, I have compiled a little Quick Reference Guide for those of you who, like me, feel at least mildly uncomfortable around children. You may print this out and laminate it if you like.

  • Many people try to talk to kids as if they are adults. However, I choose to talk to them like they are tiny drunk adults.
  • Most kids are smarter than we give them credit for. This is scary for us because if it weren’t for their short stature and lack of organizational skills, we would be their slaves.
  • Don’t feel bad if you come across a kid you don’t like. They most likely shot out of the womb of adults you also don’t like.
  • Only let your kids play with kids whose parents drink. I don’t think I even need to explain that one.
  • It’s OK to swear in front of kids – just spell out the words. This is my personal contribution to literacy in our nation.
  • Always wear earplugs and shin guards.
  • If you find yourself outnumbered by them at any time, refer back to your reading of Lord of the Flies in high school, ascertain who is positioning for alpha and take him or her out.
  • If the above doesn’t work, turn on any electronic device. You could turn on an empty blender and they will be mesmerized. It’s the great equalizer. And, I believe, the way they communicate with their mother ship.
  • You must always remember that children are lunatics. I don’t have a lot of first-hand experience with truly insane people but have watched several episodes of Hoarders and My Strange Addiction, which I believe makes me an expert in mental illness. My conclusion is that you just avert your eyes and back away. Most mental health professionals would probably agree with me.

So, follow these simple steps to get through the awkward years (1-18) and they grow up enough to be your drinking buddy or your dealer.

You’re welcome.

An Open Letter To….

An Open Letter To….

Wherein I respond to some of our weakest in the herd.

To the people who are in such a freakin’ hurry to get off the plane:
I understand entirely the need to get the fuck off the coffin-like cylinder you’ve been sitting in for hours. I am close to screaming myself. But, if we lose the concept of the zipper, we lose our grip on civilization.

To the people who are overly concerned about the use of the word “literally”:
I literally don’t understand how you can get your skivvies in a knot over this and not lose your shit when people say irregardless. Or, pronounce the “t” in often. You are NOT British. They get away with all sorts of shit because they sound cute. I mean that. Literally.

To the people who text in movies:
I can’t imagine anyone is really that interested in what your dumb ass has to say right now that can’t wait until the credits role. You suck and so do all your friends.

To the people who pick their noses in cars:
We can see you.

To the brainiacs who ask if my twins are identical:
I appreciate your interest in my kids and your delight when you find out they are twins  as we make our way through airports, in grocery stores and restaurants. I’m sure it’s well-meaning. But, I beg of you, look up the word “identical” in a trusted dictionary. One is blond and the other is brunette. They are different sizes. These guys don’t even look related to each other.

Go, look up the word…now… I’ll wait…

To people who cross six lanes to make their exit:
Believe me, no one will care if you are late. They are starting without you.

To people who take up two parking spaces because they think their car is so precious:
How do you not see that you are inviting a good keying when you do this? Nothing screams “please key the shit out of my fantastically expensive car” like being a douchebag who takes more than his allotted space. And, there is not a luxury car in existence that will actually make your small penis bigger. Trust me on this. To my knowledge (and I Googled this) they have not found a safe, medical way to link these two things.

On the flip side, a Prius does NOT give you a vagina. However, a Volkswagen Beetle evidently does.

OK, good luck with all that.
Sincerely,
The rest of us

Bartender, Make That A Double

Bartender, Make That A Double

Before you freak out, the answer it NO, I do not intend this to be a Mommy and Me, recipe-sharing, mother-on-anti-anxiety meds site. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…it’s just not how I roll. Except for maybe the meds.

But, in honor of my kids’ birthdays and the approach of Mother’s Day, I just figured I’d leave something behind that I could pull out to humiliate them when they are 16, something that I look forward to with an inordinate and unhealthy amount of glee.

I was late to the table on the whole kid thing. You see, my uterus was becoming a relic but emotionally I was still 25. I’ve always done everything around 5 years after everyone else does so am the definition of a late-bloomer. We needed to make the proverbial “shit or get off the pot” decision. So, we…shat.

We got pregnant startlingly fast, leaving us a bit breathless. Most people who know me, especially ex-boyfriends, would never put money on the fact that my uterus was actually a friendly, welcoming environment rather than desolate and somewhat rude.

So, after the initial shock over the reality of our decision, we started to settle into the idea. We should be comfortable with it any day now….

Who could have possibly guessed exactly how hospitable my uterus really was – my uterus turned out to be the Studio 54 of the reproductive world. Turns out I was popping eggs out like a radioactive chicken. And TWO of them took.

Out the window went my vision of backpacking through Thailand with one, small, low-maintenance kid and in came every horror flick I’ve ever seen about creepy twins.

Here are some interesting and horrible facts about the whole thing.

  • You can’t drink booze – or at least you’re not supposed to. And believe me, there are few times in life when you need a stiff drink more. Evidently, crack and meth are out too. Buzz kill.
  • It’s actually sort of amazing to see your body change and grow exactly in the manner it was intended to. It’s startling to watch and makes you believe in a grand design.
  • It’s intensely scary to go into labor and it is amazingly painful. Who could really help you understand this type of sensation? What could I compare it to so you’d have some line of reference? Have you ever been stabbed in the gut? Jabbed a fork into your eye? Not likely unless you are a very careless and scarred person.
  • You poop in the delivery room. I always thought it was an urban legend. I wouldn’t have apologized so intensely for my utter lack of manners had I known this. So, you poop – let it go – literally and emotionally.
  • It is awe-inspiring how much they cry those first three months or so and what sleep deprivation can do to an otherwise rational adult. It was like being in ‘Nam – I still want to dive under a table whenever I hear the slightest noise at 1:00am.
  • Don’t feel bad if you want to sell your sweet little bundle of joy on eBay. Anything to get the constant loop of crying baby out of your ears and the embedded smell of weird baby-crap and barf out of your nose cavity. Life simply becomes very uncivilized.
  • It’s kind of cool the first time they actually focus on your face or the first time they smile. Yes, it could be gas. Or, it could be they are glad to see you. I guess we don’t really know, but after thinking of selling them on eBay, you want to believe they are glad to see you. It helps their cause a bit.
  • I didn’t expect to like my kids this much. That probably sounds stupid, but it’s true.

So I now live in this bi-polar world of wanting to scream every time they ignore every word out of my mouth as if I were speaking in clicks and grunts but then I think how very weird and cool they are when they choose to dress as Gandhi for Halloween or how they can sing every word of a Cake song and this emotional ping pong is all within 30 seconds of each other and I know this is the worst run-on sentence in the history of run-on sentences.

I need a nap.

Glitterati in the Mist

Glitterati in the Mist

 

This story is the stuff of legend among my peers. They’ve heard it many times and I hate to repeat it but also feel it belongs in the annals of history as one of my more humiliating moments.

A friend of mine, who is clearly better connect than I am,  was able to get us into the Elton John post-Oscar party one year. Turns out there is also a party within a party for the select few who are closest to him. We actually had to be on TWO lists held by snotty people with clipboards.

I had not really been out of the house much over the two years or so before this event as I had been held hostage by small twin boys and had experienced something akin to Stockholm syndrome. So, my social skills were lacking unless you needed your diaper changed or some barf cleaned up. These skills had been perfected back in college and came in handy now that I had these two terrorists in my life.

When we arrived we had to walk the paparazzi plank past no less than 50 cameras with the longest lenses I’ve ever seen. Even with all the primping, exfoliating and waxing (twice) I did, not a flashbulb went off. In fact, the disappointment on their faces was just awkward. I’d be paying with ingrown hairs for weeks, you bastards.

We had to be very careful when roaming amongst these special colorful animals. We had to assume the somewhat bored vestige of our fellow partygoers. One spark of giddy recognition and we’d be left to wander the unfriendly night of West Hollywood. You must philosophically squat amongst them, mimicking their actions like Dian Fossey in an evening gown.

Once inside, I was introduced to Sir Elton and was very graciously hugged and kissed… on the mouth. This took me aback, as you may expect. I chalked it up to being gay and European. I find both do things with more panache.

Being surrounded by so many famous people is too much for the normal person to bear, let alone me. I was profoundly uncomfortable and did what any self-respecting human would do – I got good and liquored up. My blood alcohol level and 4-inch heels were a lethal combination. Keep in mind that most of these people are either on their way to rehab or have just gotten out so the sight of me swaying in the wind on my stilts may have made them a bit skittish.

Like all really great ideas when one is tanked, I decided I needed to let Sir know exactly how much I loved him when I was in Junior High and what Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy meant to me. I had been sitting on a low chair just a few feet from him and as I went to get up my dress got caught under one of my heels. This sent me tumbling directly toward Sir and, to break my fall I grabbed for the nearest thing, which happened to be his orange-colored head. A beefy hand caught me a mere centimeter before I would have tumbled fully into Sir’s lap. Sir squealed and gave me a look of such horror you’d think I was bathed in blood. He was promptly herded back to his pack by his wranglers.

Suddenly there was a buzz in the crowd. The herd began to get skittish again. I noticed a very small man in a very bright red suit. An alpha had just arrived. I can’t type his name, it was formerly one thing but now is a symbol that my computer keyboard cannot duplicate…though an elaborate calligraphy set might. He took up residence in a corner in classic defensive position so he could see his enemies approach.

Luckily, his entrance had taken any attention away from me and the intervention I’m sure they were all planning. So much for blending in and studying these creatures in their habitat. I found my colleagues and regrouped.

Now that my cover had been blown, we left and went back to the real world where I had an appropriately undignified end to the evening as I spent it on the soothingly cool tile floor of my friend’s bathroom.