Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The First Triathlon - Part I

I'm not the cute #273, she's "Hot Lips". I'm the one 5" taller than everyone else who looks like a dude.

My car pulls up and stops on my driveway and waits for the garage door to open. I flop out like a flaccid penis from a pair of briefs. I’m dirty, hungry, and so tired that I cannot imagine anything but laying on the couch and watching Abbott and Costello for the next 24 hours. My family gleefully bounds from the house to greet me and hear all about Mom’s first real triathlon.

I hold up my Super Jane medal strung on the red ribbon around my neck and smile. My 7-year old looks impressed and asks if I was first, second, or third. I was 642nd, no lie. There were 785 participants, so that puts me pretty low. Even though this is exactly what I would have expected, there was a secret little voice in my head the whole time I trained. It said “Hey, what if you got first place?” I know that’s completely impossible considering there are real, live athletes competing, but I just couldn’t help it.

I always believe I can do anything. This mentality is described as Optimistic or Stupid, depending on what kind of person is doing the evaluation. That’s why I almost died in the first leg.

We were to swim 400 yards in open water which is pretty scary. You might be surprised at how many people asked if I’d be able to touch the bottom. So I trained more on my swimming than my bike or run. By the triathlon, I was swimming well beyond 400 yards without resting (or touching) and this led me to believe that not only could I do it, but that it would be easy for me.

Prior to the triathlon, experienced triathletes warned me to swim behind the pack and to the outside and I heard them. I believed them. Until I got in the water and said to myself “shit, this is no sweat.” The horn blew and we all started running through the gushy mucky lake bed until we were deep enough to start swimming. I was with all the T.W.A.Ts “Tough Women Are Triathletes” except for some of the youngsters (under 40) who decided to go in the previous wave.

By the time we were one-fourth through the water course, I was in what has been referred to as “the washing machine.” This is when you’re getting kicked in the face, squished on both sides, and run over from behind. There was nowhere to go and I lost my stroke and thereby lost my breath. I could not tread water, float on my back, or side stroke to rest, as I had previously planned on doing. I was being pulled down into the abyss. That’s when I spotted the lifeguard on the surfboard floating on the sidelines. She had four swimmers hanging from her board. I needed desperately to reach her, but it was like trying to swim though an elevator full of people; they just wouldn’t move. That’s when I started shouting “I’VE GOT TO GET TO THE OUTSIDE! I’VE GOT TO GET TO THE OUTSIDE” and I just plowed through the bunch of them like a lawnmower. What could I do?

I felt like giving up. I didn’t think I could finish and I was going to ask one of the lifeguards to disqualify me. That’s when I remembered how much money I sank into this. How much work I put into this. And, most importantly, how many people I talked into doing this. I couldn’t let down the T.W.A.T.s. So, after resting, then swimming, then resting again, then swimming some more, I approached the beach. I kept lowering my legs to, please God, touch the bottom. Finally I felt the familiar soft gush wrapping around my toes and I started to walk to the beach. Then I remembered that my next leg was the bike ride, but I needed to pee first. I continued to walk toward the shore and pee as fast as I could. But before I new it I looked like a Russian dancer all squatted down and stepping forward. So, to use a manly reference, I pinched it off.

I found my “Transition Area.” This is where my bike, helmet, towel, and rubber poop is. I brought my rubber poop in order to mark my territory. I guess it worked because nobody took anything. I had two transition neighbors; one of them thought it was pointless and stupid. The other one laughed and said “good one”. I think these two women accurately represent most people’s opinion of me. As I slopped up like the creature from the black lagoon on heroine, I see Nellie standing there waiting and smiling. I wasn’t sure if she was waiting for me, but we got on our gear and our bikes and headed out.


I start off on the road, Nellie in front as usual, but then we heard a weird clicking from her bike and she had to pull over. I rode right past her and shouted “good luck!” It did not take me but about four pedals to realize some things. This is the order in which I realized them:
1. I should stop and help her
2. I am no help, because I’m bike-stupid
3. She was waiting for me in the transition area so we could ride together
4. This is a race, not a day at the park
5. I am a selfish bitch and very competitive, too

By the time I’ve processed these five facts, I’ve rode too far past her and its impossible to turn around. Luckily before too long she comes clicking up behind me and happily passes me. So does everyone else in my wave. Then comes the next wave and they pass me too. Because they’ve written our ages on the backs of our calves I’m fully aware that 60 year-old women are passing me now. This was probably karma for leaving Nellie on the side of the road like a bad date. Between the swim/drown and my biking skills, I’m officially getting my ass kicked.

We started up a really steep hill and I had to stand up on my pedals and grunt out the last few yards. A woman approximately 250 pounds passes me and declares “I’m sure glad I trained for this!” and I wanted to reply “Oh, well I’m really fucking glad too then!” but I didn’t have the breath.

Along the course, there were volunteers to motivate us. Now, while this kind of cheery backslapping happiness would normally make me want to roll my eyes and walk right past, I was so needy of the nourishing support, that I totally bought it. They were mostly college age kids, clapping and yelling “keep going, you’re doing great!” I loved each and every one of them and while most people just passed them by, I said "thank you" to every single one of them. They were like the people I keep in my head that tell me “I can totally do this!” except they weren’t imaginary.

After 11 miles on the bike, I had a full-on bicycle seat episiotomy. It was so sore down there that I’d lost all feeling. I rode the streets wondering if all the other women felt the same way or if, perhaps, I was special. Maybe my vagina was more fragile and bony. I would like to think of myself as very delicate down there, so I imagined that I was in more pain than anyone else.

When I got off the bike, my legs stopped working and I shouted to the cheering crowd around the gate “Where’s my legs? My legs are gone!?” I hobbled like a 10-month old baby toward the Transition Area for the last leg of the race.

…. Tomorrow I’ll continue with THE RUN and THE FINISH and supply pictures of the T.W.A.T.s with some of our favorite T.W.A.T. supporters. You’ll also learn about this marvelous event that, in the end, changed my life and the lives of all the T.W.A.T.s and how you can become a T.W.A.T. too!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Dutchess of Dork

I arrived at a bay area blogger mixer hosted by CBS5 Eye on Blogs and got great parking. When you’re in San Francisco and you get a free parking place around the corner from your destination, you just know it is a great omen that fantastic things are to come. For the most part, it was fantastic. Except that I’m a total dork.

First let me say that I hate big crowds and big parties. Most people who meet me think I’d be a lot of fun at a party. I’m not. I don’t even drink. I prefer what I call “Intimate Gatherings with a few Friends.” I don’t even go to concerts because I think everyone’s looking at me when I’m dancing and judging me by how well I lip sync the words to Roxanne. In other words, if you want to have a cup of coffee with someone for two hours and have an in-depth discussion followed by laughing so hard you have to run to the bathroom: I’m your girl. If you’re looking for someone to go to a mixer: I’m not it!

I needed to take a grown-up with me. Luckily I had Alison St. Sure of surefoodsliving.com to accompany me. She’s one of those people who’s not afraid of parties and is probably well-connected. Her website is all about living gluten-free and also focuses on food allergies. Since my daughter has multiple food allergies, we always have a lot to share. I’ve sent so many people to her with stomach problems that she probably is starting to think I’m making people sick. I might be, but most likely its something related to what they’re eating. So she’s my “Go To” for food information.

This is why the Blogger event was so amazing to me. I really enjoyed myself. The host Brittney Gilbert went out of her way to go around the room and talk to us Bloggers. She seemed really interested in everything and everyone. That’s her job, to learn about Bay Area Bloggers and aggregate that information on her blog. This is an excellent source for people who want to read blogs, but don’t want a bunch of boring shit. Apparently CBS5 had some blackmail material on the newscasters because they were mingling around making small talk with people like me instead of going home to their families. Or maybe it was the free food and alcohol. In any event, I was like a little kid. I’m such a dork that all it takes is being on television and I’m all “Oh my God, I’ve seen you on T.V.!” If I had an autograph book, I totally would have had them sign it. Thinking back, I could have had them sign my arm. Shit!

The first people I recognized from television were the Muni Ladies who were recently unmasked on another local news program. Until then, they were blogging anonymously but they’ve become such a huge world-wide hit, that they decided to come out. So when I spotted them across the room; it was sort of like when my daughter spots Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland. I just couldn’t wait to meet them. I probably wanted them to hug me and have a picture taken. Then, Oh My God, Joe Vasquez, one of CBS’s anchor newsmen came up to Alison, the Muni Ladies and me and asked if we’d like to see the newsroom. I know I was too rambunctious and chatty but I just couldn’t contain myself. I played in the newsroom and stood in front of the green screen where they shoot weather reports and pretended that I was doing a forecast for a hurricane. I love playing pretend.

After I returned from my make-believe world of newsroom reporting, I made myself meet people. I told me that I had to be a grown-up and start making friends. I remembered something I read in a book called “How to Make Friends and Influence Others.” Dale Carnegie suggests you ask people questions about themselves. This is pretty easy to do at a blogger mixer since we all had our blog names on our name tags. It was easy for me to chit-chat with Biggie from lunchinabox.net because I have to pack creative lunches for my daughter with food allergies every single day. No hot lunches for her, ever. The thing about Biggie is that she is completely and totally devoted to her site. One might even say …. Obsessed. But, that’s not a bad thing. I wish I could be that focused on just one thing for more than a week.

My favorite person was Desiree with lookiloos.com. She would be someone I’d hang out with. She laughed at my jokes and that made points with me. We hit the room and decided to meet people together. That’s when it happened. I just knew there’d be a camera there and I’d fuck everything up and it must have been a self-fulfilled prophecy. The man with the camera said “Say your name, your blog name, and why people should visit it.” Oh but I just couldn’t keep it that nice and clean, could I? So it happened, I became the Dutchess of Dork. This is the video that represents what happens to me when I panic. I don’t cry, or shrink, I … well I kind of spaz out.

If you watch the video, you’ll see about 20 bloggers calmly giving simple messages. I’m in the last chunk of interviews. You’ll recognize me because I’m pretending to cry and announce myself as an alcoholic. You have to realize that I had about one minute to prepare and I was “trying” to be funny. My husband cracked up when he saw it. My friend Leslie seems a little concerned about my reputation. But I have to say this: Its the real me. Take me or leave me.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Dark Secrets of a Blogging Event

I’m going to my very first Blogger event tonight. I would equate this feeling with going on a blind date except worse. I’m putting way too much pressure on myself to look professional, yet elegantly casual. So I selected some jeans that are entirely too tight for a woman my age. I wanted to wear a shirt that really reflects who I am, so I’m wearing a t-shirt with my elementary school name and mascot (pterodactyl) on it. A little red jacket tops it all off and matches my red high heel sandals that make me 6 foot tall, exactly. Being that these are open toe, I’m painting my toenails and, because I’m ethically against having pedicures, I’m forced to do it myself and make it look like I’ve had a pedicure which is even more unethical.

Not able to leave well enough alone, I could not resist popping what would have been an absolutely invisible zit on my chin. Now it is an oozing pink crater that I have to keep dabbing with toilet paper. I’ve used a shitload of cover-up both on my chin and under my eyes to cover the dark circles and age spots – I want to look alert and youthful. Then I’ve applied a coating of powder all over my face to absorb anything shiny. After that, I’ve topped it all off with mineral powder so that I look … well shiny, I guess.

I’ve shaved my legs, armpits, and mustache. I’ve double coated my deodorant. It's not until something like this arises that I’m aware of how blissfully unaware I am of the details of my body. I’ve trimmed the jagged fingernails and filed them neatly into rounded edges. I’ve left the remnants on the bathroom floor.

I couldn’t get any business cards printed in time so I bought a deck of playing cards and put stickers on them with my blog name and address on them. “Please, take a card. Any card” I’ll say and I’m sure everyone will think I’m hysterically witty. Or, they’ll think I’m a total hobby blogger who broke into their important party. They’ll ask me to leave and thank me for my interest. I’ll end up waiting in the car for my friend. She’s a “real” blogger so they’ll let her stay.

I’m going to go into this with an attitude. I’ll be all “Hey, take me or leave me baby. I am who I am” and then I’ll rush into the bathroom to ask God to help me act like a grown-up and also to please make my zit stop oozing. There will probably be television crews there trying to see into the dark world of a blogger and they’ll ask me for an interview. I’ll be pleased to oblige and my heart will race with the anticipation of being offered such a chance for self promotion. In the middle of the interview my nose will start running and I’ll forget the name of my blog.

Just like a blind date, I want to be wanted. But I don’t want to be wanted too much. I am trying to be noticed, without sticking out. My stomach hurts and I’ve no appetite. I’m going out the door now in plenty of time to stop for a Starbucks to give me a little pick-me-up then I’ll go pick-up my prescription for anti-anxiety medication.

Now I must stop blogging so that I can rush over there and wait until I can arrive fashionably late.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Perfect Marriage

If all goes as planned and I don’t ruin everything, Kent and I will be celebrating our 12th year of marriage next month. We picked October to get married because it’s National Disaster Month and we love, love, love disasters, especially the natural kind. I know that sounds disgusting and selfish so perhaps I should say that we’re extremely fascinated and excited by all the facets of everything hitting the fan all at once. Is that nicer?

There is a benefit to knowing people like us and when there’s any disaster or fire around here we get lots of phone calls from friends and family. We have generators, flashlights, emergency medical equipment, giant rubber waders, beef jerky, handy wipes, and all kinds of scanners and radios. We know much of what’s going on and how to handle it. We thrive on it.

One of my favorite dates with Kent was on New Year’s Eve a few years ago. There had been heavy rain and flood warnings for a few days. The excitement was building in the community thanks to the news and their fancy graphics and sound effects zapping the Average Joe At Home with message after message of: “FLOODWATCH 2005” and “STORMWATCH ‘05”. The newspeople had their predictable cautionary warnings and candid interviews with dirty wet cold people who were preparing for the worst by schlepping around sandbags and tarps trying to save their pretty river homes. Sometimes I looked closely at the weatherman to see if he’s got a hard-on from all the weather drama. He lives for this kind of shit. Especially here in California where, in terms of weather, we’re kind of ho-hum.

That night, we saw the new King Kong movie which was a real movie. It’s the kind of movie that I come out of and say “Now that was a movie!” It was about 11:00 and raining so heavy we could barely see through the windows. I had my little SUV in 4-wheel drive and it was getting hard to maneuver. So, we did the only sane thing to do: We went home at got the truck … and the handheld police/fire scanner. We grabbed our rain gear too and asked my son if he wouldn’t mind watching the girls for just a bit longer so we could go out and drive around in the storm. He rolled his eyes, gave a smirk, and said “Sure, go live it up.”

As we drove down the highway, we’d make waves so big they’d hit the side windows of our Ford F-150. I had the wipers on high and Kent was listening to the scanner. Our night came to a climax when we heard about a mudslide into a house nearby. We headed over to view the activity. Sure enough, in the middle of the night, a wall of mud had slid right through this lady’s house. The ambulance was taking her away when we got there. Luckily she had not been hurt, just shaken-up. Really I must say that as much as Kent and I do love action, we never want anyone to get hurt. I may be revealing this fact about us a little too late, for your opinions of us may have already formed. But it’s true, we always want to help people so it’s really just the opposite of horrible.

There were firefighters, cops, newspeople, power and electric employees, neighbors in their nightgowns, and us. Kent and Sharon out on the perfect date. Barely talking except for the occasional question I’d have for him. It was heaven. You see, when we fell in love many years ago, we worked together as firefighters in a small town. I admired him from afar as being the smartest nicest grown-up I’ve ever met. I wanted to be his friend so that I could be more like him. I don’t think I ever became more like him, and he’s never become more like me. But we fit together perfectly. It’s been a wonderful disaster.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Moms = 1; Ungrateful Children = 0

Here’s a story for every mom who drew the line.

My seven-year old daughter is involved in a show. Did I say show? I meant EXTRAVAGANZA because that is what it truly is. It’s a two hour show and we’re doing five of them over two weekends. The hours of preparation are unimaginable. Many of the moms are going to pursue their lifelong dreams of becoming petty thieves, as they’ve been relieved of the bondage of fingerprints, courtesy of hot glue gun projects.

Its an outdoor show and our dressing rooms are tents and easy-ups There are four dressing domains: 1) the Big Girls Tent and I’ve no idea what goes on in there but they’re in the coveted spot right behind the stage and they have a real floor. Nobody wants to piss off a teenage girl, so we just let them be. Then there are the In-Between Girls and they have the biggest tent. If you’ve ever tried to get a 12-year old ready in time for school, you’ll already know why they need a large space. We have some Boys and Men in the show and they’ve landed an indoor changing area. At first I thought this was a travesty. I wondered why they would get the best dressing room in the show, as if greater income potential wasn't enough. That is, until I attended the first event and noticed that their dressing room is also the walkway from the audience to the backstage. Therefore, they’re usually doing their costume changes with women and children running through their space. Don’t worry; they’re all wearing Speedos or something.

Then there are the Little Girls. That’s us. We have the best tent, even though it’s the smallest. Our battery operated lanterns dangle from the poles by ponytail holders. Our floors are a conglomeration of tarps, blankets, and old carpet pieces. The tent is 15 x 15 and there are nine girls and their mothers in the tent at once. Our group has seven costume changes that include clothing, headpieces, and props. Some of the costume changes are less than two minutes, making this tent a tornado of bobby pins and lipstick.

All the performers and backstage parents arrive approximately two and a half hours before the show. With all this time on our hands, we are obligated to throw ourselves a party. Last night we had wine and champagne, bottled bubbly water, sushi, homemade lumpia, kettle corn, crudités, baby heirloom tomatoes, and feta stuffed olives. This is also where we apply our daughters’ stage make-up. When you’re seven years old, you need a lot of glitter and blue stuff on your eyes in order to perform correctly.

Because we must be there for such an extraordinary amount of time before the show, we the mothers want to feed our girls to prevent pre-show breakdowns and scorn from other mothers who’ve noticed that we don’t feed our kids. But the girls are all excited and running around with their sparkly blue make-up and hair buns, they’re making up games to play and sneaking around and peeing in bushes. They don’t want to stop and take a bite of anything that remotely resembles something possibly a little bit healthy. But we try, bless our little mommy hearts, we try.

One mom walks past me with a plate. On this plate were two warm cheesy pieces of pizza. I admonished her for not bringing enough for everyone, because that’s just rude to stomp around with a plate of warm cheesy pizza in front of me. As I’ve mentioned before on numerous posts, I love, love, love pizza because I never, ever get it. Sweetly she offered this plate of love to her daughter who was darting past her with her gang of other little girls. Stopped in her tracks, her daughter looked at her like she had a hairball hanging out of her nose and said “I hate pizza” and tried to scoot out of there to catch up with the gang. Mom and daughter lovingly discussed the pros and cons of eating some nourishment before the show. It went something like “Look, if you don’t eat this pizza now, you’re going to be hungry later and don’t come crying to me!” The daughter scoffed at such a ridiculous prediction and rejected the love-on-a-plate.

This has been the threat handed down for generations. We all heard it as kids and we’ve all said it as parents. Yet, we mostly just give in later and buy them a bag a chips just so they’ll stop that incessant whining campaign. After we’ve slaved and saved and microwaved our brains out just to bring them something warm and yummy. They don’t care because children are completely ungrateful and don’t deserve us, most of the time. There’s always a piece of something that looks weird or its touching something else so they refuse it. They reject us, as parents and caretakers. We are thrown out of the car on the freeway of life. Tumbling to the side of the road and they don’t care.

Later that evening, I’m in the changing tent and I hear the little pizza hater say to her friend “Can I have a piece, I’m starving.” Her tone was both pleading and pathetic. The other little girl says flatly “no” and I look over to see what she is asking for and that’s when it happened. Karma! The Girl was asking for a piece of … Pizza!

So poetic was this moment that it had to be reported secretly to the mother. The threat paid off and she lived through it. If the mom had been standing there, I’m sure the little girl would have never admitted her hunger nor her desire for a piece of pizza. But I was the spy and the informant and I couldn’t wait to tell Mom that it was a complete success. We Won! The Moms Won. It wasn’t just a win for her; it was a win for all mothers everywhere. So, I’m dedicating this post to her, for her perseverance and mostly because she let me eat her daughter’s pizza.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Grocery Store Sacrament

The other day, I was at my local grocery store when a lovely smell wafted my way …. Piiiiizzzzaaahhhhh!!! Oh how I love pizza. As a matter of fact, my love for pizza was revealed in my tell-all post entitled “A Nice Day to Panhandle” and further spelled out in “Deserted Island Picks”.

I shot my cart right over to the tasting shack where the taste test woman was sequestered behind plexi-glass, her hair safely drawn from the public with a paper shower cap. On one tray were what looked like wilted miniaturized coffee filters with tiny little wedges of delicious pizza snuggled inside. On another tray were colorful wax covered Dixie cups of juice. I had just come from the gym and was still sweaty and depleted. I felt like a little girl coming in from recess to receive my treats. I needed my treat and I was next in line.

As I reached for the tiny sliver of pizza, the plexi-glass woman explained what it was, how much, and where to find it. None of this information was disseminated while actually looking at me. She was on a loop and it was the 349th time she had repeated herself that day, I’m sure. Standing next to me was an older man. Not old, just older than I and he had obviously eaten his piece of pizza and has moved onto the juice tray. It’s sort of like grocery store sacrament. But just then, he did it. He feigned an “intrigued” expression on his face and grabbed the box. But it was all smoke and mirrors because has soon as he set the box back down he casually slid his hand over another sample and took his second piece and to make matters even more serious, it was the last piece on the tray. Sinner!!!

I bristled and watched this asshole break all common courtesies. What a creep. I decide that he was probably a serial sample stealer and made off with more than his share all over town. Some people are selfish; not me, but some people are. I would never take seconds, not without going around the store first and taking off a jacket or something so that I at least looked different. The nerve. Plus, it was the last piece. What about the people behind him? It makes me sick.

I wanted to tell the teacher on him. I wanted him to have a time out and explain to the rest of the class why he thinks he deserves more than everyone else. I wanted to follow him out to the parking lot where he most certainly parked his Hummer illegally in a handicap space. I should have followed him through the express lane where he probably wrote a check really slowly for his ‘over the limit’ cart full of specials with coupons.

I suggest they get pictures of every sample stealer and prominently display their faces at all tasting shacks. People should be warned. Like when they stick pictures of chronic check bouncers on the wall at a liquor store, or the posters of kidnappers at the Post Office.

The next time that happens, and you know it will happen, I’m going to wait until that selfish prick takes that last sample and then I’ll pretend to pull something out of my mouth and shout “Oh my God, it’s a pubic hair!” and then run screaming out of the building.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Flashlight in my Mouth

Kent and I were having lunch together at Wendys. While he was ordering I went to the bathroom. Really had to go, bad. On the bathroom door, a handwritten sign was taped to the door that read “lights don’t work – out of order”. As I mentioned, I really had to go and I remembered the little maglite in my purse. I love it when I’m prepared with tools. It’s a holdover from the fire department days. Also reminds me of mom, as she could pull anything out of her purse that you could possibly need: sewing kit, plastic baggies, maps, or dirty Kleenex to wipe your snotty nose.

Having the right tool at my disposal, I felt confident to go about my business, so to speak. I entered the pitch black one room bathroom and twisted the head of my maglight. A soft white dusting of light emerged but did little to light my way. I stuck the maglight in my mouth to free my hands. I could barely see the toilet because my batteries were as old as my purse. The eerie ambiance of the room reminded me of a Blair Witch scene, perhaps the unsuspecting teenagers were chased into this very Wendy’s and the killer was hiding here! In the corner! My imagination is so unkind to me and it always tries to trick me and scare me with rewinding old scary movies I’ve seen. I’ve seen many.

I’m holding my light tightly in my mouth for fear of dropping it on the floor and having it brake, or worse, fall in the toilet where it will surely not be retrieved by me. I’m roving the weak light back and forth in order to catch what lurks there before It catches me and I lower my bare bottom down onto the seat but “what this?” a few extra inches to drop tells me the seat is up! This is unexplainable in a ladies room. At the very moment I drop to the cold hard horrifically damp seat, I cast my dim light to the far right where I find a urinal. “I’m in the men’s room!” I don’t care how old I am, how open-minded or enlightened I am, I cannot handle being in a boys’ room even if I really, really have to pee, I’m totally embarrassed to be in the Anti-Girls Club. There’s something revolting about the urinal and I frankly cannot understand how men can stand there and hang their stuff out together in a line, but get all weird when you start talking about another guy’s penis?

I’m mortified when I make this discovery and I quickly stand-up and wipe. I do not even wash my hands because I don’t want to touch “their” faucets. I decide I need to leave quickly but what if there’s a man standing outside? Without thinking I flick the light switch before I open the door and to my astonishment, the lights work. So I do not understand why they’d put a sign on the mens’ room that said otherwise. That is, until I tried to flush the toilet and it started to overflow onto the floor. With the lights working well, I was so able to see it puddle onto the floor and start spreading toward me. Great – Now I have to exit a mens’ room that has a sign on the door stating the lights are out. And if that doesn’t make me look like a weirdo, how about the big giant puddle I’m leaving behind. Will they think I peed on the floor? I want to leave as quick as possible, as now I’m afraid that I’ve added “taking forever in there” to my list of weird things to chalk up about me.

I burst out of there, fuck it. With the pen light in my mouth, wet foot prints, and my heart racing because more than anything, more than the humiliation, or worry from an overflowing a toilet, I was afraid of some scary haunted creepy thing that might have been just about to slice my throat and pull me down the toilet into the Hellraiser dungeon. But it was worse. There was my husband with a smirk on his face, waiting for the story that was sure to come.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My Dirty Little Secret

When my husband goes away for a couple days on business, I become an undisciplined messy rebellious teenager. The first day he’s gone, everything’s pretty usual. I’ll make sure most of the dishes are done by bedtime. There may be a couple of my things on the “holding stair.” (The step where all things go to get carried up on the very next trip. Promise. But on the next trip, you’re already carrying a load of laundry and a hot cup of coffee. So it sits on the “holding stair” for days?) By the end of the night, we might have a few things that the girls left on the kitchen table, some paperwork, syrup, and cups for example.

On that first night alone, I’ll celebrate the freedom of having a large bed to myself by sleeping in my clothes, minus my pants and bra. I love, love, love to sleep in my clothes. I also love to eat in bed, roll over and go to sleep. But since I have an obligation to keep-up my $35,000 dental work, I never skip my dental care ritual, not even after giving birth to an 8 pound baby girl. Therefore, I eat my BBQ chips and bowl of cereal in bed, then I get up to brush and floss my teeth. This makes my food babies happy.

On the second day of his absence, the house really starts to show the neglect. I refuse to make my bed and it has become the giant clothes hamper for my many costumes changes of the day. I’ve run the dishwasher but refuse to put the dishes away. Therefore, what am I supposed to do with the dishes in the sink? Well, they’re SOAKING, of course!

Most recently, my husband was gone for two weeks! Thank God I have house cleaners that I must clean-up for. So, here I am the night before the cleaners, trying to clean my room. The unpacked suitcase from last weekend, the folded clean clothes turned over and dumped on the floor in a frenzied search for just the right t-shirt. Projects, books, gym bags galore! But since I’m an undisciplined teenager without my husband, I punish me and send me to my room to “Clean up that mess, Sharon! The God Damned Cleaners are Coming Tomorrow!” And I would not let myself eat dinner until that room was picked-up. And I mean it!

Today, my friend almost backed over a gaggle of teenagers in her minivan at the mall. The only reason she spotted them before crushing their skinny little bodies is she heard loud giggling. So there they were, in hysterics because they almost got hit. Ha ha ha.

But I remember how it was. I remember laughing so hard with my girlfriends that snot would come out of someone’s nose and then someone would pee their pants. I remember grown-ups telling us to “knock it off” and we tried, we really did, but we could not hold back the gut splitting laughter. We would laugh even louder because those dumb adults just didn’t get IT. No matter how silly IT was parents and teacher’s never understood IT. In fact, they were quite antagonized by IT. They were totally missing IT.

I still have IT. Some people are jealous of IT. They don’t understand why IT makes me happy. My friends always get me and they get IT. In fact, that’s how I meet new friends, I’ll tell a joke, probably something a little inappropriate or sarcastic, and if that person gets IT, I know we’ll get along just fine. If they don’t, I’ll still be nice to them because they can’t help it if their IT is lost. Maybe their jobs took IT away. Or maybe too many obligatory commitments made IT go away. Or, worst of all, maybe they never had IT to begin with.

I’ve always told my kids, there are two kinds of people in this world; those who get IT and those who don’t. Stick with the ones who do.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Nice Day to Panhandle

Let me first say that homelessness is not funny. But this is: I saw a straggly guy standing at the grocery store entrance today holding a piece of cardboard. The cardboard was blank. I suspect it should have read “will work for a pen.” We smiled and waved at each other just like “hey there neighbor, isn’t it nice weather for panhandling?”

When it comes to being friendly, I’m pretty good at it. Especially if it’s an underdog. Underdogs are my people. I love awkward computer geeks and dark sarcastic engineers. I like ladies with ratted hair and cheep glasses who work at the grocery store. I like the bitch at the office who no one else will talk to. I relate to them. Perhaps because I feel sometimes as if I’d been dropped here on earth to study all of you. It’s very rare when I feel like I’m fitting in anywhere. I think that’s how underdogs feel too.

When I was nine, my best friend and I would skip school and take public transportation into San Francisco. Then we’d panhandle for hours, telling sympathetic looking tourists that we needed a dime to call our mom. We could always count on little old ladies, but sometimes we’d have to undergo a long lecture during which we’d look somber and sorry for our sins, but then we’d get the dime anyway. By the afternoon, we’d have enough money to buy a giant piece of pizza and a coke. We’d go into all the tourist trap stores and try and steal things. I remember a hat I took from a department store that looked like it belonged to Russell on the Fat Albert cartoon except mine was white with colorful butterflies all over it. I never actually had the guts to wear it, just the guts to steal it.

When my son saw his first homeless person sleeping on the street, he was about four. He asked me what that man was doing. I said he was homeless and so that’s where he was taking a nap. Sean could not comprehend how a person could be without a bed, much less a whole home! He burst into tears and demanded and pleaded with me to take him home with us. He said the man could sleep on his upper bunk. I said no. He asked me why and I had no real convincing answer. He had a really good case, but it was my car. Besides, how do I know it wasn't just a trick to get pizza and coke money from tourists?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

T.W.A.T.s on Ice

I was lost again today; this time on my bike. Luckily I had my cell phone and was able to call one of the T.W.A.T.’s for Emergency Location Assistance. After I was rerouted and returned to home base alive, I felt compelled to share some other lifesaving information I’ve learned since training for a triathlon

Stunted Motivation Syndrome: Patients suffer complete loss of ethics and will lie, cheat and steel to avoid any recreation or training.

Treatment: Patient must be rushed to the nearest sporting goods store to obtain a total athletic gear transplant. This may vary from patient to patient, but historically every piece of sporting apparel must be replaced with new improved faster dryer cuter apparel.

Bicycle Seat Episiotomy: Symptoms are often confused with getting a brick shoved up their crack. Patients are frequently convinced of an invisible sandcastle in their underwear causing massive chaffing.

Treatment: Installation of a bicycle gel seat cover and 800mg of ibuprofen. To further ease discomfort, sit on a bag of frozen peas.

Turkey Neck Snapectomy: Many patients who’ve contracted Turkey Neck Syndrome (self-explanatory disease) have suffered a Turkey Neck Snapectomy as a result. See the real "Turkey Neck" story.

Treatment: Prevention is really the key to T.N.S. Always have a professional Emergency Medical Technician hold back the loose neck skin while simultaneously snapping the bicycle helmet buckle. If medical assistance is not readily available, persons prone to T.N.S. should duct tape their helmets to their head.

Lastly, I would like to reiterate how important it is to have a cell phone or a friend with you when out on the trails. I am a weirdo magnet, as I’m sure some of you are as well. So I’ve decided to always carry a phone. Also, I’m having a helmet made that says “Race for the Herpes Cure”.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tourist Trap

I’ve lived in a popular tourist area for a few years and so I’ve been ruined. Whenever I’m around groups of tourists, I just want to play with them. Here are two very innocent and completely charming things that I do that I will not go to hell or jail for. I may get beat-up someday though.

I will give my camera to my friend. (The friend best suited for this job is one with a wicked sense of humor but too much tact to attempt something so childish.) I tell her to run ahead and then turn around and take a bunch of pictures of me with those people. I’ll wait for a group to approach and nonchalantly I stick myself right in the group, either on the side or even in the middle. As I turn my head towards them, they start to sense something different about their group, that there has been an addition or subtraction or something. Then I’ll open my mouth or pantomime a conversation with them until I’m sure the picture has been taken. Its fun to hold your arms out like you’re discussing something really big. Or put one hand on your hip and point a finger at them. Or you could do jazz hands!

Here’s a picture of me with total strangers at a theme park. To fully appreciate the comedy you must click on the picture for a close-up of the expressions on the people I've invaded. I'm the tall one on the left. Notice the woman right next to me? She's at a diagonal trying to stear away from me. Then, how about the women with the tonque sticking out!!! I have lots of pictures with lots of strangers. I like to collect them like a weird family album. A family that I’ll never know and may just beat the shit out of me someday.

The other tourist game I like to play is called Kick the Poop. Alright, for this you’re going to have to get some good quality rubber dog poop. Don’t welfare-out and get hard stuff that looks like it came out of a dead poodle. You need the soft shiny rubber poop in a big pile. Then go to a very, very large tourist trap like, let’s say a boardwalk. Place the poop on a heavily trafficked sidewalk and then go across the street to watch. You must have a great distance between you and the poop because you are going to laugh so hard that you’ll just blow it. I know you will.

The scene: A giant crowd converges on the poop and nobody notices and you wonder if this is really going work. Just then, someone feels it under their shoe and they look down. They stop and hop and check the bottom of their shoe. But the crowd is just so thick that they can’t slow down. The crowd is in control. But there’s a woman right behind him and she sees him check his shoes and because of her shit-phobia, she goes into hyperdrive freak out to back away. This causes a major tourist pile-up. Then there’s the second wave of people who don’t know what is going on around here so they pass them up and then Bam! They’re hopping and skipping and two-stepping around the poop too. There is only one danger. Someone might just bend down and take your poop. But that’s okay because you have it all on video!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Locker Room Hummer

Why are there always weird old guys in the pool with me? Whenever I show up to do laps at the pool, there is always an old guy standing in my lane. When I’m forced to share a lane with one, I’m not sure which side to swim on. Usually we’re supposed to have the ‘rules of the road’ for the lanes. But when there’s a senior citizen stalled there, what is one supposed to do? Go around or perhaps they need me to give them a jump? I look at them with my goggles under the water to see if they’re practicing water aerobics or doing something nasty but nope. Just standing there watching me.

I hate one thing more than anything else at the gym and that’s The Locker Room Hummer. I’m not talking about giant SUVs or blowjobs, which would also be pretty inexcusable in the locker room, but not quite as much.

The other day, I was minding my own business, that’s locker room talk for “not looking at any naked people around me, no matter how fascinating they might be.” When I hear a hummer. “Oh God, here we go” I say to myself QUIETLY so I don’t bother people. She’s humming softly but she’s not satisfied because we’re not all gathered around her with tambourines so she gets a little louder and I hear that it’s “In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle, the Lion Sleeps Tonight …. A weemba wap.” Her voice sounds like a cross between Julie Andrews and Janet Reno and I don’t understand what her purpose is.

Let’s pretend I’m a Locker Room Hummer: I decide that “In the Jungle” is what I’m going to bless the locker room with today because for Gosh Sakes, who wouldn’t love to hear that song without words, just my lovely gentle humming. So I start low and then build in volume so that everyone will enjoy the song that I’ve chosen for them. I’m going to add a lot of vibrato just in case there’s a talent scout in here and I can be discovered. I’ll put my gym bag and towel and blow dryer and stupid rafting sandals all around my area so that my fans will know where to stand and admire my humming. I think I’ll work on my hair just a little longer … for the encore!

Does that sound mean? Okay, play this scenario out. How about next time I’m in the Ladies Locker Room, I burst out with the Ramones “A Wanna Be Sedated” or “Beat the Brat with a Baseball Bat, Oh Ya” and I just go full on air guitar too? Then I take out all my tampons and line them all up on the floor in front of me like stage lights. I’ll sing into a blow-dryer, not mine, that nice Japanese lady’s. At the end of my concert , I’ll go from locker to locker and ask all the uncomfortable naked people for some positive feedback. How’s that? Sound good? Alright then, I’ll see you at the gym.