Thursday, September 29, 2011

God, I love this woman

Susan now reads my blog, whew, it's different writing a text when you know specifics about your audience.  Better yet to be speaking to the void, a faceless audience, thoughts flow more smoothly, but I welcome her attention to my story.

The day after I arrive in San Diego Martha* calls.  She lives in an upscale condo and is inviting people to play Shanghai Rummy, a card game that requires eight participants.  She needs to have that exact count for the game to happen and four of her regulars have declined and she sounds downright desperate.  I don't know what I hate more, playing cards or meeting new people, but when Susan asks me would I like to attend, I say, "Sounds like fun, okay!" God, I'm a miserable piece of humanity.

The night arrives and I had eaten a Baha monstrosity at a local bistro and gosh, it was good, but my belly chose to expand and implode and I was extremely uncomfortable, opening my jeans to accomodate the bloated tummy.  I yearned for the comfort of sweatpants, but had neglected to pack the dear things because I was still in the summer wardrobe zone.

Bwhahaaa Baha entree

We drive to Martha's and I remind Susan that I am not a social animal but  I am nosey about other people's houses and yes, there will be scrumptious hors d'eurves that I will put into my already too-full belly. We arrive at the condo and I heave my swollen carcass out of the car and up the fancy staircase.  Martha tells us the regulars changed their minds and they plan on attending and when Susan realizes that our presence is not necessary she recants.  "You don't need us," and after five minutes of visitation we are  in the car and headed back for an evening of pajamas and margaritas on her living room couch.  God, I love this woman.

*name changed to protect the not-so-innocent (me)

Friday, September 23, 2011

death by zumba

The pulled pork dinner would be my only stab at domesticity while in California although I weakly suggested cooking a chicken or paring potatoes but Susan overrode me and I meekly backed down. Guess I'll gave to be a beach slug the rest of the week, oh drat.  But all that changed when Susan cheerily announced, "we're going to a zumba class and it starts at 8:30 in the morning!"  I don't like setting an alarm while on vacation or any time for that matter but I dutifully punched in the numbers on my cell and was hoping zumba was a cooking demonstration or some African musical adventure but that's where I was wrong, dreadfully wrong.

In the 1990's in Columbia Alberto Perez forgot the music tapes for the exercise class he was teaching so he took whatever tapes he had in his car, mostly Latin salsa and international musical genres such as Greek, Spanish and African, and zumba was born.  Won't be the first time an unorganized Hispanic man who can't multi-task has messed up my life but that would be another story.

Now I am in good shape for the age of me (I did not say I HAVE a good shape) and I frequently do two hours exercise daily and I don't mention that fact too often as I would appear the eccentric addict, but there it is.  I was eager to try my muscles in a new routine because cardiovascular workouts, although necessary, can get dreary quickly.

The instructor of the class was all of five feet tall and wearing lilac tights and a figure-hugging tank top. I speak the truth when not one inch of her body jiggled when she moved and this included her almost non-existent butt.  She immediately asks who is new to the class and I should have kept quiet because she kept dancing back to me throughout the session and in the throes of zumba agony I did not want personal attention from a pro.

Thirty minutes into the routine I am staggering, my quivering legs shuffling frantically from side to side.  I dare not look in the numerous mirrors, walls of mirrors surrounding me as I will either a) fall to the floor in fits of hysterical, whooping laughter and probably pee my pants or b) picking up my towel and water and immediately vacating the premises and one woman did.
But heavier, older Hispanic woman are still twirling and shaking like experienced belly dancers and they probably have been twitching those hips since childhood. I am nearing a point of no return, but I continue, shame is a great motivator.
We are finally released and I notice the half top of my tee shirt is soaked with sweat, God I hate that. Serves me right for being  a smug  bunny about all this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

do you even know what an 'accent de goo' is?

I love O'Hare and ridiculously long layovers much to the chagrin of my husband, that way I can slurp up all that crazy culture parading past me. The dark gentleman in the grey leather Italian shoes smelling like cinnamon water, the sari-swathed Indian couple eating McDonald's and that blond New York teen in lavender boots, leopard tights and candy cane striped hair. The air is charged with exotic flavor and  I can only compare this back in the hometown to a Walmart on a Sunday morning after church and the wardrobe palette for farmers is navy blue, brown and grey.  We blend, usually fading into the background.
The guy in front of me at the sandwich shop orders a jalpeno bagel with peanut butter and pickles.  I absorb the local art work produced by inner city kids with little environmental stimulation yet universes of imagination not to mention motivating middle school teachers.

I have flown many times and the child in me insists on the window seat still fascinated with the concept of being 37,000 feet above the earth.  This trip to San Diego will take three hours, 45 minutes and I will bask in the freedom of marathon reading and journaling.
Unfortunately, the man in the middle seat should have reconsidered his decision as he is too antsy for the position.  Only children under age 11 are comfortable in coach these days and I am still that size.  My fellow flier has analyzed the companion on either side and since I am the lesser person has decided that he will launch his rangy body over our shared armrest, his elbow in my rib cage.  I accidentally stab him with my eversharp, oops.

And he emits a tortured sigh every few minutes that engulfs me in an odorous cloud that smells like rotten olives and curdled milk. I have had the breakfast burrito before departure and my sixty-year-old lower digestive tract keeps bringing the subject out into the surrounding air, touche with an accent de goo.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

the republican debate

The Republican candidates got together a week ago and had themselves a hoedown and gosh, they looked swell, everybody cleaned up and pressed into dark suits with flag pins, fresh haircuts and shaved necks, except Rick Santorum, wearing a pink tie against a baby blue shirt, a wimpy, hippie look, possibly liberal, a social worker's choice. I sat through this televised ordeal and enjoyed the only one interesting moment, when Newt Gingrich challenged the interviewers claiming they were trying to get the candidates to rat on each other, whoo whoo, the Romans want blood.  The network guys didn't bite and the discussion went on without a hitch, that's entertainment.

It amazes me that Ricky Perry is the leading candidate despite showing a consistent level of contradictary statements.  He labeled himself the "pinata" of the debate or did he say piranha, lordie, he got in the jabs. Perry and Mitt Romney ran ram shod over this show, smashing into each  other and muscling in on the other candidates' time slots.  They misconstrued data when presenting their contributions to job creation in their native states but you cannot find two states more opposite than Massachusetts and Texas, like comparing apples to Pygmies.

Ron Paul looks like his dentures are slipping, poor kid, always the class clown.  I wonder about his fan club, the lost and disillusioned,  but he is mainstream Republican, blissfully clueless to the average American citizen, no job, home mortgaged, unemployment benefits running out. And don't forget those 4000 babies he delivered as he keeps reminding us. I kinda like the idea of a doctor president (just not him) as their oath reflects the Hippocratic corpus, "First do no harm" and that should be included in the presidential oath as well.

Michelle Bachmann, two n's had difficulty grabbing attention during all the fireworks at the Romney/Perry Show and what's with the hair?  Teased hair in this century? And  the Captain Hook fake fingernails?  Female politicians need to be clean and uncluttered, like the Franciscan nuns for whom I work, this is not a sexist comment, think about it, women focused on their direction and their work, not the latest Estee Lauder shade.

Predebate remarks made by Romney, "I have spent most of my life outside politics. I've been dealing with real problems in the real economy" and he calls Perry a "career politician,"  just an empty suit with the wind blowing through it. "Fall in love with a man who can work with his hands," my father told me, and in the political world this translates to a candidate that will quit the confusing rhetoric jibber jabber and show us a consistent work ethic and singular commitment, not unlike the founding fathers. It remains unclear to me just who that person may be. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

who is that old woman?

"I'm never getting out of here, am I?" I said to the woman behind the information desk.  She was a pleasant, softly plump lady with a Hollywood smile probably due to her husband's expensive dental plan.  She was charged with making my ID card at this local college so I could swim in their pool this winter.  She had only made one other card and there was a single-spaced typed set of instructions on a paper next to her and she would glance from that paper to her computer screen and back again never making an entry.  And her phone kept ringing and she was new to the job and it would take her a few minutes to collect her thoughts and try to remember what information she needed to complete the task.  I sighed and glanced at the clock knowing the pool only had a little more than a precious hour to remain open.  To make matters worse a security guard named Doug who looked to be in his 90's kept trying to make conversation with me. "Everything secure, Doug?" I asked.  I check out the novel  the woman is reading, sitting on her desk. Why can't I get a job where I can read?  The back cover describes it as a romance set in the deep South and there are lots of y'alls scattered in the text, a book I will never read, snob that I am.

Finally I get my card and I grimace at my laminated appearance now slashed across a picture of the football field. Who is that old woman?  It is torture for me to be in front of a camera and I have systematically eliminated a lot of photos of me that cross my coffee table.  In the dim future no one will remember what I look like and that suits me well.

I am in the pool and I miss the open sky that was above me all summer. I peruse the lists of swimming records on the walls, names and dates, and wonder if I will have them memorized by April. The dates are wildly scattered and that indicates the team has not done well but this is a small Catholic college and there are no athletic scholarships. I feel old next to these earnest fresh-faced students splashing each other at the pool's edge, their whole lives ahead of them, many decisions to be made.  I am content to be an old lady with just a few decisions left and time to enjoy the luxury of a late summer swim.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

signs of the invader

Cleaning a man's bathroom can be as daunting as giving birth and there are similarities.  Both are messy, confine you to uncomfortable positions and are accompanied by a lot of yelling and swearing.  Why doesn't the man just clean his own bathroom and the answer comes back swiftly.  Dirt is invisible to men. It can be crawling down the walls and onto their shoes but they don't see it and what can't be acknowledged cannot be conquered. So if I ask Dave to please clean that disgusting bathroom he obliges and after five minutes is seen leaving the premises, possibly even whistling. There will be a few swipes here and there but as all women know dirt likes to hide in the corners, in places people never even see that require on-your-knees attention.

Men are pigs, Ivy said and she goes on to tell me some of the messes she has had to clean late at night in men's restrooms in some of the more elegant business buildings in town where her family runs a cleaning business.  I interrupt her, not necessary to hear the details, my own imagination can feed me lots of horror stories based on growing up with three brothers and having two husbands.

My aunt Irene calls her daughter Sandy after discovering a couple of the great grand kids had made a mess upstairs in her attic behind a closed door in her ancient farmhouse.  You must come and help me get that cleaned up, Irene insists.  Can't today, maybe tomorrow, Mom, I have meetings all afternoon.  You must come today, Irene repeats, I cannot, I will not live in a house with that going on in the attic.
I understand, Irene, and I feel your pain.

Susan married a second time and we were all surprised, no wait,, we were thunderstruck.  Susan was the pioneer for unmarried women and although living with a man she always swore she would remain in her blissful single state never signing the papers. So I began to question my own manless state and I liked the idea of a really big diamond on my finger.  I had heroically told my first husband that a simple gold band would do. We needed furniture and appliances much more than I needed that bauble, stupid me. When I approached Susan with the M question she promptly answered that as long as he had his own bathroom all would go well.  It never occurred to me that on some day deep into the future the tile in his bathroom would need to be regrouted and replaced and that meant the man would need to share my bathroom, my private sanctum. I am relieved to say the work is done, his exploding shaving cream can is back on his sticky vanity and I have cancelled my appointment with the divorce lawyer.

Monday, September 5, 2011

it's their party and I'll cry if I want to

The Republican debates start Wednesday and it's any person's guess who will commit the best verbal blooper but my money is on that Bachmann woman, two n's or Cowboy Rick Perry.  Call me an education snob but we don't need another dumb, undereducated Texan in the White House,  I want an academic in that oval office. Let's review a few of the candidates and see what kinds of skeletons are inhabiting their conservative closets.

 Rick Perry took over the Texas governor position when George Bush became President. He is the longest running governor in Texan history and the second longest in national history, that title being won by Governor Terry Branstad in Iowa and don't even get me started on that one.

Rick graduated from Texas U with a 2.5 GPA and a degree in animal science although he did round out his curriculum by joining the cheerleader squad.  Here is a copy of his transcript and he earned a D in Economics, a C in U.S. History and only two A's in this time period, one of those in World Military Systems.  He owns a concealed handgun license and holds the record for the most vetoes (82) while in session.  234 executions were carried out in Texan prisons during his administration. He wants both creationism and evolution taught in schools but favors the former theory stating that, "God is how we got here."  He signed the Mandatory Ultrasound Bill that forces a pregnant woman needing an abortion to watch a sonogram of her fetus and listen to the heartbeat before the procedure can be done. He believes global warming is a lie created by scientists wanting  to pad their own pockets with funding monies acquired under this "falsely" reported condition.

Mitt Romney was named after a quarterback for the Chicago Bears in the 1920's and friend of Mitt's father, a man who protested the Viet Nam war.  Mitt is the governor of Massachusetts but he lost the 1994 Senate election to Ted Kennedy.  He and Ted are fast friends and Ted, whose passion is universal health coverage, was so impressed with Mitt's health reform law that he encouraged Democrats to approve it.  Mitt boosted the empty coffers of the 2002 Winter Olympics when he was president of that organization firing officials who were accepting  bribes.  History shows him to be a financial whip and he decreased the state budget by three billion dollars, uh huh, three billion. But a prez named Mitt?

A couple of days ago Michelle Bachmann stood up a group of Muslim constituents who had an appointment to meet with her and this is the second time the Muslims were turned away by said lady.  Michelle just shrugs those tailored shoulders but she has never missed a tea party rally or home schooling event.  Googling Michelle is like googling the Marx brothers with articles that are titled  "10 of the craziest things Michelle Bachmann has said" and "Michelle says the dumbest things."  And don't forget about her PhD psychology husband, yet not a certified psychologist, and the Christian counseling center they run where any willing homosexual can learn how to "pray away the gay."  I'm having fun, are you?

I kind of like Jon Huntsman.  He dropped out of high school to join a rock band and played keyboards for two songs with REO Speedwagon at the 2005 Utah state fair.  He did acquire an international politics college degree and Obama hired him to be Ambassador to China. While governor of Utah the state was named Best Managed State and won the prize for the Best State in which to do business. He is pro-life and pro-civil unions and he signed bills to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming.  Call me crazy."  I call you acceptable, says this Democrat, except for that glitch at the 2008 Republican National Convention when he gave a nominating speech for Sarah Palin, a perfect example of temporary insanity.

And what about Sarah?  She has not indicated an interest in this race as of yet.  Perhaps her reminder post-it note on the fridge got lost in the clutter of dead moose pictures.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

and to dust thou shalt return

My father called me today.  I had given him leftover salmon from dinner last night and he needed directions on reheating, sigh.  I don't understand people who can't cook.  He received a letter from the University hospital stating  my mother's remains had been cremated and they would be shipped back to us. 

 From time to time I had thought about my mother's body and the processes that were being performed on it. I had seen an anatomy lab when I visited my son the first year he was in medical school.  Cadavers were laid out on gurneys, white gauze wrapped around their faces, anonymous to the world, the smell of formaldehyde, acidic and stinging in my nostrils.  The flesh, grey and gummy, peeled back in layers and held back with pins, the abdominal cavity filled with pale organs.  These were high school experiments for all I knew, everything mapped out and labeled. It all appeared orderly and necessary. To this day I have difficulty carving turkeys.

 My grandson was six months old at the time and he accompanied us in his stroller on this tour.  He wailed horribly upon entering the lab.  His baby brain told him something was wrong here.  The cadavers were mostly derelicts, explained my son, homeless men, bodies donated by the county board.  Pickled livers and fat-filled arteries, I imagined.  What did they think of little Marie, one kidney atrophied, no gall bladder or uterus, five cesarean scars crisscrossing her belly and her nails polished with her favorite frosty tint.
Sonny said he felt a tug when reading the letter and his voice faded away on the last word. I know all about tugs and we agreed  we were glad the process had been completed and there would be no more questions on our part.  "I'm glad she's coming back to us," I say, "whatever that is," not coming out as I wanted it, kind of reeling from what he has told me, grief messes with your vocabulary and pretty much everything else.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

my day off

1.  Took vitamins and anti-depressants and ate Kashi with blueberries.
2.  Made four-layer fancy dessert with the last of the rhubarb. New recipe, we'll see, Sonny is here tonight.
3.  Went swimming at the college pool.  Dazzled students with my longevity in the lane.
4.  Made salmon cakes, snapped beans and chopped broccoli.
4.  Hung world map on newly painted (aqua) bulletin board to follow Jason's travels with push pins.
5.  Finished The Female Brain,  did cross word puzzle in newspaper, caved on the word jumble, all but one.
6.  Went to "Our Idiotic Brother" to see Paul Rudd act like an idiot.  Was not disappointed.  Got cult movie written all over it.
8.  Made spinach pasta with sauteed bread crumbs in butter. Sliced tomato.
9.  Did 45 minutes of cardio and weights.
10.Fed Sonny. He liked the dessert.
11.Watched Glee and some other stuff. Nighty-night.