Who Even IS Luke Bryan?

Yesterday after work I went to the gym like I do and I saw a friend down there exercising. I went over to talk to her and in the process, lost an end of the rubber earpiece thing that attaches to my earbud.

I dropped to my knees frantic to find it. I retraced my steps all the way back to the locker room. I wasted a good ten minutes of exercise time because I was desperate not to listen to the music the gym was playing — country.

If you know me, you know I am the absolute opposite of a country fan. I would rather listen to Ben Stein on repeat for a month straight than be forced to listen to country music.

Unless it’s old school like Johnny Cash or Patsy Cline. Does this make me a hypocrite? I think not. There is a VAST difference between yesterday’s country and today’s. There just is, so don’t try to fight me on this.

Most people in my life enjoy the stuff. I have countless friends who love it. DH’s family — every single blessed one of them — seem to only listen to it. It is on every one of their car radios, and playing at every single bleeping family event.

A few years ago, two of my sisters-in-laws and a couple nieces even drove me to Tennessee in the hopes of a massive conversion. It was country music everywhere, all the time, for a week straight.

Did it help?

No. In fact, I believe it pushed me even further away. Which is as possible as pigs sprouting wings.

I know what you’re thinking. Especially those of you who love the stuff and can’t see where I’m coming from or are insulted by my little anti-country music rant.

You’re thinking, “Suck it up buttercup. Everyone else likes it, so you need to join the club.” And to that I would ask the question my dear parents bestowed upon me every single time I wanted to do what everyone else was doing.

If you told me to jump off the Brooklyn bridge, would I?

No, I would not. Because I know jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge would most likely kill me. And so would listening to country music.

After enlisting the help of my friend and the gym trainer, it couldn’t be found. Finally, I threw my hands up in the air and gave in. I wasn’t going to go home because I couldn’t listen to my own music. I wasn’t going to abandon my daily workout because I was going to be forced to listen to Today’s Country. No.

I had to put on my big girl spurs and get to doing my thing.

There are two types of people in the gym: the ones who workout to the music de jour. And the ones who listen to their own music. I never understood how anyone can workout without their own theme songs, but who am I to judge? It’s what makes the world go ’round, right?

To each his own.

One thing I discovered about myself yesterday was that music is a very large part of setting myself up for the energy and the motivation to exercise and to exercise hard.

Was my workout up to par yesterday? No. I was cranky and severely annoyed. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t feel like exercising. I did it, but I wasn’t happy. I even got off my elliptical 1.3 minutes sooner than usual because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Also, the blood running out of my ears was making a mess.

I have gotten to a really good place in my relationship with the gym the last few months. I have worked hard to create a habit that I actually enjoy. I have worked hard to get to a point where when I enter the gym, I don’t curse, make ugly faces, and sigh deeply over the fact that my body — inside and out — isn’t perfect and that I even have to spend my time doing this thing called “exercise” at all.

You know, kinda like the fact that spinach and brussel sprouts can’t taste like Big Macs and donuts.

My earpiece thingy may be lost forever, but I will replace it, cement it where it belongs, and never, EVER be without my own music again whilst at the gym.

And if there is a freak incident and it does happen again? I will have a back-up. On top of a back-up. On top of a back-up. On top of a…get my point?

The Gym Bag Blues

Have you ever embarrassed yourself so badly that you aren’t sure how you can ever recover? For me, there are too many such moments to count. But my most recent incident makes me either want to put a bag over my head or lock myself in the bathroom for life.

Dramatic? I think not.

I started making exercise a habit of mine earlier this year. It was a New Year’s Resolution that actually stuck (I also joined this amazing online course that helped to seriously motivate me, so I can’t take all the credit).

As a woman in her 50s, I was really starting to see and feel things happening to my body that I did not want to see and feel. Bingo wings and a behind that practically hits the back of my knees are just two examples of phenomena that have occurred.

Add in tight hips, pain in my lower back, and the inability to stand up from a sitting position on the floor. The latter makes me want to give up and stay there until I die because it would take less time.

After a year with my current place of employment, I finally started taking serious advantage of the free gym. I am now an active member and go just about every single work day.

Note to self #1: when you go to the gym nearly every single work day for nine months, you might want to make sure your gym bag AND gym clothes are fresh.

I started noticing my gym bag was a little ripe a couple months ago. I thought it was my sneakers, so I started throwing them into a plastic bag. Problem fixed?

No.

And then I realized something.

It wasn’t my sneakers.

What happens to clothes that you hard-core sweat in almost everyday? They start to take on a life of their own. I wish I could be one of those cute, perky girls who barely breaks a sweat and when she does, she still smells good.

But I’m not.

I stink when I perspire hard. It doesn’t matter how much deodorant or body spray or baby powder I use.

Last Wednesday (I remember the exact day because I have PTSD) I pulled my workout clothes from my bag and oh.my.dear.god. The odor that hit my nose was akin to something the cat dragged in.

But because I really wanted to get in a workout I put them on — against my better judgement — and went and did my thing.

Note to self #2: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT turn on the wall fan that is behind you when you know you smell like Fluffy’s latest conquest.

After about 20 minutes on the elliptical, the man on the machine in front of me turned around and gave me a look. Then it hit me. About as hard as it hit that poor guy.

People could smell me. After about another two minutes, he moved along. The paranoia in me was running deep. I stuck my face down into my shirt and inhaled. Even though I already knew. I knew like I know my own name.

Note to self #3: If your own stench makes your toes curl, then you’ve got a problem, Houston.

I finished my workout and high-tailed it out of there, although it was a little too late.

I should have gone home as soon as I took those clothes out of my bag. These are people I see in the halls at work.

All.the.time.

Needless to say, I spent the better part of last weekend de-stinking my gym clothes, gym bag, and sneakers. Although I feel more confident I won’t smell too badly anymore, I’m afraid I have stained my reputation (pardon the pun).

It’s too late for me, but it may be not too late for you. Below are some tips to stay fresh as a daisy, although you most likely have more common sense than a goldfish than I do:

  1. Hang your workout clothes to dry after the gym. Because putting them into a hamper wet is just asking for it and is the beginning of all your problems.
  2. Speaking of hampers, keep these clothes in a separate one. Or a bucket. Or the garbage. Burning them is also an option.
  3. Before you wash them, turn them inside out. For obvious reasons. I, apparently, am not familiar with Captain Obvious.
  4. Do not put them in the dryer ever. Heat + Odors = Disaster.
  5. Wash them with a 1/2 cup of vinegar sometimes. Vinegar, the Miracle Liquid. Good for everything from a sore throat to washing your windows.
  6. Wash your gym clothes separately from all your other clothes, in cold water, and detergent specifically made for said clothes. This is not the occasion to try to save time. Or water. Or electricity. Or soap. This activity will not help to reduce your carbon footprint. But it is reducing pollution, so take your pick.
  7. Store your sneakers in a bag that is vented, hanging from the outside of your gym bag. That person walking by you will not appreciate it, but he will just have to take one for the team now won’t he?
  8. Drop a couple dryer sheets in your gym bag. By a couple, I mean fifty.
  9. Spray your sneakers with some kind of odor refreshing spray. I picked up Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X. The can is already half empty and I bought it three days ago.
  10. Repeat all of the above for as long as you live or suffer the consequences.

So, my friends, there you have it. Some words of wisdom from the apparent not so wise. I had ten ways to get it right, and I didn’t even get one. I was never a good test taker.

Now go live long and prosper, exercise almost everyday, and stay odor-free. If you can’t stay odor-free, just don’t turn on the wall fan.

What I Learned from My European Vacation

Eight hours. That’s how long it takes to fly nonstop to Rome from New York. But after you factor in packing, traveling to and from the airport, and going through customs, it feels more like eight days.

Is it worth it?

Yes.

Even though the customs agents ask a million times if you have any goods you’re going to sell, it’s worth it. Even with people pushing and shoving, cutting you off, and trying to sell you useless crap, it is totally and completely worth it.

Then after a day and a half in Rome, the flight to Lisbon, Portugal is another three hours. A car ride to Porto, yet three more.

Worth it. For so many reasons. One being the beauty. Two, spending time with people you adore. Three, the experience.

Anyway, when you spend an extended amount of time with the same people, you can pick up some habits from them.

I am a definite habit-picker-upper. I cannot go to North Carolina to visit my parents for even a day without coming home sounding like an Appalachian pageant queen.

So, the habit I picked up from one of my travel mates (who shall remain nameless)?

Let’s just say it’s never a good idea to respond to a “hello” from a colleague by saying “hey hoe” in a staff meeting. “Hoe” as in not what you garden with. That will be 1% off my raise come appraisal time. If I keep that up, I’ll be owing the company money. Or begging for it in the street.

Packed like sardines in a tin can. No one cared. “Push push shove shove.” That seems to be the theme song over there.

Europeans are unaware of the term, “personal space.” I am the type of person who, if you are not at least arm’s length away from me, I am offended. These people will not only enter your personal space, but they will take it. And with no apologies. As someone from New York, this is an offense of colossal proportions and people should be thrown in the clinker for stealing another’s space.

The street peddlers in Rome are a force to be reckoned with. If you don’t buy what they are throwing at you, you are a “cagna.” It’s nice to know I am a bitch in another country. I felt right at home.

I pretty much can’t eat anything fried, processed, acidic, or fatty because I suffer from GERD. During my visit I didn’t have one single bout of it. Do you want to know why? Because they eat the way people were intended to eat, and not like an African bush elephant. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything processed. Everything is fresh, and the portions are small.

Fresh spaghetti, fresh sauce, small portion

Dinner isn’t until at least 9PM. We didn’t eat before 10PM. The streets are alive, people can actually walk around in public with wine, the joy was palpable. I wanted to stay forever just to be able to experience this every single day.

The breakfast that we are accustomed to does not exist. Unless you go to a touristy area. The sign outside a restaurant that says, “American Breakfast here” will make you feel at home like the African Bush eleph…er, I mean, American, that you are. Otherwise, you need to be accepting of croissants, fresh breads with jam, fresh fruit, and cappuccino. Forget about a normal cup of coffee. It doesn’t exist.

Chocolate croissant. Heaven.

Since we’re on the subject of food, there is no need to tip at a restaurant (or anywhere for that matter) because they have an actual salary and don’t get paid in peanuts. Also, you can sit and enjoy your meal for hours. The servers will not bother you and will not bring the bill unless you specifically ask for it. And when you do ask for it because it’s been six hours and you have things to do, you know, like go to bed, they will respond by saying, “Are you sure? There is no rush.”

As someone who is always rushing, it was a little off-putting at first. But by the end of the week, I realized this was something I want to do for the rest of my life. I enter a state of calm when I even think about it.

No, your eyes do not deceive you. That is indeed a wine truck.

Drugs are legal as long as you are carrying 5 grams or less. The smell of marijuana was everywhere. I believe I got a contact high from it. And guess what else? There is no Heroin epidemic over there. Let that sink in.

The Sistine Chapel is a glorious site to behold. As long as you have the patience to get to it, that is. You have to walk through a maze-like museum first. We felt like beef cattle on the way to a slaughter. It was terrifying. The ten thousand signs on the way let us know we were on the right track. And once we entered the Chapel, I didn’t realize it. “Why are all those people standing in the middle of that floor looking up?” Oh. Right. Michelangelo.

The cattle and the signs, signs, signs. Everywhere there’s signs.
Stained glass and chandeliers. In McDonald’s

Even the McDonald’s was breathtaking. And instead of a plastic three inch princess, you get a beach towel. That actually absorbs water. Amazing. The plastic princess doesn’t do that.

You’d think they were drinking camel urine

I discovered I like port wine a little more than I thought. Not enough to partake in it on a regular basis, but enough to sit through a tasting. The “children” in our party — don’t worry, these children are both of legal drinking age — did not appreciate it. Youth is wasted on the young.

How could you not appreciate port wine with this view?

And the piece de resistance? The afternoon “siesta.” Or in Italy, a riposo. Businesses (apart from the touristy areas) shut down. Like, close and lock the doors, for up to two and a half hours, every single afternoon. This is called self-care. And we should take a page from their book.

In a nutshell, we all need to drink wine in the streets, take two hour naps daily, eat healthy foods, and slow down. I know I would be a better person for it. Wouldn’t you?


Is that a Monkey On Your Back? Or Just Facebook?

The first thing you open in the morning after your eyes is Facebook. Because let’s be honest with each other, unless you are elderly or below the age of ten, it’s an addiction we can’t seem to kick. It doesn’t matter how many promises you make to yourself.

“I’m going to put down my phone and start reading an actual book,” is something I’ve been saying to myself for, well, who’s counting? Let’s just say I’ve broken that promise and said, “I’ll start next Monday,” so many times I’m fairly certain enough Mondays have passed that I could make a decade out of them.

Or how about this: “I’ll just scroll through for five more minutes.” But 7AM comes and goes and you’re stuck there like if you put down the phone you will combust into thin air. You know you need to get in the shower or else you’ll be late for work. But you lie there in that position for another quarter of an hour without a care in the world, bleary-eyed as if you just got off the red eye to China.

I don’t really know what all the hullaballoo is about anyway. It’s not like Facebook is giving away a free trip to Fuji. Or even a free timeshare in my own town which I would gladly take because I’m cheap and love anything with the word FREE attached to it. It could be a pet rock, or an entire set of new teeth. If it’s free, I want it.

In my ten, thirty, oh heck, sixty minutes of scrolling I’ve discovered that half of my “friends” had a high school aged kid graduate yesterday. That another fifty people have posted something political that I don’t care to engage in. And another god knows how many have shared an article or meme that I mostly just go right on by unless I think it may actually illicit some real emotions out of me or change my life. You know, something compelling.

And then there’s the one who has yet ONCE again posted a pic of herself with the “friend du jour” at another gosh-damned restaurant or bar. Or whatever. For the eighteenth time that week.

Look, I like to see my friend’s stuff. But when it turns into your own show, then it’s annoying. I don’t care to know your every move. And anyway,

Who.

Cares.

The Facebook content really needs to step up its game. But yet. There I am. Scrolling like I drank the damn Kool-Aid.

The cherry kind.

And then there’s that little two-headed icon that shows a red number when you have a friend request. You get all excited wondering who it could be.

Was it that kid I befriended during eighth grade Outdoor Ed in 1981? I believe she was the one who took the picture of that raccoon eating uneaten Cheese Puffs on my back while I was passed out asleep on my cot in our tent.

Or maybe it’s an old friend that I haven’t heard from in years. Or an ex-coworker. Or maybe even a long lost cousin.

But no. Most likely it’s a friend of a friend of a friend and I typically decline those requests. If we didn’t have some kind of connection somewhere in life, then I don’t really need you knowing about me or my family. Especially when you are an Amway representative and clearly just want to make a sale.

But sometimes I do accept the friend request from perhaps someone I went to high school with. Not because I remember them but because a little quick stalking tells me we both graduated from the same class.

Except it turns out this person tries to get you to join a singles group. If you took one look at my profile pic you would see I am clearly married. No, he’s not my brother, uncle, or that long lost cousin. I don’t usually hold hands with family members in that manner.

He’s my HUSBAND and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t appreciate your invitation. We aren’t swingers last time I checked.

Delete.

And let’s talk about stalking since I brought it up. I do it. You do it. We all do it. We’re all curious about that gorgeous woman at work who wears the best clothes and oozes confidence from her earlobes. Her husband must be HOT. Stalk.

Or the Anna Black of our lives. She was a childhood friend from my Army brat days who actually performed a hazing on potential friends in order to become her friend. Stalk.

Unfortunately, that search produced way too many “Anna Blacks” so there is no way of telling if she turned out to be a cult leader or, well, an Amway rep.

And you KNOW you have stalked an ex-boyfiend or girlfriend. Let’s not deny that you aren’t just a little bit giddy that said ex is fat or bald or is just now entering the toddler phase when you are an empty nester.

So, yeah. Facebook is an addiction that I need to quit. Or at the very least do much less of. So, how about I start next Monday?

The Salty Wanderer

They should call me the wanderer. My brain roams like a cell phone outside of its home area. It roams around, around, around, around, around.

Case in point: A couple weeks ago I joined a few friends for a salt cave experience. If you haven’t heard of this trendy new spa-like therapy, let me explain.

It’s basically a cave — albeit a manmade cave, but a cave nonetheless — with Himalayan salt covering the floor and walls. When I Googled the benefits, I was told tiny particles of salt is released into the air. I’m not sure if they did that at the place we went to, but I will say my lips and mouth tasted like I drank a salted margarita. Which normally isn’t a bad thing, except there was no tequila.

The health benefits are aplenty from helping to ease inflammation to respiratory issues. As well as a slew of other ailments. Sounds good, right? Yes, it seems so.

When we arrived, we were told we had to be quiet. This is a difficult feat for me. I’m the person who checks off “I like quiet” while I’m getting a massage, but talks the massage therapist’s ear off anyway.

I’m the person who has been told by dear friends, more than once I might add, that I don’t “always have to talk.”

I’m the person who, if there is no-one else to talk to, will have a full-on blown-out conversation with herself. Or the dog. Whoever wants to listen.

Needless to say, this part worried me a bit.

When we were led with stockinged feet into the grotto, we were met with a quiet glow. The room was softly lit with carefully placed rock lamps all around, chaise lounge chairs with blankets draped over the backs were evenly spaced about, and fake stars twinkled across the ceiling.

A nice, professional picture I found on US News. This is very similar to the place we visited.


This is my amateur photograph. I’m not sure what it is, but you can see the salt on the floor.

The temperature was set at a cool 68-72 degrees. You would think that was cozy, but it’s not. It’s chilly, and I believe there is a reason for that. Hence, the blankets.

After we assumed our positions, a soft voice came over the loudspeaker. It basically told us to breathe deep, relax, and enjoy. And were warned that in approximately forty-five minutes we would be awoken and our session would end.

Forty-five minutes. How was I going to do this? That’s soooooo long. I repeatedly told myself to be still in my mind, to be present in the moment, and to try to stifle the giggle that was forming at the back of my throat. The kind of giggle that emits from a twelve-year-old every time he hears the word “fart” or “penis.”

But within seconds, I was peeking at my friends from the sides of half-opened eyelids, wondering where the speakers were that emitted the spa-like music, thinking about what I would want for lunch, and hoping the new boutique by me would be getting in their new spring line soon.

Then something happened. With the warm blanket draped over me, I fell asleep. And before long, that voice, the same voice that told us we were about to begin, came over the speakers telling us our session was over.

The voice that was so soothing to me just forty-five minutes before, was like a jackhammer to my eardrums and startled me from my slumber.

The twelve-year-old in me was suddenly four and I felt like I was being jolted awake during naptime at nursery school. I was not happy. I needed another two hours. I wasn’t ready. I was relaxed.

“But you’re hungry,” I reasoned with myself. And the stomach wants what the stomach wants. So, I put on my big girl pants and moved along. It was past my lunchtime, anyway. And margaritas were calling my name. With tequila.

The Big Clean Up

Is it just me? Or does everyone do it? I am talking about the opposite of purging. Not purging. Of accumulating. And collecting.

I don’t collect, per se. Not on purpose anyway. I don’t think my old cans of tomato paste will be worth much. Unless I just didn’t get the memo.

I have suddenly realized in the last few weeks that I really need to clean up. Every drawer, every closet, every cabinet, every everything.

And no, I am not KonMari’ing my life. Yea, I would love to choose joy, Marie. But I’d rather wallow in my joyless self-pity of collecting crap.

Also, I can’t really talk to my things.

Oh, that’s not true. I have been known to curse at the hangers in my closet when they’ve gotten tangled beyond recognition, among other conversations with inanimate objects I’m too embarrassed to admit to.

We don’t have clutter out and about. We don’t keep stuff on our countertops, or on the tables, or shoved into corners. No, we make sure the clutter is hidden. Away from everyone. Including myself.

Except now it’s starting to bother me. Like when I open any given drawer or closet in my house, I am suddenly filled with this irrational rage. Maybe it’s a mid-life thing seeing that pretty much everything pisses me off lately.

Maybe I’m “nesting” for the next phase of my life. I certainly don’t want to leave all this for The Kid to have to deal with if we, say, kick the bucket or decide to move without a forwarding address.

I just spent hours — on a Saturday, my precious Saturday — cleaning out the “kitchen” pantry. It’s not even in the kitchen. It’s really a mini “mud room” off my family room leading out to the garage. There is a door so we don’t see the mess and the reminder of what bad things lurk beyond.

God bless that door.

This is the “after.” I wasn’t swift enough to get the “before.” Don’t be jealous of my 1970’s wallpaper.

There is also a cabinet IN my kitchen. It’s one of those tall ones with the pull out shelves. I love those pull out shelves. I almost didn’t get them. When we were designing our kitchen, the consultant lady said, “oh, you’ll want to get the pull out shelves. Believe me, you’ll appreciate them.” And she was right. I can’t imagine my life without them. They are almost at the same level of fondness I feel for my daughter.

Those drawers give me joy. Also, another inanimate object I talk to.

Let me just tell you, I’m pretty sure the last time I cleaned out either one of these things, was back when Ross was on his third wife (Rachel, in case you’ve forgotten or just didn’t know).

So, here’s a glimpse into some of the things I tossed:

  • Four jars of pizza sauce that expired in 2013
  • Three opened boxes of crackers from New Year’s Eve 2012
  • Too many to count cans of tomato paste that really were probably empty from evaporation
  • Rice so old there may have been bugs crawling in there but I wouldn’t know because I was afraid to look
  • Much, much more

And the most surprising find?

That umbrella I thought we left behind on our last vacation.

In our food pantry.

On to the next project. I have written in my new planner what I am going to attempt to clean out. According to my plans, I should be done by the end of April. I’ll let you know how it goes. But if you go by my procrastinational ways of the past, you’ll need to add seven years. You know, like you do for a dog.

My Netflix show would be called “Cleaning Like a Dog.” I’m not sure I would talk about items that bring you joy, but I can promise it would be quite entertaining.

And next time you are looking for an umbrella, check the place where you keep your food. You just never know.

Amazon Is Amazing

How did we live without Amazon? This is a serious question.

How DID WE LIVE WITHOUT AMAZON?

Well, ok, so we actually DID live without Amazon. Just like we lived without cell phones, caller ID, WiFi, and Xbox.

We had no choice. And if we couldn’t find what we were looking for, we went without. Or we stayed home and didn’t go to the store because it was too much work or it was snowing, and we didn’t really need whatever we were looking for that badly anyway.

But with Amazon, whether we need something badly or not, we can get it with the touch of a button. And if you are a Prime member (which is totally cheap if you have a college student — another reason why college is so important), you can have all kinds of nifty things delivered to your door step for not only FREE, but in most cases THE NEXT DAY!

Just so you know, Amazon is not paying me to say this. They don’t even know I exist, except that I spend a really large portion of the money we make on stuff I can get on Amazon that I really don’t need.

Christmas this year came in an Amazon box. Actually, it came in several Amazon boxes. Gobs of Amazon boxes. If I weren’t in such a cleaning frenzying state of mind last Saturday, then I would show you a picture.

But alas, they are well on their way to the city dump, or incinerator.

This is not my exact pile, but a very good representation. Look how cute they are, though? Such happy little boxes.

Actually, I hope they are on their way to the recycling place because that’s where I want them to be, but who knows if we can trust THAT system.

CAN we trust that system? I guess that’s a discussion for another time.

Anyway, you’ll just have to take my word for it. I could have stacked the Amazon boxes beyond the roof of my house. Oh heck, I could have stacked them halfway to Venus!

I mean, come on, I have eight great nieces and nephews to buy for. I also have six direct (first generation?) nieces and nephews I still buy for who haven’t reached the age of “no longer buying gifts for unless it’s a really great occasion, like a marriage, or baby, or graduation” yet.

I also have parents, and a mother-in-law, and a husband, and a daughter. Not to mention the many children of my cousins (2nd cousin? Or would that be 2nd cousin once removed?) that I buy for because I want to.

Yes, it’s out of control. I realize this. But it’s not up for discussion. I’m not complaining. I’m just stating a fact.

I probably shouldn’t say this out loud because DH might see. But I just looked on our Amazon account and checked out 2018.

Collectively (when I say “collectively” I include DH and The Kid, which means that I am not the only culprit), we placed 69 orders.

In one year.

Before you judge me, please keep in mind that The Kid orders many of her college textbooks through Amazon. They are used, and although they are expensive, they are less expensive than buying them new.

She also rents them through Amazon. Not that that matters. I just wanted to put that out there for those of you who have college students and didn’t realize this little tidbit.

Some of the things, aside from textbooks, that were ordered from this household via Amazon this past year. In case you were wondering:

  • A Zoodle maker that I never used
  • Mouthwash
  • A comforter set
  • Coffee
  • Vitamins
  • Car crap, lots and lots of car crap
  • An under the desk portable heater because I get very cold at work but yet sweat at night like a monkey in heat
  • A Gregg shorthand book because I plan to reteach myself this skill just ’cause I can
  • Gift cards…lots and lots of gift cards, but much more fun than car crap
  • Toys
  • Books that are fun; aka NOT textbooks
  • Games
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Whiteboard magnets
  • Miso & chili flakes (I don’t know)
  • Mason jars
  • Baby Foot (the foot treatment not the real thing)
  • Flasks disguised as suntan lotion bottles (???)
  • Markers
  • Planner

And last week I was proudly the first person in my family to order an Amazon goodie in 2019. (The Kid DID rent some books for second semester, but does that really count?)

I decided my heels need to be smoothed out, and since I abhor pedicures (I never said I was normal), I had the inclination to, at 10pm, search Amazon for a resolution. And within about a minute and a half, I ordered myself an Amope Pedi Perfect foot file thing that I was the new owner of in less than 48 hours (it’s amazing by the way – the Pedi thing in addition to Amazon).

I may have a problem.

Do you think Amazon sells books on how to cure an addiction to Amazon? Let me go look. I’ll get back to you.

The Widening of the Hips and Other Ailments

I am an administrative assistant by trade. My “trade” was referred to as a secretary once upon a time. That is no longer acceptable. I don’t know if it’s politically incorrect or demeaning, or what. But don’t call an administrative assistant a “secretary.” Or you might get punched in the eyebrow.

I have a secretarial “degree” (aka “certificate”). I went to a secretarial school. Now they are as extinct as the pterodactyl. It seems these days you need a degree to be a secretary.

Ahem…an administrative assistant.

Some companies will only hire you if you have a two- or four-year degree. While others will hire you based on experience. You know, as long as you started working around the time Eisenhower was in office.

But then you’re too old.

Vicious circle.

I got lucky. I found a wonderful company to work for. I have no four- or two-year degree. And I’m kinda old. Ok, so maybe not dinosaur old, but I’m no spring chicken either. My twenty plus year secretarial/admin experience is acceptable.

Anyway, my profession has its perils, believe it or not. And I’m finding out quickly what those perils are.

Back in the day, people would complain and warn me about the dreaded “Secretarial Spread.” It sounds obscene (don’t google it, because what popped up would have made even Hugh Hefner blush). But it’s not what you might think.

The official definition according to Urban Dictionary:

“Secretarial spread means sitting down for a long period of time while the hind-end spreads outward in order to accommodate the chair. “

Sounds awful, right?

Well, it is.

Back in the day, I didn’t worry about it too much. I was young, I exercised and moved a lot. I wore high heels and ran in them.

No, seriously. I did.

Now if I so much as put on a pair of heels that measure higher than half an inch, I run the risk of being hospitalized.

Fast forward 30+ years and there are all kinds of reports and studies on what can happen if you sit all day. In a nutshell, it reduces your lifespan. The instructor at the gym referred to sitting as “the new smoking.”

The only time I touched a cigarette was back in 1982. And I didn’t even inhale.

I swear. 

No, I wasn’t hanging out with Clinton.

Since working back in the profession for which I was trained after a very long respite, I’m comprehending what they meant by the “Secretarial Spread.”

I’m comprehending big (no pun intended).

When I wrote the first draft of this post months ago, I was sedentary.

“Sedentary.” A word I never thought in a million years I would use to describe myself.

But yet, that’s what I was.

I got up to go to the bathroom or the water cooler during the day.  When I got home, I took off the bra, put on my “non-yoga” yoga pants, and moved my ass to the couch.

That was it.

Ok, so I still get home, take off the bra, and move my ass to the couch. Because I’m tired. I’m just TIRED.

But during the day, I’ve been exercising. I go to the gym at work, I do stretching exercises, planks, push-ups, what have you, in the morning before I leave for work.

And it feels great.

But the sitting has caused me to develop hip flexor problems. Oh.my.god. Does that hurt! Had I not been “sedentary” for so long, I don’t think that would have happened.

This hip flexor situation has since given me lower back pain. You know, because my back is compensating for the job my hip flexors aren’t doing.

I think. I mean, I’m no doctor, but this makes sense. Right?

My abdominal wall is also weak. Which is not helping my cause. But I’m working on that.

I’m working on getting myself to a good place health-wise. It’s time. I decided a wheel chair, or even a cane, would not be a good accessory for me.

I mean, I don’t really accessorize anyway, so why start now?

One more thing…

The second part of that definition, according to Urban Dictionary:

“It can be changed with exercise, and activity away from sitting down on one’s spread for too many hours a day.”

I had this thing called a “Veridesk” installed on my desktop at work. It has levers and allows you to lift the thing up so you can stand while you work. It’s a pain in the ass to pull up, but the way I see it, I’m also getting some upper body strength training in.

Getting into shape at work. That brings the expression “multi-tasking” to a whole new level.

If I save one person from the dreaded “Secretarial Spread” then I have done my job.

You’re welcome.

Resolutions Schmesolutions

As I sit here on this second to last day of 2018, I reflect on all the year has brought. I will not hash it out, because that’s what my Christmas letter is for (if you missed it, it’s not too late to catch up by clicking here).

I will say 2018 was pretty uneventful, which is good. But bad in the way that I did nothing to better myself in any way. It was another lazy year that I wish to not talk about.

But as I sit here reflecting, I also think about 2019, and the endless possibilities the coming year may bring.

Speaking of 2019, I saw something, a meme or whatever they are called, that reminded me that 2019 will be the last “teen” years for most of us. That totally freaked me out. I don’t know why. I wasn’t a large fan of my own teens, so I’m not sure why I care so much.

Anyway, a few couple of years ago, I realized New Year’s Resolutions are a complete waste of time. Statistically speaking, 80% of all resolutions fail by February. Thanks again, Google.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I got through high school without Google. It sure is much better than those grocery store Funk & Wagnall Encyclopedias our moms would get when they purchased enough olive loaf, Twinkies, and cherry Kool-Aid to earn a single volume. It took a year to get the entire series, and by then they would be outdated.

ANYWAY, I’m not making resolutions this year. What I AM going to do is make better decisions and conscious efforts to be a better person. To live the life I should be living, that I want to live. And because I am a cliche…be authentic.

These may sound like resolutions, and look suspiciously like resolutions, but they are what I would like to refer to as “Getting My Shit Together and Stop Being a Sloth Once and For All.” Or simply “Life Adjustments.”

All of this has been a long time coming, and honestly, would be happening if it was January 1st or May 19th. It’s time and the new year really has nothing to do with it. I joined an online fitness course a couple of months ago and it really has opened my eyes to what I wasn’t doing. Sometimes, we need a little push and a serious punch in the face.

I am fifty-one years old. I will be fifty-two in less than four months.

FIFTY-TWO.

I realize that fifty is the new thirty.

Or is it forty?

My point is people are living longer and living better, more productive lives. Lives that are filled with quality.

Quality. My life needs to be “quality.” I’m not saying I don’t have a good quality of life. Because I do. I am married to a wonderful man, was blessed with the best daughter anyone could possibly ask for, and pretty much want for nothing. And my health, although I could feel and look better, is pretty good for the most part.

But in this case, when I talk about “quality” I don’t mean what you think. My life has become chaotic. If that’s possible. I never know where anything is. I don’t know if I’m coming or going. I’m disorganized, disheveled, and not always doing what I truly want to do.

I feel like crap because I eat crap. And I look like crap because of the crap I eat. I’m not writing as often as I like, I’m not reading as much as I should, and I’m not exercising like a person who wants to live a better, longer life.

I bought a planner for the first time in my life, and some stickers, and a nice set of pens. For the first time in my life I intend to plan out what I want and need to do. I will plan out my meals, my exercise, my writing sessions, and anything else deemed worthy to be added. Which in my case, is pretty much everything.

I need to start making myself accountable for myself. I need to stop being lazy. Laziness just fosters more laziness. It’s a spiral that I don’t want to be on. And besides, it’s making me dizzy.

Excuse me sir, do you have anything for the Dengue Fever?

Note: This post has been in the making for nine months, kinda like a baby except it wasn’t baking to perfection. I am just a Self-Proclaimed Procrastinator of the Universe.

As many of you may or may not know, I turned fifty last April. DH is and always has been Numero Uno in the birthday department. He makes it his job to be sure I have the perfect birthday every year.

For my fortieth, he gathered fifty of my closest friends and family and a big boat and we cruised around NY harbor to gaze at Lady Liberty under the stars. How can you outdo that one?

By taking your wife on a much needed vacation. When he asked what I wanted for my fiftieth I didn’t hesitate to ask for a tropical getaway. I was in dire need of a real, live vacation with palm trees, blue waters, and sand. Oh, and margaritas and rum punch. Lots and lots of margaritas and rum punch.

A drink boy would have been nice too, but I do have DH and he is totally nice to look at. Also, he likes to bring me drinks, so he would fit the bill.

Ahhh
THIS is what I was talking about

My DH does not like traveling so I knew he would be less than thrilled, but it was my birthday wish. And birthday wishes must be fulfilled. It’s a rule. You know, in my rulebook.

After much research and reading every travel site known to man, I chose Providenciales. One of the islands of Turks & Caicos. Also, it was highly recommended by some friends and from my research it is known to have some of the best beaches in the world.

Who am I to turn away from the best beaches in the world? I would keep my toes in the sand my entire life if I could, so going to the best of them was right up my alley.

Also, this body of mine was depleted of Vitamin D (true story). Too much sun is bad for you. Too little sun is bad for you. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

The Kid wanted to be a part of the festivities, so I chose a week in May after school got out and before she started summer activities. Three weeks before the rainy season begins there.

We rented a private cottage on a private stretch of beach. We could have gone to the other, more commercial side of the island, but in addition to needing a vacation I really needed peace and quiet.

Sadly, this is the only sun we would see for six days
Our private stretch of beach and cabana. This is the only sun we would see for six days

When we disembarked, the heat from the sun was enough to make your skin melt off and the sweat factor was set at 165%. We all arrived in jeans because when we left New York it was chilly. I almost had to resort to scissors to get them off.

Sadly, that was the last of the sun for a week. Just to give you an idea of what we were dealing with, it is said to rain six days a year in Turks & Caicos. We saw four of them.

This is why I don’t play the lottery. My luck is so bad, I would probably owe the lottery people money.

Did I mention the vegetation?
Did I mention the vegetation?

Now don’t get me wrong. Our vacation was very nice. Our little cottage was sweet. Private and quiet just like I wanted with lots of vegetation right outside our back door.

But along with vegetation comes bugs that were on an apocalyptic level. It felt more like we were in a scene out of “Them!” than paradise, so any dreams of sitting on our beach were quickly swept away with the first bite from a sand flea.

But I couldn’t really complain. I mean, we were in Turks & Caicos. Turks & Caicos, people.

Our beach umbrella turned rain umbrella
Our beach umbrella-turned-rain umbrella

Besides the fact that our beach umbrella was used to keep out the rain instead of the sun, we had a lovely time. We were together and healthy so that’s all that mattered.

Until the “healthy” no longer applied.

Let’s just say I used my fair share of toilet paper and my stomach was cramped up in a vice grip from Day Two until well after our vacation was over.

When something disguised as Typhoid or Dengue Fever or parasites hits you like a fast ball at a Yankees game, it could be a vacation wrecker. But who was I to let a little diarrhea keep me from enjoying my vacation?

18527747_1533950103306137_5883110691456930816_nI powered through. I put on my snorkeling gear and spent the better part of our week with the fishies. When you are in the sea, you can’t really feel the rain falling on you. Also, something about the lightness of the water eased my cramping.

Sucking it up, putting on a brave face, and drinking a margarita dammit!
Sucking it up, putting on a brave face, and drinking a margarita for the sake of humanity

Remember I wanted lots of margaritas and rum punch? I may not have had lots of either, but I insisted on ordering a cocktail with my dinner every night whether I was in the mood or not. I swore that is what I wanted to do on vacation and that is what did do dammit.

The obligatory vacation photo with feet
The obligatory vacation photo with feet

And I sat on my cabana and watched the sunless sunset and drank a glass of wine from the $30 bottle of swill we bought at the local grocer, because the cost of all things there is astronomical.

All whilst being bitten to death by mammoth sized tropical bugs. But hello? Private cabana on private beach. Bugs or no bugs. It had to be done. If even for ten minutes.

So, I must know. Does something happen to our stomachs when we age? I’m not talking about how it heads south.

That is more obvious than knowing mimosas go with breakfast.

But this same thing happened to me in Ireland a couple years ago. Hmm.

After having testing done of my stool (yes, that was as fun as it sounds) when we hit American soil, all things alarming were dismissed. It looks like it was just a good old fashioned case of Montezuma’s Revenge.

Yup, traveler’s diarrhea.

Swell.

In closing, when life gives you lemons, you add tequila. And Imodium. So, bring it on Monte. I’m ready for our next adventure.