Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This morning I woke up with a Woody...

Every day, DB wakes up with a song in his head, and that makes sense. He's played guitar for over 40 years, and music is a core part of his being. Likewise, every morning, I wake up with a quote in mine. And today, I woke up thinking of Woody Allen, who said, "I like writing. It keeps my mind off grim subjects. It's therapeutic in the same way a patient in an institution is given fingerpaints." He also once commented, "I am at two with nature." And that's where our narrative begins...

But, as always, to tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.

If you know me (and some of you may), you know that I love to downhill ski and whitewater kayak. Other than that, physical activities are nothing more than excuses to buy new clothes... honestly. So it's not surprising that I can't get into shape - even though I need to. You see, I’m thirty-eight years old and my cholesterol is atrocious. I also have Addison’s and need to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible or there will be hell to pay later on. Given all that, you’d think I’d take this situation more seriously. It’s just that, while there might be hell to pay, I’m less scared of going to hell than I am of going to the gym. Odds are I’ll know people in both places, but at least the ones in hell will understand why I’m there.

See, gyms terrify me. They absolutely aren’t middle-aged, divorced-woman friendly. It’s true! When people see you there without a wedding ring, they assume you’re either getting in shape to get a man OR you got out of shape and that’s why you lost one. But it isn’t just that… I’m honestly the least coordinated person I know. If you were to see me jogging, you wouldn’t make eye contact. It’s that bad. You would say to yourself, “Self, I thought running was an autonomic response that land mammals were just born being able to do.” Well, both you and Nike would be wrong. My body doesn’t JUST DO IT ©. I run like the poster child for Ritalin.

Anyway… when I tried to explain all of this at my physical, my doctor didn't care. She said it was time to get things back under control, and she gave me a few choices: Lipitor for the cholesterol and Cortisol for the Addison's, OR diet, exercise, and supplements, with lots and lots of regularly scheduled blood panels. Clearly, I should have opted for better living through chemistry, but I didn't. Instead, I started getting ready to get into shape. In other words, I met my best friend for lunch and told her how my appointment went.

Now, my best friend is a runner. She runs five miles a day, every day, so she knows what she’s talking about. And when she suggested that I do the Couch Potato to 5K program, I thought, “OK, maybe...” That was before we booted up her laptop and looked at their Web site. Within two minutes, I knew it wasn’t for me. Sure, while it starts out do-able: you buy a treadmill, you get an iPod, you find good running shoes, you get some workout clothes… eventually, those bastards try to make you use that stuff. They expect you to run for 90 seconds... IN A ROW, and that’s just misery.

That said… I know I have to do something. So when DB told me that he wanted to go mountain biking for Father's Day, I saw it as an opportunity to make a lifestyle change and get more active. Plus, I love and adore his kids who also wanted to do it, so it seemed like a win-win. And it was... until it turned into Gilligan's Island, the home edition. Note: If you're too young to know who the Skipper, the Professor, and Ginger are, then stop reading. If, however, you're old enough to be in my age/demographic, then just sit right back and hear a tale of our fateful trip.

See, DB spent the first twelve years of his life in California, and he spent the next twelve years of his life in Montana (before moving to Austin to play Blues). So when he says "mountain biking" he means "MOUNTAIN" biking. I, on the other hand, say "mountain biking" and mean, "Hellllloooo, I grew up in Appalachia where we also have real mountains, but my bike didn't have a gun rack, so it was easy for the natives to spot me." And in a region of the world where there are colloquialisms about Syphilis, it's better to opt out than get singled out, especially if your Senior class voted you, "Most Likely to End Up like Ned Beatty in Deliverance."

In other words, I've mountain biked, but I wouldn't say I'm good at it.

However, being the team player that I am, I helped load bikes and pick trails. And when we got to the park, I helped unload them and pick an ice cream place for later. After that, when we got on the damn bikes, things just went downhill... literally. Actually, because the universe demands balance, it went uphill first. And EVEN THOUGH WE LIVE IN THE MIDWEST, that hill was huge. I don't care what DB and his kids say. In fact, it was so huge that I begged DB's daughter (ChB) to fake an asthma attack... and she doesn't even have asthma. And, because she's also a team player, she did (have I mentioned that I really do love and adore his kids).

Anyway, we get up the first hill, and I think I'm done, when I realize, nope! We've only conquered Dante's first level of hell. The trail is on a cliff! So I'm literally hugging the other side of that trail tighter than some poor bastard in the bicycle lane on the Autobahn. Then, the actual descent begins - and somehow I end up in front of the pack. Now let me tell you something people, the only thing I do worse than mountain bike is navigate, and now I'm doing both. In my defense, I got us to a trail. In their defense, it was an incredibly flat one... with two children who love speed... in 90 degree weather. On the upside, we ended up in a horse pasture with grass up to our knees, mosquitoes out the ass, and Chinese exchange students on holiday.

And personally, I didn't mind the horse pasture. I minded the wrong turn at the third birdfeeder that took us out of the park and into private property, where we trespassed for over three hours and 15 miles. When we finally got back into the park, and I got off my bike, I was as lame as Barbaro when he broke his leg after the Kentucky Derby. So I turned to ChB and said, "To the untrained eye, it might look like I'm limping, but it's actually a swagger." And no kidding, this beautiful, brilliant, artistic child whom I love to bits said, "Yeah... the swagger of a cripple." People say I love my partner because I adore his kids. While it's not true, it has merit.

AT ANY RATE, I still need to find a way to get into shape because CLEARLY mountain biking isn't it either. And when I met my best friend for lunch to tell her about my weekend and my "exercising options" dilemma, she said, "You're going to die at 45 if you don't exercise. You have to do something! I think you should try Detox Tea again." The sick thing is she thinks she's giving me good advice. I love her, but obviously she's forgotten what happened last time. I drank a cup of that stuff, and I hadn’t seen that much shit fly since 1989 when I had to tell my parents I didn't get into Georgetown University.

Do you know what Detox tea is and what it does? In theory, it purges your system so all of the toxins are removed and your organs are cleansed. In reality, it’s like a roto-rooter going through your intestines and pushing out everything it comes in contact with. I literally sat in the bathroom for two hours, begging to die. When it was finally over, I was certain that I'd shit out my kidney and the part of my brain that could recognize it as an organ. In other words, I'm done with Detox Tea, even if it means I still have absolutely no idea how I'll get into shape.

OK, I'm off to Montana to meet DB's dad (and no - we won't be mountain biking). Wish me luck and talk to you next week.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Our Relationship is at a Crossroad...

I'm SO excited. This weekend, DB and I are seeing Eric Clapton's Crossroads 2010 concert. It was his birthday gift from me, since - even though he's now "the man" at work, he's still a Blues Guitarist at heart. And I have to be honest, between that and the fact that he's a laid back Buddhist, he's impossible to buy presents for. Seriously, what the hell do you get someone who only wants enlightenment? Especially if that person gives AMAZING gifts! And while DB isn’t competitive at all, I make EVERYTHING a contest. Really people… my personality test said that I could have been a Drag Queen.

All jokes aside, I literally spent HOURS looking for something that says, “The gifts I give to you are better than the gifts you give to me” but does it in a centered and calm way. And I found it! After much angst and finagling, I scored two tickets to Eric Clapton’s 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival, which will be a veritable auditory orgy for people who love the Blues. DB will get to see Albert Lee, the Allman Brothers, BB King, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmie Vaughan, and John Mayer to name a few.

The ironic part of this tale is how I figured out the perfect gift.

DB and I have known each other forever, but we only started dating last year. And in that, “should we/shouldn’t we” phase, he was burning CDs for me so I could transfer them to my iPod. No kidding, he has thousands upon thousands of music files. He’s burned me Blues CDs, Reggae CDs, Soul CDs, Punk CDs. You name it, he owns it, and now I do too. But sometimes, he just burned CDs that he thought I’d like, which he did late last Spring. At the time, I was changing office locations, so I threw it into a box and brought it to my new cube. Shortly after that, when life finally slowed down a little, I started to unpack, and that’s when I saw a CD case labeled, “For mkromd from DB.” So I thought, “Hmmmm… I don’t remember this one.” And I put it into my laptop, cranked my headset, and started to work. Do you know what he put on a CD that was meant to impress me?

Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen...

No doubt it is the greatest song Freddie Mercury ever sang, but is it really something you give to a woman you want to date? So when I met my best friend for coffee later that day, I told her what he did and she shrieked, “OMG! I love Fat Bottomed Girls.” That’s when the three college-aged women beside us got up and moved to another table. While trying to recover, TB emphatically explained, “By Queen! I MEAN AS IN THE SONG BY QUEEN, NOT AS IN ‘I LIKE FAT BOTTOMED GIRLS’ AS A SENTENCE!” I told her they didn’t believe her because they were too young to know anything except Bohemian Rhapsody from Wayne’s World. She said it was because I was too God-damned bottomed for them to believe I wasn’t her date.

At any rate, that’s when she said, “You know… Isn’t Eric Clapton doing Crossroads again this year? You should take him to see it.” So we pulled out her laptop and started looking. Naturally it was sold out the second the tickets went on sale, so I told her I’d look for them later. I wasn’t going to do it RIGHT then. And that’s when she showed me something incredible… People actually read what I write. This amazes me, but she's right. Perhaps it's because my life is like a train wreck and people want to avert their eyes but can't.

Whatever the reason, thank you; however, I must admit I'm a wee-bit freaked out since blogging hasn't always panned out for me. That, and when she Googled last week's hits, MKROMD linked to an "Exotic" site. Now, when I saw exotic, I thought National Geographic. When she saw it, she thought stripper pole. It turns out that she was right.

How and why do these things always happen to me?

Because let me tell you something... in case you haven’t been reading about my life, if there is ONE person who should never attempt to use a stripper pole, it's me! The one time in my life I tried to be sexy, it ended VERY badly for everyone involved. TB and I were going to happy hour with a bunch of people, and (of course, as always) I was running late. So she called me. In my defense, when I heard a man’s voice on her phone I thought it was one of our crass friends who was already drunk, and when he said, “What are you wearing tonight?” I immediately replied, “You in 20 minutes.”

Turns out, it was her boss.

Within two seconds, TB was on her phone screaming, “Oh my GOD! What did you say to my boss? He just walked out of my office in horror. WHAT DID YOU SAY?” So I tried to explain and when that failed I said that it was his fault because he started it, but she didn’t seem to care. All I heard was, “I was going to set you two up tonight! He’s been dying to meet you, so I told him to call you from my phone and say that he was coming and that we were on our way. You idiot, he was asking ME what I was WEARING and if it was CASUAL or not when you HAPPENED TO PICK UP THE PHONE.”

Needless to say, he and I didn't go out, which is for the best! Because now I have DB, and I'm going to Crossroads 2010 this weekend. Talk to you next week.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I've had a wonderful time... but this isn't it.

Have you seen the movie, "It's Complicated" with Meryl Streep? It's about a divorced woman who starts sleeping with her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) and ends up falling for (and almost losing) a really great guy (Steve Martin) in the process. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's hilarious. Because honestly... while Sarah Jessica Parker may be the poster child for single girls having sex in the city, Meryl Streep is a champion for divorced, middle-aged women being horrified by it in the burbs.

At any rate, I love romantic comedies, but I especially loved this one. Not only is it well done, but it answers the question that all of us want to know after ending any bad relationship, "Did we do the right thing? Were they a catch or not?" I think it's normal to wonder, I just think it's more important to remember what we say in Appalachia, "Simply because you can catch something doesn't make it good. Loads of people catch Syphilis, that doesn't mean you want it for life."

That said, I genuinely have *no* idea why Southwestern Pennsylvanians have a colloquialism about venereal disease.

However... I do understand why we say, "You can never go home again." Heraclitus said it thousands of years before us. He just said it more eloquently, "No man stands in the same river twice. The man is not the same, and neither is the water." And who am I to argue with him… especially when he’s right. You get older. You get wiser. Hell, you get back fat, but you are not the same person - and neither is anyone else.
And just like Meryl Streep, this year my best friend and I painfully discovered that nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

You see, every winter, TB and I take an annual ski trip out West. We're pretty hard-core skiers who have been lucky enough to do some of the best resorts in the world. And this year, we decided to head to Colorado again. Now, even though I went to college out West and spent more than one Spring Break at Keystone, I’d not skied that specific mountain for almost 20 years, and it was interesting to see how much both of us had changed. We’ve both gotten much bigger, we both make more money, and neither of us seems to attract college kids anymore. In other words… we’ve grown up. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At thirty-eight, I no longer party like a rock star, smoke like a chimney, or swear like a sailor… which is good. Unfortunately, I also no longer ski like I’m in a Warren Miller movie or believe that bathing suits are optional. In fact, not only are they required, they’re required to have a skirt.
Anyway... every year on these trips, we try something we've never done before, something to make us believe that we're still young and fun: dogsled racing, ziplining, indoor sky diving, etc. And this year we tried snow biking, a sport which is only popular with people who don’t believe that skiing and snowboarding are lethal enough.
So there we were, at the top of a mountain, signing waivers... when I heard myself say, "Self... how bad could it be?" And instead of saying, "Bad, really-really bad," I heard Mae West instead, "When choosing between two evils, try the one you’ve never tried before." So instead of skiing. We did it. We went snow biking, and we had a BLAST! That said, I will tell you, I stood at the top of a snow-covered mountain... on a bike that had skis for tires... a flag on the back for visability... and a bucket on the handlebars for my gear... and I thought to myself, “Oh sweet Jesus... I'm going to die and go to hell in the handbasket on the front of this damn thing. The irony.”

But that's not the point.

The point is that Meryl Streep's character heard Mae West, too, "Try the guy you've never tried before..." because relationships are like snow biking, and I don't mean that your crotch hurts if you hit a bump. I mean that, if you only do what you know, you can miss out on a having a truly wonderful time.

Talk to you next week.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I'm Dysfunctional? You're Dysfunctional!

This week at work we took personality tests... and I failed mine. Per my results, I am competitive to the bone, shallow on the surface, and stylish to a fault. In other words, I'm a drag queen. Actually, I just wish I was. I'm not that fierce. All that aside, the idea is noble. Its to help us better understand ourselves and our peers so we can play to our strengths. It’s also a twist on the Golden Rule, and instead of treating each other the way WE want to be treated, we should use this information to treat people the way THEY want to be treated.

At any rate... since it's like a twenty-two page instructional manual that's all about me, I decided to give a copy to my partner, DB. Now you should know something, I love my partner beyond measure. He’s the warmest, sexiest, smartest man I have ever known. Honestly, if I could have custom-ordered a mate, it would be him. And while that’s GREAT and I appreciate him EVERY single day, it’s also intimidating. Because while I am a headcase, he happens to be cool. Very cool, actually. He’s a Buddhist who dropped out of the rat-race for a decade to play Blues guitar in Austin. He’s calm and he’s centered, and while I fully understand what I see in him, I literally have absolutely no idea what he sees in me. I have actually been described as a squirrel on Jolt, which is not altogether off the mark... And now, I have the data to prove it.

But it’s not just all of that (as if that isn’t bad enough), he’s also an amazing single dad who is incredibly good looking and in extremely good shape. He’s over six feet tall with salt and pepper hair, six pack abs, and an ex-wife who is a Yoga teacher. Yes… fucking… really. Clearly I needed more evidence that God hates me, because let’s be honest, the three hottest fantasies men have include nurse, porn star, and Yoga teacher. No, it’s true. I’ve asked.

So when he asked me out, you can imagine my reaction. It was somewhere between shock and horror. Shocked because I’m thirty-eight years old, and on my best day, I never looked like a Yoga teacher. Horrified because I’m thirty-eight years old, and on my best day, I never looked like a Yoga teacher.

Now… if you ask him to tell this story, he will tell you that I was playing hard-to-get. I, however, will tell you the truth. I was terrified, but you have to understand something. The last time I dated, I was twenty, when awkward meant your date crossed that fine line between, “Trust me baby, you’re gonna dig it” and “Wow, I fucking hate you. You should leave now.” At thirty-eight, awkward enters a realm that you can’t even begin to wrap your head around. It’s somewhere along the lines of… this is gonna get weird before it gets cool.

And just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an arsenal of qualified adults to get a divorced woman ready for sex. It does. At the very least, it’s your best friend, your sister, your therapist, your stylist, and the manager at your local Ann Taylor. Your best friend talks you out of it, your sister talks you back into it, and your therapist helps you weigh the pros and cons of each. Then, once you decide that you actually CAN do this, your life becomes a flurry of activities best described as a work plan to make it happen.

1. You calendar sync with your partner and the kennel. In other words, is your date available, are you available, and are the kids unavailable? You want the house completely to yourself. No one wants to get caught by their kids or watched by their dog. If you wanted that, you never would have gotten divorced.

2. You agreed on the day and time, now you have to start preparing physically. This is where your dignity takes its first hit. You go to the salon, strip down and have your eyebrows, legs, and bikini line waxed. Then you get your facial, your pedicure, and your high-lights handled. In other words, you pay about $400 to look thirty-seven instead of thirty-eight. So literally, you run through your budget and wonder if you can afford to have sex. And for the first time in your life, you understand how college guys in Vegas feel.

3. You know the day and you know the time. You’ve gotten all of the hair on your body handled. And while you may look thirty-seven, you look like a thirty-seven year old workaholic. That means your body has betrayed you on every level imaginable… unless you’re a Yoga teacher. So, you call the manager at your local Ann Taylor, who has been dressing you for a decade, and you explain the situation, clearly giving new meaning to the phrase “retail therapy.” Your ass has to look smaller. Your boobs need to look bigger. She’s been here with you before: career events, Christmas parties, divorce court, first date. She knows what you need, and she has five outfits – complete with shoes – ready for you when you get there.

Now… I love this woman. She has great taste, and she is brutal. She knows my physique and she knows how to dress it. And better than that, she’s a divorced, middle-aged woman who has been in this boat herself. And even though she’s my age, she’s like a fairy God-mother getting mid-life crisis Cinderella ready for the ball, no pun intended. Only the glass slipper is a stiletto that costs $150 and is designed to give you height so your weight is distributed and your ass looks smaller. You look GREAT. The only problem with the outfit you just bought… is that it has to come off if you want to have sex.

So, everything is done. You’re physically ready, but emotionally and psychologically you’re not even remotely close to being prepared. You’ve talked to your sister, your best friend, your mother, your therapist and your bartender, and the day arrives, but… like Churchill said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” So you keep the date, and it’s gone great. He’s an amazing guy. You’ve talked. You’ve eaten. You’re at his place, and you’re kissing. One thing leads to another, and you’re in his room, on his bed. He’s harder than Calculus, but the thing is… you know you got fucked by Calculus. You’re still not sure how THIS date is going to end. It is, as they say in Vegas, a crap-shoot because part of you is REALLY digging it, but part of you is terrified since you haven’t done this in a very, very, VERY long time. So you tell yourself that having sex is just like riding a bicycle. Then you remember… the last time you rode your bike, you ended up with scabs on both knees, and how the HELL would you explain THAT at work THIS time. Then you’re thinking about Calculus and how you were twenty when it fucked you, too, and how that didn’t end well for you either, so what the HELL are you doing in this situation? And part of you is imploding and part of you is exploding, and you are literally a human push-me, pull-me of action and reaction.

At that moment, you have to fish or cut bait because clothes are starting to come off. That’s when he takes off his shirt and you see that he has a great body. God clearly hates you. He still has the physique of a twenty year old. You… not so much. You take off your shirt, and the only way to describe the difference between your body at twenty and your body at thirty-eight is that you are like a transatlantic flight, “Please be careful when opening the overhead compartment, as the contents have shifted in transit.” And then you shut off the lights and think this is going to get weird before it gets cool… and it does. And for the first time in your life, you're glad you aren't a drag queen. Even if you aren't fierce.

Talk to you next week.