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The Ten People You’ll Meet at the Gym

1 Jul


I once dated a man who told me he admired people like me.

“People like what?” I asked, puzzled.

“People who like going to the gym,” he replied.

I accepted the compliment as it was intended without telling him that, in fact, I often struggle with getting myself to the gym. Okay, here and there I enjoy it, normally when I’ve had a lot of caffeine, had an exceptionally good night’s sleep and have no agenda for the day; so maybe like three times a year. I go to the gym for the same reason I eat my vegetables – I’m an adult and it’s good for me. Both of my parents died fairly young from heart disease and, although I always thought I would die young (no idea why), surprisingly it hasn’t yet happened yet, so I might as well, um, fight to the death, so to speak. Also, it’s not that I’m afraid of being dead; it’s the whole process of dying thing. No long deaths for me, no letting my body fail while my mind is working overtime. Getting hit by a bus? I could live with that! Well, no, I probably couldn’t. But that would be preferable to a lingering, body and/or mind failing death. So, in the interest of self-preservation, I make my way to the gym four or five times per week.

Yes, I’m a regular at the gym and, as such, I’ve made a few observations. When you’re counting down those minutes on the elliptical trainer while watching The View (no need to judge me, as I have enough judgment for the both of us) I tend to people watch. When I’m curling those my hand weights I notice those testosterone pumped men grunting under the strain of 100 pound weights. I notice many other gym clichés and, to help you feel a little less intimidated by the gym, I’ve made a list of the people you can expect to run into there.

1)      The Girly Man – C’mon dude, there’s a reason those weights are pink. They’re girly weights. Stop using my weights, man up and grab something that weighs, you know, more than a beer bottle.

2)      The Dripper – That’s me next to you on the elliptical trainer. I love that you’re working hard and that you’re staying hydrated but man, I’m going to need some rubber waders to get past that flood on the floor next to you.

3)      Look at me, I’m not wearing any clothes – Yup, there she is, the 18-22 year old girl wearing, well, nearly nothing. Yes, she’s tiny. Yes, her waist is the same circumference as my right thigh. But really, do we need to see that she made it to the spa to get her bikini wax? And a sports bra is, in fact, a bra. Does she walk around the mall wearing only her push up and a pair of shorts? This girl has told Victoria’s secret to everyone. Put on some clothes, girl!

4)      The Weight Slammer– This guy isn’t lifting any girly, pink weights. No, he’s got huge, thick iron discs attached to the barbell which he’s grasping for dear life while ferociously bending and straightening his massive, sweat-soaked biceps. Here and there he grunts while pumping his arms and staring at his muscles. Fifteen reps done, he slams down the weights hard enough to make everyone look up and consider running towards the door frames in order to brace for the rest of what must surely be an earthquake. The weights bounce a few times. Dude, we get it, you’re strong.

5)      The Talker – She’s on the elliptical trainer, elipticalling (it’s now a verb) next to me. She doesn’t want to talk to me, thank God. No, she wants to talk to her friend on the phone. Loudly.

“Did you hear what Stacey said about Kevin last night?”

“Yes, she did!”

“Swear to God.”

“He totally should break up with her.”

Seriously, I cannot turn Whoopi Goldberg up any louder. Girl, you need to take that outside.

6)      The Texter – While quieter than The Talker, this one’s just as irritating. This one sits on the machine that you want to use and has a ten minute texting, Facebook or Twitter chat while you walk around the machine giving dirty looks that would probably be upsetting to The Texter should he/she look up. Oh, and when you drive out of the gym parking lot, this person nearly backs into you as, well, if texting and working out is that easy, texting and driving is a snap.

7)      The Wet Spot Guy – The gym provides free towels. On your way in, you’re expected to grab one and use it to wipe off the equipment after you use it. It’s simple etiquette. Nobody likes sitting (lying) in the wet spot. This guy just doesn’t get it. He thinks his sweat is made of gold and anyone would be lucky to get to share in it. *Note, the Wet Spot Guy most likely applies everything he believes about the gym to his bedroom. Yup.

8)      The Mute Karaoke Singer – This one has her ear buds firmly in place and is mutely rockin’ out to some unknown song, acting as if she’s completely alone and nobody is noticing. She does a bit of head-banging, some subtle dancing on the BOSU ball and lifts those weights to a beat she alone can hear. She seems to be a bit inspired by Olivia Newton John in the Let’s Get Physical video, only without the 80’s leotard and headband. *Note, The Mute Karaoke Singer is yours truly.

9)      The Gatherer – Can’t find the weights you’re looking for? That’s probably because he has them. In fact, he has seven different sets of weights gathered around his bench. When you walk over and ask if he’s currently using them all, he dramatically removes his ear buds, breathes a deep sigh, stares you down, and lets you know in no uncertain terms that, yes, he is using every one of them right now. Then he shoves his ear buds back in and returns to staring at his sweat soaked muscles in the mirror.

10)   The Recording Secretary – You’ll see many of these. The Recording Secretary brings his tiny notebook with him and, after each round on a piece of equipment, sits down to record how many reps he did at what weight and whatever other piece of information he finds relevant. Strange that, with all of the technology he may use on a daily (or perhaps hourly) basis, this is the one thing that he still feels must be on paper. The ink is running as the sweat drips on his notepad. I’m guessing his two-hour workout would really only last about twenty-minutes if he took out all of the writing time. Seriously, did you work-out? It’s a true/false question, not an essay.

So I go to the gym, not always loving it but always entertained by the people I see there. I also play mind games to get me there. When I don’t feel like going, I tell myself that I only have to stay for ten minutes. If, after ten minutes, I still don’t feel like being there, I leave (and perhaps go for ice cream). Nine out of ten times, after ten minutes, the adrenaline has kicked in and I’m lip-syncing to Springsteen.


Welcome to My Mid-Life Crisis

2 Jun

Mid-Life Crisis

I’ve decided to paint my bedroom pink.

“I’m sorry, are you a seven year-old, wanna be princess?” you ask.

Point taken. But let me give you some background. In the last three months I have lost a friend to cancer (Goodbye, Farewell and Amen), had a cancer scare of my own and quit my job after two doctors told me the 80-hour weeks and stress was doing my health no good. I think this might be part of a mid-life crisis. And what’s more, I’m kind of enjoying it.

As I said, I’ve spent the last two years working 80 hours a week while managing 23 year-olds. I worked in a very competitive atmosphere (it could be considered cut-throat as there were times I wanted to cut mine) while trying to please Guests (never called a passenger and always with a capital ‘G’), onboard bosses and shore-side bosses. Before that, I spent a couple of years attempting a delicate balance of struggling to keep my house and my sanity while working 5 jobs (relive the fun at My Schizophrenic Life).

Then there was the whole experience of many people massaging by breast, and not in a good way as they stuck needles, titanium and a scalpel in it. That, combined with my friend’s battle with, and ultimate death from cancer has apparently made me re-examine the balance in my life.

So now I’m on the job hunt. Not the desperate job hunts of my past, but a job hunt that fulfills me both financially and personally. It’s a time/money balance, a life-purpose/money balance and a where the hell do I want to live/money balance. While I search for a future that means something to both me and the world at large, I might as well be at peace with my surroundings.

Life BalanceI bought my house nearly eleven years ago. I painted the living room and master bedroom soon after. I’m a do-it-yourselfer. A week after I moved in my garbage disposal broke. Twenty years ago my mom installed a garbage disposal in our kitchen (yeh, mom was impressive). I figured it has to be much easier these days so I decided that, instead of calling a plumber, I would install my own. It cost me $60 to buy an Insinkerator (it made me feel like I had a boy-band in my kitchen). While it was more difficult than I thought it would be and involved a few yoga positions while attempting to lift the thing above my head while lying under the sink, with one hand twisting the appliance into the exact right position to avoid leaks, and with the other hand clutching my pipe-wrench to screw in nuts, bolts and other bits of metal and rubber. Upon finishing I declared myself, ‘Queen of Garbage Disposals.’ When I proudly told my realtor of my accomplishment his response was, “You know your home warranty would most likely cover that?” Talk about bursting my bubble.

I moved on to painting. I first tackled the living room. After multiple, daily trips to my friends at Home Depot, attending their, ‘How to paint your house class’ (I was the only student) and browsing home decorating books I was ready to begin. I began taping and caulking. “Caulking, you ask?” Is there a leak? Aah, this is why you should go to the house painting class. I now have perfectly straight lines. A little how to for all of you do-it-yourselfers out there – take a dab of paintable, clear caulk and spread it lightly across the edge of the tape. When you pull the tape your lines will be as straight as Tom Cruise pretends to be. Bathed in maroon and gold, my living room now has the comfortable feel of a Moroccan hookah lounge.


On to the bedroom. I found some beautiful satiny-brown curtains and decide my bedroom should feel a bit spa-like. At the time, browns and light greens implying a bamboo forest were very in. I went to Home Depot and told the designer (they used to offer this free service) that I was looking for a ‘happy olive.’ The best thing about this designer was that she not only didn’t burst out with laughter and get on the public address system announcing to all, “Hey, has anybody seen a happy olive? How about a sad one?” but she actually pretended to know what I was talking about. Fairway Mist purchased and I moved on to painting.

As the master bedroom also has an en suite bath (I’ve been watching House Hunters) I painted this too. During the taping process I began wondering how I ever thought eleven foot cathedral ceilings were a good thing. Even with my 10 foot ladder I had to lean it against the wall over the counter-top, stand at the top and do yoga moves in order to reach the top of the wall. After many days, my mission was accomplished. My room was ‘Happy Olive.’ I hated it.

I’ve thought about changing the color many times over the years but the memory of the first painting experience had yet to fade (similar to why it takes you a decade to be able to smell tequila following ‘that night’ that so many of us have had in our younger years). Now that I’m enjoying my mid-life crisis I’ve decided it’s now or never. What’s more, I’ve always wanted a pink bedroom. Not princess pink. No frilly, white curtains. No lacy lampshades. Just a nice feminine pink offset by my still lovely chocolate-brown curtains.

Not my bedroom

Not my bedroom

So, if I’ve always wanted a pink bedroom why didn’t I paint it pink in the first place? Well, I thought about the possibility of a man in my life. Nobody specific. I just wondered if it might be a turn-off for a man as he might not feel comfortable in a pink bedroom. Perhaps a little part of me also felt that I was a grown woman and pink was not a grown-up color. It turns out it’s like craving a pizza or Chinese food. You can eat every hamburger in sight but the craving won’t go away until you get an egg roll and some orange chicken in you. And as for any man well, I have waited long enough for him to come and tell me pink makes him uncomfortable. And, from my experience with men, I’ve learned that they couldn’t care less if the walls are pink. They wouldn’t notice if there were a pink alligator in the room.

With a mid-life crisis in the works to help fade the bad memory of the previous bedroom painting experience, I buy a couple of gallons of Romantic Morn. I’ve spent the last week taping, caulking (don’t forget the caulk) and painting. I listen to music to pass the time. Besides giving in to my inner-princess, I also spend one painting day embracing my inner-nerd. Instead of music, I listen to podcasts of NPR’s ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me’ and ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class.’ Geek, party of one.

I finish the first and (I think) only coat as I have bought the Behr paint with paint and primer in one. It turns out that this stuff works as well as shampoo and conditioner in one. Your hair feels not quite clean and definitely not quite soft and untangled. I head back to Home Depot with a bit of an attitude yet with the understanding that it’s not the fault of the lady in the paint department (although she irritates me when she acts surprised that I would think I would only need one coat).

Second coat applied and . . . I love it. I feel ‘in the pink!’ I am a princess!

This next week will be committed to taping and painting the frighteningly, high-ceilinged bathroom, and maybe a little more NPR geekdom. Oh, and a job interview via Skype with England. Yes, this princess still needs a job.

Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

15 Mar

An hour or two after being knocked out, I wake up with an oxygen mask on my face irritated that people just won’t let me sleep. Really, they should just bring me a latte if this is their expectation. It turns out that oxygen is nearly as good as a latte (oh, Starbucks, you could make a fortune selling Skinny, Grande O2). After a little update from the doctor – “I removed it, I sent it to the lab, results should be in early next week” – I’m handed my clothes. I get dressed while they call Karen in (I can’t remember getting dressed but, as I left fully clothed, I can only assume). The hospital insists the nurse push me out in a wheelchair (apparently my breasts assist in my balance).

Once out in the fresh air my head begins to clear. I’m grateful that I feel well and am not incredibly sick from anesthesia. We drive over to Walgreen’s to get the Percocet prescription filled (aah yes, the good stuff). The pharmacist at the drive-thru informs us it will take 30 minutes to fill. He also asks if we would like fries with that. . . uh wait, perhaps the anesthesia is still hanging around a bit.

While waiting, we run over to Liberty Market, my favorite coffee spot. Liberty Market As I’m not feeling the least bit sick, I order a latte (finally) and a scone. Being Mormon, Karen does not drink coffee. That right there is the reason I could not be Mormon. Oh yeh, and the wine thing. We drive back over to pick up the drugs (wow, that sounds shady) and head home. Karen makes sure I’m comfortable and leaves, saying she’ll be calling and texting to check on me. Hhmmm, a little more about this.

The original plan was that Karen would pick me up at the hospital and take me to BreAnn’s house. We would spend the night having a little sleepover. Well, as my Dad always said, “People plan and God laughs.” Bre was in no shape for me to stay there recovering from surgery. And I decided that, after three months away, I just wanted to sleep in my own bed. While Karen offered to stay at my house, she has a husband and three kids and, well, she is already winning the ‘Friend of the Year Award.’ I told her I would be lying to the nurse when she asked if I was staying with someone that night. Karen said she totally understood and would back me up (again, friend of the year).

So now I was home. Awake from latte and belly full from my scone. I removed the big bandage wrapped around my chest and got my first look at my breast. Not bad. As requested, she cut in a spot that would not show in my cleavage. And, although she removed the titanium chip (will my boob lose its super-powers?), she closed the wound, not with stitches, or staples, or even regular glue. She used Super Glue. And, due to this, my boob will continue to look spectacular and will therefore retain its super-powers (I did, however, wonder if she has ever super glued her finger to a breast as I always seem to glue my finger to whatever I’m fixing with Super Glue). I spent the next two days recovering, first feeling nauseous (okay, so maybe I shouldn’t have had the latte as, apparently I was a little cocky about the anesthesia) and then in just a bit of pain. On Sunday I was able to drive. I planned to go see BreAnn.

I received a call Sunday morning from a friend of BreAnn. After a truly awesome fight against a relentless enemy, Bre lost her fight with colon cancer at 9:55am on March 3, 2013.

It’s a strange thing, waiting to find out if you have cancer while your friend dies of it.

Monday came and went with no results. Up until this day I had been very calm as I knew that the chances were good that the biopsy would be negative. But the doctor had told me that she might have the results on Monday so, in my mind that was now going a bit wild, I began to think. – perhaps the results came in and she felt that bad news could wait. Wishing I was able to do some yoga to calm my much-too-busy mind, I turned to Facebook instead. I challenged friends to distract me and, as is usually the case with my wonderful friends, they came through.

Tuesday, as I was pulling into a parking space at the grocery store, my phone rang. Looking at the number I knew it was my doctor. I took a deep breath and answered as calmly as possible. Good news! The biopsy was benign! I complimented the doctor on her surgical skills and set up my follow-up appointment.

So here I am. I still need to have a mammogram in October as everybody seems afraid to say, “It’s not cancer,” with complete confidence. The lab report actually used the term, “Probably Benign.” Yes, it was in bold. Is that a medical term?

One more adventure done. Many more to come.

***Note – Hospice of the Valley really helped with BreAnn’s end of life care. Thanks to hospice, she was not in pain and she passed away at her home surrounded by the love of friends and family. If you have an extra $5.00 (or a grand) think about them. Give in the name of someone you loved or, just tell them it’s in memory of a really cool chick named BreAnn Moddes. You can check them out at Hospice of the Valley.


Dr. BreAnn Moddes
November 21, 1974 – March 3, 2013

Decisions – Life, Death and Shoes

10 Mar

Bear with me as we’re almost ready to get back into our time machine to just last week. But first, my visit to the breast surgeon. When my doctor told me my test results, she also gave me the names of three breast surgeons. Once I returned home from my Thanksgiving trip to Boston I started researching. Two of the three were on my insurance plan. I did a little online research, both of the condition and the doctors. I was careful not to look up anything online until I had a diagnosis. That’s one definite way of ensuring you will not only need a breast surgeon but a psychiatrist as well. What I found were a couple of different opinions on treatment. Surgery or no surgery? Perhaps the breast surgeon could tell me.

I researched the two best options of doctors and after reading some write-ups online, I chose Dr. Hebert. I phoned her office to try to get an appointment. I spoke with her receptionist and explained my time constraint (I was leaving town in 6 days). She could get me in the next day – score! I told her that I chose Dr. Hebert due to the positive things I had read online. Her receptionist commented, “That’s because she’s an awesome doctor.” My response, “Good, because I have awesome boobs.” (Seriously, put down the drink!). Appointment made, return date to work still up in the air.


Not the shoes I got, but someday, when I can afford Louboutoin

Tuesday came and I arrived at the breast surgeon’s office. She went over the results with me and commented on how bruised the biopsy had left me. She mentioned that perhaps two hours of yoga the day after the biopsy was not a great idea. Point taken. She explained that treatment is not black and white (or in my case, black and blue). She could schedule surgery for the next day, I could wait until I returned, or I could get another mammogram in six months and see if it changes. Even better, it was 5:00pm and I had 10 minutes to decide. You should know that I spent much of this vacation deciding which pair of black shoes I should buy to go with my pretty new dress (both pairs were gorgeous) and which shade of pink to paint my bedroom (not little girl powder pink but one that, combined with my brown curtains will, hopefully, create a spa-like atmosphere).  Both of these decisions were finally made for me by my friend Karen. And now I had to make what could end up being a life or death decision in the time it takes to order a coffee at Starbucks. After 10 minutes of yoga breathing in the waiting room (see, yoga was beneficial) I chose to wait to have surgery until I returned in March. In need of a bit of reassurance I asked the surgeon if my breasts would look as good once the surgery was done. She replied, “They’ll look better.” My response, “Impossible.”

So, decision made, I called into work and told them I would be returning the following Saturday.

Now, let’s rev up the Flux Capacitor and go back to the future to last week. It’s a bit of a whirlwind so try to keep up. After a very stressful final few weeks onboard (heck, the whole contract was stressful, but those last ones really stand out) I returned home on Monday night. A lot happened in this first week home.

Tuesday – Although I had no plan to talk to anybody (actually, my plan was not to talk to anybody), I did an interview with the Associated Press (it’s just something crazy that happens in my adventurous life). Basic gist of the article, travel can be dangerous. . . so can a car ride. Get over it.

Wednesday – To the hospital for blood tests, grocery shopping to get food in the house and a massage. While at the grocery store the hospital called to tell me what to expect. They confirmed that the doctor would be removing an intraductal papilloma from my left breast. “Yes,” I responded. “Oh no, wait! Not my left breast! My right breast, my right breast!” Confidence shaken, I headed home while considering buying a Sharpie in order to draw a stop sign around my left nipple.

I had no plans to go out and face the world after my massage (again, my plan was not to go out) until I received a call from Tandy telling me that BreAnn had taken a turn for the worse and friends were gathering at her house. I also got a call from BreAnn’s ex-boyfriend Jessie. He was on the way over to Bre’s house when his car broke down. I got dressed, hopped in my car, picked up Jessie on the side of the road and headed to BreAnn’s house.

When I arrived, Bre was lying in bed with her eyes closed and surrounded by a bunch of girlfriends. I climbed into bed with her where she could see me. She opened her eyes and I told her some personal things and made some promises.

Thursday – More time in BreAnn’s bedroom with a group of women, some of whom had never met before. We laid with her and told raunchy jokes. It was peaceful and full of love and felt like ‘Sex in the City – The End.’ I ended the day with a yoga class.

Friday – Surgery. My friend Karen picked me up to take me to the imaging center. Here they would do another mammogram (really, at this point my right breast must glow in the dark). While being squeezed they inserted a needle (again, not that painful as they numbed it first) and then threaded a wire through that. They also injected some blue dye. They said that different doctors prefer different colors. I asked for green as I am a redhead and I look good in green. Apparently that wasn’t an option.

They left the needle and wire in my breast and I was instructed to go over to the hospital. In order to protect my breast (as there was this needle sticking out of it) the tech took her high-tech Dixie bathroom cup, cut the side of it and stuck it over the needle and taped it to my breast. I can’t wait to see how much they charge my insurance company for this.  I got in Karen’s car and simply said, “Don’t laugh.” I lifted my shirt to show her my Dixie cup to which she responded, as any good friend would, with a cackle of laughter.

I arrived at the hospital and sat in the waiting area with my Dixie cup taped to my boob while looking longingly at the coffee maker (seriously, the longest I’ve gone without my morning coffee since the original biopsy). I was called into the pre-op area, given a fancy hospital gown (wouldn’t it be great if some hospital had Vera Wang design their gowns?) and little slippers complete with treads similar to my Goodyear Radials).

The Anesthesiologist came to visit and asked me questions.

“Has anesthesia ever made you sick?”

“Yes, the one time I had (back) surgery (limbo contest in Trinidad. I won! And lost).”

“Tell me about your TIA.”

“Uh, what?” I’m a traveler. The only TIA I know is the airport in Tampa, FL.

“No, tell me about your stroke.”

“Seriously, what???”

“Oh, the information I have says you had a stroke in the past.”

“Um, noooo.”

That being cleared up, IV in my arm, we’re almost set. Dr. Hebert soon arrived to check in and sign my breast. Yes, she had brought her Sharpie and initialed my breast (I thought only stoned rock stars did this with groupies). This is apparently done so she does, in fact, operate on the correct breast. Another obvious sign would be the needle, wire and Dixie cup attached to the breast.

That’s the last thing I remember before waking up in recovery.

Continued in Goodbye, Farewell and Amen


Coming next – happy and not so happy endings.

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