Tag Archives: Re-invention

The Ten People You’ll Meet at the Gym

1 Jul

gym

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.

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Come Fly With Me

5 Jan

Drop Me Anywere Logo

Hello all. Yes, I know, it feels like forever since I’ve written here. I’m sure you were worried about me. I appreciate the Get Well cards, E-mails and flowers you all sent. Oh wait, yours must have been lost in the mail. What with Christmas and the UPS package delivery fiasco, I’m sure your ‘Get Well’ card will be arriving any day now.

Actually, I wasn’t sick at all (except perhaps for the traditional New Year’s Day hangover). I’ve been busy with a new project. It’s called Drop Me Anywhere! “What is it?” you ask (thanks for asking). Well, a little backstory.

You all remember I left my job at Disney Cruise Line for some very much needed R&R (you can read about it in Sabbatical). It’s been wonderful. I did a lot of yoga, drank good wine and scotch, reconnected with friends, wrote, traveled a little, had surgery (remember that? No? Read here) and generally got my body, mind and relationships healthy again. When I was ready, I began looking for jobs that I would again be passionate about. It turns out most of these jobs were overseas, with many in England, where I would like to try living. I applied for many of them. Some even contacted me to ask me to apply. And some led to interviews. It was all very promising until they found out I’m an American. When companies figured out they’d need to sponsor a visa for me, I became, well, less desirable. Yes, I’ve had relationships where I was told I was high-maintenance (which I continue to dispute), but when it comes to a job, apparently easy is more important than qualified and passionate (wondering if easy is more important than passionate in a relationship too – hoping not).

During this time, my friend April texted me with a few questions.

“What three things would your dream job entail?” was one question.

After just a minute of consideration I answered confidently, “Writing, Travel and Helping the World! I’d settle for two out of three.”

As, at this time in my life, I’m not settling, and nobody was offering me a job that I felt I would be passionate about, I’ve decided to create my own. Yup, full-time travel writing. Yikes!!

Drop Me Anywhere came about through a Twitter travel chat I was participating in. These are organized chats with 5-10 questions using hashtags (#) to delineate (big word – writer here) the specific chat.

One question was, “If you had a travel show, what would it be called and what would it be about?”

“Mine’s called ‘Drop Me Anywhere,’ I answered, “and it’s about traveling without a plan!”

The response was overwhelming, with people telling me I needed to film a pilot, get it on YouTube and make a Kickstarter campaign. Wow! Please believe me when I say I had not thought of the title or the topic until about thirty-seconds before I typed that answer.

I let the idea rest for a couple of weeks figuring out that, although I’ve done on-camera interviews, my comfort zone truly is writing. I contacted a well-known travel writer who I had an E-mail exchange with about a story he was writing a few months before.

“Is this anything?” I asked

He wrote me back telling me he loved the idea and what might be the best way to go about it. I guess it’s something! Next thing I know, Drop Me Anywhere was born.

So what makes it different? It’s the first interactive travel writing and reading site. It’s a partnership between you and me. You get to vote on where to send me without a plan. Yup, that’s right, you get to tell me where to go (insert your joke here). I’ll generally leave within 2 weeks or so without researching. I’ll write about the adventure and also provide information and links to vendors, lodging and activities. But wait, there’s more. . .

I’ll be spending a day, or part of a day volunteering for a non-profit organization I find over there. And after that, I’ll write about them on Rebel-With-A-Cause so you’ll know about them too.

One more twist to this new project – I’m calling it “Kickstarter Miles.” It has nothing to do with Kickstarter, but airfare is expensive, even when booking in advance. With just two weeks’ notice well, even a trip to Santa Monica can be expensive. So, if you have an extra few thousand frequent flyer miles that you won’t use in the foreseeable future, how about throwing them my way? Just click on the “Donate Miles” page and you can contact me to show me how generous you are. You’ll also see what great rewards you’ll receive for your donation.

Finally, you’ll be happy to know that I’ll be my usual snarky self on Drop Me Anywhere, so we all get to make fun of my life. And I’ll still be posting on My Own Adventure here and there as, when traveling or not, I still find this an amusing world and it helps those voices in my head express themselves. Rebel-With-A-Cause will remain informative and interesting, yet snark-free, as I’ll make fun of my own life, but not of someone else’s. These will be people who do good work and I hope my telling of their stories will do them justice.

So, please click on the Drop Me Anywhere link read a bit more about it. Please subscribe and vote (yes, you can vote without subscribing but this way you’ll get an E-mail when I post about the voting results).

I must go to check my mailbox now as I’m sure your Get Well card will have arrived today.

It’s Not Me, It’s You

10 Nov Broken Heart

When I was 18 my dad took me to the bank to apply for my first credit card. Dad was a banker and, in fact, so was I (a drive-thru teller when I was 17). With dad co-signing, I was approved. The card was with Michigan National Bank, the company both dad and I worked for. Dad was very clear, this credit card was because I was driving a ’76 Impala into the heart of a not so great part of Detroit (yes, there are good parts) to attend Wayne State University each day. This card was for emergencies only. Credit was not something to be taken lightly.

Fast forward 26 years and Michigan National Bank no longer existed. Dad passed away nine years previously and my credit card was transferred a few times to various banks, the final one being Chase. I followed dad’s advice through the years and handled my credit responsibly. I saw the benefit of this in great rates for car loans and a mortgage loan.

Over the years, I tried to get dad taken off the card as, well, he was dead. I didn’t really see the need for him to be on there as, if the saying is true, ‘you can’t take it with you’ (and I don’t think heaven has a gift shop that you pass through at the end of your life like on The Pirates of the Caribbean ride). And my version of heaven has nothing in the realm of ‘buy now, pay later.’

Then the recession hit and my industry collapsed (read about all the fun in I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Help). I was late on my mortgage. I was never late on a credit card (my friends know I hate tardiness in anyone). Yet, after 26 years of never being late, I received a letter from Chase saying they were ending our relationship. What? They’re breaking up with me?Broken HeartIt’s now three years later and I recently received a letter from my ex, Chase. It seems they want to get back together. So in response, here is my answer to that letter:

Dear Chase,

I received your letter asking me to get back together. I must admit that it came as quite a surprise. You see, while I was having many challenges at the time you ended our relationship, I didn’t think you were one of them. I didn’t know we were having trouble? I mean, I tried not to be needy. I thought we communicated well. You sent me letters telling me you respected our privacy. I read every word you wrote. We traded E-mails. I thought you loved me.

The funny thing is, you still loved my dad. He continued to receive credit card offers from other companies. As you were the only one he was still associated with, I assumed you referred these people to him. He was dead and he had better credit than me.

So now, three years after you broke up with me, you write me and want to get back together. Do you have any idea how much you hurt me? I mean, I expected that behavior from Bank of America, or even American Express. But from someone who I had my longest relationship with? And you don’t even mention our history. There’s no apology, no, “I hope you’re doing well.” Your letter sounds as if you don’t even remember me.

So Chase, after very little consideration, I am tearing up your letter (or maybe I’ll burn it) and forgetting you. I am happy without you. I’ve gotten over our break-up and have moved on. I can’t do this anymore. As Taylor Swift said, “We are never, ever, ever getting back together.” The love is gone.

Sex and the Single Writer

16 Sep Writing-blogging-clipart

I know what you’re thinking. “Where has Carole gone? I’m going through a bit of snarky withdrawal.” I’m with you on that. Well, I’d love to say I was too busy traveling the world, doing crazy things and talking to strangers (never learned that lesson) to put my fingers on a keyboard. But that’s not the case. In reality, I’ve been lying low. Yes, there was a weekend trip to Las Vegas but, as we all know, what happens there stays there. I’m now preparing for a little business travel in my old line of work. Nowhere exotic (unless you consider Philadelphia and Chicago exotic), but it will keep me off the streets for now (at least in Arizona). And I’m sure I’ll find lots of amusing people and situations to share with you.

In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in why I write. It’s not something I do for fame – I’m not exactly a household name. . .yet. Fortune? Oh yes, rolling in the dough here. Writing this from my 21 room mansion with a bowling alley and airplane hangar (going airplane shopping as soon as I finish this). No, I write because I must. It’s like an unexplainable build-up that I must release. Yes, it sounds like an orgasm and well, perhaps it’s comparable.

First there’s the subject idea. When an idea hits it’s like seeing that guy across room. My heart flutters a bit and I lose track of my thoughts. Then there’s the research – traveling somewhere, talking to people or reading up on a subject. In comparison to sex, or the steps leading up to it, this would be the date. We meet for a drink and dinner to get to know each other. Sometimes, the research is already done, as reading something, having a chance encounter or traveling somewhere is what has inspired me. In the dating world, this would be considered slutty behavior and comparable to jumping in bed with someone.

Now that I’ve researched the subject, or spent a few weeks getting to know the guy, I am ready to do the dirty deed. It begins slowly – foreplay. I have notes, a few sentences or words that I know I want somewhere in the article. I start on an introductory paragraph – think of it as kissing. Before long, I am well involved in the words (ok, completely opposite of sex unless we’re tallkin’ dirty talk). Now I’m totally immersed in the writing and the ringing iPhone barely registers. Things become very organic and instinct takes over.

Finally, I come to the ending paragraph. But this is not the release. Not yet, anyway. I only read over what I have written after it is completed. You don’t stop in the middle of having sex to analyze whether it’s good or not. It’s only after, when the deed is done, that you lay there and take a deep breath and think, ‘that was amazing!’ This is the orgasm!

**Please note, sometimes I read through the article and think, ‘this is crap.’ This I do not publish. After all, bad sex is normally still pretty darn good whereas bad writing is just bad.

 

 

Going Back in Time

10 Aug

Last week I had another travel adventure. After traveling to 50 countries and 50 U.S. states, where’s a girl go to find some adventure? Singapore perhaps? Bora Bora? Oh so close but not quite. Last week’s travel was to the tourist mecca of Detroit, Michigan.

If you’re quite finished laughing I’ll explain. I grew up in Oak Park, Michigan and lived in the state until I was 24 years old when I walked into the bank I had worked at for seven years and declared, “I quit! I’m going to sail the Caribbean.” And I did. Exactly where is Oak Park you ask. Well, if you were from Michigan I would hold up my right hand and point to a spot somewhere in the pad on the bottom of my palm over towards my thumb (it’s a Michigander thing). As you may be from somewhere else, I’ll defer to the movie reference. You’ve probably heard of the Eminem movie, 8 Mile. Well, I grew up at 9 Mile (we’re very creative with our street names there).

As I have very little family left in the area, I don’t often get back. Last week I headed to Detroit for my high school class reunion. Yup, 10 years (ok 30 years, but I graduated as a fetus). Please note that I will henceforth be referring to this event as my 10 year reunion. You can choose to believe what you like.

Class of 83

The weekend included many events beginning with a tour of my high school. Yup, all those years I avoided going to summer school and here I was, on a Friday morning in the middle of summer, sitting in the high school cafeteria. Suddenly I felt like Molly Ringwald in the Breakfast Club. After coffee and bagels we were greeted by Mr. Washington, the current principal. While he was telling us about the current structure of the school district and the accomplishments of Oak Park High School I had a moment of panic. I whispered to my former classmate sitting next to me, “Oh my God, we’re older than the principal!” A few minutes later Mr. Washington put me at ease by mentioning that he was a graduate of a neighboring high school two years prior to us. There is a God!

After a very surreal two-hour tour during which we saw some of our old classrooms, the science lab, the planetarium, the football field, the band and choir rooms and, my favorite part, the auditorium and the little theatre. I spent much time in these as I was a theatre geek (my claim to fame was performing in repertory theatre when I was 17 as Peppermint Patty in the musical Snoopy). We ended up at the swimming pool (indoor, it’s Michigan for goodness sake). As Mr. Venetelli, our high school Spanish teacher had joined us, he also gave up some secrets. So, the teachers used to going swimming during lunch. What? Our teachers were, well, real people? This of course led to the question of which teachers were sleeping with which other teachers. With a couple of exceptions, Mr. Venetelli gave up very little information (either that or our teachers were a bit boring).

From there it was lunch at the Coney Island. If you’re from Michigan, you will understand this. If not, that is a reason to head to the Motor City for a visit. Our high school hangout was Davison Coney Island. A mere half-mile from the high school it was where we would go to lunch. The experience on this day was a bit different. In high school, a not-so-pleasant lady would come around to each table with a cigar box and students were required to pay before receiving any food or drinks. While it seemed rude at the time, looking back as an adult it made a lot of sense (although she could have been more pleasant, but I’m sure she was over us). If I had never before felt like an adult, this would finally be the day I did. After we ate, our checks were laid on our tables with a smile. It was like a Bar Mitzvah. No cigar box! Today, you are a man (uh well, you get it).

The next night was the big event. Yes, the official 10 year reunion evening. As I was staying at the hotel where the event was taking place, I had a little pre-prom party in my hotel. And, as some of my classmates cleverly left their spouses at home, this gave all of us the opportunity to not walk in alone. It also gave us the opportunity to enjoy some liquid courage before heading down.

One of the first people I ran into was my middle school music teacher. Coincidentally, her brother was my very first boyfriend. His name was Robert Green. I was a cute but awkward 13 year-old (at least I felt awkward) and he was a chubby 13 year-old boy with braces. The perfect match. He was not a good kisser (we were 13. Who was?) He bought me an engraved heart stickpin for my birthday. I was not even remotely in love with him, just with the idea of having a boyfriend (try not to judge, I was 13). Anyway, his sister was sure to inform me that he is recently divorced and showed me a photo of him with his 15 year-old son. Surreal. Next I run into Jeff, the jock. I tell him it’s good to see him and he immediately asks, “Where do I know you from?” Uh, I don’t know, high school perhaps???

Reunion night

The next day was a picnic in the Oak Park Park. This is the place we all grew up in. Whether it was pushing our dog down the slide, sledding at the Oak Park hill, playing on the train (the funnest train that never moved), playing softball in little league or hanging out while skipping school. It was a weekend filled with great memories and OMG moments.

After spending time with old friends the following are the random thoughts which crossed my mind or conversations I had during the weekend: Do you stay in an unhappy marriage? Hell, do you even get married? What about kids? Crap, I forgot to have kids. Wow, I’m glad I didn’t have kids. Do I want to be in this relationship and have someone needy now that my kids are grown? Do I need to be needed? Being single, if I die, how long until someone finds my body? How strange is it to talk with kindergarten friends about buying new appliances? And to drink wine with them instead of milk from the milk machine? Instead of white or chocolate the question becomes white or red? Pop? It’s a Midwest thing (I am now a soda person, although I drink neither).

Finally, what did I learn from my 10 year reunion? Life is hard. I’m not complaining. And I’m not saying that my life has been any tougher than anyone else’s. Everybody has tough times. Some more than others. When you look at it, I won the birth lottery. From where I was born, to my parents, to my childhood friends. Lucky. Oh, and if you have the chance to go to your 10 year reunion (or perhaps, 30 year)? Go. Facebook is not the same.

Overcoming My Fear of Flying

12 Jun

I have a fear of flying.

“What?” you say. “Aren’t you the one who travels the world finding adventures? Surely you cannot be afraid of flying!”

With that you would be right, and wrong. I have no issues with airplanes unless I’m assigned a middle seat as I am deathly afraid of that. The fear of flying I’m speaking of is the Flying Trapeze. So, in honor of my birthday (Monday, and yes, I’m still waiting for your present) I took a trapeze lesson.

First, let me explain why birthday adventures are so important to me. I love birthdays. It’s the one holiday that’s all my own. I don’t have to share it with anybody (it must be lousy to be a twin but I guess you’ve learned to share in the womb)! And while I may not be able to remember what I did last Thursday, I remember where I was and what I did on most of my birthdays. I spent two birthdays in Alaska with the sun setting at about 2:30am and rising at about 4:00am. I spent one in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was working but ducked into a pub for a little birthday drink. One was celebrated on a Tall Ship from the 1930’s in the middle of the Caribbean while looking at the wash of the Milky Way Galaxy and wishing on five shooting stars. I rode a bike around Berlin (with clients) on a birthday a few years ago. And last year I did my birthday trip to England (read On A Wing and a Prayer) and then flew to New York to celebrate the day with my oldest friend.

After much consideration (okay, after a fleeting thought) I had a brilliant idea. Trapeze! I did a Google search and, lo and behold, while I was out of town these last two years, Trapeze U opened up in four miles from my house. My only concern was an issue with my back as of late. Oh, and the fear. Yes, there was that. I waited until the day of my birthday (again, June 10, still waiting for your presents) to see how my back would feel that day.

I woke up with my usual run to the medicine cabinet and picked up an ice pack from the freezer. After a while, my back was feeling better and I decided to commit. I pulled up the website and booked my ticket for a “Monday Night Special.” Yikes!

I spent the day getting free food (love the local restaurants that understand the importance of your own personal holiday) and running errands. I went to the gym as I though it important to be warmed up, stretched out and as light as possible.

The lesson was scheduled for 7:30pm as, at 113 degrees, the temperature is too hot to touch your steering wheel let alone swing on a trapeze. I arrived at about 7:00pm and sat in my car staring at the empty swing while trying to imagine myself up there. It didn’t look very high. ‘Yeh, I can do this,’ I convinced myself. I entered the office and was greeted with a friendly, “Hello.” I energetically responded and made some amusing quip (it’s important that these people like you as they’re responsible for whether you live or die). They handed me an info. sheet and release to sign. All was fine until I got to the line about “Your Emergency Contact.” Crap. I wrote down my sister’s name and immediately texted her to stand by her phone “just in case.”

After various others filed in and completed their paperwork, we headed outside. They hooked us all up in safety harnesses. These were tightened so that my waist was about the size of my thigh, although with my larger thighs, this is not saying much (thanks mom!). All I can think is, “Does this safety harness make my butt look big?”). They then separated us into two groups – first timers and previous flyers. There were 6 of us first timers and 5 experienced. Of the first timers, I was the oldest. The others were teenagers. Fabulous! The experienced ones consisted of teenagers, an eight year old (Azalea, known as Z), Z’s mother, Seven (yes, that’s her name) and a 51-year-old (Linda).

They asked us first timers to line up while they instructed us on positions and listening. We then practiced how to grasp the trapeze, jump and let go of the support pole (very important it’s done in this order). The instructor told us that immediately after we started our swing they would tell us to kick up and hook our knees around the bar and let go. Uh, what? Don’t I first get a chance to just swing? You want me to immediately go upside down? You’ve got to be kidding.

The experienced people went first followed by the first timers. I’m third in line. While Katie, the 13 year-old in front of me swung, I was called to climb the ladder. It’s a very narrow, metal ladder wrapped in rope. I began climbing on the outside and when I reach the first rung painted red (where the net was at, I was told to step on the inside and climb the rest of the way. This was one of the toughest parts as the ladder not only hurts your hands and feet, but we seem to have a battle over which one of us was shaking more. The

Trapeze Ladder Climb

The Dreaded Ladder

higher I climbed, the more terrified I became. ’Why can’t I be a normal person who celebrates their birthday with cake and perhaps a cocktail?’ I thought. Finally I heard a voice behind me saying, “Two more steps.” I got to the second red ladder rung and was told to hold on with both hands and step back onto the platform. This part was less scary than I thought it would be, but that’s most likely because I just wanted to get off the ladder. I stepped onto the platform and grabbed the cable thinking good thoughts and doing some yoga breathing. I asked the guy his name and immediately forgot it (really, my mind was elsewhere). I listened closer than I have ever listened in my life. Oh, and I DID NOT LOOK DOWN!

The man whose name I cannot remember (let’s call him Voldemort) hooked my safety

Ladder to Platform

Get me off this ladder!

harness to cables and told me to spread my legs (uh, I’ll just leave this one alone) and hold onto the cable with my left hand. He held onto my safety harness while using a pole to bring the trapeze bar closer to us (breathe). He then told me to grab the bar with my right hand and push my hips forward. Done. When he said, “Hep” (circus term for go) I let go with my left hand and go. This was completely wrong order and I also didn’t jump as was supposed to. Basically, I just held on and fell. Immediately I heard, “Kick your legs up.” I kicked, but my legs didn’t quite make it under the bar to hook onto it. My hands hurt. I heard the guy on the ground tell me to kick my legs forward like I’m sitting and let go. As always, I’m good at falling. I landed in the net grateful that it didn’t hurt my back. I stood up and did the crazy chicken net walk over to the edge, grabbed onto the marked spots, laid down and flipped off the net. I stood there and yelling, “I flew!” Perhaps I didn’t accomplish the whole upside down thing, but I got off that platform without delay and I swung.

We got a couple of more turns in our rotation during which I still could not quite get my legs up there. “Damn, you’re strong girl,” was the comment from Voldemort. Apparently that was my problem. I kept bending my arms and basically doing pull-ups. Ha! I can’t do one in the gym but I did about 40 on this night.

They then lined us up again to instruct us on how to hang upside down and pass to a catcher. Yes, let go of the trapeze with our legs and be held by a guy on another trapeze. There’s just one problem here – I still hadn’t hung upside down (okay, there’s probably more than one problem but that’s the first one).

I climbed up and told Voldemort that I would not be doing the catch. He seemed disappointed. Sorry, not happening. I gave the upside down thing one more try. They showed me a different way and I gave it my best shot. The only thing I accomplished was hooking my leg around my safety harness and screaming. Aah, comedy relief. Through a variety of twisting moves I unhooked my leg and hung by my hands anxiously waiting to be told to let go. Again, I’ve got the falling thing down.

One great part of the experience was bonding with the others in my group. We traded E-mails to send photos. I headed home for a dip in the pool and in the scotch.  I have not been able to raise my arms above my head for two days now. A birthday to remember.

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.

Painting

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.

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