Monday, July 23, 2012

Battling the Bulge

Ugh!  How else is one to begin writing about "the bulge?"  Or, in my case, the bulges--plural, as in more than one.  Okay, more than two, but whose counting?  I am.  And, apparently, The Man-I've-Admired-For-Years is counting (see Tennis Anyone? posted May 2012). 

So, I started (again) putting in extra effort to defeat the enemy--those sneaky, covert extra pounds, a.k.a. lbs.  LBs.  How very appropriate.  LB can stand for "Losing Battle," "Lots o Bulges," "Limit Bacon," "Load Bearer" and "Lard Bottom."  I could go on and on.  But you get the point.

Now, make no mistake, anyone engaging in this warfare must expect to come face to face with 360 degrees of ugliness.  Afterall,  combat with this particular foe requires unfailing concentration, stern will power, grocery shopping prowess, and . . . standing naked in front of a full-length mirror. 

Once I did that, I regained the motivation to return to the gym and consult the chiseled expert, that lean, muscle-bound, cream soda smelling "A.J." whom I wrote about in "On Working Out" (posted December 2011).  We agreed to start with my legs.  I anticipated a rigorous, even military style, regimen.  Sure enough, like a platoon sargent, with a sober face and booming voice, A.J. gave orders.

"Give me twenty minutes on the treadmill, soldier."

"Now, on the floor step.  Up,down.  Up,down.  Up,down.  Faster.  FASTER!  What do you think this is, a playground for sissies?"

"No, sir."

On to lunges.

"Ready? Forward RIGHT.  Switch Left.  RIGHT.  LEFT.  RIGHT.  LEFT.  Keep it up.  Let's go!  RIGHT.  LEFT.  RIGHT.  LEFT."

Whew.  By the end of that boot camp-like session I was exhausted and ready to head to the mess hall.  But, I must say I felt victorious.

And I was victorious.  As of this writing, I am gaining ground on the battlefield, having lost 3.5 pounds of excess enemy so far.  Yes, siree, I have dropped a half-size.  No longer a size 6, but a leaner 5-1/2.  And I've gone from 34DD to 34D.  Grrreat.  My feet and boobies are smaller!
I'm afraid to exercise my arms and core for fear my wrists and navel will shrink!  A.J., help!


Friday, June 8, 2012

Resist the gray: Strategy #1

One way to resist the gray is to divert the eyes of all onlookers to your shoulders!
One way to resist the gray, divert the eyes of all onlookers to your shoulders!

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tennis, Anyone?

In high school I was introduced to the game of tennis.  And loved it.  That was, of course, a long time ago.  Recently I completed two semesters of tennis at the community college, starting with beginners.  Well, I was no beginner.  I could serve, volley, and hit forehand strokes pretty darn well for having had a decades-long break from the game.  Yeah, I was feeling pretty good about my game.  The other newbies were out of control.  Their balls sailed over the fencing into the parking lot, or they missed the ball altogether.  Some cowered as the ball came their way, using their racquet as a shield.  Silly kids.  How utterly uncoordinated, and so young and athletic looking.  My, have they got a lot of skill building to do.

So, I joined the USTA, United States Tennis Association.  Big league.  They put me in touch with team captains.  One of the many was willing to take a chance on me.  I played doubles with a seasoned partner. I planned to wow her with my one-handed backhand and hard driven serve.  Our first match I was transformed . . . in a bad way.  My balls sailed over the fencing or I missed altogether.  My hard driven serve took out the diamond stud from my partner's pierced ear!  My, I had a lot of skill building to do.

I took more classes and was ready to join friends on the court.  I had improved my serve and my forehand, and was already fine tuning a two-handed backhand.  Boy, would they be impressed.  I bought athletic clothes for the court and new tennis shoes-- to be worn only while playing tennis. Slowly I was becoming a tennis snob, like the country club set.  I was ready to compete.  Bring it on, sisters.  During that match my partner and I won one set, lost the other.  We left with the sets tied, one and one.  How very cordial are lady tennis players.

The next step in my progress at the game I loved again: play with a man I have admired for years.  Surely, he will appreciate my attempt to get involved in a sport he adores.  Surely he'll be a good coach and mentor.  Maybe he'll even ask me out.  I put on my sportswear, my court-only tennies, just a touch of make-up-- going for the natural look with a healthy, athletic glow.  During the games, my balls did not sail over the fencing, I did not take out anyone's earring and I did not fall into the net and hang up my nose--I didn't, I swear.

These particular games were really only practice for the man I had admired for years and his mixed doubles partner.  They were preparing for a league match.  My partner and I were faux opponents.  We gave them a run for their money, though.  What with me being able to get the ball over the net and between the lines pretty often.  I just knew there were kudos awaiting me after the playing was done.  The man I had admired for years would give positive praise for my ground strokes, and fuss over my powerful, newly mastered two-handed backhand.  We would play again--maybe even on a regular basis.

I had my chance to ask him about my game as we all were putting equipment away and having much needed gulps of water.

"So, Man-That-I-Have-Admired-For-Years, based on my playing tonight, what comments do you have to offer?" (Kudo coming, wait for it.)

"Just two things," he said, "practice more, and uh, don't wear spandex."

"Gee, thanks."

Friday, March 2, 2012

Three Days of Every Month of Every Year

Recently I had an experience that reminded me that I can be Positively Monsterous Sometimes--a real She-devil stirring accusations and complaints in a cauldron, concocting Potent Messages to Spew at unsuspecting subjects.  Picture a Monster Seething.  I become a Pitchy Mutation of mySelf.

I decided to do something about it.  Reminiscent of the "Serenity Prayer," I dropped to my knees and lobbed a plea heavenward.  It went something like this:
Dear Lord,
Grant me the ability to
hold my tongue,
unclench my teeth,
retract my eyes,
or possibly
avoid boiling over altogether
because I have a tendancy
to scald people standing too close.

What's that you say, Lord?
Asking too much, am I?
How about giving me family
and friends who are flame retardant,
a boss who recognizes the signs
of temperatures rising,
and a hubby who knows how
to turn off the heat and clean up the mess?

Yes, Lord, I think that is the best fix.
Let's go with Plan B--make everyone else
Immune.  Much better.  I like it.

Plan C, Lord?
Strike me with Premature Menopause Soon?
Mood swings, night sweats, constant irritability.
No, nevermind.  Kindly disregard this plea.
I'm up, off my knees, 
back to stirring the pot. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mothers and Other Strangers

How well do we know our kids?  My daughters are grown up now.  I learned about some of their secret adventures from their middle- and high-school years only recently.  Their exploits, as revealed from a perspective of adult liberation, were very telling.  Here's what I took away from their decision to share with me their adventures playing hooky, encounters with heartthrobs, rule breaking and other minor misdeeds: I must take to the grave my own school days shinanigans at all cost!     

I know I committed to posting primarily humorous stories.  And, for the most part, that will continue.  I have, however, written a short-short story specifically for a first person characterization exercise in Creative Writing. This is a fictional account inspired by a set of photos and a discussion with a trusted confidant, who survived parenting boys.  The story appears in its entirety, however diminutive, below.  Please let me know what you think.

Cookie and Me


Tina Holden Burroughs

            “C’mon, Zi.  Let’s go.  They’re waiting,” Cookie urges me from my seat in Mr. Clanahan’s sophomore biology class the way she does every day at 2:15 when school lets out at George Washington High.
            Cookie took my ordinary name, Suzanne, and dubbed me, not Suzie, but Zi in September when we became friends.  For three months I have felt like a sleek, agile, kickboxing star of a video game or graphic novel.  Zi!  I imagine myself in a tight blue spandex leotard and tights with metallic thigh-high boots.  A lightening bolt adorns my chest.  My eyes are oversized with heavy lashes and I frown, anticipating the appearance of a teenage menace whom I will defeat.  A shock of thick yellow hair hangs over one eye in signature Anime style.  Cool.  I can take on a cartoon world. 
My mom doesn’t know that I like to be called Zi, or that I hang out with Cookie.  She wouldn’t like it.
            “Coming,” I say, shoving my Cover Girl compact into my Vera Wang cosmetic pouch, and grabbing my Eddie Bauer backpack—the one with sterling studs outlining the pocket where I keep the iPhone my dad gave me for getting A’s.
            I always jump when Cookie speaks.  I don’t mind.  She’s a year and a half older, after all.  She’d had to repeat fifth grade the year her mom died and her dad went to prison.  Sad.
            We rush passed dorky freshmen who are meandering in the halls all slow and sheep-like.  We ignore fellow sophomores who do the same.  The juniors actually sneer.  But that could be because of Cookie’s fashionably ripped fishnets and blue hair.  Or maybe because they aren’t allowed to get piercings or tattoos.  Jealous.  Of course, I’m not allowed either.  If I were allowed, I’d do my eyebrow and lip.  But probably not my tongue or nipples like Cookie.
            Then we strut passed the senior jocks.  Cookie showed me how.  They are playing a lively round of One-Up.  I am certain Joaquin looks my way.  Great hair.  Nice tan.  Hot bod.  I give him a sideways glance and wish to myself, Notice me.  Notice me.  Notice me.  Darn.  What do senior jocks know, anyway?
            We are finally off campus.  Mr. Clanahan pulls up in his slick, red two-door Ford Mustang, revving the engine.  Mr. Walters, the track coach, is in the back seat.  What?
            “You first.  Get in,” Cookie says.