Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Bunch Of Year-End TL/DR

I just got back from a short run and boy are my legs tired. That’s not really a joke is it? I didn’t take my tunes because of the earphone issue, so I had about a half an hour to just let my mind wander. I love sinking into my thoughts. I wanted to reflect for a moment on the year, but I had been listening to sports talk radio during a botched trip to the gym, and I had to fume.

I went to the Y to swim and do some cardio afterwards, but as I was walking in with a bunch of other people at 11:20 the counter chick shouted that the pool was closing at noon and the whole gym was closing at 1pm. I thought about it for a second, turned around and went home listening to why Mike Leach should have been fired because he's worse than Hitler and why Mike Leach being fired is the worst thing since Eve screwed up everything for everyone in the Garden of Eden. It could have been worse. I could have been reading the newspaper.

I read a column by Paul Krugman a few days ago that really disturbed me because it summed up exactly how I felt about not just this year but the whole decade. Basically, the last ten years have been a giant waste of time for everyone. There have been a bunch of fireworks and special effects, but at the end of 2009 we’re in the same spot we were in 1999, which when adjusted for inflation is backwards. I don’t care about the rich getting richer or the poor getting poorer. That’s the way things go until there’s a revolution, but I do care about the United States of America not doing anything or making anything any more. Everything is about sticking your hand in the next guy’s pocket, and I hate that I’m part of the stagnation.

I feel that I’ve been running in place for ten years. I was lost when I got out of college and I’m lost now. If anything that happened in 2009 was positive, it was that I think I’ve hit rock bottom. I started the year trying to love my job, which I never should have done. I hate my job. I hate everything about it. It’s a chore for me to go into my office every day. Unfortunately, I spent a large portion of my life thinking money was a goal in and of itself. Not for me. I wish I had realized this when I was choosing a major.

I wish I had started writing a long time ago. I wouldn’t have wanted to major in English or Journalism, the first is too much reading boring stuff, the second I don’t really respect (see Faulkner, William and Gianolous, Deborah). But I do love the creative outlet writing affords me. Storytelling – of one kind or another – is the only thing I’ve ever been good at artistically. I know I took years off my high school art teacher’s life.

It’s funny that this ridiculous blogging every day for a year thing may have kept me sane. It was a lark, at least for the first month, but then it became a bit of a challenge and something I looked forward to. Having to find something to write about every day changed how I saw the days. It motivated me to do a bunch of stuff that I probably wouldn’t have done. Searching previous posts for examples isn’t one of those things.

It has motivated me to continue to write and post everyday, if only for the self discipline. It, along with my wife, has also motivated me to start writing a book. I don’t know if it will be a Young Adult Lit novel or a Crime novel or a bunch of bitter essays about my experiences growing up in this cesspool of aggressive stupidity that I’ve come to love as my home.

I don’t know of any writers – good, bad, or Dan Brown – who hate what they do. I also don’t know of anyone involved in financial services that doesn’t spend a large portion of their time lying to themselves about loving what they do.

I have to start doing what gives me some kind of mental reward. I’m not quitting my job (yet) but 2009 has allowed me to see that I can push it WAY down the list of important things in my life.

2009 was the worst year of a decade that sucked for me, but everyday I wake up next to a wonderful wife that I don’t deserve and the most beautiful baby girl in the history of baby girls. I live in beach town and spend an inordinate amount of time actually on the beach. I’m surrounded by smart and funny friends and family. If this is as bad as it gets, I think I can deal with it. My only New Year’s resolutions are to get in the pool tomorrow morning before it closes at noon and to not gorge myself on ravioli at Magianno’s. The pool thing is going to be easier than the ravioli thing.

I almost forgot:  YO ADRIAN!?!  I DID IT!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I'll Forget About This Tomorrow

I added a bunch of hip-hop to my workout mix because I needed a change of pace and more songs. My sessions are lasting longer than two hours now, and it’s important that my music stays fresh. I didn’t look at the songs I was picking. I sorted by genre and rating, and I selected the top twenty in the list. One of the songs was Boogie Down Productions’ “My Philosophy”. BDP was the last of the old school. They’re the step between Grand Master Flash and Public Enemy. It was socially conscious, slightly militant New York rap aimed at New Yorkers. For every reference to Malcolm X there was a reference to how Brooklyn sucked. I love their stuff. There’s next to no production value. There are no music videos, just an MC and his mic over a drum beat. Boogie Down Productions has infinite street cred. Unfortunately, the inner city youth who grew up on BDP have miserably failed to pass it on to our children. Having “My Philosophy” stuck in my head all day led me to trying to become a fan of BDP on Facebook. They don’t have a fan page. There are three groups I could join, but I don’t want to join a group. One of the groups is in South Africa, one is in Romania I think, and the one that actually refers to BDP only has 311 members and most of them are White. I don’t have a problem with White people loving BDP. I think it’s great, but I’d like to see a bunch of American Black faces to go along with those White faces. I’d like to see a fan page for some musical and cultural pioneers. It’s disappointing that we’re not passing on our contributions to the next generation, and BDP’s lack of support is the latest example for me. We don’t play rock n’ roll anymore. We don’t play the Blues anymore. Soul is dead, and Jazz is dying. Now we’re abandoning the roots of hip-hop. What the hell are we going to have in twenty years to let us know where we came from?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Not A Happy Camper

This has been one of those days. I wanted to exercise first thing in the morning but I couldn’t get my gear right. I planned on riding my bike, but that was going to take twenty minutes of bike maintenance just to get on the thing. I was dressed and ready to go when I realized my bike wasn’t. I should probably go take care of that now so it won’t be a problem in the next couple of days. I decided I would go for a run, even though I didn’t want to take the pounding on my legs. I changed into my running stuff, put on my heart monitor, got my head band to cover my ears situated to keep my earphones in my ears, and found out that my Garmin wasn’t charged. I made a specific point to charge my Shuffle last night but completely forgot about my watch. I decided to go to the Y since none of my stuff worked. I didn’t want to be there. It was cold today. I was going to be able to push it. Inside is boring, and my workout sucked because of it. I was also dreading an appointment that I set last week because I knew it was going to be cancelled. It was my dumb fault for scheduling the thing in the first place. I knew that if I went in to my office and started getting ready for the meeting; dude would call and cancel it. I waited until one o’clock in the afternoon to go in. I opened my office door, saw the message light blinking and knew. Hey LJ, sorry to cancel on you so late, but my wife and I have decided to spend an extra day in Valdosta. I’ll get back with you next week. The clock on my office phone read 1:18 p.m. He left me that message at 1:03. If I hadn’t played “outleapt” in Scrabble today using all seven of my letters and landing on a double word score, you’d be reading about me in the paper tomorrow. Hopefully, when Matt Lauer asked you if there were any signs that I might do something like this you’d be honest and tell him hell yeah and to look at my blog.

Monday, December 28, 2009


The YMCA was more crowded this morning than I expected. I suppose a bunch of people had the same idea that I did of jumpstarting the New Year a week early. The pool was reserved for old people when I got there. I knew this would probably happen so I came prepared for some treadmill time. That didn’t really workout because I spent the weekend eating meatballs and drinking beer. Just one time I wish I could see the backside of my eating decisions before I make them. I was dragging. I wasn’t a quarter of a mile into my run before I tapped out. Alcohol, cholesterol, and no sleep worked twenty years ago as a lifestyle, not today. I’m about to be thrity-muthasqueezin-nine years old, and my body needs good nutrition. I hopped on the treadmill and did a half an hour. If I had done thirty-one minutes I would have puked on the television screen and crapped in my pants at the same time. But this is good. This is why I’m getting serious (again) a week early. Since I was performing like an old man I decided to act like an old man, and I spent forty-five minutes in the sauna. I might as well sweat as much beer and gravy out of my pores as possible. I would have stayed in another forty-five minutes but I was worried about my Shuffle and I didn’t bring my book so I was bored. It’s too hot to fall asleep in the sauna but it was beyond relaxing. I wasn’t the only one in the sauna trying to get right. There was a guy who had to be seventy-five who came in and started sweating out gin. I could smell it. This guy was strictly old school. He looked like he was doing better than I was, but I was encouraged that I couldn’t smell beer coming out of my pores. It meant that I hadn’t gone too far this weekend, and my body wasn’t used to bad nutrition. Either that or I’m a bitch and got clowned by a guy in his seventies with gray back hair.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

World Wide Known Whether You Like It Or Not

I had a song take me back twenty-four years today. It was a stupid commercial for the Grammy’s that did it. They have a spot with LL Cool J’s “Rock The Bells” playing over a montage of a bunch of crap. I think he may be getting a lifetime achievement award. “Rock The Bells” changed my life. I wrote about teenagers having their lives changed by music almost a year ago, and this is one of the songs that did it for me. My love of hip-hop starts with this song. I liked Run D.M.C. and earlier stuff, but LL Cool J’s first big single spoke to me. It’s pure testosterone. It was the first song that I ever heard that was unapologetically aggressive. I was fifteen. It had an effect. I taped it off the radio – Power 95, baby – because I didn’t have the $7.49 that Coconuts and Turtles wanted for the cassette and even if I did have the money I didn’t have a consistent way to get to da wreka stow. I listened to it over and over again the way kids do. This song defined my tenth grade, along with Michael Jordan coming back for the playoffs after breaking his foot early in the season and a bunch of math teachers getting fired for breaking some testing rules. I had three Algebra 2 teachers. The first left because of cancer. The second was as close to a street pimp as a math teacher has ever gotten, and the third got fired for cheating. The whole thing was B.S. because he never gave us any kind of “heads up”. I didn’t do very well in Algebra 2, mostly because math sucks, but also because I sat next to the second hottest chick in the school. I was fifteen. She had an effect. This song was one of the ice breakers. She didn’t like it because it wasn’t “danceable”. I had to explain to her that it wasn’t about dancing. It was about LL Cool J reppin’ Queens and dissin’ suckas. I actually said that to her. She made fun of me, and I was about to get angry, but she shoulder bumped me at the same time and I smelled her hair, which obviously fried my brain since I remember it a quarter of a century later. Being fifteen sucked.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day Run

In an effort to stem the tide of rapid weight gain, and to break in my brand new Shuffle – at my wife’s demand insistence suggestion – I ran 5k as hard as I could. I didn’t do too badly considering that I haven’t exercised in a week and that I’m getting over a cold. I didn’t start out with a plan to run hard, but I started with a great song that got me pumped up, and the next thing you know I was hauling ass. It was a long song and my mile notification sounded before it was over. I was a little bit confused at first, thinking something wasn’t right. I knew I was at the right spot, but I should have been half way through another song. I’ve been running very controlled runs lately, and when I looked down I saw that I was almost two and a half minutes ahead of my old man pace. I thought about slowing down but I felt good, and figured in for a dime in for a dollar. This is what always happens. I have delusions of grandeur running away from my house, downhill. Reality sets in when I round the circle at Memorial Park and start the steady climb back home. I was in “screw it” mode so I pushed through, even though the running gods decided to mess with me. The earphone in my right ear started falling out every fifty yards. No matter what I did it wouldn’t stay in my ear. That got frustrating instantly. I wasn’t having huge problems with the pace that I had set, but running is all about rhythm, and making sure this thing stayed in my ear was messing up my rhythm. My body started telling me to stop running and fix the thing, but I was too close to home to give in to some BS excuse about music and mess up my run. I was making great time. I finished up strong and got a big hug from the baby girl for my trouble. I looked at my watch and was very pleased, especially for the day after Christmas. I think I’m going to be able to drop another ten minutes off my River Run time.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Gelukkig Kerstfeest!

Christmas was fun, but I waited too long to write this post. I ate too much turkey and drank too much beer, and now it’s 9 o’clock and I’m groggy. LMJ cleaned up as far as Christmas loot goes. Three local grandparents will do that. My parents showed up at around 1:30 this afternoon with a case of Heineken, and Christmas has been merry ever since. They were accosted in my front yard by one of my neighbors, she is a server at one of their favorite restaurants, and loves my mom and dad. It’s a little bit weird, but she’s very nice. MJ suggested that it wouldn’t be prudent for me to finish the beer before the night was over, and in a display of my personal growth and maturity, I didn’t take her suggestion as an affront to my manhood. That doesn’t mean that I won’t drink them all, it just means that I didn’t feel challenged. I just opened another one but I’m not even close to being done with the first twelve pack. Maybe I should feel challenged. Unfortunately, I don’t. I’m just old. I turn thirty-nine in a week. Back in the day I would be getting ready to go out partying; now I can’t wait to get into bed and hope I get to sleep in until 7:30 tomorrow morning. The best part of my day today – and last night for that matter – was watching LMJ play with the cool stuff she scored from Santa. She got a kitchen, an amusement park, and a train set that each occupied large chunks of her time. I love watching her imagination run wild. She gets completely caught up in what she’s doing and forgets the rest of the world around her. I wish I could be part of her little fantasy worlds every once in a while. This is the first Christmas that I really felt like a dad. It was friggin’ awesome.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pious To A Fault?

We went to church this afternoon for the Children’s Mass. Do Episcopalians have mass or is it a service? I needed a voice recorder to take notes because I noticed a whole bunch of stuff, but I’m going to have to rely on my memory. First, there weren’t as many people at there as I thought there should have been. If I’m at church then everybody needs to be at church. I thought people would have been less cavalier about consigning their immortal souls to eternal damnation and woe in the hellfires of the stygian pit. If I get to use damnation, woe, hellfire, and stygian pit in a sentence it’s been a good day. I have some criticisms – constructive I hope – about the service. They told the exact same story as they did last year about a baby being born in a barn. However, there didn’t seem to be as much tl/dr as I remember. I liked that the new dean gave a quick primer on how to take communion or not take communion. I’d never heard another member of the clergy do that, and having been a member of the Anglican Church for more than thirty years, I’ve been to about twelve or fifteen of these things. The lack of instruction about what to do and when to do it during the service is one of my peeves with the Church. There’s a lot of call and response like an old school rap concert, but no album to buy to get familiarized with the show. Communion itself didn’t go well because the Body of Christ (The Bread of Heaven) was more than a little dry, and the guy with the Cup of Salvation was being stingy with the Blood of Christ. It’s a good thing we’re not Catholic because if the communion wafer had started to transubstantiate on the way down I would have had human jerky stuck in my throat instead of whatever communion wafers are made out of, and jerky doesn’t dissolve.

Actually it was a very nice service. LMJ enjoyed herself. My parents enjoyed themselves. And I got to see some people I was hoping to see. But the dude was stingy with the wine, and last place you want to be is between an Episcopalian and his wine. Church is spiritual for us in more than one way.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sunshine And The USPS

We spent some time out in the fresh air today and everyone’s mood elevated, so this is going to be a less depressing post than the last few. Sunlight is essential for the human psyche. MJ is no longer worrying that she’s a hoarder, and I’m no longer feeling the need to punch people in the face for looking at me or talking to me. I got out of the house early this morning to overnight a package to MJ’s grandmother, Far-Mor. MJ felt she needed to send some kind of special gift so Far-Mor’s Christmas card didn’t go out with the general batch yesterday. The sunshine that hit me on the way from my back door to the car wasn’t enough to get me out of my funk, so I didn’t feel like going all the way to the post office and standing in line. I decided that I would spend a few dollars more if it cut my trip by a half an hour. I went into the UPS store and asked the guy how much it would cost to overnight the package. Jokingly, he said “A lot!” I kind of laughed and expected the cost to be around $20. I was willing to go as high as $22. He played around with his computer for a bit and then quoted me a price of $49.19 with no guarantee that it would get there by tomorrow. I was sending this package to Glendale, Arizona not Stockholm, Sweden. I took my package and stood in line at the post office, and even though I had to listen to a guy trying to get a deposit back on a P.O. Box that he lost the keys to – he never got the keys according to him – the whole thing cost me $17.50 and it’s guaranteed to be there by noon tomorrow. I always use the USPS to overnight stuff because they’re cheaper and I can send stuff to P.O. Boxes, but I had no idea just how much cheaper. That was the big adventure for the day. The 65% savings on shipping elevated my mood, and after some shopping, some lunch, and a nap, I had fun playing with LMJ in the winter sunshine. I wish it wasn’t so easy to forget how much we need to be outside so we don’t end up suicidal like Scandinavians and Eskimos.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Not Dead. Can't Quit

My cold hasn’t cleared up, and now it’s causing some collateral damage. MJ says she can’t sleep because I’m snoring like a wood chipper. I don’t hear a thing, but whatever. Personally, I think I’m much too sexy to snore. MJ gets really weird when she doesn’t get enough rest. I think it takes her a lot of mental energy to pretend she’s sane, and when fatigue sets in so do the crazies. They’re not bad crazies. 99 times out of 100 they’re cute and adorable. They usually have to do with her reconciling her generally sweet nature with the cesspool that is the real world. They used to happen more often, but I think being around me has evened her out. I’m glad my diamond hard cynicism and nihilism could be of help. Her crazies delude her into thinking that she can make the world a better place by trying harder. She can’t try any harder. It’s not possible, but I guess the effort is the thing. My crazies rational clear headed views of the world leads me to thoughts of conspiracies, revenge, and global incineration. If there were more people like MJ, the human race would have many fewer problems. If there were more people like me, the human race wouldn’t have any problems at all. But I digress. This isn’t about me. I’m writing about my beautiful wife and how sleep deprivation makes her crazy. I feel bad that she’s having a little bit of a stressful start to her vacation, so I’m doing my part to help her get some rest by staying up, writing a crappy blog post, and watching The Tudors. I’m doing my best not to eat all the sugar cookies that we made tonight. As I think about all the stuff MJ did today it’s no wonder that she’s exhausted. I may sleep in front of the television in the living room tonight to give her some quality sleep. I can always sleep in my office tomorrow.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Runny Noses, Christmas Cards, and Beer

I have a head cold and I really don’t feel like writing tonight. I had a head cold when I went to work this morning. I had a head cold when I ran some errands. I had a head cold when I ate lunch early this afternoon and had to breathe through my mouth. And I had a head cold when I tried to take a nap with LMJ. My head cold completely ruined my nap. I couldn’t get into a deep sleep because I couldn’t breathe. Breathing is important. My cold isn’t bad, it’s just inconvenient. I’m a little bit low on energy and my nose is running, but that’s about all. Unfortunately, I have stuff I have to do this week like mail our Christmas cards. Why do stuff early when you can wait until the last possible moment? We waited so long to get our stuff together that Target gave us cheap, lightweight, and non-descript envelopes instead of the heavy card stock envelopes that normally come with Christmas cards. When people get them they’re going to think they’re bills before they think they’re holiday greetings. I’m going to drop all fifty some-odd of them in the mail tomorrow and hope that they can get where they’re going in two days. Getting a Christmas card after Christmas is a little bit tacky, but if they do show up late, well, it’s the economy. I’m going to use that as a catch all for why things aren’t my fault for a long time to come. The Dow will be over 16 thousand and there will be less than 2% unemployment, but I will still be blaming the economy when my wife asks me why I drank a twelve pack of beer in an afternoon, which is a conversation we really had about ten years ago. She was being nice on Christmas Eve and bought me a case of Heineken. Then she went shopping with one of her friends, and her friend’s husband and I watched some crappy bowl games and finished the case of beer before the women got home. She asked us why we drank so much beer, which is a straight forward question for a woman to ask, but an existential question for a man to answer. It’s like asking why water is wet or what the sound of one hand clapping is. If I don’t feel better by tomorrow, I may explore that question.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Had A Nagila

Tonight was fun. Spending time with good friends and eating good food is the hokey pokey. We had a traditional Macabee dinner of challah, latkes, split pea soup, turkey, Oreos, brownies, rice crispies treats, wine, and whiskey. The original Jerusalem was in Kentucky. Not a lot of people know that. I’m not a bourbon guy, but in my new spirit of embracing hard liquor, I had some. Maker’s Mark works and don’t let anyone tell you different. Bourbon is a little bit different than beer, and I’m clearly a lightweight. The bourbon knocked me on my ass, even though I had it on the rocks. I think I need to learn how to sip whiskey instead of drinking it. We didn’t do anything special tonight. It was real low key. We just kind of hung out. We ate. We drank. We watched the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger punk the Green Bay Packers. I got introduced to Glee and found myself liking it despite it being a little bit low brow for my tastes. I like sophisticated stuff like Jersey Shore. LMJ had a good time and seemed to have turned a social corner. She’s always been a little bashful when she’s around people she doesn’t see every day, but tonight she walked in like she owned the place. She wasn’t shy for an instant. She talked to everyone without having to bury her head in my shoulder for a half an hour. She had fun playing with Hansel Cat, and didn’t quite understand that Gretel Cat wasn’t in the mood to play. She entertained everyone with a rendition of the ABC song. EJG accompanied her on the piano. Cora Spondence commented that she has second graders that can’t get through the ABC song as well as LMJ did. I think she’s turning into a social butterfly. I think the My Gym classes are doing what they’re supposed to do. Hopefully we’ll all be able to get together at least once more before the holidays are over.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Easy 8

Today was supposed to be a day of doing nothing. We ate breakfast, thought about how much fun Disney is, started putting up the curtains, and then I stepped on the scale. Wow! I threw on the shoes, found something to cover my ears, fired up the Garmin and headed west. Calories needed to be burned. Travel is not conducive to healthy eating, at least for me it isn’t. I was a little disappointed in myself, even though I knew the Holidays were going to be a time of maintenance and not improvement. Big dreams are easy in the morning. I was determined to run long today, and if I wound up dead on the side of the road, so be it. The weather was perfect for running. It was about 48 degrees, there was a little bit of cloud cover, and not much wind. I had planned on running five miles, but I hadn’t run in good conditions like today’s for so long that I underestimated how easy five miles would be. I cruised past the turn around point for my five mile run and did a bridge loop. I ran down to the Jacksonville Landing, over the Main Street Bridge and back across the Acosta Bridge. It is so much easier to run when my body isn’t wasting all its energy trying to vent heat. I didn’t sweat nearly as much as I normally do so my blood didn’t get thick. This is the first run in recent memory that felt great the whole run. As I was running back around the Riverside Arts Market and under the Fuller Warren Bridge some running expo people started cheering me on. The running community is funny. I had kept my heart rate under control until I finished my lap around Memorial Park, which is 1.6 miles from my front door along the route that I take. I decided the home stretch started as I left the park and crossed Margaret Street. I picked up the pace and was able to finish strong. Today might have been the easiest 8 mile run I’ve ever done.

Friday, December 18, 2009

It’s A Furniture Store, Not An Amusement Park

We ran ourselves absolutely ragged at Disney yesterday and were in bed by 7:45. We weren’t able to get a quality parking space at the Polynesian like we were at the Magic Kingdom so that was a bit of a bummer for MJ. We woke up with a rough plan of taking it easy today since everyone was worn out. We all got together for breakfast at one of the hotel’s restaurants and, honestly, I think this was my favorite part of the trip. I love spending time with my family over a meal. I ate too much and had some really great coffee. They charge $40 a pound for this stuff and I was seriously offended when I saw the price on the menu, but we ordered a pot – when in Rome – and it was one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had. It wasn’t worth $40 but it was pretty good (that reminds me of a scene from Pulp Fiction). After breakfast everyone except LMJ and me planned a trip to IKEA. It’s in Orlando, none of us live there (thank God), and my parents didn’t have a navigation system in their car, so some planning was necessary. LMJ fell asleep on the way and I volunteered to stay in the van with her. LMJ woke up about a half an hour after we got to the store and we hung out and had a good time. After an hour of sitting in the van, I called MJ to ask her to bring us some ice cream cones on the way out. She said no problem, they were downstairs, and she would call us if she wanted us to come in, she was giddy. If heaven is based on our individual perspectives, MJ’s version is going to be a Swedish furniture store. Another hour later, she walks up to the van without any ice cream cones and super pumped to show me all the crap wonderful furnishings she’d bought. I’d been cooped up in a stuffy van with a two year old watching The Backyardigans for two hours. I was all “WTF!?!” The whole thing was a misunderstanding. I thought “We’re downstairs” meant they were about to check out. I was wrong. What “We’re downstairs” meant was “We’re done with the pre-shopping and you’ll have your ice cream in about an hour”. I’m the odd man out on this one. Everybody but me, including my parents, including my dad, got jacked to the max about furniture you get to put together yourself with bad directions and an Allen wrench. I just don’t get it. LMJ and I finally got our ice cream so the trip wasn’t a total failure.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Polynesian Parking

We spent the day at the Magic Kingdom with my parents. The day started out perfectly for MJ because we showed up ten minutes before the park opened for guests staying on the property – a full hour before everyone else – and WE GOT THE BEST PARKING SPOT EVER!!! MJ was beyond excited. She’s been trying to get here before the park opens for the better part of a decade. We got in, got our bearings and headed towards the tea cups. They were the only piece of unfinished business we had left from the last time we came to Disney. I’m always surprised at what LMJ is up for. We got in our tea cup after next to no wait (remember, we got in early) and she took the wheel and started spinning us around. I guess that I’m just going to have to learn that if she feels as if she’s in control then she really isn’t afraid of anything. She moved to Piglet’s House playground where she sat in Winnie the Pooh’s chair and pretended to eat some honey. We spent the morning going from ride to ride and enjoying each other’s company, usually with Ama, MJ, LMJ, and me riding the ride while Grammy and Granddad watched and took pictures. We finished off the morning by taking turns on Splash Mountain. LMJ watched the flumes, yelling “Splash! There goes another one!” every time one went down the falls. We were all spent after four and a half hours in the Magic Kingdom and headed back to the hotel for a siesta. We hit the park again for Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise to make sure we didn’t miss anything. I learned a couple of things travelling with my parents. They have a lot more stamina than they would like to let on. They’re really good sports. LMJ is going to have a lot of fun adventures with them. And if she spends any time alone with her Granddad, there’s a good chance she’ll come home with a pony. He was trying to buy MJ everything she randomly said she was interested in. What won’t he buy LMJ when she starts to ask?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Road Trip

We’ve arrived at Disney. I discovered that the back seat is the place to be on long trips, and I won’t be driving anymore. LMJ and I had a blast singing songs and eating pizza and goldfish while MJ and CJ were up front arguing about where the next Starbucks was and if we should stop at this one or keep going. We’re staying at the Pop Century Resort tonight, which has a decade theme. We’re in the 70’s building. It was dark when we arrived so the only things we noticed were the giant Big Wheel, the giant Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, and the giant Foosball players in the courtyard. It’s cramped but we’re at Disney, and we’re staying at the Polynesian tomorrow night. I’d like to see more of the Pop Century but we’re not here to play in the pool. We’re here to ride rides and eat turkey legs. Orlando sucks. If there’s a fender bender on I-4 the whole city shuts down, and there’s a fender bender every twenty minutes. I’ve never liked this town. It’s every tourist cliché all wrapped up into one messy metropolis. We went to IKEA to eat cheap hotdogs and browse for cheap furniture, but they were closing when we arrived. We thought they were open until nine and they’re only open until eight. I’m posting this a day or two late because I’m not paying ten dollars for interweb access when I’m only going to be here for ten hours. A dollar an hour is a bit steep, especially when I’m going to be sleeping for most of that time and it would be a little bit awkward downloading porn with my mother-in-law in the room. MJ has us on some extreme Disney Warrior Challenge schedule where we need to be banging on the gates before 8 a.m. so we don’t miss an instant of fun, even if it kills every one of us.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

350 Down. 16 To Go

The weather is about to turn cold. I know this because I’ve started to enjoy the heat again. It happened on the way to the park with LMJ. We were walking, and she was telling me things when I stopped and smelled the roses for just a moment. I had been frustrated all day that I couldn’t walk from my car to my office without sweating at 7:30 in the morning in the middle of December, but walking in my Old Jacksonville neighborhood on the way to the park, in shorts, with my beautiful little girl, I realized that only a complete jackass would complain. People in Chicago and Philadelphia would commit atrocities against their neighbors for an afternoon like the one I was experiencing. Afternoons like today’s are the whole reason I live in Florida. Yes, the “Happy Birthday Jesus” house seems a little bit out of place with the sun shining on an 80 degree day, but LMJ loves it and she loves telling me about all the little things she notices about it. We got to the park and we swung and went up and down the slide – the little slide, not the big one. There was an incident with the big slide a couple of weeks ago, so now she gets up to it like she’s going to ride it but climbs back down at the last minute. We ran in the grass, had a picnic, and threw rocks. The rock throwing ship has sailed. There’s nothing I can do about it now. I pick up rocks and throw them everywhere I see them, and now she does too. I just hope to keep the broken windows to a minimum as she grows up. I’ve done a complete one-eighty on the weather. I’ve gone from hating the heat to loving it again, but being the pessimistic bastard that I am, I’m expecting freezing rain for the rest of the year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What Do You Tell A Woman With Two Black Eyes?

I’m calling today Domestic Violence Monday. I don’t know if it’s an especially festive holiday, but they can’t all be winners. MJ had a student show up with a busted lip this morning, allegedly jacked in the jaw for talking back to her mother. The orange county sheriff’s department supposedly has an open domestic violence investigation regarding the Woods. And the possible wife beater down the street may have put his wife in the hospital.

A girl showed up in MJ’s class this morning and asked for a paper towel and some water. When MJ turned around to tell her where they were, she noticed the youngster had been tagged in the teeth and was bleeding. MJ asked what happened and the girl told her that her mom had done it but that it was okay because she had sassed her mother. It seems the girl was brought up in a Christian home since she’s familiar with teachings of Proverbs 25:25, “Don’t talk s**t and you won’t get your ass whipped”. MJ followed protocol and notified whoever it was she was supposed to notify, which turned out to involve a lot more office politics than I would have expected.

Word round the campfire is that the Orange County po-po’s aren’t buying the story that Elin and Eldrick gave them about what happened on Thanksgiving. I don’t mean to make light of domestic violence. It’s wrong under any circumstances. Except when it’s a 5’7” 110lb woman – that’s factoring in the baby weight she still hasn’t lost – beating the hell out of a 6’2” 195lb man, then it’s funny. Then it’s Benny Hill minus the Yackety Sax. I don’t want to hear about Ambien or golf clubs or anything else. If MJ came at me with a golf club I’d tell her to put the 3-iron down and pick up the driver. I’d treat her like Rocky treated Clubber Lang. Every time she hit me I’d say, “Come on! You ain’t so bad!”

I was rounding up my baby girl to start the bedtime routine when we saw a fire truck and an ambulance drive by. They stopped at the wife beater’s house a couple of doors down. I wrote about him two years ago. While I was changing LMJ into her jammies.  MJ was looking out the window to see what was happening. She says the police showed up and someone was carted out on a stretcher. Unfortunately, she was changing for bed so we missed all the scuttlebutt outside with the neighbors. I’m not worried though. I can catch up on all the scoop with Sean and Anita tomorrow.

A little bit of a weird day.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Struggling To Finish Strong

I feel like I’m running the last mile of the River Run with this blogging every day for a year thing. I bragged about cruising effortlessly through the end of the year. I even mentioned doing something special for New Year’s Eve, but I’m struggling to get over the Hart Bridge. I have nothing I want to write about. I’m bored. The YMCA is closed and I’m too lazy to go run. I’m not interested in anything that’s going on in my life or in the world. We’re going to Disney soon and I’m apathetic. I waited half a year for Battlestar Galactica: The Plan to come out, and I was a little bit disappointed. It didn’t really answer anything. It was just a way to sell more DVD’s. I can’t get excited about Christmas because the weather won’t decide what it wants to be. I can deal with an 80 degree tropical Christmas. It would be like a Corona commercial. I can deal with a 30 degree freezing Christmas. It would be like a traditional Christmas. However, I’m not dealing well with the up and down, “on the other hand”, wild weather fluctuations. One day the high is 55. The next day the low is 78. I don’t even know how that’s possible. I guess in a specific instant sometime during the night, the air is flash heated 23 degrees. I made Swedish meatballs tonight and ate way too many of them. They’re much better when the weather is cold, but they’re still the greatest thing ever, even in the sauna like climate of North Florida today. I didn’t put any crack cocaine in the mix, but I’d swear the allspice transubstantiates in the frying pan. I’m not drinking beer. That’s the problem. I’m neglecting my health by not enjoying a doctor recommended 6-pack every day. On a positive note I’ve started a book that I’m enjoying. I’m going to have to make some time to really dive into it. Maybe I should belly up to the bar at European Street and drink beer while I read. It’s a thought.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I Know Why The Caged Bird Kills Itself

I don’t feel like writing tonight. I was going to write some really bad poetry but the first one I wrote was wasn’t quite bad enough to wrap all the way back around to being good. I couldn’t get it to the Clash of The Titans or Showgirls point. It was just bad enough that if a movie was made about it Andie McDowell would star in it. I scrapped it and decided to write a sonnet about beer, and it was turning out well too, but iambic pentameter is hard. The whole point of the poetry was to get out of my self mandated post length, but I found it’s easier to just crank out three hundred words of whining than three quatrains and a couplet. Who am I, Soulja Boy?

This was a cold, rainy, crappy day. I hate rainy days. I don’t mind summer thunder storms – that’s thunder storms, not hurricanes – they’re over in an hour at the most. Today, I woke up and it was raining. It’s almost ten at night and it’s still raining. I could live in Seattle for about three days before I put a shotgun in my mouth. We couldn’t do anything today. It was a Cat In The Hat day, but the cat and his two Things never showed up. We were stuck inside with a two year old, who wasn’t bad, but none of us could burn off any energy. I was done with the laundry by noon. The kitchen was clean by twelve thirty. Netflix is pretending they didn’t get my movie, and I was grumpy for the rest of the day.

Netflix has a center here in Jacksonville, and I was working the system pretty well. I’d get a movie, watch it, and drop it in the mail the next day. I was getting three deliveries a week. I don’t think they liked it because the last two movies that I got, both of them taking an extra day to get here, came from Orlando. I think it’s a conspiracy and I’m starting a log to keep track of it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Just Scratch The Check Tiger

I think the Tiger Woods saga is starting to wind down now that we’re running low on women he hasn’t cheated on his wife with – blondes anyway. I want to write about it because I think rampant stupidity by married men who can’t keep their junk under control is funny. I’m bummed because I never saw it coming. Mostly because I never gave Tiger Woods much thought, but I should have considered who he hangs out with, and how he comes across – when he comes across at all – as a hyper-competitive alpha male. His best friend and role model is Michael Jordan, who is just a bigger alpha-er male than Tiger. I don’t understand why these fools feel the need to get married, especially Tiger. MJ married his college sweetheart before he was Air. Tiger had been Tiger for almost a decade when another golfer introduced him to his nanny. What the hell does a dork that went to Stanford have in common with a Swedish nanny? I know she’s fine, but what does that have to do with marriage? Didn’t Tiger know who Tiger was? I bet he cheated on her at his bachelor party the day before he got married. Did he think he was going to stop when he said, “I do”? Why didn’t MJ school his boy on this? Juanita took MJ for more than $300 million. I’m sure the strippers and porn stars he was dealing with were “well trained in the Jedi arts” but $300 million? Why didn’t anyone in Tiger’s circle at least get him the complete series of The Wire? At least then he would have known not to leave his name on answering machines and to switch up cell phones. He should have been buying burners at the convenience store and dumping them as soon as they were out of minutes. There should have been at least three go-betweens between him and the hookers, and they should have been hookers not skanks looking to get famous. Tiger’s going to have to bite the bullet and divorce his Valkyrie wife. She’s violent and he’s addicted to diner waitresses. There is no way this ends well. A year from now she’ll be in a black Ford Bronco creeping down I-4 in a slow speed chase with the Florida State Troopers after she cuts off Tiger’s and his “massage therapist’s” heads. $80 million, I think that’s the new pre-nup number, is cheaper than being castrated with an electric carving knife.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What's That Smell?

My bedroom stinks like sweaty people because I live in a GD swamp. It was around 85 degrees yesterday with 9000% humidity. Yesterday was December 9th. It was so hot and humid that my feet were sticking to the floor when I walked. But there was no way in hell I was turning on the air conditioning, not in December. I’ll wash every piece of bed linen we own or will every own before I turn on the AC during Christmas. I’ll open windows. I’ll light candles, but the JEA will not get the satisfaction of me being uncomfortable enough to spend extra money to cool my house. The room doesn’t smell like BO. It smells like clothes worn two days in a row, or something. That doesn’t mean it’s a pleasant odor, but it’s not like we’re living in a bus station or homeless shelter. The house is more than 80 years old and we need to shore up the insulation. That would solve a bunch of problems. If we could be reasonably confident that it would be done correctly, after the train wreck that was our home improvement project over the summer we’re gun shy about changing anything. Everything we do seems to be money down the drain. Since the house is so old it has a lot of windows. That’s how people didn’t die from heatstroke in Florida before AC. We trade old problems for new ones. Grammy and Mommy are thinking about buying some kind of curtains as a stop gap but I think they were thinking about reducing heating costs for this winter and not cooling costs for this winter. Most likely I won’t do anything about any of this though because the temperature is back in the fifties and everything is comfortable again. As soon as I wash the blankets and sheets the room won’t stink again until the next time the temperature and humidity spike, which will probably be sometime next week.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Trip To The DMV

I had to get a new license so I scheduled an appointment for this morning and ran around like a mad man to get there. I thought I had everything planned but then none of my printers worked. I guess I didn’t say pretty please. I don’t have the home printer on my work computer, my primary computer, because I don’t want to have a bunch of crappy HP software clogging up my machine. I also don’t want to have to find a receipt for the printer so I can prove to LFA that I’m didn’t steal it. Thanks to my lovely wife, who had the revolutionary idea to keep our important documents safe in one place, I had no problem finding my passport, voter registration card, social security card, and stool sample so I could prove that I am who I say I am. But thanks to my printer woes, my 90 minutes of cushion quickly turned into minus 10 minutes. I had to head over to the Southside and the directions – from the DMV – were worthless. I think they’re from 10 or 15 years ago, and there has been a ton of development since then. The DMV is housed in a AAA office and almost nobody was there. I gave my barely pre-printed application to the receptionist, whose confusion/indifference let me know that I had wasted my time filling everything out online. There were two people ahead of me who were just waiting for their new licenses to print. I was up in no time. I was a little bit frustrated even faster. I got my social security card and passport out so a AAA employee could kind of glance at them. Swipe something electronically, please, if you’re going to make me drive across the river and deal with Southside Blvd. If not then let me do all this crap online. I guess I convinced her that I’m me because she told me to take the eye test and stand for my picture. When it was time to pay she looked surprised that I wanted to pay with a Visa. They don’t take Visa. They take MasterCard, AMEX, and Discover, but not Visa. Who takes AMEX but not Visa? I had to walk to the Publix next door and withdraw cash. The worst part was the picture. My previous picture was taken 14 years ago and I’ve gotten old, but I’m licensed up thru my birthday in 2018 so I don’t have to deal with that for a while.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Welcome To Seaside

I went for a run this morning and two miles in I started to have chest pains. They didn’t get intense because I slowed down. My heart rate dropped back to normal quickly but the episode scared the hell out of me. I thought about pushing through it but I was creeping along and I shouldn’t have been having any problems. Something told me to stop running. Dying on the street would have been extremely embarrassing. I don’t know if I didn’t eat right or what, but I’ve never quit in the middle of a run like that. Maybe I caught a 24 hour case of asthma.  I’ve felt a little bit off ever since. It wasn’t all bad though. I had my iPod and was listening to a Podcast one of my favorite sports writers, Bill Simmons, break down the two hour premiere of MTV’s Jersey Shore. It’s a reality show – of course – about a house full of Guidos young, tanned, artificially enhanced Italian Americans from New Jersey. One of the guys in the house gave himself the best nickname in the history of nicknames. It’s so good that I wish I had thought of it. He glossed himself The Situation. Actually, that’s what he calls his 6-pack abs, but it grew to encompass the total man. The show has generated some controversy within the Italian American community because it might be the most defamatory show ever shown on television. I think it’s kind of like the Italian version of Flavor of Love if you took out the Flavor Flav and just filmed the hangers on running a t-shirt store. I watched a clip – okay two – and I can’t believe that there are people who strive to hit as many negative cultural stereotypes among their own ethnic group. I may get sucked into this train wreck. Normally I can’t stand MTV reality shows because the people are mercenary, talentless hacks looking for a short cut to stardom. The Situation thinks he’s already a star.

Monday, December 7, 2009

5 Scratch Offs And A Pack Of Newports? Twelve Dollars

I was standing in line this morning at Publix waiting to buy myself a diet Sprite. It was eight o’clock in the morning so, of course, there was a little old lady trying to hedge her way to financial security by way of scratch off tickets. As I was starting to get frustrated I noticed the price of cigarettes, $6.89 for a pack of Camels. The el cheapo butts cost $6.59. I can’t believe people pay that. The debate whether nicotine is addictive is over – scoreboard. There’s not even a moot court academic exercise for the “no it isn’t” side. I remember my grandmother talking about revolution when cigarettes crossed the $1 per pack plateau. They were a buck fitty in the early ‘90’s. Now they’re almost $7. The good part is that most of that cost is tax, both state and federal. I’m a big believer in vice taxes, and it’s one of the reasons I think drugs should be legal. I say tax them to a point of a gray market. It’s a captive market and no matter how much they bitch and moan they’ll never stop buying. I double dog dare smokers to stop smoking. Vices can, and would, fund everything: education, defense, social security, national healthcare, everything. We should let the tobacco companies do whatever they want. If they want to say tobacco doesn’t cause cancer it’ll be fine by me. We should remove those health warnings from the packs. If you don’t know tobacco is bad for you then you don’t deserve to be warned. We should drop the smoking age to thirteen. That’s when people first try tobacco anyway. The eighteen year old minimum clearly isn’t working. A bum will buy toddlers cigarettes if he can keep a couple for his trouble. I’ve stopped buying beer because Heineken crossed the $13 for a 12 pack, and I love beer like I’m German. I just can’t believe that someone would drop $7 on cigarettes. That’s insane.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Crappy Post On A Dead Man's Chest. Yo Ho Ho And A Bottle Of Rum

This is one of those nights where I’m stuck looking for something to write about. I didn’t do anything today; laundry and dishes don’t count. I got out of the house for a grand total of five minutes to walk down the block and see the Happy Birthday Jesus lights. I really hate days like this, but there wasn’t anything to do today and no reason to go outside other than to spend money, which I’m trying to keep to a minimum. The main problem is that I’m out of booze. I’ve got a shot of cheap rum left that shouldn’t be cheap. Cruzan keeps the good stuff down in the islands and sends the crap here. Other people have noticed the difference. It’s not that we bought a lower grade of the stuff. It’s like Molson having a different recipe for the beer they send to the US and the beer they keep in Canada, but at least they’re up front about it. They say, “Eh, you hosers won’t allow the good 7% stuff so we send you some watered down 4% stuff and you’re still complaining, eh? Take off.” My sister sent me a bottle of top notch rum a few years ago called Pyrat. It came in a fancy case that I’m now using as a glorified picture frame. It was way too good to mix, so I started sipping it. I ran through that bottle in just under three years. MJ is worried that I’m an alcoholic. The downside of acquiring a taste for good rum is that not only do I know the difference between good and bad now, but I can’t drink the cheap stuff anymore. No one goes back to Winn-Dixie Up ‘n Atum coffee after they’ve had Starbucks. The Pyrat is around $30 a bottle and I’m stuck. I don’t want to drop the cash on something I may drink twice a year, especially when money is tight, but I like having it around. MJ wants an iPhone; I want a bottle of Rum.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Go Bama! Roll Tide

I am so happy the Gators lost. Schadenfreude doesn’t come close to describing how I feel. I hate the Florida Gators. I hate their Notre Dame arrogance and Clemson history. I hate their stupid uniforms. I don’t know what I hate more the effeminate cursive Gators on their main helmets or the big F on their back up helmets. I hate that according to Gator fan Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerfful are two of the top five football players ever. I hate a grown man crying (again) because he lost a football game. I hate the eye black Bible versus. John 3:16, how about Austin 3:16 or Ingram 3:16? I don’t think Tim Tebow is a virgin anymore.

Nick Saban: Don’t tell anyone about this, Tim, because even if you do, no one is going to believe you. Your money’s on the table. Be gone when I get out of the shower.

I think there’s something wrong with me. I’m like a crab, more interested in keeping another crab from getting out of the bucket than I am getting out myself. I’m enjoying the Gators losing a lot more than I ever enjoyed the Seminoles winning. Maybe it’s because I always expected the Seminoles to win when they were good.  I don’t even care that Florida State just completed the most dysfunctional college football season ever by losing to Florida for the sixth time in a row. The college football gods doing their Lucy van Pelt imitation and treating the Gators like Charlie Brown has made this a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and a soulful(?) Kwanzaa. Losing their first game in their last game is almost perfect. The only way this could have been better is if they had lost on a bad call, but then they might have been able to bully themselves into a rematch in the national title game. I guess I shouldn’t get greedy, no undefeated season, no national championship, no conference championship. Go Gators Die slowly! Die painfully you sons of bitches.

I need serious psychiatric help.

Friday, December 4, 2009

She's A Maverick

I think LMJ may be ready to be Governor of Alaska. We were discussing a bath that she needed and she went totally Sarah Palin on me. Grammy was taking her downstairs to see her, Grammy’s, new Christmas tree and I was explaining that as soon as she, LMJ, got done that it was time for her bath, and asked her if she understood. She really wasn’t into the bath so she thought about the question for a moment, completely ignored it, and started telling Grammy about penguins. Penguins are birds, and they don’t fly, they swim, and the penguin was a baby, and standing on ice, and ice is cold. This was one of those bittersweet parenting moments. On the one hand she’s breaking down polar water fowl for me at two years old. On the other hand she’s either of the opinion that it’s okay for me to be on her “Pay No Mind” list or that she can distract me with an abrupt topic change. Do I look like Katie Couric? Fortunately, when she came back upstairs she was ready to take a bath. I think Grammy may have had a little talk with her and greased the skids, which made me happy because I didn’t have to coax her into the bathroom or fight World War III. The bath/penguin episode wasn’t the first. Yesterday she was playing with some porcelain figurines that she isn’t supposed to play with, and when I asked her about them she was startled, put them down, and told me they were fragile. Then she told me she was very smart, which she is saying more and more, and is very cute. It’s leaving me with a tough needle to thread. I want to reinforce that she’s a genius, but I don’t want to encourage the notion that cute carries a bunch of weight in the real world. Even though it does (see Katie Couric). If I do my part maybe she can become governor of a state that doesn’t start with A – or any other vowel.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Light Swim Going Into The Weekend

I gave my legs a break today and only swam. I checked out my swim schedule so I wouldn’t get caught during some aquaerobics class. Late morning on Thursday is extreme time, apparently. There was the WWI vet I talked about yesterday with his flippers and snorkel, and he wasn’t alone. There was a young guy with a snorkel. He didn’t have flippers but what the hell? I don’t understand how you can get better like that. I don’t see runners training on rollerblades. There were also a couple of triathletes starting their training for the Florida Ironman. The most interesting guy was the guy who didn’t get the memo that breathing was necessary. He was doing fifty yard bursts underwater, even though there’s a sign that says you’re not supposed to, but Navy SEALs get to do what they want I guess. I know he was a SEAL because I asked him if he was training for something specific and we got into a conversation. I was the only beginner/non-retard in the pool. I’m starting to like being a new swimmer because I’m getting better every time I swim. I’ve been running all my life and I’ve been lifting weights for twenty-five years. Improvements in either one come only with tremendous and constant effort. My body is still getting accustomed to my swimming so it’s changing rapidly. I swam two and a half times as far as I did in my very first time in the pool. I remember that first session almost killed me, but today I thought about doing a few extra laps because I wasn’t hopping on the dreadmill or the elliptical machine. My competitive side still wants to compare my performance to whoever happens to be in the pool with me, but tracking everything I do in the pool and reflecting occasionally helps me stay focused and not get discouraged, which if it was going to happen would have happened today with the more experienced swimmers lapping me time and again. I can’t believe I put off swimming for so long. I enjoy it so much more than lifting weights and running, even though, or possibly because, I’m so much less comfortable doing it and at the end I don’t hurt. Like I said, I’ve increased my swimming workload 250% and have yet to be sore.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

When The World Gives You Old People, Make Lemonade

I showed up at the pool this morning and it was full of old people doing the YMCA dance in the water. They were taking up the whole pool like this was some AARP cruise. I was not very happy because my trips to the gym have gone from “Hey, I think I’ll go to the gym” to “Is that everything? Man, I hope that’s everything”. I dress in my trunks and shirt with flip-flops on my feet for the ride there. I pack two pairs of shorts, one to minimize chafing and one to look stylish, a pair of sneakers, an iPod and earphones, a quart of water/Gatorade, my wallet, my phone, my keys, and my membership card. It’s ridiculous. I really like swimming because it’s new and it’s intense exercise that’s pain free. Until a month ago I thought those two things were mutually exclusive. Now I’ve got a bunch of octogenarians harshing my gig. Fine, I can call an audible. I checked to spin bike and elliptical. I wanted to give my joints a break from the dreadmill. I’d never been on a spin bike. I spent ten minutes trying to figure out how to track my stats on the thing before I got frustrated and moved to the old(er) school stationary bike. Riding a bike and not going anywhere is even more frustrating and excruciating than running and not going anywhere. I really did not want to be there. Stationary bike time is almost as bad as DMV time or waiting in line to pay tuition time (does that still exist?). I got so frustrated that I made a deal with myself that I could quit as soon as I went fifteen miles. The heart monitor is in a comfortable spot so I got to watch red lights blinking at me telling me I was above my cardio zone for forty-five minutes. I didn’t care. I had to get off that thing. On the plus side, I didn’t have to change clothes. I drank my Gatorade while I caught my breath and did an hour on the elliptical. My thighs were very “tight” when I was done. They were shaky enough for me to have to concentrate on not falling down the stairs. It was a very good workout, and I was smart enough to pick up a pool schedule on the way out the door.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Flippers! Are You Kidding Me?

I was getting in the pool this morning, not wanting to be there. It was cool and gray with a damp wind outside. I was cold, and I spent a full five minutes in the pool shower. I was surprised they keep their water as hot as they do. When I got bored and convinced myself that the pool would be almost as warm as my shower I got in. It was crowded. Two of the four lanes already had two swimmers. One of the other two had a guy doing a wicked backstroke. The other had a woman kind of splashing around and showing no swim lane courtesy. I chose the lane with the woman because even though she was hogging the pool, she still wasn’t taking up as much space as backstroke guy. It must have been my lucky day because she finished up almost as soon as I got in. I don’t know if she was uncomfortable or really done and I don’t care. I had a lane all to myself. I timed this thing just right because it was twenty minutes before anyone else showed up, and by then it was only backstroke guy and me in the pool. I was catching my breath and started watching backstroke guy. I was seriously impressed. He was gliding through the water almost effortlessly. Something about him looked weird but I didn’t think about it too much. Then he did a flip turn at the end of a lap and his feet came out of the water. He was wearing flippers, royal blue SCUBA style flippers in a pool doing the backstroke. Seriously? I’ve seen a guy in the pool with flippers before, along with a snorkel, but that guy was shot down over France by the Red Baron in 1917. Backstroke flipper guy couldn’t have been older than forty. I’m struggling to stay alive and this guy might as well have been playing Marco Polo. I should have known because his stroke didn’t look anything like Olympic backstroke swimmers. This is a free country but come on, man.