Friday, September 28, 2007

ABBA: Stress-buster

It's weird how stress makes you not want to work. At least, it makes me not want to work. It makes me want to listen to ABBA and stare at a blank wall, reminiscing about simpler times. Or it makes me want to vacuum vigorously. Clean like there's no tomorrow, or rather, that tomorrow there will be a panel of judges filing through my house to score my work.

Stress makes it difficult to focus. For several weeks the stress has been gathering. I got a cold sore last week, and then wonder of wonders, Cassi got one. Cassi's my youngest sister. She lives in Omaha. She blamed me for the cold sore, claiming that because I told her over gmail chat that I woke up with a cold sore, I cursed her. It seems impossible, but what do I know? I tell her at 9 am that I have a cold sore, at 5 pm she calls to shout into the phone that SHE has a cold sore.

Remember the Simpson's episode where Burns is in a tank outside the Simpson home, about to get revenge on Homer's mother, and Flight of the Valkries is playing (I think that's the piece)? And Burns is like, "I've waited for this day . . . " and he's wearing a helmet and looking all evil and formidable, and then the song suddenly turns into "Waterloo! I was defeated you won the war!" It's ABBA! It kills me. Smithers is like, "I'm sorry sir, I accidentally taped over your song."

Oh man. It's funny on so many levels. I was just thinking about that, because I'm thinking about ABBA and how great ABBA was, and is. Seriously, Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha, and Anni-Frid can't be outdone. They're right up there in the pantheon of rock gods.

We close on the house today. At 2:30. Remember when I was just a little girl writing about how I was in love with Stoker and I resented him for going to California without me, and then he was asking me to marry him, and now here we are, buying a house in Nashville, Tennessee? NASHVILLE! How does that happen? I was in SALT LAKE. Now I'm in TENNESSEE.

That's some crazy shit, that's all. I'm probably the only one who gets it. Well, I'll take some pictures of the house with my disposable camera, then I'll develop the pictures. Then I'll send you copies. I'm technologically backwards. I don't know how to post with pictures. Everyone else has their digital SLR. I have my camera, which is constructed of paper.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Really AM Thrilled about the House in Nashville

I've been swamped at work. One of my (lazy-ass) coworkers left the company and I inherited one of his projects. Needless to say he had only done a small fraction of it. I was also in the midst of two other projects and so now I feel like I'm treading water, trying to get through them but going nowhere.

We close on the house on Friday. Thrilling. No, really, I'm thrilled. But a part of me just really wants to retreat to Utah. I blame the recent developments in my allergies on Nashville, and yesterday I found out that my allergist is charging ME for the allergy shots (immunotherapy) that I was doing. It's very shady. After the allergy test when they said I should do the shots, they told me my insurance would cover the shots. I didn't really want to do the shots. But, the prospect of perhaps getting over allergies at some point . . . and hell, if the insurance is going to pay for it . . . so I went ahead with it.

Do you think I would agree to pay for an allergy shot once a week? Hell no. Plus I have to drive to the hospital for the shot. I would have done the sublingual drops instead (insurance does NOT cover the drops. But is this really so different from NOT PAYING for the shots? The difference is the lie, so, NO), which I believe I could give to myself, from home. Anyway, I'm going to tell the doctor they can duke it out with my insurance company, since both of them seem to have lied to me.

I didn't have this ear problem in Utah or Arizona, though I HAVE had allergies my entire life. So, does it make sense why I'd want to go back to the mold-free desert? Yes? Good.

To sum up: house - Friday; allergies - racket, lying doctors; Utah - oasis; stray cat - new cat.

Oh yeah, I ran into a starving stray cat. A kitten really. We took her home. Too many animal ghosts haunting me for what I didn't do.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Allergy Racket

Did I ever mention that I finally got tested for allergies? After 28 years of year-round suffering, the results weren't surprising or anything. They told me I'm allergic to nearly everything they tested for. The P.A. who spoke to me afterwards seemed to think she was telling me something new, like, "You're very allergic to everything." Laughable.

The reason I finally submitted to being tested was because I finally had insurance, and also because my ears have been popping all the time for over a year now. I think I've written about this before. Anyway, it's incredibly annoying and sometimes painful. Eustachian tube dysfunction, is what it's called. I asked the P.A. about it, "Would the allergy shots stop my ears from hurting," I asked. Then she pointed to an illustrated chart on the wall depicting the inner ear and Eustachian tube, "This is a Eustachian tube. They're a narrow opening between the inner ear and the throat."

By then I felt like slapping her. I don't have a lot of patience for stupidity, but that's the only thing I'm not patient with. Everything else, rush hour traffic, beggars/scam artists, celebrity gossip, I'm patient with (that's funny because it's not true!). Just because I'm not a P.A. or an M.D., doesn't mean I'm stupid. Right then I could have talked circles around her about Eustachian tubes and semicircular canals and the stapes and the malleus and the incus, because I HAVE STUDIED IT OUT.

I don't know, maybe there are some people who don't try to figure out what's going on with their body before they go to the doctor. As for me, I spend a lot of time typing search words like "fatigue+bruising" and "insomnia+heightened body temperature" into Google. If you type some of those search strings into Google, be prepared to confront search results such as AIDS or MS or any other incurable, deadly disease, including Leukemia. I suggest more specific terms and remember, remain calm.

But since I do a lot of researching like that, I rarely feel the need to go to the doctor to confirm anything. I think doctors are a racket. Especially prescription drugs. Never mind that I'm finally on an inhaler that has pretty much put an end to my constant allergies (except for the ear problem), what bothers me is that I HAVE to go to a doctor to get a prescription for a drug that I'm never going to NOT need. That's why it's a racket.

And I feel that this particular area is a racket: the allergy business. So I get tested and the P.A. introduces me to the Eustachian tubes, after all my years of wondering (of course) if the throat is connected to the ear. Then she tells me, "I wanted to meet with you, in particular, because you are SO allergic to EVERYTHING we tested you for. You had the highest possible response to everything: mold, dust mites, grasses." And then she tells me she wants me to start on the allergy shots right away, which should be no problem because they're fully covered by my insurance.

We fight for minute over my cats, because I am honest when she asks if I have cats and yes, they sleep in my bedroom if they want to. There's no settling the argument, because I'm not going to lie and say, "Yes, I'll get an air filter and stop letting my cats into the bedroom."

She clearly doesn't understand that the cats might as well be little humans in my esteem, and locking them out of a certain room would be tantamount to locking a child in a closet. Sure, the cat looks like a cat, but in my heart the cat's basically human. I think they call this anthropomorphism and I think it can go the other way too. My cats clearly don't delineate between me being a human and them being cats. We're the same. We're a clan.

Someday I'll learn to lie when it's appropriate. For now they call me Honest Abe. I have buckled and am doing the allergy shots. That simpering P.A. told me I won't start to see results for about four weeks. This week I asked the nurse when I'll see results. She said, "Hmm, you know, six months, maybe a year."

Do you smell a racket? The office is set up on certain days just for shots. Not knowing what the norm is for responses to the allergens—as far as I know, it's normal to get an 11 from Bermuda/bahia grass— the doctors could tell everyone that they score the highest possible rating for each allergen and they need to start the shots right away, and it should be no problem because it's fully covered by insurance.

The only reassurance I have is that I know my body. I AM allergic as hell to EVERYTHING.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Red Like a Red Crayon.

No surprises here. I got this quiz from Jodi.

What color is your soul painted?


Your soul is painted the color red, which embodies the characteristics of love, strength, physical energy, sex, passion, courage, protection, excitement, speed, leadership, power, danger, and respect. Red is the color of the element Fire, and is associated with blood, life and death, birth, volcanoes, and intense emotions.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz

Quizzes and Personality Tests

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Greatest Hits

Nine of my favorite posts ever (not it order of greatness):

Blessed Brown Bananas — Back in the old days, I was a better writer, as you can clearly see. I think it has to do with having gone straight from college to writing a blog. Higher education really does make a difference.

Things Not to Do in the Workplace Bathroom — I was at my best here, I really was. Incidentally I've again run into the problem of women putting on makeup in the bathroom at work. She uses Aquanet. That explains everything.

Surcharge My Ass — How hard is it to see a good show for cheap? Very. That's why I stopped going.

Stoked on Stoker — I like to remember how neurotic I was in the beginning with Stoker. Sometimes the only way to make it through the hard times is to remember how your relationship is its own love story.

7 Reasons MSN Sucks — They really do. Oh, and another one that just dawned on me, when I log into my Hotmail account there's that annoying entry page, which is really just an advertising scam. Gmail rules.

Old and Fat — Yeah, still feel this way. But getting rid of the bastards, at least trying. As you may know, it's a million times harder to lose weight than it is to put weight on. Unless you're one of those freaks of nature who have to buy weight gainers just to break 130. Jerks.

Pink. Purse. — The day I really became a feminine girl.

Hair — In case you're wondering, I still suffer from psychological and emotional turmoil based on what my hair does from one day to the next.

Does this Mullet Match My Moustache? — You can never have too many entries about hair, especially when it comes to mullets.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My First Triathlon: The Race and Post-Race

(First read: The Night before the Race and Pre-Race)

So then we walked down to the lake and started. And I could have drowned, but I didn't. There were some people hanging onto the sides of the boathouses, which they can do, as long as they don't move forward. It looked real nice, resting. I was very tempted, but I knew that it was psychological: if I stopped, I wouldn't start again. So I kept going. I couldn't swim with my face underwater. When I tried I went off course and I almost hyperventilated. So I did sidestroke, backstroke, breaststroke. Anything to keep moving. And I didn't think about fishes. I believe they were over at the wet bar having early morning cocktails.

The crappiest thing about the swim was that my muscles were very cold. Normally when I swim, the warm up is important. After I've been in the water awhile, the swimming is easier. The hardest part, right up there with the swim, was hurrying out of the water. The race volunteers were like, "Great job, the worst leg is over." And I said, "Am I the last one out?" And they were like, no. But I didn't see anyone behind me. Maybe they were still hanging onto the sides of the boathouses.

Immediately you start running. In a normal triathlon, the next leg is the bike ride, but for some reason this race was split up. So then I ran uphill for a while. I was totally out of breath and waterlogged. My shorts weighed two tons and I didn't dry my hair off, so it was flopping in my face. The morning was muggy and I was carrying four pounds of water around with me, uphill. I had a couple side aches too. I kept going. And I passed a few people.

I actually felt guilty about passing people, that's how stupid I am about competitive sports, and probably a big reason why I try not to compete anymore. But it was also invigorating to pass them. I'm sure they knew I was coming, because I was breathing like Darth Vader, so they had the chance to pick up speed if they had wanted too. I normally don't sound like Darth Vader when I breathe, the race just brought it out in me.

Then you run into the bike area. You change your shoes, or you don't, and you put on your bike helmet and they yell at you that you can't mount your bike until you pass this line here, and they say you have to go around some random cone before you can leave the bike area, and you're off. For me the ride was the best part. I don't know why, it's just less rough on your body or something.

I tried to keep up a pace of 15 mph or more. It was rough, but I did it, I believe, though I was at a disadvantage because I was on a front suspension mountain bike with road slicks. The road slicks helped enormously, but it was really hard to compete with people on a road or tri bike. I saw several people with regular fat, knobby, mountain bike tires and I thought, "You poor fool." And then I felt sad for them as I passed them. I wanted to shout out, "Next time you really should, at the VERY least, get road slicks!" but I didn't.

The race organizers said the course was mostly gently rolling hills. I would argue that the hills weren't gentle. They were beastly. The country was beautiful, however. There was a lot of lake footage and the occasional pastureland, with bleating goats and whatnot, and some rich area right next to the lake with a big extravagant sign that said, "Cash Country." Hmm.

Then we hurried into the bike transition area and jumped off our bikes and put our running shoes back on and ran another mile and half, uphill both ways. I passed a few people and felt sorry for them. I kept thinking, "Why the hell am I doing this? Never again."

As I neared the end, I passed a guy who had had the audacity to pass me during the bike leg. Ha ha. And I passed a girl. They were both walking. As I got closer to the finish line, there was a guy announcing finishers into PA system. He was like, "It looks like 218 is trying to pass 440," and I was like, hell no! to myself, and I sprinted. For no real good reason at all, other than that I had just passed her because she had been walking, she was much younger than me and she was all decked out in a tri suit and I looked really trashy in my running shorts and top.

She didn't beat me and she was nice enough to pat me on the back. I would have said something nice to her, too, except that I was about to throw up and was looking for a place to do it. But I sat down on a curb and was able to stifle the urge.

My conclusion? Probably one of the hardest physical things that I've done. It required a lot of focus and determination, as you might expect, and there was, quite honestly, a lot of questioning. Why the hell am I doing this? Why am I doing this? What the hell is my reason for doing this? This sucks (not a question, but I thought it a lot). I'm never doing this again (more of an imperative sentence). Another hill? This bites. Stuff like that.

But when I finished, I ate a banana and drank a Coke and thought, "That was pretty awesome." And then I thought about all the ways I could do the next one better. I ran into some people from my swimming class and one of the lake swimmer guys was there (he finished 3rd in men's). Someone told me that I looked really strong during the run and ride, which confirmed to me how deceptive my poker face is. Bwah ha ha ha ha.

My First Triathlon: Pre-Race

I had a lot of questions. Questions like, "So, I guess people don't change their clothes for a sprint triathlon?" And the answer to that is, no, they don't. The next question is about what to wear for someone who doesn't own a two piece tri suit, because I didn't want to wear one of my regular practice swim suits, full body, like what they wore in the 50s at the all girls school.

So I wore a pair of my Nike dri-fit running shorts. And then I wondered if I should wear underwear with them. And then I wished I had a pair of Under Armour underwear, or even Patagonia wicking underwear. It really makes a difference what you wear.

I arrived at the main staging area for the race and there was mass confusion. I had to pick up a timing chip and I had to get my body written on by someone using a magic marker. They call that body marking and it's probably the best part. It makes you feel official, and you secretly wish you could walk around all day after the race, wearing clothes that reveal your new temporary tattoos. Even though you hope it'd be apparent that you'd just done a triathlon, you realize, "No wait, I might look like a prisoner or an internment camp escapee."

The triathlon is made up of two groups of people. People like me who are uncool and unworthy, and people like the pro-wannabes, who make people like me feel really uncool. I suppose this is how all races are. There's the determined-to-rule group, and the group that's determined to finish. The determined-to-rule group is really difficult to stomach because they run around looking all fit and muscular, wearing all the right attire, and their bikes take up the entire bike transition area. They spread their gear out on a towel and have it placed just so. And everyone else is supposed to work around them, and should one of these young gods walk by or anything, onlookers are expected to genuflect or prostrate themselves on the ground and perhaps offer them a fig or something. Incense. Myrrh. That kind of thing.

As confused as I was, those of the determined-to-rule group should just be glad I didn’t put my bike shoes and helmet on their huge clean white towel. That would have gone over well. Don't you just want to say to the pro-wannabes something like, "Hey! You guys are built on us! We're the middle class! Without us the races wouldn't make enough money to support people like you!" Something like that. I don't know if it's true, really. But it seems like it is.

My First Triathlon: The Night before the Race

Of course it rained the night before the triathlon. It hasn't rained in a while; I lost count of the days since the last real rainstorm. But you know, I was willing to suffer through a very humid day just to have a little rain.

Honestly I couldn't believe I was waking up at 5:45 am just for a race. I had to wake up that early because of the rivers in Tennessee, and because of the lake. Old Hickory Lake is right around the corner, really, but because of the rivers and the hills and all these things, it took me about 45 minutes to drive there. If you live in Salt Lake City, it would be the equivalent of driving to Provo. Right? And then I'd be complaining about the mountains.

I guess it's too much to ask that they build a bridge that spans the lake. Then I could have driven right across the lake and made it to Hendersonville in fifteen or twenty minutes. I'm just lazy really. If that extra sleep had been very important to me, I could have gotten a room at the Holiday Inn Express.

The night before the race, I drove, really quick (or so I thought. It wasn't really quick. The entire trip took about an hour and a half), up to the race start to get my packet. Plus I was nervous and had some questions. And I thought I'd see the course. But it took longer than I thought it would take to get there, so it was already dark. I got my packet and for some reason, was embarrassed to be number 440 in a race with only 450 people.

I had told them my swim time would be 30 minutes. How was I to know? I left room for error. In reality, the swim ended up taking me 14 minutes, if you can believe it. It's rough I know, but just be glad I actually finished the swim. It's one thing to swim all relaxed in a pool, or leisurely in a lake, and quite another to be in a race. I couldn't breathe. So that was why I was 440 and also why it took me 14 minutes to finish the swim.

One of the race organizers was standing near the shirt table and I had some questions for her. But I couldn't remember them. So she stood there, awkwardly, and I muttered about the bike area, something about water bottles. Really self-explanatory questions, but I'd forgotten my real questions.

All I really wanted was reassurance that everything would be ok. The race organizer just stared at me like I was insane, and she was there to talk me off a ledge. Wondering, probably, why the hell she was standing there. It was one of those moments where you realize, later, that the person was clearly mentally working out how to get out of this one. Like, "Ok, casually take a step backward. Find the doorknob behind your back. Turn the knob. Carefully pull the door towards you. Take another step backward. Smile, duck out of the room. Close the door. (sigh) We're safe."

She was nice and tried to answer my questions, even though they weren't phrased as questions. I couldn't be any clearer, however, because I didn't know what I was asking. On the entire drive home I regretted having been so lame. If only I had been calm. A picture of coolness. I hoped I'd never see her again, and if I did that it be upon accepting my first place award (one hopes, doesn't one? Against all odds).

I went home and Stoker made me dinner. He wasn't going to be able to go with me, and in some ways, I was glad. I didn't want him to see me looking like a moron, you know, should I wipe out horribly or drown. But, I also wished he was going to be there with me.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My Only Fear: Swimming with the Fishes. And Monsters. And Gators. And Sharks. And Snakes.

On Friday evening, I was attacked by two fish. They might have been Loch Ness monsters for all I know. That's the problem with murky water, you think you're alone until something grabs your leg. Or in my case, bites it. There were no fang marks, but I'm pretty sure the fish bit me. The guy I was swimming with, Andy, checked my leg and saw no marks on it and then concluded that I'm just a random crazy woman. It was the first time I had met him.

These people I swim with on the occasional Friday evening (I've only joined them twice), are all Ironman people. They're, how do you say, HARDCORE. When I arrived this past Friday evening, a little late—because I had to run to the bike shop to pick up road tires for my mountain bike (which I will be racing with on Saturday—yeah, I'm going to suck)—I got there in time to see these hardcore swimmers leaving for their 1.2 mile swim.

So I swam 100s in the cove and waited for them to come back. I'm still a beginning swimmer, though I learned how to swim when I was 5 or something and I swam in college. But that doesn't really prepare a person for swimming a mile in open water. The problem is there's no one to rescue you.

After the milers came back, several of them went back out, for ANOTHER 1.2 miles. Andy didn't want to do another mile. He thought he'd just swim back and forth across the cove. I joined him.

The first time I swam in that cove, I felt pretty confident about having overcome my fear of the unknown. The monsters in the water. The fish. Am I a complete wimp to be scared of fish? Yeah, probably. But they have teeth. And they have the advantage: I'm in their world. If I could see the fish, I might not be AS scared of them, like when I'm snorkeling in Hawaii, or when we're checking each other out in an aquarium, or when one is on my plate and I'm about to eat it. It's when a fish bumps into my leg or swims at me, seemingly out of no where, that I freak out.

And oh how I freaked out. You should have seen me glide across the water, on my back, on my side, on my stomach. It was tough to stay on my stomach, with the hyperventilating and all that. On my back I kicked as hard as possible, to make the biggest splashes and noise, to scare off any fish or other underwater predators (sharks, snakes, whatever). I had to make it to the other side of the cove. Once there, I planned to exit the water and WALK AROUND THE COVE IN BARE FEET TO REACH MY STUFF. I didn't want to swim across, even if it was a shorter distance.

Any cold stream of water passing my legs I was certain was a fish or gator coming at me, stalking me (we don't have gators in Tennessee. Supposedly). When I finally looked up, Andy had stopped and was watching me. "What's wrong? Are you okay?" he asked.

"A fish bit me," I gurgled. I rolled onto my back and tried to swim on the very top of the water. Have you seen the old cartoons where Donald's arms move like a windmill and he barely touches the water? That's what I looked like, only I flailed more. I was about to die from the effort and the hyperventilating.

But I made it. We stood in the shallows. "Let me see your leg," Andy said. I twisted and lifted it from the water. He inspected my calf. "I don't see any bite marks, I think it just bumped you."

"Fine, it bumped me. But it scared the hell out of me." Then I ranted for a bit, like a lunatic, about my fear of murky water, and deep ocean water, and how I'm not scared of anything but that. Snakes, spiders, heights. Not a twinge of fear. But don't ask me to go on a cruise, man. I read Life of Pi and there's no way I'm going to be marooned in the middle of the ocean. Andy told me his wife is a really good swimmer, but she won't swim in the ocean. Go Andy's wife. Let's start a club.

Anyway, as you can see, the Loch Ness monster didn't get me (though I HAVE heard Nessie migrated to Tennessee. Sick of the cold Scottish winters, she said), so I made it back across. We chatted about swimming and then another miler finished and talked to us a while. He said there are also snakes that swim on the surface of these waters. I said that's fine, as long as I can see them and they're not poisonous.

Apparently they're poisonous. He avoided the remark and then the question, even after I tried to pin him down. As I was leaving, another fish had been cozying up to my leg. We collided on my way out and I swore loudly, and scrambled across the sharp rocks to the shore. I cut my foot in the process.

So, back to square one. My triathlon is on Saturday. It's in the open water. Hopefully, the 500 other swimmers scare the damn things away. Fish love a nice morning breakfast and coffee while they watch the sunrise, so I know they'll be out. It's WAR, fishies.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Solid Gold and Olivia Newton-John: My Saturday Nights in the 80s

Normally, I avoid YouTube, but I'm doing some research. Back in the day I used to watch Solid Gold on Saturday night with my mom and my sisters. Usually my mom or one of my sisters was putting curlers in my hair as we watched, so it would be curly for church on Sunday. It was a good time, even though I hated to sleep with curlers in my hair.

It was a tough choice, but I settled on Olivia Newton-John. I really love how inventive this routine is. Notice the girls doing jumping jacks. I mean, who comes up with that? Ingenious! I could say SO much about the meaning of the song and its interpretation as displayed by the routine, not to mention how not winded Olivia is, despite all those jumping jacks. But I’ll refrain. A video like this is worth a million words. It’s priceless.

p.s. Remember belts over a long shirt, thus creating a dress? Yeah, my sister Anji was the QUEEN of the skinny belt. Especially when we played dress up. A game that consisted of us dressing up like our mom. It was fun.