Archive | August, 2012

With The Help of DayQuil, NyQuil, and Ricola I See A Lot of Checkmarks.

31 Aug

Those calendars days stare at me. They lay there bare naked, no checkmark. They mock me. Damn it.

I started off so well. I was bionic and I crossed off each day in victory — overcoming the lazy I-don’t-want-to-workout early stages of training. The calendar marked my awesome daily athletic progress with large checkmarks. I got an enormous sense of satisfaction marking those days off. But now … now I’m just a regular body filled up with DayQuil, NyQuil, Ricola Cough Drops, and empty calendar days.

Image via Durtbagz.com

The flu is a bastard.

Sleeping about three to four hours a night for the past few days kicked my ass. My enthusiasm for triathlon training went down hill. The sad thing is I didn’t even have the flu this week. It was my kids. That children’s Advil and Tylenol work their magic for about four hours and then it’s over. The crying, the bad moods, the coughing, the congestion, and the mucus set off the night shift alarm, and I’m the supervisor.

However now, not only am I the supervisor, but I’m also a patient. So, I’m all about the over-the-counter medicine traveling through my body. Vicks Vapor Rub, bring it on. Tea with honey and lemon to comfort my body, yes. Thai shrimp soup, spicy to sweat it out, most definitely. I’m trying all methods to make this 37-year old Guat body recover as soon as possible so that I can return to my exercise mode. When training for a triathlon, you need every day, well at least I do. I’m 37.

I look like crap and feel pretty much the way I look. No mineral makeup to cover up this mess. The flu is in my blood and seeing the three calendar days without check marks burns me out. Stupid virus.

Why? Why is it that whenever you decide to get all jazzed up about an event or adventure there is always something that gets in the way? The flu. No babysitter. Sprained ankle. A flat tire. Your period.

All these little impediments momentarily stopping you from succeeding. Don’t they — the Powers That Be, The Universe — know that the race itself contains plenty of obstacles that challenge your body. You don’t need any extra rings of fire. You don’t need anymore downers.

You really don’t.

But nevertheless it happens and you just have to lace up the shoes and move on. There’s nothing that can be done about those three check-less days. There’s nothing that can be done about the 72 hours I lost. They’re gone. I can’t look at the calendar without wincing. But at least September is coming up and I don’t have to look at the month of August. It mocks me.

But September is a new page on the calendar, and all I see is checkmarks in my future. With the help of DayQuil, NyQuil, and Ricola I see a lot of checkmarks.

Giddy up!

 

 

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The Big C Gives Me a Reminder … One Adventure at a Time, One Penny at a Time

30 Aug

Why is it that I constantly have revelations and aha! moments after seeing one of these cancer movies or shows? Why can’t I have this live every day like it’s your last mantra without having death all up in the Kool-Aid?

Film poster for The Bucket List - Copyright 20...

Film poster for The Bucket List – Copyright 2007, Warner Bros. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My first kick in the ass was over a week ago when I saw a re-run of The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. Freeman and Nicholson, ey? It lit a fire under me. So I began the Bucket List Installment and whipped out my mighty Bic pen and began to write down the tiny adventures that would bring excitement to my life. Life to my life.

Then as with anything  in life … dishes, vacuuming, diaper changing, paying bills, AMC television, and lack of sleep slowed me down.

But like always another life and death situation gave me the extra kick in the ass. Showtime‘s The Big C with Laura Linney. Now in truth I’m not a big Showtime watcher. I’m more of an HBO chick, but it did peak my interest so I’m on season two with Netflix. The Big C. Cancer. It’s about a woman who finds out she has terminal cancer and what she does with her life after she finds out.

So without spoiling it for anybody, in Season Two she fights and lives life.  One of her little life items? She runs a marathon, well walks and runs. But she’s determined to finish. As you know I’m not big on running, but I am big on not giving up … on the stubborn determination that drives people.

Image via Showtime.com

I’m happy that both sets of characters decided to live their lives. But I really don’t want to get to a point where I’m sitting at the doctor’s office with a paper gown covering my naked body, and them telling I have only a few months to live. I mean nobody wants that, but it happens. And it sucks above and beyond anything else. I don’t want to get to that point. I don’t want to have to get to that point in order to live everyday like it’s my last.  So I guess that’s why they make movies and shows like this, just so you won’t have to, so I’m grateful for the random reminders that smack me into living.

So then why? Why does this happen? Why do I become the slacker whose Mighty Bic Pen stays in the drawer? That ink needs to hit paper and I know it.

So, why?

Reason One … it’s probably the money thing. Seeing how I’m having technical difficulties in the financial department sort of puts a cramp in my plans to live it up. Can’t very well take a trip, plan an adventure, or wine and dine myself if my money surplus is low. And I know that people with mad fortunes like Oprah say that money can’t buy you happiness, but I never heard a broke-ass person ever say that. I know it can’t buy you happiness, but it sure as hell can get you a seat on the plane there.

Reason Two … lazy. Every single minute of my twenty-four hour day is accounted for, but some days the schedule needs to stop. I’m so run down from motherhood, Guat-hood, wife-hood, and daughter-hood that sometimes when I am actually ahead of schedule and ready to write down a couple of items on My Bucket List, I just want to be lazy. The dark circles under my eyes demand that I be lazy. There can’t be anything wrong with just being lazy sometimes. I need it when I can get it. So relaxation and laziness can be contributing factors.

Reason Three … setbacks. Everyone in life has setbacks whether they deal with health, family, or mundane things like a flat tire on your Toyota. But these setbacks effect your frame of mind and suck the air out of your balloon. I mean I don’t have Tony Robbins in my back pocket to give me some quick pick-me up life changing wisdom every time that happens. But I know I have to find that pick-me up somewhere.

And so I have found it again in Laura Linney and The Big C.

The Bucket List continues, one adventure at a time, one penny at a time.

Adventure to be added to the bucket list: Be able to eat at all the places in California that Guy Fieri lists on his Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives Show.

Adventure crossed off Bucket List: Whitewater Rafting … Class 4 and 5 rapids in the Colorado River near the Grand Canyon. Amazingly awesome.

Mom Lies and No Red Solo Cup

29 Aug

Liars. You find them in almost crevasse and crack in life.  White lies, bold-face lies, I was only trying to protect you lies, and then the mom lies. The kind you believe when you’re four or five. But they all seem innocent, right? Well … that is until they catch up with you.

Moms try their best to protect you and sometimes they try a little too much. You got the don’t sit too close to the television or you’ll turn blind. You got the if you shave your legs your hair will grow thicker. You got the don’t swallow your gum or else it will end up sticking to your stomach for years. You got the don’t crack your knuckles like that, you’ll end up with fat fingers and arthritis.

And you believed it. It was your mom. So there you were sitting 100 yards from the television, with your hairy legs, kinks in your fingers, and spitting out your gum. A real prize.

But soon enough you realized that the reward was greater than the risk. So you could care less if you wore glasses, because you got to sit up close to watch late night TV and early morning cartoons. You got to wear your short shorts with stuff like Nair or your Gillette razors. And you constantly cracked your knuckles, because you had that kink. The gum thing. I was not much for swallowing it, that sort of grossed me out. But for the most part, I grew out of the lies.

I can’t say the same for my friend. He didn’t realize the truth until it had reached the point of no return — the point where your friends laugh at you and ask: What the hell?

Image via destination360.com

It happened in college. He grew up in the city and wasn’t much of a beach person. So when he got accepted into the University of Santa Barbara, he figured he’d hit the beach on a weekly, if not daily basis. But he had no idea he was doing it wrong until he went with friends. Friends at a beach party. The ultimate college experience. A beach party — the kind with girls, a bonfire, and that Red Solo Cup, you know the one that’s now become a college staple.

As with any get-together at the beach the first item on the agenda is hitting the water. So upon arrival the guys dumped their towels and gear, took off their flip-flops and t-shirts and rushed the water with great enthusiasm. They all sprinted like Olympic athletes and dove in … all but my friend.

He stopped at the shoreline, bent down, and began gently splashing his forehead with the water. After about thirty seconds he realized that he was the only one doing this forehead splash. He looked up, confused to see all his buddies in the deep end swimming around, riding boogie boards, and trying to catch a wave. They looked confused when they saw him still hanging out on the shoreline.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“What do yo mean, what am I doing? I’m getting ready to get in the water. What are you guys doing?”

“What’s a matter with you?”

“What? Didn’t your mom ever tell you that before getting in the water you have to splash some water on your forehead so that your body can get used to the temperature. Otherwise your body gets shocked, you get a cramp and you could drown.”

“I don’t think you deserve a Red Solo Cup.”

They laughed at him for about ten minutes. Then picked him up, carried him into the water and threw him into the ocean.

The first thing he did when he got back to the dorm?

Call his mom.

The first thing his mom did when she heard the story?

Laugh. Laugh hard.

Moms. They’re priceless.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban

28 Aug

The Urban Sombrero

 

 

Elaine thought you needed it for the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Elaine thought the business man needed something like this in order to thrive in the urban environment.

Elaine thought it would set you apart.

Elaine believed it “combines the spirit of old Mexico with a little big city panache…”

Elaine featured it on the cover of the J. Peterman Catalog.

Elaine got a little too much tequila during her research trip to Mexico.

Elaine and The Urban Sombrero.

I Felt Like We Had a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Adventure With Goldfish Crackers

27 Aug

As with any parent, your kids wake you up at the crack of dawn ready to conquer the world, when all you’re ready for is to lie in defeat, under the covers and wishing kids had a snooze button.

But I thought about my recent objective — my Happiness Project — my quest for a better parenting adventure and childhood experience for my son. I decided to go all out Baseball, museum and music. I felt like we had a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off field trip, minus the awesome car, but with plenty of Goldfish Crackers.

We played a little baseball on the grassy area down the street. I was pitching, my one-year old daughter was catching, and my son was batting. Apparently I need to work on my pitching skills. He hit many home runs and grand salamis and despite being on my team, my daughter gave him the baby high-five after each run.

Once we finished the game, we journeyed to the museum. I thought about taking him to a children’s museum, but seeing how it was the weekend I really didn’t feel like being overrun by hundreds of toddlers. A children’s museum is really a week day outing.

So instead I took him another museum, one that primarily features, paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and European and American photographs.

And I know some of you may be thinking, you suck. How could you do that to your kid? But this museum had three features I knew my son would enjoy.

My son … the conductor of the museum train ride

First and probably the best: a train. Well not really a train, more like a long tram ride from the parking structure to the museum itself. He’s never been on the subway or a train that didn’t house cartoon characters, so this tram ride was the highlight of his trip. He was so excited to sit on the tram, which we called a train. He decided to sit in the front car, so that he could be the conductor. We were fortunate enough to be his assistant engineers and check out the postcard views. We rode it twice.

Second: The Family Room, which is a small exhibit that features hands-on activities that expose kids to different types of art. We made masks that were supposed to be of artistic caliber, but apparently he strongly felt that they resembled Optimus Prime from The Transformers book we read at the library. He drew some creative squiggles on an art wall, then checked out the mirror display.

Building art with his sister and new friend.

But his favorite had to be creating the sculpture  that resembled the giant one at the front of the museum. He met a new friend, Jonah, in this part of the exhibit. They built, then destroyed. Built and destroyed. This cycle continued for about thirty minutes. His little sister participated in the destroying part.

After all this exploring in The Family Room we also managed to dive into The Art Lab where he created a fine abstract piece from colorful clay.

Third: The Gardens. My son is all about the outdoors and exploring it like he’s Go! Diego Go! so I knew he’d enjoy the gardens. But we were very pleasantly surprised and amazed by all the landscaping skills of these gardening architects. We wandered through the maze of flowers, plants, bridges, and walkways and felt very in tune and appreciative with nature.

The well-known maze at the center of the garden.

My son exploring the gardens in his four-year old way … racing.

The iron sculptures holding these flowers captured our eyes.

After exploring the garden and eating lunch al fresco we headed back to the tram ride, where my son rode in the front once more. He enjoyed it so much that he made a request.

“Mom, can we come back to the train museum again?”

I was happy my experiment worked. Everyone, including my other half  enjoyed something from the museum.

We ended our Ferris Bueller’s Day Off adventure with some singing and dancing. And no it wasn’t on a parade float singing Danke Shoen or Twist and Shout. Nor was it the Itsy Bitsy Spider. It was Payphone by Maroon 5 and something called You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful by One Direction. My son held his pretend microphone and rocked out.

Baseball, museum, and singing. Our day was done. Viva Ferris.

My Happiness Project Update 11: Parenthood is All About Angles, Even If Some of Them Require 243 Pieces.

26 Aug

You remember the labor pains and profanity, everyone else remembers the miracle. You remember the two, four, and six a.m. feeding wake up calls and diaper changes, your other half remembers a good night sleep. You remember hanging out watching the Wonder Pets for the twentieth time that week, they’ll remember what teamwork means. You remember hearing: mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy. They remember having a conversation.

Angles.  Parenthood and Happiness … It’s all about angles.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

Soon they’ll be hostile teenagers wanting to spend more time with their friends instead of with you, and their only form of communication will consist of huh? what? later, yeah, whatever.

You need to add to your memories vault with whatever you’ve got. Fill up the days of your parenthood experience and their childhood with projects, adventures, and traditions, that way it’s enjoyable for both of you. Incidentally it may have a positive effect when the hostile teenage years hit. They still might be hostile, but they’ll want to spend time with you.

Want.  This is the key. You may hear things like … “I want to,”  instead of  “do I have to?”  It makes a difference.

According to Gretchen Rubin part of infusing happiness during the parenthood phase of life is being able to “squeeze out as much happiness from every single event.”

According to Rubin happiness contains four stages. “You must anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory.”

Now I have little field trips, traditions, and projects with my son at least twice a week, but after reading that part of the chapter, I decided to take it up a notch. I realized that even when you’re exhausted, got piles of laundry to fold, and a sink full of dishes, squeezing out some happiness can still happen.

Take for instance the Legos. I’m a fan of building blocks. I’m a fan of creating, but when it came to the Lego 4×4 Firetruck with 243 pieces that he got as a gift over a month ago, I thought eh … maybe I’ll save this for another time. I put it on hold for a while.

Then came the day when I picked it up a notch. So on a random Wednesday out came the 243 pieces and plenty of patience.

I placed the box on the table during breakfast and laid out our mission. But before we could build our project we went out to do some research.We ventured out to the fire station and met firefighter Mack, who gave us the tour. My son explored the fire truck, fire engine, and hazmat truck. He thoroughly enjoyed wearing the hat and sitting on the truck, pretending he was driving to an emergency. He was amazed that before leaving he received a coloring book, ruler, stickers, and cards featuring each emergency vehicle. We’d been to the fire station before, but apparently that day we got the VIP treatment and that made for a happier four-year old.

After our little field trip, we drove home and continued our firefighter themed project. When I opened the box, I was hoping that it was partially built so that all we had to do was snap on the pieces and viola!Fire truck. But no … there were 243 pieces. Tiny pieces.

Our Lego masterpiece

It took us close to two hours to build the Lego 4×4 Firetruck … but it was two hours worth of anticipation, excitement, enjoyment, and happiness. We went through all four phases of Rubin’s happiness formula and we had fun doing so.

Now there will be days where projects will not happen. Sometimes there’s not enough caffeine in JOLT soda to help pep you up, so it’s just going to be a day at the park. But considering that we both enjoyed the experience and there was no crankiness from either of us, we’re probably going to try to squeeze as much happiness from every event as possible.

I’m hoping to stick to the formula. I might just get a teenager that rarely uses “Ugh…Do I have to go with you?”

Thank You, Raja … It Was a Great Escape

25 Aug

Finally … a night out.

This is where I met Raja

 

As I waited 15-20 minutes for my table Zack the Waiter passed out the most tasty garlic herb bread bites ever

 

We finally got a table by the fountain … where the best waitress/server ever told us the specials.

 

We scanned the room and there he was … the bread guy. Most people fear carbs but I welcome them. I embrace them!
“People just want me for my rolls,” he said.
“Me, too.” My friend replied. “Me, too.”

 

For starters …

 

We ordered the soup … which according to Raja was @#$%^! good. Anything that inspires that kind of passion had to be @#$%^! good. And it was …

 

My friend, Maria, suggested we have another bottle of wine and being the good friend that I am I was supportive. Very supportive.

 

I felt Italian … The entire restaurant sang “That’s Amore” and we raised our glasses in a toast. Constantly. We get that happy wine feeling. We begin drunk texting.

 

This is Raja and my friend Maria. Raja toasts with us. She laughs with us. She encourages the wine drinking. She is awesome. She had us at hello.

 

I can’t even begin to describe the deliciousness swirling in my bowl. If you care about calories you shouldn’t even look at the picture … luckily I don’t care for calories. I care about flavor. I had a lot of flavor to accompany my wine.

 

You can never have too much bread … NEVER. I know I couldn’t. This was my third plate.

As always I end the meal with chocolate … layers of chocolate.

As we wait for the car, I notice the hoochie-mamas and their six-inch heels freezing and waiting for their ride. I realize that next time I should wear something other than my t-shirt, jeans, and New Balance attire. But then again … Raja thought I was awesome as is … so New Balance it is.

 

I will return again …

 

I Bought a Mead Notebook Instead

24 Aug

.

 

I noticed this journal staring at me in the bookstore. I felt like it understood me. But then I realized I constantly write about my dysfunctions, neuroses, emotions and inner child moments  in journals and in this blog, however they’re not really fascinating.

I have plenty of moments of doubt, but I’m not really into self-loathing.

Misanthropy? Well I don’t really hate or mistrust the human species, just the jackasses that comprise a small percentage. Although as I grow older the percentage keeps getting bigger.

Completely normal insanity. Yes. I have plenty of that. I am crazy due to plenty of environmental factors, and I do acknowledge my craziness. I think everybody is a little crazy in their own way. Some accept it and yes some are in denial.

I thought it was a funny cover, but then I saw the price tag and then it wasn’t so funny. I bought a Mead Notebook instead.

One step at a time. One pedal at a time. One splash at a time.

23 Aug

I fell off the wagon. But today was day one. I’m back. And no matter what happens on day two or day forty-five, today I was back on the wagon. I’m on a roll. Yeah one day can qualify as being on a roll. I’m building momentum, here.

What has brought me back to sports bras and New Balance running shoes? The athletic surge of energy I got from the Olympics? Probably.  Those inspirational VISA commercials by Morgan Freeman and wishing he was talking about me? Maybe. An athletic challenge that meets the crazy competitive sporting nature at my humble Guat athletic level? Yes. Most definitely.

A challenge.

A mini-triathlon challenge … this one by the beach.

Image via Durtbagz.com

That’s all it took. This is what had me lacing up my shoes at 9:30 p.m. on a Thursday night. After undergoing a very long day where my four-year old son suffered a 100+ fever and crazy mood swings once the Advil wore off, I decided to take it to the streets. I know most people think that days last 24 hours, but when you’re sick or your kid is sick and you wake up and 5:44 a.m., for some reason the day is much longer. Much. I think it’s the mood swings and all the patience that drained out of my body.

So once the moon came out and both kids went to sleep the training began. I told myself this is it. You hate running. I know you hate running. For me it’s a pointless exercise unless I’m being chased by some slasher.  But running is an essential part of a triathlon. So I didn’t mind it much. As long as the running serves a purpose in the end, I’m all good.

And let me just clarify that even though I’ve probably gained like ten pounds from eating all those different forms of chocolate — pies, rocky road ice cream, cake, KitKats — the purpose here is not weight loss. The purpose is being able to finish the triathlon and possibly improve on my last performance. The purpose is to get that cartwheel feeling of excitement in accomplishing something I think is pretty awesome. The purpose is to get back on the wagon and feel good about myself. I’m sure I’ll feel pretty spectacular once I’ve crossed the finish line.

I’ve got two months to train my Guat body into amateur triathlon form. Today I took my first step. I’m pretty excited about my start. I know I’ll probably fall off the wagon again, considering my lack of available babysitters and my ability to work out at all. But 9:30 p.m. seemed to work out all right tonight. But I’m hoping not to make that time slot a habit, considering that suspect characters like to commit criminal activity during these hours. And even though I grew up in the barrio and have plenty of street smarts, it’s good to avoid dark streets with no lights. Even if you are a brown belt and carry mace, the dark of night may not always be a good workout schedule.

But I can’t get discouraged for having only sixty days to train, knowing full well that I may miss a day or two. I must think more along the lines of quality workouts instead of quantity. Granted I need at least four days, but four quality sweat-busting days. The kind of days where I need Gatorade. Here comes The Guat … one step at a time, one pedal at a time, one splash at a time.

Giddy up!

The 24-Hour Pharmacy Crew

22 Aug

The 24-hour pharmacy. It’s a bare necessity for a parent, or otherwise helpless soul who’s suffering and reaches the NyQuil adventure or antibiotic stage. And during these late-to-middle of the night outings you encounter a variety of people, but they all have one thing in common: sweatpants.

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This is when the Costco sweatpants or track pants make their appearance. Some chicks even find the boldness to wear leggings, when they really shouldn’t be wearing a cotton-spandex blend at all. But this is the 24-hour pharmacy they welcome all sorts of stretchy pants.  And these are most likely accompanied by a t-shirt — a wrinkled one, or the one you were sleeping in. Either way you look pretty tore up, but this is the 24-hour pharmacy dress code. So it’s all good.

Now if this look isn’t magazine-cover worthy enough, there’s usually no make-up involved. Your under eye circles are in a desperate need of a make-over. In addition you probably need of a shower as well.  You’ve got the bed smell. But you’re in some sort of pain, you’re sick ,and you’re tired. So it’s all good.

Then comes the hair. Most guys can go right to the baseball cap and in truth most chicks should do the same. The baseball cap is a great way of hiding your bad-hair shame, so I strongly suggest you use it. I have at least ten of them, and they are part of my 24-hour pharmacy look. In fact, they make up some of my day-time looks too.

Now I wasn’t lucky enough to just need an over-the-counter cure. This is an in-and-out trip and the only delay is the cashier, which happens often when you’re in a rush. However, if you need the strong stuff — the stuff that requires the dude in the white coat and glasses to talk to you — then you have to wait in the dreaded line. And it is in this line that you meet the customers.

You have the crazy one who tries to talk to you and be your friend in line, and all you want to do is get your antibiotic and leave.

You have the customer who passes gas and pretends that it really wasn’t them as they stare at the hearing-aid batteries.

You have the irate customer who’s yelling at the cashier because their prescription isn’t ready, and after all that hostility they go off and cry near the blood-pressure machine as they send text or Facebook messages to whoever will listen to their story.

You have the customer at the front of the line waiting for their turn and making sarcastic remarks about everything in hopes of hearing “Amen to that!” from anybody behind them. But it never happens.

You have that customer, a chick with smudged Maybelline mascara, a worried look in her face, and traces of lipstick still in the cracks of her lips. She clutches her bag and waits anxiously to hear her name. She’s not in the 24-hour pharmacy dress code. She’s wearing heals, with a faint smell of perfume. But she has that bad hair — that bad I just had sex hair and I need my emergency pill. Immediately.

Then you have me … the chick in the 24-hour pharmacy dress code reading O Magazine for free, trying to ignore everyone, as she waits her turn.

This is the motley crew that hangs out between the Flintstones Vitamins and Salopans healing pads. We’re different, but only one thing other than sweatpants unites us … those words … those awesome words …

“Next please.”