Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Little of This A Little of That

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my honor to present Mr. and Mrs. My Brother. I mentioned in a previous entry that I had just been in Portland to attend the wedding and it was indeed a beautiful day and they are a wonderful couple. Mazel Tov!

It just came to my attention that I received a mention by the organizers of the 2006 Portland Marathon in a follow-up article they wrote on Steve, BayCityWalker. Hey, I have no problems riding in on someone else's sneaker laces! And thank you Steve! It was an honor my man, an honor.

I've been getting to the gym every day for cardio and a little one on one with D_wn, my personal trainer, who I am here to report is no longer just a personal trainer but in recent days has been promoted through the ranks of 24-Hour Fitness to the lofty status of Master Trainer. Considering how she's been increasingly upping the ante in my training sessions, and my misery threshold, calling her D_wn, my Master Trainer seems only right. Today during the last 5 minutes of a brutal-show-no-mercy-take-no-prisoners session as I was straining to complete a final set of one-legged squats, I muttered under my breath something about how someone might think she was a really nice person because of her cute appearance and not the cruel task master that she is, to which she smirked, and I swear by Nautilius that it was a smirk, and said "That was even more true when I use to wear pigtails to work." Oh please. Sweating to the oldies with Pippy Longstockings no less. Trust me. She is no Pippy Longstockings.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Day of Good Stuff

I have nothing spectacular to report but after my recent double dip plane landing I'm just fine with blogging on the mundane. Mundane. Good. Double dip landings. Not so much.

The day started at 7:00 a.m. at the gym. Not that I wouldn't have loved to have slept in and worked out later but the 24-Hour Fitness I go to when I'm in Portland is smack dab in the middle of 'burb-landia and if I'm not there that early the Mommies get there before I do leaving nary a vacant TreadClimber, Elliptical machine or Treadmill in the house. As it was, I beat the Mommies to the punch and had a good 30 minutes on the Elliptical and 30 on the TreadClimber before racing to Starbucks before the maternal herd migrated in that direction.

Yesterday I made a beeline for Zuppan's Grocery for a few bottles of Viso, the magical yummical elixor of all beverages made here in the Rose City. We're talking vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, deeeelicious and oh so hip in a totally cool blue bottle. I decided this time a few bottles wouldn't meet my growing dependancy and so I bought two cases of the sugarfree flavors, one of Pina (pineapple) and one of Razza (berry) to ship back home where careful rationing and a no share policy would be instituted. But then, oh joy, oh bliss, I visited their website again this afternoon on a whim to discover they've recently begun shipping Viso! A cold bottle of Pina after a workout...liquid paradise.

What else has been good in the day?

  • Time with Mommy, my Mommy, not the sweaty ones at the gym though I'm sure they're equally nice. . . as long as you don't get between them and their cardio-machine of choice.
  • Wearing my favorite lime green Crocs with rainbow-colored jelly buttons.
  • Discovering some really amazing blogs by evangelical christians of the open and seeking variety.
  • Listening to the latest podcast of NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me!" Nothing makes me laugh like this NPR offering of pithy wit.
  • Reading the next chapter from Sara Miles', "Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion." I've been going through spiritual memoirs like an elephant goes through peanuts.
  • Watching "Darshan: The Embrace" on DVD. It's a amazing documentary on Amma, the Indian Mahatma (guru) who's known as the hugging saint, and the film follows her as she travels cross-country through India doing what she does best...embracing and touching thousands upon thousands of people, young and old. The photography of India is stunning and unlike anything I've ever seen.

All around a mellow, low-key, cozy day. For which I'm so very thankful. Amen.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Plane Peril

Have you ever been in the mood to blog only to discover your mind void of bloggable chatter? Such is this moment in my life. Wanna blog. Got nuthun. Oh, except for escaping death at 300 miles per hour by mere inches yesterday. Other than that, nuthun. Let me round out the details for you just in case you care and I know you do. Why else would you be here day in and day out if you didn't love the Phatgirl?

I took a flight to Portland yesterday because my younger brother (younger of two brothers but both older than me thank you very much) is getting married this week and I'm the flower girl. Okay, I'm not the flower girl. It's just fun to imagine myself in a frilly pink dress with ruffles, mary jane's with lacey ankle socks and little white party gloves. Oh wait, that's my Easter outfit. Nevermind. Back to my near death experience.

We were just about to land in Portland, the landing gear was lowered, the engine slowing for the last minute of descent, the lights in the cabin dimmed, tray tables and chairs in an upright and locked position, and random passengers grabbing for their bags to have their cell phones at the ready, forbid that they keep them off one minute longer than required by air traffic safety regulations. We were (and I'm making every effort to not exaggerate in some cheap attempt to over-dramatize the actual events) THREE INCHES from touching down on the runway when the pilot lifted the nose of the plane, pushed the pedal to the metal and tore us back into the sky at a rather severe Movie-of-the-Week angle. For a moment more than I feared the possibilities of a plane crash I feared that the second glass of Diet Coke and the bottle of water I drank had been a tragic mistake. Do I need to spell this out for you or do you have a general sense of what I'm talking about?

The funny part and I use that word ever so loosely, were in those few minutes following the unexpected re-entry into the stratosphere and before the pilot explained to us what the heck was going on, we all found ourselves looking at the person next to us fully realizing that though their lips weren't moving they were in their head and heart in the middle of a rapid-fire conversation with the God of their understanding just as we were. Nothing like a hearty dose of fear to bring Jews and Christians and Muslims and agnostics all together in communal prayers and supplications. My own went something along the lines of "Oh God, I beseech thee now to hearken onto me, your faithful daughter and servant Anita. It's been a really great life and I want to take this moment to personally tell you of my deep gratitude for your blessings O Lord. Please comfort and draw close to those I love as I now prepare to enter into your presence with humility of spirit and thankfulness of heart. Amen."

Or was it more like "God, HELP!!!" ? My memory is so fuzzy on details.

What I do remember with crystal clarity is that when the pilot was finally able to break away from his decaf skinny latte and call to his wife to see if she wanted him to pick up anything at the local Piggley Wiggley on his way home, he informed us that another plane that had just landed before us on our runway was going so slow that we had to pull up at the last minute to avoid the unlikely risk of making contact with the other plane. It seems that when a Chevy Chevette makes contact with the back end of a Ford Tarsus at a stop light it's called a fender bender but when the same occurs between two landing Boeing 737's it's a whole different ballgame.

One more detail I think I should mention, not for your benefit but for mine since I really need to just get this off my chest so that the healing can begin...when the pilot was explaining what had just taken place he had used the expression "during our first attempt at landing..." and then he went on to say something about our upcoming "second attempt." Have you ever looked up the word attempt in the dictionary? Well save yourself the time because I've done the research and the definition is, "to try to do something, especially without much expectation of success" and the synonyms offered included "take a crack at, make a stab at, take a shot at, give it a go." I'm not making this up people and maybe you're all just fine with this but personally, I don't take a lot of comfort in the idea that my pilot is going to TRY and land the plane that I happen to be occupying. I need a little something more than "This is your Captain. We are now approaching the airport and I'm going to take a stab at landing this bad boy so hang on!" I require a modicum of conviction from those who hold my life in their hands. I wanna hear the squeak of the cabin speakers followed by "This is your Captain, and I'm going to land this plane on a silver dime I had the ground crew toss in the middle of the runway and if I miss it by so much as a centimeter drinks are on me!"

Oh, and I'll save the story about the girl and the barf bag for another time.

As I said, I got nuthun to blog tonight. Nuthun.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Live, Lunge and Learn

Here is my arm. If you look close you'll see a black line across the top of my arm. See it? Okay, now look really close. This will no doubt involve leaning in toward your monitor but you will be rewarded for your efforts. Trust me. Now that you're up close and personal, squint and focus directly above the black line and you'll notice the widdle biddy bump of MUSCLE extruding from my upper arm. There! That's it! That my peeps is what you get for 2 and 1/2 months of core training. Breath-taking, isn't it? Now, may I direct your attention to the dotted line toward the midway point of the photographic image. Step back from the computer. In fact, go position yourself in the doorway of the adjoining room. Now look at the photo again. Oh wait....

Look at the photo again! Do you see

that fleshy mound dangling toward the

floor? See it? Okay, now come back

into the room and sit down again.

That dangly mass of flub took me 50 years of intensive eating and couch occupation to develop. Breath-taking, isn't it? But I gotta tell you, I'm far more hyped about the widdle biddy lump of MUSCLE than I'm discouraged by the dropping flubbage. I'm just a half-full glass Phatgirl.

A story for your reading pleasure. The teeshirt in the photo is one I had made at Zazzle. The personal trainers at 24-Hour Fitness wear red teeshirts that say "Personal Trainer" across the back. On the back of mine it reads "Personal Trainer's Victim" and on the front is a block of text comprised of all the pithy, annoying little phrases, questions, and demands D_wn, my personal trainer, offers as accompaniment to my workouts. The melody goes something like this, "Are you okay? How you doing? Keep your heels down. Keep your chest up. Stop rounding your shoulders. Breathe! Tighten those ABS! Posture! How do you feel? Are you okay? Pull from your shoulder blades. You should feel it there! 10 more. Another set. Quit crying you babypants!" Okay, it doesn't actually contain the last line but now that I've thought of it, I wish it did. Back to the story and yes, there is one. So in I stroll the other day sporting my brand-new-my-trainer-is-going-to-bust-a-gut-over-this-one teeshirt and sure enough, she grinned. And then she proceeded to put me through a workout that lacked any trace of compassion, gentleness or simple human kindness. Brutal I tell you. Brutal. After 50 minutes of this little glimpse into the bowels of Hades and sweating like a long-haired dog in the middle of the Negev on an August afternoon, I pointed to the words on the back of my teeshirt and grasping for that last breath of air I had misplaced during the final set of lunges (lung-less?) I said "Truth in advertising." And that's when she laughed. Outloud.

I'm wearing a white teeshirt tomorrow. No graphic images. No words. Nothing. Unadored. Innocent.

The King and Queen

SimbaKitty, the Black Panther of Suburbia
Stuffed and catnip-laced mice, you have met your conquering king!

AnnieCat, Still Reigning Queen of the Shag Princess Tower
The child kitten bores me. Off with his whiskers!

Pictures Speak Louder...

I pass by this memorial to the American soldiers who've died in Iraq every day that I drive to work. I've watched the crosses added and the hillside fill up. The number doesn't even begin to reflect the number of military dead from other countries or the citizens of Iraq killed since this all began. My fear is we'll run out of hillside before we run out of war.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Racewalking Weekend

I returned home this morning from Carmel-by-the-Sea where I was participating in a racewalking clinic with Dave McGovern. The same one I attended last year. Since making the decision to discontinue walking for the time being I reconsidered whether I should cancel my plans to attend but after our schmooze and supper on Friday night I discovered eight reasons why being there was so important.

  1. Brandon
  2. Steve
  3. Sue
  4. Ann
  5. Vickie
  6. Melody
  7. Becky
  8. Dave

These are the folks I got to know last year and with whom I've encouraged and been encouraged by for these many months via a casual little mailing group we formed following our first racewalking clinic gig. I love these people. Love. In the real sense of the word.

Vickie has become nothing short of freakishly fast racewalker and were she not so incredibly kind I might feel inclined to envy her. Becky's racewalking form is a pleasure to watch and Ann isn't anyone I'm going to be catching up to anytime soon. Better form, faster speed. Melody is our Disney athlete with a half or full marathon at Disneyland or Disneyworld always up ahead on her calendar. My personal suspicion is she's got a secret thing going on for Goofy but if she says it's about the race. Fine, sure, whatever. Then there's Sue who I refuse to mention on my blog until she ponies up and gets her sorry racewalking booty on the internet! Apparently she's too pre-occupied driving her 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle down the road to the haunting tune of "Hotel California" playing over her 8-track tape player and 3-inch woofers and tweeters to catch up to modern life! And when it comes to "the boys," they've already had center-stage on my blog and in my heart more than a few times. Steve is the definition of humble tenacity and five months after the fact, I still can switch on the tears remembering those last yards as he ended toward the Portland Marathon finish line. Then there's Brandon. I could describe him in single words like funny, generous, thoughtful, and tenderhearted but let's just say, if you're needing some inspiration and encouragement Brandon is the guy you want in your corner. A true-blue sweetheart. And then there's Dave. As in pavement-blistering member of the US National Racewalk Team stop-by-my-website-and-buy-some-of-my-merch-as-long-as-you're-there Dave McGovern. Elite athlete. Trainer and coach extraordinare. A really nice guy with a certifiably twisted sense of humor.

These are the eight people who in one weekend a year ago made up for all those really horrible years I endured in gym class with their kindness and genuine encouragment. So where else should I have been this weekend but with those eight and the other racewalking pleebs and pros who joined us this year?

I haven't done any racewalking, fitnesswalking, powerwalking or hurry-up-or-you're-going-to-be-late walking in months and so it felt great to get out there and give it a go again. While my foot placement is solid (a nice roll from heel to toe) and my front knee lift needs more heighth, the place I noticed the most improvement from last year was in my posture. Last year I was pitched forward, bent at the waist, shoulders rounded. This year it was stomach in, back straight, shoulders back. Thank you core training. Thank you D_wn, my personal trainer! After this weekend of hanging out with bona fide racewalking atheletes and all-around cool peeps, I'm giving some thought to aiming for a local 5K race. Not as a fast walker but as a racewalker. Right now I couldn't keep the pace or the form for 3 miles but I'm just simmering on the idea for the time-being and seeing where it leads.

Funny story. I woke up Saturday morning in the hotel and realized when I went to pull my yogurt and blueberries out of the mini-fridge that I'd forgotten to pack a spoon. I looked around the combination kitchen/bathroom, a combination I don't imagine will ever take off in residential home design, and spotted a cellophone bag containing coffee stirrers, a pack of sugar, and a napkin. I took the three plastic coffee stirrers and tying them together at one end with dental floss fashioned a utensil with which to eat my breakfast. The spirit of McGyver lives long after it's vanished into syndication!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Man of the House

What I've Come to Know About Simbakitty in His First Week

  1. He has the funniest meow I've ever heard. Imagine the sound of a toddler's delighted squeal mixed with the low contented sigh of an old man eating apple pie ala mode and framed within a question. You now have something close to this little guy's chatter.
  2. When Simba's sleeping on our dark burgundy couch he becomes nearly invisible to the human eye.
  3. He's pretty convinced that the cursor moving across the screen on my computer monitor is something he should capture and bring to me between his teeth as his manly duty. For the sake of my monitor I pray not.
  4. a) His poop stinks to high heaven and b) he has feline flatulence that could peel paint off a wall. Following the vet's advice we're going to try a new cat food. If that doesn't work, I'm tying a lemon-scented car deodorizer to his kitty collar.
  5. Simba's most active time of the day is 5:35 a.m. when he enjoys doing a close examination of my head. Nothing wakes you up in the morning like a cold wet nose attached to pokey whiskers sliding across the bridge of your nose.
  6. When 4b takes place while 5 is occurring the biggest concern is not paint peeling off the wall.