When You Got It, You Got It

Tuesday was the first time The Tortoise and I went to the gym to do more than lay poolside with a good book.

I have always been the Queen of Cardio. My favorite apparatus at the gym is typically an elliptical, although the stair-stepper comes a close second. It has been a couple of years since I have been in a gym, but since this was my daughter’s first experience, I wanted to make sure it was enjoyable and productive. I’m counting on her to be my exercise buddy this summer. Even though she swims for two hours every morning for swim team, The Tortoise still wants to commit 3 days a week to cardio outside the pool, plus two days of strength training.

Smelling like armpit or stale Fritos in public typically doesn’t bother me, and yet I felt inclined to take a shower. And shave my legs. I was also excited to put on my brand new tennis shoes, recently gifted workout shorts and sassy top. Apparently I wanted to make a good impression on the fellow gym patrons.

Confidently I stepped on the elliptical, explaining to The Tortoise how important it is to pace yourself. We adjusted our earphones and settings. Made sure our water bottles were reachable. Our goal was 30 minutes.

“Now don’t get too discouraged if you can’t make it the whole 30 minutes, ” I said, “This is only your first time.”

Swiftly my legs and arms started pumping. The music pounded out each beat, step by step, breath by breath. Breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. Soon my arms started to ache. Air couldn’t fill my lungs fast enough. My thighs felt like logs. Surely we were almost done. I glanced at the time.

10 minutes.

The Tortoise was gazelle-like, focused on the TV screens on the wall. Not a bead of sweat on her brow, while I could feel pools of sweat running down my face and collecting under my bra.

“You okay?” she asked, turning her head to face me, “Your face is really red, and blotchy.”

“Oh, yeah, ” I said, ” It’s just hot in here.”

I took a huge gulp of water and kept going. My daughter’s pace was dramatically faster than mine as I dug as hard as I could with each motion. It felt like hours before the clock changed.

11 minutes

12 minutes

Pain shot through my sides.

13 minutes

14 minutes

Breathing became labored and shallow.

15 minutes

I stopped the machine and hopped off, thighs quivering, and swallowed as much air and water as humanly possible.

“It’s all right Mom,” The Tortoise said, “You’ll do better next time.”

I smiled weakly, pointed to the treadmills on the other side of the room, and did my walk of shame.

“MOM!” The Tortoise exclaimed, 15 minutes later, smiling, “I finished 3.4 miles in only 32 minutes!”

“That’s really awesome, honey!” I said, still trying to catch my breath.

“How far have you done total?”

“Um…total?” I repeated the question, “Like only 2 miles.”

The Tortoise handed me a cleaning towelette as I stepped off the treadmill.

“At least you finished your goal of 30 minutes of cardio.”

Yeah, at least there’s that.

I’d like to say the weight room went more smoothly. If  having to read every instruction out loud while squinting to read the ridiculously small print, comparing my body to the unrecognizable drawing on the machine, and constantly changing the pin to a lighter weight is considered smooth, then I was rockin’ it baby.

About halfway through our arm rotation, I couldn’t help but notice a young man watching us. He was lifting some pretty hefty weights across the room, and every once in a while he would pause to look. At us.

No, definitely at me. He was looking at me.

I smiled politely, but then he got up and started to walk across the room. Towards us. I really didn’t mean for my smile to be an invitation. Surely he noticed I was here with my daughter. Although I was flattered, this was going to be embarrassing for him.

“Um…Ma’m,” he said quietly.


“Your using this machine backwards.”


“The machine, you’re using it backwards, it’s supposed to be working your triceps, not your biceps, ” he said, turning the handles over and handing them to me correctly.

I thanked him quietly as he left.

“Well, that was awful nice of him, ” said The Tortoise, “And I don’t even think he noticed all of your boob sweat either.”

We meet with a Personal Trainer on the 11th for a weight machine consultation.

Can you put deodorant on under your boobs?




I Look Better Naked

I’m starting to understand the allure of nudist colonies.

The image of my big butt mocking me in the Target fitting room mirrors today will forever burn in my brain. Most of the time I only see myself coming, never going. There are no 360 degree set of mirrors in my house.

It was quite arresting to see myself from that angle.




Like I was in a major car wreck. Or had hail damage.

I hate trying on bathing suits and workout wear.

Spandex is only as flattering as the flesh being hidden underneath it – everything else gets pushed around in every direction, spilling out over the top, under the bottom and into the sides, creating lumps you swear never existed before. Waistbands dig into your skin, leaving mote-like divots circling your body, ring-around-the-pudgy, cutting you in two, making you look as if the magician couldn’t quite put you back together again after sawing you in half.

Mismatched body parts.

I bought nothing.

As I got ready for bed, I paused in front of the full length mirror.

I stood there in all of my glory.

No ripples.

No bulges.

No muffin top.

Just soft breasts that once fed my children, gave them sustenance for months. A round belly that stretched and ached in all directions in order to make room for their growing arms and legs. Curvy hips that carried their little bodies, sometimes one on each side. Strong thighs and legs that have played hours and hours of hide-and-go-seek, tag, and summer slip-and-slides. Long arms that have given a million hugs. Short, stubby fingers that have laced between tiny digits to walk across the street and wipe away tears. Calloused hands that have clapped and cheered in encouragement, planted gardens and baked cookies.

Being naked reveals so much.

The Potty Dance

This week’s memoir writing prompt by The Red Dress Club, was hosted by Jennifer of Whispatory. She asked us to write a memoir based on a memory of a school trip we took.

Stupid Sister Anna Rose.

I told her I needed to go to the bathroom like a million times.

She didn’t listen. She just kept telling me I had to stay with the group.

Then she told me I should of gone after we ate lunch. I didn’t have to go then.

I guess I shouldn’t have drunk that second juice box. But Jimbo gave it to me. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

My mom always packs the best lunches, peanut butter with apple butter. And no crusts. And homemade chocolate chip cookies. I hope she doesn’t know I ate those first. She’d be mad.

There was totally another bathroom near the Elephants and one by the Giraffe’s too. I saw it with my own two eyes! We could of stopped at either of those, especially since she let mean old Marcus buy a wax elephant. He even got to buy Cotton Candy! So not fair.

The wax Elephant was a little cool. It was still warm when it came out of the machine. And smelled like a candle. I wish my mom let me take money. She never gives me money.

I wish my mom came. She could of come be a chaperone instead of watching my little brother. Maybe next time.

I bet my mom would of let me go to the bathroom.

Why oh why did it have to start raining! I really did try to hold it forever, but nosy Marylou kept asking me why I was walking with my legs crossed. She is so embarrassing! It rained like crazy and everybody ran for the bus. I just couldn’t hold it anymore.

I felt it down my leg.

It’s really warm.

And I’m really cold.

Maybe nobody will notice my pants are wet since I stood in the rain on purpose.

Oh, don’t sit with me, don’t sit with me.

I smell like pee-pee.

And sweat.

I smell like sweaty pee-pee.

I smell like mean old Marcus. Gross!

Thank goodness this stupid field trip is over.

If only stupid Sister Anna Rose had listened to me in the first place.

It’s all her fault.

I hope we never go to the zoo again.

I Have More Insurance

I felt like Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) today from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes:

[Evelyn is cut off in a parking lot]
Evelyn Couch: Hey! I was waiting for that spot!
Girl #1: Face it, lady, we’re younger and faster!
[Evelyn rear-ends the other car six times]
Girl #1: What are you *doing*?
Girl #2: Are you *crazy*?
Evelyn Couch: Face it, girls, I’m older and I have more insurance.

Today was the first time I had to make the gym drive at 4:30 in the afternoon. Another mom has gone above and beyond by taking The Hare home everyday for me, but today we had dinner plans with some friends. Apparently 4:30 is the beginning of rush hour on this side of town. Slithering cars inched their way down the street. I sat through two light cycles just to turn right on to the first street I needed. Then I needed to get into the far left lane in order to pull into a turn lane, to make what we up here like to call “a MichiganLeft”. (And yes, it is as complicated as it sounds. I got a ticket within the first 6 months of living here for doing it all wrong.)

I pulled into the far left lane, just a breath away from the turn lane. The car in front of me wasn’t moving into the turn lane, nor did they have their blinker on. I assumed they were going straight then. A long line of cars lay ahead of me, waiting to turn at the next light. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a rather beat-up green Suburban trying to cut across three lanes of traffic. No kind hand wave or “I’m sorry” for cutting everyone off. Surely he wasn’t trying to come clear across four lanes of traffic to make this Michigan Left too?

The light ahead finally changed again. The car in front of me lurched forward a bit, then suddenly darted into the turn lane. I had already made my commitment to the turn lane as well, when I had to touch the breaks a bit to let the car in front go ahead. They decided last minute to make the turn. A gentle tap on the gas and we were moving forward. Suddenly, that damn Suburban darted into my lane, and then tried to barrel into the turn lane. He did indeed cut over four lanes of traffic. My quick reflexes landed on the horn, holding it long enough to catch his attention.

He flipped me the bird and flicked cigarette ash at my car.

I raised both  hands in the air, opened my mouth in shock, and then pointed angrily to the road in front of me.

“Just go then, idiot.” I thought to myself.

Idiot Driver slowly maneuvered into the next lane, being sure to keep eye contact with me and yell out his window.

“You F*#$%ing Bitch!”

Of course both of my kids were in the car.

“Mom, ” asked The Hare, “Why did that man yell bad words at you?”

My cheeks were turning red, fingers tingled from gripping the wheel so tight.

“Some people just don’t know how to be grown-ups.”

I pulled the car around, enabling me to finally be headed in the right direction. Of course, as soon as we approached the next light, it turned red. The Idiot Driver turned into the far left lane. We were in the far right lane. As we approached the light, Idiot Driver cut over three lanes of traffic again, and pulled his car up next to ours. His car speed matched mine. There was no one in front of him, yet he was four car-links away from the white line when the light turned red. I was four cars deep. He just sat next to me, yelling, and probably flipping me off again. I refused to look at him and instructed the kids to totally look out the opposite windows.We turned up the music.

It took every ounce of strength I had to not roll down my window and yell back. Something. Anything. But I refrained, because that is what grownups do, especially when they are carrying such  precious cargo.

When he finally drove off I said to the kids.

“Quick, write down his license plate number…”

The Hare repeated it over and over while The Tortoise typed it into her cell phone.

“Why are we writing this down?” asked The Hare.

“I don’t know, but I must be able to complain to someone.”

“Was he being illegal?” asked The Hare.

“Probably not, but I some how feel better knowing that I have his license plate number. ”

Just once, I’d like to be Evelyn Couch.

Careless Consummation

Last weekend was the first time in ten years DW and I vacationed without children. Since I was a single mom when we met, and we have no family living near us, it has never been just the two of us, except for our honeymoon. (Once we shipped both kids to my parents for a weekend, but DW ended up having to work and I had a concert schedule that weekend.)

Generously, some close friends insisted they take the girls (and the dog) for a weekend so we could celebrate our anniversary. As a young mom, I would have hemmed and hawed at the idea, worried about schedules and meals. I would have missed them too much to leave. But I’m more seasoned now, smarter.

“YES!” I said without hesitation.

We chose a little artsy beach town just a couple of hours drive away, Saugatuck. Normally, I am a packing drama queen, stressing about the house and every detail before traveling. Not this time. I made the kids pack themselves, sorted through basket after basket of unfolded clean clothes, haphazardly tossed items into our overnight bags and hoped for good weather, although it wasn’t a requirement. I would have been just as happy with a grey weekend, listening to rain dance on the water outside our suite, watching movies together.  The idea of spending two nights and three days with DW, and no distractions, was intoxicating. Between his work and travel, and the kids’ crazy schedules, I’ve really missed him. He is either asleep by 9pm every night or on the verge of sleep.

Our one bedroom suite overlooked a marina.

One of the most important things you can do in a marriage, is make time to connect, without the kids. Because at some point in your relationship, you won’t have the kids around all the time, and then what? You have to know how to be adults together, not just parents. I don’t want to wake up one day and find that I am living with a stranger. I want to look forward to all the years ahead of us. Our weekend in Saugatuck was a nice preview.

The end of a hiking trail revealed a beautiful beach.

We spent our time sleeping in, eating at great restaurants, taking paddle boat rides, hiking through the woods, exploring the dunes, sunbathing on the beach and watching a Shakespeare play in an old barn. I even enjoyed my first round of golf. Instead of staying out until all hours of the night, we sat on our deck, overlooking the marina, eating ice-cream floats and cuddling up to watch movies. I almost didn’t want the weekend to end.

There are 282 steep steps, and yes, we climbed them all!

It’s hard to celebrate an anniversary and not reminisce about your wedding.

And there was certainly plenty to reflect upon.

Brides want to look their best for pictures. You spend thousands of dollars on the dress, shoes, make-up and hair. I gave the photographer careful instructions to get all pictures done by 8pm. All of my bridesmaids and close girlfriends also knew I did not want to drink any alcohol while pictures were being taken, for various reasons:

  • I’m allergic to yeast and occasionally get hives when drinking beer
  • Champagne makes my cheeks and nose pink
  • I didn’t want to maneuver my gown in a bathroom stall (Here’s a tip, the best way to pee in a wedding dress is to straddle the toilet backwards while your best friend and photographer’s wife hold your dress up for you.)
  • I didn’t want to be mistaken for a lush years later while looking through our wedding album
  • Slightly concerned I would mistake our band for a Karaoke party

Precisely at 8pm our photographer packed up and excused himself from the reception.

  • By 8:15pm every guest had passed me a glass of champagne,toasting our beautiful wedding.
  • By 9pm I was slightly buzzed and cutting up the dance floor.
  • By 9:30pm I looked like I had just finished a two-hour workout.
  • By 10pm I was singing with the band.
  • By 11pm I was kissing everybody within my reach.

“Goodbye. Goodbye. I’ll miss you, ” I said while being escorted to our obnoxiously decorated car.

The plan was to stay the night at a hotel near the airport. The next morning my in-laws were going to pick us up for our flight to Florida, where we would get on a cruise to the Bahamas.

While DW was checking us in, I decided to have one more night-cap in the bar. I wanted to savor every last minute in my beautiful gown. DW joined me, having his usual, Diet Coke, and then we proceeded to the honey-moon suite.

I got the hiccups in the elevator.They were relentless, rattling my diaphragm with such force my whole body shook. Once we were in our room, I drank a gallon of water trying to get rid of the hiccups. Now my bladder was bursting at the seams.

We kissed.

“Wait, ” I gasped between hiccups, “I have to pee.”

We kissed.

“Wait, I have to pee again.”

We kissed.

“Wait, ” my stomach felt queasy as the hiccups still pummeled my sides, “I think I’m going to puke.”

We kissed.

There was a loud knock at the door.

“D?” echoed a small voice in the hall. It sounded vaguely familiar.

DW cracked open the door, revealing his mother standing there, holding my tiny white satin clutch.

“Are you busy?” she asked, “Em forgot her purse at the reception and I was worried she might need something from it.”

He reached for the clutch and shut the door.

“Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-… That’s all, folks.”