Crack-addict boyfriend be-gone

This evening I’m talking to my girlfriend Kelly on the phone, (you remember her, the one who got hit on by the cuter waiter at the Italian joint, followed by the serenade from the mafia don), when lo, I see her car at the Tiger Mt Country Store. I pull in to see her lounging in the front of this cute, western-style convenient store that is appropriate for our neck of the world, covered in pink from head to toe, looking like a candy-striper from Santa’s elf shop out on a smoking break. Since my car is in the shop, I pull up in my husband’s hee-haw pick-em up truck, missing the small animals that rumble up from the nether regions of the woods to see if, in fact, an earthquake is occurring, and go sit by Kel on the park bench.

After we get done talking about her slippers, her fingernails and how she’s gone “all girl” on me, the lights start to dim and the cashier comes out to yip at Kelly the store is closing, and if she “wants her soda now, she better get it.” The words were said with humor, and it’s clear the cashier is on familiar terms with my friend in her PJs.

Picture me & my friend Kel (in pink PJs) sitting
at the park-bench thing, kickin it. You should join. It’s a good time.

I find this interesting, for I myself, have oft frequented this little shack in the woods, and nary a smile do I usually get from this young woman, though I did mention to Kelly she’s become markedly nicer to me, and for lack of a better phrase, more “present.”

“It’s like she’s been undergoing a transformation,” I told Kelly. Gone is the nose-ring, lip ring, orange and yellow hair. Her skin has cleared up. Her eyes aren’t glassy anymore, and quite frankly, she smiles and looks like she’s gotten a good night’s rest. “When I talked to her before, it was like she was seeing through me.”

Kelly nodded like she understood, and in her quippish, “I’m-a-counselor-mode” (which she is by professional actually), she says, “well her crack-addict boyfriend got arrested and is in jail, so of course she’s better.”

Well. That says it all I guess. I had no idea. It was her crack-addict boyfriend, who also used to work at the store, who helped me get my car keys from a crack in the wood slats on a Friday night after they fell out of my purse. He always smiled and was very social. Of course, he was missing a few critical teeth here and there, his face was sallow and sort-of yellow, and his hair was colors not found in nature, but whatever. I’d never have guessed.

“Your so naive,” she tells me. I suppose. It’s not like I have crack-radar or something. He wasn’t holding me up, nor being rude. All is well now in our little part of the woods. I, like hundreds of others, continue to stop by, fill up, grab some food and be on our merry way. Tonight, I’m a bit merrier however, knowing that with one-less crack addict boyfriend, another woman is finding her way and letting her bright light shine through.

The Global Popularity Contest

On this bright day, I’m feeling inexplicably sassier than usual. Perhaps its the fact that I’m up all hours, dealing with producers from foreign lands that skip every other word and I’m a little punch-drunk. It could also be that I’ve been spending way too much time inhaling natural deer repellents.

Whatever the reason, my mental self was still consumed with the shock last week when I read Facebook spent a billion dollars on a photo sharing service. 250Million photos are uploaded a day. That’s not the interesting part, since I’m not one of the 5 employees that get to share $100million, nor am I related to, or personally know, the 28 yr old founder who gets to pocket $400M.

No. I’m concerned with mankind.

What is Facebook after all? A way to communicate? Nope. It’s a way to become a Global Prom Queen. Signing up for a personal Facebook account is akin to joining the world’s largest popularity contest. Didn’t get attention in high school? Get it now. Show everyone how beautiful, talented and bright you are, all the while visiting exotic locations (did you know people actually photoshop themselves on to pictures and post this stuff?), eating amazing food with gorgeous friends.

Now, I’m not saying that some of the information is not legitimate. Problem is, I can’t tell the difference. What I really want is to find a site where “friends” do more than post kiddie pictures, vacations, child-achievements and race cars that cost more than my house. I want some real-life sick days full of vomiting, a car breakdown or two, or a zit on face. What? Oh wait. That’s my real world. Not the world of other, better people than I.

I’ll be clear. I’m Facebook schizophrenic, first, avoiding it like the plague for years, then ultimately succumbing to the pressure. I then created a personal site, (and you can friend me, but if I don’t know your mother’s name, I won’t friend back). As you can imagine, I started getting friended by people I barely know (and certainly didn’t know their mom), some I didn’t really want to know, or those I wished I’d never known. For all, I said yes. This is where the conservative if me becomes downright Clinton-esque, in a “I-wanna-be-liked” kind of a way, but without the cigar.

What happened then? I never posted anything meaningful. When I did post, they were boring.  Nobody visited my wall and people posted with the reluctance of touching a leper. Having no visitors is worse than not having a storefront. If the Open sign isn’t up, I can’t complain no one is stopping by.

So it is that I active my personal facebook account when I need to get in touch with someone, then immediately deactivate it. (I have only a bit more than 100 people, but maybe a dozen people I actually have in my cell phone).

Don’t get me wrong. I love to go on FB periodically and look at the photos and timelines of other people whom I’ve forgotten about. In less than 5 minutes, I can consume a person’s entire life, new home building, child’s first tooth and a job change with the light touch of my index finger doing the tapping. No phone call or bothersome conversation. It’s amazing.

Thus, my epiphany.

I’m actually a rather shy individual. Don’t swallow your tongue, it’s true. I don’t want people in my local area, church, or neighborhood, to know what I’m thinking or doing. I don’t want to talk about my children’s achievements. I don’t want to get mired in the one-upmanship that seems to come with posting the latest and greatest. I find general topics posted to the unwashed masses that have become my blog followers much more interesting, revealing and honest.

Above all, I’ve come to terms I will never be the Facebook prom queen. My two-faced usage of Facebook includes my Sassality page of course, for how else am I going to get in front of the popular crowd? Yet my global popularity will always be stunted by my lack of electronic glad-handing and lovemaking. I shall wander in the Internet universe, staggering among the unwashed, luddite masses, doing it old school. One phone call, one email and one blog posting at a time.

The merits of Pickem’ up trucks

Six months after Porsche was born, I was zipping down Maple Valley highway when I see two men preparing to cross the street. One, a gap-toothed, mentally disabled man known to the area, ran wildly across the street, about a hundred yards ahead of the oncoming cars. I was headlight-to-headlight with the car on my right and we both slowed down. At the same time, two lanes of cars were coming from the opposite direction.

“Cum arrnnnn,” cried the one who’d made it across. The other man, a large, lumbering guy, stepped out onto the freeway.
“No way,” I said out loud. “You are not going to do this.” I slowed down further, as did the car to my right.
The man darted across the invisible path, making it past the two lanes of oncoming traffic. As he lurched toward my car, I skidded, unable to veer left, or hit head on with the oncoming car. I couldn’t veer right, since I’d slam into the vehicle beside me.
I did the only thing I could: I hit the brakes a few times, giving the car behind me warning of what was to come. Then I slammed down hard. The anti-lock brakes prevented a spin out, but not the crunch of a three-hundred pound body connecting with my front lights. He bounded up on my hood, smashed into my front windshield. When the car stopped, he rolled down the front and on to the ground.
Of course I freaked. I’d hit a person—well, technically, the police officer told me that it was reverse. “He hit you,” he said. It was illegal crossing the street, ramming into the car, and I wasn’t at fault. In fact, both men received tickets. (The guy who hit my car was legally drunk, and was cited for all of the above).
However, my sedan, which I’d had for a little over a year, was toast.
“Drive the truck until we get you another car,” Rog said, offering up his newly acquired Dodge Ram. It was white. “It’s a short bed,” he said, as if I knew what that meant or cared. It was Diesel.
When I stepped into the thing, I had to jump up. When it started (and I remembered to wait for the light inside to go off), it rumbled. It announced I was coming up the hill a mile before I got home. It had big, mud-loving tires and a silver gas tank cap. The only thing it was missing was a gun rack on the back window and those playboy-escque mud-flaps flashing the sillouhette of a woman.
“How long until I get a new car?” I asked sweetly.

“In a few more months,” said Rog, non–commital.

On a shopping excursion to Seattle, I found it was too tall to park underground. I found this out the hard way, when I ignored the height notice and pulled forward. The car stopped—and I mean STOPPED—at the cement. Slowly, full of mortification, I went backwards. Ignoring the honks of the Prius behind me, I jumped out, stood on the floorboard and inspected the damage.
“Rog will never know,” I muttered, waving the Prius guy to get out of my way. He did so. My pick ‘em up truck would roll right over him.
Six months into this, my mom showed up.
“Where’s your car?” she asked.

“This is my car.”

She looked. She said nothing.
“How do I get in?”
I pointed to the baseboard. She stretched her long gams and made it in, reluctantly. Her teeth rattled when the car started and she asked about that “smell.” (Rog’s sweaty hockey-gear was placed in this car, not the small sports car he drove).
“Why don’t we take his car?” she asked politely, knowing she was treading on hallowed ground.
“Rog is afraid I’d kill us both.” His car, endowed with 405 horsepower, was ‘too much muscle’ for me. He was probably right. I love speed, my claim to infamy being I flipped a car as a sixteen-year old going too fast around a corner.
Six months stretched into a year.
“I think you’ll always drive a truck,” Rog said. I was mortified. I’d been patient. I’d been quiet. Not a single word of complaint about the inability to park within a bus ride at the Target parking lot.
“But it’s a Hee-Haw car,” I said, grumpy.
“Hee haw??”
“Yeah, like those hill-billies on that show from the sixties.” Rog shook his head, resolute.
“Do you know how much money you’re saving us by driving that thing?” Sure, I was driving a friggin diesel. It was cost-effective.
“No, no, no,” he returned. “You never shop anymore! We’re saving hundreds of dollars every month!”
He then showed a spreadsheet with an accompanying graph of my spend. Sure enough, the numbers went down, coinciding with than d—n truck.
“I can’t park it anywhere!” I said. No Nordstrom, it didn’t fit in the parking garage, and I wasn’t going to try and find street parking for the behemoth. I dreaded Costco because the turning radius was limited. I even avoided getting my hair done, because I’d get dirty looks from women and men alike, who silently accused me of polluting the planet with more than my fair share of fumes and black soot. The first few times someone actually told me to ‘be nice to the Earth,’ I bothered to explain it was clean diesel. No fumes! They didn’t care. It was diesel. They want to know the rest.
My clothes progressively went out of style and the family ate rice and beans, but no matter. I was giving it up for the team.
On the upside, the truck gave me a whole new lease on life. I discovered I no longer had to wait for Rog to go get plants or bark. I could load up the back of that with compost for the garden, for what did I care if I smelled like the barea tar pit in the dead of summer. I was driving a truck!
Driving that truck, I was master of the freeway universe. It was better than being at the helm of a firetruck with the lights on. Other drivers would see me comin’ from a mile away and move over before I had the chance to flash my lights or tap my breaks. And those itty-bitty Prius’s? Let them try to cut me off. What did I care?

“It’s a truck!” I’d yell from inside the cab, a once, proper San Francisco city-fide girl gone wild.
This was also the beginning of my love affair with “the grange.” The Grange, as I learned, was one of the few places to get clean diesel. It happened to be a pit stop with cowboy stuff, and all things horsey. Soon, I found myself checking out red-plaid shirts with brands like Cruel Girl and Cowgirl UP! After a while, I succumbed and tried one on, and with glee, realized this stuff was made for tall, long-armed girls like me (early cowgirls must have been from Nordic stalk).
This begat wearing dope, phatty cowboy books like Ariat and buying useless, cowboy-themed stuff for the house.
“What’s with the cowboy junk?” Rog asked. He was long over the anything western or cowboy, having OD’d on it as a child.  
“It’s grown on me,” I told him. “It’s all because of my hee-haw truck.”
“It’s time to get you a sedan,” he muttered.
“No! I love my truck!” I told him. What did I care if the only guys to give me a second glance were actually looking at my vehicle, hence, the phrase “pickem’ up truck.” Had I know a short-bed with mag tires was such an attraction-getter, I would have begged my dad for one in high school.
Yet, the light at the end of the tunnel was dimming. My daughter was preparing to go to school. The small drop-off and turnaround area wouldn’t accommodate a honkin beast. The rumble threatened to shake the delicate flowers from the gazebo.
We still have the hee-haw truck, and when I’m feeling ornery, I drive it to the grocery store just so other drivers move off the road. In the summer, I fill it up with smelly compost, and every so often, make my mom climb into it when she comes, just so she can appreciate a sedan.
When I’m not behind the wheel, three feet higher than the rest of mankind , I don my blue, halfszees cowboy boots and my Cruel Girl shirt with the long sleeves and shout Cowgirl Up!

As guilty as they come

Tonight I became a free woman. For at least two hours, was my conservative estimate. Turkey dinner made and eaten by 6:55 pm, at 7 I hit the freeway, flying down the onramp like a pinball going around the final curve before I’m going to hit the paddle. My radar detector is quiet, the music is loud, but my singing is louder. Being the polite citizen, I flip on the signal and slide around cars like an eel moving around rock as my speed accelerates from 65 to 80.

Life was good. Until the blue and red lights appeared behind me. What? No radar detector? I’d been in my bubble of temporary happiness so long I’d not noticed the SUV tailing me.

I do what any good citizen would do. I flipped on my signal, slowed down and pulled over. I ripped the windshield-mounted detector off and threw it on the ground, retrieving my registration from the glovebox. When I pull out my driver’s license and car insurance, I notice the insurance is three months out of date. Not good. That’ll cost me extra.

I roll down my window and wait, still humming. The crack on the passenger seat window startles me. Ooops. Wrong one. I roll mine up and the other down, facing a very unhappy 50-ish year old man. He doesn’t frown or scowl. He’s fierce.

“Do you know you know why I pulled you over?” he barks.

“Oh yeah,” I say, stretching my hand over with my information. “I was blazing.” I tried not to smile, but it was all over. There was no point in even trying an excuse. It was what it was.

“Yeah you were,” he snipes, still angry. “Do you know how fast you were going?”

“Nearly 80 I think. It was at 79 when I saw the lights, so yeah, might as well call it 80.” At this he blinked, trying to maintain his angry-cop composure. Yet I could see a hint of confusion. I didn’t look like a criminal, and my bluntness was throwing him.

“Well at least you’re being honest,” he grumped. “What are you doing that’s making you go in and out of traffic in such a hurry?”

I pointed to my sweats, aware that in my glasses and sneakers, I looked like the harried, out-of-jail-mom that I was.

“I’ve got two kids at home with my husband, and I’m going to the Rack to see if I can find some bras. I’m so excited I was singing pretty loud and just blazing.” He blinked again, and the crack of laughter threatened the corners of his mouth. I extended my hand again. Time was wastin’ and I had things to do. “I’m as guilty as they come officer.”

The sheriff (for by now I’d seen his badge) waived it off. “You get points for being honest,” he started, and I was figuring how many points left I had on my license. “

“I tell you what. I’m going to dinner and you were honest. I’m going to let you off with a warning.”

My jaw fell open and my eyes popped wide. I couldn’t have acted better, so shocked was I.


He nodded.

“Wow. That’s awesome. Thanks!” (I’ll admit I was almost teary-eyed. I think I was 16 the last time an officer gave me a break).

“Just slow down will you?”

With that, he left. I merged out in traffic and successfully accomplished my mission of buying braziers. Word of advice for all drivers. Admit you are ‘as guilty as they come.’ Honest might just pay.

Tilting the room

Seattle is looking for a quarterback. No surprise. Bad seasons equals a revolving door. To be clear, I care more about the annual moss growth on the trees than I do quarterback changes, but a one-liner from the general manager caught my attention (that’s what happens to writers. All it takes is a sentence of brilliance from a stranger.)

“We need someone that ’tilts the room’ when they walk in,” said John Shneider, the frustrated man that he is.

Don’t tilt the room. Tilt the house.
(this is in line with the go-big-or-go-home- motto

It got me thinking, ‘what kind of force of nature tilts the room?” A leader, to be sure. A charismatic individual that one gravitates towards without really knowing why, or being conscious of it even happening. I can think of a CEO or two, my own father, a salewoman (and man), a few serving in the military. 

A few times, I’ve been in a meeting or at an airport and drawn to someone, having been reading or otherwise engaged and felt the need to look up. When I’ve done so, I’ve seen a person walking, endowed with a particular look, or better said, energy, that made me continue to watch. It’s probably not surprising that a person with traits associated with energy and charisma gravitate to running companies, selling a product or being in politics. What I’d find more interesting is regular, average people who endure commonplace careers and live regular lives. Can’t think of any. I guess that’s why these unique individuals aren’t ‘average.’ They are the ones standing straight and the rest of us are leaning.

You Blaze, We Blaze

Do you ever find yourself talking in shorthand with your closest friends, spouse or partner? I’ve got this thing with my peeps and it involves talking in movie clips.

When Rog can’t get my attention, he says quite loudly, “AZiZ! Light!” from the first part of the 5th Element. When I don’t see him around the corner, I’ll ask Rog, is that you? He’ll reply– “Not anymore” like a viper ready to strike, as whispered by Deacon Frost, the protagonist in Wesley Snipe’s futuristic vampire-slayer movie, Blade.  The joke here being, he’s turned into a demon from hell. Thus, the phrase is best said with a slight whisper.
This little quirk has all types of other benefits. It saves entire conversations and breaks up verbal fisty-cuffs, for who can be mad when someone says, “you’re acting like Long-Duck-Dong?” (16 Candles)
In times of frustration, when Rog and I wonder whether we should have gotten married, we race to say “Well, I already took the blue pill,” (The Matrix). In other words, it’s too late. The deed is done and now we’re stuck with it.
During hissyfits, when one of us is frustrated with the lack of change from the other, it’s only a matter of time when he or I will say “What do you want me to be??” This invariably inspires the other to say in a come-hither voice: “I’ll be anything you want me to be,” with the inflection of Puss-in-Boots in Shrek 2 as he licks his, uh, stuff.
And who can live in a movie reference world w/out using Master Yoda’s phraseology, particularly in times of sappy seriousness. Examples include when I’m overly sentimental and Rog will throw down “Love you, I do.” In those rare (rare) occasions where he’s being small, I’ll suggest that Rog “be big, you will.”
When we took to teaching Porsche about brushing her teeth, and she asked why, I referenced Duke Leto from the original Dune movie. “The tooothee” I intoned. She knew the reference, knew that Duke died because of ‘the tooth,’ and has lived in fear of not brushing her teeth ever since. Grey wisps of smoke emanating from the tooth of a dead man is an awesome motivator.
When we entered children-raising-mode, all the references became animation-oriented. We address the necessity of wearing underware by breaking into a round of the “Bare Necessities,” (Jungle Book), why we need to “Climb Every Mountain,” to keep fit, or sing “Cruela Devile,” when a little one is being a little, er, evil.
Keep in mind the whole phrase, song or paragraph need not be recited. We are talking only the relevant snippet. The title of this blog, basically means ‘you fire on me and I’ll fire on you.’ (Gone in 60 seconds) It’s a perfect replacement for “I’m outta here’, and a whole lot more fun.
With that, ‘You Blaze, We Blaze.’ (Romeo Must Die, said by Isaiah Washington holding a large gun)

Me and the Grinch: both hairy and full of angst

Husqvarna Pro Forest Protective Jacket - Extra Large - HVA 605 00 02 63
Imagine the sex-appeal of riding atop
a motorized lawn-mower in this baby…

I’m depressed and out of sorts, though not sure why. What, with my brand new ninety-dollar jailhouse orange-and black colored Huskavarna jacket to ride around in the snow, how can life be bad? After all, I wasn’t the wanna-be movie director who, during a 4 pm conference call today, got shut down by the producer for one of my books-turning-to-film, while I tried to play the diplomat. This followed my daughters realization that “Santa can’t exist. No one can live in the North Pole.” When I queried her on the subject (what about reindeers etc.) she point-blanked me. 

“Mom, is Santa for real? And don’t lie. Tell me the truth.” I don’t know what bothered me more. The fact that she knows what lying is, or that she already knew the answer and wanted confirmation. Now that I’m thinking about it, I supposed my odd feeling could be the result of having a future attorney on my hands. (Of course, that’s far less expensive than educating her to become a doctor, which  she already announced she wants to be).

Prior to the Santa announcement, I had the near-loss of my dog. My daughter gave my beloved P-dog an entire bottle of Dasuqun pills, which landed her in the vet hospital, but not before she vomited on my master bed comforter, the main floor, down the stairs, and in three spots on the family room floor, spewing two-foot spreads of goo mixed with baseball-sized chunks. (Who feels sexy cleaning up food from the after-life at 3 am as the family sleeps?) P-dog is home now, red-eyed and a bit skittish. Her stay at the animal hospital allowed me to get the carpet cleaners in and the house fumigated as much as possible.

This is a fair assimilation of me and my subdued state of
bummed-out harriness

Now that I’m having time to consider my woes of the week (as I’ve not been blogging, and you can always tell when my life is in an emotional and mental trough when I stop writing), I would say the capper came last night, when I looked down and couldn’t see my toes. My stomach had popped from flat to about five and a half-months pregnant, all since lunch.

“What happened to you?” was all my sensitivity-chip missing husband asked. I could barely touch the tips of my thumbs as I placed my palms on either side. “I don’t know,” I stammered, trying not to be bloaty and farty at the same time. I slunk away, wanting to confine my misery to another room, void of humans. This landed me in bed, where I lay, thinking of all that was wrong in the world.

There is a bright side however. My stomach went down (I went on a 24 hour fast that cured me of most of problems), the dog is lounging beside me, looking slightly smaller than before, and the producer is still moving forward with my movie project. I’m going to go make some vanilla pudding and go watch the Grinch with my girls. (It being Dr. Suess Read-Across-America Week after all. Who says we can’t watch Santa-esque movies even if we don’t believe?)

Avalanches and detaching from ones spouse

As Rog left the condo this morning in full regalia, resembling a skeksis with a helmut and a backpack, my final words were: “Are you going to go back trails?” In other words, does he have a death wish, and if so, are we insured? (It didn’t help that I had mother, a sister, two girlfriends and a male work associate all send me texts and emails to see if we were ok).

Snoqualmie…Washington’s version of
little Switzerland

Now, I hate to sound cold and cruel, but let’s face some facts. When it’s been skiing a foot each day and another several each night for days on end (and still snowing), avalanches come with the territory. As we were driving over the pass, I read about three skiers that died at the pass nearby, another 8 buried. The mountain operations went to great pains to identify the skiers were out of bounds and not on groomed runs.  Little did we know that as we were driving over Snoqualmie Pass, rescuers were digging out the body of a snowboarder who had skied out of bounds, triggered an avalanche and was swept over a cliff and down 500 feet.

“I’ll be careful,” said Rog, clearly regretting the words the moment they left his mouth. Yesterday he’d been skiing deep powder with two friends, only one of which had avalanche gear, and even his was missing the critical beeper. I mean, what’s the good of having an inflatable if no one knows where to look on a 200 yard stretch of 20 feet deep snow?

“We don’t have a stupidity clause in your insurance policy,” I told him, nary a hint of joking in my voice. It just so happens I had read our life insurance policies several days ago to give some pointers to a friend.

“Yes, but it’s been two years,” he says with a smile. I’d also informed Rog than an entire, single-spaced, double-sided page talks about suicides. The net of it is that the insurance company will only payout if the person covered commits suicide 2 years after signing the policy.

That made me feel sooo much better. “When are you going to get the avalanche gear?”

“The inflatable is $800 bucks,” he explained, referring to the little item that had saved the pro-skiers life when her friends died.

I asked him if his life was worth $800 dollars, receiving only silence in response. He zipped up his gloves. As he started to walk towards the door, I did my level best to channel my inner non-Budha, searching desperately for that thin line of patience in my Swedish-Scottish rip chord of fury. I did the only thing a woman on the verge of worry and fear can do in such times.

I detached.

“Just so you know, if you die from your own stupidity, after I get over my pain, I’m going to be seriously pissed at you, and will have no problem spending your life insurance policy.”

This made him laugh. He turned and flipped up his goggles. “No out of bounds. No death. Promise.” With that, he left. I did what any wife does in that instance. I turn to my daughters, make them chicken soup and carry on with life.

24 hr deal mania: resistance is futile

It’s getting harder to avoid the ‘daily deal’ enticements. I can walk by warm brownies now, which is like a duck walking by water without giving it so much as a sideways glance. Avoiding the one-dollar section at Target has become a bit easier as well. I’ve trained myself to focus on the electronics section, far, far down the aisle and keep walking. If I look, I stop.

Such as it is with these enticing emails. If I can press the Delete button before I open the mail, I’m safe. If I so much as download the pictures, I’m done for.

It’s harder with Valentines. These marketers, stuck in windowless cubicles, have nothing better to do than figure out how to make me, the reluctant consumer, click, bite my lip, and purchase something I hadn’t thought of yesterday, but simply can’t live without today.

For instance, who doesn’t need to look better when stripping off the day wear for the nighttime festivities? Or at least feel like I’ll be transformed in to a runway model by slipping a nightgown over my body that would make Gisele Bunchen blush? I mean, 15% off is a nice deal, particularly when I get s few goodies thrown in. (this is the Spring code: SPRING12 at checkout.)

About the time I realize no amount of silk is going to cover this body in a way the remotely resembles a Brazilian model, I see five other emails. One for Baby Nay, which is a screaming deal for a top and bloomer set (at $10 US, regularly $65) is a screaming deal. Fortunately, my 2 year is old is past the baby stage. Whew. But wait, there’s more.

Hautelook is having a massive sale. Camuto jackets blowout, Rock and Republic Blowout…the list goes on. Then I see the section for men. Joseph Aboud, more Vince and R & R….then the kids and beauty….

My willpower is going. I see the email for ten bucks off flowers. Resistance is becoming futile. I’m about to give when…

“Where are the brownies??” my husband yells from downstairs. What? Brownies? Oh right, I made a vat of brownies last night for a meeting he’s having with 20 reluctant executives that really don’t want to sit for three hours to learn about new management strategies. Bribery works best.

“Coming!” I yell, and with a surge of strength, I shut down my email program. Now it’s time to test my willpower on what I call the Superbowl brownies. 

Overcoming fear of the water

I’ve always loved the water, as long as I was on top of it, as in, on a boat, a water ski or a jetski. But get me in anything other than a pool or a foot of water in a stream so clear I could see the sandy bottom and I’d start hyperventilating.

This will surprise my mother greatly, for I grew up swimming in a lake with a sandy shore and murky bottom, going to and from the dock (or walking when the water was low). Once on the dock, I’d wait until I felt like a lick of heat on the surface of the sun before I’d jump in. Far be it from me to avoid participation in the ‘night swim’ where’d we take the boat out at eleven pm, turn off all the lights and test our courage by jumping in the frigid water, all for the reward of enjoying a hot shower and hot chocolate afterward.

It was all a front. The water freaked me out. Yes, I know, this coming from the dare-devil she, but it’s true. Here’s the backstory.

As a child, I knew that the Loch Ness monster was fiction and I’d never seen a freshwater lake-dwelling shark. Still. Anything below two feet was the great unknown, and it freaked me out. As in, beyond freaked out. I’d close my eyes, swim as fast as humanly possible and spend as little time in the water as I could manage so no one was the wiser. When I jumped off the end of the boat, my ski boot already on and strapped tightly, I’d gather the rope up as quickly as possible, scream ‘hit it’ and start to relax the moment I rose out of the water. I’m sure the reason I learned after 2 tries was because I didn’t want that ever-elusive man-eating trout to snap off my leg. I’d also swim around on the surface, fins on, because I simply felt better knowing I had a bit of extra speed.

It was irrational, and I knew it at the time. Didn’t matter. I wasn’t about to let on that it scared me to go underwater. Then fate intervened.

The Accidental, Glorious Cure

“Please will you come???” My younger brother was fourteen, I was 17, and he was begging me to accompany him to scuba diving lessons.  My father had signed them both up for a scuba diving class, and to this day, I still have no idea how or why it came about. Dad had bailed and the class was…that night. As he gnawed his inner cheek, I was wondering how to get out of it without breaking the rose-colored glasses he wore about my love for adventure.

“Where is it at?” No, ocean, no way. Not in a lake. I couldn’t even handle looking at the mushy bottom.

He scrunched his eyebrows and cocked his head. “A pool, of course.”

Oh. Two hours later, we were learning the basics of scuba diving. The course was an accelerated two week course, the first five lessons all in the classroom (sooo boring until I started to appreciate the value of gauges that regulated oxygen flow whilst underwater), and then the last five in the pool. We started in the shallow end, and seriously, couldn’t go under more than a foot of water–for hours. That was so inconceivably boring for a 17 year old, but it served a purpose. The steps of checking out the gear, testing and retesting, then staring at a little bit of water made me want more. We graduated to moving around in our little circle, and then were finally allowed to go in the deep end. All six feet of it. A 20×30 pool is awfully small when that’s all you have to explore.

Yet here again, it served a purpose. My fear of the unknown dissipated as I gained confidence in my equipment, and the power and confidence that came with knowing I controlled my time underneath the water. By the time we went on our certification dive, out in the Sound as it is known, I was ready.

The dive itself would be considered awful by the scuba-purist. The Sound is a body of water that is very cold (we wore wetsuits but the smart divers wore dry suits), it was cloudy (visibility 10 feet) and not full of exotic life. Rather, it was rocks and a few shellfish, except for….

The wall of death. But before I get to that, I’ll say that the first dive removed any and all fear of the water I’d ever had. There we were, diving along at 20 feet, and I was so comfortable the instructor was worried. “Aren’t you breathing?” he asked, worry clear on his face.

“Of course I’m breathing,” I said in my 17 year old trying-to-be-nice sort of way.

He lifted up my gauges to make sure they worked. “This shows you are hardly breathing. Are you stressed? Having anxiety?”

It was then I tried my best to explain to him I felt like I was floating on air, flying underneath with a quiet world all around me. The murky, freezing grey didn’t bother me at all. I was completely and utterly free. Diving was the most wonderful sensation I’d ever experienced.

He nodded and put my gauge down. “You must be relaxed. I’ve never seen a diver with such low figures for a gauge before.” I took that as a compliment, a sign that I’d overcome my issues.

“Time to get you to the wall,” he said, his eyes glinting. I had no idea what he was talking about. He told us that a wall of rock had a sheer drop off down several hundred feet. It would be the “underwater equivalent of looking over a 50 story building, straight down, and then stepping off.” It sounded freaky, and I figured this was going to be my make or break, poop in my pants moment.

The reality was nearly what I expected. We swam along at 30 feet and then came to the edge. Sure enough, we peered over it and look down in to the Abyss. Unfortunately, I’d actually seen “The Abyss,” and those of you who have as well, understand the nature of a huge drop off like the one in the movie (over a mile of straight down). In any case, my heart caught in my throat and I thought I was going to get dizzy. Yet, he swam out over it (and didn’t fall or get sucked in to the great vortex), my brother didn’t hesitate and swam over, so I had to follow. Then….we started to swim down the wall. That too, was altogether like the Matrix, running down the Empire State Building.

Then it happened. We stopped, and the instructor pointed to a dark crevice within the surface of the wall.  I gave him a look like “over my dead body.” I could just image an eel taking a chunk of my hand. He saw my fear and inserted his own hand. Out came a tentacle. It cautiously wrapped it’s limb around my instructors hand, reaching, retracting then extending again. I definitely wanted to try that, so I did. It was the first time I’d ever touched a sea animal. I was hooked.

I went on to dive all over the place, Australia and Oregon, California and Mexico. These aren’t places that the ‘real’ divers I know even bother to mention. They go cave diving, ship diving (all require different certifications), night diving etc. I went off to college and haven’t gotten that advanced. I’m just happy to get under the water, and absolutely adore the it now. In fact, being underneath the surface is the most relaxing place for me.

It’s not often that someone will voice a fear of the water, and I know why. It’s embarrassing and, speaking for myself, I never wanted to admit to a fear I considered completely irrational. I’m glad I got the opportunity to dive, and for the few hundred dollars it is to learn, it’s definitely worth the price of picking a new hobby (and probably a lot cheaper than a therapist).

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