Saturday, September 26, 2009

College football: the best entertainment isn't even on the field

My children must be rubbing off on me because I have the attention span of a kindergartener. I attended the University of Mary Marauders Homecoming football game this afternoon (gotta love free tickets for alum!) and beyond the first few plays, I didn't see much of the game.

Truthfully, it could have been because the Marauders were getting thumped (who knew a bulldog could dominate a pirate?), but there are so many things to grab your attention...or at least grab my attention.

For instance, the periodic booms from the pep band. Well, mainly the trombone player who painted his instrument with blue and orange stripes. That's just good fun.

The shimmery pom poms, flips and pyramids kept my gaze on the cheerleaders now and then. And the unique aspect that there was only one male cheerleader. It was kinda odd.

And don't even get me started on the fashion. Well, okay, let's do get started on the fashion. It kept me from even noticing we'd made another first down, after all.

A mohawk. A big mohawk. Dyed orange. Yeah, that was an attention-getter. Goal attained, my friend.

The array of orange t-shirts printed with various school 'spirit.' One caused me to wonder what their parents would have said about them sporting that particular tee. Frankly, it just isn't right to degrade dear Dr. Suess.

The thick knee-high socks dyed blue & orange. Well, those didn't look terrible, they just made me hot. It was waaaay too warm of a day to be donning socks of any kind.

And speaking of being warm...oh. my. goodness. It is unseasonably warm for September in North Dakota - mid 80s is toasty here. Definitely not the day for black suit and collar attire. Poor Father Shea! The action on the gridiron paled in comparison to the fascination I had with watching that man stand on the sidelines for the entire first half waiting for him to drop to his death from heatstroke. No wonder he got the job. Put him on the hot seat, and he's cool as ice. I thought he had to be the bravest (or craziest?) guy at the game, until...

The Texas Roadhouse armadillo strolled by.

I understand the need for advertising, but that guy better be pulling double-time pay or gaining a promotion for that kind of duty. There's just something incredibly inhumane about being forced to wear a mascot costume of that magnitude in the afternoon heat.

For heaven's sake, throw the costume down on the running track as apparent roadkill and race to the locker room for a cool shower, dude!

So between watching the yardage count on the State Farm sign and the blue and orange-painted shirtless guy, I had great difficulty keeping my eyes focused on the latest penalty flag or even who had the ball. Maybe the 35-0 score had something to do with my lack of interest, too.

Call me a fair-weather Marauder fan, but I exited at the end of the 3rd quarter. After all, the painted guy's colors were starting to run, and the cheerleaders weren't tossing t-shirts into the stands anymore.

And Father Shea was no where to be found.

Probably at home stripped to his skivvies and downing a cold beverage, vowing to make his next proclamation as President to move Homecoming to late November.

Monday, September 21, 2009

If I'm going to Boston, it's for the cream pie.

"Oh, I bet it's a father and his 14-yr-old daughter that ran the marathon together," my husband observed as he read the Bismarck marathon results in the newspaper. "Wow, that's cool!" I remark. What a neat thing to do togeth...waaaaait a second! A FOURTEEN-year-old ran a MARATHON?!

When I was 14 the only running that consumed me was the race to the pimple cream aisle at the local drug store. Or the dash to the bathroom mirror to check for popcorn in my braces. Training and then running for a 26-mile run?! Absolutely not. I might mess up my hair!

But even as an adult, I can't imagine running for hours upon hours. If I had a few consecutive hours all to myself, you think I'm spending it like that? Even if I was a devoted runner, it takes its toll on one's body! I can't even comprehend how a 14-yr-old could physically do it.

Personally, I just don't get these marathon runners. Do I admire them? Absolutely. Do I understand them? Not in the least.

Take, for instance, the statement the first place finisher gave to the Tribune, "I hit the wall at 10 (miles)," he said. "I was just struggling the last 16 miles."

Just struggling the last 16 miles.

Um, I don't know about you, but how does a person struggle for SIXTEEN miles?? I can understand struggling for a mile or two at the end. But if I knew I had 16 miles to go, and I was hurtin', I would be looking for the closest coffee shop with a couch.

Call me crazy, but I'm not a big fan of struggling. And that's probably why you'll never see me donning a pinned number to my shirt anytime soon.

But like I said, I definitely admire these athletes. One of my first days at the gym after we moved here, I noticed a woman who was incredibly physically fit and lean and turned to my friend and said, "I need to do what she's doing because she looks amazing!" My friend turns to me and quite candidly replies, "You don't want to do what she does. She runs for hours. And hours. Do you really want to spend that much time just running?"

She makes a good point. Because the answer is a resounding NO. I would like to run, oh, maybe two miles a day, and look like that. Is that possible anywhere in this universe? Also a resounding NO, you say? Bummer.

What really blows my mind is the length of time it can take a person to complete a marathon. Now, our struggling champion glided on in just a little over 2-1/2 hours after he began.

Honestly, I don't think I could run a half marathon that fast! When the marathon runner passes the half-marathon runner in the homestretch is he dying to say, "What's taking you so long?! I just ran twice as far as you!"

But I digress.

The last place finisher sauntered in around 6-1/2 hours after she took her first stride. I'm guessing she sauntered. I don't know, maybe she sprinted in, saving it all for a big finish? Or maybe she was gasping for air and fell to the asphalt upon crossing the finish line? Either way, it was likely dramatic because FRANKLY, she finished 26 miles!

For a lot of runners, the goal is simply to finish.

That would certainly be my goal. Right after the goal to not actually die. Because when the reporter comes up to me for my interview, I'm telling them I hit a wall about the time the gun went off and just struggled with the last 26 miles.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Terrific Twos, if you ask me!

Did you ever consider the "Terrible Twos" from a child's perspective? My little Noah isn't quite two yet - he's got a few months to go - but he is really living the life. I think it would be great if all of us could become two again.

Here are my top 10 reasons I'd like to be two again:

10) If I'm unhappy, hurt or frustrated, I will cry and scream as loud as humanly possible. No one will think I'm being unreasonable. In fact, I may even get a hug. How refreshing!

9) Throw my food. Sure, I might face some consequences, but again - no one finds it unreasonable, really. After all, I'm merely learning cause and effect.

8) At the next meal...throw my food again. Simply because no consequence can actually outweigh the thrill of seeing those peas fly.

7) Run with reckless abandon. Have you ever seen a toddler run? They run with absolutely no fear - they may fall or even slam into something, but no matter. They just pick themselves up and keep going, or...see number 10. Still win-win.

6) Pee whenever and wherever I want. Oh, the freedom.

5) I get to take a nap everyday. In fact, I can sleep for 3 hours if I want...because frankly, who's going to wake me prematurely?? Mom? Dad? Hardly!

4) Burp, pass gas, or produce any other bodily noises, yet not be accompanied by any embarrassment whatsoever.

3) Take frequent bubble baths, complete with floaty boats and squeaky toys. Bliss.

2) Giggles will occur at numerous times throughout the day, at even the simplest of gestures. Imagine finding it hilarious that someone hides their face with their hands and seconds later reappears. Oh the joy!


1) The world revolves around me. Or at least I believe it does. And that's all that really matters.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

fun \ˈfən\: noun: what provides amusement or enjoyment

The next time I head to my pilates class, please remind me to wear a ski mask and carry a baseball bat.

Oh, who am I kidding. That would be too obvious. I need to be sneakier than that. After all, my pilates instructor has no qualms about being sneaky.

"We're going to do the ABC's today!" she jubilantly exclaims. So naturally, that makes me think, Hey, when my son does his ABCs in kindergarten, his teacher makes it fun. Maybe it will be fun here, too!

I should have known better.

Doing the "ABCs" in a strength pilates class means you have to lie on an exercise ball, and "write" the letters with your body while balancing on said ball. Easy, right? Uh, not really.

And of course my neurotic instructor thinks repeating the S and Z multiple times makes it even more fun. Again, not really.

I'd like to know what these instructors inject prior to bounding into their classes. No one should be that perky during an exercise class. No one should be that perky...ever.

Anyway, back to my alphabet anguish. When she finally decided we'd done enough Zs (and I was ready for a different type of zzzzzzzzz), she said we needed to grab a buddy. Oh, buddies! Another attempt at trying to make this whole experience sound fun...when it was really just a masquerade for bodily torture.

Ahhh. Nothing bonds two strangers quite like dripping sweat on each other as you attempt to flatten your abs. We're both slippin' and slidin' on our Bosu balls while Instructor Perky continues to count..."three...four...five, switch directions now, one...two..." Apparently she was a kindergarten teacher in another life because she counts as slow as one! Arrgh!!

"Isn't this fun?" she asks, with a huge grin on her face. "Couldn't you just do it all day? It's so great!"

Fun?! Does she know the definition? I can think of a hundred words to describe this experience, but trust me, fun is not one of them. I want to punch her.

After afflicting more pain upon us in various forms, it was - at long last - time to cool down. At one point, she says, "Okay, I'm giving you one minute. This is your time. If you want to meditate, or pray, or just relax, do that now."

How about reaching into my gym bag for that baseball bat...

Yeah, you're right. I wouldn't be able to lift the thing at this point anyway. And actually swinging it after those upper arm drills she put us through...yeah, not happening. I will be rendered incapable of lifting my child out of his crib tomorrow morning as it is.

But, knowing me, I'm sure I'll schlepp myself back in there next week to prove I am a glutton for punishment. Or because my abs actually looked pretty good after that workout.

At least until I polished off that last row of Oreos. Oops.

But that's fun.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

One man's still junk.

We've all heard the saying, "One's man's junk is another man's treasure." That's cute and all, but seriously. Some lines need to be drawn.

I ran some errands this morning, and upon returning home I noticed the neighbor 3 houses down was having a garage sale.

Now I'll admit to a garage sale addiction. There's just something beckoning about those Sharpie-marked neon signs that draw me in. I'm not typically looking for anything in particular. I just love garage sales, yard sales, rummage sales - whatever word you slap on it doesn't matter.

I'm drawn.

Not sure if it is the quest for that one seraphic item that has eluded me for years, or just the sick joy that comes with permission to rummage through other people's stuff.

But my neighbor's garage sale was peculiar, to say the least. There were no signs directing you to the sale. In fact, when I saw it, I wasn't sure if he was having a yard sale or just pulling items out of his garage in the midst of some Fall cleaning. But upon further inspection, it was the former.

So of course I meandered over.

Now I can appreciate a small garage sale. Not everyone has clutter up to their eyeballs enabling them to cover their entire driveway. But this was obviously a case of, "Hmm. It's Saturday. Maybe I'll put a few tables of my junk out and see if anyone driving by wants to buy something."

Because truly, most of it should have skipped the table and bounded straight for the garbage bin.

Okay, be fair, he did have a couple bookcases and a very ugly coffee table showcased as well. But garage sales may need to be governed a bit to set some boundaries.

Please tell me, is anyone interested in a pint jar glued to a plate? I suspect it had a purpose. Just not sure what. And if you're in the market for a broken ceramic pig, I know where to direct you.

Come on, people. Find the garbage can. Perhaps that is his plan....after he attempts to transfer his own clutter to contribute to yours for a small profit.

Or who knows. Maybe he really was just doing some Fall cleaning and some people started stopping by to shop. He realized this could be a magical moment and gave in to the assumption. That would explain the lack of signs, after all.

Garage sales truly are the great equalizer, though. As I was "shopping," a rather affluent-looking couple was peering through an old magazine that was for sale. (Again...was its intended resting place the garbage bin, but these people snatched it up before the guy could get to it?)

At any rate, I quickly headed for home to clean up from what felt like dumpster diving. And then I chuckled as I walked by my children's Little Tykes picnic table and basketball hoop (recent garage sale finds), took my shoes off by our entry's shoe bench (FREE from a yard sale 4 years ago) and took a seat at my kitchen table (auction sale steal - 16 years ago) for a bite to eat. (Don't worry, the turkey sandwich was fresh.)

Hey, I'm renting. So my current decorating style is Garage Sale Chic. And let's face it. When we do find a house to buy, I'll be having a garage sale.

With my own neon signs.

And I'll bet you'll be there...wondering why I didn't just throw that ridiculous thing out!

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's Game Time

"I'm ready for the playoff games," my husband gleefully says as he drops two enormous bags of sunflower seeds on our kitchen counter. After I roll my eyes, I ask, "Aren't those a month away?" He replies, "I'll pace myself."

You see, my dear husband is a Yankees - gasp! - fan. I know, I know. "Their high payroll is unfair and over-the-top...blah blah blah." Oh, get over it. I did. In fact, 9 years into our marriage I decided if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Well, that backfired as I found myself weeping at their World Series loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. (But I had recently given birth to my firstborn, so I'll blame the hormone imbalance.)

Maybe it's the classy uniform. Could simply be the opportunity to gawk at Derek Jeter. Or perhaps it's the pure allure of New York. I've probably watched Sleepless in Seattle one too many times, or it's my addiction to Regis and Kelly, but I heart NY!

At any rate, I do enjoy watching Derek - er, I mean, the Yankees - now and then. Especially since they do tend to win a lot. I like teams that win a lot.

But I can't handle it when they blow it in the end and leave me in a pool of tears.

Thus my current lack of passion for my first conversion: the Oakland Raiders. Again, my husband has been a big fan since he was a kid. And he nearly turned me into a bigger fan than himself during the days of Jon Gruden...and I felt completely ripped off when they later played Gruden's new team, Tampa Bay, in the Super Bowl. How unfair can you get?! You can't win when the opposing team's coach has the inside scoop on all your weaknesses!!!! My blood still boils at the memory.

My favorite player in those "successful Raider days" was Regan Upshaw. Sure he took cheap shots. He was huge.

And brutal.

He exemplified all that people despise about the Raiders, I suppose - but I loved him. Or, more specifically, I loved his tackles. Honestly, whenever someone took a solid hit from that guy, you could almost hear them say his name in their caught-off-guard grunt of pain. "UP-Shaaaaaaaaw!"

But after they broke my heart in Super Bowl XXXVII, and then came back the next year with no ability to win whatsoever, my Raiders pride dwindled considerably.

Oh, believe me, I still get a little stirred up if I see a rival Broncos fan. And I may have the urge to rear end someone sporting a Chargers bumper sticker, but I manage to control myself. Usually. (My godson is an avid Broncos fan and for his 12th birthday I did send him army men-sized Broncos to blow up in a bottle-rocket. He does that sort of thing. Normally with little army men. I thought he should give the servicemen a break and pick on someone who deserved it.)

And so I'm becoming eerily familiar again with the TV-hogging that will go on in the next several weeks as my husband plops himself down with sunseeds in hand to watch endless hours of baseball.

I can't bear to watch that much baseball.

Unless the Yankees end up in the World Series again. In which case, I'll snatch that Dakota Kid bag faster than you can say "Steinbrenner" and I'll be absorbed by swinging pinstripes.

And in the end, if the outcome is not in my favor...I will do what any heartbroken sports fanatic does.

I'll grab the chips and dip and get on my game face. It's time to move on. After all, it's football season.

And my Raiders are due.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happy Subliminal Communications Month!

I'm always up for a party. In fact, I have to get crackin' on my daughter's birthday plans. She turns 7 in exactly one month and I have no clue what kind of party I'm doing. But apparently there are numerous holidays prior to that one to snag my attention.

A friend posted on Facebook today, "Happy Onam!" So I did what any other inquisitive soul does when they're online. I googled it.

It's an Indian holiday (she's married to an Indian man, so thus the celebratory status update). And according to Wikipedia (yeah, just call me Michael Scott), "Onam is the biggest festival in the Indian state of Kerala. Onam Festival falls during the Malayali month of Chingam (Aug - Sep) and marks the homecoming of legendary King Mahabali."

There you go. Don't you feel enlightened?

"Well, I'm not Indian," you say, "so I won't celebrate that." Okay then, there's plenty of good ol' American holidays to fill your calendar with too.

I know you'll be crushed to learn of it, but yesterday was Chicken Boy's Day. Yeah, sorry. Don't think Hallmark makes any belated Chicken Boy's Day cards. Apparently if you're from LA you'll likely know the meaning of Chicken Boy. The only image I can conjure up is my 5-year-old's hand wrapped around a drumstick.

Yesterday also boasted the legacy of the first woman telephone operator - it was Emma M. Nutt Day. Gosh, September 1st is just full of fun.

Don't worry. You haven't missed too much. Today has a holiday of its own. Victory over Japan Day! That's a call for an ice cream cake if I ever heard of one.

I'm personally looking forward to September 5th - Be Late for Something Day. Now that's a holiday I can get behind. (pun intended)

Sure, everybody will celebrate Labor Day with a day off from work and school. But the day I personally think should require a solid day off is September 13. It's International Chocolate Day. That's right. International. That means you get to splurge on the good stuff! Hit the snooze button and pass me the bon bons, baby.

The 22nd is Elephant Appreciation Day, because evidently those giant creatures are feeling unappreciated. Huh?! I do have a word for a mother who can give birth to a 250 pound baby, but it's NOT appreciation.

I realize sometimes those dates can get lost in the busyness of our lives, so it's easier to celebrate something that lasts all month - so you can fit it in when it's convenient. I find it interesting that September is host to Shameless Promotion Month, but also Update Your Resume month. Hmmm...sounds the same to me!

It's National Prime Beef month, but also National Chicken month. Either way - a good excuse to eat out. I don't think my kids care that it is Childrens' Good Manners month. And hopefully my husband remains unaware that it is Pleasure Your Mate month.

But my personal favorite - Be Kind to Editors and Writers month - certainly warrants a balloon bouquet and maybe even a gift.