Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dusting Is Fun

The spin classes that I've been taking are only taught by cyclists. My two main teachers are The Coach and The Triathlete. I've taken spin from other teachers, but their classes are more like aerobics on a spin bike. I don't wanna do push ups on a bike or squats while pedaling or spin my legs in a Speedy Gonzales whirl. My knees don't either, frankly, and I think since I'm in training to do some events on a real bike, I don't want to practice things that I wouldn't actually do on a real bike. Hi, I think I'll do some squats during this cross-city race. SPIN SNOB am I!!

Anyway, The Coach murders me on Saturday, who incidentally almost had me sobbing on the bike last week, but The Triathlete intensely pulls me through my steady interval training. I take her 6am class a couple days a week and she likes to bust balls at the break of dawn. She's the type that doesn't mean to break balls so hard, but sometimes she just comes across as impatient and hard-core. I like that about her. The Coach is on a god-like pedestal. We are caught under his spell which he puts on us with a kind voice and perfect guidance and by wearing cycling shorts over smooth Thor-like thighs. Mainly he can coax out the best in us by his god-like energy alone. But The Triathlete is human and an intense athlete who doesn't sugarcoat the work of training. I need them both quite honestly.

I ride Loops to spin class, which is only about a mile from my house. And for the last two weeks, I've rolled up as The Triathlete is entering the building. And for the last two weeks she has busted my chops -- in the locker room, after class, before class -- about not wearing a helmet when I ride Loops. I have no argument back. I just don't wanna wear one. I wear a helmet on the road bike because it feels like a completely different dynamic, but on Loops, I feel free and slow and beautiful. But holy shit, The Triathlete won't get off me about it. I told Maya and Mina that my spin teacher was making me wear a helmet to which they said, "Why would you have to wear a helmet during spin class?" haha. I don't know, but I have been wearing one TO spin ever since. (No further lectures needed.)

So training . . .going well. I feel good, getting stronger for sure. My hip is sore today though I don't think my hip has been the same since the marathon. That sucks. But carrying on! I ride Whitey Heidi only once, sometimes twice, a week and our love affair is gradual and romantic. It's a true courtship if anything. My Sunday ride is supposed to be my easy recovery ride. I loop around a gorgeous stretch of road that has a wide bike lane and few street lights or stop signs. The median of the street is home to lush grass and sprawling coral trees. This road is a runner/cyclist magnet and anyone serious to novice is here at all times of the day, any day of the week. When I first started riding this road I felt intimidated and very unsure of my skills, but now I feel I'm able to hang. On Sunday, I passed many a geared-up weekend-warrior dude in the same manner any strong cyclist passes another; with a core-induced circular pedal and a quick wave of the hand. Peace! You're dust, sucka . . .

So, my competitive nature is not dead. That's been made very clear lately. On Sundays, I'm supposed to be taking it easy, but when I see other cyclists, my engines rev and I want to know what my level is compared to theirs. About every mile, I'm telling myself to chill. Whoa, Madness, damn.

Maya's basketball season has started at school. After practice, after all the drills and running are done, Maya, and a couple of the girls and some of the coaches want to play a fun game of Knock Out. Knock Out is when anyone who wants to play lines up at the free throw line. The first two in line have basketballs; the first shoots but if she misses and the second player then makes it, guess what? The first is knocked out. Last week, I showed up before Knock Out and Maya begged for me to play with them. One of the main coaches mumbled to another coach, "Yo, Maya's mom can ball," which he knows because we went to high school together. And secretly I was all pumped that my legendary basketball skills were not just tales that I tell in the most longing of ways. So Maya begs and I'm standing there in jeans and flip flops and a nice sweater and shirt. Another coach says, "Naw, Maya. Your mom wants to go. We'll play next week." Maya ignores this and says, "Mami, seriously? You don't want to play Knock Out?" And I take off my purse, walk to the free throw line and say, "Run it." Mina stands in front of me and I let her take a few shots before I knock her butt out. The coach I went to high school with, Shamel, says, "Dang, just knock out your own child." I said, "She shoulda made it." Then I proceed to knock out everybody, Maya, players, coaches. You're dust, suckas! Shamel slaps my hand on the way out. "You still got it, girl," he says.

I feel a little like a meat head, all pumping my fists and strutting around, cycling past creaky dudes over the weekend and beating children at basketball, though there were grown-men coaches playing too. Next I'll be arm wrestling Lupe and kickboxing infants. It's all kind of fun though. Maybe I should pick a fight with The Triathlete and get my block clocked to send me back to earth. Naw, 'cause in my mind, during her class, I'm so dusting her on the spin bike too, even without a helmet.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tout-a-lu!

My first boss in this industry used to say, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person." That was a round-the-corner compliment she used to pay me when I worked ten-eleven hour days for her pregnant and with a toddler. I could do it all. I did do it all. I'm good at that. Nevertheless, I believe that sentiment. Busy people get on a roll, don't we? I'm all, gimme this, gimme that; I can do that too. What up, Stuff On List? I so got you.

Except then I forget to do other stuff like email friends back, and read blogs and actually blog. Not for nothing, but I'm trying to do a lot as of late. All in a big picture kind of way. I got that Three Year Plan thing put in motion; the plan that I wrote on the plane when I was shitting my pants in fear?

I do want to tell you guys that out of all the kids in Maya's middle school, she was voted Most Environmentally Friendly! Isn't that sick? I find that so impressive. In this conscientious time, in the this conscientious town? She's it!

Maya's building a rocket in science class right now. They're using all kinds of household materials: a soda bottle, a ping pong ball and something called a Toutalu. I asked Maya what a Toutalu was. She said, "That's what my teacher calls a paper towel tube 'cause when you're holding one you always want to put your mouth to it and yell, 'Tout-ta-too!'" I laughed hard over that one.

I really just wanted to say hi. And to announce (tout-a-lu!) that I was thinking of ya.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Flew to Arizona Yesterday

I had a 6am flight yesterday for a quarterly meeting at the Big Client's office in Arizona. I stressed myself out about waking up at 4:15, but mainly I was a little nervous about flying - again. I had spent twelve hours telling myself flying is no big deal. Pff. It's the take off, mainly, isn't it? And the landing? Oh and any turbulence in between. So, the take off was ok. I tried to read through it, but found myself putting the paper down and burrowing deeply into my mind; snuggling as far down as possible. While escaping the surface thoughts, it's interesting what I came up with. In the brief ten minutes I was mentally deep-sea diving, I managed to come up with a clear-cut family budget revision and a three-year life plan. Amazing! The rest of the flight was uneventful though I did have the where-with-all to WRITE down the plan my mind had just handed to me on a platter. Thanks mind. You're awesome.

For the flight home, I walked onto the plane confidently. I told myself that there was no need to freak out about the take off. I'm fine. Which kinda worked. Until we hit some turbulence on the initial decent into LA an hour later. I was sitting in the aisle seat next to two big young men possibly on their way to a Laker game. When the turbulence hit -- a nice initial jolt, then more -- I reactively kicked the guy in the middle. His friend at the window seat jarred awake and grabbed the middle guy's arm. We had made him into a turbulence sandwich of our fear. The middle guy joked to his friend, "Dang, man, why are you screaming?" The Window Guy looked at me and said, "I didn't scream, did I? Tell me I didn't scream." I smiled, "No. And sorry I kicked you, Middle Guy." I spent the last 15 minutes of the flight mentally screaming for the plane to get me home safely NOW. It took a lot of restraint not to let it slip from my lips. The moment we landed, Husband text me, "Are you Ok baby?" Which I thought was generously sweet until he text: "You didn't hear about the plane that went down in NY, did you?" Uh no. I hadn't. I may still be in Arizona now if I had.

Hey, guess what I bought and sold at work today? Crime-scene evidence bags. Mmmhmm, the kind you put shell casings and pubic hair in. Rob said, "I wonder if they want us to source fingernails and semen with these?" Why did we buy and sell these bags? We don't ask. We might have made a joke had they asked for body bags, rope and gasoline cans, but as long as we made a good profit probably not. Whore to a sale we are!

Happy Friday, y'all.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

House In Training

My Resurrection of the Athlete Resolution is in full swing now. My training has caught early momentum. I've planned workouts, made some dietary changes, added supplements to the program. I feel good. I feel incredibly strong. I find myself saying, "I haven't felt this way in a long time," though I'm not sure if I ever consciously felt like this before. I've training seriously before, but it was more robotic when I was young. I know it made me feel good, but as I look back I was much more disconnected. I didn't know how strong I was. The advantages of being a committed athlete over the age of 40 -- and probably for many in their 30's too -- is the mindfulness of it.

Even when I trained for the LA Marathon, my motivation was more about endurance, getting through the damn thing; finishing what I started. The training was not very joyful nor was I necessarily always present in the process. The race itself was joyful and emotional, but I rolled my eyes at the training, hoped it would be over quickly.

The advantage of always being an athlete -- whether taken for granted or not -- is a recall to push through the panic of physical exertion. Obviously if you're injured you can't push, but there is a very wide gap between injury and discomfort though these lines feel blurred in the process; especially if unaccustomed to the feeling. It is very hard to learn how to push yourself to your abolute limits if you never have before. I know it has been hard to relearn it. But pushing through that panic, stepping over some brink that makes you uneasy or unsure, is like busting through emotional walls of sludge. There is a euphoria on the other side. It's an amazement at what your body can do; how strong you can be mentally and physically. With it comes a trust in yourself and your abilities. It's how we should feel about everything we do.

On Saturdays I take a spin class from The Coach. He's not a spin instructor, but a cyclist and a trainer, and he trains us on the indoor bikes like we are about to race time trials for the Tour de Whatever. I eat up everything he says because he's as close as I'm going to get to a personal cycling coach right now. I treat Saturdays as my Hard Day. Each day is mapped out in terms of intensity: Interval Days, Easy Recovery Days, The Hard Day. And this last Saturday was so hard that in the last five minutes of the last very steep hill as I gasped and power-pedaled on a spin bike I panicked. And then I weighed my options: Should I just throw up right on the bike? If I faint, will my shoes stay clipped into the petals and will that mess up my knees? I thought about easing the resistance a hair -- JUST A FUCKING TOUCH -- and that's when The Coach said into the microphone, "This is when you will question yourself whether you can make it, whether you can go on. The answer is yes. Yes, you can make it." I was mad, for a second, because I wouldn't let myself off the hook then. He was right. I could make it, and I did make it. And I didn't die though it was touch and go for a second there. When I made it up the hill, when I was allowed to take off the resistance and roll out my legs, a ball of light rose from my gut to my chest and planted itself behind my brow. I am so strong, I thought. My body is amazing.

I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying the whole process, puke thoughts and all.

I'm not the only one training in our house. Husband has become serious with mountain biking and he plans to do a race this year. It's the perfect design to both be interested in bikes but in two different aspects. We can geek out with bike speak without having to feel competitive with each other.

Mina has started tennis, which she loves. And Maya has been picked up by a local club basketball team where she trains with other serious ballers her age and older. In our immediate area, there seems to be a decline in girls participating in athletics which has been so disheartening to me. I had signed Mina up for the school basketball program and it was cancelled for lack of girl participants. Volleyball is very popular with girls around here and maybe tennis, but not much else. Mina only plays soccer because she's the only girl on the boys' team. But when I walked into the gym to watch Maya's club practice, I regained some hope. These girls weren't fucking with their hair or clothes. They weren't talking (too much). They were running drills, intently trying to improve their game under the guise of a fantastic (female) coach who took them seriously. Maya fit right in.

I'll keep you posted on all our training efforts.

In the meantime, here's a gorgeous photo of Maya's new haircut. How cute is that? I think mainly I feel huge affection for the fact that she's brave enough and old enough to make her own decisions about her looks and style. Man, I love these girls so much.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Come Hither My Good Friend, Hope

I saw the Come Hither quote on this artist's great print. I keep meaning to ask him if this is his original quote. That way there will be no weird legal issues when I get it tattooed on my chest. I'm only sorta kidding . . .

Bonjour 2009!

I love Christmas. I really do. But the second it's over I want to tear down all reminders of it. I want everything packed and stored by New Years. Christmas was so 2008. It's time to be refreshed now; lit anew with my constant and warm-hearted companion, Hope. Be gone bullshit of 2008. Be gone self-inflicted bullshit of 2008 (and many years past). And come hither all possibilities that await just on my fingertips and outside of my comfort zone. I said hither, damnit.

Last year my big psychological resolution was To Finish What I Start, and looking back I didn't finish many things (I did finish some big things though), but somehow I feel I'm able to check that resolution off. I think renewing the confidence that I can finish what I start makes me feel self satisfied about it, and confident about future endeavors. This year's psychological resolution is: Bask In Contentedness. This wave of complete satisfaction in myself and my life crashed over me recently and I feel . . . free. I am happy. I want to hone the feeling this year. I did have one tussle with this contentedness when I confused it with complacency. But I realized that just because I'm content doesn't mean I don't dream or don't strive, right? The contendedness allows you to make the process of striving the important part. Listen, most of us tell ourselves these words over and over: Enjoy the journey, love the process, something about the Now -- and I think telling ourselves this eventually becomes practice and the practice finally becomes natural, unconscious. And then all of the sudden, you love it all. It's all perfect. Who and what and where, it's all right. I'm rolling around in this feeling; making content angels with flailing arms and legs. I'm basking, y'all.

I have a list of other resolutions that are too embarrassing to share. Stuff ranging from athletic goals to standing up straight. Winning the lottery made this year's list again.

We went out last night, which we hadn't done in many years. Of the twelve years we've been together, last night was only the third or forth time Husband and I have gone out on New Years Eve. The girls are living it up in Las Vegas with BD & Sanne, so Husband and I got dolled up and went to dinner with Molly & John and a couple of their friends. We stayed at the restaurant well past midnight (with only a few yawns between us!), and had a really great time.

I bought this dress a couple days ago. It was price-slashed by 70%! And I gotta say, I felt like a billion bucks in it last night. (Look at Lupe yawning on the chair. She don't care about my dress!)Could he be more handsome? Hey Papi, I got your come hither . . .John & Molly laughing in the new year. Are there better pictures than this? I don't think so.Stay awake John! Man, they're cute together.Midnight on the nose, on the lips.This is the look of basking. Here's to washing myself in 2009.
Happy New Year Friends & Family!