Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lucha-Pugs

Husband just got back from a four-day business trip in Puebla, a town a couple hours outside of Mexico City. He brought back gifts. Gifts that allowed the Sisters Pug to explore their alter egos. Finally, these dogs are able to fulfill a life-long dream; the dream of getting into the ring as the famous tag-team phenomena:



¡Las Pugs Enmascaradas! Here they are posing for promotional merchandise and a poster for an upcoming movie, but soon they must get ready to face many fierce opponents such as La Weenie Dog de Mil Mascaras, Diablo Con Cola and the dreaded Muerte Lassie. Do they look worried?
Ok, maybe a little. But that's understandable! They are very new to the sport. They feel uncertain about some of the moves they've practiced over the months: The Paw Hammer, The Four-Legged Aerial, the Parejas Wag and the Roll & Beg. Here, Lupe is practicing the tricky Sad Clown Technique. It is a trap for the other team to feel concern about why the clown is sad. When they approach, the pair pounce! This often results in a pin and a victory.
Here, in practice, Lupe sparred against Carmen, one on one. The battle was heated, almost personal, until Lupe ripped off the mask of Carmen. This is almost an insufferable humiliation for a luchadora. If this were to happen in a real match, Las Pugs Enmascaradas would be no more.
Suddenly, during their photo shoot, Las Pugs are challenged by their rival The Tiajuana TeaCake! Carmen pretends not to see. Lupe and the TJ TeaCake lock legs, both death-gripping the scruffs of their necks.
After an attempted (albeit illegal) piledrive to the tail, the TJ TeaCake is able to unlace the mask of Lupe. He is much too fast for the dog. More humiliating than having one's mask ripped off in a match is to have the rival try on and lounge in the mask of the loser. Las Pugs' dream may be dashed before it hatched.


Viva la Lucha









Monday, February 23, 2009

Basketball Bug

When we used to go to a lot of Tae Kwon Do tournaments, almost every time one of us would get sick afterwards. Bug-sick. Throwing-Up-For-Hours Sick. The longer the tournament lasted, the higher the probability was that one of us would be hugging the bowl by the next day. We called it TKD Sars. We also had TKD Sars amnesia, where we'd be so pumped for the tournament beforehand that we would never remember this phenomena until someone was throwing up afterward, like clockwork. We considered packing medical masks in the girls' gear bag to wear around the arena during tournaments. We planned on getting those designer ones people were wearing in Hong Kong when the real SARS first hit the scene. Mina wanted a Hello Kitty one and Maya was going to paint big red lips on her's. I would get a denim one and Husband, he didn't care as long as he didn't get the the damned TKD Sars. But we never remembered those either.

Over the weekend Maya participated in her first two-day basketball tournament with her club team. Tons of parents and siblings were crammed together in a gym watching middle schoolers ball it up . . .and this morning Mina is throwing her guts up. Every twenty minutes I hear a little girl version of hard-retching toilet bowl echos, and I rush to her side. Basketball Sars!

Other than that, the tournament was great. It was a learning experience for Maya because it's hard to conceptualize or explain the big difference between practicing and real-live game action until you get out there and play some games. Maya doesn't really understand yet why she gets so nervous or freezes up a bit or loses confidence, and I try to tell her that we practice hard day in and day out just so the freezing and the nervousness and the lost confidence subsides, even a little, once a real game begins. That's true with anything, right? Not just with sports certainly.

The tournament was at Lynwood High School which is arguably one of the tougher neighborhoods in LA. But the Lynwood of today is not the Lynwood I remember 20 years ago. Back then the school was desolate and barren, an almost forgotten place where the frustration of kids left a mark, on the neighborhood and towards the community of people. But today, the high school is entirely and beautifully rebuilt. The community shows life and revival, from the little I saw. I was inspired by the transformation.

In the gym, three courts were running games simultaneously. Mainly middle-school kids ages 12-14, boys and girls, though there were a couple games of 12 & Under girls. These are the best games to watch. You see teeny, tiny superstars in the making and 12 year old girls who have experienced rocketing growth spurts and the basketball court may be the only place where they feel comfortable about that. We have a girl like that on our team. She's 13 and 6'0" -- a big girl, not lanky -- and we shout her praises every time she uses that strong body of hers to muscle the other team in the paint. At the tournament, her dad who is easily 6'7" and her two older sisters, both over 6'2", cheered her on loudly from the sidelines.

On Maya's team, there is a cast of characters. I'm writing the feel-good movie script in my head right now. In the based-on-a-true-story movie version, the team is lead by a sincere and talented coach who knows that basketball is a way to inspire young women to achieve their dreams and build confidence. She's a passionate coach who believes in hard work and team work. The team begins its season on a losing streak. The first few games are difficult because there's no synergy, they haven't gelled yet. The main character is hard on herself for not being better, for freezing in games, for feeling lost sometimes, but her family encourages her because after a lot of practice it will click for her; not only the ability but the purpose. Have fun for godsake, they tell her. Other characters on the team include: The big center who might feel pressured by her tall dad and tall sisters. A very talented 12 year old Russian point guard who was probably too good too young and who now might not know how to bust up to another level of talent. Her dad yells instruction in Russian from the stands. There is the Korean guard - probably the best girl on the team -- because she's all heart and speed. And all hair. She has the fiercest hair cut I've ever seen, adults included, and she rolls up her baller shorts then pulls them down a bit, she rolls her jersey into her bra straps and pulls her socks up high. The girl is fly! (The narrator of the story wonders if it is appropriate to ask a 13 year old where she gets her hair cut.) There's the rock solid forward who plays all blue-collar like: reliable and strong. There's the wild yet still lax guard who is so athletic and still so chill she doesn't hardly ever break a sweat but can still bound up higher than most, when she feels like it. And then there's the main character's nemesis. You gotta have one of those! This forward believes she's God's gift to the team. She's cocky and has a handle for days, meaning she can split two defenders with her dribble more confidently than her teammates. She has a natural ability that she likes to flaunt, but what she flaunts best is her attitude. She blasts her teammates when they don't catch her rocketed passes or when they turn over the ball; she rolls her eyes when they don't make a shot. She argues with the refs in true NBA time-wasting fashion and when Coach pulls her from the game for talking back and other offenses mentioned above, she plops down in a pouty HRMF! on the bench and crosses her legs and arms. It's Nemesis 101, I tell ya. In the first game of the first tournament, Main Character and Nemesis get to bickering on the court because even if Main Character doesn't feel so confident yet, she still doesn't want to take shit from that girl. Coach benches them both. In the end of the movie, the team gels and Main Character's hard work and confidence click. She and Nemesis find respect and a possible friendship. And though the team loses the Spring League Championship by one point, they've all learned invaluable lessons about being a team and about themselves! And scene.

Pure entertainment, I tell you.

I got up this morning at 5:30 to take my regular 6am spin class. I strapped on my new heart rate monitor that Husband bought me yesterday at Costco. As I excitedly fumbled with the straps around my ribcage, Mina appeared in the bathroom doorway. She was rubbing her eyes. "Mami, I don't feel so well," she said. A day of Basketball Sars barfing was about to begin. I held her hair back as she sang into the bowl for the first time and I checked my heart rate. A calm 71, it read.

At the tournament, Coach tries to pull them together.
Lining up against Lynwood.
Working it out in her head.
Back to practice. This is the sunrise from our patio this morning. I lifted Mina so she could see it. It didn't make her feel better, but she thought it was pretty.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Mishmosh

Mina came to the breakfast table this morning with a dollar bill and said, "I'm going to show you a magic trick I saw." I swiveled towards her and watched. She folded the dollar into a little bitty tight square, showed it to me, tapped it, then unfolded it to reveal the exact dollar, facing the same exact way. She looked down at the dollar when my face revealed that I was still waiting for an end result. She said, "Oh man, how'd he get that to work?" I said, "What was supposed to happen?" She said, "It was supposed to turn into a hundred dollar bill."

Have I told you lately how much I love this kid?

I just want to innocently report that I still love the thought of baking. The idea of sitting down to cinnamon cake and tea, or the waft of blueberry pie nearly done, the image of a mound of rosewater cookies under a clear, dome cover or eyelet aprons and steel whisks and flower-patterned oven mitts . . .it all makes me swoon still. But I haven't baked lately. I had to give up the eating of it all -- the testing and perfecting --and the ragey after affects; even if the affects were only safely swirling wildly within my mind and body. I didn't even bake for Valentine's Day, which is kind of unthinkable, but since I'm in hardcore training mode I couldn't bring myself to go back, and now I just fondly reminisce about when baking and I were in love. We may still have trysts now and again. Loves like that die hard. However, I've been teaching Maya how to bake. She requested this last year and for Christmas I got her a set of utensils and some equipment she could call her own. I shoved over some pans in a cupboard for her things. She's been baking away, a perfect student. I'll test her things a tiny bit, but not much. I see the effort she put into it. I see the finesse building. She'll be a fine baker.

Also, I've been writing a food log to show My Coach. He doesn't really know he's My Coach yet. I mean, he kinda does because our relationship is organically molding itself into this, but it's not official; we haven't said it aloud yet. I started a strength-bootcamp with him. Me and five others go to get our cores kicked in at five in the morning two days a week. Dudes, let's not talk about the FIVE IN THE MORNING dynamic, but somehow it just works. Somehow getting up at 4:30 is not much different than getting up at 5:30, which I do all the time. During the first day of bootcamp he said, "I'd like to see food logs though last bootcamp all but one person ignored me on this request." And I think I'm the only one who's doing this from our group. The first week, I ate so cleanly, so perfectly, I thought, anyway. I thought he'd be all, Wow, let me take some notes from your food log for myself, or, can I get the recipe to your Spiced Lentil Soup, but when I saw him before class on Saturday he said, "We need to talk." I said, "Uh oh." "Nothing bad," he says. I said, "Uh oh." I internally got defensive because I thought he'd give me the ol' Vegans Need More Protein gas, but it wasn't that at all. You know what he said? "You're not eating enough." And you know what I said, "Oh, thank god." So, he's got me on the eat every 2-3 hours plan, eat right after working out thing -- I've only read it five million times from athletes and celebrities -- and I gotta say it's pretty genius. I love getting to eat all the time. Yipee! Next week he might just say, "Ok, whoa, I didn't say three courses six times a day . . ." Feh, it's all a learning curve. But here's the (one of my many) point(s), I don't want to write down in my log that I ate six cookies and then show my coach. Is that funny? He'd probably be like, It happens, whatev, but the thought of writing it deters me - which is probably the partial point of the food log - duh! Last week, Maya came home from Las Vegas and brought a bag of vegan donuts from this killer spot in Vegas called Ronald's Donuts . . .yo, these people make vegan donuts that would go up against any Winchelle's or Dunkin Donuts anytime, anywhere . . .but I wouldn't have one. I said, "I AIN'T WRITING DOWN A DONUT IN MY LOG. Forget it." Donuts make me feel like shit anyway, which is probably the point, really.

Did you hear that they recovered Lance's time trial bike in Sacramento? DOH - I promised myself I wouldn't mention the Tour de California in the blog again . . .but for the record I don't think Cavendish is a prick. OK I'M DONE.

Happy Friday, Friends.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cycling = Compelling TV, and GOTRIbal

Do you think recording and watching every minute of the Tour de California is too much? Yea, me neither. Have you been watching too? Girl, did you see when Lance Armstrong's trial bike got stolen the night before the prologue and he's all, "There's only one of those in the world so you best not show it to anyone if you did steal it." And I was like, right?? And then Fabian Cancellara dropped out before Stage 1 after he smoked everyone in the prologue? He said he had a fever! And I'm all, What the--? And then Francisco Mancebo won Stage 1 after riding 108 miles in torrential rains. There was so much hard rain that UK cyclist Mark Cavendish was all, "I coulda stayed on the Isle of Man for this!" EL OH EL! And did you see what Floyd Landis was wearing? Nutz, right? Good, good drama -- if you enjoy four hours of cycling television, which is a given. Ppff. Seven more days to go, and I'm stoked!

Remember the bad-ass cycling twins from the great ATHLETE movie poster in the last post? The twins and I are practically BFF now. I told them I want to be the triplet because when I grow up, athletically, I want to be just like them even if I am about eight years older. Check out Kellie's website and if you're a tiny bit inspired by my athletic resurgence, this woman will put you over the moon. If you click on her training calendar to the right you'll say things to yourself like, "Ok, maybe I can go run those 2 miles . . ." Kellie also directed me to a site called GOTRIbal. This is a support-group site for any woman who has ever even thought about doing a triathlon. Even if you're just thinking about running your first 5k, this is a site of support, information and out-and-out love for female athletes around the country, from beginner to pretty elite from what I can see. When the most in-shape person you've ever seen is telling you that you that walking a 5K is an accomplishment, there is a safety there that makes it ok to believe it too. The cornerstone philosophy of the site is that the higher up the ladder you go as an athlete the more you're able to pay it forward to athletes who are behind you in experience and accomplishments. I can get behind that type of communal sharing and support any day of the week. I encourage all of you to spark up your inner athlete here too. Let me know when you do so we can link up on the site.

I posted this to my GOTRIbal page because I thought if Facebook can do stuff like this, then why not the athletes too. Some of it is stuff you already know. Some of this is on my Facebook. Well, here you go anyway:

25 Random Things About Me, Athletically

1. When I was thirteen, almost 30 years ago, I thought I'd be the first woman to play in the NBA. I missed that mark by a lot. But I did run a few playground courts in my day, up until I was pregnant with Mina.

2. In high school, I ditched school often to go play pick-up basketball at our neighborhood legendary court where pro's played off season.

3. Once, at these courts, I played three on three against Cynthia Cooper who was a star at USC back then. She was so gracious and encouraging as she kicked my butt all over the court.

4. I was on a spring board diving team in my teens. When I hit the board on a routine dive, I was so mind-fucked that I joined the swim team instead because I believed the two hour workouts would be easier. I was right.

5. I was inexplicably pretty good at the backstroke and very mediocre at everything else.

6. Though I did play one season of water polo on the boys high school team.

7. And I placed tenth for women in a Mile Open-Ocean Swim Competition many years ago. I couldn't believe I had (kinda) placed

8. I get all soft in the knees over college basketball (DUH!!), and March Madness is a sacred and cherished time in our house (Noooo . . .). I didn't go to college, which allows me to jump on any fan bandwagon I want during the tournament!

9. When I was nine, I had my picture in the local newspaper for being an all-star soccer goalie. The picture is of me diving for a ball in the mud, with a Dorothy Hamil haircut.

10. I've commuted on a bicycle my entire life, but December was the first time I ever rode a road bike.

11. And now I'm in love with cycling.

12. Deeply, deeply in love.

13. (You already know this one too) My commute bike is a black fixed-up hand-me-down Specialized named Loops. My road bike is a pristine white Cannondale Six named Whitey Heidi. My nine year old daughter named them both within seconds of looking at the bikes.

14. I love both bikes equally.

15. I'm not a very good runner, mentally or physically. I'm trying to break through that because I've been attracted to triathlons for 20 years. I've shied away from them because of the running.

16. I'm going to do my first triathlon this June.

17. I'm going to learn from the women at GOTRIbal how to get through and do well at the running part. I thank them, in advance.

18. I support my daughters 110% in anything they want to be involved, but I'm secretly thrilled that they are both natural and driven athletes.

19. Playing ball inside our house is not only ok, but encouraged.

20. My husband was ranked on the east coast tour in tennis when he was younger.

21. He has no patience to teach me tennis and frankly I have no patience to learn from him. Ha!

22. As early as five months ago, I was stuck in an emotional plateau regarding my fitness and my athletic ability and purpose. I questioned if staying fit was even worth it, worth anything, especially as I march on into my 40's. Then I rode a road bike.

23. Now, I'm on a mission.

24. Now, I train smarter than when I was a teen or in my 20's.

25. I've randomly met a handful of people in the last four months (and was directed the GOTRIbal site) who bring me more support athletically than I've ever had in my entire life, and I can only think that it is some divine intervention, some cosmic fate or quite possibly just a seasoned understanding that being an athlete has always been and will always be a big part of who I am. If I still can move it, then I need to move it. And move it as strongly as I possibly can.


Let me know if you do this list too. Beginner or pro, I'd love to hear what motivates you, or what you've done or what you will do. Or what you've always dreamed about doing. It starts with that, y'know.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Parenting/Blogger Roller Coaster, and Athlete

I finished a long ol' post about parenting earlier. About how I was all yelling at Mina this morning because we suffer from an age-old conflict called Getting Ready On Time Disorder. I realize that this has been a parent-child issue since amoeba were yelling at their kids to get their single-celled asses dressed already. The post revealed an interesting parenting technique that my husband and I resort to when we reach a boiling point with the kids. I like to call it the Blue Collar Threats Technique. For example last night Mina futzed around with her homework for an endless amount of time. We were constantly saying things like "Are you done yet? No? Then why are you (hanging upside down on the banister/mixing paint, glitter and salt on the patio/putting on lipstick in nothing but a tutu)?" When we couldn't take anymore, Husband pulled her aside and gave her a long speech about how school is a priority punctuated with comments like, "We don't make you dig ditches do we? No. Focusing on school is much easier than digging ditches, but I'll tell you what. You will be digging ditches as a career is you don't get it together." This morning she spent 75% of her getting-ready time staring out the window, tying ribbons on the dogs, dancing around in her cow-shaped slippers. Until I snapped from roboticly repeating the phrase, "Come on, baby, we're almost late." I then yelled a lot, which I don't like to do. Then I told her to forget it, that she wasn't going to school now. Not ever again, in fact. "I'M CALLING THE PRINCIPAL AND TELLING HER YOU'RE DROPPING OUT." "No, Mami!" "YOU'RE GETTING A JOB INSTEAD." "No!" "YUP, SCRUBBING PEOPLE'S FLOORS!" Nothing makes a kid like school more than the prospect of having to get a manual-labor job.

And then I wrote a whole long thing in the post about Maya's junior-high torment and how she gets made fun of this year and how it came to a bit of a head on Monday when her worst tormentor sent her a note calling her a "Super Dyke" . . .and how I told Maya to march into the Vice Principal's office to hand him the note and her cell phone so I could tell him I'm not tolerating that horseshit, not that level of derogatory name calling. I won't let Maya put up with it either. And he better handle it now. This part of the post was about this: For as much time as we parents spend teaching and guiding our children to do for themselves, sometimes they just need to know that we have their back. That we'll rip the gloves off for them and throw down if we have to.

Then I lost the entire post. Which made me examine a little too much about why I might have lost it. Like, what made the universe hit the delete button? Or was I just all aggravated and did the honors myself? Oh well. You get the drift.

I happily stumbled across this blog-project yesterday called Athlete.
David Lam is making a documentary about everyday people who are athletes, who endure the pain and training like any elite athlete. The doc spends a good amount of time on how connected these athletes are to charitable organizations. He also examines how everyday people who simply ENCOURAGE everyday athletes are heroes too. The whole concept touches me for obvious reasons. Plus, he's got some great posters aptly titled: Defy Odds featuring a blind runner. Defy Pain featuring a cancer surviving athlete. Defy Definition featuring twin sister cyclists. Check it out, and buy a poster! All the proceeds of the posters go to the charity with which the particular athlete is involved. I'm getting this one. Their proceeds go to Girls On the Run.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Back From Facecation, The Infamous Osgood Schlatter, and Kristen Brydums

I've been stuck in Facebook Land for the last few days. Je-sus. I had a lot of apprehensions about it at first, but I'll admit (Betsy) it's been kinda fun. Now I just want to chill from it and put it on cruise control. It's good to be home, Blogworld.

From all the running -- four times a week for an hour and a half on two different basketball teams -- Maya has developed chronic pain in her knees. Achy pain, sharp pain, pain that goes from one knee to the other. When she was a toddler until she was about eight, anytime she went through a growth spurt, her feet would ache so badly she'd wake me up to rub them a couple times a night. But the knees worry us. I really believed it was nothing more than growing pains and a little tendinitis, but Husband is hypersensitive about the matter considering he's had ACL and meniscous surgeries. "She's too young to have knee problems." I took her to the doctor on Monday as a precaution and it turns out she has a condition called Osgood-Schlatter disease. Husband would later remark, "After the famous Osgood Schlatter?" It's a condition that affects active young athletes -- "mainly boys" the doctor said -- where kids experience pain at the base of their knee cap from the growth plates rubbing against the top of the tibia. Ouch. Extreme running and growth spurts flare it up and cause pain. Maya said, "Don't tell me I have to stop playing basketball." The doctor said no, but she has to cut down. Maya sort of fish flopped on the examination table. This was not the news she wanted to hear, but all of her parents, me, Husband, BD and Sanne were thrilled she didn't have any tears in ligaments or anything else more serious or permanent. Osgood-Schlatter will go away when she stops growing. Beat it, Osgood. The doctor gave us a note to discontinue one basketball team, but she can stay with the other. On the way out of the office I said to Maya, "Dude, you have a disease." We laughed and went home to ice her knees with a frozen pack of peas.

Here's Mina my other little stud working on her tennis game with her awesome coach Amy.




I'm not afraid to share my balls of light today. I'm feeling solid and confident in them . . .I'm back to hitting the books to become a holistic nutritionist. When I first started studying, I freaked out about time and the lack of time, but some how I've made peace with it and studying has been fun. I fit it in just fine now. I scratch my head at the previous freak out. I also have a more clear purpose about why I'm studying, and in a nutshell it's so I can simply volunteer all the information away. I want to volunteer at low-income clinics and share it all with them. The folks with access to the organic aisles of Whole Foods already have a leg up, and some how, in a little way, I'm gonna break the myth that healthy food is not for poor people, that organics is not for them, that fresh food is not for them. Anyway, I'm on my way. I finished my first class, The Fundamentals of Nutrition and I got a 97% on the final. Whootwhoot! I'm now taking Traditional Naturopath which is a trip, but an interesting trip.

There were three things that got me back on this path: First, I don't ever stop thinking about how food is medicinal and a key to preventative care. Secondly, I saw the movie Sicko, finally, and after feeling devastatingly hopeless immediately after, I realized this is the only way I know how to lend a hand. And lastly, I recently read an article about Kristen Brydums. Kristen was a student from San Francisco who went on a utopian journey across the U.S. out to prove the generosity of people. She was an ultimate freegan; she gratefully took what people gave her and then gave it all away again. The purpose of this journey was to prove that this recycling of generosity works. When she reached New Orleans, she hung out with dumpster-diving artists in abandoned houses in the 9th Ward and on her second night there she was shot in the face four times and killed, her borrowed bike stolen, her purse taken too. Her mother laments that Kristen would have gladly given the stuff to the people who did this to her. Having looked her up again, I read a few blogs ripping Kristen's naivete and how this has re-kicked up a political shit storm regarding sections of a still battered New Orleans. Yet still I am deeply touched by Kristen's belief that scarcity is a myth; that there is plenty for everyone if we -- individuals and government -- shared a little more. And with that -- as people oddly and angrily battle over what she was or wasn't, and what NOLA is or isn't -- she inspired me. Her open heart and big naive ideas are not lost on me nor do I think they were squashed in vain.