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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holding Pattern

With my job prospects looking dim, and even the possibility of substitute teaching in the clutches of red tape, I am holding my breath, holding my heart and holding on for dear life. Alas, the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed (room and board) may not be attainable on the spouse's sole educator's salary. Holding so tight, I haven't been moved to prose. Go figure.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Check this off

I'm a list-maker. Every morning I look at my to-do, and every night I scribble the undone on a notepad at my bedside. Some items are pre-loaded everyday. Run. Laundry. Clean bathrooms. As soon as I check them off for Sunday I make a mental note to add them on Monday's list.

My daughter isn't a lister, but I wish she would be. All the "to-do"s scramble around in her head along with other pressing matters like deciding on the boyfriend-of-the-week, or overcoming the girlfriend-drama-of-the-day, or whether to flat-iron the hair or pull it into a ponytail. She doesn't prioritize like I do, and she doesn't demonstrate my discipline to tackle the big, bad and ugly items before kicking back for the leisure activities.

This is a constant tug-of-war. I want to manage things for her, but at age 14 she should be learning to manage for herself. So I sit in front of this screen at 7:30 AM on a Sunday, ironing for the week complete, cat litter changed, and dishwasher emptied, anxious for her to wake up and start checking things off. Heaven help me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Musings after a night of witnessing history...

I have always loved my country.

For the last eight years it seemed like the kind of love I offered wasn't welcome. My love came with suggestions. My love came with a stern critique. "Love is blind" is a lie perpetrated by those who refuse to see. In the best relationships we see the flaws in one another and work together to grow. Too often I heard that my love for country wasn't authentic because I questioned, or because I showed disappointment.

Those opposed to my brand of love stole from me. Not only did they hold onto the White House and most state houses, but they took the symbols that belong to all of us.

But the flag is, and always was, mine too.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Please, God. Let it count.



Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Scary Burger King Guy Would Be A Welcome Change

In my hotel room the television keeps me company. The innocenct sounds of Wheel of Fortune are intended to break the silence and provide a backdrop for my workshop-prepping and net-surfing. But the innocence is broken by loud, condescending campaign ads. The Republicans use the movie voice over guy, images of Washington D.C. melting away, and Obama's face in a pained grimace. They claim "leadership" on the financial crisis (didn't the House vote fail, in spite of McCain's suspension?) and then randomly insert graphics about the tax and spend policies of Obama, in some kind of attempt to hold him responsible for the current mess.

How can they get away with saying Obama has no experience yet simultaneously blame him for the financial crisis brought to fruition by a couple of generations 'de-regulators?" I'm guessing the majority of "Wheel Watchers" don't bother to do any fact-checking on their own. Campaign advertisements on TV encourage lazy citizenship. We'd be better without them.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Got 4 Minutes for a Kick? Thanks, "Anonymous!"


The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Maybe we don't deserve it

My comments to EJG's post, In Defense of George W. Bush, were becoming too long winded for the little comment box.

Come on, now. The best thing since JFK or Lincoln? You can't honestly believe that Mr. and Mrs. United States would ever buy that one. Not the folks who voted for the W because he's a guy with whom we'd like to have a few beers, a fantastic criterion for selecting the leader of the free world, by the way.

Just for fun, I looked up the word "elitist," one of Obama's supposed flaws. Did you know that the its opposite of elitist is "populist?" According to the American Heritage Dictionary, populist is defined as a supporter of the rights and power of the people.

How can the Republicans succeed with the same tactics every time? Kerry, the war hero, questioned on his war record. Gore, a participant in the birth of the digital age, ridiculed for his mention of that fact. And now Obama, the "elitist" child of a food-stamp recipient single mother has been successfully tagged as elitist. A community organizer (that's a populist position - look it up) who worked for $10,000 a year after graduating Harvard, is "elitist," when the average Harvard grad pulled down a salary well into the six figures.

If the American people can be fooled again with the same tricks and are sentenced to another four years of the same disastrous policies, then I guess we deserve the world's ill will, ailing environment, and economic apocalypse of 2008. Besides, both JFK and Lincoln were taken out of office too soon, and both were taken down by Americans.

We can all go to bed early on November 4th. It isn't even going to be close.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

video

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thoughts on the road

I have been at home for only 8 of the last 46 days. While the pain of being away from my family sometimes manifests in physical symptoms, I cannot discount one benefit of my job. I am sometimes priveleged to visit some truly beautiful parts of the country, places I would otherwise never see. Sure, sometimes my trips lead me to Walnut Ridge, Arkansas (nothing personal, folks, but that town was noticeably lacking in scenic vistas), but this week's itinerary afforded more photo opportunities.

Monday started in Buckhannon, WV, a lovely berg with a college town feel. It is home to West Virginia Wesleyan College.


View Larger Map

After my day with the good teachers of Buckhannon I hit the road and drove my rental through the scenic hills to Roanoke Virginia. Breathtaking vistas, verdant valleys, and rampant poverty in startling juxtaposition.

I stayed in the Roanoke Valley, where everything is exploding in full bloom during the warm, late August days.

This morning I woke before the chickens to journey to one of my favorite parts of our country. I flew into Portland, Oregon and drove for three hours along the sparkly Columbia River. In the 180 miles the hills went from evergreen to tumbleweed. Along the gorge, complete with rocky cliffs and waterfalls, nature is putting on a fashion show. Arriving at my lodging, Boardman, Oregon's River Lodge and Grill, I was able to skip the treadmill and take advantage of the riverside running trail.

Would I trade the views for my family? Never. But sometimes I feel better when I look at the sun and know that the same rays that dance across the Columbia are spotlighting the peaceful Manatee grazing in our St. Johns. Surrounded by nature's beauty I'm closer to home, even 3,000 miles away.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Confucius Say You Pay First

It was lunchtime in Omaha, about 1:30 PM on this Wednesday afternoon. Ravenous with PMS, and having completed my 2 ¾ hour drive up from Kansas City, I was ready for some eats. Cruising Dodge Street, a main drag in this bustling 'burb, none of the usual suspects inspired me. McApplebee, McFriday, McChilli, McBoring. Raging hormones in my gut and a full parking lot combined to convince me to try a Chinese buffet place. It was the ideal location to provide me instant gratification, and also allow me the opportunity to visually inspect the food before eating it.

The place was about average, clean and well-maintained, but the best part was the great entertainment provided with the meal. As I headed back to the table with my (second) plate of pepper chicken and vegetable mei fun I was caught in the middle of an altercation between two Black teens and the teen Chinese cashier. Evidently, the cashier asked them to pay for their take-out order before they went to the buffet. The young teen argued that they saw another woman walk in and sit down, without paying first. In her broken English the cashier had a hard time explaining their policy, handwritten on a sign behind the register 'TAKE OUT PAY FIRST' while the dine-in customers checked out after eating. The teen insisted that the other lady didn't have to pay first because she was WHITE and they were BLACK. They were CHINESE RACISTS and they could keep their RACIST food to themselves. They created quite a scene before storming out and driving away, wheels squealing and raising smoke.

Full from my exploits I approached the cashier to check out, only to be caught in round two of the Great Chinese Racist movement. A Black family of seven had apparently witnessed the same scene I did. Ruling on the side of the plaintiff, they decided to leave mid-meal, and determined that they need not pay because they left their plates of food and cups of Coke on the table, barely touched. "You pay half, you take the food," the argument began. This one was going to get ugly. I threw my ten on the register and bolted.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Forget the iPhone. I want an iHug!

I love the high-tech tools, and I especially love how they help me to keep in touch. Though we're separated by thousands of miles, my family and I are up-to-the minute in communication with one another. I pix message the 100-degree reading on my car rental thermometer here in Mississippi, and EJG texts me right back about the update on the cousins reunion in New York. I flix message a video of Hansel, our crazy cat, chasing his own tail to my sister in Brooklyn, and she calls me back laughing at the same scene I'm witnessing live. I've even taken part in eSeminars, an online meeting where I worked with teachers from places as far apart as St. Croix and Seattle, all together in real time. The world does seem smaller when we use these tools to connect, and I'm especially grateful for these innovations when I travel for my work.

Even though I'm connected to home through images, text, voice, and video, nothing can replace the human touch. Not the R-rated touching stuff. The hand-holding, bear-hugging, pecks-on-the-lips that happen in the daily lives of loving families that make us human. For 3 1/2 weeks I was away from home and my hands were unheld, my arms unhugged, and my lips unpecked, and I started to feel like my potted impatiens in the hot, late-afternoon July sun. High tech, virtual world, digital connecting may be an effective interim replacement, but connecting cell to cell, biology style, beats it every day.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Silent Offerings

It happens in the cover of silence, in the darkest hours of night. Silently, stealthily, she pads her way across the house from the great room, through the kitchen, past the front door and down the hallway. Gretel’s nightly pilgrimage with her toy is rarely witnessed by human eyes. Clenched firmly between her teeth, Gretel transports the toy by its bright pink and yellow 18” string. As she walks in her low and cautious gait the foot-long transparent plastic handle drags behind her. Each morning we awake to see Gretel sitting vigil beside her offering, watching the toy as she patiently awaits her morning cat snacks. Usually she journeys alone as Hansel, her brother sleeps soundly through the night. Once, on a late night bathroom stop, I witnessed the silent journey. Gretel led the way with her determined sense of purpose and Hansel tagged behind. He thought it was play, making a game of chasing the handle as it dragged behind Gretel. Somehow I know this isn’t just play to Gretel. The toy offering is serious to her. Maybe she feels it is her duty to hunt and capture and then offer up her find to her hosts. To Gretel this might be her way of evening up the tab with her human caretakers.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The View From the Front

I didn't feel guilty as I sat in seat 1C on the MD90 Jet at Gate D6 in Salt Lake City. I was bound for O'Hare, on my sixth flight in five days. Sure, there were families plodding their way to the back of the plane, laden with baby gear, toddler toys, and 'tween electronics. Sitting in 1C as the flight boarded made me the first passenger encountered by everyone heading back to coach. I busied myself with a video podcast on my iTouch, nodding and smiling at the little ones who passed into my line of vision. Not a moment of remorse entered my soul when I reclined as soon as we soared out of the Salt Lake Valley, feeling that my enduring flight after flight and delay after delay has earned me the right to sit in that seat. Granting first class seats to frequent flyers is almost like the airlines saying "We know that this flying thing stinks." But I earned my extra elbow room during winter snow and summer squawls. I paid for this privilege in the uncompensated hours away from my family – the same hours that would mathematically reduce my hourly honorarium to bupkus. I wasn't feeling smug, only justly compensated for my time and inconvenience.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Officially an Islander

It isn’t that I dislike Orange Park. OP seems to be a reasonably respectable place to live. It has Blanding Boulevard, Wells Road, and the convenient-if-not-frightening Orange Park Mall. Orange Park has definitely improved in the last decade, at least by my standards. It has a couple of decent Chinese food joints, a feature that was non-existent when we moved there 12 years ago. OP is up to four Starbucks locations, an indicator that it has some people with taste. Despite all of the improvements, I am proud to state that I no longer call Orange Park my home. As the result of a bold decision by the Unites States Postal Service, I left Orange Park as of July 1. Now all my bills, junk mail, and Mint Magazine carpet cleaning and Papa John’s pizza coupons will be delivered to my home on Fleming Island.

Fleming Island is different from Orange Park. This is a community with a sense of identity. We’re not hip like the Beaches folks, or a trendy “everything old is new again” gang like the San Marco crew. Fleming Island is mostly a bedroom community with a substantial NAS-JAX influence. With three quality elementary schools, and Clay County’s top-ranked high school (bearing the community name, of course) Fleming Island has a rep for being a good place to bring up a family. It’s a small-town feeling within a large town, a place where you can see Everyone if you take your coffee to the patio tables in front of our Starbucks. This is a place where you know the folks you really don’t know, whether from sharing a sweat session at the Y, offering up an emptied cart at Publix, or sharing “good morning” during a run or bike ride on the Black Creek Trail.

As a proud resident, I’m not ashamed to point out Fleming Island’s shortcomings. It sorely lacks in ethnic diversity. If Fleming Island residents pray to any god other than a Christian variety, they probably cross a couple of bridges to join their congregation. The Fleming Island Democratic Party could fit its meetings in my house, if it even existed. A decent bookstore means a long car ride, and any new cinematic releases must be suffered through at the AMC Orange Park Mall movie theaters. The library here is a lovely, new structure with sparsely-populated shelves. But every place has room for improvement.

Monday, June 23, 2008

People-Watching in West Virginia

Dining alone, I always bring reading material. So I gathered an abandoned copy of this morning's USA Today and asked the front desk clerk for a dinner recommendation. Linda handed me a two page printout, but told me I should go to Muriale's, "It's the best." Across the interstate and along a 2 lane road, I passed a few auto dealerships and a marina. A long country mile later and I pulled into the packed parking lot. Inside, the lobby was standing room only. Mostly large parties were waiting on this Monday night, with red-cheeked, tow-headed kids giggling and zooming through the crowd into the laps and open arms of their seated grandparents. I sought a corner to stand in and prepared myself for the 25 minute wait. Standing and waiting is a strange time for reading, so I spent my time people-watching. What were the occasions for these big family meals on a Monday night? Some families had men in suit jackets and women in flowing dress, other groups came in with bermudas and t-shirts. Many men wore proclamations of their masculinity stitched above the brim of their baseball caps, advertising tractor brands or college teams. Some grandmas wore squishy crocs and others had practical buckle sandals with sandalfoot stockings. The family resemblance in some groups was uncanny. To see the same face on child, mother, and grandmother was spooky. Granddaughter needn't wonder what she'll look like 30 or 60 years from now. Each group eventually assembled and paraded behind Chelsea, our svelte teenage hostess. Finally I did too, to sit alone with my newspaper and my chicken Marsala. Linda was right. Everything was delicious and filling for the empty spot in my stomach, but unable to fill the empty spot in my heart, so far away from my family.

Friday, June 20, 2008

His first sentence, announced while we boarded:

Welcome aboard flight 1851 with nonstop service from Florida's Jacksonville International Airport you have boarded a Boeing 757, a staple of Delta's trustworthy jet fleet as you find your seat and get settled I would like to welcome you aboard this flight my name is Ryan and I am the onboard leader for today's flight to our corporate headquarters located at the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in sunny Hot-lanta Georgia along with our captain and co-pilot I will be serving you with Michelle and Clarissa, a top-rate Atlanta-based team we can assure your comfort and safety with our combined over 100 years of flying experience in just a few moments we will be briefing you with the safety information required by the FAA, and I encourage you to become familiar with the features of this aircraft as detailed on the safety information card located in the seatback pocket in front of you for now, please stow your luggage safely, remembering that all articles must fit completely in the overhead bin or beneath the seat in front of you bulkhead row passengers, those seated in the first row of each cabin, must stow all personal items leaving the area at and behind your feet completely free in case of the need for evacuation if you need assistance in stowing your articles please let a flight attendant know we will be happy to help you as you settle in for our short flight i wish offer you a sincere welcome aboard.

He never stopped until "buh-byed" at deplaning.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The endless blue sky, the purple-green hillsides reflected in the looking-glass -still water of the Susquehanna River, the flowing floral patterns of the handmade skirts worn by the Amish women walking on the roadside; my drive north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was an idyllic ride through a part of the country that has been only lightly touched by the passage of time. State Road 11 wandered through riverfront bergs, complete with white porches and patriotic buntings. The few storefronts were mostly family restaurants, diners, or general stores attached to post offices. Many were closed on this Sunday. Yet another business seemed to exist in every town, the Adult Shop. In converted farmhouses along the state route they wore large signs proclaiming peep shows and private viewing rooms. One shop in Liverpool, an historic town in Perry County, had a billboard with the daily feature, "Adult Shop – Happy Fathers Day – Special – Pumps 20% Off."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

FCAT? F That!

My daughter is brilliant. Just look at her myspace page. It's pimped to the max. She speaks two languages: American Engilsh and 'Tween IM. She knows all the lyrics to every booty-smacking, gangsta' rapping top 40 hit. She's very musical, and she has an incredible ear. She can harmonize any melody, and once she hears a tune it stays with her. Her memory is solid all around. Multiplication facts, spelling words, Greek and Roman Gods, all the facts required of memorization and recitation are no problem for my girl. She can memorize lines lickety-split. In plays she learns her part easily and also could understudy any role. Her brain is that good. She's smart enough to recognize the sad irony in MTV's Flavor of Love and also to appreciate the timeless beauty in The Phantom of the Opera. Besides, only a bright thinker could convince two teacher parents that none of her seventh grade teachers assign homework, and then go on to negotiate a sleepover on a school night.

The state of Florida doesn't believe in how smart she is. Even though she made two hundred-plus point gains in Reading and Math on her FCAT scores, on paper she doesn't look like the clever thinker we know she is. She's smart in ways they can't measure on their standardized assessment. I guess when it comes to other kinds of intelligences FCAT stands for Florida Can't Assess That.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with a high school friend - a friend I hadn't seen in five years, and only three times in the last twenty five. She looked great, and I might've allowed myself to believe that our being forty-plus was an illusion. She still has the same bright eyes, hearty laugh, and big, toothy smile of the teenager who spent many a sleepover on the shag carpet in my butterfly-wallpapered room. Best of buddies from seventh grade forward, we managed to stay out of trouble in spite of our best efforts to find it. We crushed the same junior high boys, Yankee players, and then approaching middle-age Beatles, Paul for her and George for me. Friends through Confirmation and Sweet Sixteen, we thought we were there through the major milestones of our lives. High school came and I evolved into the drama queen, she the band geek, and we found other partners-in crime. With the college years we got busy discovering ourselves, then our spouses, and then our kids. Years gone by, thousands of miles apart and yet we sat across her kitchen table yesterday, dishing the dirt as if the time hadn't passed.

Rare it is in life to find a friend like that, and I've been fortunate to have that happen again and again. First, I found my honeymooning kindergarten buddy, still the crazy West Coast friend who is too many time zones away. Then we junior high buds helped each other through the awkward development of body and soul. In college I found a friend who still keeps in touch long after the late night bagel orders and toga parties. Now I can count the friends of adulthood who give me the gift of their time not as teachers or as mothers or as wives, but as friends who can spend a lazy afternoon dishing the dirt across a kitchen table.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Midlife Crisis

I'm 41, so if this is midlife I'll make it to 82. Not bad. I'm definitely in a mini-crisis. Maybe it's the extra time on my hands lately, but I'm finding a need to reinvent myself yet again.

Is it the economy? Is it my newfound love of physical activity? Whatever the cause, I find myself on my bicycle a lot lately. If an errand can be done here on 'the island" I try to do it on my bike. I haven't found a way to pick up dry cleaning on my 18 speed, though.

I've been searching for a fresher look too. I'm too easily identified as "that teacher" or "that girl's mother," two roles I ADORE, but neither of which defines me. My latest attempts to mix it up include contact lenses and a new piercing. 13 ½ years as an astigmatic (thank you natural childbirth) have made those eyeglasses a signature of the JG look, but glasses get covered with sweat when running or hefting weights at the gym. A week into the contact lens experiment and I'm down to a mere 5 minute insertion time, much better than the 30 minutes it took me the first day. The piercing, on my ear, makes the third hole on the right, a small cz stud in the upper ear.

Now, what can I have tattooed?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Time Changes

While I love to come and work out West, the time change always kicks me hard. An early-to-bed-and-early to rise gal back East, I have a hard time staying awake past 7 PM Pacific time. My brain sounds reveille at 5 AM promptly (Eastern) and by the time I have to start work at 8:30 Pacific, I'm exhausted.

Sunday night, my first in a week in the Northwest, was particularly rough. I tossed and turned for hours, willing myself to fall asleep.Giving up at around 4 AM, I turned on the light. The blanket was halfway across the room and all four corners of the fitted sheet had recoiled toward the center. I had put up a good fight but lost.

Last night was much better. I took precautions. A heavy meal for dinner including pasta and meatballs, half of a half of a glass of red wine, and a warm vanilla steamer made for the perfect potion. I fell asleep reading, less than a paragraph into the next chapter of my trashy murder-mystery.

When I my eyes opened this morning I was afraid to look at the clock. I lay in a state of denial for about ten minutes before hazarding a glance. 4:57! I'd made it! Thank you, thank you, thank you, o blessed goddess of sleep. I am so grateful for the gift of sleep! A perfect landing overnight, leading up to a perfect morning of run, Kashi bar, blog and workshop.

So thankful for sleep, so proud of this achievement, it got me thinking. Grateful as I am for the gift of sleep, there is a gift I treasure even more: waking to another day.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

AARP & Me, A Nightmare in Two Acts

ACT I

Curtain rises. Set is a typical doctor's office. Nurse X is seated, holding chart doing intake and vitals. JSG sits on paper-covered examination table.

X: Menopause or hysterectomy?

JSG: No thank you.

X: Which is it?

JSG: My mother?

X: Menopause or hysterectomy?

JSG: No.

X: Which is it, then?

JSG: None of the above. I'm 41.

CURTAIN

ACT II
NARRATOR: After a 5 1/2 mile run, bike ride to the Y, and an intense workout session including deadlifts, bench presses and pull-ups, JSG decides to bike over to Kohl's department store on the way home.

Curtain opens on JSG standing at the check-out register, purchasing some unmentionables for her 13-year old daughter. She is being served by a 50 something cashier, donned in a teenager's striped polo and khaki capris, but wearing the tell-tale necklace of reading specs.

SPECS: That will be $24.65. Oh, just a minute.

JSG: $24.65? Okay, here's my Kohl's card.

SPECS: Just a minute. Now, I'm not going to ask you your age, but I think that people like us, over 50, can join AARP, so that means we should get the discount too. That'll be $21.37.

FADE TO BLACK

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Not Losing It

Some neighbors think we've lost our minds. Since school began in August, EJG and I have been waking at 5 AM to hit the streets before sunrise. We make our 5.5 mile round-trip to Starbucks on foot, burning 1,000 plus Kcal according to the counter on the heart rate monitor. When I'm home I supplement this insanity by visiting the Y at least 3 times a week for weight training, the occasional aerobics class, an alternative cardio experience on the stepmill, or the fierce personal training session with Judi the Intimidator. Months into this program, I'm really feeling great. I sense a strength and developing muscle tone beneath the soft outer layers. The blood pressure and resting heart rate have never been lower. I've changed departments in the stores, now able to choose fashions for the stretched-out and somewhat slovenly lieu of the tall and tubby. One problem remains. My weight hasn't moved.

Yup. Burning over 10,000 calories a week from working out hasn't moved the damned needle downward. Sometimes the instrument of evil has the nerve to read higher than the day before. We bought another scale, but it agreed with the first. I'd shoot the messenger but I'm not in favor of guns in the house. Besides, I don't want to clean up scale shrapnel from my bathroom floor. Instead I try to focus on the other benefits of my new fitness fanaticism. For the first time in my life, people actually think of me as a fitness freak! But the stock-steady scale looms large in my mind.

Yesterday I may have uncovered the perpetrator in this wrongdoing. I can blame it all on Centrum.

Nearly 15 years ago an endocrinologist confirmed what I had contended throughout my tubby teen years. I maintain the metabolism of a a three-legged tortoise. Prescriptions were administered to simulate the hormones my thyroid refused to produce, and I was sent on my way. I could hardly wait for the pounds to melt away. Alas, the great meltdown never happened.

Last week I sat through a routine blood-drawing so that my doctor can send along the renewal prescription for synthroid, my hypothyroidism maintenance medication. Usually this results in a phone message a few days later advising me to come pick up the paperwork. Instead this time the nurse left a message with an alarmed and urgent tone to come in as soon as possible to review my lab results.I debated calling back with some fighting words. Were they just looking for another copay, or was there a real concern? After all, an office visit means I write a check for $35. I decided to play along and scheduled the follow-up as advised.

Yesterday in the office we reviewed the numbers. Lipids. Check. Cholesterol. Check. Triglyceride. Check. LDL and HDL. Check check. TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). Uncheck. My thyroid, oh great regulator of all systems metabolic, was trending toward the toilet. It is progressively worsening in spite of progressively increasing prescriptions. We ruled out all the warning signs of goiters, thyroid cancer, or other catastrophic illnesses. Then we discussed my daily medication routine. I swallow everything in one fell swoop. In the morning, with a tall glass of whatever's available, down go the synthroid along with its buddies, the glucosamine, fish oil, and Centrum multi for women. Once a day is the most realisitic time frame for me to remember to do it at all.

"Eureka!" shouted the doctor. Well, not really, but it might have happened that way. It turns out that synthroid is some kind of medicinal reciprocal of calcium supplements. Combine the two and you end up with nothing. I checked the literature that has come taped to my synthroid bottle for the last dozen years, and I saw no mention. Basically, I've been negating the medication. Quit the Centrum and the meds can do their job. Give it a few weeks, we can run the bloodwork and verify. A functional metabolism in the era of Judy the Gymaholic? Maybe all this exercise will result in me losing something other than my mind, after all.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Too much time on my hands...

I took time off for Spring Break, then another 2 weeks for Oliver!. Last week one work day in Phoenix, and now nothing until May 12. The cancellation of my 2 eSeminars, originally scheduled for this week and next, have left me with time like I have never had before. 2 1/2 hours at the Y (after a 5.5 mile run before school with EJG), cleaning, cooking, and now what? I've already cleaned the linen closets and all the storage areas in our 3 bathrooms. I've gutted the garage and purged the pantry. I knew that unemployment wouldn't suit the pocketbook, but it suits the personality even less!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thomas Jefferson on Current Events

Prescient Jefferson seemed to be reviewing the Bush administraton in his writing completed in 1776:

1. He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
Wire taps, anyone?

2. He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
Montanans will soon find they cannot board a plane with their state-issued i.d.s.

3. He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
The shocking practices of the "Office of Citizenship" obstruct naturalization in new and creative ways.

4. He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
No, you cannot take that water bottle onto an airplane, and I have a badge to prove it.

5. He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
Remember the uniformed soldiers with machine guns at the airports?

6. He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.
Geneva Convention, Schmeva Convention.

7. For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury.
US Citizens held without charge as enemy combatants.

8. For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
Guantanamo?

9. For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments
No Child Left Behind may be the most dramatic example of infringement on states rights in the history of the nation.

10. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
Not to mention allowing snowmobiles in our national parks.

A few more nuggets of wisdom from the third president:

I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Haiku Composed on a Raft


Gliding near the clouds
Surveying the earth below
On whom shall I crap?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Another Tuesday
with American Idol
It's crack on TV

Monday, March 31, 2008

Misty Monday Morning

This isn't the Spring Break weather the Chamber of Commerce ordered. It's better. Out early this morning, running with a cool mist on my face, a halo of moisture in my hair, I traversed the clouds. Warming up with a cup of coffee and a good laugh, my runnning partner, my life partner and I settle into the relaxed vacation mode. Back home to linger in the kitchen slicing fruit. I'm in no particular hurry. The clouds don't worry me. My husband's smile brightens my entire world.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Forgot to write post.
In bed, typing on iPod.
Does this Haiku count?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Six Word Autobiography

Making it up as I go.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Are you satisfied
Former guest of suite 132?
Your prank worked.
Clever thing, setting the alarm
for midnight.
After early to bed
Two hours of toss and turn
I finally hit my REM.
The clang! A fire? Tornado?
The clock.
Reaching in the dark for silence
Nine minutes later settling in.
Focus on the sheep
Their graceful leaps, their tufts
billowing ... Clang!
In the lamplight I locate the plug
cut off the supply source.
In the lamplight, I'm fully awake.
In the lamplight, I'm fully aware
The Tex-Mex blazes through my gut.
Congratulations!What a prank!
Former guest of suite 132.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Proud to Be a Native New Yorker

Blind

Black
Adulterer
Toker
Snorter
Marathoner
Governor

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pet Names

EJG's been Bonehead in our family for as long as I can remember. Maybe it started the time he locked the keys in his parents' running car when picking me up at the Long Island Railroad Station. That nickname is more than 20 years old. Sometimes we shorten it to the nickname for the nickname and we just call him Bone.

IMG has had a few different names. It was pumpkin (pronounced punkin') and sunshine when she was smaller and sunnier. Princess fell out of fashion because she took that one a bit too much to heart. Lately she's My Monkey based on her uncanny ability to simulate a primate's face and behaviors.

Even the pets have pet names in this house. Gretel is her legal name, but calling for Grets will get the job done, especially when standing near the pantry with the cat treats. Hansel isn't smart enough answer to any name, so why not mix it up a little? Sometimes he's Hansile or Hansicle. In a rush it's simply H.

Growing up we were all about the nicknames: Judith to Judy to Jude, Deborah to Deb to D (but never Debbie), Natalie to Nat…you get the idea. We all use these nicknames still. Having dinner with my mom a couple of years ago, her cell phone rang in her purse, and I grabbed it to answer for her. The caller I.D. read "N." We laugh about that still, but I wonder, was it the comfort of familiarity or her difficulty in programming her phone that led to the abbreviation ?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Simply Can't Wait for the Gate


I feel like a kid counting down the days to Christmas, I'm so excited for this big race on Saturday. It was the last thought I had before I fell asleep and the first when I woke this morning. In spite of all my excitement, weather and airlines may prevent me from taking part in this awesome event.
Yesterday I had my last pre-race run. After an hour on the treadmill at a moderate to quick (for me) pace, I was sweaty and shower-ready. Back in my room, I had stripped down to the socks when my phone rang. It was the automated line from Delta airlines with a courtesy call informing me that my connecting flight from Cincinnati to JAX, some 26 hours away, had already been cancelled. The recording reassured me that they had a new itinerary for me departing from Harrisburg, PA on Saturday morning. Oh, no they didn't!
I called the medallion desk, hoping that my credentials as a frequent flier could undo this mess. Surely, when they discovered it was moi being inconvenienced they'd do whatever necessary to make the flight happen, even if it required moving the front that was causing the storm. To no avail. My trusty airline representative repeatedly thanked me for my business and my loyalty but told me there would be no Gate River Run 2008.
In a desperate search for options I called the travel agency that books the SDE flights. God bless Mary Ellen. While she confirmed that there wasn't another way out of Harrisburg, she did notice that Baltimore airport is within 100 miles. She nabbed me a seat on a Southwest flight direct from BWI to JAX, and reserved me a car at the nearby Harrisburg airport.
My fingers are crossed. If Mary Ellen's plan works and I zip out at the end of my seminar I can fly(in my rented car) through the winter weather and arrive in Baltimore to grab that flight home. Take a couple of winks and then wake early to line up for the most fun I can possibly have while exercising on a Saturday morning. It's a lot of trouble and expense to make sure I'm there to run this race.
I can't quite articulate why I do this - go to so much trouble to run in a race when I'm likely to place dead last. Maybe all this running has done something to my brain!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This is why we convene with The Mouse

video

Having fun, in spite of herself, because she was "too scared" to go on the Astro Orbiter. She's thirteen, out in public laughing and "being Goofy" with her daddy. Walt was a genius.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ortega River Run 2008

This race was a second time around for us. ORR 2007 was a chilly, long-sleeve February day. 2008 gave us a misty start, than a breezy seventy degree run throughout the race.

I love the neighborhoods along this route, much of which keeps us close to the water. As the clouds cleared we crossed the first of two bridges. I felt fast and furious (for me) in mile two, and the GPS confirmed it. I ran that split in just under nine minutes, even while singing along to my iPod, "She's just a girl who claims that I am the one.."

While I couldn't maintain that pace, EJG and I finished with self respect, improving on our 2007 time by more than 2 minutes. A year later, still chugging along, and still loving it. I think we're winning the race!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday Morning, 11 AM

You wash my back
Then I'll wash behind your ears
The Wisdom of Cats

video

Is this even legal?

Sibling rivalry

Abandoned for a warm spot

I'll chase you later

video

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

8,000 PLUS RUNNERS COMPLETE INAUGURAL CHARITY RACE: PROOF THAT HEALTHY LIVING AND COMPASSION ARE STILL ALIVE IN AMERICA


It took us the better part of three hours to run a half marathon on Sunday (that my GPS clocked out at 14.4 miles, thank you very much). I don’t expect to be the front cover of the sports section. I didn’t expect the headline “EJG and JSG Complete Third Half Marathon.” We ran for our health, and for the benefit of a very worthy charity, with no expectations of glory. But our lousy local paper barely made mention of the inaugural national marathon to fight breast cancer, a race that attracted over 8,000 runners from all 50 states and dozens of countries around the world. Sure, the little story they buried in the middle of Monday’s sports section mentioned some winning African natives and a big-time Olympian who happened to win the thing for the women. But covering only the winners doesn’t tell a fraction of the story.
There were more than 8,000 of us out there. 8,000. There were moms and grandmas. There were breast cancer survivors, and there were those, who like me, ran to honor survivors (my mom). Some ran for their future daughters and nieces. We ran with teachers, Starbucks baristas, physicians, and Publix cashiers, all grinding away at the pavement on a Sunday morning. Running instead of sleeping, or instead of bellying up to the biggest breakfast buffet offering. When Americans are slovenly, apathetic, and obese we get great media. How many stories are there on the expanding waistline? Bad news sells the news, and a charitable act that simultaneously benefits the giver may not be spicy enough for advertising sales. So I wrote my own headline today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Working with the Wee Ones

Next year I'll be presenting a topic that definitely resides outside of my comfort zone. I'll be presenting seminars on writing workshop in the primary grades, that is grades K-2. It's not that I fear the little folk, it's just that I can work better on the level of kids who are... closer to my level. I have little tolerance for the baby talking, not to mention the denim jumper uniform, so I am treading into some unfamiliar turf.


I thought the best way to prepare myself for this mindset is to jump into it, so I am spending the better part of the next two weeks writing with first graders. With some trepidation, and a weekend-long checklist of overpreparedness, I entered the room on Monday. "Tell me your stories. Let's make books." And incredibly, they did.


In the intermediate/middle grades I'm more used to, I had to sell the topic as much as I had to teach it. Everything had to be wrapped in a snazzy package, with a promise of some end bonus (yes, you can add clip art when you publish) to get the work started. With first graders, I gave them paper.


Today Autumn was making her third book, a story about a sleepover with her friend Lydia. She asked me how to draw a couch. "I dunno. Why don't you loook it up in the picture dictionary."

"Does it start with a K or a C?" she asked.

"It's a C," chimed in Colt, working on a book about his two cats. "It starts with a C."

There is something about the child who isn't yet jaded, the blank slate where I have every opportunity to make the learning meaningful and engaging. How much I can teach in Autumn's book about a sleepover. How careful I must be to not try and teach everything in her book, because sometimes we make these books because we want to tell our stories. We write because there is joy in sharing our finished products. Pride emblazoned on their faces when they place that date stamp on the back after publishing in the author's chair.

Pride and joy. Hard to disaggregate on The Test, but indispensible for lifetime learners.

Friday, February 8, 2008

All that was missing was the chalk outline

I don’t expect the posh, 5-star resorts. After all, I am just an educator, not a big business tycoon. But sometimes the places I have to stay are completely unacceptable. Last night was one of those times. When I arrived in the room I put out my cosmetics, jumped into my jammies, and prepared my clothing for the next morning’s workshop. Turning on the TV for company, I contemplated the dinner options. Based on the appearance of the hotel, I wasn’t willing to chance the hygiene in the kitchen. I logged on to Papa Johns.com and arranged for a pizza and diet coke delivery. Then I removed the bedspread (I saw what they found with UV lights on bedspreads) to sit on the blankets and watch Friends while waiting for the pizza guy. I found some disturbing stains that seemed to leak from the box spring onto the floor.

Upon further inspection, the carpet had not only stains, but also cigarette burn marks and strange discoloration on the chair.
I couldn’t determine the source of the stains, but I have read about the habits of bed bugs. I learned that they begin their feasting when lights go out, so there was no way the lights were going out. I attempted to sleep with the lights on, fighting myself against imagining what might have occurred in this bed. When dawn broke I stood in the nasty shower in my yesterday socks, exhausted from my sleepless night and wondering how I would last through the day and my two flights home. Bleary eyed, I noted some more dubious stains in the shower. Then, just for fun, I realized that in my stupor I had conditioned my hair with body lotion.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Plane Truth

I've spent a lot of time in planes these last few days. On Sunday I flew back from NYC with IMG, the princess, because she has no interest in flying as an unaccompanied minor. Because of a mechanical snafu, our nonstop flight was changed for a connecting-through-Atlanta routing. For an added bonus our LGA to ATL flight made an unscheduled stop to pick up some stranded passengers in Columbia, SC who were going to miss their international connections. After delivering Her Royal Highness to her daddy in JAX, I resubmitted myself to the scrutiny of airport security and picked up a connecting-through-Atlanta trip to Norfolk, VA. Today I had another pair of connecting-through-Atlanta flights when traveling from Norfolk to Charlotte, WV.

I understand that the need to economize has driven the airlines to downsize the planes, but I'm spending way too much time on the puddle jumpers these days. Today I suffered through 1 1/2 hours in a CRJ on my way to WV as my seatmate struggled to hold her 9 month old child on her already-quite-pregnant-again belly. The seats on the little planes barely accommodate one grown-up, much less a mother, child, and one on the way.

How much space is there per person on a plane like this? I found an awesome website that gives the whole poop on airplane seats. Check out SeatGuru.Com before you fly. Today I witnessed a pregnant mother with a lap child fully occupying the allotted 17.5" of width. In fact she was occupying some of my 17.5". On the little planes without first class cabins, there are no upgrades for frequent travelers. First class seat width measures 20.5" on a 737! I'm not a drinker so I don't go for the booze up front, and I really could skip the hot towels and the little meal they sometimes toss at us. But 3 inches of elbow room are perks that I have a hard time doing without.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Amazing Disgrace

I dressed in black and showed up in the church at the appointed time. I stood and sat when I was told. I listened to the words and tried to understand the symbolism in the message.

"Find comfort in the passing of a loved one, know The Truth, for she has a place in His house now."

Believe, I was told. Believe that He knows us and that He has a plan.

"We are hungry because there is food. We are thirsty because there is water. We breathe because there is air. Therefore we believe because He is real, because Heaven is real."

This is the logic intended to comfort a mourner? There has to be a better place because we believe it? Then why do the children of Niger yearn for food?

Maybe The Truth is that sometimes things just suck.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Aloha, Indeed

Today I learned of the death of a former student. She delighted me daily, as did her mother, a dependable, selfless volunteer at school, in spite of her failing health and struggles with limited mobility.

I'm no good at mourning, so I decided to send this letter to her folks.

Dear Bowers Family:
Little boys and girls grow up. This is something we elementary school teachers know, but the turmoil of twenty-plus kids in our daily care forces us to focus on the moment. We know that the little girl we teach today will become the young woman of tomorrow. She will move on, but sometimes she remains frozen in our minds as she was back when. Some students we think of often, wondering about the today of the joyful child from yesterday. Such are my memories of the precocious ‘tween Kiana.


Blessed with the chance to teach Kiana in her sixth grade year at Paterson, I witnessed the spirit of the young woman getting ready to burst onto the scene. She practically glowed with enthusiasm with every new adventure. As her Writing and English teacher, I was allowed a special peek at her aspirations. She wrote of joyful parties, endless sunshine, and her anticipated adventures in the car of her dreams, the VW Bug. She embraced our weekly “Show Don’t Tell” writing challenges, and each time came up with a clever story to capture the imagination of her classmates. Kiana recognized her own strengths, tackled her struggles, and generously gave of herself for others with a constant smile on her face. That reminds me a lot of her mom.

With today’s news I am stunned with shock and sense of loss. Kiana, at age twelve, was an energy field who lit up everyone around her. My one hundred and eighty days as her teacher were a gift. Thank you, Bowers family, for sharing her.

Judy Gould

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The love that might have been

It may not be obvious when checking the lax posting schedule on this blog, but my elife is too fast paced for me to look for a wifi hotspot and crank out the 6.5lb notebook. The Web has become such an integral part of my life, almost making up for the things that are getting harder and harder to remember. For example, the other day in the car, EJG and I were innocently crooning along to some vintage Stones. "OOh ooh ooh ooh ooh, o o o ooh, Ill come to your emotional rescue." Boy, that song brought us back. It reminded us of another Stones song of the same era. Another one with an extended round of oohs (were the guys too jacked up to think of real words?). In our minds, and as we hummed, we kept coming back to Emotional Rescue. Scratching the back of my brain, I pulled out another line, something about "Puerto Rican girls, dying to meet you," but we still came up short on the title. Arriving home, I entered "rolling stones puerto rican girls" into my Google homepage and in 0.09 seconds I was reviewing the lyrics to Miss You. 0.09 seconds and I had in front of me what 2 hours of brain squeezing couldn't deliver.


I also need PDA capabilities. My high tech life should be beyond sticky notes on the dashboard, in my wallet, or on my cell. The stickies remind me to add things to my high tech calendar the next time I have the thing powered up. Sure, I love the scheduling ease on Outlook, but what if the darned notebook is in its case? What was the address of that Holiday Inn I'm looking for? It's in the email, in my inbox. Pull over the rent-a-car along the Kennedy freeway, JSG, to power up the thing and wait in the Chicagoland traffic to boot and open the folder. Not the most efficient system.

Clearly I need an iPhone. That need drove me to visit the Apple store at the SJTC yesterday, where there was a not-so-friendly guy wearing the t-shirt and casual khaki uniform. He showed me the full demo, and then walked away to allow me some bonding time. With this shiny silver gem, the full capabilty of the internet, the ipod, and the PDA are available anywhere there's a cell phone signal. It's all I need and more. My wallet was throbbing with the anticipation of the big purchase, and my head was ignoring the fact that the mandatory AT&T phone service is redundant, since the family share plan we have with Verizon won't expire until October 2009. Nevermind the price. I had to have this, so I approached Unfriendly Apple Man to seal the deal. I asked him to show me how to access the GPS on this marvelous micromachine, and he laughed. Snickered, actually.

Sure, he can feel superior, because they have the sexiest toy on the market. But the mighty iPhone can't do what my 3 year old cell phone can. That is, get me turn-by-turn audio directions to the Detroit airport when I'm in the middle of a neighborhood in Livonia, Michigan. Or tell me the splits on my 7 mile run along the Black Creek Trail. Why doesn't it have GPS? When will GPS be coming? Smug Apple Man had no answers. He left me standing, wallet growing still and frugality regaining control, as he went on to sell half a dozen iPhones in the next 30 minutes.

Odd, though, that I'm experiencing a sense of loss for the life we might have had together.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Tata Nano

A $2,500 car is available for sale in India. Not much to look at, but it's $2,500, and it gets 50 MPG or better. It isn't spacious, but it's probably a little better than the manually-pulled rickshaw, or a crowded bus transporting chickens and commuters. ABC News bills this as a potential environmental nightmare. Problem is, millions of poor Indian families may be able to scrape together enough rupees to afford one of these babies. The environmental nightmare ensues when the have-nots can join the haves. You see, we don't need to come up with new, cleaner technologies for transportation. We can make our Sasquatch Carbon Footprint because the third world can't afford the polluting luxuries. The same reasoning keeps health insurance away from the poor. Allowing everyone to access the medical system would only make us have to wait longer. Good idea, isn't it? It's really kept health care costs in check.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I'm gonna burn out before November



Did her emotion help her in the primary? Is she a man or a woman? It's a damned shame that a strong, intelligent woman needs to get all girly and weepy for other women voters to step up and take a chance on her. There's finally a woman with the cojones and the experience to take on the task of digging this country out of the pit that the current administration has created. But that's not enough, we need to see her being emotional. Give me a f'in break.

Is she the best candidate? Not sure.

One thing I have learned, though, is that the president can make a difference in this country. Take a look at all of the signing statements used by the GWB administration, more than 750 in the first term. Among them were passes he granted himself on a range of laws including " military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research," according to a Boston Globe Report.

So yes, we should pay attention to this race. Inspect these candidates. "Look inside their mouths."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Yooper am I

Thank goodness for free wifi in the Sawyer "International" airport. I can occupy my time while I await a flight out of Marquette, MI to Detroit, where I change for another puddle-jumper to Saginaw, MI. My flight is supposed to depart from gate 1, which is, incidentally, the only gate.

For those who aren't in the know, Marquette is in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Marquette, a town some 90 miles from the school where I presented today, is currently sitting in the middle of a cloud. The fog is so dense that I couldn't see the building when I parked in the rental car return spot number one of ten, a spot less than 10 yards from the building. There's quite a chance that I won't depart at all, as we await the lifting of the fog in order to have the plane making up this flight to take off from its current gate in Minneapolis. If the skies don't open soon, the plane in Minneapolis becomes irrelevant as I'll miss my connection to Saginaw. Why not drive to Saginaw, JSG? Isn't it in Michigan? Can it be far? How about 350 miles-far. Besides, none of the car rental companies have any availability, and if I keep the car I had it will cost me an extra $400 plus a $1,000 drop fee. Then just leave tomorrow, JSG. Nope, they've cancelled so many outbound flights here recently that the next guaranteed seat for me would be Thursday.

Yep, I was "had" on this one. When the onsite training was proposed as an easy one to pick up before the 3 day seminar run this week, "Check it out, you're going to be in Michigan anyway," I didn't check up on it myself. Technically this Upper Peninsula is part of Michigan, but geographically closer to Northern Minnesota, and it's in another time zone!

The iced over lakes, the white birch trees, the virgin wilderness, it's really beautiful up here. The folks of the UP, Yoopers, as they call themselves, are a spirited group. Secession from the Lower Peninsula has been brought up here more than once. They call the LP folks "trolls" because they live Unda Da Bridge, as in the Three Billygoats Gruff. The Mackinac bridge connects the 2 peninsulas. The influences of Eurpoean immigrants and Canadian brethren prevail throughout their language and culture, eh? Schools close 2 days for "Deer Hunting Day." The teachers today proudly told me that orange hunting vests and flannel make year-round wardrobes complete. Today I ate a pasty (no, it's not Janet Jackson's bra by default), a delicious knish-like walking meal.
It's a good thing I like it up here. I might be staying a while.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Big Girls Don't Cry

Even after Dove Soap's year-long campaign for body acceptance, results of a poll of 1,000 women on dieting and fitness revealed:


Favorite diet: Slim Fast

1 in 4 women would spend a week in jail to reach her ideal weight

22% would shave their head

21% would trade 10 years of life

76% say they'd rather be known as a "Friendly Chubby Girl" than a "Skinny Witch"


As an "FCG", I know what this all really means:

25% of women think that FCGs should be jailed

22% think we look as odd as bald women

21% would take us out 10 years before our time

24% of them haven't met me when I'm pissed

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sweatin' on the Bayou

Working out on the road is a challenge, even with the newly-resolved-best of intentions. When things are good, the hotel has one or two functioning pieces of cardio equipment in the boiler room turned fitness center. I burrow myself into whatever hole they place the machine, focus on the iPod or Friends reruns on TBS, and try to slog through an hour on the dreadmill. Damn, though, it's slower and harder when stuck in a hole and running nowhere at all.

Today was a travel day for me, and I landed early at Louis Armstrong (N'Awlins) airport. With only an hour drive to the town of tomorrow's training, I anticipated a good workout and some catching up on work/blogging in the afternoon. The "Best" Western has no fitness room, and it's too cold to run outside, so I decided to engage my GPS enabled Razr to spot the nearest YMCA. my First Coast Y membership entitles me to use any location in the nation, and today's circumstances seemed like the right opportunity to take advantage of that offer.

The nearest location is the Bayouland YMCA, some 12 miles from the hotel. The free offer was good, and I was ushered right into the fitness area. The place was 1970's and it wasn't retro. I found the one treadmill that was built in this millennium and tuned into a podcast to occupy my mind for the 60 minutes I'd planned to stay. Dripping and bored, I stepped off at the end of the hour, fully intending to complete my workout. I had the whole afternoon, so I could pick up my strength training routine.

I had the best of intentions, but the combination of the Jack LaLanne machines (did they buy the surplus when his show was cancelled in the 1960s?) and the prevalent odor, a cross between vomit and poopy diaper, had me heading for the door after a few lifts in the shaky, rusty Roman chair.

Striving toward my fitness goals is so much easier when I am home! Not only are we in NoFl blessed with a climate suited to outdoor living, but the pristine, modern facilities offered at local gyms and YMCAs actually lift my spirits. Our YMCA on The Island opened only 3 years ago, but it has undergone an expansion, and last month, a renovation. The new equipment, the natural light, the perky and helpful staff, they all make me feel like I want to stay around and get my fitness fix for the day. It’s a long way from Bayouland, that’s for sure.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New Year's Present to Me from Me


I guess I must travel too much, but I became moist and nearly teary-eyed when I spied this bag at the new luggage store at SJTC today. Strolling the mall before I headed to the airport for the first trip of the year, I thought I owed myself a present.



Among its many features:
Four section design organizes your accessories, laptop, files and tech gear.
• SpeedThru™ pocket for hassle-free airport security checks
The computer part pulls right out!

• Dual purpose back pocket allows bag to slide over the Outsider® handle for fast, convenient travel
It fits right over the handle on my four wheelie roller!

• Four section design: (a) organizer (b) computer (c) fan file (d) ultimate tech sections
Aren't you getting moist too?

• TechGuard™ computer pocket with dual-density foam base and fleece lining
My laptop gets its own fuzzy slippers!

• Computer pocket zips-out for extra packing space
I can shove even more in there!

• Fan file section fits letter and legal size folders
Expense accounts, journals, running logs...

• Computer sleeve fits all 17" laptop screens
Why I bought a 17", I'll never know, but it fits!