Monday, May 21, 2007

Seven Little Known Things About Me

LJ tagged me a while back and this took a while to think through. The worst feeling was knowing that the reason it took me so long to come up with seven little known things about myself was that I reveal everything to everyone regardless of connection to me or whether or not they are even registering a pulse. But here they are in all their peculiar glory.

1. Each and every time I speak in front of a group, I am terrified. It passes, true enough, but right at the start it's absolute terror.

2. I never put syrup on my pancakes, only butter.

3. I haven't visited Disney World since 1978. As a Florida resident, I could do jail time for that.

4. My favorite children's book is Little Women because when I was 10, I read it in installments. Growing up poor in the South Bronx, I wasn't allowed to check out books from the library for fear I would lose the book or worse, be fined for returning it late. I hid the book in another section far from the children's stacks and every Saturday I fished it out and picked up where I left off. It was the first book that lifted me to another world, the book that made me fall in love with reading.

5. Even though I've seen it about 200 times, the last 7 minutes of Defending Your Life starring Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep always always makes me cry.

6. There is not one shred of doubt in my mind that Captain Kathryn Janeway could easily kick the asses of Kirk, Picard, and Sisko. The fact that I've thought long and hard about this should be embarrassing, but I love it that I don't care.

7. My favorite home remedy for getting over a nasty cold is chicken soup with 4 cloves of garlic, Cuban toast, real Coke over ice and repeated viewings of Aliens.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Don't Forget to Breathe

I joined a gym the day after my 50th birthday. At this age, I know my character flaws intimately so I attend group classes in strength training. Left to my own, I'd skip through a set of biceps and triceps and perform four half-hearted lunges and call it a day. My one hour Power Pump class keeps me honest plus the comraderie of pained expressions is a welcome bonus. I am bothered, however, by the conspicuous lack of cursing in that class. I seem to be the only person in there letting expletives fly like a jaunty Teamster. Not that anyone can hear me above the mandatory dance-infected, hip-hop mottled, techno-chunked soundtrack obviously designed to drown out the desperate cries of those bearing down on their one millionth lunge.
I'm quite fond of the Saturday morning step class. It is led by a powerfully built ebony god of an instructor with loads of personality, energy and the ability to cue and spin his funky self at the same time. After fifteen minutes, my arm pit stains are down to my waist. After 35 minutes, I'm soaked with sweat and start to halluncinate which would account for those around me sprouting scales and unicorn horns. After 50 minutes my heart shoots out of my chest like a cannon (thank you Herman Melville) and up ahead, I see a bright white light. It's about this time that the cool down starts and by the time we're stretching, I'm just a babbling puddle of middle-aged flesh tonguing the last drops of water from an empty bottle of Evian. Trust me, it's my most graceful moment.
Now all of that hour may not seem like a victory to you, but my triumph is just keeping up, because when you're fifty, that's enough.


This year I turned 50 which as milestones go is moderately significant. Not as important as having your child graduate college (with a job) but slightly better than your first Holy Communion. I believe it's the number that is impressive. Half of one hundred can slap you to attention no matter how much denial you cultivated. It's a little like a gaggle of your friends dragging you to karaoke night at the local Ramada. You go there kicking and screaming, but before you know it you're sipping Tequila Sunrises and belting out "Love Shack."
I'm told by all those who now hold a secured place in my will that I don't look 50, although I'm not sure what 50 is supposed to look like. Is there a poster somewhere pointing out features that I'm should be carrying? Coloring my hair helps immeasurably. If the gray was coming in in hip highlighted steaks (think Rogue in X-Men II) that would be dandy. My gray is coming in all random googly blotches. Think Stevie Wonder with a silver paintball gun aimed at my head. So, coloring every 3 months and dabbing at my roots every 5 weeks is a part of my glamour routine. I don't mind. It's one of the few times donning latex gloves can be used for good and not evil.