Running high is a myth. Fight me.

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Happy Saturday! I have been on a long health journey of sorts and man do I suck at staying on track with anything. But, I’ve been doing the doctors and medications and programs and all that stuff. There has been quite a bit of success over a long period of time and I was pretty darn happy with it. Unfortunately, I’ve got a long way to go. One of the major things I struggle with is my weight. Swamp monsters tend to be a larger sort of frumpy folk. But, there has been some progress. Mancandy and I have been following the Couch to 5K program. He’s a former marine (you can’t say ex-marine or you will be forced to listen to a really long lecture…save yourself the torment). He ran every day for 8 years and was on the track team before that. He likes to exercise. And his motivational tactics are straight from the military, insulting and annoying. You can probably guess how well I respond to insulting and annoying people.

I, on the other hand, have not really followed any sort of exercise program since junior high. And I hated it then. Being a consistent sort when it comes to hatreds, I hate it now as well. And I’m a crap ton older, so I extra big big hate it. But, I’ve been doing it. He’s so dang happy I’m doing it, and I know he’s trying to help, but I hate his help. Every time he speaks to me while I’m sweating and sore and miserable I want to punch him in his nose. Hard.

The best part of our jogging crap are the bodyguards we’ve now peer pressured into jogging with us. Our two inside/outside cats, Neo and Tsuki, aren’t sure what’s going on but they feel duty-bound to go through it with us. They do not suffer in silence though. We jog to a chorus of meows. They puff up, dance around, fly past, trip you darting between feet, race ahead, run behind, and in general create a fuss. Anyone out walking or jogging ends up laughing at the ridiculous circus we make. We get questions from everyone. Usually, “Do you know there are two cats following you?”

I enjoy their enthusiasm, but I hate jogging. If Mancandy asks me if I “want” to run extra laps, he’s going to end up kicked in the noodle. Who “wants” to run at all? Not me said the flea. It just makes for extra laundry, extra sweat, extra showers, and extra sore everything. But here we are.

Also, no one told me jogging makes you have to pee immediately and desperately. I have to pee immediately before leaving my house and then by the time I get back (not even two miles at this point) I am desperately trying to strip out of wet clothes so I can avoid peeing on myself.

Also also, sports bras were made my a stupid, evil man who’s never worn a bra in his life. And they’re expensive torture instruments! I bought two because I knew I had one here someplace. Three to get through running three times a week. At least while I’m starting. But can I find the sports bra I already own? No. No, I can not. And nothing is quite as miserable as trying to rip a wet sports bra off of one’s person without damaging the stupid expensive torture device. So much worse than wet swimsuits. It’s revolting.

So. That’s the latest adventure. I’m sure there will be many more posts whining about it. You’re welcome.

 

I’m not cool enough for Apple…  

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I found myself in an Apple store waiting for my boss to have his phone looked at. This was after he’d cheerily announced we could walk down to the parking garage (the sun was approximately 8546816841 miles closer to the earth today and was singling out Nashville). I didn’t wear shoes meant for walking. These shoes are dress shoes. You’re meant to look like a dressy individual without very far to walk because you have extremely important meetings to attend. I attended zero meetings, important or otherwise. I also tromped down to the parking garage, maybe ¾ mile? I don’t do distances. It’s enough for me to break into a solid sweat. However far in kilameterwatts that is.

We then had to find someplace to park and the walk across a shorter distance to the Apple store. I have never been in one, but it was easy to pick it out. It was brightly lit with a wall of glass that had sectioned into multiple parts instead of just having a door. There was also a large screen opposite from the wall of glass partitions that had a trendy hipster-looking young lady doing some sort of seminar. She was extremely upbeat and happy. The closer we got, the more nervous I became.

We entered the non-door entranceway and immediately I was uncomfortable. The music was loud, there were a billion people all yelling at each other to be heard over the loud music. The seminar tutorial chick in the back was amplified from invisible speakers. A cute little boy was playing a game on one of the display phones which had the volume all the way up and he was shrieking in excitement. Everything was bright and loud and scary and very peopley.

We stood for an hour or more before a technician could check out the broken phone. In that time we moved around to avoid people at my behest multiple times. However, we are apparently people magnets. So I decided to just stare at everyone. So many types of hipsters. So many cool, hip, older folks. So many bad haircuts and facial piercings and tattoos and pants that I consider high waters but have apparently come back into vogue? We were so bored my boss actually approached a salesperson and invited him to do his song and dance about Apple watches.

Then a small, less handsome but much more tattooed Paul Rudd appeared and started working on the broken phone. I was thrilled. My back was unhappy and my feet were on fire. Just standing still was making me curse softly and steadily under my breath. Another 30 minutes or so, and we were on our way. I was very much over the tattooed cool people. These were not my tribe. My tribe has comfy seating, snacks, and fewer people. It was like a college coffee bar in a movie. Or….New Orleans in a movie. It smelled slightly better than New Orleans, but the same hippy bohemian vibe was present.

I prefer stinky New Orleans.

PS. I will miss the annual Mac & Cheese Festival in New Orleans this year. I am so beyond devastated, it’s delicious and fun and in the best city ever and I’m ready for next year. If you haven’t been, go. Trust me.

PPS. Go see the tree of life while you’re there.

I got home eventually and hobbled my way through a shower and down to water the plants that are doing their best to die in our late September heatwave. My pup went outside with me, as did two cats. She immediately plodded over to try and dig up cat poop (kitty cookies) and eat it. Since she’s mostly deaf, I had to move fast to stop her. My feet screamed. They’re weenies. I redirected her with very stern hand gestures and facial expressions. I started watering plants. Then my pup, old sweet geriatric pup, saw absolutely nothing and decided this was her moment to shine. I saw her go still, bunch her old pitiful muscles up, and launch. There was nothing to launch at, but she started running pretty well for an old pup. I tore after her but I did not run pretty well for any sort of pup. I am, in fact, extremely slow. I was also wearing flip flops that are too big and fall off easily. I knew she’d pay for running, her back end is so weak and I couldn’t let her hurt herself. So I ran faster. If you’ve ever watched penguins run, that’s what I imagine I looked like. I had to do an exaggerated stepping motion in order to not lose the flip flops. I needed the flip flops to have any chance of getting through the rocks in the yard. She was making good time. It took me forever to get close enough to grab her, and I was pretty sure we were both going to end up rolling down the embankment behind my house and just staying where we landed. It wasn’t a graceful stop, but we got stopped. And then we had to get back to the house, and my feet were just all sorts of pissed.

So I grabbed a banana, called it dinner, and came upstairs (so slowly she beat me to the top) so I could get in bed and not move again until I die. I am never going back to an Apple store, and I will need to get something to tie the pupster up with when I need to water. I’m too old for these adventures.

Swamp Monster Weekend

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Weekends are a fantastic thing now that I don’t work retail. This weekend has been exactly what I desperately needed.  I’m one of those people that needs alone time. I need to be able to retreat into my space like a hermit crab. One of the major adjustments when moving into Mancandy’s domain was adjusting to not having my own space and therefore, not being able to retreat anywhere. I wish I was someone who felt refreshed being around my family or my friends. While I do enjoy both of those situations, I need time to myself. I didn’t realize exactly how much I needed that until everyone left. A boy scout camp out weekend meant all the male Minicandies and Mancandy would go hang out in the woods and live as nature intended. This left me completely alone for two full days and Friday evening. I have soaked in the quiet. I took a nap (If you’re a light sleeper who lives with other humans you know how hard this can be to manage). I listened to a book on tape while working. I cleaned, and no one messed it up. I took a shower, I cleaned the shower, and I wandered around in my underwear (so I didn’t start immediately starts sweating as soon as I was out of the shower). I cooked nothing and ordered food from Doordash two nights in a row. What? Yes. Complete luxury. The Doordash dude is the only person I’ve seen or spoken to in two days. Just throw me my food, wave, and go on your way, sir. He got it. He may be my new best friend.

Random Things That Occurred This Weekend:

  1. The one thing I looked forward to and ordered with extreme enthusiasm was wings. I don’t know why as an adult rapidly approaching middle age I’ve become a dude in his 20’s, but wings are my fave. No one else in my house is as enthusiastic as I am, so we don’t do that often. I did my thing with the Doordash dude (his name is Richard and I adore him), sat down with my paper towel roll and drink, prepped what I wanted to watch on YouTube, and dug in. As I’m eating my very first wing (but because I’m a swamp monster I’m already completely covered in sauce) I hear that huuuuurk huuuuuurk HUUUUUURK sound of a cat preparing to puke. I scramble to grab my paper towel and set my wings aside. I’m wiping up my fingers and begging the cat not to when I watch her hurl right in front of me on the carpet. She then glares at me, flips me the bird, and saunters off. I grab paper towels to grab the evidence before the dog can eat it. Dogs are awesome but gross. As I’m grabbing up puke and watching the dog to make sure she doesn’t sneak a snack, she realizes there’s a better target on the couch. My beloved wings. She takes off in that direction faster than an old kid should be able to move. I find myself running across the room carrying my newly acquired gobs of puke carefully. Then I have a dilemma. Both hands are full of puke bombs. I try to squish the puke bombs into one hand and puke oozes out and plops on the carpet. Again. The dog eyes the puke, eyes the wings, and looks at me to see how I prioritize this situation. I’m cursing, but she’s mostly deaf and pretending to be fully deaf. Wings won out and as I grab them in my one free hand she dove for the puke. I tried to pivot and block her with my hip but I’m clumsy, overbalanced, and landed directly in the puke. It was still warm. Not exactly what I was going for. I slammed the takeout box of wings shut with my one clean hand, swoop up the paper towel roll, and grabbed the bag under the takeout box to stick the puke bombs (slightly deflated) into the bag. From there I was able to get my foot mostly clean, get the rest of the puke cleaned up, and wash my hands and foot in the kitchen sink like the true classy lady I am. I eventually got back to my cool but unmolested wings, and thoroughly enjoyed them, but I felt like that was all planned out by the animals and I’d somehow passed a test I wasn’t prepared for.
  2. I got a text from Papa Poopster that Little Poopster got his poop snake this weekend! She has a traditional name, but her name will remain Poop Snake to me. I’m still highly amused by this situation and look forward to seeing if Poopster will revert to pooping in his pants now that he’s gotten his prize. Her pic is the Featured Image at the top of this post. Stay tuned for updates.
  3. I got a video from Mancandy last week that didn’t come through until after my last post. It’s fantastic. If I knew how to upload it I would, but I haven’t a clue how and so I shall just describe its awesomeness. Just know, watching it is probably better. Mancandy had text me about Minicandy schedules. I responded, but in my typical classy fashion, I included the word poop. He responded letting me know that he was having his vehicle read my texts and it was funny to hear the car read that word. I was amused at the concept and sent texts such as “Giant flaming piles of poop” “Aggressively poop all the poops you can poop” “Will it say shit?” “What about damn” “Are the kids with you, I want to try more aggressive words but don’t want to scar them”. In response, he sent the video of the car reading the texts. It was probably the most fun I’ve had other than being left alone to do whatever I wanted. If anyone you know has a car that reads their texts, go wild. It’s fun.
  4. I hear the sounds of Mancandy and Minicandies returning OR a hoard invading the house. I should probably investigate. If I stop posting, the hoard got me. Make my eulogy funny.

Swollen Face Holes

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Summer lasts much too long. I’ve always thought that. But now that I’m randomly started to break down in my thirties, I’m sure of it. After a random conversation with my mother (who is the only person on the planet patient enough to listen to my whining about this for well over a year now) about my randomly swollen and super freaking itchy bottom lip (everyone likes to look like they’ve been punched) and left ring finger (just…why!?) I figured I should share all my lessons with the world.

Random Things I’ve learned:

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  1. Certain body parts are hard to itch. I’m not one of those people that can ignore an itch. And there is no itch quite like eczema. I routinely tear my skin to shreds. It’s my superpower. However, just because you’ve never had an itch to end all itches on your eyelid or lower lip or fingertip, doesn’t mean they can’t itch. They can. With the power of all the fire ants in the world. And there is literally NO good way to itch these places. When they aren’t itching I know you probably shouldn’t itch them anyway, but when things get really bad I don’t care about should and shouldn’t. I care about tearing off the itchy parts so I can sleep. Go ahead and think of all the really sensitive or oddly shaped parts of your body. Imagine all the mosquitos and fire ants had a convention on that part. And try to figure out how you’d scratch it. Then teach me.

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  1. Doctors get brutal. I have a lovely endocrinologist, sincerely. She’s wicked smart and funny. She’s an exercise nut and looks great. She has been instrumental in helping me feel like I’m finally getting on the right track with my health. I’ve been on several medications that have made me feel SO much better. However, part of what I want, and what she wants, is weight loss. This last appointment she walked in, looked at my chart, and asked how things were. I went on about how much better I felt, that my symptoms were starting to ease off a bit, that I felt like I had some control for the first time in a very long time. She nodded. Looked me dead in the eyes after I just professed my thanks to her for helping me so much. And said, “Yeah, but you haven’t lost any weight at all.” First off, rude. Second off, I was thanking you! I was right in the middle of “you’re the best!” Now, what am I supposed to do? Take that back? “You were the best until you said that, now you’re a butthole.”
  2. No one wants to hear you whine. I mean, no one wanted to when you were a kid either. But you were too stupid to notice your parents were just tuning you out. I want to whine constantly. I want someone to put a cool washcloth on my forehead and “there there” me sometimes. Instead, now that I’m an adult, everyone wants me to use coconut oil or essential oils to cure everything. Foot hurts? Oil up that bad boy! Hair falling out? Essential oils mixed in coconut oil and left on the scalp for 352.3 hours every night will fix you right up! Entire body itching like a demon-possessed mange victim? Peppermint and eucalyptus essential oil mixed into extra virgin NON PRESSED coconut oil, mixed in a quartz bowl that has been charged by a full moon, waller around in your tub until you’re slicked up like a porpoise and frolic around without a care in the world. 1. Coconut oil doesn’t cure much of anything. At all. Sorry. 2. Essential oils stink. Again, I’m sorry, but it needed to be said. 3. Applying stinky oil to my skin does nothing but make me angry, stinky, and itchy. And also prone to slipping and breaking. I’m falling apart. The hips are going next. I just want to whine about the fact it’s impossible to adequately scratch yourself without people on the bus thinking you have a disease. Which you do. But still. You know what I’m saying here.

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Now what does any of this have to do with summer? Which was my first whine of this thing? Summer = sweat and sun. I sweat like a man. It’s super attractive I’m sure, but I break a sweat real freaking quick. And fun fact, sun exposure and sweat make an itchy soul itch that much worse. I’m basically hiding inside trying to avoid sweating at all costs. In Nashville. In August. It’s impossible! Here’s to aging. It’s a blast so far.

The Mondayest Monday to ever Monday. And a Toilet Squirrel.

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I am having one of those days that absolutely everything pisses me off. And I do mean everything. There’s a spider over the sink. I was pissed that he decided to occupy a spot in my house. Then I wondered if I could catch him before Mancandy or Mini candy decided to kill him. Instantaneously I was livid that they would consider killing Fred (he was now named and had a back story without any actual thought on my part). Fun fact, I could not catch Fred as he hasn’t realized I’m a friend. Which, yes, just made me angrier.

The little owl soap dispenser in my bathroom (clearance find at Walmart) keeps oozing soap onto the owls head and turning into greenish-yellow sappy goop. This caused great angst. As did the spots on the mirror I forgot to clean yesterday.

My dog slurping up food, neighbors mowing, people at work existing, the bus driver being snarky, traffic (this one is a legit gripe), student loan debt, being fat, everyone who’s skinny, the fuzzy bathmats I forgot in the dryer, the lamps we have on the tables beside our bed (they’re little lantern style lamps but the glass top instead of shade means they burn your eyes out), the desire to write when I’m angry, being angry, other people for not being angry, anyone else who’s angry, people who want primates as pets, plastic straws in turtle noses, pansies for not lasting all summer, etc.

This day was full of misinformation, sassy people, sweat, and anger. So much anger. I dislike these moods, anger is not my default setting. But, after writing and erasing a bunch, I think it’s my self-defense mechanism. I’ve been easing back into using facebook because I want to ease back into being more involved with rescue. Not on anything near the level I was, I’m not ready for that, but something. I’m excited about a potential opportunity to give back more. I’m excited about programs at work that encourage volunteering and giving back. I was gearing myself up to the uphill battle for progress at work and the fruition of all the plans and patience. I’m ready to try and do more than just exist.

But, being on facebook means the onslaught of suffering and sadness that made me leave. It means the ugliness surrounding the gun debate. All the hate and nastiness people dump into the internet. Along with the pictures of what people can do to animals and each other and pleas for help I can’t give. That old hopeless, dull ache came right back. I don’t think I’m actually angry. I think I’m sad. And it took years to stop being sad all the time. I don’t want to go back to it.

So I’m not sure how to do it. Being sad isn’t funny. The anger is ridiculous and can be amusing, but the sad, hopeless undercurrent isn’t. That’s just where I’m at. But, I’ll borrow some funny from my boss (his antics are the things of legend and we’ve talked about doing a podcast before and I so wish he would because the world needs to know of his ridiculousness.)

He recently moved into a home that has areas needing renovation. One area is the bathroom that was added onto the master suite. The room needs major work on the roof and is basically barricaded off until they have a chance to deal with it.

One day Boss and Lady Boss are in their room. They notice noises coming from the bathroom. The bathroom that is sealed. So. Being the type of guy who investigates weird and or creepy noises, Boss slowly opens the bathroom door. At first, nothing seems amiss. And then, from the toilet, there’s movement. A squirrel slowly pokes his head up over the rim of the toilet and looks at Boss. Boss blinks and looks back. Boss slowly closes the door and tells Lady Boss they have a toilet squirrel.

It was decided that the toilet squirrel couldn’t remain a guest in their bathroom. The Kid Bosses, Lady Boss, and Boss all geared up with gloves, a fishing net, (I’m imagining little kids running around with tennis rackets yelling about toilet squirrels), etc. However, squirrels are fast and humans are less so. It was an enclosed space with little room to maneuver. Unless you are a squirrel. It took a long while with a lot of effort (and bruising I imagine) from the humans. The squirrel was caught. And placed outside. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it likely ran right back into the house and cowered in its toilet. But imagining him with a net in a small space trying to avoid the germ-carrying toilet squirrel brings me much joy. I hope it does the same for you.

Next episode of stories I stole from my boss: the poop snake.

Swamp Monster Sunday

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As a certified swamp monster, I have funky skin and features and…well….I’m just an odd duck. So, the fact I have – in my mid-thirties mind you – fallen in love with makeup (especially colorful eyeshadow) is just the weirdest damn thing ever and mildly embarrassing.

I work for the state of TN and as such, I’m supposed to look like a professional human. Swamp monsters with colorful sparkly glitter smeared all over their faces are not encouraged. So, I bought a few really bright, really fun palettes with all these dazzling awesome colors…and have absolutely no reason to smear them all over my face. It’s been bugging me. I’m too old for this; I don’t even know what I’m doing or how to apply makeup, but I am right this moment resisting the urge to buy a palette of nothing but yellow eye shadow. Do I EVER wear that color? No. Would it likely make me look jaundiced and even less attractive? Likely. But my brain has never been a fan of logic, so I just want it. Here’s a picture of it (That I stole from ColourPop’s website. Not sure if I’m allowed to do that, blogging rules are not well explained, but it’s free advertising and I own nothing of value….so let’s just cross our fingers and hope).

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As part of the swamp monster package, I am also the owner of a weird body. It’s overly large, pale, ungainly, and uncoordinated.  I have been telling myself I’d lose weight (and become hot in the process….which is COMPLETELY different from losing weight….but I digress) since around the first time I heard someone refer to someone else as fat. My earliest memories are disliking how much bigger I was than the other kids, I towered over them and outweighed them and had to wear a training bra at like…6. Since my weird body decided to malfunction regularly and I go to various specialists quite often, my endocrinologist is extremely interested in things like…my BMI, my proportions, my insulin levels, my exercise routine (I lied and said I had one of those), etc. I really do want to be healthy. So, I actually have to get an exercise routine (ick). And maintain it. And not eat my feelings. And other people’s feelings.

So. I tell you all of that to tell you that I woke up intending to do none of the things I have done today. I woke up and just wanted coffee. That’s it. But, once I got up and got moving, I wanted to puzzle. Mancandy and I are working on a puzzle because we’re old and that’s what old, boring, antisocial people do. We puzzle and we drink coffee (our version of drinking and knowing things).

Mancandy was not in a puzzling mood. I found that annoying, but it’s hard to motivate someone to puzzle.

“Please come sit with me and be as frustrated and annoyed with 87616814 pieces of cardboard that have various portions of leaves that are all the same color.”

Though he did not want to puzzle at that exact moment, he claimed he would want to puzzle soon. That statement made zero sense to me, but I shrugged and tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my beautiful precious time off. I thought of all my pretty, shiny, colorful eye shadows just sitting here while I slather myself in boring colors day in and day out. I decided to play.

The Blue Moon palette was the first thing I saw, so it’s what I decided to smear upon my face hole flaps.

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I meant to take a picture to show you how unskilled I am at this. But, I didn’t. I’m going to insert a picture from Pinterest showing what this might look like were I talented. It’s not at all what it looked like, but whatever. It’s my story. Enjoy this much better representation of blue eyeshadow. This is not me (so obviously not me that it’s funny to write it, but please don’t sue me if this IS you, because I’m super jealous and also I don’t have anything worth suing to take).

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Instead, I went downstairs and announced extremely loudly, “I’m blue and bold, bitches, lets puzzle!”

I found this to be a funny statement. I usually crack myself up. Unfortunately, I had not looked to be sure Mancandy was awake. He was not. But he jolted awake at my declaration and restrained what looked like a fairly strong urge to throttle me. He also looked at my face, which was 1/3 bright blue, and just said: “oh my”. I felt like I should probably be offended by this, but chose not to be. Mostly because he says stuff that could be insulting all the time and I don’t have the time it would take to be offended.

We puzzled for a while. I got 5 pieces into the puzzle and felt remarkably accomplished. Set low goals and you’ll never be disappointed, my friends. We decided we should move the elliptical machine my boss gave us (yay boss!) into the air-conditioned part of the house. As obviously that was the only thing holding me back. So we did. And then he announced he was going to mow.

I hate that moment. I feel like I should do something equally horrible, but I don’t want to do any horrible things. So I declared I would work out. While he mowed. And then I realized I’d said it out loud, the elliptical was inside, and I actually had to do it now. Dread set in.

So I worked out. Put on a sports bra and athletic shoes and everything. I don’t understand these people that say, oh yes, the endorphins, it is a rush, working out is fun, blah blah. I apparently don’t possess endorphins. I spent every single minute of the time I spent on the elliptical screaming internally that I was not allowed to stop yet.

Fun fact, the elliptical is third hand and I am grateful to have it, but it squeaks like you’re skinning something alive. So the longer I worked out, the louder and more aggressive the skinning of the thing became. The cats were horrified. They may be scarred for life. The dog equated skinning alive with thunderstorms and fireworks and started panting and stress whining as if to duet the shrieking machine. So the entire time I’m on the damn thing the dog is singing along to this really annoying shriek squeak, and the cats are running around trying to escape the demonic noise but unable to find a place to do so.

Within 4 seconds I was drenched in sweat. Not just a little glisten, no ma’am and/or sir! I take sweating seriously. So my shirt is stuck to me and my sparkly blue face now has rivulets of blue running down it and on down my neck. It looked like I was painting some sort of river scene across my face, but in my typical “enthusiasm makes up for lack of talent” way. I stopped when I was pretty sure I’d just have to fall sideways off of the machine because I had jelly for legs and was gasping so hard I thought I might pass out. Probably 4 minutes in. No, it was more than that, but not as long as it should have been.

I sat down on the tile floor (likely leaving an impressive butt outline in sweat) to cool my rumpus and contemplated puking. When that didn’t sound like fun anymore I got up and started up the stairs. That was a mistake as I likely can’t go back down now. I’ll just live up here. Please fling food up occasionally. This will be my new diet plan.

I shambled my sweaty, miserable, gasping, slightly nauseous self into the bathroom. Stripped down. Turned on the shower. Turned around to set my hair tie down by the sink and accidentally looked into the mirror.

I looked like I’d eaten a smurf alive…aggressively….in a very messy fashion. My hair was plastered to my sweaty skull and there was blue smeared all over my face. I don’t even know how it was possible to be that gross, but I managed.

A shower has never been so lovely. And now I have to look forward to doing that same thing over and over and over until I’m less horrible at it. Dying young is kind of looking mildly appealing. But that doctor will get to hear all about the “exercise routine” I’m working on.

Just need some W-D 40. Or the cats may not survive it any better than I do.

 

Bus People of Nashville Adventures

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Writing is cathartic. And I am to the age I prefer to read, and write, amusing stories. Many of them are not flattering, but they’re genuine, which tends to be what people respond to. We’re so programmed to only show the perfect, pretend we’re all the same, that someone telling their worst moments is extremely appealing. I don’t much like crying in my coffee so I prefer to mock the bad and make it tolerable. The problem with that is when I’m not in a good mood, or things just aren’t going smoothly, I don’t write because, well, it’s not fun to be not at all funny or upbeat. We all know life is hard, why say that over and over? If you read any news articles at all you have to be a bit on the “ugh” side because, really, it’s just dismal. But, the news doesn’t tell the complete story. Especially on racism. Especially on racism in the south. So here’s another episode of bus people. I can’t say the bus is fun, if I was offered a fancy ride in a helicopter I’d jump on it. Sitting in traffic for hours each day sucks. Yesterday we had the delightful, overwhelming reek of body odor and weed to marinate in for hours, with the heat on full blast because I am, apparently, the only individual with sweat glands that rides the bus. But, there are moments it is an interesting, enlightening experience. This was one of those moments.
The majority of people who ride the bus with me are of a darker skin tone (I’m so pale that could be almost anyone on the planet if we’re being really honest, but I do mean other races in this instance). The majority of that majority is black but there are plenty of Hispanic women and a few Hispanic men. Of the regular bus riders on my express route, there are a few blue collar men who sleepily sit and nod off in the morning as they hop on the earliest from their apartment complexes on the outskirts of the suburbs. Most of the bus drivers know who gets off where and stop whether the stop is requested while we rouse whoever is too deeply asleep to notice they’re at their stop. A couple younger black men work white collar jobs, suits and business casual with brief cases and spiffy, shiny shoes (I like to look at men’s shoes…I have no clue why…it’s just a thing I do). I have noticed, to my dismay that I tend to treat the two types of workers differently. I didn’t realize I do it, I absolutely did not intend to do it, but I do. The men with battered, stained sneakers and the clothes of service type job that you classically see on those who wash dishes and maintenance type positions are less confident when they walk, they don’t make eye contact or speak unless spoken to. They are withdrawn and have a tired air. But I noticed after a few months that I have a tendency to speak first in greeting to the confident, direct look of a black man in a suit, but I continue the silence between the tired black man I often sit next to. I treat them differently, and I am not, to be completely honest, sure why that is. I don’t hold any animosity toward anyone until you earn it, I don’t care what you look like. I will wake up my sleepy seat buddy and let him know he’s missing his stop. But there’s a slight difference in the way I treat different categories of people and it bugs me that I would not treat everyone the same, the way I always assumed I do. I have the same tendency with other races, I guess it’s a class distinction or bias rather than a racial thing, but since I’m pretty working class myself it makes zero sense to me. I like that interacting with so many people different than myself challenges me, but occasionally I’m confronted with my own petty instincts and assumptions about people I don’t even know. I’m trying to look at it as learning experiences and chance to change my behavior.
We do not have many teenagers that ride our bus. Most school age teens catch the bus before ours and there aren’t many older teens that appear that early. I’m fine with that. I didn’t like kids when I was one, I definitely don’t like them now (yeah, I just talked about changing my preconceived notions but on teenagers, I’m pretty set in the avoid at all costs category. Not proud of it, just what it is). One day when I pulled up to the bus, the line was starting early and it was massive. The bus before ours hadn’t shown up, and now we had way too many people for our bus to accommodate. Knowing I’d be late if I drove, I waited until the kids got on and then tried to find a space to occupy for the ride. I noticed a couple of the elderly women didn’t have seats, and while I hated they had to stand with bad knees and bad backs, I was also standing and couldn’t help them. I was crammed into the “Do Not Stand Here Or You Might Fall Off Of The Bus” area trying to give them the best access to hand holds and rails to brace against. I was in full body contact with several men. We all tried to pretend none of this was happening, but I have never had as much of myself squished up against as much of a stranger, not to mention multiple strangers, as happened that day. We were so tightly pressed against one another that I felt the intake of air before the man behind me yelled over the teenage chatter to be heard. He announced that there were several young men sitting down while women were standing. He wasn’t raised that way and he knew they weren’t either. He basically announced that the young guys needed to get up, offer their seats, and act like men. It could have gone very badly. These weren’t 5 year olds, they were 15ish and very proud of themselves. The little boys had already been told to get up and let others have the seats. The older of the kids weren’t into it at first, but eventually, they begrudgingly got up and let the older women sit. I was so impressed that someone would actually do something and be willing to challenge an entire gaggle of teenage guys blaring extremely graphic rap music and talking loudly to be heard over the loud music in offensive terms about offensive topics. I wouldn’t have been that brave. Which saddens me, but there we are. I wouldn’t have tried to shame a group of teenagers of any color that I didn’t have authority over. I taught for a hot minute, I know how teenagers are. They’re vicious and gross in a pack. Nope. Not me.
The ride into the city was miserable. My little sardine-esque group had no hand holds, nothing to brace against, and we couldn’t help but get to know each other much too well. The guy who’d taken on the group of teens eventually told me to stop apologizing that every sway of the bus meant I assaulted him with my hips and rear. If I was some svelte young thing I wouldn’t have felt so bad, and also we wouldn’t have been quite so squished, so I felt bad on two fronts. That’s bizarre. I’m not going to erase it, it’s honestly how I felt, but it’s weird that you’d feel bad because you were unintentionally touching people with a less desirable body. Whatever, not examining that too closely, it’s a mind hole trap I don’t want to get stuck in.
We got toward the first stop I could reasonably walk to work and I was poised to dive through the door and get the first deep breathe since the crazy ride began when I felt my ass attack victim take another deep breath. He whistled to get everyone’s attention and when all eyes were on him (not on me mind you, but I was smashed up against him so it FELT like they were staring at me and I turned bright red and my ears caught fire and it was not fun) he bellowed that the young men who’d stood up and helped out someone else deserved a round of applause for acting with dignity and respect and we should all show our gratitude. Nothing like that had occurred to me, and from the surprised looks it hadn’t occurred to anyone else either. We got into it quickly though, and everyone was clapping and whistling and cat calling. It sounded like a party bus when we pulled up to the stop.
The gruff, annoyed faces of the teenage boys trying so hard to look tough completely broke down and the little boys that I should NOT forget are still in there shone through. They couldn’t help but start grinning and looking at their feet and flushing in embarrassment. The older women who’d gotten their seats made a huge fuss over them and if those kids don’t remember to offer their seats in the future I’ll eat my hat. My poor ass attack victim didn’t know those kids. He didn’t know the women standing. He saw an opportunity to teach a group of kids how to act like adults and took it. It occurred to me that society might be a lot different if everyone behaved that way, if we all took responsibility for how we want others to act. Not by screaming at them and expecting them to obey us, but by using social pressure and positive reinforcement.
I’m making a concerted effort to speak to everyone or speak to no one. I shouldn’t cherry pick. Especially when I don’t even understand the criteria for my picking of cherries. My ass attack scared my brave friend away from bus riding from that day forward, but I bet those kids won’t forget him. I’ve tried to make sure I act when I see something I can help with, rather than just feel bad. I have been forcing myself out of my comfort zone and have fun new friendships starting that help remind me to stop categorizing people I don’t know. I have never thought of myself as racist. I try to be politically correct with phrasing and terminology, now more so than in the past, but I sometimes fail to use the correct term or phrase. I’m learning so much from my bus people and meeting so many different types of people. I’d still take a chopper ride, but until then, that’s the latest and greatest of bus people of Nashville!