Monthly Archives: February 2010

Dear Creepy Gymnast Girl at LA Fitness,

Hello there. Do you remember me? My name is Marney, and I am the older, fatter girl who was in the trainer room last night. You remember me, right? See, I was on the mat, alternating my reverse crunches with my swissball jackknives. Yeah, I know, it’s funny to watch that. But yes, that was me.

I don’t quite know HOW you could have missed me. There I was, getting ready to do my jackknives, which are hard as hell and yes, I occasionally fall off the ball and make quite the thundering sound when my flab smacks the mat. But I always laugh and get back on. Yet for some reason, and despite the fact that you are no bigger than 4-feet tall, you felt the need to come to that same mat, spread your legs in a T-split, and begin to bounce. ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY. You literally put your foot directly in front of me, even though my ginormous mass was only taking the spot of ONE person. Yet you were taking the place of 4 people.

Remember what I did? How I almost rolled right over your foot. That was fun for me. You kind of got the picture — you moved to the other mat, but continued to do your bizarre bouncy splits routine. Side splits. Front splits. Side splits. Front splits. Over and over. You know what? While I was back doing reverse crunches, and my butt was pointed at you, I ALMOST squeaked out a fart to get you to go away. But I didn’t. I should have, then maybe you would have stopped what I can only describe as acrobatic pornography. At one point, you began to thrust.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I too know how much fun it can be to grab the attention of the male species at the gym. I have, from time to time, realized that a young handsome meathead was staring at my vast chest, and purposely dipped just a little further over during my deadlifts. Seriously, especially when he is like, 22. Sure, maybe he has a Mommy complex, but still, it’s fun to be ogled, even though the feminist hiding in the back of my head is shouting STOP IT! I read Cosmo. I get it.

Remember when I left the mats? I went upstairs to run on the treadmill. I ran for 30 minutes. And when I was done, and I came back down the stairs, there you were, still on the mats, still in the splits. You know what? We get it. You are super flexible. You can jump from standing into a T-split. You know what? Dudes don’t dig that. Do you think they want you to stand over them and do that? You will snap their junk right off, sister! Stop it already.

Then I went into the sauna. I admit, I have no idea what the sauna is supposed to do. I just like the feeling of a good warm sweat. Also, I was the only one in there, which meant that I could sing along with the array of songs stacked on my MP3 player — Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Trisha Yearwood, all mashed together. Though I really belted it out to “Walking in Memphis,” the Marc Cohn version, not that crappy country release. I emerged 15 minutes later, and there you were. In the locker room. With one leg up on the counter in a display of flexibility. You were talking on your phone. Apparently, the person you were talking with really, really wanted to hear you sing the dance-mix version of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me,” which was playing over the gym’s speakers. Because you sure did sing it loud. Into your phone. While doing the splits on the makeup counter.

I noticed at this point that you caught my eye. I’m sorry, you were right. I was staring at you. More specifically, I was trying to will you to shut the hell up and leave. It didn’t work.

Well, creepy gymnast girl at LA Fitness, I hope you are feeling good and limber this morning, I don’t really know how you could feel anything else. You sure are stretchy. But I do hope that I don’t have to deal with your flexing and thrusting again anytime soon. My husband was not there with me, but he would have told you to move your skinny ass out of his space. For some reason, he’s not shy at the gym. I just hope I get skinny and awesomely buff soon, because I’m not sure I can take that shit ever again.

Thanks for your time,

Marney

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What happens at the end?

I try to be an upbeat person most of the time (at least, upbeat in the sense that I am grouchy and sarcastic, but I’m trying to be WITTY about it). I think I have a pretty good life and I really have no complaints. But I realized in the past few days that I have a looming fear — I am afraid of death. But not in the sense that you might immediately think.

Obviously, I fear my own death. Who doesn’t, really? I mean, it’s kinda creepy to think about even, when and how will it happen, will it hurt, will it be gross… bah. I think people who say they are not afraid to die are lying, at least to themselves. You should be scared when you don’t know what’s about to happen. But in addition to the fear of possible pain and/or suffering, I worry about my kids. My sons do not have the same fathers. I worry that they would be separated if I died.

I also have fear of anything happening to my children. I cannot really even write about what that fear feels like.

I fear for my siblings. We are five fairly close people (I’m not the quiet one — but I’m pretty sure I’m not the loud one either!). Losing one of them would break my heart. I fear for my husband. It seems like it took me so damn long to FIND him, I don’t know what I would do if he went away. I worry about my nieces and nephews, some of whom are adults themselves now, but they will always be these sweet little babies that I got to hold once upon a time.

I fear for my friends. So much, in fact, that a few weeks ago, when I had a horrible dream that Kayla had died, I had to call her first thing in the morning just to say hello.

But, the thing is, when it comes to all of these people, myself and my children included, I can mentally accept that death is a reality, that we are all mortal, and that there is a possibility that I could outlive one of more of them and have to deal with their deaths. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I am at peace with that, but I at least get it. I think I would find a way.

But there are two people who this simply doesn’t apply to — my parents. For some reason, I still don’t think that my parents can die.

Last week, a friend of my Mom and Dad passed away. He was 70, just a month older than my Dad. I won’t pretend that I knew much about Mr. Winter. In the 36 years I’ve been on this planet, I don’t think I had more than a few conversations with him, all of which consisted of “hey, how are you, how’s it going, nice to see you.” My mother and Mrs. Winter are very close girlfriends, and I know her well enough to engage in a conversation with her. But honestly, I really don’t even know her kids’ names. My parents have so many friends, most of whom they’ve known since the late 1940’s when they were all single-digit aged children. After a while, they all blend into each other, so I know them by face or story, but sometimes I forget who is who. Unfortunately, Mr. Winter had fallen into that category for me.

At his wake, I went with my folks up to the casket. There, we were greeted by one of Mr. Winter’s daughters, who gave us a group hug. She then said something that struck me — she looked over at her Dad and said, “Can you believe the nerve?”

It stuck me because I knew exactly what she meant — I absolutely could not belive that her Dad had the nerve to die on her. Who the hell did he think he was anyway?

I realized at that moment, looking around at this huge group of lifelong friends, that it never occurred to me that THEY were mortal. Looking around at the photos of Mr. Winter and his family, it was clear that their lives reflected those of my own family. Trips and parties and weddings and dances and Christmases and vacations and a whole lotta Schlitz (there’s a reason their generation is so much more regular than my own). Like my Dad’s daughters, Mr. Winter’s daughters see their Pops as a hero. They see their Mom as someone who they desperately want to talk to (only to quickly tell her to just stop talking already — we are weird women). My husband, my children, my brother and sisters, my friends, my nieces and nephews… we are all mortal. But not this generation. These are my PARENTS. These are my PARENT’S FRIENDS. They simply aren’t supposed to go away.

I realized that I do not tell my parents how much I love them even nearly often enough. When I found myself pregnant, single, 27 and freshly fired, my Mom said, “Well just come home.” They helped me raise a newborn and didn’t ask for one thin dime in return. When I was having a bad patch in college, I called home, and my parents listened to every stupid complaint that 19-year-old girl had. My Mom could tell if I was smoking from hundreds of miles away. My Dad threw dookie at me at the lake (because when you find dookie in the lake, what do you do with it other than throw it at your youngest child, right?), though to this day he INSISTS it was just a piece of wood. But, fiercely independent (or trying to be), I rarely called home once I was gone. E-mail helped, but I am still horrible at picking up the phone and saying hello once in a while.

I realized this past week that it’s because I am talking them for granted. I just assume they’re going to be there. I don’t know what happens at the end, because I always just figured Mom and Dad would be there to tell me. I think it’s an assumption that Mr. Winter’s daughter had also made, which is why she couldn’t believe his nerve.

So, what’s the lesson here? Go tell your parents how much you love them. It’s hard to believe, but they are mortal too.

I love you Mom and Dad.

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As long as I am posting video…

So, when I tried to post that video of George snoring, I couldn’t get it to download straight off my laptop. So I had to open a YouTube account and put it there, then put the link. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s probably some random, easy to fix problem. The fact that I can turn the computer on AT ALL is a miracle unto itself, so let’s not get too picky here.

Anyway, as long as I opened my own YouTube account, might as well put the only other two videos I had on it right? They both involve George and his “behavior.” Maybe I shouldn’t share so much. But ah, what the hell:

Ahhh, memories.

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What we give our kids

It’s always nice to look at your children and SEE yourself in them. For example, Hank looks absolutely NOTHING like me, and those of you who argue have either never met his father, or you seriously need to get your peepers checked out. The child is the living embodiment of his father, to the point that it would be creepy if he wasn’t so cute. But — look closely at his eyes, and they are MINE. More specifically, they are the EXACT color of my eyes, which is no small feat considering my eyes are a greenish-bluish-brownish-goldish mix. But there they are when I look at him, my eyes looking back at me. It’s nice.

Then there’s this:

We all know that I sleep silently like a princess, so clearly, someone is just like his Dad.

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What are you giving up for Lent?

I was raised Catholic, and we are currently members at our local ELCA Lutheran Church. And for 36 years, that question has been the bane of my existence once a year as Ash Wednesday rolls around. What are you giving up? The answer is always the same — hell, I don’t know!

I think as a kid I was so conditioned to give something up for Lent that I never really got the point of it all. I’d pick something that I really like and just stop doing it for 40 days. No fast food. No candy. No pop. No swearing. Last year I gave up beer, and that was just stupid. I was super thirsty for a cold one and everyone thought I was pregnant.

I don’t remember the reason for giving up something ever really being explained back in my St. James days (although I am sure it was, we just weren’t listening). As I got older, I just assumed it was because Jesus suffered, so we have to suffer. But while I am not a terribly religious person, I should know that being nailed to a cross and not drinking Pepsi for six weeks can hardly be put into the same sacrificial category.

So today I looked it up. I found this explanation on a Lutheran website:

Lent is all about meditating upon and learning more and more about what Jesus underwent FOR YOU. Giving something up for Lent isn’t about feeling guilty or trying to take away something you like so that you can feel bad about what Jesus did for you. Observing the holy season of Lent is all about receiving more and more of those very gifts that deliver salvation to you: living in your baptism, confessing your sins and being absolved, hearing the Word taught and preached, eating and drinking Jesus’ body and blood which was given into death for the forgiveness of all of your sins! That’s why most churches offer additional times during Lent to hear the Word preached and to receive the Sacrament.

Jinkies… thanks for clearing that up. The post continues to explain that abstaining is not to benefit you, but to benefit your neighbor. I’m sorry, but I don’t see how giving up beer benefits my neighbor, other than to give them something to gossip about as they ponder whether I am pregnant. Which basically means I have the whole spirit of Lent all mixed up.

This morning, Jim sent me an e-mail asking what we should give up for Lent. I had no idea what to say. So I thought about it seriously, and decided that this year, we needed to focus on the spirit of making things BETTER for others rather than making things HARDER for ourselves. There’s the usual things to “give up.” No fast food. No excessive spending. But this year I want to focus on what I can do to, you know, maybe make the world a better place.

To that end, Jim and I have made our decision about at least one thing we will do this Lenten season, and hopefully beyond. We plan to feed the hungry. Our church has a food pantry, and I plan on buying a few meals every week and bringing them over. Mac & Cheese and boxed dinners and maybe even some Spam (which is not as disgusting as people assume it is).

Here’s why this is important to me — I am a total fatty. Okay, I’m not popping the buttons off my Gloria Vanderbilts, but I am definitely at least 25 pounds overweight. My pantry is full and I have a home full of nice things and my children are happy and never miss a snack. I absolutely hate it that right here, within miles of where I am, there are several parents who just can’t afford to feed themselves or their kids, or both, while I throw out half-eaten food on a regular basis. We are not even close to rich. We have a tight budget and sometimes we have to wait to get to the store until payday, which means no milk for a few days or no bread for sandwiches. But we are never, EVER hungry (and we have the fat pants to prove it). We are blessed people. We are lucky people. And we need to feed the hungry.

So to answer the question, what are you giving up for Lent? This year, the answer is, I am giving up being selfish with my food. I am giving up stuffing my face while a mother down the street goes hungry so her kids can have some tomato soup. If I can feed just one family one night a week, I think I am helping make the world a better place. I’m not a religious person. But I think Jesus would approve.

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Operation Gaga, entry 3

This week, I got the following e-mail:

“I needed a new pair of shoes so I went to the old peoples shoe store “Rockport”. At the cash register the young man had the radio on and I surprised him when I asked isn’t that Lady Gaga singing?”

Dad

See the signature there? DAD. My father is 70 years old. He was born in 1939. That’s the 30’s! And he knows Lady Gaga songs.

Then, this morning I got the following text from my friend Jacki, who had previously said she didn’t really like Gaga:

“Hi – Lady Gaga is on Today. I have to say that I am impressed; she is more articulate than I ever imagined.”

When I responded that Gaga was way smarter than a certain 90’s icon who she is often compared to, Jacki said:

“Very smart! I sat there and thought “wow!” Not once did she use the word ‘like’ or fillers such as ‘ummmm’.”

Just why was Lady Gaga doing the rounds this morning? Well, her and Ms. Cydni Lauper have joined forces to promote the MAC AIDS fund’s campaign, “From our lips.” They are using proceeds from lipstick sales to promote HIV/AIDS awareness. On Good Morning America, Lady Gaga talked about how some women laugh and joke around after having a tryst with men they don’t know, and said, “It’s not funny.” There is a difference between being sexually liberated and being sexually responsible, and Gaga is ALL ABOUT IT!

So let’s recap. I have successfully gotten my aging but still very young parents to listen to Lady Gaga, Jacki approves, and she promotes awareness of deadly diseases. All in one day.

I have one word for you, Gaga Nation — WIN.

© MR Photo/Corbis Outline

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When the Cohen gets tough…

For those of you from places other than the great state of Illinois, you may have heard, if only by way of limited information, about the newest debacle in the Illinois Democratic party.

Last Tuesday, Illinois held its primary election. In Illinois (as in other places) you pick a party ticket in the primary. Your choices in this election were Democrat, Republican, Green or bi-partisan. The bi-partisan ticket had about two items on it.

Illinois has a really early primary. We used to vote in our primaries in March. But, back in 2007, apparently desperate to be part of the popular crowd (especially as our own junior U.S. Senator Barack Obama was clearly making a run for the presidency), the state legislature passed and then-Governor Rod Blagojevich signed into law an act moving the primaries to February, placing Illinois on the long list of states that take part in “Super Duper Tuesday” during presidential primaries. It’s really called that. Apparently, Illinois politicians didn’t like it that by the time Illinois voters had their say in March, the presidential candidates were pretty much already set and the election was one big expensive waste of time.

The effect — ALL Illinois primaries are in February. The effect of the effect — no one knows who the hell the candidates are when they walk into the polls in February for elections like this one. It’s winter. It’s cold. We were all just getting over the holidays and *BAM* it’s election day. No one in this state was paying attention, and that’s a fact. Hell, I almost forgot it was election day until I watched the news the night before. Candidates on both side spent little money to promote themselves, and everyone knows that a whole lotta voters pick someone based on their commercials.

On top of that, Illinois has a really, really stupid process for picking a Lieutenant Governor. In Illinois, the Lt. Governor and the Governor candidates run separately in the primary, but they are paired together on the ticket for the general election. The Governor and the Lt. Governor are always of the same party, even if they cannot stand each other or disagree on major issues. Rod Blagojevich and current Governor Pat Quinn are a great example.

So add it all up and what the hell just happened? Well, democrats who voted in the Illinois primary — about 200,000 of them — picked a man named Scott Lee Cohen as the democratic candidate for Lt. Governor. And the next day, voters found out that the man who they put on the democratic ticket was an accused abuser, someone who used to take steroids and subsequently suffered roid-rage. That rage caused him to allegedly once try to force himself sexually on his ex-wife. But that was before he met his girlfriend, a “massage therapist” who was busted for prostitution. Cohen was arrested for allegedly holding a knife to her throat, but the charges were tossed out when the hooker didn’t show up in court. If you can believe it, they broke up. Cohen is a millionaire pawn-broker, and just two months ago, his ex-wife accused him of being more than $50,000 behind on child support even though he was pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign. Ah, democracy in action.

In Cohen’s defense, it’s not like he was hiding it. Sun Times columnist Mark Brown even wrote after the election that Cohen tried — really hard actually — to toss his big old bag of garbage right in front of the media and invite them to dig through it. They didn’t. They waved him off and said “you’ll never win” and didn’t want to hear it. The result — since Cohen was really the only Democratic Lt. Governor candidate with any money, he put that toward mailings and commercials and held job fairs. He ended up being the only one with any type of recognizable name, and voters went ahead and picked him. The only other Lt. Governor candidate who had enough publicity to be recognized was Matt Murphy, a good guy who is actually a family friend — but also a Republican, so he and Cohen were not on the same ticket.

To put it mildly, top Illinois Democrats just about peed their pants over this one. They were shouting for Cohen to pull out of the race within hours of the results. Since Illinois is stupid and pairs the Governor and Lt. Governor on the general election ticket, Governor Pat Quinn couldn’t scramble enough to get the word out that he wanted Cohen out. Quinn was denouncing Cohen before he even bothered to speak with him first. Quinn barely squeaked out a win himself over State Comptroller Dan Hynes. In a state where Republicans are still flying high over the impeachment and subsequent embarrassing media blitz of Rod Blagojevich, the last thing the party can afford is yet another scandalous detraction.

But here’s the thing — I completely and totally disagree with the big public outcry to denounce Scott Lee Cohen and everything about him. You reap what you sow, and Democrats sowed the hell out of Scott Lee Cohen. Do I want the party to lose the governorship in my state? No. But if it was flipped, and suddenly the Republican Lt. Governor nominee was a (former) hooker-throat-knife-wielding-juice-head, I would be saying “tough, you picked him, you’re stuck with him.”

The Republicans did something similar to one of their own in 2004. When Barack Obama was running for U.S. Senate, his rival was a man named Jack Ryan, who was once married to actress Jerri Ryan. During the campaign, it was discovered that while they were married, Jack Ryan wanted his wife to engage in sex acts with him at a public sex club. Basically — he was an exhibitionist, or wanted to be. He never cheated, he never lied, he did not abuse his wife, he was never accused of anything illegal. But he was kinky. So the Republicans forced him out, and replaced him with Alan Keyes, who lost in an embarrassing fashion to now-President Obama.

I don’t like this trend in Illinois. A state that is hemorrhaging money spends all this cash on an election, only to say afterwards — oops, the people picked the wrong person, let’s kick them out and pick the right person for them, it’s for the “good of the party and the good of the state.” The good of the party and the good of the state is to let the people decide, and if we make the wrong decision, we live with those consequences.

The party leadership did not have the authority to kick out either Ryan or Cohen, but they sure put the pressure on. Ryan withdrew from the race in 2004, and yesterday, Cohen threw in the towel himself. It was almost as embarrassing to watch him quit as it was to watch him win. He and family members engaged in a tearful display at a Chicago bar during the Super Bowl, saying this was for the best. And while I’m sure Pat Quinn and Dick Durbin and probably President Obama all breathed a collective sigh of relief, I was still kinda mad about it.

Should Scott Lee Cohen be the Lt. Governor of Illinois? Probably not. His past is a huge distraction and could very well prevent him from getting any work done, and is probably enough to swing voters to go pick the Rebublicans this time around. But he won the primary, fair and square. Democrats should have to live with that. Instead we get a do-over. It feels like we cheated, and it’s a feeling I don’t like. It’s more honorable to lose because you made a bad choice than to realize you are losing so you swipe a new card and play that one instead.

It’s going to be a long election season.

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