SOUL PSYCHO

I took a Soul Cycle class on Wednesday. In case you didn’t know (and in spite of the name of the class) it’s a spinning class for all races and ethnicities and people without a whole-lotta rhythm (hahaha). The first 10 minutes into the cycling withOUT sitting, is what is referred to as ‘the warming up’ period. After 5 minutes, my body felt as if it were seconds from combusting and my mind was racing just as fast as my feet were pedaling. I realized that even my breath was hot when I exhaled onto my chest where my chin seemed to be cemented. As my legs moved furiously to keep up with the pace of the neon strips on the back of the shoes in front of me,  I was able to conjure up enough neck strength to look up and I spotted a lovely, cool, blue lake. I tried desperately to cycle towards it but realized it was just a mirage after feeling a pop in my left hip. The aggressive pop of my hip was not as painful as the mental slap into reality I felt when I realized the lake I saw was really a booty wrapped in blue lycra swaying to and fro just inches from my face.
Back to my popping hip… no problem (I thought) I didn’t stretch enough and that was my body’s way of reminding me to take it a little easy. Another minute or so after that,  I was in my zone. I was riding fast and concentrating on not slamming my forehead into the handlebars of the stationary bike because the waaaay too happy instructor shouted at us to sit, pedal faster and pump our arms up and down to the beat of the rhythm. Did I mention the music being piped through the sound system was mostly pop music… ON ACID?!?!?
Just before I felt the first inkling of a dry heave come on is when I believe my hip joint and my hip bone got into some type of brawl. One minute I was uncomfortable but functioning and the next minute the entire lower, left side was revolting.

Sidenote: The thing about the spinning class/cycling stuff is that you’re 99% trapped once you start. First of all, the bikes are thisclose to each other. Second, the lights are turned down so low you can’t see where you’re going. Third, and most importantly, THE SHOES. No, you don’t wear your regular workout shoes to this carnival ride from hell. For this class, you wear spinning shoes which are equipped with 3 very thick velcro straps on each shoe (to keep you in the shoe… yes!… there is a small chance that one just might pedal OUT OF THE SHOE :/ ), and, the pièce de résistance, there are clips on the bottoms of the shoes (which SNAP your shoe onto the pedal… making it almost completely impossible for one to jump off the bike and run towards the door that was merely 4 feet away… I could see the light to the outside world coming through the crack on the bottom of the door… it was FOUR. FEET. AWAY.)

 

Back to the hip…again… the sudden rush of pain that bolted through the hip and into my butt cheek made my already out-of-control heart rate speed up. I quickly sat but, at this point, my feet were still pedaling. I have no idea why. I’m fairly certain I sent the non-verbal message to my brain to stop all physical movement but I’m assuming my neuro senses failed to receive and/or transmit the message due to the fact that there was a VERY LOUD voice in my head shouting, “I TOLD YOU… I TOLD YOU… I TOLD YOU!!!”.

Fun-fact: there’s a sizeable button directly under the handlebars which, if pushed, stops the bike. Hindsight is 20/20. Literally, in this case.

I was finally able to get my legs to stop moving so fast and was able to think clearly enough to keep the legs moving… slowly… reach for my water bottle, wipe the sweat out of my eyes (they may have been tears, I’m still not sure) and block the entire class out. I finished the class, at my own pace (slow). There was a lot of  ‘off the seat’ and ‘back on the seat’ commands that I proudly ignored. I did turn the resistance knob all the way to the hardest level just to challenge myself while not running the risk of tearing my ankles from my body. At the time, it seemed like a good idea.
And then this morning happened.
Three. Flights. Of. Stairs.
That’s what I had to endure to leave my home to get to work. It was a workout in and of itself. Falling into my car was effortless and I’m sure the bruising will be minimal. Oh… did you know that there’s a muscle just next to your right knee and near the inner thigh that’s directly connected to the tear ducts in your right eye???  I discovered this while pushing on the gas pedal (it appears all pedals are my nemesis this week).
On my way to the elevator at work, I had one of the most “Uh-oh” moments of my life. I had to come to terms with the fact that there was a very high chance that I would die today if, for any reason, the NBC Tower had to be evacuated. I’m 5 flights up.
Five. Flights. Up.
As I approach my thirty-fifteenth birthday, I find myself heavily weighing what will and what won’t work in my life as I move forward. I’ve come to the conclusion that rigorous workout classes are off the list. I’m not ashamed to admit that I would gladly and PROUDLY wake up early every Saturday to walk the mall before the stores open. I’d start tomorrow but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get out of bed.

New Year… New Me… New Exercise Equipment

Yep, I’m one of those people. The kind that start off the new year with thoughts of taking on new endeavors or, at the very least, actually accomplishing the goals I set forth the year before. With that said, yesterday at 12:30pm, I put my computer on sleep mode, grabbed my gym bag, tied my hair in a ponytail, filled up my water-bottle and headed for the 2nd floor.

On the 2nd floor of the NBC Tower, behind an inconspicuous door on the left, just past the elevators, is a small workout room. It’s one of the perks offered to the employees in hopes of keeping us healthy and happy. By no means is it a full-on gym. It’s small and simple and equipped with the essential exercise equipment to get a good sweat in for the day.

This past weekend some of the gear was replaced with new, more efficient apparatus’s (or is the plural version of apparatus, ‘apparati’??? I should probably look that up but, obviously, I’m not). Moving on… due to the fact that it is a new year and I’m working on a new me (or, at least, a more efficient me), I figured I should take the news of new machinery on the 2nd floor as a sign. It’s clear the new devices were installed as a cosmic clue in my quest to upgrade the T-2015 MIDAGE STLFLY M.O.M. model (ya know… cuz I’m vintage, not old).

I waved my id past the scanner and the door to the room unlocked. I’m not gonna lie. I was kinda hoping I didn’t have access to the place anymore. I rolled my eyes, turned the door handle and pushed the door open. Great. It was empty. And when I say, ‘great’… I don’t mean, ‘great… I have the place to myself.’ I mean, ‘great… empty room means I can’t say it was full and so that must mean I should go downstairs, buy fries and complain about how I’ll just have to start working out tomorrow.”

I changed into my workout clothes… well… really, I simply took off my entire 2nd layer of clothing, changed my boots for running shoes and, voilà, instant workout attire.
I was uber excited to see the place had the Precor 240i StretchTrainer. It’s actually one of the greatest inventions ever made. Basically, it’s one and only function is to place you in ergonomically correct stretching positions. That’s it. And it’s a-maaaa-zing. After sitting at my desk for countless hours hunched over my keyboard and then braving the cold (even if it is for only 5 minutes) with my shoulders perched up into my ears, just 10 minutes on the Precor 240i StretchTrainer achingly reminds my arms, spine and hips that they all are not one appendage.

Alas, after 10 minutes of stretching, I headed towards one of the new treadmills. It’s given name is Landice L980 the Executive Edition, of courseIt’s got a digital tv, a fan, a nice console to plug in your tablet or other electronic toy necessary to fool your brain into thinking that you are not over-exerting your body. It is, in a word, fancy. So much so that, when you program it to the ‘track’ setting, it has little athlete man start on lane 3 of sims-like race track course. For the record, I haven’t actually ran for the purpose of exercising in a minute… ok… it’s been several minutes. Anyway, given that I was alone in the workout room, I didn’t want to push myself a/k/a have a co-workers walk in and see my mangled body covered in shards of glass after having ‘run’ myself off of the Landice L980 and into the wall of mirrors… 10 feet behind me. There’s probably a very small 1 in a million chance that might happen but I was given the same odds of Clooney ever getting married again and, well, we all know how that turned out (insert stale-face here). So, instead of full on running, I thought it wise to walk the first 5 minutes and play it by ear from there.

5 minutes took a little longer than I thought it would. I turned up the volume on my headphones to drown out the strange, muffled sound I kept hearing. What’s even stranger is that it was coming out of me. The glass half-full part of me was doing what she does… encouraging and reminding me that I would be fine… it’s like riding a bike… but walking. But then, no matter how loud I put the music, the glass half-empty me kept getting louder. She was all, “STOP.” I mean, she didn’t say much more than that but it was loud and very authoritative and, frankly, kinda scary. But I forged ahead… or in place… as was the case.

By the time I knew it, 14 more minutes had passed. Until then, I had kept my gaze straight ahead. Starring past the digital tv screen and out of the window at the almost frozen over Chicago River. For the first time, ever, it looked appealing. I thought of what it might be like to run straight into it. About that moment that very thought entered my mind, I realized I needed not to be looking at the frozen Chicago River or anything frozen. I looked down at the little athlete guy who was, essentially, me running the track. After about 10 seconds, I noticed little Carl Lewis was weaving in and out of lanes 3 and 4. He’d get close to 5 but would quickly end up back in 4… and then 3… oops, back to 4. I thought to myself, ‘ha… wait til the Olympic committee finds out Carl’s water bottle is spiked.” And then I remembered, Carl is me. It seems the Landice L980 Executive Edition has a sensor to monitor your balance as you run. Are you kidding me?!?!? There’s a reason why the wall of mirrors is behind me. There’s a reason I looked past the tv and not at my reflection. I don’t want to see me working out. And I certainly do not want to see an animated version of me (who is neither my race or sex) working out. But there he was… there I was… running laps around a faux track looking less like Carl Lewis and waaaay more like the guy who tries to wash my windshield, with yellow windex and a tissue, during a snowstorm on the 290 off-ramp near Homan. At least he has a blinding snowstorm and 30 out of 40 ounces to blame his in-coordination on. I was too disgusted to be embarrassed so I finished up the final 28 seconds to make it a full 15 minutes of the Landice “no judgement here” L980 and, with my head held high, I moved on… or wobbled… whatever.

Next I decided to try a machine that I’d never seen before. They call it the Helix 3500 Lateral Trainer. Honestly, though, they could’ve stopped at the “Hel” part of the word and just added the extra “L”. For those of you who don’t know, this contraption is like a cousin to the elliptical. The sociopathic cousin that no one likes but have to endure because he’s family.  This… thing… works the body side to side instead of forward or backwards like the elliptical. Sounds easy enough, right? RIGHT???

17 seconds.

I lasted 17 of the longest seconds… ever. First of all, one must have really good range of motion or balance or just be able to stand well to get it to work. Then you have to have the thing moving above a 35. 35 what??? Who knows?!?!?! What I do know is that 10 should be sufficient. Also, I highly recommend that you use the hand restraints thingys that attach you to the machine. It turns out, they’re not there to keep you from running away! Lesson learned. Anyway, I don’t recommend you try to put on the aforementioned hand restraints while your legs are moving (rapidly) in a sideway motion and your eyes are trying to frantically find the off button.

Fyi, there is no off button. You just stop.

STOP.

The very thing glass half-empty Tania urged me to do at the beginning of this endeavor.

Here’s to health and happiness.

Happy flippin New Year, folks.

Just Act Like You Belong

It’s Throwback Thursday!

And because a picture’s worth a thousand words… I’m gonna share a few pics and about two thousand words to boot.

On Monday, September 22nd, the calendar notification on my phone buzzed at exactly 9am. Two words popped up: Sam Smith.

I sighed.

I hadn’t been able to get a ticket. I mean, I could’ve forgone groceries for the week and bought one but I have kid 2 for whom I am ‘responsible.’ He’s still a minor and there are laws about feeding him daily… blah, blah, blah.

So, I deleted the calendar reminder and went about my day. My sad, empty day.

Somehow I managed to get through it as I joked with my co-workers that I was going to leave work and wait behind the Riviera just to hear Sam sing one song, live. Clearly, my wish of seeing him live in a small venue was not going to come true, but, if I could just hear him live, that would be a great consolation.

But, really, I hadn’t planned on nothing more than going home to shower, throw on a pair of sweats, max out on the pot roast I had in the crock pot and watch the Bears game.

Kid 2 and I walked in through the door and the amazing aroma of the pot roast hit us immediately. He nudged me to the side a little as he headed to the kitchen and, because I’m the mom, I tried to trip him and then shoved him into the bathroom as I proceeded to get first dibs on that night’s dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I love him and I would die for him… really, I would… but he was in no real imminent danger and I was very hungry.

Now, I feel I must explain something about me and my need to do things in a particular order. If you recall (or just re-read 2 paragraphs up), I was going home to shower, get comfy, eat and veg in front of the tv. However, because I didn’t stick to my original ‘to-do’ list with eating dinner first, I felt myself getting a little antsy. And, of course, my shower time was thrown off because I took time out to watch (in utter and complete shock) kid 2 wash the dishes and tell me, in detail, about his day. May I just take this time to point out that he was not asked to do either. Again… utter and complete shock.

But I digress… so I was feeling antsy; as if there was something else I should be doing. Before I knew it, I was texting this message to Thelma (her real name is not Thelma but she is really the Thelma (the spontaneous one) to my Louise (the practical one) ).

sam1

*yes, I’m well aware of the fact that she misspelled ‘pot’ and incorrectly used of the word ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’… can we just focus, people

Judging by her response, I knew she thought I was bluffing. Which explains why she wasn’t ready when, 40 minutes later, I was calling her.

“Let’s go! It’s almost 7:00. The show is supposed to start at 7:30.”

“Oh (expletive) you were serious??? Gimmie 10 minutes to get dressed.”

“Hurry up… and don’t forget to brush your hair just in case this night ends up with us having our mug shots taken.”

“On it.”

10 minutes later we were on route to the Riviera.

Right about that time, kid 1 called me.

“Whattcha up to, lady?”

“I’m on my way to the Sam Smith concert.”

“Ugh… you got tickets? I hate you.”

“No, I don’t have tickets. I’m just going to the concert.”

“Wait… you’re sneaking in. You do know your too old to be doing things like that. I’m done with you.”

“First of all, I’m only too old to wear booty shorts. And secondly, I am not sneaking in. I’m just hoping to get close enough to the atrium just to hear him. I just want to hear him sing live.”

She was silent for all of 3 seconds…

“Mom, listen to me… just act like you belong.”

5 minutes later we were driving up to the corner of Broadway and Lawrence. There was a crowd lined up around the corner of the Riviera waiting to get in. I drove past the venue.

“And now we spend 30 minutes trying to find parking.”

Just as the word “parking” made it’s way out of my mouth, I noticed a car pulling out of it’s space on the next block. The block DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE RIVIERA.

“I’m just going to park and then we can look for the city signage that tells us why we can’t park here.”

So I parked. And then we looked for the sign. But there wasn’t any. NONE. Not one irritating, illogical, frustrating City of Chicago “NO PARKING 6am-7am, 7:30-8:45, 9:17-10:01– Pay The Meter $1.00 for .6 seconds for up to 30 minutes” sign.

Thelma thought the fact that there were no signs was a great sign that we belonged there.

“No. I think this just means that we are probably going to get arrested and the fact that my car will not get towed is the one gracious moment the good Lord is going to allot me tonight.”

She stopped in her tracks, shrugged her shoulders and said…

“Eh, you’re probably right.”

And then we proceeded to walk to the front doors of the Riviera.

sam6

Act like you belong… act like you belong… act like you belong. I repeated the words to myself as I walked past the security guard and opened the door.

O…M…G… I was in the atrium! That’s it! My goal had been met. Now all I had to do was kill some time until Sam hit the stage so that I could actually hear him sing. So I casually veered to the left; away from the line of folks waiting to purchase tickets. There was a short woman in her late 30’s standing at a podium going through lists. She looked up from her list.

“Hi. Which list are you on?” she was neither peppy or rude, just matter-of-fact.

“Oh, I’m just waiting here for someone to come over and let me in.” I was killing time, is what I was doing, but she didn’t need to know that. I looked down at my phone to check the time, it was now 8:27. Anxiety started to set in. He’d be taking the stage any minute! Just then, a man, who looked a bit too old to be there, came out from the auditorium lobby and told the woman his phone had no reception and he was expecting guests.

Good to know.

He fumbled with his phone for a minute and then looked up at me.

“You excited about seeing Sam?”

“I’m super excited to hear him perform.”

“He’s pretty amazing.”

DUH

“Are you waiting for someone?”

“Yep… anyone who will let me in.”

He laughed as if I were joking.

“Yeah, I’m waiting for a few clients myself.”

“Well, if they don’t show up, We’re willing to help you out.”

He laughed, again, as if I were joking.

The woman at the podium then interrupted my hopeful conversation.

“Are you sure you’re not on the list? What’s your name?”

I gave her my name and assured her that it would not be on any of her lists. She nodded and continued to peruse through her 4 page list of 8 point-font-sized names. Thelma and I stood next to her looking up at each other and shrugging our shoulders, pretending to be surprised when she came up empty.

“No. Your name isn’t here. Do you know if your party is already inside? If you’ve tried to text them they may not be able to get reception.” She sounded concerned. As if she had failed me. Pobrecita. Thanks guy-who-looked-too-old-to-be-there for putting that idea in her head.

Thelma, podium lady, guy-who-looked-too-old-to-be-there and I were staring through the 6 glass doors that kept me away from entering the actual concert when, out of nowhere, a chipper, bubbly, blonde young lady holding a clipboard came barreling through one set of doors.

“Hiiiy… areyaonthelist?”

“No.” All 4 of us said at the same time.

“Well… ummm… whoyawith?” she paused and in a less rapid-fire delivery asked, “I mean, who do you work for?”

Now, let me be clear on this… SHE ASKED ME. I did not provide my employer’s information nor did I prod her to ask. So I did what any polite person would do. I answered her question.

And that is when the heaven’s split and chipper, bubbly, blonde girl smiled at me, turned around, rummaged through the papers on her clipboard then turned back to me and held up 2 tickets. They were glowing. Not really… but they might as well have been.

I was a little light-headed and, quite frankly, nauseous. It took me a second to make out what Thelma was inconspicuously saying in my ear.

“Take the damn ticketsss.”

I could see my hand reaching out for them but my brain still hadn’t quite processed what was going on. Suddenly, my body was moving forward, towards the ticket check-in line. Thelma had her hand on my back and very smoothly guided me through the process while I concentrated on keeping my knees from buckling. Within 20 seconds, we were in.

We. Were. In.

WHAT. JUST. HAPPENED???

sam2

Not only were we inside the venue. We were smack dab in the middle section. And, as luck would have it, we were standing next to the bar. So there we stood, Thelma: cool, calm and collected. Me: biting my nails and doing the pee dance (and I didn’t even have to pee).

sam7

And then at 8:34,this happened…

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“Will you taaaaake me… to Nirvana?!?!?!” I sang it perfectly… in my head… so as not to drown him out. I wanted to say, “Why, yes, Sam… of course I will. You know, if it weren’t for that one pesky detail.” No, not that one. You see, I really like Sam Smith but I loooooove Sam Smith’s voice more. Lucky for him, I’m not attracted to him in the least. I’m certain he wouldn’t be offended by that at all.

So Sam went on singing. And I went on swaying and screaming “woot, woot” more than a drunk sorority sister during semi-formal. And I was completely sober. After the 3rd song, I started to feel (and smell) the enormity of the standing-room only crowd. I looked over my shoulder and told Thelma that I was going to stand closer to the aisle where it wasn’t so congested. I moved over near the aisle where the security guard gave me the ‘don’t go past here’ gesture. I nodded and was able to fit just in front of the imaginary boundary he had set up. After a few minutes the young guy standing next to me and I became bff’s when we realized two things.

1. that the 5 girls in front of us who were taking selfies (while Sam was singing!) over and over and over again, were the biggest fools in the world

and

2. we both loved this song the most…

My new bff and I danced and sang and ‘woot-wooted’ through the whole thing. Meanwhile, the pack of fools were still taking selfies and holding their cameras so high they kept blocking our line of vision. So annoying. I couldn’t do much about fixing the situation because I’d left Thelma on the other side of the room. So I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sweet sound of wonderfulness which flowed from Sam’s lips.

I’m not sure how long I was entranced before I realized someone was tapping me on the shoulder. I opened my eyes to see the imaginary-borderline security guard standing behind me. I immediately moved up another 4 inches and apologized, assuming I had crossed ‘the line’. He was shaking his head and smiling.

Then he put his hand on my back, raised his nose toward my bff dancing and woot-woot partner and lead me to the side of the aisle where NO ONE WAS ALLOWED. But I was… I WAS ALLOWED! Me and bff, whose name I never learned, spent the remainder of the concert swaying and cheering and laughing and singing… and doing it all without invading each other’s personal space. And they were right there. Sam Smith and his voice were right there!

sam4After almost 2 hours of complete bliss, and I knew it was coming to an end. And though he’d performed almost every song I wanted to hear, he still had yet to sing his version of the song that won me over. The song that made me fall in love with his voice. He said good-night and exited the stage. Bff looked at me, made a sad, pouty face and started to walk past me.

“I guess that’s it.”

I’m not sure what kind of facial expression I responded with, but he stopped in his tracks and gave me the ‘ooh girl, whatchu know?’ look. I smiled and shrugged.

And then he came back on stage and I heard the piano start to play and the saying ‘it struck a chord’ suddenly took on a whole new meaning.

I know… I know that’s not a video taken from that night but this is the version I love the most and, since it’s my blog, I get to add whatever version I want (with the understanding that I am not profiting from this video and no copyright infringement are intended).

So that’s it. That’s my Throwback Thursday pic/story experience. I decided to write this last night so imagine my shock when I learned, just 2 hours ago, that Sam will be returning to Chicago in January at the UIC Pavilion!!!

Oh lawdie… there’s no telling how I’m going to get in to see him there. But however it happens… and it will happen… I’m sure it’ll be an adventure.

Yep… It Was Because Of The JLo Dress

Another entry in my “things that only happen to T” log…

Last night a few friends and I decided to get all gussied up and head out to the fancy-shmancy Drake Hotel for a night of hanging out and dancing. I ain’t gonna lie, I was looking and feeling cute in my newly purchased JLo dress which, not only was 25% off, but I was able to use my Kohl’s dollars for an additional $10 off. BAM!

On our way there, I recieved a text but forgot to open it. After about an hour, I remembered that I hadn’t read the text. I couldn’t get a signal in the area where we were so I stepped out of the room. As I walked out of the dance area, a tall, stocky man with an Eastern European accent asked if I’d like to dance. I told him I would when I got back. Two minutes later I returned and there he was waiting by the entry into the dance area. I smiled at him and he followed me as I walked over to my table, put my phone down and we sauntered over to the dance floor.

He couldn’t dance to save his life but I continued to do the side-to-side step hoping maybe he would catch on to that. He didn’t.

He asked me my name. He got it wrong. I didn’t care. I was too aggravated that a perfectly good salsa song was going to waste on someone who couldn’t dance. He told me he was a Romanian from Toledo but was in Chicago for two days. I smiled and continued to walk in place.

A minute later he mentioned, again, he’d be leaving in a couple of days. And then this convo happened…

him: you are here always?

me: no. this is the first time I’ve been here. it’s actually the first time they have this event here at this hotel.

him: event?

me: yeah. this latin dance event. tonight is the first night this event is being hosted here.

him: oh. I see. will you be here tomorrow?

me: (thinking maybe something was getting lost in translation) um, no. this event is only tonight.

— right around this point he tried to turn himself and stepped on my foot.

him: (in a stern tone) oh you messed up a little. try to keep up. (wiping the faucet of sweat dripping from his forehead) so, yes, I will be here for two more days and then back to Toledo. you are one of the very beautiful and friendly women here in nice dress. will I see you here tomorrow in this hotel?

(insert sound-effect of 18-wheeler Mack truck hitting the brakes) I don’t know what was more offensive about that whole encounter… the fact that he thought I’m the one who was dancing off beat or the fact that he thought I was a hooker.

Damn that JLo dress.

And How Was Your Weekend?

The first weekend in June is officially over.

That means there are only 13 more weekends left until Labor day. UGH, Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer a/k/a a day that brings me inches closer to Winter. Yes, I know that Autumn takes place somewhere in between but once it dips under 70º, it might as well be Winter.

Knowing that there are just over a dozen weekends in my favorite time of year, I try to use each weekend to it’s fullest.

After all, I have a list.

This past weekend, the list consisted of 1 Bridal Shower, 1 Baby Shower, finishing up my deck, chauffeuring kid 2 around, working out and 1 date.

Some things on the list were checked off, some were not and because I’m really careful to leave enough blank spaces for life to have it’s way, some stuff was added to the list.

Let’s start with Friday.

My work day ended a little early so I rushed home to get the chore of washing my hair done. Within 2 minutes of walking into my not-so-clean-home, I had to strap on my mean-mom hat (ok, ok, I know I never really take it off so maybe I just had to tighten it). And, via text, I threatened kid 1 & kid 2 in such a way that they would know their lives were at stake while wording it so that I would not be linked to the potential crime.

2 hours later, my hair was washed and blow-dried. Since the 1 date I had on the list was cancelled/postponed/whatever, I decided not to sit home and waste the night away. I, instead, opted to go see little-brother #4 and his lovely wife perform at a small fundraiser.

They did their thang and they did it well. And, just because there’s always something new to learn even with things we thought we already knew, I was shocked… SHOCKED… to learn something new about the classic song, You Are My Sunshine. The song goes from…

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray.
You’ll never know dear how much I love you.
Please don’t take my sunshine away.

to the third stanza/verse…

I’ll always love you
And make you happy.
If you will only say the same.
But if you leave me
To love another
You’ll regret it all some day.

Whoa… well that escalated quickly.

To get over the shock and, quite honestly, the disappointment about the new thing I’d learned, I decided to turn my attention to niece #3. Nothing brings back my faith in humanity like to pure joy and love of a baby. I kneeled down about a foot from her and, as she sipped through a straw, I called out her name. She didn’t look up from her cup. Obviously, I didn’t say it loud enough. So I called out her name a little louder. Nothing. I then called out her name and threw in, “I’ve got candy.”

How young is too young for a little girl to start rolling her eyes?

So, my last ditch effort was to ask her plainly, “psst, you love me?”

gloworm

That awkward moment when you break your own rule: never ask a question you’re not prepared to hear the answer to (or in this case, visually witness).

I’m just gonna blame it on the contents of whatever was in that red solo cup.

On to Saturday.

Woke up at the crack of dawn no thanks to the yapping dog across the alley. I tried to ignore it. I closed my window. I turned on my ceiling fan in hopes of drowning it out. By the time I’d mentally written a not-so neighborly letter to it’s owner, I decided it was probably best not to ink out those thoughts and instead go for a ‘run’ (fyi: that last statement is probably gonna be the funniest part of this blog).

I got to the park just before 8:00 and decided to warm up with with a 10 minute walk. After 30 minutes, I was too warm to run so I decided it was best to just walk the rest of the hour. It worked for me.

After my workout, I got home and got ready for the 1 Bridal Shower I had penciled in for the weekend. It was set to start at 10:30. I was 15 minutes late. Which was no big deal, since I forgot to adjust for the correct time zone. 15 minutes from my home would (under normal circumstances) still be the same time zone. But, alas, I was venturing over to a function co-hosted by the one of the sweetest woman I know but who is known for not ever (EVER) being on time or being ready on time. Needless to say, after factoring in the Gerena-time-zone effect, I was a good 30 minutes early.

The wedding shower was in and of itself, simple and sweet. Not unlike the young Bride-To-Be.The food was great and the people who attended were great. But the greatest moment, for me, happened when I was sitting just left of little Ana. She was already a bit peeved with me because I asked her to not to touch her sister’s drink about an hour earlier. So, as I was considering heading out, I looked over at the plate that she had CLEARLY pushed forward (a sure sign that she was done with it’s contents). I noticed a mini-apple pie on it and mentioned to her mom, “oh, there are apple pies? I think I’ll take one home.” To which her mom replied, “take that one, she’s not gonna eat it.” At which point, Ms. Ana pulls the plate back toward her, picks up the pie, LICKS IT and puts it back on the plate.

TREATED.

I waved my white napkin in defeat and decided that Ana and I will be good friends… as long as we don’t sit at the same table.

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Needless to say, her mother was a bit mortified by her actions. It’s much cuter when they’re not your own.

The rest of that day was a blur. I mean, really, what could top that???

Before I knew it, it was Sunday.

Once again, I ventured out for an early morning run. And I did run… right back inside to put on sweatpants and a sweater when I realized how cold it was. But that’s pretty much all of the running I did. My usual hour long walk around the park was cut down to 45 minutes and the distance I usually cover was cut significantly when I decided to walk with a friend. She wanted to stop and take pictures. No. No. No. We don’t take pictures or stroll on morning walks. We walk. And we walk briskly. I have a doctor’s note. She didn’t care. Lesson learned. She won’t be joining me on my Sunday morning walks anymore.

Next up was the 1 Baby Shower I had on my list. Once again, a sweet little gathering for one of the sweetest gals I know.

After the Baby Shower, as I was driving along Kedzie, I came to a full and complete stop at the 4 way intersection near Hirsch St. As the SUV in front of me drove off, I noticed something had been thrown out of the window. At first, I thought it was garbage. And, of course, I mumbled a few nasty words under my breath about the driver. But as I started to accelerate, and the contents started to blow all over the street, I realized it was a wallet that had been thrown out of the car. I stopped my car and quickly got out. As did most of the people in the cars on the other sides of the streets. I picked up the wallet and, as it’s contents and money flew around, most of the people came toward me to hand me what they had managed to gather up.

I was shocked to see a couple of people get out of their cars to grab whatever money they could get and drive off! SHOCKED. And so angry. So much so that when I noticed one couple who got out of their very nice CRV to ‘help’ and ran back into their car to drive off, I suddenly forgot I am more of a lover than a fighter. I went towards the car as if I was an inbred pitbull.

People, did I not just mention that my main source of an exercise regiment is walking briskly. And I’m just gonna put it out there and admit that lifting 3 pound weights as I lay on my bed watching HGTV isn’t giving me the solid, toned guns I think I should have just because I put forth the effort.

But I digress.

As I walked toward the couples car, another good Samaritan walked over from behind and knocked on the passenger’s side window. Good Samaritan must have thought the wallet/money belonged to Bonnie and Clyde because she started to hand the money over to them. Again, I have NO IDEA why I thought it was was ok for me to reach inside of the car, take the money out of Bonnie’s hand and then extend my other hand until she gave me the money she had picked up and pocketed. AND SHE DID. Then I looked at Clyde and he pulled out the single dollar bill he managed to get his grubby hands on and handed that over to me as well.

As I switched my glare from her to him and back at her again, I can hear myself say (quite sternly), “REALLY? REALLY? REALLY?” As I looked at the id in the wallet I continued, “‘Neither of you look like J. Martinez-Valdez!” It was just after the 3rd “really” that the little voice in my head started to tell me, “ummm…. that chick is about 150 lbs and she can clock you at any second.” That’s when I silently thanked the voice in my head as I trotted back to my car and drove off. 10 seconds later my hands started to shake uncontrollably and I could hear my heart pounding.

I took the wallet to the police station after I called his credit card company and told them what had happened and where I was taking the wallet. They said they’d notify him. I was still kinda flustered because it wasn’t until after I left the police station that I realized the police officer who took down the information was incredibly good looking and I didn’t stop to see if he had a wedding band or a name. Although I’m quite sure he had a name.

So if anyone out there knows who was working the desk at 4:00 yesterday in the 14th District. Ummm… ya know.

After a fun-filled weekend of celebrations, getting dissed by people who don’t have a full set of teeth and coming to the aid of those in need while picking unnecessary fights with rather large people in rather large vehicles, I ended with a little bit of dancing at Navy Pier… and a strong urge to purchase a cape.

What’d you do this weekend?

Hey, Kid 1… Today You’re 20!

Hey baby girl, I wanted to write something that best describes what I think of you and how I feel about you but I’m really tired. So, instead of coming up with something new, I thought I’d just resend you the letter I wrote about you earlier this year (I had to tweak it a bit)…

I was asked to write a little something about you that could be “funny, embarrassing, sweet, or charming.” Of course, the first thing that popped out for me, was embarrassing. I brought it down to the top 10 stories but then I thought that just might be too much. So I narrowed it even more to 3. As I mulled over how I would word it, conviction got the best of me and I decided to spare you (and everyone reading this) the details. But rest assured, I have many stories that are ready to go when you make it big in the world and ‘accidentally’ delete my number from your cell phone; which I, probably,will still be paying.

So, instead of an embarrassing story, how about I go with a funny one? How about the story about the first time I let you drive me around near the lakefront?

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It started off ok. I sat next to you, watching my baby girl behind the wheel, trying not to get emotional. There you were all grown, checking the mirrors, adjusting your seat and, of course, scanning the radio for your signature song of that year, California Girls. It had been 20 minutes since it had played on B-96 so, obviously, it was about time for it to be played again. 

You were correct in your timing. 

Naturally, you blasted the radio. Naturally, I lowered it way down. Naturally, you gave me dirty look. 

I let it slide only because I was having a moment. 

I buckled my seat-belt and told you to start the car— sidenote: meanwhile, your brother sat in the back middle seat where he managed to strap himself into two of the three seat-belts.

You drove out of the zoo parking lot just fine. You maintained the proper speed limit and you didn’t swerve too far to the left or the right. You had both hands on the steering-wheel and I watched as you’d periodically check the rear-view mirror and the side mirrors. 

Yep, I was a proud momma bear. 

You drove peacefully along and then stopped ever so diligently just before the pedestrian walkway as the yellow signal light turned red. I remember how you looked over at me beaming with pride and confidence. Your smile said it all…. “I got this.” 

All was fine with the world. That is, until the light turned green and you realized that all traffic had to turn left; even the cars in the right lane, which is where our car was sitting

What happened next comes in bursts.

You started to ease into the turn just fine. And then the cabby to our left got a wee, bit too close as he made his turn. I saw your hands grip the steering wheel tighter and your body instantly tensed up. You steered to the right a bit too quickly as you pushed down on the accelerator a little too hard and the car jerked forward straight towards the illegally parked car about 6 feet in front of us.  

We both screamed (at least, I think it was you and me… it may have been me and your brother).

It wasn’t until you started to hit the brakes that we all noticed the guy on the bike to the right of us. That’s when you abruptly steered left and instinctively accelerated. I felt my seat-belt lock and I caught a glimpse of your brother’s arms flailing back and forth through the visor mirror. It was like we were all moving in slow-motion… on a boat… in the middle of a thunderstorm.

By the time I realized what was happening, the cabbie was just far enough ahead of us that somehow you managed to miss hitting his car… and the illegally parked car to the right… and the biker, by weaving in and out and then back into our lane again in less than 3.2 seconds. 

It was like poetry in motion. 

For the record, I appreciate poetry much more in writing form.

It’s a moment in time that will FOREVER be etched in my memory; no matter how much therapy I’ve gotten since then. And if I’ve learned nothing else from that experience, I learned this: you my dear love, do in fact, “got this.”

For 20 years, I’ve watch you start, stop, weave, turn and maneuver your way to where you are today and to who you’ve become today. You’ve had your near misses but– with lots and lots and lots of prayer and many, many long talks, and a few scoldings, and a few more crying fits of anger, and even more crying tears of joy, and sometimes just crying silently laying next to me just because you needed to– you have managed to see the clearing just before the crash. 

I am in awe of who you are and I look forward to the woman you will become. 

Proud does not even begin to describe my sentiments when I think of you and your accomplishments. And the word love is not enough to describe the depth of how and what I feel for you. 

You are, bar none, one of the three things I’ll ever do superbly in this lifetime (in case you’re wondering, the other two are your brother and guacamole).

Happy 20th birthday, kid 1!!!

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