Zumba? Maybe with a twist…


I have no zum in my ba.

I just finished my second Zumba class, and as much as I’d love to look and move like my instructors, I’m pretty sure I never will.

The music is great, the mood is upbeat, an hour flies by quick, and you barely realize you are working out until you are covered in sweat.  Sounds great.  But I am terrible at it.  Really, really awful.  My spine is stiff and my feet are heavy.  I go left when everyone else goes right.  When I finally find enough rhythm to join in on the claps, it is too late and I am the only one still clapping.  I miss entire steps trying to pop my hip or shimmy my tush.  And that whole hoochie-coochie, boob shaking, pelvic thrust thing, well, I just can’t do it.  I am J-Hy – the opposite of J-Lo.

About half way through the second class, I started to recognize some of the moves, and was pretty sure I’d done them before.  I had, but never sober.  With enough wine, Shorty gets low.  But sober, I am 100 percent vanilla, no flava’, no spice.  I would seriously have a couple of margaritas before the next class if it didn’t mean potentially puking on my daughter’s first grade teacher.  Yeah, did I mention that I was attempting those dirty dance moves in the presence of the beloved Mrs. B?  Worse, she was a lot better than I was.

When my favorite Flo-Rid-A song came on, I decided to just go for it.  I stopped trying to match every little twitch of my instructor’s hips and instead just moved with the music.  I decided I didn’t need alcohol to get my groove on, I just needed to relax and have fun.  I imagined I was dancing with friends at a hot club in Vegas.  I even put my hands in the air, rolled my shoulders and did a little snake action with my spine.   For a minute, I believed I had all the right moves.

I was wrong.  One unfortunate glance at the wall of mirrors revealed I was just another flabby mom stumbling around in a second-rate strip mall, with absolutely no zum in my ba.   Next time, I’ll try it with salt and a twist of lime.

Free Lunch

I found this photo on wildyeastblog.com -- looks de-lish

I have never been a fiction writer, but I think I’ve found new inspiration.  It involves free food, so I might actually do it.  It also involves acting, which I’ve never aspired to, but maybe I would try if the payoff were the elusive free lunch.

When I think about it, I actually do a lot of fiction writing in my head.  I see people and create elaborate back-stories to explain their behavior.  If I eventually get to know the person, I am often disappointed to learn that their real back-story is nothing like the one I had created for them.  Sometimes I stick with my version of their life to make them seem more interesting.

The scene I witnessed the other day was not one I would have ever come up with on my own, but now I need to flesh out the storyline and maybe even play it out.

I was at my favorite sandwich shop, waiting for a to-go order, eavesdropping.  Some kind of financial planner was explaining different types of life insurance to an attentive 30-something woman.  He shifted into other investment options and asked, “How old is your future mother-in-law?”  That’s when it got interesting.

The woman explained that the money she was looking to invest was her fiancé’s wife’s fortune, not his mother’s.  The 89-year-old woman he had recently shipped off to a nursing home had kept (her word not mine) him for many years, and there were no plans for a divorce. She explained that the old woman was very lonely after her husband passed, and that the younger man they now shared was quite handsome and clearly generous with his affection.  Being a prince of a guy, he wanted to make sure his sugar momma was comfortable, but that her medical needs didn’t cut too deeply into his current lifestyle or the future he was planning with his much younger fiancé.

I can’t make this shit up.

I wish I had seen the look on the financial planner’s face, but I was too busy hiding the look on my face while leaning in to get a better listen.  The woman filled what should have been an awkward silence.

She was unapologetic, repeatedly mentioning her fiancé’s good looks, and what a comfort he had been to the old woman since the early days of the first husband’s onset of Alzheimer’s.   Wow.  Forget waiting for the corpse to get cold.  This gold-digging dynamic-duo had swooped in years ahead of corpse-number-one and was now just waiting for the next body to drop.  In their version of reality, it was only right that this sweet man get what was due him after his years of devotion.  She was, of course, due some payoff as well, having provided the emotional support he needed throughout.  They were simply looking forward to living the life they deserved.

I wanted to sit down at the table next to them to hear more and see how the financial planner guy would react, but I didn’t.  Instead, I walked away and started drafting alternative back-stories.  Most of them where reminiscent of cheap soap operas, but I settled on one that I might just try out myself.

I’m not going to start trolling nursing homes for sugar daddies, let alone for creepy guys who are there scouting out their future sugar mommas.  I’m just going to create, and play the part of, a character like them.  Once I’ve got more than a rough draft, I’ll start trolling for financial planners who are willing to take me out to lunch to earn my fake business.

I’ll hone my fiction writing and acting skills and, more importantly, get some free lunches.  I won’t feel guilty because I won’t really be scamming a helpless old woman. And the guys paying for my lunch will have a great story to tell at cocktail parties.  Everyone wins!

I’m not a good actor, so I really should have one of my friends do it.  I have several who could pull it off.  But that defeats the whole purpose of me getting a free lunch.  I’ll just have to rehearse.  If I get caught, I’ll tell them it’s all a joke for Betty White’s new hidden camera TV show for old people.  Maybe I’ll even have one of my friends nearby with a camera to make it look legit.  If we get enough footage, we could turn it all into a documentary that explores the boundaries of social and professional mores.  Would any of the financial planners have the guts to tell me what I was doing was wrong, or would the potential commission override their sense  of morality?  Would other eavesdroppers like me ever speak up?  Would I be able to get anyone to pay for dinner?  I mean, as much as I love those gourmet chibatta sandwiches, a properly kept woman should probably insist on a white tablecloth establishment.

I clearly need to spend some time developing my character.  Then again, maybe fiction writing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Real world characters are pretty hard to top.

The Unlikely Abduction of a Pterodactyl Baby

For a quiet kid, my daughter has always been loud. Eardrum bursting decibel levels have always been well within her capacity, even if she doesn’t choose to exercise that talent often.

I knew early on that she was special in the screaming department. When she was six weeks old, I bundled her up and carted her off to an infant massage class. I had read that massage can help sooth a cranky baby and adds to the mother-child bonding experience. I needed all the help I could get as a new parent, so I signed up.

About a dozen sleep-deprived and confused women knelt on the floor in a darkened room, hovering over our helpless babies who lay on their backs, shivering without clothes. I had barely gotten the hang of changing diapers but was now expected to master Swedish milking moves on clenched up little legs that I was convinced would snap in my clumsy grip. The scent of soothing oils calmed my nerves a bit as we learned how to use one finger in a wiper-blade motion over their tiny tummies to ease gas pains. Always left-to-right, never the other way. Not too hard, but with some pressure.

Infanthood had been pretty easy for me up to that point. I had a large baby, so her ample belly could hold more food and go longer between feedings. But about a week before the class started, she had started to get cranky in the early evening hours. Her once cute little baby bird noises had progressed into full-grown pterodactyl screeches around dinnertime each night. The hours between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. were noted in all the books as the witching hours, so I figured that was normal. The concept of liberally defining “normal” is a recurring theme in my parenting experience.

At that point, I was convinced that suffering through pterodactyl-like noises around six each night was normal, so I thought it was a little nuts that the class was scheduled for that time.  I reasoned that perhaps they scheduled it for then to help us through a predictably difficult time.

We made it through most of the class before my daughter started to grimace and squirm and fight the supposedly soothing massage. The instructor had warned that there were limits to an infant’s tolerance for this new form of stimulation, and that we should look for signs of when they’d had enough. Unfortunately, my daughter didn’t show many early warning signs, and instead went straight from content cooing to flat out screaming. I stopped the massage and resorted to my normal routine for trying to quiet her – bouncing, rocking, patting, etc. I looked up to see if the instructor had any advice, but instead saw only looks of shock and horror from everyone in the room. Some of the mothers instinctively shielded their precious babies from the violence erupting in my arms.

I smiled and said, “You know… this is that rough time of night.” But all I got in return was the clear impression that my child was not at all normal.

“Maybe she’s hurt?” one woman asked.

“No. She does this every night.”

“Like that?”

“Uh. Yeah?”

Another woman’s baby had started to cry, but it was a tiny, muted little cry. It was more like a whimper. She tried to comfort me. “Mine is really fussy in the evenings too. Just hearing her cry like this makes my heart ache.”

“Is that her cranky cry? She doesn’t get louder?”

“Um. Well, this is loud for her. Yours looks a lot older. Maybe her cry is loud because she is older?”

“She’s six weeks. How old is yours?”

“Oh. Um. Well, she is nine weeks old.”


“I’m sure her cry is normal for a baby her size.”

I was sweating, and my giant dinosaur baby was still screaming. I packed up, took her home and pulled out my books to help me redefine normal.

I still had dial-up in those days. There was no Facebook, no Twitter feed to compare experiences with friends or otherwise dilute my worries with stories of other people’s woes. But somehow I found what I needed to feel normal enough to go back to the rest of the classes with the confidence that my child was healthy and strong and a probably the least likely in the room to ever be abducted.

My Uniform Isn’t Working Out

My Uniform
How's your uniform working out?

I am wearing my uniform today — black pants, black performance hoodie over a racer-back tank, running shoes and a ponytail. I put on this uniform almost every morning, hoping it will serve its purpose.

I fell out of my exercise groove and need to claw my way back out of this rut where I’ve been stuck, eating, for months. Maybe this week will be my turnaround week. Every week has that potential, but none has yet proven to be that week. I was going to start fresh at the beginning of the month, but something happened, I don’t know what, and the week came and went.

Today is Monday, and that always seems like a good day to start over, especially after a weekend of indulgences. A new creamery opened up nearby and I tried their candy cane ice cream yesterday. That was my fourth visit since they opened less than two weeks ago. Sweets aren’t usually my big downfall, but when it comes to rich, creamy ice cream that supports a local farmer, well, I just can’t resist. I want them to succeed. They need regular customers. I need to start running again.

It is decent outside and a good day to run. Weather can’t be my out. And I have plenty of time open if I don’t continue to whittle it away on my computer.

I’ve been in a writing rut as well, so I can’t use that as an excuse. Though I try my best by reading random tweets from other bloggers to learn more about how to build my online presence. I am waiting to hear back from a potential client, so I can’t really use work as an excuse either. Though I try my best by reading random articles to learn more about their online presence. All the while, my offline presence is rapidly expanding, stressing the waistband of my under-utilized uniform.

If I wait too much longer, it will be lunchtime and I will be too hungry to run. If I cave and have lunch first, I’ll be too tight on time and finish out the day, anxious and un-showered in my uniform, cooking dinner, wondering why I feel gross. It is now or never. Today needs to be the day. This week needs to be that week. My uniform needs to earn its next wash, and I need to earn my next soft-serve.

Rocky Point Creamery

Career on Ice

I put my career on ice a few years back.  I’m starting to thaw it out.

Like a feast that was just too much to eat at one time, my career became too much to devour along with everything else on my plate.  I had to pack it up and put it away for later.

I’ve been pulling out pieces over the years, nibbling away for freelance jobs and dishing out for community projects.  But I’ve got a craving for something really fulfilling, so I’m thinking about what I want to do with what’s left.  I’m inventorying everything that is packed away in the deep freeze and seeing what I might be able to make of it all.

I’m confident the meat is still good, but I know I need to be patient and let it thaw slowly.  If I take the shortcut, the searing heat of the microwave will dry out the edges, suck out the juice and turn it into a flavorless, rubbery mass.  If I take my time and let it thaw slowly while I decide what I really want to cook up, it could turn out to be flavorful, nourishing and truly satisfying.  I might need to try out some new spices to make it more interesting, but I’m up for that.

Some of the side dishes have been in there too long and are ruined from the frost.  I’m pretty sure they sat out too long to begin with and probably weren’t worth saving in the first place.  The good news is I can replace them with something crisp, fresh and colorful that helps balance out the meal.

I may also find that some things have changed in shape and texture.  Fruit that was plump and full when first bagged-up, might shrink, but it also might get sweeter.

So, I’ll keep researching recipes, comparing notes with other cooks and doing the necessary prep work.  But I am getting pretty hungry.

This essay was written for “Night of the Radish” theme:  “Ice”

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