Where the hampster wheel always turns

About Me

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Middle aged underweight high school graduate
"It is not advisable James to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener." - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged
"The soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut taxes now." - John F. Kennedy

Some Birds are for the Birds

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Today was a pretty big day. I suppose one's perspective can be a little skewed when they're hopped up on cranberry juice and Cipro, but still, it was big for me.

I went to Costco. Anyone who lives in Arizona in the winter knows that locals avoid Costco in the winter like the plague. But I had a list, and I HAD to go. So I venture to that scary part of town just off the freeway where they build Costcos and fight my way through the mass of humanity congregated in the parking lot stowing their three gallons of maple syrup and 17 pounds of kielbasa in various trunks. I can't believe how many people feel they need to shop at Costco - but in the winter...

The snowbirds flock worse than anything Hitchcock could have imagined. Thousands of wandering, aimless seniors with out-of-state license plates and matching t-shirts spend the afternoon at Costco swarming each sample booth like fire ants. If you want to get in, buy some bread and a chicken, you're out of luck. You will have to slalom past countless couples pushing giant cars with one item in them. It's not for the faint of heart.

But, since I am trying again for the Mother of the Year trophy, I attempt to get the list of items the children posted a month ago.

Pushing past people clamoring for a bite sized taste of microwave cheese pizza, I think I've got a shot at getting out in one piece. My fifteen minute list took me over an hour. it was like L.A. rush hour traffic, except in L.A. traffic people know how to drive.

Getting out to my car was like a game of chicken/frogger. People waving me ahead of them and then flooring the gas pedal as I sprinted, stopped, swerved, ducked. Despite the fact that I wore hot pink, I still don't think many of them ever saw me. Collapsing in the driver's seat of safety I gave a heavy sigh of relief and slowly backed out of my space.

Like some sort of velociraptor radar, the movement of my car summoned four different drivers for the spot. Since they were all sure they were first, no one was going to budge. The only problem with this turf war was I was totally boxed in. Of course, the logical solution was for all the other drivers to start honking. I threw up my hands and pulled back into the space. They all had some sort of non-verbal death match until two of them gave up and I was able to back out.


Waiting at the light to turn left onto the main road I was thrilled to be out of the parking lot. The light turns green and the car to my right pulls out into traffic. After a rather insightful two days at traffic school (eons ago, of course), I developed the habit of counting two seconds before pulling out into traffic after a red light. I'm sitting there counting and then start to pull out as I suddenly notice - at full, break-neck speed AND slow motion all at the same time - a female specimen of the snowbird variety barreling past the two lanes of stopped traffic THROUGH THE RED LIGHT right at my door.

Shielding my head and bracing for the impact, I leaned to the right and thought, "I'm gonna die!"

There was horrible screeching and then silence. I admit, for a split second I was pretty sure I was dead since I didn't hurt anywhere, and I didn't hear anything. I slowly sat up and there was the snowbird, staring through her windshield right at me - the hood of her car not more than one inch from my door.

Some guy runs out into the street and starts yelling "How did she not hit you? I thought you were dead!"

That makes two of us.

The guy gets the snowbird to back up, and then motions me on. I suppose it's not leaving the scene of an accident if the car doesn't actually make contact with anything. I slowly drive away with more adrenaline pumping through my body than my blood stream knows what to do with. I'm shaking all over and think I peed my pants a little.

All I can say is man, she must have been living right.

Outside The Lines

Monday, February 7, 2011

Recently an new phenomenon has come into my life: Groupon. At first I was intrigued because the descriptive writing describing the daily product was so absurd I found it wonderfully entertaining. Like today's deal for Floyd's Kitchen:

Adding gourmet ingredients to a meal makes a commonplace activity feel special, much like brushing your teeth with a sparkler or withdrawing money from an ATM while holding it at gunpoint.

Or this one for an artisan craft store:

Bare walls have plenty of advantages: ample surface area for finger painting, an absence of disapproving Churchill posters, and no mirrors reminding you that your hair is on fire.

After reading these daily posts it made me want to work there! Instead, I've just comforted my already overburdened self by purchasing random coupons for things I never knew I needed. But hey, I also never realized the Karmic impact of the absence of Churchill posters in my home. So see? New, Groupon horizons!!

Most of what I have purchased would not surprise any of you - it's been food. OK, I've purchased, and now consumed a lot of food. But, it was at a great price!

Admittedly some of the purchases have been outside my normal fenced area. Off leash sorts of stuff. One recent purchase was for a workout studio. I do work out on my own, but formal, group working out always scare me. So when a friend said "lets go together" of course, I realized there would be safety in numbers.


We purchased these Groupons because they held female-only dance workout classes. Weird, eclectic, dance workout classes. Bollywood dancing. Pole dancing. Hula Hooping.

You can see this is not going to end well.

So I register and show up for my first class. The hula hoop class. Walking down a well-lit hallway I'm guided to one of the studio rooms. I crack open the door hoping to spot my friend and am totally confused - it is pitch BLACK. OK, I'm not decrepit old, but hula hooping in the dark is not going to be a good idea.

I can't see a thing and literally grope the wall until I stepped on someone. We both apologized because neither of us could tell whose fault it was that we had collided - and this was during the non-hooping warm up phase.

So I finally crawl to the open spot my friend has saved for me. I join her on the floor and keep whispering my fascinating commentary to her during the stretching warm-up. A hard fact of aging is that responsible old people should stretch before they hula hoop.

Blessedly, the instructor decides to re-think her "hoop in the dark" strategy. She explains that she has designed a space-themed workout for us tonight with our hula hoops and wanted it to be as realistic as possible. Huh? Let me just say, unless I get knocked unconscious by another space-hooper, at no time am I going to think I'm in space and crushing that delusion will just be good for all of us.

She turns the lights on, and I turn to my friend to continue my scintillating running commentary, only to realize, it's not my friend. My friend isn't even in the room. This poor woman next to me actually walked to the other side of the room once the lights came on.

Well, great. More room for me.

I'm blocking off my space with my hula hoops and the instructor gets the class started to a cover version of "Space Oddity". So there I am, trying desperately to get the hoop to orbit my non-existent hips to the space-strains of a Bowie knock-off. I'm bumpin' and grindin' and gyrating myself into some sort of spasmodic sweat. It was awful.

In case you wondered, hula hoops make a HUGE bang when they hit the ground, and mine hit the ground with frustrating regularity. The hooper in front of me starts to giggle as she literally turns around to watch me. The class was moving into more complicated moves...I mean "Planetary orbits" and I can barely keep the hoop going around my waist for three rotations.

I would make a crappy planet.

The hooper in front of me keeps giving me advice. Pretty good advice, but getting my body to do what I pictured in my head was proving impossible. My hooper buddy, is laughing, I'm laughing and then she winks at me. A nice, encouraging wink.


She then turns around again and smiles, nods and winks.


The class is now gyrating rather impressively to "Major Tom" and I've just realized my gravitational pull is stronger than I knew. Strong enough to pull in lesbian hula hoopers. I'm trying not to to be awkward, but Hooper Buddy is staring at me. With her back to the instructor. Staring.

Oh boy.

After what seemed like 4,000 light years, the class ended, and I hung up my hoop. As I was putting on my shoes, Hooper Buddy sat right next to me. Right next.

I scooted a few inches away, and she just scooted after me. She was asking my name, and if I've been there before because she's never seen me there before and wondered if I was taking any other classes (take a breath) and I was a really good hula hooper for a first timer and she's been doing hula hoop since she was a kid and that's why she could help me so much and would I be there for the next hula hoop class (take a breath)...

I couldn't get a word in edgewise, which is probably good because it was a rare moment when I didn't know what to say.

Smiling, I thanked her for her help and said I'd "see ya later" and then sprinted to the car.

Upon reflection, I should not have been so flustered. I got exactly what the Groupon described.

At Least It Wasn't In My Car

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I'm a simple person who is easily entertained...and if you are a faithful reader you know I don't get out much. I have, however, developed a fun little routine that Dog and I play every few weeks when he is out of food.

Dog knows a lot of words: bye bye - he heads for the car. Walk - he grabs his leash. Dinner - he points his paw at his bowl. Puppy - he runs to the window and starts crying (I do too, but that's another post). But by far, my favorite is when I say "Petsmart?" - every hair on his body perks up, he tilts his head and wags half of his body furiously. He knows Petsmart. Rather than sitting in a locked car while his family goes off on an adventure without him - he gets to go INSIDE! He LOVES Petsmart.

Petsmart is where we combine his entire vocabulary into one glorious trip. We go Bye Bye, then we Walk on our leash to the store where we might see a Puppy and buy some Dinner. His joy is full.

So off we go tooling down the street, toward our local Petsmart to purchase some Dinner. He is very polite as we enter the store and promptly starts crying as he sees a cute little gray miniature poodle who won't give him the time of day. I tell him to man up, it won't be the last time he gets dissed by a chick. We parade around the store, saying hello to the fish, adoptable cats and chew toys. He sniffs, and pants and wiggles with canine delight.

Pushing my cart filled with a large bag of Dinner, he stays on the lookout for any opportunity to socialize that he can. Whenever we are in public, people notice him. He is a large, black dog, but he has soft curly hair and looks a bit like a teddy bear. I'm chatting with some women who are interested in his CV when one of the women starts pointing at him. I look down just in time to realize he is dry heaving and was about to change modes to wet heave. He hurls a bright yellow puddle of bile all over the floor in front of the nice ladies. They scatter like 10 cent feed crickets.


Now, for those of you who are not pet owners, Petsmart has little stations set up throughout the store for "accidents". Normal dogs just pee, but of course mine has to barf. I drag Sir Barfsalot over to the "Accident Station" and gather an armful of weak recycled paper towels, antiseptic spray and plastic bags. Unfortunately they do not provide latex gloves for such occasions, but I suppose that's the punishment I get for owning a dog that leaks.

Approaching the giant puddle of barf, Dog suddenly needs to hurl again. I try and throw towels in his path, but only end up making things worse as some of the barf is repelled by the little pile of crummy towels and splatters all over. Now I turn back to the "Accident Station" to replenish my supplies. As I'm about to tackle the job, a man rounds the corner headed directly for our first puddle of barf. I yell out to warn him, but either he is related to me or very rude since he totally ignores me and rolls all four of his cart wheels through the barf puddle and then slops his loafers through the parts that he missed. Not only is this totally gross, but now he has expanded the contamination zone as his tracks continue a good twenty feet past the original barf pool.

Now I am faced with a defining moment: of course, the original barf puddles are my responsibility, but is the secondary contamination and spreading of said barf also my responsibility? Down on my hands and knees, wrapped to the elbows in plastic bags I'm sopping up barf for what seems like miles. How did I get to be this glamourous???

Of course, Dog is no help, he just sits quietly next to my purse pretending he doesn't know me. Just like my kids.