Haiti

And on a more serious note….

You guys should check out my friend’s blog . He recently returned from Haiti and has a pretty interesting story to tell. He’s one of those rare individuals that manages to have both intelligence AND common sense.

From what I understand he was originally supposed to be going down there with an aid group, but once he arrived he disagreed with their methods so he decided to just strike out on his own. He teamed up with another guy from that group, and the two of them struck out into Haiti, helping where they could, sleeping at stranger’s houses, and only returning to the airport to gather supplies before heading out again.

If you’ll pardon my bluntness, that takes a PAIR.

He’s perfectly suited for the helping out down there— he’s a contractor/part-time photographer that used to be an EMT, and he grew up in the wilds of all different kinds of countries (his parents were missionaries.)

I’ve got a big fat crush on his wife— in my next life I’m going to be her. She’s that woman who has 3 kids who are so intelligent, mature, and well-behaved that the whole family looks like it just crawled out of a 1950s tv show. She’s intelligent, beautiful, has a killer set of legs, always has a clean house, and can whip out a desert for 10 at a moment’s notice.

I’d hate her, but she’s the kind of person who got up early this year on Valentine’s Day to hand out Valentine’s Day cards to widows that she knew.

At any rate, check out his story. He has some pretty interesting insights on what Haiti REALLY needs. In addition, he’s a pretty killer photographer so he has a lot of neat footage.

By the way, if you live in the SoCal area, you can help Haiti out in a pretty serious way by donating blood at St. Joseph’s hospital. His wife would like to go with him on this next trip (she’s a registered nurse), but they can’t afford to do it unless it’s on paid time off. If you donate blood to the hospital in her name, they’ll credit it to her for paid time off. Email me for details if you’re interested.

And as for another plug for Haiti…

There’s an orphanage down in Haiti that’s pretty well-known and does GREAT work. If you live in the Colorado Springs area they are begging for volunteers to come by and help box up a shipment of donations that they’d like to get out by March 1st so it can hopefully arrive before the rainy season sets in.

If you have time, read some of the rest of her blog— although I would like to warn you, reading her accounts on the inept handling of the displaced kids gets me so mad that I see red. Did you know that not only are they stopping all adoptions out of Haiti (I can understand that part), but they aren’t allowing the existing orphanages to house any of the orphans?! It’s not like they’re going to secretly adopt them out… They’ve stopped all adoptions in the entire country! So, instead of having them in places that are set up to take care of infants and young children, they’ve got all of those children sitting out there in tent cities while places like that orphanage are laying off staff because there’s not enough work for them.

WTH.

The government approved and rushed through about 500 adoptions that were already in the works when the earthquake hit in order to make room for the new orphans… and now beauracracy and red tape has come to a stand still. You’ve got kids crammed into tents in the worst-hit area of Port Au Prince, and places like God’s Littlest Angels (who has mtrained medical staff, beds, supplies, workers, etc.) BEGGING to take some in to get them out of the tent city… and red tape is getting in the way.

Okay, I’ve got myself all worked up into a lather again. I think it’s time I jumped off my soapbox.

I Hate Skirts



I had another “Becky” moment today.

I as I previously mentioned in my Adventures in Nakedness post, my new job is centered smack-dab in the middle of one of the most disgustingly-snobby areas of the entire world: Fashion Island. There is something sinister about how addictive the lifestyle is. After less than a month of working there I found myself looking at Nordstrom ads and sighing after $175 pair of jeans. I wanted those jeans. I needed those jeans. My butt wasn’t complete without them.

And then I went up to visit my family near the Bakersfield area and realized that no, no I did not NEED a $175 pair of jeans. What I needed was a swift kick in the rear for being sucked into the stupidity in less than a month.

I returned to my work, marching proudly in my worn store-brand penny-loafers and my clearance-rack skirts.

Until today.

Today, about ten minutes before I was supposed to be done for the day, my boss called me up and asked me to pick up a package from the receptionist at a local legal firm.

I was vaguely annoyed at this request as it meant that I would probably going to miss my “Turbo Kick” class at 24 Hour Fitness (see? see? I went back! Aren’t you proud of me?). On the other hand, I figured if I hurried, with a little luck I just might make the class. I got into my vintage 1986 vehicle and drove over to the building. As I walked up to the front of the building, just like a cliche scene from a B movie, a huge gust of wind came up and blew my post-it note right out of my hand. Rather than float daintily about on the breeze, that little note took off like a ratdog out a front door. I’m sure if I listened really closely I might have heard the little, tiny sonic boom it made as it disappeared into the distance. I didn’t even have time to contemplate chasing it.

Oh, by the way, in case I didn’t mention it, the post-it note had which law firm and suite number jotted down in front of it. I was now standing in front of a building with no idea where I was supposed to go.

Oh, did I also forget to mention that the building was 18 stories tall? An 18 story tall building with about a BAZILLION lawyers working in it?

Too embarrassed to call my new boss up and ask him to repeat himself, I decided to try and figure it out. After all, I kind of remembered that the lawyer’s name was Wayne (names changed to protect my a**).

I walked into the building and looked at the directory. There were 4 Waynes. I picked one randomly off the “list”, took the elevator up to his floor, marched up to the receptionist and asked if they had a package waiting.

“No, was I supposed to?” she looked at me, panicky.

“No, no. You weren’t. I was just checking to see if you did. It’s okay, don’t worry about it.” I turned on my heel and strode out, mentally adding the fourth floor of the Gigantic Building of Lawyers to the list of “Places I Will Never Show My Face Again”. I took the elevator back down to the lobby, looked up the next “Wayne”, and repeated the process.

I can also no longer go to the ninth floor, in case you were wondering.

On the fourteenth floor I struck gold. Package secured firmly under my armpit (isn’t that where important, million-dollar deals are supposed to be carried?) I strode to the crowded elevator. I had persevered! I had conquered! I am Woman! HEAR ME ROAR!

Realizing that I was the last person in on the extremely crowded elevator dampened my spirits slightly. Wedging myself between an annoyed looking man in a suit and an extremely well-dressed, classy-looking woman, I stared straight ahead. I hate being in an elevator when there are other people on there. I always feel so cliche. I feel like I should say something to them, just to not fall into the stereotype that Hollywood always portrays. Unfortunately, if you don’t come up with something witty immediately, you’ve lost your window of opportunity. If you start talking halfway through a silent elevator ride, people start edging away and getting off at the wrong floor to take the stairs instead.

Like I said, I hate crowded elevators.

Do you know what I hate even worse than crowded elevators? I hate it when the doors are made of that really shiny metal and you have to sit there and the grainy reflection of yourself.

And do you know what’s even worse than that? Staring into that grainy reflection and realizing in horror that the gust of wind had not only blown your post it note away, it had also turned your pert little pony tail into a crazy, medusa-look-alike.

@!#&!*!

Staring at my reflection, standing next to that well-dressed, uber-classy woman, I had to resist the urge to lick my palms and flatten the snarls and straight-up strands that were poking out in every direction.

I am White Trash. Hear me Belch.

It was a long ride down from the forteenth floor, and that darned woman was beside me the whole time. It was a long enough ride that I had enough time to ponder my circumstance. Had discovering that my hair was all over the place made me any less of a person? I had entered that elevator brimming with confidence. Why would I allow a simple, grainy reflection to take that away from me?

Squaring my shoulders in their Target turtleneck, I tugged discreetly at my Kohl’s skirt. I stood tall in my Walmart shoes. I am confident. I am proud. I am a strong, alpha woman! The bell signalled that we had arrived, and the doors slid open. I grabbed my package with both hands, took a firm, long, powerful stride out into the lobby…

And nearly fell on my face. Only the guy behind me darting out to catch my arm kept me from sprawling.

I forgot I was wearing a skirt.

You can’t stride powerfully in a knee-length business skirt.

If you do, the skirt will trap your legs before you hit full-stride, slamming your knees into a locked position and you will probably fall. Please believe me. Please? I need this experience to benefit someone so I can feel like it was all worth it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go drown my sorrows in one of the TWELVE boxes of Girl Scout Cookies that are currently in this house. Let this experience also be a lesson to you: Communication in marriage is important. You can’t both decide to “surprise” the other person with a box (or six) of Girl Scout Cookies. Some things need to be planned in advance.

Where I am Now: Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

“Your boobs look great!” My mom smiled widely, motioned at my newly-developed cleavage and gave me a big thumbs up. I heaved a huge, inward sigh, gave a small, plastic smile back, and then went over to toss my backpack into the back of the boat. After nervously trying on several different shirts and posing awkwardly in front of the mirror for the better part of the hour (does my belly pooch out in this one? Does that one’s color make me look as lifelessly nauseous as I feel?), my mom had noticed the difference in my body immediately.

It wasn’t a good omen. I was about to be trapped for five hours on a 32 foot sailboat with my mother. Somehow, I had to make it through without throwing up, or without her noticing that I was showing signs of having a wombmate. The Bean and I were still trying to figure out how we were going to break the news to her. We weren’t sure about the details, but we were certain we didn’t want to do it quite yet. This was tougher than it sounds, as there have been times in my life when my mom displayed an almost psychic ability when it came to figuring out things I was trying to hide.

I had downed ginger pills, ginger cookies, ginger gum, and wore long sleeves to cover my sea bands . In my backpack I had hidden two thermoses of ice (to chew on as well as to plunge my hands into–cold hands sometimes staved off the puking), some Ritz crackers, a couple of 7-ups, and an extra box of sea bands just in case.

I thought I was ready. Now I wasn’t quite sure.

“Come on in! We’re just getting ready to shove off and head out!” My mom was bubbly and excited, bouncing around the tiny cockpit with a plateful of hors d’œuvres as she showed the sailboat off to her friends . My mom is Mexican, and she shows love by feeding people. We weren’t even out of the harbor yet and she was already trying to get the food party started with a decorative plate of nibblies.

Thinly sliced boiled rotten eggs. Slimy ham. Stinky-foot cheese. Half-rotted pickles. I didn’t have to even look at the plate to know what was on it. My nose let me know long before it even got to me.

My stomach stirred uneasily, sliding around inside me like a cold lizard. “Gum!” I said in my fakest, most cheerful voice when the poisonous plate was passed by me. I pointed at my mouth, and did my best to give a wide smile as I held my breath and passed the plate along in record speed.

My mom frowned at me slightly. “Becky, you have to try the eggs! They’re delicious!”

“I’ve got gum!” I repeated in a slightly louder voice.

“But this is Helen’s recipe! From church! You’re going to DIE when you try these eggs!”

I glanced apprehensively at the plate, at the unappetizing display of cold, white, jiggly chicken semi-fetuses. I swallowed hard.

“But it’s REALLY good gum! I just put it in!” I sounded slightly panicky. You would have thought that chewing this gum was the cure for cancer.

My mom frowned in disappointment for a moment, then brightened. “I’ll save you some! You can try it later!” I smiled weakly back at her, then turned my face into the cool, salty breeze, breathing away the fumes.

I’m going to spare you the exact details of the next five hours. Do you know why? It’s not because I’m running out of adjectives, and it’s not even because I’m sympathetic to those of you out there with weak stomachs.

It’s because as I sit here typing about that nightmare day, even though I’m warm and safe in my own living room, and I’m getting nauseous just remembering it. Apparently that day was so awful that I’m having flashbacks.

 It’s been almost two years, but just typing about it makes my mouth fill with that familiar thin, metallic-tasting spit. On a side note, on more than one occasion I would threw up so hard I bruised the area around my eyes. Check it out:

There were also several times that I broke the blood vessels in my eyes from puking, and walked around with the whites of my eyes stained completely red. I never could bring myself to take a photo of that ugliness, so I don’t have any proof.

At any rate, back to the story.

Suffice it to say that I didn’t throw up. This is really a miracle, because the entire time we were on the boat, in an attempt to show me love,  my mom paraded every single raunchy item of food that she could come up with. I’m sure that the food wasn’t actually raunchy – it’s just how I remember it.

I finally escaped to the bow of the boat, leaning dangerously over the side, knuckles white as I clung to the rigging. It became a sort of a game, trying to beat back the nausea. I breathed deep, measured breaths, trying to chase the sickness away. Each breath became a mantra. I. Will. Not. Vomit. I. Will. Not. Vomit. I. Will. Ooops! Swallow it, Becky. Swallow it! NOW! SWALLOW IT!Ahhhh. Success. Swallowed it down… Continue breathing… Iiiiin. Ouuuut. Iiiiin. Oouuut. Iiiii. Wiiill. Nooooot. Voooomit.

I tried to make it a battle of will against my body. Technically, I knew that there was no reason to throw up. My nausea was caused by an influx of hormones caused by the budding pregnancy. It was an adaptational response to centuries of natural selection, causing me to avoid unhealthy foods that might accidentally trigger a miscarriage. It was just a matter of making my primitive body understand what my advanced brain was able to comprehend, right?

Iiiiin. Ooouuut. Doooon’t. Voooomit.

I tried every mind game I could come up with. Throwing up is a sign of weakness….. Mind over matter, Becky….. Pain is just temporary… Hmm. That’s not working. Okay, uh….My mom is an evil terrorist, and if she sees me vomiting, she’ll blow up a building. Not throwing up saves lives! Don’t let the terrorists win!”

Somehow, I made it back to the docks without tossing my cookies. I’ve never been so grateful to step onto dry land in my life. Tottering back to my car, I followed my mom to the Mexican restaurant we were supposed to have dinner at. I had specifically chosen Mexican food, as I was currently able to eat 5 things without throwing them up later: refried beans, cheese, corn tortillas, cottage cheese, and Funyuns. Since there weren’t a lot of places that offered Funyun-flavored cottage cheese, Mexican food it was.

Or rather… Mexican food it wasn’t. Following my mom, we drove right past the La Capilla and their nourishing beans and tortillas. Grabbing my cell phone, I dialed my mom. “Didn’t we just pass the place?”

“I have a surprise for you!” She said excitedly. “You were such a help taking out the boat that I want to do something special for you!”

“Oh.” That sounded…. ominous. “Well. Uh, thank you?”

“Here it is! Turn here!”

I hung up the phone, and pulled into the driveway of…. an abandoned dock?

No, wait. What was that smell? An old fish market?

My stepdad grinned widely, holding open the door for my mom and I. My mom followed right behind me, almost bouncing up and down in her excitement.

I stopped dead, and stared around me.

Fish. Hundreds and hundreds of dead fish, all looking up at me from their icy graves.

Slimy. Dead. Eyeballs-are-staring-at-me-gonna-puke Fish. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not normally squeamish, and I actually love the taste of fish, which is why my mom had chosen this treat……but after 5 hours of fighting the nausea, this was a far cry from the innocent plate of refried beans I’d been daydreaming about.

“Isn’t it GREAT?” My mom was so excited. She dashed around like a kid in a candy store, pointing at one dead fish after another. “You pick out the fish you want, and then you hand it to the guy behind the counter and he deep fries it for you! They leave the heads on and everything!”

Oh, boy.

“Hey, Becky. Look!” I turned around to find myself nose-to-nose with a dead fish that my step dad was holding up to me. Using his thumb, he made its jaw flap as it “talked” to me.

“Hello, Becky! Don’t I look yummy? Yum, yum, yum! Pick me to eat! I’m yummy!”

The fish and I stared at each other in round-eyed horror.

Desperate to get out of there, I nodded and did my best to play along. “Yes! I pick you! Jump on my plate and let’s go fry you up!” I held out my tray, cringing, then passed Mr soon-to-be-eaten-dead-fish to the man behind the counter.

True to my mom’s word, about 2 or 3 minutes later they handed me back my fish, eyeballs and all, along with a plate of greasy vegetables and (thankfully!) a couple of limp tortillas. The three of us found an empty picnic table and my parents started chowing down.

I stared at my fish.

He stared back at me.

I stared at my fish.

He stared back at me, accusingly. Eat me. Don’t make me die in vain.

I swallowed hard, and poked at him with a fork. I noticed my mom was staring at me, so I tore off some of the meat and placed it in my mouth. I’m sure it had a flavor but I don’t really remember what it was. I was too busy willing it to go down my throat, instead of up.

“Don’t you just love it? Isn’t it the best? Isn’t the meat so incredibly juicy?”

I gave a wan smile at my mother. “It’s like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.” I poked at it again, doing my best to ignore the way it stared at me. “I’m going to remember this meal forever.”

Bobby Sox’s Little Siesta

Many years ago I was a Wrangler up on a timeshare.

It was a very hot summer day and I was in charge of the arena rides for the children who were too young to go out on the trail rides. For this particular ranch you had to be at least 12 years old to go on one of the guided trail rides up in the mountains.

Those that were too young often signed up for the arena rides.None of the wranglers wanted to get stuck with the arena rides.

The trail rides consisted of picking your way across whatever trail you felt like blazing, listening to the sound of the wind in the trees, crossing streams and flowery meadows, enjoying the flickering shade of the Ponderosa pines.

The arena rides, on the other hand, were a complete misery. No matter how long you dawdled in the shaded saddling area while loading up about 4-5 hyperactive children onto the ranch’s oldest horses, eventually you had to grab the lead horse by the halter and drag it out into the baking sun.

It was pretty much that appealing.

There really wasn’t that much difference between an arena ride and a pony ride, except for the size of the horse and the size of the riding area. Before leading the children out into the arena the wrangler was supposed to explain the basics of horseback riding (pull left, pull right, pull back, no kicking, no screaming).

It didn’t really matter, though.

The horses knew their jobs better than any of us did, and I’m pretty sure they hated it just as much. Parrot, Limpy, Pointer, Moe, Raymond, Rock, Drifter, Tarzan… the twenty-odd horses that were part of the string may have had individual personalities but the second they stepped foot onto that baking sand they parked their nose behind another horse’s butt and turned off their brains. Regardless of what the children did they would maintain their slow, steady pace. The only time the kids got the chance to be anything more than a complete passenger was near the gate. By the corner of the gate there was a large tree, and this tree had graciously stretched a single branch over into the arena.

It wasn’t much shade, but it was all we had. The horses and I would crowd around it, sweating and grumpy, all vying for our turn in that magical, narrow strip of shade.

“Kick the horse and pull his nose around,” I would say listlessly, annoyed that I had to actually open my mouth and say words. Talking made it hotter.

Little Timmy would earnestly begin flapping his pathetically scrawny legs against the side of the horse.

The horse, of course, would ignore him.

“Kick harder,” I’d say. “Pretend he’s your little brother or something.”

“But I don’t have a little brother!” Little Timmy would say, giggling. Of course, being a child it was impossible for him to talk and pull on the reins at the same time, so the horse continued edging closer to me and MY SHADE.

“Then pretend he’s someone you don’t like. I don’t care who. Just make him move.”

Little Timmy would obediently begin tapping his legs against the horse. Again, he’d be completely ignored. When you weigh forty-five pounds and you’re already doing the splits, your horse-kicking abilities are kind of useless.

“Go away,” I’d say moodily to the horse, who by this time was crowding me in my precious shade, heating up my personal bubble with his sticky, hot breath.

The horse would move off. When you’re 170 pounds and have firmly established your superiority in the past, you don’t really need horse-kicking abilities.

I’d reclaim my spot in silence, sweat collecting and dripping down the front of bra, doing my best to discretely peel my hot, polyester granny-panties away from my bum and let in some air.

Little Susie’s horse would round the corner, picking up its pace as it saw me, and the process would begin again.

Arena rides were just shy of AN HOUR LONG. I’d like to slap the person who came up with that time frame.

One of the horses that we had that first summer was a cute little chestnut named Bobby Sox. Deep coppery red, 14.3 hh with a pleasant expression topped by pony-sized ears, a big blaze and four white socks, he was remarkably attractive for a string horse. I never got the chance to know him all that well, mostly because I never tried. It may be juvenile of me, but I resented him for trying to take kill me the first time I really interacted with him. After injuring himself on the trailer, Bobby Sox had been in “isolation” in a private stall for the first few weeks he’d been with us. We’d cleaned and fed him but hadn’t messed around with him until his knee had finished healing. As the season was about to kick off, I decided to hop up on him and see what kind of horse was hiding behind that fancy packaging. Into his stall I went with a halter. Three seconds later I was lunging over the top of the fence, only a few feet in front of angry, violent, charging horse.

The second I was out of his pen, his murderous expression instantly rearranged back into his normally friendly facade and he wandered back to the front of his stall.

I put my hand on the gate, warily opening it. Bobby Sox flicked a glance at me, then looked away in disinterest.

My hand holding the halter came into view as I slipped inside, and Bobby Sox immediately pinned his ears and began to rush me. This time I was ready for him and I swung the halter over my head with a violent shout, giving him a good one as the heavy halter whacked him across the face. He snorted and spun, and I followed it up by chasing him around the stall a couple of times, making certain he really understood where I was coming from. It may not have been the most trainer-approved method of getting things done, but it worked for me. I slipped on his halter and brought him out to the tie rail, and then radioed my boss. The string horses we were supposed to get where SUPPOSEDLY kid-safe and people friendly. Bobby Sox had proven to be anything but that. We called up the people we were leasing him from and got the low-down.

To make a long story short, it turns out that Bobby Sox was actually VERY kid-safe and VERY people friendly. He was just low man on the totem pole in the herd and had also never been in a stall before. Having the freedom to eat his hay whenever he wanted and however he wanted wasn’t a luxury he was ready to give up, so when I came in with a halter he did his darndest to keep that from happening. Once we turned him back out with he herd he immediately settled right in, and soon became a staff favorite.

Except for me. After watching him try to turn me into minced-Becky I never really trusted him.

Still, I knew that he was a perfect babysitter for the arena rides, so I usually ended up requesting him whenever it was my turn to run the arena. On the day in question I had used him 3 times in a row. This meant that except for a 20 minute water break in between rides, Bobby Sox had been plodding in a near-comatose state around the arena for almost 3 hours.

I was drifting off in a day dream (probably thinking about ice cream, or cold Dr. Peppers, or swimming in a cold pool) when I heard a sudden scream from one of the kids. Usually the screams were preceded by the sound of horse hooves— if one of the horses did end up spooking at something, it would usually try to take advantage of the confusion by trotting back to the gate and MY shade, which would inevitably prompt screaming from whatever kid was bouncing around on top. This time, however, I hadn’t heard a sound. It took a second for me to see what was going on, but finally I zeroed in. Bobby Sox’s knees were trembling, and he was slowly sinking down to roll in the sand. This wasn’t the first time one of the horses tried to roll with a kid on them. Every once in a long while one of the horses would surprise us by doing this.

“KICK FREE OF YOUR STIRRUPS AND JUMP OFF!” I ran towards the two of them, visions of squished kid and lawsuits dancing before my eyes.

Naturally, the kid did not kick free, but clung to the saddle horn frozen in horror.

Bobby Sox dropped to the ground with a grunt, thankfully pausing before he flopped over. I reached them in time, grabbing the kid by the back of his shirt and hauling him up off the horse.

Bobby Sox groaned long and deep.

The other kids in the arena ride began to clamor in high pitched, shrill voices. “What’s wrong with that horse? What’s wrong with him?! Is he sick? Is he dying? What’s wrong with him? I want down! Get me down! Is he dying?”

And then Bobby Sox did something I really didn’t expect.

Instead of rolling completely over and thrashing/scratching himself in the arena sand, he groaned even deeper, lay his head flat against the sand, and closed his eyes.

I stared at him in disbelief. Was he asleep?

“Is he dead? HE’S DEAD! WHAT’S WRONG WITH HIM?!”

I walked carefully over to Bobby Sox. Most horses who don’t know you will jump up if you approach them while they’re laying down.

Bobby Sox was not most horses. Not only did he not jump up, he didn’t even bother to open his eyes.

“He’s just sleeping guys. He’s fine. Don’t worry. Watch, I’ll wake him up!” I said in a falsely cheerful voice. I kicked a little sand onto his red belly, expecting an explosion.

Nothing.

I kicked a little more sand onto his belly, watching his closed eyelids.

Still nothing. His breathing was deep and even.

“Is he sick? Why isn’t he waking up?! I want down!”

Annoyed, I reached down and grabbed his reins, tugging slightly.

He stayed motionless, but I swear I saw him close his eyes even tighter.

“HEY!” I said loudly, popping him in the mouth with the reins. I mean, after all— I couldn’t have him learning that it was okay to just roll over on kids whenever he felt like it.

Nothing.

“I SAID HEY!” I popped him again, kicking sand on his belly at the same time.

Bobby Sox opened his eyes briefly, glanced at me furtively, then slammed them shut again.

Annoyed that I had to do this in front of the kids, I gave him a little kick in the belly. He grunted and raised his head, gave me a very nasty look, and then lowered it back to the sand.

“Don’t kick him! Why are you kicking him?!?! He’s sick! Leave him alone!” Shrill voices became even shriller. I didn’t even bother explaining it to them. Don’t mind me, kiddies. I’m just your neighborhood horse abuser.

Enough was enough. “GET UP!!!” I hollered, slamming my foot into his belly. With a sullen grunt, Bobby Sox slowly clambered to his feet, shaking off the sand sticking to his wet hide. He shot me a grumpy look, looking for all the world like a teenager being forced to wake up early on a Saturday.

Ignoring the angry, anguished cries of the other riders I turned to the distraught kid by my side, and smiled widely, trying to seem comforting and cheerful. “Upsy-daisy! Time to get back on!” Time to get back on your lazy, stubborn horse. Yaaay!

Stupid Bobby Sox. I never used him again in one of my arena rides. Trying to explain to a dozen concerned parents why you were kicking/abusing injured animals was not something I wanted to do more than once. Seriously, though— what a weird, quirky little horse. I wonder what he’s up to today.

Adventures in Nakedness

I have a job.

I have a job, and I’ve joined a gym.

I have a job, and I’ve joined a gym, I’ve started working out, and now I can never go back.

Why?

I can’t go back because I’m scared that I’m going to run into the lady that I bumped into butt-naked.

She wasn’t butt-naked— that might have made it okay.

Oh, no.

She was fully clothed, wearing a prim little turtleneck and a classy pair of pants and expensive-looking heels that probably cost more than I make in a week.

*I*, however, was not wearing a stitch, and I think the sight of my flabby bits swinging wildly about in the gym bathroom breeze has traumatized us both.

For those of you who don’t know, there is a place in California known as Newport Beach. Newport Beach is the one place that I know of that is JUST as bad as they show it in the movies. The men and women stroll around in disgustingly expensive clothes, complimenting each other on their recently botoxed faces and daydreaming about buying another new little BMW. After all, their BMW sedan is for the weekdays. They need a sexy little BMW roadster for the weekends… something that matches their eyes… Oooh! Is that a wrinkle? OMG. It is. Quick! Call up the dermatologist for an emergency facial!

The other day, while turning into the parking lot of my work, I made a mental note of the line of cars in front of and behind me (including mine.) It went like this:


Oh, you think I’m overexaggerating, don’t you? Well, how about this: I went to a bridal show in Newport Beach last weekend. They were giving away door prizes.

Do you know what one of the criteria for winning a door prize was?

You had to be carrying a Louis Vuitton purse (Not one of those cheesy knockoffs, sneered the man with the microphone) and within this Louis Vuitton purse you had to have your pink cell phone.

The reason they asked for a pink cell phone was because when they called out for someone in the audience who was carrying a Louis Vuitton purse, five heavily makeup-ed women all squealed in excitement and lifted their well-manicured hands. They all had makeup bags, and they all had cell phones.

Thankfully for my sanity, only one of them had a pink cell phone. I was getting ready to hock a loogie in the aisle, just to help balance things out. After all, Louis Vuitton purses + Big shiny glob of spit = Normalcy. I’m sure I read that somewhere.

Where was I?

Oh, yes. The gym.

So, anyways, I have a new job. I’m actually pretty happy with my new job, as far as jobs go. I’ll tell everyone all about it at a later date, because I want to talk about me and my naked, jiggly bits.

Less than a mile from this job is a 24 Hour Fitness. Now that we are no longer living hand-to-mouth, I immediately went over there and signed up for a trial membership.

Unfortunately, this gym is located in an area called Fashion Island.

It kind of sucks that the gym that’s closest to me is located there. When the gym guy took me on a tour there was not one single chubby person in the entire facilities. The people wh0 work out there are so in shape they do exercises to modify their exercises in order to make them burn more. I walked right by a skinny little blonde doing squats and lunges WHILE ON THE STAIRMASTER. YOU HEARD ME. SHE WAS ON THE STAIRMASTER, AND IT WASN’T HARD ENOUGH FOR HER, SO SHE WAS DOING SQUATS, LUNGES, AND KNEE BENDS WHILE CLIMBING THE STAIRS.

Once I got over my frustration and embarrassment at being the fattest person in a 10 mile radius, I realized I could wake up early and do the 6am workout class and still have time to get to work. It sounded fantastic.

So I did it. Day One was great. I hadn’t worked out in ages, and it felt fantastic to feel my muscles stretch.

Day Two was a physically harder because of all my sore muscles, but I felt like I was getting a rhythm down. I showered and went to work, feeling all smug. I worked out. TWO DAYS IN A ROW. I should be on the front of a fitness magazine!

Day Three, thankfully, was an easy class— yoga.

Now, yoga isn’t easy for most people, because they can actually do some of the poses. I, otherwise known as The-Least-Flexible-Woman-on-Earth, can’t even come close. So I don’t even really try. I mean, if I can’t touch my toes under normal circumstances, why should I bother struggling to wrap my leg twice around my head while feeling my inner chakra sink down to the ground, or whatever nonsense it is that they talk about?

Eh.

I just go along with the motions, and do my best to try and touch my toes now and again, and otherwise ruin the whole idea of Yoga. But it’s fun, and I figured that if I finished the class I could feel REALLY smug about myself for having worked out 3 days in a row.

Then, somewhere in the middle of “Downward Dog” (also known as “My Big Fat Butt is Pointing in the Air and I Am Staring Through My Bent Knees”) I felt it happen.

IT.

You know. It.

Taking Carrie to the Prom.

Rebooting the Old Ovarian System.

Yeah, THAT.

Sometimes Aunt Flo comes quietly and surprises you.

Sometimes she doesn’t.

Sometimes she bursts out of her little Uterus closet like she’s trying to impress you.

TA-DA!!!!! I’M HEEERE! HI! HIHIHIHI! LOOK WHAT I CAN DO! I CAN MAKE YOU LOOK LIKE YOU JUST SLAUGHTERED A RABBIT IN THE TOILET BOWL!

This was not one of Aunt Flo’s more bashful entrances.

Mortified, I did the best I could to get through the end of class, then dashed off to the locker room.

That’s when I realized I had forgotten my towel.

Oh, yes, Wonder Woman. I did.

Frustrated beyond belief, but unable to face the thought of an eight hour day without showering, I did what everyone self-respecting woman does.

I decided to figure it out when I got out of the shower. (This should prove, beyond all doubt, that I am the world’s best/worst procrastinator.)

Unfortunately, showers don’t last forever. I finally decided that what I could do was wait for the locker room to be somewhat empty, grab my clothes and dash into an empty bathroom stall and dry off with my sweatshirt. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it was better than none.

And it would have worked, too, if I hadn’t rounded the corner too fast and slammed straight into Mrs. Classy Newport Woman.

I swear, if I deliberately threw everything that I had been carrying in my arms it couldn’t have gone any further. I didn’t just drop everything I was carrying. Nope. When I slammed into Mrs. Classy and almost knocked her off her feet, everything exploded out of my arms like it was mimicking an atomic reaction.

“Oh, I’m so sorr– OH!” Good breeding failed Mrs. Classy as she took stock of my very, very naked state. After all, naked people are supposed to stay in the Naked People section of the locker room. They’re not supposed to be crashing into people in the Fully Clothed section of the bathroom.

Naturally, in order to try to cover up the fact that I was completely naked, and on my period, and about 412 pounds fatter than this woman had ever been in her entire life, and also naked (did I mention I was naked?) I began to talk. I couldn’t seem to make myself shut up.

“Oh, hi! Hi, there. Oops! Sorry about that! Haha. And here, I am naked. Not wearing anything. Figures. Haha! I wouldn’t have bumped into you, except that I’m not wearing any clothes. Ha. Haha.” As I was rambling, I was desperately trying to gather up the 857 items that had exploded out of my arms. To her credit, Mrs. Classy was also helping me collect shoes, and bras, and tampons, and other embarassing items (probably in an attempt to avoid looking at my flapping boobies.)

“It’s Murphy’s law, you know. Haha. If you’re nude you have to bump into someone. Ha. I mean, I’m not wearing anything except for my birthday suit. Haha.”

I swear, in the course of that longest 15 seconds of my life, I said every single synonym for NAKED I possibly could. I mean, COME ON. Did I really have to say it that many times? I’m pretty sure she noticed that I was COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY NAKED.

The worst part was trying to figure out how to pick up the things on the floor. Do I bend forward and employ the Downward Dog technique? Do I squat? Which would be considered less vulgar? It kind of sucks that they don’t write Dear Abby columns to help out people like me. I mean, who cares which fork goes where? I have REAL ISSUES!

At any rate, I finally made it into the bathroom. I sat there for almost ten minutes, crouched on a toilet, miserably drying off and waiting for my blush to fade.

So you can see why I can’t go back, right?