Outta Control

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The national conversation has been centered on a very important, albeit familiar issue over the past few weeks.  That’s right, I’m going there.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a comedy writer, it’s that you have to be fearless.  So, here goes:

Lance Armstrong shouldn’t have been doping.  I know some of you are thinking I’m being too bold putting it so plainly, but there it is.  I said it.

On a totally unrelated topic, I’ve noticed quite a few people talking about gun control as of late.  At first I thought I was being transported back into the early nineties  when the issue was such a hot topic and the only other thing Congress was arguing about was how to spend the budget surplus.  Unfortunately, it turns out I was merely suffering from a mild case of Déjà vu and the familiar debate is where the similarities of that time period end.

Ever the inquisitive type, I decided to reach across to both sides of this divisive issue to hear the logical, reasonable, well-intentioned arguments for and against this evil/godsend called gun control.  Now, I’m not the most enlightened person.  I don’t know the names of all the Kardashians.  I tend to skip the gossip column each week.  Heck, I didn’t even watch Monday Night Football once this year.   So you’ll have to forgive my ignorance of current events.  Because of my obvious lack of knowledge when it comes to anything important I’m afraid I’ll have to take the talking heads at their word.  Assuming both sides were being completely honest and forthcoming, here are a few things I’ve learned regarding the gun debate:

  • If all guns were illegal then they would never be in the wrong hands, just like drugs.
  • If a soldier runs out of ammo in the line of fire it’s no problem because a knife can do just as much damage.
  • If the victims of all these tragic shootings had tried a little diplomacy for once the situation never would have escalated to that point.
  • If I carry a gun on me, I will be rubber and you will be glue, and the bullet you shoot  will bounce off of me and stick to you.
  • If violent video games and movies weren’t so popular, mental illness wouldn’t exist in this country.
  • There’s no point in limiting the number of rounds in a clip since reloading is such a breeze.  However, if you are limited to 7 rounds in a clip in a self-defense situation, you will probably die.
  • Wood stock hunting rifles are far less dangerous than black polymer scary looking rifles of the same size, make, and caliber.
  • If it’s a “legitimate” shooting, your body has ways of shutting that down.

Luckily people on both sides of this debate seem to be keeping a level head and minimizing their emotional responses.  It is rare to hear someone spouting out unfounded facts or cursing the person on the other side of the aisle over a simple disagreement.  Nobody is overreacting in paranoia and preparing for a government takeover.  I’m pretty sure everyone agrees that with the right kind of regulation these senseless tragedies are entirely avoidable just like terrorist attacks, getting a cold, mixing the colors with the whites, stubbing your toe, and other problems that we have already resolved in this country.  So let’s keep this productive, respectful, open-minded debate going on the airwaves, on Facebook, in the break room, and over the dinner table.  I think we’re getting somewhere.

 

 

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2012: A Year In Review

Disappointed by a recent e-mail from WordPress reminding me of the success of all two blog posts I wrote in 2012, I suppose my New Years resolution should include some sort of commitment to writing new material for all six of my ardent followers.  On a good note, supposedly my blog was read over 1,700 times in 2012.  I would like to believe that that figure means each one of you was so enamored by my words that you logged on over 283 times each to read and re-read my glorious prose.  Unfortunately, my gut tells me that 1,695 of these views were probably my mother.  Upon further investigation, however, it was revealed that many of those readers were complete strangers spread across 84 countries who, no doubt, mistakenly clicked on my blog after a failed Google search for something entirely unrelated.  Thanks anyway, Mom.

The stats that WordPress provided, however depressing, were quite intriguing.  Besides telling me how many trips a Boeing 787 Dreamliner would have to take (7 trips in all) in order to fit all of the people who read my blog last year, the site was also able to separate my readers by region, how they found me, and which other blogs had cited/recommended my blog over the course of last year.  After racking my brain as to why WordPress would put the number of people who visited my blog in terms of a passenger jet’s capacity (is that a relatable reference for most?) I decided to dig further in to the creatures that are my fans.

Congratulations to all the brilliant American citizens who make up the large majority of my readers. I’d also like to thank the British and Brazilians for not being far behind when it came to understanding my sharp wit.  I suddenly feel a little guilty and entirely inadequate when it comes to my knowledge of Brazil beyond the superiority of their famed football players (that’s soccer to you American readers).  Must learn more about Brazilian culture and their love of biting comedy.  Who knew?  Unfortunately, Canada came in fourth place.  Of course, this is a country with very high comic standards as it has churned out many top comedians in recent history (Jim Carey, John Candy, Seth Rogen, Mike Meyers, and Lorne Michaels himself).  It appears I still have a lot of work to do.

Next I would like to thank my top referring sites.  Firstly, the site whose web address I didn’t recognize so I clicked on it out of curiosity: thanks so much for the support.  Although I did not stick around long enough to find out if you were in fact some sort of website that practiced the art of crude erotica, I am grateful for your referral.  I am confident that your site gets much more traffic than mine and the small chance that one of your customers decides to click on my web address for a quick change of pace gives me great pleasure.  Secondly, to both of the health insurance websites that somehow found my blog posting on the Healthcare Reform Act applicable: I thank you.  Even if my post was meant to put you out of business due to your severe incompetence, I believe your sudden change in stance or massive oversight (whatever it was that made you think my blog post was a good influence on anyone looking to buy private health insurance) is an excellent first step in the many it will take to redeem yourselves.

So once again, thank you all.  Thank you to the people who accidentally read my blog post on Northwest Nerds when searching Google for “man with glasses.”  Thank you to the one person in Libya who was brave enough to read an American humorist’s blog last year (I’m looking at you Syria).  Thank you Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan for logging on.  China, you are welcome anytime you lift some of those Internet restrictions.  Until then, screw you and free Tibet!  Seriously, though I thank all that have haplessly stumbled upon my blog, even if you didn’t stop to read it.  In the words of my most dedicated followers:

Goodbye, cheers, and tchau, eh?

Healthcare Education

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The Supreme Court voted yesterday to uphold the Individual Mandate in President Obama’s Health Care Reform Act.  Democrats rejoiced in the streets.  Republicans threatened to flee the country, but had second thoughts after learning every other developed nation offered universal healthcare.  Auto insurance companies were thrilled that the individual mandate for drivers to purchase car insurance was finally given the green light.  Scratch that last one.  Apparently there already is a requirement for drivers to purchase car insurance or face a hefty fine in most states.  Weird.

The recent news sparked debates throughout the country and cries of socialism hit the airwaves once more.   Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) tweeted “By imposing coercive tax on Americans, healthcare law is an unprecedented federal overreach into our personal lives.” 

This reminded me of another federal overreach into our personal lives funded by American tax dollars – the education system.  That’s right, I said it.  Currently, the United States is the only developed nation that will pay for a child’s education, but not his cancer treatment.  I mean, really.  Why are we paying for this kid’s school?  Just imagine how much gooder the education system would be if it were run on a free-market platform much like healthcare is today…

COST:

All parents are responsible for paying for the primary education of their child.  The student’s tuition is based on a free-market, cost-effective model that ensures competition and affordability. 

A $20 co-pay is due before each lesson (this is not subject to the annual deductible which must be met in order for tuition to be covered at 80%).  Emergency study sessions will require a $100 access fee and may be subject to coinsurance.  All prescribed generic tests in the areas of English, math, history, and science will be subject to a $10 co-pay. 

There are plans that offer subsidies to low-income families that are unable to afford education for their children.  These plans are only accepted at select educational facilities and annual limits on learning do apply.

If you are unable to pay off your educational debt, you may join the ranks with the 850,000 other Americans who filed bankruptcy last year due to accumulated educational bills.

COVERAGE:

The free-market system allows the parent the freedom of choice when choosing which school to enroll his/her child in.  That is, of course, if the teachers at said school are covered under the preferred educator network of the student’s plan.  If the parent prefers to choose an out-of-network educator, tuition will be covered at 60% after the deductible is met.  Additional facility fees may apply.

Basic educational lessons to include writing, reading, and arithmetic are covered at 100%.  This is to ensure that the future generation will have just enough knowledge to purchase an educational policy when they have kids.

All electives (art, music, weight-training, wood shop, computers, home economics) are considered not educationally necessary and are not covered under most plans.  All sports, clubs, and other school activities are considered investigational methods of education and are not covered at this time.

The educational policy company has the right to deny coverage to any student with a pre-existing learning disability including ADD, dyslexia, sight/hearing impaired, class clown, etc.

CRITERIA

The government has no control over the educational institutions.  There is no national standard in place.  Instead, each teacher must reform his/her lesson plans to include only the amount of education covered by each student’s individual policy.  Steps must be taken to ensure that no student receives more knowledge than is allowable according to his/her plan.  In the event that the educational facility covers a topic that is not included in the student’s plan, expenses will be billed to the parent.

PAYMENT

Teachers will not be paid based on performance, but rather the number of tests they assign each student.  By assigning a colossal amount of exams, the teacher is thereby protected from any future lawsuits claiming negligence brought forth by the parents. 

Each educational policy company is contracted with different educational facilities and has its own payment schedule.  Contracts between the company and the institution will be reviewed every year to ensure that premiums increase indefinitely. 

I Hate My New Gym!

A few months ago I received a letter regarding my gym membership.  At first glance I thought for sure they were cancelling my account due to inactivity.  Upon reading further, I was relieved to learn that gyms do not endorse the practice of eliminating their laziest members.  In fact, if I’m not mistaken, they encourage it.  The notice was sent to inform me that the gym I had been frequenting for the last 3 years (well, more like 2 months if you actually count the times I went) had been bought out by a younger, skinnier gym uptown.  What a cliché.

At first I was excited to tour the facilities.  The new gym that would be absorbing all of us members had been built a few years ago and looked brand new.  The pool was a pristine baby blue.  The racquetball courts hadn’t seen a scuff yet.  The locker rooms didn’t resemble the basement of a state penitentiary like every other gym in America.  Hell, there was even a juice bar and towel boy.  Suddenly I felt like I was in the Caribbean.

So, my husband and I transferred our membership and decided to try it out.  Three weeks later, I actually did try it out…and it was terrible.

It hadn’t occurred to me that maybe 5:30 pm on a weeknight in January wasn’t the best time to work out.  My naiveté showed upon entering the parking lot to find that all the spots were taken.  Usually that was enough to send me home (well, I tried).  But, I was determined to get back in shape.  After walking the quarter mile from where I parked to the entrance I felt like I had already gotten half of my work out right there.  Once inside, I headed straight for the locker rooms and began to change.

The arrangement of the pristine, wood stained lockers had not occurred to me on my first visit.  Instead of a long, straight line of lockers with benches in the middle, some genius had decided to make tiny cubicles out of them so as to make it easier to step on your neighbor’s toes.  As I stood there bumping ass cheeks with the woman next to me I was struck by the other thing that bothered me about my new gym.  It had been invaded by valley girls.  Their phrases echoed in the air and even the sweet sound of Def Leppard in my headphones could not drown them out.

“I was like, oh my God.”

“Can you see my thong through these spandex?”

“As if!”

“I’m more concerned about Israel striking preemptively on Iran if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad doesn’t meet the sanctions imposed by the U. N.”

Okay they didn’t say that last one.  That was just me dreaming on behalf of intelligent women everywhere that these drones had an ounce of self-respect and cultural awareness.  No such luck.

I wormed my way out of the locker room from hell and headed towards the cardio machines.  The treadmills, ellipticals, Stairmasters, and recumbent bikes were all buzzing.  In fact, there wasn’t a single machine available.  I had never been in this situation before.  I scanned the room and noticed a long line forming against the wall.  These idiots were actually lining up to wait for a treadmill like it was some kind of fucking carnival ride.

I began to lose my enthusiasm and headed for the free weights.  My heart sank as I glanced down at the only two dumbbells left.  A 55 lb weight meant for someone twice my size and a 2 lb featherweight that a preschool child could lift with his pinky.  Awesome.

In a last ditch effort I made my way over to the weight machines.  Maybe there was an ab cruncher or something that would make this journey worth it.  Wrong again.  The only open machine was the butterfly press.  I had already learned from previous work out sessions that the sole purpose of this machine was to give men an excuse to stare at your chest.  By extending your elbows back as far as they can go and then pressing them together again you end up playing a sort of peek-a-boo game with your boobs that I guarantee every man will drool at.

What a huge mistake I had made.  I never realized how good I had it with my old gym.  I didn’t appreciate how the naked seniors changing in the locker room after their water aerobics class made me feel so young and vibrant.  I took for granted all the overweight middle-aged people that made me feel invincible.  I missed the kids that would splash around in the pool as I tried to concentrate on my laps.  I longed for the sweaty old men that always asked if I wanted to join their racquetball game.  I threw it all away for my shining new bimbo of a gym.  I’m sorry Old Gym.  Just so you know, New Gym isn’t half the establishment that you were.

Open Wide

As I lay back in the chair and stare desperately at the clock, I can feel the beads of sweat trickling down my temple.  The water has made its way to the back of my throat as I desperately gargle for air.  I look into the face of my tormentor, pleading with my eyes.  Finally, she can tell that I’ve had enough and grabs the device that will relieve me of my suffering.  Whoever says waterboarding isn’t torture needs to sit in the dentist’s chair for an hour with a hygienist who’s stingy on the suction.

Luckily, I do not suffer from the common fear of going to the dentist.  I’m okay with the fact that the bubble-gum flavored paste they put on my gums is useless and I will still be able to feel every bit of that needle making its way through my flesh.  I do fine with the sounds of the drill grinding away inside my mouth as flecks of white porcelain dabble my chin.  I can even withstand the only known method of torture that is worse than waterboarding – having someone else floss your teeth.

However, I’m not ashamed to admit that I do enjoy the added perks in modern dental offices meant to keep those fearful few at ease.  This morning as I entered my new dentist’s office I felt as if I was walking into a spa.  The trickling water fountain, the soothing music, and the Kuerig coffee maker made me feel like royalty.  The office staff had obviously gone through a rigorous interview process in which they were asked to use their most soothing voice that invoked the image of a Buddhist monk meditating in a rock garden.

Not wanting to discourage all of the kind gestures, I accepted when the dental assistant offered me a set of headphones to listen to music during my exam.  I was immediately given the headset and a list of over 100 music stations labeled by their specific genre.  To an audiophile like myself this was heaven.  After careful contemplation, I decided on the 80’s station with the hopes that the synthesizers and echoing snare drums might drown out the sound of the dentist’s preferred mode of cruelty.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced the thrill of listening to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” while your dentist attempts to file your teeth down with a scythe, but it’s actually not bad.  In fact, the hardest part was keeping still.  If you can listen to that little piece of 1980’s gold and not feel the need to tap your feet, than you may not be human.

The other inadvertent problem with this form of relaxation is its limitations on communication.  If you thought listening to your dentist jabber on about the weather with his blue surgical mask muffling his voice was difficult, try doing it with headphones on.  Just as your dentist does not fail to ask you a million questions while your jaw is stretched to capacity, he will also not stop talking to you while your earmuffs make it impossible to hear.  No wonder these people never made it through med school.

About halfway through the exam, and three highly animated stories from the dentist later, I realized that I didn’t have a clue what to do with my eyes.  If I stared directly above, I was giving creepy vibes to the dentist and his assistant who were gawking inside my mouth.  But if I closed my eyes I would have no way of following instructions now that I no longer had the use of my ears.  Instead I decided to look away to the side as if to say, “I’m still here but I won’t shoot my peepers at you while you’re trying to work.”  Of course, there could be a downside to this plan.  Is that what I think…yep, I’ve been staring at his crotch for the past five minutes.  Look away, look away!

As if things could not get worse, the next song on my beloved music station was Billy Ocean’s “Carribean Queen.”  For those of you who have not had the pleasure of listening to this gem, you must Youtube it immediately.  I kid you not, the first words of the song (“She’s simply…awesome”) are whispered into the microphone as if the audience is being seduced.  But the hilarity doesn’t stop there.  The next few lyrics are listed below verbatim:

She dashed by me in painted on jeans
And all heads turned ’cause she was the dream
In the blink of an eye I knew her number and her name
She said I was the tiger she wanted to tame

Upon hearing that last line, I lost control.  My funny bone took over and forced a laugh out of my lips.  Of course, my lips were wide open and the suction Nazi was falling behind again, so what was supposed to be a chuckle came out in the form of a wet cough.  Luckily everyone was wearing safety goggles.

Although it was surreal listening to the Beastie Boys stand up for their right to party while I lay there obediently trying to decipher a man’s hand gestures like a confused puppy, I’m not sure I’ll take the headphones at my next visit.  After all, I wouldn’t want to look like a fool.

Gobble Gobble!

Due to some last minute Thanksgiving traveling plans it just so happened that my husband and I were stuck with a 16 pound turkey sitting untouched in our freezer.  Until this morning.  That’s right ladies and gentleman, Jordan Christiaens roasted a whole turkey by herself.  This is the same Jordan Christiaens that got her finger stuck in a hand mixer while trying to retrieve some sticky butter.  Yes, the same Jordan Christiaens that once tried to make mashed potatoes by adding milk to the boiling water.  To my credit, age was a factor in both of these scenarios.  However, it is safe to say that I am not a chef.

No bother.  I had my trusty Safeway Thanksgiving Turkey iPhone app ready to go.  Thank goodness for full-proof technology.  My electronic turkey guide would walk me through each step (with video examples included) and tell me exactly when to rotate, baste, and take the temperature with bathroom breaks included.

The first step was to unwrap the delicious, juicy, wholesome…floppy dead animal carcass from its bag.  It goes without saying I was a little disgusted by the cold dead flesh I was now holding in my bare hands.  Surely there must be a way to prepare this beast without touching it.  My left-brain stepped in and devised a system of pulleys and leverage that allowed me to free the animal’s legs from the metal clamp using only wooden spoons.

The next step was to slide my hand under the skin to separate it from the meat.  It was during this process that I discovered the real reason humans have fingernails – in order to trap pieces of animal fat, sinew, and blood vessels and ensure a full on freak out with OCD hand washing techniques to follow.

Ah, but the antibacterial soap followed by a bucket of Purrell had come to soon.  It seems my next move was to shove my hand up the dead animal’s ass and retrieve – what else- the neck.  As my hand was being swallowed by the dark, foreboding, and oddly large anus I began to get claustrophobic.  I had no idea it was possible for an appendage to have this fear.  That’s the last time I’m wearing shoes.

Luckily the animal’s phallic shaped piece of neck meat was fairly close to the opening and was easily removed.  But where were the giblets?  The app had specifically said to remove the bag of giblets.  I frantically searched the dead bird’s hollow insides and shook it upside down as if performing the Heimlich.  Still no bag of giblets.  It took a few minutes of Internet searching to reveal that the bag of giblets was tucked neatly in the turkey’s throat cavity.  Why hadn’t I thought of this?  It made perfect sense for the butcher to thrust the turkey’s neck up its ass and shove the innards down its throat.  I was beginning to feel sorry for the poor animal.  If only he had known how badly we had violated him after his death only to be eaten for one or two meals and then thrown away a week later to make room for leftover pizza.

Now that the barbaric parts were over, I got into relaxing spa mode.  It seems the next step was to massage the turkey with the finest olive oils and season its skin with aromatherapy herbs.  I even played some Enya to further relax the muscles.

After I was done sexing him up it was time to place him in the roaster and let the iphone do its work.  A highly accurate, albeit creepy turkey gobble sound would come from the phone every time I was supposed to do something, causing the dog to race to the window on high alert in the process.  Four turkey gobbles, three dog howls, and one smoke alarm disaster later, the turkey was finished.   Now the question is, am I really still hungry?

If You Don’t Like This Song, I Don’t Trust You!

Over the years, my husband and I have had numerous conversations regarding musical taste.  I like to think that both of us have excellent taste in music.  We both steer clear of the CRAP (that’s country and rap to all you musical novices).  We are in absolute agreement on all music made between 1980-1989, and we both have an undying love for the sound of an electric guitar.  However, my husband thinks that there is no such thing as “bad taste.”  This coming from a man who believes heavy metal is an art form, I am not surprised.

I grew up listening to the unmistakably superior bands of the 1960’s.  I may have been born in the eighties, but I was raised listening to the Beatles…on vinyl.  Clearly, I have reason to be the authority over what is considered “good music.”

It also helps that I actually have a musical background.  I can read music.  I can play more than one instrument.  I was in honor’s band.  I won a high school trumpet solo contest in 6th grade.  While everyone else in my class was still struggling with all three of the notes in Hot Cross Buns I was mastering Vivaldi’s “Allegro.”  You could say I was a bit of a prodigy.  These bragging points usually find their way into the conversation when my husband and I disagree on a song’s worth.

This is why it was so disheartening for me when I learned that my husband is right.  Even with all my musical training, my impeccable music collection, and my uncanny ability to determine which bands have potential; I am still not immune to bad taste.

There were moments of clarity in the past.  I was never too proud that I owned an Enrique Iglesias CD and could sing all of the words…in Spanish.  I suspected something was off upon discovering a Michelle Branch album in my CD stash.  But I would never admit it.  In fact, it took nothing short of scientific musical theory to persuade me.

Pandora’s Music Genome Project (not to be confused with the much less successful Alan Parson’s Project) is able to capture the musical identity of each song by analyzing the melody, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and vocals to determine (scientifically, mind you) what other types of songs are related.

When Pandora first started gaining a following, I was a firm believer.  It gave me a chance to hear bands I’d never heard of.  It allowed me to compare each song to the next and determine why I liked the songs I did.  But it had its disappointments as well.  When I tuned in to the Beatles station only to hear the likes of Nirvana whining into a microphone, I assumed it was a simple glitch.  No self-respecting Beatles fan wanted to hear a heroine-fueled rock star millionaire sing about how shitty life can be.  Pandora had gotten it wrong.

Unfortunately, the glitches became plentiful.  When other Internet radio stations touted similar programs, the mistakes followed.  Even the imperious operating system of Apple could not get it right.  The genius function on my iTunes account was starting to feel like a misnomer.  There is nothing worse than having a computer configure a playlist to go along with your favorite tune, only to have a Rush song show up in the mix.

And so I throw up my arms in defeat.  Perhaps the science is right.  Perhaps there are musical similarities between the songs I love and the songs I despise.  But I know one thing is for sure.  I have good taste in music dammit.

iPhone Apps That Failed

Recently, I’ve caught myself trying to manipulate my computer monitor at work using my finger.  I’ve suffered (and have since recovered) from a common affliction in America known as Angry Bird Fever.  I’ve found myself scanning every item in the supermarket to ensure that a better deal cannot be found within a fifty-mile radius.  I’ve been known to interrupt movie night with the hubby by holding a device near the speakers to detect the incredible song playing in the background.  That’s right, I’ve enlisted in the Steve Jobs army to take down the oppressive Android marketplace.  In other words, I bought an iPhone.  And it has been glorious.

The abundance of apps is astounding. They allow me to do anything from organizing my grocery list by aisle to keeping track of my breast-feeding habits in minutes and volume.  Upon testing, I can confirm that the latter appears to only work for nursing mothers.  There have been a few applications, however, that missed their mark.  Here are some examples of the iPhone apps that failed to make it past the testing phase:

  • The Lie Detector App  – Due to the number of potential lawsuits from unfaithful spouses and the apparent glitch that all phones suffered from during political debates (the phone was known to sound its alarm and then sputter and die from exhaustion) this app has been deemed “too dangerous” for the public at large.
  • The Synth Pop App – This app was designed to allow users to create a pop song with nothing but nonsensical lyrics that rhyme, and a singing voice marginally better than terrible.  Unfortunately, record companies determined the app to be too effective and stopped its creation, lest a mob of Lady Gaga and Britney Spears fans discover how easy it is to make a pop song.
  • The You’re Special App – This app was created for very insecure individuals that require compliments and adoration for motivation.  The voice of the immortal SNL personality Stuart Smalley describes in detail why every user is “good enough and smart enough.”  Production stopped after further testing revealed that the application would utter no words of encouragement to fans of Justin Bieber.
  • The Box Office Remakes App – This comedic app was devised to jokingly predict remakes of classic films using today’s famous actors due to the lack of original ideas in Hollywood. The app was canceled after being deemed too accurate.

Runners Must Be High

I’m a believer in waking up every morning feeling refreshed and energized.  One of these days I’m hoping to be able to practice what I preach.  In reality most mornings are spent pressing the snooze button so many times that my husband will actually have to lift me off the bed and dump me in the shower (true story).  But this morning was different.  Nevermind that it was my day off which allowed me to sleep in until ten.  No, what was different about this morning was that I awoke to the warm feeling of sunrays making their way through my bedroom window blinds.

As a resident of Western Washington, this is a very rare feeling and one that must be taken advantage of.  Sure enough, I looked out my window and found no less than 1300 people outside with their dogs and strollers basking in the glorious………damn I forgot the word……..oh yeah SUN!!!

I immediately changed into some workout clothes and decided to take advantage of the good weather by going for a little run.  Now, before I go further I have something to disclose.  I am not a “runner.”  I do not own more track suits than jeans.  I don’t kid myself and tell people how much I “enjoy” running just to run.   I never understood all those track athletes in high school.  Really, this is the sport for you?  All you have to do is remember to turn left.  That’s it!.  Sure if I was running for my life or running to score the winning point for my team I’d go for it.   But running just for the exercise sounded psychotic.  In fact, there was a time that I did not believe in running at all unless it had a purpose.  Of course that was about five years and ten pounds ago, so my attitude has changed a bit.

Once I was clad in my runner’s gear and had taken my allergy medication so as to avoid an asthma attack from the fresh summer air my body was not used to, I decided to start with a small goal.  Of course my definition of a small goal when it comes to running might better be referred to as miniscule.  My husband, who was one of those track athletes in high school, can run five miles after 6 months of no strenuous exercise just to “get himself back into it.”  My goal was ½ mile.

I am happy to report that I was able to accomplish that goal; albeit with the use of some very peppy music on my ipod, interesting breathing techniques, and serious will power and mental strain to keep myself from turning around and saying “fuck this!”

The problem I have with enjoying running for running’s sake is that I have never experienced what some might call a runner’s high.  I have to wonder if my brain has some sort of endorphin blocker when it comes to exercise or if everyone else is just bat-shit crazy when they say that they feel energized after a quick jog.  Energized?!  Not only do I not feel energized after a run, but it’s quite the exact opposite.  My legs feel like lead, my lungs burn like that of an eighty year-old smoker, and I can’t imagine doing anything else with the rest of the day because I’m so exhausted.  To top it all off, after every run I always crave ice cream thus negating the whole running experience in the first place.

“It’s good for you,” my husband says.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I reply like a native New Yorker.

“I’m sure it will be worth it in the end,”  I tell him as I lick what’s left of my butterscotch dipped cone.

C’est La Vie

The recent arrest of former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York City on a sexual assault charge has led many French citizens outraged and many Americans perplexed at such outrage.  The difference between the two cultures is believed to be the source of all the confusion.  In response, the American Society for the Culturally Illiterate has issued a report on some common differences between France and America to avoid further confusion.  The report is titled:

Things You Can Get Away With in France

Male Chauvinism:  A French word used to describe the belief that men are superior to women.  Dominique Strauss-Kahn is not the only Frenchman who has been accused of this.  Please refer to the image below of French President Nicolas Sarkozy engaging in what the French consider appropriate behavior for a male politician:

Smoking in Public: The cool factor of cigarettes still trumps the health risks associated with them in this European country.  This explains the country’s lack of a decent athlete in any Olympic event.  French citizens simply do not have the lung capacity to keep up.

Being an Asshole: The very same nation that promotes peace and acceptance of all is quick to offer an “up yours” whenever possible.  French people have even evolved the size of their noses so as to stick them higher than anyone else’s.

Playing the Accordion: Aside from a tiny minority of polka enthusiasts, this is not tolerated in America.

Taking a two-hour lunch: The French have been slow to the American concept of working 60 hours a week and dismissing meal breaks.  Instead, the citizens of France choose to value personal happiness over economic production.  We’ll see who wins this one in the end.

The society is currently working on a report of American values for our French visitors to help bridge the cultural gap.  Such values include watching television for a minimum of six hours per day, granting media attention to the least deserving story and ignoring the rest, and accepting all races (unless it means giving them special treatment), genders (except transgenders), and religions (except Islam, or anything that’s not Christianity).