workout woes

May 27, 2010

I enjoy working out at a gym.

I need peer pressure to adequately work out. And I don’t mean the encouragement that comes from a friend. Because if I bring a friend, that means I have to talk to them. And frankly, I don’t know how people do it. I get enough out of breath just walking on a treadmill. And to have to talk too! And what do people talk about that they don’t mind broadcasting to the twenty other people working closely by? I know there isn’t much information I want to share with the entire room.

No, working out is a personal experience. It’s not a chat fest. Not for me, anyways.

However, it is an opportunity to improve my body’s strength and overall health. And for that, I find that I need the awareness of people. I need to feel as if they are watching me and judging me if I give out after ten minutes on the elliptical. Or if I go for the ten-pounder weights instead of the fifteen.

Working out should be a competition with oneself, but I’ve never been very competitive with myself. Just with others.

An even bigger impetus to getting myself to the gym, though, is money. I’ve already spent the moo-lah to gain access to the gym, so I better go. I may not have to pay to walk out my front door and enjoy the sunshine, but seriously, how often do I do that?!

But losing money–that’ll always get me to move my behind. Another hereditary trait I can thank my father for. (Er, not my behind, but the money thing.)

Farm Fever

May 23, 2010

I often sit and wonder what I did before there were Farmers Markets. It’s a stupid question, really. Because it’s not like I do much when I find the time to go. I admire (and sometimes play with) the many licking, wiggling dogs around me as well as peruse the varieties of vegetables, flowers and crafts. But I’m done in about thirty minutes. And hardly ever buy anything, though I desperately always want to.

I have been getting into cooking, however. And I’m planning to construct a dish out of produce that I find at the Market. That’s yet to have happened, but it will.

So I could survive without a Farmers Market pretty easily I think. But the fact remains that I don’t want to survive without one. I want them here. And I want to be there. I want to feel the inexplicable energy, be surrounded by dogs and food and strollers and hippies. Because there’s something bigger there than people and food. There’s an air of shared understanding. A belief in health and awareness of our earth and the subsequent rejection of superstore produce and pesticides.

Over the years, it has become about eating as close to the land as possible. Not proximity speaking but in reference to time. The quicker we eat the apple after it is off the tree. Or the carrot after it is pulled from the ground. That in comparison to eating grapes or bananas picked well before ripening time, then shipped across the country and stored in a warehouse, to be consumed two weeks later. That’s not health. That’s big business.

Farmer Markets, it’s true, have become chic, trendy places in recent years. But they’re nothing new. Ever since farmers have been growing more than enough to feed their families, they’ve been selling it. It’s not a new idea; it’s a recycled activity that became almost extinct with the introduction of urbanisation, supermarkets and worldwide transport.

But with the new population inheriting cancer, diabetes, obesity and a slew of other epidemics, our past lifestyles are being scrutinized.

And, in effect, Farmers Markets are being re-rolled out as the new “in” thing. And it’s about time.

Check out some of the many benefits outlined by the National Farmers’ Retail & Markets Association at http://www.farmersmarket.net/benefits:

For consumers, there are the obvious health improvements that come with eating fresh foods and the ability to have direct contact with producers so as to know the origin of the food and how it is being produced.

Farmers save money by cutting out the middleman through direct selling and decrease in packing and transportation costs. Markets also open the way for small farms that don’t have the capacity to produce for supermarkets.

The best advantages, though, go to our environment. Vehicle pollution, noise and use of fossil fuels are largely decreased. And environmental awareness is constantly being heightened, leading to improved production practices, like elimination of crop pesticides, and farm diversification, which encourages farms to diversify in their use of the land, through crop rotation and tree planting.

There are many more benefits to be found. Find a local market, and get busy.

kill the writer

May 22, 2010

I’m trying to be more observant. Paying better attention to my surroundings and the people around me. Even to what I hear on tv. Once I started doing that, I vetoed every show I’ve ever watched.

First, I felt shock and abhorrence. Then, after those emotions came an action. Laughter. It’s no wonder we have so many programs mocking the embarrassment that is cable television. That’s the kind of laughter I’m talking about. Mocking disbelief laughter. The way someone might laugh at the ridiculous woman who honks at the old man in front of her, in a drive thru line, because he’s not putting his car into Drive fast enough–that pitying, I Can’t Believe This Is Happening Right Now, kind of laugh.

We all know the shows. They’re similar to people. Vapid and self-obsessed; repeating the same problems week after week. Never knowing when to change or just to stop talking about it. Case in point, The Hills, Desperate Housewives, Private Practice, Two and a Half Men, and all talk shows, where hosts try to keep audiences interested week after week, whether it’s with the aid of a dog in a tutu or a prank call to the hospital. Hilarious! Or, of course, the talk shows that try to hit us right in the gut by interviewing real-life people, “just like me.” Because I know that all I want in my day is more stories about the hardships of life. I especially enjoy Dr. Phil who spouts off every proverb ever found in a fortune cookie but in nice hickish drawl so no one will notice.

Just as a recent example, I’ll quote The Hills. Need I say more?

-I just want her to be happy.
-Screw that. I don’t want her to be happy. I, like, want her to be normal again.

(Yes, your idea of normalcy is totally on point.)

-I’ve never had to deal with people losing their minds when it’s not due to some kind of substance.

(Well that’s a relief. You sound like you know some really great people.)

sex kitten at 17

May 16, 2010

I don’t know what else there is to say about pop culture and its love of 12 year olds and obsession with manipulating them into sex-crazed 16 year olds with heroin addictions and STDs and then subsequent pleasure in cackling over their utter destruction: multiple rehab stints, abuses, addictions, divorces, sex tapes, money scandals, all the while aging 20 years before our eyes. (Have you seen Lindsey Lohan lately?)

My tirade comes on the heels of the recent Miley Cyrus happenings.

What would entertainment news do without her? Giving lap dances to a gay man, gyrating with her female dancers, pole dancing for her audiences. Parents of Hannah Montana fans must be so happy that their children have such a stand-up role model.

And all of this success at only 17. I see so many exciting things in her future. Sex tape at 18, alcohol addiction at 19, rehab at 20, abuse allegations at 22, drug addiction at 23, total meltdown at 24, rehab at 25.

Has Britney been secretly tutoring her? Or has she found a way to actually transfer her life into Miley’s body? Because Miley’s not just taking tips from Britney’s steller example; she’s a carbon copy. Only about four years ahead of her. I mean, at 17, Brit was still singing about sunny meadows and flowers. Miley, on the other hand, skipped right to post-virginal Britney.

Well, at least she’s being honest. No lies about chastity. Just pure, raw sexuality for this teenage puppet.

And I can tell you one thing, Billy Ray couldn’t be prouder. His buttons were surely bursting when she slid down that pole just a few feet from him and her mama. And he no doubt approved of the video of her lap dance for Mr. Shankman and saw to its distribution all over the Internet. After all, according to him, all 17-year-old girls enjoy a little stripper pole, or lap dance, once in a while.

Needless to say, if you’re a 17-year-old girl and you’re not engaging in these activities, you better get on the bandwagon. Because with a name like Billy Ray and a daughter like Miley, how could he be wrong–or a completely inept parental figure at that?

Just remember his hit song and mullet from 20 years back. That should reinstate his respect.

Along with the perks of working in a coffee shop, I have found a sizeable downside: men who treat coffee shops, restaurants, fast food establishments, etc., as places to air problems and pick up chicks, frequenting the business under the false assumption that the friendliness of female employees is more than part of their job description.

I try to feel sorry for these individuals, reminding myself that they are probably lonely, sad men, who were never taught the doctrines of respect and dignity. Maybe growing up without a proper father figure in their young lives. But whether that’s the case or not, there is no excuse for gaping, yelling and obscenely gesturing at anyone, male or female, if uninvited. Which, if you’re a stranger, almost always is.

I have reached the point of feeling enormous gratitude to the gentlemen who come to the store solely to purchase food and drink, not to secure a date. I sometimes feel the urge to reach over the counter and hug them, if that wouldn’t be misconstrued as the very thing I am writing against.

I’m not normally a fan of these kind of lists. They are oftentimes too outrageous and, frankly, way overdone. But after experiencing a number of creepers in my life so far, I feel as if the following is more than warranted.

You might be a “creeper” if:

1. You yell a greeting to your favorite employee even though she is already engaged in conversation and obviously very preoccupied with other customers.

2. The chair in the corner of the shop has a permanent indention of your behind.

3. All female employees mysteriously disappear when you walk in the door.

4. You hover at the drink station long after you’ve received your drink, staring at the girl workers who are half your age, asking them personal questions and inviting them to your house. (No joke. Seen it happen.)

5. You turn a 2-second polite greeting into a 30-minute, one-sided discussion on a topic of your choice.

6. The other person is always the one to end the conversation.

7. Your morning ritual includes cruising past your hangout spot to see, from the cars in the parking lot, if any of your favorite girls are working.

8. You plan your daily schedule around the times when your crushes are working.

9. You know every employees’ name and use them at every opportunity.

10. You have to change hang outs every few months because, for some reason, the employees just don’t seem as nice anymore.

11. You have a book of pick-up lines that you use so much, you have to rebind it every year.

12. The money you spend on food and drink at said establishment each month is larger than your car payment.

13. And finally, you have gone through hangout rotations so many times that the employees know just how long it will be before you disappear again.

no limit lots

May 15, 2010

How long do you think it will be before there are speed limit signs in parking lots?

Ironically, the place where we need to be most careful, drive our absolute slowest and be on highest alert is the place where the majority of people put pedal to the metal, using those careless moments on private property to catch up on correspondence, change their song selection, take a swig of Diet Coke.

Frankly, parking lots do not allow for this kind of freedom. Now, you take me to an empty parking lot in front of a deserted department store, and I might make an allowance. But besides that, parking lots are not a free for all.

I think it’s best to view it like a video game. Shopping carts coming at you from all angles. People popping out from between cars. High-speed vehicles taking corners like horses at the Kentucky Derby.

I once watched an old man careen through the Whole Foods parking lot, diagonally cross two rows of parking spots and almost side swipe a neatly-parked vehicle.

Don’t mind him. He’s late for his Golden Girls marathon.

Because we all know, Betty White is sure worth maiming someone for life. I mean, she was on Saturday Night Live.

Canine Conundrum

May 1, 2010

I recently witnessed another act of canine loyalty that made me chuckle at humans’ gaping inadequacy to measure up to our four-legged friends.

I was sitting in a van in Bolivia. One of my fellow passengers owned a dog that unendingly followed her wherever she went. It didn’t matter that on that specific day we were driving up the side of a mountain for countless miles.

No, that loyal companion tirelessly ran, panting, tongue hanging, behind our vehicle for at least three miles before finally realizing that we wouldn’t be stopping any time soon. Maybe the humid, hard-to-breathe weather brought him to that realization sooner than normal. It’s hard to say. I wasn’t able to ask him; though I sure wanted to.

Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that in his eyes, his owner is the most important thing. And he would follow her and protect her for as long as he was physically able.

Is there anything more beautiful?

It’s a good thing animals are not created with the capacity to understand human stupidity and how undeserved we are of their love.

I feel like there’s a lesson to be had here.

One could argue that because human brains are far more advanced than animals’ that we should be able to display a much higher level of affection and love. And yet many times, we don’t.

And one could counter argue that with this added brain power comes added understanding of the world’s evils and the ability not only to do good but also to do evil.

I would take this query to my faithful companion at home, but she’s a little preoccupied right now licking herself.

New is Overrated

May 1, 2010

I have a friend who owns nothing but hand me downs. I used to feel sad for her because I felt that she was missing out by never enjoying that new, fresh-out-of-the-box feeling. But then I realized that she’s in fact brilliant!

This revelation has slowly been coming on; it reached its fruition the other day when I walked out to my car and found yet another ding in its side. It looks like someone took a golf ball and jammed it into the metal with the force of a WWF wrestler.

My current car is the first brand new, beautiful car I’ve ever owned. And I adore it.

That, I have concluded, has been my downfall.

My first car, in my eyes, was also beautiful and I loved it. Yet, it was 7 years old with no obvious value to onlookers. No cd player, no envious amenities; just peeling tint and a trunk that leaked when it rained. Nothing to attract unscrupulous individuals or jealous bottom-dwellers.

Given its esthetic shortcomings, you can imagine my elation when I purchased my beautiful jem of a vehicle with a 5-disc cd changer, leather seats, black interior, a leak-proof trunk. But with those perks came the obvious worry of its well-being. Constant concern for its cleanliness and safety.

And then the dings and keyings began.

Maybe this is a recurring trend that I was previously unaware of: the defacing of others’ property out of sheer spite or desire to damage a pretty object.

I never thought I would say this, but more than once I have caught myself gazing enviously at the hoopty parked outside a gas station or the 10-year-old junker ambling down the highway. Knowing full well that the owner couldn’t care less if he found an extra ding in his door later that day or if he were to back into a light pole tomorrow.

What freedom!

The day is coming, my friends, when the envy of the neighborhood will reside no longer with the shiny Mercedes but with the 12-year-old Camry with a hanging front fender and 150,000 miles to its name.