Monday, March 23, 2009

Intimate Aisles

While shopping in Europe I watched as women grabbed a shirt or pants and yanked them over (or under) the clothes they were wearing. I remember thinking this was odd, but an incredible time saver. No hassle of finding someone to assist you, waiting in line for a dressing room, or being locked out of said dressing room. Brilliant.

Unfortunately I never quite figured out how Euro sizing worked so I generally wasted my time looking for someone who worked at the store and understood me. Once I got back to the States I cut my shopping time in half. Instead of trying on shirts in the dressing room I simply stripped down to a tank top by a mirror and quickly pulled things on and off for verification of fit.

All this time I’d been thinking I’d revolutionized American women’s way of shopping. (Guys have been doing this for years, or skip the fitting process altogether?) But today I saw that the Wal-Mart shoppers are steps, years even, ahead of me.

In passing I saw a woman in a bright green shirt trying on a nude colored bra. She lifted and placed, lifted and placed, and pulled straight as I processed the image. The contrasting colors must have been on purpose, so she could carefully see where the lines of the garment would fall.

I bit my lip to keep from laughing and tried to redirect my male companion. But mostly I wondered if she ever dreamed about going to school in her underwear.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

In the Eyes of the Beholder

In the hallway four women breathed four sighs as they gazed through the glass doors of the elementary school. Prisoned inside three of them remarked on the lovely day, one rolled her eyes in disgust. A warmish day does not automatically translate into beauty.

Looking across the valley I could barely distinguish the Oquirrh Mountains, a few ridges peaked through the haze. Outside at recess my opinion refused to change. My definition of beautiful excludes dust particles, air pollutants, fumes and evaporated salt.

Outside on a beautiful day my eyes don’t itch, my skin isn’t clogged by air irritants and my snot isn’t black. On a beautiful day the warmth of the sun beats on me. Today the warmth of the thick air suffocated me. I felt like I’d wandered into a spider web and the poison from the spider’s bite would crush my lungs.

Those poor fools, I surmised, have never lived in open country. A twist in life once again makes me long for the comfort of home, Lamar. There on the open plains I grew up with clean air (if you don’t count the large percent of methane). The blue skies continued past the horizon, swallowing the sage brush.

Every day offered new shades of sky blue. The blue of winter days lured you unsuspectingly into the bitter cold. A cold that seemed to condense the color and deepen the color while stretching it far above you. The color so rich and a sky so thick you believed that bundled up you could wait outside for the sky to reach its saturation and fall on you.

The blue of spring released the frost bound color scattering it across the sky. Those days the blue looked faded, light, carefree. Or maybe it was waking after a slumber, not quite warm and slightly pale.

Summer heat brought dizzying shades starting with a light blue against a sunrise that burst into a shock of variations. Against a sharp roof you saw a deep penetrating blue that bleed into a lighter ring around the sun—I suppose I should mention I spent some time staring at the sun as a youth. That is why you are reading a blog that uses blue fifty times without a clear description of the hue—And when the storms brewed the sky swelled into royal blues and violets that gave way to a midnight blue contrasted with streaks of white burning light.

In autumn the cobalt blue skies dipped to greet you in the mornings, whisper to you at noon, hug you after school and kiss you good night at dusk.

The High Plains—blessed with four seasons producing 365 beautiful days.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Family Affair

Like every happy family mine has traditions. March brings a family sport to the forefront as we fill out brackets for the NCAA tourney. In a family pool we all try to beat each other, no loyalties, lots of trash talking and year-long bragging rights for the title holder.

Unfortunately basketball is my least favorite sport and my family knows it. Not to say it wasn’t fun playing Horse on our half-court or watching the four-peat state champs that we called the twins or Phil’s handiwork in the War Party (a group of boys sent in run the other team into the ground). Good memories but I refused to play in high school and developed something of contempt for the sport.

That contempt and my lack of sports spectating enthusiasm may be why members of my family seek to dethrone me as bracket champion. I have a habit of choosing well in the brackets, leading at intervals and finishing above at least half the family and one or two of my brothers (who know everything about sports).

This year I’ve been challenged. Smack talk through emails, a change in pool domain, predictions of my demise. They’ve even opened the pool to “anyone else we deem worthy”. Hoping for an outsider to take my crown? Yes, all happy families have their traditions. So I will traditionally fill out my bracket. As every year I know nothing about the teams, haven’t even heard hype over a favorite while working the sports desk at the Tribune.

Completely oblivious but blessed with an ability to test well and interpret stats, plus the random picks by mascot and color approval, I set out to defend my position at the top and frustrate the Hall testosterone.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gym Hazing

A wonderful Christmas story tells of elves making shoes for saintly cobbler. I've always wanted the elves to visit me; mostly I want them to clean my room. What I forget is elves by nature are not kind. Mischievous suits them better. And I believe they visited me after the fairies in the Sugar House gym sent them my way through a curse.

Yes a curse. They threw it my direction when I waved my hand in dismissal to their siren wails of sales. In their eyes I was a sucker and in mine they were sucking away a short amount of time I had to work in a sweat. At the end of the work out the sweat wasn’t enough to wash away my annoyance and I may have snubbed the boys again on my way out. The result was a later regret and a more immediate lateness for my other engagements.

Fast forward to the present. Under similar time constraints I attempted another semi-session at the gym. Running in I my thoughts focused on the quickest way to change.

”OH, she’s back,” a snide voice interrupted.

I looked up and winced. The boys stood behind the counter with arms crossed and smirks on their faces. Friendly greetings must not be discussed in staff meetings.

“Thanks for nothing, what aren’t you going to do today,” another chimed in.

Really boys, get over the rejection.

“It’s always encouraging to come here,” I replied while hastily moving toward the locker room.

The safe haven turned out to be a nightmarish fun house. My gym bag had been tampered with. Never would I have packed spandex, yet no shorts appeared. I pulled on the tight pants and searched fruitlessly for a tank top. With my t-shirt and stretch bottom combination I felt a bit like a 60-year-old woman.

Contemplating the humiliation factor I lost precious minutes talking myself into staying. A few minutes on the bike and goal accomplished, I win. I reached for my shoes. My left foot glided in and something felt wrong. I looked down and noticed that I’d brought my old shoes that effectively suck. Damn. Still I would not leave before I sat on that bike. With defiance I mentally prepared for the bloody heels that would follow.

I put my right shoe on and breathed a sigh of relief. I’d not looked close enough and might need more sleep I thought as I laced up my foot-friendly Asics. I might look a fool but my feet would be safe. I stood with a brief half-smile before I felt the uneven, unbalanced and a distinct difference in shoe. My eyes downcast I saw the ugliness of my old shoe contrasted against the hopeful new shoe. Tricked for the third time I resigned.

I was about to change and leave the gym all together until I looked up and saw a manly woman staring at me. I can’t be sure if it was self pride or pure terror, but I boldly left the locker room and marched to the bikes. After the fifth attempt I found one that worked and with straight shoulders I pushed through the twenty minutes I had left. Maybe the gym fairies won.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Head Cold

One day of feeling icky and stuffed up wears on you. After two weeks of a rawish throat, spinning head, dry eyes my allergies turned into an almost cold. As in I almost stayed home from work but decided to share my germs. I almost wanted to eat healthy foods to help combat but instead ate things that would undoubtedly taste good. Also when I attempted to make oatmeal it exploded in the microwave, the soup clumped up, the mashed potatoes disintegrated and the chocolate cake cookies resembled muffin tops.

I lived happily through the smoker voice that faded out. The runny nose relieved the congestion. And I coughed up enough crud to give my tortured lungs cardio exercise without going to the gym. Then the headache began.

At first I noticed a faint linger in my forehead after a sharp pang cursed through my nostril. Not so bad except it grew and developed into a full-blown dull ache that lasted and lasted, day and night during sleep and work.

By now I’d found the perfect solution—my fist. Moving at a rapid pace towards various points on my head my fist viciously attacked. For a brief moment I worried about permanent indentation. Luckily I’m a girl and will not be bald so a dented skull doesn’t matter.

I guess Eric disagreed. He showed up with a heavy dose of liquid gel caps, nasal spray, tomato soup, French bread, and season one of 30 Rock. I’m not quite sure what the bread was for. Maybe to offset the drugs. And the comedy of 30 Rock lifted my spirits, almost. Every time I laughed I felt the dull pain of a mucous swollen head.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


A brief conversation with my brother-in-law led to self discovery. Between the life advice, he told me to get married as that is the only way I’ll ever be happy (I guess I just wait for the first person to ask me and say yes, no questions asked), and the begging of my return to Lamar Darren mentioned how wonderful it would be to have two of me. You’ve made the obvious conclusion I did. Not only does he want me married but bearing children.

This particular time his comment referred to the real me living in Lamar closer to his daughter Brookie the newer model of the two-year-old me. Everyone in Lamar remembers me adorably toddling around and they all remark on her likeness of me. The dancing in the kitchen. The jumpiness punctuated by a startled look and scream. The face structure and huge blue eyes. The affection for fruit. Even the way she snuggles into your neck when she hugs you.

While he named of all these wonderful attributes I felt a little tingle in my heart and the smile on my face stretched wide. Then immediate thought I had was my sister deserved to have one of me because I felt she underappreciated me in our youth. My next thought was of my love for Brookie. But my third thought struck a nerve.

What a delightful child I was! No wonder people liked me.

Then I gasped and almost ran a red light. Humility I have not. And while I may not drown in a lake staring at my own reflection, my train of thought could lead to a messy accident.