Thursday, June 30, 2011


"I think I can I think I can I think I can."

Thank god my mom used to read me the story about the little engine that could. I tapped into that wisdom this weekend when Alex and I went on our first "bike tour."

We parked at McMenamin's Edgefield in Troutdale, loaded our paniers on our bike racks, and made the "short" ride to Ainsworth campground 25 miles away. Did I mention we forgot to check out the elevation report for this ride? Again. So it wasn't the steepest hill in the world, I mean, no Mount Si, but still, Alex had not yet installed my granny gear, so any slope greater than 1% feels like Everest.

But I made it. The whole way. Without walking. Yay! And loved it. Bike touring is like a perfect combination between backpacking and roadtripping. You get the exercise and self-satisfaction from the ride, but you can have access to amenities like eating out, or staying at hotels. Sounds just about perfect to me. This was a preview for what we plan to do a few more times this summer. I think it suits us well. And we didn't even fight once.

Jo at the Vista House, after a 900 foot climb sans granny gear. And yeah, that's about 50 pounds worth of crap on the back on my bike. I had to bring a book, a magazine, and my knitting. You know, just in case I got bored.

Alex cooking our dinner at Ainsworth Campground, a few miles past Multnomah Falls.

Our campsite. Yeah, I'm knitting. Dork.


I have always been fortunate to have amazing female friendships. From the time I was little, my mother helped me foster friendships that have now lasted more than 20 years. And she was much the same, having "collected" friends from every stage of her life - high school, college, Lamaze class, stitch 'n bitch groups, baby swim classes, Welcome Wagon, etc. You get the point.

A couple weeks ago my college girlfriends and I had our 8th annual Women's Retreat. The six of us have met in different parts of the country during different times of the year since graduating from U. of Puget Sound in 2004. We were all friends in college, some of us closer than others, and I can truly say I think our friendships are stronger now, even though we are spread across the country, than they were when we lived in the same dorms or same houses.

This year, our first one in several that did not revolve around one of our weddings, took place in Denver. Stacy and Nick were kind enough to open up their home to house us for a long weekend. It never really matters what we do when we're together, as conversation dominates no matter what.

Anna, Amy, Kathleen, Jo and Stacy out to dinner - Gretchen was in route from NYC (also known as perpetually delayed).

Stacy, Jo, Gretchen, Amy and Anna at Stacy's family's cabin in Kenosha.

Amy, Stac, Gretch and Anna jump for joy after a paddle around Kenosha.

Our group in its entirety: Amy, Jo, Kathleen, Gretch, Anna and Stac at "Canvas and Cocktails," where we drank wine and learned to paint from a teacher who would be better suited to instruct a Spin class.

One of the most fun things about this year's trip was re-discovering our "Circle Journal." In 2004 we started circulating a notebook where we updated each other with the going-ons of our life at the time. We, of course, also kept in touch by email, phone calls, and text messages. But the Circle Journal served as a more formal documentation of our lives - work, location, travels, love, or random musings. I'm sure I got the idea from some pre-teen movie like Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants or something of the sort. During our many trips to and from the airport, we read aloud our own passages and laughed about the old memories. At some point a year or two ago the Circle Journal fell to the wayside, so we've committed to re-circulating the journal and picking up where we left off - which is my very favorite part of these friendships, how easy it is to always pick right back up as if no time has passed at all.

Ladies- you are unique, beautiful, driven, selfless women and I feel so blessed to have known you and had your loyal friendship for the past 10-plus years.

Take Anna, for example. We did not know one another well in college. She lived in the dorm across campus, but became friends with Amy and Stacy. They all ended up living together sophomore year, and that's how I started to get to know her. Anna is a go-with-the-flow kind of person. One of the more relaxed, Type B personalities in my life. She loves camp, travelling (Germany in particular), and being social. She lived in Germany during college, and again when she was awarded a Fullbright after college. Now she lives in Big Sky, MT with her husband, Neil. She works as a hiring manager for a company that staffs J-1 foreign students. She gets to travel and meet people from all over the world - and she gets paid for it! She smiles easily, likes to talk and write lengthy emails, and has sort of a Pollyanna perspective on the world that I sometimes envy. Oh yeah, and she has this cute little athletic figure that always seems to be in shape, whether or not she exercises regularly. And she doesn't have food issues, which is just a novelty to me.

And then there is Amy. She might take offense to this, but I mean it as a compliment. She's the kind of friend that I likely would not have made independently, because we are so different in so many ways. But because we have this diverse group of girlfriends, I have been fortunate to have gotten to know her, and lived with her my senior year in college. She's another smiley one (then again, most of my friends are warm people with big hearts), and blushes when she laughs. She grew up in South Eugene, where she lives now with her husband, Jake, who she actually knew in high school. She is one of the most active people I know - running, biking, swimming. And she has about 1.5 million friends. She works as a physical therapist, after graduating school in Montana. She reminds me of my mother-in-law in a lot of ways, particularly because of her love of grocery shopping, food, and cooking. She is a very supportive friend, one who even took time out of her day to come to my thesis presentation, and sends texts regularly to say hi or that she's thinking of someone. She is also one of the least judgmental and most open-armed, inclusive people. She is always making new friends and inviting people in to her life. I lived near her during graduate school - she's the kind of person who offered to fix me dinner the night before a big test, or meet me for a quick lunch on campus.

Gretchen is one of those people who always seems to have it all together. She and her husband live in New York. She works as a physician assistant at a few different settings, her husband is a urologist, and they always seem to be either working, working out, or on vacation. Gretch always has everything perfectly planned, perfectly organized, and her outfits are always perfectly coordinated. Needless to say, I don't know how she always seems to keep it all together. Yet another thoughtful one - a Coach purse for my bridal shower, cards to encourage baby-making, and regular texts. Did I mention she is HILARIOUS?!? She is a great storyteller who always has me hanging on her every word, particularly when it comes to the trials and tribulations of her patients' lives.

Kathleen was one of my bridesmaids, and was my main connection to this group of girls. She and I were fast friends our first week of college. She is a little one, with tons of energy. I think she slept a total of 24 hours throughout all of college. We have made many, many memories together, including time in Block Island and Newport, travels (and hospital stays) in Europe and Central America, and random adventures stateside. When I think of Kathleen, I think of one night we were studying late in the SUB. We have always had wonderful, energizing conversations, and given the late hours and early stages of our delirium, I descr ibed her as "mossy." To this day, that is how I like to think of her. She has lived all over the world and is the most "nontraditional" of our bunch. She's probably also the most intelligent and well-read, particularly on wordly matters. She helped start a magazine, The Internationalist, during and after college. Then she lived in Costa Rica working for an outdoor adventure company. She recently graduated with a Master's in international business in Boston and just moved to NYC to work for a new company. She's another great story teller with a keen sense of humor and timing. She has a way with words, and can master even a Friday NYT crossword.

And then, of course, there's my maid of honor, my partner in crime, and my very bestest friend in the world, Stacy. No one makes me laugh as much as she does, even when Alex has his super on-fire days. She is also the very most thoughtful and caring person. Anyone who has ever met her for five minutes falls in love with her, and I feel lucky to have her as such a huge part of my life. When I think of Stac, I think of her huge smile, her full-bodied hugs, and her infectious laugh. And then I remember what a foul mouth and dirty mind she has, and I'm grateful she's not all niceties all the time. I mean, who else would not only puke on my pillow, but also pee in my bed, and then laugh hysterically about it for the next week? Who else would hug me and rub my back while I cried over every boy who dumped me? Or who would host a beautiful "ladies luncheon" and fabulous bachelorette party for me - fruit dip and all? She's the friend I dreamed about as a kid - the kind I wanted to live next door to, marry brothers, buy houses next door to one another, raise our kids together, grow old together. And although we're separated by a few states, I think we're well on our way down a more grown-up version of this dream.

These brief descriptions don't do justice for the depth of these women and my friendships with them. But I like to reflect on what makes each of them special to me, and this is a still picture of how I'm feeling fondly about them at just this very moment.

Friday, June 24, 2011


It strikes again. My friend, Gretchen, miscarried. She was just 7 weeks along, but is experiencing the loss of life and the loss of hope. I trust that she will be a great mother one day, sooner than later, but am sad to learn that yet another friend is enduring the heartache of starting of family.

Angels and Devils

How do you say "no" to a lonely old widower? One who lives alone in a big, dark house? One who collects cars and motorcycles and bike parts? One who needs help with the maintenance of his home and garden? How about if that man is your father?

That's the problem, there is no easy way to tell your ever-helpful, ever-loving, ever-knowledgeable dad that you don't want to paint his porch, power-wash his windows, prune his trees, or fix-up his old Chevy. And you don't want your husband to have to do any of those things either. We don't own a house, after all, so why should we have to spend our free time completing such chores?

That's the little devil on my shoulder talking. Boy is she LOUD! She does NOT want to whittle away the freedom of long summer days by hauling herself from her beautiful city apartment, the one right on the riverfront, through the banal highways of suburbia to do chores. Someone else's chores, no less. Yup, this Devil Woman, the one sitting on my shoulder and shouting into my ear, she's convincing.

But then there's the angel. To her, less is more. She doesn't need to shout to get her point across. She merely gives a look, yeah, a look. The same kind a teacher or a mom can give. That's how I know I'm in t-r-o-u-b-l-e. When the angel is not just quiet, but downright silent. It's her version of a guilt trip. And boy has she had a lot of practice at this. She's good. Really good. And ultimately, I listen to her, even if I give the Devil Woman a good run for her money. After all, the angel on my shoulder is the one who reminds me that family is everything. That without people to share with - both the good times and the bad, the holidays and the housework - this life does not mean much.

So yeah, Dad. I'll help you, again, with your itemized list of projects around the house. But don't think I'll do it without a grumble or two. Or two hundred ...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Playing House

Mr. Menne looking sharp in his sunnies.

Jo feeding Logan. It makes him soooo happy to eat!

A visit with Al.

Baby News

1. Dee and George had a beautiful baby girl, Harlow June Huff, on June 14, 2011. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting her yet, but am looking forward to seeing her dark almond-shaped eyes, her full head of brunette hair, and her soft skin in person soon!

2. Gretchen and Dan are pregnant! Just 6 weeks along, but so excited to be first time parents. She surprised us WR college girlfriends with the news by wearing a tee-shirt that said "Pea in the Pod." First one of us to start a family, and it is so like Gretch to bravely lead the way.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Daddy Dearest

Al walking Joanna down the aisle 8/29/2009

In the spirit of a (belated) Father's Day, a brief tribute to the man I call "dad." He's basically, like, the bast dad a person could ask for. Here are just a few of my favorite things about my father:

- He eagerly applies for jobs at the ripe young age of 67

- He hosts pig butchering parties - and invites my friends

- He bought Rachel and Trevor a "kitchen witch" in Spain - and was flabbergasted that they didn't already have one (sidenote: if you don't know what a "kitchen witch" is, Google it, and then let me know)

- He raises and slaughters his own ducks

- He tricked me into eating zucchini by calling them "Hawaiian potato chips"

- He never straight gives me money, but has some convoluted way of making it so that he's not enabling or spoiling me, even though that is really what is going on

- He still calls me by my lifelong nicknames, Lady J and Princess

- He likes my husband, so much so that he would gladly trade in both my brother and myself in favor of keeping Alex around

- When he dresses in his finest, he wears decorated skate shoes

- Despite many thousands of failed attempts, he still tries to teach me about finances (insert frustrated eye roll here)

- He sincerely tries to play both the father and mother role

- He cooks EVERYTHING with duck fat

- He encourages me to travel and explore the world

- He uses compliments sparingly, so when he offers one, it means that much more

- He let us live with him - for free - and had dinner ready for us every day after work

- He cried when he saw me in my wedding dress before walking me down the aisle

- He speaks so proudly of his chef son

- He still talks about my mom, even though it's been nearly 10 years since she died

- He sends me no fewer than 5 emails per day, either forwards or links informing me about Internet privacy, housing prices or the politics of education

- He still cuts out and saves newspaper and Economist articles of the same nature

- He shares my love of television programs such as Nip/Tuck, Californication, and The Riches

- If he doesn't have the answer to my question, he will research it and send me an email link with more information than I ever wanted in the first place

- He has too many interests, too many hobbies, and too many projects

- He tells the SAME stories no fewer than 722 times - each year

- He's my one and only dad

So anyway, Happy Father's Day, Daddy. You are the best, truly, and I am so grateful for the relationship we have, and its evolution through the years. From my ice cream buddy to my soccer cheerleader to my geometry tutor to my canoe guide to my Volvo mechanic to both mother and father to therapist to travel consultant to dinner date - and a friend through out it all. I love you, even if it is just a silly Hallmark holiday.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Am Master

No, really, I earned my Master's of Science in Communication Disorders and Sciences this afternoon. Turns out only 5% of people in this country have graduate degrees. Now I can stop bugging Alex about wanting to be in the 90th percentile. Here are a few pics from walking in the UO College of Ed ceremony. As if you care.

Me, diploma cover in hand.

With my CDS homies waiting for our names to be called.

Jo, Sarah and Emma post-grad.

Proud supporters (emotional and financial). Thanks, boys, I owe you one. Or a few. Who am I kidding, several thousand.

Signed: Joanna Close, MS, CF-SLP

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The 80s Called

Watch out, world. Turns out I CAN knit. The 80s called and they want to hire me to do the entire US Ski Team's winter warming gear. So as you can see on my model above, the knitwear collection includes a marigold cowl and matching marigold headband. The sweater is his own and not included.

Knitting is fun. When you do it right and you have a finished product. God knows what the hell I'm going to do with the cowl/headband, but I'm thinking it might go next to our ski onesies waiting for next season. Then again, maybe I'll actually wear the cowl, since that was the intended purpose. The headband was just an afterthought. A bad one, maybe, but a success no less. Next project: baby gnome hat. Or maybe I should just learn to "purl" since all I've mastered is is the knit stitch.

Best part about new hobby? Perfect excuse to watch Army Wives. That's right, I said it. Who knew there's even a Season 4!?! It brings me never ending joy. And then when people ask what I did all day, I can say "I was knitting." And I don't even have to include that part about watching TV, so people think I'm not a lazy blob who lays on the couch on a perfectly sunny day. Sounds like a win-win sitch to me.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

He of Little Faith

I have been basking in the luxury that is summer vacation for nearly a week now. This means I sleep in longer and stay up later than usual (and much later than Alex, the working stiff). Alex found his way to bed around 10 p.m. last night, and I stayed downstairs, glued to My Eroded Spot On The Couch, where I embarked on a new, easier knitting project and watched When In Rome (a stupidly cliche movie about two more beautiful than normal people rejecting, then finding, love, and living happily ever after; yes, a part of me loves the classic chick-flick, but the more powerful, cynical parts of me think it is all so ridiculous, and perpetuates our belief that finding "Mr. Right" solves the rest of our problems. Sometimes, he just brings more problems to the table :) But not my Mr. Right. He neither brings nor solves problems. He just cooks and cuddles - two of my favorite ways to be romanced).

With painstaking concentration I am teaching myself to "slip" a stitch before continuing down the row of regular knit stitches. I hear some people outside shouting. This isn't unusual, in itself. It's just unusual for me because I sleep like a log and snore like a lumberjack and never so much as rustle when my head is on the pillow regardless of what is going on around me. For example, I have slept peacefully curled up on a couch while friends bustled around me, including vacuuming, to get ready for party. I essentially slept all 18 hours during the bus ride from Mendoza to Bariloche, Argentina. And I very nearly slept through neighbors' shouts of "fire, fire, fire" and sirens when a house up the street went down in flames in Tahoe several years ago. So despite my concerted efforts to make a bulky yellow knit cowl, I was aware of the fighting underway just beneath my living room window.

Friendly Male Neighbor: "SUCK MY DICK, BITCH!"
Friendly Female Neighbor: "FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE!"
Friendly Male Neighbor: "WHY DON'T YOU COME OVER HERE, AND I'LL SHOW YOU..."

You get the picture. Lovely manners. And I thought I had the mouth of a sailor.

An hour or so later, I finish the stupid movie and all six rows of my cowl and make my way to bed. After tiptoeing to the bathroom to wash my face and "scrub my incisors," I carefully crawl into bed making extra effort not to wake Alex. He has to wake at 5:15, after all, to ride his bike to work and change the world by teaching Beaverton's less savory teenage population. The least I could do, in my unemployed-couch-surfing-free-loading state, is to let the poor man get a restful night of shuteye. He looks so peaceful curled up with the blankets tangled just around his lower legs. I lean over and kiss him softly on his back. And this small gesture temporarily interrupts his slumber.

His eyes still mostly closed and lips barely articulating his sounds, he grumbles, "Was that you shouting earlier? At the neighbors?"

I do my best to stifle an outburst of laughter. Seriously?!? It crossed your mind that the midnight-shouting-potty-mouth might be YOURS TRULY?!? When do you recall me shouting at strangers? In the middle of the night? Obscenity-laced derisions? No, babe, it wasn't me. I was not down here, below your open bedroom window, yelling at the neighbors, threatening violent sexual acts on them or their mothers.

Not me. I was knitting and watching a rom-com. Sorry to disappoint.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Thank You, No Thank You, Okay, You're Welcome

Alex and I are just so pleased with ourselves when we do nice things for one another. Our friends, the ones who more closely approximate adults, do nice things for their spouses all the time without even blinking an eye.

For example, one of my BFs, Rachel, she is ALWAYS thinking about Trevor and potential acts of kindness. If we meet for coffee, she brings him home an iced mocha or a scone. If we are shopping downtown, she'll buy him his favorite Voodoo Doughnut. If we eat out, she keeps her leftover pizza for him. So yeah, it mostly revolves around food, but still. And her thoughtfulness does not go unappreciated or unrequited. Trevor usually expands beyond the foodstuffs and steps into flower, and sometimes even jewelry, territory. I can hardly bring myself to buy Alex a chocolate bar when I'm waiting to check out at the grocery store. Unless the candy is on sale and I know Alex ate an apple that day. Then I can justify the purchase and calories. Besides, I'd rather use the time to catch up on all my celebrity gossip. (Aside: Did you see the size of Kim Kardashian's ginormous ring?!?)

Take today, for example. I made Alex's lunch. For maybe the second time. Ever. I was so pleased with myself that I made him a turkey and cheese sandwich, and thought to myself how cute it was I decided to add "ants on a log" and a cute little note. It took me all of six minutes to do this nice favor, and in my head, this should buy me some time in the "but I did XXX, so you owe me" category.

It goes both ways. Take tonight. Alex thinks he's doing me a favor if he's the one who grabs the remote control to turn on the television. The he tells me that I should be the one to turn on the VCR and press play for "Hung" because he already turned on the TV. Big effing deal! You want a cookie for your effort?

I wouldn't dare let him forget how I already did my good deed for the day.

"Did you see I folded your laundry?"
"Yeah, I did. Thanks. Again."
(4 1/2 minutes pass; crickets chirp).
"Did you see how I folded all your socks together?"
"I even flipped them right-side out. So you wouldn't have to do that in the morning."
(Me, with a self-satisfied, shit-eating grin plastered to my face).
"How did your lunch taste today? Did I make the sandwich right?"
"Yeah, it was great. Thanks for all the treats."
"Did you see I made you ants on a log? Cute, huh?!?"
"Mm-hmm. It was cute. Thanks."
"What about those nuts. Did you eat those?"
"Yup. Didn't I already say thank you? Well, thanks. Again."

That's the last time I'm folding his laundry, I think to myself. He doesn't even appreciate how much effort that took for me. So what I get to sleep in nearly 3 hours longer than him. So what I get the whole day free. So what I have the time to pick up extra weight around the house. I folded laundry. And not only mine. I did HIS laundry. Doesn't that make me a fabulous wife?!? Right?!? Tell me again. And again. And again!

Oh yeah, on that note. Thanks again for cooking dinner. Tonight. And every night. And THEN doing the dishes afterward. Every. Single. Night. Seriously. Thank you times one million. xoxo

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To Knit. Or Not.

As it turns out, knitting is not my forte. I was working with this pink and grey yarn to make a headband. But I'm not so good at keeping the same number of stitches, so the edges are all uneven. Per suggestion of a wise friend (this grasshopper thanks you, Obi Won Knitting Kenobi), I re-created the headband into a beer coozie!

The coozie's trial run.

Perfect size for a bottle of Ninkasi.

A bit baggy for a run-of-the-mill PBR can. "It's like a magnum on a midget."

A Day In The Life

A bit of a preview for what the summer months will hold ...

Rose City Roller Derby

Bike trip to Hagg Lake

Wildflowers at Dog Mountain

Posing at Puppy Meadow

Time On My Hands

I do my best and most neurotic thinking when I have free time. A road trip. Long runs. Waiting for Alex to go to the bathroom. So as life would have it, I am at the precipice of FIVE MONTHS of free time - that's a whole LOT of time to devote to my neuroses. And as my brother would say, I'm having a "moment" about the never-ending summer. I won't even have to choose between obsessing over money, or food, or organizing my paperwork, or buying a new camera, or whether or not I make a good wife, or where we should live when we grow up, or when we should start our family, or if I should look for a different job, or how to make hummus, or if it's pathetic how much I love Army Wives, or whether or not to go to yoga, or changing my voicemail message (it still says my name is Joanna Hartman, really, it's been TWO years), or if I should put the plant on the porch ... yes, these are the inane things that cycle through my head. On repeat. Think: hamster wheel. But only when the world around me is more or less still. And guess what?! I'll have FIVE WHOLE MONTHS to answer each of these details.

I know, I know, who gets anxiety about having free time?!? In my defense, it's not that I don't LOVE the time off, because I truly do. It's more of a concern whether I will use the time wisely. I feel like this is "it." Like this is the last summer of my life, with the freedom to do what I want when I want. And I don't want this free time to pass foolishly. I want to be mindful and do all the things I want to do. Especially if 2012 is really the end of the world as we know it. Those Mayans were smart cookies. Yes, I admit, I do want to check things off a list. It just feels so good to scratch things off as "done." There are two types of people in this world: Those That Make Lists, and Those That Do Not Make Lists. I belong with the former, and am one of those people who actually keeps a Bucket List. Not so much because I will be ready to die once the things are completed. It's a dynamic list, after all. But I keep the list because I don't want to forget the things I want to do. It's more to supplement my memory than my sense of adventure.

We have been throwing around all sorts of ideas for this summer. Thru-hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail. Taking a bike tour around Banff. Trekking across Ireland. Doing the Spain/France camino. Traveling to Honduras. Being Courageous Kids camp counselors. Hitting up a few weddings. Going to the beach. Going camping. Reading. Writing. Knitting. Basking in Portland's long summer days. Getting a dog (okay, "we" haven't been throwing that idea around; just "me").

So far it's been two whole days since my summer officially began. I'm not losing my mind or anything quite yet. But I've tried my darndest to build in daily structure, such as scheduling lunch dates with friends, or planning specific errands to run. My bets are on the 10-day marker; I bet I can make it a week and a half before going stir crazy. Then it's on like Donkey Kong. I'll be fiending for travel and will be my dealer.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Confessions of a Former Gym Rat

I am (not so) secretly obsessed with the ABC Family TV program, Make It Or Break It. How could I not love an hour-long show filled with the drama of friendship, boys, betrayal, family - and gymnastic world championships? The little girl in me would have DIED to have their lives. They, as in my friends Payson, Kaylie, Lauren, and Emily. I know they're a bit younger than me (like 15 years) - but they happen to be fulfilling my childhood fantasies. And besides, airs all the episodes - for free.

I often wonder just what it is about the sport of gymnastics. I quit at the age of 13 or 14, but still feel like it was "my sport," the one that had the most impact on me during my formative years. And in the same token, I often think gymnastics is what fucked me up (among other things, I'm sure). Chicken or the egg, maybe, but it seemed to bring out my perfectionistic, neurotic, competitive inclinations. Think about it: isn't there something sort of backward about telling an 8-year-old girl that she starts with a perfect score, a 10, and that every time she makes a mistake - be it a flexed foot or an unsteady landing - she gets points deducted? In a nutshell, she starts out with a clean slate, but if she does anything wrong, she is no longer perfect.

I remember laying in bed as a little kid, my dad tucking me in nightly. It was one of our most special times together, him pulling my pastel-colored zebra sheets up to my chin and wrapping the blankets around my shoulders.

"Daddy, am I any good at gymnastics?"

"Daddy, why aren't I at a higher level?"

"Daddy, my arm really hurts."

"Daddy, I want to go to the Olympics."

"Daddy, why am I scared to do my back flips? I didn't used to be."

"Daddy, I don't want to be on the crutches any more."

"Daddy, I wish I was better."

"Daddy, I wish I was the best."

I remember him trying to reassure me. I was good at gymnastics, or else I wouldn't have been able to compete. No, I wasn't the best at the gym, or even at my level, but I was good enough. And didn't I enjoy it anyway? Yes, I had aches and pains, but that was one of the unfortunate side effects of participating in a sport that pushes a little body to its limits. Didn't I have fun with all my friends? If I didn't like it anymore, I didn't have to keep doing it. Yes, I was good as soccer, too. No, still not the best on the team. But didn't I like kicking the ball around with my friends? Yes I was good at school. Maybe the best in my class, he wasn't sure. I was great at being a daughter and a sister and a friend. And as long as I had a good time and worked my hardest, that's what mattered.

I came across some old home movies recently, and no, I really wasn't very good at gymnastics. I've never truly excelled at any one thing. And I always wished I did. I still suffer from those same feelings of inferiority now as I did then. I've made a life out of being decently skilled at most things, but not great at any of them. But in hindsight, I did look awfully cute jumping around in a little leotard with my hair pulled back in a french braid. And it looks like I was having fun. Even if I do run off crying after the vault every now and again. I'm sure in 20 years from now I'll say the same thing about myself - that I might not have been perfect, I cried about it sometimes, but more or less I looked like I was having a good time.

And now for your viewing pleasure, my Level 6 (or 5 or 7?) gymnastics routine. It's 1992, that's why my hair looks like that.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June Gloom

I blame the weather. But maybe it's just me.

I've had this two-week funk that I can't seem to kick. So here's a list of Things That Will Make Me Feel Better. My, husband, on the other hand, calls most of these "bad ideas." What. Ever.

1. Buying a dog. Wouldn't I benefit from the responsibility?

2. Getting a new tattoo. I just got two feathers on my left forearm last weekend, and now I'm ready to finish up the bicep/tricep area with a magnolia branch or something.

3. Conceiving. Who wouldn't want a little Closeman running around? Alex is so cute now, and he was even more adorable as a little bow-legged, cowboy-loving munchkin. I want one of my own.

4. Going to Cuba. Latin lovers aside, I've always wanted to visit the forbidden country.

5. Weighing 115 pounds. At least all my clothes would fit again.

6. A new camera. The expensive, professional kind. So in case I leave the house, I have something to document my re-integration back into society.

7. Watching every episode of Army Wives. On the computer. In one sitting. With bon-bons on my lap.

8. Eating brown sugar mixed with cream cheese. Chased with s'more flavored ice cream.

9. Shopping online. I don't have to change my clothes to buy new ones.

And here's a list of Things I SHOULD Do To Feel Better:

1. Actually go to a yoga class. Stop just packing the bag, bringing the mat, and planning to go. But actually GO.

2. Cook dinner. With so much free time on my hands, wouldn't it be the nice thing to do for my hubby?

3. Clean the house. For god's sake, we've lived here more than two months now.

4. Go for a bike ride. Or a run. Or even a walk. Get some exercise, fatass.

5. Calculate our finances and budget for the month of June. No more cushion to overspend.

6. Work on completing my half-finished projects. Hem jeans. Sew patches on pants. Knit the scarf. Make the pouches. Write thank-you cards. Paint the chairs. Paint the ladder. Go through school stuff.

7. Do the laundry. And wash the sheets. It's just gross.

8. Phone a friend. Remember how I used to have those? I used to nurture relationships, and it's time to do so again. At least if I want anyone to speak highly of me at my funeral.

9. Oh yeah, did I mention getting some exercise? Seriously, people. I KNOW it will make me feel better, but I'd rather be glued to this same spot on my couch. The spot that's sunken below the rest of the couch. The spot where the fabric is softer than the rest of the couch because the bed sores on my ass have eroded it.

10. Go to the grocery store. Stop eating popcorn and cookies and calling it a meal. Spinach made Popeye strong, so it's worth a shot.

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