Into the Crosshairs

This is the eve of the eve of the day I potentially start Crossfit. Two weeks ago I went along with a friend during “Bring a Friend to Experience Our Unique and Strangely Seductive Brand of Sadomasochistic Torture” Week. All that was too long to fit on signs and websites, so they called it “Bring a Friend to Crossfit” Week.
On that day, I posted the following status on Facebook:
“Today I learned lots of things: I now know what a burpee is, I know that I can’t jump more than three inches straight up, I know that I’m really good at anything where gravity is on my side (if I’m working against gravity, all bets are off), and I know that I have the stamina of a waffle. I think ‘sorer but wiser’ sums it right up.”
The comments on this ranged from, “But waffles are delicious!” (a true statement, I can’t argue), to questions about my joining “the cult” and a glowing assurance from a friend that “the cult” was an awesome experience, and I should run, not walk! to the next possible session.
Over the past two weeks I’ve had several conversations with various folks about whether or not I intended to join this insane group. I mean, really, any gym that has to keep a surreptitious barf bucket handy for patrons who might exercise to the point of loss of lunch is letting you know up front what you’re in for, don’t you think?
Of course, FAQ #1 is, “What possessed you to try it in the first place?” and FGA #1 (Frequently Given Answer) is, “I have no freakin’ clue.” Three weeks ago my friend posted a FB comment of her own that this was “Bring a Friend” Week and if anyone wanted to try it, she’d take them along. It stuck with me. No idea why.
FAQ #2 is, “Well, are you going back?” (This is usually asked in the sort of tone one uses with ones’ offspring when they’ve done something spectacularly boneheaded, and you’re asking something along the lines of, “Well, have we learned a little lesson now?”) FGA #2 is, “I really don’t know.” Well, of course, by now I do know.  I am, at the very least, in it for probably 10 sessions, which is the least you can sign up for. Will I go beyond that? I can’t say.
Some people want to know what it’s about. Well, it’s a sort of a fast weights workout (but done safely—they stress safety) that scales to individual ability. In my first workout, one of our “moves” was what they call legless rope climbs (which is to say, climb a rope suspended from a structural beam using only your upper body strength. Sure, great idea). Since that was clearly about ten peskillion light years past my ability, the coach told me to sit on the floor next to the rope, and use my arms to pull myself into as much of a vertical position as I could. I think I got my butt as much as a foot off the floor.
The aftermath, I have to say, was some of the most pure agony I have ever experienced in my life. Given the number of squats we had to do (96 total), plus up and down off of an 8” high box, plus that burpee thing (24 of those), I have to say, I was sore on a new level. I hadn’t experienced a soreness like that since giving birth (and even that wasn’t so much soreness as genuine pain from various incisions in my midsection—there’s a difference, you know, and sometimes the pain is easier to cope with because you take a Percocet and everything is totally groovy, thanks).
To illustrate just how sore I was, on Saturday morning, the day after this self-inflicted madness, I got out of bed (not easy, but not too horrible), walked to the top of the stairs in my house (it wasn’t too much of a pathetic hobble), looked down the 12 steps + landing + 4 steps to the first floor of my house, and thought, “Fuuuuuuuuuuuccccckkkkk.” Honest. That was the sole thought that went through my mind as I contemplated how I was going to get down those stairs. I actually considered sitting on my butt and scootching down like a toddler, and then realized that to do so would involve engaging the same muscles as walking down, so I bit the bullet and walked. To be accurate, I executed a series of moves that approximated “walking.” But I got down the stairs and it only took probably six minutes.
It was three days before I could sit down on without pausing and thinking, “Ooch, ouch, ooch” as my quads reminded me that after a blasting like I’d given them on Friday, they weren’t going to forgive me in a hurry. It was four days before I could walk in a manner that I would describe as normal. It was five days before I was completely back to my usual self (which is to say, I could move in almost any direction without some muscle reminding me that we’d had such a fun time on Friday, and thanks so much!).
So why on earth would I go back? That’s FAQ #3 and FGA #3 is really, I have no idea. I also ran a half marathon a year and a half ago, and I don’t know why I did that either. To say I could? It was a similarly torturous experience, although I have to hand it to Crossfit—I was able to walk a half a mile to Downtown Disney for dinner within 9 hours of running 13.1 miles. In terms of a thorough ass-kicking, Crossfit wins. And did I mention I’m going to have to get up at 4:30 to go to this class so I can get to work in a timely fashion? Yes, well, when do you think I trained for that half marathon? At 4:30 in the morning in a treadmill in my basement. So this isn’t such a very different proposition from the half marathon, it’s just there’s no fixed end point.
So why? While I was doing it, I was saying the whole time, “I hate this, it hurts, I want to stop doing this, why am I doing this? I don’t have to do this, so why am I doing this?” and then I’d finish my round, rest for 3 minutes, and do it again. But when we left I thought, was it that bad? It wasn’t. And then that soreness hit, and the thing is, I kind of enjoyed it, in a weird way. It told me that I’d really accomplished something. I’d really changed something. Not something huge, but I’d made a small change, and if I kept it up, it would be a permanent small change. And if I kept it up, it would eventually be a permanent large change. There’s something kind of tempting about that. To me, anyway.
And I put the question to my friends who do other things—why do you do what you do? I know a lot of people who ride their bikes to and from the ferry, and to and from work on the other side. Why do you ride your bike? Is it because you enjoy riding in the dark and the rain, dodging cars and getting drenched and cold? Or is it because you know it’s a good thing to do for your body and your mind? The people I know who ride their bikes could easily take buses or drive cars. But they don’t. Well, I could easily not torture myself with Crossfit. But for right now, I’m going to try it. And I may find myself out a hundred bucks and just not willing to press on, but I won’t know unless I try, right?

Of Lice and Men

Sorry, this one is going to make your head itch. We’re talking about. Yes. Lice.
It's largely self-explanatory, I think.

From my Facebook status:
H    Husbands: Here's a tip--when your kids come home with lice, and you decide to wash stuffed animals, resist the urge to wash every one they've come in contact with since birth. That 35 year old stuffed dog of your wife's that they've been walking past while it was sitting on the bench in the mudroom for the past month? Yeah, not really a candidate for the Anti-Lice-Wash-a-Thon. Especially since I can predict with a fairly high degree of certainty that it will EXPLODE IN THE WASHER AND LEAVE LITTLE BITTY PLASTIC BEADS ALL OVER EVERYTHING. I'm psychic, you see. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some vacuuming to do.
But just in case, some back story.
I got an email and a phone call from my boys’ after school program. All three of them had them. To improve matters, my husband was at an evening meeting at his office, probably not arriving home until 8 or later.
I went and picked them up, then stopped at Rite Aid to get the tools to deal with the situation. I left the boys in the van with strict instructions not to unlock or open the doors, roll down the windows, touch the radio, mess around with the stuff in the glove box, spill anything from their lunchboxes, or get blood on the inside of the windows. The usual admonitions of the mother of three boys who is planning to leave them to their own devices for anything longer than 18 seconds.
When I went in to Rite Aid, after chatting briefly with a friend I bumped into who winced in sympathy with my plight and then made a mental note to go home and check his daughter who had had a playdate with my daughter two days earlier (he didn’t say it, but you learn to recognize facial expressions, especially the, “Oh crap, LICE?!? Dear god, please no” facial expression), I headed for the pharmacy counter. The girl asked if she could help me, and I said, “Please—I don’t have the mental capacity to deal with hunting around. Just point me to the lice treatments. I have three children with lice. Kill me now.” The pharmacy assistant quickly directed me to aisle 13. You can’t tell me that’s not a coincidence; these drugstore layout people have a bone dry sense of humor, I tell you. Upon arrival there, I learned that lice eradication has come a long way in the 35 years since I’ve had any experience with it. If the current pricing for various lice-elimination products is any indicator, it is now a multi-billion dollar industry.
In my day, when I got lice twice as a child, there was one product. It was called Quell (or something) and it was toxic as hell and smelled just as bad. Your mom slathered it on your scalp, waited ten minutes and then washed it out. Then she went on a cleaning frenzy and rented one of those termite tens and had the house fumigated. Well, that’s what my mom did.  Lice wasn’t that big a deal to me. All I did was itch and deal with the treatment.
Today there are multiple products with clever, wry names like Nix and Rid. There are shampoos or whatever they are, sure, but there are also “comb out gels” and sprays for non-launderbles like furniture and stuffed animals. There are even kits that come with everything you need, including the beloved fine tooth comb (some things apparently never change).
I grabbed one of the complete kits and a bottle of wine (had to cross the store for that; here’s a tip for those drugstore layout types—wine goes directly next to lice treatment. I promise your impulse-buy-add-on sales will skyrocket) and checked out.
After gathering up my (surprisingly lice-free) daughter, I headed home to open what came to be known as Salon Mama (that’s pronounced mah-MAH).
I confess that as a general rule I suck at making unpleasant things fun. My mother was one of those who felt like the way to deal with unpleasant things was just to power through and get them behind you. Never mind trying to twist the situation to make it remotely amusing and therefore less traumatic. Just get it over with. It was very Teutonic of her. Which was sort of understandable, because she was quite German. German descent, you understand, but a combination of German and Dutch, which made her both stoic and tight –fisted, which sounds horrible, but wasn’t that bad because from somewhere she got a decent sense of humor that kind of tempered everything, but that didn’t change her outlook on unpleasant situations.
But somehow I came up with this ridiculous accent—a sort of British Indian thing with a weird twist—and I started calling my children “Sir” and pretending we were in a beauty salon and I was offering them all sorts of treatments—in addition to the hair coloring we were currently applying, which would turn his hair the most BEE-OO-TEE-FUL shade of purple, would Sir also care for a facial? No? Some new makeup?  No? A manicure? No?
You get the idea.
So with one thing and another, I got them all treated, combed out, and into clean liceless pajamas.
While I was doing all this, I had set my husband, who had bowed out of his meeting early, to the task of getting all their bedding through the wash and making up their beds with some makeshift coverings (flat sheets and spare blankets, mostly) that would allow them to go to bed before 2 a.m. Our washer has a sanitize cycle that washes in water that I think is quite literally boiling hot, but it runs for over an hour and with sheets + blankets + comforters + blah blah blah we were looking at an ETA of somewhere after midnight before it was all washed and dried. So we made do, and sent them all to bed under random throws that I’d gotten for $10 at Disneyland because I’d spent over $50 and suchlike. It wasn’t going to kill them for a night, and it didn’t.
However, now we come to the stuffed animal part of the story. Naturally all their “favorite” stuffies were going to have to have a long hot bath. I don’t give a damn what those tags say about surface clean only. My dryer is just this side of industrial—it’ll dry them through. I have no fear of moldy stuffing. Of course this was what they found most devastating—going to bed without stuffies? Unthinkable!
We made a deal to wash them right off and return them to them in their sleep so they would wake up in the morning with their stuffies. It was a compromise that was accepted grudgingly, but it was accepted.

One of the twins has no real concrete attachment to any one stuffy. Oh, sure, there’s Muffin the Moose, and any one of three stuffed Mickey Mouses (Mickey Mice?) but nothing that he really can’t be without. So long ago I offered him Poochy to see if they’d take to each other and he’d have a constant comfort animal. I’m not sure why I felt like he needed one, since he clearly doesn’t feel that way, but humor me. It’s one of my quirks.
Poochy was mine as a child and he’s hung around, He’s a beanbag dog with a stuffed head and a pom pom nose that fell off years ago. He’s brown with white ears and has frankly seen better days. There have been a couple of surgeries over the years to keep his innards from leaking out, some more successful than others. This kid isn’t really a stuffed animal guy, as I’ve suggested. So for a long time (over a month) Poochy has been hanging out on the bench in the mudroom, just watching the world go by, I guess.
When my son was trying to decide what, if anything, he was going to sleep with last night, I tossed him Poochy and said, “Here, take this.” Up he trotted to his room for bedtime.
What happened next will likely remain a mystery for the ages. But you can probably figure out what the result was.
Yes, Poochy found his way from the “clean” pile to the “contaminated” pile, and took a spin in the washer at my husband's hands. I found this out when I went to switch the blankets and comforters from the washer to the dryer. A little tick-tick-tick-tick sound like…well, frankly like little plastic beads bouncing on a tile floor accompanied the removal of the first item, and every subsequent item thereafter. In the middle of the load I found a deflated, damp Poochy.
When I IM’d my husband to tell him what had happened, his comment was, “Oops.” Yeah, oops. And of course, there was the obligatory “dog house” joke. What a comedian.