Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My name is....

While on a webinar recently, the speaker asked for one of the participant’s names. His response:
“Yes my name is aaaaahhh ummmm Paul aaahhhh ummmm Smith and I’m from aaaaahhhummmm United Way of aaahhhh ummm South Carolina.”

Now, it might have just been the accent, but I was pretty sure he needed a moment before he could remember his name.

Doesn’t that seem just a bit sketchy?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sorry “Ted”

I have a coworker who is a really nice guy. He’s sweet, he loves his work and is clearly dedicated to the work we do.

But he drives me nuts.

He and I both get in to the office very early in the morning. I do this out of necessity most days—you can get so many emails answered if you don’t have to worry about other ones coming in, not to mention how easy it is to prepare for meetings before anyone else comes in and breaks the printer.

But morning times are me times. The other day Brian woke up an hour before his alarm and needed to use the bathroom. I was pretty pissed that he had so thoughtlessly interrupted my time to get ready in the morning. That’s right, I was so angry, I begrudged someone using the bathroom.

I don’t want to talk in the morning. That’s what 9am is for. Any time before 9, is off limits for chatting.

But Ted wants to chat. What’s more, Ted wants to mumble half the story and/or start the story half way through, as if I pay close attention to all his work projects and his personal life. He says things like “Friday went so well, we had two hundred people turn out and I was there until midnight,” and while he will continue, he will never explain what was happening on Friday, unless you interrupt him to ask, but this generally starts him on a whole new track.

Its sweet, really, that he wants to share the good things that are happening in our work. But I do not want to share until 9am. Today, I realized that I was going to hell when I walked into the kitchen, saw him standing by the coffee maker and then jumped back behind the door so he wouldn’t see me.

Honestly, who hides from sweet coworkers who just want to chat?!

And now I wonder how many coworkers hide when they see me coming.

I would walk 500 miles, just to talk with you

As I’ve already posted, I’m supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day. To put it in perspective, I can work a 10 hour day and not break 3,000 steps. Getting in 10,000 takes thought and persistence. Which Hansens apparently have in spades.

I went to Chicago this weekend to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with my family (this is what happens when 2/6ths of the family don’t like to travel on holidays and 2/6ths have unpredictable work schedules). When I arrived on Friday, I only had about 4,000 steps. So I asked my dad to go for a walk before dinner. And after dinner. And before bed. And we made it! 10,000 steps, despite almost 6 hours in the car!

The next day, I alternated walks with Mom, walks with Dad and walks with parent + sister. It was really nice. Because you never just walk, you get to walk and talk. We talked about my wedding, mom’s recovery, dad’s retirement, loosing grandpa, getting ready to say goodbye to the dog, children, roller derby, sister's house, my job, mom’s job, Brian’s lactose intolerance. Really, everything.

It was wonderful. I not only achieved a goal I set for myself every day, but I got to spend more quality time with my family than I would have otherwise. I love it when we’re all together, but getting to take these walks for one on one time was a beautiful gift.

Until I got home on Sunday and spent 45 minutes pacing the living room to get my steps in. Then this seemed like bullshit.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

First Bout

I reffed my first roller derby bout on Saturday. I spent the morning pouring over the officials manual and rule book, nearly suffocating myself with nervous energy. What if I missed a call? What if I made a bad call? What if someone called me out for missing a call?!

Unfortunately, this nervous “what if” mindset turned out for the worse. In fear of making a bad call—or of having to chase a girl repeating the call—I made no calls. Well, there was a single call, but it was a technicality the player told us she was about to commit (derby strategy, I’ll explain it to y’all some other time).

After the bout ended, my fellow refs filled me with suggestions and tips. They helped me map out a plan for what to do at the next bout—including muttering minor calls to myself and chasing down whoever needs to be chased.

I wish I could say I walked away exhilarated and accomplished, but it just wasn’t the case. I love skating. I love being a part of derby. I think I can learn to love reffing. But the day didn’t end with joy. I was tired. My feet hurt. I was sad I didn’t have a better showing at my first bout. The closest to success I came was that no one hit me in the face (like what happened to one of the inside pack refs) and I didn’t run into any of the spectators (like one of the outside pack refs).

But I’ll be reffing again in November. It’s not a bout my league is playing in, so the pressure of people you know seeing you screw up is somewhat relieved, and I just might actually make a call.

Monday, October 24, 2011


On Saturday, Ann Arbor held its first Slut-Walk. For folks who don’t troll the feminist blogs, Slut-Walk is a response to a Toronto police officer advising women to prevent sexual assault by “not dressing like sluts.” Slut-Walk’s goal is to remind everyone that no matter what a woman wears, she is not asking for violence to be perpetrated against her.

I’ve been on the fence about Slut-Walk, if only because of how I know it will be viewed instead of its intention. Most participants in Slut-Walk wear provocative clothing which I know can quickly move from empowerment in the moment to objectification on the internet. I also don’t want an activity that is supposed to be about fighting victim blaming to turn into the reclamation (can you reclaim what was never yours?) of a word that i really don’t like in the first place.

But, I thought Slut-Walk would be a good opportunity to shamelessly self- promote roller derby and show that roller girls care about more than just our sport. And since pretty much everything that we commonly wear to practice would be under that police officer’s definition of “slutty,” I think derby should be there, reminding the world that clothes do not make the woman.

So, teamed up with some roller-friends, I went. I struggled with the chants, like I do at every rally, because I think issues are too complex to be distilled into a bumper sticker. So while the group was yelling “What do we do when we’re under attack? Stand up, fight back!” (ugh), I joked to my friends that we needed to be chanting “Consent is a clear and freely given yes, not the absence of a no!” A reporter walking near us thought that was the best thing she had ever heard so I gave her some quotes about the movement and about violence.

While there were lots of things I didn’t like about the walk (like the complicated issues of cars honking to show support for the rally—or honking because of the way women are dressed at the rally), I liked talking to the three different reporters who interviewed me. It was nice to use my knowledge of issues of sexual violence again. It was nice to be able to talk about this complex issue in a setting other than a nice time with friends made suddenly uncomfortable when work comes up.

It’s been a while since I was active in that work, but it felt really good to be back.

See, look here! They quoted me, although they left the best part of the quote for the second page

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sweet Success

So since the beginning of March, I’ve been training to ref with the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes. This means that I had to a)learn the rules of roller derby b) learn to spot the fouls and c) learn to roller skate. Unfortunately, I started with the league right after they had their “boot camp” training for the latest batch of new girls, so while some of the other refs and skaters were able to give me pointers and tips, I spent the first five months flailing along, doing the best I could to stay upright and keep my eyes on the girls and not on my own feet.

Then August came and it was time for me to expierence what every new derby girl expierences—Fresh Meat Bootcamp. It’s a 12-week, 4 hours a week training process that teaches girls how to skate, how to hit and how to be awesome. As an aspiring ref, I needed to only take the 6-week course, since I don’t need to learn how to hit other people the way an actual derby girl would.

Every skater, derby girl or ref, needs to pass a minimum skills test—basically to prove that she (or he, most refs are men) is not a danger to others on the rink. While the girls need to show that they can safely hit, get hit and block, refs need to just prove their skating skills. This includes an endurance skate (minimum of 25 laps in 5 minutes), knowing five ways to fall correctly, three ways to stop (quickly and without falling), being able to weave in between cones set six feet apart, skating without lifting your feet, skating backwards, being able to to keep skating even when someone is running their wheels into yours, jumping over an obstacle 1 inch high and 1 foot long without falling down upon landing, and a couple other skills that show you are in control of your wheels, they do not control you.

My skills test was scheduled for 6 weeks after fresh-meat began. I was hella nervous. While I wouldn’t have to skills test with 30 other girls there, I did have to skills test with a bunch of other refs. I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself. Worse, I didn’t want to fail and know that after weeks of hard work I still wasn’t able to pass a minimum skills requirement.

We started skills testing at 10pm on Wednesday, after a 4 hour practice that involved 2 scrimmages and 3 skaters running smack into me (1 on purpose as part of a drill, 2 on accident). At 11:30, over a late dinner of baked spaghetti and cold beer, it was announced that all the refs had passed.

I did it. I went from barely being able to skate around the track once without falling to being able to skate 27.5 laps in 5 minutes and plow stopping within 10 feet to finish it off. I can skate!

Now it’s time to concentrate on reffing.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Parents are the best medicine

I had a bad day at work today. Nothing special or particularly interesting, but not a good day. I'm feeling pretty out of control with my workload and just overwhelmed. After I picked up Brian, I told him that I no longer would say "yes" if someone asked me if I thought I was good at my job. Talking to him about it helped me move from feeling like all I wanted was to sit on the couch and cry to being willing to talk things over more with someone else.

So I called my mom and we talked about all sorts of things. My work, my life, her life, her work, her goals in life. It made me feel a lot better. So much so that I was willing to carve one of the pumpkins I bought at the store over the weekend but haven't yet had the energy to carve.

As soon as I cut it open and could smell that wonderful pumpkin smell again, I felt good. I felt like I was 10 years old again, sitting on the cold basement floor with Dad and Maria, carving pumpkins and sorting out the seeds to roast later. It's such a good feeling--to be surrounded by family and know nothing is wrong in the world and there's only the anticipation of Halloween and perfectly (or imperfectly) carved jack o'lanterns to come.

Lesson learned: Parents are the best medicine.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dairy Queen-That blizzard makes you look fat.

I loves me some Dairy Queen. And I don’t want a blizzard or something complicated, all I ever want when I go to DQ is a vanilla cone. Not a cone dipped in chocolate or covered in red goo, just a nice little cone.

Brian and I enjoyed a little trip to DQ last week, squeezing in at 9:30—just ½ hour before they closed at 10pm (as advertised on their website).
Saturday night, I was ready for a repeat performance, and we pulled in to the parking lot at 9:05 to see a closed down building with clearly marked hours informing us that they close at 9pm now.

Okay, that’s understandable. I was bummed that we hadn’t left the restaurant 7min earlier (yes, I went from a nice restaurant for some soft-serve, don’t judge), but I could live. Because I knew that Sunday night, DQ would be mine.

It wasn’t. After debating whether we would walk or drive, we decided it was too cold to walk and get ice cream and arrived in their parking lot at 8:17. They were closed. The clearly marked signs that had read Sunday: 1pm-9pm now read Sunday 1pm-8pm.

What the hell! You could have updated your signs yesterday to warn me! All I wanted is some soft-serve! I know you have it! AAAAHHHH

Now all I want is some soft-serve. And to throw a rock through their window.

Friday, October 7, 2011


As another part of the mentoring group, we are also being asked to reach out to a small handful of people (4-8) to ask them to help us identify what our “unique abilities” are. Once I develop mine fully, I’ll post it to the blog. But right now, I think my unique ability is all about the amazing people who love me.

For example, I asked Heather to fill it out. She’s in school, working and commuting an awful lot. And when she is in school, she’s really in school. As in actually does ALL the reading assignments (whoa). So I know she’s incredibly busy. When I asked her to write me up a bit about my unique ability, I expected her to give me maybe 4 or 5 lines after a week or two or possibly just say she was too busy to help out. I had actually even felt bad for asking because I know she is so busy, but I also know that if I was going to do something like this and hadn’t asked her, there was a good chance she’d punch me.

The next day, I get a page and a half typed response. She apologized that it wasn’t longer or more cohesive but she had only gotten about 5 hours of sleep. ! What a wonderful person. As I was at work reading this, I started to tear up. And then the next response came in. A mentor from grad school praising my passion and telling me I can make positive change wherever I go. My mentor is also an incredibly busy woman, so to have her respond so quickly with such wonderful thing is such a joy.

I don’t know what else will come of this or how it will change my life, but right now, I am just so thankful for the wonderful people in it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A tiger in a cage can never see the sun

As a part of my mentoring group, we are all being asked to walk 10,000 steps a day.

10,000 steps a day is hard!

The days when I work out or have practice I can make double that. But the days when I’m at work all day and go home to make dinner and go to bed (or play computer games and watch TV), mean that I’ll only get in 4 or 5,000 steps. The purpose of the steps isn’t just to be healthy, it’s to set a goal for yourself and feel accomplished by meeting it EVERY DAY. Which makes it frustrating when you don’t.

We had a big event on Monday, filled with important people and congress people and such. Since I was on my feet all day, I skipped spin class that night in order to pass out on the couch while watching Jem and the Holograms. When Brian came home, I was only at 7,500 steps. I got a few more in by making dinner and picking up the apartment, but I was still off by 2,000. What to do? I had promised that we would watch one of our shows before bed, but I also really wanted to get my steps in.

So I did what seemed perfectly logical. I paced back and forth across our living room while watching TV with Brian (don’t worry, I paced next to the TV, not in front of it—what do you think I am, crazy?). And I didn’t pace leisurely, I walked rapidly in an oval over and over. Brian has learned to tune out my odd activities and continued to watch the show till it ended. With 10,000 steps on my pedometer, I went to sleep mightily accomplished for the day.

The next evening, I was at about 4,000 steps. Tuesday is not the day I go to the gym so there was little hope of bringing the number up. Brian asked if I was going to walk around the apartment again. While asking, he suddenly hit on a perfect visual to accompany my behavior. With both the excitement of a perfect simile and the sadness of speaking to a crazy person he said “Do we need to make a little path for you, like they do for the bears in the zoo?”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What you leave behind

As mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve gotten involved with a mentoring group here at work. Our CEO is leading it, and he started off by explaining that this group, this process, is not something that you just add on to your day. It means that for you, some things will have to go. So I started thinking about what has to go
-Watching the monologue and sketches for Conan O’Brian. Really, I only like his interviews.
-Playing computer games for more than an hour at a time
-Watching TV shows that I’ve already seen before (sorry, Fraggle Rock)
-I’d like to rearrange my schedule to give me more “work from home” days to save me the hour and a half commute time. That’s definitely something I can give up.

But while these are good starting places (and may make you shake your head that these are things I do now), I don’t know what else will go. I love doing roller derby. I love gardening. I love spending time with my partner and my friends. I like joining interesting committees at work that have little to do with my job description. I like watching sitcoms. But these might just be the things I have to let go.

I’m excited about where this growth process will take me, but I’m scared of what I may leave behind.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Leggings and a tennis skirt

For our internal campaign to raise fund for United Way this year, a friend and I bought a kayaking tour of beautiful Belle Isle in downtown Detroit, guided by another coworker. The three of us compared schedules and found that there was only one day in September that worked for all of us, a Sunday afternoon, which for me meant going straight from derby to kayaking. This seemed fine to me. I’d get a good workout in for my legs and then a good workout for my arms. Fantastic.

All I needed to do was bring a change of clothes for Kayaking and I’d be good to go straight from practice out on to the water.

All I needed to do was bring a change of clothes.

That’s all I needed to do.

And I failed.

So I ended up kayaking in by derby clothes—and old tank top with my sports bra hanging out of it, black leggings with bedazzled stars and a tennis skirt.

It gets better. After we finished kayaking, we went for dinner at the Detroit Yacht Club. And to be classy, I threw on a smelly sweatshirt.

This is why I can’t have nice things.

Monday, September 26, 2011


As referenced in a really old blog post—walk with the scientists—Brian’s department holds a retreat at the beginning of each year. It’s a time to get to know the new students and have some fun away from campus. The retreat used to be held all the way out at the biostation, several hours north, where most of the department does their field research. Bri’s professor (Trisha) had long lobbied that as an evolutionary biologist, she would not attend such a thing because a) non ecologists do not want to give up their whole weekend to tramps around in the woods with ecologists and b)she doesn’t do field work, and thus has no desire to go to the biostation. To appease her (and appear as if they had a unified department), the Ecologists compromised and will be holding the retreat near Ann Arbor every other year.

This means that when the retreat is in town, Trisha and Brian are obligated to go. Which makes me obligated to go. So we went. And it sucked. We joined a group touring a “fen”, which, as we learned after we were at the site and had no way to leave, was just another word for swamp. At one point, our tour guide decided to take the group into the swamp. Brian and I did not bring our waders, and so said we’d wait behind. The department chair assured us they’d be back in 5 minutes, and disappeared for an hour as we swatted at mosquitoes and talked about how much we hate ecologists. And texted the absent Trisha things like “your baby better have pink eye.”

Turns out, she had an even better reason for not attending. The night before, she was sitting around the house when she heard what sounded like fireworks outside. She ignored it until her husband called and instructed her to get the baby and get away from the windows. Her husband was a few blocks away at a police roadblock, being kept out of the neighborhood because one of their neighbors, who just so happens to be a big game hunter (he has a taxidermied elephant in his house!), had some sort of a mental breakdown and informed his neighbor (also a big game hunter with a taxidermied giraffe in his house) that they needed to prepare for the Zombies. Yes, the Zombiepocalypse was happening in Michigan. He then proceeded to shoot at what one can only assume were zombies and accidentally blow up his fuel tank during the process.

Trisha said they were up until 3am dealing with the police and such, and we all agreed it was a good reason to miss a boring retreat.

Friday, September 23, 2011


“Do you have a minute?” “Not really—“ “This will just be a second” *scary ushering into conference room, close door* “I’m promoting you.”

Awesome. Pinnacle of awesome. I want to make working for United Ways my career and apparently United Way loves me back and wants to be my career too. Great. Love it.

One catch to the awesomeness—she has to do some paperwork and send out an email to the whole org before I can tell anyone.
No worries, I’m a patient woman. I can wait all day. Or all month. Or a month and a half. Or two months and six days (not that I’m counting).

One way or another, this is now the blog of a United Way Basic Needs Specialist.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Soup, anyone?

The other day, Brian and I were at the co-op to buy some mulling spices. That unfortunately was an epic fail, as the co-op staff looked at me like mulling spices must be some sort of evil creation previously unknown to man and certainly never stocked on their shelves. Meh.

But, I did pause to look at the food that was on sale for super cheap because it was at the point of no return for expiration dates. There was a yummy looking red substance in a salsa jar that was only $1. $1 for presumably gourmet salsa. Delicious, no?

I came home the next day and decided it was salsa time. Brian had already eaten the salsa and claimed it to be “weak.” Since I like my salsa weak, this sounded good.
It tasted bad. Like marinara sauce.

I tried chopping up some cilantro to give it more of a salsa taste, but then it just tasted like marinara and cilantro.

After the two of us had consumed nearly half the container, I realized that despite being in a glass jar with a screw on metal top…this was tomato basil soup.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Confrontation

I’m quite a bit behind on my blogs, so I’m writing out a bunch now and will hopefully post them over the course of several days, instead of all at once and creating blog overload.

So here’s the first one: The Confrontation

I’m not really good with confrontation (despite it being my favorite Les Mis song). I would 100% rather have someone say things about me behind my back than to my face. Confronting someone directly makes me nauseous to enact. I can daydream about all the eloquent ways I would tell them what their problems are, but actually doing it just aint gonna happen. I’ll water it down and make it friendly by the end when all I really want to do is tell someone I don’t like them, don’t like their work ethic and would rather not interact with them anymore.

But a thousand times worse is when someone confronts me. I don’t think there’s a way to confront someone that doesn’t come across as mean and puts people’s backs up against a wall. And since one of my strengths is about reducing conflict, I hate it when it crops up for me.

The other day, I had a coworker confront me via email first thing in the morning. There was some miscommunication over tone (which is common in emails), some heated emotions because of external stressors, and some very angry seeming emails sent to me. I tried to be polite, explain the miscommunications and misinterpretations and generally be pleasant back. Things were resolved, a halfhearted apology was given. But now, I’m really not sure how I can continue to work well with this person.

I feel frustrated that they assumed the worst of my emails. I feel angry that they responded to me in what I feel was a disrespecting manner. I resent that that this person ruined a perfectly good day of mine because they were flustered and decided to take it out on me. And I worry that they are going to do it again. This person isn’t a confrontation avoider, or even one that will be gentle in their confrontations. They will throw it at you head on, in all the ways I dislike. I’m having a hard time getting past these feelings and envision any good future working relationship.

The part of me that talks big visualizes a whole confrontation of my own, where I remind the coworker that I’ve created several useful documents that highlight our team strengths and show that conflict is not a good way to work with me. I explain that I was upset too by their tone and wish that they would just assume the best of me in the future, rather than the worst.

But, I’ll most likely never mention it or laugh it off if they do and act like it’s not a big deal, while silently composing blog posts about how frustrating it all is to myself.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

No senior discount for you

I might be wrong, but I'm starting to get the feeling that part of the struggle folks are facing in Detroit is rooted in a mentality about what your time in the workforce is like. Today someone told me, very earnestly, that people aren't able to retire at 62 anymore (long pause for dramatic effect). I had another coworker refer to herself as a senior because she's over 50.

Maybe its because I'm so much younger, and have grown up expecting to live to my 80s. Maybe its because most people I've known worked white collar jobs that don't hurt your body so badly that by the time you hit 50 you can feel it in every joint and bone--but I've always expected to be working until at least 65. My parents anticipated doing that. Momma is talking about going down to part time after she turns 65 this year. Grandpa went into retirement and came out a few times until he was truly bored with working. Maybe its just that my generation keeps being told that there's no way social security will let us retire at 65.

I'm aware that there are real issues at hand. Reduction in benefits, rising costs of living, and lack of community support are just the starting point. But after this morning, I can't help wonder if part of the reason that Detroit's mature workers feel they are in such a crisis, and so put-upon is because they expected to retire in their mid-50s? Hearing that you need to work until your 70s when you expected to have spent 15 years of relaxation can't be easy.

Its got me thinking that maybe we need to begin the change process here by redefining a "senior".

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Self improvement is hard

For realz.
A few months ago, I got an email from our HR director inviting me to a two hour lunch meeting (food will be provided). What I love most in the world is free food, so I was pretty stoked. But also cautious. Interactions with HR at UWSEM do not always go well. There’s been a 90% staff turnover since our CEO took over (and it’s not all because people leave for other opportunities), so there’s a scary element to HR. None the less, I braved Scary HR for the promise of free sandwich.

And Scary HR turned out to be less scary. A group of about 15 of us were informed that we had been identified as “up-and-comers.” We were in the top categories of high performers/high potential employees (high per-high pos) and were being targeted for additional professional development opportunities as well as likely to receive promotions in the next 1-3 years. Excellent.
“But,” said the dark cloud of HR. “You are not guaranteed a spot in this group. You could slow down or suck and then you will be like the normal people again.” And again we feel the terror that comes from HR.

A month later, I was on my way to a fancy important meeting when my boss asked if we could talk for a few minutes. I reminded her about the fancy meeting, and she said that it would only take a few minutes. The familiar feeling of excitement and fear that comes from talking with one’s boss came over me as I sat down in a conference room and she CLOSED THE DOOR BEHIND US. Closed door conversations—either go amazingly well or horribly awry. This was an amazingly well situation. I was being promoted. And while I won’t be able to order my new business cards that read “Jenny Hansen- Basic Needs Specialist” until she finishes the paperwork, I could expect to see the change in my pay and workload immediately.


And here comes the hard part. With promotion, there’s more work to do. And with the status as a high per-high po, there’s even more work. I now have weekly homework assignments, as well as am working on developing a plan for the year to help me increase my own awareness of my abilities and skills and am about to enter a mentoring program that will require me to exercise more (apparently part of being good at my job means walking a lot) and do an additional 2-5 hours of homework a week.

But I’m an over achiever, and really want to do this and do it right.
So now, I’m committing to blogging twice a week. I’ve got people at work to who are keeping me on my toes to get this homework done, so let’s see where it takes me!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Just about everyone who reads this blog knows that my grandpa passed away earlier this year. He was a wonderful and loving and funny man who would do anything for his family.

The night I found out that he died, Brian and I were staying with my sister in Chicago. Maria and I had stayed up late talking about our Uncle. Uncle G. had been diagnosed with cancer and during the prep for his treatment the doctors had discovered an aortic aneurysm. This was all very scary to me. Cancer-scary. Holes in parts of you where there should be no holes-scary. The combination-very scary.

I went to bed worried about my uncle, and hoping that things would be alright. A few minutes later, my sister came into her guest room to tell me that we had lost Grandpa. We hugged, and cried. The first thing she said was "He loved us so much." Which is true in the most profound way.

Maybe it is just a coincidence in my brain--we were just talking about George when we got the news about Grandpa--but I keep thinking that the Universe gave Keith Hansen a choice. His son was sick, and it was time for someone to go. But Grandpa got to decide who it would be--one of them would go and the other one would be okay. And for Grandpa, that would have been a silly question. Part of me will always believe that he died so that George would be okay.

Uncle George had surgery for his aneurysm last week and it all went well. I just got my first email from him to say that he’s recovering just fine and that he’s feeling restless already. I think that some part of my grandparents are out there somewhere--and they are smiling.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's Snow Darling!

Every year at Christmas time, I watch "A Muppet Family Christmas." It was made in 1989 and growing up we had a video of it on VHS that we would watch. There were musical numbers and appearances from all the Muppets--the traditional Muppet crew, the gang from Sesame Street and the Fraggles. How wonderful.

When I was feeling lonely and homesick one winter, I bought myself a copy on DVD. It was pirated from Europe and lacked a couple of the musical numbers and a few of my favorite scenes, but I still watch it every Christmas. One of the missing scenes, which I have gleefully reenacted for Brian's somewhat amusement is a series of jokes told by Fozzie and a Snowman.

Fozzie: "I can't wait for Santa and his eight dancing reinbear"
Snowman: "That's Reindeer"
Fozzie: "No, that's snow, darling!"

Get it, Reindeer/Rain, Dear. Ha!

Tonight at dinner, I was talking about someone's reindeer farm (yes, such things exist). Brian interrupted me to say, "Its not Reindeer, its snow darling!".

My eyes welled up. I started crying in the middle of my meal. He's never even seen the joke, but he remembers it because it makes me so happy to tell it. What a wonderful person.

I told him its the nicest thing he's ever said to me. Then we both agreed that his proposal was a bit nicer.

But only a little bit.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Evil Knight Rider

The cycles we ride in spin class are like snowflakes. Each are unique. A "10", the highest resistance at which you can still make the pedals move is a different turn of the hand dial for each cycle. Sometimes a "10" is when the crank is at twelve O'clock. Sometimes its closer to 2:30. But its usually somewhere in between the two.

Today I got to spin class late, and had to take a cycle I was unfamiliar with. I spent my warm up attempting to find "10" versus "5" (the feeling of a flat road). I was a bit puzzled. Usually "5" is somewhere near 6 o'clock. Today, 5 was at 4 o'clock and 10 seemed to be near 8 o'clock. This is a smaller range than I'm used to, but i figured it wouldn't be a problem.

Then the class started, and my difficulties increased. I'd dial in to what i thought was a "7" and find my self struggling against what felt like a "9". I'd try to turn it back down only to find myself at "2" (problematic, because at anything less than 5, you feel like you're about to fall off the bike). I kept turning the dial, thinking I'd found the right resistance only to feel it increasing within moments. I'd try to dial it back, but what had been a lazy "4" earlier was at least a "7" now. What was happening?

I stared down at my black cycle, with its red dials and silver wheels. I could hear the voice of K.I.T.T. (the car from Knight Rider). "You call this a workout?" I tried to mentally convince KITT-Cycle that we would work our way up to a "10" eventually, but we didn't need to start there. KITT-Cycle did not believe me.

Instead of helping me to fight crime like KITT the Car, KITT-Cycle was pure evil.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wouldn't it be nice

Sometimes you think about what the world would be like if things were a little different. What if we lived forever? What there were no more wars? What if people could fly.

Today on the drive home, I decided the world would be a much better place if we could hear it when other people told us "F You."

Driving in Michigan, I often find myself using some form of the F word about my fellow drivers. Sometimes its a verb, sometimes a noun, sometimes a gerund. But it all boils down to--you are doing something stupid, potentially dangerous, and I'm perceiving it as harmful to me. Please stop.

Imagine it, you're driving in the left lane going 10 under the limit, with your right blinker on for the last 15 miles, a little spaced out as you weave within the lane. Suddenly, you hear a chorus of other drivers, using colorful language to alert you to you mistake. You'd get over a few lanes, turn off the blinker, drive the speed limit and pay attention to the world around you.

Wouldn't it be nice?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

In Spin Class....

"Really push now! Its the end of the Race. Imagine yourself fighting for the lead!" Yells the instructor.

I have a vision of Lance Armstrong hovering on the cycle next to me, with the biker shorts, yellow jersey, helmet and all. We're both covered in sweat, neck and neck.

"And I only have one testicle" faux-Armstrong says.

"Oh yeah? Well I've got a pair of steel ovaries," I pant as I cross the finish line and win by a nose.

And almost fell off my cycle when it was time to stretch.