Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Surprisingly Team Jen

I don't know if it's because my parents are retired, or because I'm getting older and we talk about different things now, but I love that during this period I'm getting to see so much more of my parents' personalities. What I remember from growing up is probably typical of a parent/child relationship. My mother and I fought, and my dad - he was the silent enforcer of rules. As I got older, my father was the one whose standards I strove to live up to and my mother was the one who drove me crazy.

You know, typical teenage stuff.

Now I'm seeing new things and I can't decide if they've always been there and children/work/life got in the way of showing it as clearly, or if I was just too young to pay attention.

Like, my mom? She's got this volunteer/give back to the community streak that I can see in myself 100%. Looking back it's always been there, and I can now see it was in the twice annual purging of my closet for Goodwill event. But now? She's volunteering in several different places and for a variety of reasons. Sometimes because she has a particular skill set (Spanish-speaking) and sometimes because she enjoys the perks (ushering at auditoriums and being able to see plays/musicals for free.) I always knew we were alike, she and I, and I suspected that this was why we clashed so violently and so frequently, but it's nice to see that the softer sides of our personalities match up just as much as the harder sides. Who knew?

My dad is the more surprising personality that I'm learning about. He's always been quiet (and because of this, many boyfriends found him extremely intimidating.) He came home from work and didn't talk about his day or his achievements. He had his books and movies and he had his time to relax. He didn't talk much unless he had something important to say. Unfortunately for me, the important things that he had to say to me had to do with decisions I made that he didn't approve of. This is not to say that he didn't say nice things too (like, say, simultaneously embarrass the hell out of me/delight me by singing "Daddy's Little Girl" to me in the middle of a crowd of people) but the personality that I felt was more of an authoritarian parent than a "real" person. Now? Well, he's always been extremely generous and loyal to his loved ones, but he is done working. Done done. As well he should be, given he started working at the age of 12 or something ridiculous like that. He is not interested in volunteering, and after years of the rigid rules of the business world, he is now not interested in participating in events that he doesn't enjoy. I love that, because I can totally relate. He's also really bitingly funny and delights in making me uncomfortable. (Seriously? Dirty jokes from your dad?) He especially enjoys my surprise when he says or does something that I deem "out of character" for him. He acts all innocent like, "What, you didn't know this about me?" when we both know I didn't. Because really, do I know his character? To me he's always been a conservative business executive. But was this just his job, or is that his personality too?

This is a question I was faced with after a recent visit home and the following exchange:

Emily: (upon seeing Angelina Jolie on the cover of some magazine promoting 'Salt') "I can not believe how beautiful she is. I hate to say that, because it's so unoriginal, but I saw her on 'Inside the Actor's Studio' once, and she's every bit as gorgeous as this photo. And she wasn't even unintelligent. I mean, come on!"

Dad: "Yeah, but she treats Brad really badly. I think they should break up. Brad should get back together with that other girl, Jennifer."

Emily: (gets really quiet and studies her father intently) "Dad, um, how did you learn to say those words?"

Dad: (looks up in surprise) "What? I read things. I think that Jennifer Aniston was better for him. That Angelina girl is crazy."

Emily: (laughing out loud at this point) "Wonders never cease. Should I get you a 'Team Jen' tshirt?"

Shortly after this, he was musing how it's "not fair" that I don't plan on having children because I should have to go through what he went through/is going through. Which of course sparked a hilarious exchange between my parents when my mother piped in "What do you mean, what YOU went through?"

I have no idea what they're talking about, though. I was a perfect angel.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wherein I'm not as young as I think I am

I went home to visit my mother for her 66th birthday last week.

She's adorable, btw. I would post a picture, but in the spirit of semi-anonymity for her, I shall refrain. You'll just have to take my word on it. God willing I am that adorable when I am her age.

Anyhow - since it was her birthday, and my visit was my gift, I had zero plans. I would do whatever my mother wished. We would spend time together and have fun. This is mother/daughter bonding at its finest. And on Fridays my mother's schedule dictates that she goes to "water aerobics" with her friend DiDi.

When she asked me if I wanted to go with her, I didn't hesitate. Sure! I mean, I'm riding my bike 30 miles plus at a time and I can't take my bike with me when visiting, so this will be some exercise. Easy to handle exercise, but still. It will make me feel better about the pounds and pounds of home-cooked food that I was going to consume.

When we got to the class and I was introduced to the instructor, I mentioned that I was looking forward to the class, having never done water aerobics before. The instructor was quick to correct me. "Oh, this isn't water aerobics. It's the arthritis class."

Oh I've SO got this.

The class was easy and relaxing. A lot of gentle movements in the water, and a lot of random gossip flowing around the way little old ladies tend to do. I still had plenty of energy at the end of the class and decided to swim to the end of the pool and back. Breast stroke the way down, freestyle the way back. I got out of the pool relaxed and happy.

And all at once I was RAVENOUS. We got home and I told my mom that if we didn't eat soon, I was going to chew off my hand. She threw a snack sized bag of Doritos at me while we fixed lunch. It kept me from eating my own extremities. Barely.

After lunch, I retreated to my room to shower and dress for the day. I happened to catch the boy via text message and proceeded to exchange a couple of messages before I passed out cold. mid message. Mid. Text. Message.

For an hour and a half.

Like passed out. With my hair soaking wet and still in the cover-up dress that I had worn to "water aerobics." I woke up dazed and confused. Where was I? Wait, WHY was I so tired?

And then I realized that the only possible reason was the class we had taken that morning.

Which lead me to realize that little old lady water aerobics had kicked my ass.


My mother was thrilled to hear it. My father laughed out loud. Right. I don't see HIM doing the class. Hmph. I think I want a rematch. Without swimming that one lap, I'm pretty sure I would have been able to take the little old ladies...

Monday, July 19, 2010


This is the grave of poet James Whitcomb Riley.It is the highest point in Indianapolis. This hill is located in Crown Hill Cemetery. And it's located about a mile from my house.

Even though it's the highest point in Indy, it's difficult to grasp the magnitude of the hill it sits upon. The hill has many twists and turns. When you're standing at the bottom (which is still up a slight incline) you see this:And then, when you trudge up to the second left, you see this:And then, when you think you're in the home stretch, after you trudge even more slowly to the first right, you see this: (which is the steepest incline of the entire hill)But when you make it to the top, it's all worth it when you look down and see that you've conquered this:And it's even sweeter when you see this:But do you know when it's the sweetest?

After you've just ridden your bike all the way to the top for the very first time.

All the way to the top.

Without stopping.

On your bike.

Especially if, say, you've tried and failed several times in the past to ride your bike up the hill, and it's gotten to the point where the hill has become sort of a nemesis for you.

A nemesis that you've just made your bitch.

Today was a good day.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Riding Your Bike is not for Losing Weight

I heard a lady say this at the SAG stop on the very first organized bike ride that I participated in. She said it because the options for snacks at the pit stop were tiny bananas, tiny peanut butter sandwiches, tiny brownies and tiny cupcakes. Immediately after she said it, she popped a bite sized brownie in her mouth.

I was beginning to agree with her.

If I've learned one thing in the years of losing (and then finding) the same ten fifteen twenty pounds over and over again, losing weight is all about what you eat. I mean, sure, exercise is important, but you can exercise until the cows come home* and you won't lose nearly as much weight as if you alter your diet.

So with all this bike riding, I was not expecting to lose weight.

I have not been disappointed.

Though I have to say that things are.... different.

So the other day, when walking my dog, I passed my neighbor and waved hello.

I should take a break here to explain that I LOVE my neighborhood. Love it. Sure, it's on the edge of ghetto, but I was having this discussion the other day and someone described living in the city as "organic." That's a good word. It's organic. While I could do without the "Daaaaa-YUM!!!"s that come from the younger men in my neighborhood (seriously dudes, not the way to approach a woman with any sort of success) I do so love the elderly men. I have a sneaking suspicion that they call each other when I'm walking my dog because if I see the first guy on my route sitting on his porch, then I see each and every one of them. If I don't see the first guy, I rarely see any of them. (This tickles me to death.)

We have a casual friendship. I wave and say hello, we chit chat about the weather, about the regularity of my dog walking (they know I'm in school) etc etc. Sometimes I get introduced to family members.

Confession: I don't know any of their names. They call me "lady." It's that sort of "friendship."

So when I saw my neighbor the other day and waved, he responded with "It's just melting off!"

I was confused, "I'm sorry?"

"It's melting off!"

Here is where I started to laugh. "What is?"

"That extra weight!"

(Side note: Where else in the world could a man say that to a woman with no fear of getting his eyes scratched out? I'm not even sure I would take that very well from the boy.)

I'm full out laughing at this point. "But I haven't lost a pound!!!"

"Well then it's redistributing or something... you look great!"

I kept walking, and laughing, all the while composing the blog post in my head. That exchange made my day. Seriously. I could count on two hands the women I know who would have been highly offended by that conversation. (most of them not Emily favorites) But I enjoyed the straight forward manner of the entire exchange. High comedy.

Too bad I'm not sure I believe him. No joke that I haven't lost a pound, but exercise makes you feel better, and I have been wearing clothing that is a little more form fitting than usual. Plus it's summer and my arms have a killer tan from all the riding. (There is a definite link between level of tan and how thin you look. It's true. It's been scientifically proven.)

Speaking of which, here's an update. As of yesterday, I have ridden 481 miles. I'm a bit ahead of schedule, which is good. But that's the last picture of this odometer that you'll see because I kind of had to upgrade. Which means that I'll have to add totals from two odometers together to meet my goal which sort of bothers me (Helllloooooo type A!!!) but que sera. More on that tomorrow. Promise.

*See what I did there? That's from living in Indiana my entire life. UPenn, if someone from your prestigious university is reading this, that's enough reason right there to accept me into your program...