A Door Unopened

A Door Unopened
Knock, knock...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bouncing Between the Blankets with Tigger

Who? Me? Tigger?
 You certainly can't tell by looking. By observation alone I bet you'd think my husband, Tim, is a serious sleeper. I mean, just take a gander--handsome as hell with resolute stamped all over him like a very serious USDA prime cut of beef. He's serious about so many things, surely he'd be serious about sleeping, right? Truly, it often happens that he does sleep like a normal, serious, sleep-loving person. However, on a somewhat regular basis, he turns into a night time Tigger.

You remember Tigger. From Winnie-the-Pooh? Striped, stuffed, sprightly, supple? He came spring-loaded onto the scene a little bit later (Chapter 2 of  House at Pooh Corner) than the regular cast of characters. He spelled his name T-I-double guh-err. And do you remember what Tiggers love to do and do best? Ding, ding, ding! You are correct. Tiggers love to BOUNCE.

I know, I know. Hard to believe isn't it? Anyone who knows Tim even a little bit can't imagine him bouncing. "Tim" and "bounce" go together like "Santa" and "pirouette". Or maybe I should say "Tim" is to "bouncy" as "Charles Bronson" is to "fluffy". It just doesn't follow. In fact, if Tim were an actual tiger, most of us in the know would think of him like this:

"Your answer was not well constructed and does not please me in the least."

And not like this:
Boing! Boing! Boing!

Nevertheless, the fact remains:  On occasional nights of torment, a rash of restless bounciness sets in.  Tim's inner Tigger gets triggered.

Bounce-inducing sleep scenarios:

1) Vampire dreams. In Tim's fantasy-driven psyche, vampires can assume nearly any form. So far I've experienced by proxy cat vampires, zombie vampires, and porno-babe vampires. True, I thought the porno-babe vampires were pretty funny. Ooooo! So scary!  But, hey, I get it. A vampire of any sort is horrifying even if she is hot and horny. Most of us don't want to die by exsanguination. Although surely there are some who'd volunteer if the love bites were given by Jenna Jameson with fangs. (Any takers?)

2) Alien dreams. Sometimes it's the Predator alien, sometimes it's the Alien alien, sometimes it's a robot alien but often it's left to my own imagination because the Huzby doesn't enlighten me with the details. Sometimes the generic "alien" is as good a description as I receive.

3) Ghost dreams. Details of such are vague or nonexistent which is fitting for ghosts, I suppose. Apparently a ghost is a ghost is a ghost.

4) My wife's being mean to me dreams. I'm not sure why, but I seem to be a recurring incubus in my husband's nocturnal story lines. Kind of makes me wonder what I'm doing that feeds this iniquitous hallucination. These occur about once a month if not more. In these nightmares I'm mean to my husband in a variety of ways and differing scenarios and always for no reason at all. They tend to be somewhat infuriating for me also. When I hear of my fictional infractions in the morning, I too, am shocked at the atrocities I commit in these after dark dramas. I wish I could behave myself better, but apparently no matter what I do during real life I'm destined to remain a she-devil from purgatory in my honey's dream life.

5) Dreams about missing planes and forgetting where the car is parked. A common plague for my poor Tigger who has an anal side that more than occasionally rears its ugly rear.

6) Dreams combining any of the above, i.e.,
     ~My wife, the alien, is being mean to me and forgot where she parked the car so we miss the plane.
     ~Ghosts and aliens are colluding with my wife and being mean to everyone by moving their parked cars. Everyone misses their planes.
     ~Aliens, ghosts and my vampire wife are all making a porno in the back of parked cars. Planes take off with no one inside.

7) The room is too hot.

8) Indigestion--food too spicy, food too gassy, food too mucho, drinks over poured.

9) The catch-all category: Anything else that's aggravating his overactive animus.

Of course, the vampires, aliens, ghosts, missed planes, misplaced cars, witchy wife, hot room, indigestion and suffering subconscious are Tim's first-person persecutions. I'd like to help, but there's not much I can do beyond waking him up when things get not only bouncy, but loud. The problem for me is that he does not suffer in first person, alone. When he has a bouncy night, I have a bouncy night.

We have a tempurpedic mattress which allows decent shock absorption and affords a muted experience if you have a restless sleep partner. Still, on a bouncy, trouncy night, while Tim-turned-Tigger is energetically, and athletically plopping the hours away, I'm experiencing our form fitting foam mattress as class II rapids river rafting expedition. And I'm not strapped in. It's a real life demonstration of Newton's law of motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Tigger crashes down into the mattress and I am launched upwards. He flips; I flop. He clips; I clop. Good Sir Isaac, your law remains intact and in regular use at Tigger's house of bounce.

It's true, I could get up and go sleep in the other room leaving Tigger to his tough out his tortuous terrors on his own--but I don't. I can never seem to snap to full consciousness and make the move. Instead, I burrow down, hug my pillow tight and grab the covers with all my half-asleep might trying to hold down all the slumberland real estate I started with--not an easy task. I grumble, groan and huff  but never manage to remove myself from our tumultuous nocturnal tango to the quietude of the foldout couch. I suppose you could say that in response to Tim turning Tigger, I turn tick. You know how ticks are, the harder you try to get them out, they more tightly they hold on.

Uh, oh. I think I see the seed of a new nightmare.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hello? Fifty's Here

Today I am 50. Five decades. Half a century. Two score and ten. No matter what you call it or how you slice it, 50 is, well...let’s say it’s substantial. It's got some heft. It packs a punch and cannot be sidestepped. It means business. Fifty knocks on your door bold and brash as life itself, because that’s of course what it is, and you have no choice to but to answer it.

I propose that turning 50 is like a knock, knock joke.

“Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
Your head rushes as your heart gives a funky double beat. Holy shit! Fifty?! How did this happen? you wonder. You try to gather yourself and hesitate before responding with your gut reaction.
“The person you’re looking for is not here.”
“Oh, please! Don’t be coy. YOU are the person I’m meeting today.”
“Uh…Could you come back some other time? I’m really not ready for you today.”
“Sorry, ma'am. Today is the day, YOUR day, the day you turn officially middle-aged.”
“I, uh…could you just give me a little time to spruce up and get myself together? How about tomorrow? I could meet you tomorrow.”
“Today is YOUR day. Don’t worry. I know what you look like and how together you are and are not. Just open up. I promise not to hurt you.”

You gasp. Is it possible you heard a garbled “much” at the end of that last sentence? You fear this is the case. You calm yourself by taking deep breaths and consider logically what to do. After some reflection, and seeing no escape, as much as you really don’t want to, you determine that you will meet Fifty on your own terms. You decide if you have to do this—and apparently, you do—you will do it graciously. You have your shoulders back and head held high when you open the door and look Fifty straight in the eye.

The big Five-Oh looks decidedly older than the less significant Four-Oh and somewhat more fragile and out of shape. Five-Times-Ten doesn’t seem to be bothered by the thickening of her waist or embarrassed by the dark splotches that have begun to show on her face, although you find these changes rather disconcerting. It's been a while since Ms. Fifty has been to the hair dresser. You can tell because the gray and mousy brown is showing in her part and at her exposed temple. You notice Ms. Half-Century has brought you a copy of AARP magazine, the publication which will from now on grace your mail box every month; it’s there in her jacket pocket. And by the way, that jacket—oof! Fifty needs to get a better stylist because plaid corduroy wasn’t a good look even fifty years ago. You think you might do her a favor by mentioning this and suggesting a nice medium weight charcoal gray wool blazer instead, but you’re distracted from saying anything because you’re not sure but you think you can hear Fifty’s joints creaking just a teeny bit as she shifts from foot to foot. Her sensible shoes—Naturalizers—make you blink, trying to clear the vision. At best, the footwear can only be described as beige, frumpy and cankle-inducing. There is a definite whiff of cantankerousness emanating from the enlarged pores of her slightly sagging skin and you wonder if she’s noticed the faint budding of jowls on either side of her once charmingly dimpled chin. The chin cleft doesn’t reach the alluring depths it used to because it's been filled in with a substantial layer of subcutaneous fat. Whatever sex appeal Fifty may have possessed hit the skids at least a year or more ago. You hold back a shudder, not wanting to hurt her feelings.

She looks at you triumphantly with a certain tinge of smugness thrown in that you suppose is meant to keep you humble. You shake off your dread, tell yourself  that despite any appearances to the contrary, you are an adult and will act accordingly. With a deep breath of resolve you try to make the best of the situation by smiling, extending your hand and saying,
 “Thank you. Thanks so much for coming, Fifty. You’ve brought a lot of changes with you. I want you to know I appreciate the wisdom you’ve shown me in the last decade. You've offered me a deeper perspective and broader understanding of life and how it works. I have more tolerance, am less judgemental and am trying to keep an open, questing mind. There is still so much I need to learn. I want you to know I am truly grateful for your time.”

Instead of shaking your optimistically offered hand, Madam Fifty deposits the wretched AARP magazine into your proffered palm and says,
“You’re supposed to say, ‘Fifty who?’”
“What?!” You’re confused. Here you are trying to be a good sport about all this and Two-Times-Twenty-five is ignoring your good intentions. What in the hell is she talking about?
“You’re supposed to ask me ‘Fifty who?’ That’s how the joke goes. Remember? Knock, knock?”
“Oh. Right.” You want to show Fifty that despite her disenchanting presence you are still in possession of your well developed sense of humor. You play along. “OK. Fifty who?”
“Fifty, your new decade. Geeze, woman! Pay attention. Have you gone senile already?”

You muster a wan smile, shake your head and roll your eyes. Along with being a supremely snappy dresser, Fifty is clearly one bitch of a laugh riot.

My birthday was a lovely evening of family, friends, paella, German chocolate cake and a flow of wine that's fine and sanguine.

Thanks to Mr. Grumpy for a near decade of fun and happiness. I guess when the wife turns 50 it necessitates more drinking .

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year and See You at the Gym!

It may be bad karma to do this at the start of the year and I may set my self akilter by giving in to a crotchety moment of pet-peevishness. But this is the time of year it all goes down. And because it is what it is, I'm embarking on my once a year tirade. So please excuse me while I mount my soap box and hold forth. You fitness wanna-bees who swarm the gym for the first six weeks after the start of the new year drive me crazy.

Let's get this straight: I want you to be healthy. I want you to be fit. I want you to avoid all the dreadful health issues associated with obesity like diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and a myriad of other cardiovascular complications. These are all the things that did in my mother--a major motivating factor for me and why I strive to stay somewhere in the realm of "in shape." I do not and never will be an advocate for "letting yourself go" or embracing your zaftig side. I watched my mother's not so slow slide into morbidity from overeating and under exercising and it was ugly, sad and horrible. I don't wish her fate on anyone. At all times, under any conditions, I urge you to make time for fitness in your life.

I know you want to be healthy and stay committed to a regular exercise regimen. Great. So do it. I'm not being a smart ass. I'm not being smug. I mean no disrespect. And if it makes you feel any better, I confess that I too, have motivation issues that sometimes keep me from doing what's best for myself. Nevertheless, I implore you to be healthy and get moving. 

Exercise. Work out. Run. Walk. Swim. Spin. Ride. Glide. Dance. Prance. Trot. Pilate. Sweat. Get wet. Huff and puff. Jump and pump. Vault. Sommersault. Shake your groove thang, money maker, booty, keister, toosh, derriere, or whatever it is you want to call that junk in your trunk that keeps you glued to your couch. Do not fall victim to inertia of the gluteus maximus. This disease will kill you in the long run or possibly even the short run. Fight it. Beat it. Win.

I write this for you if you're the person who starts the year out with all kinds of good but weak intentions and half-resolved New Year's resolutions. It's meant for you if you're one of the many who gets in everyone's way at the gym for the first 4-6 weeks of the year and then finds you're too busy, tired or bored to come back. I'm talking to you if you and your desire to stay in shape part ways around mid-February, just when your body has come to terms with the fact that you mean it when you get your heart rate up. This is not the time to throw in the towel. It's the time to congratulate yourself on making it through the first grueling six weeks and start reaping the rewards of the sweat and sore muscles you've endured. You've hit the sweet spot so pick that towel back up, wipe the sweat off your brow and keep going.

What I'm suggesting is that this year you do something different. Don't just jump on the exercise bike from January to February and then slack off. Don't imagine we won't notice your absence in conditioning class. Don't let yourself off the hook now that you feel slightly more toned. Don't fall prey to gravity. Go, go, go! Do it! Keep doing it! Do it even when you're not in the mood. I'm convinced it counts even more when you do it when you're not in the mood. Yes. Extra credit for that.

Because if you do it long enough and regularly enough here is what will happen: You'll LIKE it. You may even learn to LOVE it. Your body will start to crave the release of sweat and endorphins. Your spouse, sweetie or self-image (or perhaps all three) will thrill at what happens to your body. You will sleep better. You may want to eat less. You may be able to eat more. You will stand taller. You will walk straighter. You will feel stronger. You may find yourself smiling more, laughing more, feeling sexier, funnier, smarter, faster, lighter. You may find you can leap small fire hydrants in a single bound. You will slouch less, hurt less, stumble less, lean less, and all the while you will breath better and feel tighter--in a good way. If you stick it out and get to three months you may find exercise becomes embedded in your neural nets.

Think of it: Exercise will become less like work and more like enjoyment.

My message to you is this: Regardless of your bad knees, bad back, bad shoulder, bad hip, bad day, bad headache, bad mood, bad hair day, bad fill-in-the-blank, get yourself moving and keep it up. You've got nothing to lose except those lumps, bumps and possible stow-away pounds while you gain muscle, give your heart something to pump about and get healthier.


As Gerry, one of a few fitness gurus I know says, "Take care of your body. If you don't, who will?" In my mom's case, for the last three months of her life, the answer to that question was the caretakers at Pine Ridge Care Center--a nursing home. She had recently turned 70.

Here's to a fit and healthy 2011. I'm off to do some sit-ups.