Friday, March 21, 2014

And the Award goes to... Not me. Meh.

It's not like I enter contests by the thousands, but I've entered this one before and I really thought I had a shot this year. So here, in its entirety, is the rejected, not chosen, passed over, no-notes-given entry for which I myself awarded it "Best Example of Stick-to-it-iveness 2014 Award"!!

Cue confetti...

One Minute Alone

Since the Garden women have yearned for time alone.  Adam’s rib was removed to create a separate individual, not a homing device. Meaning if Eve needed to use the bathroom, Adam had to find something else to do. Why is it so hard to find one minute alone?

I tried this morning. Literally.  It was Day 9 in my 30-Day Plank Challenge. Planks, as you may know, require forcing one’s body into a gravity-defying position several inches above the ground and holding it for an excruciatingly long time, which increases daily. Day 9--one minute. (I have nothing to say in my defense.  The single-digit cold this month has made me insane.)

My husband was downstairs involved in his morning ritual. (I knew it was safe to begin when the smell of burnt toast wafted up the stairs.) I stretched, prayed and set my timer. Up went my entire body, supported only by toes and forearms; eyes closed to avoid watching the slower-than-molasses-in-January seconds tick past. My muscles began trembling under the pressure and I think the entire house started to shake. Just then, I heard my husband’s foot on the stair...he was coming up! What? He never comes back up! I go to a great deal of trouble to hide these disturbing exercise positions. He was about to open the door.

“Don’t come in here!”, I screeched.

Even he can be intuitive sometimes. “Not even on a bet”, he said, backing away.

But it was too late. With 15 seconds left I tried to regain my concentration and finish one minute of exercise. I willed my body to stay aloft.  With a final shudder I crashed to the floor seconds before the timer went off. 

One minute. It’s all I needed. One tiny, 60-second minute. Why is alone time so elusive to us women? Did we do something wrong? Babies actually fasten themselves to us.  Toddlers need constant supervision or they’ll jam the disposal with spoons or blind the cat with orange juice.  Children have to be cared for all the time, including teenagers.  You worry about them at school, on a date, at their job; failing classes, getting pregnant, embezzling.   After the nest empties, men require as much attention under their 42 Regulars as a 7-year-old. With bigger laundry.

I suppose I should be grateful for a husband who wants to be around me.  It’s not like I’m training for a triathlon and continued attempts at defying gravity could be dangerous. At this point in my life, what would I even do with one minute alone?  End hunger? Banish handguns? Read an email? Exercise is out, that’s for sure.  Maybe I’ll get a paper route.

Friday, March 7, 2014


If you’ve been anywhere near New England this winter, you’ve been cold. You’ve been chilly, freezing, frigid.  It’s made other people cool, icy, bitter, closed up.

The landscape is white, gray and black. The sky tries to be blue, but gives up around 10 am and goes back to light gray. The sun makes a similar attempt; but also gives up and heads back to Florida.   People are starting to work the excuse, “it’s been a long winter” into their reasons for not getting things done, not getting enough exercise or simply not smiling. And it’s true--there’s nowhere to go to do anything. (Fine. I could join a gym. Whatever.) Did I mention it is also making people cranky?

Then, the other day when I was babysitting for Luca, I had had enough. I was tired of being grouchy and immobile. Apparently Luca was, too. When I got him dressed, he didn’t like the corduroy pants, he didn’t like the navy pullover. None of the clothes I put on him felt good, or so he indicated in his very clear two-year-old way: crying. He didn’t want to do anything but play with the puzzle game on my phone. But I wanted my phone. He’d taken to walking around the house saying, “I can’t do this” and holding his little face in his cupped hands. I know how he felt. It got to the point where I was about to serve up the merlot, the Lindt chocolate truffles and watch soaps for the rest of the day...for both of us. (Don’t be silly. I wasn’t going to give Luca wine. There wouldn’t have been enough for me.)  We had to get outside. Now.

Luca was up for the idea. The temperature was hovering around 30 degrees and the sun was doing its usual half-assed attempt at shining, but there were enough passages through the glaciers of frozen-solid  snow that we could at least go for a little walk and get some fresh air.

At first he wouldn’t let me put on his jacket. Or anything. We weren’t going to actually be playing in the snow, just walking around next to it, so I skipped the snow pants and snow coat and put on his fleece jacket, hat and gloves. He didn’t let me put on his boots, either; I’d put one on and he’d kick it off as I got the other one on.  I recognized the problem - in March, one gets tired of putting on all the equipment just to go out the door. I skipped the boots, too, and grabbed his sneakers. 

Then we were outside. We breathed in the fresh air and walked down the driveway, skirting the bunches of ice and snow that escaped the plow and shovel. We made our way to the back gate and wrestled it open where there is a thin, shoveled path to the back door. Luca held on to me, but I was afraid if I went down, I’d take him with me so I kind of shoved him ahead of me while keeping a tight grip on his jacket, slipping and sliding the whole way.  The cleared off space by the back door is simply an uncovered flagstone, about 2 feet by maybe 3 feet.
“It’s nice out here!” Luca said and a smile grew on his face.
I cracked a triangle of ice off of a drift and gave it to Luca to play with.
“Thank you!”, he gushed.

We stayed outside for about 20 minutes or more. Luca would have stayed out longer, playing with his icicle, surrounded by snow, breathing in fresh, cold air, but it did start to get a little chilly.  And I have to admit, it felt pretty good to me, too.

It has been a long winter. We’ve had more snow and below freezing temperatures than we’re used to for such long stretches. It wears on everyone and if it wasn’t enough to have to see ice and snow all around us, the local movie theater has “Frozen” on its marquis. Brrr. The only ones  who seem to be thriving in all of this are the robins hanging around the yard. To be more precise, they are hanging around the neighbor’s apple tree and getting enormously fat on months-old apples.  We think it can’t possibly snow anymore and then there’s a forecast for another storm. 

But it’s March. Soon we will leave coats and jackets in the closet and head outside without 15 minutes of prep. The sun will try harder and the sky will be blue and we’ll uncover the toys in the yard and we’ll play trucks, shovel dirt and make chalk drawings on the flagstones. We’ll warm up, survive the winter and all will be well again.  (But I’m hanging on to the wine and chocolates, just in case.)