Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Accepts a Challenge

I have never been a competitive person. Maybe it's from coming from a family of three siblings--I am both the youngest girl and a middle child. Maybe it's from ten years being the slowest swimmer in my age group on my swim team. Either way, I think I accepted early on that I was probably not going to win anything ever, so don't bother getting bent out of shape about it.

Yesterday I was ready to take a tap dancing class at my gym. That's right. Cardio tap dancing. One of my 'bet you didn't know this about me' anecdotes is that I actually learned a few tap dancing moves from my friend L in high school. I figured since I am currently a lady of leisure, why not? So I went.

You can imagine my surprise when, standing with the crowd of people outside the door to the cardio room waiting for the doors to open, I heard the tip-tap-tap of people who were just finishing the class.

'I thought tap dancing was a 9:30!' I said to the group of women standing next to me.

'No,' they answered. 'Tap is at 8:30. Sculpt is a 9:30.'

'Sculpt' is one of those words used by fitness instructors and massage therapists that is actually a euphemism for serious pain. 'What we're doing is sculpting your muscles,' they say during your seventy fifth reverse sit up.

'You should try it. It's a great class,' one of the women said. The look on my face must have given away my hesitation and she quickly added, 'You could always leave early if it's too hard.'

Now, if that isn't a challenge from one woman in her thirties to another, I don't know what is.

'Okay, I'll give it a shot,' I said. I knew there wasn't going to be any winner in this situation. The woman was legitimately trying to make me feel like I had an 'out' if the class was too hard. But something stirred inside me, that latent desire to feel like I could do something even if the people around me were dubious. It was on.

The class was hard. Really hard. Thanks to a refresher course on L's Dad's Wii, I was at least recently re-aquainted with the basic step moves. It was the weights that did me in; my spaghetti arms were crying in protest within fifteen minutes. But to end with push-ups? That was almost too much.


A woman in her thirties might have outgrown her weekly swim meets, but even the least competitive among us feels the need to push herself when faced with a challenge. Even an unintentional one. Our challenges are harder now than completing fifty meters of breaststroke in under a minute, but they are no less deserving of a ribbon in the end.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Makes Dessert

Yesterday, S told me that the 'theme' for dinner tonight at her place was Italian, and I was to bring dessert. The word 'theme' was a bit daunting, especially coming from S, but since she was the catalyst for this blog I figured I'd better turn on my WIHT radar and figure something out, pronto.

I told myself that a woman in her thirties makes dessert when she goes to a dinner party, and had every intention of making something that would somehow awaken my inner Martha and wow my college friends with how far I've come since Pasta Roni.

Then stuff happened, and I got really into the book I'm reading, and between this, that, and the other, it was suddenly time to leave and I was stuck with a very woman in her twenties box of brownie mix.

Sigh. I maintain that a woman in her thirties does make dessert, but today's attempt was an epic fail.

To make herself feel better, she checks out Foodie is the New Forty, votes for her sister-in-law for 'Tastiest Blog', and thinks, 'With family like this, there's hope for me yet...'

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Does Yoga

I went through a yoga phase in my twenties. I think most twenty-somethings go through a yoga phase, just like most middle schoolers go through a Stephen King phase and most elementary schoolers go through a peanut butter and jelly phase. I liked yoga okay, but when I moved to China I talked myself out of going to classes because I was afraid my language wasn't good enough to keep up. Yoga took its place on the proverbial back burner for a good four years of my life, replaced by spinning and timing my workouts around Larry King Live.

Tonight I decided that a woman in her thirties does yoga. Real yoga, not the twenty minute DVD kind. So I went to a class offered at my gym called 'Yoga for the Inflexible', which I thought was a nice way of saying, 'Yoga for the Old and in Bad Shape'. I have to admit I walked in there quite confident. Sure, it's been a few years, I thought. I'll still blow these old timers out of the water.

Surprise #1-- the class was mostly dudes. Young dudes, with big muscles. I actually checked the schedule to make sure I was in the right class. I was, but that sinking feeling was beginning in my 'core'.

Surprise #2-- there is some terminology I either missed out on, or never knew existed. 'Dogs' and 'cats' I knew about, but 'locusts'? 'Cows'? When did yoga become such a menagerie?

Surprise #3-- chanting. I was actually thinking my instructor was a little less on the crazy hippie scale as most yoga instructors I've known, until she started with the chanting. Something about peace and love. I wasn't interested in the translation. I was too busy trying to 'keep my hips level with the earth'.

After an hour of blocks, blankets, planks, and something called 'Savasana' (my favorite part), I was legitimately exhausted. Every muscle shook as I got back into my car to drive home. So much for the confidence I'd walked in with. I must have dropped it during my fiftieth downward facing dog.

I still think a woman in her thirties does yoga, but my attitude has adjusted dramatically. What is more logicial: the class is inappropriately named and I really am still good at yoga after a four year hiatus, or the class is appropriately named and I, like the people in the room with me tonight, am back to being a novice? I don't like it, but I think I know the answer.

But what does it matter, really? A woman in her thirties quits keeping score. She unrolls her yoga mat, finds her center, and simply applauds the effort.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Waits

Our patience, like our ears, grows with age. We go from being babies, having our mothers by our side to answer every beck and call, to adolescents who must learn the hard way that everyone must get a turn, to adults who should have had lots of practice standing in lines and strumming her fingers on the steering wheel at stoplights. By the time a woman is in her thirties, she's done a lot of waiting.

Yesterday I took my sweet Mom in for (minor) surgery. After she was wheeled in, I took my place in the hospital waiting room. I had forgotten how stale those rooms are; how the nervous energy sits in the air and causes the hands on the clock to move slower than normal.

Conversations in hospital waiting rooms are always the same. People make light of the procedure being done on their loved one. They remember how someone they know, or know through a friend, or heard of on TLC had the same procedure and was better than normal within twenty four hours. They talk about the competency of the doctors and the staleness of the donuts downstairs in the cafeteria. They tell jittery stories about the people they work with or the traffic on the highway in the morning, and everyone laughs more than they need to.

When the doctor came in to tell me that everything went fine, and then the nurse came in to tell me that my Mom was doing great but is NOT to do any more heavy lifting by herself, I finally allowed myself to breathe. The waiting room became a normal room again, but brighter.

I walked in the recovery room to find my Mom sitting up in her bed and longing for her cup of coffee. 'I'm fine; I feel great,' she kept saying, because that's what Moms always say.

A woman in her thirties waits. She waits even when the waiting room is bearing down on her. She waits for her mother to take sips from the straw she holds to her lips while she recovers. She times application of ice packs, and waits for her mother to ask for help (in her own way, of course). She waits for and waits on the people she loves because, if she's lucky, she has a string of people who would do the same thing for her.

And in this way, she takes comfort in all that waiting.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Votes

For me!

I'm nominated under 'Most Inspiring Blog'

A smarter and more savvy woman in her thirties would include screen shots. That's on my to-do list of 'Things I've Got to Figure Out How to Do'. That and physics.

2009 BlogLuxe Awards

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Watches Old Movies

It's day two of my 'lady of leisure' summer. Well, not really. But while many of you out there get office supplies, working desks, and are not threatened every day by gang violence, I get my teacher summer. I plan on milking it for all it's worth.

One of the first items on my to-do list for the summer was to go here to the old movie house down the street to see a classic film. When you live in a certain area it's really difficult to make the time to do the touristy things that the area is known for. I only got to Alcatraz earlier this summer for the first time after about a billion times being in San Francisco. There's always laundry to do, and Jon and Kate to watch, and well, you know how it goes.

Yesterday morning, while on a walk (I told you-- lady of leisure) I saw on the marquee that the following films were playing last night at the old movie house: 'Citizen Kane' and 'Singin' in the Rain'. Holy hell, I thought to myself. What to choose? I'd seen both several times, so I wound up choosing the one that S, my AP English teacher in high school, would have appreciated more.

'It's a double feature!' the woman at the ticket booth said. 'Stay for "Singin' in the Rain"!'

There is something about an old movie house that brings out the nostalgia in all of us. There was an actual pipe organ being played at the front of the theater before the movie started-- no previews. People clapped for the organist after he finished 'Give My Regards to Broadway'. It was so entertaining that I forgot to be embarassed that I was by myself in a movie theater (now if that isn't 'woman in her thirties', I don't know what is).

I'll spare you all the review of the film. Suffice it to say everyone must see it at some point in their life. There is a reason that it's often called the greatest film of all time, and that reason has a lot to do with Orson Wells and all those shadows he liked so much.

When I got home I sat for a few minutes in front of the TV before going to bed. 'Intervention' was on and, pardon the pun, that show is like crack for me. But last night it just didn't live up to its expectations. I began humming 'Moses Supposes' and wondering when tap dancing will make its comeback because really, it must.

Damn, I thought. A woman in her thirties should always stay for 'Singin' in the Rain'.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Believes

It is amazing how one minute things are... and the next they are not. Such is the life of a woman in her thirties.

Last month I got a positive pregnancy test result. It all happened so quickly, and for me things are not known to happen quickly. But L and I took our miracle and embraced it. We argued over names. We bought only organic (much to my chagrin). We used the word 'family' a lot, over and over, as in 'this decision will be good for our family'.

It was surreal and wonderful. L would talk to the baby every morning and every night, whisper to my stomach and giggle as though the baby was telling him all about what it was like in there. He refused to tell me what he and his little one were talking about-- that was his time. I didn't care. All I could think to myself was, 'Lucky me, lucky me.'

It is amazing how one minute things are... and the next they are not.

When things started going strangely, and events started not making sense, and something inside me started to panic, I embraced that too. I am a pragmatic person. I researched online and tried to fit my symptoms into a puzzle that would ultimately create a child; a healthy one.

'No fetal pole' was mentioned last week, and I thought rationally, 'Do I have a "pole"? Did I ever?' 'Threatened abortion' was also mentioned-- such an ugly phrase. That phrase could not be mine. But damn that heartbeat that just would not flicker on that ultrasound screen. I know enough about science and love to understand the importance of that beating heart.

And from that point on L whispered loudly to my stomach, 'Hang in there little guy,' because there was no longer a need to keep secrets.

'Blighted ovum' is the official diagnosis, which to me sounds like something that happens after a long weekend houseboating on the Sacramento River. Tomorrow I will go in for a 'Dilation and Curettage' procedure-- shortened to a hard and unfeeling 'D&C'. No food or drink after midnight. No driving myself home. Vicodin. How like animals we become in the hands of our doctors.

And just like that-- poof-- it will be over. What once was will be no more.

I don't write this to be melodramatic. I know about natural selection. I have heard many unifying, if not comforting, stories about women who have gone through the same thing. I know that it's easier to go through this now as opposed to three months from now. I know that things will happen the way they're meant to. Why do I walk through my church doors every week if not to remind me to do that one simple thing-- believe?

And yet.

There is such a strange mourning for something that was so real, and yet could never be. It's not a funeral. There are no tombstones for the ones who stopped before they started. Rather, it's up to the parents who never were to put away their blind hope; to transfer what's been damaged into something similar that can be used for next time. Hope made less hopeful, in some ways. Hope that is shadowed and dwarfed by ugly words used by doctors, but still there.

A woman in her thirties has two choices in any difficult situation: to survive or not to survive. When put in such terms, the future seems easy. Survive, please. And be stronger for it. Yes, I'm fairly certain that's my line.

But the hope-- that is optional. And the belief-- that, too. They are choices-- hard ones-- that must have a sneaky way of coming and going, like fair weather friends.

And yet, I choose both. I must choose them both through tears and anger, through 'what if' and 'why me'. Any other choice leads to darkness and fear. I might not know much about how things work and why things are, but I do know these are no options for a woman who will someday be Mom.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Reads Trashy Memoirs

I can't believe I am writing this blog entry, but here goes:

I am currently reading STORI Telling, a memoir by the illustrious Donna Martin, aka Tori Spelling. And loving it.

In my defense, I did not pay for this book. It was given to me by a friend. I would also like to say that I am also currently teaching Greek tragedy and Steinbeck. Just wanted to throw that out there, too, in case anyone reading has rushed to judgment about my intelligence.

Why do I feel the need to defend myself about this book? Because of the look on L's face when he saw me reading it the other night. It was a look that said, 'I can't believe you are wasting your time on that garbage', and the same look I have given to many Danielle Steel and Nicholas Sparks readers in my day. Judgment, judgment, judgment.

I will not waste any time here trying to explain how this book will change your life. It won't. It is full of sage insight about her first husband like, 'I thought for sure he was Jewish, which I knew would make my parents happy. Turned out he was Greek Armenian. Oops.' It is also full of poor-little-rich-girl anecdotes like, 'Even though it was just going to be July 4 hot dogs and hamburgers... it was going to cost nine thousand dollars. That's the Bel Air for you.' Hardly the figurative language that poetry is made of.

And yet here I am, admitting that I love it. I love that her mother is such grade A bitch. I love seeing life through Tori Spelling's rose colored glasses, through her cabana-boy kissing experiences and star studded weddings. I love that she shares some of my same self-deprecating sense of humor. So there. Bite me.

To all my trashy novel readers out there, allow me to tip my hat in apology. I'm sorry I spent so much of my life making fun of you (behind your back). We work hard, dammit, and who have I thought I am to snort and smirk at your choices for entertainment? A woman in her thirties is better than that.

She also has heard that romance novels are where the money is at, and if she's thinking of a career in writing...

... hmm.