Monday, August 31, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is Above the Line (mostly)

Today I went to a training/workshop at my new school that centered around the power of positive thinking. I have to admit I was skeptical at first, seeing how I'm not very good at touchy-feely stuff (especially when it comes to teaching it) and when I looked at the agenda I realized I had about a million things on my mind that could have easily taken priority. But I listened, as a woman in her thirties is wont to do.

One of the ideas we talked about was the concept of 'the line'. It's complicated, but the gist is that if you are 'above the line' you are positive, you are energized, and you recognize when you are starting to think negatively and stop it before it starts. People who operate 'above the line' live more fulfilling and happy lives. Being below the line, the place where you focus only on the negative in any situation and tend to bitch and moan about anything at all that doesn't go your way, is a place for unhappy and unfulfilled people.

A woman in her thirties, I thought, should live her life above the line.

There was a lot of time for reflection in today's training, and so I reflected on how much time I actually spend below the line: gossiping, complaining, and taking part in what was called 'thought circles'. These are the thoughts that begin in our heads with how bad our hair looks on a certain day and end with us feeling as though we are ugly and useless-- all within a span of thirty seconds. When I thought about my own life, and my own line, I think I average somewhere between below and far below on any given day. I made a decision to be conscious of my 'line' from now on, and left training feeling energized and Pollyanna-positive.

I was actually thinking about this newfound positivity as I drove down the street to get to my 5:00 NIA class. I thought about it as I looked at the three young boys playing football in the street in front of me. As I slowed down passing through them in my car, I thought to myself what a wonderful....

BOOM! It was the sound of a football that had been thrown from one side of the street to the other, one that hit the side of my brand new car that I just got on Saturday.

I slammed on the breaks and hopped out as though it was on fire.

'Do you have any idea how dangerous it is to be throwing footballs over passing cars?' I yelled in my teacher voice that I hadn't heard in a few months. 'I could have swerved and hit you and your friends! NOT TO MENTION THIS IS A BRAND NEW CAR!'

'I'm sorry!' the boy said. 'I thought I'd make it. I didn't mean to. I'm sorry!'

I got back into the car and drove away when I saw that no damage had been done, but I was fuming. In case you were still unclear about Thought Circles, mine went something like this:

1. Those punks!
2. Kids are such jerks!
3. Where are their parents?
4. This is exactly what is wrong with society today!
5. I can't believe I have to teach kids like this next week!
6. Why did I ever go into such a thankless profession?
7. This year is going to be terrible!
8. My life sucks!

Before I could fall further below the line, I stopped myself. That was not positive thinking. It wasn't even logical thinking. It was an opportunity for me to put into practice what I was just taught.

So I let it go. I went to NIA, danced like a fool, and made enchiladas for dinner. And tomorrow, when I drive by the house of the boys threw the football at my car, I will slow down and smile. I might even laugh maniacally. That is me, letting it go. And if they happen to see me out the window, and happen to be afraid that they messed with the wrong woman in her thirties, then so be it.

Now that's positive thinking.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Works her 'Spirit Body'

As a general rule, I avoid hippies. It's not that I have anything against them, it's just that I have an affinity for designer jeans and Kiehls products, and based on that and so many other things we don't have much in common. But I do have my moments of clarity, moments where the smell of patchouli and a lifetime of yoga retreats sounds enticing. Yesterday I had one of those moments.

It was about 4:00 and I was desperate to get to the gym. The thing is that while I play the part of a woman in her thirties, I have the back of a woman in her eighties, and if I don't go to the gym regularly the vertebrae that make up my spine glue themselves together, my neck freezes in one place, and I spend most of my time praying for a swift death. So I looked and found a class called NIA, which stands for Neuromuscular Integrated Action, which meant nothing to me.

When I called the gym to ask what it was about, I heard something along these lines:

'Yeah, it's like yoga. Like, holistic and stuff. Like that.'

When I looked it up online, I found something more along these lines:

'Depending on your goals, Nia is everything from a fun class experience to a philosophy, lifestyle and personal/professional study. While often practiced in a group-fitness format, the true depth of Nia lies in a richly layered bodymind education, which for many becomes a personal lifestyle and/or professional practice.'

Which sounded a lot like hippie yoga to me. But my back was beginning the slow whimper it does before it gives out on me completely, and a woman in her thirties takes risks. So I went.

As I stood in the center of the room, the teacher turned to us and said something like:

'Thank you for taking this journey with me. Let's release the negative energy in our spirit bodies and begin.'

Uh... spirit bodies? A woman in her thirties does not have a spirit body. Does she?

Here is how I can describe my NIA experience: It was a combination of yoga, tai chi, African dance, Balinese finger-pointing (without the crazy eye movements), several minutes of jazz, a sprinkling of an Irish jig, and lots of flailing about. It was like a long audition of So You Think You Can Dance, minus the judgement.

And with the exception of punching an elderly woman in the head (yes it really happened, and no I don't want to talk about it), I LOVED IT.

When I left, I had that sensation that I have now come to equate with being a woman in her thirties. I felt happy that I'd tried something new. My back is happy, my thighs are sore, and I'm ready to take on the week. Just my spirit body and me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Keeps a Safe Distance

A couple of months ago I took a CPR and emergency training course in order to clear my teaching credential. I learned a lot of great things in this class, including just how hard you have to pound on someone's chest in order to resuscitate them and just how silly it is to put butter on a burn. One of the last things the instructor said to us before the class was over was, 'If you're in an accident and someone is hurt, don't move them, whatever you do. Keep them still and call the paramedics.'

Check, I thought. Now let's just hope I never have to use any of this.

Fast forward to yesterday.

For the last few days L's Dad has been kind enough to let me use his car (his rental car at that) while I've been without my own wheels. Yesterday afternoon, while I was sitting at a stoplight singing along to Britney Spears (don't judge me), I felt that oh-so-familiar slam from behind that a woman in her thirties has probably felt before while minding her own business on the road. I was rear-ended.

Murphy, of Murphy's Law, must have gotten a great laugh at my expense. I can just picture him saying, 'You know what would be awesome? See that woman in her thirties who just moved to a new state, is up to her eyeballs in prep work for the new school year, and driving her father-in-law's rental car while his is in the shop? Yeah, watch this.' I hope you liked it, Murphy. P.S. I hate you.

After the first five seconds of thinking to myself, 'Am I dreaming? Did that happen? Please tell me that didn't happen,' I looked in my rear view mirror and saw that the woman who'd hit me was hurt. I jumped out of the car and ran to her door, where the person who hit her was already standing with his head in his hands looking as though he had just totaled his parents' brand new Honda Civic. The woman was trying to move, but couldn't.

'Are you hurt?' I asked her. She said yes, her neck was hurting. And her knee, which had just been replaced a few months ago, had hit the undercolumn of the steering wheel when she had been hit from behind, causing her to hit me.

'Don't move,' I said in my most assertive Dr. McDreamy voice. 'I'm calling the paramedics. Stay as still as you can until they arrive, okay?' She did.

And that, my friends, is how a woman in her thirties handles an emergency situation.

The good news is that I'm fine. The better news is that neither L's Dad nor I are responsible for the damages to the car. The best news is that it takes a lot more than Murphy's Law to get a woman in her thirties down. In fact, Murphy tends to set me up with some pretty great stories. Until next time, I'll be keeping a safe distance.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Talks Careful Smack

I have two stories about bowling, both of which involve a huge upset on the part of the players taking it seriously, and result in me winning. These stories both took place about ten years ago, but since then bowling has always held a special place in my heart as a sport that I have actually had some success in. I have also taken it upon myself to exaggerate these stories as often as possible, pretending on more than one occasion to be the Tiger Woods of the bowling alley.

Today was one of those days. L's parents invited us to go bowling with them tonight, and I might have used the words 'natural talent' on the car ride over. It was supposed to be funny.

When we got to the bowling alley, L's Dad ran into a friend. Who he has bowled with. For many years. And when it came time for L and I to get our rented shoes, L's Mom went to her locker. Where she has her own shoes. I started to get that sinking feeling a woman in her thirties gets when she knows she's been had.

'Oh, I didn't tell you?' L asked. 'My parents play on a league. They're going to mop the floor with us.'

Here are two photos of said floor mopping:

I learned two valuable lessons today. One: A woman in her thirties should be careful before talking a big game. She never knows the hidden talents of the people around her. And two: Bowling is hard. Especially when you're not winning. However, as in so many situations in life, it's all about how you spin it.

'I am awesome at the gutterball,' I told L's Dad on the way out. 'I mean, I've got it down.'

Finally, an exaggeration not far off the mark.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Makes the Best of a Roadtrip

I've always wanted to drive across country, and our recent move to Pleasantville finally afforded me that opportunity. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I thought it would be like the millions of trips to Southern California I've taken over the years, complete with drive-through BK and writing notes to boys in passing cars (why did we think that was a good idea again??). But, as all women in their thirties know, things tend not to work out the way you expect them.

Part I: Reno
I've watched enough Reno 911 to be fascinated with the biggest little city in the world. L and I had planned on spending the night there, maybe try our luck at a couple of craps tables, and have a good Japanese dinner. Upon rolling up to the hotel I'd picked from the AAA guide, we began to rethink our choice.

Here is a picture of L talking to a cop. The cop told us he thought it would be a better idea to continue heading east because, well, Reno sucks. So we did.

Part II: Lovelock
A few years ago I went on a school field trip to Guilin, China. Guilin is arguably the most beautiful part of China I have ever seen, minus the Great Wall. As part of that field trip, I climbed to the top of a hill that has a long, rusty chain with about a billion locks on it (Amazing Race fans will remember when this was part of one of the challenges in China). The locks were left as a symbol of unbreakable love between two people.

As we drove through Nevada, we came across a town called Lovelock. My AAA book told me that they had a similar chain like the one I'd seen in Guilin. You can imagine my excitement. And if you know L, you can imagine his.

'Let's go lock our love! Oh please, please! Come on, please!' (A woman in her thirties should not have to beg to lock her love with her husband, but I'll give L a pass on this one and assume his refusal to get excited as I was had to be due to exhaustion).

One of us more reluctant than the other, we pulled over. These signs lined the street:

I walked into a general store to buy a lock, ready to hear some sort of ghost story about how the town was named after the mysterious chain that was found in the area, and how the symbols of love go back thousands (I would have even taken hundreds) of years. Sadly, when I told the cashier that I'd been to a place in China that has something similar, she simply replied, 'Yeah, we took the idea from China a few years ago'.

The chain of love in Lovelock is small. It's new, but someday it will be old. Here is us making our contribution:

Part III: Winnemucca
By this point in the drive, I'm fairly certain L was regretting letting me have the AAA book. I discovered that the town of Winnemucca, Nevada has a huge Spanish Basque population, due to an influx in immigration of sheep herders from the area about 100 years ago. When it came time to making dinner plans, we had our choice of an array of fast food establishments, or a traditional Basque dinner.

A woman in her thirties chooses Basque.

The food was served family style, and not in the lazy susan kind of way. In the Basque country, you eat at a table with whoever else pops up in around the same time, and you share as much salad, beans, and giant corn as you can eat.

When our neighbors sat down next to us, the man who took his place next to L said, 'Well, guess I have to sober up now.' (He did not). I knew it was going to be an excellent night, and it was.

Part IV: Salt Lake City
I didn't start watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives until very recently. I am not a foodie, unfortunately for L. But I did hear of a place called The Red Iguana from that show, so we made a stop in Salt Lake City. Allow me to share some highlights:

Chicken Tacos-- oh Lord....

Carnitas Burrito-- oh my...

Red Iguana= Awesome

Part V: Wyoming
Wyoming is a simply beautiful state, with lots of this: And this:

We drove through Wyoming as the sun set behind us, and I thought long and hard about life, and love, and all kinds of things that weight heavily on the mind of a woman in her thirties. For that reason, I will always equate Wyoming with solitude, deep thinking, and a desperate need for a glass of wine.

Part VI: Nebraska and Iowa


Part VII: Pleasantville
We pulled up to our new house last Thursday. L carried me over the threshold (and didn't break his back-- my hero!) It hasn't hit me that I have a real kitchen to cook in, a real lawn that needs to be mowed, and a real neighborhood I am now a part of. But a woman in her thirties has time to let that sink in, all the time in the world. Her journey is just beginning when she's found a place to stop for awhile and make a home.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is a 9.999... Easy

It's been strange not to blog for the last week or so, but trust me, the wait will be worth it. My next post promises to include dragging my husband to the middle of nowhere to 'lock' our love, two drunk Winnemuccans at a Basque restaurant, and the long, straight drive through Nebraska that served as my teaching epiphany.

Until then, I leave you with this post by my friend Jason (otherwise known as ALS Boy), who is married to my very good friend Fehmeen, who oftentimes writes a post that is so relevant and so important that a woman in her thirties is forced to reevaluate her very attitude about life.