Monday, May 31, 2010

"There Will Be No Skipping Gymnastics 101, I don't care If You are 20!"

Imagine my surprise as a PE major in college when I found the required courses included "Teaching Gymnastics 101".  I was even more surprised when I showed up the first day at 8am to the gym and immediately noticed the gym was outfitted with mats, beams, and various other contraptions resembling the circus.  I guess the point of the class was we would need to see the apparatus in order to teach the skill, but I couldn't help picture my future PE class at the mercy of me teaching them gymnastic moves when I could hardly reach down far enough to put on my socks without grunting.
It was not a surprise that all 10 of us classmates were PE majors as well. I mean, who in their right mind would take this as an elective just for the enjoyment and well being of their college experience, definitely not me.  At first, I thought this might actually turn out nicely in hopes it would help me in my main process of getting the "MRS degree" as I skimmed the class noticing the ratio between guys and girls was 8 to 2.  Looking at each other and the apparatuses and back at each other again, we begin snickering and sweating nervously at the thought of any us of attempting these death defying feats and actually getting a passing grade, we were sure this was just a visual exercise, I mean we are 20!  Then suddenly a little man about 4'11 walks into the gym, approximately 65 and balding, wearing tight little White shorts, a tight tank top with a patch saying "JR National Champion", chalked up hands holding a detailed class syllabus.  As I stared down at this little gymnast I knew that 8am Tuesday  and Thursday was going to be the new challenge in my life, one that I'd need to figure out how many of those I could skip and still pass, which my answer soon came with
"Welcome, there will be no skipping of my class, you must pass all circuits appropriate to gender related events.  Well that was not good news other than "gender related", I at least could eliminate the Pommel horse, Rings and High bar!
The Beam, the easiest in the bunch, was thankfully only about six inches off the mat.  The task- to walk back and forth, high kick, and then squat down with a turn in the middle, and of course never losing gracefulness.  Somehow as a  5'9, 20 year old basketball player in black sweats and an over sized tea shirt wobbling on a 2 inch beam regardless of the toes pointed, would never have a chance at the gracefulness points. I made that even more clear when I did my lower squat down to the beam with a turn only to fall off in slow motion in a slanted squat to the matted floor.  I tried to win him over with a great arms up "TA DA"  but the JR. National Champion made me do it over again, and in the end I stayed on the beam but ended the rotation with a B-."Whatever... let's rotate!"

Single file line to the next stop, noticing the men of the group beginning to fidget a little, we step up to the rings.  Not only was this the most ego breaking class ever required it sure didn't help to have 2 giggling chicks watching them as the veins popped out of their forehead while trying to hold a perfect "T" position.  I saw some ugly faces that morning and crossed a few "MRS. Degree Prospects" off the list.   A few high fives, swats on the behind and fake kisses on the cheeks we were off to practice our FLOOR routine.  Of course in every good floor routine there is the ever amazing front hand spring.  I had heard this day was coming, when we would actually have to put all our weight on our hands and flip OVER.  Thanks to a diet of Top Ramen noodles to save money that year, I was dealing with a little more weight than ideal for this situation. The Jr. National Champion 4'11 teacher announced proudly that he would spot us on this death defying flip, which really did not help my anxiety, I mean really...  As I watched people in front of me boldly go down the mat runway, flip on their hands and land safely, I was wishing at that point I would have spent more time as a youngster on a trampoline.  Instead I was daydreaming about the pool we had, which made front and back handsprings very manageable, and also provided an arena for FANTASTIC pool routines.  If only this class could resume nearby at the campus pool I know I'd surely impress everyone.  "Courtney you're up"
It was time.. I looked down the mat at my tiny instructor on one knee on the right side of the mat  and a very tall handsome baseball player kneeling on the other side, thinking perhaps a leotard would help this illusion.   Deep breath, waving to the crowd on either side and a small wave to the judges, I'm in my zone, eye of the tiger, sprinting fast...faster..faster.. face bouncing, hands going down on mat, I'm Mary Lou Retton, legs coming around, "oh No" feeling a little off balance, getting spotted by tiny man, legs now STRADDLING tiny man's head and now have PINNED down my Jr. National Champion Instructor who then pushes me a side and yells A+!!!

Ok, he really didn't yell A+ he was too busy fixing his comb over and wiping the sweat off his brow.  The baseball player is splitting his own gut laughing so hard he's crying and the rest of the "squad" has completely lost all composure.  The day came when I got my grade and I passed Gymnastics 101 with a beautiful B- but no engagement ring. Strangely, there at the bottom of the blank box where an instructor can add his thoughts he left "no comment".

Friday, May 28, 2010

Me in the Dentist's chair...buckle up

Land of the Lost... teeth

A few things that bother me the most about the dentist is that every time I go, I seem to have something else wrong with my mouth.  I mean how do we all REALLY know they see a dark spot on our tooth, one that doesn't even hurt.  I'm thinking my distaste for dentistry started when I was about eleven and heard the words "your daughter will need to have 6 teeth pulled in preparation for the braces".  Thankfully, growing up with no dental insurance, our trips to the dentist only came when pain prodded my parents to call.   Fellow brace wearers, we all remember the wad of goo on the first orthodontic appointment that had to stay there for an uncomfortable amount of time.  Not only did you have buck teeth, you now looked even more like a monster with this display going on, and it never tasted like bubble gum flavor like they made sound so enjoyable.  Finally, time to take the mold out, the tugging and pulling felt like all the rest of my teeth were going to be extracted with it.  What a sight to see a clay mold of your buck teeth sitting on the tray resembling something from a horror film.
 I was the "lucky" one in 6th grade, with my already awkward look of short permed hair, taller than the rest of the class and stick skinny, I was the unfortunate "winner" of the braces that fit around each tooth with a metal sleeve.  The cool kids had those on the back molars only, and very hip round one's called "door knobs" or "Train Tracks" on the teeth that showed.  Not me, I got the metal sleeves wrapped around every tooth, making my metal mouth look similar to the modern day "mouth grill".   The metal sleeves only made it harder to floss and when finally removed in the 8th grade, strangely my Orthodontist showed little shock or concern that my teeth all had 1/8 inch spaces in between them!   Suddenly the "Pay As You Go" perk seemed to come full circle and gave little option for complaining that teeth be fixed tightly together.  Although much to my surprise this plan came with an option to pick a color of the retainer, something my older sister who went through this same process, did not get to choose in her perk plan.   I chose a blue retainer complete with carrying case and the knowledge of a hefty fine and punishment if lost.   I'd seen my sister's near death experience after explaining to my parents how she wrapped hers up in a napkin at Pizza Baron accidentally tossing it in the trash.  Pizza Baron Pizza was cheap and greasy and required massive amounts of napkins, not just to catch the drips of chin grease but also to supply for the mysterious craft of creating a napkin plate making the hunt for a retainer in a mass graveyard of napkins nearly impossible.

After avoiding the dentist for years after braces and  through college, I then landed a job that came with dental insurance so I finally headed to my doomsday appointment.  After all my disclaimers of why I hadn't been in for SO long,  I hear the Hygiennosaurus Rex coming down the hall with her sharp hygienic tools and game face on. 
The thing that annoys me the most is the hygienist who looks at the chart and sees I haven't been in for 7 years  and decides right then would be an excellent time to take out the sharpest tools and cry about the evil ways of her ex-husband.  Followed up with a lecture about the importance of flossing and brushing and of course coming to see her every 6 months, (yeah, right lady) as I nod my bloody grin and say "you are right, I'm a horrible human being, I'm so glad I came today." 

A few days later my scheduled cavity filling starts off with the Dentasaurus coming in with a hazmat face shield to make sure that HE was safe from the flying spit and tooth shrapnel.  Evidently, over time, enough flying water, spit, tooth carvings, and metal instruments fell in the faces of patients, complaints increased and now they kindly give the patient a pair of protective lawsuit preventing glasses as well...THAT would have been nice in 1984 when they were pulling my six teeth, I should be horribly wealthy right now and not blogging.

Recently, I went to the dentist to get a tooth filled and although I feel they've improved and streamlined the whole process the SHOT has not changed.  They always try to make small talk as they are jiggling your cheek (as if that helps) and sticking a 3 foot needle in your mouth.  Finally, when your face is numb, or at least hoping things are numb, the "team" comes in ready to perform their duty.  Life seems very fragile the moment the Dentist and the assistant begin to hand sharp instruments back and forth right over my face. Then it happened, one second of drilling even on my numb tooth I knew something was going down.  My eyeballs rattling, my lips rumbling, and me the good compliant patient just nodding and smiling through the lip stretcher until finally a sudden stop and the words  "I TOLD the guy to fix this drill, it STILL isn't working!!!" which I could have told her 10 minutes ago.  I'm now thinking this must be what one gets signing up for an affordable group dental plan.  After moving to another chair and experiencing a working drill that didn't pop out my contacts, I suggested the next time the "drill mechanic" comes to "fix" the drill to have HIM open wide, feel the jack hammer in his mouth and ask him if HE thinks it's fixed.  I guess I'm fortunate that is all that happened, as I just learned my friend's tongue is still numb on one side after 2 months ago when he got a root canal done.  His Dentist says "oh I'm sure it will come back to life, but it could take 6 weeks or so". Um excuse me?  I will say, today hygienists seem to be less angry, they must be getting more money, cuter scrub choices, or choosing better spouses.  When all is said and done, I am thankful for experts who know how to make us feel better, BUT that said, I will never go back to the dentist that put a giant purple latex mouth dam on my face to keep my mouth open. That was super awkward and creepy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why Buying a Cheap Purse Can Cost You!

This post brought to you by AAA which I am now a PROUD new member! (they really didn't bring this, I did, but I thought I would plug their services)

So Bertha my car was VERY naughty yesterday.  Some of you on facebook already know the small status version of this, but I couldn't leave it there.  Others who don't know who Bertha is, well she is my big ugly nine year old Big Tan Van.   I really think my troubles started with a purchase of a very cute but cheap purse at the thrift store.  I frequent the Red White and Blue Thrift store regularly and often leave with phenomenal deals and this purse along with matching wallet (which actually was buried under a pile but FOUND by me) was only $4 which surprised me considering it's fashionable chicness.  Over the last month I have experienced great losses using this purse and realizing perhaps the reason behind this fabulous deal.  To make a long story short the purse has been known to spill over easily and empty its contents.  Thanks to this $4 purse I have lost a brand new I-Pod touch, my camera with pre-downloaded pictures of my kin and my visa debit card.  If that is not bad enough here is where the story takes an interesting twist.
I noticed my debit card missing while buying donuts and coffee at our church cafe.  Perhaps this should have been a sign  from God that I shouldn't be buying the donuts and settle for the free coffee, but NO it is church and the awesome coffee attendant said "Oh don't worry, this is church for crying out loud bring it in when you can"! well ok then, as I walk away with my caloric prize and still worried about the missing debit card but figuring it is likely in a back pocket of my jeans because we all know that is the easiest spot after a load of groceries. 
Monday Morning- Check my bank account, no unusual action on with my day, I'll find the card.  Check email and wow I just booked a Florida vacation at the Ritz! WAIT WHAT?? I did not do that and my name is not Mark! How did they get my email? My Card!! Crud!  Cancel the Card, call the Hotel and tell them I just got a confirmation for someone I dont' know.  They put me on hold and I get to listen to the description of the nicest vacation spot in Florida with lavish pools, weather amazing, and my name is not Mark... I could go by Mark for a night!  Back on the line "Mrs. Spears I will transfer you to the booking agent".  BA gets on says "Courtney you called me this morning and booked this vacation" which I then explain "no I did not, Mark did and this was sent to my email....silence..."OH my gosh, this lady didnt' have a "s" on the last name spears.  Evidently the "s" was the only thing between her getting the email or me.  Good news, but I still cancelled my credit card and would have to go to the bank to get a new one, and I don't get a vacation in Florida. 
After work I have JUST enough time to drive to the bank before I am home for the kids after school.  This is where my afternoon gets even crazier!  Just as I pull on the on-ramp Bertha decides to chug chug (veering to the right to a safe spot) and stop.  No luck re-starting her and seeing a 1/2 tank full of gas, she must be very sick.  Call the man of the house who thankfully is nearby and he gets there in 5 minutes.  I decided in that five minutes I was not comfortable sitting in my car with the freeway traffic so I grabbed my computer, purse and proceeded to walk on the Interstate back up the ramp, up a grassy hill.  Earlier that day I decided to dress up a bit for work and chose a black blazer, pants and scarf which strangely made me look like a flight attendant in my opinion.  Now I was parading in my "flight attendant" suit on a busy highway.  My ride came and we zipped home 5 minutes away to greet the kids, went to get gas and hurried back to the car.  As we are pulling over the overpass looking down on the ramp we see horror as Bertha is on top of a tow truck getting hauled away!!!! Keep in mind I called for help at 2:07 this was 2:38 when the State Police called the tow company, NOT alot of time to get gas or any other arrangement.   We frantically call the Police Department wondering where they might be taking my poor car.  After we find out, she said "This car has to be released from the State Police before you can get it from the tow company" The State Office was clear in on the other side of town at least 25 minutes drive with no traffic.  After making that trip, we head over to the tow company which is tucked back in a serious of storage warehouses and there is NO one to be found and no sight of Bertha.  Yet another call to the company who says "ok we will be right there" a man appears 5 minutes later motioning us to his office.  Suddenly I'm thinking is this a bad set up or something? All the episodes of "24" seem to be flashing before me.  Thankfully the man was not a terrorist or thief, but he gave us the bad news that it would cost a whopping $240 to get Bertha back, ok maybe he is a thief! Someone is a thief alright! After 3 hours of this fiasco we put gas into the belly of Bertha and she started right up.  Which like I said earlier, the needle indicated she had a 1/2 tank so what the heck? I was so mad I felt like leaving Big Bertha right there in Impoundment Hell with all the other less cared for, UGLIER cars, but I didn't.  At the gas station my husband actually was really nice to  Bertha and gave her a FULL tank which I dont' think she has had since she came off the lot in 2002.  I normally like to just put $10 so it doesn't feel so painful each time I spend money on gas.  As I'm driving around smoothly heading back to the original destination, the bank for the visa card, I realize the cheap purse is really to blame.  It most likely spilled out my visa card somewhere which lead to this extra trip of getting a new one, which lead to Bertha LYING to me about her hunger, which then lead to the evil bill which would have bought a much nicer purse that would've taken much pride in keeping expensive electronic devices safe!  Walking into the bank the nice lady asked me how my day was? smile... well let me tell ya....! So I did, she felt bad and gave me a tootsie roll candy and a new debit card which I then placed in my $4 purse.