I was sweating. And I hadn’t even walked into the gym yet.
Today, was the day. The exercise revolution. After logging serious hours watching P90X and Zumba infomercials – which must radiate some kind of addictive chemical because I can’t turn them off – I finally got the motivation to try a new exercise. I too, could be a “before and after”! (Well, with a lot of self tanner and airbrushing) After looking at the list of classes at the gym, I picked Fitness Pilates.
Fitness= the condition of being physically fit. That’s a good start.
Pilates= system of exercises designed to improve strength, flexibility and posture. And make your body cry with pain.
I seemed to miss the second part of the definition. As I was getting ready for the gym, I suddenly felt like I was prepping for my first day in 9th grade. What should I wear? Will people laugh at me? Who will I talk to? Should I have gotten this home perm?
Zap back to the present (shuddering at the memory of my perm) I walked into Pilates class wearing my best Target fitness wear. The class was crowded and I immediately scoped out a corner to hide in. I quickly walked past a woman built like Jennifer Aniston. Complete with belly baring work out attire. Well, she didn’t have three kids, I say to myself, staring at her perfect abs.
“I put all three kids in camp this week,” I overheard her tell a friend.
Sigh. I have no excuse. I darted to the far side of the room to stand in a corner. I saw everyone had mats, so I grabbed a mat too. I glanced at the woman in front of me, and noticed she had a weighted bar.
“Excuse me, do we need a bar too?” I asked, looking for a little encouraging conversation.
She turned and looked at me and said, “I don’t know.”
Um. She had one.
“Oh, are you new to this class too?” I asked helpfully.
“No,” she said. And turned around. Justlikethat. 9th grade. All over again.
Our teacher was a perky gal with abs o’ steel and unlimited stream of husky fitness leader conversation. And she wasted no time hollering for us to squat, squeeze, lift, pull and contort our bodies to optimal Pilates fitness.
15 minutes in: “I can do this!” I say to myself, envisioning new skinny jeans.
20 minutes: “I am going to die”
25 minutes: “I’m already dead”
35 minutes: “Wait a minute, still alive – I may beat it yet!”
42 minutes: “My exercise mat stinks.”
43 minutes: “Oh God, I think I stink.”
50 minutes: “I’m never, ever coming back.”
1 hour: “It’s over? ITS OVER!!”
I staggered out of class, sweaty and searching for ibuprofen to squelch the soon to be screaming pain in my abs. But like the first day of freshman year, I survived. And I know the lady in front of me is not friendly, and to never work out next to the skinny mother of 3. I’ll be back.
Just don’t expect to see me sporting a perm.
Politics is a dirty business, as the saying goes. So, along with the real identity of Santa Claus and where babies come from, we try to avoid talking politics with our three kids.
Until the neon YES and NO signs popped up across our town. Suddenly, on an innocent drive to the grocery store, I was forced to have “The Talk”.
“What’s going on at the library?” my 7-year-old daughter called from the back of the van. “That sign says YES! Library.”
“Um, there’s a vote for the library.” I said vaguely.
“What do you mean FOR the library? Where is it going? Is it going to CLOSE?” she wailed.
“There’s a car with no top!” yelled 5-year-old Josh. “And Caroline says the library is closing!”
“Wait, wait, wait…” I start to explain.
“NO LIBRARY! NO LIBRARY!” 2-year-old Kitty started chanting.
After calming the rowdy van crowd, I tried to explain that there was a vote (“What’s a vote, Mom?”) to decide if people will pay more taxes (What are taxes, Mom?) for the library.
“It’s a library.” said Caroline matter of factly. “Why WOULDN’T you want to pay for it?”
Great point. Sometimes it takes the mind of a child to simply say what adults seem to screw up. I explained that people had to work hard for their money, and some did not want to pay.
“Can’t we help them pay?” she asked.
“I have some money,” pointed out Josh. “I found a penny in Caroline’s room.”
I tried to explain a millage (“A million, Mom?”), why some people weren’t happy with the city and after a lame Civics 101 lesson… Silence.
“I don’t care,” said Caroline. “I want our Library.”
So for the next month, it became the back seat obsession. The kids proceeded to count every YES and NO sign they saw sticking out of front lawns (81 yes, 28 no). They wanted to know if people were going to burn the books if the library closed. (Yes, that is what one lawn sign said. In jest. Try explaining that.) It was amazing to me that their first real understanding of politics had to come from the least political place I know.
Libraries are escapes from the real world. Quiet (thanks to the drill-sergeant-shusher-librarian) and full of possibility. The library on the chopping block happened to be the one I grew up going to. The magical place where I could take out the same “Ramona” book over and over again. The same place, where I slathered on green eyeshadow in preparation for a study date with a high school crush. They still have some of the same decorations on the wall (like the poster with the hot air balloon that says “Aim High!”). And when I had my own kids, I took them to story hour. My son took his first steps reaching for a puppet in the children’s area.
The day of the vote, I realized we had an overdue book in the house. You know, after taking out a stack of 15 books, one magically (kind of like socks) found itself wedged far underneath the bed. So I returned it. The library was quiet, the cafe was closed, the library gift shop locked up and dark, all in anticipation of what would happen in the election. I stood there and realized that perhaps this was the last time I would be in the library. My eyes got watery. It must have been dusty in there.
The next day, we got the good news. The millage passed. Big cheers from the kids, and a big list of books they wanted to check out next. I hoped it would be awhile before I had to have my next political conversation with the kids.
“What’s a debt ceiling?” asked Josh, one day later. “Is it next to my ceiling fan?”
“Yep.” I said.