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Archive for June, 2019

Dear Karma,

Sometimes I don’t think you really are a bitch. But then there will be an experience that renews my faith in you.

I had one of those experiences this week.

Or rather, the troublesome 14 year old in my life did.

We shipped Dominic off to stay with cruise friends Patrick, Petra, Ryder and Mia so that Ryder and Dominic could be counselors at a summer camp together.

I didn’t hear from Dominic all week, so I checked in.

So I asked the head camp lady if he could come back in two weeks. She said she would love to have him, but didn’t have anything for him to do. No room on the schedule for him.

I’ve raised a resilient, motivated, intelligent child, right?

Not so fast.

He still has trouble following directions. When to get off the bus, for example.

Also, look at what he did to himself in a bike accident:

How? He was rooting around in his backpack while driving the bike instead of paying attention. The speed bump won.

Anyway, thank you, Karma, for avenging me. For all those times he drove/drives me crazy, thank you for sending a plague of toddlers.

You’re the best.

Back to believing,
Beth

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March of the Pensioners
Narrated by Morgan Freeman (of course)

Each day, a truly remarkable journey takes place. Dozens of elderly women — likely awake since before dawn — don their supportive bathing costumes, abandon the security of their single-level homes, and make the long trek to the YMCA for their life-changing morning ritual: water aerobics (i.e., boot camp).

The goal? To stave off or reverse the damage done by a penchant for butter and sedentary living.

These be-grayed specimens tumble into the water of the indoor pool, nattering incessantly about ungrateful and noisy offspring.

1950s perms encased in swim caps, liver-spotted skin cleansed by the chlorine — their leathery haunches strain to move through the water.

Intrepid cultural anthropologist and writer Beth C. — also a lover of butter — attempted to infiltrate their ranks.

The pack was immediately suspicious of this young whippersnapper. (“Young” is relative.)

The alpha female tried to warn her off with a series of loud barks. Beth responded with barks of her own, indicating she would not be intimidated.

Resolute, indomitable, driven by the overpowering urge to rediscover her long-lost abs, she was determined to stand her ground.

The journey was hazardous as the women eyed her as a predatory threat.

Yet, after many long weeks of delicate maneuvering, Beth finally was accepted into the pack. They greeted her by name. Asked about her recent vacation. Swapped phone numbers.

Beth felt vindicated. Acknowledged. And (thankfully) streamlined.

Her magical journey will continue three times a week as she becomes further enmeshed in the pack’s routine.

 

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That’s right, readers: We are still living in the apartment complex. We decided we liked not having to maintain a house and its landscape. Something’s broken? Call maintenance. It’s great.

So that means we’re here for another summer, which means the return of “Dispatches from the pool.” Here are links to the starts of Seasons 1 and 2, if you need a recap. Enjoy!

 

EPISODE 1: You’re not melting, I promise
Rated G for gentle sprinkles

EXT. APARTMENT COMPLEX POOL – LATE SUNDAY AFTERNOON

ENTER WOMAN (usually referred to as “MOTHER,” but this time she is blissfully alone, having had the house to herself for two days while the others were traveling)

Seven TWENTYSOMETHINGS are scattered around the pool area sunning themselves like alligators on a riverbank.

WOMAN settles into a lounge chair with her trashy magazine (People, of course) and adult sippy cup.

WOMAN sees the girls taking pics she assumes are for Insta.

WOMAN feels the need to do a meta photo. A pretend Instagram photo of her legs, in typical Insta style, that includes the girls posting to Instagram. (Pretend Instagram because her actual Instagram features the adventures of a taxidermied raccoon paw.)

(Note: This photo would never have happened 50 pounds ago. Remember how whaley and uncomfortable WOMAN was in Season 1? That’s right.)

 

WOMAN’S phone BUZZES with a response to an earlier text

 

 

Raindrops FALL.

Every one of the TWENTYSOMETHINGS immediately scuttles away.

 

WOMAN, an actual meteorologist, looks at the clouds and knows the rain will pass.

WOMAN (under her breath)
Oh please. It’s just sprinkling. You’re not going to melt.

WOMAN continues reading her now slightly damp magazine. She is now completely alone at the pool, but not for long.

FATHER and ONE KID — GIDEON — appear in the pool area.

FATHER
You run everyone off?

MOTHER (no longer WOMAN as she is not alone)
(Shrugs)

GIDEON
Hey, Mama!

MOTHER
Hey, Baby. You have a good time in Savannah?

GIDEON
Yeah.

That’s it. No further conversation from that one. He’s 13.

General discussion ensues between FATHER and MOTHER regarding a friend’s golfing and early-bedtime habits.

GIDEON
Watch me skip my sandal!

MOTHER discovers she has reached the end of the beverage in her water bottle.

MOTHER
Right. Time to go.

FATHER (who also has reached the end of his)
Yeah.

END SCENE

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Dear Music Lovers,

I last wrote to you more than a year ago to share my favorite playlists.

I was reminded of that post today because I had lunch with an old friend who was influential in developing my musical tastes.

He created a fantastic mix tape for me back in the day.

I don’t save a ton of things — I’m not a hoarder! — but I saved all the mix tapes I received. As I knew Mike and I were meeting, I dug his out this morning to bring to lunch to show him. (I did this in the living room in my underwear, scarring Gideon for life. But that’s another story.)

I miss the days of mix tapes. They were an essential part of the courting ritual. You liked someone, then carefully crafted a tape that would do three things:

1. Indicate your feelings. You could be obscure or obvious.

2. Introduce the recipient to new music. And show off your own coolness. Or not.

3. Tell a complete story. Flow was key. It was a narrative.

I always went one step further (of course) and decorated the paper sleeve. I would find a great image from a magazine or newspaper (I’m old, y’all), cut it precisely, and glue it to the cardboard. I’d list all the songs on the other side.

It was a task to create these because you had to time everything out perfectly to fit the tape plus switch out albums.

Playlists are easier to create and share today, but I don’t get the impression they are as much a part of the getting-to-know-you phase. They certainly don’t provoke the same feeling as when someone you liked would hand you a tape. You couldn’t wait to get in your car (!) or get home to listen to it to see if they felt the same way you did.

For the record, Mike and I were and are great friends. No big romance. The purpose of this tape was to introduce me to new music. (But it’s true we were very flirty.)

I recreated it in iTunes:

Mike was tickled that I still had it.

“These songs definitely represent an era,” he said.

True that.

Here’s a picture of Mike taking a picture of the playlist. He was as amused as I was.

If you’re feeling industrious, send me a playlist. It can have a message. Or not. I’m always open to new music, as I think I’ve demonstrated.

Vinyly yours,
Beth

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Dear Miriam,

I thought we were friendly work colleagues. Why do you want to kill me? I can think of no other reason you would invite me to “Core Power Yoga.”

Core Power Yoga, aka Satan’s Clubhouse

I thought yoga was supposed to be this calming, centering, channeling-your-inner-Gandhi kind of thing.

But add the “core power” modifier, and this is some next-level madness.

I’m not sure why you go to this “sculpt” class at 6, right after the hot yoga class. That means the room is 145° at least.

But there I was, right on time, because of your invitation.

The class starts. I’m keeping up. What seems like two hours pass. I look at my watch through the waterfall cascading from my forehead.

6:16

I wish for death.

6:23

For those who don’t know what this class is like, let me describe it:

Mix the Jane Fonda workout with the calisthenics from eighth-grade gym class. Sprinkle on some Southern California namaste seasoning. Add an Imagine Dragons soundtrack. Set it on the surface of the sun.

6:32

My face is throbbing. I might pass out.

I leave the room to get air, water and the number of a medical professional.

I ask the lithe girl at the front desk how long this class lasts.

“Hmmm. Not sure if it’s 60 or 75 minutes. Let me check,” she says.

“75 minutes?!” I squeak.

“Oh it’s 60 minutes.”

Even so.

The exit was so close. Sadly, I had left the locker key in the pool of sweat near my rental mat.

6:47

I think it’s the cool-down phase. Not sure. All I know is my heart is racing like I just outran a bear.

6:51

I’m certain that I’m clinically dead.

6:54

I’m deftly performing the Patrick Star pose on my mat. I feel a slight breeze. Perhaps I’m on a gurney being rushed to the ER?

No.

The instructor is walking around the room flapping a towel.

She appears to be flapping more over me.

I’m sure it’s because she spotted my soul leaving my body.

7:00

The class is over. The instructor says, “Sorry it was hotter than usual, and the workout was more challenging than usual.”

Oh. How lucky for me.

I slither to the locker room on liquefied legs.

Time to survey the damage. Warning: graphic images (i.e., I’m hideous).

Let’s take a closer look, shall we? (Be thankful this blog doesn’t offer Smell-O-Vision.)

What’s that you say, Miriam? Show the air-conditioned, rested (i.e., sane) people at home the back? Sure.

That was Thursday. Today is Sunday, and still everything hurts. I can’t lift my arms. How can I have ribcage pain, Miriam?

I’m not sure what I did to you, but I apologize for whatever it was.

Please forgive me.

I’ll never do it again.

I also likely will never do this class again, despite the assurances from the instructor that I did “an awesome job for my first time.”

Sincerely,
Not downward dog but no thanks, dawg (aka Beth)

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Dear Parents of Older, Non-teenage Boys (i.e., Survivors):

I need your advice. As you may know, I have a 14 year old who tests my patience.

But I just spent a week on a cruise with him. It was … interesting.

It started out in typical fashion. He was cranky:Once on the boat, it seemed like he would fall into last year’s freak-flag-flying habit of making a face in every photo:

But then he got sick:

And kept everyone up three nights in a row by coughing. So I got back at him in my own special way: by harassing him mercilessly:

You can tell he isn’t feeling well:

And here he is being nice to his “cousin” Mia:

But we Lysoled the place every day to reduce germs:

And soon he was back to normal, making sure the stingray was a girl before he would kiss it:

And harassing his father:

And Ryder:

And telling me he planned to troll the hot tubs to score numbers (in this getup and baby glasses he found, no less):

So my question for you is this:

How do I keep the funny, silly Dominic and get rid of the one who is such a pain on the reg?

Not fix his phone so he’s forced to communicate with us? (He’s shattered two.)

Or just accept that he is 14, hormonal, and PERHAPS too much like me?

Thanks in advance for words of wisdom.

Gratefully,
Beth, Mother of a Dragon

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Dear Carnival:

It was so great to see you again. I’m sorry our three-family tribe cheated on you with Royal Caribbean.

It won’t happen again.

You have everything we want:

Comfy chairs where Edgar can nap, and Pat can play his games

Photographers willing to take unusual pics

Plans

Limited tolerance (for what, I’m not sure)

Maybe for Swedish girls throwing gang signs (?)

Places for Uno battles to break out

PLENTY of places

Places to play with children too

Even enough room to pay a push-up penalty if you are too loud while playing Uno

An unflappable wait staff

Exotic food liked smoked oysters with some kind of weird froth

Games designed to titillate while taking Edgar’s money

Elevators big enough for parties of 11

The ability to get intimate with sea life

And, most importantly, the chance for friends to get together and have fun year after year

There is only one thing we needed but couldn’t have: unlimited bacon.

Fix that, and we’ll love you forever.

Still, we’ll see you next year.

Wet, sloppy stingray kisses,
Beth

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