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Dear Friends and Family:

It’s Jan. 2. People have already broken resolutions, or never made any to begin with.

I don’t usually make resolutions, as you know. If I decide to do something, I just do it. No need to wait until the new year.

This year, I’m declaring things I WON’T do:

  • Keep makeup I don’t wear. Coral lipstick is not for pale people like me, and frosty pink is for preteens.
  • Retain books on my Kindle I won’t read. “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments” by David Foster Wallace is a supposedly fun read that is not. Byeeee!
  • Put up with less than I need/deserve/worked for, etc. I am not a “Welcome!” mat.
  • Save money. Yeah, I know I should, but let’s be honest: I won’t.

  • Stay home. I want to say “absof–kinlutely” to adventures near and far. Dream scenario: I get paid to write about it.
  • Continue procrastinating on my book. This is the year I finish it, write the proposal, and find an agent. If E.L. James can become rich and famous off her trash Twilight fan fiction work, so can I.
  • Lose more than just five more pounds. I’m calling that my “wine cushion.”
  • Stay in this place with the small kitchen. When it’s a pain to make things as fairly easy as Scotch eggs, it’s time to upgrade.

  • Ignore show suggestions from certain like-minded people. I resisted watching “Killing Eve.” I was stupid.
  • Let people try to make me feel even slightly embarrassed about my love of bad taxidermy. Those uptight people can shove it. My obsession is Hando approved.
  • Vote for Trump. Duh.
  • Stop writing blog posts at least twice a week. I’ve been keeping this pace since April, so I’m pretty proud of myself.

What are your anti-resolutions? Tell me in the comments.

Love and kisses,
Beth

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Dear Readers:

Y’all know I love to have a post from a guest blogger. Today I have for your reading pleasure a post from Eddie. I dragged him to my Biddy Boot Camp. Here is his report.

Love,
Beth

Trying not to drown: My experience with Beth’s Biddies
By Eddie C.

Beth invited me to attend her pool aerobics class, and so I did. When we walked in, the grannies were already in the pool. We are not young, but were by far the youngest people there. Beth instructed me to get a waist thingy, and strap it on. (Note from Beth: He’s talking about an Aquajogger.)

I felt super self conscious because they were all staring at me. I think two people had worn my belt before as I had to make a major adjustment to the strap. I climbed into the pool, and the ladies were very welcoming. One lady in particular took an interest in me. She started giving me pointers:

If you push against the water as hard as you can, you will get a great workout. Trust me. My obese ex-husband tried this, and he was red and dying. He never came back!

My main thought was this:

If I’m dying, Beth better beat all these old bitches to my body to give me CPR. If I wake up, and it’s not her, I’m gonna be pissed!

The class begins, and I can best describe the movement as swirls and kicking. (Note from Beth: It’s just jogging.) I feel strange because I can’t seem to get the movements to look or feel smooth like everyone else in the class. The instructor looks at me, and I smile. She smiles back and says:

He’s giving me the courtesy smile.

Then I hear this:

Old Lady No. 1: He won’t be smiling for long!

Old Lady No. 2: Yeah! In about two minutes!

Damn! What happened to the sweet old ladies?! It was clear that there would be no friends in the pool; I was on my own. Not even Beth was making eye contact. (Note from Beth: Nope. I’m there to work, not socialize. You all know this.)

Things got heated up when we were instructed to touch our toes with our hands. I wanted to ask:

How the hell do we do that and stay afloat?

But without missing a beat, they all started doing it! Lucky for me, I had a secret weapon. I am 6’4” and could still touch the pool floor. Even with this super power, I could not even come close to doing it right. In fact, I was a rhythm-less freak. I could not sync my arms and my legs to save my life. I thought:

This must be the way white people feel when they try to dance salsa.

After what seemed like forever of “Let’s watch this big doofus try this,” the instructor announced that we had Tabata coming up next. I don’t know who this Tabata dude is, but he is not my friend! Plus, she started bringing out the foamy weight things, and I started to panic:

Crap! The burn is coming, and I just spent an hour trying to touch my toes gracefully!

The one thing in my favor was the water. No one could see me sweat.

Now, the way a Tabata works is you do 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off.

HOWEVER, if you are in the water, trying not to drown, there is no off time. So, you have to tread water instead of being still and “resting.”  How these ladies can do all these moves and never move from the spot, I have no freakin’ idea! I was all over the damn pool. I was all on top of folks. I would have to pause and use the floor to push myself back to my original spot. “I’m sorry! Excuse me!” is all I seemed to be saying the whole time.

At one point, I look over at Beth, and she was going so freakin’ fast. I was like:

How the hell is she going so damn fast without going head first into the water?!

I tried to match her, and I could not. She was doing a sprint, and I was well … not so much. At one point, it turned into a participants’ choice Tabata. I stuck to stay alive and afloat. I look over, and I promise you I wish I had my phone for video. The move that Beth chose is a familiar move to me but it’s called a parallette, and it’s done on the ground.

I was like WTF?! I have zero chance at that.

Finally, that part was over, and we put our weights on the edge of the pool. But that’s not all. The instructor gave us all a noodle: There was more burn to follow. We had to kick our legs back, get on top of the noodle with our arms (like a push-up) and press it down and up into the water one hundred billion times.

Next, circles with the noodle in the water and then reverse. At this point, I just closed my eyes. I couldn’t see a damn thing anyway, because the reverse circle dumps all the water in your face. You better figure out when to breathe.

I believe this is the point where most people drown.

We then had to straddle as if it were some kind of seahorse and paddle with our hands up all around the pool. (Note from Beth: He does not mean “paddle.” He means “bicycle.”)

I knew this had to be close to the end. Why? Suddenly as I was passing ladies on my paddling extravaganza, they became nice old ladies again.

Thanks for joining us.

Please, come back again.

Finally we put the noodles up on the edge and begin our stretches. I could not enjoy the stretch because all I could think about was peeing.

So my advice if you are going to join these warriors:

  1. Don’t think for one second that you are going to out-do them.
  2. Check your ego, or they will check it for you.
  3. Pee before you go.

Thank you to these wonderful, beautiful ladies for having me.

He lived, see?!

Pruney as he was.

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Dear Goat Yoga Lisa,

Thanks for asking about my progress with my biddy boot camp. The ladies have accepted me fully. So much so that I was actually sad last Friday when I was the only one there.

(The benefit of that was that I got a personal training session with taskmaster Christina. She blasted AC/DC, and made me work harder than I’ve ever worked in the pool.)

This past Friday, everyone was back and ready for action. My two favorites were there: June and Jamie.

June was the first to welcome me into the pack. She has advanced MS. She also is the cheeriest, most optimistic person. Definitely Glass Half Full. She makes me laugh every time we’re in the class together.

Jamie is her opposite. She’s Glass Half Empty, but I love her too. She also makes me laugh because she bitches about every single exercise.

And as it turns out, Enis (the Alpha Female) is quite nice.

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Not sure where Kim was Friday. She’s also nice, in a backhanded way.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean. Christina recommended I buy a special bathing suit because the chlorine kept destroying my cute ones.

Kim overheard:

“I got mine at Swim and Sweat. You and I probably wear the same size. Here, look at my tag!”

Her tag turned out to be in a place I wasn’t about to check out. So she said she’d email me.

To my surprise, she did. I was also surprised that I’m two sizes smaller than she is.

She closed with this line:

“You seemed long waisted like myself, and this suit was good for that.”

I’ve never in my life considered myself long waisted.

Eddie said it’s just because she couldn’t wear her glasses in the pool.

Still, she meant well and my new suit arrived this weekend.

The great thing about the Friday and Tuesday classes is that these ladies are here to WORK. Not like Sunday’s class. That’s the convo class.

So there you have it: an update on the pool ladies.

Now I want you to go to horse yoga, and report back.

Love you!
Beth

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Dear Body Fat:

I’m definitely in a period of change, ditching all that isn’t working for me. (Poor Adam.)

You were the first to go exactly a year ago. I don’t miss you at all. Sorry, not sorry.

You and I had an off-again, on-again relationship for years before I had the strength to shed you for good.

Without you, I’m a new person. I’m brave enough to share a bikini photo with the world (even though selecting “publish” on that post nearly made me barf).

I say “the world” because it’s a public post on the Internet. The true number is actually 720.

(Oof. That’s so many people online to have seen me in my bathing suit. Pardon me while I get sick in this trash can over here.)

People have noticed we’re not together anymore.

Just over a week ago, I had a chat with Disgruntled Danny, he of the pothole guest post, at a Jesse’s Divide event. (Yes, yet another mention of this band. Again, sorry, not sorry. They’re that good.)

This exchange happened early on in the convo:

Him, ever so British: May I ask you a personal question?

Me, completely American: Sure! Ask away!

Him: Where is the rest of you?

Along with breaking up with you, I’ve also broken up with all your best friends: self consciousness, anxiety, high cholesterol, all my large clothes and snoring.

I’m totally OK with that. You and your awful buddies drove me crazy.

Yes, I know you saw the things I ate while in England, including this:

Fish, chips and mushy peas? Sign me up!

But an occasional meal like that does not mean I’m welcoming you back into my life.

In fact, just the opposite. I’m now seeing plenty of the Gym. We’re very happy together. The Gym has friends like abs (haven’t seen them in SO LONG — see poster above), developed triceps, endorphins and workout soreness. They are all much cooler than your friends.

So stop trying to worm your way back into my life.

It’s over.

For real.

Regards,
Beth

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I’m about to do something I’ve never done. See below. (And I’m not sure why my hair looks gray on top. It’s not.)

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen on the Weight Struggle Bus:

I know your pain. I was with you in more than spirit a year ago. As a reminder, here’s a photo from Trish the Human’s wedding on Sept. 9 last year:

I cringe when I see that photo. I’m clearly trying — and failing — to hide behind Dominic.

Here’s a photo from a year earlier:

Notice the body language. (I’d say to notice the dark, slimming colors, but I wear black despite how much of me there is.)

I was MISERABLE. How to hide in photos was the least of my worries.

Bigger worries:

  • High cholesterol
  • Inability to give campus tours without getting out of breath (especially up one particular hill)
  • Ridiculous amount of self consciousness
  • Negative self talk
  • Wardrobe reduced by 80 percent
  • Snoring
  • Sleeping even less than I do now
  • Hot all the damn time

I’ve shared with you my turning point. It’s different for everyone, but let me say this about that:

It is NEVER going to get easier.

There is no magic pill.

Surgery can be a fix for some but still requires changes in eating habits.

You have to decide you are going to do something about your health. Then DO IT.

The program I chose worked for me*, but may not work for you.

Despite the fact that I’m married to someone in the CrossFit Cult (or maybe, actually, BECAUSE of that), I hate exercising. I lost almost 50 pounds by controlling what went in my piehole.

Now that I’ve lost the weight, I go to the gym three times a week for my Biddy Boot Camp.

I hit my goal weight in April, and I have maintained it with very little effort.

I FEEL GREAT!

That’s what I say to anyone who will listen. People not even living with me notice the difference.

To that end, I’m going to do something I’ve never, ever done — and never would have done if I hadn’t lost the weight: Publicly post a bikini pic. No filter. No cropping. No Photoshop.

Here we go.

I know I still have some work to do, but I feel more confident than I have in more than 15 years. I’m brave enough to take and share this photo, anyway.

And if this move inspires even ONE of you to make a change for your sake and for the sake of your family, then my nervousness at doing it will have been worth it.

If I can do it, you can too. I believe in you.

Love and all my best wishes for a healthier you,
Beth

 

* Eddie is now a coach in the program. Send me a message if you want me to hook you up.

 

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EPISODE 2: All’s Quiet on the Chlorine Front
Rated G for give a girl some space

EXT. APARTMENT COMPLEX POOL – LATE SUNDAY AFTERNOON.

Enter MOTHER and her 13-YEAR-OLD SON. (When asked if he wanted to go, her 14 YEAR OLD on his Xbox said, “I don’t know.” And that was that.)

Despite the fact that it is prime sunning hours, the pool is nearly deserted.

MOTHER notices a leathery GRANNY is in residence in the corner.

This is exactly where this woman has been every single time MOTHER has been to the pool this season. MOTHER wonders if she should be concerned. Perhaps this woman doesn’t have a home beyond the pool.

On a lounge chair a mere four feet away is a THIRTYSOMETHING WOMAN reading a book.

A MAN IN SHORT BATHING TRUNKS enters the pool area, and chooses a lounge chair in the same strip as the WOMAN.

MOTHER wonders why he has to be all up on her when there are dozens of other chairs.

Perhaps WOMAN thinks the same thing, as she quickly departs.

When she leaves, SHORT SUIT moves a chair within five feet of MOTHER.

MOTHER sighs. She is not a fan of people being too close to her.

MOTHER and SON and FATHER who has appeared in the interim decide they’ve had enough of the pool and people being too close and leave.

No drama. MOTHER didn’t want to start anything. (Sorry.)

END SCENE

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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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United States Olympic Training Center this ain’t.

Dear H2Oldsters,*

Now that I’ve lost the equivalent of nine five-pound bags of sugar (!), it’s time to firm up what remains. Taking on those wobbly bits means I take on water — aerobics in the YMCA pool.

Why that and not some other group exercise class?

  1. I don’t like to sweat.
  2. It’s easier on the joints.
  3. I feel like a badass when I can do all the exercises you can’t.

Sorry. (Not sorry.)

Yes, I’m about 30-40 years younger than you. Wet behind the ears, even. (Yuk, yuk. Sorry. I am sorry.)

But it isn’t that.

Here’s the thing:
I bet you COULD do all the exercises if you would SHUT YOUR BIG YAPPERS and try.

Elderly avengers assemble!

From the moment you get in the pool, you do not stop talking. The class begins, you keep at it. People like me who are there to GET STUFF DONE have to swim around you.

Why you gotta be like that?

For real: Why are you there? Why bother putting on a bathing suit? Just meet the other crones at Starbucks or whatever. Or hang out in the Y lobby and chat. There are comfy couches there. Easy on the bones.

At the very least, go to the other end of the pool.

If you do, all this will be water under the bridge. (Sorry. I can’t help it. It’s too easy.)

Yours through hell and high water,
Beth

* Come on! That’s a little funny, no?

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Dear Trish,

The family and I are in Arizona because of you, my long-time blog cast member. This is not my kind of place, and I can’t believe you willingly came to live here.

The pilot told us the temperature as we were landing: 102 degrees. That’s not hospitable for human life.

When we walked out of the Phoenix airport, a furnace blast nearly killed me on the spot. Remember that guy whose face melted in “Raiders of the Lost Ark?” Like that.

Stop with that “at least it is a dry heat” crap. It’s a hot heat. So hot. Hotter than Kid Rock’s “So Hott.” Satan’s sunroom hot. Like I crawled into a pizza oven hot.

We drove to Sedona in air-conditioned comfort — thank God — but the poor Chevy Cruze did struggle.

You know what we saw on the way? Dirt.

Dust.

Cacti.

Cacti giving us the finger.

Who lives here voluntarily? What the HECK, Trish!?

You are paler than I am. How can you stand it?

I’ve put my lily-white skin in peril for you. You know I wouldn’t miss your big day, even though you and Irv did decide to get married on the same date Eddie and I did. You date hog, you.

Well, at least we spent our anniversary doing something fun. Sedona turns out to be one lovely spot in this godforsaken land. Thanks for choosing it as the final destination.

And you clean up nice, so there’s that.

As much as I’m complaining here, you know we would not have missed your big day.

Love you, and congratulations!
Beth

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