Friday, May 22, 2015

Exercise for the Easily Distracted

Like many of you, I am counting steps in an effort to get fit. And, as many of you know, managing the recommended 10,000 steps per day can really be a chore. But, hey, we're all in this together, so I am happy to share my training plan with you. I call it ADHD - the Attention Deficit Housework Decathalon.

Here's how it works:

Get up in the a.m. Leave your step-counting device on your bedside table.

Proceed with your morning routine, in and out of the bathroom. Return to the bedroom. Put on your bathrobe and slippers. Make your way downstairs.

Let the dog out. Step outdoors to get the paper. Follow the dog to his "spot" in the yard. Wait for him to do his business. Use the plastic wrapper from the newspaper to scoop said business and walk to the garbage can next to the garage to deposit bag. Pull a few weeds in the front flower bed. Play tug with the dog for a minute. (Yes, in the bathrobe. It's Oakwood.) Go inside the house. 

Proceed to the kitchen. Wash your hands after that scooping business. Notice your wrist and remember that you do not have your step counter attached to your person. Go upstairs, trying to figure out how many steps you've missed counting so far. Retrieve your step counter. Shake it a few times to rack up the lost steps.

Look at the unmade bed. Decide to strip the sheets to put in the laundry. Walk to the bathroom linen closet to get the laundry basket. Return to the bedroom and load the sheets. Decide you might as well wash some towels while you're at it and walk back to the bathroom to get them. Hesitate to take the hubby's towel as he could use it this morning before you wash it. Leave the laundry in the basket upstairs and go back down to the kitchen. 

Walk directly to the kitchen TV to turn on the Today show. Head over to the sink and fill the tea kettle with water. Put it on to boil. Walk to the living room where your iPhone is plugged in. Pick up your smart phone and check your email, Facebook, etc. as you return to the kitchen. Glance at the dog who is staring at his food dish. Walk to the dog food bin and dig out a cup of his kibble to feed him. Sit at the kitchen table for a few seconds and start the crossword puzzle to catch your breath before your next aerobic circuit.

Make breakfast. This can involve a variable number of steps depending on how many times you need something from the fridge that you didn't get the first time. Cheerios and milk require fewer steps than, let's say, eggs, ham, toast, tomatoes, butter and marmalade, but the calories can get trickier.

After you've eaten, begin your next aerobic routine. Climb the stairs to go hop in the shower. If your step-counting device is waterproof, you can gain bonus points for actually hopping in the shower, but be careful. Generally speaking, jumping up and down in a wet, soapy environment is considered unsafe.

Once suitably clothed, tour the bedroom for any items that might join the sheets and towels in the laundry. Look at that blouse in the closet that vexes you every time you see it because you never lost the weight needed for it to fit again. Decide to give it to Goodwill. Start a pile of things to go to Goodwill. Go through your closet and your hubby's closet and shift things from the guest room overflow closet to the bedroom closet. Walk back and forth a dozen times. Go downstairs to get a garbage bag for the discards. Realize as you pass through the kitchen that the floor needs mopping. Go to the basement to get the Swiffer. Return to the kitchen and realize you need a new refill on the mop. Go back to the basement. Go back to the kitchen. Mop.

While the floor dries, make your way toward the hall stairs with the garbage bag and notice that the mail has arrived. Open the mail and sort bills. Take the bills to your home office and sit for a minute to pay them online. Check your email, Facebook, etc. Begin a reply to your BFF's email. Get up to make a cup of tea in the kitchen. Return to the computer and finish your email. Go back to the kitchen now that your tea has steeped and pour a cuppa. Decide to have crackers with jam as a snack. Drip jam on your T-shirt. 

Go upstairs to change. Look for a clean T-shirt. The one you want to wear needs ironing. Toss it in the laundry basket with the sheets and towels and proceed to the basement. Put the laundry in the washer and iron your shirt. 

Realize you need to pee after drinking so much tea and make your way upstairs to the powder room. Realize the powder room needs cleaning. Go back to the basement to get cleaning supplies. On your way upstairs, check the recycling bins on the basement landing. They're full. Haul them to the garage. Notice a bunch of weeds in the side garden. Come back inside to put on sunblock and return outside to pull weeds. Come inside again to clean powder room. Return cleaning supplies to basement. Run upstairs when the phone rings. Hang up abruptly on telephone solicitor. Remember you need to put washing in the dryer. Go back down to load the dryer. 

Return to kitchen. Wow! 5,563 steps and it isn't even lunch yet! 

OK, by now, you've got the gist of the ADHD plan. Adapt as suited. And remember, every retraced step is one more step toward your goal. Now go get your Decathalon on! 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Finding Four Eyes

2015 is my 50th anniversary of wearing eyeglasses. I have had a lifelong love affair with frames. Moreover, I have been faithful all these years; I've not even so much as glanced at a sexy pair of contact lenses. 

I got my first glasses when I was 12. When the eye doctor said, "You're nearsighted," I thought my world would end. Sure, there are worse things that can happen to a kid, but what preteen wants to be called “Four Eyes” or be made to move up to the front of the class "to see the blackboard better?"

My mother went with me to pick out my first pair. She selected upturned, cat’s eye frames; very 1960s. I thought they were hideous. I committed to making everyone in the optometrist's office pay for this outrage by employing my most creative pouty faces. I walked like death out of there, dragging along behind my mother as though I was going to the gallows. When I got home my Dad took one glance and said, “Oh, you look like a little secretary!” I beamed! Looking in the mirror, I thought, “Yah! Baby! You are a seventh-grade career woman!" It was then that I understood eyeglasses as costume pieces. They had powers! Transformative powers to let me adopt characters and identities. Oh, this was going to be good.

In high school, however, those same glasses betrayed me, conspiring with the braces on my teeth to turn me into a first-class nerd. By grade 12, when I got the braces off, I finally got wise to the fact that if I was going to achieve any social success as a teenager before graduation, I would have to squint my way through the corridors of our school. Some girls might twitter to their friends (in our day this was an actual verbal utterance), “Is he smiling at me?” I truly had no way of knowing until a guy got within my limited field of vision. By then it would always be too late; I was just that weird girl with the scrunched-up face. But there was no way I was wearing those damn glasses!

First year university, liberal arts, 1970. The prevailing hippy vibe prompted me to put away my nerdy ways and buy a pair of tiny, wire-framed, oval Granny glasses that constantly slid down my nose. Combined with a hair-do that resembled droopy Cocker Spaniel ears, these helped me affect a certain arty coolness. There I was, studying Chaucer, going to lunch-hour seminars where grad students read aloud in Middle English and attending plays put on by the Theatre department. Well, that led to meeting the Love of My Life who was majoring in Acting. All because of tiny, oval, wire-framed Granny glasses! Back in business, baby!

From there, as trends often do, glasses grew in size to something just short of dinner plates. When the Love of My Life and I got married, I wore frames that were as big as saucers. Orange saucers. Christian Dior orange saucers, mind you, as might befit an Interior Design student, which is what I was when I got them, but I look at our wedding photos now and cringe, "What the heck was I thinking? Those things made me look like a housefly!" Seriously way out of proportion to my face, which is something a design student ought to have noticed.

I won't bore you with the middle years of my bespectacled history. Suffice to say that, over the years, I have worn every frame fashion and fad that has come along. Each has allowed me to adopt personae needed for my career: from designer to college instructor to museum planner to community volunteer. Now that I am retired, I am happy to say that the affair continues. The question now is, "What is the best look for a 62 year old dog-mom, blogger, Sunday painter, dancerciser, all-around-town Socialite?" 

And so, today, I am contemplating the very hipster online eyeglass experience offered by Warby Parker. "Online glasses!" you gasp, "How do you buy eyeglasses online?" Well, you might wonder how an online service can replace your neighborhood optician with the crisp white lab coat that snaps at the elbows when he or she raises their arms to slide those new frames across your nose as though they are about to conduct an orchestra. 

Here's how they do it. You browse the WP website for potential frames and click on five choices you wish to have sent to you for trying on. They arrive in a neat box covered in cool graphics and affirmation messages that make you feel like you are such a smart cookie. If you want a second opinion, you can engage their social media sites to ask for comments from total strangers! When you're done, you send the frames back. Having made your selection you send your prescription via email, provide vital physical measurements of your face on a chat line with a technician, and "Voila!" a pair of eyeglasses is sent to you! The ones I'm thinking about are almost as big as my wedding specs, but a bit more Liz Lemon-ish. Happy Anniversary to me and my glasses!

If you want to weigh in on the frames, go to and search for Duckworth. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Channeling Erma

It has been some time now since I posted my last blog. All nine of you regular readers might be wondering, “What the heck?” Well, the heck of it is that I have not been feeling very bloggy lately. Bogged down, more like, and maybe even occasionally bloated, but that’s another blog for another day. (That's the derivative of blog isn’t it? Bog + bloat = blog? No?). If you think there can’t be much pressure in being a humor writer, you’d be wrong! Being funny isn’t as easy as it looks!

And truth be told, lately I have been questioning, existentially speaking, if trying to be a humor writer really does qualify as my life’s calling. I'm not sure how much more funny I have in me.

I look back at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop of 2012, which is when I began blogging, and it all seemed so possible. Highly successful guest speakers told us about their 20,000 readers, about advertisers trolling the webisphere and becoming enraptured over their witticisms, about publishers begging them to write books and magazine editors making deals for monthly columns. I was starry-eyed enough to think I could be the blog-world equivalent of a diner waitress discovered for a starring role in Hollywood.

You can imagine humor writers in spasms of ecstasy attending a workshop here in Dayton. This is, after all, Erma Bombeck’s hometown. This is where she composed her ground breaking newspaper columns and books  – in an average suburban home where she, the housewife with three kids, wrote with enormous mirth about the absurdity of it all; motherhood, the suburbs, being a wife. On my way to pick up the dog at day care today, I drove past Cushwa Street in Centerville where she lived. Her house was recently designated by the National Register of Historic Places. It has a little plaque. Pretty interesting honor when you think about it. A simple, undistinguished little rancher where an American icon helped an entire generation feel vindicated for being misunderstood moms. Remarkable.

By the last day of the 2012 EB writer's workshop, my self esteem had taken about as much of a beating that it could  take. When a young thing sitting next to me in one session testified to the crowd that by the 2014 gathering she would have 20,000 blog subscribers and a book deal, I took my opportunity to inject some reality.

“I have nine readers,” I began, “And honestly, all this hype about marketing ourselves and getting advertisers just sounds so calculating. I’m really happy if I hear from one person who says, ‘Me, too! What you wrote happens in my life, too! Thanks for writing that!’ And, people, isn’t THAT why we write?” I got applause.

So, here it is, 2105, and my readership has not changed. And I thank you all for your loyalty and support. Sure, I’d be thrilled to grow my numbers to the thousands, but can you imagine the pressure? Who can be funny every day? O.K., Erma and all the bloggers who have 20,000 readers. But really, who else? No, I’m delighted with my nine readers who enjoy my blog. To me, it’s all about putting it out there and if it resonates for my friends, I’m thrilled. One day I might quit, but for now, I’m here for all nine of you!

I've given up on the historic register designation.