Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bright blue in a red state

I have always avoided the political in my column. I have strong opinions, as anyone who knows me is well aware, but I decided a long time ago that my innocuous little column in the Life section of the Chattanooga Times Free Press was probably not the place for them.

Until today.

Y'all, I've had it. I've had it with trying to be reasonable and respectful and conciliatory in the face of histrionic, ignorant, superstitious bigotry. And I've had it with trying to teach my children to stand up for what's right and then assiduously avoiding these topics in my column.

So, for the first time in 10 years, I'm writing about my political and social views. I'm not sure what took me so long. But I know that if I'm going to help my kids stand up for what they believe, I have to offer them an example of exactly what that looks like.

Read it here.

Scary, scary liberals.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Something isn’t happening to me

I remember in middle school when all the girls got boobs and I didn’t. All around me, shirts were blooming and bulging and boys were walking into walls trying to pretend they weren’t staring. And for months and then years I watched and waited while my training bra remained defiantly flat.

At some point, I decided it didn’t matter much. I have other charms. Besides, boobs totally get in the way when you run for miles and do push-ups and pull-ups and slam yourself headfirst onto a massive, communal slip-and-slide coated in soap. They interfere with the ability to change clothes discreetly in the parking lot after you run a 5k through hip-deep mud, over daunting obstacles and up and down hills carrying lumber with your teammates.

We are close.

Which are all things I’ve done this month. Because here is something else that isn’t happening to me: I’m not turning into a grown-up. Once again, I am watching and waiting and…nothing is happening.

All around me, people my age are starting to seem, well, my age. They are all grown up. They are all calmed down. They have measured tones of voice and reasonable hobbies and minivans and they are super-worried about their kids hearing or (heaven forbid!) saying bad words.

They are almost never shouting laughter or expletives or just pieces of music they suddenly hear in their heads, which I seem to do all the time. They never full-body tackle people just because they’re happy to see them, which I really can’t seem to stop doing. (I’m a hugger! And I’m fast! WHAT?)

I recently called into a meeting at work and, while I waited at my desk for the meeting to start, sang badly to myself – some Death Cab for Cutie, I think. I had my phone on mute, so whatever. I mean, I thought I had my phone on mute. But then a friend of mine emailed and wrote: Is that you singing?

Yeah, she totally knew that was me singing. Because the other people on the phone are grown-ups, Mary. Who wait quietly for meetings to start. They shuffle papers and talk about sports. Like NORMAL PEOPLE.

Yes, I replied, that was me singing. And I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t have any Kanye stuck in my head today, huh?

My best friend from eighth grade recently told me how happy it makes her that I have not changed at all. That I have not changed at all since we were 13 years old. My best friend from college texted me after a recent lunch to tell me how funny and wonderful she thinks it is that I am the same giddy girl she met 20 years ago. Her word, and a perfect one: Giddy. They are both right. I am a giddy, goofy, trouble-making 13-year-old.

Which brings me to my point. Y’all, I am 40 YEARS OLD. I am getting worried.

Is it unseemly that I cannot manage to settle down? Because, look, I have tried. I have tried! I have a grown-up type job and kids and a husband and all that stuff. I have many, many forms of insurance and I know the interest rates and payoff dates on all my loans and for Chrissakes I get a mammogram every year! Y’all, I FLOSS.

But. BUT. I just can’t seem to settle down at all. I want to be moving, and even better if I can be moving and yelling and even better than that if I can be moving and yelling and laughing with a few carefully selected friends who think it’s charming (rather than annoying) that I can’t seem to turn into an adult. And who are braced for high-speed hugs at all times.

I teach a media writing course at the local university. I love teaching that course, even though it’s really one too many things to do. It kind of wears me out every year, teaching that class while I work full time. But it’s also one of my favorite, most fun things because I get to hang out for four hours a week with a bunch of people half my age. I get to hear about the decisions they’re trying to make, the paths they’re choosing, the ways they’re making a place for themselves in the world. They talk to me about what they’re thinking, and sometimes they even ask me what I think about stuff and sometimes they have such good ideas and such funny insights.

One of them wrote on my last evaluation that I handled our class well, even though it sometimes got out of hand. And all I could think was: When did our class ever get out of hand? I mean, my classes are loud. There is a lot of discussion and even arguing about journalism and writing. I pull no punches when I edit and sometimes we disagree and fight about it while we laugh a great deal.

And this, to me, is just the most freaking fun. Are we out of hand? Am I out of hand? I never feel that way at all. I just feel… very alive. I guess an innocent observer wandering into my class might find it a little raucous. But we meet at 8 a.m. I gotta keep those kids awake!

And I guess singing to myself while I wait for a meeting to start is pretty damn goofy, but I am really difficult to embarrass -- and I bet they enjoyed the entertainment. I mean, some off-key Death Cab beats talking about sports while you shuffle papers.

Oh hey, guess what? In September I am going to go to California and do a 10-mile run that involves barreling through fire and mud and icy-cold water and tunnels and electric shocks and climbing rocks and giant walls and jumping off a VERY HIGH platform.

Doesn’t that sound awesome? Sure it does. It sounds totally awesome. It sounds like the best vacation ever. And I’m doing it with a friend who is the best at high-speed hugs and who is almost as loud as I am. So that will be amazing. Well, it will be tough on her husband because he will have to listen to us. But he has done an Ironman, so I think he can take it.

Meanwhile, do you think maybe it’s a good sign that I recently increased my 401k contribution? That is totally the kind of thing adults do. I just know it means something. Maybe I will grow up one day, after all. It could still happen!

Probably it’s too late for the boobs, though.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Crashnastics and doubles manscaping

My friend Lindsay and I have a method of communicating we have dubbed 'yellaughing.' We are probably very annoying to other people, but we make each other flat-out giddy and we are just naturally loud and always have been and the rest of the world can just suck it.

All of that to say: Rejected Olympic events. Lindsay started texting me late one night last week (she lives tragically far from me and is three hours behind) with ideas for rejected Olympic events. The junkstroke. Volleymuffin. Javeljump.

And I immediately began yellaughing and playing the rejected Olympic events game and we texted for DAYS, people. And we yellaughed sitting at our respective desks in our respective time zones. (We also have a name for when we yellaugh at inappropriate times and places: DOAM. As in I just Disturbed Others Around Me.)

So this is our list, and I will assert here that some of this is not as ridiculous as trampoline, which is a legit Olympic event. Also, because any hilarious idea we have the Interweb has already had, I just discovered a hashtag on Twitter: #RejectedOlympicEvents.

But ours are funnier, dammit.


Team napping
Competitive cursing (I am a total contender for this one.)

Rhythmic kickball

Synchronized spooning

Bumper boating


Ribbon curling

Thumb wrestling

Speed gossip

Pole dancing

Roller derby

Cookie toss

Spouse jump

Speed braiding

Relay piercing

Ice cycling

Naked hurdles



Long dive

Emapanadas making

Bigot punching

Message spinning

Synchronized face-slapping

Road tripping

Cycle carry

Doubles manscaping (sponsored by Chik-fil-A)

Grammar slam

The limbo

Women’s beach volleyball watching

Speedo squeeze

Quintuple jump

Synchronized strudel-making

Also, there is a special digital Olympics category that includes:

Cable wrangling

Pretending to listen

Competitive friending



Technical speed walktexting


Speed googling

Excel metrics

You got any to add? This is a team sport, folks!