Every Step Counts

Several months ago, my sister gave me a pedometer. It kind of hurt my feelings. I already know I’m fat. But her skinny little butt had a point. I’m a sedentary person. My job doesn’t help. Trying to get a bridgetender off his or her behind is like trying to shift a very large rock up a very steep hill.


(Cartoon credit: http://www.toonpool.com/cartoons/modern%20Sisyphus_8189)

The pedometer stayed in its packaging for a couple weeks. I’d glare at it from time to time, but that was the extent of our interaction at first. Then one day, I growled, “Oh, all RIGHT. All right,” and I opened the stupid thing, turned it on, even. The instructions said that one should take 6,000 steps a day to maintain good health, and 10,000 steps a day for weight loss. I’d have estimated that I take about 500 steps a day, but after putting it on, I discovered to my surprise that I take an average of 3,500 steps a day, and that’s just going to the refrigerator and the bathroom and back and forth to work. Still not good, but I was thrilled to know that I’m slightly less of a slug than I originally thought. During that week I discovered interesting things. I take 25 steps every time I go from my bed to the bathroom and back. It’s 700 steps from my car to the bridge where I work. Whenever I let the dogs out into the back yard, that’s 150 steps.

After about a week, my competitive nature kicked in. If I park a little farther away at the grocery store, I’ll get more steps. If I walk down every aisle while shopping, whether I need food on that aisle or not, more steps. Before I knew it, I was averaging 6000 steps a day. And guess what. My chronic low back pain disappeared. Imagine that! Then I started marching in place while I took a shower. No, the pedometer isn’t waterproof, and even if it were, I shudder to think what I’d have to clip it to for it to count my steps. No, what I’d do is count as I marched, and then after the shower I’d sit there and shake the thing until it registered the proper number. Then I started marching in place at work, much to my coworkers’ amusement. Every half hour or so I’d do 500 steps. Then 1,000 steps. Another thing I’ve started to do is learn to stop being so darned efficient. I always try to combine my trips. For example, if I know I’m going to the kitchen anyway, I try to grab any dirty dishes I have lying about. That makes sense unless you’re trying to get extra steps. Now I tend to take a separate trip for every utensil, time permitting. I’m proud to say I’m now up to 10,000 steps a day, and my clothes are starting to fit better.

Now, when I DON’T get enough steps in a day, I don’t feel well. Or is it that I don’t feel well and therefore don’t get enough steps? I had a bad cold last week, and I was lucky if I got 1,500 steps a day, and sure enough, my clothes instantly got tighter. But I’m slowly working myself back up. It’s a process. I’m still kind of weak as a kitten, but I’m getting there.

I think the mistake many people make in exercising is thinking, deep down, that they’ll reach this magical pinnacle and they won’t have to do it anymore, so they tolerate it for as long as they can in hopes of reaching that pinnacle, and then give up when they don’t. Actually, it’s a lifelong shift, like it or not, so it’s better to make it a lifestyle adjustment that you actually enjoy and do automatically. I’m actually starting to like the journey enough to continue on it. That’s my goal, anyway.

So thanks, sis, for caring about my health enough to hurt my feelings. I love you.


Confession: I Can be a Sick Puppy.

No, I don’t pull the wings off flies or flash people from under a trench coat, but apparently I AM the only human being willing to admit that, yes, I DO slow down to look at traffic accidents. So feel free to blame me for every traffic jam you’ve been in since about 1970. I can take it.

I don’t know what it is about traffic accidents. Maybe they remind me how lucky I am at that moment in time. Maybe I’m trying to figure out how it happened so I can avoid it myself. Maybe it’s the same thing that attracts moths to flames. I couldn’t tell you.

But I’ll also confess that I have an obsession with serial killers. I read everything I can about them. I think that’s more explainable. Since I don’t have a violent bone in my body, I’m fascinated with finding out what could possibly cause a human being to become that sick and twisted.

And reality shows? I can’t get enough of those, either. It’s more than just a throwback to the Bread and Circus concept of ancient Rome. It’s that I can’t look away because I keep hoping I’ll learn why it is people are willing to humiliate themselves in that fashion. The context of the show is much less important to me than the fact that people are making utter fools of themselves on national television. I guess, in their own way, they are human car wrecks, so I just have to slow down and bear witness.

Oh, and one last thing! I am the only person I know who seems to be willing to take ownership of my farts. There. I’ve said it. You’re excused.

Laughing, here…

I was cleaning out old files in my computer, and came across this conversation I had with an old friend with whom I’ve lost touch. The writing isn’t mine, per se, in fact it’s rather poorly written, but I think this is too hilarious not to share. It makes me laugh until I cry every time I read it, which I suppose says a lot about me. Kip, if you’re out there, I miss you.

Kip: did i tell you what happened to me few weeks ago with a window?

Me: No.

Kip: well we were having car trouble so sharon took my car. Anyway, my car decided to go wrong too so she had to get one from work. So she goes to work and i have to wait till she calls to go get her in her car after it was fixed. So i walk out the front door, taking my keys, get to the car realise i need hers. So go to go back in. But she has taken my front door key off my car keys.

Me: lol

Kip: then my phone wont ring out…

Me: lolol

Kip: so have to wait for her to ring. Meanwhile im trying to open the latch with a stick…

Me: lol

Kip: Doesn’t work, so give up. She rings, I tell her im now locked out. She comes home, we go to open the door but I have put deadlock on with the stick.


Kip: so cant open door with the key.

Me: oh my god, I’m crying.

Kip: The only window we can open is on the stairs, so we open it. It opens upwards but i barely fit through…head first.


Kip: And my top got caught on the latch hook


Kip: So i’m stuck head first upside down in the window

Me: I’m howling.

Kip: Sharon sees that i’m caught so she unhooks it without telling me. I fall through window and down half flight of stairs.

Me: I can’t breathe.

Kip: Head first. Man we were laughing so much

Me: Oh my god, that’s hilarious.

Kip: The spare key is now hidden outside

Me: lol

Kip: I’m so not going through that again.


Life is Like a Bowl of Pho

First of all, if you’ve never had pho, that Vietnamese delicacy, the soup of soups, the comfort food of all time, then stop reading this right now and go get some. Drive for 4 hours if you need to. Slap your mama if she stands in your way. Seriously. What are you waiting for? Go! Go! Go! You haven’t lived until you’ve had pho. And for the love of God, when you order it, pronounce it properly. Call it “fuh”, not “foe”.

Egg Roll No. 1 -- our favorite Pho place.

Having said that, and since I have just come home from a delightful evening of pure pho indulgence which has warmed the very cockles of my heart, I feel I have earned the right to wax philosophical, so here is my theory: Life is like a bowl of pho.

The rice noodles are long and tangled and look deceptively unappetizing, but once you dive in, you find that you love the experience. It may be a bit messy, and it may not portray you at your most attractive, but after a time you will find that you don’t care. You’re too busy basking in the experience to notice the reactions of others.

And the broth, good heavens, the broth! It looks simple and clear, but it is such a sophisticated taste sensation that you know you’d give anything to reproduce it at home, but you’re most likely never going to make the attempt because, surely, if it’s that delicious, it must take so much effort and efficiency that you’ll fear you lack the ability.

The most delightful thing about pho, as with life, is that no two people will ever have the same experience. Not only can you choose pho beef or chicken or brisket or meatballs or tripe or…you name it, but the restaurant wait staff will provide you with a variety of items that you may add to your soup. Lime, mint leaves, culantro, bean sprouts, Thai Basil, chili peppers, a variety of sauces, each one hotter than the next. Some people prefer their pho to be spicy. I myself am not a party animal. I stay out of the clubs in life, and I don’t drown my pho in chili sauce. Even so, pho is the first thing I crave when I have a cold or when it’s cold outside.

Pho provides you with a great deal of choices–not only the garnishes mentioned above, but also how to eat it. Are you talented or brave? Then go for the chopsticks. Are you more pragmatic? Would you rather make the most of your ability to consume? Do you not care if your actions fly in the face of impressing your dining companion? Then ask for a fork.

I’m a fork girl, myself, but I also believe in living life to the fullest, so I will give you one very important piece of advice. In pho and in life, order extra, because the second half gets even better.

Sigh. Now I’ve gone and made myself hungry. I don’t think those leftovers will make it to lunchtime.

Doomsday Postponed: The Antidote for All This Holiday Cheer

Well we survived the Mayan Apocalypse. Whew! What a load off the shoulders of all those doomsday preppers out there. Or is it? I mean, once you get past the feeling of being a total fool, what do you do for fun?

Here’s the thing, people: the end of the world has apparently been coming for a long, long time. The first prediction I can find through my lazy Google search was for 634 BC. Apparently a lot of Romans thought that 12 eagles had revealed some mystical number that was supposed to represent the lifetime of Rome, and people arbitrarily decided that that each eagle represented 10 years, so Rome was supposed to be destroyed 120 years after its founding. I wonder how you prepare for the end of the world in an era when you don’t have canned goods?

There were many predictions that the world would end on December 31, 1999, but this kind of millennium prediction is, apparently, old hat, because the same thing happened 1000 years previously. Even the Pope at the time was in on that prediction, causing riots throughout Europe. Boy, I bet Pope Sylvester II felt awfully sheepish the next day. Doomsday predictions based on calendars that are made up, often quite arbitrarily, by humans make me laugh. (See more about that in my previous blog entry entitled “I’ve Got Your Number. Right here. https://theviewfromadrawbridge.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/ive-got-your-number-right-here/ )

Oh these pesky, impetuous popes! The ironically named Pope Innocent III predicted that the world would end 666 years after the beginning of Islam. So we should have been toast in the year 1284. Honestly? Is this responsible behavior for God’s Representative on Earth? I don’t think so!

But the funniest predictions, if you ask me, are from the people or groups whom I call “revisers”. These are people who have the audacity to push the date further out into the future when their previous predictions don’t come to pass. Case in point, the Bible Student Movement, the group responsible for originating those delightful Watch Tower tracts that get stuffed under your windshield wipers at strip malls to this day, has predicted that the world would end in 1874, and then (oops!) 1878, and then (our bad) 1881, and then (we mean it this time, really we do) 1908, and then (seriously) 1914, 1916, 1918, 1920, and 1925. For crying out loud, people! What’s it going to take for you to stop getting sucked in to this stuff?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses branched off from the Bible Student Movement, and jumped right on the doomsday bandwagon. They have predicted our ruin would occur in the years 1941, 1975, 1984, and then they wised up and got more vague and said it would all be over “sometime” before 2000. Well, so much for that. And yet I still get these people knocking on my door. When is THAT going to end? That’s what *I* want to know.

Another one I find amusing is Elizabeth Claire Prophet. She was the leader of the Church Universal and Triumphant. She became convinced that the Russians would start a nuclear attack and had her followers spend millions building an enormous fallout shelter. But we all know that construction projects are rarely, if ever, completed on time, so when the bunker wasn’t done by the predicted date of the nuclear attack, she simply revised the date. You’d think that would have been a bit of a red flag, but no. When the structure was finally completed, everyone took shelter and waited for the explosions, which, of course, never came. Not surprisingly, the movement lost a lot of followers after that, including her own son. Search her on youtube and you’ll see a lot of interesting footage of her in full military garb, or speaking in tongues. She came by her flair for languages honestly, though, as she claimed to have been previously incarnated as Nefertiti, Queen Guinevere of Camelot (apparently she was real after all), St. Theresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Sienna and Marie Antoinette. She died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2009, leaving behind a big ol’ honkin’ fallout shelter in Montana, in case you and a couple thousand of your friends should ever need one.

Okay, so I have been poking fun at all these doomsday chumps, but sadly, these predictions can have a very negative and sometimes tragic fallout, if you’ll excuse the pun. People often spend a great deal of time and money preparing for an end that never comes. They also warp their children into living a life of fear and anxiety and paranoia. And even worse are the predictions that lead to death. On March 26, 1997, Marshall Applewhite and 38 of his followers in the Heaven’s Gate Cult committed mass suicide so that they could be picked up by a space ship and live lives at “a level of existence above human”.

Of course, I have no answers for all of this, and I’m certainly not going to make any predictions. I just know that there are a lot of people with anxiety disorders in the world, and there are even more people who are so desperate for answers that they’re willing to follow those people. I prefer not knowing the date of my demise. If the bombs are going to fall, I’d rather have them drop right on my head while I’m living my life to the fullest.

Your Body is Smarter than You Are

When I woke up from the anesthesia, my doctor was staring at me in awe. He said, “I’ve removed at least 1000 appendixes (appendices?) in my career, and yours was at least 3 times longer than the longest one I’ve ever seen.” I’m convinced that to this day he has it in a jar somewhere. But what’s even more disconcerting is that up to that time I had walked around for 35 years as a freak of nature and I didn’t even know it.

Similarly, I REALLY pissed off an endodontist once. He had already quoted me a price so he felt he had to stick to it and give me the root canal as promised. Then he found out, to his horror, that the tooth in question, which on a normal person has only two roots, had four. Two of the roots were hiding behind one of the other ones, so it didn’t show up on the x-ray, thus causing his profit margin to go up in smoke. How was I supposed to know?

The thing is, my body knew these things all along. Just like it knows how to produce stomach acid and platelets and snot, and I couldn’t do that myself if my life depended on it. It even does this from scratch, working with the ingredients on hand. Isn’t that amazing? I mean, gross, yes, but amazing.

Seriously. Think about it. You’re living inside a body that is doing stuff you can’t. Women who are pregnant with baby boys are growing penises inside their body even as we speak. Your baby teeth know exactly when they’ve overstayed their welcome. If you’re like me, you can walk around on a broken foot for two months without even realizing why it’s feeling “funny”.

Our bodies must shake their heads and laugh at us.

Joke Theory

A sense of humor is a very personal thing. What I find funny may not amuse you in the slightest, and what you find funny could downright offend me. There is also a time and a place for jokes. If you tell a joke at a party where everyone has had a few drinks and it brings the house down, there’s no guarantee that that same joke, when told at a staff meeting, will not bring the sound of crickets. And I find Saturday Night Live to be hilarious at times, but I doubt I would if I were watching it at high noon.

I often laugh at inappropriate moments. I get this from my mother, and it often gets me into trouble. I think it’s sort of the opposite of a tickle. You can’t tickle yourself, but you can make yourself laugh. I’d much rather laugh than not. Once I learned to stop taking myself so seriously, I set myself free.

And then there’s the famous quote by Ella Wheeler Wilcox: “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone.” Humor provides a sense of bonding. If you’re with a group of people and you’re laughing about the same thing, it’s as if you’re saying, “I’m just like you.” “I like the way you think.” “You make me happy.” Some of my best memories are related to times when I’ve laughed until I cried with someone.

Which brings me to my theory about jokes. Your favorite joke defines you in many ways. Once you have that basic definition of yourself, you can pretty much divide the world into two groups: those who laugh at your joke, and those who do not find it funny at all. Some people fall into a grey area. They don’t “get” your joke, but they think it’s funny once you’ve explained it to them. I believe there is still hope for those people.

At this point I’m sure you’re dying to know what my joke is, so here goes:

Question: Why is Turtle Wax so expensive?



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Answer: Because their ears are so small.