Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Squeeze! IPEX!

Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
Middle Age! In some ways, so nice. You're wiser, more relaxed, you finally have a sense of humor about your own idiocy. Yet, in some ways, Middle Age is so cruel. You feel so young and alive... yet you are starting to look like those women who used to mortify your twenty and thirty-something sensibilities. ("Look at that out-of-style thing she is wearing! Doesn't she CARE? Geez, I hope MY skin never looks like that! PLEASE God don't ever let my legs get that kind of wall to wall celulite!) Even parts you never thought would age get older too!

SQUEEZE! (rated R for gynocological content)

So, I finally dragged my "down below" - as my mother would call it- to a Bloomington gynocologist for my overdue annual exam. The doctor was recommended by a reliable Bloomington friend, a conservative person...a doctor's wife and a nurse herself.

After performing the routine, perfunctory exam, the doc asked me if I had any problems or concerns. I casually expressed my annoyance at being reminded that I had a baby "late in life" every time I sneezed or laughed. (And jumping rope? Forget about that!)

The doc advised that I should be doing Kegel's exercises and I said, "I know, I know...but I never do them. I never think of it." (At that point I was sitting up on the table with that rediculous paper thingy around me.) He said "Here, lie back down." He put up his two fingers in the patented gynocologist-ready-position and inserted them into my vagina. "Okay," he said, "now do a Kegel's exercise." (WHAT!??) After a moment of shock at this unconventional approach, I immediately became my competitive, show-offy self. I was going to do the best Kegels EVER! And, I was going to make it look like I wasn't even trying. I squeezed hard, making sure that my face didn't register the grimace commensurate with my effort. (Thank GOD sweat didn't bead on my forehead!) The doc said, "That was a very good Kegel's. Do them three times a day, about twenty repitions each time. When you come back next year, you'll be much stronger and the sneezing/coughing problem should decrease."

As I was leaving the office I thought, "Wow! My very own vagina coach!" I couldn't wait to go home and tell Chris. In Conn. I had my very own therapist and my very own personal trainer, but a vagina coach? Who knew? What will they think of next?

IPEX...The most technologically advanced bra EVER!

Later in the same week that I got my first vaginal coaching, I went to Victoria's Secret. I figured I needed a new look on top to go with my new improved "down below". Chris vetoed surgery, so I thought this would be the next best thing. I had read about the IPEX bra, and was intrigued by its advanced technology.

I walked into the store and was greeted by a young enthusiastic saleslady who asked me what she could help me find.

"Perky Breasts", I promptly replied. She laughed. I guess she didn't realize that I was serious.

"I heard about this new IPEX bra. What is so great about it?", I asked.

"Well, let me show you," She said as she walked me over to the IPEX display.

It looked like a normal bra. A very nice normal Victoria's Secret bra, yes, but a normal bra, all the same. I spied the price tag.

"Forty-seven bucks? What makes this bra worth forty-seven bucks? The "Very -Sexy" model over there is only thirty-eight dollars and it looks just about the same."

"I know," said the saleslady, " It is expensive, but they are SO great! I have one and it is SO comfortable."

"And?", I asked. "Isn't the Very-Sexy bra comfortable? Won't that work just as well? After all, it implies that it will make my breasts appear to be very sexy, right? And, that is what I am looking for, after all."

"The "Very-Sexy" is a great bra, but the IPEX has seven layers of an advanced micro-fiber", the saleslady proudly declared. She stroked the bra cup surface and held it out to me. "See how soft this is? The seven layers come together in the center of the cup causing it to be thicker there, where you need coverage the most!" She looked at me triumphantly and expectantly.

"How old are you?" I asked.

"Twenty-five. Why?"

"Well, at twenty-five you might not know that at forty-three, one might most need coverage not at the center of the cup, but perhaps two inches lower."

The saleslady looked a little puzzled but not daunted. "You should try one on. I just LOVE mine."

"Look," I said. "I am sure that the IPEX is a wonderful bra but frankly, I don't think that my breasts are IPEX worthy. How about showing me the Very-Sexy model instead?"

"Okay. The Very-Sexy is a great bra, too. Did you want to try the full coverage, the demi or the uplift?"

Geez, I thought. This is my last trip to Victoria's Secret for bras. Too many choices.

"Oh, give me one of each. Why not live it up?"

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Donna Reed

Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
Sunday night, quiet house. Chris had the weekend off (hooray!) and we went to visit Meg and Abram and little baby Elizabeth on Saturday. The drive to Kokomo is ghastly but it was worth the trip. It is always amazing to see a new little person. SO tiny. How quickly you forget.

Elizabeth is (of course) perfect and I am very happy and relieved to say that Megan appears to be grounded and taking it all in stride. Abram, too. In contrast, I was completely overwhelmed when I brought Jack home. I had some post-partum depression and felt that I didn't know what I was doing. Of course, it didn't help that I produced just about no milk. As a result, Jack was STARVING and screaming his head off much of the time. (I reluctantly admit that my mother was right. When I was pregnant, I told her I was planning to breastfeed. "JO-ni! Whatdayawanna do THAT for? You don't have anything on top. How are you going to make enough milk?" Another vote of confidence from my well-meaning mother.) But, I digress. Anyway, so far so good at the Rayl household.
I am really happy about that.

Tomorrow morning, my writing group starts. I was so psyched for it but now that it is imminent, I am finding a million reasons why I shouldn't do it. Okay, maybe just a few reasons. Like, I have so much housecleaning to do. I have to be a better mother to Jack...blah blah blah. I think that I am a bit nervous, is all. It also feels like I am going back to school in a way because now I am going to HAVE to write.

I might make my writing project this blog. You can choose anything you would like . I would like to develop my skills for writing about daily life in a funny way. It is hard to do from this place because (believe it or not) many people here just don't think that I am funny. It wrecks my confidence a bit. If you don't think I am funny, gentle reader, NEVER ever let me know. Deal? Good.

Well, I should be off to bed. Oh, yeah...Why Donna Reed, a symbol of the American Housewife as portayed on TV? Someone sent me a fifties article from a women's magazine on how to be a good housewife. It was pretty old-fashioned and some of it was downright rediculous, but I have to say that I do much of the stuff that was recommended. In so many ways, I have become a traditional 1950s style housewife. How DID this happen? Write in any comments you want in answer to this question if you please.

I would love to expound more on this but I must go to bed. It is getting late and Jack is on a streak of getting up before 5AM lately. It is AWFUL.

Stay tuned for a future blog about my latest visit to the gynecologist and also to Victoria's Secret.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Sitting Duck

Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
Well, as you can see from the photo, we didn't get around to getting lightning rods as planned. Our house is in the wide open and happens to on a little knoll, making it the highest point in the neighborhood. Bullseye!

The thunderstorms here in the great Midwest are quite impressive. Two nights ago, starting at about 2AM, there was a terrific storm with lightning striking continuously and completly lighting up the outdoors. I could see streaks hitting the ground perilously close to us. And then, KABOOM!!!! The house sort of shook and the security alarm started going off. Because the electricity was still on, I figured that lightning had not struck us directly but rather had struck close and that the loud crack had tripped the noise sensors on the system. (Our alarm system has stupid useless glass breaking sensors, but I digress). Anyway, we weren't all that worried. The storm passed and we went back to sleep.

At about 6AM the next morning, we awoke to several very loud thumps in quick succession on the roof above us. I looked out the window to see big chunks of brick and limestone hurling to the ground. Our chimney, struck during the night, was falling apart a few hours post strike. It was impressive.

Turns out that we did lose power in part of the house and we did lose some devices. The garage doors are fried as is my new range top. The cordless phones are gone. Chris's ethernet card and the wireless router are shot as well. We unplugged the computers from the electrical outlets earlier but neglected to disconnect the cable. Apparently, the current can surge through that as well.

The good news is we got the builder of the house out here right away and he made some calls for us and by three that afternoon, the chimney had been secured. They removed the pieces that were hanging and in danger of falling and tarped the whole thing. The electricians came out and assessed what had been fried. The rest of the stuff (garage doors, range, phones, alarm system) will be taken care of next week.

The bad news, other than getting struck, is that we remain sitting ducks for the next time and the next and the next. We are going to research lightning rods - there are differing opinions here as to whether they are effective or even harmful. Chris intimated that he might want to sell this house and move into town where we aren't likely to get struck. But, I pointed out to him that we could use this lightning-prone location to our advantage. The next time Chris is in atrial fibrillation, we could put him on the roof during a thunderstorm for a free cardioversion. No pesky copays or deductibles. He wasn't enthusiastic.

Other than that, life in Bloomington is mostly good. Chris is at work tonight (not good) and Jack is asleep (good) and I am going to curl up on the couch and watch a chick flick with a glass of wine (good).

Goodnight from the wide open prairie!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Swim Goddess

You might be interested to know that my most recent fitness obsession is swimming. Last week, I decided to swim laps while Jack was having lessons at the IU outdoor pool. Much to my surprise, I swam almost a mile! Well, that was all it took to spark this HoosierMama's swim-mania. I have been back to the pool several times since and each time, I swam the MILE! I half can't believe that I can do it. Either I am in very good shape or I've gained enough excess fat in the last year to enhance my flotation to such an extent as to make a MILE almost easy to swim. Either way, I am a swim goddess.

A true swim goddess must have the right apparel. I am not one of those leisurely middle-aged swimmers who can wear just any bathing suit. No sirree! I am a M-I-L-E-R! That puts me in the serious swimmer category and a serious swimmer needs serious swim wear. A Land's End "Tugless Tank" with polka dots and a floral print just won't do. No, no, no.

So, with the confidence that comes from such deluded thinking, I set off to purchase a serious swimsuit of the Speedo variety. Jack's excruciatingly fit and beautiful nineteen-year old swimming instructor (she is also one of our baby-sitters) wears a brand of swimsuit called "Uglies" that is just darling and very "competitively styled". I asked her where she had gotten hers and bee-lined right to the store. With a lilt in my MILER step, I entered the store and headed right to the "Uglies" rack. I grabbed a couple of sizes each of a few different prints and went to try them on. I just knew that the yellow floral print would be perfect.

Hah! I put on the first suit. The size felt just about right and it looked pretty good from the front. From my ribs up, anyway. I turned around to check out the backside and was treated to a lovely view of a what I can only describe as a SHOWCASE of back fat. I didn't even know that I had back fat! If you haven't tried on a racing suit lately (ladies) you might not remember that most of them have that criss-cross thing going on in back. Below the criss-cross is an open area that appears to me to serve NO good purpose. The cutout back sort of bunches up any back fat you may have and pops it right out there for public viewing. And to add insult to injury, the fat looks alarmingly cellulitic! How can this be a good thing? If anything, such a protuberance of fat surely increases drag and slows one down. This type of swimsuit cut is evil, pure and simple. It is a window into middle age and a cruel one at that.

Not to be deterred from finding the perfect suit for my (now deflated) swim-goddess image, I soldiered on. I tried on every $%#!-ing suit in the place in my size, and the size below and the size above. If a suit had a more back coverage rather than the fat-showcase cut, it had larger-than-life breast cups, which, quite honestly, I can't begin to fill. The conclusion I was starting to draw is that if you have back fat that you are interested in concealing, you had better have the chest fat to go with it. Not a good situation for yours truly.

Fortunately, after hard work in the dressing room, I found a suit cut for the flatter-chested-fatter-backed swim goddess and left the store feeling not completely defeated. To lift my drowning spirits, I had wisely added a most flattering purple swim cap and new goggles to the ensemble. In the end, you have to make the best of what you have.

In any event, I have come to realize that nobody is checking me out at the IU pool. Whether my back fat is showcased or concealed is irrelevant when there are dozens of perfect coeds lying about to catch your eye. I don't mind. After all, a true swim goddess is concerned only with her swim workout, not such trifling things such as how she looks.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Wacky World of Jack

Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
I have no idea what Jack was thinking. The things around his ankles are rolling pin sleves. Ah, the wacky world of Jack. Keeps me entertained.

Chris is at work and the house is quiet. Jack has been in bed for a couple of hours. I started to write more but I am so tired I can't finish it, so I will post it all tomorrow. It is about my new life as a swim goddess. Who knew?

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Jack in a Suit! The Move to Bloomington as a Relationship

Jack in a Suit!
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
I know that every parent thinks that their kid is gorgeous, but mine really is, right? I mean, look at the picture. And of course, he is brilliant, too. Seriously, I just had to put this picture on the blog. I just adore my little guy.

My big guy is at work tonight. Mon - Thurs this week he works what we call the "goofy shift" from 1PM to 10PM. I think that he works more here than he did in CT and truth-be-told, that is a big drag.

I have found it difficult to put together a decent blog lately, even though I have ample material. I feel a pressure to be witty and funny but my muse must be on vacation because I just can't get the flow if it. It might be in part because I am not a real writer, though I fake myself out by believing the kind feedback I get from time to time about this blog. Or, I might be in dry spell because I have lately been distracted by constantly taking the pulse of how Bloomington is for us and distracted by the idea of moving back to CT (though it might not even be an option at this point). It comes and goes and has lately lingered.

I think that moving to a new place can be compared to the phases of dating, or at least what I remember dating to be like. First comes the Honeymoon Phase in which your new mate/town is viewed through the rose colored glasses of infatuation. The new mate/town is compared to the old and wins hands down in every category. The Honeymoon Phase can last quite awhile if the chemistry and conditions are right. Inevitably, this phase gives way to the Hum-Drum-Daily-Life Phase in which you discover little and big things about your new mate/town that may not be so rosy and exciting. The Hum-Drum Phase either deepens the relationship or wrecks it. If it deepens the relationship, you start thinking about long term committment and you eventually take the plunge, right? If it wrecks the relationship, you go on to the next candidate or back to your last mate who has been recently calling you and whispering sweet-nothings in the phone to you.

Well, comparing our move to Bloomington to a relationship, we are in the Hum-Drum-Daily-Living Phase. The honeymoon was long and intense but it just couldn't last forever, especially given that Chris had open-heart surgery. That sure made me (and Chris, I think) really wish we had our old friends nearby. Anyway, so here we are, in the Hum-Drum Phase with more objective eyes taking in the scene. Like anything else, there are wonderful things and not-so-great things to view. Will this wreck or deepen the relationship? Will we move on to the next candidate or race back to the familiar embrace of CT? Only time will tell.

Time for bed. Reading THE AGE OF INNOCENCE again. What a delicious story.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Big Fish

Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
Jack fishing in West Virginia on our recent McGary Family Reunion vacation. We stayed at a resort in Wheeling. I am encouraging my husband to move us to West Virgina next, if only so I can have fresh material for our Christmas card this year. The pressure is really on this year, folks. Hard to know whether to work in shotgun wedding or not. Hmm...what would Miss Manners say?

Back to the family reunion. It was actually quite a delightful time. The resort was perfect for any age and I must say that I am pretty fortunate in the in-law area. Chris's family is enjoyable to be around I have three sisters-in-law and I like every one of them. I love my mother-in-law and father-in-law. I truly do.

But, having said that, let's be honest. ALL families are sort of nuts in their own way, right? I used to think that mine was the only one that was crazy and that everyone else had perfect parents and siblings. As I get older and (I hope) more observant, I can see that there isn't a family on the planet that doesn't have at least one pattern of interaction that is sort of insane. In my family, there are about a hundred insane patterns. Some families have only one or two patterns. But, no family is perfect. Prove me wrong. Just try it.

Now, this is a roundabout way of getting to the question on my mind lately as I contemplate more writing. Just how do these "tell all" authors get away with it? How does a person trash their family in print and face said trashed persons ever again? I can't imagine writing a book about my family and revealing everything about them I think is so crazy, and in a twisted way, funny. They would just be crushed. And pissed. On the other hand, I feel that I have so much great material. Like the time I broke the news to my my mom that Megan was pregnant. It was early on, when I was still very upset about it.

My mom: "Kids! I don't know what they're thinking'. What's going on these days with all these kids having kids? Aren't you worried about the baby?"

Me: " Of course I am. Believe me, I am not happy about this."

My mom: "Joni, why didn't you talk to her? Aren't you worried about what is going to happen to the baby?"

Me: "Ma, I did talk to her but she obviously didn't listen. I did everything I could to prevent this from happening. And of course I am worried about the baby, but what can I do?"

My mom: " But Joni, aren't you worried about the baby?"

Me: "Ma. I said I was, but what can I do? I clearly have no influence over Megan."

My mom: " You should talk to her. Aren't you worried? I would be worried. You know, there was this young girl here in Herkimer who got involved with a colored guy." (Colored!?) "And he got her pregnant. Well, he was on the dope and one day he babysat for the kid when the girl was at her job and he strangled the kid."

Me: "MA!!"

My mom: I don't know about these coloreds."

Me: "MA! You aren't making me feel any better. Besides, Abram is a good guy. He doesn't take drugs and you will be happy to know he is white."

My mother: "But Joni, aren't you worried about the baby?"

And on it went until I had to go. And, now I have to go once more. Off to bed to dream of how God will punish me for writing this. My mother always told me that God would punish me when I did wrong. Hmm. I guess I didn't listen now did I?