In the closet, under the bed

Daily Post: Tremble

“Get under the bed, get under the bed.” If we weren’t scared before Martha said that, we were then.

My two younger sisters, shorter and faster than I, skittered under and left no room for me..

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“Where do I go? Where can I hide?” My nine-year-old voice trembled in fear.

“In the closet. Get way in the back.” As Martha  shoved me, I was overwhelmed by the comforting smell of Mom’s Tweed cologne. I sure wish she were here. She could make this stop. I know she could.

Then we heard the loudest noise I’d ever heard-bang! “I’m going to shoot somebody!” His voice was deep and loud. His Southern accent was stronger than ours. Like “Ahm gonna shoooot sumbuddy.”

We cowered. “Are you alright?” Martha whispered to my sisters.

“Uh huh.” I could tell they were crying. I wasn’t crying—yet, but I was hugging Martha so tight, she could hardly breathe and she was trying to pry my fingers away from her waist. I just squeezed tighter. What was happening?

And then we heard it again. It seemed louder this time. We waited, not breathing. Nothing. What happened? Was he coming inside. Were we the somebodies he was going to kill. I felt sticky all over and my throat hurt from clenching my teeth.

Finally, Martha said, “wait here.” “Don’t go, don’t go.” We were crying loudly. So what if he heard us. “Don’t leave us. We’re scared.”

Martha hugged me and pried my fingers away. “I’ll be right back.” Then she kissed the top of my head.

“Come over here. Come get in the closet with me.” Shaking and trembling, my sisters tentatively snaked the short distance from the bed to the closet. We huddled tightly.

Then we heard the back door close. “It’s okay. Come on out.”

Martha took us into the living room and sat us down on the sofa. “Your mom will be here any minute. Everything’s okay.” We heard the sirens and wanted to jump up and run out and look. “Stay here!” Martha was shouting and tears ran down her face. Martha had never raised her voice at us, ever.

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Later, much later, Mom told us that our neighbor, whom we had never met, killed himself with a shot-gun. We didn’t even know what that meant. We didn’t know anything about dying or being killed. But we nodded like we did. We didn’t ask any questions. We knew we didn’t want the answers.

 

 

Crafty Friends

Daily Prompt: Craft

When I look at who my friends are, I am often surprised. The women I spend the most time with are between the ages of 20 and 40. I am almost 69.  I never even noticed that my friends were so much younger than me, or at least that so many of them were, until recently. I’m not sure what changed, but I’m glad it did.

 

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Me, Lucy, Jasmine and Alisha hiking Grays Mountain

I am a personal trainer at a local gym and, well not to brag but it does make me darn proud, there aren’t many women my age who can keep up with me.  Even though I don’t seek out young women to work out with, we seem to find each other.

 

Working out together is in some ways an intimate experience. We help each other with our form, which means looking at each other’s physical strengths and weaknesses. We know what makes each other sweat, laugh, and cry. Forty year’s difference in age doesn’t seem like much; fitness is a great equalizer.

Last night I had three of my young workout partners over for dinner. I wasn’t paying much attention to their conversation as I was clearing the table, but I heard them talking about someone who had made such a positive difference in their lives, inspired them to go college, and was proof that obstacles were just challenges in disguise. “Who are ya’ll talking about?” They started laughing, almost hysterically. “What’s so funny?”

 

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“We’re talking about you!”

“You guys are embarrassing me.”

That’s when I saw it clearly for the first time. I could be mother or grandmother to these women, but instead they are my best friends. When they started telling me the ways I had inspired them, it was my turn to laugh.

 

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Jasmine, Alisha and me working at Bucklin Park

Yes, I inspire them, but they do the same for me–and they motivate me. They keep me focused on giving my best in a workout, they are interested in my life and never me old—well not much!  They respect my education, my fitness, and what they call “wisdom.” I call it survival strategies. If I didn’t work in a gym, I can’t imagine how our lives would have ever crossed. I love my job, and like many of you, feel it is my craft. These young women have been my inspiration to refine my craft, continue to improve, and learn. Because of them, I am the top trainer in our club. They have helped me better at almost everything I do. Because of them, I really feel that I have turned my job into a craft and look forward to going to work everyday.

 

Passion for pants

Daily Prompts: Passionate

The sixties were coming to a close and everything that was important was happening on a college campus—or at least I thought it was. Civil rights, women’s rights, protests against the Vietnam war, fighting for the rights of migrant workers, the Beatles, hippies, the draft, getting the vote for 18-year-olds. But I wasn’t going to college.

Okay, so I can’t go to college. I won’t let this stop me. I will be part of the social revolution!

Thankfully, my mother had insisted I take a typing class in high school. “Just in case,” she said. Just in case what? “You’ll always be able to get as a secretary.”

In case I don’t get married was what she meant. In case I don’t go to college was what I thought.

But just like college, marriage did not look like it was going to happen. Living at home wasn’t’ in my plan either. Neither was Timothy Leary’s philosophy of “Tuning in and dropping out.” I needed a job. So, secretary it was.women-in-office

How could I explain my fall from activist grace to my friends.  I couldn’t admit that I had succumbed to the evil establishment. Women’s libbers were encouraged to resist the society’s traditional roles, pull away from the stereotype—be all we could be, whatever that was. And it wasn’t a housewife or secretary.

I felt like a social activist camouflaged as a secretary. I had to redeem myself in the eyes of my fellow resistance fighters.

Did I mention I lived in the Deep South? No? Well, secretaries in the South in the 60’s and 70’s wore the clothes from hell—dresses, nylons, pumps. No pants, no bare legs. Kathryn Hepburn was not a highly regarded role model for young women. But this was it! This was my cause! Pants in the office, trousers as Kathryn would say.women-wearing-pants

Images of Gloria Steinem’s revelations of the degradation of women as Playboy Bunnies flashed before me. I would expose the misogynistic dress code and fight for women to be allowed pants in the office.

I was ready to defend the rights of women!

I stood outside my boss’s office door building up my courage. I smoothed my A-line skirt and tucked in my shirt.

“Mr. Sanders. I want to talk to you about the requirement that women in our office wear skirts or dresses. Women should be able to wear pants in the office.”

“You are absolutely right,” he said.equal-pay-pic

Who knew he was such a liberal!  I began rehearsing a more hard won version of this victory to my friends depicting myself as the quiet revolutionary.

 

I can’t do squat!

 

Daily Prompt – Sidewalk

I can’t do squat! And I mean that literally. The older I get, the less cooperative my knees are and the lower I can squat. This is probably the biggest reason my backside is flat as a pancake. Well, maybe not literally but pretty close. And every year, especially now that I’m closer to 70 than 60, what little rear end I have droops lower and lower. It’s been years since anyone told me that I squat “ass to the grass.”

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Seriously, who needs a butt when they can do an extended plank like this!

 

When I ask a potential female client what her goals are, nine times out of ten, it involves her booty.  For many women, working out is all about the butt. Harder, firmer, higher, rounder, smaller, less jiggly, ad infinitum. And the squat, of which there are hundreds of variations, is the all-time glute day favorite.

There are some girls (and by that I mean women under 40) who do glute work every day. I call them the “Queens of Squat,” and they love it when I bestow the title upon them. When I see one of the queens working out, I can’t help it, my mind starts reciting my pet gym mantra, “we must, we must, we must improve our butt.”

While my caboose may not be high and tight, it’s not too flabby either. And I owe my somewhat fit, tiny hiney to an exercise I lovingly call the “side walk” or “penguin walk.” My clients call it the walk from hell. There are several variations. If you are suffering with knee pain, choose a style that doesn’t require you to bend your knees. Remember, if there’s pain, you must abstain.

I like using a resistance band, but the “side walk” can be just as effective with your body weight, sans equipment.  If you tightly squeeze your gluteus muscles during this exercise, you will feel the burn. When a client tells me she thought of me every time she went to the potty, I know I’m doing my best work.

Here are the basics.

  • Position your feel shoulder width apart. The band should be taunt but not stretched. You can place the band above your knees or closer to your ankles. If you have a resistance tube, step on the tube and hold the handles to create resistance.
  • Bend your knees slightly and move into a half-squat position to activate the gluteus muscles.
  • Keeping your feet in line with your shoulders, step sideways to the right keeping the band tensed. Without releasing the band’s tension, continuing side stepping for 10 reps.
  • Repeat to the left for ten reps.

Trust me, you’ll be thinking about me tomorrow.

Let them eat cake!

Daily Post: Jeopardize

Don’t tell anyone. You have to swear to keep this a secret. For breakfast I ate two pieces of berry crumb coffee cake and a large, very large piece of birthday cake. In addition to wanting to throw up, I want to hide my head in shame. Why would I want to jeopardize all the hard word I do at the gym every day? I don’t know. I don’t know. Guilt overwhelms me.

It’s my friend’s fault. She made me do it. Last night was her birthday party. As I was leaving she wrapped up the birthday and coffee cake. “No, no. Really, I don’t want any.” “Yes. Here. Take some home.” “No, no. Really.” The plate was already in my hand.

Even if I hated it, which I didn’t, I would have had to take the cake. It’s only polite.

However, politeness had nothing to do with eating three pieces of carb hell for breakfast. Why didn’t I stop after one piece? Compulsive sugar binge. There’s no other way to describe it. Self will run riot. Total loss of control. Can’t anyone stop me?alisha birthday cake

I can’t put all the blame on my friend. I do have to accept responsibility for my part in this debauchery. I was in charge of the cake.  I bought the most decadent birthday cake available—buttercream frosting, cheesecake filling, and probably some other evil sugar loaded ingredient. I wouldn’t want my friend to think I scrimped on the cake for her special day.

And, drum roll please—birthday girl is my workout buddy. Why would she do this to me? Really, though, can I blame her. It’s only fair. After all I brought the cake. I was planning my sugar overload when I ordered the cake and again when I picked it up. This sugar binge didn’t happen by accident. Nope, it was planned. “It’s just one day,” we said to each other. Permission granted. Go ahead.

It’s over now though. The cake is gone. I now own all the calories—probably in the neighborhood of 3,000. But what’s done is done.

It’s been 8 hours since breakfast. I don’t think I can eat anything. I really feel sick. But when I do, it won’t be cake.

Look up! Look down!

Daily Prompt: Eyes

“Really. What do you think about this dress?”

No! No! Don’t ask me that, girlfriend. You’re doing good on your diet, but you still have at least 15 pounds to lose. And you have a big butt, which actually I’m actually a little envious of, but it does make the back of the dress hike up a little bit. And you’re my best friend. I love you. Please, please, don’t ask me this question. I’m groaning inside.

Woman with big round butt in tight blue pants walkingflat butt

“Does it look good on me?” She’s eyeing herself in the mirror and making eye-contact with me at the same time in her reflection. God I hate that. All hairdressers should be flogged for inventing that move. Maybe if I move to the other side of the dressing room. Not working. The dressing room is the size of a bathroom on an airplane.

I remind myself that I’m the girlfriend. No matter what! She cannot buy that dress. Okay. Think. Think. Okay. Got it!

“It looks okay, (lie) but the blue one looks better (truth). It’s a little bit longer (true) and makes your legs look longer (half truth).” I could ask her to try the blue one on again. But I’m so tired and my feet hurt. No. Not going to do that.

Yikes. Was I looking up and to the right? Is that the direction that means I’m lying? Maybe the lying direction is to the left. Dammit! Just look her right in the eye and smile.

“Come on, girlfriend. Let’s keep shopping! We can do better!” That’s the truth, so it doesn’t matter which way I look.

Inside I’m screaming. Not only do I not like to shop, but we’ve been at the mall for two hours and we’re no closer to finding a dress than we started. Maybe I can talk her into slacks. Yes. That’s the way to go. I can do it.

It’s like I’m a kid all over again. Look up, look down, look all around! Remember that game? Probably not. It’s a pretty old game. The leader shouts, “look up” or “look down.” I never could figure out exactly what the rules were, but screaming was involved and I always got eliminated early because I screamed when I wasn’t looking at someone, and I guess that wasn’t right.

“Oh, hey, look. Starbucks! Let’s get a coffee and decide where we’re going next.”

“By the way, those jeans look really good on you (truth). Did we get them the last time we were at the mall? Maybe we should think about slacks (truth)? What do you think?”

 

Just a Little Face Paint

Daily Post: Paint

Yesterday my friend, Alisha, along with “Big John,” the makeover consultant at Lancôme Cosmetics, convinced me to have a makeover. How bad could it be, I thought. After one and half hours perched on a stool holding a hand mirror and trying not to fidget, I remembered why I have a pretty minimal make-up routine.

For one thing, the enthusiasm and absolute glee that these two beauty mavens exhibited wore me out.  Big John’s mantra was “blend, blend, blend.” In a dramatic voice, flourishing one of his many brushes, he would look at Alisha and say, “blending creates that perfect gradation so skin looks supple, smooth and never streaky. Don’t you agree?” Alisha was nodding, holding out other products and asking way too many questions. Who talks like that? And if I ever took over 15 minutes for my entire morning routine, my schedule would be wrecked and my anxiety level would be out the roof.

There were entirely too many steps in this process which is another reason I’ve never really gotten into the whole makeup thing—it’s complicated. I have many other complicated things to think about. Then I look in the mirror, “hey, where did the bags under my eyes go? John, that’s amazing!” Maybe I can hang in there a little longer after all.

But about the time I thought he was done, he picked up another brush. “We’ll use,” and then he said some French word that I didn’t understand, “and start at the apples of the cheeks and blend upwards and towards your temple for a natural look.” Thank God for that, I thought. Natural, that’s good.FullSizeRender2

 “John, you’ve lost me. What did you say that was?”

Alisha steps over, “It’s just a blush.” She’s probably never worn “just a blush” in her life. Alisha is what I consider one of “those” women. Women who are gorgeous without makeup, swear they aren’t, and can spend hours in front of the mirror and emerge looking like they belong on the cover of a fashion magazine. That is not me.

But probably the biggest reason I’m conservative with makeup is that my mom didn’t wear any. She was beautiful and didn’t need it, but I honestly don’t think it ever occurred to her to use cosmetics. She had a few things on the top of her dresser like Tussy Deodorant, Jergens Lotion, Tweed perfume, and Revlon lipstick in Fire Engine Red, which to this day really surprises me. But there was no eyeshadow, powder, foundation or blush.

My sister and I were pretty much on our own. We spent hours poring over copies of Teen and Seventeen Magazines trying to look like Sandra Dee. We spent our entire allowance on Tangee lipstick and Maybelline eyeshadow. The best sleepovers were at friends who had older sisters with makeup experience.

It’s been over fifty years since I graduated high school and my make-up skills are quite good now, if I do say so myself. But after seeing the results of the hours spent with Big John and Alisha, I think I’ll spend a little more time and be a bit more adventurous.