Showing posts from May, 2011

How Cool Is Grand Rapids?

The world record for biggest lip dub was set right here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this past weekend. At the helm of over 3,000 people was Rob Bliss, a young man known for staging large scale group events, such as massive pillow fights and choreographed paper airplane takeoffs from tall buildings, here in the city. Back when I worked for Inner Compass , I suggested a show on Bliss, and played roles as director and editor on parts of the episode . Since then, Bliss has done even bigger and greater things, one of which you can watch here:

...And After

I counted; there are no less than 24 bottles of hair care product in my WC. And yet I somehow manage--daily, consistently, without fail--to look like a Before picture. ----------- "Are you 40 yet?" the woman asked. "Yes." "My friends and I call the 40s the effit years." "The what?" "The effit years. You know, 'Eff it, I'm wearing what I want,' or, 'Eff it--I want to eat that .'" Fair enough. Except it's only been in my late 30s, early 40s, that I've paid any attention to what I wear or eat. Just last month I figured out that if I wear these undies with those pants, an unsightly pantyline will ensue. If I eat that, I'll walk around with it between my teeth unless I brush. Yesterday, for example, I drank a protein shake during a staff meeting, and a seed took up permanent residence between my front teeth. But at least I knew it. So the effit years, not so much. It's more like the "

Is It Wrong,

given current events, that my screensaver is this?

Doubt v. Possibility

Thursday morning at jury duty--or, rather, jury selection, during which I was selected for not one, but two cases--I sat watching the judge. Cool woman , I thought. Friendly but firm. Jokes but keeps control. I'm a lot like that; I could be a judge . Then came some attorneys. "When your name was called, ma'am, you hesitated. Why is that?" asked the one, of a woman who would admit she'd rather be at work. Wow , I thought, that would be something--asking direct, pointed questions to take matters where you want them to go. I could do that. By the end of the four and a half hours, my what I want to be when I grow up list grew by several options. Never mind that each would take years of study and training; my world had expanded. I now see why Take Your Kid To Work Day exists. And why fifth graders trek to that same courthouse for field trips. To discover I could do that . By the time I arrived at the boxing gym that same night, the sense of omnipotence had faded. For

Top Ten SIde Effects From Prescription Drug Ads

10. a rash on your cheeks or other parts of the body 9. red scaly patches or raised bumps that are filled with pus 8. yellow skin 7. feeling "high" 6. suicidal thoughts or actions 5. increased sweating 4. dark urine 3. clay-colored bowel movements 2. tuberculosis 1. burping

I Like What

It came to my attention that I use the word "what" in post titles quite a bit. There's The What If , a recent post about an obese woman who found a supportive community just in time. It's a story I can't get out of my head. There's What's Left , in which I manage to tie together being hit in the head and having a son with diabetes. I like this one. Go read it. And then, just for balance, read What's Right as well, for an honest glimpse at bitterness bumping against charity in my hard heart. I like this one a lot, too.


For the past four years, I've been working on this story. If you'd like to read sample chapters, let me know in the comments. Frames a picture of death, drugs and forgiveness by Amy Scheer On August 21, 2004, at 4:45pm, Marilyn Jansma slowed her Honda CR-V into line to pay toll on a Chicago highway. Kevin Jansma, home in Iowa, played blocks with their son, Trey, a toddler. A Chicago car mechanic, tired from a raucous all-night birthday celebration, left work and fell asleep at the wheel. The crash that resulted killed Marilyn, shattering the lives of all who knew this spirited church leader and budding clinical psychologist. And it forever changed the man who took her life. Frames presents a picture of this real-life tragedy and its hopeful end by letting the central characters speak for themselves. First-hand accounts stand side by side, forming an elegant and complex narrative collage. Interviews with the young widower and driver,

Can't Think Straight

Earliest memory: I'm four, sitting in a small, windowless, wood-paneled room. A box is pushed across a large desk. "Sort the shapes," a voice says. I look in the box: triangles, squares. Circles. Really? I look to the grown-up in charge of my fate, searching for clues. Can it be true I'll be deemed smart enough for kindergarten, if not old enough, based on such a test as this? At no point does relief cross my mind; there's no celebration that the prize is in the bag. No, what I think to myself is this: there's something I'm missing. What's in front of me is too obvious, too easy. I've got to look at this in some other way. At four, and still at forty, my perspective has always been this: the obvious is too obvious. Let me think around, behind and through, instead. Which is why boxing is so refreshing. There's strategy and technique to be learned, but in the end, all you have to think about is this one person in front of you. That's it. jab

The What If

I write a newsletter for my Y. I interview members, weave their stories into my own. The purpose is to highlight the community in constant formation at our small branch; very few newsy items make it onto those pages. Mostly stories. I'm writing one now about a woman who swims every day. She's "always been heavy," as she puts it, and for the past three or four years, planned her day around what's on TV. Depression had kept her inside the house, and "the more you don't move, the more you can't move," she told me. Carrying that weight around, even just to walk, was too much effort--she'd have to stop every few feet to catch her breath. Once she made the decision to become a member, anxiety hit again. She didn't show up. A staff member called, encouraged her, and now this woman's life has completely changed. This is the story I'll write. It's a marvelous one, which highlights everything I love about the Y: the communal ties, the r

The Race To Save The World

It's not a contest, I know. But it's natural to want to weigh my professions against each other, see which one tackles the world's problems best. Last month, some of the people I taught at an applied theatre conference committed themselves to using the art form to help communities here and abroad. I'm so glad of that. And I've written extensively here on using theatre in a local homeless shelter to good ends. Like this time , and others . So it was surprising yesterday to receive a letter in the mail announcing that a group of women from the shelter are training for a 5K. Weekly, they attend classes on nutrition and fitness, and they run or walk. Which happens to be the kind of thing I teach now. I saw in the picture a woman who had spent most of the time I worked there with one foot bandaged and raised, and here she is training for a run. She looks happy. This could be the ticket. The arts are helpful and good, but this--this could fight the battle on several fron


According to The Dream Well , New rooms in a house can relate to areas in our lives where we are discovering new skills, abilities or strengths within ourselves. ... Dreams of new rooms invite us to look at what we thought were our limitations, and to recognise that we can move beyond them. ... Our feelings and reactions to this new room, or the series of new rooms will give us important clues as to how this relates to our lives. Do you feel awe inspired, excited and amazed? Do you feel a sense of nervousness and trepidation? Or do you simply not want to know, and decide to lock the door and keep this room hidden, a secret? I often dream I've found new rooms in my house. Usually, I'm thrilled at the chance for more space, and typically these rooms are quite tastefully done, filled with furniture I didn't know I had. Last night, I found some new rooms. And I could only be bothered to think, "Damn: another bathroom to clean."

No Tears

At the start of the Insanity: The Asylum DVDs, a disclaimer rolls up the screen, something along the lines of this: You should not exercise at a level beyond which you feel comfortable. If at any time you feel you are exercising beyond your current fitness capabilities, discontinue the exercise immediately, and reconsider your use of this routine in particular. And I think to myself: But isn't that the point? They need those warnings in place to avoid getting sued. But the whole point of the workout I did yesterday was to push the limits of comfort, both physical and mental. Had I followed the disclaimer, I'd have been on the couch at minute two. That's no exaggeration; I'm not one for suffering, despite my current pursuit of boxing. If you told me today I had cancer, there'd be no courageous battle with it--I'd be dead by tomorrow. It took a day of limping around and shaking my head as I tried to tell people about The Asylum. No words came, just the shaking and

Maybe I Don't Want To Be An Elite Athlete Anymore

Yesterday I announced I was to begin Insanity/The Asylum. Today I discovered The Asylum is not for humans. Have I cried during a workout before? Right when you're ready to shut off the DVD (or pause it again , in my case), Shaun T says something along the lines of, "We're still in the warm up," or, "Now for the power round." Even the Marine behind him falters. Did I mention I'm 40? In other news, popular blogger Lisa Creech Bledsoe kindly solicited my advice on her crash from a boxing high. Read about it at her blog, The Glowing Edge , or at Women Talk Sports . And while I shake my head at the thought that I, a once and still backward bookworm, am quoted on anything to do with athleticism, I also regret that I have the experience to qualify for an appearance on D-Mom Blog, for moms of children with diabetes. Read my interview from December here .

Jumping On The Bandwagon for 30 Days

Everybody's doing P90x. Or maybe Insanity. So where did I choose to begin? Part 3: Insanity/The Asylum. Arrived in the mailbox yesterday. Though I'd been mixing up my workout routines, I was still putting a lot of focus on strength, with the occasional shoulder conditioning for boxing. Asylum promises to turn me into an agile athlete. I'll miss a month of working out at the Y, but I'll see my people when I'm on the clock there, thankfully. And do my sweating at home. If the "athletic performance assessment" is any indication, I'll be doing a lot of that. Sweating. (And when you're sore mid-workout instead of 2 days after, you know you're in trouble.) I can't bear to post a video I made right after, so this will have to do: Buy beachbody products, including P90x and Insanity, from my friend Mindy .