Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daddy's Girl

"Why do I do this?"

I ask myself, every Monday and Wednesday, as I dip my toes into the ice-cold-freezing-frigid-like-Alaska swimming pool.

I love swimming. I love changing out of comfortable clothes into an awkward, weirdly fitting, damp swimsuit. I love stretching and snapping a plastic cap over whatever my hairdo was that day. I love the questionable locker room and the cold puddles of probably-disease-filled water (water?) that I splash through on the way to the pool. I LOVE having to get in a freezing pool and how it makes me want to start exercising immediately, or lose toes and fingers. I love the pain and agony of the sprints and the humiliation of "butterfly". I love getting out soaking wet to spend the next half hour trying to get warm, dry, and dressed before walking outside and having my hair freeze.

Oh, yeah, I love swimming.

So if I love it SO much... why do I still do it?!?!?

I figured it out. It's all in the genes: Dad.

My Dad has run something like 34 marathons to date. The first one was about 15 years ago, and we have pictures of him at the finish line--well, we actually have many more pictures of me, the cute, chubby 3-year-old than we do of the bedraggled, almost-dead Dad. Despite months of diligent preparation and training, the marathon had stripped him of energy and feeling--not to mention toenails and probably years of life.

...and he wanted to do it again?

The man obviously enjoys pain: His dream vacation is walking uphill in all kinds of weather with 50+ pounds strapped to his back just so he can enjoy a view that is already hanging on his living room wall. He bikes 15 miles to work everyday--and 15 miles back--to save a couple cents on gas. His life goal is the Ironman, the Beast of all triathalons that basically sounds a little less fun than having every hair on your head ripped out by the roots.


Despite my immediate revulsion at such crazy activites... it kind of sounds like fun.
It has to be in my genes, because all logical thought screams, "Hello?! It's fun because it hurts less when it's OVER?! That's NOT WHAT FUN IS!"

Nevertheless, I find myself drifting toward the BYU triathalon booth, and looking up marathon training schedules online, and ...

jumping into this freezing swimming pool.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Does Food Affect Health? Are you kidding?

If you complain of--or really, even mention-- anything related to any body function to my mother, be prepared for one reply:

"What have you been eating lately?"

Whether it's a slight tickle in your throat, a left molar that's aching, a slower pace on your jog or even a bad hair cut, Mom knows what's wrong:

"Obviously you haven't been getting the right nutrients. Let me mix you a vitamin cocktail right this minute."

Your complaint IS certain to be related to malnutrition--even if you can trace the ailment back to an actual event. "But Mom!" you protest. "My leg is broken because I FELL BACKWARDS off the BACK FENCE while CHASING THE CAT with my ROLLER BLADES ON! This has NOTHING TO DO with food!!"

"Your bone would never have snapped if you'd been getting your vitamin D, and calcium," she'd reprimand us. "Here's a shake with everything you need."

Since an early age, I've been skeptical of food--probably because of an infamous experience (caught on video) in which my parents laugh until they cry as they feed baby-Dia mashed potatoes and ice cream alternately. I became increasingly frustrated at this confusing food which was AMAZING one minute and boring the next.

A few years later, I came home from a birthday party completely befuddled at the menu choices there. "MOM! There were muffins, but they were SWEET, and they had frosting, like CAKE, and sprinkles!!!..." The same week, my sugar rushing little brother tried to explain that he had eaten "mom, bagels, mom, but they were yummy, and had, um, they had FROSTING on top, and they had jam inside, and, MOM! Mom. What were those mom, huh? Huh Mom?"

I remember scouring the cereal aisle with my little brother for a new breakfast cereal that fit Mom's criteria. Sugar had to be the third ingredient or lower, and exist in lower quantities than 4 grams per serving. We were SO excited when we found we could have Kix--it was a great addition to our usual breakfasts of plain oatmeal ("sprinkle on ground flax, and pretend it's brown sugar!!"). We were in heaven when we got to visit cousins--their kitchens were motherloads of Lucky Charms, Capt'n Crunch and even--no!--Cookie Crunch (COOKIES for BREAKFAST?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!)! I'm sure my aunts wondered why "Ian and Dia just want cereal for dinner again," but it was just such a marvel to have that much sugar in one bowl!

Later in life, I remember dreading the fresh, foamy shot glass of lawn-green wheat grass waiting next to my whole grain, honey pancakes and icy orange juice (Don't let it's innocent orange color lull you. It is another flax-seed hideout). The tiny, emerald glass of frothy liquid was the most disgusting, gag-inducing torture I've ever experienced. Mom made the distressing drink by blending clippings from her wheat grass plant, straight up. The resulting refreshment often left a cud like flavor under your tongue and a few forgotten, un-blended blades of grass stuck to the roof of your mouth--a GREAT beginning to the day.

However, the nutritional benefits were "absolutely worth it!" exulted Mom every morning. "One tablespoon of this amazing stuff has the benefits of an entire POUND of vegetables, kids! Isn't that awesome?!"

...Yeah, Mom...

In the interest of nutrition, Mom ground her own wheat, grew her own herbs and concocted her own mixes. She stored flax, sprouted beans, and later, when she discovered wheat hurt her babies, she learned how to bake with teff, quinoa, corn meal, amaranth, and a little kitchen miracle called xanthum gum.

You can get used to anything, I guess. I know, I did and in the process, I learned that food affects health--of course because of my disease, and the food induced diseases that accompany it, diabetes, lupus, IBS, acid reflux, and stomach and esophogeal cancer.

However, food affects health in all kind of other ways, too. I knew before doctors did that cough syrups are worthless and that colds are best fought with vitamins C and B, echinacea, and enough liquids to drown a horse instead. I'm a firm believer that acne is cured with an enzyme(Lysine), not Accutane, and that enough leafy greens chase away cancer cells. Carbonation will ruin your bone marrow, Omega 3 keeps the brain and heart healthy, and artificial sweeteners have direct ties with communism and devil-worship.

I've adopted Mom's philosophies, and if I have my way, my kids will never have a formal introduction to sugar until their freshman biology class reveals the unique qualities of sucrose.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Dimwits Get No Dinner

Last Friday night, I drove up Provo Canyon to my family's little vacation home to do laundry. I was simply loving the bachelor life: I sang along with my headphone'd ipod all the way there (a luxury not recommended with company), unloaded the car by myself (it's amazing how much old Bertha can haul), changed into some pj's, and pulled out the grill to cook up some pancakes.

As I settled down for a night of warm banana pancakes, laundry, old movies and maybe even beauty sleep, I began to review the lengthy "to-do" list that I had accomplished that busy day. I mentally congratulated myself as I checked each item off in my mind:

Buy gelatin for that yogurt recipe? ...done.
Fill big Bertha with gas? ...check (groan).
Recycle the huge pile of plastic bags accumulating in the utility closet? ...finished!
Water the plants outside? ...yup.
Deposit that check at the bank?


All at once the panic struck. The calm stillness of the old house was punctuated by my shrill cries of the worst swear word I know (reader discretion advised...):

"CRAP!" I yelled, and sat bolt upright with every sense at immediate attention as I realized all at once that the check I was supposed to cash had been nestled carefully in the back pocket of the jeans I had just shed, which were now...

"CRAP!!!" in the washer.

"CRAP! crud, crud, crudcrudcrud CRUD-- CRAP!!"

I was shouting as I ran down the stairs, my voice getting louder as panic grew from the realization of what I had done. By the time I burst into the laundry room, I was at multi-decibel level.

I doubt the washer has ever been accosted with such force, as it had, up to this point, been living a long and happy vacation existence in the calm of mostly sane and quiet people. I slammed the button to stop its motion and flung open the lid. My frantic slog through soggy clothes revealed absolutely nothing; no jeans, no check, not even watery remains.

I should have been calmed by the absence of soggy paper, but I was off. My frustration only mounted: "Where IS it?" My mind flew to other possibilities. Were the jeans still in the gigantic pile of laundry? Within seconds, the mountain was moved--decimated, really, and as I strode through the wake of the destruction, kicking aside t-shirts and socks, I hollered, "WHERE IS IT?" if expecting a response from the aftermath of the laundry room.

A new thought fell like a forgotten rag into my busily swirling load of my agitated mind:
"Maybe I left it in the car!"

Back up the stairs I tumbled and raced outside, slamming the door behind me. My bare feet danced a jig on the ice as a quick glance through the driver's side window told me the check was not in Bertha's domain, so I turned back to search inside--

and stopped.

The door handle jiggled in my hand, but would not turn. Maybe it was stuck? I turned harder, even yanked a little. Nothing. More worried now, I gave the door a full-out dose of "open up right now, or else".

Uh oh.

Locked out.

I remembered (an aberrant thing for me right then) that in my rush to find the check, I had left a pancake on the griddle and smashed my face up against the freezing glass. Sure enough, there it was, bubbling beautifully and completely ignorant of its ensuing doom. At this point, it was certainly finished cooking, and any further time on the heat would render it inedible. I did consider the possibility of an eventual fire, but honestly, I was more worried about my grumbly stomach than I was about the dumb house. Or even the check, actually.

OK, time to take a moment and focus on more rational thinking, right?

Ha ha! Yeah, sure.
First item on the "save the pancake" agenda was to frantically run around the periphery of the house (in freezing temperatures) in my pajamas (kind of like loony Great Aunt Muriel used to do...) to search for another way in. After the cold snapped me back to my senses, I crouched on the ground in front of the door to try to think of other solutions (and to warm my frostbitten toes). It was then that I felt my cell phone bump against my leg.

Cell phone?


Grandma knew an emergency when she heard one, and in less than two minutes, my uncle pulled up in a big hurry. As he let me into the house, he couldn't speak because he was laughing so hard, and the only words I had for him were, "THANKS FOR HELPING ME SAVE MY PANCAKE!!!"

Thank goodness, the pancake was crispy but not blackened, and I even found the stupid check in a pocket of my purse (I know! who woulda thought to look there?!). All's well that ends well.

Although, despite my abilities, great intentions, ingenuity, and a fabulous sense of fashion, this independent, confident, queen of the bachelorettes could not have bested the elements, met every challenge and saved her pancake without a little help from other people who care.

I get by with a little help from my friends...