Monday, December 22, 2008

Original Swinger

I’ve always been fascinated with the circus. I love watching the acrobats swing in the air, the various beasts jumping through flaming hoops, the contortionists bend down and bury their own heads in their asses. I even remember reading books and watching movies when I was little about people running off to join the circus.

A few Saturdays ago, I dipped my toe in the water. Well actually I swung from the rafters. Marathon Man and I signed up for a flying trapeze lesson at the NYC trapeze school. He actually suggested it for our very first date, but it is so popular that you have to sign up months in advance. I practically skipped on our way to the class. When we showed up we realized it must be a chick thing because M-Man was the only guy there (besides the circus professionals). In a class of ten, it was us two, three girls from Scranton PA and a bacelorette party. Yep, a whole lotta vagina going on there. Because he was the only guy student, the women would all cheer for him. He didn’t need it though since he was the star student (probably because he was the only one with enough upper body strength to do a pull up).

The progression of the trick was:
1. climb up scary shaky ladder to a platform suspended 30 feet in the air.
2. place toes over platform and grasp trapeze bar (while leaning waaaaay over the edge)
3. jump off platform and hold on for dear life
4. at the peak of the swing, bring your knees up and hook them on the bar
5. once knees are around bar, release hands and lean back (upside down) with outstretched arms
6. at the peak of the swing, a burly muscle bound sweaty shirtless circus guy would swing up on his own trapeze and you would reach out and kick off your legs from the bar when he yelled “hup”
7. then pee your pants
8. if you did everything correctly, burly sans shirt would grab your arms and swing you back and forth on his trapeze
9. then he would release you (toss you basically) and you would back flip into the net

It is easier to understand through pictures, etc. M-Man and I were quite the performers and were able to complete the catch on the first try. Not everyone else was so fortunate (and one never even advanced beyond the initial swing). Yes yes, I’m bragging, but we kicked serious ass! It was so exhilarating that you would be shaking afterwards because of the adrenaline coursing through your veins. I can’t wait to try it again and have actually signed up for the free trapeze class in Chicago for January.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Letter

Normally my mom sends out a standard Christmas form letter. There is a paragraph dedicated to each family member and the letter usually started with "Well it is Christmas Eve and I am finally getting around to writing my Xmas letter, etc". Lame I know. In the past, she would always get key information wrong in the letter, and we would spend the holidays correcting relaitves and loose associates. The conversations would go
Family friend: so your mother says you won a triathlon in Chicago
Me: no no no, I competed in one, and finished it period
FF: well she says you had to swim 20 miles, that sounds so tough
Me: no, it was like 20 laps in the pool, more like a half mile
FF: well anyway I hear you are engaged
Me: not even close...I went on two dates with a guy and don't even know his last name.

You get the point. Last year she asked us to each write our own paragraph since she wsa A) lazy and B) tierd of us scolding her for getting everything grossly wrong. Since I write like a bitter teenage girl, she decided to let me write the whole thing. surprise surprise, it was a hit (well I'm not surprised). She did edit out all the swear words though.

Starting a new tradition, I have written the family Christmas letter again this year. Of course identifying information has been edited out and I apologize for its 'G' rating (how did I ever let myself sink so low...the next post will contain no fewer than ten penis references).

Behold the Family Christmas Letter:

Since I was not issued a cease and desist order from the censors for last year’s Christmas letter, Mom figured it would be okay for me to write on her behalf again. Behold the 2008 life and times of the XXX Family…according to me.

Mom continues to teach math to ornery 8th graders at [school name]. She keeps talking about retirement in a few years but I honestly don’t think that will happen until she starts teaching children of former students. In the last year, she has taken vacations to New York City, Chicago, DC, and Arizona. Amazingly, she easily navigates the public subway systems…probably because the way cab drivers zoom in an out of traffic makes her nervous. She remains the number one smuggler of imitation designer handbags in the state of Nebraska (yes, they are fake…they are ALL fake, when has a public school teacher from Nebraska been able to afford six Coach purses with matching wallets).

Dad finally retired this year from [company] after talking about it for the last ten years! Lately he has been working miscellaneous part time jobs between naps just to starve off boredom and to avoid doing any housework. He remains healthy and in good spirits despite his regiment diet of potato chips, ice cream, and frozen fish sticks. Actually, he tried to quit potato chips cold turkey, but caved after two weeks. Him and I are keeping busy researching stocks and playing the market in an effort to see who can lose more money (FYI, I’m totally winning, sad).

It is official and the paperwork has cleared, Angela is now a [last name]. She and her husband Brad are busy finishing their walk-out basement. This undertaking has forced Brad to learn several other trades like dry walling, tiling, plumbing, and whatever else they can google. Brad just celebrated his 11th year with [electric company], so he is entitled to a decorative engraved receptacle or something (yippee). Angela remains at XXX [company] as one of their top Program Managers. On a recent business trip, she made the FAA watch list for running “like a wild maniac” on the Atlanta tarmac (straight from her quote). Maybe this incident will give her more time to spend at home and try out new recipes which is her favorite pastime. She has a real knack for making just about anything except dough…pizza dough, her smug arch nemesis. Good thing she has enough dough to buy dough, ha ha ha (okay I have a lame sense of humor).

Tiffany and Aaron [last name] welcomed a baby girl on [date] which was 5 days late (or like a million according to Tiff). Her arrival was probably the most anticipated event ever for Mom (she couldn’t wait to be a professional Grandma)! Ava [last name] smiles all the time and likes to oohh, awe and make sounds while watching herself in the mirror (hey I do that too, God I’m gorgeous). The baby is taking after her grandpa Lynn and sleeps a good 10 hours a night now. Tiffany returned to teaching [subject] at [school name] after maternity leave where she gets to deal with twenty screaming kids instead of just one. Aaron had a good and tough year that started with shoulder surgery early on and ended with a promotion to Sales Specialist at work, Boston, the dog, is not loving the whole baby thing because it cuts into his “attention time”. Tiffany says he used to go up and explore the baby when she was on the ground, and now he just sulks away and shoots her dirty looks like a high school snob.

As for me (Lindsay), I recently left the Big Apple and moved back to Chicago which is still very much like living in NYC…just a whole lot colder. I still work for the same [company name] and was promoted to include Project Management. Yeah it is a lot fancy of words that mean I am paid to listen to people complain. I took three weeks off and traveled through Hong Kong, Thailand, and Vietnam. It was beautiful & smothering hot, and I came back with a renewed love for burgers & fries. I continue to date a “nice young man” (according to Mom) for over a year now which means he has outlasted some plants I own (that’s a good thing right). Along with some friends, I am learning Spanish and enjoy speaking it very grammatically incorrect. I swear how can you tell that an earring is a boy and a sweatshirt is a girl (and I think my belt is having an affair with my shirt).

As you can see, everyone is keeping busy in very different ways. However, we are most definitely related (come on…we totally look alike) and more than just ribbing Dad on his potato chip obsession binds us together. We hope you enjoyed this family recap of our exciting antics and possible law infractions.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays, The XXX Family

Monday, December 15, 2008

Take cover!

Normally I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Honestly it wasn’t a big holiday in my family growing up. The exciting event of the day was always catching a movie in the afternoon. Well this year was different. I flew down to Kansas City to meet Marathon Man’s parents. Major I know. They asked me if I had any dietary restrictions or allergies for the big Thanksgiving meal. Well I jokingly said that I wanted mac & cheese. My mom is not the greatest cook (who do you think taught me how to set bacon on fire) so the meal usually consisted of dry turkey, canned ham and corn, tasteless mashed potatoes, etc. Naturally you can see why we always looked forward to boxed mac & cheese because it was guaranteed to be good. Well M-Man’s parents are borderline gourmet cooks so I didn’t think they would actually make it. I guess they got the idea that I would ONLY eat mac & cheese, because his mom picked up a 12 pack from Costco. I admit, it was a nice gesture, but I was teased relentlessly.

The next day, we leisurely went shopping to pick up some deals. The sad thing is that JcPenny was the classiest place around. We met his mom there because M-Man needed jeans. She made him try on at least twenty pairs. I hung out in the dressing room because it took all of five minutes to browse the elegant selection of the Jc Penny misses collection. His mom shouted out “honey I found a nice pair of black jeans, do you want to try them on too” and I whispered to him “say no otherwise I’m dumping you”. They should have never invented black jeans. It gives guys a false sense of “dressy yet comfortable”. Barf!

That night we took his mom out to dinner for her birthday. Well as the waiter was passing my burger to me, he slipped and dropped a bucket of ketcup all over M-Man. It was total ketcup carnage. The server then gave us a handful of paper napkins and a 5% discount on our meal. Really, just 5%, when you an entire bottle of ketcup covered my boyfriend! His dad straightened it out with the manager who probably told him the massive hair gel was making his hands slick. Later they came out with a birthday dessert which turned out to be a twinkie with a sparkler stuck in it. Yeah, the C in KC stands for classy.

On our way back, we passed the most gaudy lawn decoration holiday display…EVER! I don’t know if it was the Nascar driving snowmen, the drunken reindeer, camofouge Santa, or the Statue of Liberdy hanging with penguins. I made M-Man stop the car so I could snap some pictures.

If that wasn’t amusing enough, right next door to the lawn abomination was a goat farm. Yes, in the great metropolis of Kansas City they sell goats! Ah ha ha ha!

Now you know you are in Kansas when the airport has tornado shelters. Ha!

We passed the time by trolling through downtown Independence Missouri, home of Harry S. Truman. We toured his presidential library and took photo opts at the giant phallic Mormon temple. We walked into the most depressing Church’s Chicken ever. All the customers were screaming at the workers for their “extra biscuits, this meal comes with free biscuits son”! The workers were all teenage derelicts who probably pee in the batter.

One day, I made M-Man drive me to Manhattan Kansas so I could see my old college town. I haven’t been back since graduation, so there were some things I wanted to get reacquainted with. Namely, Rock-a-belly sandwiches. Mmmnnn quite possibly the most delicious sandwiches ever!

We also walked the campus and saw some of my old classrooms and favorite campus places. Last year, a tornado hit campus and causes serious damage to the engineering complex. Luckily, the college of engineering has some serious bankroll in the alumni and was able to repair practically everything. The wind erosion lab is still kaput though. I went over to the senior sidewalk to show him my brick (it has my name, college, and graduation year). Well after all the hype, we found out that my brick was GONE! When they first installed it just before graduation, I noticed that they misspelled my name. I mean grossly misspelled it like “lynzey”. I told them to replace it since obviously I did not misspell my own name and didn’t want generations to come to refer to me as lynzey. I guess they took out the brick and forgot to put in a new one. Two strikes…now you wonder why I don’t donate to their foundation.

On Sunday, a huge snowstorm hit the Midwest and New England areas. M-man’s flight was delayed five hours. Mine was cancelled! I called the airline and was told the soonest they could fly me back to Chicago was Tuesday night. Unacceptable! I cut loose and finally got the manager who put me on a Monday morning flight. That still meant I had to spend the rest of the day and night with his parents…alone. Awkward huh. I had possibly the most uncomfortable “what is your intentions with my son” conversation with his dad in the car. After fifteen minutes of awkward silence he asked if I would like to listen to the radio to which I replied “YES”.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Asia Adventure - Post 5 (Bangkok)

I had high hopes for our second day in Bangkok. I mean the first day we already were involved in a straight-from-the-book tourist trap jewel scam…what more could happen right.
We grabbed breakfast out on the street and it was so delicious. They had people with hot dog carts selling Pad Thai noodles, pineapple wedges (the freshest and most juicy ones I’ve ever had), coconut pudding cakes, and rice cakes with caramel (mmmmnnnn). We distinctly avoided any meat because the streets were strangely devoid of any rats, cats, and dogs. Hmmm.

Our first stop was the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. Perched a block outside the entrance was a horde of tuk-tuk drivers and other scam artists shouting at us “you go to Palace, it is closed today, big sale today!”. Um, we can see the gates and they are open…people are going in and my tour book lists the hours/days. Nice try jackass. The Grand Palace was home to the Royal family before they built a modern complex. The temple Wat Phra Kaew was the royal personal place of worship and held the Emerald Buddha (which is actually jasper) which was found enclosed in some monastery wall when the country (Siam) was under attack. The whole complex has a 20 foot tall stone wall surrounding it. Since it was holy ground, we had to observe respectful dress which included covering our shoulders and no bare legs (even for men). They loaned out sarongs and jackets which probably were not the most sanitary things since it was a million degrees outside and we immediately sweated through our clothes.

The place was big and awesome. The attention to detail was insane. Pictures can better describe the scene.
The Grand Palace

Taunting dragon (or dog) sculptures

Palace Guard

Wat Phra Kaew

We stopped by a local open air market for a quick bite and were assaulted by some of the worst smells ever. They had a lot of fish and dried fish on display that probably were fished out of the nearby Mae Nam Chao Phraya river (brown, polluted and full of garbage…yummy). We were surprised and found some absolutely delicious snacks of honey banana chips and mini pancakes (oh God they were good!). Did I mention the food cost between 20 and 70 cents?

The next temple was Wat Pho, home of the giant reclining Buddha. This is the largest reclining Buddha in all of Thailand and stretches 150 feet long.
Reclining Buddha

Wat Pho

There were a lot of Buddhist monks walking around the temples. Dana got excited every time she spotted one like it was a game of ‘slug bug’. Soon we all started pointing out the monks.
Me: look monks…kid monks!
Evan & Gabby in unison: mini-monks!

We crossed the river on what passed for a ferry boat but was really a lawnmower tied to a raft. The next stop was Wat Arun which is modeled in the Khmer style (think rounded stepped tops instead of straight points). For those of you who watch ‘The Amazing Race’ the magnificent Angkor Wat temples in Siem Reap Cambodia are also built in this style. Anyway the mosaic tile on this temple is actually broken pieces of china dishes that were used as ballast for the sea voyages. I guess one person’s trash is another’s treasure. The same is true for Boston…a lot of the New England harbor towns have red brick buildings because the English ships would use the bricks as ballast for their ships. I know, wealth of completely useless information…now if only I could get on Jeopardy.
Wat Arun

View of Bangkok Old District