Thursday, March 19, 2009

thar she (allegedly) blows

We were strolling along the boardwalk in front of the fabulous waterfront homes of Balboa Island in Newport Beach. I was trying to convey to Robbie why it was perfectly acceptable to peer openly into the living rooms of the homes' wealthy occupants.

"Will you please stop staring into people's windows!" she had requested, most unreasonably I thought. "It's rude."

"No it isn't,"
I explained patiently. "They want us to stare! Those windows are there for us, the lowly proles. They're our firsthand look into the lifestyles of the rich and not-so-famous, who are by definition insecure. We're their target audience. They need to see our soot-smudged little faces, clutching the sills, gazing upward with envy and awe at their tasteful opulence. It helps define them."

I was really enjoying waxing populist
. It comes naturally to me. Especially at sunset, after a martini or two.

"They feed on our envy," I continued. "It's how they know who they are.
They thrive on it."

"It's still rude," she insisted mildly, pulling out her camera.

"They could always draw the curtains. But you don't see them doing that now, do you?"

And indeed, there is something inherently theatrical about the Balboa boardwalk scene; designer set pieces framed by those huge picture windows, strategically illuminated from within. Recessed lights softly reflect the polished surface of grand pianos and decorative wine openers; enormous overstuffed sofas are tossed casually, invitingly, with billowy pillows of tapestry and silk. Twinkling lamps highlight gleaming telescopes on tripods, acres of hardwood flooring and etched glass. Lovely, stately, pristine. And at 6:30 pm on a Saturday evening, suspiciously unoccupied.

"You would think that at this point they'd be more afraid of a class uprising. Of the unwashed masses coming at them with pitchforks and shovels, like Marie Antoinette," she mused, snapping discreetly.

You would think. Looking around, there did seem to be a curious lack of long-handled tools topped with metal or spiky prongs laying about for a fully functioning harbor. Not even an anchor. The area had been prole-proofed. The least they could have done was provided us with nerf bats. Off with their hedgefund-happy heads!

Except these guys. They look kinda fun.

We were both celebrating and lamenting our earlier whale watching excursion out of Davy Jones' Locker, an annual event since 2004 or 05. Davy Jones guarantees their trips with free rain checks, so that if no whales or dolphins are spotted you get to sail again at any time for free. When we first started coming out, tickets were $14; today they would have set us back a whopping $30 bucks apiece. But we've been sailing free for years, and in time have forgotten about the whales altogether and just come to think of it as a pleasant day at sea. All we've ever spotted were seagulls and sea lions.

Until today.

"Whale! At 1:00!" hollered the captain. About 30 people flew to starboard at once. That means to the right, ye scurvy landlubbers. And I know right is starboard because I just looked it up.

"No! Sorry! 2:00!" shouted our I'm-pretty-sure-sea-worthy captain. We all turned our heads ever so slightly in unison.

And thar she blew.

At least we think so. Turns out, thar was pretty far. The truth is, although Captain
Don't-call-me-Ahab Rick chased her for the better part of an hour, we never got close enough to truly appreciate much of her. We did see her spray far in the distance, but then again, this is Southern California, birthplace of Hollywood and special effects; for all we know, that could have been the old shark effect from Universal's 'Jaws' theme ride, reworked into a harbor leviathan. I was once on an excursion (and much smaller boat) out of Dana Point when a California grey whale swam right up next to us, close enough to reach out and stroke, to see every barnacle on her sleek broad back. I swear, you could smell the deep sea depth of her. It was a surreal and magnificent experience. This, well, this could have been a floating log. A very large, fast-moving log.

Disembarking, we felt a little deflated.

"It's the end of an era," said Robbie sadly.

I sighed. "No more free trips. I'm going to miss Balboa."

One hour and a refreshing cocktail later, we were feeling much brighter.

"To next year, in Dana point," toasted Robbie.

And thar we goes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

dissed by the stars

Horoscope: Cancer

In Horoscopes

After years of painstaking research and rigorous clinical trials, medical science still doesn't have an answer for why you're such a jerk.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I feel like a number

Diets tend to make one obsessively numbers oriented, and for the past couple of weeks they've been much on my mind. It occurs to me that my entire life has been recorded, at least at one level, as little more than a series of weights and measures which I have allowed to create my identity as a woman and which continue to influence how I feel about myself today. I thought I was smarter than that.

I am not. I can still recall how much I weighed at varying points in my personal history with a precision lacking in any other aspect of my life. I can't remember my cell number or the name of my last dentist, but I can tell you that
I was 15 years old and 130 lbs when Seventeen magazine and the family doctor informed me that 130 was too fat for a teenager of my (disappointing) 5' 4" height. I had thought I was taller than that.

The doctor went on to tell me that if I kept it up at this rate I would be extremely overweight by the time I was 30. I wasn't exactly sure what he meant by 'extremely', but I knew that the idea of being 30 at all sounded terrifying enough. I can tell you that I went on a diet that summer and lost 16 lbs, thrilled that I weighed 114 lbs on my 16th birthday and vowing that I would weigh the same on every birthday for the rest of my life.

I did not keep that vow. And I never shall.

When my first boyfriend broke up with me at age 18 I starved myself down to 107; when my second broke up with me 2 years later I only managed a to whittle my frame down to a paltry 108. I took this to mean that my love for him was not as great as it had been for the first, a realization that added just enough regret to help me achieve a dangerously waifish 105. T
he self-induced pain of hunger masked the inflicted anguish of rejection. It felt good, regaining physical control as I imagined myself being devoured from the inside out, literally and emotionally. In the meantime, I assuaged my misery with an endless supply of whiskey sours, Virginia Slims, and Gloria Gaynor belting out I Will Survive on the jukebox at 25 cents a play. Disco Saves.

Sadly, over the years I grew accustomed to breakups and they could no longer be used as a reliable means of weight control. I learned to exercise. After I got married and the threat of a breakup became, although not impossible certainly, at least less frequent, I found that happiness was just another way of saying that I had to work out more. I thought I was more sensible than that.

5.77 miles in 45 minutes on the Precor burns about 400.02 calories, which means I'll have to do at least 2.15 miles on the tread at a rate of 4.0 mph to burn a total of 600 calories. But 45 minutes on the elliptical can vary between 5.75 and 6.35 miles depending on the pace and hits about 500 calories, meaning I can cut the tread to about 1 to 1.25 miles to burn the 600 and create a nice even mileage total as well, only if I do 6.35 miles precor I'll probably have to do 1.75 tread because I feel guilty if I do less than 1 and hate to stop at a number like 1.65 because it's so close to the end of the lap at 1.75. 1.67 is sometimes OK because it's 1 1/3, which seems more of an accomplishment and less of a wimp-out than 1 1/2, and represents approximately 7-10 additional calories; again, depending on the pace and ratio to vertical incline.

There are 104 calories in one baked potato and 200 in 2 tablespoons of butter; 30 in a cup of broccoli; 300 in a can of tuna packed in oil; 110 in a glass of Chardonnay but I like a large glass, more like 140 or so and after 2 who's counting anyway? Not I, surely. But the cardiac/sculpt instructor says it takes a deficit of 3600 calories to lose 1 pound; by cutting out 100 calories a day it will take 36 days to lose 1 pound. 36 days x 26 pounds = 936 days to achieve this particular Fitness Fetish goal, or 468 days if cutting 200 and there goes my glass of wine.

Bored? Yeah, me too.
I thought I was more interesting than that.

And of course, it all adds up to little in the end. I will be no more or less loved, less engaged in the world, no more or less likely to have left a lasting impression on the lives of the people I care about.
It is a tale told by a chubby idiot, full of math and fury, signifying nothing.

What Number Are You?

You Are 5: The Investigator

You're independent - and a logical analytical thinker.

You love learning and ideas... and know things no one else does.

Bored by small talk, you refuse to participate in boring conversations.

You are open minded. A visionary. You understand the world and may change it.

At Your Best: You are sharp, inventive, and creative. You have the skills to lead the world.

At Your Worst: You are reclusive, weird, and a bit paranoid.

Your Fixation: Greed

Your Primary Fear: Being useless or incompetent

Your Primary Desire: Being competent and needed

Other Number 5's: Bill Gates, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Bjork, and Stephen Hawking.

For the record, I am not paranoid.
Why are you looking at me like that?