Sunday, April 11, 2021

Key Alzheimer's, 40-Pound Clean, Zombie Fail

My big job change that I have been hinting at on this blog is that I have recently been assigned to multiple hospital campuses. And a strange and unexpected side affect of being at multiple campuses is key fatigue. There are so many keys to so many doors and cabinets and closets and storage units now. When I first started years ago at my original campus, (which I am back at now, in addition to a whole new campus and the one I have been at for the last five years,) there was a giant zip-lock bag stuffed full of unlabeled keys just sitting there in my desk drawer as if I would magically know what they were all for. At the next campus, it was upgraded to a lock-box full of keys. At least some of them were labeled, albeit vaguely (Daisy Box, 4th Floor Cabinet, Jim.) I gave up on the zip-lock bag, but I eventually sorted out all of the lock-box keys and ordered a key hanger and color-coded key tags. I labeled all of the key tags very clearly in big lettering and hung the keys just inside my office door, where they are frequently admired for their clever organization. At this newest place, there was a huge pile of keys loose on the desk, but someone helpfully took a photo of them and Photo-shopped text into the picture noting where they all go to. I appreciate that, but there are still too many keys, and now when I come home after taking Lyfts everywhere all day, I can’t remember which key opens the outside door to my apartment and which key opens the inside door. You would think that having lot of keys would make me feel secure and important, but instead it feels like an overwhelming burden. I need more key tags, and I need them stat.

Despite running around like a maniac all day due to my job situation, I am trying to keep up on the strength training since it’s the only thing saving my sanity right now. My trainer has had me working frequently with barbells of late in preparation for deadlifting, and she promised me that if I could get a “clean” on a 40-pound barbell, we’d advance to the deadlifting rack. For those who don’t know the weird weightlifting parlance, a “clean” is a little semi-hop/toss move you do to get the barbell up to chest level once you’ve lifted it to up to your hips. It’s really quite fun once you get used to it. I was struggling really hard to get the clean on forty pounds, but I finally did it! I don’t know how or why. I just walked into the gym one day, grabbed the forty-pound barbell, and got the clean right off the bat. It was sort of magical. I was even able to lift it over my head, but I cannot currently get it from an overhead position onto my upper back. My upper back needs a lot more strengthening. But I am proud and excited that I met my 40-pound clean goal! I am now inching closer to being like those women I admire who stalk into the deadlifting rack and nonchalantly load enormous plates onto the bar.

I recently got roped into buying one of the million zombie-shooters available on Steam, but this one was billed as possessing “a clever twist,” and having grown bored of farming and courting in Stardew Valley, I wanted something new. The premise is that you have seven game days to prepare for a massive zombie attack called the Bloodmoon Event, which happens at midnight on day seven. In the week leading up to it, you have to run around and find ammo and weapons and make traps and fortify your shelter. It is not going well, folks. In my first go-round, I totally nerfed the game settings, holed up in an abandoned church, set out a few spike traps, boarded up my doors, and figured I’d be all set. The zombies tore through the doors like they were tissue paper and immediately slaughtered me as I was staring at my screen thinking, “How did you get in here?” I have since watched numerous game-play videos and I realize now how tragically naive I was. Even on cakewalk settings, those zombies will chew through steel, dig through concrete, and literally breach bomb shelters. They are maniacs. After multiple in-game deaths, I find that I am having more fun watching game-play videos than actually playing the game. There are some really skilled and innovative players out there, and it’s way more fun to watch their ingenuity in action than to die over and over again because I suck at it.

I don’t see live-action game trailers very often, and I thought this one was cool. Enjoy!

 --Kristen McHenry

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Lyrical Simplicity

This has been a strange week for me, adapting to major changes in my work life, adjusting to the new world of Lyft, which I frequent now almost daily, and processing memories from my time at a former hospital that I have now returned to work at again. All of this has made me contemplative and strangely nostalgic. I’ve been thinking a lot about my friend Jules, who died at age 96 in the same hospital that he was born in and that he served in as a volunteer for over thirty years, right up until two weeks before his death. I recall putting together his memorial, and how obsessive I was about getting the poem reading right. I chose a poem called “Directions” by Billy Collins, and every time I rehearsed it in my office, I fell to pieces at this one simple line:

“I will walk with you as far as the garden.”

That line haunted my dreams and broke me apart time and time again. It took me a while understand why it brought me to tears every time I came to it: It’s because I knew in my bones that no matter how close I was to Jules, no matter how many people loved and adored him, (and there were many), no matter how strong and extensive and close-knit his family, no matter how many gathered at his bedside to be with him for his last breath, that ultimately death was a journey he would need to take on his own. I could only go with him so far. And that is the truth for all of us. It’s a line that speaks to the final letting go, the point past which we can no longer be accompanied, the point at which we release our hands from our loved ones shoulders and watch them walk off into the mystery of the afterlife, knowing we will never see them again on this plane of existence. Death is always a solo crossing.

In further contemplation of simple but powerful lyrics, I also came across a very old video on YouTtube by Bruce Springsteen, “I’m on Fire”: “Sometimes it’s like someone took a knife edgy and dull, and cut a six inch valley through the middle of my soul.” The song is about a blue-collar guy who has a crush on a posh woman who lives “way up in the hills”, a detail that I find intriguing, but the feeling of having one’s soul sliced by a dull, edgy knife is one that I am intimately familiar with. Maybe I’m just a naturally mournful person (melancholic, they used to call it), but this line rings deeply true for me. It’s not a particularly poetic line, or even a grammatically sound line, but it’s raw and primal and instinctively understood.

YouTube seemed to think I was on an eighties nostalgia kick and also served me up “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman, another song with very simple but powerful and relatable lyrics: “So I remember when we were driving/driving in your car/speed so fast it felt like I was drunk/city lights laid out before us/Your arms felt nice wrapped around my shoulders/I had a feeling that I belonged/I had a feeling that I could be someone, be someone.” I listened to the entire song several times, reflecting on how full of hope and quintessentially American it is, despite the deep thread of pain that runs through it. The lesson is, sometimes in poetry the simple is the better. We poets tend to overthink things.

I feel like I should apologize for my rather wistful and blue-tinted post, but I won’t. That’s just where I’m at right now. That’s what a flood of emotionally powerful memories will do to a person. Enjoy this touching memory of when Tracy Chapman performed “Fast Car” at the Oakland Coliseum:

 --Kristen McHenry


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Pragmatic Marriage, Glasses Shame, Fashion Plan


So far in Stardew Valley, I have married the town doctor and the town writer, and now in my latest go-around, I’ve decided to get more practical and marry someone with a strong back. So I’m going after Alex, the town jock. I need a sturdy partner to help with the farm labor, and Alex lifts weights religiously. He’s cute for a pixelated ‘toon, but he has a dark past and he veers wildly between lechery and negging. So far he’s asked me if I own a bikini and suggested that we hang out on the beach, then shortly after accused me of having dirty shoes. Nonetheless, I bring him his favorite item regularly, a “Complete Breakfast” or lacking that, an egg. He needs his protein if he’s going be of any use to me on Flowing River Farm. Despite his lack of emotional maturity, I have high hopes for this one. He really goes after those weights and he’s going to be able to bale a lot of hay.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve griped about my seasonal allergies on this blog, so here I go: My seasonal allergies are kicking in again big-time. Sometimes they manifest in violent sneezing, but this season they are mostly affecting my eyes. I wake up with puffy, itchy red eyelids and have periodic bouts of burning eyeballs during which the temptation to rub them is overwhelming. It was so bad a few days ago that I couldn’t put my contact lenses in and I had to wear my glasses to work, which is a blow to my vanity. I’ve always been very self-conscious about wearing glasses, although I know glasses have been a hip, fashion-statementy thing for a while now. Wearing glasses takes me straight back to my childhood when glasses were decidedly not hip and frames were aggressively ugly. However, I was pleasantly surprised to get several compliments from my co-workers on how they looked nice on me. I don’t think any of them had ever seen me in glasses before due to my deep glasses-shame, and not only did no one recoil in horror, they were quite positive about them. Perhaps this shall open up a new era of more frequent glasses-wearing for me. (Perhaps.)

Along fashion lines, I have been too overwhelmed to revisit Project Wardrobe Upgrade. I’ve given up on the bots and the box services and the “personal stylists” and the quizzes. I have decided the only way to manage this is with a meted-out, methodical approach, a systematic building up, if you will, rather than a mad explosion of fifty new pieces at once. I ordered three items from Amazon this weekend in a brand that I know fits me decently. These three items constitute one full outfit. If they work out, I’m going to order three more such items next weekend, in different colors and patterns. I shall continue on in that vein until the day in which my old clothing has been completely replaced with the new and I no longer feel sartorial inferiority. That’s the only way I’m going to be able to deal with this--one outfit at a time, no dressing rooms and tearful clutching of handfuls of cheap pants and blouses at the big box stores. I think it’s a pretty good plan. I will keep you posted.

When I was looking for a video to post this week, I came across this adorable woman who goes by Saint Ruto, who put together this delightful video ranking all of the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes in Stardew Valley. I love this video because she’s so passionate about the game, and we are super-sympatico about our love for Stardew Valley. I don’t totally agree with her rankings, but she put a lot of thought into them and I really enjoyed hearing her take. And I must know where she got that sword!

 --Kristen McHenry

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Boating Blunders, Barbell Joy, Real Meditation

I am only about half way through the third book in my formerly-referenced Nancy Drew boxset (I was told the proper word is “boxset," not “box set”) and I am astonished at the number of boating accidents that have occurred thus far. I realize I live in a coastal city, but nonetheless, boating accidents are about the furthest thing from my daily consciousness. I don’t own a boat, nor do I hang out with boat-adjacent people. I have nothing against them, mind you, I just don’t happen to know any. I haven’t been on a boat since a cruise to Alaska more years ago than I can recall. So I was a bit startled when the third book opened with yet another boating accident, and a genuinely scary one at that. I have identified a bit of a plot hole in my beloved Nancy Drew series. Nancy, who is hyper-prepared in every other area of life to the point of carrying an extra suitcase in her car containing pajamas, a change of clothes and a toothbrush, has a major blind spot when it comes to boating safety. She has a backup plan and an emergency preparedness kit for every situation, yet she is totally cavalier when it comes to boats. She just blunders onto them blindly, never checking the weather ahead of time, or, as was key in this last accident, ensuring that there are adequate life jackets on board. She is perpetually getting stuck in dangerous storms on the water and seems to have a strange amnesia about it. When I finish all of the books in the set, I am going to start a Nancy Drew boating accident-count spreadsheet just for my own amusement.

My new (ish) trainer seems fairly averse to gym machines and has been focusing most of our sessions of late on dumbbells, kettle bells and barbells. I’m starting to see her point. I told her one of my goals was to powerlift (yes, me, and I still can’t believe it myself) so in our last session, she showed me the coolest move ever with a barbell! I learned how to do a “clean” and it was really fun and weirdly addicting. During my last several gym runs, I have eschewed the familiar machines in favor of deadlifting the barbell, executing the clean, lifting it over my head, and balancing it on my upper back to do squats. I love that little routine so much that I’m considering getting a barbell set for home. The trainer told me that if I can get to forty pounds on the clean (I’m doing thirty now) she will introduce me to the “real” barbells on the deadlifting mat. I’m totally stoked and trying to work my way up to that forty pounds as fast as possible.

To those of you who were waiting with baited breath last week for my non-existent post, I apologize. I’m not generally prone to getting sick, but I got hit with something again, some horrid crud that knocked me out for about three days straight, and all I could do was shiver under the blankets in a state of perpetual chills and severe fatigue. (It wasn’t COVID.) I have come to the conclusion that the massive, intense, non-stop stress over this last month strained my immune system and left me vulnerable. Thus, I am experimenting with short, “gentle” Yoga and calming videos to try and reduce my cortisol levels. All it’s done so far is make me jealous of the beautiful young blondes who occupy such videos, which are always filmed in gorgeous, beachy, tropical settings. Of course these women are relaxed. They live on the beach and they have glossy hair and flawless figures. I would like to see a de-stressing video shot by a working mother of four with some middle-aged flab who is filming in her messy living room while her five-year-old twins fight over the i-Pad and the cat hacks up a hairball. Now that would be impressive.

Here’s a beachy Yoga video by a tanned, beautiful blonde. It’s a pretty good video. I did it the other day


--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Nail Meet Hammer, Bot Betrayal, Tea Whisperer


My life has been a swirling mass of chaos over these last two weeks and it’s frustrating not to be able to share the details, but I can’t out of respect for the other people involved, and the fact that I have somehow managed to draw attention to myself professionally despite doing my best to hide under my dark, comfortable rock for the last five years. I didn’t ask for anyone to kick my rock and expose me to sunlight, but it happened anyway. My last trainer before my current trainer was very hung up on my posture, and she was right to be—I have had a life-long tendency to slump because I was always taller than everyone around me and was inundated with messages about the how nail that sticks out is the one that gets hit with the hammer. It turns out there’s some truth to that.

My big idea to outsource my wardrobe upgrade to bots did not work out at all. I know that you have to “train” them but it turns out I don’t have enough patience or enough interest in fashion to accomplish that task. And, as an astute reader pointed out on my last blog post, he knew that he had reached the pinnacle of career success when no one cared what he wore anymore. I have been tempted to see if I can get away with t-shirts and yoga pants now, but then again it’s a little different when you are a female with a public-facing position. So I don’t know what I am going to do. If you were a mediocre dresser, there used to be a show you could go on where they gave you a bunch of money and sent you to New York to go shopping, but I don’t think that show is on the air anymore. Anyway, aren’t we far enough into the century now where fashion should be obsolete and we should all be wearing the same sexless jumpsuit?

My new-age, woo-woo quasi-hippie past recently came in handy during the Great Tea Crisis of the Typist household. Mr. Typist ran out of his normal favored tea, which comes in teabags, and to cover the gap in between shipments, he ordered loose tea of the same kind, which came with the oddly specific directions to “steep directly in hot water for 56 minutes.” Not 60 minutes. Not 53 minutes. 56 minutes exactly. This level of specificity was not repeated when it came to how much tea to put in. That was left entirely up to the end user to figure out. However, having steeped a lot medicinal and fancy tea in my day, I was able to eyeball the right amount and prevent Mr. Typist from pouring in half the bag. After several sip and sniff tests, thanks to my experience with obscure teas, we concocted the perfect formula and now we have the Goldilocks of teas: No too strong, not too weak, but just right. I would have thought that my knowledge would have degraded with time, but it was just like riding a bicycle. I wonder what other long-dormant skills lay slumbering in my consciousness, just waiting to awakened by a crisis.

I’m finding Grand Theft Auto 5 weirdly compelling. I’m mostly a PC gamer and a filthy casual at that, but I am firmly of the belief practicing with the joystick has been good for my fine motor skills and learning how to “drive” has helped increase my almost non-existent spatial abilities. Aside from that, the game is dirty and extremely violent and kind of sad, but I’m starting to really like the main characters and have developed a strong interest in their story arc. Could it be that there is actually some literary value to this game? Time will tell, as long as I can stop smashing into guardrails and running people over in the streets.

In case you are interested, here are some home truths about how to properly steep tea:

 --Kristen McHenry

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Fashion Outsourcing, Reality Ruminating, I Did Yoga

A good thing happened for me last week in a rather shocking and whip-lashy manner, and because the dust is still settling, I’m not going to go into detail about it here. But there’s been a change at work and the gist of it is, I need to upgrade my wardrobe. Like an actual upgrade this time, not just doing a little “refresh” by picking up a few sale blouses from the wash-and-wear rack at Target. I have always been bad at wardrobes but I’ve kind of gotten away with it because I’ve mostly worked for non-profits and healthcare, where style isn’t a big priority. You add to that this last year of COVID, masking, and rarely seeing anyone in person, and I have become even more indifferent to my day-to-day look than I was before. In fact, before supplies became an issue, I was plotting a path to wearing scrubs every day. But no more with the shabby-adjacent for me. I need to legit pull it together.

By this time in life, I know myself well enough to realize that this wardrobe operation is going to have to be outsourced. So I got online this weekend and looked at Stitchfix and various other “personal stylist” websites before finally settling on Amazon Wardrobe (or some such, I can’t remember the exact name.) They are fast and I think the majority of their “personalized wardrobe picks” are chosen by bots, which is fine by me. All of this research required me having to take a bunch of style quizzes, which I had to fake the answers to because there is a big difference between my preferred boho, jeans-and-boots look and what is required for looking professional in the workplace. Also, I had to make a lot of mind-bending fashion choices between the downright ugly and the horrifyingly ugly. “Do you prefer this? Or this?” Well, I don’t know. Let me think about which one makes me want to stab my eyes out less. Seriously, since I’ve been away, what’s happened to fashion? I’ve never seen such eye-scalding patterns and general weirdness. I don’t want cropped pants with a big poofy bow in front. Why would you create pants that puff a woman out in front? Conversely, nor do I want to be crammed into a tight, high-rise pencil skirt that binds around my knees and restricts my movement. And I look like a lollipop-head on a stick in those boxy jackets with the big shoulder pads, so I have no idea what the bots are going to come up with for me. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

I watched a really bizarre movie this week called “Bliss.” It wasn’t a bad movie, but it’s been bothering me. It was one of those reality-bending, “which world is real and which is a simulation” type-plots, but it wouldn’t bloody pick a direction and give a clear answer, and that kind of non-committal writing drives me up a wall. God knows I have other things on my mind right now and I don’t know why I can’t let go of it, but it’s haunting me. What ultimately happened to the sexy research-scientist lady? Was this guy’s daughter real or an AI trick? He had the drawings of the house, he knew about the pool, so how could the better world have been the fake one? And what the hell is “asteroid mining?” I know all of this ruminating on an inconsequential movie is just hysterical replacement activity, but things have been very shaken up for me and I feel a deep need to know what exactly in this made-up movie was real and what was not. I cannot abide ambiguity any more.

Those of you who have suggested that I do Yoga will be happy to know that I did Yoga! My newest trainer is also a Yoga instructor and for last week’s session, I asked her to take me through a calming Yoga session rather than our usual weight-lifting stuff. And for the first time, I really enjoyed Yoga! It was quite calming, especially this one move we did at the end where you pretend to be a fish.

Speaking of fish, enjoy these bright colored fishies and the spa music. 


--Kristen McHenry 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Low-Down Gritty Me, Age Shock, Gym Bag Redux

For reasons, I felt gritty and low-down and wicked this weekend, so I set about downloading “Grand Theft Auto 5.” I didn’t realize the process was going to take ten years. This game is a monster. I kept checking on the download throughout the day, but it wasn’t until 9:00 p.m. that it fully propagated on my system, and by then I was too tired to figure out how to get through the tutorial. I’m going to try again today. So far it’s quite loud and violent, and I’m stuck in the tutorial because I can’t figure out how to “take cover.” But I’m looking forward to playing someone mean and crooked. I want to steal cars and blow things up. I want to be bad and sultry and quick and criminal. I want to zip around L.A. in a flashy stolen vehicle and bask in the blazing California sun. I am tired of living a grim, responsible life in a cold, gray respectable city. I’m bustin’ out, folks. If the Feds kick my door down, it’s been nice knowing you.

I have been lamenting with one of my friends via text this weekend over our Terrible Medical Experiences of late. I don’t want to get into too much detail, but I suspect that a certain amount of age discrimination has been at play for both of us. I normally just go about my life, bopping along with my job and my workouts and my crafting pursuits, not thinking much one way or another about my age, until I run into a medical authority who wants to point out that it’s an issue. And ever since, I’ve been spinning out about it, mentally honing my knife and obsessing over the fact that this is now something that I have to be on constant guard against with every medical visit, and worrying that I am going to be dismissed and disdained because I am now officially an old. I am very on edge right now over an upcoming minor procedure, (everything’s fine) and it’s possible that I’m just being being hyper-sensitive, but it’s a little bit shocking to go around thinking of yourself as young and then have reality pointed out to you in a stark and less-than-sensitive way. Aging sucks.

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was in the market for a cool gym bag, and as much as I have looked and looked, I have been unable to find one that meets my arbitrary standards of hip and practical. There are a lot of ugly gym bags out there. I want the nice pink one the blonde lady at the gym had, but I can’t find anything close to it. Now I am wondering if I just imagined this glorious, long pink gym bag in my fevered workout dream. But I will keep looking. It has to be out there somewhere. And with it, I shall sail to great heights of gym success, and finally be able to achieve that elusive pull-up. Because it’s well-known that a cool gym bag is the key to one’s first pull-up. 

Speaking of that, this is probably not riveting content for most, but I though this video on how to achieve a pull-up was pretty interesting:

 --Kristen McHenry


Sunday, February 14, 2021

Box Set Bonanza


Folks, I am so excited I can barely see straight. Guess what I got in the mail last week? Drum roll please…A Nancy Drew Mystery Series Box Set! A box set! I was completely delighted and have already burned through “The Secret of the Old Clock” and started in on “The Hidden Staircase.” How, you may be asking yourself, did Ms. Typist find herself in possession of a Nancy Drew Mystery Series Box Set? Well, it’s a funny story. I was talking to my Mom on the phone and she said that my librarian sister sent her a Nancy Drew Mystery Series Box Set as something to read during the endless lock-down, and I was immediately overwhelmed with both nostalgia and envy. Like many young girls, I loved those books when I was a kid. Nancy Drew was a hero of mine, and those books were a big part of my literary development, not to mention my dream to become a private detective. (The private detective thing hasn’t happened yet, but there’s still time.) Mysteriously, a few days after the phone call, I got an unexpected package from Amazon and within, to my utter enchantment, was the cheery yellow box set complete with the first five books in the series, including the original cover art and line drawings. (Remember those?) I immediately texted my sister inquiring about the Mystery of the Yellow Box set, but she said it wasn’t her who sent it. It turns out, it was my mom. She heard my yearning and answered with Nancy Drew.

Having just finished “The Secret of the Old Clock” I have learned many astonishing things, among them that cinnamon cake topped with hot apple sauce is a thing that exists. Another is that we were once brave and hardy and healthy and wholesome. We knew how to do basic things like a change a tire, operate a motor boat and alter a garment. (Nancy does all three in the first few chapters alone.) I won’t go too far down the “we were better people then” rabbit hole, but it was a bit of a culture shock. The early Nancy Drew books were published in the 1930’s, and obviously it’s a whole other world now. We have lost a lot of competencies that used to be a given part of adulthood. Speaking of adulthood, it never occurred to me reading the books as a kid that Nancy is eighteen years old and living at home with her father with seemingly no plans for college or getting a job. For someone with nothing to do, she certainly manages to keep busy. And her Dad…can we just talk about her dad for a minute? I guess it must have been lost on me as a kid because I didn’t recall much about him, but Carson Drew is the best dad ever. He’s a kind and indulgent father, but he’s always pushing Nancy to think logically and to be courageous and make bold moves. And he raised Nancy as a single dad when her mother died.

Along those lines, I found it interesting how many of the characters in “Clock” had alternative living arrangements to the nuclear family. There were two cousins who lived together on a farm and made their living selling crops, sisters who were raising an orphaned child together, and Nancy herself, who lives with her father and his housekeeper. In fact, I don’t believe there was a single character in a nuclear family in the entire book. Most of the characters were struggling financially to some degree or another but they were getting by and they embodied stoicism. I can feel another bout of “we were better then” nostalgia coming on so I better wrap this up. The bottom line is, I have a Nancy Drew box set and I highly encourage you to obtain a box set as well...any box set. They are a thing of joy, no matter what your reading preference.

There are a ton of Nancy Drew shows and movies, but I couldn’t find any good clips, so here is an old Simon’s Cat classic, in honor of the foot of snow that was dumped on Seattle this weekend:

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Gateway Peanut Can, Book Musings, Gym Bag Envy

Im a destester of clutter to the point that I tend to throw things away that I end up needing later, so I was surprised to find myself fishing a peanut can out of our recycling bag this week and setting it possessively on the kitchen counter, like someone who grew up in the Depression. In my defense, it’s not just any peanut can. It’s really nice, big, wide vintagy-looking can with a solid lid. That can has infinite possibilities. It could hold screws or rubber bands or coffee beans or embroidery thread. It could be used as a grease can or a spider trap. I could fill it with marbles or hard candy or make it into a planter. It would be an absolute shame to let a fat, shiny vintagy can just go to waste. It’s been sitting there for over a week now, but I’m undaunted. Its purpose shall be revealed in time and I will ensure that its mission is fulfilled. In the meantime, I’m watching myself for further signs of incipient hoarder-dom in case it’s a gateway can and I’m just this side of making a fort in our living room out of newspapers and toilet paper rolls. This is how it starts, folks. You rescue one can and the next thing you know there’s a camera crew at your house and a nice lady is asking you to choose which of those six hundred Gatorade bottles you can bear to part with.

I’ve been blogging on this site since 2008. (I have a limited reserve of consistency, and what I do have I use up on this blog and the gym.) Lately I’ve been kicking around the idea of putting together a book of essays from some of my posts, but there is a huge amount of material to comb through and I don’t know if it would be interesting to anyone. I don’t know if my yammering about nonsense and complaining about the shoddy state of retail is enough to warrant an entire book. Also, it seems a little grandiose, as though I think that what I have to say is so riveting that it all needs to go into book so that the whole world may have easy access to all of my amazing thoughts. (This attitude is probably why I never gained much traction as a writer.) Nonetheless, I’m still considering this book thing. There are certain Big Themes that have emerged over time that I could work with. Or I could just go full fluff and make the entire book about my exploits in Stardew Valley. Stranger things have sold.

I was touched with bag envy recently at the gym. This blonde Amazon was in there doing insane dead-lifts, and she had this big showy pink ultra-feminine gym bag filled with accessories. I was quite taken with this bag, (not to mention how much weight she was lifting) and I became convinced that a showy pink gym bag is a must should I continue to make progress. I’ve since changed my mind on the pink, but I am going to go gym-bag shopping online soon. I now have a barbell cushion for the squat rack, so I need a bag to transport it in. A quick glance online so far has not yielded any ultra-feminine looking gym bags, but I did find a leopard-print one, and strangely, one with elaborately-costumed elephants.

I’ll post a pic of what I finally land on. (I know you are all waiting with baited breath.) In the meantime, enjoy this bit of fluff from wholesome Midwest comedian Trey Kennedy making fun of art majors like myself. 

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Panty Thief, Trainer Redeux, Sunflower Metaphor

I needed a good laugh this week, and I was blessed with one. I was both horrified and delighted to come across an article about a gentleman in Las Vegas who cooked up an ingenious scheme to meet the ladies by stealing their underpants from their hotel rooms and holding said panties hostage in exchange for their cell phone numbers. He was caught and arrested, and I do not know what fate awaits him, but I have chuckled numerous times recalling the story. I think it’s funny that this person is apparently unaware that women’s panties are renewable resource. It’s as though he thought that all women are issued seven pairs of underwear at the age of 18, and that is it. That’s our lifetime supply, and should they get stolen and held for ransom, well, we have no other option but to give in to the demands of the kidnapper. It’s not like there’s a Victoria’s Secret at every mall in the US. I have to give the guy credit for being enterprising, if not smart. And bonus points for including a hand-drawn heart on his ransom notes.

Argh. I am now on my third trainer at the gym. My second trainer departed just when I was starting to bond with her, and I was once again left bereft. I get close to these folks and I have abandonment issues as it is, and I do not like having these trainers vanish on me willy-nilly. I never got over the departure of my first original trainer who I adored, and now I have to go through the five stages of grief all over again. But this new chick is cool. I was a little bit worried at first because she is new to personal training and she is a Yoga instructor, and I detest Yoga. No offense to any of my readers who do it; I know it’s wonderful and has enormous health benefits and blah, blah, blah, but I’ve tried it on more than one occasion and my body just doesn’t take to it. I don’t like being lectured by instructors about my food choices, I don’t like sitting still, and my body just does not want to do Yoga things. I’m long-limbed and I don’t stretch easily. But what I thought were going to be disadvantages have turned out to be assets. Being relatively new to personal training, she is very gung-ho and has “beginner’s mind”, she showed me some great post-work out cool-down stretches, and she’s hip and cheerful. My other two trainers were great, but they both had a bit of a dark streak. This new person is light-hearted and fun. I hope it works out and that she sticks around.

Being a person who both finds social gatherings mortifying and dislikes being the center of attention, oddly, I find myself deeply missing the Big Stressy Event I have referred to here before that I put on each year for our hospital volunteers. It was nixed last year, obviously, and the possibility of holding it in the Spring of this year is not looking good. The space we normally have it in packs us in like sardines so social distancing is not possible, and family-style communal eating is not returning any time soon, vaccine or not. It’s too bad, because I had a really beautiful vision of a sunflower theme, and I had all my scientific sunflower metaphors worked out in my speech, and now it looks like there will be no sunflowers and no speech. I am going to tentatively re-plan the event for October, but a sunflower-themed event doesn’t make sense for that time of year, so I will have to come up with something else. But just so you know, sunflowers engage in heliotropism, meaning they follow the sun. A sunflower faces east at dawn and greets the sun, then slowly turns west as the sun moves across the sky. During the night, it turns back east to begin the cycle again. Sunflowers embody hope and renewal, rebirth and optimism. These are not qualities native to my personality, but I find them comforting nonetheless. Enjoy these sunflowers in action and maybe get some optimism out of it if that’s your thing.


--Kristen McHenry