Rank Privilege

One of the few benefits i get for being a fossil senior management-like-object is the opportunity to use the Executive Locker Room at the gym.  Located within the regular ladies locker room is a door with a cipher lock, to which i have been given the supersecret access code.

Even better – or worse, when you think about it – is the fact that my career in a male dominated field means that there are few ovaried-engineers.  As a result, the pool of estrogenated executives is a bit small in the Science City.

This means that for the past few years, i’ve essentially had a private locker room for my lunch hour workouts.

It doesn’t suck.

i appreciate the privacy, and the towel service, but mostly i have enjoyed the fact that i can get naked without standing next to a pod of hard-bodied youngsters*, flexing their ripped biceps and perk-tastic breastages as they bend over to step into their butt-hugging spandex workout shorts.

It’s quieter in my locker room, too.  Unless i fart.  Which i can do without fear of offending others.  A bonus.

There are 14 day-use lockers along the wall.  For the past several years, i have settled into a mindless routine.  Locker 14 is mine.  Furthest from the door, it’s housed my stinky gear for as long as i can remember.

Needless to say, the day i showed up and there was another woman violating my locker with her stuff, i about had a stroke.  Fourteen empty lockers and she had to use THAT ONE?  Didn’t she know it was my locker?  How dare she park her cotton bloomer-clad ass on my part of the dressing bench!  The nerve!

Rather than do the polite thing, and set up shop in Locker 1, i picked Locker 10.  Close enough to assuage my auto-pilot, but enough space that i wouldn’t have to touch her with my butt cheeks when bending over.

Territorial much?

It all just felt so wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong!  A violation of my gym “feng shui”!  i wanted to tell her to move her shit out of my locker… To explain that it was my locker, despite the sign that said “Day Use Only”.

Not gonna pass the ‘crazy test’, though.  Certainly when presented at the criminal trial after i get detained for wedging my cross-trainer in her ass crack.  How the hell could this poor woman know that she was in my space?  Violating my bubble?  TRESPASSING!

i relayed my outrage to Studley, as i joined him at the bank of elliptical machines.  He listened attentively, as a smirk started to creep across his face.  It occurred to me that this moment marked a milestone.

i realized:  i am officially old.

Fuck.

 pic found here

*on second thought…

——————————————————————

BREAKING NEWS:  It is truly official.  i have received THE CERTIFICATE.

Thanks to this creative and adorable gent, i now have something far better to hang on the wall of my office than university diplomas…

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Check your ovaries at the door…

There have been many moments when i question whether i earn my paycheck.

This has NOT been that week.  But as ugly as it is for me to fire someone, it is far uglier for the guy i am firing.  So i will not whine.

Trying to salvage the human, as well as the work effort, in a difficult situation, i was at a table with four scientists.  Brainstorming options.  Ivan, my senior physicist who was born, raised and trained in Russia, is rather emotionally engaged in the issue at hand.  The success of his project is tied to our efforts to keep his post-doctoral research assistant engaged on the job.

As the Management-Like-Object at the table, i threw out a very blunt, painful, and realistic assessment of our options.  Explaining that this is not an ideal circumstance.  Explaining that it was going to smell.  Explaining that we were going to have to “Nut up or shut up” to make it happen.

Ivan:  Look.  We are all on the same page.  There are no women at this table…

To my left was Taylor.  He is my “young ‘un”.  Masters degree in Physics, and new to the team.  Oh, and he happens to be an ethnic minority in the field of science and engineering… And we’ve had several discussions regarding achieving “equality” – through the insidious tactic of “infiltrate and excel”.

i felt him flinch at Ivan’s comment.

daisyfae:  Yes.  We are on the same page.  And thank you for your comment.  If i’ve checked my ovaries at the door then i have succeeded.  Gender irrelevance is the goal… Now…  Back to the post doc position….

With the current state of affairs in the United States where conservative lawmakers are crawling inside the vaginas * of citizens, it was extraordinarily refreshing to experience a moment of gender-neutrailty.  And we moved on…

Gender.  When it matters?  i know it.

Unfortunately, that is not universal.  There are elected officials in the United States of America who believe that it is their responsibility to inspect our uteruses to make sure that we can make informed decisions about our reproductive health care.

WHY THE FUCK ARE WE HAVING THESE CONVERSATIONS IN THE YEAR 2012?

Driving Award

About sixty miles outside of Cleveland, Studley and i were singing “Moon Over Parma”*. i was cruising along at a good clip as we made our way to western New York State for a ski weekend with friends.

Cresting a ridge, i saw movement in the lane ahead of me. A man in my lane. Wearing a hat. Motioning me to pull over.

Shit. Johnny Law.

Slowing,  clipping the turn signal, and making a controlled stop on the left shoulder, i flipped on the hazard lights and put the car in park.  Snagged the registration from behind the passenger sun visor**, and quickly dug my driver’s license and insurance card from my wallet.

Zipped down the window, and held all documents in my left hand. Both hands visible on the steering wheel as the state trooper approached my car.

This is how you do a traffic stop.  i have rather extensive experience with this…

John Law: Good Morning. Ma’am, I had you going 81 in a 65 mile per hour zone.

daisyfae: Yeah. Sorry. i was singing…

He went back to write the ticket***, and i swore a little. “Damn. Should have seen him. It’s been a few years since i got a ticket… Probably because i haven’t had a car that doesn’t shake apart at high-speed.”

Had the ticket in hand within about five minutes, and continued on our way.  Cranky, a bit less cash in the wallet, but none the worse for wear.  This triggered a few recollections regarding prior traffic incidents.

Hauling The Girl and three of her pre-teen friends in the back of a station wagon, i was pulled over for speeding.  Since the girls were approaching driving age, i used the ‘teachable moment’ to instruct them in proper technique for traffic stops.  Emphasis on keeping your hands on the wheel, with the car window open, as the officer approaches the car “because you got a guy with a gun jacked up on adrenaline – you don’t want to make him any jumpier than he already is”.

As i pulled the car back onto the road after the stop, Lindsay said “Man, you didn’t even get nervous!  My mom gets tickets all the time and she cries her head off!”

Another lesson:  making excuses is pretty pointless.  Either you’re guilty or you’re not.  Either he’s going to give you the ticket or he won’t.  Trying to explain is pretty lame…

Back in the 90’s, i’d gotten a second speeding ticket within a month of the first – requiring an appearance in traffic court.  Giving myself some time to get oriented, i showed up early to watch the operations and get a feel for the process.

The referee, a tired-looking man, sat at the dias.  The clerk would call out a name, and the violator would stand before the referee.  He would barely look up from the paperwork in front of him and say “You are charged with [Violation X].  How do you plead?”

Without exception, the violator said “No Contest”, or “Guilty, but…”.  The referee would then ask in a deadpan voice “Do you have anything to tell the court?”

“I was rushin’ to pick up my grandbabies so my daughter could get to work on time…”, “This dude had passed me really close, and I was chasing him down to get his license plate number” and on and on and on…

The referee would then declare guilt, levy a fine and move to the next stack of paperwork.

My turn.

Referee:  You are charged with doing 51 in a 40 mile per hour zone.  How do you plead?

daisyfae:  Guilty as hell, Sir.

referee [looking up from stacks of paperwork]:  Do you have anything to tell the court?

daisyfae:  No, Sir.

Referee:  Fined $45.  Suspend court costs.  Next case.

* The opening song from “The Drew Carey Show”. Not as cool as “Cleveland Rocks” used in the first few seasons, but a good car song nonetheless…

** Don’t keep your registration in the glove box.  If the officer sees you digging there, it’s pretty easy for him to request a search of your vehicle if he sees anything he can call “suspicious”.

*** i’m pretty laid back about this.  Heart rate barely goes up when i see the lights.  But i am smart enough to NOT say “Can you write the ticket quick, buddy?  i’m in a hurry…”

Horsing around

It was just over a year ago that my friend, JB, lost his 16-year-old son to suicide.  It has been an awful year for him and his family.  Initially, he found some comfort in writing, but for the past six months has become obsessed with contacting his dead son through a ‘medium’.  One who is paid to contact the dead.

My initial reaction was one of deep skepticism, tinted with rage at those who would exploit grief for profit.  But JB didn’t need to see that – so i’d listen to his tales of contact, and the latest messages he’d received.  Nodding my head, i’d say “This seems to comfort you.  You seem to be getting the answers you need.  How is your wife?  Your son?  Daughter?  Are you still writing?”

In November, he’d mentioned that his wife and he were not doing well, despite continued counseling.  Asked me if i could take her to lunch sometime, just to get her out of the house.

We met at the local market, which has a wonderful warehouse feel, and a diverse collection of restaurants.  Fabulous people-watching, too.  As DB and i talked, she mentioned that it’s just hard to get out of bed some days.  She’s trying, but there’s not much to look forward to…

i mentioned that i’d added horseback riding lessons to my winter plans, partially to have something to look forward to on cold Monday nights.  Her face lit up – “Oh, I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do that!  My daughter would love it!”

With lots of encouragement from me, and more details on what is involved in the lessons, i told her i’d be happy to arrange for them to drop in!  She seemed interested, but a little reluctant.

With the holidays, then the anniversary of the death, it didn’t come up again until last week.  i’d dropped by JBs office to see how his golf trip to the west coast had gone.

“I felt good!  My game was way off, but it didn’t matter.  It felt good to do something ‘normal’ again.”

From there?  i nagged encouraged him to get back with his wife about the lessons.  Got him to laugh when i told him i was goin’ “Boot Camp Instructor” on his ass – that this was the time to start moving out on a little more ‘normal’.

On friday, his wife pinged me, and we arranged for them to join Studley and me for the Monday night lesson.

i could write a bunch of shit at this point, but this pretty much sums it up.

Oh, and i’m getting better.  My steed hasn’t dumped me lately…  The horse, either!

i spend a lot of time farting around – Studley and i have elevated this to an art form.  Selfish time, enjoying new pursuits without purpose or meaning.  It occurs to me that perhaps being “Ambassadors of Farting Around” might not be such a bad thing.

i smiled so much tonight that my face still hurts.

Good dog…

Part Black Lab, and part Cairn Terrorist, Turbo joined our family in 1998.  Mr. Pickles came along a couple of years later as a rescue pup, completing our clan.

“Canine custody” became an issue as my husband and i worked through our disillusionment* in 2006.  Turbo had been his dog from the very beginning, and when he moved into our vacation home, she was his sidekick.  The family joke became our argument over who had to take Mr. Pickles. We had our attorney convinced it was really an issue!

One of the best “Turbo Tales” involves her assault on a two-pound box of chocolates, neatly wrapped by my children and placed under the Christmas tree.  Arriving home from work, we found a huge mess on the floor of the office – an obvious crime scene.

With two dogs, you’re never quite sure who is responsible for such a mess – much like having more than one child.  At the top of the stairs, the mystery was resolved, as Turbo sat tweaking like a crack addict.  Having no idea how long it had been since she’d bashed the chocolates, i called the vet – who asked if she’d expelled any of the chocolate, or if it was still in her system.

“Expelled”?  You might call it that.  In the living room, splattered across my favorite Dutch Kilim throw rug, was the most unspeakably disgusting muck i’d ever seen come out of a dog.  No idea which end it came from, but ummm… “Yeah.  She’s expelled all over the place, Doc.  Now what?”

Her heart was racing, and she continued to twitch.  He suggested i bring her in, since chocolate can kill a dog.  He would  give her doggie ipecac, and keep her overnight for observation.

About an hour after i dropped her off, the vet called.

“Good news!  I found the cherry!”

i might have laughed a little harder if i hadn’t just come inside from throwing my completely destroyed rug in the dumpster.

Although i lost custody of her in the divorce, i’d usually ask after her on the infrequent occasions when i ran into my ex-husband.  And the kids kept me up to date on her doings.

My ex-husband cared for both of his parents.  As his mother went further into dementia, Turbo was her constant companion – not only for the food that Grandma offered.  They were apparently inseparable.  Turbo got pretty fat – earning the nickname “Tubbo”.  After Grandma died, The Tubster got her weight down, with the help of some Puppy Uppers and a controlled diet.

Over the past few years, she went blind.  The kids said their dad was trying to find a helmet for her because she was starting to walk into things.

Sad news this week.  Talking with my daughter, i learned that my ex had to put Turbo down.  She was a good dog.

*”Disillusionment”.  Legal term used to ‘dissolve’ a marriage when both parties agree to all terms and negotiate their own settlement.  i cannot communicate how much i love that word used in this context.

daisy, daisy…

Still slammed, but took most of the day off for an excursion in Capital City with Mr. X*.  Gorgeous, unseasonably warm winter day was not to be wasted, so the plan was to bike downtown for lunch, then hit a theatrical production at the local university.

But my knee remains somewhat gimpy** after the latest injury.  i’ve been biking through the warm winter, but not pushing myself hard.

Mr. X:  Do you want to try my tandem?

daisyfae:  Ummm…. Do you think i can manage it?

Mr. X:  Well, you’ll need to be completely submissive, and that goes against your nature…

daisyfae:  Hey!  i can sub – i just have to pick the right dom!  i don’t trust just anyone!

And so we went.

To ride on the back seat of a tandem bicycle requires some serious concessions.  There is no steering.  With my feet in ‘cages’ on the pedals, when we stop?  He holds the bike upright.  When he pedals?  i pedal.  Whether i feel like it or not…

The view is a bit different, too.  Mostly, i’m staring at his ass back, trying to stay centered, and not toss the balance out of whack.

This was something new for him as well.  The only other person who rides on the back of that bike is his son.  The kid has been riding back seat since he was about seven years old.  Now that he’s fifteen?  He’s pretty comfortable back there.

So Mr. X had to communicate a little more than usual.  To keep from dragging pedals on the pavement, right turns require keeping the right foot up through the corner.  Similar process for left turns.

It took a few minutes, but i sort of got the hang of it.  The physical part was easy.  The psychological part?  Whoa…

Mr. X:  Keep pedaling back there!  You don’t have any brakes, honey!  If you stop pedaling, it won’t stop the bike!

Lunch, two beers and the first half of a reasonably decent show later, we were headed back to his place.  Almost twenty miles covered. It was getting more comfortable, but giving up control was still causing me headaches.

Some advantages, though.  Conversation was easy, and we didn’t have to worry about running into each other.

Mr. X:  You’re doing great for your first time out!

daisyfae:  It’s still weird, but i’m enjoying it!  It’s different…

Mr. X:  It’s up to the Captain to keep you on the bike!  Front seat is called “Captain” and back seat is either “Stoker” or “Rear Admiral”.

daisyfae:  “Rear Admiral”.  i like that…

And i continued to enjoy the view… staring at his fine, spandex-covered ass, nestled nicely between my hands on the seat in front of me…

* In case you need a scorecard to keep track, Mr. X is the extremely fit bicycle commuter, with a body that’s built for two the physique of a gymnast. 

** Basketball.  Turns out, 49 1/2-year-old women may not be cut out for this game.  Landed hard from a lay-up and jammed the knee.  Hurts like a motherfucker sometimes.  Worst part?  Missed an easy shot.

Always use protection

Installed a shelf in my garage last fall.  The helmet shelf…

From left to right:  Paintball mask.  Ski helmet.  Motorcycle helmet.  Horseback riding helmet.  Bicycle helmet.

If any of these get a little too dusty?  i’m doing it wrong.

What’s missing?

Stay tuned…

i’m still a bit buried with stuff.

Work has thrown me some of the most incredible “you’ve got to be shitting me?” moments ever.  Just when i think people can’t surprise me?  i am proven wrong.  Repeatedly.  Sometimes within the same day.

Skiing?  Sort of.  With the warm winter, it’s been more like pushing slush from the top of a hill to the bottom without breaking a leg whilst wearing slippery sticks on my feet.  But, the warm weather has allowed weekly horseback riding lessons to continue!  And a few bicycle rides thrown in for good measure.

The home office renovation project continues – hoping for completion over the weekend.  If the planets align, it will allow me a chance to gather all tax documentation before the end of this month.

And then there are those other things… Things that don’t require helmets.  But probably should…