Date Night at the Sharks

People are swigging beer, waiting in line for hot dogs and pizza, partying as if they didn’t have work tomorrow.  In search of healthy food, we follow the big foam finger pointing upstairs as a Japanese man calls out, “Bento Box, Sushi Here!”  The cashier recognizes my husband.  She knows a lot of the season ticket holders, as does the foam finger man.  Regulars nod to familiar faces, a community drawn together by fervor for hockey.  Or is it something else?

The San Jose Sharks vs. the Colorado Avalanche.  Number twenty-eight out of forty home games.  Hockey has three periods, each lasting twenty minutes.  Between each period is a seventeen-minute intermission.  If teams tie in regulation, they go into five-minute “sudden death,” where the first team to score wins.  If no one scores, they go to shootouts, three shots per team.  The whole thing takes about two and a half hours.  Not that I’m counting.  I’m married to a man who enjoys spectator sports, especially baseball and hockey.  Well, maybe basketball and a little football.  He loves sports, and I love him. You get the picture.

The temperature drops as we descend towards our seats.  Having learned that my jeans aren’t warm enough, I dress as for skiing.  Except in black and teal, of course.  One sees more black and teal in the Shark Tank than out in real life — adults wearing hats like shark heads, fuzzy teal scarves and jerseys everywhere, emblazoned with names of players past and present.  The gal in front of me still has the tags on a Sharks tee she’s wearing.  Does she plan to return it if we lose?  Then there’s the size of the fan base: not only is HP Pavilion always sold out, but REAL hockey fans come in three sizes only: Large, XL and XXL.  Despite the wide seats, there are spillovers everywhere.  A woman to my left texts faster than I type, but from the look of her, she exercises only fingers and thumbs.  Guys without necks chum with their seat mates, and in most cases, letting someone slip past you means getting up and stepping out of their way. [Read more…]

Unplugging, and facing the truth

Thank goodness, I’m back online.  Friday a story about the “National Day of Unplugging” came on my car radio.  You can read about “The Unplug Challenge” here .  Basically, you disconnect from your cell phone, email, text, Facebook, Twitter, etc. for a 24-hour period, to help you “slow down life in an increasingly hectic world.” Ironically, the Sabbath Manifesto folks created an app to help you disconnect.

Anyway, I decided to take the Unplug Challenge.  I spent Friday night sending emails, doing online “work” for my various volunteer jobs, and printing out documents from a class I’m taking online, so I could be productive even though “unplugged.”

I officially shut down my computer and turned off my cell phone and iPad at 8:30 pm.  With a little fear, but also self-satisfaction, I headed out to unwind in the hot tub.  While there I panicked, remembering a couple more messages I needed to send, plus the idea of putting a “vacation response” on my email — so people would know I hadn’t dropped off the face of the earth, merely unplugged from it.  I went in and booted up my computer, did these things and printed out Saturday’s calendar, since I wouldn’t have access to it on my phone or computer.  Much calmer, I officially began my Sabbath from the Internet at 9:30 pm.  [Read more…]

Am I out of shape or what?

A week ago I did a fitness and conditioning class for tennis players.  Now that I’ve rested up from that, I ‘m ready to get going on a more structured exercise plan.  My first step was order some books from Amazon, which conveniently delivered them to my door in two days (no exertion required).  I thought that since I like to play tennis, I should make tennis conditioning the goal of my fitness program, the thing that would motivate me and keep me going after the first couple of workouts when I knew I would feel sore and completely out of shape.

So these books sounded perfect.  My favorite is Complete Conditioning for Tennis, which is published in association with the USTA and has a lovely photo of James Blake on the cover.

It also includes a DVD, so you can not only be a couch potato and read the book (as I have done), but you can watch fit people doing the exercises and imagine that you would do them with just as good form.  Unfortunately, James does not appear inside the book or on the DVD — it appears he lent his image and endorsement for the cover to help the USTA sell more copies.

Another good one is The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Tennis, which can help you figure out what to do in the gym besides chat with other people who, like yourself, are there to socialize or waste time while pretending to work out.  I’ll warn you, however, that this one is more intense, as it includes quite a few grids with small print concerning reps and sets.  For me, it’s a bit much.

So at least I’ve been THINKING about what I’m going to do to get into shape, and I suppose that’s a start.  But really, rather than work out hard, it’s so much easier just to check my email for the umpteenth time, write a blog post about exercising, and maybe cap that off by walking the dog around the block.

I realize that over the years my kids and I have collected a lot of the basic equipment I can use to get in shape at home: a jump rope, cones, assorted dumbbells and ankle weights, stretchy bands, you name it.  It’s simply time to put it all to use.

Maybe writing these confessions online will help me get past them.  Maybe my friends will hold me accountable.

In the meantime, let me know if you’re free for coffee or lunch — but maybe not for a hike, and definitely not for a run.

Now they’re gone.

We took them to the airport early yesterday morning, each on a flight to the East Coast but leaving within twenty minutes of the other one.  He’s going back for sophomore year, and she’s doing a freshman backpacking trip before orientation starts next weekend.  The shopping’s done, the bags are packed.  What Sarah didn’t take, my husband and I will carry when we go out help her check into her dorm.

We got back home at 6:30 a.m.  Our favorite breakfast café wasn’t open yet, so we went to Peet’s and drank coffee for half an hour before going to eat scrambled eggs.  Did you ever wonder why, when you arrive with friends at 8:30 or 9:00, all the bigger tables are taken by sole occupants?  Now I know it’s because people set up camp between 7:00 and 7:30, and then they stay all morning.  One woman brought in a briefcase and some shopping bags in a stroller (no baby in sight, however).  She then proceeded to move a table to make give herself and her stroller more room.  After ordering, she sat down and then got up, sat down, got up, circling the restaurant several times until she had collected extra napkins and arranged everything in her area just-so.  Another regular customer came in and, since all the large tables were taken, he had to settle for a two-top.   He drank his coffee while rocking and humming to the tunes in his portable CD player, sheet music spread out in front of him.  I began to wonder if we were really in the suburbs after all.
But that was a momentary distraction.  When I came back to the house, there was only my youngest child, his dad and me.  And the dog, of course, who wanted his morning kibble.  But this is it, the “new normal,” a household of three.  Seems empty, quiet.

I wasn’t sure I felt like making dinner that evening.  [Read more…]

Packing (aka shopping) for college

“Mom, when are we going to start packing for college?”  Not that my daughter hasn’t already started.  In some ways I think she began five years ago, but she started in earnest about the time she turned in her matriculation forms.  She has assembled a packing list so impressive she probably could publish it in one of those “off to college” guides.  But, because you’re my friends, I’m offering it to you for free: Sarah’s College Packing List.

Since the items are shaded to indicate what she needs to buy now versus what she can or needs to buy once arriving at college, the project is well-delineated.  The two of us can break it into manageable pieces and more important, we can have fun doing it together — I’m looking forward to spending time with my daughter before she leaves home, helping her get ready to launch this next phase of her life.

It’s so different from when my son left for college last year.  He didn’t care about the lists I offered him.  Wasn’t interested for me to help him prepare by purchasing sheets, towels and other basics for his dorm room.  He mainly seemed concerned about backing up the (hopefully legal) files on his various hard drives and determining how to transport his electronics cross-country.  Since he was going to college in an urban area, he figured he could buy everything he needed after arrival — all that was required was access to Mom and Dad’s credit card.

Different approaches, both of them valid.  I eventually insisted that my son allow me to purchase at least some sheets and towels, as I needed to do it for my own process of letting him go.  He understood and relented.  He also let his father and me accompany him to the East Coast, but I saw his dorm room only that weekend and no more the entire year.  This was hard for me, but it was what he wanted.  I’ve seen him a lot this summer, and that’s been a real treat.

But with my girl, I get to go shopping!  We start next week, I think.  She’s in control of the list.  Thanks to Facebook, video chat and goodness knows what other wonders of modern technology, she already has more information about her room, its layout, her roommate (of course), and all kinds of stuff my generation could only have guessed at prior to arriving on campus.  All I know is that her energy level for college in general, and for shopping in particular, is high — I just hope I can keep up.