My Big Girl Panties Have Bling

thong bling

Look out. I'm armed and dangerous.

I’m sorry for frightening everyone. I just learned that various midwest cousins are sending my grandmother quizzical missives, politely inquiring into whether or not I’ve died. And she politely declined to answer, since she wasn’t sure herself.

I’m alive, people. I just had a bad cold. Or maybe the flu. And let me tell you, it was all downhill from there. I’m finally recovering. It’s just that I don’t recover like I used to. One week down from an illness meant I was now one week behind at work, which was not an easy catch-up. And I was also one week behind on laundry and bills and groceries and newspapers and emails. It would all have to be caught up in my “spare time” from 6:30 pm et seq. because I was expected to work as a lawyer in there somewhere. Full time. And then the first week of school came along and WHAM! I was slammed.

I personally blame “forty” for the series of mishaps that have followed. I just don’t recover like I used to. Yes, I said it. I’ve successfully avoided discussing it, but there it is. Forty. I’m told I’m a quadragenarian. Anything that sounds like a symptom that might require Geritol is frightening.

I knew I was screwed at the opthamologist. I turned forty and saw the eye doctor, a young man who shouldn’t be so attractive and have such a nice drawly southern accent. I stare at him. I get away with it because, well, I’m supposed to be looking into his eyes, aren’t I? On my last visit he said, “remember that little experiment we were trying with your stigmatism to see if not wearing glasses would exercise your eyes more?” I remembered. I prided myself on my ability to take the driving test without them on the last time. “Oh. Mmmm hmm.” I loved his lazy way of talking. I smiled and stared into his eyes. “Well, it didn’t work. Start wearing them.”

Gah. Thanks.

In fact I inadvertently saw a whole host of health care providers soon after that, all of whom repeated, in lingo appropriate to their various specialities, that my body isn’t what it used to be, that I needed other various procedures performed over the next six weeks, and that it was time for me to move on and accept it. If anyone else tells me to put my big girl panties on I’m going to take mine off and shove it up their …

I scoffed in defiance. I put on my own version of big girl panties, the thong with the sparkly little heart in front.

And then I blew my knee out. I ran for a goal, one on one, and kablammo. It came from behind. I never saw it coming. A tall guy with a pony tail did not want me to score, but wasn’t coordinated enough to effectively manage that. So instead, he went down. And apparently he wanted to take me down with him. As our feet tangled, I watched the ball roll away. With superman precision I flew out, limbs outstretched, and leapt unwillingly onto the artificial turf-over-concrete and landed squarely on slightly bent port patella. As the pain shot through my leg, the fouling perpetrator sealed the injury by landing, with a flourish of tall-person limbs, tiny rubber-substance designed to cushion falls, and a splash of stinky boy sweat dripping from his hippie hairdo, directly on top of me and my port patella. It was special. I couldn’t even get up to take my revenge in the form of a penalty kick. Off the field I went.

But as you moms know, that kind of thing doesn’t stop life, it just complicates it. It requires a visit to the doctor, several visits, but then life goes on. School starts and the lunch-packing horror and homework hysteria ensues. People sue the government and I’m asked to stand up in court with a throbbing knee. Soccer practices keep happening and people expect me to get my children there on time and with cleats on and cold water, all before I’m supposed to be done with work. Laundry still gets dirty, and with soccer in play, it is also increasingly stinky which means it attains an odiferous shelf life before I ever get to it. My children still need to be fed. I still need to be fed. We run out of milk and cereal and peanut-butter after so many days.

And then Husband unwittingly asks me to go car-shopping so he can have a car when he comes home. In my spare time. Yeah, he really did. He really really did. It must be one of the few perks he’s experiencing right now … a complete dissociation from real life. Oh boy, reintegration is going to be so fun. I’m going to need a new pair of panties for that one. I’m going to need a whole wardrobe of sparkly panties for that phase. Maybe he’d like to see my big-girl panty bling in action. Maybe not.

So, the writing had to fall off for a while. Sorry blog-lovers. I knew you’d understand. I’m hiking ’em up high and getting on with life. On the bright side, I have an MRI tomorrow. I’m planning to fake claustrophobia so I can get some happy drugs and take a long, beautiful nap. Wonder if they will make me strip down to my panties …


How to Pick Your NCAA Bracket Like a Girl

NCAA mascots

Dude looks like a birdie.

So you think there’s a science and an art to picking your NCAA teams for the big tournament? Witty Little Secret will now completely demystify the annual formula. Here’s how to pick your NCAA bracket like a girl.

By this afternoon, most American employees will succumb to March Madness, a disease that seems to temporarily cure such workplace maladies as deadlines, micromanagers, paperwork, and timecards. The first time I found myself in a male-dominated working environ, I was astounded at the time suck that this annual event drew in. I had no choice but to join them in this odd bonding ritual. The option was to be labeled a non sport-watching girl. I was horrified, since I never EVER watched college basketball.

When I first embarked on my mission for college basketball awareness in 2001, I had a clean 24 hours to come up with my brackets. This was a distressing process for me because I could not research, read, interview, dissect, discuss and digest the plethora of websites and sports shows related to the topic. And lawyers must do this before they make a decision they are going to put in writing. Not only that, extra study and consultation is required when their own money is riding on the outcome.

But there was not time for such tomfoolery. I had to wing it. Lawyer Guideline #2: when the interminable list of duties fails due to procrastination and surprise, “fake it till you make it.” So I went with the complicated decision matrix I’m going to reveal here. This has been a secret of mine for ten years now, and it’s time I revealed my true genius. And it’s all for free.

Early Round Picks – Play the Odds

In the Early Rounds, look down the outermost sides of your bracket and just pick all of the obvious higher-ranking seeds. This means all of the 1,2,3, and 4 seeds move on and all of the 15, 14, 13, and 12 seeds lose. This rules out nearly half of your decisions and makes you look somewhat smart. Now, for the remainder of the teams for the first couple of rounds just pick by Vegas odds.

By the way, I highly recommend reading up on how Vegas odds actually work. Ahh, memories. Good thing there were some Cinderella teams that year. I read them all exactly backwards and I still placed in the top half of the competition that round.

Sweet Sixteen – Team Leaders

When you get down to the Regional Semifinals, the picks start getting harder. This is where some serious skill is needed. You will need to make the tough calls by chosing the best team leaders. That’s right. I’m talking about the mascots. I mean they do call it the “Sweet Sixteen” afterall. And that’s just sweet. Who can argue with fur, clothed animals, and people who live for making themselves anonymously ridiculous? I know it’s hard to compare a Jayhawk to a Wolverine, and it does seem somewhat subjective, but look at it this way: there’s really no shame in any of your choices. They are all equally pretty. So pick confidently!

Elite Eight – Off The Rack

Isn’t it obvious? This is the elite round, people. Pick the team with the most stylish uniforms. This methodology really threw me off in the years when they started bringing back the retro-duds and the new tighter designs. I just had such a hard time voting for basketball players in trim-fitting v-neck vests.

Final Four – Suck it Up

Look, if you thought the Elite Eight was hard, let me tell you, this round is even harder to pick. If you haven’t watched a game all season, you’d better have plenty sports fans in your life that want to impress you with their NCAA prowess. Go ask for advice and get some good information based on the bracket you’ve filled out so far. Don’t worry about how hard they laugh when they see that you still have Villanova in the running for the playoffs. All it means is that you now know who to eliminate. Be sure to make some comment about how your cousin goes to school there and he “made” you pick them. Also, be sure to actually pick the team your boss recommends when he’s the one scoring the brackets. (Another lesson I learned the hard way. Learn from my mistakes, people.)

National Championship Game – Go With the Legacy

Alright, this one is the biggest no-brainer of all. You absolutely positively must pick you or your family’s alma-matter team if they have made it this far. If you don’t have a family legacy like me (Rock Chalk!) then you must pick the school attended by a family member who is a fervent basketball fan. If you have more than one choice, pick your richest relative. In the unfortunate event that you don’t have any rich old uncles, don’t worry. No matter how poor your relations are, you and your family member(s) can always get behind the old alma-matter and sing songs and jump around like the cheerleader you always wanted to be.

With all that in mind, fill out your brackets and get your money in the pool. You only have a few hours left and you know there’s far too much traffic on the work computers for your boss to actually track your internet usage. Plus, he’s probably on ESPN reading up on best picks as we speak. Good luck, everyone!

NCAA 2011Lori loves March Madness and is a ten-year NCAA bracket participant, which would qualify her as an expert witness if ever that need arose. She has had the privilege of placing in the top five and (theoretically) winning money in several bracket competitions using this foolproof method, which turns out to be just as predictive and successful as the complicated schemes of her actual basketball-watching colleagues and clients.

Universal Truce

"Bullhorn" by Duchamp, Creative Commons/Flikr

The Universe has been speaking to me this weekend, and I don’t think I like what it’s telling me. Not only that, it appears to be coming at me through a cosmic bullhorn, loud and clear. I guess nobody ever likes what The Universe has to say, huh? I mean, if you can’t figure something out for yourself and The Universe actually has to intervene, it must be pretty stinking bad.

By now you know that I’m afflicted with a sickness that involves constant movement and mental activity, even to the point of complete exhaustion and self-inflicted immune system shutdown. I tend to procrastinate just long enough that I am required to work straight through to madness, until I experience the emotional blue screen of death. And yet I continue to be suprised. To the average onlooker this appears to be insanity – repeating my actions and expecting a different result. But to those who don’t see my procrastination, it just appears as if I’m trying to do everything and be everything to everyone. That’s really not it, guys. I swear.

I’m really much more self-absorbed than that.

All I’m trying to do is figure out what it is that I want. That’s all. And this weekend several different people, none of whom know each other, told me (in varying degrees of directness) that I need to figure out what it is that I WANT. Well, okay – alrighty then. So why is that so damn hard?

I’m sure it’s because I don’t want to pick. I’m sure it’s because I’m so very talented. I’m sure it’s because I want ALL of the things that I want, and I want to be the one to do them all myself. All of them.

It couldn’t be because I’m afraid.

See, there are lots of things that are changing. My daily life and my mind are morphing at breakneck speed. My kids are maturing, and relate to me differently than they did just a few months ago. My job is evolving, in a good way. My body is freaking out on me, in a bad way (let’s not even go there). I care about things I never cared about before. My friendships are changing. My interests are not what they once were. My confidence is waning in some areas, expanding in others. My perspectives on pretty heavy subjects are being enriched. I’m growing.

Without Husband.

And I just can’t do that. He’s been here every other time. I remember the day I wanted out of my financial job and contemplated law school, and he was there. He said, “You can do this. You can be a lawyer if you want to. Is that what you want?” And I did. I wanted it. I remember being half way through law school, and realizing that it was hard – harder than I thought. I was not one of those people who was naturally smart. I didn’t always “get it.” I had to work quite hard. I remember the day I sat on the floor and cried, and told him that I had made a huge mistake. He was there, and he didn’t mince words. I thought he was coming in to scoop me off the floor, but he didn’t. He looked at me and he said, “If it was easy, everyone would do it. You can do it – if you really want to.” And suddently, I did. And then I remember the day we sat parked in our car on a rainy weekend, looking out at the water. I remember when he said he wanted to start a family.

I cried, because I didn’t know what I wanted. I was so gripped by fear, that it came out as anger. I remember being so very afraid. And I remember how he yelled, “I will be there, if you want to! I want to!” And I remember the silence that fell over us, as I cried, and he stared. And I remember hearing the rain, and thinking about how he always knew what he wanted. And then I remember not being scared any more.

So here I am, trying to figure out what I want, but he’s not here. I’m stretching and growing without him. I’m getting over fears without him, and this time, he’s not here. What will happen if he comes back and I’ve changed? What will happen if HE has changed? What if he comes back and I don’t need him to say it anymore? What if I don’t need him to say, “You can do it, if you want to?”


Well, you can forget it. I’m going to stagnate, that much I’ve already decided. I’m going to un-grow.  I’m going to just sit here in the mosquito-infested mud and pretend to be completely oblivious to the blood-sucking stings of change.

I will just refuse to learn something new, that’s all.  I’ll just start caring about idiotic things again like the best waterproof mascara money can buy, and I will focus on that. I’ll be filled with righteous indignation at the condition of my unmanicured toes. I’ll worry about the number of tacos I can order without having to go incognito at the drive through. I will have angry outbursts at Elmo DVD’s and people who suggest that I need to change.

And I’ll just stay right here. Exactly the same. And I’ll wait.

Afterall, that’s what I want. Isn’t it?

Number Two, and I Don’t Mean Poo

Now that Mobilization Bucket List Item #1 is over and done, with relatively little residual scarring and limited emotional damage, we are on to #2.

I’ll admit, I’m making these up as I go along and I don’t know how many there will be, or how long they will take. But since I’m a list-maker it can’t hurt to just keep calling it a Bucket List, right?

So, we are on to #2.

Ninety days of fitness. Good food. Endorphins. Discipline. Me time.

In 2009 I took a look at my body and said, “someone has GOT to do something” and for some reason I finally decided it would be me. A friend once told me “people who want to be thin, are.” That sounds a little bit mean on some level, but it’s really true. Most truth sounds kinda mean when it’s about you. But it’s really just about priorities. It just wasn’t a priority for me, which meant it was OK with me, on some level, to be 40 lbs overweight for a while. It wasn’t good or bad. It was just a fact.

I can’t really explain how or why it was different from the previous ten times, but this time, it was. I had a high school reunion coming up (which believe me is motivation enough), but if I’m being honest it wasn’t really the reunion. I was just ready. I just wanted to be thin. And with great success I shed pounds and gained muscle and an appreciation for truly excellent (real) food and excellent (real) people.

Then I quit. I didn’t quit all the way. I just quit half way. And slowly, I’ve been moving backwards. I’ve been convincing myself, like an alcoholic, that I can go back any time; I can just go back and do it again. I’ve been telling myself that I’ve just been too busy. There have been people to care for around here – dying people, sick people, little people. And they all need me.

Sheesh. What a lot of work I’ve created for myself. But there again, it can’t be good or bad. It just is.

Well, I am in list-making mode, and I’m sick of this, so it’s time. It’s time to start the next round of getting my body backAgain, dammit. This will put me in tip-top fighting shape by Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure what Valentine’s Day will hold for me this year, but I can tell you this: I will be rewarding myself with Bucket List Item #3:

to do list

I had to write “really” because I’m scared. That was my version of reassuring myself. Remember, I have that book, “Write It Down, Make it Happen” which is still sitting on my nightstand.

I realize this is really a stupid idiotic thing to do when your husband is out in the desert somewhere and you have two little kids at home. But I’ve decided not to live out of fear, and this is going to be my way of proving it to myself.

So, there it is.

Maybe I should come up with a #4 so that it doesn’t look like I’m planning to die. I mean, that’s not the end of the list. Maybe it will be something wonderful like “clean out the pantry” just to reiterate that something does in fact come after skydiving. But COME ON, let’s face it – there really isn’t much of anything that comes after skydiving except maybe “run for President” or “buy an island.” And anyway, don’t both of those seem awfully expensive? I guess maybe there’s “accept Pulitzer Prize” and “find a cure for cancer.” Those options are marginally cheaper, afterall. But no, no. I like “clean out the pantry.”

And anyway, you haven’t seen my pantry.

Paralyzed Pedestrian

A half marathon will really take it out of you. I think this is true for everyone, because regardless of the age, experience, or level of fitness of the runner, everyone in our hotel was limping the next morning. Clearly, the human musculoskeletal system was not designed to endure all of that mileage, at least not all at once. I approached the concierge and asked him where the cash machine was. He pointed around the corner, and as I hobbled away he and his buddy started clapping and cheering, “you’re almost there, you’re almost there!” Hardee har, har.

Running (at the end) was painful. Walking was painful. Going up and down stairs was painful. sitting was painful. Getting up after sitting (or going to the bathroom, or stopping, or falling) was painful. But peeps, it was nothing in comparison to the ice bath.

ice bath

Ice, Ice Baby. Photo by Quinn Anya

That’s right. I took a hotel ice bath after the race. We literally emptied the ice machine on our floor and dumped the whole thing into a few inches of water in our tub. I’m glad I forced my traumatized muscles into the bath, but honestly it was painful. When you pray for numbness to come, and you gasp to take a breath, that’s pain, y’all.

But it was there, in the midst of the ice, that I began to contemplate the significance of thirteen miles and thirteen months, which is essentially the length of Husband’s deployment (give or take).

The start line was filled with trepidation, and miles one and two came off with a burst of adrenaline. Mile three we got into a groove. And that’s where I am today. So what does this mean for mile five (free beer)? That will be around the time Husband might get to come home for a visit. What about mile eight when I was looking for my cheerleaders and mile nine when I hit the wall? Will I finally start to slow down? And what does it mean for mile eleven (all uphill, baby)? The parallels surprised me.

meat on a stick kabob

Ka Bob, The Brazilian

But I didn’t have long to think about all that, because it was time we rewarded ourselves for our journey. With meat. Beautiful Brazilian men walking around offering us meat on a stick. All kinds of meat. Chicken meat. Pork meat. Beef meat. Sausage meat. Multifarious bacon-wrapped meat. And lamb meat. And we sat, and we ate, and we were happy. Of course, we couldn’t get up from the table because our legs had become so completely paralyzed that we needed assistance to make it out the door. But it was worth it. So worth it.

I didn’t think about the thirteen mile-months much again until this morning when I had a chance to Skype with Husband. He’s doing so well and frankly, so are we. As we enter mile three, we are hitting our groove, finding our pace, and setting our stride. We have the stiffness of the first two miles behind us. The conversation went more like an in-person at-home exchange, where we handled administrative details and shared about our day, and anticipated our upcoming weeks. Husband was prattling on and I initially started to roll my eyes like I normally would over the level of detail he feels he constantly needs to micromanage, even from the Middle East. But then I stopped.

I looked at his image on the screen. I cocked my head to one side, and I breathed, and I watched him.

I chuckled a little, thinking how wonderful it was that he was there, providing detailed instructions, and I was here, rolling my eyes as if I had never taken care of a household on my own. It was just like he was here, sitting in the study with me on a Sunday afternoon. He was advising me. He was fixing things. And I got choked up over the mortgage and the hot tub. When he finished there was a little silence and I just said,

“I sure do miss you.”

And he looked back into the camera and smiled, and said, “I miss you, too.” And through that blurry pixellated image, Skype delivered a nano-second of something that no letter, no email ever could decipher or communicate. There was a recognition between two spouses. I don’t know what it was, really. It might have been a look, or a pause, or a gulp, or just a moment. But there was recognition that this really is hard, and it’s going to be hard for a while longer, but in the end, it’s all going to be okay.

There’s going to be a beer break that I probably won’t take. There’s going to be a wall. There are going to be uphill battles and a stiff-legged lap, and cheerleaders. There’s going to be a home stretch, and a finish line, and an ice bath.

And at the end, I will have accomplished something I have never done before.

If I can keep running at pace, the kinks will work themselves out. And if I pace myself, I will be able to make it up the hill (without a wheel chair). I have to remember to enjoy the t-shirts and the funny signs and the well-timed music and the jumping cheerleaders along the way. I have to depend on all those other people running the race right alongside me. I have to remember there are full-length marathoners out there doing twice as much. And I have to look forward to the finish line, not the potty line. Oh, and let’s not forget the Brazilian steakhouse dinner. With bacon.

And I do. I really, really do.

Because I have to. Because I can. Because I choose to.

Marathon Rookie Milemarker Highlights

first half marathon

I have witty friends with T-shirt accounts.


As if herding through the streets of San Antonio with 30,000 of my closest friends is not bovine enough, we are grouped into “corrals.”  I am with people who look like they might not be able to walk thirteen miles, including a man with a walker. No, really. A walker. This is probably some foreshadowing that I am going to ignore. Ye-haw! On with the race! Hurry up and wait.

I wish Husband was here. I miss him. I am tearing up a little. I hide my face from my friends. Crying at a race is stupid, stupid, stupid. I am happy, happy, happy! Mooooooooo.

Let’s get it over with.

Mile One

Woot, woot!


Mile Two

Woot, woot! Funny guy. Back of his shirt says “Ask Me About My Bionic Ball.” I sure hope that’s in reference to a hip replacement. Man, my groin is tight. Keep going, it’ll go away. Huh, bionic ball. Funny. Um, I guess if he has a fake hip I’d better pass him. Let’s go, girls. Let’s go!

Mile Three

Pee stop? Really? Okay, fine. I’ll walk while you stand in line to go pee. Dang it.

Mile Four

Hm. Maybe just a quick little rest. I am now the annoying one everyone has to stop for. Oh, there goes the Bionic Ball guy. Dang it again.


starting line

Still Able To Smile

Mile Five

Beer? The Firemen are offering free Beer? Free beer? Can I really drink it and run? What will happen to me if I drink a beer (a free beer)? They look so nice. The firemen, I mean. Hm. Maybe I should have gone pee. Keep going, and it’ll go away.

Mile Six

Need. Water. Holy crap, this water is good. (Still secretly thinking about the free beer.) My calves are cramping. Hm. Friend is scowling. I cannot disappoint. Keep going, and it’ll go away.

Mile Seven

Maybe just a quick long little rest? Two smiling guys with signs cheering for every woman who goes by really crack me up here. “You’re So Pretty” and “I Like Fast Women!” gets me through that section. Calves no longer cramping, but the hamstrings are charlie-horsing. Keep going, and it’ll go away.

Mile Eight

I need to find my cheerleaders to make it through this mile. I can still remember hearing “Hey, Cheahleadah! Cheah!” as I jumped and screamed under the football lights as a Radford Rambabe in Hawaii when Dad was stationed with CINCPACFLEET. Hey, there they are! My cheahleadahs. Dogboy and Doggirl are cheering for me. Pretend to look like a superstar! I am a running maniac! What? We are three minutes ahead of our predetermined pace? We rock! We are stoked! I feel happy. I look at Dogboy with his camera, and I give him my best “Mile Eight makes me really really happy” face. My very best one.

tired runner

This IS my happy face.

Mile Nine

I’ve hit the wall. I suddenly realize this is the farthest I’ve ever run in my whole entire life. My running-mates realize it too when my left quad contracts, and stays that way. If I keep running will it really go away? I’m a stiff-legged runner looking ridiculous. Pain is OUCH weakness leaving OUCH the DANG IT body … Water. Beer. Something.

Mile Ten

The goo station! I forgot we were getting goo! I’m so happy. Sugar to finish the race. My lack of math skillz or a GPS watch has tricked me into believing I only have two miles left, and I think I can do two miles with my eyes closed. The goo makes me sick to my stomach, but it releases the quad cramping contraction from hell, so I am marginally happier and slightly less stiff-leged. But uh oh. Sick feeling. If I keep running it will go away. It will. It really will.

Mile Eleven

A hill? Really? REALLY? NOW? You are so mean, whoever you are. If I could move my muscles, I would OUCH kill you. Hurts to walk. Hurts to OWIE run. Might as well run/shuffle. Oh my gosh. We just joined courses with the marathoners. They are finishing 26 miles in the time I’m finishing 13! Not worthy. Not worthy … “Run Baby Run” comes on my ipod. Walk baby, walk.

Mile Twelve

Owie. Mommy. Mommy! I’m so glad Husband isn’t here to see this. Wonder where the Bionic Ball Guy is. I wish Husband were here.

Mile Thirteen

I. Can. Get. OUCH. Up this (expletive, keep it to yourself) hill. WHY ARE YOU SO MEAN TO ME!?

Finish Line

Downhill run! Is this really a run? I can’t tell if the adrenaline is helping or hurting here. Smile OUCH for the camera, OWIE smile for the DANG IT camera, smile for the camera, where’s the FREAKING camera? Smile for the camera … AND … I did it! We did it! I can’t walk now, but I did it. I really did it. I didn’t do it the way I wanted to, but … IT’S OVER. I get a medal! No, not these ones, these are the specially colored ones that were earned by people who actually trained. They are not for you. The honorable mentions are over there, crazy stiff-legged lady.

Gathering Area

Ah. I’m getting cold. I need water. Water. Water. I need to pee. Pee. Pee. Ah. Sit. Breathe. Rest. Uh oh. Not sure I can get off the port-a-potty. Owie. Mommy. Owie. I did it! Owie. I did it! Owie.

Still cold. Need my jacket. Where are the bag stations? Whuh, what? Down the stairs? Are you kidding? And then back up the stairs, and then back down, and then back up again? This was devised by the person who put the hill at mile 11. I am going to OWIE find that person and OWIE give them my OWIE…

Hey, guess what? We did it. We did it. We DID IT!

Tune in tomorrow for “Paralyzed Pedestrian,” which describes my victory meat meal and my comparisons between Thirteen Miles and Thirteen Months.

VOTY Reader