Thursday, July 24, 2008


Today I went to our neighborhood YMCA, our Tampa YMCA, much different than the Orlando YMCAs to which I've become accustomed. Orlando YMCAs are brimming with personal flat screens on treadmills and clean pressed towels and of course lots of 40 somethings in color coordinated spandex. That is a status symbol I've come to realize. I was still wearing my finest jade and pearls to establish my upper working class status. I wish I had been educated on the matter before I lost my great grandmother's broach on an elliptical machine.

I just got home from work and found the start of this blog when I opened the computer. I know where she is going with this. At the start of the second paragraph she is going to start talking about how the Tampa YMCA has machines from the 1930's and free weights in large, iron, 3D trapezoid form with handles on the top and marked in white print "100 lbs." She might say how she would expect to see barrel-chested men with handlebar mustaches and white and black horizontally striped singlets lifting the weights up and down over their heads.

Until about a year ago, I would have said all of this was only her own prejudice against the Tampa Y - and baseless. But that was before I saw one of the Y's in Orlando to which she was accustomed. Coming from the Tampa ghettos, I walked into the Dr. Phillip's YMCA and expected to think her descriptions were overblown. But then an employee walked up to me and handed me a steamed towel and said, "I say, dear sir, God's blessings on you in hopes of a capital workout." Then I walked around and worked out on (and this was amazing to me) machines that had upholstery not held together by duct tape. And all the dumbells came in sets of two. Previously, I'd just used weights that were within 10 pounds of each other and switched arms on different sets. It is an amazing place. And I can say that all of prejudice towards my YMCA was well-founded.

Okay, that's my two cents. I'll let her finish her blog now when she opens the computer again.

I'm glad he interrupted there. I was actually losing my train of though. The only thing I would say is it's no longer "your YMCA" and "my YMCA" it's our YMCA. Our YMCA, where the temperature is always a little too warm to be indoors and clean pressed towels are replaced with paper towels from dispensers similar to those found in public restrooms.

During my workout experience (generally 3 weeks on, 2 months off) I have become much more well acquainted with weight machines than with free weights. I've always found them more convenient. They require less "know-how" as there is only one exercise that can be done per machine and they prevent me from having to go over to the "free weight area" where college-age males stand in front of mirrors and lift up their shirts to see if those sit-ups they did minutes prior have kicked in yet. I don't know why lifting your shirt up in the gym is an acceptable practice. It's like all social etiquette is thrown out of the window. Nobody ever says anything like, "That makes me uncomfortable," but I guess if spandex is socially acceptable, most practices are.

I've had to denounce my devotion to weight machines here in Tampa as they are not up-kept. I always find as I use them that one leg is higher than the other or one arm extends further than the other, or I find myself playing a rousing game of "find that smell" on the leg extension machine. "Is it me? Is it that guy? Oh, no, it's just the handle grips that lots of people touch. Phew. That's a relief." Once I realized my left leg was becoming far superior in strength to my right I figure I should switch to something more unvarying. Free weights. It was time to rub elbows with frat boys and high school seniors hoping to replace acne with biceps before college.

Joel was nice enough to coach me on some exercises that worked certain muscle groups because he knew if I ventured into this new chapter in my exercising chronicles alone, I would do something like drastically increase my neck girth while doing an exercise that I think works my obliques. There is always an added strain to any relationship when the husband begins coaching the wife in her workouts. With every additional helpful exercise he taught me, my brain would go further into "he thinks I'm fat" land. He'd say things like "this is another really great butt exercise," and I'd say things like "So, two exercises aren't enough?" And, he'd say, "Well, no that's enough, but, well I thought I'd just teach you all of the ones I know," and I'd say "Why do you think I need to know all the ones you know?"

"I just thought I'd teach you all of them so you can do them on your own."
"Do you wish I was thinner?"
"No, you are very thin. Too thin."
"No, I want you to tell me the truth. (I don't actually, I just want his lies to sound very truthful.) Do you think I've gained weight?"
"No, of course not." Silence. "Do you just maybe want to go do the weight machines?"
"No, this is good. I just wish you didn't think I was fat. That's all..."

It continued on like that for a couple minutes until I realized there was no winning for either of us through this line of questioning. Entrapment does not a happy husband make. I think maybe I was hoping the conversation to end with him saying, "You're super skinny. Let's blow this popsicle stand and get a McFlurry." I wish most conversations ended that way.

As time passes since my first experience with our Tampa YMCA, I wish I could say it's growing on me. I tell myself it's a great place until I get there and remember that instead of air conditioning, they just have a giant who lifts up the corner of the roof and breaths very open mouthed into the facility. As I continue to push myself to go, (one to two days every other week or so) there are two things in which I find solace. One, I have definitely observed that instead of spending money on attaching televisions to Stair Masters they are using their means to pour into the community which is a beautiful thing to see. Two, I am married to a man who can treat staph if ever necessary.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Married Life

It is 7:30 in the Hunter house and Lizzy in our music room practicing arias. It was just a second bedroom that I thought should become our den with some animal heads on the wall and maybe a battered leather sitting chair. But then we bought an electric piano and Lizzy started her nightly practice. Now it is a music room. I would say, proportionately speaking, it is more of an opera room than anything else. We should have bought a harpsichord instead of a piano. An 18th century European man with a powdered wig and white stockings would feel very comfortable at our house in the evenings. To be fair though, we do have a few animal mounts in the porch closet and I am allowed to go look at them at my leisure.

On the whole, we have adjusted to married life very well. We've finally entered into a little bit of an established routine, which I think classifies our existence now officially as "married life." For the first several months we were newlyweds and still classified as "one person joined by God and constantly mystified by any objection to the other's previous habits." There were the kinks to be worked out over toilet seats, weekend trips, loud snoring (my soft palette is as unyielding as Neville Chamberlain), coffee strength, and dog rearing. But any good journey has obstacles to overcome. And we are far enough in now that I'm able to see that's where a lot of the fun is. Without learning the compromises of marriage, I might never have invented my toilet seat compromise device, which elevates the seat to exactly 45 degrees at all times.

And now we are enjoying the fruits of a smooth functioning married life. My friends and her friends have now become simply our friends. When I have a bad day at work, she is cheery for me and when she can't master an especially challenging musical piece, I will sing it for her to show her how gifted she is. As I meet the doctors that I will work with in a refractive surgery fellowship, she (thanks to years talking with opera donators) is inevitably well-acquainted with their hobbies of opera, European travel, vineyards, dressage, and monocle wearing. Together we are more than the sum of our parts.

She's done singing now. We're going to watch Jeopardy.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Of Keys and Cars

Anybody who knows me well, knows of my terrible luck with automobiles. Come to think of it, I have terrible luck with birds as well. Blue jays, not as friendly as they look. And Mr. Blue bird on my shoulder would never be "satisfactch'll." He would be there to hurt me because birds are very angry creatures with small brains and creepy stares. If you've every been walking across a busy street in broad daylight and had a bird sweep down from his domicile to attack your naturally curly hair, you'd be with me on this.

So driving... I've definitely had my share of accidents. And when I'm in an accident, I'm never rear-ended by an apologetic driver with the courtesy to say, "Are you okay?" or "I'm so sorry." I'm always hit by a person I've completely inconvenienced by the fact that my car was at a dead stop in I-4 traffic or in a, lets say, Target parking lot. The person who hits me say's things like, "So how long's this gonna take?" or "I don't have time for this. I have to pick up my kid." Word of advice: Never trust a person driving with a compact disc flag hanging from their rear-view mirror. Ever. I don't care if it's a Brazilian flag, a German flag, or even an American flag. If you are hit by an automobile sporting one of these, get every bit of information you can. Even draw a sketch of the person who hit you. If you aren't good at drawing, take a mental photograph or even one with your cell phone. Which ever is more convenient. This person will surely yell at you a lot for making them pull over after hitting you then try to flee the scene to pick up their child at "daycare."

I could go on all day with stories of my misadventures in driving. What I've noticed as of late is that my car luck has somehow spread to my husband. Apparently my virulent strain of driving misfortune is highly contagious. I try to wash my hands often, but ten months of living together has turned our apartment into driving malady petri-dish. It started off as an innocent loss of keys. Joel's keys went first. To this day he swears I threw them away to which, I say: Yes, I probably did. He did have an extra set which was helpful but those were lost about three weeks ago. We had a spare key made but unfortunately the manufacturers of Hyundai decided that having a key alone isn't sufficient enough to prove you are not in fact stealing the car. You also need the remote. The very expensive Hyundai remote. If you unlock the door with the key and open the door, the alarm goes off. Then, if you insert the key into the ignition you cannot turn it until the alarm goes off for two minutes. That is how long it takes for the car to be convinced you are not a thief. You can then turn the key to start the engine. Apparently if you are willing to sit through two minutes of very high-pitched, high-decibel sirens, you must have innocent intentions. I say cars have faulty logic. To avoid all the rigmarole, and keep peace with our neighbors, Joel simply leaves his car unlocked. We would be worried about it being stolen but there isn't much in that car to invite a thief. He doesn't own woofers, as the young kids call them although I suppose a robber greedy for eye drops and empty soda bottles might very well hit the jackpot with Joel's car.

Two weeks ago, Joel graduated from simply losing keys to the inevitable, getting rear-ended on the highway. Of course despite his innocence in the accident, he still managed to receive a ticket for not having proof of insurance in his car. Police officers in our county don't mess around. They also don't want people to like them very much as I've learned.

So Joel's car is totaled and we are now on the hunt for a replacement automobile. To me there isn't much more nerve racking than shopping for cars. Let's just hope we don't get a lemon. Or a tangelo for that matter. I don't really care for citrus. Except grapefruit, I like those very much. To look on the bright side, it could be worse. We could be shopping for a parakeet or weaver-bird or some other winged creature. For in the wise words of Gilbert K. Chesterton:

“A turkey is more occult and awful than all the angels and archangels.”

Monday, July 7, 2008


We've been married for over 10 months now (Lizzy and I, not you and I). To give you an idea of how long that is, if I was bald on our wedding day, my hair would now be over five inches long! In that time we've gone through a honeymoon phase, scrabble phase, ordering out phase, working out phase, metaphase, and prophase. Mitosis jokes! It's going to be a good year.

It was Lizzy who said to me the other night, "Handsome hero king," (she always calls me that) "why don't we start a blog?" And I did what all married guys do and said, "Yeah! That sounds great!" before I thought about it for even a femtosecond. But now that I've had time to think about it, I've gone from not sure about it to thinking it is a great idea. It is a marriage builder, and it is perfect for us, since we hate ropes courses.

So far we've only had one and a half fights over our new blog and none of them ended in a duel. I wanted to start a married blog so that I could take credit for Joel's science jokes. He insisted on labeling each blurb with "Joel:" or "Lizzy:" (see above) so I will have to think of my own. What did one Bunsen burner say to the other Bunsen burner?.............I've got nothing. Joel would surely have had a punch line for that. (Joel: "I've got gas!")

What I'm really saying in all this is welcome to our blog. Please come in and make yourself at home. Kick off your boots and lean back in the best seat by the fire while Roxie lies contentedly at your feet (Roxie is our dog, for those supposing we procreated. Also for all those supposing we have a neighbor named Roxie, thus being made uncomfortable by the former statement.) Actually, we do have a neighbor named Rocksie but as you can see, she spells her name with a cks. I made that part up. Joel is funnier than me. Mitochondria.