Monday, January 24, 2011

Reliving Latin with Zumba

I took my first Zumba class yesterday, and I'm already hooked. Granted, I have been a fan of aerobic exercise for years, but Zumba was exceptionally fun! For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, I’ll give you the run down. It is a series of dance and toning routines done in four to five minute increments, one right after the other. Steps from la Cumbia, la Merigue, La Salsa, and Latin hip-hop are incorporated into the workout routine. The music is inspiring. In my opinion, no other music urges one to shake one’s bootie more than Latin Music. I‘ve been listening to it for years.

So anyway, I got out there, not knowing what to expect. Once the music started, I danced my heart out. The time just flew by. I sweat like a pig, but left invigorated.

I was surprised how quickly Latin dance came back to me.

Did I mention that before I married my Bulgarian ball and chain, I dated a guy from Cuba? Oh, yeah, and one from Puerto Rico, and one from Columbia, and I had a semi-long term relationship with a Peruvian-born marine. (A year was long term in my single days.) So you see, Zumba was easy for me because I had a lot of prior experience with Latin dancing.

Anyway, for one and a half glorious hours, I danced, toned, burned 1200 calories, and most importantly, had a blast.  Viva Zumba! See you later. I gotta go scour the internet for my next fix. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

HAVE YOU EVER MADE-OUT WITH A DONKEY? (It wasn't on purpose)

    Noreen, Me, and Julie in Morgantown.
          The year was 1975. The draft had ended a few years earlier. The hippie movement still existed, but was on its way out. It was a different world than we live in today. The legal drinking age was 18, high school students had in-school smoking privileges, and overall, teenagers were treated more like adults than the teens of this era.

        Julie and I were in our sophomore year of high school, well on our way to becoming adults. We thought. Her father willingly, and my parents reluctantly, (I made myself sick, refusing to get out of bed or go to school until they allowed me to go) let us hop a bus from New Jersey to West Virginia to visit Julie’s brother Roger who was attending the university there. We arrived on a Friday. Roger and his wife Noreen decided it would be great entertainment for us to spend the weekend on a farm owned by a couple of their friends.
         We all hopped into Roger’s 67’ Volvo 122, and drove for an hour or so on windy roads until we came upon a beautiful two-story farmhouse. It looked just like a Norman Rockwell picture. The house was the color of corn silk. A large white porch circled it. In the center of the porch was a picture window, with two rocking chairs strategically placed on either side. Directly across from the house was a dirt road. Roger turned there. I was excited as we drove down the hand-cleared road surrounded by an unlimited supply of trees. I couldn’t wait to see the house where we would be staying. After about a quarter mile we came to a clearing surrounded by mountainous terrain, in the center, was a tiny shack. Julie punched me in the thigh, and we shared an astonished glance.

         The ramshackle house where we would be staying was no bigger than a cracker box, had wooden crates for steps, a crooked porch, and one window in the front. Two donkeys, a couple of chickens, a goat, and a dog ran freely around the yard. I guess you could say the place bore a hint of hillbilly-like charm. Sort of. 
    Noreen and Julie standing on the porch
         After an hour or so, Julie and I finally got over the fact that there was no running water, or electricity, and, that the only bathroom on the premises was an outhouse, and we forgave Noreen and Roger, and started to have fun. 

         That evening, our hosts, a couple of hippies who were extrememly  into living off the land, brought us to the neighbor’s house to party. (The beautiful farmhouse  I noticed on the way in)  And party we did. We didn’t stop until the cows came home. Literally. We had so much fun that by the time we stumbled back to our ramshackle quarters Julie and I were singing, “Outhouse-schmouthouse who cares.”

         Our hippie hostess lit a candle, and we all crammed ourselves inside the cracker box house. Everyone was dead tired, but we had a big problem. There wasn’t enough room for all four guests to roll out a sleeping bag, so Julie and I being the youngest, were elected to camp outside. I grabbed my leopard print sleeping bag with the orange flowers and spread it out on the ground about twenty feet from the house. Julie laid her real camping style hunter green sleeping bag next to mine. Enveloped by nature, we camped out under the stars, watching them  twinkle brightly in the clear night sky.

           I inhaled a gulp of fresh mountain air. “Almost heaven.” I whispered, before I passed out.
          I awoke some time later shivering uncontrollably. I glanced over at Julie. She didn’t look cold. She was resting peacefully, snug in her real sleeping bag meant for outdoors. I inched my body closer to her until my back touched hers hoping to steal some of her body heat. But it didn’t work. Every five minutes or so, I was awoken by the sound of my chattering teeth. Finally, after what seemed like hours of torture, dawn arrived. The sun crept up in the sky, blessing me with its warming rays. My body relaxed; I fell into an oneiric state, until I slipped off into unconsciousness, again.
        I was having this dream that I couldn’t breathe. A warm, wet, slobbery, mound of goo was covering my mouth. Terrified, I startled awake my heart pounding in my chest. I blinked my eyes until they came into focus. That’s when I realized I wasn’t dreaming. But before I had time to react, a huge, grey, tongue rolled out like a carpet and spread itself all over my face. It was horrible. Whiskers were tickling my cheeks; hot, grassy, smelling breath was puffing on my face as the slobbery mouth expanded its exploration to include my eyeballs. I tried with all my strength to wrestle the donkey head away, but it resisted my force and continued to tongue-kiss me against my will.

        “No! Stop it!” I heard Julie scream in the background. The two beasts must have timed their attack perfectly because from a peripheral glance, I saw Julie turtle her head in her sleeping bag. But that didn't stop the donkey. Ooooh, no. He relentlessly nudged at the opening, chewing on the few stray tendrils of her hair that remained exposed.
       Copying Julie, I quit trying to fight off my attacker, and pulled my sleeping bag over my head. But my nemesis wouldn’t quit either. He copied his donkey friend and kept nudging, attempting to stick his snotty nose in my man-made cocoon.
         Instantaneously, Julie leapt to her feet, and crouched into a kung fu like stance. If she was that brave, I could be too. I wriggled out of my sleeping bag and stood up to face my attacker eye to eye.
          “Get out of here!” I screamed at the donkey clapping my hands trying to scare him away. But the donkey just looked at me and took a step forward in my direction. Now, both Julie and I had done a lot of horseback riding, so we had experience with four-legged equidae, but these animals had a mind-set that was all their own. It became an intriguing battle of the wills—and what my foe didn’t know, was I was stubborn as a mule too. I stretched my body as tall as I could so I would look big.
         “Get out of here!” I snarled slapping my hands together again. The donkey took another step forward—I took a step back in retaliation.

        Right next to me, Julie screamed, “Hi yah! Hi yah!” and karate chopped the air, but her donkey didn’t budge—he just looked at her as if she were crazy. Now, I don’t think the donkey’s thoughts were too far off because in the next instance, she turned and did a ninja leap onto his back.
        Her donkey bolted forward, Julie slid from side to side on his saddle-less back. She managed to regain her balance by grabbing tightly to the mane of her beast that was timorously trotting toward the mountains. The offensive play worked!
    Julie conquering her beast

         So, now it was my turn. I looked my donkey straight in the eyes and snarled; then I pounced on his back. He proved to be a worthy opponent, darting directly under a low branch. It was either dismount or be decapitated—I chose the former. “Be gone fowl beast.” I gloated as he forged briskly toward the mountains in the direction of his crony—securing his escape. Julie dismounted mid way up the hill lest she be carried off to who knows where by her impish foe. 
        We must have caused quite a commotion because when I looked at the brown shack of a house, Noreen, Roger, and the hippie couple were standing on the porch clapping and cheering. First, Julie and I took a few bows, and then we went to the stream out back to wash the taste of donkey out of our mouths.

    © 2010-2011 Each Head Is A World - All Rights Reserved

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    Breaking Dawn (A time when love was real)

    Summit Entertainment released this picture from the set of Breaking Dawn due to be released in November. I may be the oldest Twitarded fan in the world, but all I have to say about that is "Bring it on Summit. Mama's waiting!"

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    Mr. ASS-gar And The Mulberry Tree Hide Out

    front row 3rd from rt. Sara,
    Gayle, and then me. Back row 4th from rt. Claudia, then Paula
        In the late 1960’s, my family moved into a brand new development in Omaha, Nebraska. Houses were springing up to the left and right of us everyday, and the new construction sites were fun places to play. A kid could always find something to do there.
         Occasionally we would get into mischief. For example, one summer, angry they were clearing a lot right middle of our yearly winter sled run, a teenager gave us the idea to stuff toilet paper in the exhaust pipe of the shiny yellow digger. He felt sure that would stop the construction crew from building the house. So, about ten of us went home and swiped a roll. We used a large stick to make sure the pipe was packed tight and none was sticking out the top. The builder, Mr. Asgar, or as we kids called him ASS-gar, didn’t like it too much when his tractor wouldn’t start, and he liked it even less when he found out why. He marched around from house to house, talking the neighborhood parents. There were many kids involved, but nobody squealed, and everyone pled innocent, so no one got in trouble.
         And then there was the time, four of my friends and I lay on our stomachs on top of a dirt mound, spying on an unsuspecting cement finishing man. When he quit for the day, he left behind a large patio of uncured cement. Like little commandos, we slid down the other side of the mound, and crept up to the patio. We placed our hands in the fresh cement and signed our names, pretending it was Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. By the time the builder came back the next morning, the cement had hardened, with our names and paw prints included. We left a little too much evidence that time. Mr. ASS-gar went straight to our parents. But miraculously, all five of us came up with the same story—we were good. We all told our parents, “I didn’t do it. Someone else must have signed my name.”
         Because we stood united, and there was a plethora of children in the neighborhood with small hands, no one could prove anything for sure so; we got off with merely a warning.
         Apart from those two mildly, vandalous, incidents, we never did much more at the sites than have dirt clod wars, or remove discarded wood and nails from the junk pile to make our forts. Well, maybe a little  more.
         Our forts, the monstrosities made with different sized scrap boards hammered together with an endless supply of nails. Our parents took turns housing them in the backyard a month at a time. Dilapidated sheds would have been a better word to describe them, which is what led to big trouble when it was my turn to supply the yard.
         It took almost a week of begging and pleading, before my parents finally caved in and said we could build the fort. But they attached a stipulation—a big one—my mom had to pre-approve the building plan. The fort had to be neat, or we would have to tear it down immediately. Now that was not an easy thing to accomplish when the wood came from a junk pile, and the experienced builders were between the ages of 7 and 12.
         Nonetheless, Saturday morning, elated to be back in the fort business even with stiff code  regulations, my friends Claudia, Paula, Gayle, and Sara, and my kid sister and I went to scavenge wood. Much to our dismay, all we found on the various junk piles were a few small pieces, most of which had been charred from fires the workers had set the night before.
          I shook my head. “My mom will never allow us to start building with this junk.” I said to my friends. Their faces fell. Everyone looked so saddened by my words I figured I needed to come up with another plan. I kicked a rusty nail on the ground and then, eyed the empty, half built, house up and down. “I got it! Let’s go inside. Maybe we’ll find some better scraps in there. “
         “But, Mom said to only use wood from the scrap pile outside.” My sister reminded me.
         I patted her on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll only take the junk.”
         Immediately we started checking all doors and windows, in search of a way in. Fortunately, for us, Mr. ASS-gar conveniently left the back door to the kitchen unlocked. The six of us entered and began our hunt. We didn’t have to go far, because right before our eyes, just beyond the threshold, was a pile of perfectly cut blond 4’x6’s. They were about ½ inch thick, with feathery grain, and smooth as a baby’s butt. There had to be about twenty of them, so I was sure Mr. Asgar would’t miss a mere four. This had to be our lucky day because we also found a matching 4’x4’ that would seal the rear of the fort perfectly. I gave the small piece to my kid sister, and then my friends and I divvied up the remaining four boards, and dragged them up the hill to my backyard.
         We dumped the pilfered wood in the yard, and I pounded on the back door. “Mom, come quick! We got the wood!”Mom came out to observe our bounty.
          “Look, Mom. We are going to nail these pieces together and it will make a perfect rectangle. Our fort will be neat, just like you wanted.” I said eyeing her anxiously.
         My Mom looked surprised “My…Susan,” she said. “That looks like awfully good wood. Are you sure you got it off the junk pile?”
         “Of course. They were getting ready to burn it. Weren’t they you guys?” I asked my friends. They all swung their heads up and down.
         Now, my mom, being a girly, girl, did not know much about wood grains, or building supplies. Or maybe she just thought her daughter could tell no lies, but the important thing was, she gave us the go ahead to build. Everyone cheered.
         "Don’t worry Mom. You won’t be disappointed.” I assured her.
        With her back to us, she waved her hand in the air and hurried into house. My friends ran home to get their hammers. I went in the garage, grabbed a bucket of nails I’d collected earlier, and a can of army green paint that had been sitting around in the garage unused for years.
         We all met up in the back yard. First, we painted all the wood and let it sit in the sun for an hour or so. We did not mind the few pieces of grass that stuck in the paint. It was a fort, you know. Then we took one side, my sister and Gayle held it secure against the bottom piece while the rest of us tacked in a few nails. We did the same to the opposite side, the top, the back, and before we knew it, we had a perfect rectangle.
          “Okay, guys. Get busy hammering, ” I ordered, “We need this baby to be strong.”
          And they got busy. They pounded in nail after nail, about an inch apart. If a nail did not go all the way in straight, they pounded it sideways into the board, and used another one. In the mean time, I took my dad’s manual drill and cut air holes. When I thought I had created enough holes to be able to breathe easily, I circled around examining our creation with pride. This was gonna be the best fort ever.
         But, when I saw the opening in the front, it just didn’t look right. It was too large for a door. It wouldn’t allow any privacy, so I headed back to the empty house to find one more board.
         I reentered into the kitchen and found what looked like a pantry door, not yet attached. It was a little too tall, but I figured I could saw it off when I got home. Then it would fit perfectly, leaving a small open space for us to crawl in. I set off for home, holding onto one end of the board, and dragging the other end on the road behind me. I was about half way home when a car pulled up beside me and stopped. I gasped. It was Mr. Ass-gar and he looked pissed. He slammed on the breaks and jumped out of the car. I dropped the board and took off like a racehorse.
         “Hey you!” I heard him scream after me. And then I heard a car door slam. I kept running as fast as I could. But, he was closing in one me. Barefoot, I cursed myself for not wearing my PF Flyers. I dashed into my back yard to warn my friends.
         “Ruuuuun!” I screamed as I passed by. I ran, and I ran, for a few blocks. I didn’t stop until I got into the park. Once there, I shimmied to the top of a large Mulberry tree, and hid out.
         My friends, who were found at the scene of the crime—so to speak, told the next part to me.
         Mr. ASS-gar ran behind me into the yard. He rounded the corner behind the house, slid to an abrupt stop, threw his hands in the air, and screamed, “My wood!”
         Claudia froze in place; hammer in air. Sara, Paula, Gayle, and my kid sister ducked down on the opposite side, and continued hammering away.
         Mr. ASS-gar had a look of shock on his face that quickly morphed into anger. “You stole my wood. You little brats.” He spat. “You’ve totally ruined it.”
         At this very moment, my little sister popped her head up from the back of the fort and said in a nasally voice, “Who’s he?”
         Mr. ASS-gar turned purple. He marched around to the side of the fort and saw the other three with their hammers still pounding on the wood.
        “Stop that!” He screamed. “What makes you think you can just waltz into my house and steal my wood and hammer it to bits?”
         “Susan said we could.” Claudia told him. Everyone else agreed with her.
         He shook his finger at them. “Well, you go get Susan, and you tell her I want this fort torn down, and I want my wood back! Now! Do you understand me? Now! You tell her I’ll be waiting for her at the house.”
         And then, he stormed off.
         I had hidden in this same tree before, so my friends knew exactly where to find me. Frankly, I was a little relieved, if they hadn’t come, I would have probably stayed up there all night, I was that scared.
        “Susan, come on down.” My friends yelled in unison. “Mr. ASS-gar said we have to bring back the wood.”
         “No, he’s going to kill me.” I yelled back. I trying to guilt them into handling the return, but they refused to leave without me.
         “We told him it was your idea. He wants you to help bring it back. Don’t make us come up and get you,” Sara yelled.
          Knowing I had no other choice, I climbed down, and went to face my punishment. The six of us tore our neat fort into pieces and dragged the green wood back to the empty house. Mr. ASS-gar stood on lot with his arms folded across his chest, scowling at us.
         “Where do you want it?” I asked sheepishly.
         “Over there,” he said pointing to the junk pile. “And don’t ever let me catch you around any of my houses again.” We all nodded and tossed the wood in a heap. And then, he made us stand there as he set our former fort on fire. It was painful to watch.
          “Can we go now?” I squeaked after most of the wood had burned. ASS-gar gave us one last disgusted nod, and we all scrambled away in different directions. I’ll never forget the look on my mom’s face when she explained her part in it to Mr. ASS-gar, “She told me it was from the scrap pile.”
    It was great to be a kid growing up in Nebraska.
    © 2010-2011 Each Head Is A World - All Rights Reserved


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