Friday, July 31, 2009

I'm a wuss.

This week we went swimming at the recreation center I frequented all growing up. I haven't been there in years, but my memories are great of this place. From the snack bar to the ice skating rink to the racquetball/wallyball courts, it really is an experience (even more so since they added splash zones and water slides). But I think it is most notorious for their diving platforms. There are three of them, each about a story, and there is no doubt that they are high and terrifying. Kids would boast about how they'd gone off the first or second platform, but by far the most impressive was the daunting third platform.

Don't get me wrong, I was one of those kids. I'd been off the first my share of times and I even went off the third a couple of times just to say that I had. Not to waste the experience, here I am saying it. I told Jared about the platforms and knew he would also find joy in the ridiculous ritual of purposely jumping off the equivalent of a three story building, if for no other reason than to say he had.

Not great resolution on these pictures, but you can see what I'm referring to.

So we climbed the ladder to the highest one (the third was closed at the time-thankfully!) and stood together before we plunged to the pool below. Once we were up there we both realized that it looked a lot higher once you were up there, and we were pretty scared. Naturally, I had Jared go first, which he did. Then it was my turn...

I let a few kids go before me... then Jared came up again... and I let him go before me too. Okay, that happened three times. I started seeing the same kids come up again and again and two things happened: I let them all go before me and I made some new friends. They gave me tips about what to do so I wouldn't splat onto the water wrong, that I should look at the mountains, that I should walk off or just take a running leap or close my eyes. I stood at the edge more than once but still, I couldn't will myself to take the jump. It was a long way down! And what if I landed wrong? I had kids to think about now.

After a good 20 minutes or so I decided I would work up to it by going off the first platform first. That one was noticeably lower, however for some lame reason I still couldn't go off! I knew climbing down the ladder would mean utter humiliation. I also knew the longer I stood up there I accumulated more and more friends. One "friend" was up there with me for a while; he wouldn't jump either. It was stupid. Why couldn't I just jump? Then, BEEP! "Five minute break, everyone climb down!" So I had to climb down, still humiliated but at least there were 10 or 12 of us.

You would think the story would end here, but you'd be wrong. After the break I had to try again, this time going off the high dive a few times first. I had to redeem myself. I found myself on the first platform again with more and more eyes on me. Not only was my whole family watching and chanting my name, but a sizable crowd of my fellow diving friends joined in as well as life guards and the other hundred or so people at the pool. The pressure was mounting and the embarrassment increasing. Really, it was getting way out of control. I was becoming the laughingstock of the pool. What was my problem? I'd done it before. All I had to do was make the decision, jump and then be fine (assuming the splat didn't go wrong). Eventually three kids formed a barrier from the end of the platform and the ladder so I had no choice but to jump. One said she'd pay me a dollar and another promised three bucks. I guess if I'd stayed up there longer I would have made more...

But it was getting beyond ridiculous, so... I took a step.

Entry into the water was perfect and no bodily injury was inflicted. As I swam toward the side I felt like a some sort of hero or Olympian knowing that all the eyes were on me. I imagined eruptions of cheers and I seemed to hear the Chariots of Fire theme song in the background. By the time I reached the ladder and proudly climbed out, my celebration was interrupted by the lifeguard yelling down at me, "Hey, if you ever do that again, swim to the other ladder!" Evidently, in the midst of my victory, I'd traveled right under the high dive instead of safely swimming back to the wall under the platforms. A small detail, but one that did not help matters, being the laughingstock and all. And no, I am not exaggerating. The lifeguard at the top of the slide asked me if I survived the jump and I received random congratulations the rest of the night.

Long story short, I'm a big wuss! In order to redeem myself again, from the first time I tried to redeem myself, I did climb up to the first platform and jumped off it again without thinking too much. Definitely my problem the first time. No, it was not that bad and no, it was not worth all that anticipation and embarrassment, and yes, it was actually pretty fun... once I finally did it.

FYI, the kid that said he'd pay me three bucks later told me he was lying, the punk!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Poor Putty Tat

When I was younger I always said I was going to grow up and have cats, so that's exactly what I did. At 26 I got married, quit my job, left all my friends, family and everything familiar, and moved across the country. Having no job, no friends, and a husband at work all day meant I could finally fulfill my dream… of being the cat lady. In no time I had located the humane society and found the perfect cat, with a ridiculously unacceptable name... Pepsi! (seriously, Pepsi?) The next day he was ours, only with a much more suitable cat name: Simon (okay, Simon Pepsi- we wanted to ease him into his new name so we kept it as a middle name).

Before we got rid of the futon, Simon squished the back down and made it his bed. And he saw no reason to move out of his spot.

Simon is a great cat. He's soft, friendly and huge (18 lbs?-but he's not fat, he's just big-boned). In many ways he thinks he's a dog, but not in a bad yappy, smelly, sniff your crotch or lick you sort of way (sorry if I am offending you dog lovers out there, but in my defense I've had numerous horrifying experiences with dogs in my life including one the size of a horse viciously taking a chunk out of my leg on my mission. Truthfully, I'm a little scared of them; hence I prefer cats). No, he's people friendly, not skittish or aloof like a normal cat, and he likes to take walks with us around the block, like a dog; not on a leash, he just walks along the sidewalk with us. Endearing, really. Sure, Simon's not perfect. He throws up almost daily and he's caught his share of innocent animals and dragged them into the house (i.e. the oversized rat in the family room today)... which leads me to what happened next.

Almost a month ago on one of the said walks with Simon, we noticed that at the end of the block this flock of crazy birds started circling him, tweeting furiously, and then dive-bombing him. At first it was just a weird display of nature, almost comical. Huh, shouldn't the cat go after the bird? But every time we walked by that spot those lunatic birds got more and more brazen, getting closer and closer to Simon as he took cover in the nearest bush or under a car pathetically meowing for help. Up to this point the birds had never actually hit him. I couldn't deny that those birds had every right to be mad, considering the likely fact that Simon had captured, played with and killed one or more of their family members. But still, I felt bad for the poor kitty.

Then about a week ago I noticed a scab on the top of his head. It wasn't so bad; he'd gotten in fights before (I did say he wasn't perfect, right?). A few days later I noticed that his eye was a little swollen and a closer examination revealed a worse head injury, longer and deeper. I began to worry, and became more suspicious of the hooligan birds. But it wasn't till the next day that I really knew. A trail of blood on the tile, couch, and table led me to a big open gash on the side of Simon's face. Those psychopaths were out to kill our cat! Or at least peck his eyes/brain out.

Not only that but they have gathered more forces and moved to our tree and roof. Come on now, this is his territory; he can't even poop in peace anymore. What am I saying? This is my territory and truth be told, I'm somewhat freaked out by them sitting there staring at me. And what's more, I was mowing the lawn last week when one of them dive-bombed me and hit me in the arm! He and the rest of them just sat on the fence with those evil conspiring eyes and I’ll tell you, I was pretty creeped out by it all. The fact that I was pushing a loud killing machine had no weight with them. Instead, scenes from Hitchock's "The Birds" began flashing through my head each time I nervously passed one of them. I know how Simon feels. We have been made prisoners in our own home.

Erin was extremely concerned as well. At one point she said, “Mommy, I think we should say a prayer for Simon.” Good idea, it didn’t even cross my mind. She later asked, “Do you think Jesus can make the fur grow back on Simon’s face?” After the prayer she looked out at him and declared that he was looking a lot better and it was because of the prayer. Honestly, her childlike faith brought a tear to my eye.

But here's the thing. What are we supposed to do about Simon now? We can't keep him inside or he'd go crazy, yet every time he goes outside he gets terrorized or injured. Our other cat doesn't have this problem, but then again, he also knows he's a cat and stealthily makes his way through the bushes as he should instead of sprawling out on the front lawn like an 18 pound target. Will Simon eventually just learn? Will he live in fear the rest of his life? Will he just keep getting injured? One last question, just how bad/illegal would it be for Jared and his friends to do some paintball target practice in you-know-who's general direction? Just exploring my options.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

So yesterday I was interviewed for an article in the Miami Herald for the bus shelter I designed. Here's the link, but I also copied the article here.

FAU student's design chosen as bus shelter of future

A new generation of bus shelters -- a sleek model with voice alerts to announce coming buses, moveable solar panels and protection from the elements -- may soon dot Broward sidewalks.


They're sleek, have solar panels, bike racks, offer protection from the sun and even have recycling bins.

The design by a part-time Florida Atlantic University student was chosen by Broward Transit as the prototype of the county's future bus shelters.

''It's very exciting to design something and then actually see it be built,'' said Laura Daniels, 33.

It was all part of a semester class assignment at FAU.

Daniels, a mother of three who lives in Sunrise, came up with her design in just a few hours.

''We are very proud of Laura's achievement,'' said associate professor Anthony Abbate.

And she got an A in the class.

Simplicity and practicality made her bus shelter stand out from the others, Daniels said. ''It incorporates all these special features into the design and it actually looks attractive to passing traffic,'' she said.

It's also self-sustaining. The bus shelter's information system, which alerts passengers of a coming bus, is powered by solar panels that tilt toward the sun. They also provide light at night.

Daniels' design contains shaded areas meant to keep those waiting protected from the sun and rain. The seating area is also longer and there are racks to accommodate bikers. The bus shelters will be handicapped accessible and house trash and recycling bins and a resting bar that passengers can lean on while waiting for buses.

Broward Transit selected Daniels' design for development and implementation under a program for improving transit facilities countywide. The county recently received $35 million in stimulus money for transportation projects.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Usual, the Unusual, the Sensational, and the Absent-minded

Monday was kind of a weird day.

1. I went to a random exercise class in the morning and was a little disappointed walking out because I didn't even break a sweat--and it's not exercise unless I do. It felt like I wasn't doing anything most of the time. But the next day (and today) I was so completely sore! Somehow she secretly worked some of my muscles that have probably never been flexed. Triceps, abs, back... ouch! So that was weird.

2. I was taking Erin to ballet (which is a story in itself) and was stopped in the left turn lane at a red light. The lady in the car in front of me did some wild jerking of her elbow and flailing of her arms, which made me think there must have been a really big bug in her car. But when the light turned green she didn't move. I gave the courtesy honk and nothing. Another honk, but nothing. Then I remembered the flailing and started wondering if she was okay--a seizure? heart attack? drug overdose? what if she died? I wouldn't normally just get out of my car, but I had a feeling something was wrong. I grabbed my phone, walked up to her window and found her asleep! She must have felt my presence because she woke up with a start, rolled down her window and yelled, "WHAT?!" I was a little taken aback but said, "I was just wondering if you were okay because the light was green and you weren't going." That's when she completely lost it yelling, "YOU KNOW WHY I WASN'T MOVING? IT'S BECAUSE YOU WERE JUST SITTING THERE BEHIND ME AND MAKING ME NERVOUS!...." Whoa. So much for being a good Samaritan. She was still yelling when I made my way back to my car. She finally went, but then stopped in the middle of the next street. I passed her hoping she didn't have a gun in her car to use as I drove by (I've read way too many Reader's Digest articles to not think that would happen). She didn't, but that was weird. Looking back, I probably should have called for help because she was so not okay. Whether it was a seizure or not, nobody should be falling asleep behind the wheel like that.

3. Maybe this isn't weird, but I look forward to Monday nights for two reasons: The Bachelorette and Here Come the Newlyweds (I only started watching the last one because I was friends with one of the guy's brothers. And it was cool to see two Mormon couples on it). Anyway, like Callie and Robin, I too am hooked on the Bachelorette. I just have to let it out, Wes is such a slimy dirtbag and I can't believe he is still in the running! I know the editors do a lot to paint him in a certain way. For all I know he's had great moments with Jillian, but I sure as heck haven't seen them. It makes for some great drama though. She should have chosen Michael, but I guess if she knew she wouldn't end up with him, fine. I'm so glad to see Ed again. He made a mistake by leaving, but coming back took a lot of guts. And maybe leaving was what it took for both of them to realize how much they liked each other. Three good guys out of four isn't bad. I can't wait to see Wes get kicked off next week. Ew! Just thinking about him gets that icky song in my head, "They say love, it isn't eeeaaasy..." Annoying.

4. This one happened today, but is a result of Monday. For the second time this summer I went grocery shopping and got through the checkout only to realize I didn't have my wallet. Yes, I am saying that I had to strap three kids in, go home, come back, unstrap, go in to pay, re-strap three kids and go home, for the second time this summer! Now, I would like to believe I am not a total airhead, but these incidents sure aren't making it easier to convince myself of that fact. I would also love to blame the no wallet thing on the kids, but alas, I have found a different culprit, the internet. Both times I have taken my wallet out to order something online and then not put it back. Looking on the bright side, I can't remember the last time I locked my keys in the car (knock on wood).