This ain’t your Mama’s Gym

There is a disturbing trend going on at the Y these days.  I’m going to go ahead and blame the dang newbies since I never noticed this before January.

People seem to confusing the Y with some fancy gym where there are little workers who follow you around and clean up after you or provide you with everything you’ll need for maximum enjoyment.  Let’s be clear here: The Y is not a fancy gym.  The Y is staffed by people making about $8/hour.  There is no free “towel service” provided, there is no one cleaning the machines throughout the day and other than scanning your card when you enter, the front staff doesn’t really want to do anything other than talk to each other.  That’s just the way it is.

So when you walk into a studio for yoga class and see a mat all laid out with no one on it, do you assume that it’s for you?  NO.  Do you think someone just knew you were coming so we should lay out an extra mat?  NO.  Someone got there before you and just walked away for a minute, OK?  This has happened multiple times in my yoga classes, including someone setting herself up on the instructor’s mat.  Um…yeah.

And to the person who probably figured that some worker would come along and clean up the treadmill after he/she left melted snow, gravel and dirt on the belt?  *I* had to clean that up.  Yes, me, your fellow Y member, had to get down on the ground and wipe up your shoe runoff.  Highlight of my day.

Of course, just as soon as I determine that the Y is filled with a bunch of a-holes and hippies, I come across another Crazy Person.  Last night I went to a Bosu class that was set up in a circle.  And the person diretly across from me was new.  Oh, and crazy.  At one point the instructor had us sit on the ball to take a moment to catch our breath.  He asked, “How is everyone doing?”  Crazy lets out a “woo hoo!”  OK, not too bad.  But immediately after the instructor said, “OK, take a deep breath,” Crazy then…let her eyes roll back in her head and sat there with just the white part of her eyeball showing.  Honestly, it was terrifying.  I looked around to see if anyone else saw this, but apparently I was the only one.  And then after the Devil left her body she looked RIGHT AT ME.  I nearly shat myself right there on the Bosu ball.

Sometimes I get embarassed for America

You know when you’re watching a Ben Stiller movie and you can tell they’re starting another 5 minutes of unbelievably embarassing stunts?  And you start to feel a little squirmy watching it?  That’s kind of the way I feel when I hear about politicians speaking out against stem cell research and how acclaimed scientists are starting to leave the U.S. so that they can do stem cell research in Canada and Europe… Or when a town in my very own state decides to go on a witch hunt.  That’s embarassing, too:

So apparently some parents in Farmington, MN are pretty upset over a group that is helping the middle school organize a “No Name-Calling Week.”  The reason these parents are upset?  The group, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), is a non-profit that works with students to promote tolerance for gay and lesbian students

Ummmm…WHAT?!  I know I’m a classic liberal living comfortably in my bubble, but who on earth would have a problem with this?  Do you think the GLSEN organizers (who aren’t even going to BE THERE for the program) are going to run in there with their “How to be Gay” pamphlets and “The Bible is Wrong” handouts?  Maybe even just *touching* their materials will make your children gay!!

Apparently there is some sort of drama involving a district staff member that was mentioned in the board meeting…Excerpt: When Kiefer spoke, the school board tried to get him to stop talking because of concerns he would violate personnel privacy laws by mentioning the name of a specific district staff member. When he refused to stop, they had him escorted from the building by Farmington police.

I’m guessing this staff member is gay and therefore trying to push his/her “gay agenda” — you know, the usual stuff.  ARRGH!!  How ironic that some parent felt the need to NAME-CALL at the board meeting about this program designed to REDUCE NAME-CALLING.  Perhaps if the group organizing this was oh, maybe, North American Man/Boy Love Association, you might have a case.  Otherwise, you are obviously a big ol’ homophobe and doing a terrible job of trying to cover up your homophobia by expressing concern over “negative associations” within the school district.

Phew, OK.  Here is the whole article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Parents protest school event’s tie to gay-rights group

Parents have raised concerns after discovering that “NoName-Calling Week” at Farmington Middle School East is organized by a gay-rights group.

Last update: January 23, 2007 – 10:30 AM

A seemingly innocuous event scheduled at Farmington Middle School East this week ran into some unexpected opposition recently when parents raised concerns about its connection to a gay-rights education group.

Farmington Middle School East’s “No Name-Calling Week,” met the ire of some parents when they learned the national event is organized by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a New York-based nonprofit that works with student groups to promote tolerance for gay and lesbian students.

The week educates students at the sixth- and seventh-grade school about the consequences of name-calling and how to deal with it when they experience it.

Parents had objections about the school associating with a political group, as well as a group that “promotes the gay and lesbian agenda for K-12 students,” according to parent Michael Monroe Kiefer.

“We don’t have a problem with the concept of no-bullying,” said Kiefer, who has a daughter at the school. “We understand that’s a problem, but we don’t like the association that the school is having with GLSEN.”

School motivations

The school’s decision to participate in “No Naming-Calling Week” came partly from seventh-grade counselor Andrea Myers. As an intern at a middle school near Mankato that participated last year, Myers said she was impressed by the wealth of ideas suggested by the organization.

Principal Barbara Duffrin said the school decided to proceed with the event after a December survey of its 800 students revealed that 75 percent said they were victims of name-calling at least once or twice a week.

Daryl Presgraves, a spokesman for GLSEN, said 164 Minnesota educators requested information about this year’s program, although he doesn’t know how many are participating. But he said he has heard of no other objection similar to that raised in Farmington.

The network is New York-based and calls itself the “leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students.”

It is registered as a nonprofit, not a political action committee, which means it is limited to educational efforts, rather than direct participation in a political campaign or lobbying of elected officials.

In Farmington, the school made its own lesson plans for the week, including material explaining the harmful consequences of bullying and name-calling. The program includes 15 student leaders who helped make posters for the week.

Duffrin said the parents of three student leaders requested their children not participate because of objections to the network’s involvement.

“We believe that the needs of the students would be better served by the … program being conducted independent of involvement with an agenda-specific group such as GLSEN,” said parent Justine Jacobson, who also spoke at a recent school board meeting.

Meeting heats up

Tempers over the issue started to flare at the school board’s first meeting in January.

A group of about five parents had met with Superintendent Brad Meeks and Duffrin three days earlier.

Miffed with the district’s refusal to change the name or date of the event (to remove any association with the network), the group decided to air concerns before the board.

When Kiefer spoke, the school board tried to get him to stop talking because of concerns he would violate personnel privacy laws by mentioning the name of a specific district staff member. When he refused to stop, they had him escorted from the building by Farmington police.

The controversy caught school officials by surprise, said Duffrin. She said the school decided not to rename or reschedule the week because “we’re not sure why it matters who came up with the good idea.”

“We don’t want to forgo a quality opportunity because of this feeling that this organization is promoting something other than safe schools,” she said.

Staff writer Dan Wascoe contributed to this report.

classy lady

A couple weeks ago while waiting for Jim to arrive with our usual Friday night Thai dinner, I decided a glass of wine sounded really good.  I happened to have a bottle of white from the weekend before still in my fridge. Now, it was cheap to begin with, so after being opened and then stored in the fridge for a week, it wasn’t going to be any better.  I decided I would need some kind of cracker chaser.  Well, I didn’t have any crackers.  But I had some cereal.  So I sat down with my glass of wine, cereal and even lit a romantic candle.  Totes classy, right?


Mr. Sensitive Yoga Man Strikes Again


I know I probably spend way too much time thinking about, writing about and complaining about my fellow Y members.  But really – where do these people come from?  I attribute these people to the fact that it’s the Y and memberships are cheaper than your average gym, that they offer daycare so there’s tons of screaming children running around, and because it’s community-based so lots of hippies (like myself) keep going there until they’re gray and old. 

So one of my major gripes is with Mr. Sensitive Yoga Man.  He goes to all the same yoga classes as me and goes in the same spot every time because he gets there super early.  And it’s in the back which makes me think he doesn’t want people to see him…(unlike my prefered spot which is in front of the wonky mirror that distorts and actually makes you look skinnier.)  And he’s got big muscles and all, and I’m sure he does his sun salutations daily but the thing is: he just sucks.  Plain and simple.  He tries to do the poses longer than everyone else, so while the instructor is walking us all through the pose slowly, he’s already there.  But then when it comes time to do a pose that would probably be considered slightly feminine-looking?  Yeah, he’s moved on to something else.  How convenient, Mr. Sensitive Yoga Man.

And the BREATHING.  Good Lord, Man!  Do you have a megaphone in your nostrils?  WTF is going on back there?  I can hear you all the way over here in front of the wonky mirror!

Now, as my charitable holiday act, I’ve contemplated how I should be more understanding of him and other various Y characters who annoy me.  Since I’m in a yoga class and all, maybe I should start thinking nice things so karma will look kindly upon me.  And it was going well at last night’s class as I got there a little early myself so I got the spot in front of the wonky mirror (karma for trying to be a nice person).  And Mr. Sensitive Yoga Man was in his usual spot and talking with the instructor about how the Y might change the schedule and what new classes may be offered, etc etc.

More people arrived and the class filled up and the instructor made an announcement about the schedule changes and how there are forms up at the front where you can “vote” on what you’d like to see.  Now, despite having had plenty of time before class to discuss the new class options, Mr. Sensitive Yoga Man took this opportunity to raise his hand and ask, “[Yoga instructor], will the Y be offering a more *advanced* yoga class?”



I strongly dislike you, Mr. Sensitive Yoga Man.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling.  But I wish you no harm as you are a fellow human being.  Bless you. (karma).

Denise Austin and potatoes

Has anyone else seen the Denise Austin commercials for Idaho potatoes?  Or did I imagine that?

Hasn’t she made enough money off fat people? (ahem, myself included)  Now she’s trying to convince them all that potatoes are the way to go?  WTF, Denise, WTF.


Things I spend way too much time thinking about

Here’s a somewhat ancient post from October 2005, but it still rings true: 

1. Being on a near-empty bus but sitting right next to someone. This happens to me ALL THE TIME. Perhaps because there are two buses I take that I get off at one of the last stops. And when I first get on, it’s a crowded bus so I usually sit right next to someone. And it somehow always seems to work out that that person I sit by is getting off at the same stop as me…at the end of the line. This morning, for example, I sat on one of the side facing seats with Snobby Worker Girl to my left and AllUpInMyGrill woman to my right. And wouldn’t ya know it – AllUpInMyGrill and I are the LAST TWO people on the bus when we get off. Now, was I supposed to get up and move to a more spacious area or row? Or would that have seemed rude? Did the bus driver think we were “together” since there was a huge empty bus yet we remained stuffed next to each other? Do you think she thought about moving seats?

2. People who get all up in your grill in line behind you at the grocery store. Or Target. Whatevs, any place that has a somewhat spacially limited area near the checkout. The thing is…if you’re in line behind me, it doesn’t make a difference if there’s 5 feet or 5 inches. No sane human being is going to see that foot of breathing room as a clear indication that they can jut butt right in. Seriously…back the F up and let me punch in my PIN without you breathing down my neck. Thank you.

3. What to do when I arrive at odd times at the Y. The Y has a system for signing up for machines by 30-minute intervals. But I always seem to get there at like 4:41. WTF am I supposed to do? You’re not supposed to sign up for a given machine for more than 30 minutes, so if I sign up at the 4:30 slot then I have to be off in 19 minutes. Usually what I end up doing is signing up for some pansy machine like the bike and do that until someone gets off their 4:30 time slot on the elliptical machine. But then there are times that someone gets on MY machine mistakenly. And I know it’s a mistake because I’ve been staring at that #20 elliptical machine for the past 19 minutes and I see them sign up for the #21 but they don’t follow the lines as closely as they should and THINK they’re on the #20. So then I’m forced to ILLEGALLY go on the #21 even though SW’s initials are on the #20. Oye.

4. Avoiding having to take left-hand turns while driving. After living in LA, I have this Pavlovian response to taking left turns. I immediately start to sweat and get some kind of rash on my back. So I usually try to map out my errands in advance so as to avoid left-hand turns, ESPECIALLY those turns without a light. I look at this one as a positive, though because it’s strengthened my critical thinking skills AND means that I can tell you the best and fastest way to get around my neighborhood in Uptown – and that’s no small feat…But I * might * flip out if you don’t heed my advice. Just a warning.

I shouldn’t be allowed out of the house

For those who don’t know me that well, I feel I should explain something: I’m a wee bit of a hypochondriac.  Pain in my left wrist?  It’s obviously Left Wrist Cancer.  A nagging headache after a night of beer drinking?  The only explanation is a brain tumor.  No one is probably more aware of my total hyphocondria than my poor doctor, Dr. A.

Poor Dr. A is also subjected to my inability to express myself clearly and accurately.  Oh, and the fact that every time I go in (every 3.9 days) I get so nervous that my blood pressure comes in around 69146/5715 and my heartrate is near hospitalization range. 

At my very first appointment with Dr. A she was going through the standard questions of “do you smoke,” “do you wear a helmet when biking,” “do you wear a seatbelt,” etc etc.  And I should know this routine by now, but when she got to the question of what I do for work I made a total arse of myself.  At that point I was actually working at the gigundo health organization that employs her but was going to be leaving soon.  So here’s how that convo went:

Dr. A: So, what do you do for work?

Swooze: (thinking she somehow knew that I work for the same organization) Oh, I actually work here at [name redacted].  But I’ll be leaving in about a month to go work at this non-profit over in East St. Paul.

Dr. A: (slightly confused)  OK, what kind of work is it?

Swooze: (still clueless)  Well, right now I’m working for the ___ department, so we raise money for the organization.  At my new job, we help low income families pay their utility bills.



Swooze: Well, I would consider myself a non-profit devotee..?

Dr. A: …………………………… you sit at a desk?

Swooze: Yes.

Dr. A: OK.

Seriously, people.  I said “non-profit devotee.”  I think it’s safe to assume that Dr. A had a good story to share at the next staff meeting.  And at my latest appointment, I was much more succinct.

Dr. A: So what are you doing with yourself these days?

Swooze: I work at a desk.