Category Archives: Me!

You Wanna Hot Body? Call Britney.

black cutout heartThere was a window of time, back in my 20s, when I could have been considered a “gym rat,” meaning I went there a lot because I didn’t have much else to do. As a result, I lost a bunch of weight and fit into a pair of tiny pants that I wore to that one party that one time and never wore again. I found them four years later while cleaning out some old clothes and marveled at the circumference of the waist. It was an oddity, like excavating Pompeii and uncovering the sleeping dog forever frozen in ash.

I know what was motivating me then: I was single. Now that I’ve been married for a long time, I need new motivation and it came in the form of standing in a dressing room and looking at what was becoming of my body. I looked at my back fat and thought, “I’m not ready to give up.” I’m not going quietly out to pasture, or worse, to the glue factory. I can still be foxy.

But I needed a task master. Enter Britney Spears.

Britney Spears, Work Bitch video

If anyone knows what it’s like to go to seed, Britney does. If girl doesn’t watch it, she tends to get a gut. But still, she came back from paunchy, jean-short wearing baldness to be pretty fly, so I feel safe in her hands. That’s why her song “Work Bitch,” is my absolute fav workout song.

heart-2.1You wanna hot body
You wanna Bugatti
You wanna Maserati

You better work bitch

Yes, yes (I had to look up what a Bugatti is but, yeah, it’s pretty hot) and sure, why not? Let’s stay with that hot body for a second. At least Britney is being honest with you… you want a hot body? Look, you gots to put in the time. And if that means you have to stay on that elliptical machine in front of the gym window, staring out into a January night of sub-zero temps wishing for all the world you were at home on the couch with a pint of caramel/cone/fudge/pretzel ice cream, so be it. And for God’s sake don’t be one of those women who read a magazine while they work out.

Look, if you’re tired of the arm flab, if you can’t stand to let your thighs expand one more inch, you better crank that mo-fo up to level 11.


You wanna Lamborghini
Sip martinis
Look hot in a bikini

You better work bitch

OK, so there’s more emphasis on cars than I’d like (do you think she had trouble thinking of other things to want?). I drive a Kia. The most envious I can remember being of a car was on a recent snowy day when a woman with a new Subaru Outback plowed right through a snowy parking lot like it was no biggie.

But, hell yes, I want to sip martinis and I want firm arms while doing it. I don’t want to reach for my martini only to have my triceps wobble like I’m doling out mashed potatoes in the lunch room. Double points for me if I’m sipping a martini on someone’s fab yacht while wearing a bikini (in my mind, when I’m on the treadmill, this bikini is always white. A white bikini is super Britney, isn’t it? Maybe I need a white bikini. With little gold stars all over it.)


You wanna live fancy
Live in a big mansion
Party in France

You better work bitch

Everyone knows you can’t party in France if you’re fat! They are all skinny over there! Really though, I don’t need a mansion. A house with two bathrooms would be just fine. But I do want to live fancy by having some hot jeans that look great in the butt.

Which brings me to exercise payoff #1: since my renewed attention to exercise, I achieved a dream: I fit into a pair of jeans I’ve been saving because they used to fit me and I was sad that they no longer did. I remember wearing this pair of jeans and having extra room in the ass. Then all the sudden (it seemed) I couldn’t get them over my ass. Now they are up and zipped and just somewhat tight. I can sit in them comfortably.

I am so into them. And these are cheap jeans! These are not Rag and Bone or Hudson or even 7 For All Mankind. I think the brand is TINT, which probably folded up shop after producing jeans in Bangladesh for about 2 months back in 2007. They are not even skinny jeans because skinny jeans weren’t even invented yet when I bought them. I don’t care. I’ve been rocking the TINTs like every other day.

black cutout heartBring it on
Ring the alarm
Don’t stop now
Just be the champion
Work it hard like it’s your profession
Watch out now
‘Cause here it comes

The last time I did my cardio workout and was sucking air in mile two of my run, this song came on and when she sang, “Work it hard like it’s your profession,” I thought, “Hell, yes, working out is like a second job.” I finish work and I go to my part-time job at the gym, which is becoming a hard body.

heart-7Go call the police
Go call the governor
I bring the trouble
That means the trouble y’all
I make it bubble up
Call me the bubbler
I am the bad bitch
The bitch that you love enough

Yes, alert Governor Mark Dayton: I’m working out again. You will want to sip martinis with me and discuss the shortage of propane this winter and if you are super nice I will show you my biceps.

Honestly, this is the most ridiculous part of the song, especially if you grew up in Wisconsin calling a water fountain a “bubbler.”

But it ends on just the right note: be the bitch that you love enough (to whip into shape.)

If you have a hard time working out, I suggest losing yourself in a fantasy. Pretend you’re Britney. It’s 2009 and your hair is almost all grown back in. The meds are working. You divorced Kevin! Now The Circus starring Britney Spears Tour is about to begin and all eyes are on you. You’ve committed to some sexy costumes, including a spangly bikini. If Britney could do this all this stuff (granted she’s got resources, but it still couldn’t have been easy), you can go on the treadmill and pretend to be her for twenty minutes.

So hold your head high
Fingers to the sky
Now they don’t believe ya
But they gonna need ya
Keep it building higher and higher
Keep it building higher and higher

Work work work work work work work work (Work!)

Britney Spears with whip

Dreams of a Holiday Hottie Wannabe

Woman exercising with top hat and cane.Monday after Thanksgiving. Yep. Tough day made tougher by coming off a candy and pie bender that actually felt good, like it’s my birthright to stuff dark chocolate-sea salt caramels into my mouth while standing in the kitchen staring into the fridge looking for something to eat. Oh, I forgot to say I was in my pajamas.

And this is just the beginning of the holiday season, a fever dream we don’t wake up from until January. Every year I say, “I’m not letting that happen to me, dammit! I will be awake and present and going to the gym while the rest of the sheeple are drinking eggnog milkshakes and waddling through the mall!”

But every year I fail.

When I read magazine articles or blog posts with titles like, “25 Ways to Survive the Holidays,” I actually believe I will eat a big plate of carrots before a holiday party in order to arrive full and therefore not subject to the temptation of hot dips made with cheese. It seems as if drinking three glasses of water for every one alcoholic beverage is indeed the way to comport oneself.  And there is no better way to start the day after a big holiday humdinger of a party than by going outside for some resistance training through snow drifts.

After a few minutes of self-righteous reading I’m wondering, “Who are the assholes still gorging themselves on those peanut butter cookies with the stars in the middle and washing them down with glasses of scotch while watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the 42nd time?”

Because it turns out all the skinny bitches are making chips out of  kale to munch while they watch Elf and craft a gigantic bow to place on top of the Lexus they bought their live-in boyfriend of three weeks. They can withstand fudge and those cakes in the shapes of logs – they simply put bananas slathered in nut butter in the freezer for dessert instead. They’re ordering fancy, sparkly barrettes to wear to their holiday parties, to which they bring a hostess gift that is not a candle from Target.

I tell myself I should do this. After all, it’s not as easy as it once was for me to shed that holiday weight. I’m still carrying around some lbs. from last year’s cheese-balls-and-holiday-M&Ms debacle. And I know that my muscles are atrophying at a rate of, like, 30% a year or some shit like that, so that by the time I’m 55 I expect to be a pile of ectoplasm riding around on a Lark at the grocery store annoying the other customers. “Excuse me, my good man, could you reach me that box of Cap’n Crunch for me? I used to be able to do it, back when I had arms, but I never did enough push-ups, dead lifts and lateral raises and now look at me!”

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.” – Vince Lombardi

“Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.” – Rebecca Collins

My holiday wish is to get through them without going up a pants size.  And world peace.

But there are some things working against me. There is the fact that Whole Foods makes those chocolate-covered caramels. There is my predilection for anything ginger, whether in bread or snap form. There is the fact that Christmas overwhelms me just by its very presence, much like a tiresome co-worker who can come and stand in your office and stare, not saying anything, and send you over the edge. “I know you’re there! Say something! Anything!”

There is the fact that, when it comes to exercise, I’m always of two minds. The part of me that wants to bust that fat and the part of me that wants to bust open that bag of chips.

Two women exercising - one wants to be home watching TV and the other wants to work out harder!

But, like Blag Flag, I need to rise above. See me at the gym on a cold and grim December night, working out like a madwoman on the elliptical machine while outside carolers glide from house to house, cups of hot chocolate firmly in hand.

I’m the one stringing air-popped popcorn (10 calories a cup!) onto string to decorate the Christmas tree while watching reruns of Cheers (and I’m not even nibbling on the popcorn)!

Catch me turning down the plate of holiday cookies in favor of a honeycrisp apple I bought in September.

I’m the one at the holiday bash asking for an O’Douls. On the rocks.

And, yeah, I’m the one who comes to the New Year’s party in a half-shirt I cut off myself, not realizing they’re best left to the 21-year-old. What the what? I didn’t do all those crunches and step-kick-mind-body-crossfit classes only to put on an oversized sweatshirt and some leggings.

I’m glad we had this talk. Let the holiday season begin.

How To Have A Trashy Book Club

A primer for anyone who wants to start a club that reads books with little literary value but lots of smut, rock-n-roll, mental breakdowns, drugs and narcissism.

One of my favorite quotations is from Gertrude Stein:

“You should only read what is truly good or what is frankly bad.”

What is truly good is a very subjective thing. As it turns out, what is frankly bad is much easier to agree upon. Several years ago, I started a Trashy Book Club with some friends of mine. The mission was to read bad books and watch the accompanying movie when available.

We’ve had our ups and downs over the years but eight of us are still hangin’ tough. I’m getting ready to host book club this Saturday for the book I’m With the Band by Pamela Des Barres (movie will be Almost Famous, game will be “Name That 70s Rock Tune”) and the process of getting ready has me thinking about how much I’ve come to love this group.

So, if you’ve had enough of The Kite Runner, Bel Canto, The Help, Middlemarch, Water For Elephants, Three Cups of Tea (bet you feel burned by that one!), Eat, Pray, Love and My Sister’s Keeper, maybe it’s time for you, too, to embrace The Trash.

Here are some Trashy Book Club Pointers, which were devised with the help of my fellow members, to get you started.

1. Form your Trash Club with friends, people you’ve had some face time with or people who come recommended by friends. And once your group is going, choose new members carefully.

This sounds harsh, but it’s important that everyone have a sense of humor and understands that the group will not be reading Life of Pi. You might think that just about anyone could get into a trashy book club but you’d be wrong. Case in point: we had one early group member who never quite grasped the concept of the trashy book club and was confused and shocked when we did a live reading of our favorite scene from The Howling for a Halloween meeting. She never attended again.

Another thing to know: most trashy books have some sex (we hope) but they also have incest, bestiality and, for some reason, a whole lot of rape. Once we counted up and realized that most of our books contained a rape scene, a reference to rape or hinted at rape and this was not something we were seeking out by any means. So, as Flavor Flav says, considered yourselves warned.

2. Resolve to keep it trashy. As our group member April said, “Beware attempts to class it up, even ‘just this once.’  We know our fellow members are smart, and that they can and do read ‘real books.’ That’s kind of the point.” Yes, our group has slipped on more than one occasion, which is fine. The last thing you want is a pedantic trashy book club. But one lit slip must be quickly remedied with several trashy books. If Sylvia Plath slips in (or, shudder, Agatha Christie), make sure you read something like one of several (hundred?) in Susan Mallery’s Sheik romance series. Try out The Sheik and the Bought Bride, for instance.

3. Watch the movie. It’s fun to trash the trashy book and then get mad that they didn’t follow the book when they made the trashy movie version! If the trashy book in question has no movie version then pick a random trashy movie that may or may not have anything to do with the book. Two of our best movies, in my opinion, The Baby (1973) and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) were not really connected to anything we read.

4. Always serve alcohol (and food) (and order pizza). Our meetings are not Get Trashed at Trashy Book Club sessions (except for this past July when we had access to a pool and a lot of booze) but a glass of wine helps get someone in the mood to discuss the sex-when-she-had-her-period/tampon scene in Endless Love. As my group member Kate says, “Check your self-consciousness at the door!”

5. Book quizzes with prizes are fun. Don’t underestimate how much people like to win stuff.

6. Celebrate your group milestones. Our group met for the first time in December of 2006. Our first book was Flowers In the Attic, one of the best trashy books of all time. Since then we celebrate every December with a larger feast than usual, a look back at the year that was, a group photo and we draw months to see when each of us will host (we are trashy but also organized and busy) during the coming year. Being the book nerd that I am (yes, I also love to organize closets), I try to circulate a list of Trashy Book Suggestions that I’ve compiled but the host of the month chooses the book and movie and the rest of us vow not to complain (sometimes).

7. Don’t overlook memoirs! Some of our best reads have been trashy memoirs and bios. Many “rock stars” like to write tell-alls.

8. Theme food helps bring on the party atmosphere. You’ll score points for making that Valley of the Dolls pill-shaped cake or for bringing a baggie of powdered sugar for Less Than Zero.

Now, what books might you choose to get your trashy book club going? It depends a lot on your idea of trash and what you have a predilection for. Luckily, there are no shortages of bad books in all kinds of categories. But here are some of our picks that I’ve enjoyed and that could serve as a primer for a trashy book club:

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Mommy Dearest by Christine Crawford
Wifey by Judy Blume
The Howling by Gary Brandler
Tom Cruise: The Unauthorized Biography by Andrew Morton
Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown
Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins
I’m With the Band by Pamela Des Barres

And here is some trash we haven’t read that I’m hoping to get to:

Goodbye, Janette – Harold Robbins
The Love Machine – Jacqueline Susann
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus – John Gray (explore the area of self-help trash!)
Some Girls: My Life In a Harem – Jillian Lauren
One Lifetime Is Not Enough – Zsa Zsa Gabor
Fall To Pieces – Mary Weiland
Tommyland – Tommy Lee
Anything by Tori Spelling
I Just Want You To Know: Letters To My Kids – Kate Gosselin
Hammer of The Gods – Stephen Davis
Hollywood Babylon I, II, III – Kenneth Anger (OK, I’m cheating because I’ve read them but they are, by far, some of the best, trashiest books out there. It’s like reading a hard bound version of a lengthy US Magazine written in 1975).

So don’t get classy, get trashy!

New Year’s Resolution: Toot My Own Horn More

Early in 2009, I wrote an essay for the site Twin Cities Daily Planet about why I love Little Edie Beale and the documentary Grey Gardens. Then I reviewed Grey Gardens (the musical) when it opened at The Ordway in St. Paul.

Today I found out that my essay, Why I love Grey Gardens (and Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale) was the second-most read article of the year on TC Daily Planet’s site. The list of the top ten “most read” for the site can be found here. I’m on the list with stuff about the Minneapolis schoolboard, Ethiopia and the best bars to meet single women. Sweet!

Kicking off the new year with love for Little Edie is fabulous. Stay tuned for more Little Edie news in the next few days!