Friday, February 19, 2010

Back -stage parent

I have Olympic fever.

Or is it malaise.

When I competed in the Olympics, a member of the first ever U.S. Womens Olympic Snowboard Team, I feigned nonchalance. I was afraid to face the true, hyper-bloated weight of it all. And, surprise surprise, I crashed and burned, as they say.

Now, as a spectator, as a washed up former athlete, sitting home with her children, I am vicariously riveted to certain people who come to the Olympic games knowing exactly what they want and exactly how to get it.

Lindsey Vonn comes to mind.

It's not every day when an athlete comes to the Olympics expected to win, and actually does. Which is why I am so impressed, truly intrigued by, and, yes, envious of, Lindsey Vonn. Dig a bit deeper and it might actually be her Chiclet white teeth I'm envious of. I don't know.

I was interested to read that she has essentially been raised on a strict diet of dangling Olympic carrots. Her parents had a plan for her. She apparently agreed with the plan, starting at age 3, and, step by step, they followed it through.

That baffles me as a parent, and it baffles me as an athlete. I don't come from that kind of ambitious, single-minded stock, I guess. I skied because it was fun. I snowboarded because it was even more fun. The Olympics was an unexpected by-product of blindly following my bliss.

I don't have any regrets, really. Just the occasional questioning, what if? What if I had had the chance to start snowboarding as a child, rather than a lost, 21 year old woman?

What if the Olympics had been in the picture from day one, rather than popping into the screen right when I was contemplating retirement? What if?

And what do I want for my children? Despite the amazing sight of my oldest daughter's Greek Goddess-like athletic body, and my frequent visions of her in full hockey gear, with USA emblazoned on the chest, or speeding down an icy mountain in a speed suit, I don't think I could ever have the discipline or zeal to "orchestrate" her rise to stardom in any sport. Or could I?

I'm curious about Vonn's four other siblings. Were they given the same opportunities to succeed? Did they have to put their passions on the back burner? Are they bitter? How does that all work?

I can't answer any of that right now. But since Esther is already 8, the age Vonn was already spending summers at on-snow training camps, it's probably unlikely.

I have to say I was kind of disappointed to read that Lindsey Vonn doesn't eat dessert. That is one of the things I remember as being a major bonus of all that working out and that ridiculously efficient lean muscle mass that came along with it. I ate what I wanted, and didn't really think about it. It made putting up with all that lactic acid worthwhile.

Yet another thing that sets me apart from Lindsey Vonn, I guess. And perhaps the reason Sports Illustrated never approached me to do a swimsuit issue. Not that I would have. I don't think. Or would I have?

Regardless of how I feel about these amazingly gifted female athletes being compelled to prove their femininity every step of the way--I may ski like one, but I'm not a man, see my tits, see my ass, see my airbrushed thighs, digitally streamlined to avoid appearing too unladylike-- I still felt a rush of longing, and a bolt of inspiration when Esther announced, after watching just a few women come down the Olympic downhill course at 60 mph, "That's what I want to do."

Oh you can, Essie, you can. You can do anything. Anything.

More about my Olympic distraction here at BabyCenter.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Romance for dummies

It's Valentine's Day night. I'm blogging. My husband is sitting in front of the dying fire flipping through what I like to call "builder's porn." It's a tool catalog.

We spent most of the weekend sighing deeply in Paris, the city of lights, the most romantic city in the world, a city that can make the most monogamous of women imagine what it might be like to have a secret rendezvous with some mysterious, silky-haired, strong jawed man in one of the dozens of inviting, dimly- lit, romantic, back-alley cafe's she passes as she carries her snotty nosed, whining, tired four-year-old on her back.

Oh yes, that sighing, that was exasperation, not passion.

That was frustration, not stimulation.

That was our maxed out patience asking us, "What were you expecting, bringing a constipated four-year-old to Paris on the coldest weekend of the winter?" Duh.

Undaunted, I ventured out alone one late afternoon to explore and renew and cool down. While exploring, I somehow ended up in the underwear section of H&M-- I know, not very romantic but they were trying-- staring at a rack of ridiculous, totally uncomfortable- looking bras and panties and wondering if...... just if.... I could pull it off. And did I really want to. And, if I wanted to, where and when, and how?

In the end I settled for some bottoms only, not even frilly, but black and kind- of- sexy -boy-shorts style. See, I'm hopeless.

On my way back home I stopped into this specialty chocolate shop and bought some chocolate and one of the most delicious, hedonistic, cups of hot chocolate I have ever ingested. It was, exactly as described in Polar Express, like a melted chocolate bar.

Anyways, I put my new underwear on this morning, wondering if they might make me at least feel as if I have a romantic bone in my body. But no, all I felt, after walking several blocks through Paris, was bunchy fabric stuck between my cheeks. Yes I was that American woman in Paris, stopping in the middle of the Place de l'Opera, to pick her wedgie. Honestly, who, over 40, buys underwear at H&M?

Leaving Paris on the train I stared at my husband, who with Isla on his lap, sticking her fingers up his nose, was still sighing deeply, dying to get this little overpriced mini-vacation over and done with. I scribbled out a little love poem in my journal, something to the tune of

I will never tire of your face
your profile (even with little fingers up your nose)
Your eyes
Your hands
Thank you for being my Valentine

Then I folded it up tiny and passed it to him. He opened, it, read it, smiled, and said

Your Welcome.

Then, before I could even sit back and bask in the tiniest glimmer of weary, downtrodden romance, he said,

You've got spinach in your teeth.

More about husbands and wives in Paris here at BabyCenter.