Saturday, July 27, 2013

Friends For-Ev-Verrrr

The only reason to ever put a picture this unflattering on the internet is when it’s your practical-joking friend's birthday and she looks as ridiculous as you do. She’s older than I but maintains a youthfulness from which this ole heifer could learn.
I met Erin my freshman year of college when I walked on the volleyball team and she was on the basketball team. She was the smiliest person around then, and I’m sure she still is.
She was significant in my college years in honing the child-like facets of my adult personality. Our antics wore on people who didn’t have the same sense of humor. Their loss.
This picture was taken in the late 90’s when Erin came to visit from Washington. I wanted a nice normal picture of us smiling at the camera, and Erin goes for my udders. Gasp! Where are your manners!?!
I thought I was clever in picking her up from the Pocatello airport in my cow suit. It was a test of guts because while I was driving, I could see people pointing and laughing at my missing horn. Meanies.
As I waited in the airport—I swear she was the last to deplane—I heard a few comments from her fellow passengers like, “Gee. I bet that’s her ride.” And then… I saw THIS walking toward me. She changed into this outfit mid-flight. It was always a test of “who’s foolin who” with us, and she always won. I threw up the white flag often because…well look at her…no boundaries. I engaged in the tomfoolery a bit, though.
Once after a bunch of us wisely opted to not drive home the night before, I threw some bacon on her while she was sleeping to get the dogs to wake her up. I didn’t ever do that again. But I thought about it.
Once she forged a letter from ISU’s academic affairs threatening my scholarship after we’d engaged in a slightly delinquint practical joke on campus. She had the letter delivered at the beginning of a volleyball practice and as I was near vomiting during our warm-ups, I heard her giggling at the top of the gym’s bleachers.
Once I left a message on her parents answering machine as though I was a woman whose car she hit in a parking lot. I thanked her profusely for leaving her name, number and insurance information. This was her parents house over the summer. I had to apologize to Erin’s dad for his increased blood pressure that weekend, but his reaction made it all the better.
Once she picked me up from the airport with a mullet wig and a set of Billy Bob teeth and refused to remove them.
She helped me to loosen up and I showed her where the library was. She introduced me to the Rum Runner's “Thirsty Thursday” with $2 pitchers when she took me out the first time I got drunk at a bar. On a school night! We played rugby together, went on a couple very rainy spring breaks (I still blame her for the weather), and I got both of my tattoos with her. Whenever we talk, we pick up right where we left off with a peppering of lines from Dumb and Dumber, The Sandlot, and A League of Their Own.
Erin will be one of my best friends For-Ev-Verrrr.  Stillwell Angel, have another chocolate bar and Erin—have a happy birthday!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Toe Socks & Thong Underwear

A couple of wonderful ladies gave me these toe socks after working with the Cow-culator. I love the socks because I love the gesture. I love that the pink plays on the udders because udders are just funny. 

The fabric between my toes, however, is not funny. It's maddening. It reminds me of when I tried thong* underwear in college to avoid a panty line in my volleyball shorts. 

If you see me wearing these and notice an extra goofy, spazzy spring in my step, it's likely the moo-terial where moo-terial shouldn't go. 

* Don't worry. There will be NO cow print thong picture appearing here. Ever. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Corral with Care

Cowing has grown.  When it first dawned on me to write about my adventures in a cow suit, it was about how people looked at me. It was about how I felt in the cow suit while people’s faces changed as they took in the full costume.

Cowing has also become how I feel about the people who cow with me; how my views of them change and grow as soon as they sport the udders.
This cow quest features three people who went to high school with me: Josh, Rainbow and Daria. None of us hung out together back then. At all. Rainbow was on the sophomore basketball team with me and I had Josh and Daria in an honors English class. I’m not sure if they even knew each other.
Daria’s vocabulary was amazing. (She’d come up with way better adjectives.)  She was intimidating.

Top left clockwise: Daria, Me, Josh and Rainbow
Rainbow’s hair was always perfect and she was always smiley. She was intimidating.

Josh was a state champion wrestler and the wholesome seminary president. He was intimidating.
And I’m pretty sure with that rockin’ bi-level flattop, I was intimidating, too.

Look at us! Don’t we just scare the heck out of ya?
They fit into little corrals in my high school mind, and I stayed in mine. I’d love to go back and tell my 16 year old self:             

Let them surprise and delight you because they will. Indeed. Josh, Rainbow & Daria have surprised and delighted me, not just because they cowed with me, but also because I’ve gained a friendship with all of them since our 20 year reunion two summers ago.
Cowing last Saturday was like our modern day Breakfast Club mooooovie.  Daria definitely felt like it was a detention of sorts. The class two years behind us (Poky's Class of '93) was having a 20 year reunion fun-run, so I threw out a cattle call on Facebook to see who I could get to come cheer with me:

Any Poky Class of 91 people want to Cow with me tomorrow at 8am??
Anyone? Anyone? Moo-ler? Moo-ler?

These were the takers. Josh brought his daughter Julia and his son Jacek. We'll have to do this again because I'm sure his wife and other two kids feel left out. (She was his high school sweetheart.)

And although they’ve busted out of the corals my mind had them in, they still fit in my head only as I see them. I hesitate to even attempt to describe them because people are so much more than how we see them. They are how they see themselves; how their loved ones treat(ed) them and how that mixes with everything. As soon as I describe them, I corral them. Hey—at least mine is a welcoming, fun and ever-expanding corral.
Rainbow still maintains a constant friendly smile and I feel a happy system reset every time I hang out with her. Daria follows her whims like I wish I could and has a never-ending depth of quirky information in her head. Josh is thoughtful with an enviable career and picturesque family, and come on…the  guy could put his kids through school modeling for REI’s men’s adventure gear. (Though not likely in the bovine ensemble.)
I also know that each of them has had their share of challenges since our time at Poky High. Snippets in conversations, outright disclosures, and a firm kindness in each of them tells me their life experience has expanded their own mind’s corrals.

Their enthusiasm to cow sure expanded mine.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Destiny in a Cow Suit

My cow suits, although roomy and loose, push the boundaries of comfort.“I totally made out with that guy and he just saw me in a cow suit!” shrieked Destiny in her debut Cow Suit Saturday while walking through the Portneuf Valley Farmer’s Market. 

I met Destiny a few years ago through the Pocatello Co Op. I invented her life history of being raised by hippies simply after hearing her first name. She’s become one of the things I love about Pocatello when I run into her each weekend. Easy to talk to. Not judgmental. Laughs at my jokes. Always good for some insight and opinions. I HAD to cow with her.

We began the day as color-throwing cows at the Greenway Grind Color Run.  Color Runs have likely been going on in the country for the last decade and have just hit Idaho this year. They are usually 5-10K runs where volunteers are stationed along the route with buckets of dyed corn starch and scoops to simply throw color at you as you run by. You’re encouraged to wear white so at the end you are a sweaty, smiley endorphin-laced rainbow. (Wait a minute. This sounds like a conspiracy among gay rights activists to produce unwitting walking pride flags in communities everywhere!)

We were throwing yellow, and these ladies doused us with a bit of purple and orange. Destiny looked like she got stuck in a Cheetos bag, and as a devout employee of the natural foods co-op, she was mortified when I teased her about it.
After the fun run and a swifter-than-planned walk through the Farmer’s Market, we decided on an impromptu “Happy Birthday” at Elmer’s CafĂ© for my 13 year old pal, Rian. As we drove to my house to get my trombone, we talked extensively about what two cows singing and playing a trombone could do to/for a 13 year old girl. Destiny was in the “to” camp. I was in the “for” camp. 

We went for it.

One of the things I love about cowing is that it shows kids (and adults) it’s great to be confident, different and able to laugh at yourself. At 13 years old, Rian can’t hear that message too much. She and all the patrons at Elmer’s heard it last Saturday, and someone even asked if we were available for hire. Ha!
I remember when learning about foreshadowing in literature wondering if it exists in our lives. Is it life that follows fiction or the other way around? Would I have ever imagined myself as a 40 year old woman who loves traipsing around in a cow suit? Um.  No. I thought I’d be President by now and there’d be Galapagos turtles roaming the White House lawn.  So close. But alas, not my destiny*. 

* Come on! How could I not play on the meaning in her name in this blog? Sorry, Destiny, but at least I’m not a creep in a bar throwing you cheesy pick-up lines, “Hey Baby, are you my Destiny?”
I was writing an editorial for the Idaho State Journal last week about the best day of my life. It was the day my high school volleyball team won the state championship in 1990. The Dairymen of Idaho have sponsored countless high school athletic events for years, and I distinctly remember the coolers of milk in the locker rooms. I had10-15 little white and chocolate milks that day. Like the spider that bit Peter Parker, that was it!

Two years ago when going to the Ellen Show, I wanted someone to make me a cow print vest.  Destiny volunteered. It’s reversible so I can wear the purple glittery side out for formal occasions and the cow side out for pseudo-formal. (Because Pocatello has a lot of occasions for a woman to wear a vest…)
I love the thing and although I don’t wear it often, I keep it in my closet where I can see it. It wasn’t a random act of kindness on Destiny’s part; it was a much focused offering of her time and talents for something silly and ridiculous that brings her friend joy. I LOVE THE SILLY AND RIDICULOUS THAT BRINGS JOY!  Alas, until the next Cow Suit Saturday…

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Wonderful and the Dreadful

Yesterday was a great day for me. I attended the 39th Seattle Pride festivities with glorious weather, thousands of smiles and dozens of complements on my ninja turtle t-shirt. Really. At least 25 people smiled, pointed, said something or high-fived me as they noted my beloved super heroes. I’m glad I decided to wear it because I considered taking cow suits to the parade. They would have been hot and with the tens of thousands in attendance, I’d tire quickly of the udder tugs and “udderly” quips.
So, with no cow suits this weekend, what could I possibly come up with here?
Well, while I was running out my phone battery taking pictures and counting the unbelievable number of churches marching in the parade, 19 firefighters lost their lives in a wild fire in Arizona. I have a number of friends who are firefighters. Two of them have cowed with me, and last summer they both worked with the crew that was killed.
I always feel pangs of guilt when I’ve been out having fun and I hear of tragedy. That’s how it is though.  It’s the balance of life. When the sun shines on us, it’s dark for the other half of the world. While the wonderful is happening, so is the dreadful.
I also feel guilty when I’m glad that my friends are safe and someone else has died. I always think I will cow with my friends again and write about it for certain, but daily we are reminded that few things are certain.
When I was young my aunt discovered a lump in her breast. My mom was irate at her understandable “why me?” feelings. In what was more of a monologue rant than a conversation with me, I remember my mom yelling after she hung up the phone, “Why NOT you? Why should it be someone else? Really, you want someone else to find a lump? Someone else to get a cancer diagnosis? Why do the kids I see every day have to suffer like they do? Why can’t they have a pain-free and loving childhood? Why you? Why NOT you?” My mom was a child protection worker for 40 years, and I imagine that was one of the bad days. It was definitely the day, though, that I became one who asks “why me?” when good comes to me but rarely the bad.
As I left Seattle en route for home today, my mind is a whirlwind of the mental slideshow from Pride weekend, my catch-up to-do list after a 10-day vacation, what horror must exist for all firefighters and my friends, and naturally an ensuing:  Life is short. What really matters? Am I happy?  Geeze. I need a bike ride.
There was a collection of Seattle City workers marching in the parade: sanitation personnel, office staff, parks and rec folks and firefighters. A tall, lean firefighter walked right up to me (drawn by the ninja turtle shirt, I assume) and put her hand out to shake mine with a friendly, “Why aren’t you a firefighter with me?” This didn’t seem like a pickup line. She was walking in the parade with her significant other and I was standing there with mine. Having lived in my home town for 40 years, I probably don’t encounter new people as often as folks in big cities do, so my user interface is a little off at times—both in how the input is received and the output is delivered.
I quickly retorted, “Because I’m an engineer in Idaho.” She smirked for a second while she tried to find a comeback. Come to think of it, that was a lingering handshake. A couple more pleasantries were exchanged, my friend Willie snapped our picture, and she wished us a continued good time at Pride. I should have wished her continued safety in her profession.
I think we are all wishing all firefighters and emergency workers continued safety today. With the one year anniversary of the fire that took 66 homes in our area, 3 other fires going this weekend and hot, hot days ahead, they and their support crews will definitely be on our minds.
To all of ‘em—those in my herd and those not:  I know it’s not all about how dashing you look in your fire gear, how you masterfully wield a chainsaw, or the games you invent to pass the time when it’s slow.  It’s about something you love doing that pushes your limits and it gets in your core. The summer will not be slow. Please be safe and thank you for doing the job you do.