Where slacking is a sport, reading an addiction, and underachievement a birthright

Archive for September, 2007


This all started because we went to a wedding expo a few months back.  I’d never been to one, the word has come up in conversation, and honestly, we don’t do a whole lot on the weekends.  One of the booths had this sort of vibration machine, and I tried it.  I was impressed. Wow, you get in better shape just by balancing? 10 minutes of this equals 90 minutes of hard exercise?  I was hooked.  THEN a couple days later a commercial came on that boasted even BIGGER vibration machines.  How could we pass this up?

I persuaded my boyfriend to go to this place, 5R Fitness (, and the owner was very gregarious.  He said it was a gym AND MORE. Above all, it was a gym, but it was also a place of HEALTH.  He showed us the routine to health:  the drinking of oak vinegar infused water for detoxification, and then drinking several cups of high alkaline water because the average person’s is extremely acidic, and that’s not healthy.  Then we were escorted to these infrared saunas, and ok, this part was absolutely AWESOME.  You sit there for 20-30 minutes, sweat like hell, but you don’t smell because it’s kind of like a microwave so you don’t lose any of the salts or something.  Then came the Vibrexer.

Now this machine made the one the girl was showing at the expo look like a toy.  These ones were used by the NFL, we were told.  And that first day, it was a challenge just to stay on it.  There were a couple exercises to do, more oak and alkaline water to drink, and that was it.  I was hooked!  I walked out of there feeling like a million bucks.  A one month membership cost about twice as much as an average gym, but hell, this one was going to get me in shape AND make my insides healthy.  I’ll spend $125 a month on that.

Even better, this place was about a five minute walk from work, so I could easily do it on my lunch hour.  And I did.  Religiously.  Five days a week I went, sweated, shaked, and drank smoke tasting water.  At first I thought it was the best thing ever.  I’m something of a sauna junkie, so that was a big part of it.  For the first week, I walked out of that place feeling like a million bucks.  I was even pushing it on my coworkers, who were surprised at my enthusiasm (come on, I answer phones at an engineering firm; for me to demonstrate any sort of excitement over this job simply never happens).

The next week, I was still there, Mon-Fri, but I started Googling ‘vibrational exercise,’  ‘5R Hawaii,’ and all variations thereof.  My feelings were mixed; while there were a number of postings that said it was all a hoax, there were things that mentioned their benefits.  Hell, it said Madonna used one; how can you beat that testimony?  Also, there were so many different brands for sale.  If so many different companies were selling these things, they had to work, or people wouldn’t buy them, right? 

The place where I was going was really nice in that when we went on a vacation in the middle of this, they added the days we were gone onto the balance of how many days we would have had left if we didn’t go on vacation.  I thought that was pretty cool.  We were gone 12 days, which meant that when we got back, we had exactly two more weeks.

The trip was great, by the way.  Man, just to DRIVE.  You really get rock syndrome here in “paradise.”  We had a good time even though nearly all of my hometown was on fire which altered our trip plans.

So back to work and back to the club.  I’d been going there for three weeks now.  I hadn’t lost any weight.  My clothes weren’t any looser.  Plus, they were yelling at me for increasing the temperature in the sauna.  I always turned it back down when I got out; I don’t know what the problem was.

OK, now I’m getting pissed.  One month and no results?  I’ve worked in gyms before.  I know that while you may not have guns of steel just yet, you’re definitely able to see and feel some results.  Then one day came and I walked in, and two women walked in right after me.  They were prospective customers.  “Our focus here is on health more than exercise,” he said, “we’re kind of like a spa,” he says.  SPA?  He told us this was a GYM.  There was no mention of spa. What was this?  Turns out it’s this franchise that originated in Korea (oh so that’s why all the TVs were playing something Korean), there were a ton of them in California (oh so that’s what the ‘franchise opportunities available meant on the door), and they all proudly displayed the 5R motto:  “Relax, Refresh, Reshape, Realign, Restore.”

I gave this place a full on chance.  I gave them a month of my lunch hours.  I tried to believe in this program, I really did.  But if I’m going to look the same as when I began, I don’t need to give some theoretic ‘gym’ $125 a month of my hard earned receptionist money.  For a quarter as much, I can go to a REAL gym.

And man, are my triceps hurting.


When you think of the term, you think of a length of time spent with another, spent apart, how much time has elapsed since you did or didn’t do something.  When it’s a marker of something positive (like my parents recently celebrating having been married for 40 years), it’s wonderful.  But what happens when it’s the anniversary of the passing of someone you loved?  Then it’s treacherous.

The time had come.  Cancer had ridden his body.  He had lost a bunch of weight.  He had had to have a toe amputated which was cancerous.  But here he was,  Rufus Palmer, my golden retriever and most definitely the best friend I’ve ever had, the one who saved me from myself, the one who taught me what love really is, he was the one who was going through all of this suffering.  We lived in a farmhouse in Vermont for many years, just the two of us.  Every person who met him immediately fell in love with him, including my mother, who did not like animals at all; she ended up loving him almost as much as I had. 

 Being my dog, I was given two decisions.  Do I opt to have him remain here for my own selfish reasons, having him here at a fraction of who he was for a couple more months (which the vet said would be his maximum life expectancy) because I wanted him here at any cost? Or do I somehow find the strength to love him enough to be able to say goodbye forever, at least in this life? 

All of this happened in the span of one month.  In a way, I’m glad, because he didn’t have to endure eons of suffering, but it’s been really difficult to not place some of the blame on this rock of an island.  Before we moved here, in Idaho, he was fine and in perfect health.  We move here on May 8th, and he’s in this state by September 11th? 

Dogs are lucky.  If you love them enough and you can get your ego and what it wants to shut up for just a second, you can end their suffering, say goodbye, and let them go with dignity.  Humans aren’t so lucky, being forced to maintain what most cannot barely consider ‘living’ at any cost.

It all came down to me.  My spiritual beliefs are a hodgepodge of different traditions, but I firmly believe that the spirit is eternal and is with us always.  If I believed this, really believed this, how in the world could I force the one who loved me so to remain just to allay my own fears?  I could not possibly allow another being to suffer so when I knew he would be happy and peaceful in the spirit realm.  So it was my decision to say goodbye to him.

  We (my mom, who had grown to love him as much as me, my dad, and my boyfriend) went to the vet.  Rufus knew what was up and had grown to hate that place.  They put him on a table.  They gave him a shot.  I sang him a song I’d been singing to him since he was 7 weeks old.  And then he was gone.

Then came the hard part.  I have never had to experience the death of anyone really close to me, let alone one of the most important people in my world.  I bit my lip to keep from crying as I continued going to interviews.  Tears came every time a thought of him came up.  My boyfriend’s one primary dislike is crying, so this really sucked for him too.

Today marks a year since that all happened.  I’ve managed to completely soak a handkerchief while writing this.  The notion they tell you that it takes a year to get over someone you’ve lost is just bullshit to this sentimental Cancerian.  The pain and the tears may not come as often as this time last year, but they’re still there. They always will be.  And today it hurts as much as if this all happened yesterday instead of a year ago.

I always liked the way the Pet Psychic on Animal Planet would put it when talking about losing our fur covered friends.  She said “We never ‘get over’ them.  We just get used to living without them.”  I couldn’t agree more. 

So as I try to go on with my normal life today, try to keep my mascara from running, my mind lingers on one thing and one thing only:  how lucky I was to have been given seven years to be with the most loving, kind, happy furry spirit that was Rufus Palmer.  I was very privileged to have been his companion.  He showed me a lot about the world.  He gave me a reason to live when I couldn’t find one.  And he taught me that unconditional love DOES exist, and receiving that gift is one of the most precious things I’ve ever experienced in my life.