What I Do When I’m Not Writing

Lately I’ve been looking at my To Do list and feeling pretty amazing. It’s only midway through the month and I’ve already finished all the work that’s due by the 30th, leaving me time to work on a bunch of outside projects as well. But you know what they say about all work and no play. Besides that it makes you disciplined, rich and insufferable. Sometimes, a monkey just needs to blow off some steam.

Back in early November, my mother came out for a 3-week visit. As usual, while she was on the plane from Phoenix, she browsed the SkyMall catalog and was so riveted by what she found that she was unable to put it down, and she brought it home with her.

Normally, I LOVE SkyMall. It’s the easiest thing to mock I’ve ever seen. How can you resist snickering not just at the Isometric Meal Replacements, but at the sort of person who would buy such a thing. And is it the same sort of person who would buy the Fashionable Magnetic Bracelets? How could you resist when they offer you “potential relief from aches and pains”? And how about Cat Scat? The description promises that it “smells really bad to cats…but it’s only mildly noticeable to humans.” And what do you think that “mildly noticeable” smell might be? Could it be…cat scat?

What caught my eye, though, was the StreetStrider. I danced around just looking at the full-page ad devoted to the several available models, each one of which looked like the coolest thing I had ever seen. A couple of years ago, the Pirate and I had gone to the Maker Faire and had seen a prototype of something like this, and I had dreamed about it for months afterward. I love elliptical trainers because my knees get unhappy running after a while, but I can spend hours on the elliptical trainer I had in the basement. I say “had,” because after going through two sets of the metal skis that hold the foot pads, we could no longer get replacement parts. The whole thing was beginning to get really creaky after several years of faithful service and had to be retired.

Well, the Pirate is no fool. What did I find waiting for me beside our sparkly red fake Christmas tree but an enormous box that said StreetStrider on it. Once back from our trip, we wasted no time in ripping open the box and taking out all the twisty, hurty-looking metal bits that make up the StreetStrider. The DVD included in the box had a lot of shots of a guy with his hands entirely obscuring everything he was doing, but we got it all together anyway.

See those crazy happy smiles on the faces of the people on that website? They’re not real. What’s real is the grimace of effort, that “yikes” face you make when you’re not sure that you’re actually going to make a tight turn (the turning radius on these things is, I have to be honest, atrocious), and the mouth-wide-open look you get when you’re praying that the brakes will actually have some kind of effect at the speed you’re moving. But I have to say, I am crazy happy smiling on the inside. Oh yes. Crazy happy.

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