Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Unintentional Exercise Routine

A few weeks ago I had my annual checkup with my cardiologist. I like my cardiologist, largely because he seems like the “Joe Cool” of doctors. He is well-tanned and well-coifed, and his gleaming white teeth can surely be used to guide home ships astray in a nighttime storm. He exudes confidence and is never at a loss for words.

At one point during my exam he asked, “Are you exercising?”

I quickly thought about how to answer this before saying, “Unintentionally, yes.”

This response ever so briefly knocked my perfect doctor off his stride. He looked at me with one eyebrow raised.


“Well, I have a six-year-old and three-year-old son at home and spend most of my time when I’m not at work trying to keep up with them.”

“Ah, I see. Say no more,” he said, smiling his blinding smile and getting on with the exam.

While my response to my doctor may have been delivered in my usual smartass fashion, it was nothing but the truth. The fact of the matter is that I have gotten more exercise in the past six years of my life than I have in the previous 37. Not that that’s saying much, because physical fitness has never really been my thing. The closest I ever got to a regular exercise routine was when I was in a Thursday night bowling league for three months in my senior year of college. Of course whatever little exercise I got from that was likely cancelled out by the free-flowing beer that accompanied this activity.

But when I had kids (although I guess technically it was my wife who had them—I shouldn’t take credit for the “having” part) daily workouts suddenly became routine. It began with weightlifting. I found myself lifting up a seven pound weight 40 to 50 times per day. Sometimes the weight would be carried over my shoulder to get it to go back to sleep; sometimes it would be repeatedly lifted high in the air to get it to smile; and sometimes it would be lifted onto a changing table where the weight would try to pee in my face, which led to some aerobic exercise while I dodged the oncoming stream. In no time at all the weight increased to eight pounds, then nine, then ten. In a couple of months’ time I noticed that my previously scrawny biceps were now thick and hard, and I could suddenly open pickle jars without my wife’s help.

After a few months of weightlifting, the speed and agility conditioning began to kick in. Once your kid starts crawling you have to be lightning quick, because within seconds of putting them down on the floor they can be on top of the entertainment center with a snow globe sticking out of their mouth. You’re sprinting, you’re diving, you’re doing moves that would make a seasoned ninja jealous. And of course, once they start walking it only increases your need to perform Matrix-like maneuvers to keep your kids out of harm’s way.

Eventually your exercise to avert danger is supplanted by more conventional exercise—running, playing catch, making believe you’re Magneto while Wolverine beats you about the face and neck with a throw pillow. It’s all fabulous fun, but it’s all very exhausting.

So when my wife and I decided to get our six-year-old a bicycle and our three-year-old a tricycle for Christmas, I mistakenly thought that this would give me a bit of a break from the exercise routine. I figured while they were riding their Radio Flyer’s I’d be lying back reading Archie Comics and sipping a chocolate malted.

Of course, I hadn’t thought this through. You can’t just hand your Kindergartner a bike and your pre-schooler a trike and let them ride off into the sunset. You have to follow them around the block to make sure they’re safe. And wouldn’t it be my luck that within a scant 24 hours my six-year-old had become so confident on the bike that he was tooling around at a clip fast enough to qualify him for the Tour de France, forcing me to sprint after him with every ounce of speed my legs could muster?

So my unintentional exercise routine continues. I see a soccer team in my future…and karate lessons…and a basketball hoop in the driveway. I just can’t wait until they’re old enough to join a bowling league, because I could really use the beer.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I May Be Out of Touch, But I Still Have a Top Ten List

Yesterday a friend of mine posted a list of his top ten favorite albums of 2012. (It can be found here, if you would like to peruse it: I looked at the list and it was just a little bit like reading a foreign language. I knew none of the albums and only heard of five of the artists. Then I thought about what my top ten albums of 2012 might be and I realized that I could only name two albums that came out this year, which would make my top ten list very short. Somewhere along the line I became really, really out of touch.

But just because I only got two new albums this year doesn’t mean 2012 was devoid of music for me. So, since I’m eight albums short of a top ten albums list, I will instead offer this list of my Top 10 Music-Related Moments of 2012. (And I’ll go backwards for dramatic effect.)

10- Red Hot Chili Peppers Concert – My wife gave me one of the best birthday presents I ever received when she handed me a ticket to see the Chili Peppers, a band I’ve always wanted to see but just never got around to. The show was great, but it did raise two important questions: 1) Why does Anthony Kiedis bother putting on a shirt when you know it’s coming off anyway? 2) Since when did Will Ferrell get a gig as a drummer?

9- Wrecking Ball by Bruce Springsteen – This is one of the two albums I got this year. I love the first track, “We Take Care of Our Own,” and I really like the last track, “We Are Alive,” but I’m not quite sure what to make of everything that happens in the middle. It seems to depend on the day that I listen to it and/or what I had for dinner that night. Weird.

8- My son the Rush fan – (I posted this on Facebook, so my apologies to those who have already read this.) In school last week, my son’s Kindergarten teacher said to the class, "After recess we are going to see a band." This prompted my son to yell out, "I hope it's Rush!" She said, "No, it's just the school band." He’s definitely learning more at home than at school.

7- They Might Be Giants Concert – One of my favorite bands from the early 90’s, I had somehow never managed to see them live…that is until I saw them at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe in January of this year. They were very good, but I didn’t know many of the songs since the last new album of theirs that I purchased was back in 1996. (See—out of touch.) The highlight of the show by far was when they did covers of “Crazy Train” and “Paranoid” using sock puppets. (And no, I’m not making that up.)

6- My last dental cleaning – I’m not a fan of sharp instruments moving around in my mouth accompanied by high-pitched drilling sounds. At my last dental cleaning, when the hygienist was hitting a nerve near my back molar, I put every ounce of brain power into focusing on the music they were piping into the room. All I can say is thank you REO Speedwagon for providing me with the song “Can’t Fight This Feeling” in my time of need.

5- Rush Concert – I could write a lot about this concert…oh wait—I already did. You can read my previous blog entry for details.

4- Rush elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Fourteen years after their initial eligibility, Rush finally made it to the Hall. Although I’m not actually in the band, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The day I found out I got the best night’s sleep of my life. (Don’t worry, it’s okay if you think I’m pathetic right now.)

3- Kazoos – I made the mistake of getting my kids kazoos when I went on a business trip to Nashville. They played them a lot after I first gave it to them. The most amazing sound in the world is the glorious silence after they put them down.

2- Bruce Springsteen Concert – I’ve seen him twice before and I had not originally planned to see him on this tour, but then a friend had an extra ticket and he generously offered it to me. Boy, am I glad I took him up on the offer. Bruce put on an amazing show for three solid hours and while I watched this man who is 20 years older than me run around the stage, jump into the audience and crowd-surf, I realized that if I attempted to expend that kind of energy I’d be dead inside of six minutes.

1- Clockwork Angels by Rush – You may have figured out by now that I’m a Rush fan. (If you haven’t figured that out, you may want to take some basic reading comprehension classes at your local community college.) This is their best album in a good 20 years. It has a great variety of heavy, musically complex epic songs and more straightforward ballads. It’s quite possible that even if you’re not a Rush fan, you might like this album, but of course, I can’t be objective on that score. I’m not sure what else to say about it, other than, this album makes my ears very happy.
So there you have it; my 2012 musical top ten. I'm not sure what 2013 has in store, but I can guarantee one thing...the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be very high on my list. (And no, that has nothing to do with Public Enemy.)