Monday, August 2, 2010

The Bucket List

What exactly is a bucket list? I will tell you. It's a list of 100 or more things to do before you "kick the bucket" or in other words DIE. How many of you have this list? Mine really isn't 100 items long but I have managed to check off a few things that I have completed in my 50 plus years.

So let me pose the question to my faithful readers....Why do we need to exercise? ANSWERS:

Exercise benefits every part of the body, including the mind.

Exercising can help you look better.

Exercise helps people lose weight and lower the risk of some diseases.

Exercise can help a person combat THE DREADED AGING PROCESS

Five years ago I decided to join a fitness facility. I chose a local community centre through work and I convinced Steve to join with me after his membership expired at a private club. This is not to say I haven't been doing some form of exercise my whole life. In my teens I played tennis against the school wall by myself.....before you think I was a loner that wasn't the case. It seemed that Summer coincided with Camp season and my parents didn't send me to camp with the majority of my friends. Remember the country club? Okay. So, I played tennis, swam, rode my bicycle and sometimes even played ping pong with Gloria Smithers in her basement while eating Wonder White Bread shmeared with Primo Spaghetti sauce and cheese (our version of a poor man's pizza).

As time wore on I became obsessed with movies like Grease and Flashdance. There were two intriguing things about these movies:

1. Olivia Newton-John's tight leather pants and;

2. Jennifer Beals' ripped sweatshirts and leg warmers.

Olivia and Jennifer. I so badly wanted to emulate them both. The only thing in common I had with Olivia was my hair. Pretty darn close with the curl issue. Jennifer was another story. Immediately after seeing both movies I cut all the necks and sleeves off my sweatshirts. I bought leg warmers and pleather pants (plastic pants). And then there was the issue of dancing. Both O and J danced. They danced like meshugas (Yiddish Word Definition - Pronounced -Me Shuh Gah, meaning Senseless or Crazy).

If you have been following along you will remember my yearning for Tap Dancing that never came to fruition as a little girl. Since TAPPING was out, I landed a role in my own mind as the lead in these box office breaking motion pictures. Before my first marriage (Husband One otherwise known at HO), I lived at home until I was twenty-one. Following the premiere of the movie Grease my room was plastered with posters and pictures of O and John Travolta. I practiced singing and dancing to my favorite song "You're the One that I Want" ENDLESSLY in front of the are part of lyrics in case you interested and want them stuck in your head for the balance of the day:

I got chills.

They`re multiplyin`.

And I`m losin` control.

`Cause the power

you`re suplyin`,

it`s electrifyin`!

You better shape up,

`cause I need a man

and my heart is set on you.

You better shape up;

you better understand

to my heart I must be true.

Nothin` left, nothin` left for me to do.

You`re the one that I want.

(you are the one i want), o,o, oo, honey.

The one that I want.

(you are the one i want want), o,o,oo, honey.

The one that I want

(you are the one i want want), o,o, ooooo

The one I need.

Oh, yes indeed.

Picture this......pleather pants, curly hair and a white off the shoulder t-shirt with my totally tone deaf singing voice and a slightly larger tuchas than I have now ....sorry...another Yiddish Word Definition here ( TUCHAS: pronounced TU HAAS, This Jewish slang word refers to the ever expanding rear end). I never realized this throughout my life but it was evident that my dad had a large tolerance for pain while I performed this (in-house) production.

Once I was married to HO my talents as a singer and dancer expanded to apartment-style matinees. Whenever I was alone I donned my "Flashdance" costume and stomped through the entire soundtrack from the movie. We were in Suite 1921. One day the superintendent knocked on the door. Sweating profusely and clad in my ripped shirt and leg warmers I ran to look at him through the security peep hole. "Can I help you", I asked? "Yes, the residents in 1821 have asked me to investigate your suite for ongoing construction", said the Super. "Construction? There is no construction going in our apartment", I said. "Mind if I have a look", said Mr. Super (who was started to irritate me because he interrupted my Tony Award Winning workout). He looked to the left and looked to the right...shook his head and apologised for bothering me. The second I closed the door I resumed my Flashdance routine. A few months later, I noticed the elevator on SERVICE. It more than likely meant that someone was either moving in or moving out. I wondered it if was 1821.

This year I decided that I would put my talents to the test. I had three things in my bucket list to accomplish:

1. Acquire a A.E.D. Certificate (An automated external defibrillator is used in cases of life threatening cardiac arrhythmias which lead to cardiac arrest)

2. Acquire a Certification in Spinning (to become an indoor cycling instructor)

3. Acquire a Certificate for Standard First Aid and CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure for people in cardiac arrest or, in some circumstances, respiratory arrest)

We will start with the AED training course. It was offered FREE through the City so I signed up for it. I arrived early with my Java Joes coffee in one hand and a Morning Glory Bran High Fibre Blueberry/ Cran/Raisin/Nut muffin in the other. The course was held at one of our City satellite locations. When I entered the room there were dummies at every table and I made myself comfortable amongst them.

Two instructors were poised and ready to teach six firefighters, three bylaw officers and me how to use a defibrillator should G-d forbid the occasion arise.

The class began with a PowerPoint presentation. Since those are usually NOT very exciting and I'm not great at paying attention, I slowly made my way through the giant muffin crumb by crumb while trying to not create too much noise with the bag it was packaged in. I reached a point where my throat was so dry I had to take a sip of my coffee. Here's where I always have an issue with the lid. There are two types of take out coffee lids.

One with a pull back and snap in place top and the other with a simple spout. The spout is not an option for me because I always tend to get excited about my coffee and burn myself when it flows out too quickly. With option #1 you have the pull back tab. The problem is I never get that tab to click into its proper location. I pull it back. It jumps back up. I pull it back and press it down. It jumps back up. I pull it back too far and I'm now dealing with a coffee lid that is ripped to shreds.

When I'm with Steve and we both get coffees I ask him to pull back my lid and guess what? It snaps in place perfectly. The next degree I'm taking is my Masters in take-out coffee lids.

Back to the AED training. Once the PowerPoint show is over we're allowed to do some practical work with our dummies. Our table had three. One for each of us in our small group. I'm thrilled to have my own dummy. We are given a quick run- through on CPR which everyone in the class is certified in except for yours truly. Fearing that it may have been a prerequisite for this course I kept quiet and made like I knew what I was doing. As everyone is furiously pumping their dummies I'm giving mine a nice gentle dainty pushpushpush while noticing how super stunning my fresh french manicure is looking. The HF's (hot firefighters) that were at my table looked over at me and explained that what I was performing wasn't exactly CPR. It was more like CPRBAN. (CPR BY A NAR).

"Here watch me", said HF 1.

As he began pumping I noticed that the plastic head on his dummy was loose. I just watched intently.

30 pumps 2 breaths.

30 pumps 2 breaths.

30 pumps 2 breaths and...

one dummie's head popping off onto the floor.

Okay so even though he was a HF would you want him saving you? I don't think so.

Next we moved on to the AED machine. The MAIN EVENT. It looked simple enough to use. So easy that it even comes with picture instructions and a little man's voice inside telling you what to do.

Here's what it basically does:

The little man inside tells the rescuer to “call for help,” 911. After the rescuer places the pads on the victim, the AED automatically analyzes the victim to determine if the victim has an abnormal rhythm associated with sudden cardiac arrest. After delivering a shock to a victim in arrest, the little man instructs the rescuer to “begin CPR now” and starts a voice-prompted two-minute countdown instructing the rescuer at 15-second intervals to continue CPR. After the first two-minute CPR cycle, the defibrillator again assesses the victim’s heart rhythm and, if required, delivers a shock followed by additional voice prompts instructing additional two-minute CPR cycles. Easy enough? Uh, I think so.

Peel back tabs on shock pads

Place the pads on patient

Wait for signal

Press button.


Check for vitals

No vitals?

Shock again.

I figured if I can set my VCR to program all my shows this is clearly the same thing.

We all took turns playing out a mock rescue scene. Since the firefighters were accustomed to “rescuing” and were fairly good “pumpers” (notwithstanding the loose dummy they had to deal with)...they gave me the opportunity to press the SHOCK button. I was ready for my first scene. The HF's were also pretty decent with their acting although I was quite distracted by the fantasy of me being the dummy on the table (Sorry Steve). As they finished their rounds of pumping and breathing life into the plastic doll it was evident that they were not successful in reviving it. One HF shouted out “we need to shock the patient..let's get the AED in here stat”. That's where I come onto the stage. I'm carrying the black case which houses the super shocker. My goal was to play the part of an ER trauma unit doctor from Greys Anatomy. "What do we have here boys"? I say doctorishly.

I set the case down near the patient and tried to open it. It had a heavy latch on the front and my main concern at that point was my FFM (fresh french manicure). How can I open the dam box without breaking a nail? Who would have saved me then? My Vietnamese manicurist wasn't open Mondays!

Quick thinking in an emergency situation was needed here.. I managed to pry it open with my pen.

As the box popped open I paused to read the instructions again.

Press ON button.

The voice came on.

Peel back tabs on shock pads.

Place pad on patient here or somewhere around there I think?

Wait for signal.

No signal. There was no signal!!!!

Keep in mind that the patient has already been lying around like a dead dummy for a few minutes.

I'm still waiting for a signal. No signal. I get impatient and in full view of the entire class I make the decision to press the big button on the machine. That's when all hell breaks loose. The voice in the machine starts yelling at me.




DO NOT proceed to SHOCK again!

DO NOT proceed to SHOCK again!

I looked at my rescue team and said.....Um what?

The instructor slowly made his way over to us.

“Did you wait for the machine to signal you”? he asked.

"Um no", I said.

"Well you killed the patient", he replied. Shaking his head and walking away.

So? I wasn't the only dummy in the room. My HF broke a patient's head for G-d's sake. I only pressed a button.

Some how some way I did receive my AED certificate in an inter-office envelope the next week and I was steadily moving towards achieving my next bucket list goal.

When I first joined the gym I noticed a small glassed in room at the back of the fitness area. I pressed my nose up against the glass and this is what I observed. There were approximately 22 people pedaling like *meshugas on stationary bikes, a very boisterous instructor shouting commands and very loud music. The "bike people" looked drained, exhausted and obnoxiously sweaty. This really didn't look like a good time to me.

As the months wore on and I continued to workout at the gym I watched as the "cycle" participants exited the class looking like zombies. The teacher noticed me staring. He walked over to my simple stairmaster and said "hey! Why don't you come and try a class one day...ya might like it".

"Uh no thanks...What you guys are doing in there looks a bit too hard for me". I answered.

"Okay, if ya change your mind I would be happy to show you the ropes" he said.

That was then. This is now. I did change my mind and decided to try it. I did my first spinning class without falling off the bike or damaging any body parts five years ago. I progressed from sitting in the back of the class with running shoes to moving to the front with real clip-in bike shoes. I have gone from taking 1 class per week to 5. I am not hesitant to sweat hard and look like a zombie at the end of a class. I have gone from pressing my nose against the glass, having a very sore ass to wanting to teach the entire class.

Bucket list item two:

Getting my spinning certification.

It was early June. FO was graduating from University in less than a week and I decided to enroll in University as well.

(Reebok University). It took FO five years and thousands of dollars to get his degree. It took me seven hours, a sore tuchas and less than 200 bucks to acquire mine.

So now that I was a full fledged cycle instructor what's next? The Reebok U. degree allows you to teach but not before you are fully certified in First Aid and CPR Level 2. Just what I needed....another course with dummies. I scanned the City's website for a free course and there was nothing available until November 2010. Too long to wait. I googled the community centre listings nearby and found a 2 day course right around the corner from my house at the kid's former high school. Booked it for July 24th and 25th and was ready to spend 16 hours of a beautiful Summer weekend in a hot classroom with 14 other CPR hopefuls.

I was going back to school again. My knapsack was packed. I had a bagel (Steve made it for me), an apple, a chocolate chip All Bran Bar, 10 almonds, 5 apricots and a water bottle spiked with cranberry juice. As I left my house to be in the classroom early I realized that it's been 32 years since I went to school. It also came to mind that I never drove a car to school. My mode of transport was either by foot, bus or subway. I've come a long way. I was now the cool kid in class. I had my own set of wheels. As I parked my vehicle I noticed my classmates exiting their mom or dad's cars and making their way inside the building that housed the high school pool. I followed behind them quickly with my pink knapsack slung across my shoulders hearing my reusable water bottle clanging inside against my reading glass case. Check in was at the Life Guard station. "Do you have a life saving book", the young blonde lifeguard asked? "No, I didn't get one, how much are they"?, I inquired. "$14", said the lifeguard. I present her with a $50. She refused to take it. "I'm sorry, we don't accept $50's", she said. "You don't take $50's"? I replied. Since when are 50's the new 100's? Pretty soon no one will take any paper bills. I passed on the First Aid Manual and shot up the stairs to the classroom. I can buy one after lunch when I can get smaller counterfeit bills I thought.

As I entered the upper level it was apparent there was no air conditioning in the school. The classroom was about 190 degrees and I could smell my bagel starting to ferment inside my bag. There was also another observation I made as I looked around for a seat. There wasn't anyone in the class (including the instructor) that I couldn't have justifiably given birth to. To put it bluntly, I was not a freshman .....I skipped to my Senior year very quickly.

I sat beside a young lady in the second row. She had the $14 book so I could share with her. Her name was Leah, she was 21 years old, a student at the University of Toronto and she volunteered in small African villages during her free time. This was her 8th time taking a CPR course. Quick Fact: You need to take the whole stupid two day course over again every four years and refreshers inbetween.

The instructor introduced himself, closed the door and began taking attendance.

Zack Chen?

Lily Chan?

Kenny Fong?

Henry Lee?

Parhab Zuzantheiambanzikumar?

Shaquille Brown?

Leah Krummer?

Bruce Hwang?

Charles Li?

Amy Chau?

Stephanie Wong?

Hilton Wen?

Debi Traub?
present with an explanation
"Hi, I only had a $50 and they wouldn't give me a book".

Instructor Chris informed me that I wouldn't need a book. He would be writing down all the required course material on the whiteboard. He also advised that we all take notes. Since it was only July I hadn't even thought of doing my back to school shopping so early....I came prepared with the most important items I could think of......a pen, food, my cranberry juice, some $50's and a lip gloss. I neglected to bring a piece of paper to write on. Good thing my classmate Leah had her notebook with her. She carefully tore out three lined sheets of paper and I was all set. Within one hour I had already taken 8 pages of notes. I had to make a pit stop on our lunch break at home where I picked up a binder and a pad of paper.

During the first 15 minutes of the class we did individual introductions. Remember the age spans here. We had Hilton Wen who was the youngest of the group at age 12 and then the majority who at most were about 22 years old. And then there was me. The Alter Kocker: (yes another Jewish Word Definition....pronounced, OLL-ter KOCK-er. An alter kocker is a man who can no longer do something that he once could. He's an old guy, over the hill, past his prime. In literal terms, an alter kocker is from German and means “old defecator.” ) Got the picture? Good.
We needed to state a cool fact about ourselves when it was our turn. My cool fact was that I haven't been to school since 1978 and Hilton's cool fact was that he liked cheese.

Hilton soon became my favorite student. I loved his name. In fact, I admire parents that name their kids after hotels. If I had to do it all over again FO, MO and YO should have been Hilton, Hyatt and  Howard Johnson.

Hilton was especially intriguing during the chapter regarding objects that may impail you. There are scenarios where you may come across someone with pencil sticking out of their eye or a knife protruding from a chest. We learned how to care for the patient should something like this happen. Never remove the object from the victim. Leave it in place until EMS arrive. Wrap the object in a log cabin style dressing and ensure that it is held tight.

Hilton's little hand raised up.

"Yes Hilton"? said the instructor.

"What happens if the pencil misses my eye and pokes my testicle"? he inquired with a very concerned look on his face.

The instructor answered the question for Hilton. If a pencil pokes your testicle it still needs to be secured by a log cabin style dressing.

Hilton seemed relieved that his testicle would be housed in log cabin and we moved on to Strokes and Heart Attacks.

After spending the first day learning the book work we commenced the practical. This time we were lucky enough to have a combination of adult and baby dummies. The only issue was this....our baby dummy came with a loose head. Why is it that I'm always surrounded by dummies that don't have their heads screwed on right? We were placed in groups of 4. There was always 3 rescuers and one victim. While the rescuers waited in the hallway, the victim stayed behind in the classroom receiving instructions on what the scenario was we were simulating. I was a school teacher, mom, mistress, gangster, drug dealer and bank robber during my training. I was also involved in many  motor vehicle accidents both as a victim and a bystander. It was the most exhausting two days of my life. I had saved an entire group of people and didn't kill anyone this time. I went home Saturday night and studied my notes like a total nerd. I was prepared to write my exam and take my practical test on Sunday after role-playing for another 8 hours.

Fifty exam questions, 30 scenarios, 30 chest-pumping mouth to mouth dummies later I walked out with my temporary certificate.

I can legally take your life in my hands and IF I happen to kill you I am protected by the good samaritan law.

I was excited to share the news with Steve. I bet you were wondering what he was doing while I was lying on the ground in a dirty hot classroom? Well, he decided that it would be a great opportunity to take another road trip....this time to Collingwood where the Annual Elvis Festival was taking place. He managed to meet all kinds of Elvis impersonators.

Here's the results of his trip:

Stelvis and Melvis? (Mexican Elvis)
Stelvis with a tiny Elvis (Telvis) and a Fugly Elvis (Felvis)

Stelvis and Chelvis? (Chinese Elvis)
Perhaps now you can understand why I am finding things to occupy my time with? Wearing an Elvis wig is not on my bucket list.

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