Saturday, August 31, 2013

I think it may be time to marry Ben Dover

It’s official. I’m off-kilter.

I’ve had a hunch for some time that things didn’t measure up, but I have never had absolute, medical, scientific proof until now.

It started a few years ago on a visit to see my sister Kate in Phoenix. The first morning of my visit she woke me up early and surprised me with a gift: a trip to her gym and a free session with her personal trainer.

Some people give flowers as a gift. Others give a gift card to Starbucks. Not my sister. Could it be I did something wrong in our childhood that I am paying for now?

Regardless, she shuffled me half-awake into her car, dropped the kids off in the play area at the gym, and grabbed a towel.
I was abruptly introduced to Mark-the-Trainer, a drill sergeant in running shoes who critiques, contorts and wreaks havoc on people’s bodies for a living.

Mark-the-Trainer started by asking me to lift free weights above my head, an act that has always struck me as somewhat dangerous, resulting in me never doing it (for safety reasons, of course). But here I was, being told to pull in my abdominal muscles and bend my knees. Then the worst part was when he came up and touched my stomach, UNANNOUNCED, to make sure I was holding my abs in. Now, I’m thinking if I need someone to touch and see if my abs are in, I’m already behind the eight ball in the abdominal department. I thought long and hard about kicking him, and I would have, had I the balance at that moment to actually lift my leg.

After the weights, Mark-the-Trainer asked me to stand still with my arms hanging down at my sides. He stood behind me and said “hmmmm” over and over, as if trying to work out a puzzle. Not exactly the reaction you want, am I right?

Once he broke the silence he said, “Here’s the problem, you’re crooked.” He showed me that my right hand hangs lower than my left hand, pointing out that I am just begging for a slipped disc any day now. Encouraging, eh? I’m beginning to feel like Cro-Magnon Monkey Girl, and I can almost feel my right knuckles scraping the gym mats as I walk.

Ever since that trip, I have noticed how much my right shoulder droops down in comparison to my left. It’s not like a landslide, but it’s obvious to me. And, not surprisingly, I’ve had continual back and shoulder issues as well.

I’ve had my share of visits to orthopedic doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists and physical therapists. And no matter how well seem things seem to be aligned, everything seems to slip back into Cro-Magnon Monkey Girl mode within a few weeks.

Finally, I had a doctor suggest an x-ray that measures both leg bones and compares the measurements against one another. His theory? That the right leg is not as long as the left leg, resulting in back, hip and shoulder pain, a medical condition now officially termed “Monkey Girl” in the medical books. (You can look it up, however, I don’t remember the actual title of the medical book.)

And the results came back yesterday. I have one leg shorter than the other.

The best part out of all of this? I can finally fully live up to my first name, Eileen.

Think about it. I’ve become a joke unto myself.

Eileen Burmeister is a freelance writer. She can be reached at or you can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Time to shave ties with big-hair bands

I have to admit, there are times that I do something simply so I can write a column about it. Trust me; it makes for an interesting existence.

Last year, I agreed to ride the Ferris wheel at the fairgrounds with my daughter – something I hadn’t done before because of my fear of carnivals/clowns/rides and everything else that can be found in Stephen King’s horror novel “It.” But I did it, and I loved it, and we built a memory together that we’ll share forever.

This year some co-workers invited me to the Whitesnake concert at the fair. I immediately said no, seeing that my proclivity toward ‘80s music is more towards Thompson Twins and The Bangles rather than hard rock. But then I thought about it and said, “Wait … As long as I can write about it I’ll go.”

My 11-year-old daughter asked, “What kind of band is Whitesnake?”

“It’s an ‘80s hair band,” I explained.

“What does that mean,” she asked, understandably.

“It means they all had big hair and played really loud music.” Then I Googled a picture of the band from the ‘80s and showed her.

“Oh,” was all she said. She was underwhelmed to say the least, a foreshadowing of things to come.

My group of friends parked at the courthouse and took the bus over to the fairgrounds. One fella sitting next to me was clearly excited about Whitesnake, as opposed to me, who was going as a lark. He also seemed to have attended every single concert the fair offered over the last decade, offering a running commentary on every show he had attended to anyone who would listen. “Eddie Money was great! He jammed some Hendrix, dude, like sickly.”

It took everything in me not to correct his grammar, but I miraculously kept my mouth shut.

Saturday at the fair was rainy, which totally dampened my attempt at big hair for the event, dude. Apparently the boys in Whitesnake had sprayed their hair within an inch of its life. Their big hair remained amazingly buoyant throughout the set.

The crowd, made up of mostly 40-somethings like myself, who listened to these bands in high school, had varying degrees of hair. And the guys wearing mullet wigs got points for creativity. (At least I hope they were wigs.)

When the band came out, I couldn’t see them very well because we were way back near the bleachers, but I could hear them. My ears were ringing for hours afterwards. I couldn’t make out a single word they were saying, and all of the songs sounded the same. In that instant I recalled my mother saying the same thing to me when I listened to this music in 1985.

I leaned over to a friend and said, “I’m too old for this. And I’m really okay with that.”

Finally at the end they played the one song I remembered from my youth and I stood with the others to dance and do some head banging.

As a result of that head banging, I’m writing this in between applications of heat and ice to my back and neck. That’s right, the following morning my back and neck muscles went into spasms, relegating me to the couch for the next 48 hours.

I’m sooooo glad I went.

That’s what I get for going to see a band I don’t care for in the first place. I call it “Whitesnake Karma,” which sounds like a Stephen King novel. I’ll bet there are clowns with big hair in it too. Shudder.

Eileen Burmeister is a freelance writer. She can be reached at or you can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mickey, hand over the two extra buns and no one gets hurt

Have you ever had one of those days where you clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and anyone who gets in your way is in big trouble? Me too. But sometimes the person you want to give a piece of your mind to is not immediately accessible. That’s where a letter comes into play.

(Kids, if you aren’t clear on what a letter is, go find a parent or grandparent, and ask them to tell you the “Fable of the Handwritten Letter.”)

Sometimes I write letters in my head in lieu of screaming these thoughts at the top of my lungs to no one in particular. And some day, if I could just remember where I put our stamps, I just may mail them.

Here are just a few letters I’ve composed in my head:

Dear Unsubscribe Button Makers:

When I click on you it means I no longer want to receive emails from you. That being said, I’m not sure how sending me ANOTHER email to let me know that I’ve been unsubscribed would result in anything but hostility on my part toward you and your organization. Perhaps changing the button from “unsubscribe” to “obliterate from my inbox” would make it clearer?

Think about it.

Dear Disney Channel:

Consider testing every stupid product you advertise on your station before airing the commercials. You realize that my 10-year-old child is unsophisticated in the way of advertising and believes that she can simply “add water, salt and milk to a cup and shake it to make ice cream.” Oh, and if you need an ice cream maker to test before you re-air the commercial, you can have ours for free BECAUSE IT DOESN’T WORK.

P.S. As a result of the Disney Channel’s advertising hijinks, I’m starting to hate Mickey Mouse, something I never thought possible.

Dear Credit Card Machines Everywhere:

How about if you all sit down and make a universal credit card swiping machine so that all grocery stores/gas stations/retail stores have the same machine. That way we don’t have to re-learn the unique 15-step process at each and every store. My favorite: (1) Swipe your card, (2) enter your four-digit code, (3) Is this total correct? (4) Would you like a receipt? (5) Are you SURE that total is correct.

I’m not sure what steps six through 15 are because I’m too busy banging my head against the store counter at this point.

Dear Grocery Store Cash Register Makers:

When I come in for a gallon of milk, why do I leave with enough receipt to TP someone’s front yard? The milk is $2.50, and yet you’ve used enough paper and ink to discount that price to $2.25. And no, my rage is not subdued by the fact that I now have coupons for Sara Lee strudel, Gala paper towels, Chex Mix and Meow Mix. Seriously, people, I just want my gallon of milk.

Dear Hot Dog Bun Packagers:

Why? You know what I’m going to ask, because it’s been asked for years, and yet you continue to give us eight buns when hotdogs are sold in groups of 10. You are seriously messing with the balance of the outdoor barbecue universe, and you don’t even seem to care. You and your shenanigans leave two perfectly good hotdogs naked EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Honestly, I don’t know how you sleep at night.

Eileen Burmeister is a freelance writer who lives, writes and rants at no one in particular in Winchester, Ore. She can be reached at or you can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.

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