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So this is what the 70′s were like…

11 Dec

Image Source: www.someecards.com

I must be a sucker because I’ve continued to explore the class schedule at my new gym. I even went back for a second BodyPump class – once I could walk again.

My biggest adventure from this past week was walking into what I thought was a regular yoga class. I set up my mat and began stretching, anticipating a mildly sweaty, aerobic workout. Then the teacher arrived and – after surveying the room – said, “Is anyone here not familiar with Kundalini?” She was looking at me.

Two of us raised our hands. “Well,” she continued, “If you came expecting a vinyasa class (meaning a lot of a movement and flow) then you need to reset your expectations.”

She wouldn’t define it beyond that. I asked, “If it’s not a vinyasa class, what can we expect?” She looked around and got  a smug smile, then said, “Oh, we call it yoga for stoners.”

Meaning what? I can just lie down on my mat and you’ll bring me brownies?

I soon found out. Here’s the nutshell: Kundalini yoga is all about cultivating energy and awareness, and you do that by breathing “fire breath” while executing various poses for four minutes each. Hint: Fire breath is just code for hyperventilating.

After our second four-minute pose – during which we were curled up in crunches hissing out fire breath – I got a charley horse in my esophagus. I’m not even sure how that’s possible, but it suddenly felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I looked around, mildly panicked, to see if other people were experiencing the same thing. Apparently not – they all were smiling tranquilly.

I will say: when your breathing muscles seize up, you certainly cultivate a new level of awareness. Fortunately, the charley horse passed fairly quickly, so I was able to hop back in for the next poses.

Things were going along smoothly until I realized that my leg was falling asleep. Almost everything is done seated, so it seemed somewhat natural that I’d lost circulation. Since everyone had their eyes shut and was hissing loudly, I straightened out my legs to provide a bit of relief. BIG MISTAKE.

I’m not sure what a pinched nerve feels like, but that’s my best guess of what happened in my leg, because as soon as I straightened it, I had shooting pain up the side, from my ankle to my hip, unlike anything I’d felt before. I began writhing around on my mat, trying everything I could think of to loosen my leg and provide some relief.

My reaction must have been normal for a newbie, because the instructor didn’t skip a beat, despite the fact that I was essentially break-dancing on my mat.

Eventually – two four-minute poses later – I was able to get things under control and rejoin in time for the final few moves.

At some point during the class, it occurred to me that this might be what non-yogis think all yoga actually is. Which made me imagine taking my mom to a Kundalini class, simply to watch her reaction. My mom doesn’t go in for anything remotely “new agey,” so I could picture her looking around the room, sizing up the situation, then declaring, “Well this is just bullshit,” and leaving.

That thought gave me the giggles, which was unfortunate, because apparently it’s traditional to close the class with a song. I was teetering on the edge of laughter, when a more Chipmunky-version of this song started play and everyone sang along:

By the end of class, I had a serious case of giggles and tears streaked my face.

I assume that’s why they call it yoga for stoners?

I might need crutches.

26 Nov

Image Source - www.fun2video.com

About seven years ago, I canceled my gym membership and started using the money on yoga studios instead. I love yoga and believe in its healing benefits, but – no matter how much I sweat or how many push-ups I do – it is NOT a gym workout.

My body has been reminding me of that lately, most frequently when I go to wave goodbye to someone and smack myself in the face with the loose skin wagging under my tricep – something my childhood friend, Ryan, always referred to as a, “Yoo-hoo.” You know what I’m talking about.

So a week ago, I bit the bullet and joined a gym. And I can’t believe how much I’ve missed it. It feels like freedom to go whenever I want. There are three locations within a mile walk of my home, and each has something different I love: a salt-water pool, a robust class schedule, a steam room.

That said, my return has not been painless. Yesterday, for instance, I made a collosol colossol HUGE mistake. I saw that there was a 45 minute “BodyPump” class and thought, “That sounds like a great alternative to just lifting on my own.” FOOL.

Tip: anything that rhymes with “Shoddy Dump” is probably a horrible idea.

If you’re not familiar with BodyPump (clearly I wasn’t!) it’s 45 minutes of lifting/squatting/pressing free weights and barbells to techno music. The music is key because it makes you do it quickly, which means that not only are you stressing your muscles, but you’re also getting all sweaty and out of breath.

It looked harmless when I walked in, though in hindsight, I should’ve realized that there was not a single YooHoo! in sight. I arrived close to the start time, so I looked around and tried to copy the props of the women around me. A step, a yoga mat, a bar with some weights clamped on, some free weight discs…

Notice how vague I was about how much weight was clamped on to the bars? Yeah, probably should’ve paid more attention. In my rushed attempt to mirror what was going on, I didn’t actually think about how much weight I’d be lifting – or the fact that the other people in the class probably weren’t brand spankin’ new.

Let’s just agree: Bad idea. About twenty minutes into class, my mouth started salivating like I was going to vomit. Since I’m competitive, I kept powering through. Finally, at the thirty minute mark, I started stripping plates off my bar, tossing them to the floor like frisbees, ego be damned. And I STILL almost fell down the stairs when class was over.

Today I’m hobbling, which doesn’t bode well for tomorrow, since everyone knows that full soreness sets in 48 hours after the activity. I’m just hoping the worst of it is behind me by Thursday so I can do arm curls with a turkey.

I would make a really bad Boy Scout. Even if I were a boy.

2 Sep

Image Source: http://neenjames.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Boy-Scout-Be-Prepared-Emblem.jpgAlan and I celebrated Labor Day weekend by attending the “Sing-Along Sound of Music” at WolfTrap with our friends Seth and Johnny. (Alan would probably like me to clarify that this was NOT his idea, and he only purchased the tickets as a demonstration of his love for me. Seth and Johnny would probably like to note that they were mainly there for the outdoor picnic.)

More on the event itself in a separate blog entry. I’d simply like to focus on the adventure that was GETTING there.

WolfTrap is an outdoor venue in Virginia, about 15 miles outside DC. Because Alan and I planned to crash at his place after the show, we decided it would make sense for Seth, Johnny and me to drive separately and meet him there. As it turns out, this was a bad idea.

I mean, from an efficiency standpoint, it was brilliant. It reduced the total number of miles driven by everyone. But it is generally a bad idea to take three urbanites and send them into Virginia without a native guide.

Oh, we did a fine job navigating to the venue. The problem was that we hadn’t realized the route required a toll road. And really, that shouldn’t have been a huge deal. But as we sat in the line of cars approaching the toll booth, we realized the error of our ways. “Crap!” I said. “I totally forgot there was a toll booth involved. Do you guys have quarters?”

Image Source: http://www2.fitforpublicconsumption.com/TollBoothPayment.jpg“No,” Seth informed me. “I don’t have ANY cash.”

“No cash?” I asked. “Not even bills?”

“None,” he confirmed, looking to Johnny, who was digging through the glove compartment, looking a bit panicked. “We have no cash.”

I was emptying my backpack on to the seat next to me, realizing with a sinking sensation that I’d left my entire wallet at home. “I have fifty cents.”

We all looked at each other. SERIOUSLY? Three adults and we only have fifty cents on us. I knew Alan – who makes a point of always having cash on him – would face-palm just thinking about it.

“What are we going to do?” Seth asked as we creeped closer toward the toll both.

“Go in the ‘Full Service’ lane,” I instructed. “Surely we’re not the first people to come through without any cash. They have to have a credit card reader in there.”

It turns out they do not. We pulled up to the booth and Seth tried to explain our plight. “Do you accept credit cards? We only have fifty cents on us.”

The guy was neither amused nor understanding. “No. No credit cards. Cash only.”

We all looked around, as if making eye contact would miraculously mint coins. “So how can we work this out?” Seth asked. “If we don’t have any cash?”

The guy leaned forward and looked around the car. “You don’t have $1.75? Among the three of you?”

Seth confirmed that we did not, but that we had a credit card we’d be happy to run. The guy looked at us as if we were a car full of liars.

Seth asked again, “So what should we do?”

The guy said, “Get a ticket mailed to your house.”

Seth asked, “How much is the ticket?”

The guy said, “$1.75,” and we began to murmur our approval of that solution. Then after a pause, he added, “Plus $25.”

Seth was aghast. “Wait. So even though I’m telling you we WANT to pay you, because we don’t have cash and you don’t have a credit card reader I’m going to have to pay an additional $25?”

The guy nodded. “You need to pull forward,” he added. “You’re holding up the line.”

“Thanks,” Seth said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “You’ve been unbelievably helpful.”

I’m just sad we weren’t dressed in costume for the show. Somehow I think there would’ve been a different outcome if he had been talking to a car full of nuns. Next year…

Image Source: http://img.wonkette.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/nun-bumper-cars.jpg

I failed cat-anatomy.

19 Aug

Image Source:  pithypants 2013

Look at this photo. Doesn’t Miss Moneypenny look like an octopus who lost three legs?

SHE TOTALLY DOES. 

If I had better Photoshop skills (or my sister on speed-dial) you would be looking at before  and after photos from the tragic accident that severed Miss Moneypenny’s other three legs.

Except you’d know that cats don’t really have eight legs.  While I do have a tragic story I could tell about smashing her in a window this week and thinking I’d accidentally maimed her, I’d rather focus on her other anatomical mystery.

Shortly after getting her, I was petting her and felt a weird bump on her stomach. I separated the skin and looked at it. It looked like a skin tag. “Alan,” I shouted. “Does this look like a nipple?”

Alan checked it out and rubbed around on her belly. “I don’t think so. It’s more like a wart or something.”

I agreed.

Fast forward a week to when I’m at the vet, having Miss Moneypenny’s West Virginian meth-addict smile inspected. “Listen, Doctor Storm,” I started, struggling to determine which was more ridiculous – calling a guy in his late 20s “doctor” or the fact that his last name made him sound like he came from a Spiderman movie. “While we’re here, can you look at Miss Moneypenny’s tummy? I think she has a skin tag or something there.”

He obliged, and asked me to show him what I was talking about. I felt around blindly until (finally!) my fingers located the little dot of braille. “Here it is!” I practically yelled, feeling triumphant.

He rolled her over and looked at it. Then looked at me. “That’s a nipple,” he said.

I was flustered. “Well, at first I thought it was a nipple, but then I couldn’t find any others, so I wasn’t sure WHAT it was. I mean – can you find any other nipples?”

He looked at me like I was an idiot, then proceeded to map out all of my cat’s nipples for me. At a certain point, I said, “Got it. I don’t need to see any more nipples, thanks.”

And that was the end of our first vet visit.

I’m going to take a vote: Is it more awkward to have a x-ray tech your own age administer a surprise enema, or have a doctor who is at least a decade your junior educate you on nipples?

Either way, I’m going to stay away from medical professionals for a while.

Meow.

Row, row your boat.

4 Aug
Don't be too eager to seek out a power position.

Don’t be too eager to seek out a power position.

Last weekend my friend Margaret and I went kayaking on the Potomac. We rented a two-seater, and Margaret took the front seat. Or rather, she let me have the back seat.

You might think this doesn’t matter, but it does.

We had originally planned to canoe – something we’re both familiar with – and had debated who would get to take the rear seat, since we’re both control freaks and that person gets to steer. However, the boathouse was out of canoes, and – when they issued us a double kayak – we didn’t realize that the rules of our control-freakery had changed.

So Margaret (in a move that later would seem reminiscent of Tom Sawyer and the white-washed fence) conceded the rear seat, saying she thought I was probably more controlling than her. I took that as a compliment.

As it turns out? The rear seat doesn’t actually steer in a kayak. I was busy trying to match Margaret’s stroke patterns so our paddles wouldn’t hit. And every time the breeze blew, the water from her paddles landed squarely on my lap.

When we finished our hour-long adventure, we climbed out of the boat – Margaret as dry as a bone, and me? My skirt was drenched and I was sitting in a pool of water. It looked like I’d soiled myself. (Entirely possible, but I actually hadn’t – this time.)

Anyway, about half-way through our jaunt, as we passed under the Key Bridge, I realized that my thumb was burning. And I looked, only to establish that I’d developed – and popped – a pretty wicked blister from holding the paddle incorrectly. To prevent any further damage, I started holding my thumb like I was hitchhiking, which seemed to work.

When we got home, I wrapped a bandaid around my thumb, using it to cover the blister so it didn’t burn every time wind or water hit it. Apparently I applied the bandaid too tightly, however, because when I removed it three days later, I had a white band of wrinkled skin around my thumb.

I stared at it, thinking, “Is it possible that I screwed this up so badly I’ve picked up an infection and my thumb is going to fall off?” Of course not. But that’s where my head goes.

In fact, when Margaret and I had been on the river, I said, “What if we capsize?” She shook her head dismissively.

Then I said, “I think my mind naturally goes to far-fetched, worst-case scenarios. For example, the other day I was biking along the Potomac, and I thought, “Could I outrun a bobcat if one jumped out of the bushes?”

Margaret said, “Does DC even have bobcats?”

Me, “I have no idea. But that’s not the point. I like to be prepared and know what my odds are, in case it DOES happen.”

She shook her head again.

And I decided it was probably not the best time to ask how fast she thought she could paddle in the event that we had to outrun a large boat. Next time I’m going to let her take the back seat so I don’t see her head shaking.

How I pictured our kayaking experience...

How I pictured our kayaking experience…

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