Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Curious Case of the Lap Top and the Yoga Mat

I like research. Not the I-had-no-choice-as-to-my-research-topic-and-now-I’m-reading-a-book-about-the-Donner-party-and-I’m-squeamish type of research (true story: thanks Mr Mozden). I’m talking about looking up how to julienne a cucumber in the middle of cooking dinner research. Or  which type of jeans would look best with your body research. Or, my most recent endeavor, how to bend yourself into a pretzel research.

It all started when my parents bought my brother a nautilus system for his birthday. Now, I’ve used one of those before, but this thing is HUGE. With lots of  protruding metal bars and huge circular weights that you have to load on yourself. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to the war I would inevitably wage with this thing.

And the war was short. It won. Hands down. After 20 minutes of staring at it in slight confusion, I opted to start looking into yoga. Relaxing and a good workout.  And without all of the scary equipment. I’ve gone to a few different yoga classes, but never really had the time to make it a regular thing; so why not do it myself? Let the research begin.

I spent two days just looking through different poses, tips, sequences and stretches, hoping it would all get absorbed into my brain before I hit the mat. On that third day, I knew it was time. And so, armed with a yoga mat, a bottle of water and my laptop, I descended the stairs to my basement, traversed through my cat’s lair (really, though. It’s his spot. And if you don’t acknowledge it, you’re a goner), and found my way to the exercise room. About a half hour later, I’d attempted one pose, and then, afraid that I was doing it wrong and would somehow pull every muscle in my body, I stopped, opened up my laptop and began to look up again exactly how to do it the right way.

This carried on for another forty-five minutes before I collapsed onto the mat, a ball of frustration and tension (so much for yoga being relaxing). As I reached for my laptop to look up cool down techniques, I was hit with a strange thought- maybe researching something while you’re doing it is a bad way to go about things. Maybe it’s just a clever way of procrastinating. Maybe your laptop is what’s holding you back from succeeding in holding the warrior pose longer than 10 seconds. Maybe…

…I should probably look that up.

The Awkward First Date- a Classic in the Making.

I have no false notions as to my capabilities when it comes to first dates: it is there, whether “there” is a restaurant, a movie theater, or a disco roller-derby spectacular, where my awkwardness thrives. Fine. I accept this. It is my cross to bear in this life.

Which is why I am still confused as to how I ended up asking temp boy to save me from being the third wheel on my sister and her husband’s movie date.  Clearly, I had been hit in the head by some blunt object earlier in the day.

Even so, I found myself rushing home on Wednesday to get ready for my date. Or double date, rather. I hadn’t been on a real first date since my first college boyfriend, during freshman year. Four years to let my awkwardness just fizzle away, making room for the new, sexy, confident me, right?

No. No, unfortunately that was not to be my path in life. And so, I humbly offer you my step-by-step guide to making sure your first date is as awkward as possible.

1. Don’t exchange phone numbers. Even immediately after you ask him on a date, when he’s taken his phone out and is fiddling with it in an obvious attempt to get you to freely offer your digits, don’t do it. This will ensure a good fifteen minutes of craning your neck in what must be a graceful, sophisticated way, looking for your date and praying you didn’t get stood up.

2. If going to see a movie, buy your ticket before he arrives. This will allow you to hop around on the other side of the roped-in line while he purchases his ticket. And for the love of God, make sure not to choose to go with the other party (when on a double date) if they go to get food while your date is waiting in line. This gives you ample opportunity to stand in the middle of the theater lobby, alone, without any sort of activity to take your mind off of how everyone is staring at you.

3. Go to a comedy. That way, you laugh so hard, you snort. Loudly. In his ear. He will find this adorable and charming. As will everyone else in the surrounding area.

4. Make sure to park far away from your date to ensure a quick, abrupt goodbye. This creates an air of importance and mystery about your person.

5. Upon said goodbye, be ready to shift forward and backward uncertainly for a few seconds. Do this at a far-enough distance as to make it seem as though you do not want a kiss goodnight. That way, everyone, including families pushing their way past you, can feel equally awkward. Do not, under any circumstances, lean in for so much as a hug.

6. Make your exit unforgettable by practically running to catch up with the other half of the double date.

And thus did I once again enter the dating world, awkwardly and ready to make an impression.  I will say, however, that all is not lost with temp guy. The next day at work, we were back to flirting and joking around, all awkwardness forgotten. Maybe he found my obvious ineptitude charming? Whether an awkward second date is in our future or not, I am content, for now, to know that I have not scared him off entirely. This time.

Any awkward first date stories?

Sailing Homeward.

Home is an interesting concept to someone in transition. From college, to my parents’ house, to summerstock, to college, back to my parents’ house-I’ve bounced around quite a bit in these past four years. And now, it seems, I’m just biding my time until I move to my next location. I have my family in one location, and my chosen, extended family in about ten others. So, it’s been awhile since I’ve felt truly at home- where all my possessions and all of my life’s loose ends come to rest, neatly tied up and put away.

For the past three summers, I had the incredible opportunity of working at a Renaissance Festival in upstate NY. This entailed living in the woods for three months of improv training, character creating, and laughing at and with my insanely talented castmates. It was, in one word, magical.

This summer, it was time for a change;  however, I have missed my little corner of the woods more than I can say. So last weekend, two of my college friends (Toby and Kate ) and I piled into my car and roadtripped it to their opening weekend.

I’ll admit it: I was a little apprehensive about visiting. Firstly, I had no idea how it would feel to not be acting in the festival. Would I play along (it’s interactive improv-which is creating scenarios that you can pull audience members into)? What shows would I see? And, most terrifyingly, would it be less -well- magical as a guest? Secondly, it holds a lot of memories. And, really, any place that holds that many memories can either be a joy to visit or a painful sinkhole of moments. (I know, that was a little too 14-year old goth chick, but go with me.) Anyway, I was nervous. And immensely excited.

I could spend this blog post commenting on the awesome shows I saw, and this quirky conversation I had with a character, or that hilarious scene I saw played out in front of me, or what it was like to be carried through the mid-day parade over the shoulder of a once alchemist, now pirate, but I’m gonna go ahead and skip to the pivotal moment of my trip: the pub sing.

PUBSING!

Now, every faire day ends with a half-hour sing along with the entire cast, all of the musicians, and every guest that is within the gates. I cannot accurately explain  how moving this is, but I’m gonna give myself fifteen words in which to try (lest I spend the next twenty minutes writing some epic poem about it that no one, not even myself, will want to read afterwards): It’s like that moment when you first light a sparkler as a kid…awe-inspiring. Anyway, the songs vary from day to day, but it always ends with the same two songs: Auld Lang Syne and Mingulay. Preceding Auld Lang Syne, one character gives a speech- a moment in which he can reveal something about himself, the actor. The speeches are usually moving and therefore usually bring me to tears (A lot of things bring me to tears. I am not generally able to not cry when things move me, or I, you know, breathe. Or walk. Or eat a particularly good sandwich.)

It wouldn’t be a pubsing without a song about drinking far too much.

On this day, my dear friend Lenny Burrows got up to speak. So, of course, my eyes welled up. He began to talk about returning to the festival-of how leaving for a period of time will make the return mean that much more. Great. Thanks, Lenny. Let’s talk about that today-when I’m returning. Thanks for that. By the end of his two-minute (if that) speech, I am hysterical. Kate and Toby are sitting next to me, I’m assuming wondering if they can sneak away slowly so as not to become associated with this madwoman. But I know, oh boy do I know: this is just the beginning.

Love is pretty much what it comes down to. Love and Music.

The minute the song begins, I fall entirely apart. Sobbing. Not really breathing because I would rather refrain for a few minutes than start wheezing. I can see cast members looking at me, sobbing about 8 rows from the stage, and smiling in that way people do. More tears. Then comes the line, “And here’s a hand my trusted friend…” Traditionally, during this line, the cast will offer hands to each other, then to the first two or three rows of the audience. I look up from my lap, which I have been studying quite determinedly for the past 30 seconds or so, and see about ten of my friends in the cast traversing down the aisle towards me. They grasp my hand, one by one, share a tearful smile, and run back to the stage.  I cannot express, or even begin to make sense, of the amount of love I felt in that moment. But more than that, I felt at home. It all clicked into place- I was entirely and happily home.

And as the cast sang the last song, “Mingulay,” I heard my own voice join in. It was a song about coming home, about returning to loved ones after time away- how could I not sing along?

My Fourth of July (or how I learned to drown in a kayak.)

Fireworks, of any variety (romantic or, you know, the kind that actually explode in the sky), are quite possibly my favorite thing in the world. Top five at least. There’s always been something about lights for me, whether they be twinkle lights, Christmas lights, sparklers, or good ole’ fashioned stars. I’m immediately enthralled. In fact, I have a habit of picking restaurants based on who has the best string of lights decorating the outside of their building- but I digress. Fireworks. They’re fucking awesome. And so, when one of my best friends from high school asked me if I wanted to kayak down the Charles River to watch Boston’s 4th of July fireworks from the water, I said “yes.” Actually, I think I squealed, jumped around a bit, and then said, “Are you serious?!,”  about 500 times…but “yes” is pretty much what all that conveys.

So, Wednesday morning I made the trek to Boston, armed with a flashlight, sneakers, and little to no knowledge of how to kayak. The day passed in a happy blur of window shopping, book store browsing, and some really strong margaritas, until finally, it was time to make our way to the launch point. (Side note-how cool is it to get to say that? “It was time to make our way to the launch point.” Bad ass. I feel like an astronaut. Or someone who kayaks. Either way-  bad ass.) After the quickest safety course I have ever been a part of (“Here’s where you go to see the fireworks, don’t get too close to the barge, stay to the sides or you’ll get run over by rich people on boats.”), I was given a life jacket, an oar, and, finally, a kayak. My friend ( let’s call her Specs- she has awesome glasses) and I were going to be rocking out in a double kayak for the night, so we jumped in and started trying to steer away from the launch point (again, bad ass). After a few minutes (around 30 or so), we got the hang of it, and sped along the Charles toward some point that was approximately 4 miles away.

Let me pause for a moment here to talk about upper body strength. You don’t want to wait until you’re in the middle of a river in a kayak to start thinking about incorporating some push ups into your daily routine. Lesson painfully learned. Now, back to the story.

After about an hour of rowing, Specs and I arrived at the viewing point.  Clusters of boats, kayaks and canoes sat in the water, waiting for the show to begin. As we reclined in our kayak, I started to notice bursts of light out of the corner of my eye. Lightning. Oh goody. It was around this time that we thought to ask a fellow water dweller what the estimated start time was: 10:30. It was 9.

Thunder began to start echoing across the water. we paddled forward to look for Specs’ friends, who had fallen behind in a four-person kayak. As we passed under a bridge, I became aware of the crowd: thousands of people lining the shore. I couldn’t help but smile. We had the absolute best seats in the house- the barge that held the fireworks was directly in front of us. We sat, listening to the Boston Pops, floating back and forth, waiting. And then, about five minutes before the fireworks were scheduled to begin, it started to sprinkle. Tiny droplets of warm rain. Now, we were already soaked from the decent amount of flailing it had taken us to reach our destination, so a little bit of rain was nothing. Child’s play. I turned to joke with Specs about the ridiculousness of the situation- sitting in a slowly filling kayak in the middle of a crowd of equally endangered kayaks and canoes- when a burst of color made my head snap back to the front. Without any

I cannot even put into words how gorgeous these fireworks were…so here’s a picture!

forewarning, the fireworks had begun to fill the sky. My jaw subsequently dropped. I had never seen anything like it. The sheer size of the fireworks was stunning, not to mention the variety of shapes and colors that exploded across the the harbor in a continuous stream. (Heart-shaped fireworks. HEARTS!) As I stared, slack-jawed, up at the show, the rain started getting heavier. And heavier. A torrential downpour of lukewarm rain pummeled our little kayak (and my face), creating a wall between me and the fireworks. The sane reaction would have been annoyance, concern for the kayak, or even a shuffling of clothing to try to slow the attack. But me? I laughed. I doubled over in the kayak, overcome with the insanity of my evening. Kayaking 4 miles to sit in a rain-filled kayak, watching the most beautiful fireworks I had ever seen.

The rain eventually slowed, and then stopped, while the fireworks continued to get better and better. As I watched the finale, a barrage of colors that literally filled the sky, I felt a wave of gratitude and awe crash over me. How lucky was I to be experiencing this?

And then I remembered…I still had to paddle 4 miles back. My arms became dead weight at the thought, silently protesting the hour-long rowing party that was about to begin.  Needless to say, Pocahontas was lying when she sang “just around the river bend.” Bitch.

Operation Track is a Go.

I am not a runner. Not by anyone’s standards. Igor from “Young Frankenstein” could easily beat me in a race. After he had a few Jager Bombs. And twisted his ankle.

I am also not a patient person, especially when it comes to myself. If I think I should be able to do something, then I should be able to do it by the end of the day. Gradually building up to things, making reasonable short term goals to climb towards long-term ones…these concepts do not work well with my general state of being.

And yet, I have always been fascinated by running. The passion this sport ignites in people is incredibly seductive, especially when you’ve never experienced it. It’s also one of those things that you have to start slowly and work at continuously, gradually pushing yourself past your original limitations, onward… clearly, this was made for me.

Regardless of my obvious short-comings in the world of running, this fascination has led me to my most recent endeavor. Let’s call it Operation Don’t Look Like an Asshole on the Track- or Operation Track, for short. Recently, I was introduced to a 6-week running plan for new runners. And since I know nothing about how to do this (if you have ever had the misfortune to see me run, you understand how true that statement is), I thought perhaps it would be best to turn to someone who knows what they’re talking about before I end up on crutches. Or just out of breath and no closer to being able to run two miles in one go.

I wish I could say I was writing this at the conclusion of week one, and boy do I love it, how could I have waited so long to start, yada yada yada. Nope. Day 1. And it’s just as wheeze-inducing as it’s always been. But this time, there’s a determination that I have never experienced with running, a need to prove to myself that I can do this. I am capable of doing this. And so, as much as I would love to wake up a runner tomorrow, or just stick with pilates and call it a day, I’m going to commit to this. It’s something I can control, hold myself accountable for, and feel good about doing. I mean, the last time I started something that covered all of those, I started writing a blog. Pretty good motivation, if you ask me.

So, any tips for new runners?