Occult

5.18.20

Despite what you’ve assumed from multiple teen witch movies (in which a handful of adorable teenaged girls with suspiciously clear skin accidentally summons Beelzebub while trying to make Kimmi’s hair fall out for the crime of flirting with Andy when everyone KNOWS Andy belongs to Misty), the word “occult” doesn’t mean demonic or supernatural or witchy.

It just means “hidden.”

And isn’t that so very human? Anything we don’t understand or which remains hidden automatically becomes supernatural, evil, suspect. We fear the unknown, people.

Really, it’s just unknown AT THE MOMENT. Can’t find your car keys? Well, that makes them OCCULT car keys – how thrilling! Does that mean they’ll engage the lava-powered engines on Satan’s Maybach? No. It means they’re in the pocket of yesterday’s jeans and are going to cost you $200 for a new set when you stupidly run them through the machine with the laundry.

And they say cleanliness is next to godliness. Right.

Wait. Didn’t I have a point?

Got it. I’ve refocused: Occult means “hidden.”

This thought occurred to me today because I had another dental implant put into my jaw on Friday. After the jawbone grows around the screw (which takes 6-9 months), a dentist will hang a new molar on that screw and I will have powerful gnashing teeth well into my senility. An advantage should I decide that orderly is due a little course correction for his flippant ways.

Because my oral surgeon slips a little chemical paradise into my veins before he goes a-drillin’, there is nothing even remotely painful about getting an implant. Even in the aftermath, the most pain I’ve felt is a distant ache and the sense that things are sort of raw in that quadrant of my mouth.

BUT:

This isn’t my first dental implant rodeo. (Wouldn’t that be a public event to cherish? A dental implant rodeo? With dental implant rodeo clowns dashing around the teeth to distract the massive, angry tongue from the clever, darting, silvery drill?)

And I know that the problem here isn’t pain – it’s post-anesthesia after-effects. Last time it took me a full week for my 60-year-old body to finally process all that heroin-like poison – and this time is no different. Let’s review what I’m feeling now, four days after waking up with a little Home Depot sprouting from my gums…

First – and I suspect this won’t surprise you – my ability to focus is SHOT TO SHIT. I’ve always been something of a “oh, look – a bird!” kind of person. But today, I spent some ten minutes trying to decide whether Satan would favor a Maybach or a Lamborghini. Maybach – too wealthy and powerful for the average human and so a good Satanic image. But “lava-powered Lamborghini” has such alliterative juice to it, and a Lamborghini is such an aggressive asshole of a car.

Still, my concept of Satan is more in a perfectly-tailored bespoke suit and not in racing leathers, so – Maybach.

What was I … right. Loss of focus.

Also: Inability to regulate my internal temperature. I was shivering under a down quilt yesterday, which led my son to immediately assume I had the corona virus. He made me take my temperature, which was 95.4. “I’m cold because I’m cold. Go away.” An hour later, I was putting my hair up in a clip and reaching for the ceiling fan remote.

Also: Depression. There is a voice inside me that is questioning every possible effort. I feel as though I’ve temporarily forgotten The Terrible News I’ve just gotten, and any minute now it’s going to come back to me and I’m going to be shattered. So I keep finding myself braced for something horrible that is clearly going to happen.

Now, I have an advantage, here: I went through this with the last dental implant and I know that it lasts about a week. All I need to do is endure. Hold on. Stay calm and be kind to myself.

(And – despite what you think – I am NOT going for vigorous exercise. You’d think that you could process anesthesia faster by getting up and moving around, but I tried that last time and nearly collapsed under the weight of the confusion, depression, and temperature swings that resulted from the sudden exposure of a neurotoxin best dealt with slowly over time.)

Now – if I can hold on to my focus for just a few minutes longer – I’m going to bring it all home to an actual fitness observation that might have value to you:

People who are challenged by health and fitness (especially, I think, people who have always confronted weight issues of any kind) have been trained (by society, by family, by themselves) to believe that their challenges are self-created. “If you don’t eat so much, you won’t weigh so much,” is the whisper. Maybe no one is saying it, but that doesn’t mean no one is hearing it.

We all think that if we could just apply a little more self-restraint – if we could pull ourselves together – if we could just stop being so lazy/greedy/weak, then we’d be grinning through triathlons and showing the kids on the Ultimate Frisbee course how it’s done.

But I’m here to tell you: There are OCCULT REASONS why you are the way you are.

(There – I brought it back to the beginning. Remember?? Occult means hidden.)

You wish and strive and try to achieve some goal, and progress is so slow that sometimes you can see that you’re actually back-tracking. And because of that, you’re inclined to kick yourself and think you’re the problem.

But maybe it was the anesthesia.

Or – you know – some other occult cause. You just don’t understand it YET. Maybe you never will. But that doesn’t make it invisible or supernatural or evidence of a weakness in your moral character.

JUST KEEP GOING. And be kind to yourself.

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 2.32.39 PM

I feel I could have tied this up more neatly. I also feel that I haven’t given nearly enough thought to the concept of Satan driving an extremely hot Tesla, because that logo is just so damned good looking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Octane

5.2.20

Ooh, lawsy – at the dawn of aviation, those little Europeans could NOT get a plane across the Atlantic to save their lives. Hah! Americans were cruising over with no problem. Clear a path, Frenchie – I’m setting this big bird down on your terre.

The American aviators were cocky about it. They had that “new world” swagger as they strutted about in scarves and leather caps. When Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris, the city went wild. The entire WORLD went wild. It was pandemonium. Those Americans! Right across the Atlantic! Ooh-la-la!

So what was it? Was it Lindbergh’s rock-chiseled jaw, his steely gaze, his goggles worn dashingly at the neck? Was it American superiority? Was it manifest destiny?

The Americans certainly thought so.

Turns out – Lindbergh was a fierce racist, manifest destiny is a crock, and America is no more superior than any other nation EXCEPT that our gasoline, just by a fluke, has a higher octane content than the gas then being processed in Europe.

THAT’S IT.

There was a REASON so many European aviators had to flag down a passing ship as they stood, like Captain Sully, on the wing of their slowly-sinking plane. If they’d had American gas – or if they’d started in New Jersey instead of Paris – they would have made it, too.

But nobody was measuring octane. Nobody KNEW about octane. AND LET THIS BE A LESSON TO YOU, she said with sudden accusation in her voice.

There is SOMETHING that we are not measuring in the human body. Some version of octane that we just don’t know about yet.

I was sitting on a (really very fascinating) zoom workshop yesterday, starring Chip Coleman – the nutritionist at Body Dynamics. (Too short a definition. Chip is a ballet dancer. He would say he WAS a ballet dancer because no one is paying him now to arabesque across a stage, although if you get him in just the right mood, he’ll whip out a move that will make your heart stop, it’s so pretty. Chip is also the personal trainer who’s teaming up with Barbara Gallagher Benson to pave my way to a healthy old age. Barbara focuses on global muscles; Chip on stabilizer muscles; and they talk to each other. I don’t stand a chance.)

Chip was telling us that the foods we ate would either boost or depress our natural immunity – a fairly critical matter in this COVID age.

I asked about stress eating. Of COURSE I asked about stress eating. I’m using the corona virus as an excuse to abandon every good nutritional habit Chip has ever managed to glue to my forehead.

His reply was EMINENTLY REASONABLE. Sugar will depress my immunity. Fresh foods and plenty of water will bolster gut health – and the gut manufactures roughly 70% of the immune system’s power tools. And, he said, I would feel better if I ate better.

Well, now I’m a European on the wing of my plane trying to flag down the passing Titanic.

I don’t feel better when I eat better. I don’t feel worse when I eat badly. I’M NOT GETTING THE SAME INPUT AS HE IS. And we’re just not measuring that correctly.

If I had more body-octane – if my body would respond clearly and measurably to the factors that influenced it – then perhaps I would be a former dancer, too.

But that’s not what happens.

If I diet, I gain weight. (In fact, I can no longer afford to diet; I’m just too fat.)

If I sleep on a steady schedule for fourteen days, I can blow it on the fifteenth without so much as a backwards glance.

If I refuse to exercise, I don’t feel itchy or twitchy. I feel pretty good. I settle my plump butt more comfortably in the cushions and make sure the iPad is plugged in for a marathon reading session.

The ONLY thing that’s keeping me going is the big old brain at the top of the spinal column – and any psychiatrist will tell you: Intellect is WAY weaker as a motivator than instinct. And really, really weaker than the knowledge that there’s ice cream in the freezer.

My point is… what was my point? Oh right:

I SEE YOU. I see you trying to do your best and never quite living up to your goals. I see you trying to eat right and having the cookies anyway. I see you planning on exercising but – well, maybe tomorrow. I see you, my sister or brother. I know. I’m with you. We’re Harrison Bergeron-ing our way through life, trying to be healthy with twenty-pound weights chained to our good intentions.

ONWARD, brave warrior. ONWARD. Keep paddling. We’ll get to Paris eventually!

Screen Shot 2020-05-02 at 2.30.50 PM

It was Bill Bryson who told me about American octane, in his awesome book “A Short History of Nearly Everything.” That’s a good book. You could read it if you were climbing the walls. Plug in the reader, settle your tail in the cushions. It’s a long one!

 

Hah! The E-S-D!

4.27.20

Lordy, you should hear me bitch. Sailors would blush on the mornings when I “have” to exercise.

(This is the way I think of it: I HAVE to work out. I’m being forced to. I signed up for the classes or one-on-one trainings; there’s no one holding a gun to my head – and yet it requires SO MUCH grit to rise from the paradise of my morning-sleep bed that it MUST be SOMEONE ELSE making me do this… and when I find them, I’m going to do some serious damage to some VERY important tendons.)

I get up on the mornings when I have to exercise and the only way I can propel myself to the drawer with the work-out clothes is to push bursts of really powerful profanity against the surrounding walls. The more profane, the greater the momentum – even if it does peel the paint.

I keep up this string of bitter invective until I’m actually in front of the Zoom conference, at which time some utterly out-of-control switch flips in my brain and I’m all happy and eager to see everyone and I can see on the screen my own old-lady-saggy skin stretched in a huge grin and I think – no one would know from looking at me that this is a BITCH.

But honey. It is. Every single time.

That’s why I was so blissed out when my college friend Amelia McCulley posted a link on Facebook from a researcher at our Alma Mater – the University of Virginia.

(Now I’m chanting at the computer – a stupid, poorly-rhymed college cheer that nevertheless makes me absurdly proud: Wahoo-wa, wahoo-wa, uni-vee Vir-gin-ee-ya. Who-are-ay, who-are-ay, Hey-hey, U-V-A. This is just lazy writing. I can’t help it. That’s the mating call of the Virginia Cavalier; Amelia and I know it well. And we ain’t the only ones.)

Where was I?

Researcher.  Right.

His name is Zhen Yan – so automatically you know he had a tiger mom who wasn’t satisfied with anything below a 100% from nursery school on. I cast far-reaching racial biases when I say I am quite sure this guy checked his math. WE CAN TRUST HIM.

And what does he say?

Exercise creates endogenous antioxidant enzymes – specifically, one particularly juicy beauty called “extracellular superoxide dismutase.”

((Too many syllables. I deal largely in four-letter words. Let’s agree to call these miraculous little health bombs the E-S-D, okay?))

So, you sweat and curse and your heart gets going fast and you have to mop your face with the same dishtowel that last week Barbara had you use to slide your feet along the basement floor after no one with any competence had run a cleaning product over that surface for too many weeks to count. (Oh – is that just me?)

It’s dire. Some mythical overlord has to “make” you do it. There is NOTHING joyous about it.

Except…

The creation of the E-S-D…

…which, UVA researcher Zhen Yan says hunts down harmful free radicals, protecting our tissues and helping to prevent disease.

AND HELPING TO AVOID THE CRAP THAT PUTS YOU ON A VENTILATOR AND IN THE GRAVE IF YOU GET THE CORONA VIRUS.

Whaaaaat??? That’s AWESOME!

Read what Dr. Yan says:

“We cannot live in isolation forever. Regular exercise has far more health benefits than we know. The protection against this severe respiratory disease condition is just one of the many examples.”

Want to read the whole article? It’s not too scary; “extracellular superoxide dismutase” was the worst of it. Here’s the link. https://news.virginia.edu/content/exercise-may-protect-against-deadly-covid-19-complication-research-suggests?fbclid=IwAR11kVY_e_jSoeOcd9T6qSmZy_uG_N_ghEbtgt2p7H0AwMQfeLU685egDTo

Personally, I believe that the bitching I do every morning ought to count as cardiovascular exercise, but Barbara (and Dr. Yan) might disagree… so I’ll keep up the official classes, too. Bitching. Always bitching. But secretly very proud.

And lest you think YOU get a pass – here’s the sentence you need to read, also from Dr. Yan:

“Research suggests that even a single session of exercise increases production of the antioxidant.”

So come on in; the bitching’s fine. Barbara’s Cardio Class is on Monday at ten (and maybe Friday, too – she’s thinking of adding another class). Her Balance Class is on Thursday at 10. These are East Coast times. Come with. Your first session is free; after she hooks you through the extracellular superoxide dismutase (I’m getting used to it), each class is $15. Body Dynamics’ website is https://bodydynamicsinc.com/

And while you’re going through her ridiculously easy class which somehow still makes you sweat like a glass of iced tea on a hot day… you’ll also be fomenting cellular rebellion. Knocking out free radicals (which are SO much more dangerous than paid radicals). Whipping your E-S-D into fighting trim. It’s a bonus!

Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 3.33.53 PM

KEEP GOING. That’s what we’ve learned.

 

Gwynn

4.23.21

In the darkness, her hand reached out, questing through a landscape of soft sheets and warm blankets. Moving silently, her fingers curled over her husband’s exposed, vulnerable shoulder.

Was it an amorous invitation? A long-festering “I’m going to throttle that guy if he doesn’t stop snoring” wish fulfillment?

No – in my (utterly imaginary) scenario, Gwynn’s hand took advantage of her sleeping brain to embark on an expedition all its own.

Gwynn is a therapeutic masseuse. She can use a Zoom call to guide someone through self-massage – but she can’t get those hands on tight, sticky, clumped muscles or tough, non-pliant fascia. She can’t reach out and tug a willing body into alignment. Not only is SHE socially-isolated… so are her HANDS.

And I think her hands must be going buggy.

Sometimes I lie on Gwynn’s table and I can tell her feet are almost off the ground; she’s putting her entire body weight (such as it is) into whatever muscle of mine she’s coaxing into “hurts so good” submission. If it were me, I’d be exhausted by the end of the hour.

“How many of these massages can you do a day? Don’t your hands hurt?” I am constantly amazed by how strong and clever she is.

“Quite a few,” she says with a smile. “I’m used to it.”

And now, Body Dynamics has gone virtual. My one-on-one trainings with Chip and Barbara have been as challenging and brilliant as ever; they can both STILL see every cheat I’m attempting to get away with. (Most of my cheats are unintentional… most of them!) The group classes continue to be a blast. A horrible, sweat-inducing blast. If I needed Chip to explain why I shouldn’t live on cookies and pasta, I’m sure I could sign on for a virtual nutritional consultation. (But jeez – why would I??)

But the massages – those intuitive hands, that encyclopedic brain figuring out the WHY of my various physical limitations – those are back-burnered for now. Gwynn offered guided self-massage, but you know that just wouldn’t be the same. (Or maybe it would. I should probably try it. She’s such a good teacher; I’m sure I’d learn a lot…)

I MISS THE MASSAGES.

And I bet Gwynn’s hands are getting wicked cabin fever. She probably looks down and is astonished to discover that her fingers are curling and flexing in hunger. Her family and her dogs must see her coming and back away, hands held up. “I’m GOOD, Mom – seriously!” She sits, fidgeting, on the sofa and analyzes Anderson Cooper’s shoulder alignment.

We’re all suffering under this brilliant, burdensome quarantine, but spare a thought of pity for the therapeutic masseuses of the world. I know your hands miss me, Gwynn, and I miss all of you!

Screen Shot 2020-04-23 at 1.13.59 PM

There are VERY FEW photos of Gwynn on Google Images, and what there are are blurry. We’ll have to make do with Thing from the Addams Family as a representation of my fantasy that Gwynn’s hands are probably skittering independently around her house looking for something to massage.

 

 

 

 

I Wish

4.21.20

I wish I didn’t have to exercise this morning.

After my alarm goes off – and after I’ve hit the snooze two or three times – I’m pure lizard brain. It’s all instinct and desire and grumpiness; it takes a few minutes for rational thought to come back on line.

In fact, I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror putting toothpaste on the brush before logic returned. I’d once again offered my whining, complaining wish to the cosmic void – damn, I really wish I didn’t have to exercise this morning – when the reply showed up from the upper stories of the mind.

If you don’t exercise, you will inevitably decay and have a feeble, limited old age. You’re not getting any younger, you know.

Rational brain is annoyingly patronizing.

Fine, replied lizard brain. I’ll clarify: I wish I LIKED to exercise.

Undaunted, rational brain had a fast come-back for that. If you LIKED to exercise, you wouldn’t need Barbara and the Body Dynamics team. You’d have exercised all your life and relished it.

And Jeezum Crow – ain’t that the truth? By my age in life, all the easily-fixed character flaws have been ground down. Don’t bite your nails. Stop sharing everyone’s secrets. Quit offering to help strangers who don’t need any help.

(Still guilty of all three – but working on it.)

What’s left are the recalcitrant, dug-in-deep character flaws that are rooted like a tree stump. You’re going to need a truck to get that one out. Or maybe a backhoe.

And I just don’t like to exercise.

So if the genii appeared to grant me a wish, what would I REALLY wish for? When I’m so longing to crawl back into that lovely bed and pull up the covers and curl up and hug the feather pillow and burrow down and purr like the cat in a sunbeam??

I guess I would wish for the strength of character – the determination – to haul it out of bed, stuff myself into some Lycra, and make it to the next Body Dynamics appointment, where Barbara’s energy (or Chip’s charm) will carry me through one lone stinking hour out of the 24 in which I can give my body what I know it needs, instead of what it thinks it wants.

Just a little determination. That’s all I’m wishing for.

And – poof! – here I sit, stuffed into Lycra and eating a nutritious breakfast, ready to sign on to a zoom session with Barbara.

Huh. Wish granted.

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 10.16.25 AM

And I never got to see the handsome genii! Hang on – don’t I get THREE wishes, Will Smith??

Proud Today

4.12.20

There’s a scene in The Big Chill where Jeff Goldblum (at his oiliest and least appealing, so you KNOW I’m going to find a hotter photo than THAT for this post) (oh, damn – found it!) says…

“Don’t knock rationalization; where would we be without it? I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations.”

That sounds like the purest, high-grade truth to me today. I spend most of my psychic energy fighting a demon – the demon of pure cane sugar, who lives in the Everglades and chortles fiendishly while it breeds its crystalline children, sending them out into the world to ruin good intentions and metabolize into fat and plump up the pillows so that cancer – when and if it arrives – will find the accommodations to its liking.

What – you think waging war against Demon Sugar doesn’t require MASSIVE amounts of emotional force? Then you don’t have a problem with sugar.

Because THE DEMON IS EVERYWHERE, and he tempts you (well, he tempts me) pretty much all the damned time.

If there are cookies in the house – eat the cookies. Might as well. Then they’ll be gone, and I won’t be tempted.

Same for any chocolate.

Double for any ice cream. ANY ice cream. Last night I ate an entire container of Snickerdoodle ice cream from Artie’s (they’re doing curbside take-out; I go there a LOT). I didn’t even like it – it’s way better at the restaurant with the real whipped cream and the satin-rich dark chocolate sauce. But I ate it anyway. Manfully. Like I was performing a service to society.

Why?

Because SUGAR IS IN THE ASCENDENCY.

So why do I entitle my blog post with the word “proud?”

Because I AM proud. I’m pounding down cup after cup of hot tea (because I put in so much sugar that it’s more like a cup of sludge) – but I’m also ripped. Wait – that deserves all caps.

I AM RIPPED.

I’ve been taking the online classes at Body Dynamics. (You can, too – we can sweat and bitch together. Bodydynamicsinc.com will get you there.) I’m taking two group classes each week followed by two stretch classes, and two one-on-one sessions with my glorious trainers, Barbara and Chip. Six hours set aside so smart people can guide me through helping my body get stronger. I’ve done this for a few weeks now…

…and sweet pea, you’re lucky we’re all in quarantine right now because I’m in the mental place where I’d be walking up to strangers on the street and demanding that they poke my belly. “Feel that! Feel those muscles! And around to the side – see? Like rocks!”

The backs of my thighs. Even the long-dormant and inert “muscles” under all the sit-down padding are beginning to flex with awakening interest.

I’m iced with a generous layer of fluff… but under that? Man, I’ll kick your BUTT. I am SO STRONG. And that feels pretty freaking good!

So – yes. I’m rationalizing when I fall to my knees and worship the sugar demon. Yes, I’d sacrifice a goat and read its entrails if it meant I’d get some toffee chip cookies out of it. Yes, I did write “buy more sugar” on the shopping list today. (Just a few weeks ago I was proud that I wasn’t rolling in the sugar bowl like a pig in a wallow and now look at me. Sigh.)

But I’m also one tall, plump, walking muscle. And I’m proud of that.Screen Shot 2020-04-12 at 2.59.12 PM

Let’s see. Can I get this back to Jeff Goldblum? Oh, sure. Look who’s been working out. Nice muscles, young Jeff Goldblum!

 

Extro-introverted

4.9.20

I always thought I was an extrovert because I can talk to anyone.

(Except handsome people, who make me feel pathetic and thick and suddenly silent.)

Whenever there was assigned seating (like at a wedding reception), my husband used to make me be the one to sit next to strangers because I could do the social chit-chat thing and then he wouldn’t have to… which annoyed me, but – yeah. I’m good at it. Still, I was always exhausted afterwards. It was such a huge psychic toll.

And now I think that what I wasn’t realizing is that I am actually a highly-chatty introvert.

Because all this time alone? I’m good with it. Social distancing feels pretty glorious to me. Sometimes people call me on the phone to check in and I find myself thinking “all right – that’s enough. I have to get back to my plans, now. Move it along.”

(Of course – let me be clear: I am among the most privileged people you’ll ever meet. I’ve already retired. My aged parents have already been gathered to their great reward. My son is robust with good health. I have ALL of the privilege and NONE of the worries of this virus, and I can at least academically appreciate that.)

But I’ve discovered that I have three friends who really and truly ARE extroverts – meaning that they get their energy and sense of self from how they interact with others.

And those three people really ARE in extremis right now.

All three are people who are driven to HELP. No matter what’s going on, their instinct is to leap up – lend a hand – offer a boost. They are all volunteers, all selfless, and all superb hosts or hostesses because they really do want to make sure their guests are happy and comfortable.

And they’re climbing the walls now. One bravely shared with me a totally out-of-character descent into actual anxiety. One is making masks with the frenzy of a fanatic. One is doing a ding-dong-ditch, leaving baskets of treats on the doorsteps of friends and running away.

My point is – the quest for good health includes MENTAL health, too – and you can probably help a little if you think of who in your friend circle is the best hostess and then call them. Talk to them. See if there’s something you can do to help – or if just talking helps to take the edge off for them. Because this shit is REAL.

I’d be violating my own philosophy if I left out a reminder that exercise creates “endogenous morphine” in the brain – a term that’s been shortened to endorphins. If you or someone you know could stand a hit of self-made morphine, try a little sweat on a regular basis. It will not only relieve your stress. It will also restore regularity to your days and give you a reason to get up and put on new clothes. MAYBE even shower – although who would know or care if you didn’t?!

I thought this meme was a cute joke until I checked in with a few people. It’s not. Really: Check on your friends. The extroverts are going through something they really, really didn’t prepare for.

Screen Shot 2020-04-09 at 2.18.26 PM

May you have peace, good karma, and ongoing health. Don’t let the cabin fever tempt you into foolish behavior; stay where you are!

 

 

Velvet

3.28.20

Today I’m wearing velvet. Because – social isolation. Who’s going to know or care?

I bought these leggings last year. They’re teal/emerald green velvet with a black leaf pattern on them. I saw them and immediately said OOOOH.

If you look at the leggings, you think of a tall, slim, blond woman – impeccably groomed, welcoming her scintillating dinner guests to her New York penthouse where they will truly appreciate the depth and palette of the wine she’s selected and discuss the latest trends in modern psychometrics.

None of that is me… but I’ve got the pants.

Gorgeous in a size two – rather more like an unfortunate sofa upholstery choice in an XXL. So I save them for Alone Time, when I can blissfully stroke my own thigh without being regarded with deep suspicion.

In this respect, SOCIAL ISOLATION ROCKS!

I know there are many, many reasons to mourn what is happening to our nation – but I find that in this, as in all things, one can only sustain TRUE fear for so long. After that, you have to calm down a little and share with others the lessons one learns to make life more regular, more endurable, more open to the possibility of joy and calm.

I have two such thoughts for you, and now that I have my velvet pants on, I’m ready to share.

FIRST: An online exercise class is EVERY BIT as annoying and sweaty and exhausting as an in-person class… and at the end, all my stress and grumpiness has been purged. Washed out in the sweat. I’m tired – but I feel better. Stronger. Like I’m ready to tackle The Next Thing, whatever that might be.

So I strongly recommend you cast about for a class you can join online. All of the Body Dynamics classes have gone virtual, and new faces are showing up and bitching with us every day – which is fun, for misery (as we know) loves her some company. The website is bodydynamicsinc.com and all the class times are Eastern Standard Time. Or find a different provider… but treat yourself to an hour of not thinking about whatever has you stressed and instead thinking about how utterly annoying Barbara is when she peers through the screen and notices that you’re totally slacking off. How does she ALWAYS know?! (Oh – that’s probably just me…)

Bonus to online classes: You hit mute while you’re working out, which means you can BITCH OUT LOUD, provided you have the breath to do so. Favorites of mine so far are “I want to stop this now” and “Oh, how many more of these do you expect me to do?” and “Christ, that’s enough abdominal work, BARBARA.”

SECOND: I did not hoard toilet paper; I wasn’t smart enough. But now that every grocery store shelf is empty, now that Amazon is telling me they can send me some in late April, now that the Charmin factory has turned to – what? Making ventilators?? Why aren’t they cranking out the white stuff, damn you?! – I’ve had occasion to wander my house and survey the supplies on hand.

I have eleven rolls. That really OUGHT to last a human quite a long time. Probably to late April. But maybe the kid is going to come home from Vermont, and how can I ration HIM the way I’m rationing ME??

So I have a bit of the wiggins about the whole thing. It’s raw panic – I know that. It’s not SENSIBLE. Still, if someone approached me on a street corner and offered to sell me a four-pack for just twenty bucks, I’d pick up a little black market bumwad and scurry home with my ill-gotten gain.

But here’s a solution I offer, in case you are similarly panicked. Amazon DOES still have Kleenex available. And if you take one Kleenex – high volume but far too soft and dissolveable to be used alone in regions of higher-than-normal moisture – and bundle it inside an outer coating of a few squares of hoarded toilet paper (like – what, eight or ten squares?), then SWEETPEA – that roll of Scott tissue is going to be on duty (or on doody) in your potty for WEEKS.

There. Don’t you feel better now? Who else is going to tell you these things?

IMG_0921

Smooches to you. Stay inside; wash your hands; put on your velvet pants. Share your solutions, if you care to!

And Why Not?!

3.22.20

There you are, sheltering in place – doing your part for America and being a tiny cog in the impressive, patriotic, citizen-led effort to flatten that curve.

You don’t want to ADD to YOUR curves while you’re doing it, do you??

Believe me – I know. All nesting instincts are coming to the fore, and when we nest, we lay in the body fat that will see us through the INEVITABLE APOCALYPTIC HELLSCAPE RUN RUN RUN YOU FOOLS.

Cookies and ice cream are just so EASY now!

But you know that’s not good for your body – even if it’s good for your soul.

So eat the ice cream AND join me on Thursday at 10 am (EST) for Barbara’s “Better Balance” class. Body Dynamics has opened their virtual version up to any who want to join online. And why not you??

Go to https://bodydynamicsinc.com/

Go to “Small Group Training”

Pick the date (Thursday, March 26)

Register for Better Balance at 10.

They may ask you to become a member, but go ahead and do it; they don’t sell names and you won’t suddenly be getting emails from people you’ve never heard of.

In person, the classes are $19, but they’ve lowered the price to $15 for the online version. And there are a million ways to cheat so the class isn’t as hard as it ought to be… although from last week’s experience, I can tell you that Barbara will frequently stop demo-ing the movement we’re supposed to be doing and will get right up in her computer’s camera to eyeball the tiny screens of all the people who have joined.

Then her enormous face, filling my laptop screen, says “Pru, ribs down,” or “Marty, you’re shifted to your left foot,” or “Use your abs, Rosemary.”

A tiny screen – like a postage stamp – and she’ll STILL know when you’re cheating. Sigh.

Come on and grunt and bitch and complain with me. After you finish, I promise your heart will be lighter.

(And no – you won’t be able to hear me; we all put our microphones on mute. For this week I’m thinking about making signs that I can hold up on popsicle sticks that say HOW MANY MORE BARBARA and JEEZ YOU’RE KILLING ME BARBARA and one that just says UGH. Watch for them!)

In this photo, you can see Barbara showing us what to do, and Gabby (another excellent BDI trainer) looking like she’s about to rebel. Gabby was supposed to represent the class in bitching, but she wasn’t nearly as vocal as we are when we’re in that room grumbling. You can also see at the bottom left – my sleek, fit torso (bulging, as usual) taking the photo. Any excuse to avoid the exercise!

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 12.13.35 PM

I’m a big fan of the Liberal Redneck, Trae Crowder – who often closes his comedic videos with the phrase “Love you like chicken.” But in these exciting times, allow me please to alter that for the occasion:  Love you like toilet paper!

 

 

 

Laundry

3.18.20

I’ve discovered the GREATEST DAMNED THING about this social isolation stuff:

If – and I’m not saying this is you, but it might be – IF you have been neglecting your regular schedule and the laundry hasn’t been done (and why should it, since you’re clearly spending all your days dressed in your jammies anyway)…

…then you know who cares if you fish nasty old gym clothes out of the bottom of the laundry hamper to work out in?

NO ONE, THAT’S WHO.

Because online, no one can smell your screams.

(And of course you pick your retread-clothes from the BOTTOM; those clothes have had longer to cure. Perhaps the smelly bits have gotten old and fallen off.)

I had this brainstorm when the amazing Body Dynamics Gym in Falls Church, VA began offering training sessions online. Barbara, the world’s most astonishingly insightful and valuable personal trainer, sent me an email. We’ll meet on Tuesday at 11, like normal, but online.

Ew. I thought I’d managed to escape the question of health. “Can’t come in, so sorry, social distancing.” They were having none of it.

And EW. I haven’t done the laundry.

But… okay. I offer offense to no one but my own nose when I dress in the Garments of the Unclean. So let’s give this a try.

The video link worked beautifully. Even better, occasionally needing to move my iPad (so Barbara could see what I was doing) turned out to be an EXCELLENT procrastinatory technique. I’m not panting in desperation; I’m moving the camera. There – is that better? Hm. Maybe a little bit more here? Wait – I’ll try it over here…

If you know anything of Barbara, you’ll not be surprised to learn that she was STILL correcting my form from miles away. I’m amply padded, I wear a deliberately baggy shirt to mask the padding, I was in an indifferently-lit basement on an older-model iPad camera, and STILL Barbara was saying “pull your ribs down” and “where are your headlights” and “lift up through your pelvis.”

Now, maybe you’ll say that Barbara now knows me so well that she’s anticipating (not actually witnessing) when I’m cheating – but I don’t think so. We did all kinds of new exercises since my on-hand equipment is different from BDI’s. And she knew.

She always knows.

Today I worked out with Chip online, and that, too, was excellent and hard and DAMN IT I want to go back to bed! (So – in other words, successful. Can a work-out be judged as valuable if it does not include a little bitching, a little regret?) He said I was his first video client, which confused me. Aren’t we ALL supposed to be sheltering in place? Isn’t that the point of healthy people like me staying home? I’m doing what little I can to ensure the doctors and nurses aren’t hopelessly overwhelmed in the weeks to come. It has nothing to do with ME.

So why are all Chip’s clients still going in?

One of us is a sucker and a fool, and I hope it isn’t me…

I have two lessons, boys and girls. They are these:

  1. People who exercise regularly – even those with ample padding and the need for deliberately baggy – and possibly smelly – gym clothes are BETTER POSITIONED TO SURVIVE THE VIRUS. If I get it, I’ll recover more rapidly because my general health is good. And that’s because of Barbara and Chip and Gwynn and Tracey and Gabby and all the big-brains at Body Dynamics. So thank you all!
  2. If you’ve ever wished that you, too, could attend Barbara’s Balance Class – next week, Body Dynamics will be opening up her class to anyone who wants to attend online. In person, the class costs $19; I don’t know what or how they’ll charge for her class during the virus – but what else do you have to do? Thursdays at 10 Eastern. (Not tomorrow; they can’t start it until next week.)

If you’re wondering if #2 is right for you, please go back and reread #1. Come on in – the water’s fine. And you can’t smell me from there!

IMG_0945By the way – just to make the point: I am DIGGING all this social isolation, unlike most people. I’m writing a romance. It’s cranking along at about two chapters a day, and I am THRILLED with the world I’m creating. I cannot too strongly encourage you to write something – or paint something – or choreograph something. Create, my friend. It passes the time and engages the brain most bigly. Onward!