Archive for March, 2009

Demon, thy name is Cardio Caliente

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009
One of the instruments of torture.

One of the instruments of torture.

Caliente, as you may know, is the Spanish word for ‘hot,’ although I believe the entire phrase is derived from the Latin root meaning, “45-minutes of grueling exercise forged in the fires of hell.”

And to think,  I used to regard myself as an above-average athelete.  Cardio Caliente - only ten minutes in – had shattered my confidence and left it cowering in a corner. My obliques may never be the same.

 

It started innocently enough: I went to my friend’s gym for the purposes of attending spin class (an hour of riding a stationary bike like a madman). She’d said the instructor was fantastic – so good that we needed to get there 45 minutes early in order to secure a spot. Unfortunately, we soon learned that it wasn’t the instructor she thought, and rather one she wasn’t all that impressed with.  I hoped for the best.

 

In the meantime, we noticed a class going on in another room, and I heard her ask, “Do you want to do this instead?” The operative word in that sentence was INSTEAD, so I’m pretty sure I heard it right.  I figured she was bummed that the spin class wasn’t going to be taught by the teacher she hoped for, and looking for a quick backup plan.

Sure, they look harmless...but they can and will be used against you.

Sure, they look harmless...but they can and will be used against you.

I agreed – on the condition that it wasn’t a complicated dance aerobics or salsa-type class. I am a terrible dancer. I have no rhythm and am immediately baffled by any and all choreography. I prefer to avoid situations that highlight such shortcomings. The use of ‘caliente’ had me thinking it was either Latin-dance infused or done in a hot room, a la Bikram yoga.

 

I was right to be worried, I just didn’t catch on fast enough as to why. The first clue should have been the stair stepper thing I had to drag out of a utility closet. It alone weighed 30 pounds.  Then came all the other necessary paraphernalia: medicine ball, hand weights, yoga mat, weight bar, and inflated exercise ball.

 

If that weren’t enough, it was what we did with all this stuff: Staying in a ‘plank’ position while pumping a weight up and down for TWO MINUTES. Leaping in the air and the crouching down and doing a push up…again and again and again. Jumping up and down on alternate legs onto the stepper while pumping weights above our head (I nearly face planted on this one).

Believe it or not, the exercise ball was commonly used in Medieval torture.

Believe it or not, the exercise ball was commonly used in Medieval torture.

And the stuff with the large exercise ball? Unspeakable.

I can only imagine how much I am going to hurt tomorrow.

I may require medical intervention to even get out of bed.

 

And yet, despite all this, do you want to know the worst of it? I can’t stop thinking about how I’d like to go again and show that class what’s what. I can beat it. I can triumph over it. I am woman, hear me roar (or moan, as the case may be).

 

It’s sick, and clearly someone needs to perform an intervention…

 

p.s.

I neglected to mention that after this, we still went an did an hour of spin! And although it wasn’t awful, the music was sub-par. However, compared with what I’d just been through? It was downright easy.

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I got stranded in ATL, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt

Monday, March 30th, 2009

My fancy overnight kit.

My fancy overnight kit thoughtfully provided by Delta.

I’m still not sure why, but my two-hour delayed flight was pushed up to a three-hour delay. Probably something to do with the incessant thunderstorms, although I was starting to think of them as standard operating procedure. Alabama = loud and wet, all the time.

At any rate, the plane, which was to originally have gotten into Atlanta at 6:30pm, arrived at 9:20pm. The last possible flight (on which I had a seat) was leaving at 9:40pm. Potentially this was doable with the aid of a minor miracle…until we found ourselves waiting for fifteen minutes for an open gate.

Then they put us into A52…and the flight to Newark was leaving out of B3. As a final wrench in the works, I had a bag ‘gate checked’ (because it was too large to fit into the dollhouse-sized miniature overhead space), and we all stood there waiting for our stuff for another fifteen minutes. By the time I got into the actual airport to check a screen, my flight showed as long-since departed.

Apparently whatever was wrong that caused the delays into Atlanta didn’t impact the departure time of any of the outbound flights. Ain’t that always the way?

Looking a bit beleagured while enjoying my free SkyTeam t-shirt from Delta.

Looking a bit beleagured while enjoying my free SkyTeam t-shirt from Delta.


There are countless additional tedious elements to my tale, including my futile efforts to get on other New York-bound flights, my failed 20-minute conversation with a Delta phone representative (outsourced to India, and insisting with me that I was currently sitting on the Newark flight. This caused a brief existential crisis; wherein I wondered if the ‘alternate’ or ‘real’ me was currently flying to New Jersey, why was I – the one possessing the consciousness – stuck with all the damn carry-on luggage and seemingly standing in Atlanta?), and how I went flying across the ATL subway system because I took the warnings about the necessity of holding on to something far too lightly.

Anyway, to make a long story shorter, on the upside, the real live Delta employee there in the largest airport in the world seemingly confirmed that I was, indeed, actually standing flesh and blood in Atlanta. On the downside, she showed no concern or empathy for my stuckness, and explained that weather-based delays don’t require them to get me a hotel room and/or give me the time of day.

Nice.

I was then given a seat on the 8:30 am flight and abruptly handed one of those little overnight kits. If you’ve clocked copious air miles for any reason, you’ve been stuck before (and/or had all your luggage lost), and you know of what I speak. This kit contained the regulation smear of toothpaste, substandard accidental self-mutilation razor, dab of shaving cream, third-world hair-snagging brush, mini deodorant (a godsend), and the cheapest toothbrush on earth. Seriously. This thing was probably manufactured by armless toddlers: the bristles fell out in my mouth as I tried to use it.

However, in a new twist, the bag also contained a very large (men’s XL or XXL) t-shirt that says “Sky Team” on the chest, thus implying I am now a member of the mile-high club, although not in the way you might think. Yes, I’ve been f*cked, but I didn’t enjoy it.

Is this some kind of consolation prize?

Thanks for playing! Better luck next time! Here’s a shirt to help you commemorate this cherished experience: enjoy and thanks for (not) flying with us.

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I’m like a bird

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

I’ll only fly away.

 

This is apparently a rendering of a Ayahuasca vision. I guess you had to be there?

This is apparently a rendering of a Ayahuasca vision. I guess you had to be there?

Thus, true to form, I’m outta here. Leaving on a jet plane, and headed north via Atlanta. At least in theory.

Bad weather seems to be chasing me, and the flight is already quite delayed. I’ve been switched over to an earlier departure (also delayed two hours, but leaving only an hour later than my original flight, if that makes sense), which is keeping me optimistic.

 

 

I’m trying to think positive thoughts, but reality is undermining me a little bit. As it stands, I will have to make an eight-minute connection. To another terminal. Of the Atlanta airport. The largest airport in the world. I’m probably in some trouble (unless the flight into Newark gets further delayed).

 

Meanwhile, I saw this little tidbit, and I’m guessing this church is about to enjoy some increased membership.

Church can brew hallucinogenic tea for services, judge rules

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – A federal judge says members of a Brazilian-based Christian church in Ashland can import, distribute and brew hallucinogenic tea.

Or maybe not. I just found this info online, Ingestion of Ayahuasca usually induces nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and leads to either an euphoric or an aggressive state. Frequently the Indian sees overpowering attacks of huge snakes or jaguars. These animals often humiliate him because he is a mere man. The repetitiveness with which snakes and jaguars occur in Ayahuasca visions has intrigues psychologists.

Or maybe not. I just found this info online, "Ingestion of Ayahuasca usually induces nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and leads to either an euphoric or an aggressive state. Frequently the Indian sees overpowering attacks of huge snakes or jaguars. These animals often humiliate him because he is a mere man. The repetitiveness with which snakes and jaguars occur in Ayahuasca visions has intrigues psychologists." Hmmmmm... Anyone that's ever been around when I follow gin with red wine would concur that I might lean toward the agressive state...

U.S. District Judge Owen Panner issued a permanent injunction barring the government from prohibiting or penalizing the sacramental use of “Daime tea.” It is brewed from two Amazonian plants that contain the hallucinogenic drug dimethyltriptamine, or DMT. The tea is also known as ayahuasca (aye-yah-WAS-ka) tea. Panner’s order, issued Thursday, said activities of The Church of the Holy Light of the Queen, an Ashland-based branch of the Santo Daime (pronounced die-may) sect, are legal. His order prohibits the federal government from interfering or prosecuting church members who follow a list of regulations set out in his order.

 

 

 

 

I like it. At least in theory. What are the regulations for perusal’s sake, and where do I sign up?

I’m not Brazilian, but I’m willing to convert.

 

In other news, in the spirit of killing time, I just tried this stupid “Vanessa needs” thing. I can’t remember who told me, but you’re supposed to type your own name and needs in quotes into a Google search box and see what you get (top five responses).


According to the magical search engine in the sky (which I have come to regard as a god of sorts. I don’t understand how it works…and yet it works. Good enough for deity classification in my book). Anyway, according to the Google gods:

  • Vanessa needs hugs
  • Vanessa needs our help
  • Vanessa needs our prayers
  • Vanessa needs now what the world is not giving her
  • Vanessa needs to be smacked

 

There’s kind of a sad trend there. Sure, I’ve had a rough week…but I don’t think I’m THAT tragic. But then comes the smack, so maybe it all evens out?

Comfort me and then slap me to my senses.

I’m down with that.

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Random thoughts at an ungodly hour

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

So if it isn’t the seemingly incessant thunder and lightening, it’s my own brain.

A lot of people have been giving me all kinds of advice lately, and it has started to feel like there are too many voices in my head…and not remotely enough of them are of my own fabrication. The feedback runs the gamut from blunt suggestions that I may have made colossal and irreversible blunders in my life, to someone else’s remorse or lamentations at having made mistakes at my expense, although once again with the inevitable conclusion that (apparently) I am rendered quite damaged or at least not as far along the bell curve as I might have otherwise been.

These are depressing thoughts, and by and large I reject any philosophies that revolve around guilt or regret. At the same time, I had this random memory which brought home the strange realization that I may have instinctively had more figured out in my teen years than I do now.

Actually, let me restate that: I may have unconsciously been onto some things in my teen years that I am only now once again discovering. Now, bear with me, because this is probably going to sound a little strange.

 

What I’m referring to is the memory that when I was 19-years old and going to college in Santa Cruz, CA, I decided to stop wearing shoes. I had some theory about how it put me in better contact with the earth and that was very important, and I’d be lying if I claimed I actually remembered all of the elements that went into the decision.

I went everywhere barefoot: across campus, down to the college newspaper where I worked (crossing a particularly rocky portion that makes me cringe thinking about walking on it now, but eventually was not painful anymore), to the beach, downtown, on the bus system, riding my mountain bike,  and – most notably – in Safeway. Safeway was striking to me not only because they had a ‘no shoes, no shirt, no service’ policy that remarkably no one ever called me on, but because the floors were astoundingly slick and cold. Really, really cold.

I also shopped in some natural markets and co-ops, and they didn’t have floors remotely as icy as the Safeway on Mission. No matter how many times I went in there, I never got over the initial shock of those floors.

 

Anyway, the weird thing of it is that I saw a psychic in December (the first and only psychic consultation of my life) and she told me that I needed to ‘be barefoot on the earth as much as possible, even in the snow.’ Something about how it empowers me, but it is also very good for the earth and ‘she benefits from it.’ Needless to say, the advice that Tuesday afternoon got a little out there/freaky deaky at times.

 

What made me remember all this tonight, was that I was recently lamenting to someone very beloved to me that I needed to meditate and get balanced; I had too much floating around in my head and was feeling a little bit overwhelmed. He suggested, quite uncharacteristically, that I walk barefoot on a beach – that the Chinese say it balances your chi or something.

No beach being in my immediate vicinity, he suggested I at least imagine that I was doing so. Good advice, no doubt, I just found it ironic (particurly since this individual is about as far away as you can possibly get from New Age-y) and couldn’t help but wonder if only I’d left the shoes off, I might be sleeping in the White House rather than Mr. Obama? Actually, that sounds more burdensome than fun. Maybe I’d simply be a little closer to the realization of my life’s purpose than I lamentably find myself at the moment?

 

In all actuality, most likely I would have gotten tetanus or a really gnarly cut from a piece of broken glass or - at a bare minimum - eventually been refused service in Safeway. Nonetheless, I can’t help but be slightly amused at the very random and slightly demented thing I started doing so many years ago, has now come back full circle.

 

Perhaps I should take a look at my other strange and youthful impulses and see if there’s any other gold to be mined there? An obsession with Joni Mitchell? A vegan diet? A wardrobe comprised more or less entirely of tie-dyed clothing? Or perhaps, and most importantly, an oblivious willingness to look stupid?

 

Alas, as I mentioned, I’m not one for looking backwards, and I am staunch opponent of regret. That stated, I guess I’d better peel off my 4″ heels sometime in the next few days and get my footsies onto Gaia. Massive insight, wondrous emotional healing, or nasty bout of athlete’s foot?: I’ll let you know how it goes.     ;)

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S.S.D.D.

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Hello again from Alabama, where I was pretty sure that the world was ending around 6:00am this morning.

I couldnt find any pictures from Poltergeist with the tree, but this reminds me that somewhere in the garage is a Bozo the Clown Ventriloquist doll

I couldn't find any pictures from Poltergeist with the tree, but this reminds me that somewhere in the garage is a Bozo the Clown Ventriloquist doll.

I’m down on the gulf, across the bay from Mississippi, and stormy weather is nothing unusual. My mother’s home has been hit by lightening no less than a half-dozen times, each time destroying her stove or phone lines or some other electrical appliance. This strikes me as extremely unfortunate luck, if nothing else, and I’m not sure that everyone else around here is having the same troubles. Apparently it has to do with some tree in the yard (which one I’m not sure), and in my mind it conjures up images from Poltergeist.

Now that I think about it, I can only hope the thing doesn’t decide to eat me as punishment for talking about it.

 

At any rate, early this morning I heard the torrential rains coming down, and was glad I went for my long run yesterday. Then the lightening started. Then came thunder so loud, I wouldn’t have been surprised if god himself had spoken to me immediately preceding or following the racket.

I was never afraid of my doll until I saw this movie. Then I would throw a coat over him at night. Sometimes in the morning the coat wouldnt be on him anymore, which would totally flip me out.

I was never afraid of my doll until I saw this movie. Then I would throw a coat over him at night. Sometimes in the morning the coat would be on the floor, which would totally flip me out.

I’ve never felt like I was ‘inside’ thunder, but this literally made the bed shake. I leapt up in a panic and started unplugging everything in the room, first to see to it that my laptop and cell phone weren’t destroyed, and second to make sure some kind of wanton electrical lightening pulse didn’t come through the lamp on the night stand and kill me.

 

Then I just lay here and waited for it to quiet down, which eventually – maybe an hour later – it did do.

 

To my utter shock?

When I talked to my mother a few hours later, she hadn’t even heard it. Wha….???

How do you sleep through Armageddon?

 

In other news, I have been hitting every happy hour in town. Did you know that you can get raw oysters on the halfshell for $.25 EACH down here!? $.25!?!?

This is exactly the doll I had. What was so sad is that I tried for years and years to do ventriloquist acts with him. His head was hard as a rock. I once gave my babysitter, Sue, a fat lip with his head. Accidentally, of course. She was very nice about it.

This is exactly the Bozo doll I had. What was so sad is that I tried for years and years to do ventriloquist acts with him. It came with a little 45 record that supposedly would teach you how, although I refute those claims. My dad had a song he made up for Bozo called "Stinky feet, bad breath, and arm pits." If you're enjoying all these Bozo memories, let me know, and I could lay a whole blog about my nerdy youth on you!

Yesterday, I had a dozen oysters, six Buffalo wings, and two beers for (are you ready for this?) $6.50. You read that right: SIX DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS!!!

The day before, I got a slightly less sweet deal of $4.50 for my dozen oysters, but still…

Speaking of which, happy hour at yet another $.25 per oyster establishment starts up in 38 minutes, so I’d better wind this up and mentally prepare to get my wing and oyster on.

 

However, before I go, let me answer the burning question that I’m sure has been on your mind: I am here to tell you that twenty years later, Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Tart, and Lemon Meringue Pie smell…the same plus musty. But seriously, they smell THE SAME. And this is with 20 years storage in a moist deep south environment. Just imagine the Strawberry Shortcake and friends stored in Palm Springs!

Of them all, Apple Dumpling held her own (smell-wise) the most.

Color me truly shocked.

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