Thursday, December 22, 2005

I bet I could kick his ass at Pilates

Last night I put on my fave yoga pants, a yoga shirt that was one exercise session away from needing to be washed (at least I thought it was. oops.), sparkle-topped blue thick-soled flip-flops, and my prized "Maid in Manhattan" hoodie and headed off to Rodeo Drive to do some Christmas shopping. Not really. (But add a pair of diamond earrings and a chihuahua and I would have blended right in strolling past the pricey boutiques!) Nope, I wore my yoga pants to yoga. It was a level 2/3 class and, though I am firmly in the 1/2 camp, I went anyway. I'd been to this teacher's class before and it was mostly insane stretching and not a lot of pose-holding. Since I am practically made of rubber, it was perfect. Plus, the teacher's all meditation-focused, so when my pal and I left the class that first time, we were all spaced-out and float-y. Like one should be post-yoga. With all of this in mind, I go last night with a pretty good idea about what I am going to get: stretchy and blissed-out. Now I'll put my arms around the universe and say namaste to that!

I enter the studio (early, might I add) only to find out that there's a different teacher tonight. Blasted holidays and different schedules! I don't think about how hard it might be since I am too busy sitting on the floor, going through the sale bin. Last time I did that I got the best t-shirt ever. I don't think life gets any sweeter than a reasonably priced t-shirt that makes your boobs look that good. And it was. And they did. Sigh.

[Sidebar: Is it wrong to sigh about your own breasts?]

The door to the Sun Room opens, yogis file out. We file in. It is hot in there (like the sun, ha ha). And humid (like DC, ugh). Now if it were a Bikram class where heat's part of the deal, that's one thing. But this is apparently Chi-gong style Yoga where I--knowing nothing about it naturally assume it will be a comfortable temperature--was thus disappointed when it was so grody. Oh well, sweat's good, right? Yes. So long as you're not slipping off of your mat.

We did lots of warrior 2's which is one of my favorite poses. We also did tree pose, wherein one leg is bent and the sole of that leg's foot rests against the inner thigh of the other leg, arms stretched up past your ears. It feels sooooo good. We also did lots of bending down and sweeping our arms up and around our bodies. This doesn't sound hard and it isn't. We were also asked to stand with our feet very grounded, our shoulders square and down, tailbone tucked under, and hold our arms in front of us as if hugging another one of ourselves (whoa). We were to hold this pose for five minutes. This doesn't sound hard and it is. It hurts. Like a motherfucker. As does sitting down and holding your arms outstretched to either side with your middle and index fingers held out to while the other digits are tucked in. At first that seemed kinda bizarre that those two fingers got special treatment until some very angry tendon that I can now feel runs the length of my entire arm begins to burn intensely, cursing me, and threatening to secede from the rest of me, taking my shoulder muscles with it. I had to keep dropping my arms down for little breaks just to keep'em as part of the Starpower Team.

By this point, the teacher had already recognized me as, um, honoring my own pace. He'd already come over a few times and corrected my body position and now had begun to say "Levels 1 and 2, do _____ this way. Level 3's do _____ this other way." Then he'd follow up with "Yoga is not about success or failure. No excitement for doing it the right way and no upset about doing it the wrong way. There is no right and wrong. No reaction, just the doing." All of which I agree with--except when I am trying to do a pose without falling down. Then he insisted on helping me do a proper handstand. Once I kicked my legs up, he held them up high for a longer time than I can say was actually viable. I am not saying this because I awoke with the worst yoga hangover (a "yangover") ever this morning. I mean, I have the whole session to thank for that. But based on the weird clicking sound that now comes from somewhere in my lower back every time I walk, I can officially say that the handstand thing was too much.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Procrastination: a siren song

Back from a work trip to Philly. Shout-out to the good people at Fork, a restaurant where the food was so good that I think I showed my O-face as I ate the curry acorn squash over rice. My O-face--right in front of my coworkers and everything. How appropriate. The entree was followed by a trio of yummy desserts: flourless chocolate cake (my fave in all circumstances, ever), chocolate mousse, and blackberry-topped creme brulee. By the time the server asked if we wanted anything else--post-pomegranate-martini, post-FABULOUS-curry, post-dessert-spread-of-champions, all I could think was I don't know, maybe some sex? I mean, leaving there, I felt good and that would be about the only thing that could top it. So I went out and had sex! Just kidding. I did not go out and did not have sex. I am a lady of virtue. Do you hear me mom and dad? You raised A LADY OF VIRTUE--this daughter is anyway. (Ooh, snap! Madelyn!)

Now let's discuss a time when I was not so virtuous (not that kind of unvirtuous, what do you people think of me? Shees!) The kind of unvirtuous that requires a little story, another tale from Shepherdstown. Before beginning, I have to say that Shepherdstown was not the pivotal time in my life that it may appear to be based on the amount of air-time I give it here. Many other life experiences have shaped me far more than the just-shy-of-two-years-in-West-Virginia (challenge: make living in Angola sound light-hearted enough for blogspace!), but I can honestly say that I learned a lesson in Shepherdstown that I doubt I'll ever forget.

In my younger years, I was a procrastinator. I thought time was my play-thing. I thought of myself as Time's Worthy Adversary. Not consciously of course--I rarely even knew what time it was, or, arguably what time itself was. In my high school--nay, elementary through high school years--I awoke many amorning (and laid in bed listening) to my mom yelling at me to get out of bed and get ready for school. Many many many an all-nighter for college and grad school papers. I just didn't value time and the pleasure of taking it (truly the way to make it your bitch). Rather, I enjoyed the hunt. The hunt for lost seconds that just weren't there. If this light's green and every other light is also green and there's a parking spot open by the building's entrance then maybe I'll only be two or three minutes late to work. I can do it! Then when the lights are not all green and I have to park in the further lot and am thus eight or ten minutes late to work for a job that I am technically supposed to be 15 minutes early for everyday to report at shift-change, well, then you can only hope your scads and scads of charm will help smooth over the inconvenience.

By playing the Procrastination Game, you get lots of opportunities to develop your creative faculties--what with 10 hours to write a 20-page paper; powers of analysis--plenty of if-then scenarios; interpretive math--if the clock is 5 minutes fast and I'm 10 minutes away and I'm leaving when the clock says I should be there, etc; and endless chances of winning-over-the-miffed which is truly a life skill not just for customer service representatives, but for all of us. So I can honestly say that my chronic procrastination has improved me as a person. And my powers of rationalization. Really, though: being late for work everyday in an environment where people need you to show up so they can leave? I have to admit makes me kind of an asshole.

I truly never meant my lateness to be a sign of disprespect and think I did a good job of conveying that to others. Personal flaw and all of that. I didn't mean to be late to that group home job near Shepherdstown all the time, I was just comfortable on the couch and hated leaving my house for work before the re-run of Northern Exposure had ended. It's a fabulous show, you know? It didn't mean that I didn't care about my job or the girls who lived there or the staff who worked there, it just meant I was watching a good damn show on television instead of driving to my job. Surely anyone would understand that. Except my boss who put me on probation for 90 days for my tardiness. I was then on time. For 90 days.

Sadly, this was not the lesson I learned.

I so didn't learn it that I waited until the exact last day I could to send away a grad school application that through some mental alchemy I figured would still be on time for the deadline. Even though it had to get there on Monday. And it was Saturday. And the post office was about to close. Given my lifetime tally of head-to-heads as Time's Worthy Adversary (Time: 1,000,012 Starpower: 4), I should have known to not wait so long. Thus, I had to launch into the mental speech, Starpower, this always happens, why didn't you do this sooner?!, etc. Not so torturous as it sounds. It's almost for show, really, so that way I don't come off to myself as totally apathetic. Just apathetic enough to put it off, not apathetic enough to not care about it once the consequences are bearing down on me.

They were bearing down big time that Saturday almost-noon. The ink still drying on the application, I took the piles of papers, letters of recommendation (If you don't mind her gracing your class 10 minutes late every session...), essay and everything else that amounts to an application; shoved them all in the car and raced to the post office. To my shock--yes, shock (why oh why is the world so against me?!)--there was no parking spot immediately available. Not within a half-block in any direction visible from my car window, that is. Except for one. The one that's always available. The one you never take. Mental alchemy at work--aided by hefty body-doses of adrenaline, I think--I took the handicapped spot. I mean, what's ONE MINUTE, right? It won't take long for me to package all of the stuff and address it and wait in line and give it to the postperson and pay and leave. Of course not.

The line is long. Very very long. At first it was okay because I was then able to put it all together. But then I was finished. Ready to post. And STILL there were people in front of me. What gives? Then I recognized a woman who walked in a bit after I did. My mom worked at the library and this woman, real estate agent/rental property manager, went in there often. This was in fact the woman who told me about the farmhouse that I then went on to rent. Hmm, my property manager, if you will. I noted that she noted the tattoo on my arm, which she hadn't seen when I was signing the lease. A fairly uptight woman, she seemed to disapprove. We shared pleasantries nonetheless. It was all very these-are-the-people-in-your-neighborhood. Better yet, the post office line was finally moving.

I get to the front, hand over the documents and money and hope they reach the grad school on time (which, if memory serves, they did not). I exit the building and hear some sort of a hub-bub. A woman in a station-wagon with others in her car is yelling something. She's not parked, but idling in the street. I am on the steps of the p.o. and am moving towards my vehicle. My highly-illegally parked vehicle. As I get closer, I realize that she is yelling about my highly-illegally parked vehicle. Who the hell would park in this spot?! This is a handicapped spot!!! Who would do this?! Others are stopped on the sidewalk and are looking. I bite the bullet and advance. My very proper property manager has now exited the building and is now also watching the action unfold. I wince but continue on to my car--and the woman yelling from hers--readying my charm-the-miffed apology. The Yeller and I make eye-contact, she gets more enraged and the who-the-hells morph into Who the hell do YOU think YOU are to park here?! YOU'RE not handicapped! My MOTHER--sitting in THIS car--is handicapped! THIS car with a HANDICAPPED sticker on it! We have been driving around the block waiting for this spot to open up! She can't make it any further!


I apologize profusely. And mean it. I would have meant it anyway, but now I meant it and was scared. I get in my car, apologizing more, receiving tsks from all corners of the sidewalk and, especially, on the steps: the Property Manager narrows her eyes and shakes her head. I can almost hear the What would your mother think?

So, lesson MORE THAN learned. It more than answered my question about In the short time I'm going to be parked here, what are the chances... that's for sure. Now I never planned to routinely park in specially-designated parking places--other than spots with Starpower stenciled in, of course--but now I will NEVER even think of it again. I don't even use handicap bathroom stalls. The gravity of how uncool it is was made very very clear. With, in my opinion, a sitcom-like hilarity to it to boot. So that's good. A spoonful of sugar kind of thing.

Since I'm being all self-effacing (and you-effacing), I have to be honest. I am still a procrastinator at heart--and sometimes even in practice. You just can't tell anymore because I moved to California, where our kind rule. Play to your strengths or at least live in such a way that your weaknesses are less noticeable. And even if said weakness is procrastination--a handicap in many ways--never, ever park in a handicapped spot. Those are for people with physical handicaps. ONLY.

Friday, December 09, 2005

So maybe Travis Barker deserves SOME respect

Props to either the Boost T-Mobile People or Blink 182's Travis Barker: whoever decided to put that snippet of a Descendents song at what was ostensibly a Descendents show on that commercial where Travis could have been a body builder. The credit should probably go to Travis, even though he really doesn't seem too bright otherwise. Incidentally, he actually looks like he could have had that body builder body, which is weird because he's like 1/8th that size. Hmmmm, so just who is this Travis Barker after all? Eh, who cares. Descendents kick ass.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Better judgment shouts "TMI!" in the background

When I was a kid, my sister told me that BM stood for "bottom mess." She told me this even though she knew it really stood for bowel movement. You see, "BM" was short-hand for poop in our house. Anyway, we were sitting in a neighbor's basement and watching TV when she told me. I TOTALLY believed her. Not just because she was a good liar, but also because it just plain made sense.

I still think of that sometimes, but you probably don't want to know when.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Your cryin' shouldah-ah

Next time you're in your car, roll down your window and sing at the top of your lungs. Especially to a really cheesy song, say "I'll Be" by Edwin McCain. Especially when stuck at a long light, say Sepulveda and Santa Monica, and there's a bus stop of people standing there. Or, at the very least, appreciate it when others do. I mean, don't just stand there and GLARE at the free entertainment. Shees! I mean, can't a gal spread some cheer?

Friday, December 02, 2005

DZ, well, you'll see

Driving to work the other morning, I saw a big white pick up truck. So big it had a big backseat with a big side window big enough for a big sticker. The big sticker did not say "Bad Boy" or have a picture of Calvin pissing or praying (how weird is that, anyway?) Nope. The sticker was clear with white print--making the overall white-theme quite clean and classy-looking. It read "Powered by DZ Nuts." DO ANY OF YOU KNOW WHERE I CAN GET ONE OF THESE?! Or maybe I can get it like air-brushed across the back of my Altima's rear window or bumper. I mean, I'm not a purist--it doesn't have to be a sticker. I just gotta let the world know that my Nissan--like that pick up truck--is powered by dz nuts. Y'all better step.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I Love Lo, aka this is in no way designed to condone cigarette use

Through a comment left on an earlier blog entry, I was inspired to start a li'l series called "Friends: A Love Story." Or "Why-I-Love-My-Friends Stories." Or "Meet _____________ and Learn about Why They Kick Ass." Whatever. You get the idea. Because Lo's question about when I'd write about her inspired what will doubtless become a randomly-updated, formula-less series, she gets the spotlight first. I mean, as much as anyone other than me can get the spotlight in this li'l fiefdom called The Land of Starpower. With that:

Picture a 17 year old girl with auburn hair flowing down her back, mischievous auburn eyes, a smile for the world and forest green Birkenstocks on her dancing feet. She left her high school of 4,000+ people and was one of, mmm, 3 hippies. She was in college now, dammit, and was determined to meet more.

After a rad day at the student center buying posters for cheap, cheap, cheap; she and her roommate, L (not Lo), were hanging them up in their dorm. She was asking L if the poster of the giant tree in the middle of--nay, overtaking--a cityscape was properly centered when a girl walked in and was all "What's up, girls? Wanna go see a band at South Main Cafe?" This girl was a sophomore, also had on birkenstocks, also had long hair, some excitement in her eyes and was waving a flier in our face. We were all "Who are you??" and she was all "I'm Lo. Wanna go to the show?" We were all "Low? Show? Wha?" So she did a little jig and then immediately we got it. So we all did the little jig and hooked arms, singing and dancing in unison, all the way to South Main Cafe. The rest is history.

Not really. I have no idea how Lo and I originally met. Though it did involve our residence hall. The first memory I have of knowing her is her sitting on her bed and saying "killer" a lot in response to the killer things I was saying. We only chatted for a few minutes and I remember thinking, I hope we get to be friends. Not just because we both wore birkenstocks, but because she was really really nice. Shortly after that day she ran into my room to play me Sweet Pain by Blues Traveler. At 8 minutes long, it was the perfect cigarette song. She'd come to our room, we'd put on the song and lean our heads and cigarette-holding hands out the window to smoke. (It occurs to me now that those buildings are probably all non-smoking now (as they should be) but, then, it is Virginie, so who the hell knows, really.) Anyhoo, it's one of my favorite memories of freshman year, smoking out the window and singing Sweet Pain, which we did both loudly and badly.

Other favorite memories involve Sunday trips to McDonald's for cheeseburgers-without-the-meat meals with Lo, Anj, Hol, and my roommate, L. And more memories of Lo running into my room to play me Fast Enough for You when Rift came out. And Sparkle. And Silent in the Morning. And Phish shows like the one in Tennessee in that tiny club that was so shoddy they had to stop playing: there'd been no ventilation and there was so much condensation that it effectively started to rain on the equipment (at least I think that's what happened...). And I lost my little Guatemalan bag of a wallet. And our friend A left to take the freaking-out guy home only to learn that his car was stick-shift which she didn't know how to drive and they wouldn't let her back in the show so effectively left the show for nothing. And, in spite of it, it was a good time. Hmm, well, for Lo and I anyway.

Lo came home with me for Spring Break that year. Being that home was in clusterfuck generic Northern VA, she practically begged me if she could come along, you know, to witness the grandeur that was the massive sprawl outside our Nation's Capital. (Maybe it didn't go quite like that.) I was psyched that she was coming. For reasons unremembered, she took her car as well and followed me home. She was a very diligent follower, switching lanes whenever I did--almost hitting a semi one time, rolling her eyes at my lameness another when I pulled over to look at the mist on the Shenandoahs. This was before cell phones and Lo was all "uh, yeah, it's pretty" with an oh-my-gah-you-pulled-us-off-the-interstate-for-this-?-! look in her bewildered if slightly annoyed eyes. Sorry, girl. That was a little over the top. My birkenstocks made me do it.

So though NoVA in general was teeming with fast food, my little town had not yet been overtaken. We were still well-stocked with mom-and-pop Greek, Mexican, and Italian places. "Well-stocked" may be overstating the point: it was more like one of each, plus Pizza Hut, plus McDonald's. Interested in none of these options and nostalgic for a favorite high school activity, I took Lo on the 30-minute trek to Taco Bell. I loved the drive through the part of town I lived before I turned five, past the big church on the corner, down the big hill, past the elementary school where I went to Grade K (me telling my sister-the-2nd-grade-hot-shot, "it is too real school it's GRADE K!"), past approximately 27 strip malls, past my bff's bf's church, to just near the 12-Theatre Multiplex that was built when I was in 11th grade and cinemas with 12 theatres were seen as grossly over-consumptive (versus the norm it has become in suburban America today). After all that, we arrive and behold Taco Bell.

We get our food--as in good stuff like when they had tostadas--and sit down and chat away. We enjoy ourselves and take our time. What with the journey back, we may as well sit a spell, right? Well, the fella next to us seemed to be sitting a spell, too. He was an older man, late-fifties/early-sixties, I'd guess. After a time, it seemed like he was listening to our convo. Now when you're sitting in those tiny little two-people tables and you're next to each other a certain amount of eavesdropping is both unwitting and inevitable. But after a time, his eavesdropping seemed both quite witting and quite evitible (uh. yeah.). Lo and I continued our little chat but began to give each other the slight look-to-your-right-at-this-weirdo glances. It is beyond me how we'd been sitting next to him this long without noticing that he'd long been finished with his meal and was only sitting there drinking orange soda out of a little courtesy cup, which he'd judt gotten up to refill.

We were almost ready to go. We'd eaten slowly and were just about finished picking away at the rest of our lunch. Weirdo sat back down and did what appeared to be scratching his balls. I stifled a laugh because WOW he really got in there to scratch. Lo noticed, too, and was also stifling laughter. We talked for about 30 more seconds before I noticed that the balls he'd been scratching were only covered by tiny little blue cotton shorts. I also noticed that his penis was NOT AT ALL covered by tiny little blue cotton shorts. He was not ball-scratching after all. He was penis-liberating. Three cheers for the free old man penis! Thus making the drive that much more worth it!

Needless to say, we were outta there IMMEDIATELY. Driving home, we were half-horrified, half-doubled-over-with-laughter. I was proud to have shown Lo such a good time.

Maybe that trip was too perfect, too pure--she never came home with me for Spring Break again.

The next year brought even more interesting, more dramatic times. I remember this hot hippie with long blond hair who looked like Brad Pitt. We all talked about him as the "hot hippie" and hottie Lo began to date him that year. Sadly, they broke up. This happened just around the time my bf broke up with me. Lo and I would go to the Cellar to drink coffee and commiserate. Had we been of age, we would have been at the Cellar drinking lots of beers instead, so it's best we were too young. I don't know who had the harder break up but I do know that Lo's had a happy ending.

But not yet. As college went on, she met a new guy and they dated for a long while. He too was all hippie style, with long black hair and for some reason wearing sashes comes to mind (ugh). He was not hot. He was not nice. He was not good. After too long, they broke up. Praise be.

Lo and "hot hippie" maintained and on and off friendship throughout the rest of college, through the point that "hot hippie" was no longer a hippie but had short hair and became known as "Stephen." We had all been in the same group of friends so I can say that Stephen is top drawer. One of my favorites. A semester before me, they both graduated and moved away. And began to date! And moved in together! And a few years ago, got married! And, a few months ago, had a baby! The baby added to their family of Delilah, Email, and Stealth (bulldog, pug, and red-headed-step-child, er, I mean, cat). Yay, happy ending!!!

My college break up--well, the college break up referred to here--ended similarly. Those years ago, I ran into him as he was pulling out of town. He stopped at a bank that I happened to be in. No idea if he was a bank regular, but it was a bank that after four years of living there, I had never been to (that rascal-y Universe works in mysterious ways). In any case, he'd graduated college and was leaving town. Leaving-leaving. His crappy white Pontiac with the practice-random-acts-of-kindness-and-senseless-acts(?)-of-beauty bumper sticker was filled to its little gills with all of his clothes, journals, books, climbing gear and all his other portable earthly possessions. He was heading out to start his life in Alaska. The Great Unknown. The Last Frontier. Yeah, he was tragic like that. And that bumper sticker always struck me as ironic. I mean, maybe he was kind randomly, but on an interpersonal level, he was kind of a dick. So we greet each other at said bank and he tells me he's off to the big A. I was all, right now? He was all, yep, right now. So I was like, wow, good luck! He was like, thanks. It was a really nice exchange--an end of movie exchange. We didn't hug and everything. Then, with no tears in our eyes, he got into his car and drove off for the wild blue yonder. Aaaaaannnnd scene!

Clearly, the parallels of Lo's life and mine can be described as spooky at best.

Before we part, though, a run-down of things I love about Lo:

Her great big laugh
Her great big smile
Her great big heart (shucks)
Her ability to turn any song into a grating experience that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up--esp when accompanied by Anj
That she owns a mandolin and has taken mandolin lessons
Her determination to be the best person she can be and not in a grody-army-recruiter-way but in a take classes at night, work out at dawn, try new things, quit smoking and eat super healthy kinda way
Her goofy humor, which leads directly to:
Her fondness of Wayne's World
That she has a bulldog
That she named Delilah
That she married her best friend
Sweet Pain
Fast Enough for You
Silent in the Morning

All these memories and more. I'm so lucky we're still friends. What a treat it is to grow up with people--even if it only means checking in every couple of years. I'm glad I've seen Lo more often than that these last few. See you over the holidays, girl.